Origins of War in Europe 1939

Discussions on WW2 in Western Europe & the Atlantic.
Andreas
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Post by Andreas » 20 Jun 2005 06:23

michael mills wrote:The fact of the precipitation of war by means of the "blank cheque" has been obscured by Germany's decision to pre-empt the situation by launching a full-scale attack on Poland rather than waiting to have war thrust upon it over a minor incident in Danzig.
Right, and that is Overy's view too then?

If that is your belief, it explains a lot of things about your previous posts. I do not think there is any need to discuss this matter further. I stand by my previous statements about your mis-/overinterpretation of Overy, and your last post makes the agenda behind it exceedingly clear.

michael mills
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Post by michael mills » 21 Jun 2005 08:29

Serus,

Have you actually read the terms of the guarantee provided to Poland at the end of March 1939, or of the British-Polish Treaty of 25 August 1939?

They really do amount to a "blank cheque" for Poland. The terms were that if Poland considered that it needed to use its armed forces against another country to preserve its territorial integrity, then Britain would come to its aid. A codicil to the Treaty of 25 August specified that the "other country" was Germany.

It is noteworthy that no bounds whatever are set to Poland's consideration of the need to preserve its territorial integrity. There is no definition of what constituted a genuine threat to Poland's territorial integrity.

All that was needed to trigger Britain's military involvement against Germany was for Poland to set its forces in motion, for example to send them into Danzig, with the claim that it needed to do so to protect its territorial integrity. There was no requirement for Poland to prove that there was a genuine threat to its territorial integrity.

The guarantee of March 1939 did cover Danzig, although Danzig was a Free City under League of Nations protection and not part of the territory of Poland. When the guarantee was issued, the British press speculated that it did not apply to Danzig; in reply the British Government issued a statement that Danzig was covered.

The envisaged course of events was clear. In response to an incident in Danzig, such as a unilateral declaration of reunion with the Reich by the Danzig Senate, Poland would send its armed forces into the territory of Danzig, claiming that it needed to do so in order to protect its territorial integrity. That would trigger the guarantee, and Britain would be at war with Germany.

The historical record shows that Poland was preparing for precisely the above scenario. It had assembled a large force in the Polish Corridor, preparing to intervene in Danzig. When German forces attacked on 1 September, the Polish Danzig Intervention Force was trapped and annihilated, thereby contributing in a major way to Poland's rapid military defeat.

Furthermore, the Polish Government was not afraid of war with Germany, but rather welcomed it, seeing it as an opportunity to seize German lands east of the Oder-Neisse line. It was convinced that as soon as Britain and France declared war on Germany, there would be an uprising in Germany, the Hitler regime would collapse, and the Polish Army would march into Berlin within a week. The Polish Ambassador in Berlin, Jozef Lipski, said so specifically to Ogilvie-Forbes, the counsellor at the British Embassy.

The Polish military high command had had talks with its French counterpart, and had agreed on a joint Franco-Polish campaign against Germany. It was agreed that as soon as war was declared (most probably after Polish intervention in Danzig, as envisaged), Polish Forces would advance from the East and French forces from the West.

What upset the planning of Poland, France and Britain was that Hitler did not wait for an incident in Danzig that would result in war being declared on Germany. As soon as the British guarantee was issued, he gave orders to commence planning for an all-out assault on Poland, with a view to knocking it out quickly before Britain and France could become involved. Probably he hoped that a swift defeat of Poland, removing the threat of a two-front war against Germany, would cause Britain and France to think again and thereby avoid a major war.

As it was, he stayed his hand until it became clear that Poland was totally obdurate and unwilling to compromise over the return of Danzig to the Reich and extra-territorial access to East Prussia, which meant that war could be triggered at any time over an incident in Danzig. Germany's sudden blitzkrieg against Poland effectively negated the Franco-Polish campaign plan, and made it impossible for France and Britain to intervene effectively.

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Post by Andreas » 21 Jun 2005 10:14

michael mills wrote:Serus,

Have you actually read the terms of the guarantee provided to Poland at the end of March 1939, or of the British-Polish Treaty of 25 August 1939?

They really do amount to a "blank cheque" for Poland. The terms were that if Poland considered that it needed to use its armed forces against another country to preserve its territorial integrity, then Britain would come to its aid. A codicil to the Treaty of 25 August specified that the "other country" was Germany.

It is noteworthy that no bounds whatever are set to Poland's consideration of the need to preserve its territorial integrity. There is no definition of what constituted a genuine threat to Poland's territorial integrity.
I have read them - can you please point out where it says that? The words 'territorial integrity' are not even in the text of the agreement of 25th August, nor in the statement to the house of March 31st, or in the communique of 6th April. Which leads me to the conclusion that you are making things up as you go along. In order to be taken seriously, it would also further your case if you could provide the text of the codicil you mention in which it is specified that the 'European Power' is Germany. Seeing your difficulty in quoting and interpreting correctly, I think that providing a source for this claim by you is a minimum requirement.

Agreement of 25th August - no mention of territorial integrity
ARTICLE I.
Should one of the Contracting Parties become engaged in hostilities with a European Power in consequence of aggression by the latter against that Contracting Party, the other Contracting Party will at once give the Contracting Party engaged in hostilities all the support and assistance in its power.

ARTICLE 2.
(1) The provisions of Article I will also apply in the event of any action by a European Power which clearly threatened, directly or indirectly, the independence of one of the Contracting Parties, and was of such a nature that the Party in question considered it vital to resist it with its armed forces.

(2) Should one of the Contracting Parties become engaged in hostilities with a European Power in consequence of action by that Power which threatened the independence or neutrality of another European State in such a way as to constitute a clear menace to the security of that Contracting Party, the provisions of Article I will apply, without prejudice, however, to the rights of the other European State concerned.

ARTICLE 3.
Should a European Power attempt to undermine the independence of one of the Contracting Parties by processes of economic penetration or in any other way, the Contracting Parties will support each other in resistance to such attempts. Should the European Power concerned thereupon embark on hostilities against one of the Contracting Parties, the provisions of Article I will apply.

ARTICLE 4.
The methods of applying the undertakings of mutual assistance provided for by the present Agreement are established between the competent naval, military and air authorities of the Contracting Parties.

