Should Britain and France have tried harder to create an alliance with the USSR in 1939?

Should Britain and France have tried harder to create an alliance with the USSR in 1939?

  • Yes

  • No


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sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
3,824
Sydney
#21
Absolutely not !
Germany also was the source of much of their coal and an important market for their goods

beside their cherished armed neutrality there were a lot of Nazi sympathizers in the Germanophone cantons
and a fair few elsewhere

they would have fought with courage against a German invasion but would have fought also not to go to war against Germany
 
Nov 2015
1,674
Kyiv
#22
As far as I can judge the situation of that time - against the background of the grandiose military preparations of Russia, which began 9 years before the start of WWII, in 1939 she had only one goal in negotiations with England and France. To obtain permission to pass her troops on the territory of Poland. Russia has caused this demand by" the protection of the country from German aggression". The same offer Russia made in 1938 for Czechoslovakia.

How was this supposed to end? The same as the pass of the Russian armies to Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia ended after strong military blackmail, which Russia had on these countries in 1940. The disappearance of these states and the appearance on the map of the USSR new "union Soviet republics"

The same scenario was prepared for Finland in Moscow in the autumn of 1939. Before that, the Karelian Autonomous SSR was urgently transformed into the Karelian-Finnish Union Republic. Finland was to be annexed to it, if the intervention of the Red Army was successful during the Winter war, and the Russians could capture all of Finnish territory. In rear of the Red Army during its invasion to Finland the puppet "People's government of Finland" led by Kuusinen was carried

When Britain and France did not agree to this demand of the Russians in August 1939, Russia immediately made a U-turn and offered the Secret protocol to the Third Reich with the capture of Eastern European countries

As Poland did not want to let the Red Army into her territory kindly - then the Red Army started a powerful blow to Poland from the east on Sep 17, 1939.

It remains to add that the failure of the the negotiations with England and France in August 1939 ended in great success for Russia at the end of World War II. Both England and France and the States agreed that Russia would take almost all the territories for itself, which it seized and annexed at the beginning of the WWII. Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, and the Karelian Isthmus from Finland, and Bessarabia, and Bukovina. They even agreed that Russia annexed part of East Prussia with Kaliningrad, the Kuril Islands and South Sakhalin. And Poland and Czechoslovakia after WWII stumbled under tough Russian control.

That way we can understand much better why the Russians are celebrating their GREAT VICTORY in the WWII. What they planned in 1939 came true in 1945. True, they lost most of this in 1991 - but this is another story.
 

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
3,824
Sydney
#23
why don't you watch the video above , it's pretty good with plenty of detailed knowledge

As for getting access to Germany through Poland
the British and French agreed that it was not easy to fight Germany if hundred of miles from them
across a country who was on the side of Hitler in butchering the Czech nation

in the inter-war period , Poland and reality are not easy to fit together

in 1938 the Soviet offer of protection for Czechoslovakia was at least as good as the French military alliance or British waffling
preparing for war was a normal reaction to having been invaded ,
maybe the western allies should have prepared a bit more , a bit earlier
as for the military discussions very late in the summer of 1939 ,
Stalin waited to see what it was all about , concluded it was a fool's errant and drew the logical conclusion

He would be neutral ,
let Britain , Poland and France sleep in the bed they had made for themselves
it's not like if they were friends
 
#24
An alliance with Russia in 1939 makes sense because we know that there was an alliance with them a few years later.

If you’re a democracy in Europe in 1938/39 though, an alliance with the USSR against Germany can be seen as an alliance with the smaller evil against a greater evil.

Or it could be seen as an alliance with the greater evil against the smaller evil.

There was nothing Germany had done, that the USSR wasn’t also guilty of, or could be suspected of doing. Both nations had proven their willingness for foreign adventures in Spain. Both nations had a claim on Polish territory.

The really interesting question is, what would have happened if the axis of evil that was Germany and the USSR had managed to keep their alliance going longer than they did.

We know they came rather close from Molotov’s visit in Berlin.
 
