The Forced War
When Peaceful Revision Failed
David L. Hoggan
First published as
Der erzwungene Krieg
Die Ursachen und Urheber des 2. Weltkriegs
Verlag der deutschen Hochschullehrer-Zeitung
This edition being translated from English
First English language edition
Institute for Historical Review
We are sorry to report that the footnotes are missing in this edition.
THE FORCED WAR
When Peaceful Revision Failed
By David L. Hoggan
Institute for Historical Review
18221/2 Newport BI., Suite 191
Costa Mesa, CA 92627
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: The New Polish State
The Anti-Polish Vienna Congress — The 19th Century Polish Uprisings — Pro-German Polish Nationalism —
Pro-Russian Polish Nationalism — Pro-Habsburg Polish Nationalism — Pilsudski’s Polish Nationalism — Poland
in World War I — Polish Expansion After World War I — The Pilsudski Dictatorship — The Polish Dictatorship
After Pilsudski’s Death
Chapter 2: The Roots Of Polish Policy
Pilsudski’s Inconclusive German Policy — The Career of Jozef Beck — The Hostility between Weimar Germany
and Poland — Pilsudski’s Plans for Preventive War against Hitler — The 1934 German-Polish Non-Aggression
Pact — Beck’s Position Strengthened by Pilsudski — Beck’s Plan for Preventive War in 1936 — Hitler’s Effort to
Promote German-Polish Friendship — The Dangers of an Anti-German Policy
Chapter 3: The Danzig Problem
The Repudiation of Self-Determination at Danzig — The Establishment of the Free City Regime — The Polish
Effort to Acquire Danzig — Danzig’s Anguish at Separation from Germany — Poland’s Desire for a Maritime Role
— Hitler’s Effort to Prevent Friction at Danzig — The Chauvinism of Polish High Commissioner Chodacki — The
Deterioration of the Danzig Situation after 1936 — The Need for a Solution
Chapter 4: Germany, Poland, And The Czechs
The Bolshevik Threat to Germany and Poland — Hitler’s Anti-Bolshevik Foreign Policy — Polish Hostility
Toward the Czechs — Polish Grievances and Western Criticism — The Anti-German Policy of Benes — Neurath’s
Anti-Polish Policy Rejected by Hitler — The German-Polish Minority Pact of 1937 — The Bogey of the Hossbach
Memorandum — Hitler’s November 1937 Danzig Declaration — Austria as a Czech Buffer
Chapter 5: The Road To Munich
Hitler’s Peaceful Revision Policy in 1938 — The January 1938 Hitler-Beck Conference — The Rise of Joachim
von Ribbentrop — The Fall of Kurt von Schuschnigg — The Double Game of Lord Halifax — The Secret War
Aspirations of President Roosevelt — The Peace Policy of Georges Bonnet — Litvinov’s Hopes for a Franco-
German War — The Reckless Diplomacy of Eduard Benes — The War Bid of Benes Rejected by Halifax —
Hitler’s Decision to Liberate the Sudetenland — The Sportpalast Pledge of September 26, 1938 — Hungarian
Aspirations in Czechoslovakia — British Encouragement of Polish Defiance at Danzig — Polish Pressure on the
Czechs — The Soviet Threat to Poland — The Failure of Benes to Deceive Beck — The Munich Conference —
The Polish Ultimatum to Czechoslovakia — German Support to Poland Against the Soviet Union — Anglo-
German Treaty Accepted by Hitler
Chapter 6: A German Offer To Poland
Germany’s Perilous Position After Munich — The Inadequacy of German Armament — The Favorable Position of
Great Britain — Hitler’s Generous Attitude toward Poland — Further Polish Aspirations in Czecho-Slovakia —
Continued Czech Hostility toward Poland and Germany — Polish Claims at Oderberg Protected by Hitler — The
Failure of Czech-Hungarian Negotiations — Germany’s Intentions Probed by Halifax — Beck’s Failure to Enlist
Rumania Against Czecho-Slovakia — Beck’s Request for German Support to Hungary — Hitler’s Suggestion for a
Comprehensive Settlement — Beck’s Delay of the Polish Response — Beck Tempted by British Support Against
Chapter 7: German-Polish Friction In 1938
The Obstacles to a German-Polish Understanding — The Polish Passport Crisis —Persecution of the German
Minority in Poland — Polish Demonstrations Against Germany — The Outrages at Teschen — The Problem of
German Communication with East Prussia — Tension at Danzig — The November 1938 Ribbentrop-Lipski
Conference — German Confusion about Polish Intentions — Secret Official Polish Hostility toward Germany — A
German-Polish Understanding Feared by Halifax — Poland Endangered by Beck’s Diplomacy
Chapter 8: British Hostility Toward Germany After Munich
Hitler’s Bid for British Friendship — Chamberlain’s Failure to Criticize Duff Cooper — The British Tories in
Fundamental Agreement — Tory and Labour War Sentiment — Control of British Policy by Halifax — Tory
Alarmist Tactics — Tory Confidence in War Preparations — Mussolini Frightened by Halifax and Chamberlain —
Hitler’s Continued Optimism
Chapter 9: Franco-German Relations After Munich
France an Obstacle to British War Plans — Franco-German Relations After Munich — The Popularity of the
Munich Agreement in France — The Popular Front Crisis a Lesson for France — The 1935 Laval Policy
Undermined by Vansittart — The Preponderant Position of France Wrecked by Leon Blum — The Daladier
Government and the Czech Crisis — The Franco-German Friendship Pact of December 1938 — The Flexible
French Attitude After Munich
Chapter 10: The German Decision To Occupy Prague
The Czech Imperium mortally Wounded at Munich — The Deceptive Czech Policy of Halifax — The Vienna
Award a Disappointment to Halifax — New Polish Demands on the Czechs — Czech-German Friction After the
German Award — The Czech Guarantee Sabotaged by Halifax — Czech Appeals Ignored by Halifax — Hitler’s
Support of the Slovak Independence Movement — President Roosevelt Propagandized by Halifax — Halifax
Warned of the Approaching Slovak Crisis — Halifax’s Decision to Ignore the Crisis — The Climax of the Slovak
Crisis — The Hitler-Hacha Pact — Halifax’s Challenge to Hitler — Hitler’s Generous Treatment of the Czechs
after March 1939 — The Propaganda Against Hitler’s Czech Policy
Chapter 11: Germany And Poland In Early 1939
The Need for a German-Polish Understanding — The Generous German Offer to Poland — The Reasons for Polish
Procrastination — Hitler’s Refusal to Exert Pressure on Poland — Beck’s Deception Toward Germany — The
Confiscation of German Property in Poland — German-Polish Conversations at the End of 1938 — The Beck-
Hitler Conference of January 5, 1939 — The Beck-Ribbentrop Conference of January 6, 1939 — German
Optimism and Polish Pessimism — The Ribbentrop Visit to Warsaw — Hitler’s Reichstag Speech of January 30,
1939 — Polish Concern About French Policy — The German-Polish Pact Scare at London — Anti-German
Demonstrations During Ciano’s Warsaw Visit — Beck’s Announcement of His Visit to London
Chapter 12: The Reversal Of British Policy
Dropping the Veil of an Insincere Appeasement Policy — British Concern about France — Hitler Threatened by
Halifax — Halifax’s Dream of a Gigantic Alliance — The Tilea Hoax — Poland Calm about Events in Prague —
Beck Amazed by the Tilea Hoax — Chamberlain’s Birmingham Speech — The Anglo-French Protest at Berlin —
The Withdrawal of the British and French Ambassadors — The Halifax Offer to Poland and the Soviet Union
Chapter 13: The Polish Decision To Challenge Germany
The Impetuosity of Beck — Beck’s Rejection of the Halifax Pro-Soviet Alliance Offer — Lipski Converted to a
Pro-German Policy by Ribbentrop — Lipski’s Failure to Convert Beck — Beck’s Decision for Polish Partial
Mobilization — Hitler’s Refusal to Take Military Measures — Beck’s War Threat to Hitler — Poland Excited by
Mobilization — Hitler’s Hopes for a Change in Polish Policy — The Roots of Hitler’s Moderation Toward Poland
Chapter 14: The British Blank Check To Poland
Anglo-French Differences — Bonnet’s Visit to London — Franco-Polish Differences — Beck’s Offer to England
— Halifax’s Decision — Beck’s Acceptance of the British Guarantee — The Approval of the Guarantee by the
British Parties — The Statement by Chamberlain — The Challenge Accepted by Hitler — Beck’s Visit to London
— Beck’s Satisfaction
Chapter 15: The Deterioration Of German-Polish Relations
Beck’s Inflexible Attitude — Hitler’s Cautious Policy — Bonnet’s Coolness toward Poland — Beck’s Displeasure at
Anglo-French Balkan Diplomacy — The Beck-Gafencu Conference — The Roosevelt Telegrams to Hitler and
Mussolini — Hitler’s Assurances Accepted by Gafencu — Gafencu’s Visit to London — Hitler’s Friendship with
Yugoslavia — Hitler’s Reply to Roosevelt of April 28, 1939 — Hitler’s Peaceful Intentions Welcomed by Hungary
— Beck’s Chauvinistic Speech of May 5, 1939 — Polish Intransigence Approved by Halifax
Chapter 16: British Policy And Polish Anti-German Incidents
Halifax’s Threat to Destroy Germany — The Terrified Germans of Poland — Polish Dreams of Expansion — The
Lodz Riots — The Kalthof Murder — The Disastrous Kasprzycki Mission — Halifax’s Refusal to Supply Poland
— Halifax’s Contempt for the Pact of Steel — Wohlthat’s Futile London Conversations — Polish Provocations at
Danzig — Potocki’s Effort to Change Polish Policy — Forster’s Attempted Danzig Détente — The Axis Peace Plan
of Mussolini — The Peace Campaign of Otto Abetz — The Polish Ultimatum to Danzig — Danzig’s Capitulation
Advised by Hitler — German Military Preparations — Hungarian Peace Efforts — The Day of the Legions in
Poland — The Peaceful Inclination of the Polish People
Chapter 17: The Belated Anglo-French Courtship Of Russia
Soviet Russia as Tertius Gaudens — Russian Detachment Encouraged by the Polish Guarantee — The Soviet
Union as a Revisionist Power — The Dismissal of Litvinov — Molotov’s Overtures Rejected by Beck — A Russo-
