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Soviet-German relations

Discussion in 'World History' started by Nuka-sama, May 15, 2012.

  1. red_elk

    red_elk Deity

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    This joke shows different understanding of word "brotherly" in Russian and Polish culture. For Russians it means split equally, for Poles it means something else, probably that the big brother takes the largest part.

    There is similar Russian joke about sharing:
    Father gives Vova a chocolate bar and tells him: "Go to your brother and share it with him brotherly".
    Vova: What means brotherly?
    Father: It means you give him the biggest part.
    Vova goes to his brother, gives him a chocolate bar and says: "Take it and share it with me brotherly".
     
  2. Traitorfish

    Traitorfish The Tighnahulish Kid

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    irony lulz
     
  3. Lord Baal

    Lord Baal Deity

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    Far more competent than they're given credit for being. Italian soldiers were just as good as the soldiers of any other nation. What was lacking was a competent officer corps, as appointments were based on patronage, both before and after the Fascists took charge.

    This is a large part of the reason why the Italians who fought alongside Rommel's Afrika Korps tended to fight excellently; while Rommel was not officially in command of the Italians, they tended to pay far more attention to him than to the actual Italian general who was Rommel's C.O. in Africa, who is so unimportant I have forgotten his name. The Italians also performed excellently, despite terrible disadvantages, against both the British and Free French in Italian East Africa. The Italians also suffered from very poor equipment compared to the other major powers, as well as a lack of an overall grand strategy. That's actually why the Italians followed Rommel so unquestioningly in Africa, even on the few occasions when he ordered them to do things they had been ordered NOT to do by their own superiors; Rommel actually had a goal, whereas the Italians were merely following Mussolini's ill-considered and ever-changing mandates.

    The Italian Navy was the fifth largest in the world at the outbreak of WWII, and unlike the army, was actually pretty well-equipped. It also had very good officers. It was absolutely capable of dominating the Mediterranean, even in the face of the Royal Navy. At the very least, it should have dominated the Eastern half of the Mediterranean, even without the assistance of Vichy. The problem was that the leadership were more fearful of the reputation of the Royal Navy than they should have been, and therefore were most unwilling to risk the fleet out of port. This proved especially suicidal when the British, who put a lot more stock in the Regia Marina than the Italians did, launched the Taranto raid.

    The Italians actually performed best when they were fighting alongside the Allies after they switched sides in 1943. One of the biggest problems amongst the Italian armed forces was morale, as most Italians weren't terribly fond of Mussolini or Fascism, and certainly had no love for the Germans, and didn't particularly see why they should fight and die for them. Once the Allies landed in Sicily the Italians began to fight much, much harder, and when the Fascists outed Mussolini and switched camps the vast majority of the military was only too happy to comply, and fought very well against their former allies to the north.
     
  4. Yeekim

    Yeekim Deity

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    Relax, I was mostly just telling a joke, without especially wanting to make some sort of between-the-lines point.

    But I don't think the joke shows "different understanding of word "brotherly" in Russian and Polish culture", as red_elk said. I rather think it supports what you said - the Poles knowing and remembering how supposedly "brotherly" relationships can turn out to be pretty lopsided in reality. :)
     
  5. Cheezy the Wiz

    Cheezy the Wiz Socialist In A Hurry

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    There is much hostility in this thread; if I falsely attributed those feelings to you then I apologize.

    I honestly wouldn't expect the average Pole to be very thankful for the relationship between them and the Soviets, even if it was completely equal (or favorable to Poland). Their two nations have a history of antagonism and oppression, especially given the recent war in 1920-21. It would be kind of like the Victorian era relationship between the British and French; hardly something the average person on either side liked, but a cooperation which the leaders of the two nations saw as necessary and desirable geopolitically.

    Or, alternatively:

    What moves your idle rage? Is't Poland's fallen pride?
    'T is but Slavonic kin among themselves contending,
    An ancient household strife, oft judged but still unending,
    A question which, be sure, you never can decide.
     
  6. rilnator

    rilnator Emperor

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    I think the turning point was Czechoslovakia. Stalin was ready to fight but got no support from France and Britain. He didn't even get an invite to Munich.
    After the western capitulation Stalin thought it would be easier to treat Germany as a freind. Any commitment to a war with germany would take a lot greater effort from the SU than it would from Britain.
    Plus he could safely have his way throughout eastern Europe if he stitched up a deal with Hitler.
     
