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Was Hitler´s attack in Poland preventable at the last moment?

Discussion in 'What If - European Theater - Eastern Front & Balka' started by Kai-Petri, Jan 23, 2003.

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  1. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    This is a bit confusing as Hitler seemed quite upset by the war declaration by France and England.He did not expect that. Then again I guess the pact with Stalin probably made it clear that there would be a war against Poland...

    Well, here are the negotiation texts by different parties for Danzig problem. And to me it seems that Poland was getting ready for straight talks in the end but Hitler had made his decision...who knows when.Interesting stuff anyway. And I think this is very true that Sir Henderson says in one of his texts:

    "Nevertheless, if Herr Hitler is allowed to continue to have the initiative, it seems to me that result can only be either war or once again victory for him by a display of force and encouragement thereby to pursue the same course again next year or the year after. "


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    http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/wwii/bluebook/blbk104.htm

    THE reply to the German Government of 28th August was, before its delivery, communicated to the French and Polish Governments. The Polish Government authorised His Majesty's Government to inform the German Government that Poland was ready at once to enter into direct discussions with Germany.

    It will be seen that paragraph 4 of the British reply of 28th August made plain the attitude of the Polish Government on this point.

    The British reply was handed to Herr Hitler at 10:30 p. m. on 28th August, and he promised to give a written reply the following day.

    The German reply in writing was handed to His Majesty's Ambassador at 7:15 p. m. on 28th August. Apart from the complete distortion of events leading up to the crisis, the German Government's reply demanded the arrival in Berlin of a Polish emissary with full powers during the course of the following day.

    The reply of the British Government is self-explanatory. It was communicated by His Majesty's Ambassador to the German Minister for Foreign Affairs at midnight on 30th August. Herr von Ribbentrop's reply was to produce a long document which he read out rapidly in German. It was apparently the sixteen-point plan which the German Government have since published. When Sir N. Henderson asked for the text of these proposals in accordance with the undertaking in the German reply of 28th August Herr von Ribbentrop asserted that it was now too late as the Polish plenipotentiary had not arrived in Berlin by midnight, as had been demanded by the German Government in their communication of the previous evening.

    The Polish Government on learning of these developments informed His Majesty's Government during the afternoon of 31st August that they would authorise their Ambassador to inform the German Government that Poland had accepted the British proposals for negotiations.

    The Polish Ambassador in Berlin (M. Lipski) was not received by Herr von Ribbentrop until the evening of 31st August. After this interview the German Government broadcast their proposals forthwith. M. Lipski at once tried to establish contact with Warsaw but was unable to do so because all means of communication between Poland and Germany had been closed by the German Government.

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    Viscount Halifax to Sir N. Henderson (Berlin).
    (Telegraphic.) Foreign Office, August 31, 1939, 11 p. m.

    PLEASE inform German Government that we understand that Polish Government are taking steps to establish contact with them through Polish Ambassador in Berlin.

    2. Please also ask them whether they agree to the necessity for securing an immediate provisional modus vivendi as regards Danzig. (We have already put this point to German Government.) Would they agree that M. Burckhardt might be employed for this purpose if it were possible to secure his services?
     
  2. AndyW

    AndyW Member

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    "Danzig is not the subject of the dispute at all: it is a question of expanding our living space in the East. There is therefore no question of sparing Poland, and we are left with the decision: to attack Poland at the earliest opportunity. We cannot expect a repetition of the Czech affair. There will be war. Our task is to isolate Poland. The success of this isolation will be decisive. The isolation of Poland is a matter of skillful politics."´

    Adolf Hitler to high-ranking German Officers, the Wehrmacht and Party Chiefs on May 23, 1939, evidence L-79 on the IMT.

    I don't think the Poles had plans to give up their complete country to Herrn Hitler just for the sake of peace. This is like expecting the Iraq government giving up her country and making it voluntarily a colony of Herrn Bush Jr. to prevent war.

