De Gaulle and French betrayal of Poland in Semptember 1939

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wm
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Re: De Gaulle and French betrayal of Poland in Semptember 1939

Post by wm » 13 May 2021 22:17

ljadw wrote:
11 May 2021 06:57
Gamelin promised (!) to start an offensive ,14 days after the beginning of the war,with the majority of his available forces : this is totally meaningless,and the Poles knew it , because it would be Gamelin, not Poland, who would determine the number of available forces annd Gamelin did not specify the meaning of ''the majority '' : would it be an absolute or a relative majority ?
Gamelin (and his pal Vuillemin) promised in writing, in the name of France, vigorous aerial action from day one of the war.
There was no vigorous aerial action in the directive issued by Gamelin for the North-East Front just a week later. Nothing. Actually, such action wasn't even possible.

Gamelin promised in writing offensive actions with limited objectives since 3rd day from French mobilization.
The directive required that since the 17th day from French mobilization.

Gamelin promised in writing, a major, relieving offensive (with 3/4 of all mobilized forces) from the fifteenth day.
There was no offensive, even a small one, in the directive. Nothing.

Three counts of deception and betrayal of biblical proportions.

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Re: De Gaulle and French betrayal of Poland in Semptember 1939

Post by ljadw » 14 May 2021 06:30

Gamelin said that he would launch an offensive on the 15th day with ''la majorité de mes forces disponibles "the majority of my available forces .
That's what he did : the Saar Offensive .
The Poles were satisfied with this vague promise : it was on them to demand something specific .
It is the same for the air attacks : the French refrained from giving the number of sorties that they would execute,the Poles were satisfied with the vague promise of a vigorous aerial action . They must now not complain .
The Poles knew that the French air force could not start big air attacks against Germany, but they did as if would happen .

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Re: De Gaulle and French betrayal of Poland in Semptember 1939

Post by ljadw » 14 May 2021 06:46

The French had in September 1939 in France 56 operational divisions (of which 51 ID );26 of these ID were committed to the NE front ,11 of them were on 6 September 1939 engaged in the Saar Offensive .
Gamelin was a duplicitous person ( which was the reason why the politicians appointed him chief of staff ),but he was also very clever : he would not lie in writing and commit himself to do something he knew he could not do .
He did not lie and did what he promised .

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Re: De Gaulle and French betrayal of Poland in Semptember 1939

Post by wm » 14 May 2021 07:11

ljadw wrote:
14 May 2021 06:30
Gamelin said that he would launch an offensive on the 15th day with ''la majorité de mes forces disponibles "the majority of my available forces .
That's what he did : the Saar Offensive .
The Poles were satisfied with this vague promise : it was on them to demand something specific .
It is the same for the air attacks : the French refrained from giving the number of sorties that they would execute,the Poles were satisfied with the vague promise of vigorous aerial action . They must now not complain .
The Poles knew that the French air force could not start big air attacks against Germany, but they did as if would happen .
They did know that from who? From newspapers?
And vigorous aerial action isn't no sorties at all.

Yes, the Saar "Offensive" was in the directive too - "a cautious clearance of the west bank of the River Saar and the Warndt forest."
The Warndt forest was the size of a post-stamp, you could comfortably cross it on foot in less than two hours.
That wouldn't divert a single soldier from the Polish front.
If that was a major offensive I hate to imagine a French minor offensive.

It was all duplicity and betrayal from day one.
If you have to fight a world war it's better not to lie to your ally,
it's better not to use lawyers' tricks against your counterparts in arms.
Unless you want to destroy them.

It wasn't about "buyer beware," you can't form a military alliance on a buyer beware basis. Literally, Hilter was better than that, he wouldn't sell his (honest) ally down the river like that.

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Re: De Gaulle and French betrayal of Poland in Semptember 1939

Post by gebhk » 14 May 2021 09:05

The topic is :
1 Was there a French betrayal of Poland in September 1939 ?
I would suggest reading the title of the thread and the author's first post. There is no such topic. It is an off topic.

