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Missed opportunities and hypocrisy leading up to WWII.

Discussion in 'WWII General' started by USMCPrice, May 14, 2016.

  1. Tamino

    Tamino Doc - The Deplorable

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    I can see another even much worse hypocrisy: Britain and France stubbornly defended freedom and independence of certain Central European countries whilst, at the same time, these two countries have subjugated many other nations across the globe.

    Another important question is: was East and Central Europe worth a drop of British blood, let alone a war? Just look across that region and tell me: what is the difference among these countries that has convinced Britain and France to decide with whom to take side and against whom to fight a war? And was it worth starting that war at all - from the point of view of ordinary citizen who would be send into that war? Reasons for war had to be carefully selected.

    Opana is right: interests have led Britain and France in selection of allies and propaganda was desperately needed to hide real reasons of involvement in the Central European affairs.
     
  2. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    The article of The History Place is nonsense .
     
  3. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    I will agree it is the "Reader's Digest" condensed version of events, but it is not nonsense. You'll find the information contained in many other works, but I don't have sufficient leisure time to transcribe entire chapters from my books to a post. What in particular do you consider "nonsense"?

    See:
    German Resistance Against Hitler: The Search for Allies Abroad, 1938-1945
    By Klemens Von Klemperer


    The German Opposition to Hitler: The Resistance, the Underground, and Assassination Plots.
    By Michael C. Thomsett


    -This guy primarily writes economic and real estate books, but his academic works are well researched however are not easy reads.

    The Oster Conspiracy of 1938: The Unknown Story of the Military Plot to Kill Hitler and Avert World War II
    By Terry Parssinen

    If you want more focused information on this particular conspiracy this is the book. A review:

    "As a professor of history, Terry Parssinen was asked by a student, "Professor, what was the last time that Hitler could have been stopped from starting the Second World War?" He could only speculate; he had heard about a 1938 German military plot to bring Hitler down, but he had to spend time in the library to find out more about it. Most historians had neglected or scorned the little-known plot. Eventually Parssinen was lucky enough to find the papers of Harold Deutsch, a historian who had interviewed participants in the plot and their family members, but had died before writing up his results. Parssinen took over, and has produced _The Oster Conspiracy of 1938: The Unknown Story of the Military Plot to Kill Hitler and Avert World War II_ (HarperCollins). It was a failed conspiracy, just as was the much more famous bomb that failed to kill Hitler in 1944 (there were other failed plots as well), but it is worth examining as a check against the picture of Hitler as universally popular among Germans at the time, and as a point of reflection. How might the world be different now if Hitler had been killed before starting hostilities? After all, Parssinen writes that the evidence "... shows that the 1938 conspiracy was well planned and had reasonably good prospects for success."
    Parssinen has built up the drama concerning the conspiracy by a meticulous, sometimes hour-by-hour, reconstruction of events in London and Berlin. Except for the ending of the plot, the tension is considerable even though we know the outcome. The chief conspirator, Lieutenant Colonel Hans Oster, was second-in-command at Abwehr, the intelligence division for the German military. He was shocked by the imprisonment of religious figures and political dissidents, and by the first concentration camps. It was not until the "Czech Crisis" of 1938, however, that significantly more officials began to agree with him. The generals knew that Russia and France were pledged to defend Czechoslovakia, and that if Germany tried to take it, the British would probably come in as well. They despaired that they would be deployed in a war they could not win. The conspirators knew that they could only rely on popular support if Hitler were about to start a war for which the German people had no enthusiasm, and they tried to have their contacts in England keep up the pressure so that no appeasement happened. Eventually Chamberlain accepted Hitler's pledge that no further European territories would be demanded; in the words of a conspirator at the Department of the Interior, "Chamberlain has saved Hitler." The conspirators could not act. They made several later assassination attempts, foiled by bad luck. In 1943 the Gestapo discovered Oster's scheme to smuggle Jews into neutral Switzerland; he was arrested and sent to a concentration camp. In 1945, a few days before the American troops liberated his camp, Oster was hanged.
    _The Oster Conspiracy of 1938_ is a detailed examination of a particular period and chain of events that led up to the war. It is exciting at times, and of course sad. Parssinen indulges in some speculation about what might have happened. The conspirators were interested in setting up a government based on Britain's; it might have been conservative, but it would have been broadly representative of German popular opinion. No war, no Holocaust, no Cold War are among the contingencies that might have occurred (although of course some other horrors would have erupted). But above all, fifty million people died in the war, and they would not have. "It might have been" has never been sadder."
     
