UK & France Re: USSR Invasion of Poland

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UK & France Re: USSR Invasion of Poland

Postby Flagg » 2016-02-27 12:00am

I did I quick search of the Hisrory forum and found no thread on this subject. If one exists, then apologies (and I'd appreciate a PM linking the thread) and please dispose of this thread as you see fit.

That said:

What, if any, were the public rational given by Great Britain and France regarding their not declaring war on the Soviet Union for the co-invasion of Poland with Nazi Germany (The actual rational being obvious: Avoiding war with the massive USSR on top of war with Germany)?

The hypocrisy of guaranteeing Polish independence, but only declaring war on one of the 2 states that invaded always seemed like something the Allied leaders would need to address, but I can't find any information on if it ever was addressed publicly, and if so, exactly what the explanation was.

I assume that it had to do with the toilet paper guarantee that the spectacular idiot Prime Minister Chamberlain was waving around about "peace in our time".
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Re: UK & France Re: USSR Invasion of Poland

Postby madd0ct0r » 2016-02-27 05:09am

regarding your description of Chamberlin: http://i.imgur.com/Lxkqk8T.png

wikipedia (i know) suggests the following:

Polish-British Common Defence Pact
On August 25, two days after the Nazi-Soviet Pact, the Agreement of Mutual Assistance between the United Kingdom and Poland was signed. The agreement contained promises of mutual military assistance between the nations in the event either was attacked by some "European country". The United Kingdom, sensing a dangerous trend of German expansionism, sought to prevent German aggression by this show of solidarity. In a secret protocol of the pact, the United Kingdom offered assistance in the case of an attack on Poland specifically by Germany,[3] while in the case of attack by other countries the parties were required to "consult together on measures to be taken in common".[10] Both the United Kingdom and Poland were bound not to enter agreements with any other third countries which were a threat to the other.[11] Because of the pact's signing, Hitler postponed his planned invasion of Poland from August 26 until September 1.[12]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anglo-Pol ... y_alliance
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Re: UK & France Re: USSR Invasion of Poland

Postby Lord Revan » 2016-02-27 06:47am

correct me if I'm wrong but wasn't that "peace in our time" fiasko a major factor why Chamberlain resigned or was fired (I can't remember which it was atm) and Churchill became the Prime Minister?
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Re: UK & France Re: USSR Invasion of Poland

Postby Captain Seafort » 2016-02-27 06:52am

Lord Revan wrote:correct me if I'm wrong but wasn't that "peace in our time" fiasko a major factor why Chamberlain resigned or was fired (I can't remember which it was atm) and Churchill became the Prime Minister?


No. Chamberlain resigned after it became clear that the Norwegian campaign was collapsing (the same day as the German western offensive began, although I don't know whether that was also a factor).
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Re: UK & France Re: USSR Invasion of Poland

Postby K. A. Pital » 2016-02-27 08:53am

The secret protocol specified the "European country" as Germany. When the Polish ambassador tried to press the British to declare war on the USSR, which invaded much later under the pretext of Poland having collapsed, he was told that it is Britain's decision whether to declare war or not.

Unlike the case with Germany, where the protocol explicitly demanded such actions (and a failure to do so would render Britain's alliance with the USA doubtful - there were similar protocols that required the US defend British posessions together from, say, Japanese attack, if I recall correctly, and the US expected Britain to act on its agreement with Poland, but didn't expect Britain to do more than declare war on Germany). So Britain saw itself in no way obliged to declare war on the USSR. Doing so would lead to huge negative consequences, not declaring war allowed Britain to have significant political gains and maneuver space in the war between industrialized large nations that was beginning.
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Re: UK & France Re: USSR Invasion of Poland

Postby Simon_Jester » 2016-02-27 10:32am

Captain Seafort wrote:
Lord Revan wrote:correct me if I'm wrong but wasn't that "peace in our time" fiasko a major factor why Chamberlain resigned or was fired (I can't remember which it was atm) and Churchill became the Prime Minister?


No. Chamberlain resigned after it became clear that the Norwegian campaign was collapsing (the same day as the German western offensive began, although I don't know whether that was also a factor).
Probably also because he was in the process of dying of cancer (he died six months later).

