Why did WWII happen ? - Page 5




 
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March 21st, 2006  
Venom PL
 
 
Here we have some informations:

Franco-Polish Military Alliance - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franco-...itary_Alliance
Polish-British Common Defence Pact - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British...itary_Alliance
Causes of World War II - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Causes_of_World_War_II
March 21st, 2006  
Doppleganger
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Reiben
What was the terms of the guarantee? Was it specific to an aggressor ie Germany?
Well the 'Polish-British Common Defence Pact' was specifically aimed at any agression by Nazi Germany towards either country. Given how far away Poland was from Britain though, there were clearly other reasons for signing this pact.

Anyway, the pact did not cover any attack by the Soviet Union, so I think it would be interesting to see what the British response would have been to any such attack.
March 22nd, 2006  
Ted
 
 
[quote=Doppleganger]Well the 'Polish-British Common Defence Pact' was specifically aimed at any agression by Nazi Germany towards either country. Given how far away Poland was from Britain though, there were clearly other reasons for signing this pact.quote]

I reckon you'll have to look in the corner of geopolitics. Germany had already gained the Rhineland, Austria and Sudetenland. At that time the article written by Sir Halford John Mackinder, a renowned British geographer, about the "The Geographical Pivot of History" was widely accepted. The statement made by hime was:

Who rules East Europe commands the Heartland
Who rules the Heartland commands the World-Island
Who rules the World-Island commands the world



The British politicians couldn't afford to sit this one out at home. I mean there are elections to be one, and some believe that you have to be "manly" once in a while to do so.
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March 22nd, 2006  
Ollie Garchy
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ted
"I reckon you'll have to look in the corner of geopolitics. Germany had already gained the Rhineland, Austria and Sudetenland".

My response:

(1) The Rhineland is Germany. Berlin could hardly "gain it".

(2) Austria was Hitler's native country. As an Austrian, he "gained" Germany instead. The Austrians furthermore applauded Anschluss. The unification of Germany, as it was understood in the 1930s, merely represented an acceptance of a core plank of League of Nations policy -- that proclaiming the right of national sovereignty.

(3) The same is true of the Sudetenland. The former province of the Austrian Empire was composed nearly completely of German-Austrians. It was absorbed by Prague as a reward for Czech military participation against the Central Powers during WWI. [Why is it that Alsace-Lorraine is viewed as a major moral issue when most central and eastern European countries had countless similar cases?] The Czech state in 1918 was actually a bizarre amalgamation that reflected the ethnic composition of the Austrian Empire. There were 6 million Czechs, 3 million Slovaks, 1.5 million Germans, and various other groups including Poles, Hungarians, Ruthenians, etc. If you believe in national sovereignty, then the Sudetenland belonged to Germany or Austria or Germany-Austria or Austria-Germany or maybe even Austria-Germany-most of Switzerland. If you do not believe in the right of national sovereignty, then you can hardly use the argument against Germany and argue that Posen was Polish, or Schleswig Danish or even Lorraine as French.

There is also one really important point concerning Munich. When Chamberlain sold Prague down the river, other countries later participated in Hitler's "land grab". Poland negotiated for a piece of the pie, Hungary got a small share, and the Slovaks, who generally felt themselves oppressed by the Czechs, agitated for the status of German protectorate. The Czech state imploded. Why? Another artificial Versailles construction bit the dust. Yugoslavia imploded in 1941 and again in the 1990s. Why? The Allied politicians repeatedly ignored eastern/central European demographic and cultural realities.

Conclusion: As can be seen from these examples, it is cynical to argue that (1) the Rhineland, (2) Austria, or (3) the Sudetenland represented serious breaches of international norms or conduct. They represented a repeal of the Versailles treaty that the western Allies sanctioned. Remember that Paris and London killed remaining German reparations, agreed to German rearmament as long as it was controlled (British-German naval agreement) and in fact understood why Berlin wanted Anschluss and the Sudetenland.

In a geopolitical sense, Paris and London knew why Germany wanted Danzig and the corridor, Upper Silesia and other post-WWI territorial losses. How could German politicians and strategists be expected to stomach the fact that Prussia was cut off from the rest of Germany? If you argue that the German population and government had no right to return Europe to pre-November 1918, how can you logically argue that Allied politicians originally had the right to cut it up in the first place. If you decide that POWER is the issue here, then I agree with you. I in fact see no other alternative solution.

The most important realization: As mentioned, you can argue that the carving up of the Czech state represented a crime. But Hungary, Poland and the independent Slovak government become equally guilty. They all got their piece. Poland, since it was later carved up by Hitler AND Stalin, becomes a repeat of the Czech demise.

