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Did Hitler want to win the war?

Discussion in 'WWII Today' started by JuanMaddox, Jan 15, 2020.

  1. Jack B

    Jack B Active Member Patron  

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    At present, I have to agree.

    However, Shirer has a slightly dissenting point of view:

    "The next day [08 December 1941] Hitler hurried back by train to Berlin from his headquarters at Wolfsschanze. He had made a solemn secret promise to Japan and the time had come to keep it--or break it." -- The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich

    Shirer quotes 'Basic Order No. 24 Regarding Collaboration with Japan' of 05 March 1941:

    "It must be the aim of the collaboration based on the Three-Power Pact to induce Japan as soon as possible to take active measures in the Far East. Strong British forces will thereby be tied down, and the center of gravity of the interests of the United States will be diverted to the Pacific. . .
    The common aim of the conduct of war is to be stressed as forcing England to her knees quickly and thereby keeping the United States out of the war."​

    After Pearl Harbor, "Ribbentrop claimed at Nuremberg that he pointed out to the Leader that Germany did not necessarily have to declare war on America under the terms of the Tripartite Pact, since Japan was obviously the aggressor."

    Hitler responds. "If we don't stand on the side of Japan, the [Tripartite] Pact is politically dead. But that is not the main reason. The chief reason is that the United States is already shooting at our ships."

    Shirer sees Hitler becoming more irritated with the USA, Roosevelt, and America's intervention in the war. "He had a growing hatred of America."

    Lastly, Dr Schmidt notes, "I got the impression that, with his inveterate desire for prestige, Hitler, who was expecting an American declaration of war, wanted to get his declaration in first." "We will always strike first!" -- Hitler, per Schmidt.
     
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  2. Jack B

    Jack B Active Member Patron  

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    Japan had a choice. The Japanese knew they had a choice. They chose war. They chose to attack.

    In my post above, Ribbentrop clearly thinks (after the war, I grant you) that Japan was the aggressor.
     
  3. Jack B

    Jack B Active Member Patron  

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    I ordered a copy of Nemesis a couple days ago. I'm looking forward to reading it. But....that doesn't make any sense. Japan was now at war with the USA (as of Dec 07, 41). If Hitler thought that he needed to declare war to keep Japan in the war, that would be news to me. And probably the Japanese. How does Kershaw come to that conclusion?
     
  4. wm.

    wm. Well-Known Member

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    The thesis has nothing to do with Japan.
    I'm strongly against the idea Hitler was doing things for fun, for no reason, because he was an idiot, or crazy.
    He didn't have good choices so he chose from the bad ones - If you get lemons, make lemonade.
     
  5. Jack B

    Jack B Active Member Patron  

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    I'd agree, to an extent. Yes, he had lemons....but only because he bought the damn proverbial lemon tree himself and planted it in his proverbial front yard.

    I think it's a mistake to make blanket statements about Hitler being crazy or irrational. It seems to me that the Hitler of 1936 was very differnt from the Hitler of 1945.

    It's pretty clear that early in his career he was politically savy, calculating, daring, and insightful. Later, after a boatload of drugs and stress, it seems his grasp on reality was tenuous. He just wasn't the same man. He had been concussed and was showing signs of Parkinson's disease.

    With regard to Japan and declaring war on the USA, I think he was making a rational decision based on unrealistic assumptions and seriously flawed ideology.
     
  6. wm.

    wm. Well-Known Member

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    He was afraid Japan after so much winning would exit the war quickly, come to terms with the US, and go home. That was scary to him.
    As the adjutant wrote:
    the amateurism of his foreign policy and his deficient knowledge of the world beyond Europe


    The only thing that counts is the fact the Japanese said it was in self-defense, and the Germans accepted it.
    Goebbels:
    I was thrilled by Japan’s infamous act: She had had no real alternative.
    Acceptance of Washington’s ‘provocative and insolent’ demands would have
    meant her abdication as a great power.

    And that was actually true, acceptance of Washington’s demands would mean her abdication as a great power.
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2020
  7. Jack B

    Jack B Active Member Patron  

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    I can believe that the Germans thought the Japanese acted in accordance with their interests (making the choice to go on the attack rather than lose status as a great power.) but I don't think I've seen convincing evidence that the Japanese attack would automatically trip the Tripartite Pact into action. Ribbentrop seems to discount that (again, after the war. Can we believe him?).

    I fully believe that Hitler was "thrilled" by Japan's attack on the US. I'm sure he admired the surprise and decisive nature of the attack. But....he did waffle around about wether to declare war on the US for several days. I think he was weighing the options and calculating the best, next move.
     
