Would Pilsudski have allied with Hitler had he lived?

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Sid Guttridge
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Re: Would Pilsudski have allied with Hitler had he lived?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 07 Jan 2019 15:14

Hi Futurist,

You ask, "Let's see what am has to say about this......Lithuania has a land connection to Latvia, though, and Latvia has a land connection to Russia. Plus, you could annex Estonia as well."

Yes, in improbable theory, but extending that same contrived logic he could also have sneaked up on the USSR via the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Switzerland, Italy, Yugoslavia, Greece, Bulgaria and Romania, as well, if he wished to avoid Poland.

Cheers,

Sid.

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Re: Would Pilsudski have allied with Hitler had he lived?

Post by Steve » 08 Jan 2019 01:14

No German Government prior to Hitler had fully recognised the German Polish border. In 1925 Herbert von Dirksen head of the Eastern Dept. in the Foreign Ministry and later ambassador to the UK outlined German aims in a memorandum. He wrote that Germany should at the right time; demand the return of Danzig and the corridor he also mentioned other territory. Poland would be offered trading concessions in Danzig and perhaps access to Memel through a corridor. At the Locarno conference in 1925 which was supposed to settle Europe’s new borders Germany managed to fudge the issue of its border with Poland. The German ambassador to Britain in the 1920s told the British Foreign Secretary Austin Chamberlain that Germany did not want to exclude completely war in the east, since arbitration might not be accepted by both parties.

Once Germany regained its strength either Poland made concessions or it would probably be in a never ending crisis with the threat of war. The military disparity between Germany and Poland was perhaps similar to that between Lithuania and Poland. In 1938 Poland threatened Lithuania if it did not establish diplomatic relations. The Lithuanians swallowed their pride and agreed. Poland was not strong enough vis-à-vis Germany to say no to everything Hitler wanted.

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Re: Would Pilsudski have allied with Hitler had he lived?

Post by Futurist » 08 Jan 2019 03:29

Steve wrote:
08 Jan 2019 01:14
No German Government prior to Hitler had fully recognised the German Polish border. In 1925 Herbert von Dirksen head of the Eastern Dept. in the Foreign Ministry and later ambassador to the UK outlined German aims in a memorandum. He wrote that Germany should at the right time; demand the return of Danzig and the corridor he also mentioned other territory. Poland would be offered trading concessions in Danzig and perhaps access to Memel through a corridor. At the Locarno conference in 1925 which was supposed to settle Europe’s new borders Germany managed to fudge the issue of its border with Poland. The German ambassador to Britain in the 1920s told the British Foreign Secretary Austin Chamberlain that Germany did not want to exclude completely war in the east, since arbitration might not be accepted by both parties.

Once Germany regained its strength either Poland made concessions or it would probably be in a never ending crisis with the threat of war. The military disparity between Germany and Poland was perhaps similar to that between Lithuania and Poland. In 1938 Poland threatened Lithuania if it did not establish diplomatic relations. The Lithuanians swallowed their pride and agreed. Poland was not strong enough vis-à-vis Germany to say no to everything Hitler wanted.
This is probably why Poland heavily relied on its alliance with France and, later on, with Britain. Poland alone could not have defeated Germany after it rearmed, but it could have with France's and Britain's help (and with better decision-making in Paris so that France doesn't fall).

Interestingly enough, there might have actually been an opportunity for Poland to avoid making any concessions to Germany and yet avoid war. Specifically, I am thinking of Britain and France taking a firm stand over the Sudetenland back in 1938 and thus triggering an anti-Nazi coup in Germany. While Germany's new leaders would undoubtedly want to revise the German-Polish border, they'd also very likely be way too scared of war with Britain and France to actually do anything meaningful about this.

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Re: Would Pilsudski have allied with Hitler had he lived?

