Polish Tanks 7TP are included in the Czech city of Tesin
How Poland prepared the great war in Europe. The Polish elite, together with Hitler, sentenced Austria and Czechoslovakia to destruction. Poland betrayed France, preventing her from protecting the Austrians and Czechs.
According to the generally accepted opinion (it was expressed in the indictment of the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal), Germany committed the first aggression when it captured Austria and Czechoslovakia. At the same time, they usually turn a blind eye to the fact that Poland simultaneously acted as an aggressor.
Hitler approved the plan for the capture of Austria (Otto plan) in 1937. According to this plan, Austria was “rocked” and on March 12, 1938, troops were sent there. It seemed that England and France should have intervened. However, London and Paris surrendered Vienna to Hitler. In addition, Paris at the same time was concerned about the behavior of its eastern ally, Poland. The fact was that on the eve of the German troops entering Austria, an incident occurred on the Polish-Lithuanian border. They found someone killed a Polish soldier. Poland rejected the offer of Lithuania to create a joint commission to investigate the case, and blamed Lithuania on this. On March 17, 1938, Poland, with German support, put forward an ultimatum to Lithuania: establish diplomatic, economic, postal and telegraph communications and repeal the constitutional article indicating that Vilnius is the capital of Lithuania, threatening war if rejected. The Lithuanian government was to express its consent within 48 hours, and the accreditation of diplomats will take place before March 31.
The fact was that in 1920, the Poles occupied Vilna (the Lithuanian capital) and the Vilnius region. These lands were annexed to the Second Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and Lithuania refused to admit it. At the same time, the Polish public and the elite believed that it was necessary to annex all of Lithuania. An information campaign was launched in Poland calling for a campaign in Kaunas. The Polish army began preparations for the capture of Lithuania. Berlin supported Warsaw’s plans and stated that he was interested only in Klaipeda in Lithuania.
Thus, in Eastern Europe the threat of war arose. At the same time, Poland acted in synchronism with the Third Reich. In February 1938, Hitler warned the Polish government about the preparation of the Anschluss of Austria. Therefore, the appearance of the corpse of a Polish soldier on the border on the same day with the start of German aggression against Austria is a very significant fact. The Poles did not object to the Anschluss of Austria, and Hitler did not object to the occupation by the Poles of part of Lithuania, except for Klaipeda (Memel) with the region, which were part of the German sphere of interests.
Moscow in this situation was not up to Austria. The threat of the Polish-Lithuanian war arose. On March 16 and 18, the People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs of the USSR called the Polish ambassador and explained to him that Lithuanians should not be offended, and although the USSR does not have a military agreement with Lithuania, it could appear already during the war. At the same time, Moscow advised the Lithuanians to “yield to violence”, since “the international community will not understand the Lithuanian refusal”. In conditions when France also asked Warsaw not to bring the matter to war, Poland had to abandon the war. Between Poland and Lithuania diplomatic relations were established.
It is worth noting that Warsaw set up France as well. The Poles were allies of Paris and staged a provocation that could cause a war not only with Lithuania, but also with the Soviet Union. And at the same time, the Germans invaded Austria. From the very beginning, the French asked the Poles to calm down and help them with the Austrian question. France was afraid of Germany’s gain and even proposed to bring the USSR in case of war with the Germans. Poland was supposed to let the Soviet troops through its territory. And at this time, the official ally of France - Poland, with the full support of the Third Reich, is preparing the capture of Lithuania. Yes, and expresses dissatisfaction with the French, they say, did not support their plans.
The Polish elite did not care about the interests of the allies. It was an old Polish tradition: to step on the same rake. This feature of the Polish elite has been noted more than once. For example, the textbook "Geography of Russia" for secondary schools, published by the 2nd edition of the Sytin partnership in 1914, describes the physical types of the multinational population of the Russian Empire, including Poles. This tutorial notes:
“None of the people, perhaps, had as great class differences as the Poles. The nobility always stood apart from the people (claps), and completely distinct character traits developed in it. “Wealth, idleness (thanks to serfdom), accompanied by continuous entertainment, gave the upper class the features of frivolity, vanity and a love of luxury and brilliance that brought the state to death.”
