Sunday, July 29, 2007

Warsaw Uprising 1944: 'What more could be done?'


Those were the words of leader of the British Labour Party in 1944, Clement Atlee, as Poles rose up against the Nazis during the Warsaw Rising, that began on August 1 and lasted 63 bloody days.

The answer to the question was: a lot more than the Britain did, along with many others. The imperative from the British foreign office’s point of view was – don’t upset Stalin.

Stalin, with forces on the bank of the River Vistula, was quite content to let the Nazis and Polish Home Army destroy each other – all the better for the Soviets when they did finally enter the city three months after the Uprising was defeated and the Nazis had retreated.

Many Russian historians claim that the Red Army was exhausted and had no supplies. But that doesn’t explain why Stalin had refused permission for the RAF to land anywhere near the city during the period when it was flying planes in from Italy to try and bring a few supplies to the insurgents.

But there was no real political will in Britain to do much more. Stalin had been promised by Churchill et al that Poland would be in his sphere of influence after the war ended. Warsaw was his.

Few in the British media seemed to have had problems with this. The lone voice, as Norman Davies points out in Rising 44 (see chapter here), was George Orwell. Writing in the leftwing Tribune on September 1:

I want to protest against the mean and cowardly attitude adopted by the British press towards the recent rising in Warsaw…..

...As soon as the news of the rising broke, the News Chronicle and kindred papers adopted a markedly disapproving attitude. One was left with the general impression that the Poles deserved to have their bottoms smacked for doing what all the Allied wirelesses had been urging them to do for years past, and that they would not be given and did not deserve to be given any help from outside.

...The enormous majority of left-wingers who swallow the policy put out by the News Chronicle, etc., know no more about Poland than I do. All they know is that the Russians object to the London Government and have set up a rival organization, and so far as they are concerned that settles the matter. If tomorrow Stalin were to drop the Committee of Liberation and recognize the London Government, the whole British intelligentsia would flock after him like a troop of parrots.

[A] message to English left-wing journalists and intellectuals generally: ‘Do remember that dishonesty and cowardice always have to be paid for. Don’t imagine that for years on end you can make yourself the boot-licking propagandist of the Soviet régime, or any other régime, and then suddenly return to mental decency. Once a whore, always a whore.’

Well, why don’t you speak your mind, George? Orwell was in the process of writing Animal Farm when he penned those words. It must be remembered that it was not just the leftwing press that was a ‘boot-licking propagandist’ – just about all the other journos joined the chorus of parrots.

But most of the left in Britain did remain a Stalinist ‘whore’ up until 1956. And it’s only comparatively recently that Stalin has become the moral equivalent of Hitler.

But as usual, even though he was a socialist writer, Orwell was nobody's whore.

More?

Brilliant site on the Uprising here and the Warsaw Rising Museum site here.

70 comments:

Anonymous said...

http://www.questionofhonor.com/

Anonymous said...

http://www.questionofhonor.com/prologue.htm

Martin said...

Interesting comparator with the uprising of the Marsh Arabs in 1991.

They also did what was askd of then and got dumped on for their trouble.

metka by traczka said...

Yeah, Stalin's army was sittin on the other side of the river when Warsavians were bleeding themselves to death. No supplies, yeah??? There were many Poles, soldiers in soviet army, who could not resist and wait on the other side of the river. They just swam across and tried to help poor kids. And how many of them got shot by Natzi snipers on the way?

I remember being taught history lesson at Polish school in mid-eighties > nobody dared to say that Stalin's army just waited and waited and waited.

Just to anyone who ever comes to Warsaw: please visit this extraordinary Warsaw Uprising Musem. It's moving, it's shocking, it's worth seeing. Big time.

metka by traczka said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
beatroot said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
beatroot said...

Funny you should mention, Martin, the marsh Arabs in Iraq and how the US left them to dang and get massacred by Saddam.

I actually interviewed Norman Davis in 2003, talking about his up and coming Rising 44 - in the summer just after he Iraq invasion. And he went along – tentatively – with that analogy.

Anonymous – yeah, that is from the introduction of A Question of Honour – about RAF Polish pilots in WW II and how they were not even invited to the victory march in London. Poland by then had become an embarrassment.