  7. Lord Baal

    Lord Baal Deity

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    Stalin was still trying to forge an a military alliance with the Western Allies against Hitler as late as August 1939. The French seemed willing, the British didn't really seem to care one way or another, and the Poles were vehemently against the idea of Soviet troops on their soil for any reason, which, while self-defeating, is somewhat understandable. Dumb decision in the long-run though.
     
  8. Dachs

    Dachs Hero of the Soviet Union

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    In the long run, the Poles were screwed either way. At least fighting against the Nazis without Soviet "support" gave them a ghost of a chance of victory and retaining their independence (a chance that seemed considerably larger before the fighting, of course).
     
  9. Ajidica

    Ajidica High Quality Person

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    If this 'what-if' question is beyond stupid, feel free to verbally abuse me to your heart's content, but did the Poles stand any chance of retaining their independence if they were just fighting off the Nazis?
     
  10. red_elk

    red_elk Deity

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    USSR needed "right of passage" through Polish territory only for protection of Czechoslovakia. After Munich, IIRC this was no longer required - they could simply sign security agreement without letting the Soviets into their territory (in peacetime). Poland was literally refusing to sign any document which had Soviet signature, after 1938.
     
  11. Lord Baal

    Lord Baal Deity

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    In the long run, Pilsudski should have invaded Germany in 1933, but that is neither here nor there. I certainly understand why the Poles refused to sign any defensive agreement with the USSR; they knew full-well that once Soviet troops were in Poland, they were very, very unlikely to leave. Likewise, a military alliance with the USSR which caused Germany to back down without launching an invasion would in effect turn Poland into a Soviet client state. Poland was, as you said, screwed. But they should have foreseen the MRP - which was not the surprise it seemed to be if any of the major players had been paying attention to both Soviet and German diplomatic manoeuvring - and becoming a Soviet client state is certainly better than what they'd be left with in the case of a German-Soviet alliance.

    You mean if the Soviets had not invaded Poland on September 17? Not really. Fear of inciting the Soviets may have caused Hitler to allow a rump Polish state to operate under German hegemony, but that was unlikely. Even if it had gone ahead, German domination would be worse than the Soviet client relationship described above, and neither really amounted to independence.

    The USSR was actually willing to defend Czechoslovakia without an agreement with Poland, but the Czechs declined. This is despite the fact that an agreement with Poland was absolutely necessary for a successful Soviet intervention in Czechoslovakia, unless Stalin was willing to fight Poland on his way to Germany. Knowing Stalin, he probably was, but nothing came of the proposal anyway, so we'll never know what, if any, specific plans were in place for a joint Soviet-Czech defence against Germany.
     
  12. red_elk

    red_elk Deity

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    From what I read, this variant (declaration of war on Germany and Poland over Czechoslovakia issue) was seriously considered by Soviet leaders. Taking into account that Poland participated in partition of Czechoslovakia, this doesn't seem to be so unlikely. But USSR counted on involvement of France too, and without Czechoslovakia fighting against Germany, this was of course impossible.
     
  13. Lord Baal

    Lord Baal Deity

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    And considering France's relationship with Poland, it's highly unlikely that the French would support the Soviets and Czechoslovakia in a war involving Poland, even as a German ally. Would have been interesting though.
     
  14. r16

    r16 not deity

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    not read the whole thread but mere acceptance that Russians would be allowed passage to assist the Czechs in case Germans attacked but not before would have been enough to stop Hitler . The inactivity of the Western Allies surprised Germans so much that they failed to make the coup they were ready to make . Adolf has been one lucky fellow ...

    as usual without any legit sources .
     
  15. Dachs

    Dachs Hero of the Soviet Union

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    The Poles can be forgiven for not having the clairvoyance to realize that the Nazis' enormously pro-Polish stance of the early and mid 1930s was a complete and utter sham.