Post by Futurist » 08 Jan 2019 03:38

Interestingly enough, if one counts Kashubians as Poles, a majority of the population in the Polish Corridor were actually Polish even in 1918. Also, in every German Reichstag election, the people of the Polish Corridor--with the exception of the southernmost part--consistently voted for pro-Polish parties. For instance, here's a map for 1912:

Image

Meanwhile, here's a 1910 ethnic/linguistic map of the Polish Corridor:

Image

The part where Gdynia was was solidly Polish even back in 1910.

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Re: Would Pilsudski have allied with Hitler had he lived?

Post by Futurist » 08 Jan 2019 03:42

Finally, I'd like to make one more point here--I wonder if revanchist German politicians in the 1920s and 1930s would have thought that the U.S. has a right to conquer British Columbia by force in order to create a land corridor to Alaska under U.S. control.

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Re: Would Pilsudski have allied with Hitler had he lived?

Post by wm » 08 Jan 2019 06:15

One of the (rather minor) German goals were regaining lost lands but that was going to be achieved by peaceful means.
Germany was one of the major proponents of peaceful relations in Europe and renounced the use of force by signing the Kellogg-Briand Pact (it fact Germany was its first signatory).

Similarly, in 1939 Poland was protected by the German-Polish Non-Aggression Pact and by constant Hilter's declarations that he is interested in peaceful means only.

Poland didn't heavily rely on her alliance with France, Polish leaders believed France wouldn't support Poland in any meaningful way in case a full-blown war with Germany and planned accordingly, i.e. didn't plan at all for any war.

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Re: Would Pilsudski have allied with Hitler had he lived?

Post by wm » 08 Jan 2019 06:24

Sid Guttridge wrote:
07 Jan 2019 14:56
Hundreds of kilometers of autobahn were completed after the outbreak of war, but not a centimeter of this was in the "Polish Corridor".

That is and isn't true, they actually rebuilt the existing road using autobahn technology but not its standards, and work continued on the entire length of the Eastern part of Reichsautobahn Berlin-Königsberg till Stalingrad (the workers were mostly Jews from Polish ghettos).

The new road:
Czersk_1943-45.jpg
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Re: Would Pilsudski have allied with Hitler had he lived?

Post by Futurist » 09 Jan 2019 00:01

wm wrote:
08 Jan 2019 06:15
One of the (rather minor) German goals were regaining lost lands but that was going to be achieved by peaceful means.
Germany was one of the major proponents of peaceful relations in Europe and renounced the use of force by signing the Kellogg-Briand Pact (it fact Germany was its first signatory).

Similarly, in 1939 Poland was protected by the German-Polish Non-Aggression Pact and by constant Hilter's declarations that he is interested in peaceful means only.

Poland didn't heavily rely on her alliance with France, Polish leaders believed France wouldn't support Poland in any meaningful way in case a full-blown war with Germany and planned accordingly, i.e. didn't plan at all for any war.
Yes, Weimar Germany hoped to revise its borders by peaceful means. However, what about if peaceful means didn't work? Would it have continued to tolerate its Versailles boundaries or would it have resorted to force like Hitler did?
Last edited by Futurist on 09 Jan 2019 00:43, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Would Pilsudski have allied with Hitler had he lived?

Post by Steve » 09 Jan 2019 00:05

The map is very interesting. Poland could not defeat Germany in 1939 with the aid of Britain and France even if they had wanted to make the effort. Britain had no land forces in France when war started and its air force could not bomb Germany during daylight unless they wanted to commit suicide. There was an excellent piece of work a few years back on the A.H.F. which showed clearly where the French army was deployed when war was declared, how long it would take to mobilise and how long it would have taken to move up to the frontier. The campaign in Poland was over before they could have launched an offensive.

British politicians do seem to have received word in 1938 from unofficial sources that high ranking officers were unhappy with Hitler and were looking for support. I can’t remember my source offhand but if I remember correctly it was decided that British policy could not be predicated on whether or not German officers were going to try and stage a coup and if that coup would be successful. It is often said that Britain and France should have gone to war over Czechoslovakia. What that would have meant in practice is that France would have done all the land fighting in the west for at least a year maybe two. Not surprisingly the French were not overjoyed at the prospect.