The only topic is
2 What was the opinion of De Gaulle about this ?

It may well be that De Gaulle's opinion was that there was no betrayal, but it his opinion on the matter we should be interested in in this thread and not anyone else's. On the other hand you seem to have forgotten the other part of the question which was whether De Gaulle was
a supporter of giving Poland a full and effective military aid in September 1939?
In 9 pages of 'beating the froth' we have one post which is on point. This was pretty much ignored and the beating of the froth resumed. Go figure.

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Re: De Gaulle and French betrayal of Poland in Semptember 1939

Post by Sid Guttridge » 14 May 2021 10:58

Hi gebhk,

The elephant in the room is the use of the word "betrayal" as a statement of fact rather than one for debate.

Cheers,

Sid.

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Re: De Gaulle and French betrayal of Poland in Semptember 1939

Post by Sid Guttridge » 14 May 2021 11:22

Hi wm,

"Gamelin promised in writing offensive actions with limited objectives since 3rd day from French mobilization." This would be the 5th. The limited Sarre offensive began on the 7th, which was four days after France's declaration of war, but two days later than promised. So France was later than promised, but not greatly so.

You post, "Gamelin promised in writing, a major, relieving offensive (with 3/4 of all mobilized forces) from the fifteenth day." That would be the 17th. That was also the day that the USSR invaded Poland, rendering any major French offensive entirely useless to Poland. Is it therefore any surprise that, "There was no offensive, even a small one....... Nothing."

You also post, "The directive required that since the 17th day from French mobilization." That would be two days after the Soviet Union had attacked Poland from the rear.

Poland's rapid extinction rendered any French offensive in its support soon futile. France very quickly had to look to how it, with a metropolitan population of 41 million, could withstand a Germany with a metropolitan population of 80 million until the British arrived in strength in 1941.

France didn't betray Poland. It declared war not because it had itself been attacked, but because Poland had been attacked. It then stayed in the war until largely destroyed itself. France's performance was slow, tentative and not very competent, but betrayal it was not.

Had Poland been able to hold out longer, then French commitment might have been truly tested, but it didn't.

Cheers,

Sid.

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Re: De Gaulle and French betrayal of Poland in Semptember 1939

Post by RG » 14 May 2021 11:27

ljadw wrote:
14 May 2021 06:30

The Poles were satisfied with this vague promise : it was on them to demand something specific .
I couldn't resist resemblance of this statements to the scene of "Pirates of Carribean" and negotiations with captain Barbossa. He also said that it was his Interlocutor fault that she/he did not specify details;)

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Re: De Gaulle and French betrayal of Poland in Semptember 1939

Post by gebhk » 14 May 2021 12:01

Poland's rapid extinction rendered any French offensive in its support soon futile
This would carry a lot more weight if there was such an offensive planned. The overwhelming evidence however, is that it was not. Already by 18th May, the Chief of gen Gamelin’s Special Bureau, col Jean Louis Marie Petibon, was telling col Fraser, the British military attaché in Paris, that the main French offensive will most definitely come from “the Mediterranean region” and would not be against Germany. The benefit for Poland will be that, if successful, it will enable her to be supplied via the Mediterranean and Black Seas. Petibon was at pains to point out that this information had not been shared with the Polish military delegation then in Paris, while any action of ground forces that was contemplated would “include offensives that were well prepared and with limited objectives”.

If that wasn't clear enough, During a meeting with Lord Gort and his staff on 13 July, Gamelin is recorded as saying quite openly they have every interest in the war beginning in the East and developing only gradually. That way they would have time to put the entirety of the Franco-British forces on a military footing. Making general assurances that the French had no intention of leaving Poland “in the beginning to face Germany alone”, he sketched a vision of how the time gained by her sacrifice could be used to occupy and fortify the approaches to their own positions “should the Germans turn their forces against us”.

