The Allies' attitude towards a Beck-Goerdeler government at the end of 1943

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The Allies' attitude towards a Beck-Goerdeler government at the end of 1943

Post by Juan G. C. » 28 Oct 2020 12:06

I want to discuss what would have been the attitude of the Allies towards a new german government after a coup d'etat against the Nazi regime at the end of 1943. And in this conection I want to draw the attention of the forum to this 1999 article, which I think is very relevant:
https://arkiv.wallenberg.org/sites/arki ... ngland.pdf

I will try to resume it. The article deals with the contacts of Carl Goerdeler with the British government through the brothers Jacob and Marcus Wallenberg, in the light of documents from the Stockholm Enskilda Bank.

Goerdeler had been in Stockholm during May 1943 where he asked his friend Jacob Wallenberg to help him contact the British government in the name of the german opposition. He explained him the opposition's plans and aims. Jacob Wallenberg wrote to his brother Marcus, who was then in England, and asked him to present these questions to Churchill.

Marcus Wallenberg was not able to speak with Churchill, but he spoke with Desmond Morton, his personal assistant, who was an acquaitance. Before his return to Sweden on 19 June he wrote a memorandum on this conversation, which is reproduced in the article, but which I can not help to reproduce here, for the interest It does have:
D.M. explained that the views of W.C. on the pursuit of war could not be regarded as relentless or described as “to the bitter end”. The war objectives were clear. Nazi Germany had to be crushed and this time one would not stop at the border but occupy Germany. However, DM wished to point out that W.C. had always made prudent statements regarding Germany, never equating the Nazis with the German people in public or in any other way. Unfortunately, neither Eden nor Roosevelt had been as restrained. Stalin, on the other hand, had made a very clear distinction between Hitler’s Germany and Germans in general and even gone as far as describing German soldiers as Hitlerites in the latest Russian bulletins. To W.C., the goal was to uproot the Nazi gangster rule that had led the world into this war and brought destruction, oppression and lawlessness over large parts of Europe and rocked the whole world. As long as the Nazi system prevailed and as long as there was a chance that it would be restored there was no future security in the relations between nations and thus no basis for the reconstruction of the world and for the economic and social security of the nations. It was therefore not possible to adopt an attitude towards questions from German revolutionary candidates about the Allies’ reaction to a Germany cleansed from Hitler and his gang by a movement led by generals, public officials, industrialists and unionists. One would have to “wait and see”. Through its achievements within various areas, the revolutionary movement would have to show the world that it had dissociated itself from violence and lawlessness as forcible means and from Nazism as religion and school, in the spirit of which German youth was being brought up. To think that the Allies would grant any blessing or approval of any kind of anti-Hitler or anti-Nazi movement in advance was impossible. It was equally impossible to expect any commitment from the Allies to eliminate the condition regarding “unconditional surrender”, if the revolution were successful. In this connection, D.M. drifted on to the interrogations with the captured German generals, who practically all were anti-Nazis, albeit of varying intensity and colour. However, they were faithful to the code of honour of the German army, which apparently meant dissociation from any participation in attempts at removing the present regime.

On the other hand, some of the more intense antagonists of the Nazis provided information about horrible atrocities committed by the SS troops against the Russian population, atrocities which had filled them with loathing and disgust, not to say shame of being Germans. Reportedly, the SS would draft its personnel through a methodical sorting out of sick elements. A provocateur from the SS would tell perverted, sadistic and cruel stories to a group of young people, while their facial expressions were carefully studied. Some of them displayed disgust or aversion, while others remained indifferent; some faces showed interest, with gleaming eyes and even a happy smile on the lips. The latter ones were selected. It was from their ranks that the dreaded SS, police troops, the devils of the concentration camps as well as the tormentors and butchers of the occupied areas were recruited. A system using such an organisation endangers not only its own country, but also civilization and peace. Young people who have been educated under such a regime also represent a danger. What course will the new masters of Germany take with respect to the extermination of these dangerous elements? Undoubtedly, continued D.M., the best thing for Germany, the Allies and the future of the world would be if the Germans themselves put their house in order, calling those guilty to account. The position of the Allies depended to a great extent upon the way in which the purge would be handled and also upon which principles the new German constitution and ecclesiastic work would be founded. The Allies were completely aware about the inconvenience and risks involved, if foreign nations would call the guilty Germans to account. It would of course be hard to say if a revolution could prove - within a period of three or six months depending upon how quickly and how thoroughly a restructuring could be carried out - that a democratic regime, a sound judicial system, school reforms as well as freedom of religion and speech had been introduced. It would furthermore be difficult to say, if this had created the necessary conditions for the belligerents to reach a settlement without demanding that Germany accept “unconditional surrender”. D.M knew that WC would be prepared to support such a line of action, provided the new German regime inspired him with confidence. Labour and the Vansittartism were opposed.