  4. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    In "Hitler's Foreign Policy: The Road to War 1933/1939 " by Gerhard Weinberg, an authoritative historian, one can read the following on P 316 :

    "Beck did not disagree with the aim of annexing Austria and CZ ." Neither were Fritsch, Blomberg and Neurath .

    The whole story of the German generals willing/wanting to overthrow Hitler in 1938 but being prevented by the Allied surrender at Munich,is founded on nothing .It is only an attempt to blame Britain and France for the outbreak of the war :for 1939 their excuse was that the allies should have advanded to Berlin .they claimed that if there was a firm attitude by the allies,they would have acted :but a year later,there was a firm attitude by the allies and they did nothing .The generals did not move when Hitler reoccupied the Rhineland, it is the opposite : they were the driving force behind this operation, they did not move when the Anschluss happened, they did not move when Hitler occupied the rest of CZ,they did not move during the war, they waited till the war was lost . They were as the rats: when the ship was sinking, they tried to kill the captain,hoping that one should forgive/forget their responsability for Auschwitz .

    Other point :I don't know why people always are talking about Beck, who occupied only a minor function : the chief of the army was fritsch,later Brauchitz and the CoS had only the power the commander of the army was leaving him ,mostly the COS did the work and the feathers were for the commander .

    About Canaris : we can be very short : he collaborated enthusiastically with the regime during the war .
     
  5. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    "So in December the US decides a face to face with former Prime Minister Konoye is desireable. Why wasn't it a good idea two months earlier when Konoye was the actual Prime Minister?"

    Well, for starters, that was from the Japanese Ambassadors to the US, not the US government. Tojo, who knew the raid on Pearl Harbor was on, ignored the suggestion to meet in Honolulu.

    I included this for its irony.
     
  6. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    I would not recommend The Oster Conspiracy 1938 to any history student ,as I see a lot of blundes in the review,as


    Oster,second - in-command of the Abwehr : such a function did not exist .

    The Gestapo discovering Oster's scheme to smuggle Jews to Switzerland : it was a military judge,investigating a case of corruption,who discovered this .

    Harold Deutsch interviewing participants : why should any one interviewing participants? Of course they would say that the whole thing was well planned and had a good prospect for success and that it was all the fault of Chamberlain (as usual they all blamed a dead one ) .

    Besides, I have my doubts about the seriousness of Deutsch .
     
  7. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    Oster had been forced to leave the army in 1932 for a woman history (he was a well known womanizer), after 1933 he got a job at Goering's Forschungsamt (something as the NSA),which not proves his hostility to the regime;later he moved to the Abwehr where finally he became chief of the Zentral Abteilung,responsible for administration and personnel;but his power/influence was inexistent ,besides he had no intelligence experience .
    In 1943 he was NOT arrested by the Gestapo and was not put in a KL,but was forcibly retired; he was arrested only after the 20 july 1944 .


    The problem with Deutsch (as with a lot of US historians of the old school) is his tendency to accept as the truth what his discussion partners are telling him .This appears also in his Ultra contributions . The fact that he was working during the war for the OSS is explaining his tendency to attribute to the spy community what it not deseves .
     
