The talks between Nazi Germany and Second Polish Republic about a joint march on the USSR were held for quite a long time, but until Hitler approached the Soviet borders, they were theoretical rather than practival. Unscrupulous division of Czechoslovakia in October 1938, blessed by the Western powers (Poland occupied the Těšín region of the former then) was the most notable advance of the German military closer to the Soviet Union. There were plans to settle the existing territorial disputes between Germany and Poland in a similarly amicable manner. “Back in 1938, the Allies agreed that Poland would become a German satellite,” – as if in passing writes British historian A.J.P. Taylor. The “peak” of the Polish-German friendship – their “honeymoon” era – came during the “post-Munich” period: late 1938 – early 1939 …
With Hitler’s ascension to power, the Polish developed an idiosyncratic attitude toward the Germans. Pro-Nazi organizations of ethnic Germans such as the German People’s Union in Poland and the Young German Party in Poland began growing rapidly. Both organizations were financed and directed from Germany and even sent a representative to the Polish Sejm. The Nazis’ ideas were actively publicized and promoted among the local Germans. In 1937 approximately 105 German-language newspapers and magazines were being published in Poland, and about 20 of those were daily publications. The vast majority of those periodicals were being monitored by the Reich’s Ministry of Propaganda, headed by Joseph Goebbels.
Ties between the two governments were also established at various levels. Prominent Poles paid friendly visits to the Third Reich, and Nazi leaders did the same to their “brother” Poland. In January 1938, SS-Oberst-Gruppenführer Kurt Daluege came to Warsaw, and two months later he set off for Vienna to organize a “referendum.” Daluege, a commander of the German police (Sipo), naturally shared the “secrets” of his profession with General Kordian Zamorski, the chief of the Polish state police. However, the “pan generał” surely had his own contributions to make. The Polish police employed even more cruel methods in their work than the Germans: beatings, tortures and unwarranted arrests. They used to shoot down detainees at a slightest sign of resistance or attempt to escape. Whom were the Polish law-enforcement officers behaving so ruthlessly against? Criminals and pickpockets? No, against the political opponents of the ruling class in Warsaw, the Communists and Ukrainian nationalists.
The German and Polish cooperation was so close that Kordian Zamorski received an invitation to visit the Nazi Party’s annual Nuremberg Rally as a guest (!). There the Polish “Genosse” met Hitler himself. Without doubt rare foreigners could be invited to an NSDAP rally, and even fewer were honored with a personal talk with the Führer. But Hitler and his henchmen always had an open-door policy where the Poles were concerned. And it was not only in Nazi Germany that the courageous Polish police were valued and respected. One month later, Oct. 7, 1938, Generał Kordian Zamorski visited Kurt Daluege in Berlin on his way to Rome for the Italian Fascist Party congress.
But the German-Polish friendship was not limited to this personal connection between the two countries’ security chiefs: in December 1938, the German minister of justice, Hermann Frank, visited Warsaw, and even Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler came over on Feb. 18, 1939. Polish officials were not put off by the Nazis’ ferocious anti-Semitism and it did not hamper their robust German-Polish friendship.
Hitler, who was still prepared (at the time) to meet his obligations to the West, was primarily focused on two issues pertaining to his relationship with Warsaw: the return to the Reich of the lands it had lost to Poland after World War I, and the military support of the Polish army during his future attack on the Soviet Union. As the second point was extremely significant for Hitler, he mentioned the first issue only quietly and diplomatically. Hitler behaved like a gentleman toward Poland – as long as the Poles themselves made no precipitous or brazen move to spoil their relationship with the Reich in obedience to a command from London. We will examine how and why that happened in the third part of “Poland Betrayed.”
ORIENTAL REVIEW publishes exclusive translations of the chapters from Nikolay Starikov’s documentary research ““Who Made Hitler Attack Stalin” (St.Petersburg, 2008). The original text was adapted for translation by ORIENTAL REVIEW.