Franz Halder's notebook, dealing with the German-Polish crisis of 14 Aug-3 Sept 1939 and the start of WWII. They are taken from
, Series D, vol. 7 - August 9 - September 3 1939, pp. 551-72.
EXTRACTS FROM THE NOTEBOOK OF COLONEL GENERAL HALDER AUGUST 14-SEPTEMBER 3, 1939
The whole notebook, which covers the period 14 August 1939 to 24 September 1942, was lodged as an exhibit in the case against von Leeb et. al. Short extracts were subsequently published in Trials of War Criminals before the Nuremberg Military Tribunals, U.S. Government Printing Office (Washington, 1951), vols. X and XI.
The notebook, which consists of shorthand notes made personally by Haider in connection with his daily tasks as Chief of the General Staff of the Army, should not be confused with the official War Diaries kept by the High Command of the Army. The transcript of the notes, which were written in the Gabelsberger system of shorthand, was prepared by the staff of the Office of the U.S. Chief of Counsel for War Crimes (OMGUS).
All those entries which deal primarily with matters of purely military interest have been omitted. All omissions are indicated by a series of dots. The translation has been revised to tally more exactly with the somewhat telegraphic style of the original. Some of the explanatory information supplied in the footnotes provided by the American editors at Nuremberg, who worked over the shorthand text with General Halder, has been used; these footnotes are marked with an asterisk. Alt the footnotes have been numbered in daily series.
 Nuremberg document NOKW 3140; Case 12, Prosecution Exhibit 1359.
. . . . .
14 AUGUST 1939 (Obersalzberg)
First of all the fact must be recognized that any political or military success involves taking risks: In the political field, because there is opposition to overcome, in the military, because sober assessment of all factors often reveals the possibility of failure.
Clear appraisal of the conditions !—Historical facts.
England's position must be viewed in the light of internal politics. Decision in 1914.
England would not have stepped in if she had foreseen the consequences. No nation wants a long war as such.
England only stands to lose.
Changes since the World War:
Recognition that a wealthy nation has little to gain, but a great deal to lose: Every nation must pay with blood:
Even when a war is won the victor emerges with diminished strength. This is the key to an understanding of the actions of men of less than heroic cast.—England overburdened with commitments in all parts of the world.
Fight Germany Yes
Fight for Allies ?
Fight for others No
1 The following are notes of an address by the Führer which form the basis of the summary to be found on pp. 554 ff.
552 DOCUMENTS ON GERMAN FOREIGN POLICY
In view of their experiences in the World War, there is little chance that opponents will deliberately run the risk of a major war. They know that it is a different Germany they would have to tackle today. 1914: Socialists, Church.
The factors involved:
England (active), France.
Russia is not in the least disposed to pull chestnuts out of the fire. Nothing to gain, but much to fear. War at the periphery a possibility, perhaps even welcome. Not so in centre. A war lost as much a threat as a victorious army. Interested in disruption of the Western States, access to Baltic.
Norway, Sweden, Denmark. Will be genuinely neutral, from inner convictions. Britain's overtures to Russia have caused intense irritation.—Switzerland, Belgium, Holland:
Switzerland will certainly remain neutral.
Holland: neutral on principle; danger to Far East possessions.
Belgium will endeavour to remain neutral. Belgium would be battlefield. Could only stand to lose. A section of the population, with French or Jewish family ties, might wish to pull in opposite direction as long as the guns do not speak.
Hungary requires no mention.
Italy is not interested in a major conflict, but would welcome certain adjustments. A victory of the democratic nations would be the end of Italy.—A Man! Spain will look with disfavour upon any victory of the Western Democracies.
Democracies would introduce a monarchy and dependence on Western Powers. England and France will have to shoulder the burden alone. Nor will the Balkan States be of any help to them.
Scale of British armaments: Supplementary armament programme passed (Navy, Air, Ground Forces). Not yet effective. Naval armament: programme not yet started. There will be no increase in battleship strength before 1941, no increase in cruisers and destroyers before 1940. Additional programme, just passed, is still in the misty future.
Ground Forces: One class of conscripts called up. It will be months before they are shaped into fighting units. Forces primarily needed for anti-aircraft. Months will pass before they could be available in any number.
