What would have been the consequences of a Soviet conquest of Poland in 1920?

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What would have been the consequences of a Soviet conquest of Poland in 1920?

Post by Futurist » 21 Apr 2020 20:50

What would have been the consequences of a Soviet conquest of Poland in 1920? For the record, I am thinking of a Soviet conquest of the former Russian and Austrian parts of Poland as well as the Baltic countries (minus Memelland, which would go to Germany) while Germany is allowed to regain its 1914 borders in the east.

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Re: What would have been the consequences of a Soviet conquest of Poland in 1920?

Post by Futurist » 27 Apr 2020 00:44

@Steve and @wm Any thoughts on this?

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Re: What would have been the consequences of a Soviet conquest of Poland in 1920?

Post by gebhk » 27 Apr 2020 11:13

Best wild guess is that 20 years of mass murder/genocide would have been followed by the experience of WW2 as that of Belarus (ie even more lethal than that experienced IRL). So that when Poland regained independence in, say 1990, it would have been with a smaller population and a more ethnically varied one.

However, I would question your underlying assumption that Germany would have been allowed to regain its 1914 borders. I don't see any reason why the Soviets would have stopped at Poland in 1920.

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Re: What would have been the consequences of a Soviet conquest of Poland in 1920?

Post by Steve » 28 Apr 2020 07:45

Poland may have become a republic in the Soviet Union or a friendly government installed. Quite likely elections would have been held with a rather limited choice of options or as Stalin is reputed to have said it doesn't matter how people vote only who counts the votes. The Bolsheviks had expected the revolution to happen in Germany with its large working class and I think would certainly have pressed on to Germany which was the big prize.

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Re: What would have been the consequences of a Soviet conquest of Poland in 1920?

Post by gebhk » 28 Apr 2020 10:19

Steve - I agree with everything you say. To quote from Tuchachevski's order 1423 'To the West!" of 2/7/20; (-) "The road to worldwide conflagration leads over the corpse of White Poland". Semyon Budyonny was even less euphemistic: "If I had those 300K, I would have ploughed Poland over and, before the end of summer, the hooves of our horses would have thundered on the streets of Paris".

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Re: What would have been the consequences of a Soviet conquest of Poland in 1920?

Post by Futurist » 28 Apr 2020 17:33

gebhk wrote:
27 Apr 2020 11:13
Best wild guess is that 20 years of mass murder/genocide would have been followed by the experience of WW2 as that of Belarus (ie even more lethal than that experienced IRL). So that when Poland regained independence in, say 1990, it would have been with a smaller population and a more ethnically varied one.

However, I would question your underlying assumption that Germany would have been allowed to regain its 1914 borders. I don't see any reason why the Soviets would have stopped at Poland in 1920.
Was the Red Army actually capable of defeating the Freikorps in battle? Also, what about if the Freikorps would have been reinforced by, say, the French Army (as in, if France would have decided that allowing Germany to recover its eastern territories is a far superior option to Germany going Red in the event that Poland has already fallen to the Reds)?

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Re: What would have been the consequences of a Soviet conquest of Poland in 1920?

Post by Futurist » 28 Apr 2020 17:36

Steve wrote:
28 Apr 2020 07:45
Poland may have become a republic in the Soviet Union or a friendly government installed. Quite likely elections would have been held with a rather limited choice of options or as Stalin is reputed to have said it doesn't matter how people vote only who counts the votes. The Bolsheviks had expected the revolution to happen in Germany with its large working class and I think would certainly have pressed on to Germany which was the big prize.
The problem is, though, that in Germany, the SPD, the right-wing, and the Freikorps were all united on the question of Communist Revolution--specifically they were all against it and believed that it must be crushed regardless of the cost. (Bless them for having this position! :)) That, combined with the fact that the German Revolution of 1918-1919 was already crushed by late 1920, suggests that it would have been rather unlikely for the Soviets to actually be able to successfully instigate a Communist Revolution in Germany. Plus, even in the extremely unlikely absolute worst-case scenario, German opponents of Communism might be able to get the French Army to reinforce them. After all, in spite of its deep hatred of Germany, I would think that France would strongly prefer it if Germany doesn't actually go Red/Communist.