ARTICLE 5.
Without prejudice to the foregoing undertakings of the Contracting Parties to give each other mutual support and assistance immediately on the outbreak of hostilities, they will exchange complete and speedy information concerning any development which might threaten their independence and, in particular, concerning any development which threatened to call the said undertakings into operation.
Anglo-Polish Communique - no mention of territorial integrity
No. 18.

Anglo-Polish communiqué issued on April 6, 1939.
The conversations with M. Beck have covered a wide field and shown that the two Governments are in complete agreement upon certain general principles.

It was agreed that the two countries were prepared to enter into an agreement of a permanent and reciprocal character to replace the present temporary and unilateral assurance given by His Majesty's Government to the Polish Government. Pending the completion of the permanent agreement, M. Beck gave His Majesty's Government an assurance that the Polish Government would consider themselves under an obligation to render assistance to His Majesty's Government under the same conditions as those contained in the temporary assurance already given by His Majesty's Government to Poland.

Like the temporary assurance, the permanent agreement would not be directed against any other country but would be designed to assure Great Britain and Poland of mutual assistance in the event of any threat, direct or indirect, to the independence of either. It was recognised that certain matters, including a more precise definition of the various ways in which the necessity for such assistance might arise, would required further examination before the permanent agreement could be completed.

It was understood that the arrangements above mentioned should not preclude either Government from making agreements with other countries in the general interest of the consolidation of peace.
Unilateral statement by British PM in March - no mention of territorial integrity
No. 17.

Statement by the Prime Minister in the House of Commons on March 31, 1939.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Chamberlain): The right hon. gentleman the leader of the Opposition asked me this morning whether I could make a statement as to the European situation. As I said this morning, His Majesty's Government have no official confirmation of the rumours of any projected attack on Poland and they must not, therefore, be taken as accepting them as true.

I am glad to take this opportunity of stating again the general policy of His Majesty's Government. They have constantly advocated the adjustment, by way of free negotiation between the parties concerned, of any differences that may arise between them. They consider that this is the natural and proper course where differences exist. In their opinion there should be no question incapable of solution by peaceful means, and they would see no justification for the substitution of force or threats of force for the method of negotiation.

As the House is aware, certain consultations are now proceeding with other Governments. In order to make perfectly clear the position of His Majesty's Government in the meantime before those consultations are concluded, I now have to inform the House that during that period, in the event of any action which clearly threatened Polish independence, and which the Polish Government accordingly considered it vital to resist with their national forces, His Majesty's Government would feel themselves bound at once to lend the Polish Government all support in their power. They have given the Polish Government an assurance to this effect.

I may add that the French Government have authorised me to make it plain that they stand in the same position in this matter as do His Majesty's Government.
I think now would be a good point for you to start providing some sources, to dispel the idea that is rapidly developing, namely that you are making all this stuff up. On top of completely inventing a new meaning for what Overy wrote.

Of course, you are also conveniently forgetting to mention what went on in Europe in March. Let me refresh the reader's memory by providing some context that will also give an insight into how German actions were preceived at this stage.

Speech by British PM in Brum, March 1939, after the invasion of Czecho-Slovakia
How can these events this week be reconciled with those assurances which I have read out to you? Surely, as a joint signatory of the Munich Agreement, I was entitled, if Herr Hitler thought it ought to be undone, to that consultation which is provided for in the Munich declaration. Instead of that he has taken the law into his own hands. Before even the Czech President was received, and confronted with demands which he had no power to resist, the German troops were on the move, and within a few hours they were in the Czech capital.

[...]

Every man and woman in this country who remembers the fate of the Jews and the political prisoners in Austria must be filled to-day with distress and foreboding. Who can fail to feel his heart go out in sympathy to the proud and brave people who have so suddenly been subjected to this invasion, whose liberties are curtailed, whose national independence has gone? What has become of this declaration of "No further territorial ambition"? What has become of the assurance "We don't want Czechs in the Reich"? What regard had been paid here to that principle of self-determination on which Herr Hitler argued so vehemently with me at Berchtesgaden when he was asking for the severance of Sudetenland from Czecho-Slovakia and its inclusion in the German Reich?

Now we are told that this seizure of territory has been necessitated by disturbances in Czecho-Slovakia. We are told that the proclamation of this new German Protectorate against the will of its inhabitants has been rendered inevitable by disorders which threatened the peace and security of her mighty neighbour. If there were disorders, were they not fomented from without? And can anybody outside Germany take seriously the idea that they could be a danger to that great country, that they could provide any justification for what has happened?

Does not the question inevitably arise in our minds, if it is so easy to discover good reasons for ignoring assurances so solemnly and so repeatedly given, what reliance can be placed upon any other assurances that come from the same source?

There is another set of questions which almost inevitably must occur in our minds and to the minds of others, perhaps even in Germany herself. Germany, under her present regime, has sprung a series of unpleasant surprises upon the world. The Rhineland, the Austrian Anschluss, the severance of Sudetenland-all these things shocked and affronted public opinion throughout the world. Yet, however much we might take exception to the methods which were adopted in each of those cases, there was something to be said, whether on account of racial affinity or of just claims too long resisted-there was something to be said for the necessity of a change in the existing situation.

But the events which have taken place this week in complete disregard of the principles laid down by the German Government itself seem to fall into a different category, and they must cause us all to be asking ourselves: "Is this the end of an old adventure, or is it the beginning of a new?"

"Is this the last attack upon a small State, or is it to be followed by others? Is this, in fact, a step in the direction of an attempt to dominate the world by force?" [...]
Emphasis by me.

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Post by michael mills » 21 Jun 2005 13:52

I read the text of the British-Polish Treaty of 25 August 1939 in this book:

"Poland, 1918-1945 : An Interpretive and Documentary History of the Second Republic", by Peter D. Stachura (London ; New York : Routledge, 2004).

The text in that book contained at the end a codicil specifying that the "European Power" referred to in the text of the treaty was Germany.

The guarantee inssued by the British Government at the end of March of that year did not refer to an invasion of Poland, but simply to Poland's finding it necessary to use its armed forces to protect its territorial integrity.

The sense of the guarantee is reproduced in Article 2 of the treaty:
ARTICLE 2.
(1) The provisions of Article I will also apply in the event of any action by a European Power which clearly threatened, directly or indirectly, the independence of one of the Contracting Parties, and was of such a nature that the Party in question considered it vital to resist it with its armed forces.
What that article meant was that if a "European Power" (= Germany) threatened "indirectly" the independence of Poland, and Poland considered it vital to resist that "indirect" threat with its armed forces, Britain would "at once give the Contracting Party engaged in hostilities [= Poland] all the support and assistance in its power".

