Anglo-Polish military alliance

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Events leading to World War II
Treaty of Versailles 1919
Treaty of Trianon 1920
Treaty of Rapallo 1920
Franco-Polish alliance 1921
March on Rome 1922
Corfu incident 1923
Occupation of the Ruhr 19231925
Mein Kampf 1925
Pacification of Libya 19231932
Dawes Plan 1924
Locarno Treaties 1925
Chinese Civil War 19271936
Young Plan 1929
Great Depression 19291941
Japanese invasion of Manchuria 1931
Pacification of Manchukuo 19311942
January 28 Incident 1932
World Disarmament Conference 19321934
Defense of the Great Wall 1933
Battle of Rehe 1933
Tanggu Truce 1933
Nazis rise to power in Germany 1933
Italo-Soviet Pact 1933
Inner Mongolian Campaign 1933–1936
German-Polish Non-Aggression Pact 1934
Franco-Soviet Treaty of Mutual Assistance 1935
Soviet–Czechoslovakia Treaty of Mutual Assistance 1935
Anglo-German Naval Agreement 1935
Second Italo-Ethiopian War 19351936
Remilitarization of the Rhineland 1936
Spanish Civil War 19361939
Anti-Comintern Pact 1936
Suiyuan Campaign 1936
Second Sino-Japanese War 19371945
USS Panay incident 1937
Anschluss Mar. 1938
May crisis May 1938
Battle of Lake Khasan JulyAug. 1938
Undeclared German-Czechoslovak War Sep. 1938
Munich Agreement Sep. 1938
First Vienna Award Nov. 1938
German occupation of Czechoslovakia Mar. 1939
German ultimatum to Lithuania Mar. 1939
Slovak–Hungarian War Mar. 1939
Final offensive of the Spanish Civil War Mar.Apr. 1939
Danzig Crisis Mar.Aug. 1939
British guarantee to Poland Mar. 1939
Italian invasion of Albania Apr. 1939
Soviet–British–French Moscow negotiations Apr.Aug. 1939
Pact of Steel May 1939
Battles of Khalkhin Gol MaySep. 1939
Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact Aug. 1939
Invasion of Poland Sep. 1939

The military alliance between the United Kingdom and Poland was formalised by the Anglo-Polish Agreement in 1939 and subsequent addenda of 1940 and 1944, [1] for mutual assistance in case of military invasion from Germany, as specified in a secret protocol. [2] [3] [4]

United Kingdom Country in Europe

The United Kingdom, officially the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland but more commonly known as the UK or Britain, is a sovereign country lying off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state‍—‌the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea lies between Great Britain and Ireland. With an area of 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi), the United Kingdom is the 78th-largest sovereign state in the world. It is also the 22nd-most populous country, with an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.

An addendum or appendix, in general, is an addition required to be made to a document by its author subsequent to its printing or publication. It comes from the Latin verbal phrase addendum est, being the gerundive form of the verb addere meaning "(that which) must be added." Addenda is from the plural form addenda sunt, "(those things) which must be added".

Contents

Britain makes assurance to Poland

On 31 March 1939, in response to Nazi Germany's defiance of the Munich Agreement and occupation of Czechoslovakia, [5] the United Kingdom pledged the support of itself and France to assure Polish independence (probable statement).

Nazi Germany The German state from 1933 to 1945, under the dictatorship of Adolf Hitler

Nazi Germany is the common English name for Germany between 1933 and 1945, when Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party (NSDAP) controlled the country through a dictatorship. Under Hitler's rule, Germany was transformed into a totalitarian state that controlled nearly all aspects of life via the Gleichschaltung legal process. The official name of the state was Deutsches Reich until 1943 and Großdeutsches Reich from 1943 to 1945. Nazi Germany is also known as the Third Reich, meaning "Third Realm" or "Third Empire", the first two being the Holy Roman Empire (800–1806) and the German Empire (1871–1918). The Nazi regime ended after the Allies defeated Germany in May 1945, ending World War II in Europe.

