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Semi-OT: Why didn't Britain and France declare war on Soviet Union in 1939 when it attacked Poland?

 
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Semi-OT: Why didn't Britain and France declare war on S... - 11/3/2012 12:43:12 PM   
Apollo11


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Hi all,

Semi-OT: Why didn't Britain and France declare war on Soviet Union in 1939 when it attacked Poland (and joined Germany in doing so)?


I have read really a lot of historic books and I own quite a large collection of them as well but I don't recall ever finding the proper explanation for the above...

Does anyone here knows something more about this issue?


quote:


Agreement of Mutual Assistance between the United Kingdom and Poland

London, August 25, 1939.

"Should one of the Contracting Parties become engaged in hostilities with a European Power in consequence of aggression by the latter against that Contracting Party, the other Contracting Party will at once give the Contracting Party engaged in hostilities all the support and assistance in its power."


Yale Law School - The Avalon Project (Documents in Law, History and Diplomacy)

http://avalon.law.yale.edu/wwii/blbk19.asp



Leo "Apollo11"

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Post #: 1
RE: Semi-OT: Why didn't Britain and France declare war ... - 11/3/2012 1:02:40 PM   
warspite1


Posts: 17196
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quote:

ORIGINAL: Apollo11

Hi all,

Semi-OT: Why didn't Britain and France declare war on Soviet Union in 1939 when it attacked Poland (and joined Germany in doing so)?


I have read really a lot of historic books and I own quite a large collection of them as well but I don't recall ever finding the proper explanation for the above...

Does anyone here knows something more about this issue?


quote:


Agreement of Mutual Assistance between the United Kingdom and Poland

London, August 25, 1939.

"Should one of the Contracting Parties become engaged in hostilities with a European Power in consequence of aggression by the latter against that Contracting Party, the other Contracting Party will at once give the Contracting Party engaged in hostilities all the support and assistance in its power."


Yale Law School - The Avalon Project (Documents in Law, History and Diplomacy)

http://avalon.law.yale.edu/wwii/blbk19.asp



Leo "Apollo11"
warspite1

Interesting question. I have never read a book that even mentions this - was this even debated by the British war cabinet?

The obvious reason of course is that Britain and France had bitten off quite enough with the declaration of war on Germany without compounding the issue, but that does not cover the "breaking" of the treaty.

Interestingly though, despite the lack of an official, or any, declaration of war on the Soviet Union, there must have been the thought in some minds that the Soviet Union was the enemy. After all, didn't Gamelin propose bombing the caucasian oil fields? and Churchill wanted to send help to the Finns during the Winter War (albeit that in the latter case, this was just a convenient cover for a plan to land in Norway to stop Iron-Ore traffic).

You've piqued my interest now Leo on what discussions the British and French had on the subject

_____________________________

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(in reply to Apollo11)
Post #: 2
RE: Semi-OT: Why didn't Britain and France declare war ... - 11/3/2012 1:20:41 PM   
Mike29

 

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Really interesting issue, never thought about it. From formal point Soviet Union didn't declared war to Poland, but invaded to protect Belorussian and Ukrainian people from German agressor. Fro the moment of invading Poland already does not eist as independent state.



"The Polish-German War has revealed the internal bankruptcy of the Polish State. During the course of ten days' hostilities Poland has lost all her industrial areas and cultural centres. Warsaw, as the capital of Poland, no longer exists. The Polish Government has disintegrated, and no longer shows any sign of life. This means that the Polish State and its Government have, in point of fact, ceased to exist. In the same way, the Agreements concluded between the U.S.S.R. and Poland have ceased to operate. Left to her own devices and bereft of leadership, Poland has become a suitable field for all manner of hazards and surprises, which may constitute a threat to the U.S.S.R. For these reasons the Soviet Government, who has hitherto been neutral, cannot any longer preserve a neutral attitude towards these facts.

The Soviet Government also cannot view with indifference the fact that the kindred Ukrainian and White Russian people, who live on Polish territory and who are at the mercy of fate, should be left defenceless.

In these circumstances, the Soviet Government have directed the High Command of the Red Army to order troops to cross the frontier and to take under their protection the life and property of the population of Western Ukraine and Western White Russia.

At the same time the Soviet Government propose to take all measures to extricate the Polish people from the unfortunate war into which they were dragged by their unwise leaders, and enable them to live a peaceful life.

People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs of the U.S.S.R. V. Molotov[61]"

(in reply to warspite1)
Post #: 3
RE: Semi-OT: Why didn't Britain and France declare war ... - 11/3/2012 1:33:17 PM   
warspite1


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Mike29

Really interesting issue, never thought about it. From formal point Soviet Union didn't declared war to Poland, but invaded to protect Belorussian and Ukrainian people from German agressor. Fro the moment of invading Poland already does not eist as independent state.



