Poland came close to making a concession over Danzig

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Re: Poland came close to making a concession over Danzig

Post by wm » 31 Oct 2016 23:51

michael mills wrote:Professor Terry is American, a native of New England.
That's even better :). An American apologist, after all Roosevelt was running the show - he was responsible for all that mess, Churchill was only applauding on the sidelines.

The strict occupation was just occupation, different from the general occupation but still occupation. Austria, territories east of the river Oder and Neisse, territories west of the river Rhine and Ems, the Kiel Canal, the Baltic Sea islands were to be strictly occupied. The idea was to cordon Germany - "strictly", that's all.

This was explained by Marian Seyda, the Minister without Portfolio in his expose "Polish War Aims" during the secret session of the National Council of Poland on December 1st, 1942.

He actually discussed the border on the rivers Lusatian Neisse and Oder (without Stettin), and then that one on the other Neisse, and another starting at Kolberg and concluded that it was a pipe dream. It would be political irresponsibility which would cost us dear (i.e. even our limited demands would be in danger). And he said he says that as a politician with perfect anti-German credentials. The Allies would never agree.

He then says it deportation of 5.7 million to 9 million Germans is needed, the Allies will not allow such barbarity. A naive man, no?
And he adds, we don't have enough people to populate those territories.
Where was Poland going to find 6 million people if the Polish Government absolutely refused any changes of Polish Eastern borders (so no deportations from the East).

This one is corroborated by Józef Winiewicz from the Political Department in the Office of Wartime Goals (in his book "Co pamiętam z długiej drogi życia"). It was calculated that Poland after annexing East Prussia, Danzig, the Oppeln region would be one of the least populated states in Europe.

Then Seyda says the British (Winiewicz mentions a few meetings in Chatham House dedicated solely to this subject) refused even the limited Polish demands, and for example for East Prussia they demanded that a part of Poznań Voivodeship to be given to the Germans. That he estimates Poland has 50% chance to get East Prussia, 5% to get the Oppeln region, and nothing more.

So this is what the Polish government believed in 1942, that the Oder line was nothing more but one of those totally irresponsible dreams of cafeteria politicians - as Seyda called them.

Only at the very end of 1943 the government adopted an additional "maximum claim" - that actually mentioned more Western territories. There was the core: East Prussia, Danzig, the Oppeln region, and then there was the God willing maximum claim. And the same Seyda explained this during another secret session of the National Council at the beginning of 1944.
Last edited by wm on 01 Nov 2016 01:31, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Poland came close to making a concession over Danzig

Post by wm » 01 Nov 2016 00:01

michael mills wrote:It is blindingly obvious that in this passage Sikorski is expressing the ideology of the Tendencja Piastowska, which called for Poland to return to its medieval western border on or even beyond the Oder, the border of the Piast state. The reference to "forcing back" the "perennial German drive to the East" obviously means pushing the German-Polish border back to the West by taking from Germany territory that country had gained in medieval times through eastern colonisation, the "Ostsiedlung". The forcing back could also imply the expulsion of the ethnic German population from those territories.
Such an organization never existed, even a similar group didn't exist in the interbellum Poland, for the simple reason it would considered an illegal anti-state one.
The Polish-German relations were strictly regulated by a few agreements, and such claims were forbidden (for example by the German–Polish Non-Aggression Pact) and Beck was very serious about it.
People were thrown in the slammer for less, for example for Hitler caricatures (forbidden by another agreement).
So no, Sikorsky couldn't express the ideology of a non-existent group.

michael mills wrote:Do you have access to the original document? Are you able to show what is missing from Document 160 published by the General Sikorski Historical Institute?

Are you wanting to suggest that the GSHI has somehow falsified the record of the 4 December 1941 banquet in the Kremlin? If so, can you suggest a good reason why they would do so? Why suppress any mention of such an important item as Stalin offering Poland a border on the Oder and Sikorski rejecting the offer?
I'm only saying it is a different document. It's not the original note, the note was written right then at the spot, with many stylistic errors.

The Poles didn't really care about Western borders, Oder or Neisse at that time. They had much more important problems to discuss and to solve.

Sikorski refused to discuss the Western borders because he knew it would be an enabler for a discussion of the Eastern borders - and the rule was the Eastern borders were not to be discussed. He knew it wouldn't be a gift but a swap. No Polish leader had sufficient authority or power to do a swap, even Sikorski.