    Cheers,

    Cheers,
     
  3. De Vlaamse Leeuw

    De Vlaamse Leeuw Member

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    Maybe, if the Poles would have given Danzig back to the Germans (this is the so called Polish Corridor).

    But I don't think that Poland would do that, because they saw what happened to Austria, Tsjeque and Slovakia.
     
  4. Erich

    Erich Alte Hase

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    How about just giving all of Ost Preussia back and no questions asked !

    E
     
  5. Erich

    Erich Alte Hase

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    sorry gents......lost my mind, I was talking about the present times.....

    E
     
  6. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Nice idea, Erich, but like with joining with East Germany in 1990 (? was that the year ?) that would probably cost too much...you know, new roads, pensions, standard of living issues.

    We Finnish are not too keen on getting Karelia back as the Russians have not done anything for it since 1944, you know, after bombing it to kingdom come or something like that...

    :D :(
     
  7. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Anyway, I think it is quite interesting to see how much effort was put into trying to solve the Danzig question ( or looked like it...) by the British ( for example ), still feeling a bit guilty about the treaty of Versailles?

    I think as well if Mussolini had done the same trick as in Munich he would have been named some kind of peace Nobel winner, which does sound quite funny after all this time, but anyway much trust was laid on his success by the Western politicians, I think.

    Interesting info:

    Ossietzky, Carl von
    1889–1938, German pacifist. A leader of the peace movement in Germany after World War I, he was editor of the antimilitarist weekly Weltbühne from 1927. Ossietzky was imprisoned (1932) for articles exposing secret rearmament in Germany. After Adolf Hitler's rise to power in 1933, Ossietzky was sent to a concentration camp. Suffering from tuberculosis, he was removed (1936) to a prison hospital shortly before the announcement that he had been awarded the 1935 Nobel Peace Prize. The German government protested and barred all Germans from future acceptance of a Nobel Prize. Still imprisoned, Ossietzky died two years later. His collected writings were published in an eight-volume German edition in 1995.




    :eek:

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    The British government, in response to appeals from many sources to stop the war, had formulated two preliminary conditions: immediate cessation of hostilities and evacuation of German troops from occupied Polish territories. British conditions did not mention Germans' withdrawal from Danzig. Again the French government clearly procrastinated. Paris had accepted the Italian proposal to organize a conference of European powers to solve existing political problems. To the chief of the French diplomacy, Georges Bonnet, this proposal became a pretext to temporize; he spent more time on attempts to convene the conference than on liabilities originated from the alliance with Poland.

    Namely, as early as on 31 August 1939 Mussolini proposed to convene on 5 September in San Remo a conference of European powers, for revision of the clauses of the treaty of Versailles, which were the cause of the present troubles in the life of Europe. Therefore San Remo had to become a second Munich.

    Mussolini's proposal was rejected not only by Poland, but first of all by Hitler himself, who was not going to venture into any peace talks before he had taken care of Poland.

    Meanwhile the ultimate factor, which torpedoed Italian diplomacy's manoeuvres became Great Britain, which - unlike during the Czechoslovak crisis - was more determined and nolens volens could see no more room to retreat before Hitler.
    --------

