Pact Ribbentrop - Beck

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Pact Ribbentrop - Beck (Polish: Pakt Ribbentrop - Beck) is an alternative history novel by a Polish writer and historian Piotr Zychowicz. The book, whose full title is Pact Ribbentrop - Beck, or How Poles could have defeated the Soviet Union alongside the Third Reich (Polish: Pakt Ribbentrop - Beck czyli jak Polacy mogli u boku III Rzeszy pokonać Związek Radziecki), was published in 2012 by Dom Wydawniczy Rebis from Poznań. The author argues that the government of the Second Polish Republic should have accepted Adolf Hitler's offer of a joint Polish - German attack on the Soviet Union, together capturing Moscow. "Beck" refers to Józef Beck, Poland's foreign minister in the 1930s.

Background[edit]

Piotr Zychowicz stated in a November 2012 interview: "This book is my answer to the question that all Poles ask. And the question is: did we have to bungle up World War Two so badly? Did we have to lose half of our territory, together with Wilno and Lwów? Did we have to lose our elites, which were slaughtered? Did we have to lose millions of our citizens, murdered by totalitarian occupiers, the Germans and the Soviets? Did we have to lose our independence for 50 years? The answer to these questions is politically incorrect, because Poland was not doomed to fail. And the answer is included in my book, in which I write that history could have been different".[1]

The webpage of the book states: "In the history of nations there are moments when one has to bite the bullet and allow for painful concessions. To give up in order to save the nation from destruction, and its citizens from slaughter. This was the situation of Poland in 1939. Piotr Zychowicz claims in his book that the decision to enter the war against Nazi Germany in an illusive alliance with France and Great Britain, was a grave mistake, for which we paid a horrible price. History could have turned in a different way. Instead of biting off more than we could chew, we should have used realpolitik. We should have made concessions to Hitler, and agreed for annexation of the Free City of Danzig into the Third Reich, as well as for the construction of an extraterritorial highway across the Polish Corridor. And then, together with the Germans, we should have attacked the Soviet Union. Forty valiant divisions of the Polish Army, fighting on the Eastern Front would have sealed the fate of Stalin's empire".[2]

In the book, Zychowicz quotes a number of historians and publicists, such as Paweł Wieczorkiewicz, Andrzej Wielowieyski, Adolf Bocheński, Stanisław Mackiewicz, Władysław Studnicki, Jerzy Łojek, Grzegorz Górski, Rafał Ziemkiewicz, Stanisław Żerko, Mieczysław Pruszyński, Stanisław Swianiewicz. He also provides citations from memoirs of such persons, as Władysław Anders, Józef Beck, Jan Szembek, Juliusz Łukasiewicz, Clara Petacci, Kazimierz Sosnkowski, Edward Raczyński, August Zaleski.

Reception[edit]

The book was met with mixed opinions among Polish historians. Professor Andrzej Nowak called it "harmful and unwise", adding that it "fulfills the wish of Russian and other propagandists, who claim that Poland dreamed of joining Hitler to murder Jews, but did not do it because of her own stupidity".[3] Professor Stanisław Salmonowicz, a renown expert on German-Polish relations described the ideas of the book as "insane", pointing out several flaws Zychowicz's reasoning.[4] Adam Stohnij of the military portal www.1939.pl calles the book a "military Blitzkrieg", writing that Zychowicz "comes up with a daring argument. In the situation that Poland found itself right before the war, the only chance to survive was an alliance with the Third Reich".[5] Piotr A. Maciążek, a publicist of portal politykawschodnia.pl calls the book "a Polish Icebreaker", writing that Pakt Ribbentrop - Beck is "undoubtedly one of the most interesting and controversial books, published in Poland in 2012. A heated discussion that ensued after its publication shows that this book was much needed".[6]

Plot summary[edit]

The author writes that if Poland had not opposed Adolf Hitler in September 1939, World War Two would have started on April 9, 1940, with a German attack on Western Europe. After capturing Paris, and defeating Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark and France, on June 21, 1941, the Wehrmacht, together with the Polish Army, attacked the Soviet Union. In the winter of 1941/42, Soviet Empire ceases to exist. Poland and Germany divide its territory, but soon afterwards, mutual relationships deteriorate. At the same time, Germany keeps fighting Great Britain, and its American ally. This war is costly, and by 1944, all main units of the Wehrmacht are in Western Europe, fighting the Anglo-Saxons, who had landed in France in summer 1944. In those circumstances, Warsaw begins secret negotiations with London and Washington, eventually switching sides, and attacking the Third Reich in 1945. As Zychowicz writes: "At this point, Poland should have acted like Romania and Hungary in late stages of World War Two. Noticing German problems in the West, both countries initiated secret negotiations with the Allies. The British and the Americans gladly accepted the offer, understanding that it would weaken the potential of the Axis powers". [7]

Finally, when the Third Reich prepares for a decisive battle in the West, the Polish Army invades Germany. Surprised, the Wehrmacht does not fight the Poles, who capture Silesia, Eastern Prussia, and Western Pomerania, cutting off all lines of communication with German units which had remained in occupied Soviet Union. In August 1945, the Western Allies capture Berlin, Adolf Hitler commits suicide, while Polish armored divisions clear the Baltic States. Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia join the federation of Poland, Belarus and Ukraine: "The dream of Marshall Józef Piłsudski has become reality. Poland emerges as a great power. During a peace conference, which takes place at Polish Baltic Sea spa of Jurata, Winston Churchill, Harry Truman and Edward Śmigły-Rydz discuss the future of Europe".[8]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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