Boby wrote:Wm, what is the source of the Anders account?
It was published in the nineteenth volume of Polish Diplomatic Documents 1941 in 2013. It's only in Polish.

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Re: Poland came close to making a concession over Danzig

Post by michael mills » 01 Nov 2016 04:32

There is a further item in Sikorski's report to his Council of Ministers on 12 January 1942 that might throw some light on Anders' claim about Sikorski rejecting an offer by Stalin to give Poland a border on the Oder.

According to Document 171 in the publication by the Sikorski Historical Institute, Sikorski said this to his Council of Ministers:
One of the most dreaded solutions for us would be a negotiated peace with Germany. For Poland it would be a calamity as great as a lost war. Such a peace could have been concluded only at our cost. Even if we were to recover our devastated provinces, any material and moral indemnification, any firm guarantee for our future, would be out of the question in such an event. Only Germany's total collapse can bring about the desired results. This was the reason for our firm declaration of 4th December, and the foreshadowing of the severe punishment of all Germans, not only of Hitlerite ones. It should have most favourable repercussions in the West, where not long ago the 'good Germans' had many sympathisers.
Is it likely that a Sikorski who desired a "severe punishment of all Germans" would have rejected an offer by Stalin to "destroy" the 9 million Germans who were living in the territory east of the Oder-Neisse Line, and who would be a problem if that territory were given to Poland?

The version of the conversation between Sikorski and Stalin given by Anders paints the former in a very favourable light, as a man who rejects Stalin's offer of German territory because he did not want to eliminate the 9 million Germans living there. By contrast, Stalin is painted as a genocidal monster who is prepared to "destroy" those 9 million Germans. Accordingly, it is difficult to see why Stalin's offer, and Sikorski's alleged rejection of it, is totally omitted from the official Polish records of the Sikorski-Stalin conversations on 3 and 4 December 1941.

However, if what really happened was the opposite of what Anders claimed, ie that Stalin offered to "destroy" the German population of the territory east of the Oder-Neisse Line, and Sikorski DID NOT REJECT IT, that could well explain why the exchange was omitted from the official Polish record.

In this report to his Council of Ministers, Sikorski himself said that "we", meaning he himself and the rest of the Polish Government, and probably the Polish people as a whole, "hoped" that the outcome of the war would be that "the Polish State will expand its western frontiers". He spoke of "putting right old wrongs and mistakes", of "forcing back" the German drive to the East, of "regaining old Slav territories with wide access to the sea". Obviously he was showing support for the idea of Polish westward expansion, and it is very unlikely that a Polish leader who spoke in such terms would categorically reject an offer of from a powerful Stalin of assistance to achieve such expansion.

It is entirely possible that at some stage during the conversations on 3 and 4 December 1941, Sikorski spoke in similar terms to Stalin, eg about regaining old Slav territories, which can only have been the part of Germany east of the Oder (and perhaps even a little to the west of it), and that what Sikorski said was what prompted Stalin to make his declaration that Poland should have East Prussia and a border on the Oder, ie essentially agreeing with Sikorski's concept rather than putting forward his own initiative.

It is also possible that Stalin saw in Sikorski's idea of "regaining old Slav" territories a bargaining chip that he would be able to use in order to persuade Sikorski to agree to Soviet retention of the Polish eastern territories it had annexed in 1939, which of course was Stalin's essential aim, rather than doing something nice for the Poles.

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Re: Poland came close to making a concession over Danzig

Post by michael mills » 01 Nov 2016 05:35

This was explained by Marian Seyda, the Minister without Portfolio in his expose "Polish War Aims" during the secret session of the National Council of Poland on December 1st, 1942.

................................................................................

And he adds, we don't have enough people to populate those territories.
Where was Poland going to find 6 million people if the Polish Government absolutely refused any changes of Polish Eastern borders (so no deportations from the East).
In the interwar period, Poland had a serious problem with rural over-population and lack of land in its central region, a problem that primarily affected ethnic Polish peasants. The Polish Government was trying to solve the problem of rural over-population in the central region by settling landless Polish peasants in the territory east of the Curzon Line, often displacing local Ukrainian and Belarusian peasants.

The acquisition of German eastern territory, swept clean of its ethnic German population, would provide a solution to the problem of rural overpopulation in central Poland, providing land for surplus Polish peasants to settle on, without the problems attendant on colonisation schemes in the Kresy, such as conflict with the local non-Polish population.

