What do you think was the ideal course of action for Poland's leadership in 1939?

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
23,547
SoCal
What do you think the ideal course of action for Poland's leadership in 1939 was? The way that things turned out for Poland wasn't exactly pleasant. Specifically, Poland got conquered and occupied by Nazi Germany, had its officer corps and intelligentsia brutally murdered by the Soviets at Katyn, had its Jewish population annihilated by the Nazis, was occupied by the Soviet Union, and subsequently had to endure decades of Communist rule. It also lost its eastern territories but at the same time gained vast new territories in the west.

If Poland's leadership at the start of 1939 could have seen what was going to occur to Poland over the next several decades, do you think that they would have chosen an alternative course of action? If so, what alternative course of action do you think that they would have chosen? Also, what do you think that the results of this alternative course of action would have been for Poland and the rest of its neighborhood for the next several decades?
 

Kotromanic

Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
5,089
Iowa USA
Even though some 70 years have passed it is not simple for many observers to look at this question objectively. To state my own bias on the topic, my mother's grandfather was an early victim of the German occupation in Western Poland. My understanding is that the part of Poland he resided in was subject to complete "Aryanization", as it was territory which had been part of Imperial Germany.

From a cultural standpoint, Bolshevism-Stalinism was more of a shock, more of a irreconsiliable schema than was the German fascist experiment through 1938. I suppose as a strictly Realpolitik exercise (Henry Kissinger, Bismarck and Metternich just kicking the topic around over some espresso) making common cause with the Anti-Comintern bloc was the practical course.
 
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Jan 2013
1,117
Toronto, Canada
There may not have been an ideal course or action. Their only chance would have been to launch a concerted diplomatic campaign to get the UK and France to agree to a defensive alliance with Stalin because Poland could not survive a two-front war.

A Stand with Poland campaign in the west could have helped to build public support for intervention or it may have done nothing.
 
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Kotromanic

Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
5,089
Iowa USA
There may not have been an ideal course or action. Their only chance would have been to launch a concerted diplomatic campaign to get the UK and France to agree to a defensive alliance with Stalin because Poland could not survive a two-front war.

A Stand with Poland campaign in the west could have helped to build public support for intervention or it may have done nothing.
UK attitudes toward Poland were indifferent on a good day as far anything I have read.

Some of the conservative parts of the French society could have been receptive to some diplomatic entreaties. I read the OP as a open question of what was the best Darwinistic course, rather than "how can we make the Western democracies appear more virtuous than they were in the actual timeline?"
 
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Jul 2012
784
Australia
By 1939 Poland had virtually no options if any of its bigger, more powerful, and threatening, neighbours decided to pursue their preferred aggressive foreign policies.

Given that its allies had no presence on the ground in Central Europe, they could not make good on any offers of help.

Should Poland have sided with Nazi Germany to eliminate the Soviet Union? What would have been the chances of success?

Should Poland have actively pursued and supported a continental alliance of Britain, France, Soviet Union and Poland against Germany? Would the outcome have been any different from the post 1945 arrangement?

Perhaps JJ Rouseau, back in the 18th century, had the best advice for a Poand of minor stature against its very powerful neighbours:

"You may not prevent them from swallowing you up; see to it at least that they will not be able to digest you. No matter what is done, before Poland has been placed in a position to resist her enemies, she will be overwhelmed by them a hundred times. The virtue of her citizens, their patriotic zeal, the particular way in which national institutions may be able to form their souls, this is the only rampart which will always stand ready to defend her, and which no army will ever be able to breach. If you see to it that no Pole can ever become a Russian, I guarantee that Russia will not subjugate Poland."
 
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Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
23,547
SoCal
Even though some 70 years have passed it is not simple for many observers to look at this question objectively. To state my own bias on the topic, my mother's grandfather was an early victim of the German occupation in Western Poland. My understanding is that the part of Poland he resided in was subject to complete "Aryanization", as it was territory which had been part of Imperial Germany.
80 years. 2019 - 1939 = 80 years.

