Having just finished reading the book "A Question of Honor" I can now say that I actually despise Franklin Roosevelt more than I ever thought possible. Already I had written him off as a racist thug for having American citizens of Japanese ancestry rounded up and put into squalid camps for the duration of the Second World War. I had already considered him a jerk for giving unions unprecedented power to cripple the American economy and weaken the American worker. I had already considered him a ruffian for his roughshod treatment of the Supreme Court. But now THIS.
It's well documented that FDR (the D is for D**chebag) appeased Stalin throughout the war in a way that made Munich seem like a grand time for standing up to international bullies. But not as much attention has been given to the craven way he sold out the Poles, all the while keeping it secret so as not to hurt his chances with securing the Polish American vote.
The book chronicles the lives of a number of Polish Air Force veterans who fought valiantly but hopelessly against the Nazi onslaught of their country in 1939. These pilots were trained on shoddy planes, however, and this forced them to compensate with increased natural skills. Many managed to escape to Britain where they formed squadrons in the RAF and racked up an impressive record during the Battle of Britain. These pilots were instrumental in defeating the Luftwaffe, and along with large numbers of Polish ground troops they participated in many major actions against the Germans throughout the war. The Poles were well recognized by the British (and to lesser extent, the Americans) for their contributions to the fight--and it was acknowledged that the German invasion of Poland was the reason for Britain's declaration of war in the first place. The book also chronicles the Polish domestic resistance movement, which did far more to fight the Germans than that of any other conquered country (the French Resistance has an inflated reputation, while the Polish had numerous major uprisings against the Germans. This makes sense when you consider the level of cruelty the Germans inflicted on the Poles, who they considered their racial inferiors). Ultimately, if any country deserved the fruits of victory after the war, it was Poland.
But hark, along comes Stalin, the only man who could compete in an "evil-off" against Hitler. Stalin not only made the deal with Hitler than enabled the initial invasion of Poland in 1939, but he also committed mass atrocities against the Poles when he invaded that country from the east (shortly after the German attacks began, and dooming the Polish war effort). The Katyn massacre of Polish officers was a notorious example, and many other Poles were shipped off to Gulags. But of course Hitler then attacks Stalin, proves that his cronies made poor generals, and suddenly it's all "waah waah, save us, Britain and America! Send us stuff, you capitalist pigs!"
And instead of doing what any normal person would do--laugh in Stalin's face and say "eat it, turkey!"--we did the pragmatic thing. We send them supplies to help their war effort, and promised to open a second front against Hitler. Stalin, always the classy one, complained we didn't do enough and not soon enough--forgetting that his deal with Hitler got all this started in the first place. Fine. We have to tolerate him being a jerk. But here's where it gets stomach turning.
FDR wanted to do everything possible to keep Stalin happy, and keep him fighting even though basically Stalin had no choice--Hitler wasn't about to make a deal after the backstabbing. FDR believed he could charm the old Georgian, because who doesn't love FDR except for Japanese Americans and anyone who ever had to deal with a union? So he belittles Churchill in front of Stalin (how very high school!) and this only makes Stalin trust FDR less (after all, if this is how he treats his allies, who needs him?) and of course FDR's promises to let Stalin have a free rein in postwar Eastern Europe just makes the west look weak. Stalin insisted on getting land for Russia at Poland's expense, and the Allies didn't raise a peep. Never mind that the Poles fought valliantly throughout, and Stalin proved to be a manipulative cretin at every turn.
Ironically, the only person Stalin ever trusted was Hitler. And then he got betrayed! Would Stalin ever learn to trust again? FDR certainly hoped so, but alas.
I don't think FDR was a Soviet agent, but if he were a Soviet agent he couldn't have done more to advance Stalin's postwar agenda. He never took seriously the threat that Stalin proved to be early on. He was uninterested in the Purges, he couldn't care less that the man double-dealt with the Nazis (to his country's own detriment), and he kowtowed to him at every turn and asked for nothing in return, for the West or for free people anywhere. In the end, the Poles lost their country to a Soviet puppet regime. The Poles who fought bravely with the Allies were forced to become refugees, hoping for asylum in whatever western country would take them, while their families were punished under Soviet domination back home.
I did leave out the one thing FDR did ask of Stalin in return for giving him a free hand in Poland. He asked that such discussions not be publicized until after the 1944 election, as he didn't want to jeopardize the Polish American vote. What a class act.
And they built a memorial to this creep? I hope some pigeons do a lot of damage to it.
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