The idea that the "recovered territories" were entirely resettled with ethnic Poles expelled from the lands to the east of the Curzon Line is historically incorrect. A large part of the settlers who moved into the former German territories came from overpopulated central Poland, relieving the problem of land hunger there. In addition, there were the 1.1 million so-called "indigenes", existing inhabitants of the German eastern territories (mainly in Upper Silesia) who were "verified" as being of Polish ethnicity.

I doubt that the Polish political leaders were all that worried about underpopulation in the case of a territorial expansion to the Oder-Neisse Line, since they could expect a post-war natural increase in the Polish population. When I visited Poland in August I saw a lot of very good-looking women there; if I had been 40 years younger I would not have minded adding to the Polish population myself, but unfortunately I am well past my reproductive use-by date.

And of course, Marian Seyda was not the Polish leader, Sikorski was, and he was a proponent of westward expansion. In June 1940 he had proposed seeking better relations with the Soviet Union, in an effort to ween that country away from its connection to Germany, and to that end was even willing to compromise over the Polish territories that had been annexed by it. Sikorski's 1940 initiative, which included a proposal for Poles in the Soviet Union to be allowed to join a "Polish Legion" within the Red Army, came to nothing because both the British Government and other members of the Polish Government-in-Exile rejected it, considering the Soviet Union to be a de facto German ally.
Such an organization never existed, even a similar group didn't exist in the interbellum Poland, for the simple reason it would considered an illegal anti-state one.
I did not say that the "Tendencja Piastowska" was an organisation, I said that it was an ideology that preached that Poland should expand westwards to the border on the Oder that it had possessed in the time of the first Piast state.

That ideology was espoused by a number of groups, largely intellectuals and private propagandists, but it was also espoused by some political parties, in particular the National Democrats.

The ideology of the "Tendencja Piastowska" was also espoused by many of the Poles who had taken refuge in Britain in 1940. The book by Professor Terry gives the example of a publication produced in Edinburgh by a group of such refugees, "Biuletyn Zachodnio-Slowianski " (West-Slavonic Bulletin), which she says "represented the earliest and most coherent argument both for a Central European federation and for Poland's territorial expansion to the west", and "integrated these two ideas in much the same way as Sikorski was later to do".

She also analyses a book by Wladyslaw Palucki "Wracamy nad Odre" (We return to the Oder), which she believes may have exerted a direct influence on Sikorski's thinking. The focus of that book was on the ethnic and historical bases of Poland's claim to the Oder basin, but also stressed strategic and geopolitical considerations.

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Re: Poland came close to making a concession over Danzig

Post by wm » 02 Nov 2016 22:06

michael mills wrote:Is it likely that a Sikorski who desired a "severe punishment of all Germans" would have rejected an offer by Stalin to "destroy" the 9 million Germans who were living in the territory east of the Oder-Neisse Line, and who would be a problem if that territory were given to Poland?
It weren't talks, it was a dinner, something just a notch above gossiping. They exchange opinions, nothing more. Sikorski wasn't going to discuss borders in such circumstances, and really he wasn't going discuss them at all. He barely survived the Sikorski-Maisky Pact, because it didn't properly safeguarded Polish Eastern borders. Any discussion had to start with guaranteeing the Eastern borders by the Soviets.

Anyway Stalin mentioned the same idea to Eden a few days later, again proving it was his own idea:
The First Meeting. 16 December, 7.00 p.m.
Present: Comrades Stalin, Molotov and Maisky on the Soviet Side; Eden and Cripps on the British Side (Comrade Maisky Interprets)
Eden asked Comrade Stalin if be had talked with the Poles on the question of the frontiers of future Poland? Comrade Stalin replied that he bad not, but would do so if it turned out to be necessary. In any case, Comrade Stalin believed that Poland should be given all lands up to the Oder, and let the rest be Prussia, or to be more exact, not Prussia but the State of Berlin.
from: War and Diplomacy: The Making of the Grand Alliance by Oleg Aleksandrovich Rzheshevskiĭ
michael mills wrote:The version of the conversation between Sikorski and Stalin given by Anders paints the former in a very favourable light, as a man who rejects Stalin's offer of German territory because he did not want to eliminate the 9 million Germans living there. By contrast, Stalin is painted as a genocidal monster who is prepared to "destroy" those 9 million Germans. Accordingly, it is difficult to see why Stalin's offer, and Sikorski's alleged rejection of it, is totally omitted from the official Polish records of the Sikorski-Stalin conversations on 3 and 4 December 1941.
What I quoted are the official Polish records, they were always available.
We don't know what he meant, in talks with Eden he would say he wanted to deported them.

