Basia, this is a discussion group and a subject has been put forward so we are discussing it with respect for each other s views and opinions, and hopefullyMessage 1 of 42 , Jun 13View SourceBasia, this is a discussion group and a subject has been put forward so we are discussing it with respect for each other's views and opinions, and hopefully all of us will learn something in the process.
Barbara, London UK
Sent from my iPhone
Hi Stefan and John, In light of below and seeing the film The Soviet Story at the PHTM in Auckland yesterday, I went back to a book I read recently – EasternMessage 42 of 42 , Jun 17View Source
Hi Stefan and John,
In light of below and seeing the film The Soviet Story at the PHTM in Auckland yesterday, I went back to a book I read recently – Eastern Approaches by Fitzroy Maclean (1949), found in a second hand bookstore and bought because of its coverage of Central Asia before and WWII. The latter part of the book deals with then Yugoslavia.
Page 227: The author details one of his discussions with Churchill.“The years that I had spent in the Soviet Union had made me deeply and lastingly conscious of the expansionist tendencies of international Communism and of its intimate connection with Soviet foreign policy... If, as I had been told, the Partisans were under Communist leadership, they might easily be fighting very well for the Allied cause, but their ultimate aim would undoubtedly be to establish in Jugoslavia a Communist regime closely linked to Moscow. How did His Majesty’s Government view such an eventuality? Was it at this stage their policy to obstruct Soviet expansion in the Balkans? If so, my task looked like being a ticklish one.
Mr Churchill’s reply left me in no doubt as to the answer to my problem. So long, he said, as the whole of Western civilization was threatened by the Nazi menace, we could not afford to let our attention be diverted from the immediate issue by considerations of long-term policy. We were as loyal to our Soviet Allies as we hoped they were to us. My task was simply to help us find out who was killing the most Germans and suggest means by which we could help them kill more. Politics must be a secondary consideration.”
Page 317: “I now emphasized to Mr Churchill the other points which I had already made in my report, namely, that in my view the Partisans, whether we helped them or not, would be the decisive political factor in Jugoslavia after the war and, secondly, that Tito and the other leaders of the Movement were openly and avowedly Communist and that the system which they would establish would inevitably be on Soviet lines and, in all probability, strongly oriented towards the Soviet Union.
The Prime Minister’s reply resolved my doubts.
‘Do you intend,’ he asked, ‘to make Jugoslavia your home after the war?’
‘No, sir,’ I replied.
‘Neither do I,’ he said. ‘And, that being so, the less you and I worry about what form of government they set up, the better. That is for them to decide. What interests us is, which of them is doing most harm to the Germans?’
Churchill was definitely not naive. His job was to protect his country and countrymen, and I that’s what he did. Poland? I’ve no doubt that any other Fitzroy Maclean asking about Poland would have had the same type of comments. All other countries were judged regarding their ability to achieve British peace.
Cheers – Barbara
To reiterate I am appreciating the camaraderie demonstrated in this discussion thread. Have also been thinking and reassessing my (limited) knowledge of South Africa's complex history even going back to the Anglo-Boer war in the early 1900's where Churchill was a war correspondent. He was captured by the Boers and in retrospect I am now wondering whether the Boers allowed him to escape so that he could report back on the atrocities that the English were perpetrating on the Boers and their allies. The Boers though outnumbered by the English Forces developed successful guerrilla tactics to keep the English at bay, at mounting financial expense to the British Government and this was a major worry to the British Government. The Boers were able to maintain their guerrilla tactics being supplied by women and children who continued to farm.
So the English applied a scorched earth policy, burnt the farms and crops and herded the women & children to into...... CONCENTRATION camps - to the best of my knowledge the first time such a system was used (I firmly believe that up and coming regimes took note of this way of doing things and to also be able 'get away with it' and then also 'improved' on the system). Bottom line, if memory serves me correct about 25% of the Boer population perished in these concentration camps. In retrospect, this is plain & simply genocide. Very likely Churchill saw first hand what was happening and the horrific tactics that can be applied to subjugate a nation.