#25
He would be neutral ,
let Britain , Poland and France sleep in the bed they had made for themselves
it's not like if they were friends

Stalin was a pragmatic man, you gotta give him that!

And the Poles were probably right in their suspicions that it’s one thing to grant territorial access to the Red Army. It’s another thing entirely to get rid of them again. (Especially since the USSR, as Germany, had some legitimate territorial claims in Poland.)

It’s interesting to ponder what Stalins long term plans were before Operation Barbarossa. Did he plan an eventual attack on Germany, or could the ambitions of the USSR possibly be directed towards the south: The Bosporus straits, Iran and India?

I suspect we’ll never have a definite answer. Unfortunately.
 
Feb 2011
962
Scotland
#26
Looking through the lens of 1945, an early alliance with the USSR appears perfect sense.

Unfortunately, statesmen in 1939 had to look at the world through the lens of 1939. That view was not quite so rose-tinted.

The USSR was technically in support of world revolution. There was massive mutual mistrust. The western allies had attempted, unsuccessfully to militarily subvert the Bolshevik revolution including support for Poland in the Polish-Soviet war 1919-21 and that hadn't been forgotten. The USSR was worried about Nazi Germany, but hoped a deal could be done and let the British and French fight the Germans to mutual destruction, similarly to the fighting in World War 1. The USSR was also mistrustful of Poland; the events of the Polish-Soviet war were still fairly recent.

It was unlikely that the USSR was going to ally with Poland. Unless this took place, a British-French-Russian alliance wasn't that likely. Negotiations took place, but slowly.

Further, western view of the effectiveness of the forces of the USSR was poor. Russia had been defeated in 1917-18 by the Central powers. They had performed poorly against Poland. There had been massive purges of the Red Army officer corps.The west had more reason to expect another World War 1 performance than what actually ensued.

The best opportunity to hold Germany (after intervention in the Rhineland) would have been to hold together an alliance of Britain-France-Czechoslovakia-Poland around Germany, but that was let slip, as much though Polish intransigence as anything else.

Even then, western politicians hoped that Hitler's demands had finally been met. It was only with the invasion of the rump of Czechoslovakia in March 1939 and demands on Poland, that it was finally realised that there was no other option.
 
Likes: Futurist

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
15,573
SoCal
#27
As far as I can judge the situation of that time - against the background of the grandiose military preparations of Russia, which began 9 years before the start of WWII, in 1939 she had only one goal in negotiations with England and France. To obtain permission to pass her troops on the territory of Poland. Russia has caused this demand by" the protection of the country from German aggression". The same offer Russia made in 1938 for Czechoslovakia.

How was this supposed to end? The same as the pass of the Russian armies to Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia ended after strong military blackmail, which Russia had on these countries in 1940. The disappearance of these states and the appearance on the map of the USSR new "union Soviet republics"

The same scenario was prepared for Finland in Moscow in the autumn of 1939. Before that, the Karelian Autonomous SSR was urgently transformed into the Karelian-Finnish Union Republic. Finland was to be annexed to it, if the intervention of the Red Army was successful during the Winter war, and the Russians could capture all of Finnish territory. In rear of the Red Army during its invasion to Finland the puppet "People's government of Finland" led by Kuusinen was carried

When Britain and France did not agree to this demand of the Russians in August 1939, Russia immediately made a U-turn and offered the Secret protocol to the Third Reich with the capture of Eastern European countries

As Poland did not want to let the Red Army into her territory kindly - then the Red Army started a powerful blow to Poland from the east on Sep 17, 1939.
Yes, there was certainly a risk of the USSR puppetizing countries such as Poland and forcibly turning them Communist if it was actually allowed to enter them. However, here's the catch--the USSR could have invaded various countries and forcibly turned them Communist even without Anglo-French permission. After all, Britain, France, and Germany would have been so busy fighting each other that the USSR would have had a free hand in its neighborhood if it would have decided to remain neutral.

