After WWI and the foundation of the Republic of Poland, the new nation was in great danger to its very existence as it was weaker than the growing power of Germany and Russia. The essence of the predicament of Poland and a threat to its independence and even to its existence, prior to the Second World War was summarized in the testament of Marshal Józef Piłsudski. He told the Poles: “veer as long as possible between Germany and Russia; if this becomes impossible, bring in to the conflict the rest of the world.” On the 70th anniversary of the beginning of WWII in 1939, it important to remember that during that year Poland saved Stalin’s Russia from dismal defeat, by refusing on January 26, 1939, to join anti-soviet alliance the Anti-Komintern Pact and take part in a two-front attack on the Soviet Union by Germany and Japan.
Polish ambassador Jozef Lipski documented in his book "Diplomat in Berlin 1933-39" Hitler's declarations since Aug. 5, 1935, that good Polish-German relations were of primary importance to him. He proposed an alliance against Russia, military cooperation, an air pact, etc. However, the government of Poland knew that the essence of the policies of the Nazi government, at all times, was the implementation of the doctrine of Lebensraum, which meant eventual annexation by Germany of Poland and other Slavonic countries between the Baltic and the Black Sea.
Poland announced its refusal to join the anti-Comnitern Pact at the worse possible time for Germany. In Warsaw, on January 26, 1939, the government of Poland told Joahim von Ribbentrop, the German foreign minister, that Poland will not join. This happened after the Japanese took two Soviet islands on the River Amur in 1937 and attacked the Red Russian Independent Eastern Army on the border of Manchuko in 1938 and then, at the beginning of 1939, started moving against Outer Mongolia.
The refusal by the Poles to join the pact, shattered Hitler's strategic plans and eventually led the Berlin government to gamble with a rapprochement with Moscow, which antagonized Japan. German predicament was evident when Poland, France and Great Britain exchanged common defense guarantees in March 1939 and Germany faced an eventual two front war if it attacked Poland. It is said that Admiral Canaris upon learning about Poland's rejection of the anti-Comintern Pact told Reinhard Heydrich that Germany did not have enough soldiers to win the coming war. The resulting complications in German-Japanese relations were soon apparent.
It should also be remembered that on March 19, 1939 Stalin delivered a speech to the 18th convention of the Soviet Communist Party – speech broadcast on Moscow radio. Stalin accused Great Britain and France of trying to foment German and Japanese attacks on the Soviet Union in order to dictate their conditions to the exhausted belligerents. Stalin then suggested a possibility of cooperation between National Socialist Germany and the Soviet Union. This offer came as a complete surprise to Berlin. It provided the Germans with the possibility of buying time by pretending to accept a permanent rapprochement with the Soviets.
Buying time was important for Germany because Poland defended her sovereignty and refused to join Germany against the Soviet Union. By doing so Poland deprived the Berlin government of the 40 to 50 well trained Polish divisions. Polish forces could have made up the deficiency in German manpower and together with 100 German divisions, would have been used in a decisive attack on Russia. The Soviet Union was the main target of the planned conquest of Slavic lands “for the next 1000 years.” When Poland refused to submit to either the German Nazis or the Soviets, the Berlin government started to gamble with a fake rapprochement with Moscow. (Pogonowski, Iwo, “Jews in Poland: A documentary History, New Jork, 1993, p. 95; ISBN 0-7818-0116-8).
Ominously, Hitler said to Jacob Burkhardt, Commissioner of the League of Nations on August 11, 1939, that: "Everything I undertake is directed against Russia; if the West is too stupid and blind to grasp this, I shall be compelled to come to an agreement with the Russians, beat the West and then, after their defeat, turn against the Soviet Union with all my forces. I need the Ukraine so that they can not starve me out as happened in the last war." (Roy Dennan "Missed Chances," Indigo, London 1997, p. 65). Hitler called the coming conflict "the war of the engines" ("Motorenkrieg"). In reality the German army used 600,000 horses in addition to the 200,000 trucks, which were less dependable than the horses according to Stephen Badsey, "World War II Battle Plans" 2000, p. 96.
