Was the Westerplanne occupied by Poland?

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michael mills
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Was the Westerplanne occupied by Poland?

Post by michael mills » 07 Sep 2012 23:27

[Split from "The last defender of Westerplatte died at 94"]

The title of this thread represents an attempt to distort historical truth, and therefore deserves to be subjected to impartial but critical analysis.

The phrase "defender of Westerplatte" suggests to persons unfamiliar with the history of Danzig that the Polish garrison situated on the Westerplatte was defending Polish territory against German aggression.

In fact, the Westerplatte was an integral part of the Free City of Danzig, and was not Polish sovereign territory. Poland had been permitted by the League of Nations, as the protector of Danzig, to maintain a small ammunitions depot on the Westerplatte, together with a small garrison to guard it.

Poland had previously misused its right to station a garrison on the Westerplatte in an illegal attempt to extend its power in Danzig beyond the rights given to it. In 1933 it had increased the size of the garrison beyond the permitted level, for the purpose of intimidating the Danzig Senate into agreeing to accepting Polish domination. However, the protecting powers, in particular Britain, had forced Poland to remove the excess troops.

Thus, it is obvious that the Polish garrison on the Westerplatte was not "defending" anything. It was certainly not
defending" the people of Danzig; if anything it was oppressing them through attempted intimidation.

It follows that the attack on the Polish garrison on the Westerplatte by German forces on 1 September 1939 did not represent an aggression against Danzig, but rather a liberation of the people of Danzig from an unwanted occupation force.

It would be reasonable for persons who promote the Polish nationalist version of history to say that the 200 Polish soldiers stationed at the Westerplatte ammunition depot were loyal soldiers who obeyed the orders of their Government. However, statements such as "Westerplatte is the most important, the most recognizable symbol of Polish heroism and Polish resistance" represent a blatant distortion of historical truth.

The presence of Polish troops on the Westerplatte was not an example of "Polish resistance"; rather it was an example of Polish oppression of the people of Danzig, for which the Polish Government should be blamed, not the individual members of the garrison. If the Polish Government had wished to act in a reasonable way, in accordance with natural justice, it would have withdrawn its garrison from the Westerplatte well before 1 September 1939, and left the people of Danzig to decide their own destiny in freedom; if it had done so, war might well have been avoided.

If Poles wish to say that the 200 Polish soldiers on the Westerplatte fought well and did their duty as members of the Polish armed forces, that is one thing. But if they claim that those soldiers were "heroes" defending their homeland, then they are falsifying history. The eventual defeat of the Polish garrison on the Westerplatte was part of the liberation of Danzig.

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Re: Was the Westerplanne occupied by Poland?

Post by wm » 08 Sep 2012 00:34

The Polish garrison stayed on Westerplatte all the time and never ventured into Danzig so really they didn't oppress anyone. The Danzingers were oppressing themselves much more effectively.

And because the true Germany, the cornerstone of the European civilization and a beacon of modernity for the less fortunate Eastern parts of Europe had been effectively destroyed by the Nazis by that time, one might argue that the Polish soldiers were dying for Germany too...

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Re: Was the Westerplanne occupied by Poland?

Post by wm » 08 Sep 2012 19:25

The Westerplatte is a symbol of resistance for Poles the same way Corregidor was for Americans or Thermopylae for the world. And similarly nobody really cares that the Westerplatte wasn't in Poland, Corredigor in the US or Thermopylae in Sparta.

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Re: Was the Westerplanne occupied by Poland?

Post by waldzee » 17 Sep 2012 16:59

[quote="michael mills"][Split from "The last defender of Westerplatte died at 94"]

The title of this thread represents an attempt to distort historical truth, and therefore deserves to be subjected to impartial but critical analysis.

The phrase "defender of Westerplatte" suggests to persons unfamiliar with the history of Danzig that the Polish garrison situated on the Westerplatte was defending Polish territory against German aggression.

In fact, the Westerplatte was an integral part of the Free City of Danzig, and was not Polish sovereign territory. Poland had been permitted by the League of Nations, as the protector of Danzig, to maintain a small ammunitions depot on the Westerplatte, together with a small garrison to guard it.

Poland had previously misused its right to station a garrison on the Westerplatte in an illegal attempt to extend its power in Danzig beyond the rights given to it. In 1933 it had increased the size of the garrison beyond the permitted level, for the purpose of intimidating the Danzig Senate into agreeing to accepting Polish domination. However, the protecting powers, in particular Britain, had forced Poland to remove the excess troops.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

For what its worth, it was the dock & secured storage for importing military supplies into Poland, & came about as a result of the Danzig 1920 munitions handling strike.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Gda%C5%84sk

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Re: Was the Westerplanne occupied by Poland?