"The Polish-German War has revealed the internal bankruptcy of the Polish State. During the course of ten days' hostilities Poland has lost all her industrial areas and cultural centres. Warsaw, as the capital of Poland, no longer exists. The Polish Government has disintegrated, and no longer shows any sign of life. This means that the Polish State and its Government have, in point of fact, ceased to exist. In the same way, the Agreements concluded between the U.S.S.R. and Poland have ceased to operate. Left to her own devices and bereft of leadership, Poland has become a suitable field for all manner of hazards and surprises, which may constitute a threat to the U.S.S.R. For these reasons the Soviet Government, who has hitherto been neutral, cannot any longer preserve a neutral attitude towards these facts.

The Soviet Government also cannot view with indifference the fact that the kindred Ukrainian and White Russian people, who live on Polish territory and who are at the mercy of fate, should be left defenceless.

In these circumstances, the Soviet Government have directed the High Command of the Red Army to order troops to cross the frontier and to take under their protection the life and property of the population of Western Ukraine and Western White Russia.

At the same time the Soviet Government propose to take all measures to extricate the Polish people from the unfortunate war into which they were dragged by their unwise leaders, and enable them to live a peaceful life.

People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs of the U.S.S.R. V. Molotov[61]"
warspite1

HeeHeeHee... so no mention of the secret protocol you signed the previous month then Mr Molotov, agreeing to carve Poland up once the Germans had invaded?

_____________________________

England expects that every man will do his duty - Horatio Nelson 1805.




(in reply to Mike29)
Post #: 4
RE: Semi-OT: Why didn't Britain and France declare war ... - 11/3/2012 1:38:48 PM   
Apollo11


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Hi all,

German and Soviet officers shaking hands, Poland, late Sep 1939




It was all Soviet propaganda... of course it was... but Britain and France should have known better especially since they signed treaty with Poland...


In any case this come to my mind this morning - I am glad that it intrigued you guys!



Leo "Apollo11"

_____________________________



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(in reply to warspite1)
Post #: 5
RE: Semi-OT: Why didn't Britain and France declare war ... - 11/3/2012 1:45:40 PM   
warspite1


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Apollo11

Hi all,

German and Soviet officers shaking hands, Poland, late Sep 1939




It was all Soviet propaganda... of course it was... but Britain and France should have known better especially since they signed treaty with Poland...


In any case this come to my mind this morning - I am glad that it intrigued you guys!



Leo "Apollo11"
warspite1

Is "should have known better" fair? I think the governments were being practical and just reacting to what was the really bad situation they now faced. Poland was beaten and, rightly or wrongly, the Anglo-French forces had done nothing - apart from the woefully pathetic Saarland offensive - to help. If no help was forthcoming to Poland in response to a German attack, there was nothing to be gained in trying to aid Poland after Russia had stabbed her in the back too - and everything to be lost in the west - by declaring war on the Soviets.

< Message edited by warspite1 -- 11/3/2012 2:03:54 PM >


_____________________________

England expects that every man will do his duty - Horatio Nelson 1805.




(in reply to Apollo11)
Post #: 6
RE: Semi-OT: Why didn't Britain and France declare war ... - 11/3/2012 1:47:36 PM   
TulliusDetritus


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Apollo11

Hi all,

Semi-OT: Why didn't Britain and France declare war on Soviet Union in 1939 when it attacked Poland (and joined Germany in doing so)?


When the USSR attacked Finland a declaration of war (from France and the British Empire) was not ruled out. Minimum they wanted to send help. But the general war had not started yet. That was a local conflict.

By september 1939 it was clear that Germany was the real enemy, threatening to swallow the continent.

What did they gain if they declared war on the USSR? That would have been a gift to Germany: the two-front war would have been definitely avoided, courtesy of the western democracies

On the other hand, if they were patient, the USSR might end up on the same side, as it happened. Let's not forget the USSR and the western democracies did not share borders, so that "patience" could be afforded.

They (western democracies) also could understand that these Soviet agressive moves might be after all defensive moves. They were! Stalin was a paranoid and thought all the western democracies wanted was a war between the USSR and Germany... Therefore he wanted -and presto!- buffer zones to protect the country: Baltic, Poland, Besarabia.

The well informed elites in the west had to more or less know that. Propaganda is another story.

EDIT: my bad, the Winter War started when the general war had already started. Still, it was basically a local conflict

< Message edited by TulliusDetritus -- 11/3/2012 1:50:44 PM >


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(in reply to Apollo11)
Post #: 7
RE: Semi-OT: Why didn't Britain and France declare war ... - 11/3/2012 2:03:57 PM   
Apollo11


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Hi all,

quote:

ORIGINAL: warspite1

Is "should have known better" fair? I think the governments were being practical and just reacting to what was the really bad situation they now faced. Poland was beaten and, rightly or wrongly, the Anglo-French forces had done nothing - apart from the woefully pathetic Saarland offensive - to help. If no help was forthcoming to Poland in response to a German attack, there was nothing to be gained in trying to aid Poland - and everything to be lost in the west - by declaring war on the Soviets.