What’s interesting about that book is how it shows that when the Polish pilots first went to Britain and showed that they were better than the British at shooting Nazis down – and the women discovered that the Poles were old fashioned ‘gentlemen’, they were treated like rock stars by the newspapers. .

Three years later and that was quickly forgotten.

And yeah, the Rising museum in Warsaw is the best in the capital (although there ain’t much competition).

Anonymous said...

http://www.jewishmuseum.org.pl/index.php?miId=2&lang=en

http://www.museumcompetition.pl/index.php?lang=eng

Anonymous said...

And today's version of "don't upset Stalin" is don't upset Putin!

Harry said...

You make the normal Polish mistake about who didn't want to upset Stalin: it was not Churchill, it was FDR.

Here's the timeline for you:
18 June: First use of USSR bases by USAAF for missions over Germany.
4 August: RAF, SAAF and PAF start supply missions to Warsaw.
20 August: Allies request permission to use USSR bases for supply missions.
22 August: Stalin rejects request.
25 August: Churchill telegraphs Roosevelt, suggests sending planes to supply Warsaw and then on to USSR bases to "see what happens".
26 August: Roosevelt replies "I do not consider it advantageous to the long-range general war prospect for me to join you in the proposed message to Uncle Joe."
18 September: Sole supply mission to Warsaw flown by USAAF. Drop made from high altitude (other allied planes dropped from 100 to 300 feet), vast majority of supplies land on German held positions.

Many Poles are willing to believe that they got shafted by the Russians and the formerly untold history of the Uprising confirms their belief. But very few are willing to believe that it was their best friends, the Americans, who also shafted them. Instead they trot out the old "All the fault of the British line". Apparently none of them know that they are repeating Nazi propaganda when they say it.

heat_seeker said...

Metka said: "I remember being taught history lesson at Polish school in mid-eighties > nobody dared to say that Stalin's army just waited and waited and waited."

I'm surprised. I went to HS in Warsaw in the 70's and we discussed Warsaw uprising quite freely - all points of view considered - in both history and polish lit classes. Interestingly enough, our polish lit teacher was also the party secretary for the school... I don't recall one instance of repercussions directed at students raising point of views different from the official 'party line' and we did have in our class kids of some prominent political dissidents who were not exactly shy in expressing their views.

I would think that the political atmosphere in the 80's was even more permissible wrt open political discussion (even in schools) than in the 70's... As far as I can recall , one distinguishing feature of the Polish brand of communism was that the freedom of expression, although limited, was never shut all the way, serving as a safety valve of sorts. In the 70's and 80's Poland was flooded with underground publications, political satire acts, etc.

I don't mean it as a personal remark, but perhaps when you say 'nobody dared' you really mean 'nobody cared'.. That would be more like Poland I remember.

Harry said...

And by the way Beatroot, 303 squadron most certainly were invited to march in the victory parade. They declined because none of the western command Polish army or navy were invited.

Other Poles were also invited to join the parade, the invitation was made to their government. But the troops sent by that government never arrived in London.

Again, reading a little history goes quite a long way.

jannowak57 said...

At the point the western ally’s scarified Poland for the sake of keeping Stalin on side any military action on the part of the Poles was irrelevant as there was no chance for a different outcome. The London Poles took a desperate gamble that the uprising would give them a brief opportunity to set a government prior to the arrival of the Red Army with emphasis on desperate gamble.

In the unlikely event the Germans withdrew from the city and the uprising would have succeeded, the only variation to today’s history would be that Russian bullets and Siberian weather would have caused the death of our patriots.

The Warsaw Rising was a gift to Stalin insofar as the Germans got to do his dirty work for him and the potential future treat of Polish resistance to the Soviets would be greatly reduced.

For Winston Churchill the strategy was simple, Stalin had to be kept on side and the sacrifice of Poland was a small price to pay. Great Britain was not in a position where it could help Poland when the war ended anyway. The US was in a different position but had written off Poland relatively early in the game, surprisingly there was a huge Polish community in the US whose lobby was to say the least worthless. Failure of the London Poles to mobilize the Polish American community, had that been possible was a disastrous oversight. Roosevelt himself stated, “I don’t give a dam about Poland”.