Post by waldzee » 18 Sep 2012 20:59

waldzee wrote:
michael mills wrote:[Split from "The last defender of Westerplatte died at 94"]

The title of this thread represents an attempt to distort historical truth, and therefore deserves to be subjected to impartial but critical analysis.

The phrase "defender of Westerplatte" suggests to persons unfamiliar with the history of Danzig that the Polish garrison situated on the Westerplatte was defending Polish territory against German aggression.

In fact, the Westerplatte was an integral part of the Free City of Danzig, and was not Polish sovereign territory. Poland had been permitted by the League of Nations, as the protector of Danzig, to maintain a small ammunitions depot on the Westerplatte, together with a small garrison to guard it.

Poland had previously misused its right to station a garrison on the Westerplatte in an illegal attempt to extend its power in Danzig beyond the rights given to it. In 1933 it had increased the size of the garrison beyond the permitted level, for the purpose of intimidating the Danzig Senate into agreeing to accepting Polish domination. However, the protecting powers, in particular Britain, had forced Poland to remove the excess troops.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

For what its worth, it was the dock & secured storage for importing military supplies into Poland, & came about as a result of the Danzig 1920 munitions handling strike.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Gda%C5%84sk
As of 1939 Poland had the capacity to transfer the depots to Glydia- . Its unfortunate that they didn't as it may have aided in defusing the crisis for the winter. As we discussed onthe IMT thread, it isan 'open queston' yet wether the attack woudl ahve been halted.

Yet it is a concession that Polish Second Republic could have given up- perhaps enugh of a symbolic one to buy eight crucial months

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Re: Was the Westerplanne occupied by Poland?

Post by wm » 19 Sep 2012 00:31

The Hitler's demands were a package, Poland didn't have the option to cherry pick one of them for itself. Allowing the annexation of the Free City wasn't enough to safe Poland.

And after eight months Poland would be as weak as before and there was a possibility of a disintegration of the Alliance in the pre-Munchen manner.
Poland couldn't afford to risk the known present for unknown future.

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Re: Was the Westerplanne occupied by Poland?

Post by Piotr Kapuscinski » 21 Sep 2012 19:21

The phrase "defender of Westerplatte" suggests to persons unfamiliar with the history of Danzig that the Polish garrison situated on the Westerplatte was defending Polish territory against German aggression.
The phrase "defender of Westerplatte" suggests that the garrison was defending Westerplatte. The phrase "defender of Normandy" suggests that Germans defended Normandy in June 1944 against Allied invasion. Not sure if you are familiar with basic types of military operations, such as defence, attack, withdrawal and delaying.
Thus, it is obvious that the Polish garrison on the Westerplatte was not "defending" anything.
So apparently it was "launching an offensive operation against Schleswig-Holstein battleship" ???

Not really. I don't think so. OTOH, they were obviously defending Westerplatte against German attacks.
But if they claim that those soldiers were "heroes" defending their homeland, then they are falsifying history. The eventual defeat of the Polish garrison on the Westerplatte was part of the liberation of Danzig.
Liberation or occupation / takeover by Nazi Germany of another sovereign state (Free City Danzig)?

AFAIK the Free City Danzig was never under Polish occupation - so there was nothing to liberate it from.
The presence of Polish troops on the Westerplatte was not an example of "Polish resistance"; rather it was an example of Polish oppression of the people of Danzig,
How exactly were those Polish troops on the Westerplatte (WTT) "oppressing" the people of Danzig?

If just foreign military presence = oppression*, then German troops were oppressing the people of Danzig after the end of the battle of WTT (and even before it started - since Nazi Germany smuggled its troops into Free City Danzig already before the war, in order to strenghten local forces there before the prepared invasion of Poland).

You should know that WTT was attacked not only by troops from Schleswig-Holstein battleship.

It was also attacked by troops from the area of the Free City Danzig itself.

*Especially that limited Polish military presence in Danzig was completely legal.
The Westerplatte is a symbol of resistance for Poles the same way Corregidor was for Americans
And Corregidor was indeed under American "occupation" - the Philippines were US colony.

Free City Gdańsk on the other hand was neither Polish colony nor under occupation.
But if they claim that those soldiers were "heroes" defending their homeland, then they are falsifying history.
And if you claim that German soldiers who attacked Westerplatte and other Polish outposts in Danzig (such as the Polish Post Office), were "heroes" "liberating" something (maybe their "homeland"?) from some occupation (maybe Polish?) - then you are falsifying history as well.