My "should have known better" was regarding official Soviet explanation (i.e. not invasion but "help for Ukrainian and White Russian people")!


And yes... the Poland was defeated by the Germans at that time... but treaties are treaties (and politics are politics)... if the moral higher ground was to be maintained the Soviet Union should have been (and rightfully so) declared as aggressor same as Germany...


BTW, this whole issue is really interesting because Hitler always wanted to go to East only (i.e. "Lebensraum") and Western powers really didn't have anything against Hitler waging war against Stalin (their communist arch-enemy) but Poland was in-between and because of Poland there was now war in the west as well...


Leo "Apollo11"


P.S.
[EDIT]
Sighted typo fixed...

< Message edited by Apollo11 -- 11/3/2012 2:04:57 PM >


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(in reply to warspite1)
Post #: 8
RE: Semi-OT: Why didn't Britain and France declare war ... - 11/3/2012 2:06:05 PM   
Mike29

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: warspite1
HeeHeeHee... so no mention of the secret protocol you signed the previous month then Mr Molotov, agreeing to carve Poland up once the Germans had invaded?


It's generally known, yes we signed. What we had to do? All 38 and 39 we were trying to sign anty-german defensive alliance with you, and British politics except Churchill did not wanted to cooperate with us. Read Churchill, he said because of unwise British politics of that time (Baldwin, then Chamberlain) Russian army invaided to Poland not as their friends against Germany, but occupied former Russian territory as agressor (sorry for my English, I read him on Russian).

WIKI:

"In early 1939, the Soviet Union entered into negotiations with the United Kingdom, France, Poland, and Romania to establish an alliance against Nazi Germany. The negotiations failed when the Soviet Union insisted that Poland and Romania give Soviet troops transit rights through their territory as part of a collective security agreement.[8] The failure of those negotiations led the Soviet Union to conclude the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact with Nazi Germany on 23 August; this was a non-aggression pact containing a secret protocol dividing Northern and Eastern Europe into German and Soviet spheres of influence.[9] One week after the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, German forces invaded Poland from the north, south, and west. Polish forces then withdrew to the southeast where they prepared for a long defence of the Romanian Bridgehead and awaited the French and British support and relief that they were expecting. The Soviet Red Army invaded the Kresy, in accordance with the secret protocol, on 17 September.[10][Note 5] The Soviet government announced it was acting to protect the Ukrainians and Belarusians who lived in the eastern part of Poland, because the Polish state had collapsed in the face of the Nazi German attack and could no longer guarantee the security of its own citizens.[13][14][15][16] Facing a second front, the Polish government concluded that the defence of the Romanian Bridgehead was no longer feasible and ordered an emergency evacuation of all troops to neutral Romania.[1]"

< Message edited by Mike29 -- 11/3/2012 2:18:55 PM >

(in reply to warspite1)
Post #: 9
RE: Semi-OT: Why didn't Britain and France declare war ... - 11/3/2012 2:10:20 PM   
Mike29

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Apollo11

Hi all,

German and Soviet officers shaking hands, Poland, late Sep 1939




It was all Soviet propaganda... of course it was... but Britain and France should have known better especially since they signed treaty with Poland...


In any case this come to my mind this morning - I am glad that it intrigued you guys!

Leo "Apollo11"


The simplest explanation - they were not idiots at all, Churchill was very glad and said - now Germany and SU have common board line so we have eastern front, does not matter it is silent or not at the moment.

But for my really interesting formal side, I never heard that issue have ever discussed in the British parliment.

< Message edited by Mike29 -- 11/3/2012 2:20:04 PM >

(in reply to Apollo11)
Post #: 10
RE: Semi-OT: Why didn't Britain and France declare war ... - 11/3/2012 2:10:36 PM   
warspite1


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Apollo11

Hi all,

quote:

ORIGINAL: warspite1

Is "should have known better" fair? I think the governments were being practical and just reacting to what was the really bad situation they now faced. Poland was beaten and, rightly or wrongly, the Anglo-French forces had done nothing - apart from the woefully pathetic Saarland offensive - to help. If no help was forthcoming to Poland in response to a German attack, there was nothing to be gained in trying to aid Poland - and everything to be lost in the west - by declaring war on the Soviets.


My "should have known better" was regarding official Soviet explanation (i.e. not invasion but "help for Ukrainian and White Russian people")!


And yes... the Poland was defeated by the Germans at that time... but treaties are treaties (and politics are politics)... if the moral higher ground was to be maintained the Soviet Union should have been (and rightfully so) declared as aggressor same as Germany...


BTW, this whole issue is really interesting because Hitler always wanted to go to East only (i.e. "Lebensraum") and Western powers really didn't have anything against Hitler waging war against Stalin (their communist arch-enemy) but Poland was in-between and because of Poland there was now war in the west as well...


