The Warsaw Pact (Officially the Treaty of Friendship, Co-operation and Mutual Assistance, Russian Договор о дружбе, сотрудничестве и взаимной помощи) was a political and military organization made up of the communist states of Central Europe and the Soviet Union. The Warsaw Pact was officially formed on May 14, 1955, in response to the integration of West Germany in to NATO. The Warsaw Pact effectively lasted until November 9, 1989, when the Berlin Wall fell and officially ceased to exist on July 1, 1991.
Immediately after the World War II, Soviet General Secretary of the Communist Party Josef Stalin, sent Konstantin Rokossovsky to Warsaw and gave him the title of Marshal of Poland to add to his existing rank as Marshal of the Soviet Union. In Warsaw Rokossovsky held the posts of Minister of Defence, Deputy President of the Council of Ministers and Member of the Politburo of the Polish Communist Party. Thus a Marshal of the Soviet Union served as deputy to the head of the Polish government. Rokossovsky, nor any other General in the Polish army, spoke Polish, relying constantly on interpreters. The relationship between Generalissimo of the Soviet Union, J. V. Stalin and Rokossovsky was based upon the fact that Stalin gave the orders, and that Rokossovsky carried them out.
All decisions were taken in the Kremlin and monitored by the Kremlin. The Defence Ministers of the Central European countries were regarded as equal in status to the Commanders of Soviet Military Districts and they came under the direct command of the Soviet Minister of Defence. All appointments and postings were decided upon by the Kremlin. The Defence Ministers of the `sovereign' states of Central Europe were either appointed from the ranks of Soviet generals or were `assisted' by Soviet military advisers. In Romania and Bulgaria, for instance, one such `adviser' was Marshal of the Soviet Union Tolbukhin. In East Germany there was Marshal Zhukov himself, in Hungary Marshal of the Soviet Union Konev. Each adviser had at his disposal at least one tank army, several all-arms armies and special SMERSH, or Red Army Counterintelligence punitive detachments.
In Czechoslovakia there was Ludwig Svoboda, who neutralised the Czech army in 1948 and again in 1968. He carried out the orders of the USSR promptly so it was not necessary to keep a Soviet Marshal in Prague holding a ministerial post in the Czech government. During World War II all of the Central European countries had been enemies of the Soviet Union and it was therefore possible to execute any political figure, general, officer or private soldier, at any given time and replace them with someone more cooperative with the socialist system.
After the death of Stalin, the Soviet government, headed by Marshal of the Soviet Union Nikolai Bulganin, decided to conclude an official military agreement with the countries it was occupying. The signatory for the Soviet Union was Marshal of the Soviet Union Georgi Zhukov, and for the Polish socialist regime Marshal of the Soviet Union Rokossovsky, assisted by Colonel-General S. G. Poplavsky—Rokossovsky's deputy. Marshal of the Soviet Union Bulganin, who was present at the ceremony, took the opportunity to award Colonel-General Poplavsky the rank of General of the Army. Poplavsky, who signed for Poland, was also a Soviet general and the subordinate of Marshals Bulganin, Zhukov and Rokossovsky. Within two years Poplavsky had returned to the USSR and become deputy to the Inspector General of the Soviet Army. Rokossovsky, Poplavsky, Fyodor Petrovich Polynin and the others were compelled by Soviet legislation to carry out the orders which reached them from Moscow. The Warsaw Treaty did not fundamentally change Poland's dependence upon the USSR.
During the Organisation's first thirteen years the Ministers of Defence of the sovereign states, whether they were pro-Soviet puppets or actual Soviet generals and Marshals, were subordinated to the Commander-in-Chief, who was appointed by the Soviet government and who was himself Deputy Minister of Defence of the USSR. Thus, even in a legal sense, the Ministers of these theoretically sovereign states were directly subordinated to a Soviet Minister's deputy.
After the Prague Spring in 1968, the Consultative Committee was set up. In this committee, Ministers of Defence and Heads of State from the Central European occuped countries gathered to talk as equals and allies, but in reality all decisions were still made in the Kremlin. During 'Operation Danube', the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslavkia, the `allied' divisions of the Warsaw Treaty Organisation were integrated in the Soviet Armies. None of the Central European countries had the right to set up its own Corps, Armies or Fronts. They had only divisions commanded by Soviet generals. In the event of war with Nato, they would be fully integrated into the United (or Soviet) Armed Forces.
- The Warsaw Pact, Fordham University
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- Polynin fought in China in 1938-39 under a Chinese name and was given Chinese nationality. Although a Chinese subject, he was made a 'Hero of the Soviet Union'. He returned to the Soviet Union and reverted to Soviet nationality. In 1944 he became a Polish general in the Polish Home Army. He never learned Polish. Polynin was also a Soviet General. As a member of the Lublin Committee he was made Commander of the Air Force of Communist Poland. In 1946, while still holding this position, he received the rank of Colonel-General of the Soviet Air Force. The announcement that this rank had been awarded to the officer commanding the Polish Air Force was signed by the President of the Council of Ministers of the USSR, Generalissimo of the Soviet Union, J. V. Stalin. After a further period in Poland, Polynin resumed his Soviet rank and was given the post of Deputy to the Commander-in-Chief of the Soviet Air Forces. During his years in command of the Polish Air Force, Polynin never learned a word of Polish. None of his subordinates in the Polish Air Force spoke Polish either. Their orders came from Moscow in Russian.