Origins of War in Europe 1939

Discussions on WW2 in Western Europe & the Atlantic.
Andreas
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Post by Andreas » 15 Jun 2005 14:17

michael mills wrote:He concludes that Germany did not want war to start in 1939, but wanted to continue the process of establishing economic domination over East and Southeast Europe, including Poland, with the aim of creating a political and economic power bloc that could confront the Soviet Union in due course.
That is clearly a misinterpretation of what he says. In your quote it says: "There are strong arguments for suggesting.......that far from seeking a major war in September 1939 to avert domestic disaster, Hitler was convinced that the Polish crisis could be localised and Poland brought within the German orbit with possibly no war at all, as had Austria and Czechoslovakia." IOW - he did not want war with the western powers, but was prepared to go to war with Poland (not a 'major war'), hoping that the situation could be resolved in the same way as with Czechoslovakia.
"It is not Danzig that is at stake. For us it is a matter of expanding our living space in the East and making food supplies secure and also solving the problem of the Baltic states. Food supplies can only be obtained from thinly populated areas. Over and above fertility, thorough German cultivation will tremendously increase the produce. No other openings can be seen in Europe."

and

"There is, therefore, no. question of sparing Poland, and we are left with the decision: to attack Poland at the first suitable opportunity"
- Hitler, Conference at the Reich Chancellory, Berlin, May 23, 1939 from minutes of his adjutant Rudolf Schmundt.
Emphasis by me.

To blame Britain for the commencement of hostilities in 1939 is convoluted thinking. Hitler knew that Britain had obligations and he had been told very firmly that Britain intended to honour them before 1st September. He presumed that she would not honour them, and that he therefore could literally get away with murder, again. It was his decision, and his fault that it came to war. You maybe able to pin some of the blame on that cretin von Ribbentrop, but certainly not on the British.

Letter by the British PM to Hitler, 23rd August 1939
[...]Whatever may prove to be the nature of the German-Soviet Agreement, it cannot alter Great Britain's obligation to Poland which His Majesty's Government have stated in public repeatedly and plainly, and which they are determined to fulfil.

[...]

If the case should arise, they are resolved, and prepared, to employ without delay all the forces at their command, and it is impossible to foresee the end of hostilities once engaged. It would be a dangerous illusion to think that, if war once starts, it will come to an early end even if a success on any one of the several fronts on which it will be engaged should have been secured.[...]

After this, Hitler had a week to reconsider. He did not - the result was exactly as Mr. Chamberlain predicted.

michael mills
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Post by michael mills » 16 Jun 2005 05:19

Andreas,

Have you actually read the article by Richard Overy from which I quoted?

If not, you cannot fairly say that I have misinterpreted what the article says.

Immediately after the words quoted by you, Overy writes:
In other words, that the main explanation for the outbreak of a war in September 1939 rather than at a future date lies with British and French decision-making rather than German. If Hitler did not expect a major war in 1939, it can hardly be argued that he deliberately provoked one to avoid domestic crisis.
The meaning of what Overy is saying is perfectly clear. It is that Hitler did not provoke a war with Britain and France in 1939 because he did not desire one at that point.

Overy is also saying that the reason why a major war broke out in September 1939 was because Britain and France wanted to bring it on at that point, when they had a strategic and economic advantage, rather than at a later date when their position would have worsened.

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Post by Panzermahn » 16 Jun 2005 09:37

michael mills wrote:Andreas,

Have you actually read the article by Richard Overy from which I quoted?

If not, you cannot fairly say that I have misinterpreted what the article says.

Immediately after the words quoted by you, Overy writes:
In other words, that the main explanation for the outbreak of a war in September 1939 rather than at a future date lies with British and French decision-making rather than German. If Hitler did not expect a major war in 1939, it can hardly be argued that he deliberately provoked one to avoid domestic crisis.
The meaning of what Overy is saying is perfectly clear. It is that Hitler did not provoke a war with Britain and France in 1939 because he did not desire one at that point.