Also, Chamberlain would have had to decide to resign, and that decision would certainly have been made on an earlier day. Moreover, it is unlikely that Chamberlain would have deliberately inflicted the confusion and chaos of a change of government on the British at the very same time that they were coping with the German invasion of the Low Countries.

Chamberlain was definitely trying to prepare for war with Germany, but in 1938 believed the state of preparations and/or public support didn't justify threatening Hitler with war over the ethnic-German parts of the Sudetenland he was claiming. The Munich agreement was supposed to buy time and remove a cause for war. When Hitler violated the Munich agreement in January 1939 by invading the remnant portion of Czechoslovakia, that was when Chamberlain began "line in the sand" war preparations, starting with the guarantee of independence to Poland.
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Re: UK & France Re: USSR Invasion of Poland

Postby Flagg » 2016-02-27 10:41am

K. A. Pital wrote:The secret protocol specified the "European country" as Germany. When the Polish ambassador tried to press the British to declare war on the USSR, which invaded much later under the pretext of Poland having collapsed, he was told that it is Britain's decision whether to declare war or not.

Unlike the case with Germany, where the protocol explicitly demanded such actions (and a failure to do so would render Britain's alliance with the USA doubtful - there were similar protocols that required the US defend British posessions together from, say, Japanese attack, if I recall correctly, and the US expected Britain to act on its agreement with Poland, but didn't expect Britain to do more than declare war on Germany). So Britain saw itself in no way obliged to declare war on the USSR. Doing so would lead to huge negative consequences, not declaring war allowed Britain to have significant political gains and maneuver space in the war between industrialized large nations that was beginning.

Ahh, I see. So there was actual written context as opposed to it just being "Damn you Germany pay no attention to the massive Russian army crossing Poland's Eastern border, nothing to see there!"
BTW, I would never suggest that Britain or France would or should have declared war on the USSR, I just wondered if there was an actual context there or if they were just being hypocrites (it would have been sane and even necessary hypocrisy, no question there).
Thanks a bunch for that. I searched Google for an hour, finding nothing. My Google-Fu is weak these days, apparently.
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Re: UK & France Re: USSR Invasion of Poland

Postby Simon_Jester » 2016-02-27 10:49am

There was certainly a strategic context, regardless of the treaty language. And frankly, when it comes down to decision to wage total war against a large nation...

...I'd much rather have my country making decisions for good strategic reasons (with the goal of keeping its citizens safe and not killing millions of people unnecessarily), than over "point of honor" stuff involving the exact wording of a treaty.
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Re: UK & France Re: USSR Invasion of Poland

Postby K. A. Pital » 2016-02-27 10:59am

I would actually suggest they should have declared war, had every agreement been taken at face value. But it was a time of, well, when agreements meant less than the secret protocols attached to them - if they meant anything at all...

I think the USSR also had a non-aggression agreement with Japan, which it had to break in late 1945 if it were to jointly fight Japan with US/UK, and that agreement was broken.
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Re: UK & France Re: USSR Invasion of Poland

Postby Flagg » 2016-02-27 11:01am

Really, I don't care about Chamberlains legacy nor do I hold him personally responsible for the overall attitude of appeasement concerning Hitler's obvious aggression towards his neighbors.

I blame the European allied powers from 1919 on to 1939 for essentially putting Germany in the position of a pet dog, and utterly failing to hit her on the nose with a rolled up newspaper when she "misbehaved" (keeping the strength to penalize Germany each time it violated a treaty they knew humiliated her and which might one day (and as we all know did) result in her seeking vengeance. Something that I cannot imagine was not reasonably foreseeable and not a case of hindsight being 20/20).

Apologies to Thanas for comparing Germany to a dog, I just couldn't think of a better comparison. :)
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Re: UK & France Re: USSR Invasion of Poland

Postby K. A. Pital » 2016-02-27 11:21am

I'd say none of the great powers in 193X were completely free from the illusion that they could survive another major war and solve their internal problems with that.