Leo "Apollo11"


P.S.
[EDIT]
Sighted typo fixed...
warspite1

Okay - my mistake

Your last paragraph raises another, even more interesting "what if" question though. The UK had spent the last 300 years ensuring that no one power had hedgemony on the continent.

Come the 20th Century there was no love of the Soviet Union anymore than there was for the Fascist dictatorships.

So. What if the Treaty of Versailles had split Poland in two - half German, half Soviet i.e. there was no Poland for the Germans to attack through to reach the USSR.

In such an instance, Hitler does not antagonise the West in Czechoslovakia, but goes straight for Stalin. What do the French and British do then?

_____________________________

England expects that every man will do his duty - Horatio Nelson 1805.




(in reply to Apollo11)
Post #: 11
RE: Semi-OT: Why didn't Britain and France declare war ... - 11/3/2012 2:13:26 PM   
Mike29

 

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quote:

Stalin was a paranoid and thought all the western democracies wanted was a war between the USSR and Germany...


Was he?

(in reply to TulliusDetritus)
Post #: 12
RE: Semi-OT: Why didn't Britain and France declare war ... - 11/3/2012 2:16:37 PM   
Mike29

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: warspite1


The UK had spent the last 300 years ensuring that no one power had hedgemony on the continent.


Except British all over the world LOL

(in reply to warspite1)
Post #: 13
RE: Semi-OT: Why didn't Britain and France declare war ... - 11/3/2012 2:31:13 PM   
warspite1


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Mike29


quote:

ORIGINAL: warspite1


The UK had spent the last 300 years ensuring that no one power had hedgemony on the continent.


Except British all over the world LOL
warspite1

Yep. That was the plan to protect our Empire. Worked too against Philip, Napoleon, the Kaiser and Hitler

_____________________________

England expects that every man will do his duty - Horatio Nelson 1805.




(in reply to Mike29)
Post #: 14
RE: Semi-OT: Why didn't Britain and France declare war ... - 11/3/2012 2:32:22 PM   
TulliusDetritus


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Mike29

quote:

Stalin was a paranoid and thought all the western democracies wanted was a war between the USSR and Germany...


Was he?


In this concrete case, perhaps he wasn't paranoid at all

I remember Soviet sources saying [to use a Soviet rhetoric] that till the last moment (just before the German armored hordes crossed the Ardennes) the "French bourgeoisie was desperately hoping for a German attack on the USSR"

_____________________________

"Hang on, is that it...? Are we on the ring...?? Ready???" -- Nürburgring Seven Second Ring King

(in reply to Mike29)
Post #: 15
RE: Semi-OT: Why didn't Britain and France declare war ... - 11/3/2012 2:41:10 PM   
Apollo11


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Hi all,

So... can we find out if this was ever:

#1
Discussed by British War Cabinet

#2
Discussed in British Parliament

#2
Discussed between British and French government



Leo "Apollo11"

_____________________________



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P: UV, WitP, WitP-AE

(in reply to Mike29)
Post #: 16
RE: Semi-OT: Why didn't Britain and France declare war ... - 11/3/2012 3:01:09 PM   
warspite1


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Apollo11

Hi all,

So... can we find out if this was ever:

#1
Discussed by British War Cabinet

#2
Discussed in British Parliament

#2
Discussed between British and French government



Leo "Apollo11"
warspite1

Well this is Wiki's take on it (for what it's worth)

Allied reaction

The reaction of France and Britain to the Soviet invasion and annexation of Eastern Poland was muted, since neither country wanted a confrontation with the Soviet Union at that time.[85][86] Under the terms of the Polish-British Common Defence Pact of 25 August 1939, the British had promised assistance if a European power attacked Poland.[Note 8] A secret protocol of the pact, however, specified that the European power referred to Germany.[88] When Polish Ambassador Edward Raczyñski reminded Foreign Secretary Edward Frederick Lindley Wood of the pact, he was bluntly told that it was Britain's business whether to declare war on the Soviet Union.[85] British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain considered making a public commitment to restore the Polish state but in the end issued only general condemnations.[85] This stance represented Britain's attempt at balance: its security interests included trade with the Soviets that would support its war effort and the possibility of a future Anglo-Soviet alliance against Germany.[88] Public opinion in Britain was divided between expressions of outrage at the invasion and a perception that Soviet claims to the region were reasonable.[88]

While the French had made promises to Poland, including the provision of air support, these were not honoured. A Franco-Polish Military Alliance was signed in 1921 and amended thereafter. The agreements were not strongly supported by the French military leadership, though; the relationship deteriorated during the 1920s and 1930s.[89] In the French view, the German-Soviet alliance was fragile and overt denunciation of, or action against, the Soviets would not serve either France's or Poland's best interests.[86] Once the Soviets moved into Poland, the French and the British decided there was nothing they could do for Poland in the short term and began planning for a long-term victory instead. The French had advanced tentatively into the Saar region in early September, but after the Polish defeat they retreated behind the Maginot Line on 4 October.[90] On 1 October 1939, Winston Churchill—via the radio—stated:

... That the Russian armies should stand on this line was clearly necessary for the safety of Russia against the Nazi menace. At any rate, the line is there, and an Eastern front has been created which Nazi Germany does not dare assail. When Herr von Ribbentrop was summoned to Moscow last week it was to learn the fact, and to accept the fact, that the Nazi designs upon the Baltic States and upon the Ukraine must come to a dead stop.[91]

_____________________________

England expects that every man will do his duty - Horatio Nelson 1805.




