Poland came close to making a concession over Danzig

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

Post by ljadw » 05 Nov 2016 07:43

Steve wrote: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.

Britain and the US were NOT in a position to opose or not oppose anything: Stalin ruled in this region and Stalin would decide about the borders.That the Polish border,that Poland would go to the west was a logical consequence of the German defeat,which was caused by the German decision to start the war : vae victis .

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Re: Poland came close to making a concession over Danzig

Post by Steve » 07 Nov 2016 01:14

I know that and you know that Ijadw but did Roosevelt and Churchill know that? I think Siltzkin makes a valid point about the border. Stalin wanted a buffer state between Russia and Germany and Poland fitted the bill. However, in order to be a buffer state it was important that in the future Poland did not side with Germany so how to make this difficult? Giving Poland so much German territory that it should always be a bone of contention between them seems a good idea. The new border in the west idealy needed to be a short one and it does take the shortest route between the Baltic and Czechoslovakia.

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Re: Poland came close to making a concession over Danzig

Post by michael mills » 07 Nov 2016 11:49

Steve, your conclusion rests on the false premiss that Stalin calculated that a post-war Germany would be an independent polity that could become a rival to the Soviet Union.

But that was in no way his calculation. Instead, he believed that after Germany had been conquered by the Red Army, it would become part of his empire, ruled by his Communist puppets such as Ulbricht. It is noteworthy that Stalin was the only Allied leader who had put together a government-in-waiting to take over running Germany after the surrender of that country; by contrast, Churchill and Roosevelt were tied to the Morgenthau Plan to turn Germany into a deindustrialised wasteland.

Indeed, Stalin calculated that the Morgenthau Plan would create such discontent in the part of Germany occupied by the Western Allies that his agents would be able to foment an uprising that would end with all of the country coming under the control of the Communist government that he had shipped in in the wake of the Red Army.

If Stalin's calculation had been realised, he would have had no need of Poland as a buffer against a resurgent anti-Soviet Germany; rather, its sole purpose would have been as an access route to a Communist Germany that would have been the central point for his domination of all of Europe.

The reason why Stalin chose to support the Polish nationalist aim of expansion to the Oder-Neisse frontier was that he knew that such support was the one thing that could offset the unpopularity of the Communist government that he intended to impose on Poland, and that could soften the effect of forcing that country to accept the Curzon Line as its eastern frontier.

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Re: Poland came close to making a concession over Danzig

Post by ljadw » 07 Nov 2016 22:01

Steve wrote:I know that and you know that Ijadw but did Roosevelt and Churchill know that? I think Siltzkin makes a valid point about the border. Stalin wanted a buffer state between Russia and Germany and Poland fitted the bill. However, in order to be a buffer state it was important that in the future Poland did not side with Germany so how to make this difficult? Giving Poland so much German territory that it should always be a bone of contention between them seems a good idea. The new border in the west idealy needed to be a short one and it does take the shortest route between the Baltic and Czechoslovakia.
Yes , they knew, and they knew that they could do nothing about it , unless declaring war on the SU . FDR did not care, he only asked that Stalin would keep up appearances so that he would not lose the votes of the millions of immigrants of Eastern Europe . And Churchill, he knew that he was the poor relation, besides in july, he lost the elections .

I think that the course of the western Polish border depended on the course of the eastern Polsh border:Poland would lose the eastern territories (a cohabitation of Poles and Ukrainians was no longer possible ) and would be compensated with German territory .The result was a smaller but ethnically more homogeneous Poland, which was better for Poland .

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

Post by Steve » 08 Nov 2016 02:46

A communist revolution failed in Germany after WW1 and it would be surprising if Stalin was counting on one succeeding after WW2. If taking a short term view of history perhaps measured in decades then he may well have not expected Germany to be a threat. However, I think it very likely that he was cognisant of the inevitable eventual resurgence of Germany and the threat to Russia of this.

Stalin said at Yalta “The Prime Minister has said that for Great Britain the question of Poland is a question of honour. For Russia it is not only a question of honour but also a question of security. Throughout history Poland has been the corridor through which the enemy has passed into Russia. Poland is a question of life and death for us”. Oddly there are various versions of what exactly Stalin said but the gist of it is much the same.

The general consensus among historians would seem to be that Stalin wanted a buffer zone of friendly states around Russia. Today Russia seems to regard NATO of which Germany is a major component as its greatest threat. So not a lot has changed there but Ukraine is now the main buffer state not Poland.

Do Germans still dream of their lost eastern lands? Could crazed Bundeswehr Generals be secretly planning a new September campaign? The man appointed Inspector General of the Bundeswehr in 1957 Alfred Heusinger was standing next to Hitler when Stauffenburg tried to blow him up!

