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I don't know about Roosevelt, but the British and French certainly put such a proposition forward to the League of Nations before WWII. However, by then the Germans, Italians and Japanese had withdrawn from the organization and were already engaged in bombing in Spain and China. The Anglo-French had every incentive to seek this, as they felt themselves inferior in the air to the Germans, Italians and Japanese. Conversely, the Germans, Italians and Japanese felt themselves superior in the air and expressed no interest in the idea. Self interest probably governed policy on both sides.
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On 1 September 1939 President Roosevelt sent an appeal to all the major European powers involved in the crisis over Poland to give a public undertaking that they would abstain from any air attacks against civilians or unfortified cities.
The same day Hitler told the American chargé d’affaires in Berlin that this had always been his preference and assured Roosevelt that German aircraft would only attack military objectives.
The British prime minister, Neville Chamberlain, gave his guarantee the same day; a joint Anglo-French declaration followed on 3 September, only reserving the right to act as they saw fit if the enemy failed to observe the same restrictions.
The Polish ambassador in Washington, whose country was already at war, agreed that Polish pilots would be told not to bomb open cities as long as the enemy did the same.
None of these expressions of goodwill was legally binding in international law.
Overy, Richard. The Bombing War: Europe, 1939-1945 (p. 237)
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Hi Michael - a question on the underlinemichael mills wrote: ↑13 Mar 2017 12:19Has anyone suggested that Churchill was a "war criminal"? I certainly have not.
It is an undisputed historical fact that Hitler instructed the Luftwaffe to attack only genuine military targets in Britain, ie RAF and naval bases, and not to attack population centres. The most probable reason is that Hitler did not want to provoke the British by inflicting civilian casualties, which would only make them more resistant to his offers of a negotiated end to hostilities, whereas concentration on the destruction of British air and naval power might make them more willing to accept them.
It is also an undisputed fact that Churchill seized on the accidental bombing of an outlying London suburb as a justification for starting aerial attacks on German population centres. Churchill's most probable motivation for wanting to start a descent into mutual attacks on population centres was that it supported two objectives for him:
1. German attacks on British population centres would rally the British population and undercut any move for a negotiated end to hostilities with Germany, which was a distinct possibility after the surrender of France;
2. The way would be open for Britain to conduct a war of attrition against the German economy, which was the only way it could strike back militarily against Germany after the expulsion of British forces from the Continent, and moreover was a war it could win since it had the means to conduct a sustained strategic bombing campaign while Germany did not.
It has been argued that bombardment of population centres containing defended military targets was permissible under the laws of war applicable in 1940. If that is the case, then Churchill was not a war criminal for desiring to mount a campaign of attacks on German population centres. But then neither were the German leaders for attacks on British population centres.
Why would Hitler believe -- hitting military targets [Naval bases, Air bases, Radar stations]- would not make the general population angry ?
Any attack anywhere (be it Military target or a civilian target) would surely rally the entire state of England, no ?
Seems strange that Hitler would bomb Military targets from Sept 3rd 1939 to May 10th 1940 -- if Hitler was hoping NOT to escalate with England.