Also, was he murdered by the Nazis? :(

From a cultural standpoint, Bolshevism-Stalinism was more of a shock, more of a irreconsiliable schema than was the German fascist experiment through 1938. I suppose as a strictly Realpolitik exercise (Henry Kissinger, Bismarck and Metternich just kicking the topic around over some espresso) making common cause with the Anti-Comintern bloc was the practical course.
So, agreeing to the return of Danzig to Germany combined with an (elevated?) extraterritorial road to connect Germany to East Prussia and joining the Nazis in a war against the Soviet Union?
 
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Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
23,547
SoCal
By 1939 Poland had virtually no options if any of its bigger, more powerful, and threatening, neighbours decided to pursue their preferred aggressive foreign policies.

Given that its allies had no presence on the ground in Central Europe, they could not make good on any offers of help.

Should Poland have sided with Nazi Germany to eliminate the Soviet Union? What would have been the chances of success?
Well, Poland would have lost a lot of its young men in such a scenario but would have probably saved its Jewish population. The hope, of course, might be that if the USSR actually survives the Nazi-Polish invasion, internal opponents of the Nazis in Germany might launch a coup and then be able to negotiate a quick end to this war.

I suppose that Poland could have also insisted in the event of such a Nazi-Polish invasion being successful that the Nazis should not expand into Great Russian territories since doing this would be a violation of national self-determination. Whether the Nazis would have actually been willing to listen is, of course, a very open question.

Should Poland have actively pursued and supported a continental alliance of Britain, France, Soviet Union and Poland against Germany? Would the outcome have been any different from the post 1945 arrangement?
This does seem like a good idea but it would be especially beneficial if such an alliance were to actually deter Hitler from waging war against Poland in the first place since that way Poland won't actually have to allow Soviet troops to enter their territory. As you said, the risk of Soviet troops entering Poland would have been that they would have subsequently engaged in regime change in Poland and installed a dictatorial and totalitarian Communist regime there.

Honestly, for Poland, either of the two options above were probably better than what actually happened to it in real life. Of course, Poland's consolation would be that, in comparison to Germans and Soviets, ethnic Poles suffered less during WWII even adjusting for their smaller population.

Perhaps JJ Rouseau, back in the 18th century, had the best advice for a Poand of minor stature against its very powerful neighbours:

"You may not prevent them from swallowing you up; see to it at least that they will not be able to digest you. No matter what is done, before Poland has been placed in a position to resist her enemies, she will be overwhelmed by them a hundred times. The virtue of her citizens, their patriotic zeal, the particular way in which national institutions may be able to form their souls, this is the only rampart which will always stand ready to defend her, and which no army will ever be able to breach. If you see to it that no Pole can ever become a Russian, I guarantee that Russia will not subjugate Poland."
Beautifully said.
 
Jan 2013
1,117
Toronto, Canada
Should Poland have sided with Nazi Germany to eliminate the Soviet Union? What would have been the chances of success?
The Nazis hated Poland. They would have demanded the cession and evacuation of all of the territories that Germany eventually annexed. At best, the General Government would have been governed by a Polish puppet government a la Bohemia and Moravia. This government would have been replace by direct German rule whenever there was the slightest sign of resistance.
 
Jan 2013
1,117
Toronto, Canada
I read the OP as a open question of what was the best Darwinistic course, rather than "how can we make the Western democracies appear more virtuous than they were in the actual timeline?"
Poland's only chance of survival was to get the Western democracies to be more virtuous that they were in the actual timeline. They needed Soviet arms to deter the Nazis and they needed Western virtue/diplomatic support to keep Stalin from making territorial demands in exchange for protection.
 
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Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
23,547
SoCal
The Nazis hated Poland. They would have demanded the cession and evacuation of all of the territories that Germany eventually annexed. At best, the General Government would have been governed by a Polish puppet government a la Bohemia and Moravia. This government would have been replace by direct German rule whenever there was the slightest sign of resistance.
AFAIK, Hitler actually offered to let Poland keep its territorial integrity if it would have agreed to the return of Danzig as well as the construction of an extraterritorial road between Germany and East Prussia and presumably also agreed to enter into an anti-Soviet alliance with Nazi Germany.