  8. Jack B

    Jack B Active Member Patron  

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    How would the Japanese be kept in the war by a German declaration of war against the US? Or Russia?

    The Japanese stay out of the war with Russia (until the bitter end when Russia declares war on Japan. Germany's attack on Russian didn't drag Japan into that part of the war. Why would the Germans think that going to war with America would hold the Japanese in the war? Doesn't seem consistent.

    Wha am I missing?
     
  9. Jack B

    Jack B Active Member Patron  

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    I'm generally not a fan of 'what if' questions. Speculation being speculation. But this is a bit too tempting to not ask:

    What if Hitler doesn't declare war on the USA?

    How does Roosevelt get the US into [more of] a fight with Germany? Would the USA have been distracted by the Pacific? Does the public demand less support for Britain in favor of prosecuting the war with Japan more aggressively?

    How big a mistake was it for Hitler to declare war on the US? He had his hands full with Russia (as he was starting to discover in December of '41)....
     
  10. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Where is all this winning in the second week of December? The winning would be yet to come, weeks and months away.

    Proves that the Germans did not accept it.

    Goebbles uses "demands", not "attacks." Or are you now rewriting the dictionary?
     
  11. wm.

    wm. Well-Known Member

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    In September 1941 the American Navy began escorting convoys as far as Iceland, with orders to shoot on sight in the event that they encountered Axis warships.
    They say by that time, the US was at war with Germany in all but name only.
    So Roosevelt needed an encounter with a German warship and it would be downhill from there.

    Hitler couldn't afford to be humiliated like that, he would respond.


    Because the Japanese declared they would not conclude either armistice or peace without getting permission from Germany and Italy first. It was in the treaty.

    ARTICLE II. Italy, Germany and Japan undertake each for himself that none of the parties to the present accord will conclude either armistice or peace, be it with the United States or with England without complete and reciprocal agreement.

    Hitler sold his declaration of war with the US for the article above.
     
  12. Jack B

    Jack B Active Member Patron  

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    Hitler had been trying to keep the US out of the war. He was irritated with US intervention (rightly so), but he had been tolerating it, because, I think, he was not ready to go to war with the US quite yet. The equation changed for him once Japan went on the attack.

    But, yes, perhaps Roosevelt provokes Germany into attacking US ships and spins it to the congress and American public as a casus beli.



    I have a different translation of the 1940 Pact:

    ARTICLE 1. Japan recognizes and respects the leadership of Germany and Italy in the establishment of a new order in Europe.

    ARTICLE 2. Germany and Italy recognize and respect the leadership of Japan in the establishment of a new order in Greater East Asia.

    ARTICLE 3. Japan, Germany, and Italy agree to cooperate in their efforts on aforesaid lines. They further undertake to assist one another with all political, economic and military means if one of the Contracting Powers is attacked by a Power at present not involved in the European War or in the Japanese-Chinese conflict.

    ARTICLE 4. With a view to implementing the present pact, joint technical commissions, to be appointed by the respective Governments of Japan, Germany and Italy, will meet without delay.

    ARTICLE 5. Japan, Germany and Italy affirm that the above agreement affects in no way the political status existing at present between each of the three Contracting Powers and Soviet Russia.

    ARTICLE 6. The present pact shall become valid immediately upon signature and shall remain in force ten years from the date on which it becomes effective. In due time, before the expiration of said term, the High Contracting Parties shall, at the request of any one of them, enter into negotiations for its renewal.​

    What are you referencing? Again, I'm missing something here.

    Regardless, the Anti-comintern pact had already been broken; the Germans had gone to war with the Russians, and the Japanese signed a neutrality agreement with the Russians. I don't think either the Japanese or the Germans were all that invested in actually keeping the pact. Especially when each could excuse themselves because the other was (would be) the aggressor.

    I note that the Germans signed a peace treaty without consulting the Japanese in '45.
     
  13. wm.

    wm. Well-Known Member

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    The pact was extended later. "Your" pact has 1,2,3 numbering - "mine" I,II,III.

    There is nothing in your pact forbidding the Japanese to sign a neutrality agreement with the USSR, it wasn't broken.

    Unconditional surrender isn't a peace treaty. It means the other guy is the boss now. Technically the treaty was still valid.

    And:
    On September 4, a U.S. destroyer, the Greer, exchanged fire with a German submarine in the North Atlantic. The submarine fired on the Greer only after being pursued for several hours and evading depth charges from a British plane.
    ...
    In a fireside chat delivered on September 11, FDR deliberately distorted the details of the incident. He claimed that the Greer's identity as a U.S. ship was unmistakable and that the German submarine fired first without warning.