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Re: What would have been the consequences of a Soviet conquest of Poland in 1920?

Post by Futurist » 28 Apr 2020 17:38

gebhk wrote:
28 Apr 2020 10:19
Steve - I agree with everything you say. To quote from Tuchachevski's order 1423 'To the West!" of 2/7/20; (-) "The road to worldwide conflagration leads over the corpse of White Poland". Semyon Budyonny was even less euphemistic: "If I had those 300K, I would have ploughed Poland over and, before the end of summer, the hooves of our horses would have thundered on the streets of Paris".
The Bolsheviks can dream however they like, but they thankfully won't necessarily always be able to bend reality to their wishes and desires. :)

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Re: What would have been the consequences of a Soviet conquest of Poland in 1920?

Post by gebhk » 28 Apr 2020 19:41

It doesn't really matter whether the Red Army was capable of defeating the West. The question is whether they would have tried or would they, as you suggest, have made nice with capitalist rulers of Germany and cheerfully handed them the best part of their newly-captured spoils.

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Re: What would have been the consequences of a Soviet conquest of Poland in 1920?

Post by Futurist » 29 Apr 2020 02:45

gebhk wrote:
28 Apr 2020 19:41
It doesn't really matter whether the Red Army was capable of defeating the West. The question is whether they would have tried or would they, as you suggest, have made nice with capitalist rulers of Germany and cheerfully handed them the best part of their newly-captured spoils.
Oh, they could have certainly tried. I'm just saying that in a war between the Soviet Union and Germany (plus possibly France as well) in 1920, I would bet on Germany (and France, if it participates on Germany's side, of course). If Germany wins this war, I could see it getting its 1914 borders in the east restored.

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Re: What would have been the consequences of a Soviet conquest of Poland in 1920?

Post by gebhk » 29 Apr 2020 04:53

While that is a somewhat different discussion, I think you have a somewhat optimistic view of German military capacity at this time, which was negligible. The reality is that all depended on the French and a lesser degree the British and Americans. Assuming there was an anti-Bolshevik coalition and this coalition was victorious, the boundaries would be decided by these, not the Germans who would have been very junior partners of basically similar standing as Poland in the grand scheme of things. And we know what they decided in reality so is there anything to suggest they would change their minds?

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Re: What would have been the consequences of a Soviet conquest of Poland in 1920?

Post by Futurist » 29 Apr 2020 22:21

gebhk wrote:
29 Apr 2020 04:53
While that is a somewhat different discussion, I think you have a somewhat optimistic view of German military capacity at this time, which was negligible. The reality is that all depended on the French and a lesser degree the British and Americans. Assuming there was an anti-Bolshevik coalition and this coalition was victorious, the boundaries would be decided by these, not the Germans who would have been very junior partners of basically similar standing as Poland in the grand scheme of things. And we know what they decided in reality so is there anything to suggest they would change their minds?
Weren' t the Freikorps capable of doing some fighting, though? I would think that in a time of crisis Germany could try improvising relatively quickly similar to how the Soviet Union managed to in the past. In 1918-1919, the Soviet military was on the verge of collapse, and yet by 1920 it was already a lean, mean, conquering machine. So, I was wondering if, in a time of extreme crisis, Germany could have tried massively increasing the size of its paramilitary units--possibly with Anglo-French aid and supplies. After all, in such a scenario, Germany might literally experience a situation of total war if it will want to avoid falling to the Bolsheviks.

