70 years ago

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Steiner
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70 years ago

Post by Steiner »

On 1 September 1939, at 04:40, the Luftwaffe attacked the Polish town of Wieluń, destroying 75% of the city. Thus began the Second World War.
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Pug42
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Re: 70 years ago

Post by Pug42 »

Lot of debate about when the Second World War really started... some say it began the day after the First World War finished...

Americans of course think it kicked off in December 1941... Poles say Sept 1st.... Brits usually say Sept 3rd (see the pattern here?)

But still, today demands a moments thought for the wheel of history turning 70 years ago...
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Steiner
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Re: 70 years ago

Post by Steiner »

Indeed. The start of hostilities in Europe, but the annexing started many months earlier.
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Tychsen
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Re: 70 years ago

Post by Tychsen »

Munich was the start of the slide towards war and the pace quickened considerbly when the Munich agreement was broken.
For 48 hours Hitler had what he wanted - a limited no risk war with Poland , a war he copuld not lose and a victory which he could parade before the German people.
At 11.00 am on the 3rd September , that illusion exploded in his face - "Going for broke" had gone horribly wrong.
When Britain and France extended a guarantee to Poland ( amongest others) , Hitler threatened to "brew them a devils potion" he got the same back with interest , and as he said when the declaration of war was handed to them he realised he had blundered when he rounded on Ribbentrop exclaiming "Well , what are we going to do now!"

Chamberlain's speech , in its full form it is a remarkable address.

http://www.otr.com/neville.shtml

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/worldwars/ ... n_07.shtml

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Steiner
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Re: 70 years ago

Post by Steiner »

Ah, I had not heard about that exchange with Von Ribbentrop.

Unfortunately, the actual response on the ground from France and Britain did not amount to anything. Germany's western border was at its weakest at that point, but this was not exploited by the Allies. The actual value of their paper support of Poland is debatable, really.
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Re: 70 years ago

Post by Grabenkater »

I tend to think it began on Sept 19th 1931.

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Tychsen
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Re: 70 years ago

Post by Tychsen »

19/9/31 ?

An attack on Poland would have been viewed as a direct threat to British interests and the international status quo , of which Britian was a major player.
Poland would not have been Britain's only reason for going to war , 6 months before Hitler had finally shown his true colours - national interests also played a part.
Last edited by Tychsen on Thu Sep 03, 2009 10:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 70 years ago

Post by Maleme »

....not forgetting Churchill's ultimate betrayal of Poland (a country for whom we went to war for to protect it's sovereignty) by allowing the Soviet Union to keep that part of Poland it was to invade two weeks after the start of the war.

It is now part of Western Ukraine... the part where the major proportion of Polands II Army came from....an Army who sacrificed many lives at Monte Cassino.

To save a major embarressment to Britains foreign policy the Polish Army was not invited to participate in the Victory Parade in London in 1946......
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Tychsen
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Re: 70 years ago

Post by Tychsen »

Maleme
....not forgetting Churchill's ultimate betrayal of Poland (a country for whom we went to war for to protect it's sovereignty) by allowing the Soviet Union to keep that part of Poland it was to invade two weeks after the start of the war.
With the Red Army occupying Poland what was Churchill to do ?
Britain by 1944 was the understudy to America in the Western powerblock and declaring war on Russia was not really realistic.
By 1945 Red Army already in situ controlling Poland politically as an occupying power.
Politically Churchill wanted an independent Poland , in real terms it had gone pear shaped from August 1944 when Stalin refused to allow the Allies to fly shuttle missions to supply the Warsaw rising.

Poland was quite right to fear Russian intentions - Russia had acted dishonourably as a fellow traveller of the Nazis in her treatment of the Poles and the murder of potential Polish leaders and POW's in her area of occupation.
If any country was a loser in WW2 that country was Poland - her enemy walked in and occupied her again - posing as her "liberator" and there was nothing which could be done to prevent it , little wonder the cold war came on so quickly.
Last edited by Tychsen on Thu Sep 03, 2009 10:34 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: 70 years ago

Post by West-Front »

I do not propose to say many words tonight. The time has come when action rather than speech is required. Eighteen months ago in this House I prayed that the responsibility might not fall upon me to ask this country to accept the awful arbitrament of war. I fear that I may not be able to avoid that responsibility.