The Warsaw Rising should echo through Polish History as a reminder that we cannot trust our allies, except for brief periods where our national interests coincide can we expect foreign help in maintaining our sovereignty. Poland is still surrounded by nations who refuse to accept its existence as an independent state against this backdrop Poland’s security is based on an alliance that signed a fraudulent and deceptive treaty with Poland.

Poland’s safety still remains in whatever a Pole with a weapon in hand can achieve during the few instances history gives us a window of opportunity, depending on anything else is unrealistic.

Harry said...

^ If the UK hadn't been trying to help Poland they would have accepted German offers of peace in 1939, 1940 and 1941. Each time the offers were refused because they did not include an independent Poland.

beatroot said...

Well, Harry, reading people’s posts can get you a long way, too.

The above post says: “The imperative from the British foreign office’s point of view was – don’t upset Stalin. And if you look at the relationship betwene them and the London Government you will see that that was exactly the attitude.

Note not any mention there of Winston Churchill. He did seem very anxious about the Warsaw Rising (and probably had one of his ‘black dogs’ about it). He also was very aggrieved at the weakness of Britain’s position over handing over Poland to the Soviet sphere of influence. Roosevelt was only really about Japan at Yalta. Churchill knew that anything he signed with Stalin could not be enforced if it wasn’t kept to – meaning any ‘democratic elections in Poland', supervised by Moscow after the war. (Of course, when those elections came they mysteriously gave power to a communist party with no support within the country at all).

But Churchill still signed up.

It was also the attitude, as I have shown, of the British media, which had turned against Poles in Britain quite noticeably: something that you will notice too if you read A Question of Honour – all of it, …and the angry column by Orwell.

All in all, there was an ethralment of Stalin and the Societ Union back then, mainly after Stalingrad. That blinded them to what they were handing over Poland too.

So I agree, reading history will get you a long way, Harry.

sonia said...

Jannowak,

Great Britain was not in a position where it could help Poland when the war ended anyway. The US was in a different position but had written off Poland relatively early in the game

All this is true, but you forget one crucial detail. In August 1944, Germany might have been close to a collapse, but Japan was still strong. In China, Japanese troops were actually winning and gaining ground in August 1944. All of East Asia (from Burma to Indonesia to the Philippines) was still under Japanese control.

FDR needed Stalin more than Stalin needed him. Soviet Union wasn't at war with Japan. After Germany's collapse, if the Americans had refused to obey Moscow's orders, Stalin could have simply start to help Japan with arms and supplies, keeping Tokyo at war with US indefinitely.

US had no choice. Not until they got the bomb, anyway. Things only really changed (and US become the center of the anti-Soviet struggle) after Hiroshima... Until then, everybody was kissing Stalin's ass.

Check the date Hiroshima's bomb was dropped. Check the date Stalin declared war on Japan. 3 days later. Coincidence ?

jannowak57 said...

heat seeker said… “I went to HS in Warsaw in the 70's and we discussed Warsaw uprising quite freely - all points of view considered”

I also was in the classroom during the late 70’s and these discussions were a function of how confident the teacher was that there were not going to be repercussions as usually it was only the teachers that would be on the receiving end as children were expected to be naughty and rebellious. However in some cases parents were brought into the picture and told to correct their children’s attitude immediately. Whatever the policies actually were they were not applied consistently.

Things of all sorts got discussed with some exception such as Katyna, which was a taboo subject. It was not a good career move for a teacher to get involved with such discussions if they already had a problem with their background or be seen as the instigator of the discussion it was a career killer.

In those days the grandparents were only too happy to correct any omissions or errors in the teaching of Polish history so nearly everyone had a good idea of actual history versus the state version.

This reminds me of one of the unique moments I had in the classroom during the days of the PRL. We were being bored too death with the heroic achievements of socialism rebuilding Poland and meeting the needs of all the people when the instructor stopped and asked if there were any questions or comments the students had on his lecture. Big mistake! One young lady got up and said, “what kind fucking nonsense is this? the communists are too ignorant to even organize the material needs a women has on monthly basis” (certain hygienic supplies were not always available). The expression on the lecturers face will stay with me for life.

beatroot said...

