In May, 1939, Gamelin undertook with general Kasprycki (Minister of the military affairs of Poland) on 3 protocols.
If Germany attacks Poland:
- France will begin an air action.
- 3 days after the general mobilization, France will start an offensive with limited objectives.
- As soon as the German effort will sink in Poland, France will start an offensive action main part of his forces.
Gamelin make this promises without to consult French goverment!
It is true the agreement was initially negotiated between Gamelin and his Polish counterpart. But that agreement was later ratified by both governments.
The idea that Gamelin came up with those promises on his own seems a little far-fetched. Daladier served as the Minister of Defense under France’s Popular Front government. One would expect someone with that background to be particularly aware of the doings of France’s military.
Anything relating to France’s foreign policy (especially with respect to Germany) was of first importance to him. Gamelin was left in his position and was given overall command of France’s defense in 1940. It is not normal for generals to make foreign policy or diplomatic promises on their own. When they do, they are typically relieved of command–which Gamelin was not. The idea that Gamelin was solely responsible for the promises France had made to Poland smells a lot like something put forward by Daladier or his supporters, after the fact, to explain why France had not honored its promise to Poland of an invasion of Germany.
The French government knew very well that they were not ready to make war. They tried to make the peace with Hiltler but after the Anschluss, Czechoslovakia, Rhineland and numerous peace meetings.
The English and French goverment faced the evidence that Hitler wanted to make war.
War was inevitable. The big mistake of the French and English goverment was to overestimate the German strengths in September, 1939.
It is a common misperception that Daladier was personally interested in negotiating peace with Hitler. He was not; and only attended the Munich Conference in 1938 because Chamberlain pressured him into doing so. In 1938, Daladier told the British, “Today, it is the turn of Czechoslovakia. Tomorrow, it will be the turn of Poland and Romania. When Germany has obtained the oil and wheat it needs, she will turn on the West.”
Daladier’s words were a clear case of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Hitler had nothing to gain by a war against Britain and France. Realizing this, he offered Britain and France a peace treaty after the fall of Poland. Both nations refused. After France fell, Hitler began looking into the possibility of a peace treaty with Britain. He was rebuffed. As a result, he found himself in exactly the kind of war Germany did not need: a long, grinding war in which Great Britain could take full advantage of its significant industrial potential, the resources of its colonies, and the aircraft manufacturing capacity of the United States.
Daladier was correct to note that Germany lacked wheat and oil. Hitler hoped to find both things in the East. His long-range goal was a successful war against the Soviet Union. The oil of Caucasus and the wheat of the Ukraine would considerably strengthen Germany; victory over the Soviet Union would secure Germany’s eastern front and would free the world from communism, and the Soviet Union had plenty of space in which Germans could settle.
However, Hitler faced opposition to this planned war from various democracies. In 1935, France and Czechoslovakia each signed a defensive alliance with the Soviet Union. From 1938 - the spring of 1941, Hitler’s policy towards the nations of Eastern Europe was to annex whichever nations had adopted anti-German or pro-Soviet foreign policies (such as Czechoslovakia) while leaving alone those nations which did not have anti-German foreign policies. This policy was intended to prepare the groundwork for his invasion of the Soviet Union.
Like other French leaders from 1918 - 1940, Daladier believed in keeping Germany as weak as possible. Neither French leaders nor the leaders of other Western democracies had any kind of clear plan for a counterweight to Soviet expansionism. Hitler very much wanted to be that counterweight, but at every turn France’s actions served to turn his attention westward. After WWI, France gave large slices of German territory to Czechoslovakia and Poland–thereby creating a serious source of tension between those two nations and Germany. Then in 1939, France exacerbated that tension by promising the Polish that France would launch a full invasion of Germany if Germany attacked Poland. That promise was the foundation for Poland’s (deeply misguided) foreign policy in 1939.
Perhaps Hitler would have failed to win his war against the Soviet Union even without the efforts of France, Britain, and the United States to undercut Germany and support the Soviets. But there is no obvious reason why the Western democracies should have sided with the Soviet Union instead of with Germany in the war between those two nations. Hitler had wanted an alliance with Britain; and had hoped the United States would remain neutral and isolationist.
French foreign policy ultimately succeeded in its goal of a weak Germany. In 1945, Germany was prostrate. Its women and children were raped and murdered in what historian Antony Beevor described as “the worst mass rape in human history.” The horror and brutality of Soviet communism had spread west into the heart of Europe. At that point, only the United States had the military strength to prevent the Red Army from overrunning the rest of Germany, conquering France, and reaching the Atlantic.
Unexpectedly, the U.S. did, in fact, provide a deterrent to Soviet expansionism. I use the word “unexpectedly” because as of 1940, the American political spectrum was divided into conservative Republican isolationists and pro-communist interventionists such as FDR. Few politicians from either political party had advocated interventionism against communism. But in 1948, a new breed of American politicians got elected to Congress–politicians who believed in the idea of interventionism against communism. That fortuitous development was one of two factors which saved France from the consequences of having successfully destroyed what (up to that point) had been the sole deterrent to Soviet expansionism: the armed might of Germany.
The other development which may have saved France from the consequences of its own foreign policy was the death of Stalin in the early '50s. In the late '40s and early '50s, the Soviets had much stronger conventional forces in Europe than did the Western democracies. Truman recognized this, and knew that if the Soviets invaded, the Americans would be pushed west. He planned to use tactical nuclear strikes on the invading Soviet forces–a plan which did not please the Germans; among whom those nuclear bombs would fall! However, the United States did not have very many nuclear bombs, and Stalin was confident of his nation’s ability to shoot down nuclear bombers. (As an aside, Germany would have been the U.S.'s main ally in such a war; because France was too pro-communist to be relied upon.)
Those who believe Stalin had been planning WWIII state that he allowed the Korean War to be launched as a test of American military readiness. This was a test the U.S. failed to pass–which made Stalin confident in his preparations to move forward with a larger European conflict. However, Stalin died (or was murdered) before having the opportunity to launch this war. His successors proved more cautious.