Primary Conclusion: The motor of European political decisions, then and now, remains naked power pursuits. Nobody really "started" WWI or WWII or any war for that matter. Governments see the world differently from others and opt for war when other means fail. Primary interests move policy. London could not stomach the idea of a resurgent Germany (either under Hitler or probably even Ghandi). Ideology, morality, etc. only play marginal roles. Whitehall opted for war in 1939 to combat the idea of German expansion. Geopolitical? Probably. A moral defence of Poland? Come on.

Ollie Garchy.
March 22nd, 2006  
Ollie Garchy
 
 
[You guys are keeping me busy, I hope the boss continues to leave me alone for a while.]

A few more responses:

(1) The German "invasion" of Norway (like that of the Balkans) was reactive. One of the central themes in "just war" research is the Anglo-French plan for cutting off German Swedish iron ore imports. Churchill, for example, sponsored the invasion of neutral Norway to permit operations aimed at isolating Sweden. Hitler, owing to German industrial dependency on Swedish iron ore, was forced to respond or face certain ruin. The issue for the moralists is how Britain and France could countenance the invasion of Norway? This is a big issue for some people. Nobody today argues that "Fall Gelb" was expansionist. It was reactive.

[The Balkans was very similar. Yugoslavia was originally an ally of Nazi-Germany. The Pan-Slavists disliked the arrangement, sponsored a successful coup in Spring 1941, and declared war on Germany. Hitler, who feared that the action might interfere with Romanian oil shipments, and who was no longer amused by Mussolini's adventure in Albania-Greece, was forced to respond. The Pan-Slav declaration of war represented a similar fiasco for the Allies. That Tito threw Serbia into a crushing civil war/partisan operation also represented a true tragedy for the region.]

(2) [Not a response, but a point] The Anglo-French forces also invaded Belgium in summer 1940. Why? The French remembered WWI and desperately wanted to avoid fighting on French soil. They did not necessarily want to save Belgium. It was also disastrous. The move forced the Anglo-French forces to leave "inner lines" and establish new positions in what was believed the main German axis of attack. It complicated battle operations for the Allies, hindered the formation of a strategic reserve, and subjected the troops to wear and tear. This politically-inspired strategy, like Churchill's invasion of Norway, led directly to France's defeat and prolonged the war against Hitler. It represents one of the most stupid military decisions of all time (it was afterall political).

(3) What was the relative importance of Poland for the western Allies? None. Without any real industrial infrastructure, only 20 million people, and few natural resouces, the German occupation of the country did not enhance Hitler's war machine. The absorption of the Czech republic (considering the industry of the German-Austrian Sudetenland) did matter as everyone knows. Did the Germans use Polish aircraft or tanks or even artillery? No. Did the Germans use anything but Polish sausages? No. Why then enter a WORLD WAR against a major regional/ world power over sausages? It makes no military or geopolitical sense whatsoever. Again, political issues are another story altogether.

My Conclusions/Hypotheses:

(1) Why WORLD WAR in 1939? It was NOT a world war. [Unless of course you believe that western/central Europe is the world] The British historian Michael Howard, another example of the really wise people, in an interesting essay wrote that the period 1939-1941 reflected a European war that Germany won. Hitler then changed into ideological-mode and started WWII in 1941. He invaded the USSR and declared war on the USA. The European war, my hypothesis, was started by Paris-London in the manner of a preventive war that totally backfired. Hitler's WWII backfired even worse.

(2) Poland "started" WWI because it was directly responsible for the Nazi-Soviet Pact of August 1939.

(a) Polish-Russian and Polish-German relations were always bad for longterm historical reasons. Prussia and Russia (with Austria) had carved up Poland a few hundred years prior to 1939 and the Poles generally wanted independence.

Germany had a large Polish population (I think about 3 million) prior to 1918 that was generally treated like the Scots, Welsh or Irish in Britain at the time. Ie. like colonial subjects. The same was true in the Russian region of rump Poland where the majority of Poles lived. During WWI, all sides tried to bring the Poles on board with promises of this land or that land or these borders.

The Poles, hardly content after the generous territorial concensions given at Versailles, were swept by nationalist fervour after 1918 and literally went overboard. Hastily organized troops collected Russian equipment and invaded (1) Germany, (2) the new Soviet Union, and (3) even annexed the capital of Lithuania (todays capital was not the capital back then).

The Soviets and Germans [alas, not the poor Lithuanians. They just took Memel from Germany instead. The Lithuanian government however got nervous after Hitler took power in 1933 and gave it back.] responded even though hampered by civil war and the consequences of WWI military defeat. German Freikorps troops successfully defended the German frontier. Trotsky's Red Army countered a real Polish invasion and battled the Poles near Kiev in the early 1920s. The new Polish state still counted millions of Germans, Ukrainians, White Russians and Hungarians, etc. The problem of national sovereignty would fuel the outbreak of war in 1939.