German Understanding Favored by Mussolini — Strang’s Mission to Moscow — Hitler’s Decision for a Pact with
Russia — The British and French Military Missions — The Anglo-French Offer at the Expense of Poland — The
Ineptitude of Halifax’s Russian Diplomacy
Chapter 18: The Russian Decision For A Pact With Germany
The Russian Invitation of August 12, 1939 — The Private Polish Peace Plan of Colonel Kava — The Polish Terror
in East Upper Silesia — Ciano’s Mission to Germany — The Reversal of Italian Policy — Italy’s Secret Pledge to
Halifax — Soviet Hopes for a Western European War — The Crisis at Danzig — Russian Dilatory Tactics — The
Personal Intervention of Hitler — The Complacency of Beck — Ribbentrop’s Mission to Moscow — Henderson’s
Efforts for Peace — Bonnet’s Effort to Separate France from Poland — The Stiffening of Polish Anti-German
Measures — The Decline of German Opposition to Hitler — Hitler’s Desire for a Negotiated Settlement
Chapter 19: German Proposals For An Anglo-German Understanding
Chamberlain’s Letter an Opening for Hitler — Hitler’s Reply to Chamberlain — The Mission of Birger Dahlerus —
Charles Buxton’s Advice to Hitler — The Confusion of Herbert von Dirksen — Hitler’s Appeal to the British
Foreign Office — Polish-Danzig Talks Terminated by Beck — Confusion in the British Parliament on August 24th
— The Roosevelt Messages to Germany and Poland — The German Case Presented by Henderson — Kennard at
Warsaw Active for War — The August 25th Göring Message to London — Hitler Disturbed about Italian Policy —
Hitler’s Alliance Offer to Great Britain — Hitler’s Order for Operations in Poland on August 26th — The
Announcement of the Formal Anglo-Polish Alliance — Military Operations Cancelled by Hitler
Chapter 20: The New German Offer To Poland
Halifax Opposed to Polish Negotiations with Germany — The Polish Pledge to President Roosevelt — Hitler’s
Failure to Recover Italian Support — Halifax Hopeful for War — British Concern About France — The Hitler-
Daladier Correspondence — Hitler’s Desire for Peace Conveyed at London by Dahlerus — Kennard Opposed to
German-Polish Talks — The Deceptive British Note of August 28th — Hitler’s Hope for a Peaceful Settlement —
New Military Measures Planned by Poland — The German Note of August 29th — The German Request for
Negotiation with Poland
Chapter 21: Polish General Mobilization And German-Polish War
Hitler Unaware of British Policy in Poland — General Mobilization Construed as Polish Defiance of Halifax —
Hitler’s Offer of August 30th to Send Proposals to Warsaw — Hitler’s Sincerity Conceded by Chamberlain —
Henderson’s Peace Arguments Rejected by Halifax — A Peaceful Settlement Favored in France — The
Unfavorable British Note of August 30th — The Absence of Trade Rivalry as a Factor for War — The Tentative
German Marienwerder Proposals — Hitler’s Order for Operations in Poland on September 1st — Beck’s Argument
with Pope Pius XII — Italian Mediation Favored by Bonnet — The Marienwerder Proposals Defended by
Henderson — The Lipski-Ribbentrop Meeting — The Germans Denounced by Poland as Huns
Chapter 22: British Rejection Of The Italian Conference Plan And The Outbreak of World War II
The German-Polish War — Italian Defection Accepted by Hitler — Polish Intransigence Deplored by Henderson
and Attolico — Hitler’s Reichstag Speech of September 1, 1939 — Negotiations Requested by Henderson and
Dahlerus — Hitler Denounced by Chamberlain and Halifax — Anglo-French Ultimata Rejected by Bonnet —
Notes of Protest Drafted by Bonnet — The Italian Mediation Effort — Hitler’s Acceptance of an Armistice and a
Conference — The Peace Conference Favored by Bonnet — Halifax’s Determination to Drive France into War —
Ciano Deceived by Halifax — The Mediation Effort Abandoned by Italy — Bonnet Dismayed by Italy’s Decision
— British Pressure on Daladier and Bonnet — The Collapse of French Opposition to War — The British and
French Declarations of War Against Germany — The Unnecessary War
Neither the notes, nor the bibliography nor the index are present in this edition. We apologize for it.
Shortly after midnight on July 4, 1984, the headquarters of the Institute for Historical Review was attacked by
terrorists. They did their job almost to perfection: IHR’s office were destroyed, and ninety per cent of its inventory
of books and tapes wiped out. To this day the attackers have not been apprehended, and the authorities — local,
state, and federal — have supplied little indication that they ever will be.
The destruction of IHR’s offices and stocks meant a crippling blow for Historical Revisionism, the world-wide
movement to bring history into accord with the facts in precisely those areas in which it has been distorted to serve
the interests of a powerful international Establishment, an Establishment all the more insidious for its pious
espousal of freedom of the press. That one of the few independent voices for truth in history on the planet was
silenced by flames on America’s Independence Day in the year made infamous by George Orwell must have
brought a cynical smile to the face of more than one enemy of historical truth: the terrorists, whose national
loyalties certainly lie elsewhere than in America, chose the date well. Had IHR succumbed to the arsonists, what a
superb validation of the Orwellian dictum: “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present
controls the past.”!
One of the chief casualties of the fire was the text of the book you now hold in your hands. Too badly charred to
be reproduced for printing plates, over six hundred pages of The Forced War had to be laboriously reset, reproofed,
and recorrected. That this has now been achieved, despite the enormous losses and extra costs imposed by the
arson, despite the Institute’s dislocation and its continued harassment, legal and otherwise, by the foes of historical
truth, represents a great triumph for honest historiography, for The Forced War, more than a quarter century after it
was written, remains the classic refutation of the thesis of Germany’s “sole guilt” in the origins and outbreak of the
Second World War.
By attacking one of the chief taboos of our supposedly irreverent and enlightened century, David Hoggan, the
author of The Forced War, unquestionably damaged his prospects as a professional academic. Trained as a
diplomatic historian at Harvard under William Langer and Michael Karpovich, with rare linguistic qualifications,
Hoggan never obtained tenure. Such are the rewards for independent thought, backed by thorough research, in the
“land of the free.”
The Forced War was published in West Germany in 1961 as Der erzwungene Krieg by the Verlag der
Deutschen Hochschullehrer-Zeitung (now Grabert Verlag) in Tübingen. There it found an enthusiastic reception
among Germans, academics and laymen, who had been oppressed by years of postwar propaganda, imposed by the
victor nations and cultivated by the West German government, to the effect that the German leadership had
criminally provoked an “aggressive” war in 1939. Der erzwungene Krieg has since gone through thirteen printings
and sold over fifty thousand copies. The famous German writer and historian Armin Mohler declared that Hoggan
had brought World War II Revisionism out of the ghetto” in Germany.
While Der erzwungene Krieg was considered important enough to be reviewed in more than one hundred
publications in the Bundesrepublik, West Germany’s political and intellectual Establishment, for whom the unique
and diabolical evil of Germany in the years 1933-1945 constitutes both foundation myth and dogma, was
predictably hostile. A 1964 visit by Hoggan to West Germany was attacked by West Germany’s Minister of the
Interior, in much the same spirit as West Germany’s President Richard von Weizsäcker attempted to decree an end
to the so-called Historikerstreit (historians’ debate) due to its Revisionist implications in 1988. More than one
influential West German historian stooped to ad hominem attack on Hoggan’s book, as the American was chided
for everything from his excessive youth (Hoggan was nearly forty when the book appeared) to the alleged
“paganism” of his German publisher.
The most substantive criticism of The Forced War was made by German historians Helmut Krausnick and
Hermann Graml, who, in the August 1963 issue of Geschichte in Wissenschaft und Unterricht (History in
Scholarship and Instruction), attacked the book on grounds of a number of instances of faulty documentation. A
Revisionist historian, Professor Kurt Glaser, after examining The Forced War and its critics’ arguments in Der
Zweite Weltkrieg und die Kriegsschuldfrage (The Second World War and the Question of War Guilt), found, that
while some criticisms had merit, “It is hardly necessary to repeat here that Hoggan was not attacked because he had
erred here and there — albeit some of his errors are material — but because he had committed heresy against the
creed of historical orthodoxy.”
Meanwhile, in the United States, Hoggan and Harry Elmer Barnes, Hoggan’s mentor and the most influential
American Revisionist scholar and promoter, became embroiled in a dispute over Hoggan’s failure to revise The
Forced War in the face of the few warranted criticisms. Hoggan, proud and somewhat temperamental, refused to
yield, despite a substantial grant arranged for him by Barnes. Barnes’s death in 1968 and financial difficulties
created an impasse with the original publisher which blocked publication until IHR obtained the rights; IHR’s
difficulties have been mentioned above. Habent sua fata libelli.