Sonia!

Japan had been trying to surrender since the spring, 1945. Washington could have excepted then, with no invasion necessary, no Soviets running into Tokyo. It didn’t. It dropped the bomb to show it was boss. It was not about being scared Stalin was going to switch sides. That’s ridiculous. The bomb was partly an experiment of something they had spent a lot of money developing – but it was more about shaping the post war world.

The bomb was also a demonstration to any Asian who was tempted to try something like Pearle Habour again. The US, Britain etc had deeply racist attitudes about the Japanese ‘sub humans’ (quote from British commander in control of Hong Kong 1940, who he could not believe were ‘intelligent enough to fight’)… but who had been beating them for the first few years of the war.

The US was making sure that the Japs, and all of Asia, and the Russians knew who was boss. The imperialists had been humiliated by much of WW II – now it was time to remind them that the White Man was back.

sonia said...

Beatroot,

The bomb was partly an experiment of something they had spent a lot of money developing – but it was more about shaping the post war world.

That's exactly my point. The US had to drop the bomb to intimidate Stalin. Psychopaths like Stalin only respected strength and viciousness. By dropping the bomb, Truman spoke the only language Stalin understood. Getting even for Pearl Harbour was also part of the reason, for sure, but the real stakes were between US and USSR...

beatroot said...

But Sonia, they were not scared of Stalin changing sides. And all this does not excuse what a crime it was. They bombed a country that was trying to surrender. Revolting.

Harry said...

Well Beatroot, leaving aside your "Stalin had been promised by Churchill et al that Poland would be in his sphere of influence after the war ended" comment and also leaving aside your complete absence of any comment about Polish pilots being invited to the victory parade and refusing to come (truth burns so much sometimes, eh?), let's look your assertion that a nation did much less than it could due to the views of a few unelected officials (as you now seem to be retreating to with your comments about un-named officals in the FCO).

Firstly let's look at the strength of the two powers: which nation had planes capable of flying over Poland on a daily basis and the fighters to escort such planes? Was it: a) the USAAF with their Flying Fortress bombers and P51 long range fighters; or b) the RAF with their Lancaster bombers and Spitfires? And now let's look at which nation used more of its assets to supply the Uprising: was it a) the USA; or b) the UK.

And now let's look at you assertion that a nation should be held responsible for the views of some of its unelected officials. The chief negotiator of which country at the Yalta conference was later exposed as a Soviet spy, charged and convincted of lying about being a Soviet spy (because he couldn't be charged with being a Soviet spy due to the statue of limitations running out)? Was it a) Alger Hiss; or b) whoever the fuck represented the UK at Yalta?

And your bonus question for ten: the fucktards who sold Poland down the river as part of the Polish Committee of National Liberation, the Provisional Government of the Republic of Poland and the government of the People's Republic of Poland were from which country? Was it a) people from the UK as part of the role of the British in ensuring that Poland was first occupied by the Nazis and then the Soviets; or b) people from Poland?

Sorry but I've had quite enough of this 'Poor us! We got fucked over by everybody and nobody ever tried to help us! We all tried to fight the communists!' bullshit. Let's face facts: Poland was under communist rule for 45 years because quite a few Poles actively made sure it was.

beatroot said...

It's not 'poor us'...I do urge you to read some modern history writing about this. Just see the range of reviews for this book. I am affraid Britain has a lot to answer for.

http://www.questionofhonor.com/questionofhonor.htm

Then go and buy the book. It covers yakta etc and the 303 squadron thing...

Anonymous said...

Hey ,and what about General Sikorski ? Was it a plane crash or did the Brits kill him ? Tony Blair and all the former british prime ministers refused to open the british archives.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W%C5%82adys%C5%82aw_Sikorski

And why did the Brits treat general Sosabowski after the war like a piece of **** ?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sosabowski

Harry said...