Note that the nature of an "indirect" threat to Poland's independence is not defined or specified, ie it could be anything that Poland considered an indirect threat.

Also, it is left entirely to Poland to decide whether it is vital to resist this "indirect threat" with its armed forces. There is no mechanism to determine whether Poland's resort to armed force to counter the alleged "indirect threat" is justified.

Thus, Poland could declare a unilateral declaration by the Danzig Senate of reunification with the Reich an "indirect threat" to its independence and send its armed forces into Danzig to resist the alleged "indirect threat", which would automatically trigger the British action provided for in Article 1.

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Post by Andreas » 21 Jun 2005 14:12

Independence - Territorial Integrity

Not the same things. I am not going to bother to look up an online dictionary to proof to you what should be very apparent to anyone with a passing acquaintance with the English language.

Neither the guarantee nor the agreement referred to the concept of 'territorial integrity'. You need to read texts more closely and/or take more care in providing your interpretation of them, and in general adopt an attitude where you make clear the difference between your opinion and the text you base it on, since it appears to me that they are often separated by a chasm.

The example provided by you at the end regarding Danzig would only be good for Britain to provide aid in the Polish campaign against Danzig. Unless Germany decides it has to get involved. Of course, regardless of any incidents that we can work up in our fevered imaginations, history actually proves that Poland did not invoke the fantasy example for British assistance that you provided. Danzig's NSDAP staged a Coup d'Etat on 23rd August. Poland did not invade then with the forces it had allegedly assembled to do so (sources for this claim from you please). Why not? They had one week to wipe the city from the planet before the Wehrmacht got ready - yet still in this one week the best the Nazi regime could do was to invent border incidents and to criminally kill camp inmates to fabricate their evidence.

Blue Book
No. 62.
Mr. F. M. Shepherd to Viscount Halifax.
(Telegraphic.) Danzig, August 26, 1939.

FOLLOWING is translation of decree of Senate dated 23rd August:-

"Decree: Article I.-Gauleiter of Danzig is Head of State ('Staatsoberhaupt') of the Free City of Danzig.

"Article 2.-This decree comes into force on 23rd August, 1939."

Following are translations of letters dated 24th August (a) from President of Senate to Herr Forster, and (b) of latter's reply:-

"(a) At its meeting yesterday the Senate passed a resolution according to which you have been declared Staatsoberhaupt of the Free City of Danzig as from yesterday. A copy of the certified resolution is enclosed. In addition, a legal decree has been prepared to-day and signed making the above-mentioned resolution of the Senate operative. By means of these two acts of the Government the Danzig Constitution has been altered in the above-mentioned sense. The Senate has authorized me to request you, Herr Gauleiter, to

accept this office forthwith in order in these difficult but wonderful last decisive days outwardly to give

expression to the unity between party and State, which has so often been stressed and which inwardly has always existed.

"(b) I have taken cognisance of the contents of your letter of the 24th instant and of the enclosed certified copy of the decree regarding the Staatsoberhaupt of the Free City of Danzig of 23rd August, 1939, and of the copy of the Senate's resolution of the 23rd August, 1939, which was also enclosed. It, of course, goes without saying that in my capacity as Leader of the N.S.D.A.P. of the Danzig district I am prepared in days which are so fateful for Danzig also to conduct the affairs of the State. With this decree promulgated on the 23rd August, 1939, a state of affairs is officially sanctioned which, since the accession to power by the National Socialists in 1933, has in practice been in force."
What that article meant was that if a "European Power" (= Germany) threatened "indirectly" the independence of Poland, and Poland considered it vital to resist that "indirect" threat with its armed forces, Britain would "at once give the Contracting Party engaged in hostilities [= Poland] all the support and assistance in its power".
Thank you for restating what the article meant. What it clearly did not mean was anything to do with territorial integrity. That is your interpretation, for which you have not shown an inkling of proof thus far .

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Post by michael mills » 21 Jun 2005 14:20

My other source is this book:

"Poland to Pearl Harbor : The Making of the Second World War", by William Carr (London ; Baltimore, Md., USA : E. Arnold, 1985).

Carr states that when Chamberlain announced the British guarantee to Poland, the British press speculated that it did not apply to the territory of the Free City of Danzig, which was the cause of the quarrel between Germany and Poland. According to Carr, the British Government immediately announced that the guarantee did apply to Danzig, ie that an event in Danzig could be construed as "an action which clearly threatened Polish independence".

Why did the British Government state that the unilateral guarantee applied to Danzig as well as to the internationally recognised territory of Poland?

The effect of that application to Danzig allowed Poland to claim an incident in Danzig represented a threat to its independence, claim that it was vital to send its troops into Danzig to resist the alleged threat, and thereby cause Britain to go to war with Germany. One can only presume that that effect was intended by the British Government.

At the time of the issuing of the guarantee, there was speculation that Germany would attempt to solve the Danzig problem with a fait accompli, whereby the Danzig Senate (which was elected) would declare reunification with the Reich and invite Germany to send troops into the territory of the Free City to secure it. The extension of the guarantee to Danzig therefore represented the setting up by Britain of a tripwire for war with Germany.

Thus the British guarantee did not represent any sort of attempt at a peaceful solution of the Danzig problem, but was rather using that problem as a potential casus belli.

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Post by Andreas » 21 Jun 2005 14:26

michael mills wrote:Thus the British guarantee did not represent any sort of attempt at a peaceful solution of the Danzig problem, but was rather using that problem as a potential casus belli.
And again you fail to make clear that this is your conclusion, I guess? Or would I find this stark conclusion in Carr were I to pick him up?

One might also take the opposite view, namely that when confronted with a pathological liar who had no hesitation to use force when it suited him and he could get away with it, the extension of the guarantee to Danzig was perceived as the only possible way to guarantee a peaceful solution (as opposed to standing by watching another landgrab) by forcing Hitler to accept that this time there would be a consequence to his actions. A tripwire yes - but only a casus belli if Germany decides to break yet another international agreement.

But of course, seeing that in your view it was apparently Poland who was the aggressor in all this, all that is mere speculation.

