Poland, 1918-1945: An Interpretive and Documentary History of the Second Republic

By Peter D. Stachura | Go to book overview

7

FOREIGN POLICY

The stabilisation of the Second Republic's territorial integrity in the aftermath of the victory over the Bolsheviks allowed its independent existence until the combined onslaught of Germany and the Soviet Union in September 1939. However, during the interwar decades, Poland's independence was never entirely secure. Not only was the overall international situation in Europe anxious and unstable, but Poland continued to be the object of hatred for the two principal revisionist powers, Germany and the Soviet Union. Both regarded Poland as living proof of their defeat and subsequent loss of territory, influence and status, and both were determined to destroy her at the earliest possible opportunity within the context of their assault on the Treaty of Versailles itself. In the early 1920s, Germany was still too traumatised and weakened by the First World War and its consequences to be able to do anything effective about her Polish problem, while the nascent Soviet Union regarded her defeat by the Poles in 1920 as a temporary setback that would be avenged in due course. For the Soviets, therefore, the Treaty of Riga was as objectionable as the Treaty of Versailles; both had to be swept aside.

If it was bad enough for Poland to have the Germans and Russians breathing heavily down her neck, her situation was made even more disadvantageous because she lacked reliable allies. For one reason or another, the major powers which had played a prominent role in helping Poland to regain independence in 1918-19 in the first place quickly made it clear that they had more pressing concerns and priorities, leaving her very largely to her own devices. This was poignantly underlined by the unwillingness of any of these powers to lend substantive aid to Poland in her conflict with the Bolsheviks.

The United States had retreated into isolationism, rendering redundant the whole Wilsonian ideology that had been so influential in shaping the peace, while Britain had her imperial interests to oversee and, in any case, where Europe was concerned, she was far more intent on helping to

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Poland, 1918-1945: An Interpretive and Documentary History of the Second Republic
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Abbreviations and Glossary viii
  • Acknowledgements xii
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Independence Regained 6
  • 2 - Consolidation 28
  • 3 - Society and the Economy 45
  • 4 - Politics 59
  • 5 - The Ethnic Minorities 79
  • 6 - Culture and Education 101
  • 7 - Foreign Policy 111
  • 8 - Occupation and Resistance 130
  • 9 - The Jewish Holocaust and the Poles 144
  • 10 - Defeat in Victory 161
  • Conclusion 182
  • Bibliography 188
  • Appendix I 201
  • Appendix II 208
  • Index 211
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