Overy is also saying that the reason why a major war broke out in September 1939 was because Britain and France wanted to bring it on at that point, when they had a strategic and economic advantage, rather than at a later date when their position would have worsened.
Michael,

Thanks for the interesting information. So metaphorically, it was Britain and France who provoked the war on Germany in 1939, right?

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Post by Andreas » 16 Jun 2005 12:10

michael mills wrote:Andreas,

Have you actually read the article by Richard Overy from which I quoted?
It is not necessary to read the article to notice that you misinterpret it, and I stand by this charge being a fair one. Overy clearly refers to a 'major war' in your quoted section. That is presumably meant to be one involving Britain and France. So it appears he did not want to provoke war with Britain and France. That is hardly newsworthy - his dumbfounded reaction to the declaration of war has been well known for a long time, e.g. by the memoirs of his chief interpreter who IIRC was present when von Ribbentrop gave him the news. I remember reading that at least around the time of Overy's article, if not earlier. And Britain and France declared war at this point because they could no longer stand by and see their strategic situation worsen - well d'uh. What an insight by Overy. What were they to do otherwise? There is a saying in Germany "Der Krug geht solange zum Brunnen bis er bricht." (The pitcher goes to the well until it breaks) Hitler carried his pitcher to the well once too often in September 1939.

Of course ultimately it was Britain's and France's decision to go to war that expanded the conflict, and of course Hitler did not want it. But he could have known it was coming, and he forced Britain and France into that declaration of war, at that point in time, in full knowledge of at least the British intentions. It is therefore his responsibility that war started in 1939, at a time when he did not want it. That he did not want to provoke it is irrelevant in this context. He did provoke it, and that is what counts when looking at causality.

As I documented in my previous post, Britain had warned Hitler that there would be war with Britain if he went to war with Poland. That warning came a week before the Wehrmacht invaded. To conclude from that that Britain "wanted to bring it on at that point" and that Hitler did not, is just barmy. He had a week's warning that this time Britain was not faffing about. All he needed to do was to take this serious, order the Wehrmacht to stand down, and hey presto, no war. Instead he ordered a few political prisoners to be killed, put in uniform, and dumped at the radio station of Gleiwitz, in the irrational belief that someone would actually give credit to his claims about Polish invasions. What he did was in line with his decision of 23rd May 1939 - so in conclusion, Britain and France did not force/provoke Hitler into war. Hitler forced/provoked them, out of a total analytical failure by him and his Nazi cronies.

Now, whether Hitler decided he absolutely needed to have a go at Poland in 1939, that is the interesting question. Part of the explanation is probably his feeling that Britain and France would (yet again) cave in when presented with the facts, so he saw it as a low-risk decision. Was the economic situation of the Reich another driver? Was it just a convenient spot in time with the Reich-SU non-aggression pact coming up? Was it the increasing reluctance of Poland to deal with him after the take-over of Bohemia-Moravia and Memel exposed that he absolutely could not be trusted on any assurances he gave?

Oh, and Panzermahn, Britain and France did not provoke Germany into war. Neither metaphorically, nor hypothetically, nor practically, nor theoratically, nor in any other way. If you believe that, you just show that you did either not read, or comprehend the document I linked to.

Edit: Just to get the causality completely straight:

1) March: Polish-German relations break down over the invasion of Bohemia-Moravia and the German take-over of Memel
2) April: Hitler orders the Wehrmacht to prepare for war with Poland
3) May: Hitler states that war with Poland is inevitable
4) August: Hitler presents his 16-points. Britain informs him that she has an obligation to defend Poland and intends to honour it. Hitler closes his eyes, puts his fingers in his ears and goes "NANANANANA - I am not listening."
5) 31 August: Hitler creates the Gleiwitz incident as a reason for war
6) 1 September: Hitler invades and receives the British/French ultimatum
7) 3 September: Following the failure by the Germans to stop hostilities and follow the demands of the ultimatum, Britain declares war