Virtually nothing has changed in the Second Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, which became the main cause of the September 1939 disaster. Now the Polish elite is again stepping on the same rake. The frivolity and vanity of the elite is destroying Poland.
Dismemberment of Czechoslovakia
Subsequently, Warsaw continued its aggressive policy, assisting Hitler in breaking down the Versailles system in Europe. Hitler in 1937 made the final decision on the division of Czechoslovakia. Before the invasion of Austria, Hitler delivered a keynote speech in the Reichstag in February 1938, where he promised to unite "10 million Germans living across the border." Immediately after the occupation of Austria, Berlin intensified its work on the Sudeten question. At the congress of the pro-fascist Sudeten Party in April 1938 in Karlovy Vary, demands were put forward for the exclusion of a number of border areas from Czechoslovakia and their accession to the Third Reich. Sudeten Germans also demanded that Prague terminate the mutual assistance agreements with France and the USSR. So the Sudeten crisis arose.
Prague expressed its readiness to stand to the end. Czechoslovakia had a strong defense on the border with Germany, a fully operational army. In Czechoslovakia, there was a developed military industry. Czechoslovakia also had a military alliance with France, which gave the Czechs a guarantee against German attack. France had the same alliance with Poland. That is, if this system was activated, then Hitler could not start a big war in Europe. Against then still rather weak Germany, France, England, Poland, Czechoslovakia and the USSR would have acted. The Führer’s plans for the creation of the Eternal Reich would end there.
However, when the Reich began to exert pressure on the Czechs in 1938, it was in the interests of France that Czechoslovakia and Poland enter into a military alliance, and Warsaw categorically refused to do so. The French even tried to convince the Poles to remove Beck, who led the foreign policy of Warsaw, from the post of Foreign Minister. The Poles of Beck were not removed, and they did not conclude an alliance with Prague. The fact was that Warsaw had territorial claims not only against Russia and Lithuania, but also against Czechoslovakia. Poles claimed Tieszyn Silesia. So, another surge of anti-Czech feelings in Poland occurred in 1934, when an active campaign was launched to return the original Polish lands. In the fall of 1934, the Polish army conducted large maneuvers on the border with Czechoslovakia, where operations were practiced in the event of the collapse of Czechoslovakia or its surrender to Germany. In 1935, Polish-Czech relations became even cooler. Both ambassadors were sent home. The Polish government, copying Hitler’s policies, created in the spring of 1938 in Teszyn a “union of Poles” whose goal was to join this region to Poland.
France in 1935 entered into a military agreement with the USSR on the protection of Czechs from Germans. Moscow concluded two agreements: with France and Czechoslovakia. According to them, Moscow pledged to help Prague if it was supported by the old ally - France. In 1938, the Reich, threatening the Czechs with war, demanded the Sudetenland. An ally of Czechoslovakia, France, in the event of a real German attack on the Czechs, was to declare war on Germany. And at this critical moment, another French ally, Poland, said it would not declare war on Nazi Germany, since in this case the French would attack the Germans, not the Germans, France. As a result, Poland betrayed its ally - France. The Poles disarmed and stunned the French, undermined their self-confidence. France was afraid to support Czechoslovakia alone (without the support of other Western countries). Paris, not having the support of Poland, lost to the British, who wanted to "appease" Hitler at the expense of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe.