But, at any rate, I cannot wish for conditions in which such a burden should fall upon me in which I should feel clearer than I do today as to where my duty lies.

No man can say that the Government could have done more to try to keep open the way for an honorable and equitable settlement of the dispute between Germany and Poland. Nor have we neglected any means of making it crystal clear to the German Government that if they insisted on using force again in the manner in which they had used it in the past we were resolved to oppose them by force.

Now that all the relevant documents are being made public we shall stand at the bar of history knowing that the responsibility for this terrible catastrophe lies on the shoulders of one man, the German Chancellor, who has not hesitated to plunge the world into misery in order to serve his own senseless ambitions...

Only last night the Polish Ambassador did see the German Foreign Secretary, Herr von Ribbentrop. Once again he expressed to him what, indeed, the Polish Government had already said publicly, that they were willing to negotiate with Germany about their disputes on an equal basis.

What was the reply of the German Government? The reply was that without another word the German troops crossed the Polish frontier this morning at dawn and are since reported to be bombing open towns. In these circumstances there is only one course open to us.

His Majesty's Ambassador in Berlin and the French Ambassador have been instructed to hand to the German Government the following document:

"Early this morning the German Chancellor issued a proclamation to the German Army which indicated that he was about to attack Poland. Information which has reached His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom and the French Government indicates that attacks upon Polish towns are proceeding. In these circumstances it appears to the Governments of the United Kingdom and France that by their action the German Government have created conditions, namely, an aggressive act of force against Poland threatening the independence of Poland, which call for the implementation by the Government of the United Kingdom and France of the undertaking to Poland to come to her assistance. I am accordingly to inform your Excellency that unless the German Government are prepared to give His Majesty's Government satisfactory assurances that the German Government have suspended all aggressive action against Poland and are prepared promptly to withdraw their forces from Polish territory, His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom will without hesitation fulfill their obligations to Poland."

If a reply to this last warning is unfavorable, and I do not suggest that it is likely to be otherwise, His Majesty's Ambassador is instructed to ask for his passports. In that case we are ready.

Yesterday, we took further steps towards the completion of our defensive preparation. This morning we ordered complete mobilization of the whole of the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force. We have also taken a number of other measures, both at home and abroad, which the House will not perhaps expect me to specify in detail. Briefly, they represent the final steps in accordance with pre-arranged plans. These last can be put into force rapidly, and are of such a nature that they can be deferred until war seems inevitable. Steps have also been taken under the powers conferred by the House last week to safeguard the position in regard to stocks of commodities of various kinds.

The thoughts of many of us must at this moment inevitably be turning back to 1914, and to a comparison of our position now with that which existed then. How do we stand this time? The answer is that all three Services are ready, and that the situation in all directions is far more favorable and reassuring than in 1914, while behind the fighting Services we have built up a vast organization of Civil Defense under our scheme of Air Raid Precautions.

As regards the immediate manpower requirements, the Royal Navy, the Army and the Air Force are in the fortunate position of having almost as many men as they can conveniently handle at this moment. There are, however, certain categories of service in which men are immediately required, both for Military and Civil Defense. These will be announced in detail through the press and the BBC.

The main and most satisfactory point to observe is that there is today no need to make an appeal in a general way for recruits such as was issued by Lord Kitchener 25 years ago. That appeal has been anticipated by many months, and the men are already available. So much for the immediate present. Now we must look to the future. It is essential in the face of the tremendous task which confronts us, more especially in view of our past experiences in this matter, to organize our manpower this time upon as methodical, equitable and economical a basis as possible.

We, therefore, propose immediately to introduce legislation directed to that end. A Bill will be laid before you which for all practical purposes will amount to an expansion of the Military Training Act. Under its operation all fit men between the ages of 18 and 41 will be rendered liable to military service if and when called upon. It is not intended at the outset that any considerable number of men other than those already liable shall be called up, and steps will be taken to ensure that the manpower essentially required by industry shall not be taken away.

