Was the post-WWII settlement on Germany too harsh?

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ljadw
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Re: Was the post-WWII settlement on Germany too harsh?

Post by ljadw » 05 Nov 2020 19:00

wm wrote:
03 Nov 2020 20:34
Futurist wrote:
19 Oct 2020 03:26


But if you're strong the salients become their weaknesses. Similarly, Czechoslovakia was called a dagger thrust into Germany's heart. The map shows why.
And who called CZ a dagger thrust into Germany's heart ?
Ignorant journalists and ,after the war, German propagandists .
CZ was as much a dagger thrust as was East Prussia for Poland,or Russian Poland for East Prussia before 1914 .
The geographic location of CZ did not make it a dagger thrust,much more was needed : the will of CZ to attack Germany, the capability of CZ to attack Germany .Antwerp was also.and wrongly,called a dagger thrust for Britain . Also by the same ignorant journalists .
When Germany was weak (Weimar ) CZ did not attack Germany, why thus would CZ attack Germany when Germany was strong ?
CZ could only survive as an independent state if the Versailles Treaty borders were not changed, and a war would change them .
Hitler wanted to destroy CZ as an independent state, CZ did not want to destroy Germany as an independent state .

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Re: Was the post-WWII settlement on Germany too harsh?

Post by wm » 05 Nov 2020 19:27

No, the Germans called Czechoslovakia that in the thirties especially after the Soviets (supposedly) built their airfields there.

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Re: Was the post-WWII settlement on Germany too harsh?

Post by gebhk » 06 Nov 2020 18:17

wm wrote:
05 Nov 2020 19:27
No, the Germans called Czechoslovakia that in the thirties especially after the Soviets (supposedly) built their airfields there.
Czechoslovakia also certainly figured in French studies of a coalition war. Simply put, most of Germany was within range of bombers stationed in Czechoslovakia, much more so than of same stationed in France or even Poland. So the idea is not at all that fanciful.

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Re: Was the post-WWII settlement on Germany too harsh?

Post by ljadw » 06 Nov 2020 18:52

There would be no coalition war, unless Germany attacked without valid reason CZ.
CZ had 20 years the time and the opportunity to attack German cities, but they did not do it,because they had not the will,the intention to do it .
The Czechs did not move when Hitler imposed conscription, when he said publicly that the has an air force, when he remilitarized the Rhineland,all violations of Versailles . This proves that CZ never had the intention to start a war against Germany .And this makes the dagger claim only a hollow claim .
It is the same hollow claim to say that Antwerp was a dagger directed to London : Belgium had no navy .
A European war could only happen if Germany started a local war ,without valid reasons .
France would not start a war against Germany . It did not start a war against Germany before 1914 (although the Germans provoked France several times ), it did not start a war against Germany when the Germans violated Versailles .
As long as there was not someone (here :Germany ) starting a war in Europe, France would not move .
Between 1904 and 1914 there were 4 wars involving European powers, but the French did not move .
They did not move when Greece invaded Turkey in 1922 and was expelled from Turkey .They did not intervene in the Spanish civil war .

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wm
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Re: Was the post-WWII settlement on Germany too harsh?

Post by wm » 06 Nov 2020 19:20

gebhk wrote:
06 Nov 2020 18:17
wm wrote:
05 Nov 2020 19:27
No, the Germans called Czechoslovakia that in the thirties especially after the Soviets (supposedly) built their airfields there.
Czechoslovakia also certainly figured in French studies of a coalition war. Simply put, most of Germany was within range of bombers stationed in Czechoslovakia, much more so than of same stationed in France or even Poland. So the idea is not at all that fanciful.
France (reasonably) didn't want to die for other people's Danzigs so they put in the (weak anyway) alliances with Poland/Czechoslovakia trapdoors allowing them to escape harmful to them commitments.

That was actually good politics on their part. The Poles understood that, the Czechs didn't.

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Re: Was the post-WWII settlement on Germany too harsh?