Whatever minor flaws in Hoggan’s documentation, The Forced War, in the words of Harry Elmer Barnes,
written in 1963, “In its present form, … it not only constitutes the first thorough study of the responsibility for the
causes of the Second World War in any language but is likely to remain the definitive Revisionist work on this
subject for many years.” Hoggan prophesied well: the following quarter century has produced no Revisionist study
of the origins of the war to match The Forced War; as for the Establishment’s histories regarding Hitler’s foreign
policy, to quote Professor H.W. Koch of the University of York, England, writing in 1985, such a major work is
still lacking” (Aspects of the Third Reich. ed. H.W. Koch, St. Martin’s Press, New York, p. 186). Thus its
publication after so many years is a major, if belated, victory for Revisionism in the English-speaking world. If the
publication of The Forced War can contribute to an increase in the vigilance of a new generation of Americans
regarding the forced wars that America’s interventionist Establishment may seek to impose in the future, the aims
of the late David Hoggan, who passed away in August 1988, will have been, in part, realized.
IHR would like to acknowledge the assistance of Russell Granata and Tom Kerr in the publication of The
Forced War; both these American Revisionists gave of their time so that a better knowledge of the past might
produce a better future, for their children and ours.
— Theodore J. O’Keefe January, 1989
This book is an outgrowth of a research project in diplomatic history entitled Breakdown of German-Polish
Relations in 1939. It was offered and accepted as a doctoral dissertation at Harvard University in 1948. It was
prepared under the specific direction of Professors William L. Langer and Michael Karpovich who were recognized
throughout the historical world as being leading authorities on modern European history, and especially in the field
of diplomatic history.
During the execution of this investigation I also gained much from consultation with other experts in this field
then at Harvard, such as Professor Sidney B. Fay, Professor Harry R. Rudin, who was guest professor at Harvard
during the academic year, 1946-1947, and Professor David Owen, at that time the chairman of the Harvard History
Department and one of the world’s leading experts on modern British history.
It has been a source of gratification to me that the conclusions reached in the 1948 monograph have been
confirmed and extended by the great mass of documentary and memoir material which has been made available
since that time.
While working on this project, which is so closely and directly related to the causes of the Second World War, I
was deeply impressed with the urgent need for further research and writing on the dramatic and world-shaking
events of 1939 and their historical background in the preceding decade.
It was astonishing to me that, nine years after the launching of the Second World War in September 1939, there
did not exist in any language a comprehensive and reliable book on this subject. The only one devoted specifically
and solely to this topic was Diplomatic Prelude by Sir Lewis B. Namier, an able English-Jewish historian who was
a leading authority on the history of eighteenth century Britain. He had no special training or capacity for dealing
with contemporary diplomatic history. His book, published in 1946, was admittedly based on the closely censored
documents which had appeared during the War and on the even more carefully screened and unreliable material
produced against the National Socialist leaders at the Nuremberg Trials.
This lack of authentic material on the causes of the second World War presented a remarkable contrast to that
which existed following the end of the first World War. Within less than two years after the Armistice of
November 1918, Professor Sidney B. Fay had discredited for all time the allegation that Germany and her allies had
been solely responsible for the outbreak of war in August 1914. This was a fantastic indictment. Yet, on it was
based the notorious war-guilt clause (Article 239) of the Treaty of Versailles that did so much to bring on the
explosive situation which, as will be shown in this book, Lord Halifax and other British leaders exploited to
unleash the second World War almost exactly twenty years later.
By 1927, nine years after Versailles, there was an impressive library of worthy and substantial books by socalled
revisionist scholars which had at least factually obliterated the Versailles war-guilt verdict. These books had
appeared in many countries; the United States, Germany, England, France, Austria and Italy, among others. They
were quickly translated, some even into Japanese. Only a year later there appeared Fay’s Origins of the World War,
which still remains, after more than thirty years, the standard book in the English language on 1914 and its
background. Later materials, such as the Berchtold papers and the Austro-Hungarian diplomatic documents
published in 1930, have undermined Fay’s far too harsh verdict on the responsibility of the Austrians for the War.
Fay himself has been planning for some time to bring out a new and revised edition of his important work.
This challenging contrast in the historical situation after the two World Wars convinced me that I could do no
better than to devote my professional efforts to this very essential but seemingly almost studiously avoided area of
contemporary history; the background of 1939. There were a number of obvious reasons for this dearth of sound
published material dealing with this theme.
The majority of the historians in the victorious allied countries took it for granted that there was no war-guilt
question whatever in regard to the second World War. They seemed to be agreed that no one could or ever would
question the assumption that Hitler and the National Socialists were entirely responsible for the outbreak of war on
September 1, 1939, despite the fact that, even in 1919, some able scholars had questioned the validity of the warguilt
clause of the Versailles Treaty. The attitude of the historical guild after the second World War was concisely
stated by Professor Louis Gottschalk of the University of Chicago, a former President of the American Historical
Association: “American historians seem to be generally agreed upon the war-guilt question of the second World
War.” In other words, there was no such question.
This agreement was not confined to American historians; it was equally true not only of those in Britain, France
and Poland but also of the great majority of those in the defeated nations: Germany and Italy. No general revisionist
movement like that following 1918 was stirring in any European country for years after V-J Day. Indeed, it is only
faintly apparent among historians even today.
A second powerful reason for the virtual non-existence of revisionist historical writing on 1939 was the fact that
it was — and still is — extremely precarious professionally for any historian anywhere to question the generally
accepted dogma of the sole guilt of Germany for the outbreak of hostilities in 1939. To do so endangered the tenure
and future prospects of any historian, as much in Germany or Italy as in the United States or Britain. Indeed, it was
even more risky in West Germany. Laws passed by the Bonn Government made it possible to interpret such
vigorous revisionist writing as that set forth after 1918 by such writers as Montgelas, von Wegerer, Stieve, and
Lutz as a political crime. The whole occupation program and NATO political set-up, slowly fashioned after V-E
Day, was held to depend on the validity of the assertion that Hitler and the National Socialists were solely
responsible for the great calamity of 1939. This dogma was bluntly stated by a very influential German political
scientist, Professor Theodor Eschenburg, Rector of the University of Tübingen:
“Whoever doubts the exclusive guilt of Germany for the second World War destroys the foundations of post-war
After the first World War, a strong wave of disillusionment soon set in concerning the alleged aims and actual
results of the War. There was a notable trend towards peace, disarmament sentiment, and isolation, especially in the
United States. Such an atmosphere offered some intellectual and moral encouragement to historians who sought to
tell the truth about the responsibility for 1914. To do so did not constitute any basis for professional alarm as to
tenure, status, promotion and security, at least after an interval of two or three years following the Armistice.
There was no such period of emotional cooling-off, readjustment, and pacific trends after 1945. Before there
had even been any opportunity for this, a Cold War between former allies was forecast by Churchill early in 1946
and was formally proclaimed by President Truman in March 1947. The main disillusionment was that which
existed between the United States and the Soviet Union and this shaped up so as to intensify and prolong the legend
of the exclusive guilt of the National Socialists for 1939. The Soviet Union was no more vehement in this attitude
than the Bonn Government of Germany.
There were other reasons why there was still a dearth of substantial books on 1939 in 1948 — a lacuna which
exists to this day — but those mentioned above are the most notable. Countries whose post-war status, possessions
and policies rested upon the assumption of exclusive German guilt were not likely to surrender their pretensions,
claims, and gains in the interest of historical integrity. Minorities that had a special grudge against the National
Socialists were only too happy to take advantage of the favorable world situation to continue and to intensify their
program of hate and its supporting literature, however extreme the deviation from the historical facts.
All these handicaps, difficulties and apprehension in dealing with 1939 were quite apparent to me in 1948 and,
for the most part, they have not abated notably since that time. The sheer scholarly and research opportunities and
responsibilities were also far greater than in the years after 1918. Aside from the fact that the revolutionary
governments in Germany, Austria and Russia quickly opened their archives on 1914 to scholars, the publication of
documents on the responsibility for the first World War came very slowly, and in some cases required two decades
After the second World War, however, there was soon available a veritable avalanche of documents that had to
be read, digested and analyzed if one were to arrive at any certainty relative to the responsibility for 1939. Germany
had seized the documents in the archives of the countries she conquered. When the Allies later overcame Germany
they seized not only these, but those of Germany, Austria, Italy and several other countries. To be sure, Britain and
the United States have been slow in publishing their documents bearing on 1939 and 1941, and the Soviet leaders
have kept all of their documentary material, other than that seized by Germany, very tightly closed to scholars
except for Communists. The latter could be trusted not to reveal any facts reflecting blame on the Soviet Union or
implying any semblance of innocence on the part of National Socialist Germany.
Despite all the obvious problems, pitfalls and perils involved in any effort actually to reconstruct the story of
1939 and its antecedents, the challenge, need and opportunities connected with this project appeared to me to
outweigh any or all negative factors. Hence, I began my research and writing on this comprehensive topic, and
have devoted all the time I could take from an often heavy teaching schedule to its prosecution.
In 1952, I was greatly encouraged when I read the book by Professor Charles C. Tansill, Back Door to War.