  8. GunSlinger86

    GunSlinger86 Well-Known Member

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    The English held the viewpoint: "The enemy of my enemy is my friend." At the end of the day, Germany was a major competitor in world markets, could compete in commerce on the continent and abroad, Germany was upsetting the "balance of power" and the "status quo," and Germany didn't go along with the international finance doctrine, private debt banking, usury money, exploitation capitalism that "free market economies" all went along with. Their foreign policy was also aggressive in regards to invading and overthrowing established and thriving countries that already existed, instead of invading backwards uncivilized areas of the world, that the British, French, Dutch, and Americans did throughout history. I guess that kind of imperialism is alright.

    Russia was too far away and too behind in development to permit any immediate threat any time soon to the England. I'm sure left sympathies played a role in this decision, not saying there wasn't a fascist wing in England eager to side with Hitler.
     
  9. wm.

    wm. Well-Known Member

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    The British did exactly what they had promised earlier by signing the Anglo-Polish military alliance:

    Should one of the Contracting Parties become engaged in hostilities with a European Power in consequence of aggression by the latter against that Contracting Party, the other Contracting Party will at once give the Contracting Party engaged in hostilities all the support and assistance in its power.

    The secret protocol accompanying the alliance specify that:

    By the expression "a European Power" employed in the Agreement is to be understood Germany.

    So it was Germany and nothing else. Britain didn't have to declare war on the USSR, and didn't want to from the beginning.
     
  10. GunSlinger86

    GunSlinger86 Well-Known Member

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    I agree with TiredOldSoldier... Britain didn't want German expansionism. In my previous entry, I stated England feared Germany as a competitor in trade, commerce, world markets. Germany's new system of banking, which went against the status quo of international private debt banking, usury money, and exploitation capitalism was also a point of interest for England, and later the US. Germany would have changed the balance of power of the continent and the world. and that, almost more than fascism, was their crime that lead to destruction.
     
  11. wm.

    wm. Well-Known Member

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    Czechoslovakia wasn't invaded. They willingly gave away their German populated territories, and a few months later their president Emil Hácha accepted Hitler's demand to reorganize his country as German protectorate.
    Although at that point Czecho-slovakia didn't exist anymore because Slovakia had succeeded earlier.

    After that Hácha remained the President and the Czech government worked as before - and cooperated with Germany, although its power was limited. Because of that Britain didn't repudiate the Munich Agreement till 1942 (after the massacre at Lidice).
     
  12. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    Do you not find that argument a bit disingenuous? The agreement itself and Prime Minister Chamberlain's speech to Britain's House of Commons specifies European Power (general) of which Russia would qualify. That is what the world saw. That they felt it necessary to include a secret protocol that specified Germany. The Polish Ambassador to Britain even "interpreted" the agreement to include the Soviet Union;
    "The Polish ambassador in London, Raczyński, contacted the British Foreign Office pointing out that clause 1b of the agreement which concerned an "aggression by a European power" on Poland, should apply to the Soviet invasion. The Foreign Secretary Lord Halifax responded that the obligation of British Government towards Poland arising out of the Anglo-Polish Agreement, was restricted to Germany, according to the first clause of the secret protocol."
    Wikipedia

    Ironically, this is the same, Count Edward Bernard Raczyński, that signed the agreement.
     
  13. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    The ColorBooks


    French and British collections of documents regarding the diplomatic prelude to WWII.
    THE BRITISH WAR BLUE BOOK
    DOCUMENTS CONCERNING GERMAN-POLISH RELATIONS
    AND THE OUTBREAK OF HOSTILITIES
    BETWEEN GREAT BRITAIN AND GERMANY ON SEPTEMBER 3, 1939
    DIPLOMATIC DOCUMENTS, (1938-1939)
    (Also known as The French Yellow Book)
    Papers relative to the events and negotiations which preceded
    the opening of hostilities between Germany on the one hand,
    and Poland, Great Britain and France on the other hand.

    NAZI-SOVIET RELATIONS, 1939-1941
    Documents from the Archives of the German Foreign Office.
     
    Takao likes this.
  14. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    LJAd here's another article from Winston Churchill.org

    http://www.winstonchurchill.org/publications/finest-hour/253-finest-hour-162/2966-regime-change-1938-did-chamberlain-miss-the-bus

    There is ample evidence it was not a fairy tale or post war revisionism by Germans.