Air: Progress has been made in bomber and fighter strength; improvement in ground organizations. No fundamental changes in ratio of bombers fighters. No major improvement in anti-aircraft (10 to 12 pieces a month). Three years will be needed to build up an adequate anti-aircraft force. Armament programme is being pushed in too many directions, with resulting mutual interference. On the whole, in the development stage (similar to our situation in 1934).
France: Resembles a weak man trying to carry machine guns, heavy guns, etc., on his back. Age classes of conscripts are small, and for a long time only one
APPENDIX I 553
year's service. Armament, too, is not in best shape. Potential of army on the whole limited. Colonial troops tied down.
If Führer were in the place of opponents, he would not accept the responsibility for a war. 125 million lined up against 80.
What can the English and French do?
Offensive: Between Basle and Saarbrücken hopeless. Local successes possible. Do-or-die attack improbable. A violation of neutrality of Luxembourg, Belgium and Holland: a quick success, likely to relieve pressure on the Eastern Front, is completely out of question. British could give support with a few Divs.—Blockade (counter measures) is therefore a long-term affair.
No immediate relief could be afforded by any Anglo-French action.
There is nothing to force them into a war.
The men of Munich will not take the risk. Risk of world-wide repercussions. Nobody has got ready cash for armaments. No more credit to be had.
The only clear-headed people left are the English Imperial General Staff and
the French General Staff.
In the political field some English spokesmen are beginning to back down (Duff Cooper) The Press!
Utmost possibilities: Recall of ambassadors. Embargo on commerce with Germany, promotion of trade with Poland. League of Nations.
Line of retreat: Russia. Poland has not lived up to her promises.—Neutral States oppose passage through their territories. Treaties not ratified; formula: "All support in their power."
Not really sincere: Were England resolved to help, she would have given money to the Poles. But the English will not put any more money into a bankrupt business.—Politicians take cover behind Ironside Report. Polish mentality: If England had made any positive commitments, the Poles would be much more cocky. Tapped telephone conversations! Führer is concerned lest England hamper showdown by last-minute offers.
Summing up: In last weeks, conviction of [Poland's] isolation strengthened from day to day.
A necessary condition: That we obtain results within measurable time. In a week or a fortnight the impression [must prevail] that Poland will collapse. Winding up the operation can take longer.
Further necessity: Resolution to fight every corner. In the West build-up must be carried out completely.
Relations with Russia: Loose contacts. Started from negotiations for trade agreement. Under consideration whether a negotiator should go to Moscow, and whether or not this should be a prominent figure. [Russia] not thinking of obligations towards the West. Russians understand destruction of Poland. But what about Ukr[aine]? Promise of delimitation of spheres of interest.—Baltic States? Issue, Lithuania (not Baltic States). Russians want to discuss subject more closely. Distrust. No common frontier.—Führer inclined to meet half-way.
[Führer] has hinted to England that he will approach her with a new offer after disposal of the overriding Polish question. Has registered in London. Paris, too, is informed about his determination. So the great drama is now approaching its climax.—The British commotion happened because of some
 Alfred Duff Cooper, British Conservative M.P.; Secretary of State for War, 19351937; First Lord of the Admiralty, May, 1937–October, 1938.
 A reference to Mr. Chamberlain's statement in the House of Commons on Mar. 31, 1939. See Parl. Deb., H. of C., vol. 345, col. 2415.
 See vol. VI of this Series, document No. 752.
554 DOCUMENTS ON GERMAN FOREIGN POLICY
careless German boast that the Führer's calculations had always proved correct.
The other nations must be given proof that there will be a shooting war no matter what. (Poland will be polished off in six to eight weeks.) Even if England should step in.
If opinion changes, possible that cheap success taken. [Decision] reserved until 48 hours beforehand.
a) Central problem is Poland. Must be carried through at all costs.
b) Situation if western front is under pressure : all-out drive against German fortified zone unlikely. Attack possible with violation Belgian-Dutch neutrality.—No need for a change in our attitude before the proper time arrives. Attack to gain an advantageous front line because of lack of forces not necessary. It would thus be a question of: a) ensuring protection of our frontier with least delay ; b) investigating the possibilities of creating new reserves or moving up existing ones; c) [no entry made] ; d) occupation of the islands and the northern tip.
c) East: How can we seize the Dirschau Bridge? Graudenz.—Führer has ordered study on what could be done about Dirschau Bridge.
