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Old 02-03-2010, 06:21 AM
 
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I was pondering about why France and Great Britain declared war on Germany for attacking Poland on sept 1, 1939 and yet not on the Soviet Union for attacking the same country from the east on sept 17, 1939 and by oct 6 both Germany and the Soviet Union had conquered and took Poland for themselves. I thought they both guaranteed to come to Poland's defence no matter who attacked that country back then.
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Old 02-03-2010, 06:55 AM
 
Location: Peterborough, England
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Well, technically we had an out as Poland never declared war on the SU either. Mainly, however, it was a case of 'one war at a time'. We'd have a tough enough job just to defeat Germany, without taking on Russia as well.
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Old 02-03-2010, 07:17 AM
 
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France and Germany had an ongoing "Cold War" with Germany since Hitler and the Naziis came to power in 1933. Germany made moves from the very beginning which violated the Treaty of Versailles made in 1919. Germany had brought soldiers into the Rhineland in 1935 (which was a German province bordering France). Germany had entered in a union or "Anchluss" with Austria in 1936. Both actions were violations of treaty.

Most importantly, in 1938 Hitler had demanded the Czechoslovakian territory of the "Sudentenland". The French head of state, Daladier, and the British head of state, Chamberlain went to Munich and negotiated a treaty allowing Hitler to have this province of Czechoslovakia. At the time, Hitler had a great of point of telling these leaders that this was the "last territory" he wanted to gain in Europe for Germany. They were gullible and chose to believe him.

In September 1939, Hitler invaded Poland and any remaining illusions about his true intentions were gone. France and Britain had no alternative, but to declare war. Although, after the declaration precious little was done for six months.

I'm guessing though your real question is why wasn't war declared on the USSR since it too invaded Poland? The answer is more complicated. However, no treaty existed between the USSR and these countries that prohibited the USSR from engaging in this action. There was no prior treaty of Versailles that restricted the USSR. Russia had been a historic ally of the western countries in prior conflicts. The Western countries did not feel as threatened by the USSR as they did by Germany because of the geography involved. This doesn't mean to say that western leaders were not shocked at the role the Soviet Union played in the destruction and division of Poland. There was much criticism of the USSR for its actions.
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Old 02-03-2010, 09:12 AM
 
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Originally Posted by markg91359 View Post

I'm guessing though your real question is why wasn't war declared on the USSR since it too invaded Poland? The answer is more complicated. However, no treaty existed between the USSR and these countries that prohibited the USSR from engaging in this action. There was no prior treaty of Versailles that restricted the USSR. Russia had been a historic ally of the western countries in prior conflicts. The Western countries did not feel as threatened by the USSR as they did by Germany because of the geography involved. This doesn't mean to say that western leaders were not shocked at the role the Soviet Union played in the destruction and division of Poland. There was much criticism of the USSR for its actions.
So hypothetically speaking lets say that Germany did not invade Poland in 1939 and instead just the Soviet Union did by it'self and so would France and Britain have intervened or would they have still been wary of Germany and just let the Soviets invade, conquer and take over Poland ??
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Old 02-03-2010, 11:13 AM
 
Location: Sale Creek, TN
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Good question. My uneducated answer would be, that England and France were caught between a rock and a hard place. If they had declared war on the Soviet Union, after doing so with Germany, that could've made a Soviet/German alliance a real threat. If Hitler and Stalin could've trusted each other long enough, a real danger.
If the Soviet Union was the only invading country, and they declared war, I doubt Germany would've allowed a combined British/French ground force outside of the French border.
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Old 02-03-2010, 12:46 PM
 
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The classic diplomatic dictum: The Conservation of Enemies.

I think the interesting question is if France actually mounted an offensive into Germany. The Germans had stripped their western frontier in one of military history's biggest gambles. The French could have taken 20 divisions and marched them to the Rhine, retaken the Saar, and caused Hitler enormous headaches.
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Old 02-03-2010, 01:13 PM
 
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Because they weren't stupid enough to fight a second major power when already engaging another. Although, having said that they idiotically were planning to engage Russia on behalf of Finland a little later.
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Old 02-03-2010, 01:26 PM
 
Location: England.
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I'm guessing France and Britain did not see an imminent threat from the USSR the same way they did from Germany. The USSR would have had to cross Germany to invade. I could be wrong though.
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Old 02-04-2010, 12:36 PM
 
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One other point...Stalin portrayed that his coming into Poland was akin to the cavalry riding to the rescue...it was painted as coming in to stop the Nazi advance--all done in agreement with the Nazis at the time.

This was suspected as being the case at the time, but with nations not really having proof, nor actually, the where-with-all to do anything about it, it was let go.

It is, unfortunately for Poland, an example of some points in history where nations have so many threats and enemies that at times you have to choose your enemies, often based on which is the more immediate threat. Germany was a more immediate threat to France and Britain than the USSR.
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Old 02-04-2010, 02:06 PM
 
Location: Peterborough, England
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Originally Posted by noetsi View Post
Because they weren't stupid enough to fight a second major power when already engaging another. Although, having said that they idiotically were planning to engage Russia on behalf of Finland a little later.
Though the British government at least may not have been serious about this.

According to William L Shirer, what they (and specifically Churchill, the First Lord) wanted was to land troops in Norway under the pretext of aiding Finland - and then use them to cut off Hitler's supplies of Swedish iron ore. Even this was problematic - like a lot of Winston's bright ideas - but not as mad as a double war.

I'm not so sure about the French. Shirer seem to believe they were really serious about assisting Finland. Dear me!

It all came to nothing because Norway and Sweden wouldn't play ball, and the Finns preferred to sue for peace while Allied intervention still seemed a real possibility. They were probably wise.
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