So armed with his life experiences, partly shaped in South Africa, I believe Churchill was not naive when he went into discussions with Stalin and Roosevelt. He was unfortunately caught between a rock & a very hard place.So, objectively Churchill should not be the boogeyman many people make him out to be.
On Fri, Jun 14, 2013 at 4:35 AM, Mark <turkiewiczm@...> wrote:
John, thanks always.
Politics. It hasn't changed, but when viewed retrospectively it looms especially 'questionable' regarding intentions.
We are analyzing it 70 years later in a different place.
Betrayal is a strong word I associate with the Last Supper. For me, it has no application in the relations/results of the ugly first quarter of the century. Did anyone really celebrate all that resulted?
If Poland or any other country didn't like their deal after the final shuffle, finger-pointing at the other players seems unsportsmanlike to me.
Did Churchill play any part in convincing Stalin to agree to the amnesty and arranging the army in Persia where so many were saved? Was this in collaboration with the Gov't in Exile?
If so, thanks for my life and this website.
Was there any politician at the time that was in a position to put together a winning streak of ideas and those of their friends? I bet that politicians had to give in on issues at times when it wasn't popular, like always.
Frankly, all I know about history, I learned here while trying to figure out what happened to family.
Stan gave me another side of the past. Leonarda made me aware that trouble didn't begin in 1939.
Anna and Peter showed me other families share very similar histories.
There are dozens of great sources who regularly have posted to my benefit - Chris, Dan, Mark, Hania, Anna, Eva, Aneta, Krystyna, Stefan, Ed and alot of learned occasional posters, and some others who don't post at all. It goes on...
Following George again with last word on the subject, I apologize to anyone offended in the least because I know things that I write can come across differently than intended.
Thanks for listening. Keep up the good work!
Born in Scotland
Son of Pol 2 Corp soldier saved by amnesty from Kazahk
Grandson of Katyn victim, Austrian Army soldier, Pilduski Scout
Nephew of 2nd Katyn victim
Nephew of yet missing Berlinga's army conscript and his wife and child
Grandson of Kazahk deportee, repatriated in 1946 after 5 years
Nephew of POW during Austrian war
Nephew of 2 yr old girl who spent 5 yars in Kazahk orphanage
Subject: Re: [www.Kresy-Siberia.org] theory and conjecture
There are strong emotions on both sides of the question whether Britain betrayed Poland in the Second World War, as we have seen recently in this thread. Some remarks have bordered on snide and if I give offence to anyone with this post I apologize in advance. My intention is to explore with the hope of learning.
Betrayal seems to be a matter of opinion, so I suppose we will all have to make up our minds individually based on the facts as we know them.
On March 18, 1921 Poland and the Soviet Union signed the Treaty of Riga to set the border between them. It was recognized by Britain, among other states, on March 15, 1923 and remained in effect until changed by a new agreement signed by Moscow and puppets installed in Warsaw by Moscow on August 16, 1945.
In August 1941 Britain and the USA signed what became known as the Atlantic Charter, which among other things pledged "no territorial changes that do not accord with the freely expressed wishes of the people concerned" and "the right of all peoples to chose the form of government under which they will live; and ... sovereign rights and self-government restored to those who have been forcibly deprived of them."
So it seems a red herring to excuse the transfer of the Kresy to Stalin on the basis that the territory had been ruled by various nations in the centuries prior. The point is, Poland and the USSR had agreed to the Kresy being in Poland, it was recognized by Britain shortly after, and forced territorial changes were repudiated by Britain two years after those forced changes occurred. Not two years after that, Churchill did an about-face and approved the Hitler-Stalin border. Poland was kept out of the discussions about the fate of its borders and its peoples, and was not consulted. Polish diplomats vigorously resisted the changes but they were imposed by Britain, the USA and USSR anyway.
Was that betrayal of Poland?