    The Deception Dividend: FDR's Undeclared War
     
  14. Jack B

    Jack B Active Member Patron  

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    You have an interesting perspective, wm.
     
  15. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

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    I don't want to take sides here, but I don't see how two such divergent translations can exist. Everything I have seen is the same as Jack's. I admit I do not have the Kershaw book available so I can't vouch for the translation. My understanding from my readings has always been that the Tripartite Pact was defensive in nature. As such, there was no need for Hitler to declare war on the US. That was especially true in late 1941. The war against the Soviet Union was only a few months old and Hitler wanted to concentrate his efforts there. Declaring war on the US diluted this effort.
     
  16. Jack B

    Jack B Active Member Patron  

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    From Wiki (citing Boog, Horst; Rahn, Werner; Stumpf, Reinhard; et al., eds. (2001). Germany and the Second World War, Volume 6: The Global War):

    On 11 December 1941, the same day as the German declaration of war against the United States and the Italian declaration, the three powers signed an agreement—already hammered out on 8 December—barring any separate peace with the United States or Britain. It was "intended as a propaganda accompaniment to the declaration of war".

    ARTICLE I. Italy, Germany and Japan will henceforth conduct in common and jointly a war which has been imposed on them by the United States of America and England, by all means at their disposal and until the end of hostilities.

    ARTICLE II. Italy, Germany and Japan undertake each for himself that none of the parties to the present accord will conclude either armistice or peace, be it with the United States or with England without complete and reciprocal agreement [of the three signatories to this pact].

    ARTICLE III. Italy, Germany and Japan, even after the victorious conclusion of this war, will collaborate closely in the spirit of the Tripartite Pact, concluded Sept. 21, 1940, in order to realize and establish an equitable new order in the world.

    ARTICLE IV. The present accord is effective immediately on its signature and remains in force for the duration of the Tripartite Pact, signed Sept. 27, 1940. The high contracting parties of this accord will at an opportune moment agree among themselves the means of implementing Article III above of this accord.

    Shirer also reports that on the 11th of December, Germany, Japan, and Italy sign a resolution to fight on against England and the USA and "not to conclude a separate peace."

    I confess that I had forgotten about this until wm mentioned it.

    However, this additional agreement doesn't seem relevant as it comes about after HItler's decision to go to war (and after his declaration of war). I have no doubt that both Japan and Germany wanted each other to stay in the fight as long as possible, one punching Uncle Sam in the face, the other kicking his arse.

    I still think that the Tripartite agreement on 1940 was not the principal reason for Hitler's decision to declare war on the US. Ribbentrop says as much. If Hitler had decided it was strategically advantageous to avoid war with the US, I believe he would have, despite the Tripartite agreement of '40. Obviously he didn't. I think he saw that the Japanese had created an opportunity to strike at the weak and inferior USA, now occupied with a war in the Pacific, and he seized it. If his underlying assumptions and assessments about the US had been correct, it might have been a clever move. But he was wrong (again), and I think it was a move on his part that backfired on him (requires speculation on my part).
     
  17. Jack B

    Jack B Active Member Patron  

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    I actually ordered both Hubris and Nemesis a few days ago. Very interested in reading them.....although, I do have a stack of books waiting for me already! :dazed::_lol:
     
  18. wm.

    wm. Well-Known Member

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    Of course, If Hitler had decided it was strategically advantageous he would weasel out from the agreement.

    But the agreement was created because no strategic advantage wasn't available.
    The Tripartite Agreement was the only strategic advantage he had.
    Not a very good advantage but better than nothing.
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2020
  19. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    Once more:
    Nations chose not to sell their own products. Do they not have that right in your world? Is there some divine mandate that other nations must provide Japan with anything it needs?
    And of course this only came about because of Japan's aggression in China.
     
  20. Jack B

    Jack B Active Member Patron  

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    Agreed, but I get the impression you think he was locked into the Tripartite Pact. That somehow the Pact had legal standing or was binding. I just don't see it that way, especially when considering that it was Hitler who was wielding the pen.

    Let's go back....

    In 1936 the Anti-Comintern Pact was signed, largely as a way to put pressure on Russia.

    Then, in 1939, Hitler signed a Non-aggression Pact with Russia . This was seen as a betrayal by the Japanese and they tore up the Anti-Comintern Treaty. (I can't blame the Japanese.) In my earlier post this is what I was referring to as the treaty being broken, I'm sorry if my language was misleading. In the Japanese view (which I'd agree with) Hitler had broken the Anti-Comintern treaty by signing a non-aggression agreement with the Soviets. Japan renounced the Anti-Comintern Pact.