michael mills wrote:It is also possible that Stalin saw in Sikorski's idea of "regaining old Slav" territories a bargaining chip that he would be able to use in order to persuade Sikorski to agree to Soviet retention of the Polish eastern territories it had annexed in 1939, which of course was Stalin's essential aim, rather than doing something nice for the Poles.
Of course, especially that the millions of deported Poles from the annexed territories had to go somewhere. It was obvious Poland had to be move to the West.

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Re: Poland came close to making a concession over Danzig

Post by wm » 02 Nov 2016 22:45

michael mills wrote:The idea that the "recovered territories" were entirely resettled with ethnic Poles expelled from the lands to the east of the Curzon Line is historically incorrect. A large part of the settlers who moved into the former German territories came from overpopulated central Poland, relieving the problem of land hunger there. In addition, there were the 1.1 million so-called "indigenes", existing inhabitants of the German eastern territories (mainly in Upper Silesia) who were "verified" as being of Polish ethnicity.
But do we have any support for this? Because people didn't want to settle in the former German territories, even my family chose to resettle on the Polish side of the border despite worse conditions there.
Till the seventies everybody expected the Germans would return and kick everybody out, or worse. The Poles didn't want to go there at all. They were forced to.

michael mills wrote:I doubt that the Polish political leaders were all that worried about underpopulation in the case of a territorial expansion to the Oder-Neisse Line, since they could expect a post-war natural increase in the Polish population.
You can't populate cities with babies.

michael mills wrote:And of course, Marian Seyda was not the Polish leader, Sikorski was, and he was a proponent of westward expansion.
He resigned his post because of the Sikorski-Maisky Pact, most people were for limited westward expansion, but the Eastern borders were priority. And he as the most cared much more about those borders.

michael mills wrote:I did not say that the "Tendencja Piastowska" was an organisation, I said that it was an ideology that preached that Poland should expand westwards to the border on the Oder that it had possessed in the time of the first Piast state.
Still even this didn't exist. The Germans protested much lesser infringements of good neighborhood relations, like for example some public gathering in Warsaw of veterans of the Silesian Uprisings. No revisionism was allowed. Their books, the newspapers would be confiscated, and it would be just a beginning.

michael mills wrote:The ideology of the "Tendencja Piastowska" was also espoused by many of the Poles who had taken refuge in Britain in 1940. The book by Professor Terry gives the example of a publication produced in Edinburgh by a group of such refugees, "Biuletyn Zachodnio-Slowianski " (West-Slavonic Bulletin), which she says "represented the earliest and most coherent argument both for a Central European federation and for Poland's territorial expansion to the west", and "integrated these two ideas in much the same way as Sikorski was later to do".
So it was federation or Poland's expansion? They didn't care about expansion, they wanted a federation encompassing Saxony and Brandenburg, just a few deluded people with too many money.
The Bulletin expired in 1942, nobody wanted to hear about naive, idealistic federations.

michael mills wrote:She also analyses a book by Wladyslaw Palucki "Wracamy nad Odre" (We return to the Oder), which she believes may have exerted a direct influence on Sikorski's thinking. The focus of that book was on the ethnic and historical bases of Poland's claim to the Oder basin, but also stressed strategic and geopolitical considerations.
It was just an obscure brochure published in 1942 by some otherwise even more obscure Antoni Błoński. Probably one of those federationists. It was one of those who wanted lots of territories on the West side of the Oder. Those people were delusional in the extreme.

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Re: Poland came close to making a concession over Danzig

Post by michael mills » 03 Nov 2016 07:23

Anyway Stalin mentioned the same idea to Eden a few days later, again proving it was his own idea:
Professor Terry quotes the British Foreign Office report on the talks between Stalin and Eden:

Page 253:
Accounts of the Eden-Stalin talks only partially dispel the confusion. For, while the Soviet dictator did mention both East Prussia and the Oder to his British guest, his reference to the latter was distinctly more casual and was not included in the territorial provisions to which Eden was being asked to agree. According to the detailed minutes of their first meeting on December 16th, Stalin proposed that a secret protocol spelling out postwar territorial changes be appended to the Anglo-Soviet treaty. First among the suggested changes was that:

"The boundary of Poland should be extended at the expense of Germany so as to get rid of the Corridor by the transfer of East Prussia to Poland. The portion of Germany containing Tilsit and to the north of the Niemen River should be added to the Lithuanian Republic of the USSR."