Text of the ultimatum:
"Early this morning the German Chancellor issued a proclamation to the German Army which indicated clearly that he was about to attack Poland. Information which has reached His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom and the French Government indicates that German troops have crossed the Polish frontier and that attacks upon Polish towns are proceeding. In these circumstances it appears to the Governments of the United Kingdom and France that by their action the German Government have created conditions, namely, an aggressive act of force against Poland threatening the independence of Poland, which call for the implementation by the Governments of the United Kingdom and France of the undertaking to Poland to come to her assistance. I am accordingly to inform your Excellency that unless the German Government are prepared to give His Majesty's Government satisfactory assurances that the German Government have suspended all aggressive action against Poland and are prepared promptly to withdraw their forces from Polish territory, His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom will without hesitation fulfil their obligations to Poland."
Blue Book

Where in that chain is the British provocation please?

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Post by michael mills » 16 Jun 2005 12:49

I introduced the article by Overy in response to the point of view put forward by Gothart that Hitler deliberately provoked war in 1939 in order to avoid a domestic crisis.

According to that point of view, Hitler had a choice in 1939 between domestic economic collapse, which would mean the end of his regime, and an external war, which might allow his regime to survive if he won it. Again according to that point of view, Hitler chose war, and provoked it by invading Poland.

Overy presents evidence to show that Hitler was not facing a domestic crisis in 1939, and therefore did not want a war, any war, at that point in time (that becomes clear if you read the whole article, Andreas). According to Overy, Hitler's Plan A was to continue establishing German dominance over the whole of Eastern Europe, including Poland, with a view to creating a bloc to confront the Soviet Union at a later time. Plan A could not be achieved due to Polish intransigence, but Hitler believed that even if he had to use some force to compel Polish compliance, it would not mean a major war with France and Britain.

Overy's interpretation may be correct, or it may be incorrect. But I have not misinterpreted Overy's view in any way, and I have scant regard for a person who has the effrontery to accuse me of misinterpreting an article that he has never read, and has probably never heard of before.

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Post by Andreas » 16 Jun 2005 13:09

michael mills wrote: Overy's interpretation may be correct, or it may be incorrect. But I have not misinterpreted Overy's view in any way, and I have scant regard for a person who has the effrontery to accuse me of misinterpreting an article that he has never read, and has probably never heard of before.
I guess I have to live with that scant regard by you. Rest assured that I have equally scant regard for people who misinterpret and obfuscate with articles that they know are difficult to access, and do not even manage to stay internally consistent in their argument.

Overy:
Hitler was convinced that the Polish crisis could be localised and Poland brought within the German orbit with possibly no war at all, as had Austria and Czechoslovakia. [...] If Hitler did not expect a major war in 1939, it can hardly be argued that he deliberately provoked one to avoid domestic crisis.
He did not want a major war - that I agree on. He hoped for no war at all. Again, no argument. Where we (You and I, not Overy and I) part ways is apparently his acceptance that he would go to war with Poland, regardless, if the issue could not be resolved by Poland accepting German demands peacefully. In my view he accepted war as inevitable should this not happen, but expected it to be localised, i.e. German-Polish, not European. I.e. if he could have his demands fulfilled with no war at all, that was preferable. But he would not give up his demands because war was threatened by Poland, and he discounted the likelyhood of Britain and France to enter the fray.

Mills:
He concludes that Germany did not want war to start in 1939, but wanted to continue the process of establishing economic domination over East and Southeast Europe, including Poland, with the aim of creating a political and economic power bloc that could confront the Soviet Union in due course.
That is your interpretation of Overy, and I believe you are flat out wrong on it, and are by now deliberately ignoring Overy's statements that what he did want to avoid was a major war. Not war at all.

Mills:
According to Overy [...] Plan A could not be achieved due to Polish intransigence, but Hitler believed that even if he had to use some force to compel Polish compliance, it would not mean a major war with France and Britain.
So which is it? No war? No major war? Some force (in which case, how is that different from war)?
(that becomes clear if you read the whole article, Andreas).
Then I suggest you post those sections making it clear, and I will not hesitate to apologise unreservedly to you for my unwarranted insinuation that you misquoted him, should they in fact show that.