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Post by michael mills » 21 Jun 2005 14:37

My source for the Danzig intervention force is this book:

"Poland Between the Wars, 1918-1939", edited by Peter D. Stachura ( Houndmills : Macmillan Press ; New York : St. Martin's Press, 1998).

It was open to Poland to claim that the events of 23 August constituted a threat to its independence that it needed to use force against. It was probably waiting for the Danzig Senate to issue a declaration of reunification with the Reich, which would be a more serious casus belli.

It should be noted that the Danzig Senate was an elected body that represented the will of the population of the city. Therefore it had the right to appoint whomever it wanted as head of state in an emergency situation.

It could also be that Poland intended to wait a few days until the finalisation of the treaty with Britain which would set in concrete the unilateral guarantee issued by Britain in March, before taking any action over events in Danzig.

However, on 24 August the signing of the Non-Aggression Pact between Germany and the Soviet Union in the early hours of that day was announced to the world. That totally changed the situation, and forced Poland, Britain and France to rethink their strategy.[/quote]

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Post by michael mills » 21 Jun 2005 15:08

A tripwire yes - but only a casus belli if Germany decides to break yet another international agreement.

But of course, seeing that in your view it was apparently Poland who was the aggressor in all this, all that is mere speculation.
Could you please tell us what was the international agreement that Hitler was about to break in the case of Danzig?

In fact, it could be argued that Britain and Poland had de facto broken an international agreement in their extension of the March guarantee to Danzig and the implied inclusion of Danzig in the provisions of the August treaty.

The League of Nations statute that created the Free City of Danzig prohibited Poland from entering into agreement with a third party that changed the international status of the Free City without the agreement of the Danzig Senate and the League of Nations.

The wheeling and dealing between Britain and Poland, and the agreements reached between them, explicit and tacit, treated Danzig as de facto territory of Poland that the latter was entitled to defend, and hence de facto changed the status of Danzig, a breach of the League of Nations statute.

I would also point out that I have not named Poland as the aggressor. Prior to the issuing of the British guarantee, I doubt that the Polish Government would have dreamed of entering into a war with Germany on its own, despite the wish of Polish nationalist elements to annex the German eastern territories, an aim that had been largely thwarted at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919.

However, once it became clear to the Polish Government that Britain and France were prepared to confront Germany militarily, and to join Poland in armed conflict with that country, the possibility of a successful coalition war, enabling it to seize the coveted territories, was raised in its mind. That made it more obdurate, and totally unwilling to make any compromises over the status of Danzig and a connection to East Prussia, preferring to risk war.

I doubt that in the absence of the Anglo-French decision to confront Germany in order to prevent it gaining hegemony over Eastern Europe, the colonels ruling Poland would have had any thought of a war with Germany.

The original causes of the war were:

1. The German attempt to dismantle the political system set up in Eastern Europe by France to hem Germany in, and then establish its own political and economic hegemony in Eastern and Southeastern Europe with the aim of creating a bloc that would be powerful enough to challenge Anglo-French predominance and also roll back the Soviet Union.

2. The decision by Britain and France to prevent the establishment of that German hegemony, if necessary by armed force.

The Polish colonels were simply riding on the coat-tails of the Anglo-French confrontation with Germany, seeing it as an unexpected means to gain a long-held goal of territorial expansion to the West, promoted in particular by the Dmowski faction of Polish nationalism.

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Post by Andreas » 21 Jun 2005 15:49

michael mills wrote:In fact, it could be argued that Britain and Poland had de facto broken an international agreement in their extension of the March guarantee to Danzig and the implied inclusion of Danzig in the provisions of the August treaty.
Do I need to remind you that the formal guarantee came after the NSDAP executed its Putsch in Danzig?

The international agreement was the treaty of Versailles which established the Völkerbundmandat.
It was open to Poland to claim that the events of 23 August constituted a threat to its independence that it needed to use force against. It was probably waiting for the Danzig Senate to issue a declaration of reunification with the Reich, which would be a more serious casus belli.

It should be noted that the Danzig Senate was an elected body that represented the will of the population of the city. Therefore it had the right to appoint whomever it wanted as head of state in an emergency situation.

It could also be that Poland intended to wait a few days until the finalisation of the treaty with Britain which would set in concrete the unilateral guarantee issued by Britain in March, before taking any action over events in Danzig.

However, on 24 August the signing of the Non-Aggression Pact between Germany and the Soviet Union in the early hours of that day was announced to the world. That totally changed the situation, and forced Poland, Britain and France to rethink their strategy.
Conjecture. Going from your posting history in relation to Overy I will again refuse to believe that Stachura's book actually says these things unless you quote the relevant passage.

You are still implying that Poland could afford to change its attitude after the Franco-British guarantee. There is however no historical evidence for this. The unilateral guarantee was driven by what happened in Czecho-Slovakia (context is important), and a desire to preserve Poland from suffering the same fate. You still have shown no proof for Poland's intentions, only conjecture. Lots of courses of action were open to Poland. It did not undertake them however.

The cause of the war was a nutcase with a published agenda to gain Lebensraum, voted into office by the German populace in a fit of collective madness or (if I am gentle) utter desperation. Without this nutcase lying his way around the diplomatic circles of Europe there would not have been an invasion of Czecho-Slovakia, and no Franco-British guarantee.

Even so, it should be blindingly obvious that the reason for the war was only your number '1'. Ockham's razor applies, the simplest explanation is the right one here. A major war in Europe would have happened with or without the Franco-British guarantee - it would not have broken out in 1939 however, and it is not certain that it would have involved France and Britain.

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Post by michael mills » 22 Jun 2005 01:24

Andreas,

It is obvious that I need to point out to you how I am using my sources.

I am using them as a source of data. The interpretations of the data are my own.

Professor Stachura is a Polish nationalist historian based at Stirling University in the United Kingdom. Both his books referred to by me take an avowedly Polish nationalist and apologetic position. I was not using the interpretations in his books, but solely two specific pieces of data contained in them:

1. That the Anglo-Polish treaty of August 1939 contained a codicil specifying that it was directed against Germany (your published source obviously omitted that codicil);

2. That Poland had stationed a large armed force in the Polish Corridor for the purpose of armed intervention in Danzig, and that that force had been trapped and annihilated there by the sudden German attack.

When I referred to the two books by Stachura, I specifically stated that they were the sources of those items of data, and nothing more.