(in reply to Apollo11)
Post #: 17
RE: Semi-OT: Why didn't Britain and France declare war ... - 11/3/2012 3:08:57 PM   
TulliusDetritus


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Wait wait wait... I ignored perhaps the most important part

"We could have wished that the Russian armies should be standing on their present line [october, occupying the eastern part of Poland] as the friends and allies of Poland instead of as invaders. But that the Russian armies should stand on this line was clearly necessary for the safety of Russia against the Nazi menace."

Oh oh... so after all Churchill (aka British elites) knew the Soviets wanted to fortify their position swallowing some buffer states...

EDIT: I did a messy thing. I wanted to post a new message but edited this one instead. I annihilated Churchill's broadcast that is Oh well, this part says it all.

< Message edited by TulliusDetritus -- 11/3/2012 4:12:30 PM >


_____________________________

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(in reply to Apollo11)
Post #: 18
RE: Semi-OT: Why didn't Britain and France declare war ... - 11/3/2012 3:15:10 PM   
TulliusDetritus


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And after this broadcast...

"The Prime Minister was in full agreement. 'I take the same view as Winston,' he said, in a letter to his sister, 'to whose excellent broadcast we have just been listening. I believe Russia will always act as she thinks her own interests demand [aka, again they avoid the act of war thing], and I cannot believe she would think her interests served by a German victory followed by a German domination of Europe [aka they will necessarily oppose them]"

Source, Churchill's memoirs, vol 1 The Gathering Storm

_____________________________

"Hang on, is that it...? Are we on the ring...?? Ready???" -- Nürburgring Seven Second Ring King

(in reply to TulliusDetritus)
Post #: 19
RE: Semi-OT: Why didn't Britain and France declare war ... - 11/3/2012 3:21:04 PM   
Klydon


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Nice topic Leo. Will have to give it some thought for sure.

My early response would be that the Allies had already declared war on Germany before Russia moved in. I don't know that it would have made a lot of sense to immediately make peace with Germany and then everyone declare war on Russia. I also don't think any of the three (Germany, France, and Britain) were ready for a show down with Russia in 1939. All three, especially Germany, would be far stronger 9 months later when the campaign in the west opened. The other issue that would have remained would have been the question of a independant Polish state.

(in reply to TulliusDetritus)
Post #: 20
RE: Semi-OT: Why didn't Britain and France declare war ... - 11/3/2012 3:25:11 PM   
warspite1


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Klydon

Nice topic Leo. Will have to give it some thought for sure.

My early response would be that the Allies had already declared war on Germany before Russia moved in. I don't know that it would have made a lot of sense to immediately make peace with Germany and then everyone declare war on Russia. I also don't think any of the three (Germany, France, and Britain) were ready for a show down with Russia in 1939. All three, especially Germany, would be far stronger 9 months later when the campaign in the west opened. The other issue that would have remained would have been the question of a independant Polish state.
warspite1

Why do you say making peace with Germany? That isn't in the equation at all. The question is why didn't the British and French declare war on the Soviet Union too?

_____________________________

England expects that every man will do his duty - Horatio Nelson 1805.




(in reply to Klydon)
Post #: 21
RE: Semi-OT: Why didn't Britain and France declare war ... - 11/3/2012 4:01:08 PM   
Apollo11


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Hi all,

quote:

ORIGINAL: warspite1

quote:

ORIGINAL: Klydon

Nice topic Leo. Will have to give it some thought for sure.

My early response would be that the Allies had already declared war on Germany before Russia moved in. I don't know that it would have made a lot of sense to immediately make peace with Germany and then everyone declare war on Russia. I also don't think any of the three (Germany, France, and Britain) were ready for a show down with Russia in 1939. All three, especially Germany, would be far stronger 9 months later when the campaign in the west opened. The other issue that would have remained would have been the question of a independant Polish state.
warspite1

Why do you say making peace with Germany? That isn't in the equation at all. The question is why didn't the British and French declare war on the Soviet Union too?


Robert, I think Jay ("Klydon") is speculating that after Poland was gone (and was partitioned by Germany and Soviet Union) the Western powers (France and Britain) might have made peace with Germany...

BTW, Hitler most certainly expected that to happen!


Leo "Apollo11"

_____________________________



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(in reply to warspite1)
Post #: 22
RE: Semi-OT: Why didn't Britain and France declare war ... - 11/3/2012 4:23:08 PM   
Klydon


Posts: 2156
Joined: 11/28/2010
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quote:

ORIGINAL: Apollo11

Hi all,

Semi-OT: Why didn't Britain and France declare war on Soviet Union in 1939 when it attacked Poland (and joined Germany in doing so)?