Dirschau: (Himmler) Armoured train, coup-de-main.
Graudenz: Possibly raiding force in civilian clothes. Dive-bombers practically out of question.
Slovakia has signed protection treaty.
Disposition of forces has been reviewed. Nothing will be taken away from troops earmarked for East.
Danzig will be left to its own resources. [Danzig selbst.]
Navy: Planned: 1 cruiser and 11 submarines will put to sea for exercises on 18th.
Air attack: Gdynia: 8 dive-bomber groups—80 aircraft. Mixed bombs.
Party Rally: Decision [Nachricht] 15 August.
Deployment in West advanced to 15 August.
Morning Session: Review of political situation
Success, political or military, cannot be had without taking risks. The Fiihrer regards the foreign policy risks involved in a German attack on Poland in the light of the risks which he had to take in all his decisions to date, and which, to his mind, were great at first and then steadily decreased.
As opponents, only a matter of England—apart from Poland herself—with France towed in her wake.
England, unlike in 1914, will not allow herself to blunder into a war lasting for years.
Talk of England wanting a long war discounted. No Government will make a long war their primary aim. England, knowing war, is well aware that she stands to lose in a war, and that even a victorious war would not make up for the cost of such a war. Such is the fate of rich countries. England is overburdened with responsibilities because of the excessive size of her empire.
 A special task force organized by OKW—Abwehr (Adm. Canaris) to seize the strategic Vistula bridge.
 See Editors' Note, p. 50.
APPENDIX I 555
She has no leaders of real calibre. ("The men I got to know in Munich are, not the kind that start a new World War.") Moreover, the other side is well aware that it has to deal with a different Germany from 1914 (Socialism, Church). (What should England fight for? You don't get yourself killed for an ally.) Not even England has the money nowadays to fight a world war. She can get nothing on credit.
France is not directly interested in waging a war.
Russia has no intention of pulling England's chestnuts out of the fire and will keep out of war. A lost war is as dangerous for Stalin as a victorious army. His interests at most extend to the Baltic States.
Norway, Sweden, Denmark are neutral from innermost conviction. Deeply perturbed over Britain's wooing of Russia.
Switzerland, Belgium, Holland: Switzerland certainly neutral, Holland the same. Belgium will endeavour to remain neutral. As a battlefield she only stands to lose. Possibly there are still some forces pulling in favour of participation at the side of France, but they will be silent once the guns begin to speak. In sum, England and France will have to shoulder the burden alone. Nor will the Balkan States be of any help to them.
Appraisal of military potential of opponents:
England has not gained in naval power over last year. On land, it will be months before stepped-up intake of recruits can take effect in the form of efficient fighting units.
Progress has been scored in the air: bombers, fighters, ground organization improved. Anti-aircraft defences, no real improvement yet.—On the whole, everything is still in the development stage, similar to ours in 1934.
France's potential is curtailed by the limitations of her manpower. Colonial troops are tied down. Equipment not ideal.
If the Führer were in the shoes of the Franco-English statesmen, he would not assume responsibility for a world conflict. One hundred and twenty-five million are lined up against eighty.
What military measures can France and England undertake? Drive against West Wall unlikely. A northward swing through Belgium and Holland will not bring speedy victory. None of this would help the Poles. Blockade works slowly and provokes dangerous counter measures.
All these factors argue against England and France entering the war, particularly since they are not under any compulsion. Treaties are not yet ratified. Formula: "Support with all our power" is not genuinely meant. Proof: England does not give Poland money to buy arms in other countries. Politicians are beginning to back down, taking cover behind Ironside Report.
English and French General Staffs take a very sober view of the prospects of an armed conflict and advise against it.
Further evidence that no determined action is to be expected on the part of England may above all be inferred from Poland's attitude. Poland would be even more cocky if she knew she could depend on England. England has strongly remonstrated with Poland over the latest Polish Notes and is continuously putting on the brakes. Tapped telephone conversations in Poland! Even now England is putting out feelers to find out how the Führer envisages developments after Poland has been disposed of.