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Post by walterkaschner » 16 Jun 2005 16:47

I have not read the Overy article cited by Michael Mills, but I have read Overy's later book War and Economy in the Third Reich (Clarendon Press, 1995 ), which contains language very similar to that quoted by Mr. Mills.

As I understand Overy's thesis from his book it is simply that contrary to previous notions on the part of many historians, considerations of a domestic financial crisis within the Reich played no part in Hitler's decision to proceed against Poland. Indeed, Overy believes that although there were in fact serious financial problems they by no means assumed crisis proportions and were susceptible of being overcome by internal measures. As far as Overy is concerned, the invasion of Poland was motivated by foreign political considerations rather than domestic financial issues, specifically by Hitler's long standing obsession with obtaining Lebensraum to the East.
In establishing the complex system of political and economic control, the subjective ambitions of the leader became a crucial reference point, holding the whole structure together, so that in the end Hitler's obsessive historical vision became willy-nilly that of Germany as a whole. In this sense the structures of the Nazi political system interlocked with the literal intentions of its leader, producing an ideological determinism that led to the Holocaust and the pursuit of world power. The more Hitler sensed this power, the more positivistic his foreign policy became, the more he risked. It seems inherently unlikely, therefore, that general war was a scrambled reaction in 1939 to domestic crisis. The acquisition of Poland was on the agenda long before this; Germany was not prepared for war with the great powers for four or five more years. It was the obvious weakness and diplomatic ineffectualness of the Allies that tempted Hitler to solve the Polish crisis and complete the first stage of German expansion. The 'structural' pressure that really mattered at this juncture was the disintegration of the established international power constellation during the 1930s.
War and Economy in the Third Reich, supra at 231.

In Overy's opinion (and it's one I happen to share) Hitler simply did not believe that when push came to shove Britain and France would actually go to war on Poland's account.
Munich brought two important diplomatic lessons as well. Hitler formed a conviction, underlined by the Anglophobe von Ribbentrop, that the 'men with umbrellas' had abandoned eastern Europe and were too timid and too unprepared to prevent Hitler achieving the final consolidation of eastern Europe under German domination. [footnote omitted.] Young reported to the Foreign Office Goerdeler's claim that it is vitally important to realise that Hitler is deeply and definitely convinced that after his unexpected victory at Munich, anything is possible to him . . . He says that he [ Hitler] is now convinced that England is degenerate, weak, timid, and never will have the guts to resist any of his plans. No war will ever be needed against either France or England. [footnote omitted].

This conviction was to stay with Hitler throughout the period leading up to war. The second lesson was that something had to be done about the Soviet Union, whose actions had been unpredictable during the Czech crisis, and who might be persuaded to join Britain's policy of encirclement. The answer was to move closer to the Soviet Union, even in the end promising her the economically less significant eastern areas of Poland, in return for the promise of non-aggression by both parties. Once it became clear that Britain and France were taking the Polish crisis seriously, Hitler speeded up the moves to achieve such a rapprochement in the belief that this would lead to the collapse of British strategy and bring Poland into the German camp after a brief military campaign.

There is abundant evidence that Hitler's decision to solve the Polish question in 1939 stemmed not from domestic considerations but from diplomatic and military. He and Ribbentrop were convinced that the Polish war could be limited. The state secretary at the German Foreign Office, Ernst von Weizsäcker, recorded in his diary from February 1939 until after the outbreak of war regular assertions from Hitler that war would be localized; and he later recalled that 'on Sept. 3, when the British and French declared war, Hitler was surprised, after all, and was, to begin with, at a loss'. [footnote omitted] Formal military preparations during 1939 were predicated on this assumption of a local war. As late as 21 August Hitler instructed the High Command to prepare only for limited economic mobilization against Poland. [footnote omitted] The western powers were expected to make substantial gestures but not actually to fight Germany. This assessment was based on political and military intelligence which suggested first of all that the democracies were in too fragile a state politically to risk war, and secondly that they were still far too unprepared militarily.