Tansill’s America Goes to War was, perhaps, the most learned and scholarly revisionist book published after the
first World War. Henry Steele Commager declared that the book was “the most valuable contribution to the history
of the pre-war years in our literature, and one of the notable achievements of historical scholarship of this
generation.” Allan Nevins called it “an admirable volume, and absolutely indispensable” as an account of American
entry into the War, on which the “approaches finality.” Although his Back Door to War was primarily designed to
show how Roosevelt “lied the United States into war,” it also contained a great deal of exciting new material on the
European background which agreed with the conclusions that I had reached in my 1948 dissertation.
Three years that I spent as Scientific Assistant to the Rector and visiting Assistant Professor of History in the
Amerika Institut at the University of Munich gave me the opportunity to look into many sources of information in
German materials at first hand and to consult directly able German scholars and public figures who could reveal in
personal conversation what they would not dare to put in print at the time. An earlier research trip to Europe
sponsored by a Harvard scholarship grant, 1947-1948, had enabled me to do the same with leading Polish figures
and to work on important Polish materials in a large number of European countries.
Three years spent later as an Assistant Professor of History at the University of California at Berkeley made it
possible for me to make use of the extensive collection of documents there, as well as the far more voluminous
materials at the Hoover Institution at Stanford, California, where I had done my first work in the archives while an
under-graduate student at Stanford. Research grants thereafter permitted me to be free from teaching duties for
several years and to devote myself solely to research and writing. Whatever defects and deficiencies my book may
possess, they are not due to lack of application to cogent research in the best collections of documents for over
nearly a decade and a half.
In various stages of the preparation of my book I gained much from the advice, counsel and assistance of Harry
R. Rudin, Raymond J. Sontag, Charles C. Tansill, M.K. Dziewanowski, Zygmunt Gasiorowski, Edward J. Rozek,
Otto zu Stolberg-Wernigerode, Vsevolod Panek, Ralph H. Lutz, Henry M. Adams, James J. Martin, Franklin C.
Palm, Thomas H.D. Mahoney, Reginald F. Arragon, Richard H. Jones, and Ernest G. Trimble.
By 1957, I believed that I had proceeded far enough to have a manuscript worthy of publication and offered it to
a prominent publisher. Before any decision could be reached, however, as to acceptance or rejection, I voluntarily
withdrew the manuscript because of the recent availability of extensive and important new documentary materials,
such as the Polish documentary collection, Polska a Zagranica, and the vast collection of microfilm reproductions
based on the major portion of the German Foreign Office Archives from the 1936-1939 period, which had
This process of drastic revision, made mandatory by newly available documentation, has been repeated four
times since 1957. It is now my impression that no probable documentary revelations in any predictable future
would justify further withholding of the material from publication. The results of my work during the last fifteen
years in this field have recently been published in Germany (November, 1961) under the title Der erzwungene
Krieg (The Forced War). The German edition went through four printings within one year.
Neither this book nor the present English-language edition will exhaust this vast theme or preclude the
publication of many other books in the same field. But it will not strain the truth to assert that my book constitutes
by far the most complete treatment which has appeared on the subject in any language based on the existing and
available documentation. Indeed, amazing as it seems, it is the only book limited to the subject in any language that
has appeared since 1946, save for Professor A.J.P. Taylor’s far briefer account which was not published until the
spring of 1961, the still more brief account in Germany by Walther Hofer, the rather diffuse symposium published
under the auspices of Professor Arnold J. Toynbee at London in 1958, and Frau Annelies von Ribbentrop’s
Verschwörung gegen den Frieden (Conspiracy Against Peace, Leoni am Starnbergersee, 1962).
It represents, to the best of my ability, an accurate summation and assessment of the factors, forces and
personalities that contributed to bring on war in September 1939, and to the entry of the Soviet Union, Japan, and
the United States into the conflict later on. Valid criticism of the book in its present and first edition will be warmly
welcomed. Such suggestions as appear to me to be validated by reliable documentation will be embodied in
subsequently revised editions.
Although the conclusions reached in this book depart widely from the opinions that were set forth in allied war
propaganda and have been continued almost unchanged in historical writing since 1945, they need not be attributed
to either special ability or unusual perversity. They are simply those which one honest historian with considerable
linguistic facility has arrived at by examining the documents and monographs with thoroughness, and by deriving
the logical deductions from their content. No more has been required than professional integrity, adequate
information, and reasonable intelligence. Such a revision of wartime propaganda dogmas and their still dominating
vestiges in current historical writings in this field is inevitable, whatever the preconceived ideas held by any
historian, if he is willing to base his conclusions on facts. This is well illustrated and confirmed by the example of
the best known of contemporary British historians, Professor A.J.P. Taylor.
Taylor had written numerous books relating to German history, and his attitude had led to his being regarded as
vigorously anti-German, if not literally a consistent Germanophobe. Admittedly in this same mood, he began a
thorough study of the causes of the second World War from the sources, with the definite anticipation that he
would emerge with an overwhelming indictment of Hitler as solely responsible for the causes and onset of that
calamitous conflict. What other outcome could be expected when one was dealing with the allegedly most evil,
bellicose, aggressive and unreasonable leader in all German history?
Taylor is, however, an honest historian and his study of the documents led him to the conclusion that Hitler was
not even primarily responsible for 1939. Far from planning world conquest, Hitler did not even desire a war with
Poland, much less any general European war. The war was, rather, the outcome of blunders on all sides, committed
by all the nations involved, and the greatest of all these blunders took place before Hitler came to power in 1933.
This was the Versailles Treaty of 1919 and the failure of the victorious Allies and the League of Nations to revise
this nefarious document gradually and peacefully in the fifteen years preceding the Hitler era.
So far as the long-term responsibility for the second World War is concerned, my general conclusions agree
entirely with those of Professor Taylor. When it comes to the critical months between September 1938, and
September 1939, however, it is my carefully considered judgment that the primary responsibility was that of Poland
and Great Britain. For the Polish-German War, the responsibility was that of Poland, Britain and Germany in this
order of so-called guilt. For the onset of a European War, which later grew into a world war with the entry of the
Soviet Union, Japan and the United States, the responsibility was primarily, indeed almost exclusively, that of Lord
Halifax and Great Britain.
I have offered my reasons for these conclusions and have presented and analyzed the extensive documentary
evidence to support them. It is my conviction that the evidence submitted cannot be factually discredited or
overthrown. If it can be, I will be the first to concede the success of such an effort and to readjust my views
accordingly. But any refutation must be based on facts and logic and cannot be accomplished by the prevailing
arrogance, invective or innuendo. I await the examination of my material with confidence, but also with an open
mind in response to all honest and constructive criticism.
While my primary concern in writing this book has been to bring the historical record into accord with the
available documentation, it has also been my hope that it might have the same practical relevance that revisionist
writing could have had after the first World War. Most of the prominent Revisionists after the first World War
hoped that their results in scholarship might produce a comparable revolution in European politics and lead to the
revision of the Versailles Treaty in time to discourage the rise of some authoritarian ruler to undertake this task.
They failed to achieve this laudable objective and Europe was faced with the danger of a second World War.
Revisionist writing on the causes of the second World War should logically produce an even greater historical
and political impact than it did after 1919. In a nuclear age, failure in this respect will be much more disastrous and
devastating than the second World War. The indispensable nature of a reconsideration of the merits and possible
services of Revisionism in this matter has been well stated by Professor Denna F. Fleming, who has written by far
the most complete and learned book on the Cold War and its dangers, and a work which also gives evidence of as
extreme and unyielding a hostility to Germany as did the earlier writings of A.J.P. Taylor: “The case of the
Revisionists deserved to be heard…. They may help us avoid the ‘one more war’ after which there would be nothing
left worth arguing about.”
Inasmuch as I find little in the documents which lead me to criticize seriously the foreign policy of Hitler and
the National Socialists, some critics of the German edition of my book have charged that I entertain comparable
views about the domestic policy of Hitler and his regime. I believe, and have tried to demonstrate, that the factual
evidence proves that Hitler and his associates did not wish to launch a European war in 1939, or in preceding years.
This does not, however, imply in any sense that I have sought to produce an apology for Hitler and National
Socialism in the domestic realm. It is no more true in my case than in that of A.J.P. Taylor whose main thesis
throughout his lucid and consistent volume is that Hitler desired to accomplish the revision of the Treaty of
Versailles by peaceful methods, and had no wish or plan to provoke any general war.
Having devoted as much time to an intensive study of this period of German history as any other American
historian, I am well aware that there were many defects and shortcomings in the National Socialist system, as well
as some remarkable and substantial accomplishments in many fields. My book is a treatise on diplomatic history. If
I were to take the time and space to analyze in detail the personal traits of all the political leaders of the 1930’s and
all aspects of German, European and world history at the time that had any bearing on the policies and actions that
led to war in September 1939, it would require several large volumes.
The only practical procedure is the one which I have followed, namely, to hold resolutely to the field of
diplomatic history, mentioning only those outstanding political, economic, social and psychological factors and
situations which bore directly and powerfully on diplomatic actions and policies during these years. Even when
closely restricted to this special field, the indispensable materials have produced a very large book. If I have found
Hitler relatively free of any intent or desire to launch a European war in 1939, this surely does not mean that any
reasonable and informed person could regard him as blameless or benign in all his policies and public conduct.
Only a naive person could take any such position. I deal with Hitler’s domestic program only to refute the
preposterous charge that he made Germany a military camp before 1939.
My personal political and economic ideology is related quite naturally to my own environment as an American
citizen. I have for years been a warm admirer of the distinguished American statesman and reformer, the late
Robert Marion La Follette, Sr. I still regard him as the most admirable and courageous American political leader of
this century. Although I may be very much mistaken in this judgment and appraisal, it is sincere and enduring.