Munich Agreement 1938 cession of German-speaking Czechoslovakia to the Nazis

The Munich Agreement or Munich Betrayal was an agreement concluded at Munich, September 29, 1938, by Germany, Great Britain, France and Italy. It provided "cession to Germany of the Sudeten German territory" of Czechoslovakia. Most of Europe celebrated because it prevented the war threatened by Adolf Hitler by allowing Nazi Germany's annexation of the Sudetenland, a region of western Czechoslovakia inhabited by 800,000 people, mainly German speakers. Hitler announced it was his last territorial claim in Europe, and the choice seemed to be between war and appeasement.

French Third Republic Nation of France from 1870 to 1940

The French Third Republic was the system of government adopted in France from 1870, when the Second French Empire collapsed during the Franco-Prussian War, until 10 July 1940 after France's defeat by Nazi Germany in World War II led to the formation of the Vichy government in France.

... in the event of any action which clearly threatened Polish independence, and which the Polish Government accordingly considered it vital to resist with their national forces, His Majesty's Government would feel themselves bound at once to lend the Polish Government all support in their power. They have given the Polish Government an assurance to this effect.

I may add that the French Government have authorised me to make it plain that they stand in the same position in this matter as do His Majesty's Government. [6]

On 6 April, during a visit to London by the Polish foreign minister, it was agreed to formalise the assurance as an Anglo-Polish military alliance, pending negotiations. [7] [8]

London Capital of the United Kingdom

London is the capital and largest city of the United Kingdom. Standing on the River Thames in the south-east of England, at the head of its 50-mile (80 km) estuary leading to the North Sea, London has been a major settlement for two millennia. Londinium was founded by the Romans. The City of London, London's ancient core − an area of just 1.12 square miles (2.9 km2) and colloquially known as the Square Mile − retains boundaries that follow closely its medieval limits. The City of Westminster is also an Inner London borough holding city status. Greater London is governed by the Mayor of London and the London Assembly.

A foreign minister or minister of foreign affairs is generally a cabinet minister in charge of a state's foreign policy and relations.

That assurance was extended on 13 April to Greece and Romania following Italy's invasion of Albania. [9]

Greece republic in Southeast Europe

Greece, officially the Hellenic Republic, historically also known as Hellas, is a country located in Southern and Southeast Europe, with a population of approximately 11 million as of 2016. Athens is the nation's capital and largest city, followed by Thessaloniki.

Romania Sovereign state in Europe

Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe. It borders the Black Sea to the southeast, Bulgaria to the south, Ukraine to the north, Hungary to the west, Serbia to the southwest, and Moldova to the east. It has a predominantly temperate-continental climate. With a total area of 238,397 square kilometres (92,046 sq mi), Romania is the 12th largest country and also the 7th most populous member state of the European Union, having almost 20 million inhabitants. Its capital and largest city is Bucharest, and other major urban areas include Cluj-Napoca, Timișoara, Iași, Constanța, Craiova, and Brașov.

Kingdom of Italy kingdom on the Appenine Peninsula between 1861 and 1946

The Kingdom of Italy was a state which existed from 1861—when King Victor Emmanuel II of Sardinia was proclaimed King of Italy—until 1946—when a constitutional referendum led civil discontent to abandon the monarchy and form the modern Italian Republic. The state was founded as a result of the unification of Italy under the influence of the Kingdom of Sardinia, which can be considered its legal predecessor state.

Polish–British common defence pact

On 25 August, two days after the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, the Agreement of Mutual Assistance between the United Kingdom and Poland was signed. The agreement contained promises of mutual military assistance between the nations in the event either was attacked by some "European country". The United Kingdom, sensing a trend of German expansionism, sought to discourage German aggression by this show of solidarity. In a secret protocol of the pact, the United Kingdom offered assistance in the case of an attack on Poland specifically by Germany, [3] while in the case of attack by other countries the parties were required to "consult together on measures to be taken in common". [10] Both the United Kingdom and Poland were bound not to enter agreements with any other third countries which were a threat to the other. [11] Because of the pact's signing, Hitler postponed his planned invasion of Poland from 26 August until 1 September. [12]

Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact peace treaty

The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact was a neutrality pact between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union signed in Moscow on 23 August 1939 by foreign ministers Joachim von Ribbentrop and Vyacheslav Molotov, respectively. The pact was also known as the Nazi–Soviet Pact, the Hitler–Stalin Pact, or the German–Soviet Nonaggression Pact.