Unfortunatly the Kellog-Briand Pact had to be ratified by all its signatories to have any standing and it never was. The Germans with the Non Aggression Pact cleverly used wording that left open the possibility of border changes. Lipski realised what the wording meant and warned Beck about it but Pilsudski decided to go ahead anyway.

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Re: Would Pilsudski have allied with Hitler had he lived?

Post by Futurist » 09 Jan 2019 00:42

Steve wrote:
09 Jan 2019 00:05
The map is very interesting. Poland could not defeat Germany in 1939 with the aid of Britain and France even if they had wanted to make the effort. Britain had no land forces in France when war started and its air force could not bomb Germany during daylight unless they wanted to commit suicide. There was an excellent piece of work a few years back on the A.H.F. which showed clearly where the French army was deployed when war was declared, how long it would take to mobilise and how long it would have taken to move up to the frontier. The campaign in Poland was over before they could have launched an offensive.
I was thinking in the long(er)-run, though. Obviously Poland was going to get conquered by Germany in the event of a war, but in the long(er)-run, Britain and France had a good chance of defeating the Germans and pushing them out of Poland. It's possible that this is what the Poles were counting on in 1939-1940--and ultimately, they were right about them being liberated from German rule in the future (though the choice of liberating country was probably unexpected for them).

Of course, Britain and France would also need to avoid a Soviet entry into such a war since even if Britain and France get to Berlin, the Soviet Union might preempt them and capture Poland for itself. Still, such a Soviet move would be risky because it could trigger war with Britain and France. (Please remember that if France never falls, France is going to be more of a military juggernaut at the end of WWII.)
British politicians do seem to have received word in 1938 from unofficial sources that high ranking officers were unhappy with Hitler and were looking for support. I can’t remember my source offhand but if I remember correctly it was decided that British policy could not be predicated on whether or not German officers were going to try and stage a coup and if that coup would be successful. It is often said that Britain and France should have gone to war over Czechoslovakia. What that would have meant in practice is that France would have done all the land fighting in the west for at least a year maybe two. Not surprisingly the French were not overjoyed at the prospect.
I completely agree with you that Britain and France should not have gone to war in either 1938 or 1939 with the expectation that anti-Nazi in the German military would overthrow Hitler and the Nazis and agree to a peace treaty on Anglo-French terms. If Britain and France were going to fight, they should have done so in the belief that they were going to fight a long war.

The two things that Britain and France did have in their favor in 1938 were the strong Czechoslovak military and border defenses and the very real possibility of a Soviet entry into the war on the Anglo-French-Czechoslovak side, though. Even if the Soviet military was weakened by the purges, it would still be nice to have it on the side of the Anglo-French. Thus, France would not have to fight by itself in the first year or two of the war and, in any case, France can play defense if it wants to until the British send enough of their own men (and men from their empire as well) to Western Europe. AFAIK, this was the Anglo-French plan in 1939-1940 in real life--play defense until Britain can send enough of its forces to the Western Front--and only then go on the offensive.
Unfortunatly the Kellog-Briand Pact had to be ratified by all its signatories to have any standing and it never was.
Interesting information. Of course, in any case, it's worth noting that the Germans didn't exactly have a history of keeping their promises. For instance, didn't Prussia guarantee Belgium's neutrality back in 1839?
The Germans with the Non Aggression Pact cleverly used wording that left open the possibility of border changes. Lipski realised what the wording meant and warned Beck about it but Pilsudski decided to go ahead anyway.
I suspect that Pilsudski realized that this was the best deal that he was ever going to get out of Germany and thus went along with this. It must have seemed like a fresh change of attitude in comparison to Weimar Germany's economic war against Poland.

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Re: Would Pilsudski have allied with Hitler had he lived?