For your information, Stachura's treatment of the issue of the Danzig Intervention force is essentially apologetic, designed to counter criticism that the Polish Government was negligent in stationing the force in the Corridor and not withdrawing it in time, resulting in its annihilation and thus a major military defeat for Poland.

In fact, the particular essay by Stachura in which his treatment of the Danzig Intervention Force appears is about Poland's military planning and preparations in the first half of 1939, before the German invasion. His general theme is that Poland was betrayed by the Allies, in particular by France, in that France had given Poland the impression that the coming war against Germany was to be a coalition war in which both countries would send their forces against Germany simultaneously, France from the West and Poland from the East. According to Stachura, the betrayal of Poland resided in the fact that when Germany suddenly attacked first, France did not send its forces against Germany immediately but simply sat behind the Maginot Line.

Andreas, you need to realise that any work of historical analysis consists of two elements:

1. A set of data; and

2. An interpretation of the data.

It is quite acceptable to use the data assembled by the historian without accepting his interpretation of those data. It is quite acceptable to make one's own interpretation of the data, which of course is open to critique in the normal way.

While I have used two items of information from Stachura's books, I do not accept all of his Polish nationalist interpretations, although I do not reject all of them either.

If you do a search under "Stachura" as subject, you will find a number of posts by me in which I have used Stachura's material.

Finally, Andreas, you seem to believe that in March 1939, when Britain issued its unilateral guarantee (after prior discussions with Jozef Beck, the Polish Foreign Minister) there was a looming real danger of a German invasion of Poland.

In fact, at that time there was not the slightest hint of such an invasion, nor had Germany made any such threat against Poland. All Germany was trying to do was to gain Polish agreement to the reunification of Danzig with Germany and the establishment of an extra-territorial road and rail link to East Prussia combined with guaranteed access by Poland to its port at Gdynia. Beyond that, Germany's aim was to bring Poland into an alliance aimed against the Soviet Union, in the same way as it brought Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and (briefly) Yugoslavia into such alliances.

I agree that there would very likely have been a major war in Europe even without the British guarantee to Poland. Such a war would have pitted a German-led coalition consisting of Germany, Poland, Hungary, Romania and perhaps Yugoslavia against the Soviet Union, amnd it would have occurred not in 1939 but at a later date, in the early 1940s.

At the very least there would have been a military confrontation of that German-led coalition with the Soviet Union, with the aim of resurrecting the result of the Second Treaty of Brest-Litovsk of March 1918. That would have meant forcing the Soviet Union to disgorge Belorussia, Ukraine and the Caucasus, and the placing of those territories under German hegemony.

Whether that confrontation resulted in a major war would have depended on whether the Soviet Union gave in, as it had in March 1918, or whether it resisted. Given the Soviet Union's huge rearmament since 1937, which equalled that of Germany, it is likely that it would have resisted and a major war would have resulted.

The reason why the above scenario did not eventuate is because Britain manipulated the ultra-nationalist clique of colonels ruling Poland to resist even the most moderate German requests for a revision of the Versailles settlement, thereby diverting Germany into a war against Britain and France which it did not want (at least at that time) but which Britain apparently did.

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Post by Andreas » 22 Jun 2005 17:38

michael mills wrote: 1. It is obvious that I need to point out to you how I am using my sources.

I am using them as a source of data. The interpretations of the data are my own.

2. Andreas, you need to realise that any work of historical analysis consists of two elements:

3. Finally, Andreas, you seem to believe that in March 1939, when Britain issued its unilateral guarantee (after prior discussions with Jozef Beck, the Polish Foreign Minister) there was a looming real danger of a German invasion of Poland.
1. There is no need to point this out. There is a need on your part to make clear differences in your posts between what your interpretation is and what the source actually says. There is also a need on your part to not invent things, such as the 'territorial integrity', or to fundamentally re-interpret what authors say when even if we are charitable, there is at least ambiguity in their statements.

2. Thanks for the lecture, but I actually do know a thing or two about research. I refer you to my answer to "1"

3. I believe no such thing, and I am puzzled as to why you may think I believe that. The only possible explanation I can find is that you are misinterpreting my posts. Something which I would not find surprising.

walterkaschner
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Post by walterkaschner » 22 Jun 2005 21:58

It seems to me we have wandered rather far afield from the original topic of this thread, and that indeed this ground has been well plowed before, but perhaps that was on the old Forum. Nonetheless, I can't resist adding an observation or two.

Specifically, with regard to the notion that Britain gave Poland a "blank check", I would suggest that a reading of both Chamberlain's March 31, 1939 speech to the House of Commons and the final Agreement of August 25, 1939 clearly show that Britain left itself an escape hatch. They can be found in the British Blue Book at:

http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/20th.htm

Here is the text of Chamberlain's speech:
The Prime Minister (Mr. Chamberlain): The right hon. gentleman the leader of the Opposition asked me this morning whether I could make a statement as to the European situation. As I said this morning, His Majesty's Government have no official confirmation of the rumours of any projected attack on Poland and they must not, therefore, be taken as accepting them as true.

I am glad to take this opportunity of stating again the general policy of His Majesty's Government. They have constantly advocated the adjustment, by way of free negotiation between the parties concerned, of any differences that may arise between them. They consider that this is the natural and proper course where differences exist. In their opinion there should be no question incapable of solution by peaceful means, and they would see no justification for the substitution of force or threats of force for the method of negotiation.

As the House is aware, certain consultations are now proceeding with other Governments. In order to make perfectly clear the position of His Majesty's Government in the meantime before those consultations are concluded, I now have to inform the House that during that period, in the event of any action which clearly threatened Polish independence, and [my emphasis] which the Polish Government accordingly considered it vital to resist with their national forces, His Majesty's Government would feel themselves bound at once to lend the Polish Government all support in their power. They have given the Polish Government an assurance to this effect.

I may add that the French Government have authorised me to make it plain that they stand in the same position in this matter as do His Majesty's Government.
Here is the relevant portion of the Anglo-Polish Agreement:
Agreement of Mutual Assistance between the United Kingdom and Poland.-London, August 25, 1939.

************************

ARTICLE I.
Should one of the Contracting Parties become engaged in hostilities with a European Power in consequence of aggression by the latter against that Contracting Party, the other Contracting Party will at once give the Contracting Party engaged in hostilities all the support and assistance in its power.