The Germans treated Poles poorly after 1918. This point is correct and often stated. Berlin generously believed that Poland was an artificial state, wanted a return to 1914, made life hard for the Polish economy, etc. From the German perspective, the Polish government however also proved a real pain in the ass for a variety of reasons: (1) there was rampant persecution of those Germans who remained in the ceded areas (farmers, etc.), (2) the attempt to extort favourable trade conditions using the threat of a anti-German whiplash, and (3) open Polish plans (actual operations) during the 1920s and early 1930s to invade Germany. Many Poles considered East Prussia an artificial state and wanted to annex the region up to today's borders. There was REAL tension and there were REAL problems. All of these problems led directly to the Nazi-Soviet decision to return Poland to 1914 by getting rid of it.

Policymakers in London never could understand the context of Nazi policy because they only thought in selfish geopolitical terms. Why? Because all policymakers in every country do this. The Poles were selfish, Stalin was selfish, and Hitler was REALLY selfish. In brief, it does not take a genius to understand that British policy in 1939 did not take the history of central Europe into account, or German-Polish tensions, or the aims of other powers. London switched from an earlier stance and suddenly pronounced the borders of Versailles sacred.

They could of course do this. But independent actions by Britain or London are NOT holy. They were not backed by the League of Nations, or the United States, or China, or Africa, or Asia, or South America or even most of Europe.

It was a uniquely stupid unilateral response to a contained regional crisis that dragged western/central Europe into a war against Hitler that Europe could not win without the Soviet Union. Europe in fact lost this war. It is purely cynical and false to argue that Britain and France believed they could bring Stalin into the fold at some later date.

Ollie Garchy
March 22nd, 2006  
Ollie Garchy
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ted
"We could also turn it around. If Germany would have invaded Poland, do you think England would have declared war?...... I don't think so, do you?"
I think you mean if Poland invaded Germany. Since Polish paramilitary forces invaded Germany after 1918, we know that the policymakers in London and Paris did not care. They actually protested that the German Freikorps troops resisted and did not lay down their arms.

As for war-mongering, Pilsudski (the dictator of Poland) travelled through Europe in the early 1930s (before January 1933) and tried to drum up support for an invasion of Germany.

Ollie Garchy
March 22nd, 2006  
Ted
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ollie Garchy
I think you mean if Poland invaded Germany.
I typed that post in a hurry (also an inquisitive boss wanting to know what I was doing...)
What I meant was: would England would have declared war on Germany in 1939 if Germany would not have invaded Poland on the 1st of September? I personally don't think so.

Secondly, I reckon it is save to call WWII a worldwar in '39. Since Brittain covered a quarter of the globe, France had large portions of the world and Germany had it's colonies..... Of course it is very arbitrary because there was no "hot conflict" in the colonies, but governmental wise there was a war in these regions.
March 22nd, 2006  
Doppleganger
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ted
I typed that post in a hurry (also an inquisitive boss wanting to know what I was doing...)
What I meant was: would England would have declared war on Germany in 1939 if Germany would not have invaded Poland on the 1st of September? I personally don't think so.

Secondly, I reckon it is save to call WWII a worldwar in '39. Since Brittain covered a quarter of the globe, France had large portions of the world and Germany had it's colonies..... Of course it is very arbitrary because there was no "hot conflict" in the colonies, but governmental wise there was a war in these regions.
Well Great Britain would have needed a pretext for declaring war. They wouldn't have just declared war without some kind of pre-condition being broken. Otherwise they would have looked quite bad in the eyes of the international community. Poland just happened to be the pre-condition and as Olllie rightly pointed out the British (or French) in reality didn't give two hoots about what happened to Poland or her people.

I don't think the war went Pan-European until Hitler declared war on the USA. It could be argued that had Hitler not embarked on this rash course, the Pacific Theatre would have remained a seperate conflict. I also don't think you can argue that because Britain and France controlled large overseas colonies it was a 'world-wide' conflict. Most of those colonies were at peace, even when the Japanese started hostilities in 1941.
March 23rd, 2006  
boris116
 
 
Many people consider the Japanese invasion of China in 1937 as a starting point of WWII.

I see a lot of good points made by Ollie G.
The history is written by the victors.
March 23rd, 2006  
redcoat
 
 
Quote:
(2) Poland "started" WWII because it was directly responsible for the Nazi-Soviet Pact of August 1939.
Clap-trap.
Germany was responsible for WWII because she invaded Poland.

Germany doesn't invade Poland, no war.

You can find as many reasons as you want for why Germany would wish to attack Poland, but the fact Germany did, despite knowing what her actions might lead too, means Germany bears the responsibity for starting the conflict which later became WW2.
Morale of this story.
If you don't want war, don't invade other nations with your army.