    Schmidt ( Ribbentrop´s secretary ) immediately made for the Reich's Chancellery, to the room where
    Hitler was sitting at his desk and Ribbentrop stood by the window. Both looked up expectantly as I came in. I stopped at some distance from Hitler's desk, and then slowly translated the British Government's ultimatum. When I finished, there was complete silence. Hitler sat motionless, gazing before him. He was not at a loss, as was afterwards stated, nor did he rage, as others allege. He sat completely silent and unmoving.
    After an interval which seemed an age, he turned to Ribbentrop, who had remained standing by the window. What now? asked Hitler with a savage look, as though implying that his Foreign Minister had misled him about England's probable reaction. Ribbentrop answered quietly: I assume that the French will hand in a similar ultimatum within the hour.
    As my duty was now performed, I withdrew. To those in the anteroom pressing round me I said: the English have just handed us an ultimatum. In two hours a state of war will exist between England and Germany. In the anteroom also this news was followed by complete silence. Goering turned to me and said: if we lose this war, God have mercy on us! Goebbels stood in a corner, downcast and self-absorbed. Everywhere in the room I saw looks of grave concern, even amongst the lesser Party people.
    At 12:00 the French ambassador to Berlin, Robert Coulondre, presented a similar document. The France's ultimatum originally set the time limit to 4 September at 5:00, but in result of Ambassador Juliusz Łukasiewicz's intervention it was shortened 12 hours.

    Simultaneously however lasted a contrary process: more and more countries declared their neutrality. Thus Switzerland, Estonia and Latvia declared their neutrality as soon as on 1 September, Denmark, Iceland, Finland, Lithuania, Portugal and Sweden - on 2 September, Belgium, Holland and Norway - on 3 September. Spain and Yugoslavia - on 4 September, Romania on 7 September and Turkey on 11 September. The United States declared their neutrality on 5 September and next day Italy declared her "non-belligerent" status. The Third Reich tried to push Lithuania against Poland and offered Hungary territorial gains in Poland. Both governments categorically refused; moreover the Hungarians rejected demands to let German troops pass through their territory.

    On 12 September, during a French-British summit, the supreme commander of the French armed forces, Gen. Maurice Gamelin resolved, that air raids on Germany would cause retaliatory actions, which would bring damages and would complicate concentration of French troops. British politicians and militarymen shared this opinion.

    Three days after the signature of the Polish-French political protocol, a trilateral financial agreement was signed in London between Poland, and France and Great Britain. According to the agreement France granted Poland a summary loan of 600 million francs (17 million dollars) and Great Britain - 5 million pounds (24 million dollars). In other words, for Polish war expenses Great Britain lent her 1% of just accepted extraordinary war credits; France - 0.7%. This money was used later, in different circumstances, by Polish authorities in exile.

    On 17 September Soviet troops on the Polish border were ordered to enter Western Ukraine and Western Byelorussia - which at that time were within Polish borders - as far as to the line, which limited further German advance towards the borders of the USSR. Simultaneously the Polish ambassador in Moscow, Wacław Grzybowski, was summoned to the people's commissar for foreign affairs Vyacheslav Molotov, who presented him with the note of termination of agreements with Poland:

    The Polish-German war has revealed the internal bankruptcy of the Polish state. After ten days of military operations, Poland has lost all its industrial areas and cultural centres. Warsaw, as the capital of Poland, no longer exists. The Polish government has collapsed and shows no sign of life. This indicates that the Polish state and government have, in effect, ceased to exist. In view of this state of affairs, the treaties concluded between Poland and the Soviet Union have no validity. Abandoned to its fate and deserted by its leaders, Poland has become a fertile field for all sorts of acts and surprises which could become a danger to the USSR. This is why, having preserved its neutrality until the present, the Soviet government can no longer remain neutral in the face of these facts.

    The British reaction to these developments was somewhat equivocal. Although they condemned the Soviet government, they also affirmed that the full implication of these events is not yet apparent. The British had criticized Poland after the First World War for extending her frontier eastward beyond the areas inhabited by the Poles. Throughout the inter-war period the problem of deterioration of relations between the Poles and ethnic minorities had been very much in the British public eye. Now they even seemed to excuse the Soviet action on the grounds that the Soviet-German demarcation line approximated to the Curzon Line proposed in Versailles as the Poland's eastern frontier. Most notably it was Sir Winston Spencer Churchill, who advocated this policy the most in the British parliament:
    Russia has pursued a cold policy of self-interest. [...] I would have preferred that the Russians should be standing on their present line as the friends and allies of Poland instead of invaders. But that the Russian armies should stand on this line was clearly necessary for the safety of Russia against the Nazi menace. [...] I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest. It cannot be in accordance with the interest or safety of Russia that Germany should plant itself upon the shores of the Black Sea, or that it should overrun the Baltic States and subjugate the Slavonic peoples of southeastern Europe.

