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British and French Intervention in German Invasion of Poland

Archibald

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I think if we are to be honest, Britain and France didn't want to get its hands dirty.

Don't forget that Hitler had insane luck to the point of some wondered if it wasn't provided by The Devil itself.

Here is one example among others.

October 9 1934, Marseille: the King of Yugoslavia is shot dead; the French escort start firing everywhere in panic. In the process two key people are killed or badly hurt.

First is Louis Barthou, a talented politician and diplomat willing to get his hands dirty. Guess who replace him ? Pierre Laval getting his first big political job on the way to Vichy and betrayal, that SOB.

Second key person is Alphonse Georges: Gamelin second in command and actually a much more capable commander. Georges however is badly crippled and will never fully recover. At the time Weygand succession at the head of the French armies is under way, and George had a chance. Instead of him, guess who gets the job ? Maurice "I have no brain left" Gamelin, with Daladier unflapable confidence (sigh) making him un-removeable until May 18, 1940 (facepalm)

In a sense, killer of the Yugoslav king also doomed France 5 years down the road.
 

Dilandu

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As to a tripartite pact with the Soviets, that was tried and got nowhere. By the time the Molotov -Ribbentrop Pact is being moulded, I'm not sure what the West can offer Stalin that compares to a giant slice of Eastern Europe-- and ironically, the more fervent the British and French became in warning against German interference in Poland, the more attractive a deal with Stalin begins to look for Hitler. It seems like a foregone conclusion.

Well, there was one thing they could offer - defeat of resurgent German militarism and destruction of Nazi. Both things were of extreme importance to Stalin. He recognized correctly, that Germany is the main threat to the Soviet Union, and would be until Nazi are stopped. So, to get Stalin in their side, Western powers basically need one thing: persuade him, that London and Paris are serious in their willingness to fight Germany. Problem was, that they weren't sure even themselves...
 

Archibald

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As to a tripartite pact with the Soviets, that was tried and got nowhere. By the time the Molotov -Ribbentrop Pact is being moulded, I'm not sure what the West can offer Stalin that compares to a giant slice of Eastern Europe-- and ironically, the more fervent the British and French became in warning against German interference in Poland, the more attractive a deal with Stalin begins to look for Hitler. It seems like a foregone conclusion.

Well, there was one thing they could offer - defeat of resurgent German militarism and destruction of Nazi. Both things were of extreme importance to Stalin. He recognized correctly, that Germany is the main threat to the Soviet Union, and would be until Nazi are stopped. So, to get Stalin in their side, Western powers basically need one thing: persuade him, that London and Paris are serious in their willingness to fight Germany. Problem was, that they weren't sure even themselves...
Spot on. In the summer of 1939 the French and British clearly made a huge blunder scorning Stalin; it pushed him into Ribbentropp and Hitler arms. Even the latter couldn't believe his luck when Stalin agreed with the agreement; he was reportedly hysterical.
The British, and to a lesser extend the French, correctly assessed Stalin as a long term threat to western Europe; unfortunately, Hitler was an even graver short term threat.
Truth be told, an alliance between Hitler and Stalin seemed completely impossible if only for the simple fact, they had been fighting each others indirectly in Spain for three years.
And yet - it happened, because both Hitler and Stalin aside from being monsters, were also pragmatic, opportunistic and utterly cynical bargainers.
Stalin was irritated by France and Great Britain (he had been left out of Munich), he already knew they wouldn't help him and he also knew the Red Army wasn't ready to face Hitler. So he made peace with him, at least temporarily.

I have to say that, as much as I loath Chamberlain and Daladier, having to choose Stalin to stop Hitler is like being asked to pick between smallpox and the black death plague. No surprise they failed miserably.
 

Hood

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I'm not sure courting Stalin would have been necessarily any better.
Sure Britain and France could rely on the bulk of the Soviet army, but Poland knew which way the winds were blowing - they were not pro-Russian and an anti-communist right-wing dictatorship to boot (who had fought for independence from Russian not 20 years earlier). The idea that Stalin and the Comintern would simply help out Poland for selfless reasons was laughable. Where would Stalin have fought? Would he have waited until the German's reached the Soviet western frontier or would he have 'saved' the Poles with a couple of million occupying troops? It didn't look like an appealing solution in 1944 and even less so in 1939.
Britain had been trying to throw spanner's in the USSR's works since 1917. Germany had been a secret military ally since the mid-1920s. Who would the paranoiac Stalin trust more? Probably not a perfidious old Etonian capitalist (trust is not the right word of course, Stalin trusted nobody).

Stalin got a free hand in the East from Hitler, sure he bought time but he also bought a lot of real estate. Would Chamberlain and Daladier have cut a deal allowing him to pressure and ultimately invade Finland and then annex the Baltic republics? Hitler was taking back 'his' lands after Versailles, Stalin was taking back 'his' lands after Brest-Litvosk. Could Britain and France morally accept Stalin's claims while decrying Hitler's? It would have made the Winter War very awkward for London and Paris. Well they did preside over the feast of Czechoslovakia so maybe the hypocrisy was there in some measure.
Hitler and Stalin were on a level far beyond Chamberlain and Daladier. The latter pair had the natural duplicitous nature of most politicians (political nous) but Hitler and Stalin were supreme canny operators and manipulators, indeed even Churchill and Roosevelt, who were no angels, came off worst against Stalin's intrigues. Hitler and Stalin hated each other but they recognized they wanted the same things and ironically only they could give each other what they wanted. So the Non-Aggression Pact was fairly easy to agree on.

Stalin met his protagonists Churchill and Roosevelt (and their successors Attlee and Truman) and sized them up in the flesh, I can't help but wonder what a meeting between Stalin and Hitler would have been like and how that might have played out in his actions during the war.
 

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