Only later, in the course of discussing East Prussia and the Soviet demand for the area around Tilsit, did the subject of the Oder come up, and in a manner suggesting that Stalin had not discussed specifics with Sikorski:

"Mr Eden: Did you say anything about this to the Poles?

Mr Stalin: No, but you can tell them it will be necessary. Up as far as the river Oder could be given to Poland and then the rest left for a Berlin state."

Moreover, Stalin's intentions with respect to the Polish-Soviet boundary were, as Eden later described them, "starkly definite". Whatever he had allowed Sikorski to conclude less than two weeks earlier concerning the possibility of a compromise settlement, the record here makes it unmistakably clear that he was seeking immediate British recognition of the Curzon line. And, as with his views on East Prussia, this was among his formal proposals for the secret protocol:

"As to the frontiers of the Soviet Union we should like to see the frontier in Finland and the Baltic Provinces restored to its position in 1941, immediately before the outbreak of war. So far as the frontier with Poland is concerned the Curzon Line should form the basis for this with perhaps some slight variation one way or the other.

The Roumanian frontier should be so formed as to include Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina in the Soviet Union."
It is obvious that Stalin's main aim was to keep possession of the Polish eastern provinces annexed by the Soviet Union in 1939. It is also obvious that, although he supported the idea of Polish expansion to the west at the expense of Germany, he had not specifically offered it to Sikorski as "compensation" for Poland's abandonment of its claim to those lost eastern provinces.

Professor Terry shows that Eden did not regard Stalin's mention of Poland's being given German territory up to the Oder as important:
At the time, however, he appears to have taken little note of the Oder reference: for, in his initial report to Churchill, he wrote only that Stalin had "proposed that East Prussia should be transferred to Poland", with no mention of any suggested changes in Poland's western boundary. This more limited version is also the one reflected in the American diplomatic papers.
And in a footnote to the above passage, she writes:
A few months later, when the Foreign Office turned to detailed consideration of Stalin's territorial proposals, his reference to the Oder was passed over in total silence.
The question is where Stalin got the idea of moving the Polish western border to the Oder. We do not know for sure, but the fact is that a "return to the Oder" had been proposed by various groups of Polish nationalists of the so-called "Western School" since before the First World War, and that those proposals were known to the Imperial Russian Government, and were incorporated into that Government's war aims declared in 1914. It is a reasonable supposition that Stalin was aware of the Russian war aims of 1914, and their consistency with the ambitions of those Polish nationalist groups that were primarily anti-German (eg Dmowski) rather than anti-Russian (eg Pilsudski).

Some of the views expressed by Stalin to Eden, such as getting rid of the Corridor, were the same as views expressed by Sikorski in his 1940 memorandum to Bevin, in his statements to his Council of Ministers on his return from Moscow, and most expressly in his memorandum to Sumner Welles in November 1942.

Professor Terry interprets Sikorski's reaction to the statements made by Stalin during the talks in Moscow in December 1941 as follows:

Page 256:
In a more positive vein, what does seem likely is that Sikorski understood Stalin's probings and gestures of cordiality as an invitation to bargain - as an indication that Stalin was amenable not only to compensation in the west for Poland, but also to a compromise settlement in the east (more or less along the lines Kulski suggested). Moreover, despite his refusal to dicker over boundaries then and there and despite his later disclaimer to his cabinet ("the situation is not yet ripe for any such discussion"), it is apparent that he returned to London determined to accept Stalin's invitation. This was after all an important opening for his strategy, the first indication on the part of any Great Power of a willingness to see Poland expanded to the west and, by the same token, to see Germany permanently weakened.

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Re: Poland came close to making a concession over Danzig

Post by Steve » 03 Nov 2016 18:24

Some numbers people may find interesting.

Between 1944 and 1949 over 7.5 million Germans either fled or were expelled from Poland’s new territories. At the end of 1949 there remained about 300,000 people the authorities regarded as ethnic Germans. In western Upper Silesia 851.454 people were verified as ethnic Poles and allowed to remain. This was 56% of the pre war population but Silesia was a special case. The total number of people classed as “indigenous Poles” by 1949 was just over a million.