Add the complicated dynamics of the 1930s (say, when Germany seemed to align with Eastern European juntas in the early 1930s and then ruthlessly roll over Czechoslovakia and Poland at the end of the decade), when each and every nation thought they could exploit a rival to weaken other potential rivals.

It did work out in the end for some (US, USSR, albeit the latter at a horrible human cost), but for Britain and Germany it didn't work out well at all. Germany lost the war utterly - a good thing, considering the Nazis - and Britain's Empire collapsed. Also a good thing, though.
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Re: UK & France Re: USSR Invasion of Poland

Postby Ralin » 2016-02-27 02:05pm

K. A. Pital wrote:I think the USSR also had a non-aggression agreement with Japan, which it had to break in late 1945 if it were to jointly fight Japan with US/UK, and that agreement was broken.


They did. The terms required either party to denounce it something like a year in advance. I wrote a paper on a book about it in college.

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Re: UK & France Re: USSR Invasion of Poland

Postby Welf » 2016-02-28 07:18am

Flagg wrote:Really, I don't care about Chamberlains legacy nor do I hold him personally responsible for the overall attitude of appeasement concerning Hitler's obvious aggression towards his neighbors.

I blame the European allied powers from 1919 on to 1939 for essentially putting Germany in the position of a pet dog, and utterly failing to hit her on the nose with a rolled up newspaper when she "misbehaved" (keeping the strength to penalize Germany each time it violated a treaty they knew humiliated her and which might one day (and as we all know did) result in her seeking vengeance. Something that I cannot imagine was not reasonably foreseeable and not a case of hindsight being 20/20).

Apologies to Thanas for comparing Germany to a dog, I just couldn't think of a better comparison. :)


Yeah that is not how the story went. In the 1920s the allied powers did humiliate Germany and kept it quite weak. The most important even the Occupation of the Ruhr, when French and Belgian troops marched into western Germany over too few war reparations. That was one of the causes of the 1923 Weimar hyperinflation /still a traumatic experience that governs today's policy), cost the democratic government its authority and fanned a lot of fascist movements (including Hitler's NSDAP). Only later, in the 1930s when France and Britain were weakened themselves the situation changed.

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Re: UK & France Re: USSR Invasion of Poland

Postby Flagg » 2016-02-28 08:56am

Welf wrote:
Flagg wrote:Really, I don't care about Chamberlains legacy nor do I hold him personally responsible for the overall attitude of appeasement concerning Hitler's obvious aggression towards his neighbors.

I blame the European allied powers from 1919 on to 1939 for essentially putting Germany in the position of a pet dog, and utterly failing to hit her on the nose with a rolled up newspaper when she "misbehaved" (keeping the strength to penalize Germany each time it violated a treaty they knew humiliated her and which might one day (and as we all know did) result in her seeking vengeance. Something that I cannot imagine was not reasonably foreseeable and not a case of hindsight being 20/20).

Apologies to Thanas for comparing Germany to a dog, I just couldn't think of a better comparison. :)


Yeah that is not how the story went. In the 1920s the allied powers did humiliate Germany and kept it quite weak. The most important even the Occupation of the Ruhr, when French and Belgian troops marched into western Germany over too few war reparations. That was one of the causes of the 1923 Weimar hyperinflation /still a traumatic experience that governs today's policy), cost the democratic government its authority and fanned a lot of fascist movements (including Hitler's NSDAP). Only later, in the 1930s when France and Britain were weakened themselves the situation changed.

Yeah, this isn't exactly what I said how? Did the Treaty of Versailles have a clause in it that said "only to be enforced when Britain & France felt 'strong enough' to do so"? Because if it did, then maybe the terms shouldn't have been so incredibly harsh?
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Re: UK & France Re: USSR Invasion of Poland

Postby Lord Revan » 2016-02-28 12:35pm

the Treaty of Versailles is funny thing in that it was at same time too harsh and not harsh enough. it was so harsh that it caused a lingering hatred within the german people that extremists like the nazis could exploit, but wasn't harsh enough to permanently cripple Germany as UK and france wanted, as for why was that it's most the fault of USA who vetoed a lot of the overly vindictive suggestions.
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Re: UK & France Re: USSR Invasion of Poland

Postby Simon_Jester » 2016-02-28 02:08pm

Thing is, crippling Germany wouldn't actually have worked if Britain and France weren't prepared to enforce that crippling in perpetuity. At most it would have delayed the renewal of the war by a few extra years after the moment when Britain and France got bored and stopped paying attention to German efforts to rebuild.