In expansionism, governments and states expand their territory, power, wealth or influence through economic growth, soft power, or the military aggression of empire-building and colonialism.

Franco-British failed alliance with Moscow

After the German occupation of Prague in March 1939, in violation of the Munich agreement, the Chamberlain government in Britain sought Soviet and French support for a Peace Front. The goal was to deter further Nazi aggression by guaranteeing the independence of Poland and Romania. However Stalin refused to pledge Soviet support for these guarantees unless Britain and France first concluded a military alliance with the USSR. In London the cabinet decided to seek such an alliance. However the western negotiators in Moscow in August 1939 lacked urgency. The talks were poorly conducted at a slow pace by diplomats with little authority, such as William Strang, an assistant under-secretary. Stalin also insisted on British and French guarantees to Finland, the Baltic states, Poland, and Romania against indirect German aggression. Those countries, however, became fearful that Moscow wanted to control them. Although Hitler was escalating threats against Poland, it refused under any circumstances to allow Soviet troops to cross its borders. Historian Michael Jabara Carley argues that the British were too committed to anti-communism to trust Stalin. Meanwhile Stalin simultaneously was secretly negotiating with the Germans. He was attracted to a much better deal by Hitler--control of most of Eastern Europe and decided to sign the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. [13] [14] [15]

Polish–British Naval Agreement, November 1939

After being sent to Britain in mid-1939 by General Sikorski, the Polish Navy had remained in British waters. In November 1939, after the Invasion of Poland, the Polish-British Naval agreement was signed. The agreement allowed for Polish sailors to wear their Polish uniforms and to have commanding officers on board who were Polish, though the ships were of British make. [16] The agreement would later be changed to fit a revised one on August 5, 1940, which encompassed all Polish units.

Anglo-Polish Agreement Respecting Polish Land and Air Forces

On August 5, 1940, an agreement was signed which stated that "the Polish Armed Forces (comprising Land, Sea, and Air Forces) shall be organized and employed under British Command," though they would be "subject to Polish military law and disciplinary ruling, and they [would] be tried in Polish military courts". [17] The only change came on 11 October 1940, when the Polish Air Force was made an exception, and would be subject to British discipline and laws. [18]

Analysis

The alliance committed Britain, for the first time in history, to fight on behalf of a European country other than France or Belgium. [19] At the time Adolf Hitler was demanding the cession of the Free City of Danzig, an extraterritorial highway (the Reichsautobahn Berlin-Königsberg) across the Polish Corridor, and special privileges for the ethnic German minority within Poland. By the terms of the military alliance, each party (i.e., Poland and Britain) was free to decide whether to oppose with force any territorial encroachment, as the pact did not include any statement of either party's commitment to the defence of the other party's territorial integrity. [20] The Pact did contain provisions regarding "indirect threats" and attempts to undermine either party's independence by means of "economic penetration", a clear reference to the peculiar status of Danzig. Fearing all-out German invasion no matter what, Poland rejected the German demands.

In May 1939 Poland signed a secret protocol to the 1921 Franco-Polish Military Alliance, but it was not ratified by France until 4 September.

On 17 September the Soviet Union invaded Poland through the eastern Polish border. This was in keeping with the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact's secret protocol specifying the division of Poland. According to the Polish-British Common Defence Pact, the United Kingdom should give Poland "all the support and assistance in its power" if Poland was "engaged in hostilities with a European Power in consequence of aggression by the latter". The Polish ambassador in London, Raczyński, contacted the British Foreign Office pointing out that clause 1(b) of the agreement which concerned an "aggression by a European power" on Poland, should apply to the Soviet invasion. The Foreign Secretary Lord Halifax responded that the obligation of British Government towards Poland arising out of the Anglo-Polish Agreement, was restricted to Germany, according to the first clause of the secret protocol. [3]

Criticism

Polish historian Paweł Wieczorkiewicz wrote: "Polish leaders were not aware of the fact that England and France were not ready for war. They needed time to catch up with the Third Reich, and were determined to gain the time at any price." Publicist Stanisław Mackiewicz stated in the late 1940s: "To accept London's guarantees was one of the most tragic dates in the history of Poland. It was a mental aberration and madness." On the same day when Britain pledged her support of Poland, Lord Halifax stated: "We do not think this guarantee will be binding."[ citation needed ] Other British diplomat, Alexander Cadogan wrote in his diary: "Naturally, our guarantee does not give any help to Poland. It can be said that it was cruel to Poland, even cynical."