It remains to add that the failure of the the negotiations with England and France in August 1939 ended in great success for Russia at the end of World War II. Both England and France and the States agreed that Russia would take almost all the territories for itself, which it seized and annexed at the beginning of the WWII. Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, and the Karelian Isthmus from Finland, and Bessarabia, and Bukovina. They even agreed that Russia annexed part of East Prussia with Kaliningrad, the Kuril Islands and South Sakhalin. And Poland and Czechoslovakia after WWII stumbled under tough Russian control.

That way we can understand much better why the Russians are celebrating their GREAT VICTORY in the WWII. What they planned in 1939 came true in 1945. True, they lost most of this in 1991 - but this is another story.
Losing 27 million of your population--and a large part of your subsequent population growth, since many of those 27 million people would have had their own children, grandchildren, et cetera--in exchange for acquiring an empire which you couldn't even hold for more than half a century certainly isn't worth it, though.
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
15,573
SoCal
#28
Looking through the lens of 1945, an early alliance with the USSR appears perfect sense.

Unfortunately, statesmen in 1939 had to look at the world through the lens of 1939. That view was not quite so rose-tinted.

The USSR was technically in support of world revolution. There was massive mutual mistrust. The western allies had attempted, unsuccessfully to militarily subvert the Bolshevik revolution including support for Poland in the Polish-Soviet war 1919-21 and that hadn't been forgotten. The USSR was worried about Nazi Germany, but hoped a deal could be done and let the British and French fight the Germans to mutual destruction, similarly to the fighting in World War 1. The USSR was also mistrustful of Poland; the events of the Polish-Soviet war were still fairly recent.

It was unlikely that the USSR was going to ally with Poland. Unless this took place, a British-French-Russian alliance wasn't that likely. Negotiations took place, but slowly.

Further, western view of the effectiveness of the forces of the USSR was poor. Russia had been defeated in 1917-18 by the Central powers. They had performed poorly against Poland. There had been massive purges of the Red Army officer corps.The west had more reason to expect another World War 1 performance than what actually ensued.

The best opportunity to hold Germany (after intervention in the Rhineland) would have been to hold together an alliance of Britain-France-Czechoslovakia-Poland around Germany, but that was let slip, as much though Polish intransigence as anything else.

Even then, western politicians hoped that Hitler's demands had finally been met. It was only with the invasion of the rump of Czechoslovakia in March 1939 and demands on Poland, that it was finally realised that there was no other option.
Excellent points! I do want to make some additional points of my own here, though:

-It's entirely possible that France was only able to hold out in 1914 because it had a strong hand in the East protecting it (specifically Russia). Indeed, without a strong hand in the East (due to Soviet neutrality), Britain and France shouldn't have been that confident that another WWI-like situation would have emerged in the West in the event that war would have broken out. Even a weak Soviet Union would have successfully tied down some German divisions--which is certainly a huge plus.

-I completely agree with you that the USSR's previous actions ruined their chances for an Anglo-French alliance in 1938-1939. For instance, the USSR previously spread Communism by force to Ukraine and Georgia and tried to do the same thing to Finland, the Baltic countries, and Poland after the end of WWI. If the USSR already has a history of forcibly subjugating and trying to subjugate countries, why exactly should Britain and France have been inclined to trust the USSR in 1938-1939?

-What exactly would the Anglo-French have done if they would have defeated Nazi Germany in a long war and then, near the end of the war, the USSR would have entered the war (without Anglo-French permission) as a nominal Anglo-French ally and proceeded to occupy all of Poland, Czechoslovakia, and eastern Germany? Would a Britain and France that would have been exhausted by their long war with Germany (the second long war with Germany that they would have had within the previous 30 years) been willing to subsequently fight the USSR to liberate Poland and Czechoslovakia?

-There was a possibility that anti-Nazis in the German military would have tried launching a coup in Germany had Britain and France successfully allied with the USSR before the war. However, I agree that Britain and France should not have placed their bets on this actually occurring at that point in time; after all, even some prominent opponents of Nazism (such as the Schwarze Kapelle) sought territorial revision at their neighbors' expense.