D.M. believed that public opinion in both the UK and the U.S. would soon swing in favour of a settlement, if the Germans declared their will to peace, readiness to evacuate the occupied territories, suspend the submarine warfare, introduce local and civilian internal administration in the occupied territories, support an international peace organisation, disarm except for a defense system and to adopt a defensive attitude during the war, while carrying out internal reform work. Most certainly, a contributing factor to this was leading persons’ attitude towards Russia, the intentions and policy of which were observed with great, but concealed, distrust. In reply to my final question, whether D.M. considered a peace agreement without “unconditional surrender” impossible, he answered categorically no. W.C. did not wish to prolong the war unnecessarily, for the sake of war. The most important thing was to exterminate Nazism and to create guarantees for a lasting peace in the future. In reply to my question, D.M. also declared emphatically that all bombing of revolting places would be stopped, if they only were provided with proper and credible information about the situation. D.M. said that he did not need to consult W.C. further as regards these points. They were for certain.

He was aware of the importance of trying to spare mankind from further suffering. I explained that one could hardly expect that the German generals, being patriots, would help to remove the Hitler regime on the basis of such vague pronouncements. Considering how risky a venture this was, both for themselves and for Germany; it might lead to civil war or, if they were successful, to a possible acceptance of “unconditional surrender” as a condition. In reply, D.M. said that stronger pronouncements could probably not be obtained under any circumstances. He admitted, however, that a revolt in Germany, regardless of outcome, was in the interests of the Allies; in consequence, he could imagine that he himself should go to Sthlm for a meeting with the relevant German person and repeat to that person what he had just told me. D.M. wished to emphasise that he was not in a position to enter into any negotiations. It would just be an informative conversation about the attitude of the top leaders towards the questions at issue.

During our conversation, it became clear that similar inquiries had been made by German generals in 1941. In D.M.’s opinion, the fact that several people, including some rather important people, entertained revolutionary plans against a regime with Gestapo and the world’s best police force, without being disclosed, was a striking proof of the gravity of the purpose and the skill of the leaders. D.M. was going to consider the issue. Possibly, I was to revert to him before my return trip. When I tried to get in contact I was not received. I was going home on a Saturday. The pretext was writing a memo for WC before “catch a train from Liverpool Street Station at 12.45.”
On 12 August Jacob Wallenberg spoke with Goerdeler in Berlin, reported on the reaction in London and was informed by Goerdeler about the plans for a coup. After his return to Sweden, Marcus Wallenberg tried to contact Desmond Morton again, saying that he had new information if he was interested. Morton thanked him for the letter, Marcus wrote to him again on 6 September and on 25 Septiembre was informed by Victor Ballet, British envoy to Sweden, that Desmond Morton had received his letter, but without more information.

Then on 29 September Marcus received a letter from another acquaitance, Charles Hambro, head of the Special Operations Executive (SOE) and husband of Marcus' former wife. The letter had five pages, the first and the last of a personal nature, but the three middle pages said the following:
Now I have a much more important message to give you -
You will recollect that when you were last here you spoke to someone in high circles about certain plans of some of the professional warriors in a neighbouring country unfriendly to mine. Following this conversation you wrote a letter.
You should (or more likely your contact should) reply to their officers to the effect that they should certainly go on with their plans and take the action they contemplate.
Action will be construed as an act of good faith and proof that they are serious people with standing and influence in their country.
No undertaking of any kind can be given or expected.
No one must know that you and I are in touch on this matter and above all no one at HM Legation.
From now on you will send all communications in regard to this matter to me by the same route as you receive this letter.
The bearer of it knows nothing and must know nothing. He has instructions to receive & transmit your letters. If the event contemplated really happened it may be possible for someone (perhaps myself) to come and see you.
If there is any further information which you think I should know in regard to this subject please let me have it.
Please forget that you have communicated to anyone but me about this matter.
Good luck to you.
(Probably wise to destroy these pages)
Later, in a letter dates 19 October Hambro told Marcus Wallenberg: "I also thought you might like to know that the other information and guidance which I gave you in connection with your enquiries was approved by more important people than I before I passed it to you. It was not the production of my own sweet imagination."

I post this because I previously thought that the Allies would have demanded unconditional surrender also from a new german government, but here there is evidence that at least the British were open to droping the "unconditional surrender" condition. It seems that Hambro contacted Wallenberg on Churchill's orders. I apologize for such a long post, but I find this most interesting.

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Re: The Allies' attitude towards a Beck-Goerdeler government at the end of 1943

Post by Juan G. C. » 29 Oct 2020 16:18

Nobody interested?

