michael mills wrote: ↑
25 Dec 2018 06:42
Yes, Pilsudski and others knew what Hitler was planning concerning Poland.
They knew that his plan for Poland was to draw it into an alliance directed against the Soviet Union, an alliance in which Poland would join Germany in invading and conquering that country, and be rewarded with territory in Ukraine.(Why would Poland want any territory in Ukraine, with an overwhelming Ukrainian population? They already had enough problems with the Ukrainians in Eastern Poland.)
They knew that he had no plan to attack and conquer their country. ( (They knew he was more likely to have a plan to attack and conquer, rather than not.)
For Pilsudski and his loyal followers such as Beck, Hitler's plan was quite attractive, since they regarded the Soviet Union as Poland's hereditary enemy, an enemy that had invaded their country less than two decades previously. ( They equally regarded Germany as a hereditary enemy.)
By contrast, Germany had given Russian Poland a measure of autonomy after conquering it from Russia, ( It was vassal state of Germany. It excluded the cradle of Poland, Wielko-Polska, which was being Germanized violently), Silesia and Galicia)
and in November 1918 had been the first state ( Did it ever ??? )
to recognise the Polish Republic proclaimed by Pilsudski, under a deal made between him and the German representative Count Harry Kessler before he returned to Warsaw from honourable internment at Magdeburg.
Contrary to what was claimed by Polish leaders during and after the war, Pilsudski and Beck did not definitively reject the German proposal for an alliance. What they did was to delay accepting it, until they could be certain of the attitude of France and Britain. Although they were favourable to the idea of an alliance with Germany against the Soviet Union, (never, both were enemies)
the one thing they wanted to avoid at all costs was to find themselves in a war with Britain and France on the side of Germany. For that reason, they held off accepting the overtures coming from Germany while waiting to see whether Hitler would be able to continue his movement toward war with the Soviet Union while avoiding provoking Britain and France into making war on Germany.
Another reason for holding off was to avoid provoking the anti-Pilsudski opposition in Poland, which was intensely germanophobic and might rise in rebellion if Pilsudski and his successors allied with Germany. After Pilsudski's death in May 1935, a struggle for power broke out among his successors, pitting Foreign Minister Beck against the military commander Smigly-Rydz, with Beck seeking to continue Pilsudski's pro-German course while Smigly-Rydz sought the support of the support of the internal opposition by aligning himself more closely with their anti-German (and anti-Jewish) ideology. That struggle weakened Beck, and rendered him unable to bite the bullet and agree to an alliance with Germany.
After the outbreak of war, Beck and the other Polish leaders presented their delaying tactics in response to the German offer of an anti-Soviet alliance as a principled refusal to join forces with Hitler, and that is the version of events that has been accepted in Polish non-Communist historiography, although the Communist version, that Pilsudski and his successors were at heart willing to enter into an anti-Soviet alliance, was closer to historical truth.
Defensive doctrine of Poland used in 1939: “to be or not to be.”
Iwo Cyprian Pogonowski
The defensive doctrine of Poland, was applied in earnest starting on January 26, 1939 when German minister von Ribbentrop was told in Warsaw that Poland will not join the pact against Russia. Poles followed the advice of Marshal Józef Piłsudski, who wrote in his last will and testament, that in order to preserve not only the independence of Poland, but in fact Poland’s very existence, the government of Poland had “to veer between Germany and Russia as long as possible and then bring the rest of the world into the conflict, rather than subordinating Poland to either one of its two neighbors.” The choice of the verb “to veer” indicated that Piłsudski was fully aware of the reality, that Poland formed a barrier between two main protagonists and most powerful contenders on the European continent: Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Soviet Union.
Stalin fearful of a two front war by Germany and Japan against the USSR decided to stop the Japanese Kwantung Army by Soviet attack in August 1939, a few days before the Ribbentrop-Mołotow Pact was to be signed in Moscow. According to The Oxford Companion to World War II (Oxford University Press, 1995) Soviet general Grigory Zhukov was the first in history to use the blitz-krieg tactics. These tactics were developed jointly by Germans and Russians on Soviet polygons after the Treaty of Rapallo of April 16, 1922.