    Finest Hour



    Regime Change, 1938: Did Chamberlain “Miss the Bus”?


    Finest Hour 162, Spring 2014
    Page 22

    By Michael McMenamin


    “It was to the interest of the parties concerned after they were the prisoners of the Allies to dwell upon their efforts for peace. There can be no doubt however of the existence of the plot at this moment, and of serious measures taken to make it effective.”
    —Churchill, The Gathering Storm, 1948

    “I myself still believe that Hitler missed the bus last September and that his generals won’t let him risk a major war now.”
    —Neville Chamberlain to his sister, May 1939

    “A mind sequestered in its own delusions is to reason invincible.” —Dante

    In the early morning hours of 28 September 1938, a fifty-man Stosstrupp, a commando raiding party, assembled at Army headquarters of the Berlin Military District, home to General Erwin von Witzleben’s Third Army Corps. Commanded by Captain Friedrich Wilhelm Heinz of the Abwehr (Military Intelligence) the group comprised young, hand-picked anti-Nazis, half of whom were serving officers. The men were issued automatic weapons, ammunition and hand grenades furnished by Lieutenant Colonel Helmuth Groscurth of the Abwehr, who had been ordered to do so by Abwehr chief Admiral Wilhelm Canaris.1

    The Stosstrupp was to serve as an armed escort for General Witzleben when he went to the Chancellery to arrest Adolf Hitler the moment the Führer ordered an attack on Czechosolvakia. The plotters had every reason to believe this would occur later that day, since Hitler, meeting Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain in Bad Godesberg on 22-23 September, had reneged on his previous agreement to accept a plebiscite in the Sudetenland, the German-speaking area of Czechoslovakia. Hitler now said the Czechs had until 2pm on the 28th to accept German occupation of the Sudetenland, with a plebiscite to be conducted later. Otherwise, Hitler vowed to “march into the Sudeten territory on October 1st with the German army.” Inasmuch as Hitler had promised the German General Staff that he would give them two days’ notice of his intent to invade, the Stosstrupp believed it would be swinging into action by mid-afternoon, after the 2pm deadline expired.2

    Hitler’s Chancellery was surprisingly vulnerable, with only thirty-nine SS guards working three shifts. At most, fifteen men were on duty at any given time.3 Witzleben and the other plotters planned to take Hitler to a secure location where he would await trial for trying to take Germany into an unwanted war that senior military leaders, including Luftwaffe chief Herman Goering, opposed.4

    Heinz and Lieutenant Colonel Hans Oster, the conspiracy’s mastermind and Abwehr second-in-command, had a different fate in mind for the dictator. Convinced that Hitler alive posed a continuing danger, they planned to have the raiding party open fire even if his SS guards offered no resistance, killing Hitler in the mêlée.5

    Simultaneously, the Berlin police would arrest other top Nazis, while General Graf Walter von Brockdorf, commander of the 23rd Infantry Division in nearby Potsdam, would neutralize the SS in Berlin.6

    Only one man could prevent Hitler’s assassination and the forcible overthrow of his regime. That man was Neville Chamberlain.


    A Serious Conspiracy

    “There can be no doubt,” Churchill wrote in 1948, “of the existence of a plot” among the highest levels of the German army and Berlin police to depose Hitler if he ordered the invasion of Czechoslovakia: “…serious measures [had been] taken to make it effective.”7

    The goal was to supplant the Nazi regime with a provisional government that Reichsbank President Hjalmar Schacht had agreed to lead. Oster’s principal co-conspirator and chief recruiter was his close friend Hans Gisevius, then with the Interior Ministry and later in the Abwehr. Both would be involved in the unsuccessful attempt to assassinate Hitler in 1944.8

