For "General Anders"

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michael mills
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For "General Anders"

Post by michael mills » 06 Apr 2002 02:45

"General Anders"

I have read your statement of your position and would like to reply to it in this new thread, since the thread that you started has become a little bogged down in mutual recriminations.

First, I would like to ask whether you have read the book "Revolution From Abroad", by Professor Jan Tomas Gross? If not, I would recommend it to you.

In that book, Professor Gross analyses Soviet rule in the eastern parts of Poland between 17 September 1939 and 22 June 1941. He comes to the rather surprising conclusion that during that period, until the German invasion of the Soviet Union, Soviet rule in Eastern Poland was worse than German rule in Western Poland. That conclusion was by no means the result of any pro-German bias on the part of Professor Gross, who is himself Jewish.

I would be interested in your view of Professor Gross's conclusion as to the relative harshness of German and Soviet rule in Poland.

In general, I think you have raised an important point with your question as to why Germany waged a "crusade" in Poland, rather than simply occupying the country and seeking an accommodation with it, perhaps on the basis of an alliance against the Soviet Union.

The fact (which may surprise many readers) is that the violence of the German attack on Poland was in total contrast to the policy that Hitler had previously pursued in relation to German-Polish relations. Immediately upon coming to power, Hitler had tried to establish good relations with Poland, in contrast to the "cold war" that had existed during the period of the Weimar Republic. This policy came to fruition with the Non-Aggression Treaty of 1934. Thereafter, Hitler's policy was based on trying to form an anti-Soviet alliance of all the East European states, including Poland.

After the conclusion of the Versailles Treaty in 1919, relations between Germany and Poland were very bad. Both countries had territorial claims against each other. While Germany accepted the loss of the Posen Province, it did not accept the loss of West Prussia (the "Polish Corridor") or of East Upper Silesia, and constantly proclaimed its intention to seek their return. Poland, on the other hand, had claimed all German territory east of the Oder-Neisse Line at the Paris Peace Conference, and was very miffed when the "Big Four" had failed to meets its demands.

Germany's revisionist claims against Poland were one of the reasons that impelled it to enter into the Treaty of Rapallo with the Soviet Union. That treaty established military links between the two countries that were directed against Poland, and was a forerunner of the Hitler-Stalin Pact of 23 August 1939. Indeed, in 1923, at the time of the French Occupation of the Ruhr, the Reichswehr came up with a secret plan to start a war with Poland in alliance with the Soviet Union; the idea was that once the Red Army had defeated the Polish Army and reached the German frontier, it would join up with the Reichswehr and both forces would move west to drive the French out of the Ruhr and the Rhineland.

Even Gustav Stresemann, the German Foreign Minister who re-established good relations with France, culminating in the Treaty of Locarno in 1926, wrote in a letter to the former Crown-Prince that the aim of his Western Policy was to allow Germany to regain its power so that it could confront and defeat Poland.

All this changed when Hitler came to power. As stated, he reversed the anti-Polish policies of Weimar Germany; his main enemy was Bolshevik Russia (which had been the ally of Weimar Germany), and he saw Poland as a potential anti-Soviet ally. Part of the reason for Hitler's pro-Polish attitude may lie in his Austrian origin. The German Austrians, by contrast with the Prussians, were never anti-Polish, and indeed the Habsburg Government favoured ethnic Poles as a counterweight to other rebellious nationalities. Hitler shows no anti-Polish animus in his early writings or statements, in contrast to expressed hatred for Jews and Czechs, his contempt for Russians, and his mistrust of Serbs.

During the thirties it was widely expected by observers that Hitler would eventually unleash a war against the Soviet Union, and that Poland would be his ally. That was particularly the belief of leftists and other pro-Soviet observers. For example, the 1936 book "Hitler Over Russia", written by one Ernst Henri (who I suspect may have been a Comintern agent) predicted a German attack on the Soviet Union in alliance with Poland, Hungary, Rumania, Finland and rightist forces in the Baltic States. Indeed, Henri believed that the Polish Army would play the main role in the Centre, with the German forces concentrating on the attack in the North and the South. For Henri and other leftists, the Polish regime of the colonels, Sanacja, was just as much a Fascist regime as Hitler's in Germany.

As is well known, Poland aided and abetted Germany in the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia in 1938. Shortly after the Munich Agreement, Hitler told the Polish Ambassador, Jozef Lipski, that he intended to solve the Jewish Problem in concert with Poland, Hungary and Rumania; Lipski, by his own account, told Hitler that if he, Hitler, succeeded in solving the Jewish Problem in Poland, the Polish people would in gratitude erect a monument to him in the most beautiful part of Warsaw. So where's the monument, "General Anders".