From May 28, 1938 on, the largest air battles in history up to that time, were fought in Asia and involved 140 to 200 Soviet and Japanese aircraft (A. Stella, Khalkhin-Gol, "The Forgotten War", Journal of Contemporary History, 1, 8, 1983). Heavy Japanese loses and betrayal by Germany, were to bring an end to Japanese-Soviet war. Zhukov organized a surprise offensive using 35 infantry battalions, 20 cavalry squadrons, 500 aircraft and 500 of the new and powerful tanks. This force locally outnumbered the forces of the advancing Kwantung Army.
On August 20, 1939 Zhukov launched a surprise attack and in ten days inflicted massive casualties on the Japanese. "Zhukov's essential achievement lay in combining tanks, artillery, aircraft and men in an integrated offensive for the first time in modern war. By 31 August, the Russians have completed what they described as the most impeccable encirclement of the enemy army since Hannibal beat the Romans at Cannae. The 23rd Division of the Kwantung Army was virtually wiped out, and at least 18,000 Japanese were killed." (P. Snow "Nomonhan -the Unknown Victory", History Today, July 1990.)
Poles, threatened by Hitler with complete eradication of the Polish state in the historic Polish lands, knew that Stalin threatened Poland with terror and enslavement. However, Nazi Germany then was the worse of the two evils. Poles made a rational decision and refused to help Germany to defeat Russia. Poland’s refusal to attack Russia saved the Soviet Union from destruction. The Russians so far do not want to admit this fact and they revive the cult of Stalin.
During the 1930ties the League of Nations was trying to prevent the outbreak of hostilities. Then, on August 11, 1939, Hitler finally said to Jacob Burkhardt, Commissioner of the League of Nations: "Everything I undertake is directed against Russia; if the West is too stupid and blind to grasp this, I shall be compelled to come to an agreement with the Russians, beat the West and then, after their defeat, turn against the Soviet Union with all my forces. I need the Ukraine so that they can not starve me out as happened in the last war." (Roy Dennan "Missed Chances," Indigo, London 1997, p. 65). Hitler talked about Russia being “German Africa” and Russians as “negros” to be used by the superior German race.
Hitler’s plan to create “Greater Germany” populated by “racial Germans from the River Rhine to the Dnepr River in the Ukraine,” was known to marshal Piłsudski, who understood that Hitler planned eventual eviction and mass murder of Poles and Ukrainians in their historical land s. Earlier, on March 3, 1918, in Brest Litovsk, a town occupied by Germans, Lenin’s government signed a humiliating capitulation, which yielded to German dictate and agreed to make Russia a vassal state of Germany. Berlin planned to treat Russia like Britain treated India and make a colonial empire ruled by Germany from the Rhine River to Vladivostok. In 1939 the territory of Poland blocked Germany from the direct access to the Ukraine and to Russia.
Already on August 5, 1935 Hitler started pressing the government of Poland to sign a pact with Germany against Russia. This is described in detail, by Józef Lipski, the ambassador of Poland to Germany, during the years 1933-39. Stalin’s government was aware of Hitler’s plans and of the pact between Germany and Japan against Russia signed in 1936. Stalin feared a two front war, Japanese attack from the east and German attack from the west. When Poland refused to join Germany on January 26, 1939 Stalin thought that he had a chance to entangle Germany in a long lasting war on the western front, as had happened during WWI.
For all practical purposes Stalin offered to divide Poland between Germany and Russia by inviting the German-Soviet cooperation on March 10, 1939 in a speech broadcast by radio and addressed to the 18th Congress of the Soviet Communist Party in Moscow. Eventually the Treaty of Non-Aggression between Germany and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was signed in Moscow and dated August 23, 1939. The news of German-Soviet pact and German betrayal, came to Japanese in the middle of a military disaster, which lead to a cease fire and an the end of hostilities between Japan and the Soviet Union on September 16, 1939 after Japan lodged a formal protest in Berlin against the “Ribbentrop – Molotov Pact.”
Thus, Poland’s decision to defend itself ruined Hitler’s “best case scenario” and his plans to defeat Stalin in a two-front war against Russia. Instead Stalin managed to entangle the Germans in a two-front war. The “great game” consisted of competition between Hitler and Stalin who defeats whom in a two-front war by means of attacks from the east and from the west.