Between 1945 and 1949 about 4 million Poles moved into the territories. Of these settlers 2.5 million were from central Poland, 1.3 million from pre war eastern Poland and a little over 200,000 from various foreign countries.

In 1947 approximately 140,000 Ukrainians were moved from the east and resettled across the new territories.

Taken from “Germans to Poles – Communism, Nationalism and Ethnic Cleansing after the Second World War” by Hugo Service 2013

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Re: Poland came close to making a concession over Danzig

Post by henryk » 03 Nov 2016 18:56

http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... erritories
Details on movement of Poles to new territories.

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Re: Poland came close to making a concession over Danzig

Post by wm » 03 Nov 2016 22:18

In other words, according to the 1950 census, (when they actually asked people where they lived pre-war) about 50% were deportees from the annexed territories and locals - people living there before the war, the rest was more or less voluntary settlers from all around Poland, usually people without future - who lost everything (like those from Warsaw).

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Re: Poland came close to making a concession over Danzig

Post by wm » 03 Nov 2016 22:21

michael mills wrote:The question is where Stalin got the idea of moving the Polish western border to the Oder. We do not know for sure, but the fact is that a "return to the Oder" had been proposed by various groups of Polish nationalists of the so-called "Western School" since before the First World War, and that those proposals were known to the Imperial Russian Government, and were incorporated into that Government's war aims declared in 1914. It is a reasonable supposition that Stalin was aware of the Russian war aims of 1914, and their consistency with the ambitions of those Polish nationalist groups that were primarily anti-German (eg Dmowski) rather than anti-Russian (eg Pilsudski).
Not need to drag the Imperial Russian Government into it, a quick glance on any physical map of Europe shows that the the Oder–Neisse line is the only logical, useful, defensible border in this part of Europe, between the rivers Elbe and Vistula. It is the only natural frontier there.
It's not that Stalin has to explain where they got the idea.The others should rather explain their non-natural frontiers.
And the main reason for their "non-naturalism" was the Allies, especially the Americans, weren't eager to allow even modest annexations.

michael mills wrote: it is apparent that he returned to London determined to accept Stalin's invitation. This was after all an important opening for his strategy, the first indication on the part of any Great Power of a willingness to see Poland expanded to the west and, by the same token, to see Germany permanently weakened.
Isn't that a "If a tree falls in a forest" fallacy? As it seems he didn't mention that even to his then close confidante - Józef Retinger, a man who wouldn't have any problem with this concept of moving Poland westwards.

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Re: Poland came close to making a concession over Danzig

Post by Steve » 04 Nov 2016 02:40

Prior to Yalta the British Foreign Minister and the US Secretary of State met on Malta. Both ministers expressed disapproval of the territorial demands made by the provisional Polish government in Pravda. A US Memorandum stated that “We should resist vigorously efforts to extend the Polish frontier to the Oder Line or to the Oder – Neisse Line”. The Western Allies envisioned a settlement that gave Poland East Prussia except for the Konigsberg area, Danzig, German Upper Silesia and the eastern tip of Pomerania.

At Yalta Stalin and Molotov proposed a border running along the Oder and Western Neisse plus Stettin on the west bank of the Oder. Churchill protested against this. Later Roosevelt suggested that the Polish frontier be pushed up to the Oder but not to the Western Neisse. Churchill conceded “the lands desired by Poland to the east of the Oder”.

Roosevelt seemingly made this concession in the hope that Stalin would reciprocate by allowing free elections and a democratic Poland. On his return to America he said “The limits of the Western border will be permanently fixed in the final peace conference”.

Churchill said in parliament after he returned: - “In the North she will certainly receive, in the place of a precarious corridor, the great city of Danzig, the greater part of East Prussia West and South of Konigsberg, and a long, wide sea front on the Baltic. In the West she will receive the important industrial province of Upper Silesia and, in addition, such territories to the east of the Oder as may be decided at the peace settlement to detach from Germany after the views of a broadly based Polish Government have been ascertained”.

At Potsdam Churchill was totally opposed to the Oder – Western Neisse border. When he departed because of UK elections the Americans made a deal. In return for certain concessions by Stalin they would accept the Soviet position on the border. At the end of the conference it was agreed that the final delimitation of the border should await the peace settlement.