What it does demonstrate is that I have no personal ideological affinity with German National Socialism, whatever
strength and merit it may have possessed for Germany in some important respects. Nothing could be more
presumptuous and absurd, or more remote from my purposes in this book, than an American attempt to rehabilitate
or vindicate Germany’s Adolf Hitler in every phase of his public behavior. My aim here is solely to discover and
describe the attitudes and responsibilities of Hitler and the other outstanding political leaders and groups of the
1930’s which had a decisive bearing on the outbreak of war in 1939.
David Leslie Hoggan
Menlo Park, California
The New Polish State
The Anti-Polish Vienna Congress
A tragedy such as World War I, with all its horrors, was destined by the very nature of its vast dimensions to
produce occasional good results along with an infinitely greater number of disastrous situations. One of these good
results was the restoration of the Polish state. The Polish people, the most numerous of the West Slavic tribes, have
long possessed a highly developed culture, national self-consciousness, and historical tradition. In 1914 Poland was
ripe for the restoration of her independence, and there can be no doubt that independence, when it came, enjoyed
the unanimous support of the entire Polish nation. The restoration of Poland was also feasible from the standpoint
of the other nations, although every historical event has its critics, and there were prominent individuals in foreign
countries who did not welcome the recovery of Polish independence.
The fact that Poland was not independent in 1914 was mainly the fault of the international congress which met
at Vienna in 1814 and 1815. No serious effort was made by the Concert of Powers to concern itself with Polish
national aspirations, and the arrangements for autonomy in the part of Russian Poland known as the Congress
Kingdom were the result of the influence of the Polish diplomat and statesman, Adam Czartoryski, on Tsar
Alexander I. The Prussian delegation at Vienna would gladly have relinquished the Polish province of Posen in
exchange for the recognition of Prussian aspirations in the German state of Saxony. Great Britain, France, and
Austria combined against Prussia and Russia to frustrate Prussian policy in Saxony and to demand that Posen be
assigned to Prussia. This typical disregard of Polish national interests sealed the fate of the Polish nation at that
The indifference of the majority of the Powers, and especially Great Britain, toward Polish nationalism in 1815
is not surprising when one recalls that the aspirations of German, Italian, Belgian, and Norwegian nationalism were
flouted with equal impunity. National self-determination was considered to be the privilege of only a few Powers in
The first Polish state was founded in the 10th century and finally destroyed in its entirety in 1795, during the
European convulsions which accompanied the Great French Revolution. The primary reason for the destruction of
Poland at that time must be assigned to Russian imperialism. The interference of the expanding Russian Empire in
the affairs of Poland during the early 18th century became increasingly formidable, and by the mid-18th century
Poland was virtually a Russian protectorate. The first partition of Poland by Russia, Prussia, and Austria in 1772
met with some feeble opposition from Austrian diplomacy. Prussia made a rather ineffective effort to protect
Poland from further destruction by concluding an alliance with her shortly before the second partition of 1792. The
most that can be said about Russia in these various situations is that she would have preferred to obtain the whole
of Poland for herself rather than to share territory with the western and southern neighbors of Poland. The
weakness of the Polish constitutional system is sometimes considered a cause for the disappearance of Polish
independence, but Poland would probably have maintained her independence under this system had it not been for
the hostile actions of neighboring Powers, and especially Russia.
Poland was restored as an independent state by Napoleon I within twelve years of the final partition of 1795.
The new state was known as the Grand Duchy of Warsaw. It did not contain all of the Polish territories, but it
received additional land from Napoleon in 1809, and, despite the lukewarm attitude of the French Emperor toward
the Poles, it no doubt would have been further aggrandized had Napoleon’s campaign against Russia in 1812 been
successful. It can truthfully be said that the long eclipse of Polish independence during the 19th century was the
responsibility of the European Concert of Powers at Vienna rather than the three partitioning Powers of the late
The 19th Century Polish Uprisings
The privileges of autonomy granted to Congress Poland by Russia in 1815 were withdrawn sixteen years later
following the great Polish insurrection against the Russians in 1830-1831. Polish refugees of that uprising were
received with enthusiasm wherever they went in Germany, because the Germans too were suffering from the
oppressive post-war system established by the victors of 1815. The Western Powers, Great Britain and France,
were absorbed by their rivalry to control Belgium and Russia was allowed to deal with the Polish situation
undisturbed. New Polish uprisings during the 1846-1848 period were as ineffective as the national revolutions of
Germany and Italy at that time. The last desperate Polish uprising before 1914 came in 1863, and it was on a much
smaller scale than the insurrection of 1830-1831.
The British, French, and Austrians showed some interest in diplomatic intervention on behalf of the Poles, but
Bismarck, the Minister-President of Prussia, sided with Russia because he believed that Russian support was
necessary for the realization of German national unity. Bismarck’s eloquent arguments in the Prussian Landtag
(legislature) against the restoration of a Polish state in 1863, reflected this situation rather than permanent prejudice
on his part against the idea of an independent Poland. It is unlikely that there would have been effective action on
behalf of the Poles by the Powers at that time had Bismarck heeded the demand of the majority of the Prussian
Landtag for a pro-Polish policy. Great Britain was less inclined in 1863 than she had been during the 1850’s to
intervene in foreign quarrels as the ally of Napoleon III. She was disengaging herself from Anglo-French
intervention in Mexico, rejecting proposals for joint Anglo-French intervention in the American Civil War, and
quarreling with France about the crisis in Schleswig-Holstein.
The absence of new Polish uprisings in the 1863-1914 period reflected Polish recognition that such actions were
futile rather than any diminution of the Polish desire for independence. The intellectuals of Poland were busily at
work during this period devising new plans for the improvement of the Polish situation. A number of different
trends emerged as a result of this activity. One of these was represented by Jozef Pilsudski, and he and his disciples
ultimately determined the fate of Poland in the period between the two World Wars. Pilsudski participated in the
revolutionary movement in Russia before 1914 in the hope that this movement would shatter the Russian Empire
and prepare the way for an independent Poland.
The unification of Germany in 1871 meant that the Polish territories of Prussia became integral parts of the new
German Empire. Relations between Russia, Germany, and Austria-Hungary, the three Powers ruling over Polish
territories, were usually harmonious in the following twenty year period. This was possible, despite the traditional
Austro-Russian rivalry in the Balkans, because of the diplomatic achievement of Bismarck. The situation changed
after the retirement of Bismarck in 1890, and especially after the conclusion of the Franco-Russian alliance in
1894. There was constant tension among the three Powers during the following period. Russia was allied with
France against Germany, and it was evident that an Eastern European, a Western European, or an Overseas
imperial question might produce a war. This situation seemed more promising for Poland than when the three
Powers ruling Polish territories were in harmony. It was natural that these changed conditions were reflected in
Polish thought during these years.
Pro-German Polish Nationalism
Most of the Polish territory was ruled by Russia, and consequently it was quite logical for some Poles to
advocate collaboration with Germany, the principal opponent of Russia, as the best means of promoting Polish
interests. Wladyslaw Studnicki, a brilliant Polish scholar with contacts in many countries, was an exponent of this
approach. He believed that Russia would always be the primary threat to Polish interests. His historical studies had
convinced him that the finest conditions for Poland had existed during periods of peaceful relations and close
contact with Germany.
He noted that Poland, while enfeoffed to Germany during the Middle Ages, had received from the Germans her
Christian religion, her improved agricultural economy, and her flourishing medieval development of crafts. German
craft colonization had been the basis for the growth of Polish cities, and the close cultural relationship between the
two countries was demonstrated by every fourth 20th century Polish word, which was of German origin. He
recalled that relations between Germany and Poland were usually friendly during the Middle Ages, and also during
the final years before the Polish partitions.
Studnicki believed that Poland’s real future was in the East, where she might continue her own cultural mission,
and also profit nationally. He asserted during World War I that Poles should cease opposing the continuation of
German rule in the province of Posen, which had a Polish majority, and in the province of West Prussia, which had
a German majority. Both of these regions had been Polish before the first partition of 1772. He favored a return to
the traditional Polish eastern policy of federation with such neighboring nations as the Lithuanians and White
Studnicki believed that collaboration with Germany would protect Poland from destruction by Russia without
endangering the development of Poland or the realization of Polish interests. He advocated this policy throughout
the period from World War I to World War II. After World War II, he wrote a moving account of the trials of
Poland during wartime occupation, and of the manner in which recent events had made more difficult the German-
Polish understanding which he still desired.
Pro-Russian Polish Nationalism
The idea of permanent collaboration with Russia also enjoyed great prestige in Poland despite the fact that
Russia was the major partitioning Power and that the last Polish insurrection had been directed exclusively against
her rule. The most brilliant and popular of modern Polish political philosophers, Roman Dmowski, was an advocate
of this idea. Dmowski’s influence was very great, and his most bitter adversaries adopted many of his ideas.
Dmowski refused to compromise with his opponents, or to support any program which differed from his own.
Dmowski was the leader of a Polish political group within the Russian Empire before World War I known as the
National Democrats. They advocated a constitution for the central Polish region of Congress Poland, which had
been assigned to Russia for the first time at the Vienna Congress in 1815, but they did not oppose the further union
of this region with Russia. They welcomed the Russian constitutional regime of 1906, and they took their seats in
the legislative Duma rather than boycott it. Their motives in this respect were identical with those of the Polish
Conservatives from the Polish Kresy; the new constitution could bestow benefits on Poles as well as Russians. The
Polish Kresy, which also served as a reservation for Jews in Russia, included all Polish territories taken by Russia
except Congress Poland. The National Democrats and the Polish Conservatives believed that they could advance
the Polish cause within Russia by legal means.
