From: Bedfordshire UK
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 >
"We have to go from where we are, not from where we would like to be" - me