Post by Futurist » 09 Jan 2019 00:46

BTW, I do want to give some blame to the U.S. for entering WWI and then being unwilling to enforce the resulting peace settlement. IMHO, if the US was unwilling to enforce the post-WWI peace settlement, it should have stayed out of WWI altogether. Of course, this would have meant a smaller and landlocked Poland--which would have likely been unappealing to most Poles. Still, it was in bad taste on the part of the US to enter the war, preach about a new world order, and then be missing in action when that new world order began being challenged.

I really do wonder whether the fall of France in 1940 would have been avoided had the US already been in the war and already sent a new American Expeditionary Force to France.

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Re: Would Pilsudski have allied with Hitler had he lived?

Post by Futurist » 09 Jan 2019 00:48

Futurist wrote:
08 Jan 2019 03:38
The part where Gdynia was was solidly Polish even back in 1910.
I would like to make a possible correction here. I thought that Gdynia was more to the north than it actually was. Thus, the part where Gdynia was might have actually barely been German-majority (or German-plurality) in 1910--though both the part north of it and the part south of it were indeed solidly Polish-majority.

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Re: Would Pilsudski have allied with Hitler had he lived?

Post by wm » 09 Jan 2019 01:25

Futurist wrote:
09 Jan 2019 00:01
Yes, Weimar Germany hoped to revise its borders by peaceful means. However, what about if peaceful means didn't work? Would it have continued to tolerate its Versailles boundaries or would it have resorted to force like Hitler did?
I suppose eventually Germany would informally accept the borders as they were. Weimar Germany didn't have the balls to go Hitler and take all the risks he took.

Futurist wrote:
09 Jan 2019 00:42
The two things that Britain and France did have in their favor in 1938 were the strong Czechoslovak military and border defenses and the very real possibility of a Soviet entry into the war on the Anglo-French-Czechoslovak side, though.
The Czechoslovak army was more or less useless, their planes were obsolete, their tanks dispersed and without radios, border defenses mostly nonexistent. Main cities were so close to the border they were basically indefensible.
The Czech lands were encircled by the Germans without any fight, for the reason the Army was going to withdraw into Slovakia as fast as possible. The Germans were ok with that.

There was no possibility of a Soviet entry into the war, the battlefield was almost thousand kilometers from the USSR, through the most mountainous and undeveloped terrain in Europe.
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Re: Would Pilsudski have allied with Hitler had he lived?

Post by Futurist » 09 Jan 2019 01:32

wm wrote:
09 Jan 2019 01:25
Futurist wrote:
09 Jan 2019 00:01
Yes, Weimar Germany hoped to revise its borders by peaceful means. However, what about if peaceful means didn't work? Would it have continued to tolerate its Versailles boundaries or would it have resorted to force like Hitler did?
I suppose eventually Germany would informally accept the borders as they were. Weimar Germany didn't have the balls to go Hitler and take all the risks he took.
Yeah, you might be correct in regards to this. Of course, it might take a lot of time and a lot of kicking and screaming beforehand.

Also, I wonder if Germany will eventually try to solve this issue with a population exchange--as in, any German from Poland and Danzig who wants to live under German rule can simply move to Germany.

BTW, if Poland isn't attacked by Germany, then it is unlikely to be attacked by the USSR either. In turn, this means that Poland permanently keeps the Kresy and that either the USSR survives or even if the USSR still eventually collapses, the odds of recreating it in the future are going to be much higher as a result of there being less pro-Western voters in Ukraine. Indeed, without Galicia and Volhynia, there would probably be more support in Ukraine for the Eurasian Union than for the European Union.

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Re: Would Pilsudski have allied with Hitler had he lived?

Post by Futurist » 09 Jan 2019 01:37

It's ironic, isn't it? The people of the Kresy would have been so much better off had they escaped Communism, but the absence of Galicia and Volhynia in Ukraine would have also allowed Russia to permanently continue dominating the rest of Ukraine and thus allowing Russia to ensure that it would remain in charge of a Eurasian empire.

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