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Re: The Allies' attitude towards a Beck-Goerdeler government at the end of 1943

Post by OldBill » 29 Oct 2020 16:43

It is interesting, no doubt. I am left what FDR's reaction would have been. Positive IMO, but there are (or would have been) so many details I'm not sure how it would have played out. War debt, reparations, those guilty of war crimes? Then there is the attitude of the Army, the possibility of war within the armed forces, and lastly, the reaction of the Soviets.

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Re: The Allies' attitude towards a Beck-Goerdeler government at the end of 1943

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 29 Oct 2020 17:21

Given the objections of the nazi fanatics its difficult to see the Allies dealing with a orderly armistice. Decapitating the nazi regime in a coup does not waive away all the hardcore party members there are still several millions who were still thinking Germany was winning. Then there are the attitudes of the non nazis. While some Germans still capable of independent thought could see the war was lost circa October 1943 or earlier, most 'good' German leaders like Rommel or Kesselring were still drinking the Kool-aid.

That and relevation of numerous war crimes and other problems undercuts ideas of a orderly transition to peace on the Allied side. Unlike in 1918 the German Army is not going to pack it in and head home & the Allies are not going to find a sad and hungry German population. Between the horors discovered in the liberated territories and a even more disgruntled population than of 1918-1919 The Allied leaders have a choice of leaving a burning powder keg in their midst, or reneging on the previous conditions agreed to.

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Re: The Allies' attitude towards a Beck-Goerdeler government at the end of 1943

Post by Juan G. C. » 29 Oct 2020 17:32

OldBill wrote:
29 Oct 2020 16:43
It is interesting, no doubt. I am left what FDR's reaction would have been. Positive IMO, but there are (or would have been) so many details I'm not sure how it would have played out. War debt, reparations, those guilty of war crimes? Then there is the attitude of the Army, the possibility of war within the armed forces, and lastly, the reaction of the Soviets.
As far as I know, Roosevelt was not so open to negotiating with a post-nazi government. He refused every attempt of contact by the german resistance, and once called them "east german junkers". He wanted unconditional surrender and occupation of Germany, and to maintain the alliance with the Soviet Union. You are right when you say that there were many details and variables. I doubt that Churchill would have tried to negotiate with the new german government without Roosevelt's agreement.

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Re: The Allies' attitude towards a Beck-Goerdeler government at the end of 1943

Post by Juan G. C. » 29 Oct 2020 17:47

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
29 Oct 2020 17:21
Given the objections of the nazi fanatics its difficult to see the Allies dealing with a orderly armistice. Decapitating the nazi regime in a coup does not waive away all the hardcore party members there are still several millions who were still thinking Germany was winning. Then there are the attitudes of the non nazis. While some Germans still capable of independent thought could see the war was lost circa October 1943 or earlier, most 'good' German leaders like Rommel or Kesselring were still drinking the Kool-aid.

That and relevation of numerous war crimes and other problems undercuts ideas of a orderly transition to peace on the Allied side. Unlike in 1918 the German Army is not going to pack it in and head home & the Allies are not going to find a sad and hungry German population. Between the horors discovered in the liberated territories and a even more disgruntled population than of 1918-1919 The Allied leaders have a choice of leaving a burning powder keg in their midst, or reneging on the previous conditions agreed to.
I do not think the objections of the nazi fanatics would have had any weight on the new government. Those with power in the nazi regime would have lost it and would have probably ended judged and shot for "deteriorating the defensive capacity of the german people", if not for murder.

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Re: The Allies' attitude towards a Beck-Goerdeler government at the end of 1943

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 29 Oct 2020 20:14

Im referring to the party rank & file & the millions of other Germans who did not yet understand the war was lost, or the problem of nazi maladministration. It required another winter & spring of defeat before leaders from Rommel & Rundsteadt down to corporals understood things were going to get really bad as the war continued.

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Re: The Allies' attitude towards a Beck-Goerdeler government at the end of 1943

Post by Takao » 29 Oct 2020 21:17

Unfortunately, this evidence is before the landing in Normandy, so at the time, in mid-1943, Churchill may have entertained the idea of ending the war without unconditional surrender. However, much had changed by July 20, 1944. The Allies were firmly in place in Normandy, and the Soviets were moving inexorably towards Berlin. Further, after the failure of the July 20th plot, Churchill said to Parliament ‘Potent as may be these manifestations of internal
disease... it is not in them that we should put out trust, but in the justice of our cause... Let us... listen to no parley from the enemy...’

Of course, Churchill would have a hard time, in late-July 1944, convincing FDR, and an even harder time convincing Stalin to make peace without unconditional surrender of Germany.

So, if this What If were to occur early in 1943 and be successful...Churchill might have had an easier time making his case.

