Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Prelude to WWII: When the Franco-Polish Alliance Was Initiated

Poland, strategically threatened by both the Soviets and the Germans, signed a treaty of political alliance with France on 19 February 1921. It would later be supplemented by additional agreements and renewals, and the alliance would be strained almost to the breaking point by 1936. However, as Hitler's rearmament and diplomacy clarified his intentions, and with Britain now participating in the arrangement, the alliance hardened and would be the basis of France and Great Britain declaring war on Germany when Poland was attacked in September 1939. Below are some of the key points of the early agreements.

1921 Signatories Aristide Briand (France) and
Eustachy Sapieha (Poland)

Franco-Polish Agreement

Paris, 19 February 1921 (excerpt)

THE Polish Government and the French Government, both desirous of safeguarding, by the maintenance of the treaties which both have signed or which may in future be recognized by both parties, the peace of Europe, the security of their territories, and their common political and economic interests, have agreed as follows:

In order to coordinate their endeavors towards peace the two Governments undertake to consult each other on all questions of foreign policy which concern both States, so far as those questions affect the settlement of international relations in the spirit of the treaties and in accordance with the Covenant of the League of Nations. . .

Franco-Polish Warrant Agreement

Locarno, 16 October 1925 (excerpt)

In the event of the Council of the League of Nations, when dealing with a question brought before it in accordance with the said undertakings, being unable to succeed in securing the acceptance of its report by all its members other than the representatives of the parties to the dispute, and in the event of Poland or France being attacked without provocation, France, or reciprocally Poland, acting in application of Article 15, paragraph 7, of the Covenant of the League of Nations, will immediately lend aid and assistance.


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