There is one other allusion which I should like to make before I end my speech, and that is to record my satisfaction of His Majesty's Government, that throughout these last days of crisis Signor Mussolini also has been doing his best to reach a solution. It now only remains for us to set our teeth and to enter upon this struggle, which we ourselves earnestly endeavored to avoid, with determination to see it through to the end.

We shall enter it with a clear conscience, with the support of the Dominions and the British Empire, and the moral approval of the greater part of the world.

We have no quarrel with the German people, except that they allow themselves to be governed by a Nazi Government. As long as that Government exists and pursues the methods it has so persistently followed during the last two years, there will be no peace in Europe. We shall merely pass from one crisis to another, and see one country after another attacked by methods which have now become familiar to us in their sickening technique.

We are resolved that these methods must come to an end. If out of the struggle we again re-establish in the world the rules of good faith and the renunciation of force, why, then even the sacrifices that will be entailed upon us will find their fullest justification.

Neville Chamberlain - September 1, 1939

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Re: 70 years ago

Post by Maleme »

"With the Red Army occupying Poland what was Churchill to do ?"


The decision to give Eastern Poland to the Russians (Now Western Ukraine) was already made at Tehran in 1943.

We are not talking about 'occupation' here but permanent annexation and acquiescence to the Soviet Unions invasion of Poland in 1939 in collaboration with Nazi Germany. The Russians were given by both Churchill and Roosevelt a huge land mass...that was part of Poland... to permanantly keep.
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Tychsen
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Re: 70 years ago

Post by Tychsen »

That is true , Poland was to be "compensated" by absorbing part of what was Germany and the lines of Europe would be drawn yet again , Stalin irregardless of Tehran meant to have it all and he took it.
Even if no agreement had been reached in respect of Poland - it is highly unlikely that Stalin was going to do anything he didn't want , what chance was there of any Western soldier setting foot there ?

The reality was Stalin was going to take it and short of going out of one war and straight into another there really was nothing which could be done to stop him.

I absolutely agree that it leaves a bad taste in the mouth Stalin being able to keep that which he took by force in cahoots with Nazi Germany - Russia would say that they had to give this away to allow Poland to exist and that they wanted it back and let Germany compensate Poland by giving in the West.
Do I agree with it , no but what diplomatic pressure would have brought about a change in the Soviet mind , Stalin made promises and broke them - he played the western leaders against each other and was streets shaed of the Americans - Churchill knew exactly what Stalin was - a man who was the same as Hitler - only the superficial ideology and uniform were different.

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Re: 70 years ago

Post by John Wilson »

Please bear in mind, it WAS Britain and France that DECLARED WAR!
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Tychsen
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Re: 70 years ago

Post by Tychsen »

What was their choice John ?
The agreement of 1938 had been broken , Germany revoked all treaties with Poland , she revoked the London Naval agreement (and was building a fleet which could only have been used to confroint the Royal Navy) , although Hitler said he had "no more demands to make" he was again making demands this time on Poland.

Chamberlain had given Hitler fair warning that a move on Poland or any of his neighbours would result in a declaration of war whilst keeping open other avanuse to resolve problems and issues which existed - again Hitler was determined to have his "limited war" and his actions had been designed to accomnplish this.

Hitler was the catalyst for war , he was the man who was forcing the pace and shaping for war , Britain , France , Poland and Germany did not want war - but Hitler did and his deal with Stalin , its secret protocols , the flase flag attack on a German radio station , what option did Chamberlain have.
He waited 48 hours before declaring war and had held to his guns that Germany must withdraw , the final note delivered at 9.00am was really taking it to the wire.

The proof of what was taking place can be seen in what Russia and Germany had dealt between them - the normal standards of diplomatic behaviours had been cast aside - bullying , military force and annexation was the order of the day.

Hitler had openned pandora's box - Stalin took full advantage and if Hitler had gotten away with Poland who would have been next ?

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Re: 70 years ago

Post by Panzerrob »

Good points made by all here, but if we look at the bigger picture WW2 started with the treaty of Versailles.

If Germany had of been treated decently and dealt a better hand, there would of been no Nazi Germany.
Last edited by Panzerrob on Sun Sep 13, 2009 2:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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