    http://2ndww.tripod.com/Poland/politics.htm
     
  8. Jumbo_Wilson

    Jumbo_Wilson Member

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    I don't think the rather unpleasant Polish Military dictatorship would have given up a yard of ground. The whole army command would have, in effect, been admitting that they could not defend their own country. This is very difficult when the army and the government are one and the same. The Polish leadership were given plenty of oppertunities to come to terms with Germany, but there were two problems:

    1) The Poles were proud, arrogant and believed in their own propaganda
    2) Hitler wanted a small, successful war to cement his regime and take territory. Not believing the western Democracies would intervene.

    So no deal...

    Jumbo
     
  9. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Danzig info 1939:

    May 27 1939: Wehrmacht General Feodor von Bock, Commander, Army Group North, recommends to German General Staff that a brigade of Germans be raised in Danzig to participate in "Case White."

    June 11: Hitler approves von Bock's request; General Friedrich Georg Eberhardt travels to Danzig in civilian clothes to help organize unit.

    July 21: Danzig a young student activist named Blume from the Danzig-Langfuhr Technische Hochschule (Institute of Technology) arrested for speaking out about students being drafted into the Heimwehr.

    August 1939: Danzig Senate appoints Nazi Gauleiter Albert Forster as head of city, effectively nullifing the city constitution.

    http://www.wssob.com/000hmwdzg.html

    Sept 1: Germany invades Poland - WWII begins
    1 section of SS-Heimwehr Danzig attacks Polish troops at the Danzig Post Office* along with armored cars from the Danzig Police. The Poles surrender only when the Danzig Fire Department pumps gas into the building's cellar and ignites it.

    October 1939: Polish Army officers from the Danzig's Polish Post Office are tried and executed as guerrillas because they wore no military uniforms (except supposedly for Polish Army underwear!) .
     
  10. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Just found this by Jodl:

    Trials of German Major War Criminals: Volume 3

    And once again the defendant Jodl in his 1943 lecture, Document L 172, Exhibit USA 34 -- tells us clearly and in one sentence why the objective of eliminating Czechoslovakia lay as close to the hearts of the German military leaders as to the hearts of the Nazis:

    "The bloodless solution of the Czech conflict in the autumn of 1938 and the spring of 1939 and the annexation of Slovakia rounded off the territory of Greater Germany in such a way that it then became possible to consider the Polish problem on the basis of more or less favourable strategic premises."
     
  11. Roddoss72

    Roddoss72 Member

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    Very good point, i have an old National Geographic map of Western Europe of 1956 and it indeed says that East Prussia at the time the United Nations mandated East Prussia to The Soviet Union and Poland under a joint administration with the eventuality of East Prussia once again being given back to Germany, sometime in the future (a date was never allocated).

    So if that is the case why Poland and Russia still illegally occupying East Prussia. I had a friend in the modern Luftwaffe and he says that many Germans today believe that Pre-WW1 German borders must be re-instated.
     
  12. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Aquila non capit muscas

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    So now the National Geographic Society has precedence over international treaties. Is there any NGS map about when troops departed from East Prussia in 1939 and 1941 to occupy parts of Poland and Russia?
     
  13. Roddoss72

    Roddoss72 Member

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    Hey don't shoot the messenger, i am just saying what the map said, it stated that East Prussia was under joint administration by Soviet Union and Poland, this was a United Nation Mandate, with the eventuallity of East Prussia returning to Germany at a later date, and i still can't find out when.

    If you don't like it then there is nothing i can do about your reaction then, can I.
     
  14. Roddoss72

    Roddoss72 Member

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