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Rising `44: The Battle For Warsaw (Anglais) Broché – Version intégrale, 4 juin 2004


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Chapter One

THE ALLIED COALITION

The history of 'Western Alliances' in Europe is a long one. Throughout modern history, whenever one power threatened to establish a dominant position on the Continent, a coalition of states, great and small, was formed to oppose the threat. The most frequent coalitionist was Britain, whose navy ruled the seas but whose land forces were never of a size to challenge their Continental rivals. British-inspired alliances emerged in the War of the Spanish Succession against Louis XIV, in the wars against revolutionary France, and in the two world wars. In the twentieth century, they brought in the USA, whose impact on Europe rose from the peripheral to the decisive. Yet they all had one feature in common. They all sought to include at least one partner in the East. According to circumstances, that partner could be Prussia, Russia, or even Turkey. In the exceptional circumstances of 1939, it turned out to be a country which, though possessed of ancient credentials, had played little part in European power games for nearly three hundred years.

The Allied cause of the Second World War is invariably described in the simplest of terms. If ever there was a just war, one hears, this was it. The enemy was wicked. The goal of defeating that wickedness was noble. And the Allies were victorious. Most people, certainly in Britain and America, would not think that there was much more to be said. Of course, they are aware that the conduct of the war took many twists and turns. Those who have studied it know that the Allies stared defeat in the face on several occasions before victory was finally assured. But on the basic political and moral framework they harbour no misgivings. Few would contest the popular image of the wartime Allies as a band of brothers who fought for freedom and justice and saved the world from tyranny.

Several basic facts about the Allied cause, therefore, need to be emphasized from the outset. Firstly, membership of the Allied coalition was in constant flux. The band of brothers who set out to defy the Nazi threat in 1939, when the war is generally judged to have started, was not the same as that whose victory brought the war to a close six years later. Several important states changed sides in midstream; and the most powerful of the Allies stayed aloof almost until the mid-point of the conflict. Secondly, the Allied coalition contained all manner of member states, from global empires to totalitarian dictatorships, semi-constitutional monarchies, democratic republics, Governments-in-Exile, and several countries divided by civil war. Thirdly, when the fighting spread in December 1941 to the Pacific, the original war in Europe was complicated by numerous forms of interaction with the Asian theatre. In theory, the Allied cause came to be based on the undertakings of the United Nations Declaration of 1942, which obtained twenty-six signatories. The Declaration in turn was based on the terms of the earlier Atlantic Charter which, among other things, condemned territorial aggrandizement and confirmed 'the right of all peoples to choose their Governments'. In practice, the Allies were united by little except the commitment to fight the common enemy.

Throughout the war, the Alliance was clouded by the old-fashioned and highly paternalistic assumption that 'the principal Allies' were entitled to determine policy separately and in private, whilst 'the lesser Allies' were expected to accept the decisions of their betters. The assumption was not widely challenged at the time, and has rarely been challenged since by historians. But it was to have some serious consequences. Though never formally recognized, it was embodied in the workings of the 'Big Three' to which Winston Churchill, in conscious imitation of the experience of his eighteenth-century ancestor the Duke of Marlborough, gave the grand title of 'the Grand Alliance'.

The Allied cause was further complicated by the fact that most of its constituent members were caught up in their own tangled web of bilateral treaties, separate declarations, and subordinate alliances. All the 'United Nations', as they came to call themselves, were committed to cooperate in the struggle against the Axis powers. But they were not necessarily committed to defend or to assist each other. In particular, no mechanism was ever put in place to protect one ally from the depredations of another. Inter-Allied disputes that could not be readily resolved were usually deferred either to the intended post-war Peace Conference, which never happened, or to the United Nations Organisation, which did not open for business until September 1945.

On close examination, therefore, one can see that the ties binding different members of the coalition together differed widely in their nature and in their degree of commitment. The relations between Britain and the United States, for example, were largely conducted on the basis of mutual trust. With the sole exception of the Lend-Lease Agreement (February 1942), there was no formal or comprehensive British-US Treaty. British relations with France still operated on the rather imprecise understandings of the old Entente Cordiale. British relations with the USSR, in contrast, were governed by the elaborate provisions of the Anglo-Soviet Treaty signed on 12 July 1941. Soviet-American relations were similarly regulated by an agreement signed the following year. Generally speaking, the Western Allies saw diplomatic treaties as a constraining influence that limited the otherwise boundless scope for initiatives. The Soviet Union looked at them from the opposite perspective. They saw treaties with Western capitalist powers as vehicles of convenience, which enabled them to practise cooperation on a temporary and precisely defined basis, but not to modify their essentially hostile and suspicious stance.

