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

 
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RE: Semi-OT: Why didn't Britain and France declare war ... - 11/4/2012 8:47:52 PM   
Mike29

 

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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. Except this.
quote:

and Stalin was not far behind



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.


< Message edited by Mike29 -- 11/4/2012 8:48:32 PM >

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RE: Semi-OT: Why didn't Britain and France declare war ... - 11/5/2012 9:06:26 AM   
Rasputitsa


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Mike29

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.


Not necessarily the weather, but the Channel does make a very good anti-tank ditch and the first integrated radar air defence system certainly helped, Hitler could not win the war in 1940 (i.e. before the USSR was fully involved), nor could he just sit and wait, as the naval blockade would slowly have begun to take effect. It doesn't matter how you win, you use whatever is available and the weather does help, especially on the eastern front.

I was speculating what would have happened if the war had not developed into a full scale world war, involving the USA, USSR and Japan, but when these counties entered the war it is clear that the US and principally the USSR won the war against Germany. Britain probably could not lose the war, but US and Soviet resources made the victory certain.

Anyone with a reasonable knowledge of WW2, will know the huge contribution and cost to the people of the USSR, but that doesn't remove the fact the Nazi-Soviet pact was the trigger to the tragedy that followed. Britain was not prepared to sign up to the deal that Stalin was demanding, as the price for co-operation, having just been through the same sordid failed process with Hitler.


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RE: Semi-OT: Why didn't Britain and France declare war ... - 11/5/2012 5:41:34 PM   
bednarre

 

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Why didn't France and Great Britain declare war on Russia in September 1939?

(1) With Poland obviously overrun by the Germans, why take on two superpowers?
(2) An Allied/Soviet alliance was inevitable given Hitler's lust for territory
(3) The Allies were not prepared to attack Germany in 1939/1940, much less the Soviet Union
a) Late Mobilization
b) Lack of national unity to master Europe
c) Relatively small armies in Democracies compared with the dictatorships
d) How do we get to Russia?

Nevertheless, some idiots advocated attacking the Causcasian oil fields in Russia in relation for their surpise invasion of Finland. Fortunately the upper levels of Great Britain's military (i.e., non-civilian) leadership made some blunt remarks about true capabilities. Remember Europe's long memory for lost wars (Crimean, Franco-Prussian, Russo-Japanese, etc.). Allied offensive capability at the time is best summed up by the Narvik "Expedition".

(in reply to Rasputitsa)
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RE: Semi-OT: Why didn't Britain and France declare war ... - 11/5/2012 8:30:13 PM   
warspite1


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Rasputitsa


quote:

ORIGINAL: Mike29

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.


......It doesn't matter how you win, you use whatever is available and the weather does help, especially on the eastern front.

warspite1

Yeah... just twice at least the Russkies have been saved by General Winter. How many times has the weather come to our rescue?....Er, the Spanish Armada and...that's about it.

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




(in reply to Rasputitsa)
Post #: 34
RE: Semi-OT: Why didn't Britain and France declare war ... - 11/9/2012 6:17:28 PM   
Rasputitsa


Posts: 1692
Joined: 6/30/2001
From: Bedfordshire UK
Status: online

quote:

ORIGINAL: warspite1
Yeah... just twice at least the Russkies have been saved by General Winter. How many times has the weather come to our rescue?....Er, the Spanish Armada and...that's about it.


Battle against the Spanish Armada was already won by the time the weather intervened, they were heading home having failed in their mission to pick up the Duke de Palma's invasion army (which wasn't ready).

By all accounts 1940 was a fine summer, we won despite the weather, which favoured German air operations. D-Day also succeeded despite the weather, so no help there, the British Mulberry harbour survived the July storm, good engineering beat the weather.

_____________________________

"We have to go from where we are, not from where we would like to be" - me

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Post #: 35
RE: Semi-OT: Why didn't Britain and France declare war ... - 11/12/2012 8:54:43 PM   
Offworlder

 

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One factor that is normally not kept in mind is the obduracy of the eastern countries in resisting having the Red Army on thier soil - given that there was no way in which to kick it out again.

Keep in mind that most eastern countries at the time were:

a) regimes that were mostly totalitarian in nature, and strongly anti communist in conception
b) had strong antipathy against the Russians both on a national basis and due to ideology
c) they had spent 2 decades looking over their shoulders from the percieved Red danger
d) many had strong feelings to their other neighbours as well and grudges to settle

There was no way in which the British or the French, who were percieved as distant and not too trusty powers, could actually get all these states to act in concert against anyone. It must be noted that the emergence of Hitler's Germany was not viewed with the dismay we think in all quarters. Also the strong bartering and trading that was going on between the individual states and Germany from Hitler's accession made them loath to lose German support (compare this with the rather closed trade policies that the British and French and their empires practiced following the economic crisis with Germany's keen need for raw materials and agricultural products and its willingness to use her economic clout for political ends). In point of fact, only Czechoslovakia and Poland really needed to fear German territorial expansionism (and the latter tried hard to strike a bargain), with the rest viewing Germany as potential allies against the USSR. Also keep in mind that France and UK had actually turned their back on international affairs in eastern europe and paid the price accordingly when they were snubbed by those they were supposed to be saving - the very idea that Britain or France could actually strong arm or convince any of the Eastern European countries to accept the Red Army on their soil in '39 is preposterous.

As to the original scenario, what a lot of posters have said is right - no one wanted to take on 2 giants. Also there were extra European issues that mattered in the equation - ex Iran. The USSR if stung into attacking British interests, could easily overrun Iran and cut Britain off from her main source of oil. The USSR also possessed a powerful submarine fleet and bases in the North Sea and the Pacific that could inflict painful losses to the then overstretched RN escorts. This aside from the fact that there was always the lingering fear that it would somehow go for the crown jewel of India...

(in reply to Rasputitsa)
Post #: 36
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