Secret interception of British diplomatic correspondence with Warsaw and Berlin lent weight to this view, for it seemed that the British wanted the Poles to give up something, perhaps Danzig, to the Germans rather than risk major war (and there were certainly those in London and Paris who favoured just such a course). [footnot omitted.] The answer to the question 'why did Hitler take the risk?' lies much more in considerations of this kind than in domestic pressures. Of course the final attack on Poland did carry a greater risk than Hitler had expected, but he ran it because he thought he had the measure of Chamberlain--'Our enemies are little worms. I saw them at Munich' [footnote omitted] --when in fact he had not. The answer to why war broke out in September must very largely be found by explaining British and French firmness at a time when political and military reality suggested to Hitler that they would back down; and in the British and French cases there is a good argument for saying that economic and political pressures at home played a very considerable part in that decision.
Id. at 228-30.

I do not, however, read Overy in his book as agreeing with Mr. Mills' notion that:
.... the reason why a major war broke out in September 1939 was because Britain and France wanted to bring it on at that point, when they had a strategic and economic advantage, rather than at a later date when their position would have worsened.
Overy does suggest that
If domestic factors have any bearing on the outbreak of war in September 1939, they are to be found in the response of the British and French empires to the decline in their relative international strength and the cost and political difficulties of reversing this trend. For Britain in particular it soon became obvious that a sustained rearmament and increased government spending would produce crisis in the balance of payments, a decline in exports, more imports, a threat to the currency, labour difficulties, and so on. [footnote omitted] By 1939 a Treasury official warned that Britain was sailing economically 'upon uncharted waters to an unknown destination'. [footnote omitted] If Hitler were to be confronted militarily, while Britain and France maintained economic stability and domestic political peace, then 1939 was in some respects the best time to do so. Allied rearmament was planned to peak in 1939/40, while the advantage of using up unemployed resources and avoiding inflation was not expected to last beyond the winter of 1939. Oliver Stanley, President of the Board of Trade, concluded that 'there would come a time which, on a balance of our financial strength and our strength in armaments, was the best time for war to break out'. [footnote omitted.]
Id. at 231-2.

But this strikes me as falling considerably short of indicating that " Britain and France wanted to bring it [a major war] on at that point", as Mr. Mills would have it. It seems to me that there is overwhelming evidence to demonstrate that the British and French governments exerted every reasonable effort - other than simply abandoning Eastern Europe to German hegemony - to avoid a major war. Chamberlain's hope (and Daladier's as well) was that by drawing a line in the sand by means of the guarantee of Poland's integrity Hitler could be deterred from agression in that direction. Both Britain and France repeatedly cautioned Poland against any action which might serve as an excuse for Hitler to invade. When the invasion finally came on September 1, both the British and French cabinets dithered and dallied for 2 1/2 days before presenting Germany with an ultimatum while attempting to convince Germany to withdraw her troops and trying to arrange a mediation by Italy. For details see Donald Cameron Watt, How War Came: The Immediate Origins of the Second World War: 1938-1939 (Pantheon Books 1989).

I lack sufficient knowledge of economics to judge the validity of Overy's view as to the absence of a true internal financial crisis within the Reich, but even if such a crisis existed I know of nothing that would indicate that it played a role in Hitler's decision to invade Poland.

Regards, Kaschner

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Post by Andreas » 16 Jun 2005 17:01

Thanks for taking the time to weigh in on this Walter.

All the best

Andreas

michael mills
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Post by michael mills » 17 Jun 2005 01:57

From Overy's conclusion, previously quoted by me:
.....far from seeking a major war in September 1939 to avert domestic disaster, Hitler was convinced that the Polish crisis could be localised and Poland brought within the German orbit with possibly no war at all, as had Austria and Czechoslovakia.
So Overy's conclusion is that in 1939 Hitler did not set out to provoke war with his major rivals, Britain and France, but rather hoped that he continue his program of bringing all Easrern Europe, including Poland, within the German orbit, preferably without any war at all.

It is clear that I have not ministerpreted or misrepresented Overy's conclusion.

Andreas, I really think that you are straining at a gnat to make a point that is not immediately apparent to me.