Dmowski was a leading speaker in the Duma, and he was notorious for his clever attacks on the Germans and
Jews. He confided to friends that he hoped to duplicate the career of Adam Czartoryski, who had been Foreign
Secretary of Russia one century earlier and was acknowledged to have been the most successful Polish collaborator
with the Russians. Unwelcome restrictions were imposed on the constitutional regime in the years after 1906 by
Piotr Stolypin, the new Russian strong man, but these failed to dampen Dmowski’s ardor. He believed that the
combined factors of fundamental weakness in the Russian autocracy and the rising tide of Polish nationalism would
enable him to achieve a more prominent role.
Dmowski was an advocate of modernity, which meant to him a pragmatic approach to all problems without
sentimentality or the dead weight of outmoded tradition. In his book, Mysli nowoczesnego Polaka (Thoughts of a
Modern Pole), 1902, he advised that the past splendor of the old Polish monarchy should be abandoned even as an
ideal. He recognized that the Polish nation needed modern leadership, and he proclaimed that “nations do not
produce governments, but governments do produce nations.” He continued to envisage an autonomous Polish
regime loyal to Russia until the latter part of World War I. His system of thought was better suited to the
completely independent Poland which emerged from the War. He demanded after 1918 that Poland become a
strictly national state in contrast to a nationalities state of the old Polish or recent Habsburg pattern. Dmowski did
not envisage an unexceptional Poland for the Poles, but a state with strictly limited minorities in the later style of
Kemal in Turkey or Hitler in Germany. He believed that the inclusion of minorities in the new state should stop
short of risking the total preponderance of the dominant nationality.
Dmowski opposed eastward expansion at Russian expense, and he argued that the old Lithuanian-Russian area,
which once had been under Polish rule, could not be assimilated. Above all, the Jews were very numerous in the
region, and he disliked having a Jewish minority in the new Polish state. In 1931 he declared that “the question of
the Jews is the greatest question concerning the civilization of the whole world.” He argued that a modern approach
to the Jewish question required the total expulsion of the Jews from Poland because assimilation was impossible.
He rejected both the 18th century attempt to assimilate by baptism and the 19th century effort at assimilation
through common agreement on liberal ideas. He insisted that experience had proved both these attempted solutions
were futile. He argued that it was not Jewish political influence which posed the greatest threat, but Jewish
economic and cultural activities. He did not believe that Poland could become a respectable business nation until
she had eliminated her many Jews. He recognized the dominant Western trend in Polish literature and art, but he
did not see how Polish culture could survive what he considered to be Jewish attempts to dominate and distort it.
He firmly believed that the anti-Jewish policy of the Tsarist regime in Russia had been beneficial. His ideas on the
Jewish question were popular in Poland, and they were either shared from the start or adopted by most of his
Dmowski’s basic program was defensive, and he was constantly seeking either to protect the Poles from threats
to their heritage, or from ambitious schemes of expansion which might increase alien influences. There was only
one notable exception to this defensive pattern of his ideas. He favored an ambitious and aggressive policy of
westward expansion at the expense of Germany, and he used his predilection for this scheme as an argument for
collaboration with Russia.
He believed in the industrialization of Poland and in a dominant position for the industrial middle class. He
argued that westward expansion would be vital in increasing Polish industrial resources.
The influence of Dmowski’s thought in Poland has remained important until the present day. His influence
continued to grow despite the political failures of his followers after Jozef Pilsudski’s coup d’Etat in 1926.
Dmowski deplored the influence of the Jews in Bolshevist Russia, but he always advocated Russo-Polish
collaboration in foreign policy.
Pro-Habsburg Polish Nationalism
Every general analysis of 20th century Polish theory on foreign policy emphasizes the Krakow (Cracow) or
Galician school, which was easily the most prolific, although the practical basis for its program was destroyed by
World War I. The political leaders and university scholars of the Polish South thought of Austrian Galicia as a
Polish Piedmont after the failure of the Polish insurrection against Russia in 1863. Michal Bobrzynski, the
Governor of Galicia from 1907 to 1911, was the outstanding leader of this school. In his Dzieje Polski w Zarysie
(Short History of Poland), he eulogized Polish decentralization under the pre-partition constitution, and he attacked
the kings who had sought to increase the central power. In 1919 he advocated regionalism in place of a centralized
national system. He also hoped that the Polish South would occupy the key position in Poland as a whole.
The political activities of the Krakow group before the War of 1914 were directed against the National
Democrats, with their pro-Russian orientation, and against the Ukrainians in Galicia, with their national aspirations.
Bobrzynski envisaged the union of all Poland under the Habsburgs, and the development of a powerful federal
system in the Habsburg Empire to be dominated by Austrian Germans, Hungarians, and Poles. He advocated a
federal system after the collapse of the Habsburg Empire in 1918, and he supported the claims to the old thrones of
the Habsburg pretender. He argued with increasing exasperation that Poland alone could never maintain herself
against Russia and Germany without additional support from the South.
Pilsudski’s Polish Nationalism
A fourth major program for the advancement of Polish interests was that of Jozef Pilsudski, who thought of
Poland as a Great Power. His ideas on this vital point conflicted with the three programs previously mentioned.
Studnicki, Dmowski, and Bobrzynski recognized that Poland was one of the smaller nations of modern Europe. It
seemed inevitable to them that the future promotion of Polish interests would demand a close alignment with at
least one of the three pre-1918 powerful neighboring Powers, Germany, Russia, or Austria-Hungary. It is not
surprising that there were groups in Poland which favored collaboration with each of these Powers, but it is indeed
both startling and instructive to note that the strongest of these groups advocated collaboration with Russia, the
principal oppressor of the Poles.
Pilsudski opposed collaboration with any of the stronger neighbors of Poland. He expected Poland to lead
nations weaker than herself and to maintain alliances or alignments with powerful but distant Powers not in a
position to influence the conduct of Polish policy to any great extent. Above all, his system demanded a defiant
attitude toward any neighboring state more powerful than Poland. His reasoning was that defiance of her stronger
neighbors would aid Poland to regain the Great Power status which she enjoyed at the dawn of modern history.
Dependence on a stronger neighbor would be tantamount to recognizing the secondary position of Poland in
Central Eastern Europe. He hoped that a successful foreign policy after independence would eventually produce a
situation in which none of her immedia
Pilsudski opposed collaboration with any of the stronger neighbors of Poland. He expected Poland to lead
nations weaker than herself and to maintain alliances or alignments with powerful but distant Powers not in a
position to influence the conduct of Polish policy to any great extent. Above all, his system demanded a defiant
attitude toward any neighboring state more powerful than Poland. His reasoning was that defiance of her stronger
neighbors would aid Poland to regain the Great Power status which she enjoyed at the dawn of modern history.
Dependence on a stronger neighbor would be tantamount to recognizing the secondary position of Poland in
Central Eastern Europe. He hoped that a successful foreign policy after independence would eventually produce a
situation in which none of her immediate neighbors would be appreciably stronger than Poland. He hoped that
Poland in this way might eventually achieve national security without sacrificing her Great Power aspirations.
This approach to a foreign policy for a small European nation was reckless, and its partisans said the same thing
somewhat more ambiguously when they described it as heroic. Its radical nature is evident when it is compared to
the three programs described above, which may be called conservative by contrast. Another radical policy in
Poland was that of the extreme Marxists who hoped to convert the Polish nation into a proletarian dictatorship.
These extreme Marxists were far less radical on the foreign policy issue than the Pilsudski group.
For a period of twenty-five years, from 1914 until the Polish collapse of 1939, Pilsudski’s ideas had a decisive
influence on the development of Poland. No Polish leader since Jan Sobieski in the 17th century had been so
masterful. Poles often noted that Pilsudski’s personality was not typically Polish, but was much modified by his
Lithuanian background. He did not share the typical exaggerated Polish respect for everything which came from
abroad. He was not unpunctual as were most Poles, and he had no trace of either typical Polish indolence or
prodigality. Above all, although he possessed it in full measure, he rarely made a show of the great personal charm
which is typical of nearly all educated Poles. He was usually taciturn, and he despised excessive wordiness.
Pilsudski’s prominence began with the outbreak of World War I. He was personally well prepared for this
struggle. Pilsudski addressed a group of Polish university students at Paris in February 1914. His words contained a
remarkable prophecy which did much to give him a reputation for uncanny insight. He predicted that a great war
would break out which might produce the defeat of the three Powers ruling partitioned Poland. He guessed
correctly that the Austrians and Germans might defeat the Russians before succumbing to the superior material
reserves and resources of the Western Powers. He proposed to contribute to this by fighting the Russians until they
were defeated and then turning against the Germans and Austrians.
This strategy required temporary collaboration with two of the Powers holding Polish territories, but it was
based on the recognition that in 1914, before Polish independence, it was inescapable that Poles would be fighting
on both sides in the War. Pilsudski accepted this inevitable situation, but he sought to shape it to promote Polish
interests to the maximum degree. Pilsudski had matured in politics before World War I as a Polish Marxist
revolutionary. He assimilated the ideas of German and Russian Marxism both at the university city of Kharkov in
the Ukraine, and in Siberia, where hundreds of thousands of Poles had been exiled by Russian authorities since
1815. He approached socialism as an effective weapon against Tsarism, but he never became a sincere socialist.
His followers referred to his early Marxist affiliation as Konrad Wallenrod socialism. Wallenrod, in the epic of
Adam Mickiewicz, infiltrated the German Order of Knights and became one of its leaders only to undermine it.