Post by gebhk » 06 Nov 2020 22:14

There would be no coalition war, unless Germany attacked without valid reason CZ.
CZ had 20 years the time and the opportunity to attack German cities, but they did not do it,because they had not the will,the intention to do it .
The Czechs did not move when Hitler imposed conscription, when he said publicly that the has an air force, when he remilitarized the Rhineland,all violations of Versailles . This proves that CZ never had the intention to start a war against Germany .And this makes the dagger claim only a hollow claim .
It is the same hollow claim to say that Antwerp was a dagger directed to London : Belgium had no navy .
A European war could only happen if Germany started a local war ,without valid reasons .
France would not start a war against Germany . It did not start a war against Germany before 1914 (although the Germans provoked France several times ), it did not start a war against Germany when the Germans violated Versailles .
As long as there was not someone (here :Germany ) starting a war in Europe, France would not move .
Between 1904 and 1914 there were 4 wars involving European powers, but the French did not move .
They did not move when Greece invaded Turkey in 1922 and was expelled from Turkey .They did not intervene in the Spanish civil war .
While some or even all this may be true, I don't see the relevance. There is no claim. It is a poetic description of geo-strategic reality - plainly discernible on the map, as WM has pointed out. Whether anyone had the will or the means to exploit it (to push the dagger in, if we want to continue the analogy) is an altogether different matter.

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Re: Was the post-WWII settlement on Germany too harsh?

Post by wm » 07 Nov 2020 08:56

Military planners have to plan according to the realities on the ground, not according to political realities.

Similarly becasue of the proximity of Polish borders to Berlin Germany had to build the massive (defending Berlin and eastern parts of Germany) Festungsfront Oder-Warthe-Bogen.
Poland wasn't going to invade and didn't even have military capabilities to do so - but still, it was a prudent thing to do considering that such fortifications took 10+ years to build and political realities could have changed in a month.

As in 1938 and 1939 when Stalin demanded access for the Red Army to Czechoslovakia and later to Poland.

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Re: Was the post-WWII settlement on Germany too harsh?

Post by gebhk » 07 Nov 2020 09:41

Military planners have to plan according to the realities on the ground, not according to political realities.
Indeed they do - or at least should. It is not just fortifications that take a long time to build. War plans also take years to develop and test if they are to work well. The failure of Poland to have a fully worked-up plan for a war against Germany had many unfortunate consequences. Of course which plans (or their parts) are implemented, more often than not, do depend on political realities because resources are finite and not all possibilities can be catered for at once. For this reason military preparations can be outmanoeuvred politically even before a war commences.
Poland wasn't going to invade and didn't even have military capabilities to do so
That, surely, depends on the timeframe? Before 1933 and perhaps even for some time after, Poland certainly had the capability to invade Germany successfully - especially if this was carried out in conjunction with Czechoslovakia and France. To what extent Pilsudski's alleged threat to invade Germany in 1933 was a bluff is another matter.

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Re: Was the post-WWII settlement on Germany too harsh?

Post by ljadw » 07 Nov 2020 10:49

Poland had not the capability to successfully invade Germany on her own .
a conjunction with CZ was excluded (Teszin ! ) and France would only invade Germany if Germany was already defeated .
Pilsudski's threat is an invention for the following reasons
a Hitler, THE enemy of bolchevism was for Poland much less dangerous than von Seeckt and Stresemann who never accepted the existence of an independent Polish state and who were willing to collaborate with Stalin to eliminate Poland .
b Poland could only survive thanks to the existence of Germany AND of the USSR (France was irrelevant ) :if Germany was defeated, who would stop Stalin ? If Stalin was out,who would stop Hitler ?
c the result of a successful Polish invasion would be that Poland would be saddled up with millions of hostile Germans which would even more increase the number of ethnic minorities in Poland .
It is not a question to invade a country successfully,but the big problem is always : what to do after the successful invasion ?
See Iraq and Afghanistan.

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Re: Was the post-WWII settlement on Germany too harsh?

Post by wm » 07 Nov 2020 11:22

Teschen wasn't any obstacle, the Poles were ready to forget Teschen in exchange for an alliance with Czechs.
The Czechs refused because they didn't want to die for Danzig or Lviv.
This is why they had to die alone for the Sudetenland.

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Re: Was the post-WWII settlement on Germany too harsh?

Post by wm » 07 Nov 2020 11:32

gebhk wrote:
07 Nov 2020 09:41
That, surely, depends on the timeframe? Before 1933 and perhaps even for some time after, Poland certainly had the capability to invade Germany successfully - especially if this was carried out in conjunction with Czechoslovakia and France.
As far as I know, it wasn't possible because the Polish Army's logistical system wasn't up to the task. In a real war, it wouldn't be able to supply properly the Army deep inside Germany.
Similarly, during Barbarossa, the Germans wouldn't be able to supply their army properly (if opposed to the very end) deep inside Russia.

The lack of a plan for a war against Germany was actually a good thing. Poland was going to lose the war no matter what, and relatively fast.
The resulting shorter war literally saved lots of Polish soldiers and civilians' lives.
A longer war, resulting in massive casualties would achieve nothing.

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Re: Was the post-WWII settlement on Germany too harsh?