And soldiers on Westerplatte were definitely defending their outpost - Westerplatte. But you apparently don't distinguish between major types of military operations - defence, attack, withdrawal and delaying.
There are words which carry the presage of defeat. Defence is such a word. What is the result of an even victorious defence? The next attempt of imposing it to that weaker, defender. The attacker, despite temporary setback, feels the master of situation.

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Re: Was the Westerplanne occupied by Poland?

Post by gebhk » 27 Feb 2013 13:37

It's not really that complicated.

The WST (Wojskowa Skladnica Tranzytowa - Army Transit Store) Westerplatte was leased to the Polish Army by the owners, the Danzig Road and Waterways Council.

With the greatest respect to Michael, if an Englishman leases a hunting lodge in France and takes his gun there , does that make him a 'military occupant' of France? And if he were attacked in that lodge by friends of the landowner would he not be entitled to DEFEND himself? And would such a defence imply as, Michael does, that they were defending France?

I think most people can tell the difference and any confusion seems to be in Michael's mind rather than anyone else's.

On the wider issue of intimidation and coercion, it is not Polish troops and armed party thugs who were parading around the streets of Danzig in the summer of 1939, daubing offensive slogans on walls, vandalising property and beating up it's citizens in the streets and indeed on occasion murdering them. In this context, and given that the Nazis had equally 'illegally' built up a private army of divisional strength supported by thousands of paramilitaries, the assertion that the Polish garrison, 200-odd strong, was somehow 'intimidatiing' the people of Danzig from behind its 10 foot wall is frankly ludicrous. As is the assertion that Danzig was somehow 'liberated'. At most it can be said that the de facto situation of the illegal German military occupation of the Free City of Danzig was ratified by the incorporatiion of that City into Germany with, undoubtedly, the approval of the majority but by no means the entirety, of its population.

Whether Polish politicians could have handled the situation better and the possible reasons why they didn't is an altogether different and interesting subject. One which is not helped by being muddled up with the pointless manipulation of the evidence, bizarre redefinition of the English language and the deliberate misrepresentation of what other people have said.

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Re: Was the Westerplanne occupied by Poland?

Post by Piotr Kapuscinski » 27 Feb 2013 18:04

Thanks gebhk for your interesting contribution to this thread.

But just to inform you - don't expect any response to your post from Michael, because he is a banned user.
There are words which carry the presage of defeat. Defence is such a word. What is the result of an even victorious defence? The next attempt of imposing it to that weaker, defender. The attacker, despite temporary setback, feels the master of situation.

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Re: Was the Westerplanne occupied by Poland?

Post by gebhk » 28 Feb 2013 13:22

Thanks Peter

I had guessed however felt that some highly erroneous statements had been made which should not pass without comment. The fact is that the interwar situation in Danzig was immensely convoluted and deserves better from historians than naively simplistic partisan spats. The reason Danzig became such a maelstrom was that its situation created an incredibly complex brew of conflicts, aspirational and practical, between and within nations, groups and even individuals.

The basic Danzig problem was not and is not unique - a classic example of an enclave of one nationality living withing an area populated by members of its neighbour's nationality. Not straying far the Czech town of Cieszyn in the predominantly Polish Zaolzie and Polish Wilno and Lwow in Lithuania and Ukraina are similar examples. Perhaps the only simplistic overall lesson that can be drawn is that when it comes to sovereignty, political fudges rarely work longterm. In the case of Danzig, making a noble effort to be evenhanded, the League of Nations made no one happy and incidentally, by appointing itself the ultimate arbiter of Danzig affairs, it had given itself a job for twenty years.

To suggest that there were somehow two opposing internally unified blocks (Polish vs German) one of which was the bully and the other the oppressed is ludicrously naive and simplistic. While many of the the German majority and Polish minority may have had nationalist aspirations wishing for Danzig to be joined to their respective fatherlands, others equally felt pride in Danzig's historical free city status. No doubt many a Pole while cheerfully waving the red and white on national days was quietly thankful of the higher standard of living that Danzig's German roots offered. No doubt many a German bellowing DDUA was equally thankful of the profits coming into his business from the goods pouring in and out of Poland through the docks. And let's not forget the hordes of officials necessary to run this bureaucratic nightmare who owed their jobs to its existence - given the economic upheavals of the late twenties and early thirties this was not to be sneezed at. And that is just scratching the surface.

Against this backdrop, political games of Byzantine complexity were played out. The Danzig Senate did its best to please everyone, the Polish Commissioner General did his best to preserve Polish interests. Power plays between the German and Polish states echoed loudly in Danzig because he who controlled Danzig, controlled a massive chunk of Poland's economy. Meanwhile the LoN did its best to keep a lid on all this.