But, then again, in a decade or two, this could easily be perceived as another "stab in the back."

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Re: The Allies' attitude towards a Beck-Goerdeler government at the end of 1943

Post by History Learner » 29 Oct 2020 23:33

If the March, 1943 attempt on Hitler (and Himmler) worked, I think very strongly the Germans could've pulled off a favorable diplomatic end to the war.

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Re: The Allies' attitude towards a Beck-Goerdeler government at the end of 1943

Post by Juan G. C. » 30 Oct 2020 13:31

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
29 Oct 2020 20:14
Im referring to the party rank & file & the millions of other Germans who did not yet understand the war was lost, or the problem of nazi maladministration. It required another winter & spring of defeat before leaders from Rommel & Rundsteadt down to corporals understood things were going to get really bad as the war continued.
I do not think it would have been very difficult to make them understand, especially with the propaganda in the hands of the new government. And anyway, I think that the exposure of the many crimes of the previous government would have been enough to justify the coup and the new government in the eyes of most germans. When the Holocaust and the many other crimes are revealed, many non nazis and nazis would have started saying: "Hey, I have always been against the Nazi regime" or "I had no idea of that", just like they did when the Allies won the War.

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Re: The Allies' attitude towards a Beck-Goerdeler government at the end of 1943

Post by Juan G. C. » 30 Oct 2020 14:04

Takao wrote:
29 Oct 2020 21:17
Unfortunately, this evidence is before the landing in Normandy, so at the time, in mid-1943, Churchill may have entertained the idea of ending the war without unconditional surrender. However, much had changed by July 20, 1944. The Allies were firmly in place in Normandy, and the Soviets were moving inexorably towards Berlin. Further, after the failure of the July 20th plot, Churchill said to Parliament ‘Potent as may be these manifestations of internal
disease... it is not in them that we should put out trust, but in the justice of our cause... Let us... listen to no parley from the enemy...’

Of course, Churchill would have a hard time, in late-July 1944, convincing FDR, and an even harder time convincing Stalin to make peace without unconditional surrender of Germany.

So, if this What If were to occur early in 1943 and be successful...Churchill might have had an easier time making his case.

But, then again, in a decade or two, this could easily be perceived as another "stab in the back."
I was thinking of a coup in late 1943, in November or December. Another question is what would have happened in Cairo and Teheran had It taken place before these conferences. And what would have been Stalin's attitude? The NKFD and the BDO had been founded recently.

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Re: The Allies' attitude towards a Beck-Goerdeler government at the end of 1943

Post by Takao » 30 Oct 2020 14:53

Too late. The Germans have been defeated at Kursk, and the Soviet offensives are making a lot of headway. In the South, Italy has surrendered.
For a possible successful negotiation outcome, the coup would have to take place before Citadel.

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Re: The Allies' attitude towards a Beck-Goerdeler government at the end of 1943

Post by Juan G. C. » 30 Oct 2020 16:03

Takao wrote:
30 Oct 2020 14:53
Too late. The Germans have been defeated at Kursk, and the Soviet offensives are making a lot of headway. In the South, Italy has surrendered.
For a possible successful negotiation outcome, the coup would have to take place before Citadel.
I have my doubts. If we are to believe the memoirs of marshal Zhukov, Stalin believed that the Western Allies would make peace with a non-nazi german government and leave the Soviet Union alone. If Stalin believed that, then he would have had no reason not to try to come to terms with the new german government.

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Re: The Allies' attitude towards a Beck-Goerdeler government at the end of 1943

Post by Takao » 30 Oct 2020 19:07

After the Soviet success at Kursk and the successful counter offensives that followed, Stalin knows the Germans are beaten - with or without Allied help. Especially with Italy already beaten. Any Allied-German peace would not allow the Germans to remain in Italyb thus cutting Germany of from some 25% of their armaments production.

Of course, much would depend on the terms of the peace.

Still, while Churchill may have wanted peace, FDR had already rebuffed German offers.

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Re: The Allies' attitude towards a Beck-Goerdeler government at the end of 1943

Post by Juan G. C. » 31 Oct 2020 09:08

Takao wrote:
30 Oct 2020 19:07
After the Soviet success at Kursk and the successful counter offensives that followed, Stalin knows the Germans are beaten - with or without Allied help. Especially with Italy already beaten. Any Allied-German peace would not allow the Germans to remain in Italyb thus cutting Germany of from some 25% of their armaments production.

Of course, much would depend on the terms of the peace.

Still, while Churchill may have wanted peace, FDR had already rebuffed German offers.
Perhaps you are right, but then, why did the Soviets found the BDO on September 1943, after Kursk? A potencial Allied-German peace would have given Germany access to world commerce, removing the need of italian armaments production.

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