Leo "Apollo11"


I was going by Leo's original statement.

Since the Allies were already at war, it was an easy step to move along to the old saying of "the enemy of my enemy (in this case, Germany) is my friend". In effect, the Allies had already chosen sides between Russia and Germany by being at war with Germany already. Also remember that Russia and Germany were not at war with each other at this time. Stalin wanted an alliance with Germany. An Allied declaration of war against Russia would have further pushed Russia and Germany together as co-beligerants, although it would have been interesting to see what happen since the Allies lacked the means to do anything effective against the Russians (except perhaps a blockade) and the Russians were not going to do anything against the Allies, except maybe in the Middle East against say Persia, etc and the Allies could have done nothing about it.

Even with the Allies at war with both Germany and Russia, the German/Russian "alliance" would have still broken down simply because Hitler and Stalin didn't trust each other and there was friction between the two because their spheres of influence overlapped each other.

(in reply to Apollo11)
Post #: 23
RE: Semi-OT: Why didn't Britain and France declare war ... - 11/3/2012 10:24:28 PM   
turtlefang

 

Posts: 333
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The British used a technical loophole in the 1939 Anglo-Polish Agreement of Mutual Assistance

The issue centers on what defines a "European Power". By this the two governments agreed to assist each other against any aggression by 'a European Power'. So far, so straightforward. However, several secret clauses specifying that 'a European Power' meant Germany and that the appropriate response to any other acts of aggression would be decided only after the event. The British government ignore the Soviet invasion for all the reasons others have already mentioned and still keep to the letter of the Agreement. The reason the British had inserted the clause in the first place was, of course, that they foresaw that the Soviet Union might exploit a German invasion to make their own gains in Poland, a possibility that the Nazi-Soviet Pact had made all the more likely.

And in 1939 the Soviet Union was expelled from the League of Nations because of the Polish Invasion.

Two months later, Stalin invaded Finland. Britian and France considered sending troops AND Britian/France/USA all sent Finland large amounts of aid against the Soviets.

In addition, the French High Command strongly recommended against expanding the war against Germany as they were concerned about being able to win against just the Germans rather than the Germans and Soviets. In addition, the French decided not to put any forces into enforcing the existing French tready with the Polish against the Germans - the French high command just didn't believe they had the forces counter the Germans much less Soviets.

So the issues was discussed. But Poland ended up as the burnt offering as far as the Soviets were concerned - basically, the British and French decided, without a lot of debate, that they had bitten off more than they could chew with Germany and had no intention of making the elephant bigger by engaging the Soviets.

(in reply to Klydon)
Post #: 24
RE: Semi-OT: Why didn't Britain and France declare war ... - 11/4/2012 7:26:05 AM   
morvael


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From: Poland
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quote:

with a European Power


This, if threatened to lose face, GB could argue that Soviet Union is an Asiatic Power, since most of it's land lies in Asia :)

On a more serious note, I remember the Allies were much closer to war with SU during the Winter War. They even planned to send some units to help Finland, which were later re-routed to Norway. All in all, it was a clever plot by Stalin not to invade Poland on day 1 as a "simple" agressor along the Reich (I guess this would have to result in an Allied-Soviet war since it would be illogical to issue an ultimatum to just one invader), and later his public claims of "help", supported by orders of Polish SQH not to fire upon Soviets, unless fired upon (which happened quite often, though), and the general lack of knowledge what happend in eastern Poland (and what would happen soon) weren't clear in the West. Of course the secret clauses of M-R pact that weren't known publicly at the time, were the cause of Soviet expansion (and in general the imperialism of a totalitarian regime ruling a world superpower). Later on, when the war dragged on and didn't seem easy anymore, it would be foolish of the Allies to add one more enemy to their list. They already had problems to contain Germany... If a war was to happen it would have to be declared before the invasion of France, with the higest probabilty between 17th September and 5th October 1939 and during the Winter War.

edit: hehe, I wrote in the similar vein as turtlefang, whose post I didn't read before writing mine :)

< Message edited by morvael -- 11/4/2012 7:27:14 AM >

(in reply to Apollo11)
Post #: 25
RE: Semi-OT: Why didn't Britain and France declare war ... - 11/4/2012 8:34:48 AM   
warspite1


Posts: 17196
Joined: 2/2/2008
From: England
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quote:

ORIGINAL: morvael

quote:

with a European Power


This, if threatened to lose face, GB could argue that Soviet Union is an Asiatic Power, since most of it's land lies in Asia :)