    I'm not totally sure that the Poles can reasonably be expected to have foreseen the ultimate course of events in August 1939, either. It's hardly as obvious a course of action as you seem to think that it was; there were very real and serious obstacles to any Nazi-Soviet agreement independent of ideology that the Germans can most reasonably have been expected to paper over with some time and effort and only then in the event that they actually wanted to fight a war. Since even Hitler wasn't really clear on whether he wanted a war in 1939 or not, the Poles can hardly be expected to be clear on it, either. The Germans' ridiculously rapid, if temporary, solution to these difficulties only makes sense on military grounds, and since it was transparently obvious that the military did not run Germany, can the Polish government and military really be censured for not seeing that solution coming?

    I think that the only reason these events seem so obvious in hindsight is because they've become the defining examples of the interrelation between diplomacy and war for the whole of Western society over the last several decades. The example of the Nazis' rise to dominance get dragged out every time something happens in international relations as though it's the only result of whatever happening unless we act now, like the "foolish" countries that served as Hitler's doormat did not. We all know the story by heart, so the actions of the protagonists, when they make decisions that later appear to have been incorrect, seem utterly foolish: how can they not have known that that was going to happen? Hindsight is king, but for the history of 1930s Europe, hindsight is more like emperor and autocrat of all the histories.
     
  16. r16

    r16 not deity

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    with due apologies ı have seen it fit to add to a thread in two parts (1 - 2)where ı can keep my posts together for easy reference if necessary .

    ı might say it was a case of no Barbarossa if you want Middle East . Which is essentially an explanation of why Stalin was caught with the proverbial pants down on June 22 ,1941 . Not that one should ever mention it on web debates , but it made perfect sense to Stalin Inc. that the Germans could not fail to see that opening a Second Front was so incredibly stupid ; Berlin would be so amenable to a second deal like the Molotov-Ribbentrop thing . In this case we were to be threatened with an invasion from Thrace where we easily had 500 000 men , plus another German spearhead from the East , travelling on Russian railroads which ostensibly had a mission to start a rebellion in Iran , restart one in Iraq , then drive South arms in arms with the Vichy to the Suez , while Rommel was doing his thing in the desert . We were either to co-operate with the Nazis to die in the deserts with them or to be crushed under panzer tracks . In either case Russians were to offer a hand to occupy their slice in the East to wait until the US finally came in . If lucky Moscow could have won half the world without even shooting . As customary in bargaining they would ask for lots of things to graciously settle on reasonable amounts and the masses of troops hiding in Poland were naturally were only meant to remind them they couldn't have the Straits . Which they didn't want anyhow . For now . They were expecting a Panzer Division anytime , not something like 20 or so ...
     
  17. r16

    r16 not deity

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    while it might have been quite correct to suggest the 8th Army was of equal size to the Axis Forces ( meaning Germans+Italians) ı have always visualised the Afrika Korps as a two division affair . Might be because of the translated Paul Carell books , if ı am not misspelling the name . As such it is not exactly "fair" , pardon the term , to suggest number of formations being equal should mean the forces were balanced . In any case , in a yet another book ı have , a "senior lecturer" at Sandhurst counts the equivalent of 20 divisions having served in the desert in two years , before the Second El Alamein . The disparity explained by the fact that the British army was in a constant flux with regards to organization , the 7th Armoured the "Desert Rats" had seen 26 different tank and infantry battalions serving in it during that two years , in a supposed establishment for 16 battalions . My source immediately corrects me by mentioning the DAK was of 3 divisions that reamined essentially the same . Apparently the British spent a year trialling formations besides fighting the Germans ...

    Despite my firm belief that "Italians" fighting better than "expected" were not ever reported , the truth is the Italian forces were underequipped even when they were ably commanded . A clash between the British and the Italians , fair and equal if measured in formation names and sizes , was most unlikely to result in Italian success . Though the recent years might have seen a re-approach to all-conquering-defeated-only-by-ruthless-attrition stereotype , the Germans of the desert also regularly lost in Materialschlact . Some time in 1942 after the First Alamein and the Italians were roughly handled by the British an attack was mounted on the Germans . Possibly a small scale affair where only 3 armoured brigades took part , the British had 350 tanks compared to 96 Axis . Top of the line were 60 Grants for the British , superlative for the time and place and 6 PzKw IIIs with long 50s in addition to maybe 3 IVs with long 75s , though the last had no ammunition . It should have been enough to destroy Rommel for good ; the day ended with losses of 121 British and 3 German tanks . Montgomery became the commander of the 8th Army after that .

    yet attrition bled the Germans white while the British kept going . The Allies were quite stronger all the way , though they spectacularly failed to deal with Rommel . Who knows , even ı could have defeated them Brits once ! This disparity in command skills would have been real easy to explain had Kaiser Wilhelm read the 39 Steps and decided to come up with an evil scheme to implant German agents in various places and the entire British command at the desert were actually Fritz or Georg or whatever ...
     