Here's the deal though BR: I don't need to read a whole book to know the simple facts: 303 squadron were invited to the victory parade and refused to go because other western command Poles were not invited. And no matter how many times you dodge the question about you not knowing that they were, I'll still know that they were and that they decided not to turn up. Just as I will know that many other forces who fought on the allied side did not get invited to march in the parade. Brazil had soldiers fighting alongside the Poles at Monte Cassino but no Brazilian units were invited to march in the parade. The official representative of the Brazilians was invited to attend and did so (just as with the Poles) but no units were allowed to march. Poles units were invited, Polish units representing both governments, but none showed up. Of all the nations in the world, only units from Commonwealth nations were invited to attend the vitory parade. Apart from one non-commonwealth unit: 303 squadron were invited and they didn't show up. Well there's western betrayal for you.

And BTW, if we covering that Yalta thing, how about you tell us the country whose representative was later convicted of lying about being a Soviet spy?

jannowak57 said...

anonymous said... “what about General Sikorski”

Because they killed him (directly or indirectly), they knew he wasn’t going along with the program so he had to go. He represented a problem for only two countries Great Britain and the USSR. As it is unlikely the Brits would have been stupid enough to do the job themselves it’s likely they leaked the security details to the NKVD and let nature take it course. In those days the staff list at the NKVD and the British intelligence had some of the same names.

Those files will never be made public.

geez said...

Didn't things start to loosen up during under Gierek in the 70s? And then when Solidarnosc got stomped down in '81 with Martial Law, such discussion was stifled. Maybe that's part of the discrepency in talking about the seventies vs the eighties as stated below:

Metka said: "I remember being taught history lesson at Polish school in mid-eighties > nobody dared to say that Stalin's army just waited and waited and waited."

Heat Seeker: I'm surprised. I went to HS in Warsaw in the 70's and we discussed Warsaw uprising quite freely - all points of view considered - in both history and polish lit classes.

Anonymous said...

[B][url]http://www.warsawuprising.com/witness/schenk.htm[/url][/B]

Then a SS unit arrived. They looked strange. They had no ranks on their uniforms and reeked of vodka. They attacked instantly screaming hooorrraaay and were dying by dozens. Their commander dressed in a black leather coat was raging in the back pushing his men to attack. A tank arrived. We rushed with the SS troopers behind it. A few meters from the buildings the tank was hit. It exploded and a soldier’s hat flew high up. We ran away again. The second tank was hesitating. We were covering the front as the SS-men were rushing civilians out of their homes and positioning them around the tank, forcing some to sit on the armor. For the first time in my life I saw such a thing. They were speeding up a Polish woman in a long coat. She was holding a little girl in her arms. People crowded on the tank were helping her to climb up. Someone took the girl. When he was handing her back to the mother the tank started moving forward. The child fell down under the tracks and got crushed. The woman was screaming in terror. One of the SS-men frowned and shot the woman in the head. They continued driving. Those who tried to escape were killed by SS-men."

“I was setting explosives under big doors, somewhere in Old Town. From inside we heard Nicht schießen! Nicht schießen! (don't shoot). The doors opened and a nurse appeared with a tiny white flag. We went inside with fixed bayonets. A huge hall with beds and mattresses on the floor. Wounded were everywhere. Besides Poles there were also wounded Germans. They begged the SS-men not to kill the Poles. A Polish officer, a doctor and 15 Polish Red Cross nurses surrendered the military hospital to us. The Dirlewangerers were following us. I hid one of the nurses behind the doors and managed to lock them. I heard after the war that she has survived. The SS-men killed all the wounded. They were breaking their heads with rifle butts. The wounded Germans were screaming and crying in despair. After that, the Dirlewangerers ran after the nurses; they were ripping clothes off them. We were driven out for guard duty. We heard women screaming. In the evening, on Adolph Hitler's Square [now Piłsudzki Square] there was a roar as loud as during boxing fights. So I and my friend climbed the wall to see what was happening there. Soldiers of all units: Wehrmacht, SS, Kaminski's Cossacks [ RONA ], boys from Hitlerjugend; whistles, exhortations. Dirlewanger stood with his men and laughed. The nurses from the hospital were rushed through the square, naked with hands on their heads. Blood ran down their legs. The doctor was dragged behind them with a noose on his neck. He wore a rag, red maybe from blood and a thorn crown on top of the head. All were lead to the gallows where a few bodies were hanging already. When they were hanging one of the nurses, Dirlewanger kicked the bricks she was standing on. I couldn't watch that anymore....