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Re: Poland came close to making a concession over Danzig

Post by michael mills » 08 Nov 2016 09:33

I think that the course of the western Polish border depended on the course of the eastern Polsh border:Poland would lose the eastern territories (a cohabitation of Poles and Ukrainians was no longer possible ) and would be compensated with German territory
That is historically incorrect. The Poles' desire to expand to the Oder-Neisse Line was in no way seen by them as "compensation" for the loss of the eastern territories annexed by the Soviet Union in 1939, since they wanted to get those territories back as well as getting German territory. The Polish Government-in-Exile never agreed to Soviet retention of the eastern territories, and it was constantly pressing Roosevelt and Churchill not to accept the Soviet annexation of them.

When Sikorski met Roosevelt in December 1942, he presented a memorandum suggesting that Poland be permitted to occupy all German territory up to the Oder-Western Neisse Line, and even points beyond it, and also that the German population of that territory could be expelled. He in no way suggested that the Polish occupation of German territory should constitute "compensation" for territory lost by Poland elsewhere, nor did he renounce the Polish claim to the return of those lost territories..

It was Stalin who at Tehran canvassed the idea that Polish occupation of German territory should constitute compensation for the former Polish territory that he would be allowed to keep. He decided to support the Polish claim to the Oder-Neisse frontier precisely because he could use that support as a bargaining chip for gaining Polish and Allied acceptance of the Soviet annexations of 1939.

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Re: Poland came close to making a concession over Danzig

Post by michael mills » 08 Nov 2016 10:06

A communist revolution failed in Germany after WW1 and it would be surprising if Stalin was counting on one succeeding after WW2
That is not what the Western occupiers of Germany thought; they were afraid that the conditions in Germany would lead to precisely such a revolution. That is why they eventually abandoned the Morgenthau Plan and agreed to rebuild West Germany as a bulwark against any further Soviet expansion.
However, I think it very likely that he was cognisant of the inevitable eventual resurgence of Germany and the threat to Russia of this.
Why would Stalin have considered the resurgence of Germany to be inevitable? He knew that the Morgenthau Plan was designed precisely to prevent such a resurgence, by keeping Germany a de-industrialised wasteland.

Furthermore, if he could succeed in bringing all of Germany under his control through subversion and fomenting Communist uprisings in Western Europe, it would not constitute a threat to the Soviet Union, but rather add to its power.
Stalin said at Yalta .......
What he said was not necessarily what he thought. Obviously he was not going to tell Roosevelt and Churchill about his ambitions for further expansion, or about the way those ambitions could be facilitated by his agents in key parts of their administrations.
The general consensus among historians would seem to be that Stalin wanted a buffer zone of friendly states around Russia.
Stalin did not want a buffer zone, he wanted a European empire of Communist-ruled puppet states, and he had every expectation of achieving that, given the strength of the Communist movements in both France and Italy. He failed to achieve it because the United States provided massive assistance to the non-Communist Governments of those countries to prevent the Communists from coming to power.

Stave, I thinking you are making the mistake of reading history backwards. You are assuming that the post-war course of history in Western Europe was inevitable, but that was by no means so. History might well have taken a different course if the French and Italian Governments had not succeeded in overcoming the Communist partisan movements that were so powerful immediately after the end of the war.

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Re: Poland came close to making a concession over Danzig

Post by Boby » 08 Nov 2016 11:22

Well, there is an historiographical debate on this issue, if Stalin wanted sovietization of Germany and Austria or just neutral, non-aligned, demilitarized countries.

As for Germany, this is the view of e.j Winfried Loth (see "Stalin's unwanted child" [the GDR] published in 1995). There is a recent Book on soviet post-war neutrality policy by Peter Ruggenthaler with lots of sources.

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Re: Poland came close to making a concession over Danzig

Post by Steve » 08 Nov 2016 22:52

That the population of West Germany in the years after the war could have or would have wanted to stage a communist uprising seems fanciful. The country was under military occupation and I would guess that some of the occupying forces such as the French would have relished putting down a German uprising. Stalin would not have sent the Red Army into W. Germany to support a communist uprising for the very good reason that the Soviet Union did not have the atomic bomb till August 1949.

Stalin may well have wanted a European Empire but he was no Hitler and was not going to gamble his bird in the bush which was Eastern Europe. He had done very well out of Hitler’s bad bet and was not a man to risk his winnings. We can be fairly certain that Stalin was a cautious man.