Given the good relations between Germany and Poland that existed from 1933 to 1938, the turnaround in 1939, and the violence of the German attack, are hard to explain. It may be that, once Poland had definitively rejected all German attempts to achieve a resolution of the Danzig question and more secure transport connections to East Prussia, Hitler gave up his own pro-Polish attitude and allowed a return to the traditional Prussian anti-Polish policy that had continued to be fostered in the Reichswehr and in the Foreign Office (eg by the German Ambassador in Moscow, Von der Schulenburg).

In conclusion, I think that the roots of the barbarity of German rule in Poland post-1939 are to be found in the pre-1914 Prussian anti-Polish policy, which had been intensified and radicalised by the experiences of the First World War and its immediate aftermath. It had been Prussian Policy from the 1880s onward to germanise the Posen Province, and it had tried to reduce the ethnic Polish population both by expelling parts of it into Russian Poland, and by scattering other parts of it throughout the German Reich (hence the origin of the "Rhineland Poles"). German treatment of Poles after 1939 represents a continuation of the earlier policy, but in a much more savage, less humane form.

It must be borne in mind that the Polish Government also played a part in creating hatred between Germans and Poles. In the early 20s it organised anti-German terrorism in Silesia by bands of Polish irregulars led by Korfanty, in an attempt to stampede the German population and pave the way for the Polish Army to march in an annex that territory.

Davey Boy
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Post by Davey Boy » 06 Apr 2002 04:27

Michael,

Thanks for the effort. An interesting post...

"First, I would like to ask whether you have read the book "Revolution From Abroad", by Professor Jan Tomas Gross? If not, I would recommend it to you."

No I have not. But I'm not a big fan of the guy.

"In that book, Professor Gross analyses Soviet rule in the eastern parts of Poland between 17 September 1939 and 22 June 1941. He comes to the rather surprising conclusion that during that period, until the German invasion of the Soviet Union, Soviet rule in Eastern Poland was worse than German rule in Western Poland. That conclusion was by no means the result of any pro-German bias on the part of Professor Gross, who is himself Jewish.

I would be interested in your view of Professor Gross's conclusion as to the relative harshness of German and Soviet rule in Poland."

Well, I think it's a very tough thing to compare. Half of my family comes from Poznan, and the other half from the former eastern territories, so I've heard plenty about both the German and Soviet occupations. And the conclusion I've come to is that both were about the same, really. The only real difference I can see is that the initianal Soviet occupation ended rather quickly, while the Germans had a little more time to do damage. And then, when the Soviets came in again in '44/45, they weren't quite as brutal as before.

"In general, I think you have raised an important point with your question as to why Germany waged a "crusade" in Poland, rather than simply occupying the country and seeking an accommodation with it, perhaps on the basis of an alliance against the Soviet Union."

Thanks, although it was somewhat of a rhetorical question. I know the underlying reasons for what the Germans did, I just don't think much of them. And I certainly can't comprehend why anyone would be so crass. In regards to the second point, I wasn't even talking about an alliance. Hey, the Germans could've occupied Poland and re-drawn the maps however they liked. What I was talking about was showing some respect to the people and giving them some options. When you're given limited options, such as "work to death or we'll shoot you", then you do some crazy, possibly even violent, things.

"The fact (which may surprise many readers) is that the violence of the German attack on Poland was in total contrast to the policy that Hitler had previously pursued in relation to German-Polish relations. Immediately upon coming to power, Hitler had tried to establish good relations with Poland, in contrast to the "cold war" that had existed during the period of the Weimar Republic. This policy came to fruition with the Non-Aggression Treaty of 1934. Thereafter, Hitler's policy was based on trying to form an anti-Soviet alliance of all the East European states, including Poland."

I guess this is where the Polish government screwed up. But then again, I would not have wanted Poland to side with the Nazis. There's that dilemma again...

"After the conclusion of the Versailles Treaty in 1919, relations between Germany and Poland were very bad. Both countries had territorial claims against each other. While Germany accepted the loss of the Posen Province, it did not accept the loss of West Prussia (the "Polish Corridor") or of East Upper Silesia, and constantly proclaimed its intention to seek their return. Poland, on the other hand, had claimed all German territory east of the Oder-Neisse Line at the Paris Peace Conference, and was very miffed when the "Big Four" had failed to meets its demands."

I think many Polish politicians at that time were living in la la land. Claiming all land east of the Oder-Neisse line was a prime example of this. However, I do think Poland had legitimae territorial claims against Germany. A lot of that land was Polish, after all, with Poles living there, and only became a part of Germany thanks to those fat Prussians.