    We now know that the 1938 plot reached very high levels. In addition to those already named, conspirators included Chief of the German General Staff Franz Halder; former Chief Ludwig Beck; Wehrmacht Commander-in-Chief General Walther von Brauchitsch; Berlin Police President and Vice-President Graf Wolf von Helldorf and Graf Fritz von der Schulenburg; Chief of Berlin Criminal Police Arthur Nebe; the Foreign Ministry’s State Secretary Ernst von Weizsäcker and Chief of Ministerial Office Erich Kordt; Erich’s brother Theo, of the German Embassy in London; Hans von Dohnanyi of the Ministry of Justice; Prussian aristocrat Ewald von Kleist; and Hitler’s interpreter, Paul Otto Schmidt.9


    Missing the Bus

    Repeatedly in 1938-39, Neville Chamberlain remarked that Hitler “missed the bus.” Two such occasions were September 1938, when Hitler “could have dealt France and ourselves a terrible, perhaps a mortal, blow”;10 and September 1939, when he had failed to attack the Anglo-French “before we had time to make good our deficiencies.”11 The phrase came back to haunt him. “Missed the bus, missed the bus!” his colleagues chanted, as he arrived in Parliament for the debate on Hitler’s conquest of Norway in May 1940.12

    What about the bus Chamberlain thought Hitler had missed in 1938? As noted in the foregoing article, Hitler was in no position then to deal the Anglo-French a mortal blow. The German opposition, and Churchill,13 believed there were alternatives to war or surrender, provided Britain and France stood firm. Historians, Churchill wrote, “should probe…this internal crisis in Berlin.” Should it “eventually be accepted as historical truth, it will be another example of the very small accidents upon which the fortunes of mankind turn.”14

    “Small accident” is too charitable a term. Today there is no historical doubt that the German resistance repeatedly warned the British of Hitler’s intention to invade Czechoslovakia in September 1938, and that, if he did, they would depose him—provided France honored her obligation to the Czechs and Britain stood by France.

    In response, however, the Chamberlain government took every diplomatic step it could—often against the advice of Foreign Minister Lord Halifax—to undermine Hitler’s opposition. It is fair to say that Chamberlain, not Hitler, missed the bus in 1938: the opportunity to rid Germany of a lawless government whose economic and rearmament policies made its very survival dependent upon going to war.15 Churchill to the contrary, this was no accident. It was British policy, recognized as such at the highest levels during and after Munich.

    Mr. Chamberlain, a rational man, had two reasons for failing to capitalize on the warnings of Hitler’s opposition. Both turned out to be tragically wrong.

    First, the Prime Minister considered the German opposition traitorous, not to be taken seriously. In August 1938, Foreign Minister Lord Halifax reported to Chamberlain a meeting between Sir Robert Vansittart, Permanent Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs and Ewald von Kleist, a conservative anti-Nazi, sent to London by Oster, Canaris and Beck. Kleist, Chamberlain wrote Halifax, “reminds me of the Jacobites at the Court of France in King William’s time and I think that we must discount a good deal of what he says.”16

    Kleist had told Vansittart that high-level Army officers were prepared to act, so long as the Anglo-French held fast. If they did, Kleist added, “there would be a new system of government [in Germany] within forty-eight hours.”17 Kleist said the same to Churchill, who at Kleist’s request wrote him a letter to show his fellow conspirators: “I am sure that the crossing of the frontier of Czecho-Slovakia by German armies or aviation in force will bring about a renewal of the world war.”18

    Kleist’s was not an isolated message. The British government had been receiving information of a coup against Hitler from multiple sources since July. As late as 7 September, Theo Kordt, at the German Embassy in London, delivered the same message to Halifax, expecting him to issue a public statement that Britain would support France.19 Halifax wished to do so, but Chamberlain stopped him. Chamberlain’s rationale was his personal plan—his second reason for shunning the Hitler opposition.


    Chamberlain’s “Plan Z”

    By the time Halifax met with Kordt, Chamberlain had already secretly conceived a strategy whereby he would save the day, bringing peace to Europe while keeping the Nazis in power. “Plan Z,” conceived solely by the Prime Minister, was the ultimate undoing of Hitler’s 1938 German opposition.