On a more serious note, I remember the Allies were much closer to war with SU during the Winter War. They even planned to send some units to help Finland, which were later re-routed to Norway. All in all, it was a clever plot by Stalin not to invade Poland on day 1 as a "simple" agressor along the Reich (I guess this would have to result in an Allied-Soviet war since it would be illogical to issue an ultimatum to just one invader), and later his public claims of "help", supported by orders of Polish SQH not to fire upon Soviets, unless fired upon (which happened quite often, though), and the general lack of knowledge what happend in eastern Poland (and what would happen soon) weren't clear in the West. Of course the secret clauses of M-R pact that weren't known publicly at the time, were the cause of Soviet expansion (and in general the imperialism of a totalitarian regime ruling a world superpower). Later on, when the war dragged on and didn't seem easy anymore, it would be foolish of the Allies to add one more enemy to their list. They already had problems to contain Germany... If a war was to happen it would have to be declared before the invasion of France, with the higest probabilty between 17th September and 5th October 1939 and during the Winter War.

edit: hehe, I wrote in the similar vein as turtlefang, whose post I didn't read before writing mine :)
warspite1

As I said before, Britain and France had no intention of fighting the Soviets in Finland. The units were not "re-routed to Norway".

The British wanted to stop Iron-Ore being transferred to Germany via Narvik (the Gulf of Bothnia was closed due to ice in winter). They needed a reason to land troops on Norwegian soil however. The plan was to send troops to assist the Finns (Norway wouldn't object to us helping their Scandanavian brothers surely?) but....well what do you know? Now we are here lets hang out in Narvik. With the Germans likely to respond there is no way we can send troops on to Finland..

_____________________________

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(in reply to morvael)
Post #: 26
RE: Semi-OT: Why didn't Britain and France declare war ... - 11/4/2012 10:46:51 AM   
Rasputitsa


Posts: 1685
Joined: 6/30/2001
From: Bedfordshire UK
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quote:

ORIGINAL: Mike29
It's generally known, yes we signed. What we had to do? All 38 and 39 we were trying to sign anty-german defensive alliance with you, and British politics except Churchill did not wanted to cooperate with us. Read Churchill, he said because of unwise British politics of that time (Baldwin, then Chamberlain) Russian army invaided to Poland not as their friends against Germany, but occupied former Russian territory as agressor (sorry for my English, I read him on Russian).


The British Government was unable to reach an agreement with the Soviet Government, because the Soviet position required agreement to provisions that the British Government was unwilling to force on other nations. We had just been through a period of attempted agreements to carve up parts of Europe with Hitler and that had failed to halt aggression, that policy had ended (Hitler was one who had failed to see that change). Stalin and Molotov turned to Hitler, who was prepared to negotiate a carve up of other nations, hence the rapid conclusion of the pact, with its secret protocol to partition Poland. Something that the Western Allies could never agree to, so it's not lack of co-operation from Britain, it's that Stalin's demands could not be fulfilled.

The Western Allies were hampered by years of dis-armament and France's concentration on a defensive policy (Maginot Line) leaving them unprepared to to quickly take offensive action. Britain's main power was always at sea and the naval blockade had eventually defeated the Central Powers in WW1 and would probably have been effective again in WW2, but it was not a quick fix and could not help Poland immediately.

The new Policy of the British Government and France was to confront any further aggression, by any of the totalitarian States, which is why the Western allies prepared a force to provide support to Finland, during the Winter War. We will never know how far support for Finland would have gone, but if Norway and Sweden had not refused transit permission for this force, the Allies could easily have been at war with the Soviet Union and Germany in 1940.

The guarantee to Poland was based on the threat that aggression against Poland, by Germany, would result in a war with the Britain, which Germany could not win. Hitler, not appreciating the change from the earlier failed appeasement policy, ignored the threat. The guarantee was genuine and Hitler eventually paid the price for ignoring it, but it could never help Poland in the short run, which the Allies knew. It was an all, or nothing, play, if it failed to deter Hitler, then the consequences would be a long war. The extension of the war into a World war, involving the USA, USSR and Japan, could not be certainly predicted at the time.

Poland was not former Russian territory, Eastern Poland was former Imperial Czarist Territory, it is an anomaly of the post-war period that, whilst the ex-Imperial nations were dismantling their empires, the Soviet Union was the only State which maintained the pre-1914 Imperial boundaries of the Czar. Whilst the USSR constantly castigated the filthy Western Imperialists, it was in fact the Soviet Union which became the last Imperial power, until 1989.






