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The Soviet-German Non-aggression Treaty was signed on August 24, one week before the war began. Both sides understood from the start its real meaning- the pact was a truce which suited their temporary convenience.
On August 17 Britain's Washington ambassador got word from US intelligence sources that the signing of a Soviet-German Non-aggression Treaty was imminent.
This was one of the possibilities most feared by Daladier and Chamberlain.
It meant the collapse, at least temporarily, of their planned war between the USSR and Germany.
This did not mean, as Churchill knew, that they would then be in the position of having to wage war on Hitler unaided.
The British had already sent a special emissary, Baron William de Ropp, to Berlin a few days before. One of his tasks, during his discussions with Alfred Rosenberg, head of the Nazi Party's foreign policy department, was to spell out the British stand in the event of a German attack on Poland.
Rosenberg was told the British would fight a defensive 'war', that is to say, would take no action in defence of Poland or in retaliation for Germany's attack on that country.
In particular there would be no aerial bombardment of German territory- and the Germans agreed to reciprocate, a decision which held throughout the 'phoney war' period.
This 'deal' struck between de Ropp and Rosenberg would leave open the possibility of quickly ending the war because, de Ropp said, 'neither the British Empire nor Germany would wish to risk their future for the sake of a state which had ceased to exist'.
This discussion pointed the way to a collusion which continued throughout the first months of the war, until Hitler struck at France in May 1940. But the British had still to deal with the possibility which now loomed up of a Soviet agreement with Germany.
The British now resorted to tactics disgraceful even by their own standards. So deep is the shame which still attaches to British actions at this time that official records have been doctored to conceal the truth.
Regrettably, Western historians have tended to connive in the cover up...
Anybody have more information on this alleged meeting between William de Ropp and Alfred Rosenborg?
http://www.columbia.edu/~lnp3/mark_jone ... sement.htm
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Rumsfeld wrote:So deep is the shame which still attaches to British actions at this time that official records have been doctored to conceal the truth.
Ah yes. "If we can find no evidence for our allegations, it must be because insidious people have destroyed it." Yeah, thanks anyway...
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After the Soviet Union joined in on the invasion of Poland on 17 September, the strategic vision of Chamberlain was finally achieved.
Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia now had a common border.
A war between the two was only a matter of time.
Since a German-Soviet war was only a matter of time, why should one commit military resources to fight Germany?
A military action against Germany might weaken Germany and hinder the coming German-Soviet war.
From this line of logic, began the almost 8 month long military charade known as the "phoney war".
Military action was needed of course, to defeat Germany.
But not a British-German war.
What was more needed was a German-Soviet war.
I wonder what role did this pre-war William de Ropp and Alfred Rosenborg meeting played during this "phoney war".
Here are some interpretations of this phoney war:
After Russia had joined in the dismemberment of Poland on September 17, that, in accord with the secret protocols arrived at between Ribbentrop and Molotov a month before, Chamberlain's silence became deafening. Despite urgent pleas by Poland's Marshall Smigly-Rydz, that France honor her previous treaty with Poland and initiate some, any, diversionary action against Germany's exposed western borders, to slow the German offensive in Poland, nothing happened from either France or England's side.
General Gamelin's French Army, with its 28 divisions, waited in their barracks, oiling their guns and polishing their boots. German Field Marshall Keitel testified after the war that, had a French attack been launched against Germany's Ruhr industry heartland at that point, it would have "encountered only feeble resistance."
Britain's "phoney war" had begun. The intent of that phoney war as it came to be known, was meant to be a period of British manipulation and maneuver, in order to set the stage for a break of the Russo-German pact, to play Germany and Russia against each other, and at the same time, to maneuver the United States into the war on England's side.
Four days into the Nazi invasion of Poland, the German High Command got highly accurate intelligence on the status of British troop readiness to aid of France against Germany in response to Germany's invasion of Poland. Hitler had been told that England, on the day she declared war against Germany, had no more than 3 divisions in combat readiness, and that she would not deploy to aid France until fully 7 divisions had been made ready, something which could not be done before at least summer 1940.
Further, Hitler learned that France, for her part, would not initiate any military action against Germany, without a full British troop support backing her. Instead of having to redeploy several divisions from the Polish campaign to cover Germany's western flank, Hitler could proceed systematically to carve up Poland, with no fear of attack from Britain or France.
Poland was to serve the same broad aim of British geopolitical strategy as Munich had some months before, if less obviously so. As far back as July 1936, Chamberlain's predecessor as Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin, had laid out to a group from the House of Lords, the policy for the coming European war. Baldwin, a director of Lothian's Rhodes Trust, and a member of the inner circle of the Round Table, had told the Lords, "If there is any fighting in Europe to be done, I should like to see the Bolsheviks and the Nazis doing it."
The effort of Churchill and the highest levels of the British establishment between September 1939 and the America's war declaration in December 1941, was anything but phoney, even if it did not produce the war which most, especially the hapless Poles, had expected. Of course, the actual reasons for the strange war conduct could never be admitted publicly, without endangering the entire enterprise.
http://www.engdahl.oilgeopolitics.net/H ... inder.html
As a result, Halifax had a long conversation with Hitler on 19 November 1937 in which, whatever may have been Halifax’s intention, Hitler’s government became convinced of three things:
(a) that Britain regarded Germany as the chief bulwark against communism in Europe;
(b) that Britain was prepared to join a Four Power agreement of France, Germany, Italy, and herself; and
(c) that Britain was prepared to allow Germany to liquidate Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Poland if this could be done without provoking a war into which the British Government, however unwillingly, would be dragged in opposition to Germany.
The German Foreign Ministry memorandum on this conversation makes it perfectly clear that the Germans did not misunderstand Halifax except, possibly, on the last point.
There they failed to see that if Germany made war, the British Government would be forced into the war against Germany by public opinion in England.
The German diplomatic agents in London, especially the Ambassador, Dirksen, saw this clearly, but the Government in Berlin listened only to the blind and conceited ignorance of Ribbentrop.
As dictators themselves, unfamiliar with the British social or constitutional systems, the German rulers assumed that the willingness of the British Government to accept the liquidation of Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Poland implied that the British Government would never go to war to prevent this liquidation.
They did not see that the British Government might have to declare war to stay in office if public opinion in Britain were sufficiently aroused.
The British Government saw this difficulty and as a last resort were prepared to declare war but not to wage war on Germany.
This distinction was not clear to the Germans and was not accepted by the inner core of the Milner Group.
It was, however, accepted by the other elements in the government, like Chamberlain himself, and by much of the second circle of the Milner Group, including Simon, Hoare, and probably Halifax.
It was this which resulted in the “phony war” from September 1939 to April 1940.