Pilsudski adhered to international socialism for many years, but he remained opposed to its final implications.
Pilsudski was convinced that the Galician socialist leaders with whom he was closely associated would
ultimately react in a nationalist direction. One example will suggest why he made this assumption. At the July 1910
international socialist congress in Krakow, Ignaz Daszynski, the Galician socialist leader, was reproached by
Herman Lieberman, a strict Marxist, for encouraging the celebration by Polish socialists of the 500th anniversary of
Grunwald. Grunwald was the Polish name for the victory of the Poles, Lithuanians and Tartars over the German
Order of Knights at Tannenberg in 1410, and its celebration in Poland at this time was comparable to the July 4th
independence holiday in the United States. Daszynski heaped ridicule and scorn on Lieberman. He observed
sarcastically that it would inflict a tremendous injury on the workers to tolerate this national impudence. He added
that it was positively criminal to refer to Wawel (the former residence of Polish kings in Krakow) because this
might sully the red banners of socialism. Pilsudski himself later made the cynical remark that those who cared
about socialism might ride the socialist trolley to the end of the line, but he preferred to get off at independence
Pilsudski was active with Poles from other political groups after 1909 in forming separate military units to
collaborate with Austria-Hungary in wartime. This action was encouraged by Austrian authorities who hoped that
Pilsudski would be able to attract volunteers from the Russian section. Pilsudski was allowed to command only one
brigade of this force, but he emerged as the dominant leader. The Krakow school hoped to use his military zeal to
build Polish power within the Habsburg Empire, and one of their leaders, Jaworski, remarked that he would exploit
Pilsudski as Cavour had once exploited Garibaldi. Pilsudski, like Garibaldi, had his own plans, and events were to
show that he was more successful in realizing them.
Poland in World War I
World War I broke out in August 1914 after Russia, with the encouragement of Great Britain and France,
ordered the general mobilization of her armed forces against Germany and Austria-Hungary. The Russians were
determined to support Serbia against Austria-Hungary in the conflict which resulted from the assassination of the
heir to the Austrian and Hungarian thrones and his wife by Serbian conspirators. Russian mobilization plans
envisaged simultaneous military action against both the Germans and Austro-Hungarians. Poincaré and Viviani, the
French leaders, welcomed the opportunity to engage Germany in a conflict, because they hoped to reconquer
Alsace-Lorraine. Sir Edward Grey and the majority of the British leaders looked forward to the opportunity of
winning the spoils of war from Germany, and of disposing of an allegedly dangerous rival. Austria-Hungary
wished to maintain her security against Serbian provocations, and the German leaders envisaged war with great
reluctance as a highly unwelcome development.
Russia, as the ally of Great Britain and France, succeeded in keeping the Polish question out of Allied
diplomacy until the Russian Revolution of 1917. A Russian proclamation of August 18, 1914, offered vague
rewards to the Poles for their support in the war against Germany, but it contained no binding assurances. Dmowski
went to London in November 1915 to improve his contacts with British and French leaders, but he was careful to
work closely with Alexander Izvolsky, Russian Ambassador to France and the principal Russian diplomat abroad.
Dmowski’s program called for an enlarged autonomous Polish region within Russia. His activities were for the
most part welcomed by Russia, but Izvolsky reported to foreign Minister Sergei Sazonov in April 1916 that
Dmowski went too far in discussing certain aspects of the Polish question.
Pilsudski in the meantime had successfully resisted attempts by the Austrian War Department to deprive his
cadres of their special status when it became obvious that they were no magnet to the Poles across the Russian
frontier. Responsibility for maintaining the separate status of the forces was entrusted to a Polish Chief National
Committee (Naczelnik Komitet Narodowy). The situation was precarious because many of the Galician Poles
proved to be pro-Russian after war came, and they did not care to join Pilsudski. They expected Russia to win the
war. They might be tolerated following a Russian victory as mere conscripts of Austria, but they would be
persecuted for serving with Pilsudski. As a result, there were only a few thousand soldiers under Pilsudski and his
friends during World War I. The overwhelming majority of all Polish veterans saw military service only with the
Russians. Large numbers of Polish young men from Galicia fled to the Russians upon the outbreak of war to escape
service with either the Austrians or with Pilsudski. It was for this reason that the impact of Pilsudski on the
outcome of the war against Russia was negligible. He nevertheless achieved a prominent position in Polish public
opinion, whatever individual Poles might think of him, and he managed to retain it. General von Beseler, the
Governor of German-occupied Poland, proclaimed the restoration of Polish independence on November 5, 1916,
following an earlier agreement between Germany and Austria-Hungary. His announcement was accompanied by a
German Army band playing the gay and exuberant Polish anthem from the Napoleonic period, Poland Still Is Not
Lost! (Jeszcze Polska nie Zginele!). Polish independence was rendered feasible by the German victories over
Russia in 1915 which compelled the Russians to evacuate most of the Polish territories, including those which they
had seized from Austria in the early months of the war. Pilsudski welcomed this step by Germany with good
reason, although he continued to hope for the ultimate defeat of Germany in order to free Poland from any German
influence and to aggrandize Poland at German expense.
A Polish Council of State was established on December 6, 1916, and met for the first time on January 14, 1917.
The position of the Council during wartime was advisory to the occupation authorities, and the prosecution of the
war continued to take precedence over every other consideration. Nevertheless, important concessions were made
to the Poles during the period from September 1917 until the end of the war. The Council was granted the
administration of justice in Poland and control over the Polish school system, and eventually every phase of Polish
life came under its influence. The Council was reorganized in the autumn of 1917, and on October 14, 1917, a
Regency Council was appointed in the expectation that Poland would become an independent kingdom allied to the
German and Austro-Hungarian monarchies. The German independence policy was recognized by Poles everywhere
as a great aid to the Polish cause, and Roman Dmowski, never a friend of Germany, was very explicit in stating this
in his book, Polityka Polska i Odbudowanie Panstwa (Polish Policy and the Reconstruction of the State), which
described the events of this period. Negotiators for the Western Allies, on the other hand, were willing to reverse
the German independence policy as late as the summer of 1917 and to offer all of Poland to Austria-Hungary, if by
doing so they could separate the Central Powers and secure a separate peace with the Habsburgs.
The Germans for their part were able to assure President Wilson in January 1917, when the United States was
still neutral in the War, that they had no territorial aims in the West and that they stood for the independence of
Poland. President Wilson delivered a speech on January 22, 1917, in which he stressed the importance of obtaining
access to the Sea for Poland, but James Gerard, the American Ambassador to Germany, assured German
Chancellor Bethmann Hollweg that Wilson did not wish to see any Baltic port of Germany detached from German
rule. It is not surprising that in German minds both before and after the 1918 armistice the Wilson Program for
Poland envisaged access to the Sea in terms of free port facilities and not in the carving of one or more corridors to
the Sea through German territory. There was no objection from Germany when the Polish Council of State in
Warsaw sent a telegram to Wilson congratulating him for his speech of January 22, 1917, which had formulated
Wilsonian Polish policy in terms later included as the 13th of the famous 14 Points.
The Russian Provisional Government raised the question of Polish independence in a statement of March 29,
1917, but they stressed the necessity of a permanent Russo-Polish “alliance,” with special “guarantees,” as the
conditio sine qua non. Arthur James Balfour, the Conservative leader in the British Coalition Government,
endorsed the Russian proposition, although he knew that the Russians intended a merely autonomous Poland.
Dmowski responded to the March 1917 Russian Revolution by advocating a completely independent Poland of
200,000 square miles, which was approximately equal to the area of the German Empire, and he attempted to
counter the arguments raised against Polish independence in Great Britain and France.
Pilsudski at this time was engaged in switching his policy from support of Germany to support of the Western
Allies. He demanded a completely independent Polish national army before the end of the war, and the immediate
severance of any ties which made Poland dependent on the Central Powers. He knew that there was virtually no
chance for the fulfillment of these demands at the crucial stage which the war had reached by the summer of 1917.
The slogan of his followers was a rejection of compromise: “Never a state without an army, never an army without
Pilsudski.” Pilsudski was indeed head of the military department of the Polish Council of State, but he resigned on
July 2, 1917, when Germany and Austria-Hungary failed to accept his demands.
Pilsudski deliberately provoked the Germans until they arrested him and placed him for the duration of the war
in comfortable internment with his closest military colleague, Kazimierz Sosnkowski, at Magdeburg on the Elbe. It
was Pilsudski’s conviction that only in this way could he avoid compromising himself with the Germans before
Polish public opinion. His arrest by Germany made it difficult for his antagonists in Poland to argue that he had
been a mere tool of German policy. It was a matter of less concern that this accusation was made in the Western
countries despite his arrest during the months and years which followed.
A threat to Pilsudski’s position in Poland was implicit in the organization of independent Polish forces in Russia
after the Revolution under a National Polish Army Committee (Naczpol). These troops were under the influence of
Roman Dmowski and his National Democrats. The conclusion of peace between Russia and Germany at Brest-
Litovsk in March 1918 stifled this development, and the Polish forces soon began to surrender to the Germans. The
Bolshevik triumph and peace with Germany dealt a severe blow to the doctrine of Polish collaboration with Russia.