On the 29th of September 1944 Roosevelt told Cordell Hull his Secretary of State “no one wants to make Germany a wholly agricultural nation again……. No one wants “complete eradication of German industrial production capacity in the Ruhr and the Saar” The main features of the Morgenthau Plan had been dropped by the end of 1944 and Stalin would have been aware of this. One of the men who worked on the plan a senior treasury official named Harry White was a soviet agent. It was replaced by the Joint Chiefs of Staff directive 1067 which while imposing strict conditions on Germany was not the Morgenthau plan. Morgenthau resigned shortly before Potsdam where I don’t think the plan was mentioned.

That the most dynamic industrially advanced and most populous (excluding the USSR) country in Europe was never going to rise again was not likely. Even the thirty years war did not wipe out Germany as a force in Europe.

There were large communist parties in France and Italy who could have staged armed uprisings. There was a large communist party in Greece which did stage an armed uprising and we know what happened to them. That the population of West Germany millions of whom were refugees from the Red Army supported communism in the immediate post war years is not borne out by the facts. In 1949 the Communist party in W. Germany polled 5.7% of the vote

Trying to work out what Stalin’s thoughts were is extremely difficult and probably requires as a minimum a good crystal ball. That Poland is ideally situated to be a buffer state for Russia against invasion from the west is clear from looking at a map.

The quote from Roosevelt comes from Behind Closed Doors by Laurence Rees p.308

The book Bobby recommends by Peter Ruggenthaler is I presume The Concept of Neutrality in Stalin’s Foreign Policy, 1945 – 1953. Very likely a good book but the cheapest I can find it at is £65, a bit rich for my taste.

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Re: Poland came close to making a concession over Danzig

Post by michael mills » 09 Nov 2016 00:43

That the population of West Germany in the years after the war could have or would have wanted to stage a communist uprising seems fanciful.
If you had been an official in the British Zone of Occupation in 1946, you would not have thought it at all fanciful. At the time there was widespread unrest caused by the demolition of industry and the extraction of coal, unrest that was exploited by Communist agents to launch massive strikes. British officials on the ground were arguing against the continuation of the occupation policies based on the Morgenthau Plan (even though they were not given that name), on the basis that they might lead to a Communist-led insurrection supported by the population.

You need to bear in mind that the local German administrations set up by the occupation authorities were staffed mainly by returned German exiles who were mainly Communists and Leftist Socialists with strong pro-Soviet sympathies.

In 1945, Morgenthau published a book with the title "Germany Is Our Problem", in which he defended his plan against its critics. He claimed that although his plan had not been officially adopted, the occupation policies then being implemented represented the de-facto implementation of the essential features of that plan, eg dismantling of industry and the division of Germany into separate zones strictly isolated from each other.

One of the criticisms addressed by Morgenthau in his book was the claim that the occupation policies of the Western Allies might cause the whole of Germany to go Communist. He claimed that no such danger existed, but as I have written, the occupation officials on the ground were of a different view, and believed that that danger was very real.

I suggest that you read the book.
There was a large communist party in Greece which did stage an armed uprising and we know what happened to them.
Irrelevant. What is at issue here is not what happened in historical reality, but what Stalin thought he could cause to happen. Obviously he thought that the Communist uprising in Greece could succeed, otherwise he would not have given it the green light.
In 1949 the Communist party in W. Germany polled 5.7% of the vote.
You are ignoring developments between 1945 and 1949. US policy on the treatment of Germany changed drastically in 1947, essentially due to the fear that all of Germany might fall to Communism if the existing policy of economic suppression. In that year the US Government decided to allow the rebuilding of the West German economy, and the Marshall Plan was extended to that country. By 1949, the immediate post-war crisis was over, the economy was recovering quickly, and the population of the new Federal Republic knew that their future lay with the West, not with the Soviet Union. The experience of the blockade of West Berlin had also had the effect of turning the West German public against the Soviet Union and Communism.
We can be fairly certain that Stalin was a cautious man.
If he was, it did not stop him risking a war in Korea. Of course by then he already had his own nuclear weapon.

Bear in mind that Stalin did not realise that the US Government was ruthless enough to use its new nuclear weapon against a civilian population until August 1945. His aims with regard to Europe had been formed before that date.

