HMSendeavour wrote:Yes, but that was the whole point. It was still hypocritical of the British to boast about securing Poland's sovereignty by declaring war on Germany and not subsequently doing the same in regards to the Soviet Union.
That would be a silly boast since the end result was that Poland was turned over to the USSR and therefore Poland's territorial integrity was not protected by the British at all. But I do not believe that was the goal anyway, that was just a trick.
I agree with you, it was silly to boast for that very reason. However, it doesn't change the fact that the British held the proclaimed sovereignty of Poland and the defense of "little countries" to be their moral justification for war against Germany, even though, as we've seen, they couldn't have cared less about that goal for the exact reason that they didn't uphold this principle in the face of the Soviet Colossus. Which, they never intended too, as we both know. The point is that they lied to justify the Second World War as a "good war", a fight against evil for the sake of the underdogs. When in reality, the Second World War was the bullying of the underdog (Germany) for the benefit of the powerful.
By this, it completely throws out their first moral prerogative to chastise and declare war on countries which would destroy Polish sovereignty.
I see no moral prerogative at all with the agreement, just a scheme to start a war with Germany by promising Poland that if Germany attacked them they would come to their aid, but only Germany. It was just a way to trap Germany into a war
British historian Niall Ferguson states that the war guarantee to Poland tied Britain’s “destiny to that of a regime that was every bit as undemocratic and anti-Semitic as that of Germany.” English military historian Liddell Hart stated that the Polish guarantee “placed Britain’s destiny in the hands of Poland’s rulers, men of very dubious and unstable judgment. Moreover, the guarantee was impossible to fulfill except with Russia’s help.…” https://codoh.com/library/document/why- ... poland/en/
American historian Richard M. Watt writes concerning Britain’s unilateral guarantee to Poland: “This enormously broad guarantee virtually left to the Poles the decision whether or not Britain would go to war. For Britain to give such a blank check to a Central European nation, particularly to Poland—a nation that Britain had generally regarded as irresponsible and greedy—was mind-boggling.”
Perhaps prerogative was the wrong word. Or, I should've added more onto that sentence. Their "proclaimed moral prerogative", was a lie. Their stated goal of course was different from their real goal.
The guarantee to Poland was deliberated amongst the British as to what exactly they would be securing. Whether it was Poland and her sovereignty or a German invasion to regain Danzig and whether that was an actual threat to Polish independence that invoked the guarantee. They let the Poles decide:
Was there a distinction between a seizure of Danzig and an attack against Poland? who decided if a Danzig coup threatened Polish independence? [...] Chamberlain felt inclined to leave the decision of a response to a Danzig coup to the Polish government
Sidney Aster, ‘1939’ The Making of the Second World War (Andre Deutsch, 1974), Pp. 191
Halifax, according to Aster, told Count Edward Raczynski somewhere around March 20th that the guarantee would have to be backed up by a German :
threat to Polish independence and not merely the outbreak of disturbances in Danzig
Ibid., Pp 190
Chamberlain however thought that:
he had reserved to himself the ultimate sanction against Poland. That was why the guarantee pledged support for Poland's independence and not her territorial integrity.
Ibid., Pp, 191
This was eventually undone on April 6th 1939 when:
Any loose ends as to the exact meaning of the guarantee were effectively tied up at a final meeting on April 6th. No minutes were taken. William Strang later recalled "that both sides agreed that the occupation of Danzig by German armed forces would be a clear threat to Polish independence" and would bring the British guarantee into operation. It was for this reason that the "Summary of Conclusions", a confidential document communicated only to the Dominions and the United States, discreetly referred to "other action" which threatened Poland and which the Polish government considered it necessary to resist.
Ibid., Pp, 194
Like I quoted Irving before, Aster confirms that only after the British gave Poland their guarantee did Hitler decide to prepare 'Case White', the plan to invade Poland if necessary.
Hitler reacted by preparing for possible war. He retired to the Berchtesgaden, leaving instructions in Berlin that the Polish question was to be reserved to himself. On April 3rd, on his instructions, General Keitel, Chief of the High Command of the Wehrmacht, issued the orders for "Operation White": the code name for the plans of a possible attack against Poland. These orders were signed by Hitler on April 11th.
Although Germany would continue trying to avoid a conflict with Poland, the preamble to "Operation White" stated that Poland would be destroyed if she changed her policy. Military preparations had to be complete and plans ready for action by September 1st, 1939. The task of diplomacy was to isolate Poland.
Doesn't sound aggressive to me. As per usual, Hitler is responding to events and problem created by others and suffering all the blame.
There's a lot more that could be said about the British guarantee, so I will make a thread on it at some point. I would like to evaluate all the claims made about it and come to the most reasonable conclusion. I'm not convinced for example, that somehow the guarantee was supposed to have "put pressure" on Poland to accept some kind of German offer. If this were true the Poles would surely have made concessions. Which brings up the question as to why the Poles didn't in fact concede. It seems to be self defeating. The Poles couldn't have been forced to make concessions by a guarantee that supported them with military assistance if they were to be attacked by Germany, something which they had a free had in determining, as I have shown. Chamberlain by April 6th 1939 didn't end up leaving himself any room to maneuver in case the Poles decided to be obstinate and refuse German offers. In reality, the Poles, even without the guarantee probably would've gone to war anyway. What could've been avoided was any British/French involvement. I think Walendy's book bares this out, just having read some of the statements made by Rydz-Smigly:
An occupation of Danzig by Germany would remind us of the partitions of Poland. For this reason I ordered a mobilisation four months ago when the German Chancellor renewed his demands concerning Danzig and Pomorze [i.e. the Corridor]. Please believe me when I say that this mobilisation was no mere
demonstration. We were ready for war then in case of necessity... even should she [Poland] have to fight alone and without allies.”192
Rydz-Smigly, quoted in, Udo Walendy, Who Started the Second World War? (Castle Hill Publishers, Uckfield, 2014), Pp. 187
So in effect the guarantee could only have bolstered the Poles or made no difference whatsoever about their warlike determination to fight over Danzig, that the Poles play a very large part in making the war inevitable.
The heart of the matter is that the British didn't care about Poland or their phoney guarantee, it was a simple casus belli to declare war on Germany by forcing Germany's hand into action when they wouldn't encourage the Poles to negotiate and instead bolstered their resistance to generous German terms.
Exactly, but the purpose of the agreement (as indicated by the secret addendum) was quite obviously to start a war with Germany. And they did do that.
Yeah sure, they did that, but that's not the point. The point was that they did not do what Poland expected them to do, and that was what was on the agreement, to come to Poland's defence and secure her independence.
Having done this, the British could declare a war at the supposed behest of themselves, and load the guilt onto Germany.
Well I do not know how ecstatic the British public was to go to war with Germany for the sake of destroying Germany, maybe that was just the hoax that was chosen to justify the war to the public.
The USA in comparison just aided and abetted the "allies" (meaning: not neutral) until the Japanese decided that they had no choice but to attack. A secret document was declassified in 1970 that showed FDR authorized the bombing Japanese cities by US aerial bombers deceptively flying under the Chinese flag. This was 4 months before the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.
Perhaps it was, I don't know, all I do know is that the British were able to position themselves as the ones responding to events, claiming to have played no part in bringing the issues in Europe to ahead, if not exacerbating them. They maneuvered in such a way as to avoid war guilt.