Should the USSR Have Permitted German Troops to Come Right Up To Its Borders?

Anybody who claims that the USSR "invaded" Poland is wrong - because the Polish state did not exist.

But even if it HAD existed, the USSR should never have permitted German troops to come up to its borders.

This was generally recognized at the time.

In his radio speech of October 1, 1939, printed in the New York Times on October 2, 1939, p. 6, Winston Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty, said:

Russia has pursued a cold policy of self-interest. We could have wished that the Russian Armies should be standing on their present line as the friends and allies of Poland. But that the Russian Armies should stand on this line was clearly necessary for the safety of Russia against the Nazi menace.

Churchill also agreed that it was in the interest of the Allies to have the Red Army occupying these territories:

… here these interests of Russia fall into the same channel as the interests of Britain and France.

Note that Churchill does not blame the USSR for not "standing on their present line as the friends and allies of Poland."

Churchill knew very well that:

1. The Polish and Rumanian governments refused to permit the Red Army to cross its borders in the event of an attack on any of the Allies by Germany. This effectively meant that the USSR could not afford any military help in case of war.

2. The British and French had not really wanted to reach an agreement on collective security with the USSR.

It was the duty of the Polish army to stop the Wehrmacht from coming up to the Soviet borders -- by stopping it from conquering Poland. But once the Polish army failed to do this, the Soviet army simply had to do it.

The most objective among contemporary bourgeois, anticommunist scholars agree.

Three of the best of them: Jonathan Haslam, Geoffrey Roberts, and Michael Carley, are quoted below discussing the British - French - Soviet negotiations of August 1939.

Given the lack of serious intent in London it was inevitable that the Russians should turn to the Germans. (216)

     - Jonathan Haslam. The Soviet Union and the struggle for collective security in Europe, 1933-39. St. Martin's Press, 1984.

The whole of chapter 10, pp. 195-229, “The collapse of collective security”, is very thorough, well-documented, and clear on this.

They [the British and French] saw the [Drax] delegation as a political exercise which would keep Moscow happy and apply pressure on Berlin. In line with this strategy Admiral Drax, the leader of the British delegation, was instructed to delay the conclusion of any detailed and specific military agreements.

When the military mission finally reached Moscow the Russians discovered that Admiral Drax had no written powers to negotiate and, although the French did have the power to negotiate on all military questions, they were not authorized to sign any agreement. By contrast Voroshilov, leader of the Soviet delegation, presented a written mandate to negotiate and sign a military convention. (141)

     - Geoffrey K Roberts. The Unholy Alliance : Stalin's pact with Hitler. Indiana U.P. 1989.

Did the Soviet government have another option to protect its security other than the conclusion of a nonaggression pact with Germany? … The answer must be that the Soviet position was both inflexible and justified… War was imminent, and the Germans told Molotov to choose his friends. (209)

The Munich crisis and the failure of Anglo-Franco- Soviet negotiations in 1939 led directly to the Nazi-Soviet nonaggression pact. (258)

     - Michael Jabara Carley. 1939 : the alliance that never was and the coming of World War II. Chicago: I.R. Dee,1999.