Post by gebhk » 07 Nov 2020 13:15

As far as I know, it wasn't possible because the Polish Army's logistical system wasn't up to the task. In a real war, it wouldn't be able to supply properly the Army deep inside Germany.
Similarly, during Barbarossa, the Germans wouldn't be able to supply their army properly (if opposed to the very end) deep inside Russia
.
I am not sure that the two are comparable.
firstly the distances involved are in altogether different leagues. The length of lines of communication for Poland invading Germany were much the same as for Germans defending themselves against the Soviets in 1944/45.
Secondly the transport infrastructure and road network was of the highest quality in Germany as opposed to the Soviet Union - no issues with changing track width etc. At the tactical level, it would have been easier to supply the Polish army in Germany than it was in Poland, given the state of the Polish road network vis a vis the German one!
Thirdly - Germany was a continuous belt of resource-rich terrain - unlike the vast tracts of b....r-all often fought over in the USSR. Whether the Weimar government had the resources (or for that matter the will) to carry out an effective 'scorched earth' policy is, I would suggest, debatable.
Fourthly - the Germans, lacking an air force, had limited ability to actively interfere with an invader's logistical operations.

The real question I suspect is whether Germany could organise, train and arm sufficiently quickly to bring its numerical and industrial superiority to bear, before it was overrun. Shortage of artillery ammunition, I think, would be a much more limiting factor for the Poles than the supply chain per se. In this regard, alliance with France and/or Czechoslovakia would hugely alleviate that particular problem.
Last edited by gebhk on 07 Nov 2020 22:00, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Was the post-WWII settlement on Germany too harsh?

Post by gebhk » 07 Nov 2020 13:26

The lack of a plan for a war against Germany was actually a good thing. Poland was going to lose the war no matter what, and relatively fast.
The resulting shorter war literally saved lots of Polish soldiers and civilians' lives.
A longer war, resulting in massive casualties would achieve nothing.
Fair point. I concur that extending the campaign on the same footing would only have increased Polish losses for little net gain. However, the lack of a properly co-ordinated plan, in matters of troop movements, fortifications, supply etc also caused unnecessary losses. I suspect the two may well cancel each other out.

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Re: Was the post-WWII settlement on Germany too harsh?

Post by wm » 07 Nov 2020 22:13

Military planners shouldn't hope for the best, they need to plan for the worst. Maybe the Germans were able to destroy the main, westbound railway lines, maybe not. But Sherman's soldiers, during the March to the Sea, could do that basically with bare hands, it's not that hard.
I suppose the Polish Army would probably defeat the Reichswehr (and face massive underground resistance later) but anything better would be a problem.
The distances involved were in different leagues but the logistic capabilities of both armies were in different leagues too.

The defensive plan West wasn't going to happen on time so it wasn't a mistake.
The danger manifested itself five months before the war. It wasn't detected earlier because it didn't exist. Hitler genuinely didn't plan to attack Poland pre-April 1939.
Five months was too little too late.
Poland (as Germany) planned to complete her preparations for war in 1942.

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Re: Was the post-WWII settlement on Germany too harsh?

Post by gebhk » 08 Nov 2020 11:13

Military planners shouldn't hope for the best, they need to plan for the worst
Agreed. However, they need to plan for various levels of resource and various situations. Because a war plan takes time and resources to work up (you are quite right, 5 months was far too short) a sensible course is to have plans for as many eventualities as possible 'on the shelf'. Not having a viable plan for war with Germany cannot be considered good practice - war with Germany was never out of the question during the interbellum. Hindsight is a wonderful thing of course but,with hindsight,a fraction of the resources that Poland spent on teaching great numbers of men to fire rifles and march long distances spent on preparing and updating a plan for war against Germany instead would, I submit, have yielded better value for money.
The distances involved were in different leagues but the logistic capabilities of both armies were in different leagues too.
Strategically not really - both sides relied on trains to shift stuff from the warehouse or depot to the front line. However, once any damage to the lines had been repaired (which would not take long - that is why armies of the era had strong railway engineering units) the Polish wheels would roll uninterrupted while the German ones would be frequently disrupted by Polish aerial bombing.

It was at the tactical level that the Germans have a distinct advantage because they have at their disposal a healthy civilian vehicle park they can mobilise/commandeer - while the Poles do not. Given the miniscule size of the RH, it would probably be entirely possible for the Germans to motorise their entire corps and divisional transport columns. The Poles on the other hand rely on horse transport at this level, with the quality of the horseflesh not of the best - especially with regard to artillery ammo columns and the like.

All-in-all a fascinating what if worthy of a separate thread, but probablyy way off-topic here.

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