ARTICLE 2.
(1) The provisions of Article I will also apply in the event of any action by a European Power which clearly threatened, directly or indirectly, the independence of one of the Contracting Parties, and was of such a nature that the Party in question considered it vital to resist it with its armed forces.

(2) Should one of the Contracting Parties become engaged in hostilities with a European Power in consequence of action by that Power which threatened the independence or neutrality of another European State in such a way as to constitute a clear menace to the security of that Contracting Party, the provisions of Article I will apply, without prejudice, however, to the rights of the other European State concerned.

ARTICLE 3.
Should a European Power attempt to undermine the independence of one of the Contracting Parties by processes of economic penetration or in any other way, the Contracting Parties will support each other in resistance to such attempts. Should the European Power concerned thereupon embark on hostilities against one of the Contracting Parties, the provisions of Article I will apply. [my emphasis added]
Neither the speech not the Treaty left British intervention solely up to the whim of the Polish Colonels' Junta. That intervention depended on the fulfilment of two conditions: an action (a) which clearly threatened Polish independence, and (b) which Poland considered vital to resist by force of arms. Even though Poland should decide to take up arms, Britain could obviously take the position that no clear threat to Polish independence was involved and that the Treaty was therefore inapplicable.

Moreover, the emphasis on Britain overlooks the fact that France already had mutual assistance Treaties with Poland dating back to 1921 and 1925. These can be found in full text in the French Yellow Book at the Avalon web sit indicated above. Here are relevant portions of the 1921 Treaty:
Franco-Polish Agreement (this agreement was supplemented by a military agreement regarding its execution signed on the same day) concluded in Paris, February 19, 1921

THE Polish Government and the French Government, both desirous of safeguarding, by the maintenance of the treaties which both have signed or which may in future be recognized by both parties, the peace of Europe, the security of their territories, and their common political and economic interests, have agreed as follows:

.............................................................

3. If, notwithstanding the sincerely peaceful views and intentions of the two contracting States, either or both of them should be attacked without giving provocation, the two Governments shall take concerted measures for the defence of their territory and the protection of their legitimate interests within the limits specified in the preamble.

............................................................
Here are relevant portions of the 1925 Treaty:
Treaty of Locarno Between France and Poland

(October 16, 1925)

THE President of the French Republic and the President of the Republic of Poland,

Equally desirous to see Europe spared from war by a sincere observance of the undertakings arrived at this day with a view to the maintenance of general peace:

Have resolved to guarantee their benefits to each other reciprocally by a treaty concluded within the framework of the Covenant of the League of Nations and of the Treaties existing between them;

And have, to this effect, nominated for their plenipotentiaries,

Who, after having exchanged their full powers, found in good and due form, have agreed on the following provisions:

Article 1

In the event of Poland or France suffering from a failure to observe undertakings arrived at this day between them and Germany, with a view to the maintenance of general peace, France and, reciprocally, Poland, acting in application of Article 16 of the Covenant of the League of Nations, undertake to lend each other immediate aid and assistance, if such a failure is accompanied by an unprovoked recourse to arms.

In the event of the Council of the League of Nations, when dealing with a question brought before it in accordance with the said undertakings, being unable to succeed in securing the acceptance of its report by all its members other than the representatives of the parties to the dispute, and in the event of Poland or France being attacked without provocation, France, or reciprocally Poland, acting in application of Article 15, paragraph 7, of the Covenant of the League of Nations, will immediately lend aid and assistance.

......................................
As to Richard Overy's notion, endorsed by Michael Mills, that:
If Hitler were to be confronted militarily, while Britain and France maintained economic stability and domestic political peace, then 1939 was in some respects the best time to do so. Allied rearmament was planned to peak in 1939/40, while the advantage of using up unemployed resources and avoiding inflation was not expected to last beyond the winter of 1939.
the British Chiefs of Staff were certainly not of that opinion. In a thoroughly pessimistic study entitled "European Appreciation" for the years 1939/1940 which they produced in February 1939, they evaluated Britain's prospects for success in the event of a global war and found them very poor. See Donald Cameron Watt How War Came: The Immediate Origins of the Second World War Pantheon Books, 1989) at 165. According to Lord Beaverbrook, "the guarantee to Poland had been given against the advise of the General Staff, who declared that they were not capable, with the resources we had, of fulfilling the committments we had thereby undertaken." Chamberlain refused to permit the General Staff's view to be circulated to the full Cabinet, on the grounds that it would be "tantamount to a criticism of his policy." Leonard Mosely On Borrowed Time: How World War II Began (Random House 1969) at 207, citing B.H. Liddell Hart.

I still am of the view that the British, and particulary Chamberlain, were highly incensed by Hitler's take-over of the remains of Czechoslovakia and finally persuaded that he was an incorrigible liar and cheat, that his most solemn word was not to be trusted, and that his ambitions were to achieve hegemony over all of Eastern Europe by whatever means it took. It seems to me that the purpose of the "guarantee" to Poland was to give Hitler fair and clear warning of its intent (which Britain had been highly criticized for failing to do as WW I approached) to go to war if Hitler chose military means to acheive his ends, and to bolster France's backbone in living up to her own Treaties with Poland - all in the hope of detering Hitler from gambling that the Allied powers would once again stand aside in the threat of general war.

Regards, Kaschner

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Post by Molobo » 24 Jun 2005 14:03

It should be noted that the Danzig Senate was an elected body that represented the will of the population of the city. Therefore it had the right to appoint whomever it wanted as head of state in an emergency situation.
I reckon Jews and Poles were able to vote right ?
In fact, at that time there was not the slightest hint of such an invasion, nor had Germany made any such threat against Poland. All Germany was trying to do was to gain Polish agreement to the reunification of Danzig with Germany and the establishment of an extra-territorial road and rail link to East Prussia combined with guaranteed access by Poland to its port at Gdynia. Beyond that, Germany's aim was to bring Poland into an alliance aimed against the Soviet Union, in the same way as it brought Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and (briefly) Yugoslavia into such alliances.
The Schmundt Notes
Report on a Meeting on 23 May 1939

Command Issue
Only through officer
Place: the Führer’s office, New Reich Chancellery
Assistant on Duty: Lieutenant-Colonel of General Staff Schmundt

Participants: The Führer, Field Marshall Göring, Grand Admiral Raeder, Colonel General v. Brauchitsch, Colonel General Keitel, Colonel General Milch, General of Artillery Halder, General Bodenschatz, Commanding Admiral Schniewindt, Colonel at the General Staff Jeschonnek, Colonel of the General Staff
Warlimont, Lieutenant Colonel of the General Staff Schmundt, Captain Engel,
Corvette Captain Albrecht, Captain v. Below.

