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Quote of the Week: "A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within." - Will Durant, American historian (1885-1981)


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 Post subject: The Peace of Riga - how bad was it? PostPosted: 2011-12-19 02:36am
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Obscure historical topic, since I've been playing a boardgame on the Soviet-Polish War and I've been arguing in another forum about the topic:

Just how harsh was the Peace of Riga for the Soviet Union? I'm aware that the Soviets lost about 135K square kilometers of land from Ukraine and Belorussia to Poland because of the treaty, but was it considerably worse than say the Treaty of Versailles?

From my understanding, the treaty was signed because both the Poles and the Soviets wanted a breather. The Soviets were still in the middle of the civil war, while the Poles had suffered heavy losses and had almost been defeated outright at some point in the Polish-Soviet War. While the Soviets were not exactly pleased about losing big bits of land, they weren't under huge duress to sign the treaty like the Germans were in the Versaille treaty.

In fact, the Soviets didn't seem so sore about the treaty in the years after it was signed: They eventually signed a Non-Aggression Pact with the Poles in 1932. When the Soviets backstabbed the Poles in 1939 alongside Germany (c/o the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact), they didn't make "recapturing Soviet territories lost in the Peace of Riga" their official casus belli; unlike the Germans who publically stated they wanted Danzig back after losing it due to signing the Versailles treaty.

So... are there any other aspects about the treaty that I may have missed that crippled the Soviet state in some major way, which would justify them invading Poland in 1939? Or is the idea that the Soviets invading Poland in 1939 over the terms of this treaty really just as preposterous as Germany invading Poland in 1939 over Danzig (which is my position)?

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 Post subject: Re: The Peace of Riga - how bad was it? PostPosted: 2011-12-19 05:15am
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Well you know you could look it up, which is what I did in ten seconds via wikipedia-google books
http://books.google.com/books?id=2T9zYX ... ed&f=false

It does have some other stuff in it, such as material and fiscal reparations paid by the Russians to Poland, and a return of all stolen art work since 1772. It also allowed for choice of citizen by peoples on both sides of the border and both sides renounced all further claims to territory or reparations and declare a general amnesty. Its not anything like the Treaty of Versailles, its only long lasting provisions are friendly ones like both sides agreeing to free passage of commerce. More or less the treaty was intended to reset relations. The treaty did require Russia to pay off Poland in exchange for peace sure, but I doubt Soviet leaders saw this as very unreasonable after they had launched a massive invasion of Poland and failed at it.



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 Post subject: Re: The Peace of Riga - how bad was it? PostPosted: 2011-12-19 05:32am
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Sea Skimmer wrote:
Well you know you could look it up, which is what I did in ten seconds via wikipedia-google books
http://books.google.com/books?id=2T9zYX ... ed&f=false

It does have some other stuff in it, such as material and fiscal reparations paid by the Russians to Poland, and a return of all stolen art work since 1772. It also allowed for choice of citizen by peoples on both sides of the border and both sides renounced all further claims to territory or reparations and declare a general amnesty.


My apologies, I may not have been clear. I was trying to find out if there were other crippling consequences of the treaty (whether written in the treaty itself, or as a consequence of some of its stipulations) that I may have missed. Because so far the only one that could only be construed as that is the loss of 135K square kilometers of territory, and the other reparation (fiscal, material, and artwork reparations) were kind of a drop in the bucket compared to that...

As you said though...

Quote:
Its not anything like the Treaty of Versailles, its only long lasting provisions are friendly ones like both sides agreeing to free passage of commerce. More or less the treaty was intended to reset relations. The treaty did require Russia to pay off Poland in exchange for peace sure, but I doubt Soviet leaders saw this as very unreasonable after they had launched a massive invasion of Poland and failed at it.


The treaty looks very much like a "reset relations" treaty, so it would indeed be preposterous to claim it could provide the Soviets with a casus belli for invading in 1939.

Also, would Stas have any particular view on this treaty? I'd like to hear some opinions from the non-Western side as well.

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 Post subject: Re: The Peace of Riga - how bad was it? PostPosted: 2012-01-20 12:16am
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Belarus and Ukraine were 'split' and half of Belarus was given to Poland. Presumably, the government officials in Belarusian and Ukrainian SSRs would not have liked being split up and wanted to re-gain those territories and reunify them with fellow (rus) slavs. Also the Soviet Union did mention regaining those territories and unifying Belarus and Ukraine ("Western belarusians" and "Western ukrainians"). Remember, for comparison the OUN began its' programs of resistance/was set up originally against the Polish state some time after the peace treaty, not against the Soviet Union. Those ethnic tensions were probably a factor as well.



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