And things may have continued in this manner for many years more were it not for two new developments. Firstly, in June 1925, Germany commenced the 'coal war' with Poland, banning imports of Polish coal. Fortunately for Poland the British coal miner's strike six months later opened up new overseas coal markets for Poland. Danzig did not have the coal handling facilities necessary and the Danzig Senate refused invest in a coal terminus. This prompted Poland to divert resources for the completion of the Port in Gdynia, up till now being built as much as a bluff as anything else. Belatedly the Senate decided to accede to Polish wishes and began construction of coal handling facilities in Danzig. The facilities were ready by 1929 but by then it was too late. The ultra-modern Gdynia Port was fully operational and proved, partly due to its modernity and no doubt partly due to low labour costs, highly competitive. Its turnover grew rapidly while that of Danzig shrank. Indeed by 1933, probably for the first time in history, a port other than Danzig had the highest Baltic turnover. This process continued throughout the thirties and with it the benefits for the Danzig burghers of their Polish connection shrank while resentment grew.

1933 brought another sea change. To the already toxic mix the cancer of national Socialism was added. Ironically, perhaps, initially it brought an improvement in German-Polish relationships in Danzig. Hitler, keen to enlist Polish support both internationally and against the Soviet Union had the most extreme polophobes muzzled. As his policies changed, and attacking Poland became an inevitable next step in the grand plan, Danzig became a convenient potential cassus belli. The very real commercial resentment of Poland bubbling away in Danzig made it fertile ground for infiltration with Nazi ideology, the prelude to de facto take over of Danzig by the NSDAP and subsequently the German State, a process the LoN proved powerless to prevent.

It is against this complex background and the conflicts that it generated, that the story of Westerplatte has to be viewed for it to make any sense.

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Re: Was the Westerplanne occupied by Poland?

Post by henryk » 28 Feb 2013 21:00

gebhk wrote: The basic Danzig problem was not and is not unique - a classic example of an enclave of one nationality living withing an area populated by members of its neighbour's nationality. Not straying far the Czech town of Cieszyn in the predominantly Polish Zaolzie and Polish Wilno and Lwow in Lithuania and Ukraina are similar examples.
In pre-war Poland, Wilno and Lwow were not enclaves.
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... it=+census
The 1916 census carried out by Germany gives for the District of Wilno And Troki:
Wilno City: Polish: 50.2%, Lithuanians: 2.6%, Jews: 43.5% of total 140,840
Wilno Suburbs: Polish: 89.8%, Lithuanians: 4.3%, Jews: 4.3% of total 63,076
District: Polish: 55.0%, Lithuanians: 24.7%, Jews: 17.3% of total 478,779
1909 Russian Census (% orthodox not given below):
Wilno City: Polish: 37.8%, Lithuanians & others: 4.7%, of total 205,250
Wilno Suburbs: Polish: 71.4%, Lithuanians & others: 7.2%, of total 236,029
Province of Wilno: Polish: 47.1%, Lithuanians & others: 13.6%, of total 1,815,215
1920 Polish Census: Wilno City & District: 25.9% non-Polish of total 279,952

Abstracted from:
http://www.usindexlist.de/keyword/Galic ... ral_Europe).php#Population_of_the_Eastern_Galicia_in_1931
Locality-------------------------Polish Total %----------Ukrainian Total %
Southeast Poland--------------2,007,215 39.7%-------2,650,997 52.5% (East Galicia)
Lwow City------------------------ 198,212 63.5%----------35,137 11.3%
Lwow Voivodship-----------------885,926 44.9%---------903,984 45.8%
Tarnopol Voivodship-------------789,114 49.3%---------728,135 45.5%
Stanislawow Voivodship---------332,175 22.4%--------1,018,878 68.8%
(excluding Stanis. Voi.)---------1,675,040 45.2%--------1,632,119 44.1%
The Lithuanians in Wilno city and province were a small minority.
In both Lwow and Tarnopol provinces, Polish and Ukrainian populations were about equal.

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Re: Was the Westerplanne occupied by Poland?

Post by gebhk » 28 Feb 2013 21:49

I think Henryk that we are arguing for the same thing. No one is denying that Poles were the majority in Wilno and Lwow and their immediate environs or, perhaps more importantly, that at this time Wilno and Lwow had Polish character, culture and aspirations. However they clearly lay within territories which broadly were not Polish or even predominantly Polish and clearly had great symbolic meaning to countries other than Poland, being seen as the historical capitals of Lithuanians and Ukrainians respectively. The important point is that these highly convoluted problems often defy resolution. Even handed fudge satisfies no one and usually generates immediate strife. On the other hand brutal one-sided resolutions (such as that employed in Danzig/Gdansk after the war) while providing short-term solutions often lay the foundations of future conflict.