In this respect, much as it pains me to say so, Woodrow Wilson was probably right. :(

Relationships between modern nation-states of comparable size cannot be founded on the basis of "Nation A keeps Nation B down forever." It simply does not work, especially not if you want reparations money coming out of Nation B. If nothing else, for Nation B to produce anything of value for Nation A, including money, Nation B must have a modern industrial infrastructure and a modern economy... and possessing such things guarantees that they can build up a respectable military given a reasonable amount of time to do so.
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Re: UK & France Re: USSR Invasion of Poland

Postby Lord Revan » 2016-02-28 02:47pm

IIRC the idea was to give the german economy such a heavy blow that it would cease to exist for all intents and purposes, that said it was mostly to appeace the bruised egos of the UK and French goverments and Woodrow Wilson did his best to not turn the treaty into something that would hurt the global economy in the long run and cause most of Europe to fall into the hands of the communists (yes the red scare didn't start at 1945). Though Wilson isn't quite succeed, while it's true that National Socialists weren't communists it was case where the cure was worse then the disease.
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Re: UK & France Re: USSR Invasion of Poland

Postby Welf » 2016-02-28 03:11pm

Flagg wrote:
Welf wrote:
Flagg wrote:Really, I don't care about Chamberlains legacy nor do I hold him personally responsible for the overall attitude of appeasement concerning Hitler's obvious aggression towards his neighbors.

I blame the European allied powers from 1919 on to 1939 for essentially putting Germany in the position of a pet dog, and utterly failing to hit her on the nose with a rolled up newspaper when she "misbehaved" (keeping the strength to penalize Germany each time it violated a treaty they knew humiliated her and which might one day (and as we all know did) result in her seeking vengeance. Something that I cannot imagine was not reasonably foreseeable and not a case of hindsight being 20/20).

Apologies to Thanas for comparing Germany to a dog, I just couldn't think of a better comparison. :)


Yeah that is not how the story went. In the 1920s the allied powers did humiliate Germany and kept it quite weak. The most important even the Occupation of the Ruhr, when French and Belgian troops marched into western Germany over too few war reparations. That was one of the causes of the 1923 Weimar hyperinflation /still a traumatic experience that governs today's policy), cost the democratic government its authority and fanned a lot of fascist movements (including Hitler's NSDAP). Only later, in the 1930s when France and Britain were weakened themselves the situation changed.

Yeah, this isn't exactly what I said how? Did the Treaty of Versailles have a clause in it that said "only to be enforced when Britain & France felt 'strong enough' to do so"? Because if it did, then maybe the terms shouldn't have been so incredibly harsh?


You said the European powers "utterly" failed "from 1919 on to 1939" to punish Germany for misbehaving.
Now with a bit of clarification I would add that the allied powers certainly didn't intend to lose their strength. Every plan that is based on being the winner all the time is doomed to fail.

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Re: UK & France Re: USSR Invasion of Poland

Postby Flagg » 2016-02-28 05:48pm

Welf wrote:
Flagg wrote:
Welf wrote:
Yeah that is not how the story went. In the 1920s the allied powers did humiliate Germany and kept it quite weak. The most important even the Occupation of the Ruhr, when French and Belgian troops marched into western Germany over too few war reparations. That was one of the causes of the 1923 Weimar hyperinflation /still a traumatic experience that governs today's policy), cost the democratic government its authority and fanned a lot of fascist movements (including Hitler's NSDAP). Only later, in the 1930s when France and Britain were weakened themselves the situation changed.

Yeah, this isn't exactly what I said how? Did the Treaty of Versailles have a clause in it that said "only to be enforced when Britain & France felt 'strong enough' to do so"? Because if it did, then maybe the terms shouldn't have been so incredibly harsh?