[B][url]http://www.warsawuprising.com/witness/stolten.htm[/url][/B]

From a letter to his father, 5 October, 1944
... The Capitulation was undoubtedly one of the most extraordinary things you can imagine. The reality of it puts all drama, all tragedy into the shade. They came out with fully deserved honours after true heroism in battle. In truth they fought better than we did. What we can learn from it is the following: 1) that nothing sensible can come from this kind of subjugation of an entire nation. Sad but true! 2) we don't have a monopoly on fortitude, spirit, patriotism, and sacrifice (we can't take the Poles' credit away from them). 3) that a city can defend itself for months on end, with much heavier losses on the attacker's side ... and much can be learned from this by a neutral observer. 4) that although a fighting spirit and a pure and courageous approach can achieve a great deal, in the end this spirit will always succumb to material advantage.

[B][url]http://www.warsawuprising.com/witness/schmalz.htm[/url][/B]

During one visit I witnessed an event, which sickened me to my very core. The SS officer’s office was on the upper floor of a building and had a balcony that overlooked a large courtyard. The SS had lined up near a wall about 40 or so Polish men, women, and children of all ages. I distinctly recall a young woman holding hands with two small children. It was clear to me what was about to happen. I confronted the SS commander as to why these people were about to be shot. His reply was that they were being executed as a reprisal for the Germans that had been killed in the Uprising. He informed me that it was also none of my concern. Shortly, thereafter the hostages were shot before my eyes. I was disgusted by what I had witnessed and after 60 years later it still haunts me.

[B][url]http://www.warsawuprising.com/witness/thieme.htm[/url][/B]

As a matter of fact, the unfortunate Polish nation wanted nothing else but to live undisturbed by their two big neighbors. The uprising, which broke out as the Red Army was approaching, was only intended to secure the future independence of Poland. Now, however, the Russians were sitting close by Praga, the suburb of Warsaw, on the right bank of the Vistula River. The Russians were watching, and not grudgingly, how the last class of Polish leaders and intellectuals were being slaughtered. They even prohibited the Anglo-American alliance, which wanted to help the insurgents, from using their airports

roman said...

beatroot,

You said "They bombed a country that was trying to surrender. Revolting."

You're painting quite a picture there BR. Japan helpless and begging for mercy? Please read the details referencing the Pottsdam Declaration. The commanding officers of the Japanese forces had absolutely no intention of surrendering and for good reasons. Most of them were later tried and found guilty of the ugliest of war crimes and hung.
I guess it's all in the details.

YouNotSneaky! said...

I think Roman is right BR. The conclusion that
Japan had been trying to surrender since the spring, 1945.
is usually extrapolated from the fact that there were SOME people within Japanese military command which considered surrender. But they were quickly pushed aside and even in the beginning they didn't have much of the voice. Up until the bombs got dropped the top brass in Japan was willing to fight on.

Also I think there's some truth to what Geez says. I was in grade school at the time but early 80's, maybe even late 70's were much more open to these kind of discussions then a few years later what with the martial law and all.

As far as the general picture, my understanding is that the AK command, egged on by both the British and the Russians (who had been calling on the Varsovians to rise up for some time) did miscalculate. On the other hand Strzembosz has argued that the uprising was inevitable. People had itchy trigger fingers after 4+ years of occupation and now that it looked like getting some payback from the Nazis was possible the choice facing Bor was either "planned uprising" or "spontaneous uprising" (some fighting broke out even before the uprising officially started). Perhaps understandable he thought the first was the more preferable option. As far as the Brits and the Americans goes the general sense you get is that Churchill was powerless and in the end just got all cynical about it. FDR was clueless and didn't really understand how the game was being played. Maybe the same thing can be said for the London-based Polish government though.

beatroot said...

Sneak, Roman. I don’t think you are correct. The attempts to surrender were coming from the Emperor. But the surrender terms had conditions – one of which was that Japan retained its royal family has head of state. The Americans rejected this condition (although, eventually they let the Emperor be). They were determined to use the bomb on someone. So why not the Germans? Because….

roman said...

beatroot,

"They were determined to use the bomb on someone. So why not the Germans? Because…."