Subject: Information about the Situation and Political Goals.

The Führer states the purpose of the meeting to be the following:

1.) Presentation of the situation.
2.) Setting of the tasks resulting from the situation for the Wehrmacht.
3.) Clarification of the consequences resulting from the tasks.
4.) Securing the secrecy of all decisions and works resulting from the result of the consequences.

Secrecy is a pre-condition of success.

In the following the contents of the Führer’s statements are rendered:

Our present situation is to be viewed under two aspects:

1.) Actual development from 1933 to 1939.
2.) The constantly equal situation in which Germany finds itself.

In the time from 1933-39 advances were made in all fields. Our military situation improved enormously. Our relationship with our environment has remained the same. Germany had left the circle of the power states. The balance of power was established without Germany’s participation.

Statement of Germany’s vital claims and re-entry into the circle of the power states disturbs this balance. All claims are taken to be an 'intrusion'.

The English fear an economic threat more than a common threat by power.

The mass of 80 millions has solved the ideological problem. The economic problems must also be solved. No German can avoid the creation of the economic pre-conditions for this. Solving the problems requires courage. There must be no avoiding the solution of the problems by adaptation. On the contrary, the circumstances must be matched to the demands. Without intrusion into foreign states or attacking foreign property this is not possible.

The living space, adequate to the greatness of the state, is the basis of all power. For a time one may do without, but then the solution of the problems comes around one way or the other. There is the choice between rising or falling. In 15 or 20 years the solution will be compulsorily necessary for us. Longer than that no German statesman can go around the issue.

At the time we are in a state of national enthusiasm, in the same mood as two other states: Italy and Japan.

The time lying behind us has been well used. All steps were consequently directed towards the goal.

After six years the situation today is the following:

The national-political unification of the Germans has occurred, save for small exceptions. Further success cannot be obtained without bloodshed.

The drawing of the borders is of military importance
The Pole is not an additional enemy. Poland will always be on the side of our enemies. Despite the friendship treaty there has always been the intention in Poland to use any chance against us.

Danzig is not the object that is at issue. The issue for us is the extension of living space in the east and securing of food supplies as well as solving the Baltic problem. Food supplies can only be obtained in areas sparsely populated. Beside the fertility the German thorough agriculture will immensely increase the surpluses.

In Europe there is no other possibility.

Colonies: Warning against giving away colonial possessions. That is no solution of the food problem. Blockade!

If fate forces us to a conflict with the West, it is good to have more land in the East. In the war we can count even less on record harvests than in peacetime.

The population of non-German territories does not do military service and is thus available for work.

The problem 'Poland' is not to be separated from the conflict with the west.


Poland’s inner steadfastness against Bolshevism is dubious. Thus Poland is also a dubious barrier against Russia.

A successful war in the west with a quick decision is questionable, as is the attitude of Poland.

Pressure from Russia the Polish regime will not withstand. Poland sees danger in Germany’s victory over the West and will try to take this victory away from us.

There can thus be no question of sparing Poland, and the decision that remains is to attack Poland at the first appropriate occasion.

A repetition of the Czech case we cannot believe in. There will be fighting. The task is to isolate Poland. The success of isolation is decisive.


Thus the Führer must reserve for himself the final order to strike. There must be no simultaneous confrontation with the West (France and England).

If it is not certain that in the sequence of a German-Polish confrontation a war with the West is to be excluded, the fight must be mainly directed against England and France.

Principle: Confrontation with Poland – beginning with attack against Poland – will only have success if the West stays out.

If this is not possible it will be better to attack the West and to liquidate Poland at the same time.

It is a matter of skillful politics to isolate Poland.

A difficult question is that of Japan. While at the time they are for various reasons cool in what concerns going together with us, it is in Japan’s own interest to move against Russia in time.

With Russia economic relations are only possible when political relations have improved. In press statements a cautious attitude is becoming apparent. It is not to be excluded that Russia is disinterested in a shattering of Poland. If Russia keeps driving against us, the relationship with Japan may become closer.

An alliance of France, England and Russia against Germany-Italy-Japan would lead me to attack England and France with some devastating strikes.

The Führer doubts the possibility of a peaceful confrontation with England. It is necessary to be prepared for the confrontation. England sees in our development the foundation of a hegemony that would weaken England. England is thus our enemy, and the confrontation will be one of life and death.

What will this confrontation look like?

England cannot liquidate Germany with a few powerful strikes and force us into submission. For England it is decisive to carry the war as close as possible to the Ruhr area. French blood will not be spared. (West Wall!!) Possession of the Ruhr area is decisive for the duration of our resistance.

The Dutch and Belgian air bases must be occupied militarily. Declarations of neutrality cannot be relied upon. If France and England want to bring about a confrontation during the war between Germany and Poland, they will support the Netherlands and Belgium in their neutrality and let them build fortifications to them force them to come along.

Belgium and the Netherlands will, though under protest, give in to the pressure. If England intervenes during our Polish war, we must thus make a lightning strike against the Netherlands. It is desirable to gain a new line of defense of Dutch territory up to lake Zuider. The war with England and France will be a war of life and death.

The idea that we may be able to buy ourselves out cheaply is dangerous: this possibility does not exist. The bridges must then be broken down, and the issue will no longer be right or wrong, but existence or non-existence of 80 million people.

Question: Short or long war?

All armed forces and state leaders have to strive for a short war. The state leadership must, however, prepare as well for a war lasting 10 to 15 years.

Throughout history people have ever believed in short wars. In 1914 they were still of the opinion that long wars could not be financed. Even today this view is still in many heads. Any state will, however, hold out as long as possible if there is not a decisive weakening right away (for instance Ruhr area). England has similar weaknesses.

England knows that an unfortunate outcome of the war will mean the end of its world power.

England is the motor that drives against Germany. It’s strength lies in the following:

1.) The Briton is proud, brave, tough, resistant and has an organizational talent. He knows how to take advantage of any new event. He has the adventure spirit and the courage of the Nordic Race. Quality sinks with broadening. The German average is better.