< Message edited by Rasputitsa -- 11/4/2012 10:51:27 AM >


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Post #: 27
RE: Semi-OT: Why didn't Britain and France declare war ... - 11/4/2012 7:30:25 PM   
elxaime

 

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Joined: 11/3/2004
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I don't want to minimize or excuse the culpability of Hitler and Stalin for their evil. However the politics of this era were complicated. We should try to avoid falling too early into seeing this through the lens of the Cold War. At that time, the political divisions of Europe following World War One were still relatively fresh. For example:

- the prior year 1938 German annexation of Czechoslovakia also featured Polish and Hungarian land grabs of Czechoslovak territory, as well as the creation of the Slovak State (since recreated and now an EU member); the area of Czechoslovakia taken by Poland had a Polish minority

- the main Polish areas being claimed by the Soviet Union had existed as part of the Russian Czarist Empire for centuries. It is not hard to imagine, had the Russian Monarchy still existed, seeing France and Britain giving guarantees to the Czar for these lands. Certainly, the West did not go to war for Polish nationalism in 1914

- the Polish eastern regions were also subject to other nationalist claims. In 1919, the new Poland had fought not only the Bolshevists, but also the Lithuanians. Parts of 1939 Poland included lands taken from Lithuania in a plebiscite the Lithuanians had never recognized (Poland had issued an ultimatum to Lithuania in 1938). Newly-incorporated areas with ethnic Ukrainian majorities had to reluctantly be given local autonomy. The 1939 Polish state, like its German and Russian neighbors, envisioned itself as a multiethnic but caused tension by promoting the Polish language and culture over others

- For their part, prior to their own extinguishing, the Czechoslovak government had supported revision of the German-Polish frontiers and resisted Polish attempts to form an alliance (French attempts to form an alliance of the smaller Eastern European states during this time also failed)

In the churning environment following the collapse of the German, Russian and Hapsburg Monarchies, might was often right. Hitler, of course, took this to its most evil and genocidal and Stalin was not far behind. But even the smaller nations carried their own sets of brass knuckles around and didn't hesitate to use them on those perceived as weaker than they.

History has tended to brush these complexities under the rug. The most obvious example was a memorial I saw in Romania to their World War Two war dead. The dates on the memorial were 1944-45, leaving out the hundreds of thousands of casualties suffered when Romania was allied to Germany (the Japanese are hardly the only ones who practice historical revisionism).

(in reply to Rasputitsa)
Post #: 28
RE: Semi-OT: Why didn't Britain and France declare war ... - 11/4/2012 8:32:25 PM   
Mike29

 

Posts: 353
Joined: 9/10/2011
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quote:

ORIGINAL: Rasputitsa
... would result in a war with the Britain, which Germany could not win.


I'll comment just this one from the long post. Guys! You are just always lucky with the weather in Channel and your eternal eastern ally whom you always happy to stigmatize.

< Message edited by Mike29 -- 11/4/2012 8:43:02 PM >

(in reply to Rasputitsa)
Post #: 29
RE: Semi-OT: Why didn't Britain and France declare war ... - 11/4/2012 8:42:22 PM   
Mike29

 

Posts: 353
Joined: 9/10/2011
Status: offline

quote:

ORIGINAL: elxaime

I don't want to minimize or excuse the culpability of Hitler and Stalin for their evil. However the politics of this era were complicated. We should try to avoid falling too early into seeing this through the lens of the Cold War. At that time, the political divisions of Europe following World War One were still relatively fresh. For example:

- the prior year 1938 German annexation of Czechoslovakia also featured Polish and Hungarian land grabs of Czechoslovak territory, as well as the creation of the Slovak State (since recreated and now an EU member); the area of Czechoslovakia taken by Poland had a Polish minority

- the main Polish areas being claimed by the Soviet Union had existed as part of the Russian Czarist Empire for centuries. It is not hard to imagine, had the Russian Monarchy still existed, seeing France and Britain giving guarantees to the Czar for these lands. Certainly, the West did not go to war for Polish nationalism in 1914

- the Polish eastern regions were also subject to other nationalist claims. In 1919, the new Poland had fought not only the Bolshevists, but also the Lithuanians. Parts of 1939 Poland included lands taken from Lithuania in a plebiscite the Lithuanians had never recognized (Poland had issued an ultimatum to Lithuania in 1938). Newly-incorporated areas with ethnic Ukrainian majorities had to reluctantly be given local autonomy. The 1939 Polish state, like its German and Russian neighbors, envisioned itself as a multiethnic but caused tension by promoting the Polish language and culture over others

- For their part, prior to their own extinguishing, the Czechoslovak government had supported revision of the German-Polish frontiers and resisted Polish attempts to form an alliance (French attempts to form an alliance of the smaller Eastern European states during this time also failed)

In the churning environment following the collapse of the German, Russian and Hapsburg Monarchies, might was often right. Hitler, of course, took this to its most evil and genocidal and Stalin was not far behind. But even the smaller nations carried their own sets of brass knuckles around and didn't hesitate to use them on those perceived as weaker than they.

History has tended to brush these complexities under the rug. The most obvious example was a memorial I saw in Romania to their World War Two war dead. The dates on the memorial were 1944-45, leaving out the hundreds of thousands of casualties suffered when Romania was allied to Germany (the Japanese are hardly the only ones who practice historical revisionism).



Exactly true.

BTW I've been to Museum of war history in Vienna, it has Hall of fame where names of all Austrian fieldmarshals, generals and elder officers lost in action during all wars since I dont remember, may be 1200. So, that list also does not enclude Austrian losses during WW2.

(in reply to elxaime)
Post #: 30
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