-The US behaved extremely disgracefully in entering WWI and helping the Allies win this war only to subsequently abandon Europe right afterwards (in a military sense; not in an economic sense). If the US was willing to sacrifice the lives of 116,500 young men of its in order to win WWI in Europe, it should have also been prepared to use military force to enforce and uphold the subsequent peace settlement. After all, it's utterly foolish to fight in a war if you are not actually going to have the willpower to enforce the resulting peace settlement.

-Agreed that an Anglo-French-Czechoslovak-Polish alliance in 1938 might have been a good idea. Of course, it might have also been a good idea to keep Italy a member of the Stresa Front instead of alienating it by putting sanctions on it after its invasion of Ethiopia (which was certainly a horrible act, but Britain and France needed all of the allies that they could get at that point in time). Of course, as you alluded to, it would have been even better for France--perhaps together with Czechoslovakia and/or Poland--to militarily respond to the Nazi remilitarization of the Rhineland in 1936--and not merely to stop there, but rather to advance all of the way to Berlin in order to actually overthrow the Nazis. Merely making a show of force in the Rhineland would have allowed the Nazi regime in Germany to survive and to plot its next moves--albeit more cautiously than before; in turn, this is why exactly a French march onto Berlin was necessary in 1936 after making a show of force over the Rhineland.

Also, off-topic, but as a side note--do you think that the Germans would have been more willing to enforce the subsequent post-WWI peace had they and not the Allies won WWI?
 

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
3,824
Sydney
#29
In 1938 Poland was Allied with Germany , so were the Baltic states with various non-aggression treaties
France and Britain had military intervention against the Soviets not twenty years ago

so really who should trust whom ?
the British and French believed Stalin had no option beside a Western alliance
while they , to the end , were willing to go far to accommodate Hitler in his march East
quite willing to keep their options open , even if thing were getting sticky toward the end

Britain had leaned toward the Fascists in Spain ,
mumbled platitudes on Italy taking Abyssinia and Albania
Germany re-arming and the Anschluss ,
both were colonial powers with scant regards for other people rights when it didn't suit them

for the Soviets the Western allies were above all ideological enemies , as much as Hitler if not so acute
 
Nov 2015
1,674
Kyiv
#30
The USSR was technically in support of world revolution.
- in 1939 acivity of Komintern was focused not on the Third Reich but on the Western democracies.

In 1991 in Moscow the publishing house "Moscow Worker" published a collection of documents "To Be Announced." Оглашению подлежит. It was used the closed (before that) part of the archives of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The major part of the book is the correspondence of the German Foreign Ministry with its embassy in Moscow and some other documents of 1939-1940. German documents were published in Russian translation. This correspondence is extremely interesting.
http://lib.ru/HISTORY/FELSHTINSKY/sssr_germany1939.txt_with-big-pictures.html

In particular, in the Memorandum of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Germany (Berlin, July 27, 1939. Secretly) Schnurre reports on a meeting with the Soviet representatives in Berlin.

The Soviet side at these negotiations had already expressed their intention to come closer to the Reich and voiced in connection with this the problems that worry the Russians. Note that this midnight meeting with the Germans in Berlin took place in the midst of Russian negotiations with England and France in Moscow.

Schnurre:

In my reply, I stressed that at the present time, German policy in the East is taking a completely different course. For our part, there can be no talk of a threat to the Soviet Union. Our goal lies in a completely different direction. In his last speech, Molotov himself called the Anti-Comintern Pact disguise an alliance against Western democracies

Further, the Germans note for themselves the transition in Moscow politics from pedaling Comintern activity to the dominance of the old Russian national traditions, the glorification of military leaders of the Russian Empire, and point out other features of Russian great-power nationalism that were very encouraging to the Nazis. Russia has changed from the idea of a world revolution to the empire thinking - and planned to capture more and more territories not via communist propaganda and using proletarian movement for that but by the use of the huge Russian military force.

This trend appeared much earlier - since 1918
 

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