A related argument is that Britain was in no position to go to war against the powerful USSR in 1944-45 to live up to the principles of the Atlantic Charter. This evades the point that Churchill did much more than fail to stop the Soviets, Churchill lent his good name to the Hitler-Stalin border and said it was right and proper. In fact, Churchill says in his own memoirs that shifting the borders of Poland to the west was his idea, although he never meant Poland to get as much territory from Germany as it did. All this gave Stalin Britain's moral support, something he seemed to find important although his military might suggests he hardly needed it. Was Churchill's vote in favour of the USSR and against Poland betrayal of Poland?
In early 1939, Britain and France pledged a timeline of military support if Poland were to be attacked. When the Germans did attack on Sept. 1, it took the Allies three days before they even declared war on Germany as pledged. Then on Sept. 12, an Anglo-French staff meeting held at Abbeville, France decided there would be no military action after all. (Ironically, it was the 1st Polish Armoured Division that lived up to Poland's side of the treaty by liberating Abbeville from the Germans on Aug. 31, 1944.) The French did go a few kilometres into western Germany but quickly withdrew. The British decided that it would be improper even to bomb German munitions plants because they were privately owned, at the same time that German planes were bombing residential areas in Poland and strafing civilians on the roads and in the fields. Was making military pledges but then failing to fulfil them a few months later a betrayal of Poland?
When the Soviets attacked Poland from the east on Sept. 17, Britain did not even go so far as to emptily declare war on behalf of its Ally. Was that a betrayal of Poland?
When the Germans announced finding the corpses of thousands of Polish officers murdered at Katyn in April 1943, the Soviets claimed it was a German crime and refused to countenance an international investigation. Thanks to the Owen O'Malley report (now available online) Churchill soon knew that the atrocity was indeed committed by the Soviets but played along with the Soviet lie and lent the good name of Britain to give it legitimacy, despite protests by Poland. Was this a betrayal of Poland? Was it a signal to Stalin just how malleable Churchill was when it came to the welfare and interests of his Ally?
In truth, Britain did a lot to help thousands of Poles escape captivity in the Soviet Union. But does sincere gratitude for that and other acts of decency mean that we must stay silent on the question of betrayal in other instances? I am deeply grateful to the British people for the part they played in making me a happy, proud and privileged Canadian, but does that make me hypocritical to explore Churchill's behaviour? I don't think so, any more than I think it is hypocritical for me to hate Stalin and all that he stood for, while acknowledging that because my father survived his gulags I ended up in Canada rather than in Poland. Or to hate Hitler and all that he stood for, while acknowledging that because my mother survived being taken as a slave to the Reich she had the opportunity to emigrate to Canada and I was born here rather than there.
Neither does it seem reasonable to me to argue that "all's well that ends well" for Poland itself, that there was no betrayal because Poland found itself in a better place even if it took a half-century of surviving oppression and occupation by another totalitarian superpower. We will never know what might have been, and can strive only to learn what actually did happen. Just as we must be ready to acknowledge that some Polish leaders made mistakes or acted badly throughout history, it seems to me we must be ready to acknowledge that some British leaders may also have acted badly - including betraying an Ally.
To question or denounce Churchill's record is not to denounce Britain or the British people. As has already been mentioned, many British leaders and people vehemently disagreed with their government's treatment of Poland and themselves called it a betrayal.
On the other hand, not all Polish people or people of Polish extraction see Churchill's behaviour as a betrayal, as demonstrated on this forum recently. It's true that many Poles who lived through that history, rather than merely reading about it as I do today, saw it as betrayal. Disagreeing with them is no more a repudiation of them than disagreeing with Churchill's stance is a repudiation of Britons then or now.
My opinions have shifted as I have been able to discover more, especially primary documents that are now available online. As yet more facts come to light, I hope my mind is open enough to change my opinion again. I am sure that most people of this forum have a similar thirst for learning and insight.
Sault Ste Marie, Canada