    While Britain had no obligation to come to the defense of Czechoslovakia, France did. Plan Z—known only to a few intimates including Halifax—called for Chamberlain to announce, at the last minute before Hitler attacked Czechoslovakia, that he would fly to Germany to discuss the crisis. The announcement would be made without prior notice to the French.20

    The Czechs at that time were still naively negotiating with Konrad Henlein of the Sudeten Germans for more Sudeten autonomy, unaware that Hitler had told Henlein to insist upon terms no Czech government could possibly accept, giving Hitler a pretext to use force. The Czechs were taken by surprise when, on 14 September, Chamberlain duly announced he would fly to meet Hitler, who by now was demanding “the free right of self-determination” for Sudeten Germans.21

    talks with Britain? Still they did not believe Chamberlain would yield to Hitler’s demands. “In all seriousness,” Gisevius wrote, “we imagined the chief danger for us lay in the possibility that not Chamberlain but Hitler might back down.” After learning from Hitler’s translator Paul Schmidt that Chamberlain had given in, Gisevius added, “we bowed our heads in despair. To all appearances it was all up with our revolt.”22

    Then the Führer gave the conspirators renewed hope. He wanted his little war. After Chamberlain had departed to consult his Cabinet and the French, Schmidt informed the plotters, Hitler said he would now escalate his demands and propose new, humiliating terms that, if rejected, would give him a pretext to invade.23 Afforded fresh life, the plotters resumed their activities.24

    Hitler was as good as his word. At Bad Godesberg on 22-23 September, when Chamberlain proudly announced that he had persuaded the French and Czechs to accept a Sudeten plebiscite, Hitler coolly said this was no longer acceptable. He then delivered the conditions Schmidt had forecast—immediate Czech withdrawal and German occupation of the Sudetenland on 26 September followed by a plebiscite later. The only concession Hitler would make to a shocked Chamberlain was to postpone occupation until 1 October, so long as the Czechs accepted his new demands by the 28th.25 The German conspirators were certain Chamberlain would never accept “such monstrous demands.”26 They were wrong. Again.


    Bumps in the Road

    Chamberlain, determined to cut a deal despite Hitler’s new terms, informed the Cabinet on 24 September, expecting to be supported. Channeling his inner Churchill, Halifax objected: “Herr Hitler has given us nothing [and is] dictating terms as if he had won a war without having to fight,” Halifax told the Cabinet. “Can you trust a man who negotiates like he is dictating a Carthaginian peace to keep his promises he has made about the future?”

    Chamberlain could, perhaps, but Halifax wouldn’t have it. The only “ultimate end,” he replied, was “the destruction of Nazism,” because as long as Hitler lasted, “peace would be uncertain.” Like Churchill, Halifax was willing to contemplate regime change instead of swallowing whatever the Führer chose to dish out. Aware of the many messages from the German resistance, he added that if Hitler were driven to war, “the result might be to help bring down the regime.”27 Appalled, Chamberlain passed Halifax a note: “Your complete change of view…is a horrible blow to me.”28

    Meanwhile, France and Czechoslovakia had rejected Hitler’s ultimatum. The Cabinet seemed more persuaded by Halifax than Chamberlain, so on the 26th the Prime Minister’s trusted adviser, Sir Horace Wilson, was sent to Germany with a letter conveying their rejections, warning that if France became involved in hostilities with Germany, Britain would support France. Wilson flew home the next day; in a speech that night, an enraged Hitler promised to invade Czechoslovakia if his Godesberg ultimatum was not accepted.

    So encouraged, Heinz’s raiding party assembled in Berlin and was issued arms in the early morning hours of September 28th. Since on the 27th the British Cabinet had rejected Chamberlain’s renewed plea for a telegram urging the Czechs to accept, war seemed inevitable. But nothing happened. Why?