Here is an extract from of Jan Peczkis’ Amazon review of POLAND, S.O.E, AND THE ALLIES, by Jozef Garlinski. It is obvious that the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact had been far more than a tactical or protective move by the Russians. “Communist apologists sometimes claim that the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact had only been a clever move by the Soviets, to buy more time. Far from a mere nonaggression pact, it was a clear act of Communist-Nazi collaboration. The Soviets sent 900,000 tons of crude oil, 500,000 tons of iron ore, 500,000 tons of phosphates, and many other militarily-significant goods, to Nazi Germany (p. 40).”
Earlier, Stalin fearful of a two front war by Germany and Japan against the USSR decided to stop the Japanese Kwantung Army in Manchuko by a Soviet offensive in August 1939. According to The Oxford Companion to World War II (Oxford University Press, 1995) Soviet general Grigory Zhukov was the first in history to use the blitz-krieg tactics. These tactic were developed jointly by the Germans and the Soviets on Soviet polygons after the Treaty of Rapallo of April 16, 1922. From May 28, 1939 the largest air battles in history up to that time were fought in Asia and involved 140 to 200 Soviet and Japanese aircraft (A. Stella, Khalkhin-Gol, "The Forgotten War", Journal of Contemporary History, 18, 1983).
Stalin, concerned that the Japanese aimed to cut the Trans-Siberian railway, send Zhukov to organize a counteroffensive using 35 infantry battalions, 20 cavalry squadrons, 500 aircraft and 500 of the new and powerful T34 tanks. This force outnumbered the forces of the advancing Kwantung Army. On August 20, 1939. Zhukov launched a surprise offensive and in ten days inflicted massive casualities on the Japanese. "Zhukov's essential achievement lay in combining tanks, artillery, aircraft and men in an integrated offensive for the first time in modern war. By 31 August, the Russians completed what they described as the most impeccable encirclement of the enemy army since Hannibal beat the Romans at Cannae. The 23rd Division of the Kwantung Army was virtually wiped out, and at least 18,000 Japanese were killed."(P. Snow "Nomonhan -the Unknown Victory", History Today, July 1990).
"Hitler's Nazi-Soviet Pact of 23 August 1939, seen by the Japanese government as a betrayal of the anti-Comintern Pact, reinforced Japan's decision to use Hitler, but never to trust him. The Nazi-Soviet pact was announced during a Japanese military disaster. ... Hostilities ended officially on September 16, 1939..." (Laurie Barber, "Checkmate at the Russian Border: Russian-Japanese Conflict before Pearl Harbour", 2000). The next day, on September 17, 1939 the Soviets, free of the armed conflict with Japan, invaded Poland. The Soviets were aware that the French were not about to keep their promise to attack Germany, when 70 percent of German forces were engaged in Poland, despite the fact that France had more tanks than Germany.
Stalin realized his mistake in killing thousands of Polish prisoners of war in 1940 including the Katyn mass execution of Polish officers, when in 1940 there was no trench warfare in France as he expected. Instead of being stuck in France and give enough time to the Russian Army to recover from the purges of the 1930ties, Hitler was victorious and could attack Russia in 1941. Russia had to depend on the help from the U.S.A. and could have used the thousand of murdered Polish p.o.w’s on the German front.
Russian cover-up of the shameful Ribbentrop-Mołotov Pact still goes on. Now after repeated world-wide condemnation of the Stalin-Hitler Pact The Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) have again “declassified the documents telling about secrets of the Polish politics” in 1935-1945, including negotiations “of high-ranking Foreign Ministry officials,” members of the Defence Ministry and secret services of Poland, according to the news agency RIA Novosti reports, and referring to the chief of the SVR public relations and mass media bureau Sergei Ivanov, who tries to put Poland, the true victim of WWII, in a worst possible light.