I concur that the use of emotive phrases such as betrayal is counterproductive because it leads away from rational analysis to anthropomorphic depiction of nations which, in turn,. leads to a the fallacious treatment of nations or states as if they were single human beings with human emotions. No offence at all intended, but the idea that Poland was 'a less sympathetic victim' because it had bullied its smaller neighbours is rather typical of that. Quite aside from exactly how Britain, France, Czechoslovakia or pretty much every other country involved in this busyness was more sympathetic than Poland, this is utterly irrelevant - Poland was an ally and that and the reasons why Poland was being courted as an ally - it certainly wasn't for its 'moral attractiveness' - are all that matter. The French government declared war on Germany in 1939 not because it was borne along by a wave of sympathy for Poland against its better judgement but because they judged it the best thing to do for France. And whether we like it or not, the word 'betrayal' (however unhelpfully) has entered general vocabulary in this context so gen De Gaulle's opinion on that too is of interest.

The fact is that Poland was being sold a dodgy bit of goods which was being served up as something better - and for good reason from the British and French perspectives. The desperate arguments that 'Poland should have read the small print' or 'should have pressed for details'. rather support the case rather than the opposite. There would have been no need for 'small print' if the offer was on the up and up, nor would there have been need to conceal information from the Polish delegations. As for Ijadw's argument that 'the Poles should have pressed for details' - what do you think they were doing? The fact is that there is little you can do if the details are not forthcoming and, in that respect, the British had almost as much luck with getting them out of the French as did the Poles.

The Poles were perfectly aware of the small print, but having opted to go down the road of cooperation with France and Britain rather than Germany, they had little option by 1939 but to 'buy' the goods and hope for the best.

As an aside, alas, such politics are not without consequence. Within a few months the French and British were, diplomatically, in a similar situation: trying to persuade a country to carry on fighting (in this case Finland), because it suited their interests. No doubt mindful of the Polish debacle, the Fins pressed very firmly for detailed commitments and getting few, very wisely chose to make peace with the Soviet Union.
Last edited by gebhk on 14 May 2021 13:12, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: De Gaulle and French betrayal of Poland in Semptember 1939

Post by Sid Guttridge » 14 May 2021 12:06

Hi gebhk,

That is fair comment. It seems entirely possible that the Soviet invasion of Poland provided the French with a justification for inertia that they might well have displayed anyway.

However, the fact is that Soviet invasion came before this could be empirically tested.

I am less sure about, "the main French offensive will most definitely come from “the Mediterranean region” ". What can this mean? At face value it makes absolutely no sense because there were then no enemy combatants in the Mediterranean. Was France planning to attack Italy first? Or try to draw what remained of the Little and/or Balkan Ententes into the war on the Allied side? It sounds like pure waffle and in any case comes after Poland had already been attacked by the USSR.

Cheers,

Sid.
Last edited by Sid Guttridge on 14 May 2021 12:19, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: De Gaulle and French betrayal of Poland in Semptember 1939

Post by wm » 14 May 2021 12:19

Sid Guttridge wrote:
14 May 2021 11:22
You post, "Gamelin promised in writing, a major, relieving offensive (with 3/4 of all mobilized forces) from the fifteenth day." That would be the 17th. That was also the day that the USSR invaded Poland, rendering any major French offensive entirely useless to Poland. Is it therefore any surprise that, "There was no offensive, even a small one....... Nothing."

You also post, "The directive required that since the 17th day from French mobilization." That would be two days after the Soviet Union had attacked Poland from the rear.
You don't understand, it's not about what happened in September, September is totally irrelevant.
What happened in September was pre-planned in May.
The Soviet Union didn't attack Poland in May.

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Re: De Gaulle and French betrayal of Poland in Semptember 1939

Post by Sid Guttridge » 14 May 2021 12:23

Hi wm,

I would suggest that the proof of the May pudding is in the September eating.

It wouldn't have mattered what France promised in May if it never had to be delivered.

What actually happened in September is central.