In May 1938, the Soviet Union announced its readiness to support Czechoslovakia, subject to the passage of the Red Army through Poland or Romania. It is clear that the governments of Poland and Romania categorically rejected the proposal of the USSR. If Moscow tried to send troops to Czechoslovakia through Polish territory, then, besides Poland, Romania would declare war on us, with which the Poles had a military alliance against Russia. Interestingly, Moscow expressed its willingness to fulfill the agreement with the Czechs, even if France refuses it. That is, the Union was ready to confront Germany and Poland (plus Romania) in alliance with Czechoslovakia. But the Czechs broke down and surrendered under the pressure of the "collective West."
Polish 7TP tank overcomes Czechoslovak border fortifications
Polish troops enter Tesin
Polish tanks in Tesin. October 1938
"Hyena of Europe"
September 29, 1938 in Munich, an agreement was signed between Germany, Britain, France and Italy. Czechoslovakia was supposed to cede the Sudetenland to Germany. On October 1, 1938, the Wehrmacht invaded Czechoslovakia and occupied the Sudetenland. On the same day, Czechoslovakia was forced to withdraw its troops from the Cieszyn region, which was captured by Poland on October 2.
Even in the summer of 1938, during informal negotiations with the Poles, Berlin made it clear that it would not be opposed to Poland’s capture of the Teszy region. By September 20, Polish and German diplomats jointly worked out a draft of new state borders, which was sent to Munich. On September 21, 1938, in the midst of the Sudeten crisis, Warsaw presented an ultimatum to Prague, demanding the transfer of Tieszyn Silesia. On September 27, a repeated demand for the transfer of Teshin was voiced. A powerful anti-Czech information campaign has been launched in Poland. In Polish cities, recruitment was taking place in the Teszynsk volunteer corps. Detachments of volunteers transferred to the border of Czechoslovakia, where they committed armed provocations and sabotage, attacked military facilities. Polish planes daily violated the airspace of Czechoslovakia. Polish diplomacy demanded in London and Paris the same solution to the Sudeten and Teschin issues. Meanwhile, the Polish and German military agreed on a line of demarcation of troops in Czechoslovakia.
On September 30, the Polish government sent the Czechs another ultimatum demanding that the Polish conditions be accepted by 12 noon on October 1 and that they be fulfilled within 10 days. During urgently organized consultations, France and England, not wanting to break the negotiations in Munich, put pressure on Czechoslovakia. Chekhov was forced to agree to the terms. On October 1, Czechs began to divert themselves from the border, and the Tieszyn region was transferred to Poland. The Second Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth acquired 805 km² of territory and over 230 thousand citizens. In addition, the Cieszyn region was an important economic center of Czechoslovakia, and Poland increased the production capacity of its heavy industry by almost 50%. Thus, Poland, together with Germany, launched a great war in Europe.
However, further impudence of the Poles puzzled even Berlin. So, in November 1938, Warsaw, inspired by success, demanded that Czechoslovakia transfer Moravian Ostrava and Vitkovic to it. But Hitler himself had already laid eyes on these areas. When the Germans dismembered the remainder of Czechoslovakia in March 1939, separate measures were taken against possible Polish actions. Hitler ordered the Moravian-Ostrava ledge to be occupied in order to pre-secure the Vitkovice metallurgical plants from being captured by the Poles. The Polish authorities did not protest against the seizure of the Czech Republic, but were offended by the fact that during the final partition of Czechoslovakia they were not transferred new lands.
So Poland became the "hyena of Europe." Not having an official union with Hitler, Warsaw sought to chop off everything that is possible and impossible. Therefore, in the German Foreign Ministry, Poland was called the "battlefield hyena." And W. Churchill noted:
“And now, when all these advantages and all this help were lost and abandoned, England, leading France behind it, offers to guarantee the integrity of Poland - that same Poland, which only six months ago with the greed of a hyena took part in the robbery and destruction of the Czechoslovak state” .
Handshake of the Polish Marshal Edward Rydz-Smigla and the German attache, Major General Bohislav von Studnitz, at the Independence Day parade in Warsaw on November 11, 1938. The Polish parade was especially tied to the capture of Tieszyn Silesia a month earlier