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Re: Poland came close to making a concession over Danzig

Post by Stiltzkin » 09 Nov 2016 01:00

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?
No you misunderstood it completely. The reason why Stalin was restructuring borders in that way was to prevent a possible alliance and uprising against Moscow. Instead those territories would see tensions between the different cultures and political establishments.
The reason why Germany wanted Alsace-Lorraine was for the simple fact that it considered its inhabitans as mostly German or suitable for "germanization" (to a similar extent as Silesia). The distribution of territory after WW2 under Stalin is different (its not like Germany or Poland had anything to say about it anyway). You can compare this to allocations of former Chinese and Japanese territories, same as Finnish, Georgian, Chechen, Azeri or Arrmenian or the best example Romanian Soil in the 19th century.
Last edited by Stiltzkin on 09 Nov 2016 21:59, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Poland came close to making a concession over Danzig

Post by ljadw » 09 Nov 2016 14:24

michael mills wrote:
If he was, it did not stop him risking a war in Korea.

Of course by then he already had his own nuclear weapon.

There is no proof that Stalin ordered the NK dictator to start the invasion of SK .


Irrelevant, as Stalin had not the means to attack the US with nuclear weapons;it would last to 1957 till the SU had the means to do this .

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Re: Poland came close to making a concession over Danzig

Post by steverodgers801 » 09 Nov 2016 23:50

Stalin certainly did nothing to stop it and he lent plenty of support to keep the war going. Notice how quickly the fighting stopped after the death of Stalin

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Re: Poland came close to making a concession over Danzig

Post by Steve » 12 Nov 2016 00:44

De we know what Stalin said regarding a communist takeover of W. Europe? Has a record of any discussion on the subject surfaced since the fall of communism? If not then “what is at issue here is not what happened in historical reality but what Stalin thought he could cause to happen” should surely be in the What If section?

The cold war can be dated from March 1946 with the Fulton speech. There was never going to be a communist W. Germany after that whether large numbers of Germans wanted it or not. The only way a communist uprising could have succeeded would have been for the Red Army to support it. The idea that Stalin would have risked a war with the USA straight after WW2 is an oddball one.

It must be doubtful that conditions in the allied occupation zones were worse than in the Soviet zone. Why post war would the mass of people in W. Germany turn to communism when they knew what had happened and was happening in E. Germany under Soviet rule? The Marshall plan proposed in 1947 was a reaction to the spread of communism which was certainly a serious problem and it solved the problem.

The Morgenthau plan was a dead duck by the time Germany was defeated. I cannot see that Morgenthau’s book adds very much to anything. His plan was not adopted and he resigned shortly after Truman came to power so is not a good source on post war American policy. Did he visit Germany post war?

After the war the Americans had no intention of pauperising Germany. At Potsdam on July 20 during the meeting of the economics sub committee Ivan Maisky raised the question of German reparations. He thought the "main task of the Control Council is the elimination of the German war making potential" .........the general policy “which will be carried out uniformly in all zones of occupation will be in preventing recovery of those parts of the economy which are the basis of the heavy industry” The Americans would not accept this saying that first came the rebuilding of Germany and then, secondarily, comes the question of reparations. They gave the example of a railway company that went bankrupt. If the receiver did not keep the company going no one got paid.

The Allies now understood that a weak Germany would be no barrier to Russian westward expansion. A poor Germany was a potential communist Germany while a strong Germany was a bulwark against communism.

The Maisky quote and the three lines above are from - Meeting At Potsdam by Charles L. Mee jnr p, 126

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Re: Poland came close to making a concession over Danzig

Post by wm » 22 Nov 2016 00:52

4 SEPTEMBER 1946
With Zhdanov at the CC. We discussed the international situation. Zhdanov Comrade Stalin thinks that a new war in the immediate future is out of the question. He is completely calm about the way things are developing. If in our analysis of the present situation we base our judgment not on form but on the content of what is going on, we can say with confidence that from our point of view everything is in order. All the noise made by the Anglo-Americans and the threats of a new war are nothing but blackmail. They want to discredit the Soviet Union in the eyes of their workers. But this is already evidence that our influence in their countries is strong enough. The contradictions between England and America are still to be felt. The social conflicts in America are increasingly unfolding. The Labourites in England have promised the English workers so much concerning socialism that it is hard for them now to step back. They will soon have conflicts not only with their bourgeoisie, but also with the American imperialists. It was not by chance that [Harold] Laski came to as with his delegation. All the time he was justifying himself and the labour Party and reported what they had done. He declared that they would not give in to the imperialists. They will follow their own parliamentary path to socialism. Stalin told him: We consider the Soviet way to be a better one, but if you think that the parliamentary way is more suitable for England, we will not object to that. It is obvious that Laski was trying to find out whether Moscow would conduct a policy of "sovietizing" England ... It was also clear that the Labourites wanted to prepare the ground for the moment when, should they be in a tight spot, they would have some support from the Soviet Union...
The Diary of Georgi Dimitrov, 1933-1949

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