France slightly belated did what it had promised on the ground until Poland's already very unpromising situation became utterly hopeless on 17 September.

From 17 September 1939 France, with a metropolitan population of 41 million, was then left facing a Germany with 80 million people (and a threatening Italy with another 43 million on its flank) and no hope of Britain mobilising a major continental army until 1941.

Cheers,

Sid.

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Re: De Gaulle and French betrayal of Poland in Semptember 1939

Post by wm » 14 May 2021 13:36

It's well known what was in the directive issued by Gamelin for the land war against Germany in May.
The directive could have been executed fully or partially - it didn't matter.

It didn't matter because the directive directly contradicted the agreement with Poland in its entirety.

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Re: De Gaulle and French betrayal of Poland in Semptember 1939

Post by gebhk » 14 May 2021 13:41

It wouldn't have mattered what France promised in May if it never had to be delivered.
It does matter if one claims, as you do, that if Poland's defence had lasted longer the French may have mounted a significant effort to relieve Poland. There is overwhelming evidence that the French CinC and the French high command had no such intention from the outset - indeed some time before even the first shots had been fired.
the main French offensive will most definitely come from “the Mediterranean region” ". What can this mean? At face value it makes absolutely no sense because there were then no enemy combatants in the Mediterranean. Was France planning to attack Italy first
Your first guess is spot on. For much of the period between March and September 1939, the French and British decision makers obsessed about what the Italians would do if war breaks out. To the point that there were heated debates whether Italy allying itself with Germany was a good thing or a bad thing. No doubt Petibon was referring to this albeit, as the British were to discover later, the postulated attack on Italy (should Italy ally itself with Germany) would not even be directed against the Italian mainland but against Italian possessions in Tripolitania. If
It sounds like pure waffle

it's because it almost certainly was. The cynic in me suggests the whole 'Italy' debate, as protracted as it was futile, was merely displacement activity to put off squaring the circle of, crudely put, how to help Poland effectively without either annoying the Germans sufficiently for them to turn their immediate and full attention onto France and the UK or (to a lesser degree) upsetting American public opinion.

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Re: De Gaulle and French betrayal of Poland in Semptember 1939

Post by ljadw » 14 May 2021 14:43

RG wrote:
14 May 2021 11:27
ljadw wrote:
14 May 2021 06:30

The Poles were satisfied with this vague promise : it was on them to demand something specific .
I couldn't resist resemblance of this statements to the scene of "Pirates of Carribean" and negotiations with captain Barbossa. He also said that it was his Interlocutor fault that she/he did not specify details;)
It was a vague promise and Poland was satisfied with it .
Why was Poland satisfied with it ? Very simple : because at the moment of the promise, almost no one was thinking that there would be a war .
If in May Poland was convinced that very soon Germany would attack her, it would have asked something very specific,as the envoy of a French division to Poland ,but it did not ask for this neither did France propose it .
In May no one in Poland said that the French promise of ''help ''was futile .
The French promise of May 1939 had the same value of the British/French guarantee of March 1939 .Only propaganda for the Home Front with as aim to impress Hitler .After the guarantee Poland asked Britain for money and weapons and received a refusal,because the guarantee did not include a promise of money and weapons .
If you do not ask for more, you can't complain that what you get is enough .
The Polish reaction is very classic : if A and B are ''allies '' and B is attacked by C and defeated, B will say : the culprit is A who did not help us .
The French did the same in June 1940 : they said : we are defeated because Britain did not keep its promises and abandoned us and when they signed an armistice with Germany, Britain was talking of a French betrayal .
In 1956 French and British said that the US abandoned them in the Suez crisis .
10 years later, US politicians complained that France and Britain did not support US in Vietnam .
Us will leave Afghanistan and if after this,the Taliban will win ,the government of Afghanistan will say : not the Taliban are the bad guys,but the US ,who have abandon us .
In 1918 the communists signed a treaty with Germany (Brest Litowsk ) and the Wallies said : Russian betrayal .

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