The Road to Nuclear Armageddon
Ladies and gentlemen, we face a grave danger. The leader of a major European power wants to make territorial revisions. He is surrounded by hostile powers who threaten him. He does not seek war with other countries but if the hostile powers continue to encircle him, he will fight. A European war looms.
You probably think I’m talking about the current crisis between Russia and the Ukraine, but I’m not. I’m talking about Europe just before World War II began in September 1939. At that time, Hitler wanted small territorial revisions with its Polish neighbor. East Prussia was cut off from the rest of Poland by a band of territory called the Polish Corridor.
As the great British historian A.J. P. Taylor explains, “The losses of territory to Poland were, for most Germans, the indelible grievance against Versailles. Hitler undertook a daring operation over this grievance when he planned co-operation with Poland. But there was a way out. The actual Germans under Polish rule might be forgotten—or withdrawn; what could not be forgiven was the ‘Polish corridor’ which divided East Prussia from the Reich. Here, too, there was a possible compromise. Germany might be satisfied with a corridor across the corridor—a complicated idea for which there were however many precedents in German history. German feeling could be appeased by the recovery of Danzig. This seemed easy. Danzig was not part of Poland. It was a Free City, with its own autonomous administration under a High Commissioner, appointed by the League of Nations. The Poles themselves, in their false pride as a Great Power, had taken the lead in challenging the League’s authority. Surely, therefore, they would not object if Germany took the League’s place. Moreover, the problem had changed since 1919. Then the port of Danzig had been essential to Poland. Now, with the creation of Gdynia by the Poles, Danzig needed Poland more than the Poles needed Danzig. It should then be easy to arrange for the safeguarding of Poland’s economic interests, and yet to recover Danzig for the Reich.”
The British responded by guaranteeing Poland’s western boundary against Germany. They also issued a guarantee to Romania, even though there had been no threat to that country. As a result of the guarantee, Poland refused to negotiate with Germany. War broke out, and Poland was destroyed. The great Murray Rothbard tells us what happened: “And as a direct result, Poland was destroyed. Hitler’s ‘demands’ on the Poles were almost non-existent; as Taylor points out, the Weimar Republic would have scorned the terms as a sell-out of vital German interests. Hitler at most wanted a ‘corridor through the Corridor’ and the return of heavily-German (and pro-German) Danzig; in return for which he would guarantee the rest. Poland resolutely refused to yield’ one inch of Polish soil,’ and refused even to negotiate with the Germans, and this down to the last minute.”
Murray draws an important lesson from what happened then. This lesson provides the key to keeping us out of a nuclear war today. And of course a nuclear war would destroy the world. Here is what Murray says: “[Polish Foreign Minister Józef] Beck clearly knew that Britain and France could not actually save Poland from attack. He relied to the end on those great shibboleths of all ‘hard-liners’ and other ‘crackpot realists’ everywhere: X is ‘bluffing’; X will back down if met by toughness, resolution, and the resolve not to give an inch. (Just as in the case of Finland, when the ‘X is bluffing’ line of the hard-liners is shown to be sheer absurdity, and X has already attacked, the ‘hard-liner’ turns, self-contradictorily, to the dictum that not ‘one inch of sacred soil’ will be given up, no peace while the enemy is on our soil, etc., which completes the ruin of the country by its ‘hard-line’ rulers. This is what Beck did to Poland.) As Taylor shows, Hitler had originally not the slightest intention to invade or conquer Poland; instead, Danzig and other minor rectifications would be gotten out
Article from LewRockwell