The make-up and predispositions of the Allied coalition of 1939-45 were strongly influenced by its predecessor of 1914-18. During the First World War, France, Britain, Russia, and the USA had dominated the group of 'Entente Powers' which had challenged German hegemony. During the Second World War, the legacy of the Entente coloured the natural sympathies and alignments of the next Allied generation. Germany was taken to be a unique, unparalleled threat. France, Britain, and America imagined themselves to be paragons of democracy. The solidarity of the English-speaking world, re-established in 1917, was to be further strengthened. The Russians - as the Soviets were wrongly called - would be readily accepted as natural partners for the West, even though the old liberalizing regime of late tsardom had been replaced by a new totalitarian monster of far more sinister proclivities.

The men who rose to leadership in 1939-45 possessed a mental map of the world which had been formed thirty, forty, or even fifty years before. Churchill, for instance, born in 1874, was a Victorian who was well into adult life before the twentieth century arrived. Politics for him was the business of empires and of a hierarchy of states where clients and colonials could not aspire to equal treatment. Stalin was only five years younger, Roosevelt eight. All of them were older than Hitler or Mussolini. Almost all the top brass of the Allied military - Weygand, de Gaulle, Brooke, Montgomery, Zhukov, Rokossovsky, Patton, but not Eisenhower - had survived a formative experience in the First World War. They had been left not only with a searing memory of total war between massed armies but also of a particular vision of the map of Europe. They had grown up to believe that if the layout of Western Europe was rather complicated, that of Eastern Europe was rather straightforward. They knew Germany's place on the map from the Rhine to the Niemen. They knew that to the west of Germany lay a clutch of countries: Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Switzerland. But they thought that to the east of Germany there was nothing, or at least nothing of importance, except 'Russia'. After all, in the world of their youth, the German and the Russian Empires had been contiguous. Warsaw, like Riga or Vilno, had been a Russian city.

A true story nicely illustrates the mental maps that floated around in Western heads. One day in 1944 Gen. Montgomery met the commanding officer of the 1st (Polish) Armoured Division in Normandy for the first time. Looking for something to say, Montgomery asked him, 'Tell me, General, in Warsaw these days, do people speak Russian or German?' It was a blunder of capital proportions, equivalent to asking whether French or Latin is the language of London. But it should not cause too much surprise. After all, when Montgomery was a young soldier, Warsaw was in Russia. He would also have known that the Germans had captured Warsaw in 1915 and had done so again in 1939. What was more natural than to think of Warsaw as a place contested by Russians and Germans? It would have been a very rare and erudite Westerner who knew that Poland had a longer independent history than Russia and traditions of freedom and democracy that were older than Britain's.

For Western views of the nations of Eastern Europe, where they existed at all, often possessed a decidedly judgemental character. Winston Churchill, for example, divided the states of Europe unkindly into 'giants' and 'pygmies'. The giants were the Great Powers who had just fought the Great War. The pygmies were all those troublesome national states which had emerged through the collapse of the old empires and which had promptly started to fight each other. The dismissive approach to the New Europe was thinly disguised. And it was accompanied by a tendency to classify the pygmies as one might classify children, into the nice and the naughty. Europe's new nations were pictured as nice in Allied eyes if, like the Czechs and the Slovaks, they had won their independence by fighting against Germany or Austria. If, like the Ukrainians or the Irish, they had gained it by rebelling against an Allied power, they were naughty, not to say downright nasty. In the case of Ukraine, which had carved out its own republic with German help, it was taken to be a fiction. States which had not obtained Allied recognition did not really exist.

As for the Poles, who had dared to assert themselves both against the Central Powers and against Russia, they could be nothing other than mixed-up problem children. They were pygmies pretending to be giants. Some Polish leaders, who had spent the Great War in St Petersburg, London, or Paris, were obviously sound enough. But others, like Marshal Pilsudski, who spent years in the Austrian ranks fighting against the Russians, were clearly unreliable. The fact that Pilsudski had spent the last year of the war imprisoned in Magdeburg, having refused to swear an oath of loyalty to the Kaiser, did not remove the suspicion that he was dangerously 'pro-German'. The Marshal was dead by 1939. But the alleged ambivalence of his legacy lingered on. After all, in 1920, he had defied good sense by defeating Soviet Russia in battle, and in the 1930s he had signed non-aggression pacts with both Stalin and Hitler. His doctrine of 'two enemies' was thought very eccentric. By Allied standards, it was hard to see what the Poles were playing at.

