The last hours before the storm

The last hours before the storm

The last days of August 1939 years were marked by stormy political negotiations, taking place mainly in the arena of England – Germany – Poland. However, the content shared between diplomats did not indicate their official intentions, and the actual goals were quite different, than declared. England wanted to remain neutral at all costs, and in the event of the outbreak of war, it was to be justified by factual reasons. Germany, in turn, wanted first of all to discourage the Western allies from taking any hostilities, what was to take place either by simple persuasion, or convincing them that their intervention was pointless. also, against all appearances, The German ultimatum against Poland was only a political game, because their main goal was to take control of the Polish territory (Hitler presented his real intentions in his conversation with Brauchitsch, when he said it, that he only wants to put Poland in a difficult political situation, then attack).

Poland's pursuit, however, both official, and real, was keeping the peace, and it would not be a room “at all costs”, that is, by agreeing to German demands.

As you know, Hitler originally scheduled the attack on Poland at the dawn of the day 26 of August 1939 year. The peak of diplomatic activities is therefore dated on the eve of this date, or 25 of August. It was then that the Germans conducted the strongest political actions aimed at isolating Poland from the countries of Western Europe, like England and France. Hitler's main goal was to make the Western powers aware of the alliance with the Soviets and to create an impression, that it goes much further, than they thought. The second tool in his hands was folding “wide, generous offer” Great Britain, what was the proposal to guarantee the maintenance of the British Empire, in the event of his neutrality in the coming war.

In connection with the first case, which was to make England and France aware of the brotherhood of the Reich and the USSR, some complications arose. Namely, Hitler's plan was opposed to Stalin's plans, who in turn wanted it, that no one would guess about his cooperation with Germany. This had its deeper goals, for Stalin, not sure of the strength of his army, he was afraid of a possible confrontation with the Polish Army. In case, if the Poles made sure of the alliance, they could send more forces to defend the eastern border, or even to strengthen the defense. also, attacking by surprise, The Red Army would achieve much greater results, than if the attack were easy to predict.

The second thing, associated with “wide, a generous offer” met with great interest from the British. English and German politicians began to meet, to discuss this issue. At first, British ambassador, sir Neville Henderson, who took on the role of a mediator between Poland and Germany, hinted, that he would only consider this offer then, when it will mean reconciliation with the Republic of Poland through negotiations, to which Hitler replied, that “some Polish provocation may at any time make German intervention inevitable in order to protect persons of German nationality” (probably having in mind the planned simulation of a Polish attack on a radio station in Gliwice).

Worth noticing, that Hitler did not take even greater steps towards Great Britain, counting, that everything will explain the further development of events. After the initial conversation with Henderson is over, gave the final order to attack Poland at dawn the next day. An hour later, a German battleship arrived in the Free City of Gdańsk “Schleswig-Holstein”, with the official purpose of paying tribute to the cruiser crew buried in Gdańsk “Magdeburg”, which sank before 25 patches. The ship anchored in front of the Polish military outpost, Westerplatte. In fact, a strike group was hidden inside the battleship “Hennigsen”, tasked with attacking the Polish unit of the next day.

Except for England, Hitler also took diplomatic steps to win over France, which was committed to Poland by an alliance. During the afternoon conversation he made to the French ambassador, Robert Coulondre?those, declaration, that Germany has no hostile intentions towards France and relinquishes Alsace and Lorraine in favor of maintaining peace. However, despite showing reluctance to fight the French, Hitler reserved himself, that it will become a necessity, in case, if France joined the war on the side of Poland. The French left it to think about.

At the same time, w Londynie zakończyły się polsko-brytyjskie negocjacje w sprawie podpisania układu sojuszniczego na wypadek wojny (patrz rozdz. 1.1.), który ostatecznie sygnowany został o godzinie 17:35. Było to wydarzenie olbrzymiej wagi, albowiem stawiało Niemcy w wielce nieprzyjaznej sytuacji. Hitler stanął w obliczu trudnej decyzji, kiedy to zdawał sobie sprawę, iż nie będzie mu łatwo dojść do porozumienia z zobowiązanymi sojuszami Anglią i Francją, przy czym na pomoc włoską liczyć nie będzie można. There were also doubts as to the real intentions of Stalin. As easy to see, this situation was not favorable, given the fact, that the Wehrmacht was to attack Poland at dawn the next day. O 18:30 Hitler came to the conclusion, that he needs time to negotiate – in conversation with Ribbentrop and gen. Keitlem orders all preparations for aggression to be suspended, arguing this with the need to conduct further-reaching negotiations.

It is worth reminding, that despite this, that aggression against Poland has been canceled until further notice, the order did not reach all German units. Polish soldiers were captured on the Jabłonowska Pass, and numerous shootings took place on the border with East Prussia. The Polish government perceived it as a provocation.

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