Determined were they? What crystal ball divulged this unknowable piece of insight to you BR? Is this historical perspective based on fact or sheer speculation based on emotion?
It was a military decision to save countless of lives on both sides should an invasion of the island have been neccessary. Much like the decision to firebomb the city of Dresden back in February of the same year. A decision that ultimately cost tens of thousands of innocent lives. Also, why not drop the "big one" on Germany? Answer: the Germans surrendered unconditionally three months earlier.

beatroot said...

Strategic Bombing Survey (1946) reported that Japan had been on the point of surrender anyway:
'Based on a detailed investigation of all the facts and supported by the testimony of the surviving Japanese leaders involved, it is the Survey's opinion that certainly prior to 31 December 1945, and in all probability prior to 1 November 1945, Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated.'


The US decided to bomb Japan back in 1943. This surprised the east Europeans working on the Manhatan Project – they assumed that the bomb was against the Nazis getting the bomb (which they were working on). But it never was. And so what if Japan had tried to surrender – they were going to get it anyway.

'The only language [the Japanese] seem to understand is the one we have been using to bombard them. When you have to deal with a beast you have to treat him as a beast. It is most regrettable but nevertheless true.' US President Harry S Truman, 11 August 1945,

So there was no need to bomb Japan. But they had spent 2 billion developing it. So why bother except to show the world what the US was now capable of. It was an experiment and a show of power.

opamp said...

Strategic Bombing Survey (1946) reported that Japan had been on the point of surrender anyway

Not quite. SBS reported that the war was winnable by conventional means by the end of 1945. This is a crucial difference: you have to account for the cost of another six months of war, and then this is not a tempting option at all. It's not like the Japan would have still surrendered by itself if the Americans ceased operaions on say September 1.

Also, a comparable effect to an atomic bombing could be achieved by using a carpet bombing with incidenary munitions; see Dresden and Tokyo. Winning a war by conventional means would require multiple such bombings. The real effect of a nuclear bomb was then a psychological one: it scared the Japanese to surrender earlier, and thus (ironically) saved a lot of lives on both sides.

The nuclear weapon is the most pacifist invention in the history of mankind.

beakerkin said...

Beatroot

Russian crimes against the Poles are very real. Katyn was one of many communist crimes overshadowed
by the Holocaust.

Stalin let the Germans do his dirty work and this isn't surprising. The Nazis and commies were allies until Hitler double crossed Stalin.

Should anyone be surprised at the actions of a man who butchered his own returning POWs? More to the point dismissing the Hiwis as motivated by mere antisemitism is dead wrong. The Soviet Union was a brutal country and widely unpopular.

My grandfather was a Polish calvalry man in the 1920 war. He fought for a country that often treated him as a second class citizen.

He did not consider Poland to be his home.

American Poloniaphile said...

I think most Brits and Americans -- if they were even an ounce aware enough to even know where Poland is on the map, or how much they owe to many people from that mythical place known as "Eastern Europe" -- would probably be ashamed of both FDR and Churchill's behavior with respect to Poland, and would slightly tarnish the images of their heros. FDR didn't give a damn; Churchill did but wouldn't act on his convictions.

It's all a useless, counterfactual question at this point, but I find it hard to believe that standing up to Stalin a little in '44 and '45 wouldn't have slightly diminished ~50 years of impasse, and salvaged a modicum of moral high ground. If either of those national heroes had even an ounce of the courage and intellectual honesty of Orwell, who knows what the world would look like today?

Anonymous said...

Marvelous discussion. Politics was dirty like hell with allies and foes no longer white and black characters, but with various shades of gray in between them... I wander what if Soviets in 1944 negotiated peace with Hitler and in that way threatened the Allies. Note the standstill on the Eastern Front lasted longer than it was needed for Nazis to finish off AK uprising in Warsaw. In fact it lasted half a year, August 1944 Spring 1954 Soviet forces stood quiet on Vistula river and Germans did not even prepare any serious defense on the other bank. This standstill allowed Nazis move precious resources to fight in Ardennes and make allies beg for Stalin to start moving. Was it not that Ribbentrop and Molotov negotiated again in 1944? And this made Churchill and Rosevelt anxious for the growing losses in the West?

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