The Allied camp evolved in several distinct stages. To begin with, in 1939, it consisted of just three states - France, the United Kingdom, and Poland. It did not include either Lithuania, whose port of Klajpeda (Memel) was seized by Germany on 23 March 1939, or Albania, which had been invaded and annexed by fascist Italy in April 1939, or indeed Finland, which was attacked by the Soviet Union in November. For Lithuania was coerced by Germany into the formal acceptance of its loss. The Italian annexation of Albania was recognized by France and Britain in a dubious diplomatic manoeuvre reminiscent of the recent Munich Agreement. And the Finno-Soviet conflict was brought to an uneasy close before any other states intervened. By Allied calculations, therefore, no significant breach of the peace occurred in Europe in 1939 other than the German assault on Poland in September. It was the Polish Crisis which brought the Allied coalition into being and gave it its first war aim. Poland had been allied to France since 1921, and to Britain by the Treaty of Mutual Assistance signed on 25 August 1939. Both France and Britain had publicly guaranteed Poland's independence on 31 March. So when the Wehrmacht poured over the Polish frontier at dawn on 1 September, the Allies possessed a clear casus belli.

After the fall of Poland in 1939 and the fall of France in 1940, the Allied camp is often said to have been reduced to the grand total of one, namely Britain. This is hardly correct even if one discounts the great support of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, the involvement of India, and the growing band of exiled Governments, some of them with significant military contingents at their disposal. For the United States was not exactly neutral. Whilst officially pursuing a policy of non-belligerency, President Roosevelt embarked on a systematic programme of turning his country into 'the great arsenal of democracy'. Energetic efforts were made to strengthen America's military establishment, to expand industrial production, and to lay down a 'two-ocean navy'. Huge supplies and subsidies were shipped to Britain under the principle of Lend-Lease. Both the Destroyers for Bases deal and the Atlantic Charter were in place well before the USA itself took to arms.

1941 saw the Allied coalition transformed by three capital events. On 22 June, Nazi Germany invaded the USSR, thereby changing Stalin from Hitler's friend to Hitler's mortal foe. On 7 December, Japan bombed the US Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor, thereby destroying American isolationism at one blow. Four days later, in a gesture of encouragement to its Japanese partner, Germany declared war on the USA. From then on, 'the Grand Alliance' was in place.

In the last phase of the war, as victory drew ever closer, any number of countries from Iraq to Liberia joined the Allied ranks. Former German allies such as Italy, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Finland were forced to change sides. Former neutrals such as Turkey abandoned their neutrality. Finally, on 1 March 1945, Saudi Arabia boldly declared war on both Germany and Japan.

Britain's role in this changing constellation was absolutely crucial, though not necessarily in the ways that many Britons imagined. Britain did not 'win the war'. But it did fight on the winning side and it supplied the third largest group of military forces within the Allied camp. Above all, it supplied the main strand of continuity in the Allied cause. It was the only one of the Allied principals to wage war against Germany almost from the start and right to the end.

--Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Broché .

Revue de presse

"Should be compulsory reading... Rips away at many of our lazy assumptions about the outcome of the Second World War." —The Guardian, London

[Davies’] knowledge and his passion are displayed in this notable book. His research among Polish and Soviet sources is exhaustive... —Max Hastings, Sunday Telegraph (London)

--Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Broché .


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Détails sur le produit

  • Broché: 784 pages
  • Editeur : Pan Books; Édition : Unabridged (4 juin 2004)
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ISBN-10: 0330488635
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330488631
  • Dimensions du produit: 13,1 x 5,1 x 19,7 cm
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 3.5 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (2 commentaires client)
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Format: Broché
J'ai beaucoup aimé! Un fait pour l'instant encore trop peu connu de l'Histoire de la Pologne, on se plonge dans les évenements - et alors, on comprend. Davies est un vrai spécialiste!
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0 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile  Par douglas le 20 juillet 2006
Format: Broché
Connaissant un peu les écrits de Norman Davies et ayant entendu beaucoup de bonnes opinions sur "Rising '44", je m'attendais à beaucoup mieux.

