Today we remember the People and Nation of Poland who were invaded on this day in 1939 by Fascist Germany and the Soviet Union on 17th September in a pre-arranged pact, worthy of the Czars, to wipe the Polish Nation from the map. By 1945, one third of Poles who had been alive in 1945 were dead. By 1945 the largest organised mass murders in history had taken place on the soil of Poland.
One of Adolf Hitler’s first major foreign policy initiatives after coming to power was to sign a nonaggression pact with Poland in January 1934. This move was not popular with many Germans who supported Hitler but resented the fact that Poland had received the former German provinces of West Prussia, Poznan, and Upper Silesia under the Treaty of Versailles after World War I. However, Hitler sought the nonaggression pact in order to neutralize the possibility of a French-Polish military alliance against Germany before Germany had a chance to rearm.
In the mid and late 1930s, France and especially Britain followed a foreign policy of appeasement. The objective of this policy was to maintain peace in Europe by making limited concessions to German demands. In Britain, public opinion tended to favour some revision of the territorial and military provision of the Versailles treaty. Moreover, neither Britain nor France in 1938 was militarily prepared to fight a war against Nazi Germany.
Britain and France essentially acquiesced to Germany’s rearmament (1935-1937), remilitarization of the Rhineland (1936), and annexation of Austria (March 1938). In September 1938, after signing away the Czech border regions, known as the Sudetenland, to Germany at the Munich conference, British and French leaders pressured France’s ally, Czechoslovakia, to yield to Germany’s demand for the incorporation of those regions. Despite Anglo-French guarantees of the integrity of rump Czechoslovakia, the Germans dismembered the Czechoslovak state in March 1939 in violation of the Munich agreement. Britain and France responded by guaranteeing the integrity of the Polish state. Hitler responded by negotiating a nonaggression pact with the Soviet Union in the summer of 1939. The German-Soviet Pact of August 1939, which stated that Poland was to be partitioned between the two powers, enabled Germany to attack Poland without the fear of Soviet intervention.
— Polska.pl (@Polska) September 1, 2015
On September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland. The Polish army was defeated within weeks of the invasion. From East Prussia and Germany in the north and Silesia and Slovakia in the south, German units, with more than 2,000 tanks and over 1,000 planes, broke through Polish defences along the border and advanced on Warsaw in a massive encirclement attack. After heavy shelling and bombing, Warsaw surrendered to the Germans on September 27, 1939. Britain and France, standing by their guarantee of Poland’s border, had declared war on Germany on September 3, 1939. The Soviet Union invaded eastern Poland on September 17, 1939. The demarcation line for the partition of German- and Soviet-occupied Poland was along the Bug River.
— LIFE (@LIFE) September 1, 2015
In October 1939, Germany directly annexed those former Polish territories along German’s eastern border: West Prussia, Poznan, Upper Silesia, and the former Free City of Danzig. The remainder of German-occupied Poland (including the cities of Warsaw, Krakow, Radom, and Lublin) was organized as the so-called Generalgouvernement (General Government) under a civilian governor general, the Nazi party lawyer Hans Frank. Nazi Germany occupied the remainder of Poland when it invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941. Poland remained under German occupation until January 1945.
Poland suffered greatly before and after the war also from the cynical Soviet Occupation and its cruelty towards the Polish people – a cruelty no doubt reinforced by Stalin’s early failure in the Polish – Soviet war of 1919-1921 between the Second Polish Republic and Soviet Russia and Soviet Ukraine. Most cynical of all was the order signed by all the Politburo authorising the massacre of the Polish leadership and officers of the Polish Army resulting in 22,000 Poles (including 14 Generals and Admirals) being shot to deprive a future Polish State of the leaders it would need. For years the Soviet Union and the Polish Communists, supported by silence from the Western powers, lied about the War Crime known as the Katyn Massacre. indeed the Soviet Union explicitly accepted it was a War Crime by initially tabling the massacre in the indictment against the Nazi defendants at the Nuremberg Trials, a ploy which carried dishonesty and victor’s justice to new cynical depths.
Britain and France declared war in 1939 to help a Poland which they were unable to help and which Nazi Germany and the Communist Soviet Union had agreed to wipe from the map of Europe, as indeed it had been three times previously in its history. Nevertheless Poles fought bravely with the Allies to defeat Nazi Germany and reclaim their Nation but were shamefully forbidden from marching in the 1946 Victory Parade in London so as not to upset “Uncle Joe.” They were to be cheated again by Soviet Occupation until Solidarity with the support of Ronald Regan and Karol Wojtyła wrestled freedom from the ailing Soviet Bear in 1989.
Today with the events in Ukraine, a refugee crisis in Europe and shrill voices against European Unity and cooperation. We should reflect with satisfaction that the economic development and solidarity of the EU has reconciled enemies and led to the development of a vibrant, democratic and dynamic Polish State. We should reflect that European Freedom of Movement has allowed Britain to welcome hard working Poles to our shores and thank them for the Polish Blood which has been shed for all our freedoms.
See; The Liberation of Auschwitz – Birkenau
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