All this supports the conviction that while England may talk big, even recall her ambassador, perhaps put a complete embargo on trade, she is sure not to resort to armed intervention in the conflict.
 See document No. 10, and vol. VI of this Series, document No. 774.
556 DOCUMENTS ON GERMAN FOREIGN POLICY
The requisite conditions are:
(1) That we obtain results in Poland within measurable time. "Within a week or two the world must be convinced that Poland is at the point of collapse. The operations themselves may well continue past that date." (Six to eight weeks.)
(2) Determination to fight every comer.
(3) Build-up on the Western front must be completed.
Separate issue: Russia. -. Questions concerning the Army:
a) Call-up for West (required 250,000 men, i.e., 12 Divs.)? Decision 15 Aug. Decision on movement into Holland including northern part still pending!
b) Cancellation of Party Rally? Decision on 15 Aug. (Yes!)
c) Advance notice to railroads? Decision on 15 Aug. (Yes!)
Things should go according to our timetable.
d) Dirschau: Coup-de-main. Himmler! Armoured train? Report and pertinent information to be submitted. Graudenz: Paratroops on evening of first day.
e) Gdynia. K 58 [gun] to be used. Report to be submitted.
OB. f) Mobilization in East as prearranged, also for East Prussia. Consult with Bock.
g) Treaty with Slovakia signed.
14 Aug. Evening: v. Stülpnagel (through v. Weizsäcker) : Ri[bbentrop]--Ciano: [three words illegible]: Ciano exceedingly surprised. M[ussolini) wants to have peace for some more years. Germany's encirclement complete. Italy exhausted; no raw materials; deficiencies in armaments; no coastal fortifications. —Nothing can be undertaken from Libya.
General Staff estimates fighting strength Italy-France at 1:5.
Albania was a disappointment. Operations in Balkans not feasible in near future.
R[ibbentrop]: We don't need you.—C[iano]: The future will show.
15 Aug. 0840 hrs. Talk with State Secretary Weizsäcker: He confirms the picture of the situation presented yesterday. Chamb[erlain] and Hal[ifax] in particular wish to avoid bloodshed. U.S. observes marked reserve. Concurs in estimate of developments in the next ten days.
 A 28 cm. railway gun.
 According to Haider this was the designation of an annual Engineer Corps field exercise; usually named after. the river where it was held.
 See entry for Aug. 31, footnote 7.
 See Editors' Note, p. 35.
 According to Halder they might be: "Mu[ssolini] West neutral".
APPENDIX I 557
17 AUGUST 1939
. . . . .
Canaris [Checked with] Section 1 [Operations] Hi[mrnler] Hei [?Heydrich] Obersalzberg: 150 Polish uniforms with accessories (Dr. Trumler) for Upper Silesia . . .
 See Trial of the Major War Criminals, vol. XXVI, document 795-PS, Exhibit GB-54,
p. 337, for a record of a conversation held by Keitel on Aug. 17 about Hitler's orders that Heydrich should be supplied with Polish uniforms. The oral evidence of Keitel (ibid., vol. X, p. 515) confirmed that this conversation was with Canaris. See also the oral evidence of Colonel Erwin Lahousen, head of Section II of the Abwehr (ibid., vol. II, pp. 449-451 and vol. III, p. 10) and the affidavit by Alfred Naujocks (ibid., vol. XXXI, document 2751-PS, exhibit USA-482) describing the use to which such uniforms were put, and in particular the faking of a Polish raid, reported by DNB on Aug. 31, on the Gleiwitz radio station.
. . . . .
21 AUGUST 1939
a) First: guarantee pact does not meet Russian wishes. Then programme:
Ri[bbentrop] could go [to Moscow] eight days after signing and publication of trade agreement (20 Aug.) Would have to take with him draft of guarantee pact. Must cover all points of joint interest to Germany and Russia.
Russian draft provides for no use of force against others. No support for the aggressor. In event of disagreements, arbitration. Duration for five years from date of rat[ification].
b) Attol[ico] at Fuschl: Expressed misgivings very clearly. Italy won't go along. Result: considerable annoyance. Att[o[ico] returned to Rome.
c) Belgium: (Bülow-Schwante) . . .
 See document No. 132.
 Document No. 131.
 See document No. 133
 See document No. 126, footnote 4.