En effet, mis à part les chapitres introductifs qui offrent un bel aperçu et des informations intéressantes sur la Pologne d'avant-guerre (notamment sur le sujet des relations entre Polonais et Juifs) et sur le rôle des Polonais durant la Seconde guerre mondiale, on y apprend que très peu de choses sur l'Insurrection de Varsovie elle-même. Une personne avec un soupçon de connaissances sur l'histoire de la Pologne trouvera ces informations d'une valeure minime car la masse de détails fait que l'on a du mal à les retenir et une personne qui ne s'y connait pas n'y comprendra rien.

D'autant plus que le livre est écrit dans un style monotone qui rend sa lecture je dirais très... ennuyante. L'idée d'angliciser les prénoms et noms polonais et même les pseudonymes des résistants ne fait qu'ajouter à la confusion.

En bref, je déconseille ce livre; si vous n'êtes pas exceptionnellement motivés pour aller au bout de ces quelques centaines de pages, il est peu probable que vous finissiez ce livre.

Je pense que ce livre n'est susceptible de plaire qu'aux étudiants ou aux historiens spécialisés dans la seconde guerre mondiale en Europe centrale.
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Amazon.com: 73 commentaires
54 internautes sur 55 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Warsaw Rising in full historical context 28 juillet 2004
Par Leszek Strzelecki - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
There are a number of reasons why I rated this newest book by Norman Davies with all 5 stars. Not necessarily in this order:

1. "Rising '44" is an excellent read, thrilling, captivating, entertaining at times, surprising and emotionally engaging. It's the style, typical of Norman Davies that keeps the reader in suspense at all times, in need to hear and learn more and more.

2. The subject of this book, the rising against the Nazis in Warsaw in late summer 1944 is a relatively little known, or forgotten (outside of Poland), yet one of the most tragic, episode in the entire history of World War II. Just like the whole world must know about the extermination of the Jews, a part of which was the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1943, the entire world, too, should know about another part of Holocaust, the immense suffering, and injustice, inflicted on Polish people.

3. Norman Davies did an extensive research, both in the West (Great Britain, USA) and in the East (Russia), not to mention Poland itself, to reach previously unknown documents that might shed some new light on the whole context of the event. Several theories or, rather, suspicions were well established for years but... no conclusive proof. By his own admission Davies did not quite succeed in his effort; neither in Great Britain nor in Russia were all archives made available even this many years after the end of the War. Still, the broad political perspective surrounding the uprising, all those dealings behind the closed doors, that he was able to portray, are extremely enlightening.

4. And morally disturbing. Poland was the first country to oppose Hitler. Great Britain and France declared war on Germany to defend Poland and its sovereignty. Or, so they claimed. If the terrible defeat Poland suffered in 1939 were not enough, not only from the hands of the Germans, at the end of the day Poland was traded for Stalin's continued participation in the war. The moral standards invoked in September 1939 vanished by 1944, another quarter million people lost their lives, and Poland did not regain its independence... while the rest of the world celebrated victory over Nazism.

The story of Warsaw Rising 1944, as told by Norman Davies, is a persuasive one and unsettling. The perception of the whole "big politics" picture, long-standing stereotypes about high moral ground subscribed to by the Allies' leaders, most notably Roosevelt himself, during the war will be very likely altered. And more truth about the real nature of the Stalin's regime will be acknowledged.

There is one drawback with this book, already pointed out by others. Indeed, I find Davies' use of his own phonetic versions of names rather than actual Polish an odd one, silly and confusing. The reader from Toronto was quite right pointing out as baffling for Davies to believe "that his English-speaking readers, all of whom have an interest in Poland and Polish history (otherwise they would not be reading Rising '44), are incapable of dealing with the Polish language." This notwithstanding I would not go so far as to label this decision "an appalling piece of Anglo arrogance" (for this arrogance was directed at the "Anglos" themselves). For some peculiar reason Norman Davies simply "goofed up".