2.) It is a world power per see. Constantly increased by allies since 300 years ago. The power is to be seen not only as a real one but also as a psychological one encompassing the world. In addition there is the boundless wealth and the credit-worthiness related thereto.

3.) The geopolitical security and protection by strong sea power and a gallant air force.

England’s weakness:

If in the war we had had two more battleships and two more cruisers and begun the Skagerrak battle in the morning, the British fleet would have been beaten and England brought to its knees. It would have been the end of the World War. In the past it was not sufficient to beat the fleet, one also had to land to defeat England. England could feed itself. This is no longer possible today.

As soon as England is cut off from its supplies it is forced to capitulate. The supply of food and combustion material depends on protection by the fleet.

The attack of the air force against the English homeland does not force England to capitulate in one day. But if the fleet is destroyed, immediate capitulation is the consequence.

There is no doubt that a surprise attack can lead to a quick solution. It would be criminal, however, if the state leadership were to rely on surprise being achieved.

Experience tells us that surprise can be foiled by the following:

1.) Betrayal to persons outside the competent military circles;
2.) Ordinary coincidence leading the whole action to break down;
3.) Human failure;
4.) Weather conditions.

The date to strike must be established long in advance.
Beyond this one cannot, however, live in tension for long.
We must count on the weather conditions making a surprise intervention by the fleet and air force impossible.

This must be considered in the planning as a worst case. .

1.) It remains to be endeavored to deal the opponent a or the devastating blow at the very beginning. Right or wrong or agreements play no part in this.

This is only possible is one doesn’t ‘slip’ into a war with England due to Poland.

2.) Beside the surprise attack and the shattering of English possibilities on the continent, the long war is to be prepared.

The army has to take hold of the positions that are important for the fleet and the air force. If we succeed in occupying the Netherlands and Belgium and beating France, the basis for a successful war against England will have been created.

From western France the air force can take care of the narrower blockade of England, while the wider blockade is carried out by the fleet with the U-boats.

Consequences:

England cannot fight on the continent, the daily attacks by air force and navy cut apart all lifelines.

Time decides against England. Germany doesn’t bleed to death on land.

The necessity of this kind of warfare has been proven by the World War and the military confrontations since then.

From the World War the following compulsory conclusions for the waging of war must be drawn:

1.) Had the navy been stronger at the beginning of the war and the army turned on the Channel ports, the outcome of the war would have been another.

2.) A land cannot be brought to submission by the air force alone.
It is not possible to attack all objectives at the same time, and a few minutes in between bring the defense onto the stage.

3.) What is important is the reckless use of all means.

4.) Once the army in cooperation with the air force and navy taken the most important position, industrial production no longer flows into the Danaid barrel of army battles, but benefits the air force and the navy.

Thus the army must be in conditions to take these positions. The attack according to plan is to be prepared.

To study this is the most important task. The goal is always to bring England to its knees.

Every weapon has a decisive effect on the outcome of battle only as long as the enemy doesn’t possess it.

This applies to gas, U-boats and the air force. For the latter it applied as long as the English fleet had no defense, which in 1940 and 1941 will no longer be the case. Against Poland for instance the tank weapon will be effective, as the Polish army lacks the defense against it.

Where the effect can no longer be deemed decisive, its place is taken by surprise and genius of operation.

This is the program for attack.

The program obliges to the following

1.) Correct evaluation of the weapons and their effect:
for instance
a) Battleship or aircraft carrier, what is more dangerous in the individual case and on the whole. An aircraft carrier is better for protecting a convoy.
b) Is an air attack on a factory more important than one on a battleship? Where are the bottlenecks of factory production?

2.) Regarding the army’s quick preparedness. The neighboring states must be overrun from the barracks.

3.) Regarding the study of the opponent’s weak spots.
These studies must not be left to the general staff. Secrecy is then no longer guaranteed.
The Führer has thus decided to command a small study staff at the Wehrmacht High Command which contains representatives of the three Wehrmacht branches and will on a case by case basis take in the supreme commanders or heads of general staff. This staff must constantly inform the Führer and keep him updated.

The study staff takes care of the intellectual preparation of operations at the highest level and the technical and organizational preparations resulting therefrom. The purpose of certain instructions is nobody’s business outside the staff.

As much as the armament of our opponents may increase, they must at some time reach the end of their possibilities, and ours will be greater.

French recruit classes 120,000 men!

We will not be forced into a war, but there is no way for us around it.

Secrecy is the decisive pre-condition for success. Also towards Italy or Japan the goal must remain secret. For Italy there remains the breaking through the Maginot Line, which is to be studied. The Führer considers the breakthrough possible.

Putting together (bundling) the Wehrmacht branches for the study of the overall problem is important.

The purpose

1.) Study of the overall problem.
2.) " the procedure.
3.) " the required means.
4.) " the necessary training.

The staff must consist of men with much fantasy and best professional knowledge, as well as officers with a sober, skeptical mind.

Principle for the work:

1.) Nobody is to be involved who must not know.
2.) Nobody must learn more than he needs to know.
3.) When at the latest must the respective person know it? Nobody must know anything earlier than he needs to know it.

Upon question by Field Marshall Göring the Führer establishes that

a) the Wehrmacht branches determine what is to be built;
b) the ship building program is not to be changed;
c) the armament programs are to be targeted to 1943 or 44.

For the correctness of the rendering:
Schmundt, Lieutenant Colonel

Source:
Walther Hofer
Die Entfesselung des Zweiten Weltkrieges, pages 61 and following
The Polish colonels were simply riding on the coat-tails of the Anglo-French confrontation with Germany, seeing it as an unexpected means to gain a long-held goal of territorial expansion to the West, promoted in particular by the Dmowski faction of Polish nationalism.
Dmowski wanted expansion in the West ? That's really new to me.And there were no territorial ambitions of Poland in the west, besides maybe some polish regions that were left in Germany after 1921 in Upper Silesia.But nothing grand I am afraid.

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Post by tonyh » 24 Jun 2005 15:07

I am locking this thread so that we do not have two parallel discussions on the same topic going on. The other thread showed far more documentary evidence and is therefore the place where the discussion should be continued.

http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 60&start=0

Thank you.

Andreas
Why did you lock the other thread?????????? The extremely bad form Andreas.
So you admit that your previous statement was wrong.
And NO I did NOT "admit" my previous statement was wrong at all. My statement that Britain's declaration of war started the shooting war in the West still stands.

Tony

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