Polish - British military negotiations, carried out in London, ended up in fiasco. After lengthy talks, the British reluctantly pledged to bomb German military and installations if the Germans carried out attacks of this kind in Poland. Polish military leaders failed to obtain any more promises. At the same time, the Polish side negotiated a military loan. The Polish ambassador to Britain, Edward Raczyński, called these negotiations "a never-ending nightmare". Józef Beck in his memoirs wrote: "The negotiations, carried out in London by Colonel Adam Koc, immediately turned into theoretical discussion about our financial system. It was clear that Sir John Simon and Frederick Leith-Ross did not realize the gravity of the situation. They negotiated in purely financial terms, without consideration for the rules of the wartime alliance. As a result, the English offer gave us no grounds for quick reinforcement of our army."

On 2 August 1939 Great Britain finally agreed to grant Poland a military loan of £9 million, which was less than Turkey received at the same time. Poland had asked for a loan of £60 million.

See also

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References

  1. Lerski, Jerzy Jan (1996). Historical Dictionary of Poland, 966-1945. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN   9780313260070.
  2. Paul W. Doerr. 'Frigid but Unprovocative': British Policy towards the USSR from the Nazi-Soviet Pact to the Winter War, 1939. Journal of Contemporary History, Vol. 36, No. 3 (Jul., 2001), pp. 423-439
  3. 1 2 3 Keith Sword. British Reactions to the Soviet Occupation of Eastern Poland in September 1939. The Slavonic and East European Review, Vol. 69, No. 1 (Jan., 1991), pp. 81-101.
  4. Weinberg, Gerhard L. (1954). Germany and the Soviet Union. Studies in East European history. Brill Archive. pp. 49–50.
  5. Martin Collier, Philip Pedley. Germany, 1919-45
  6. Statement by the Prime Minister in the House of Commons on March 31, 1939.
  7. Andrew J. Crozier. The Causes of the Second World War, pg. 151
  8. Anglo-Polish communiqué issued on April 6, 1939 (full text)
  9. Michael G. Fry, Erik Goldstein, Richard Langhorne. Guide to International Relations and Diplomacy
  10. Prazmowska, Anita J. (2004). Britain, Poland and the Eastern Front, 1939. Cambridge Russian, Soviet and Post-Soviet Studies Soviet and East European Studies. Volume 53. Cambridge University Press. p. 203. ISBN   9780521529389.
  11. Jerzy Jan Lerski. Historical Dictionary of Poland, 966-1945, pg. 49
  12. Frank McDonough. Neville Chamberlain, Appeasement and the British Road to War, pg. 86
  13. Donald Cameron Watt, How War Came: The Immediate Origins of the Second World War, 1938-1939 (1989) pp 362-84.
  14. G. Bruce Strang, "John Bull in Search of a Suitable Russia: British Foreign Policy and the Failure of the Anglo-French-Soviet Alliance Negotiations, 1939." Canadian Journal of History 41.1 (2006): 47-84.
  15. Michael Jabara Carley, 1939: The Alliance That Never Was and the Coming of World War II (2009)
  16. Peszke, Michael (2011). "The British-Polish Agreement". Journal of Slavic Military Studies: 654.
  17. Kacewicz, G.V. (1979). Great Britain, the Soviet Union and the Polish Government in Exile. Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands. p. 61.
  18. Olson, Lynne, & Stanley Cloud (2003). A Question of Honour. New York: Alfred A Knopf. p. 98.
  19. Gunther, John (1940). Inside Europe. New York: Harper & Brothers. p. 133.
  20. "On 31 March 1939 the British government guaranteed the independence (though not the territorial integrity) of Poland, in which they were joined by France."
    Paul M. Hayes, 'Themes in Modern European History, 1890-1945', Routledge (1992), ISBN   0-415-07905-5

Further reading