But other critical remarks, quite limited in number, are squarely off the mark. One reader complained about not writing on the subject of the more famous Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in 1943. He must have missed few sections of the book for Davies gave a synopsis of the Nazi policy of extermination of the Jews and wrote about the Ghetto uprising itself; quite at length as a matter of fact.
47 internautes sur 50 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
My Mom was waiting 60 years for this book! 8 août 2004
Par A. KOLACZ - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
I lost six family members during Warsaw Uprising in 1944. One of them was my grandfather. My Mom was only 7 when he was brought home dead from the streets of Wola district. The horror of this event is still vivid in my Mom's memory, now 67. The Warsaw Uprising was forgotten not because was unimportant or of small value but because it needed to be forgotten by those that were ashamed of not coming to the rescue. The helplessness of the Western allies was as painful as the betrayal of the Soviet Army. The 60-year "silence" was finally broken with Norman Davies book. 'Rising'44' is probably the best if not only book that describes the forgotten holocaust of Polish martyrs. Thanks to Norman Davies' book let's hope that no one will ever confuse 1943 Ghetto Uprising with 1944 Warsaw Uprising.
35 internautes sur 37 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
The best book on one of WW2's greatest tragedies 26 juillet 2004
Par Christopher Catherwood - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
Britain went to war in 1939 in order to defend Poland and we, the Western Allies, ended up betraying the Poles first to Nazi rule and then for the next 44 years to that of the USSR. How that terrible tragedy and betrayal happened is brilliantly portrayed in this superb, easy to read and wonderfully well researched book. Christopher Catherwood, author of CHURCHILL'S FOLLY: HOW WINSTON CHURCHILL CREATED MODERN IRAQ (Carroll and Graf 2004)
23 internautes sur 24 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Interesting Perspective on Historiography of WWII 16 août 2004
Par W. J KUBIK - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
This is an outstanding work of history. Davies rescues the Home Army from the shadow of the equally brave and desperate gamble of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1943.

What makes this a must read is the focus on the dynamics of the Allied Coalition and inter- and intra-agency politics in Britain and the U.S. along side the decisions of the Polish Government-in-Exile and the Home Army's leaders. It is difficult to walk away with the interpretation that the Poles were unwarranted in initiating the Rising. It is also difficult not to condemn the Roosevelt Administration and the British Foreign Ministry for taking a short-sighted and overly benign view of Stalin and Soviet intentions and methods. It is up to an historian of the Pacific War to make the case for whether Soviet aid looked and was so essential to the defeat of Japan so as not to upset the Allied Coaliton by asserting the rights of Eastern European nations in the Red Army's path. I don't know that Davies' approach would have been possbile at a time when the West claimed ignorance of Stalin's methods and relegated the Poles to the role of romantic and ill-fated cavaliers.

Davies is also to be commended for putting the Rising is a larger context of Polish-Russian and Polish-Soviet relations. However, the book could have used a slightly fuller description of Poland's inter-war government as this government was likely to color Western perspectives on the London Exiles.

I found Davies' adaptations of Polish names and the use of pseudomyms helpful given the difficulties facing a native English speaker of approaching Polish. I know enough Polish not to find him doing the principals a disservice.

An eye-opening exercise is comparing coverage of the 60th anniversary of the Rising by the BBC with that of the New York Times or Washington Post. At least the BBC addresses the issue of whether the Western powers may have shared some culpability for the Rising's fate.
51 internautes sur 58 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
The second Warsaw Uprising 4 juillet 2004
Par Frank J. Konopka - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
The author of this work is very correct: most people think that the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1943 was the one and only in that city. Of course, the rising in 1944 was of much more consequence to the history of Eastern Europe, even if both were tragedies. This extremely well-written book outlines the history both before, during and after the '44 rising, and the great detail shows that there was a deliberate ignoring of the plight of the Polish patriots by their Western allies, with a stalling on the part of the Soviets until the rising was crushed by the Nazis. There were many political reasons for why both East and West acted as they did in relation to Poland, but knowing that does not excuse what was done to a brave little country that had the guts to stand up to the Germans, when all about them were caving in to pressure. The Western betrayal is the same as we read in the other recent book about Polish fighters in the war "A Question of Honor", and the harsh glow of history shines on what was not done, and what might have been done. There are vignettes inserted into the book which go into more intimate detail of the many aspects of the rising, from the point of view of participants on all sides. My one quibble was that the author used nicknames and such, rather than the real Polish names of the participants. I can understand why he did that, because Polish names are not the easiest to read or pronounce, but having grown up and gone to school with my fellow second and third generation Polish friends, I can surely pronounce them, and would have liked to see them set out in full. That, of course, does not detract from the impact of this work, and the genuine admiration the author shows for Poland and its people. I am proud to be of 100% Polish descent, and books such as this only reinforce that pride!
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