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Post by Andreas » 17 Jun 2005 19:57

michael mills wrote:It is clear that I have not ministerpreted or misrepresented Overy's conclusion.
Then you will no doubt be able to show some support for your assertion below.
michael mills wrote:Overy is also saying that the reason why a major war broke out in September 1939 was because Britain and France wanted to bring it on at that point[...]
michael mills wrote:Andreas, I really think that you are straining at a gnat to make a point that is not immediately apparent to me.
Reread Panzermahn's post, and maybe my point will become apparent to you.

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Post by michael mills » 18 Jun 2005 23:46

Andreas wrote:
Then you will no doubt be able to show some support for your assertion below.

michael mills wrote:
Overy is also saying that the reason why a major war broke out in September 1939 was because Britain and France wanted to bring it on at that point[...]
From Overy's conclusion in the article quoted by me:
If Hitler were to be confronted militarily, while Britain and France maintained economic stability and domestic political peace, then 1939 was in some respects the best time to do so. Allied rearmament was planned to peak in 1939/40, while the advantage of using up unemployed resources and avoiding inflation was not expected tol ast beyond the winter of 1939. Oliver Stanley, president of the Board of Trade, concluded that "there would come a time which, on a balance of our financial strength and our strength in armaments, was the best time for war to break out".

Neither Britain nor France was prepared to accept an end to its imperial power and world influence, though neither could really afford the military effort of defending it. Caught between these two pressures, but reasonably confident of the brittle nature of the Nazi system, they opted for war.
Overy says that Britain and France "opted for war", and that 1939 was the best time for them to do so, since Allied rearmament was planned to peak in 1939/40.

The meaning of the above statements by Overy is no different from that of my statement "Britain and France wanted to bring it [major war] on at that point [1939]".[/quote]

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Post by Andreas » 19 Jun 2005 09:19

I agree with Walter that this passage falls considerably short of your interpretation. They opted for war, yes. They wanted to bring it on, no.

Thesaurus gives alternative definitions for 'bring on' as 'precipitate' or 'provoke'. While 'opt' is just another word for exercising choice.

While Overy's interpretation is backed by history, your's most certainly is not. That your interpretation was seen as far more aggressive then history tells us is shown by Panzermahn's post as well.

So no apology from me to you on the matter.

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Post by walterkaschner » 19 Jun 2005 22:51

For me clarity lies in a very simple analogy:

For years I have held a position of dignity and respect in my community. But a neighborhood bully - a notorious cheat and liar - who has already physically beaten up on a couple of my weaker neighbors and stolen their property - is now threatening to do so to a third, who asks me for help. In the hope of detering the bully I announce to the world that if he goes ahead with his threat he will have to fight me as well. At the same time I caution my friend to be careful to do nothing to provoke the bully, as I really don't want a fight. But although the bully would prefer that I did not interfere, he thinks I'm bluffing and proceeds to assault my weakling friend. I give the bully fair warning to stop and withdraw or face the consequences, which he ignores. Although I may be weaker than the bully I will never be any stronger and I may have greater staying power, so I keep my word and join in the fight.

Have I "opted" to join the fight or have I "brought it on"?

Regards, Kaschner

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Post by michael mills » 20 Jun 2005 00:07

Andreas,

If you go back and look at what I actually wrote, you will see that it was as follows:
The meaning of what Overy is saying is perfectly clear. It is that Hitler did not provoke a war with Britain and France in 1939 because he did not desire one at that point.

Overy is also saying that the reason why a major war broke out in September 1939 was because Britain and France wanted to bring it on at that point, when they had a strategic and economic advantage, rather than at a later date when their position would have worsened.
In other words, if Hitler had had his choice, major war would not have started in September 1939, since he did not want a major war to break out that point in time.

What he wanted was to continue bringing Eastern Europe under German hegemony with a view to creating an economic unit that could challenge the imperial power of Britain, France, and ultimately the United States.

Britain and France had the choice of letting Germany continue to establish its hegemony over Eastern Europe, or of confronting it militarily to prevent that hegemony.