As for the Anglo-Franco-American calculations in regards to this, please keep in mind that their calculations in regards to Germany's eastern borders in real life were done based on the assumption that there would be a free and independent Polish state east of Germany. If that's no longer actually the case, then their whole calculations in regards to this might change--with them possibly viewing a strong Germany in the east as being a lesser evil in comparison to the threat of a Bolshevik advance on Western Europe and a Bolshevik spread of world Communist revolution. If the Anglo-Franco-Americans will change their minds as a result of the new geopolitical realities in the East and thus decide that they want a strong German presence in the East, then it would make sense for Germany to be as large as possible in that region--and thus it would seem logical for them to allow Germany to restore its 1914 borders in the East. Also, please keep in mind that if the alternative to relatively liberal Weimar German rule is totalitarian, tyrannical, oppressive, and dictatorial Bolshevik rule, then it's possible that even many Poles in Germany's eastern regions might prefer relatively liberal Weimar German rule as the lesser evil in a scenario where a free and independent Polish state is no longer a realistic option.

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Re: What would have been the consequences of a Soviet conquest of Poland in 1920?

Post by Futurist » 29 Apr 2020 22:24

In other words, even if the calculations of the Anglo-Franco-Americans would have been based on what the Poles themselves in Germany's eastern territories actually wanted, this calculation might have resulted in Weimar Germany getting its 1914 borders restored in the East as opposed to allowing Bolshevik Russia to rule over the Polish subjects of the former German Empire since the former option is likely to be much more preferably by the Poles themselves in territories such as Posen, the Polish Corridor, Upper Silesia, et cetera than the latter option is going to be.

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Re: What would have been the consequences of a Soviet conquest of Poland in 1920?

Post by Steve » 29 Apr 2020 22:47

If the Red Army had entered Germany they would certainly have found support. It had a large communist party and as late as 1923 there was a communist uprising in Hamburg in which about a 100 people died. As the UK and France intervened in the Russian civil war it must be very likely they would not have stood by and watched Germany turn red. British Prime Minister Lloyd-George was not an enthusiastic supporter of Poland. He seems to have thought that if Germany was unduly weakened France would become to strong and France supported Poland which was claiming important bits of Germany. After the Red Army was pushed back as I am sure would have happened Germany would be in a stronger position militarily and politically. It would now be the bulwark of Europe against Bolshevism.

I would have expected Lloyd-George to now side with Germany over territorial revisions as he did in 1918 and Poland would not get the frontier it was given in 1919. However, would a counter offensive have stopped on reaching Polish inhabited territory or would it have gone on to liberate Poland from the Bolsheviks? I think France would have supported the re-establishment of a Polish state which in this scenario presumably has Trotsky installed in the Belvedere palace in Warsaw.

In any discussion in which Lloyd-George comes up I should declare a connection. I know someone who knew his daughter Lady Olwen. I can hear the gasps of astonishment from here.

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Re: What would have been the consequences of a Soviet conquest of Poland in 1920?

Post by Futurist » 29 Apr 2020 23:41

Steve wrote:
29 Apr 2020 22:47
If the Red Army had entered Germany they would certainly have found support. It had a large communist party and as late as 1923 there was a communist uprising in Hamburg in which about a 100 people died. As the UK and France intervened in the Russian civil war it must be very likely they would not have stood by and watched Germany turn red. British Prime Minister Lloyd-George was not an enthusiastic supporter of Poland. He seems to have thought that if Germany was unduly weakened France would become to strong and France supported Poland which was claiming important bits of Germany. After the Red Army was pushed back as I am sure would have happened Germany would be in a stronger position militarily and politically. It would now be the bulwark of Europe against Bolshevism.

I would have expected Lloyd-George to now side with Germany over territorial revisions as he did in 1918 and Poland would not get the frontier it was given in 1919. However, would a counter offensive have stopped on reaching Polish inhabited territory or would it have gone on to liberate Poland from the Bolsheviks? I think France would have supported the re-establishment of a Polish state which in this scenario presumably has Trotsky installed in the Belvedere palace in Warsaw.

In any discussion in which Lloyd-George comes up I should declare a connection. I know someone who knew his daughter Lady Olwen. I can hear the gasps of astonishment from here.
If the French want to reestablish a Polish state, they are going to have to do it by themselves without the help of the Germans. I'm not sure what the British would have done in such a scenario. Franco-German fighting over Germany's former eastern territories would certainly be quite interesting; after all, if Germany wants to reclaim these territories itself, it might not be very keen on France giving those territories to a newly re-formed Polish state.

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