Another WW2 what-if: USSR invades Poland first.

The proximate cause of World War Two was the German invasion of Poland, which provoked declarations of war from France and Britain. A few days later, the USSR invaded Poland as well, in accordance with the secret agreement between Germany and the USSR to divide up Poland. Yet it seems to me that Germany took an unnecessary risk, when it might have taken another tack which would have given it western Poland while leaving Britain and France unhappy but without a casus belli. To wit:

  1. Keep the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact a secret. Publicly maintain the hostile propaganda between the two powers while preparing to carry out the annexations of the independent countries of eastern Europe.

  2. Have the Soviet Union invade Poland first. After a day or two, Germany announces it’s intention to oppose “Communinst aggression” and counter-invades. When the two armies meet, they set up defensive trench lines and settle in for a “Sitzkreig”.

  3. With a German army occupying western Poland, what’s left of the pre-war government either capitulates or is removed and replaced with a puppet government, which signs a treaty “authorizing” the Germans to remain in the country indefinitely. Britain and France fume, yet they cannot accuse Germany of an unprovoked invasion, and it’s patently obvious that if Germany withdrew, Poland would only be occupied by the Soviet Union. Germany gets it’s territorial aims fullfilled (for the moment), and gets another year or two for it’s military to prepare for a broader war.

At least in hindsight, it’s astounding Germany didn’t use this tactic. Any reason I’m unaware of why?

Hmm. Interesting idea. The standard reason that people give whenever one asks why the Germans didn’t do something smarter in WWII is “the Nazis were really bad guys, and so was Hitler, and they had more than a little of the crazy.” Which is certainly true enough, but is also sort of a boring answer.

The other thing that comes to mind is that maintaining a pretense of mutual aggression, while secretly allied with one’s putative enemy, has got to be a tricky business. Has anyone ever pulled it off? I mean, what do you tell the German or Russian armies when they run into each other? “Don’t shoot, even if you get a clear shot?” How do you explain that? And if your armies are in on the gimmick, how do you keep it from leaking?

Lies are fine and splendid tools, but it’s hard to make them robust enough to withstand scrutiny. I think it might not have been workable in this context. This is especially true since, Nazis being Nazis, they would have immediately started doing Nazi things in the part of Poland they were “defending” from the Soviets. And it’s kind of hard to spin yourself as a liberator when you’re tossing civilians against the wall by the bushel, and starting up death camps - it’s the same problem that kept the Germans from making friends and influencing people in Ukraine.

Of course, i’m not a WWII expert - I’m sure someone better-educated than I will come along shortly.

Weren’t Britain and Fance committed to defend Poland regardless of the agressor? The USSR may not have wanted to invade first, fearing that France and Britain would declare war on it instead.

I think that “Have the Soviet Union invade Poland first” might have been a little tricky. Stalin and Hitler were (for the moment) co-operating with each other, each for his own reasons, but that doesn’t mean Stalin would just do Hitler’s bidding, especially if it would maybe get him stuck with being the aggressor in a new World War.

Overy demostrates pretty conclusively in “Dictators” that Hitler wanted war over Czechoslovakia, was essentially badgered and talked out of it by his advisors, and saw the Munich deal as a personal failure.

Hitler was, consequently, chomping at the bit to invade Poland. He wouldn’t in a million years have allowed the Soviets the opportunity to take most of the pie, which, in all likelihood, they would have done under the OP’s scenario.

But even if, against all logic and odds, such a deal could have been worked out, the likely scenario is the UK and France declaring war on Germany anyway, and ignoring Soviet aggression, which is what they did anyway.

No on the British side. The series of agreements ending in theAnglo-Polish Agreement of Mutual Assistance makes it clear that Britain is only obligated to fight against Germany (because as explained by APB they were afraid of a Soviet Union land grab in the event of a German Invasion).

I think why IRL this OP doesn’t work is, at least partially, the big appeal of the way the invasion went down for Stalin was that it prevented Hitler from attacking the Soviet Union - because Adolph’s boys would be at War with Britain and France and until that was concluded he would never attack the USSR and start a two front War. Hitler would be crazy to do that – right? So Comrade this works out perfectly for the USSR giving her plenty of time to prepare for the coming War with Germany should it in fact win & beat France and the UK - probably the workers struggle will begin in the 1944-45ish time frame at the earliest …