They chose the second course, and also chose to precipitate the military confrontation in 1939 rather than at a later date, since they had a strategic and economic advantage in 1939 that was being whittled away.

The mechanism for precipitating the military confrontation was the "blank cheque" given to Poland, which enabled the latter country to create an armed conflict between Germany and the Allies at any time of its choosing simply through declaring that it bneeded to defend its territorial integrity.

The fact of the precipitation of war by means of the "blank cheque" has been obscured by Germany's decision to pre-empt the situation by launching a full-scale attack on Poland rather than waiting to have war thrust upon it over a minor incident in Danzig.

For Mr Kaschner, I would like to propose a more historically accurate analogy.

I am the wealthiest and most prestigious person in my community. Most of the other members of the community are fairly poor, and work for me for fairly low wages, which helps to maintain my position of wealth. I consider myself an entirely upright and honourable person, even though the epithet "perfidious" has been added to my name by unkind persons.

Another person in the community, who has become rather strong by working out at the gym and whom I consider something of a lout, starts to lean on the people working for me, suggesting that they work for him instead.

I realise that if I do not put a stop to this, I will lose a lot of my workers and thus a source of my wealth. I decide that I will need to confront my rival in physical combat, but not until I have got myself fully into condition by working out at the gym.

My rival has a neighbour with whom he has established a fairly good relationship, based on a common hostility to a mysterious criminal lurking on the outskirts of the neighbourhood. The neighbour has been quite willing to go to work for my rival. However, my rival has raised with that neighbour the matter of the return of some property that had formerly belonged to him.

I see my chance. I invite my rival's neighbour to ask me for assistance over this minor property dispute with my rival. I tell the neighbour that if he calls me for assistance, I will help him to physically attack my rival.

My rival hears about the invitation I have given to his neighbour. He knows that a word from that neighbour will result in a fight with me. He also knows that I trying to contact the mysterious criminal on the outskirts to gang up on him.

So my rival takes pre-emptive action. He makes a sudden deal with the mysterious criminal, and then attacks his neighbour, knocking him out before I have a chance to get involved. But then the fight is on for real.

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Post by Serus » 20 Jun 2005 03:16

michael mills wrote:
In other words, if Hitler had had his choice, major war would not have started in September 1939, since he did not want a major war to break out that point in time.

What he wanted was to continue bringing Eastern Europe under German hegemony with a view to creating an economic unit that could challenge the imperial power of Britain, France, and ultimately the United States.

Britain and France had the choice of letting Germany continue to establish its hegemony over Eastern Europe, or of confronting it militarily to prevent that hegemony.

They chose the second course, and also chose to precipitate the military confrontation in 1939 rather than at a later date, since they had a strategic and economic advantage in 1939 that was being whittled away.

The mechanism for precipitating the military confrontation was the "blank cheque" given to Poland, which enabled the latter country to create an armed conflict between Germany and the Allies at any time of its choosing simply through declaring that it bneeded to defend its territorial integrity.

The fact of the precipitation of war by means of the "blank cheque" has been obscured by Germany's decision to pre-empt the situation by launching a full-scale attack on Poland rather than waiting to have war thrust upon it over a minor incident in Danzig.
Interesting choice of words mr. Mills. Especially i like this moment : "...enabled the latter country (=Poland) to create an armed conflict between Germany and Allies..." [emphasis is mine oc]. Why to hide behind expression "create an armed conflict" - better say it clearly: "attack Germany" - its what you mean isnt it?
" The fact of the precipitation of war by means of the "blank cheque" has been obscured by Germany's decision to pre-empt the situation by launching a full-scale attack on Poland rather than waiting to have war thrust upon it over a minor incident in Danzig."
Recapitulating - your thesis is: UK+France planned to use Poland to ATTACK Germany because they wanted the war to start in 39, so Hitler pre-empted this by attacking Poland ? In other words Hitler was forced to attack Poland because of Polish agression against Germany supported by Western Allies ? So this was a defensive war form Hitler's point of view ? Really im lost trying to follow this logic...

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