You said the European powers "utterly" failed "from 1919 on to 1939" to punish Germany for misbehaving.
Now with a bit of clarification I would add that the allied powers certainly didn't intend to lose their strength. Every plan that is based on being the winner all the time is doomed to fail.

Ok, so we'll go ahead and miss the point, split hairs, and amend it to "Britain and France utterly failed to enforce the Treaty of Versailles from "when they 'lost strength' to 1939". It doesn't actually change my point, but if it reflects reality enough for you to stop whining about it, then: MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.
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Re: UK & France Re: USSR Invasion of Poland

Postby Thanas » 2016-02-28 06:37pm

Flagg, don't go off on people when you are in the wrong.
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Re: UK & France Re: USSR Invasion of Poland

Postby Simon_Jester » 2016-02-28 06:44pm

So basically, we can agree that France and Britain failed to punish Germany for treaty violations from 1933 to 1939?
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Re: UK & France Re: USSR Invasion of Poland

Postby Thanas » 2016-02-28 06:54pm

Yeah, sure, but then again the British did not believe the treaty was fair and did in fact legitimize Germany's transgressions by signing the London Naval Agreement.
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Re: UK & France Re: USSR Invasion of Poland

Postby Lord Revan » 2016-02-28 07:45pm

Thanas wrote:Yeah, sure, but then again the British did not believe the treaty was fair and did in fact legitimize Germany's transgressions by signing the London Naval Agreement.

I'd like to hear more about that if possible, I'm not disagreeing but I've not really heard of that treaty or at least I can't remember the details at the moment.
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Re: UK & France Re: USSR Invasion of Poland

Postby Flagg » 2016-02-28 07:58pm

Thanas wrote:Flagg, don't go off on people when you are in the wrong.

Rereading it now, I agree the tone was uncalled for, so mea culpa. It wasn't meant to be so acerbic, but it was, and that's on me.

I just kind of felt it beside the point. I used the term "hair-splitting" which was incorrect. I think a better term would have been "comparing apples to oranges". I do think that term applies, but in a way that I think illustrates how Welf made a better point than I did. So double mea culpa with a cherry on top. :oops: :)

That point being aggression by France and Belgium over unfair (IMO, apparently in agreement with the thread participant's overall opinion, and even the opinion of many in nations that signed the horrid Versailles Treaty a decade before WW2 broke out (the opinions being a decade before, I know the treaty was signed 2 decades before WW2 broke out, just to clarify) according to Thanas, which is actually nice to hear) demands made according to the treaty that Germany couldn't meet in the 1920's. The demands being over money, rather than responding to (and even being one cause of) later German aggression in the 1930's, like rearmament and enlarging its military.

I guess we just have to chalk it up to folly that some of the Allied powers focused on war reparations and not continued "defanging" of Germany (which may not have even been necessary had France and Belgium not acted aggressively to collect said reparations) so it could not pose a military threat to her neighbors?
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Re: UK & France Re: USSR Invasion of Poland

Postby Thanas » 2016-02-28 08:44pm

Lord Revan wrote:
Thanas wrote:Yeah, sure, but then again the British did not believe the treaty was fair and did in fact legitimize Germany's transgressions by signing the London Naval Agreement.

I'd like to hear more about that if possible, I'm not disagreeing but I've not really heard of that treaty or at least I can't remember the details at the moment.



Well, remember how Versailles limited the German Navy to a few small cruisers and very, very old BBs? And how Hitler started rearming his Navy? None of that was done in secret, in fact the Germans told the British point-blank that they were building submarines. Germany had already well started design work on the Admiral Hipper-class and had started construction on the Scharnhorst 3 days prior to the signing of the treaty.

Instead of declaring war and invading, Britian decided to enter into an agreement with Germany by which it allowed Germany to legally build 35% of the tonnage of the British Navy and the same number of subs as Britain had. So in effect they decided to legalize Germany's blatant treaty violation as they did not particularly feel like going to war over it. So they tried to save face and attempt to get better diplomatic relations.

It is a cruel irony of history that none of that reconciliation was present when it was needed most and present when it could be exploited most by the Nazis. more info at the wiki article.
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