Sunday, September 17, 2006

On this day in history


Not many people know this but September 17th is a cracking date for nerdy global conspiracy buffs.

… because on this day in 1939 Communist Russia invaded Poland.

… because the Communist Russians were best mates with the Nazis

And I mean really, really best mates. The bestest mates ever.

Throughout the 1920s and early 30s the Russians provided safe haven and facilities for Germans to develop fun stuff like their U-Boats, Panzers and fighter planes. Before Hitler took over, after Hitler took over. Fuck it, it didn’t matter. Stalin also happily supplied the Nazis with oil and ore right up to the German invasion of Russia in 1941.

And between the occupation of Poland in 1939 and the German attack in 1941 Stalin merrily occupied himself by rounding up virtually everyone in Poland who could read and liquidating them in all sorts of interesting and cost effective ways.

Fun guy. Fun times.

Though we never heard too much about them in this country, then or now, because Stalin was, apparently, on our side.

As, of course, were the Poles.

Hmm, tricky...

This period of history and mainstream accounts of what happened have always bugged me (and quite a few Poles, Czechs, Rumanians, Bulgarians, Hungarians, Estonians, Lithuanians and Latvians) and present a fair few unanswered questions. Questions like…

  • If we declared war on Germany for invading Poland on 1st September 1939 why didn’t we declare war on Russia for invading (the same) Poland a couple of weeks later?
  • If we joined the Second World War to save Poland and other Eastern European countries from occupation by a brutal genocidal regime in 1939 how come we declared WW2 over in 1945 when considerably more European countries, including Poland, were occupied by a brutal, genocidal regime?
  • Why did Stalin unstintingly help rearm, virtually from scratch, a country led by a man who enjoyed nothing more than making speeches about eastward expansion, the destruction of Bolshevism and the total subjugation of all Slavs?
  • How come Stalin, not exactly one of history’s most trusting individuals, and a man who had created the most effective intelligence service in the world, was absolutely certain he wasn’t going to be attacked by the Germans even though everyone, except the Germans, was telling him otherwise? German tank crews were revving up their engines, taking the covers off their guns and waving cheerfully at their Russian counterparts across the border and Stalin was still dead certain his bestest buddies weren’t going to attack. Why?

If anyone has come up with a non-conspiratorial explanation of how this all makes sense I’ve yet to read it.


Pwoar! What a carve-up!


And if you start digging deeper and rummaging around the bios of the people and organisations who bankrolled and supported the Russian and German regimes the story becomes more and more peculiar. Even George W. Bush’s grandpappy gets in on the act; though Armand Hammer is my favourite of the bunch – Holder of the Order of Lenin and a staunch Republican?

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Admittedly, unless you’re a history buff this is dry and dusty stuff but all this dry and dusty stuff has taught me a couple of things

  • Even our ‘good’ wars haven’t been all that good – unless you’re an arms manufacturer or a banker. In which case they were not just good they were fucking excellent
  • Just because two regimes pretend they don’t like each other very much that doesn’t mean that it is so. And, by the same token, two regimes can appear to be bestest buddies but sometimes all it takes is a phone call from a special someone to change the nature of their relationship quite markedly

The second point may be vaguely pertinent when it comes to the current broohaha about Iran being a very naughty country with very naughty thoughts on its mind. That would be the same despotic Islamofascist Iran the Americans and Israelis were more than happy to supply arms to throughout the 1980s and maybe beyond. And the same despotic Islamofascist Iran we’ve done a big favour for by chopping Saddam’s Iraq into three bite-sized pieces; including one almost entirely occupied and controlled by Iran-friendly Shias.

And those sophisticated 'Iranian-produced' missilies Hezbollah was lobbing around Lebanon last month? Chinese made, based on US technology sourced via Israel...

Well, maybe the US, UK and Israel are just being sporting and buncing up the Iranians for a fairer fight than would otherwise be the case.

The moral of this tale?



Take Australasia first, work your way up through Asia


4 comments:

Noel said...

Even better if you start from a group of islands to the east of Australia which as they are not on the map cannot be attacked.

Stef said...

Would love to but I can't afford the property prices

Daniel said...

The Nazi Soviet relationship is a classic example of pragatism and realpolitik. The arrangements were never meant to have any permanence. The Germans and Russians both knew this. Like so many things with these regimes they were a short term means to an end

Both were pariah states, outside the western UK/French/US hegemony of the time, & needed trade and hard currency, the USSR in particular, and both were adamant that in the final reckoning one would destroy the other. Stalin's naievty in 1941 seems to stem from a belief either Hitler was bluffing loon who would never really try to invade, or that the Germans would invade 1942-43 when he, Stalin, would be better prepared and launch a massive counter attack into Germany. Stalin deluded himself and misjudged Hitler and Nazism. Don't forget that Stalin would look at Hitler and his cause through the crudelense of Marxism-Leninism which would categorise him as an amoral, extremist capitalist whilst underplaying the more radical and racial elements of Nazi ideology. Accordingly Stalin probably thought that Hitler didn't mean most of what he said and was simply an amoral political/capitalist pragmatist ( a view shared by many in the west as well). The Nazi Soviet pact and long standing trade relaions would reinforce these notions. From a Russian POV it was a disastrous misjudgement....

From the German POVin particular it didn't matter how much of Poland and Eastern Europe the USSR controlled the Wehrmacht & SS would roll eventually 'liberate' these regions from the 'racially inferior' Soviets and more significantly its indigenous people.

Stef said...

Daniel

Yes, I've spent most of my life accepting various variants of that line of thinking as an explanation for what went on

However...

Stalin was the guy who put the P into Paranoia and he really did have access to an astonishingly capable intelligence service. If he thought the Germans weren't going to attack I believe that he must have had a extremely good reason for believing so. One that has been lost or denied to history.

The relationship between Russia and Germany between the wars involved a little bit more than trade, which is a fairly innocuous term. The Russians provided facilities for the Germans to develop new weapons and train in their use. They also supplied a shag load of raw material. The Russians helped the Germans to re-arm in a big way and, considering the historical and supposed ideological differences between the two regimes, that requires a lot more explaining than has been the case to date.

Nor have I seen an explanation as to why it was not OK for the Germans to invade Poland but perfectly OK for the Russians to as far as the Western Allies were concerned.

Your point about Stalin believing most of Hilter's rhetoric to be bluster is key. That's for sure and has more than passing relevance to some of the nonsense going on in the
Middle East today

PS I could have chucked in the Pearl Harbour thing as well to support the suspicion that WW2 was orchestrated in accord with an undisclosed agenda. Roosevelt was elected on a promise that he would not involve America in overseas wars and promptly did everything he could to get the US involved in one. US ships escorted Atlantic convoys and attacked German submarines. Japan was subject to an embargo and ordered to submit to terms it could never agree to and when, to no one's surprise, they struck back the people in charge of Pearl Harbour were stood down and denied intelligence and the means to defend their base. And after the attack the US concentrated the bulk of its effort in the war against Germany NOT Japan

etc etc

In summary

- In spite of all their differences Nazi Germany and Communist Russia best buddies
- Russia helps Germany rearm
- Western Allies are rather picky about which aggressive genocidal regime to go to war with
- US leadership suckers its populace into War
- US leadership then attacks a country that didn't attack it
- The end result is more countries are under despotic rule than when the conflict started

Familiar?