  18. Domen

    Domen Misico dux Vandalorum

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    Red Elk:

    Czechoslovakia was partitioned by Germany & Tiso's Slovakia in March 1939 and no longer existed at that time, when Soviets wanted "passage".

    Partition of Czechoslovakia was in March 1939. Poland just took back what was her back in early 1920s - and that was in October 1938.

    In 1938, after Munich, Hitler only occupied Sudetenland (not entire Czechoslovakia), Hungary took Transcarpathia & Poland took Zaolzie.

    But the Czechoslovakian state continued to exist until March 1939 - when it was finally occupied by Germany ALONE, with Nazi Slovakia under Joseph Tiso remaining Germany's de facto puppet state (officially Germany's independent ally), and Bohemia being directly incorporated into Germany.

    Hitler started demanding territory from Poland (as well as Free City Danzig) in March 1939 - just after destroying Czechoslovakia.

    In the meantime - also in March 1939 - Hitler also demanded Memelland from Lithuania and threatened Lithuania with invasion. Actually German military units - including the elite 3. Marinesturmkompanie (the same which later assaulted Westerplatte on 01.09.1939) were ready for a seaborne invasion.

    So you can't claim that Soviet Union needed "passage" to protect Czechoslovakia after March 1939, when Czechoslovakia didn't exist any more.

    Before finally eliminating Czechoslovaia, Hiter didn't demand anything from Poland, IIRC. He had a wise tactics - "one major enemy at a time" or "one goal at a time". He continued to implement this efficient tactics until June 1941 - when he invaded the Soviet Union before dealing with Great Britain.

    Lord Baal:

    France was not willing to cooperate, however. So the invasion did not take place.

    Dachs:

    Hitler fooled many players in that international game. First of all he badly fooled the British, who - until March 1939 - believed in his fairy tales that he was only trying to "regain German-inhabited territories for their rightful owner". Remember that banana on Chamberlain's face when he came back from Munich and showed that piece of paper signed by Hitler to everyone? But very soon it turned out that the Munich Agreement was worthless, as other Hitler's promises:

    Hitler fooled also Stalin - Stalin supplied Hitler's war machine, helped him destroying Poland and believed in Hitler's friendly attitude.

    =========================================

    Happy "banana" on Chamberlain's face after betraying Britain's ally at Munich:


    Link to video.

    Indeed, that was Chamberlain's:


    Link to video.
     
  19. Domen

    Domen Misico dux Vandalorum

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    A brief (and incomplete) timeline of early German provocations and border violations against Poland:

    On 15 March 1939 Nazi Germany broke the Munich Agreement, destroying a country which had Anglo-French guarantees, occupying areas which had never been part of Germany, losing credibility in the international area (everyone realized that agreements signed with Germany are worth as much as paper used to print them). Shortly after that Germany officially negated validity of treaties signed after the end of the First World War.

    On 21 March 1939 German minister of foreign affairs publicly shouted: "Polish minister must come to Berlin to finally solve the contentious questions!". Day later - on 22 March 1939 - 62 warships of Kriegsmarine (including 3 pocket battleships) - entered the waters of Central Baltic in a spectacular Demonstration Of Power against Poland. Only between 3 and 20 April 1939, there were 60 cases of Luftwaffe planes violating Polish airspace. By the end of April 1939 a protest was entered to the German Embassy in Warsaw regarding these violations.

    Without response from the German Embassy.
     
  20. red_elk

    red_elk Deity

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    Here we go again, long and extensive rebuff of what I've never claimed. If you quote the first sentence of my post, you could as well try to read the second one: "After Munich, IIRC this was no longer required"
     

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