    So here, in just three (3) years, we have Hitler betraying one treaty by entering another, clearly in bad-faith. At this point, I don't have faith in Hitler to keep his word.

    With things heating up, the Germans and Japanese sign the much-belabored Tripartite Pact. This is really meant, as far as I can tell, as a political move to deter the USA from entering the war. The USA is aiding the British (and will later slide into an undeclared war with the Germans) and is applying, along with Britain, significant pressure on the Japanese. The Tripartite Pact is there to pressure the USA to stay out or stop escalating it's involvement.

    When it is signed, Russia is not at war with either of the Axis powers.

    The Tripartite pact is not a bad idea. Especially for the Germans. The US is sliding towards war, everyone (except maybe the American people) sees war between the US and Germany as inevitable. FDR want to figure out how to bring the American people around to seeing the necessity of the war, a war he had promised to keep them out of. Hitler wanted to fit defeating the USA into his schedule, but at a time and place of his choosing. The Tripartite Pact could have helped him do that.

    The Soviet–Japanese Neutrality Pact was signed in the the Spring of 1941, before Hitler storms Russia. How does this not violate the Tripartite Pact in exactly the same way that Hitler's Non-aggression Pact with the USSR violated the Anti-Comintern Pact? I understand that after the invasion of Russia by the Germans, the Japanese did consider honoring the Pact and attacking the USSR. But they didn't, because it was not convenient. And, technically, the Soviets hadn't attacked Germany.

    Regardless, by signing the Neutrality Pact with the Soviets, Japan will functionally step out of the Tripartite Pact.

    The Japanese attack the USA at Pearl Harbor toward the end of 1941. 'Attack' being a key word.

    So, now things are very different. And Hitler, if he were inclined to honor treaties, which we've demonstrated he is not, does not need to honor the Tripartite Act. It's always been hollow, but now it really is.

    1. The Japanese have functionally voided the Tripartite Pact by signing a neutrality pact with the USSR. If I'm Hitler, I no longer feel bound by the Tripartite Pact (although I may still flout it to keep deterring that nasty USA.).

    2. The Japanese attacked the USA. While it is delightful and admirable, if I'm Hitler, I can remember that when I attacked Russia (a whole 6 months ago), my Japanese 'allies' did....nothing. The Tripartite act pledged us to fight together, I asked them to fight the Russians alongside me, and they did....nothing. Why should I now start a war with the USA because they (the Japanese) have attacked at Pearl Harbor? I don't have to! (And it will be a mistake, says Jack in 2020.)

    3. We're talking about treaties here. Treaties were made to be tossed in the garbage. A brief look at the double-dealing over the past 5 years ('36-'41) tells you that, but we could go further back.... Hitler begins to violate the Treaty of Versailles ('19) shortly after taking power, The Reichskonkordat of '33 was almost immediately violated by Nazi measures, The Munich Agreement of '38 lasted less than a year. Treaties don't really seem to mean much to Herr Hitler. He uses them as leverage against the other signatories, but doesn't take them seriously himself.

    "Hitler returned to Berlin from East Prussia on December 8 and at length decided to honor his pact with Japan, which he did not have to do since he had not been informed of the Japanese intent to attack Pearl Harbor and the U.S. had not overtly attacked the Reich despite the secret naval war then going on in the North Atlantic.

    Dr. Schmidt added after the war that he personally knew of no such understanding with the Japanese that would have compelled the Nazi Führer to declare war on the United States.

    Hitler had feared that the hated Roosevelt would declare war on him first and had thus made his own decision on the 9th to forestall that possibility. This was duly confirmed in 1951 by Dr. Schmidt, who had gotten the distinct impression that Hitler, with a well-known desire for prestige at the expense of others, had been expecting an American declaration of war and was itching to get his oar in the water first.

    Hitler asked [Admiral Raeder] if there was any possibility that the United States and Britain would abandon East Asia for a time in order to crush Germany and Italy first. The admiral did not think so, unaware that even then President Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill were meeting at the White House to decide just that wartime policy: defeat Germany and Italy first, then Japan." -- Blaine Taylor, Axis Powers: The Infamous Tripartite Pact

    Conclusion: Hitler used the Tripartite Pact as a handy political tool of the day. It served his purposes for a while. The reality is that he declared war against whomever whenever he felt like it. Treaties meant nothing.
     
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