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Re: Was the Westerplanne occupied by Poland?

Post by Piotr Kapuscinski » 05 Mar 2013 10:46

However they clearly lay within territories which broadly were not Polish or even predominantly Polish
It really depends what population census do you base on. Eastern Galicia and Wilenszczyzna regions had considerable ethnic Polish populations - whether huge minorities, or slight majorities, depends on census used.

Both sides perhaps manipulated censuses if possible, in order to get those few percentage points more.

The neutral German census quoted by Henryk shows the proportion between Poles and Ukrainians was 50/50.

And also - as a matter of fact - people tended to change their minds regarding their ethnic allegiance, often for practical, pragmatic reasons (i.e. in 1940 it was more favorable to be Ukrainian, in 1938 - to be Polish).

And in the German-occupied territories in 1940 - it was favorable to sign the Deutsche Volksliste.
gbhk wrote: being seen as the historical capitals of Lithuanians and Ukrainians respectively.
Kiev was historical capital of Ukraine, not Lwow. Historical capitals of Ruthenian states which existed in the area of modern West Ukraine before it was conquered by Poland in the 1300s - were Halych and Volodymyr, not Lwow. When you check the proposals of creating a Ukrainian State from the 17th century (such as the Treaty of Hadiach of 1658) - you will see that neither of those proposals included Lwow within the borders of Ukraine.

As for Wilno - I agree. But also Kernave, Trakai, Navahrudak and Kaunas were historical Lithuanian capitals.

Wilno also had symbolic meaning to Belarus and was seen as the historical capital of Belarus. It should be noted that the Grand Duchy of Litva was a multi-ethnic state, in which ethnic Lithuanians were just a small minority.

In the Grand Duchy of Litva, ethnic Belarusians were much more numerous than Lithuanians. Grand Duchy not only encompassed vast, ethnic Belarusian areas, but also original Lithuanian elites underwent Ruthenization.

Before Lithuanians underwent Polonization, a lot of them underwent Ruthenization and adopted Orthodox faith. Old-Belarusian was the official language of the Grand Duchy before Polish became its official language. When ethnic Lithuanian nobles formally adopted Catholicism in 1387, already many of them were Orthodox Christians.

The Golden Age of Belarusian language and culture (including many books printed in Belarusian) was 1500s.

Brief History of Belarus (as you can see Belarusians identify the Grand Duchy of Litva as their historical state):

http://www.youtube.com/results?search_q ... .0.0...1ac.



============================================

From the modern purely political-economic Polish (and also European Union's) perspective:

It is very favorable that Lwow - and all of Western Ukraine - is now within the borders of Ukraine. Why so? Because Western Ukraine is the more liberal Ukraine, and the more pro-European and pro-Polish Ukraine.

On the other hand, Eastern Ukraine is the bastion of pro-Soviet Union and pro-Russian sentiments.

Lwow and Western Ukraine also have strong economic ties with Poland and the rest of European Union. Unlike Eastern Ukraine, which is economically dependent on Russia and on its good will not to cut off the gas supplies.

Ukraine deprived of its western lands and votes of people who live there - would easily become a puppet state of Russia again. So Stalin by giving Polish eastern lands to Ukraine, paradoxically harmed Russia's raison d'État. And Polish-Ukrainian relations improved. But there are still some delicate matters in Polish-Ukrainian history.

But after 1945 - for many years lack of Lwow within Polish borders, greatly hampered the economic and cultural development of South-Eastern Poland. Lwow was the only major city in South-Eastern Poland before WW2.

After WW2, South-Eastern Poland was deprived of its most important economic and cultural center.
There are words which carry the presage of defeat. Defence is such a word. What is the result of an even victorious defence? The next attempt of imposing it to that weaker, defender. The attacker, despite temporary setback, feels the master of situation.

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Re: Was the Westerplanne occupied by Poland?

Post by henryk » 05 Mar 2013 19:35


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Re: Was the Westerplanne occupied by Poland?

Post by Alis » 09 Jul 2019 11:22

Hi!
Can anybody explain me why did the germans attack Westerplatte in the first place? Because that garrison didnt threaten german army advance.
Why didnt the germans just encircle the garrison and just starve them? I see no point in attacking Westerplatte, german resources were wasted pointlesly.
Thanks in advance.

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