"Germany's revisionist claims against Poland were one of the reasons that impelled it to enter into the Treaty of Rapallo with the Soviet Union. That treaty established military links between the two countries that were directed against Poland, and was a forerunner of the Hitler-Stalin Pact of 23 August 1939. Indeed, in 1923, at the time of the French Occupation of the Ruhr, the Reichswehr came up with a secret plan to start a war with Poland in alliance with the Soviet Union; the idea was that once the Red Army had defeated the Polish Army and reached the German frontier, it would join up with the Reichswehr and both forces would move west to drive the French out of the Ruhr and the Rhineland."

And then I would've liked to see the Soviets leave Germany peacefully.

"Even Gustav Stresemann, the German Foreign Minister who re-established good relations with France, culminating in the Treaty of Locarno in 1926, wrote in a letter to the former Crown-Prince that the aim of his Western Policy was to allow Germany to regain its power so that it could confront and defeat Poland.

All this changed when Hitler came to power. As stated, he reversed the anti-Polish policies of Weimar Germany; his main enemy was Bolshevik Russia (which had been the ally of Weimar Germany), and he saw Poland as a potential anti-Soviet ally. Part of the reason for Hitler's pro-Polish attitude may lie in his Austrian origin. The German Austrians, by contrast with the Prussians, were never anti-Polish, and indeed the Habsburg Government favoured ethnic Poles as a counterweight to other rebellious nationalities. Hitler shows no anti-Polish animus in his early writings or statements, in contrast to expressed hatred for Jews and Czechs, his contempt for Russians, and his mistrust of Serbs."

Maybe Hitler fell for the Nazi's own anti-Slavic propaganda.

"During the thirties it was widely expected by observers that Hitler would eventually unleash a war against the Soviet Union, and that Poland would be his ally. That was particularly the belief of leftists and other pro-Soviet observers. For example, the 1936 book "Hitler Over Russia", written by one Ernst Henri (who I suspect may have been a Comintern agent) predicted a German attack on the Soviet Union in alliance with Poland, Hungary, Rumania, Finland and rightist forces in the Baltic States. Indeed, Henri believed that the Polish Army would play the main role in the Centre, with the German forces concentrating on the attack in the North and the South. For Henri and other leftists, the Polish regime of the colonels, Sanacja, was just as much a Fascist regime as Hitler's in Germany."

Paranoid commie...he, he.

"As is well known, Poland aided and abetted Germany in the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia in 1938."

Well it's not like Polish troops played a vital role in the invasion of the Czechs,and it's not like we took part with the Germans in a victory parade in Prague, now is it?

"Shortly after the Munich Agreement, Hitler told the Polish Ambassador, Jozef Lipski, that he intended to solve the Jewish Problem in concert with Poland, Hungary and Rumania; Lipski, by his own account, told Hitler that if he, Hitler, succeeded in solving the Jewish Problem in Poland, the Polish people would in gratitude erect a monument to him in the most beautiful part of Warsaw. So where's the monument, "General Anders"."

I wouldn't put too much weight into what one politician says. And the proof is in the pudding...there's no monument to Hitler. But there are plenty of monuments to Polish Jews.


"Given the good relations between Germany and Poland that existed from 1933 to 1938, the turnaround in 1939, and the violence of the German attack, are hard to explain. It may be that, once Poland had definitively rejected all German attempts to achieve a resolution of the Danzig question and more secure transport connections to East Prussia, Hitler gave up his own pro-Polish attitude and allowed a return to the traditional Prussian anti-Polish policy that had continued to be fostered in the Reichswehr and in the Foreign Office (eg by the German Ambassador in Moscow, Von der Schulenburg)."

Shame that...still, what the Nazis did right after the invasion of Poland was something of a precedent. I don't think even those Prussian swines would've come up with that.

"In conclusion, I think that the roots of the barbarity of German rule in Poland post-1939 are to be found in the pre-1914 Prussian anti-Polish policy, which had been intensified and radicalised by the experiences of the First World War and its immediate aftermath."

The roots, yes. But I think there was a severe mutation somewhere along the way as this plant was growning out of the ground.

"It had been Prussian Policy from the 1880s onward to germanise the Posen Province, and it had tried to reduce the ethnic Polish population both by expelling parts of it into Russian Poland, and by scattering other parts of it throughout the German Reich (hence the origin of the "Rhineland Poles"). German treatment of Poles after 1939 represents a continuation of the earlier policy, but in a much more savage, less humane form."

Damn Prussians.

"It must be borne in mind that the Polish Government also played a part in creating hatred between Germans and Poles. In the early 20s it organised anti-German terrorism in Silesia by bands of Polish irregulars led by Korfanty, in an attempt to stampede the German population and pave the way for the Polish Army to march in an annex that territory."

Yes, not a good move that. But it's not like the Germans were playing fair. They imported voters from the Reich every time there was a vote to see whether that land should belong to Poland or Germany. All childish stuff, I know. Hopefully we're all a little more grown up these days.

Regards,

David

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