The surrender by Germany of the Cholm district of Congress Poland to the Ukraine at Brest-Litovsk in March 1918
dealt a fatal blow to the prestige of the Regency Council in Poland, and prepared the way for the establishment of
an entirely new Government when Germany went down in revolution and defeat in November 1918.
Polish Expansion After World War I
It was fortunate for Pilsudski that the other Poles were unable to achieve any thing significant during his
internment in Germany. He was released from Magdeburg during the German Revolution, and he returned speedily
to Poland. On November 14, 1918, the Regency Council turned over its powers to Pilsudski, and the Poles, who
were in the midst of great national rejoicing, despite the severe prevailing economic conditions, faced an entirely
new situation. Pilsudski knew there would be an immediate struggle for power among the political parties. His first
step was to consolidate the Polish Socialist Party (PPS) of Congress Poland, and the Polish Social-Democratic
Party (PPSD) of Galicia under his own leadership.
Pilsudski had an enormous tactical advantage which he exploited to the limit. He was a socialist, and he had
fought for the Germans. His principal political opponents, the National Democrats, were popular with the Western
Powers. Poland was not mentioned in the November 1918 armistice agreement with Germany, and soon after the
armistice a protracted peace conference began. Pilsudski was persona non grata at Versailles. He gladly expressed
his confidence in the Paris negotiation efforts of the National Democrats in the interest of obtaining a united Polish
front. It was not his responsibility, but that of his opponents, to secure advantages for Poland at the peace
conference. This effort was almost certain to discredit his opponents, because Polish demands were so exorbitant
that they could scarcely be satisfied. Pilsudski was free to turn his own efforts toward the Polish domestic situation.
He made good use of his time, and he never lost the political initiative gained during those days. His cause was
aided by an agreement he made with the Germans as early as November 11, 1918, before the armistice in the West.
According to this agreement, the occupation troops would leave with their arms which they would surrender at the
frontier (German-Congress Poland frontier of 1914, which was confirmed at Brest-Litovsk, 1918). The operation
was virtually completed by November 19, 1918, and the agreement was faithfully carried out by both sides.
The Polish National Committee in Paris, which was dominated by Roman Dmowski and the National
Democrats, faced a much less promising situation. The diplomats of Great Britain and France regarded the Poles
with condescension, and Premier Clemenceau informed Paderewski, the principal collaborator of Dmowski in the
peace negotiation, that in his view Poland owed her independence to the sacrifices of the Allies. The Jewish
question also plagued the Polish negotiators, and they were faced by demands from American Jewish groups which
would virtually have created an independent Jewish state within Poland. President Wilson was sympathetic toward
these demands, and he emphasized in the Council of Four (United States, Great Britain, France, Italy) on May 1,
1919, that “the Jews were somewhat inhospitably regarded in Poland.” Paderewski explained the Polish attitude on
the Jewish question in a memorandum of June 15, 1919, in which he observed that the Jews of Poland “on many
occasions” had considered the Polish cause lost, and had sided with the enemies of Poland. Ultimately most of the
Jewish demands were modified, but article 93 of the Versailles treaty forced Poland to accept a special pact for
minorities which was highly unpopular.
The Polish negotiators might have achieved their extreme demands against Germany had it not been for Lloyd
George, because President Wilson and the French were originally inclined to give them all that they asked.
Dmowski demanded the 1772 frontier in the West, plus the key German industrial area of Upper Silesia, the City of
Danzig, and the southern sections of East Prussia. In addition, he demanded that the rest of East Prussia be
constituted as a separate state under Polish control, and later he also requested part of Middle Silesia for Poland.
Lloyd George soon began to attack the Polish position, and he concentrated his effort on influencing and modifying
the attitude of Wilson. It was clear to him that Italy was indifferent, and that France would not be able to resist a
common Anglo-American program.
Lloyd George had reduced the Polish demands in many directions before the original draft of the treaty was
submitted to the Germans on May 7, 1919. A plebiscite was scheduled for the southern districts of East Prussia, and
the rest of that province was to remain with Germany regardless of the outcome. Important modifications of the
frontier in favor of Germany were made in the region of Pomerania, and the city of Danzig was to be established as
a protectorate under the League of Nations rather than as an integral part of Poland. Lloyd George concentrated on
Upper Silesia after the Germans had replied with their objections to the treaty. Wilson’s chief expert on Poland,
Professor Robert Lord of Harvard University, made every effort to maintain the provision calling for the surrender
of this territory to Poland without a plebiscite. Lloyd George concentrated on securing a plebiscite, and ultimately
The ultimate treaty terms gave Poland much more than she deserved, and much more than she should have
requested. Most of West Prussia, which had a German majority at the last census, was surrendered to Poland
without plebiscite, and later the richest industrial section of Upper Silesia was given to Poland despite the fact that
the Poles lost the plebiscite there. The creation of a League protectorate for the national German community of
Danzig was a disastrous move; a free harbor for Poland in a Danzig under German rule would have been far more
equitable. The chief errors of the treaty included the creation of the Corridor, the creation of the so-called Free City
of Danzig, and the cession of part of Upper Silesia to Poland. These errors were made for the benefit of Poland and
to the disadvantage of Germany, but they were detrimental to both Germany and Poland. An enduring peace in the
German-Polish borderlands was impossible to achieve within the context of these terms. The settlement was also
contrary to the 13th of Wilson’s 14 Points, which, except for the exclusion of point 2, constituted a solemn Allied
contractual agreement on peace terms negotiated with Germany when she was still free and under arms. The
violation of these terms when defenseless Germany was in the chains of the armistice amounted to a pinnacle of
deceit on the part of the United States and the European Western Allies which could hardly be surpassed. The
position of the United States in this unsavory situation was somewhat modified by the American failure to ratify the
Treaty of Versailles in 1919 and 1920. The Polish negotiators remained discredited at home because they had failed
to achieve their original demands, which had been widely publicized in Poland.
An aspect of this situation especially pleasing to Pilsudski was the confused condition of Russia which caused
the Allied diplomats to postpone the discussion of the eastern frontiers of Poland. Pilsudski was more interested in
eastward expansion than in the westward expansion favored by Dmowski. The absence of any decisions at Paris
concerning the status quo in the East gave Pilsudski a welcome opportunity to pursue his own program in that area.
The left-wing radical tide was rising with Poland, but Pilsudski was not unduly worried by this situation. He
allowed the sincere Marxist, Moraczewski, to form a government. The government proclaimed an electoral decree
on November 28, 1918, which provided for proportional representation and universal suffrage. Pilsudski secretly
undermined the Government in every direction, and he encouraged his friends in the army to oppose it. He also
knew that the National Democrats hated socialism, and played them off against Moraczewski.
On January 4, 1919, while Roman Dmowski was in Paris, the National Democrats recklessly attempted to upset
Moraczewski by a poorly planned coup d’Etat. Pilsudski defended the Government, and the National Democrats
lost prestige when their revolt was crushed. Pilsudski did not relish the barter of parliamentary politics, but Walery
Slawek, his good friend and political expert, did most of this distasteful work for him. This enabled Pilsudski to
concentrate at an early date on the Polish Army and Polish foreign policy, which were his two real interests.
Pilsudski won over many prominent opponents; he had earlier won the support of Edward Smigly-Rydz, who
directed the capture of Lvov (Lemberg) from the Ukrainians in November 1918. Smigly-Rydz later succeeded
Pilsudski as Marshal of Poland.
There was action in many directions on the military front. A Slask-Pomorze-Poznan (Silesia-West Prussia-
Posen) Congress was organized by the National Democrats on December 6, 1918, and it attempted to seize control
of the German eastern provinces in the hope of presenting the peace conference at Paris with a fait accompli. Ignaz
Paderewski arrived in Poznan a few weeks later on a journey from London to Warsaw, and a Polish uprising broke
out while he was in this city. Afterward the Poles, in a series of bitter battles, drove the local German volunteer
militia out of most of Posen province. The Germans in January 1919 evacuated the ancient Lithuanian capital of
Wilna (Wilno), and Polish forces moved in. When the Bolshevik Armies began their own drive through the area,
the Poles lost Wilna, but the Germans stopped the Red advance at Grodno on the Niemen River. The National
Democrats controlled the Polish Western Front and Pilsudski dominated the East. The National Democrats were
primarily interested in military action against Germany. Pilsudski’s principal interest was in Polish eastward
expansion and in federation under Polish control with neighboring nations. On April 19, 1919, when the Poles
recaptured Wilna, a proclamation was issued by Pilsudski. It was not addressed, as a National Democratic
proclamation would have been, to the local Polish community, but “to the people of the Grand Duchy of
Lithuania.” It referred graciously to the presence of Polish forces in “your country.” Pilsudski also issued an
invitation to the Ukrainians and White Russians to align themselves with Poland. He intended to push his federalist
policy while Russia was weak, and to reduce Russian power to the minimum degree.
Pilsudski’s growing prestige in the East was bitterly resented by the National Democrats. They denounced him
from their numerous press organs as an anti clerical radical under the influence of the Jews. They argued with
justification that the country was unprepared for an extensive eastern military adventure. They complained that the
further acquisition of minorities would weaken the state, and they concluded that Pilsudski was a terrible menace to
Poland. Pilsudski cleverly appealed to the anti-German prejudice of the followers of his enemies. He argued that
Russia and Germany were in a gigantic conspiracy to crush Poland, and that to retaliate by driving back the
Russians was the only salvation. He tried in every way to stir up the enthusiasm of the weary Polish people for his
Pilsudski also did what he could to stem the rising