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Monday, April 11, 2005

Appeasing Stalin

In light of Tamihere holocaust comments, let's get into a history lesson. It has been said that the allies could have done more to help the victims of the Holocaust during the war. I think in a way, this is true, but not in the immediate way that you might think.

Many death camps were in Poland. The allies could have helped the resistance in Poland far more than they did, and this in turn, could have helped prevent transport to the death camps. Prior to the Soviet Union joining the allied cause (ie when the Soviet Union and Germany were still allies), many weapons and supplies drops were made to the Polish Resistance Home Army.

This is what I wrote on Silent Running when accused of accusing the British and Americans of complicity in genocide.

I'm not saying the British and Americans were complicit in genocide, what I am saying is that their hands were effectively tied because they were much, much more worried about Stalin's reaction to helping the underground army in Poland than they were worried about the Pole's loyalty to the allied cause. Rather than treating Stalin like the bully he was, and effectively using the help they gave him as bargaining points, they thought by giving in to his every desire would keep him onside. The appeasement just made him bolder over time, made him think that they were weak and not really even good allies to each other.

Archonix said
"Until the end of the war, until our armies were right on their doorstep, the only effective way we had of attacking the camps was through bombing."

No, there was the Polish Home Army. Even with a 10th of the arms dropped to Greece, a 20th of those dropped to France and Yugoslavia, between 1941 and 1944 the army managed to destroy, damage or derail more than 7,000 German trains. Inside Poland, German officials and troops discovered that they could never feel completely safe. The Army assassinated thousands of them, including SS and Gestapo. It was more than 350,000 strong, the largest resistance force in any occupied European nation, and, according to a British military staff report, "the strongest, best organised and most determined."

From A Question of Honor by Lynne Olson and Stanley Cloud :

The Combined Chiefs had been advised in a top-secret memo by their intelligence staff that "in the present circumstances, the Russian reaction to any attempt to equip fully the secret army in Poland would be violently hostile." This, of course, was because the Kremlin was already planning a Soviet takeover of postwar Poland. In a report to London, the British military mission in Washington noted that the rejection of the Pole's request [for arms and other supplies] was meant to avoid friction with the Soviet Union.

In a attempt to soften the blow of their veto, the British and American military chiefs did promise that they would increase their aid to the Polish Home Army for sabotage purposes. In November 1943, the six Polish crews attached to 138 Special Duties Squadron in Britain were sent to Brindisi, Italy, and reformed as the 1586 Polish Special Duties Flight. On paper, their primary task was to fly supply operations to Poland.

But even this latest promise of limited military support met with Soviet disapproval. In October, at a Big Three foreign ministers' meeting in Moscow, Vyacheslav Molotov made clear to Anthony Eden that the Russians did not take kindly to the idea of any arms for the Poles. The following month, Stalin, Churchill, and Roosevelt were to travel to Tehran for their first face-to-face meeting, and the British and Americans were particularly anxious not to do anything that might cause problems at the conference.

The thing with this is that the incredible effect of the Soviet "alliance" with the allies is so glossed over by history that it is incredibly frustrating in exchanges like this. The terms and effect of the alliance was subject to secrecy and propoganda. The problem was not with how the war was fought, the problem was right at the very top, with how the war was "allowed" to be fought. Surely that is worth knowing and understanding?

Posted by Lucia Maria | 4/11/2005 11:00:00 pm

5 Comments:

Anonymous Ray said...

At what stge did the Allies become aware that there was a final solution and why apart from the reasons of humanity would they divert war materials to stop that
There was a war on for their survival, first things first

4/12/2005 07:37:00 am  
Blogger ZenTiger said...

This is not a case of "first things first".

The allied had every opportunity to help the Polish resistance, which would have stretched German resources incredibly.

They were hamstrung by secret deals and pressure from the Soviets, backed by propaganda from the Soviets, and even propaganda from the Allied Command (in with-holding information to the public to minimise reaction).

Stalin just turned out to be a better poker player.

4/12/2005 09:41:00 am  
Blogger Adolf Fiinkensein said...

I have not read as widely as others on this subject but my feeling is, had I been there, I might have acted as did the Brits and Yanks. The hell of it is that evrything is a compromise. How many million more lives might have been lost if the Poles had been supplied andbecause of it Stalin had become beligerently unco-operative?? Nobody knows but somebody had to guess back then.

4/12/2005 11:34:00 am  
Blogger Lucyna said...

Ray, in answer to your first question

From October 1940 ZOW sent reports to Warsaw, and from March 1941 Pilecki's reports were being forwarded via the Polish resistance to the British government in London. These reports were a principal source of intelligence on Auschwitz for the Western Allies. Pilecki hoped that either the Allies would drop arms or troops into the camp, or the Home Army would organize an assault on it from outside.

4/12/2005 10:04:00 pm  
Blogger Lucyna said...

Adolf, had you been there, I'm sure you would have made better decisions than either Churchill or FDR.

4/12/2005 10:17:00 pm  

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