From “Nemesis At Potsdam” by Alfred M.de Zayas and “The Eagle Unbowed” by Halik Kochanski.

The Poles were lucky Churchill was not deciding where the border would run.

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Re: Poland came close to making a concession over Danzig

Post by michael mills » 04 Nov 2016 06:38

.........a quick glance on any physical map of Europe shows that the the Oder–Neisse line is the only logical, useful, defensible border in this part of Europe, between the rivers Elbe and Vistula. It is the only natural frontier there.
Indeed. Professor Terry considers that Sikorski desired the Oder-Neisse line primarily for strategic and defence reasons, rather than for historical reasons such as that the territories east of that line were "ancient Slav lands", although he did use that justification in his report to Council of Ministers after his return from Moscow.

It is interesting that when Stalin first proposed the transfer of German territory to Poland at the Tehran Conference, he used precisely those historical reasons as justification. When Molotov told Roosevelt that the lands east of the Oder should be given to Poland because they had originally belonged to that country, Roosevelt asked whether those lands had been Polish in recent times. Molotov answered that those lands had last belonged to Poland many centuries ago, back in the medieval period, at which Roosevelt commented that on that principle the United States should once again become a colony of Britain!

But the question is why Stalin would have wanted Poland to have a more defensible western border; after all, he was no friend of the Poles, and had no reason to do them any favours. Indeed, by supporting the Oder-Neisse Line he was reversing previous Soviet policy which had favoured an "ethnographic" Poland restricted to the territory containing an indisputably Polish majority population, ie the territory between the Curzon Line in the east and the existing Polish-German frontier in the west.

In fact, in 1919 the Bolshevik regime in Russia had suggested to the German Government that it would support Germany regaining its 1914 border in the east. Thus, it is almost certain that if the Red Army had conquered Poland in 1920, and then gone on to help a Communist revolution in Germany, the resulting Polish satellite state would not have been given any German territory, but rather would have been limited to the territory of the former Russian Poland, the Congress Kingdom, with the addition of the western, ethnically Polish part of the former Austrian province of Galicia.

Stalin always admired the Germans, and his essential aim was to create a Communist Germany that would be the industrially and technologically most advanced part of his empire. If he could have achieved that aim, it is unlikely that he would have given any German territory to a Communist Poland, since he disliked the Poles intensely and did not want a strong Poland, considering the Poles to be irredeemably hostile to Russia.

In the period immediately after the Second World War, Stalin was trying to gain control of the Western Occupation Zones of Germany through subversion, and during that period the Communist rulers of Poland installed by Stalin were afraid that if he succeeded, he might give the "recovered lands" back to a Communist-ruled Germany in order to win support among the German people. It was only when the Western Allies reversed their policy and decided to rebuild West Germany as a bulwark against Soviet expansion that Stalin committed himself definitively to the Oder-Neisse frontier, since he no longer had a need to woo the Germans.

Stiltzkin
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Re: Poland came close to making a concession over Danzig

Post by Stiltzkin » 05 Nov 2016 02:04

The answer is usually much simpler, not only confined to the restructure of German/Polish borders, as there are other examples available. The most significant reason is to create possible tensions between fractions, this increases the effectiveness and goes beyond a mere buffer zone.
WIth it comes the advantage of limiting a potential struggle for independence.

michael mills
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Re: Poland came close to making a concession over Danzig

Post by michael mills » 05 Nov 2016 02:49

The answer is usually much simpler, not only confined to the restructure of German/Polish borders, as there are other examples available. The most significant reason is to create possible tensions between fractions, this increases the effectiveness and goes beyond a mere buffer zone.
WIth it comes the advantage of limiting a potential struggle for independence.
That is not a simpler answer, but rather a more complicated one.

The simplest answer is that changes to borders come about because one state wants some territory belonging to another state.

Do you imagine that the reason why the new German Empire changed its border with France by annexing Alsace-Lorraine because it wanted to create tension between it and France?

That was indeed the outcome, but of course the German Empire would have preferred it if France had simply accepted the loss of those provinces and given up any thoughts of revenge.

it was the same with the Polish annexation of German territory east of the Oder-Neisse Line. The aim of the Polish Government was not to create tension with Germany, it was simply to take territory that it wanted for historical reasons, because that territory had belonged to the first Polish state way back in the 10th Century. In other words, the same reason why the German Empire wanted Alsace-Lorraine.

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