    Despite increasing isolation within his Cabinet, the Prime Minister’s mind remained sequestered in its own delusions that Plan Z made sense; that “he had now established an influence” over Hitler; that they could negotiate in good faith because “he was sure” he had the Führer’s respect.29 Without consulting the Cabinet, he wrote to Hitler through British Ambassador Nevile Henderson, giving no indication of the Cabinet’s hardening attitude. Instead he proposed a five-power conference between Britain, Germany, Czechoslovakia, France and Italy, where, Chamberlain assured Hitler, Germany could “get all essentials without war and without delay.” He then cabled Lord Perth, his ambassador in Rome, directing Perth to seek the support of Benito Mussolini.30

    When Mussolini urged Hitler to accept, the Führer himself was having second thoughts about invasion. Duff Cooper’s mobilization of the Royal Navy, announced late on the 27th, had shaken him. “I think,” he said to Goering, “the English fleet might shoot after all.”31 Chamberlain’s proposal was Hitler’s life-line. Acceding to Mussolini, Hitler told Henderson, “I have postponed mobilizing my troops for twenty-four hours.” A few minutes before his 2pm deadline on September 28th he sent invitations to the leaders of Britain, France and Italy (but not Czechoslovakia) to meet him the next day in Munich.32


    The Fatal Step

    Chamberlain’s invitation arrived at 3pm as he spoke on the floor of the House of Commons. He accepted on the spot, ignoring Hitler’s exclusion of the Czechs. Notwithstanding his Cabinet’s earlier refusal to pressure the Czechs, he was certain that the conference would agree to the key demand at Godesberg: Czech withdrawal and German occupation of the Sudetenland before any plebiscite. In Munich on 30 September, the four powers agreed to just that, then coerced the Czechs to go along. Hitler’s only concession was that, while the Czechs must leave at once, German occupation would commence on October 10th rather than the 1st.

    Afterward, in the euphoria of what he was sure had kept Europe out of war, Chamberlain got Hitler to sign the crown jewel of Plan Z—a one-page, three-paragraph document stating the desire of Great Britain and Germany never to go to war with each other again. Back in Great Britain, Chamberlain held the sheet in the air and assured the British that it meant “peace for our time.”

    In the event, as we now know, no plebiscite in the Sudeten was ever held. Six months later, Hitler and several other greedy countries occupied the rest of Czechoslovakia, left defenseless by the loss of its fortress line—a bonanza which would enable the formidable German onslaught in the West, including Czech tanks and war materiel, that swept to victory in 1940. (See Williamson Murray’s previous article.)

    It was all over. In Parliament on 3 October, Duff Cooper announced his resignation as First Lord of the Admiralty. On the 5th, Churchill spoke: “Silent, mournful, abandoned, broken, Czechoslovakia recedes into the darkness,” and “terrible words have for the time being been pronounced against the western democracies: ‘Thou art weighed in the balance and found wanting.’”

    In Berlin on October 3rd Witzleben, Oster, Schacht and Gisevius gathered around the fireplace in the Witzleben’s Berlin mansion where, as Gisevius recalled, “we tossed our lovely plans and projects into the fire.”33

    The conspirators were bitter. Erich Kordt wrote after the war that swallowing Hitler’s terms “prevented the coup d’etat in Berlin.“ Gisevius in his memoirs was less kind: “Peace in our time? Let us put it a bit more realistically. Chamberlain saved Hitler.”34

    Post hoc sour grapes? Perhaps. But the highest levels of the British government knew at the time precisely what they had done at Munich. They had intentionally sabotaged a coup d’etat in Germany, of which they had been forewarned, so that Plan Z could be fulfilled. As Ambassador Sir Nevile Henderson lamented to Halifax in an October 6th letter which foreshadowed Gisevius: “by keeping the peace, we have saved Hitler and his regime.”34

    Chamberlain had missed the bus—and now it was being driven by Hitler on a highway to hell.

    Mr. McMenamin is co-author of Becoming Winston Churchill: The Untold Story of Young Winston and His American Mentor, and several Churchill novels; he also writes “Action This Day,” FH’s quarterly summary of Churchill’s activities one hundred twenty-five, one hundred, seventy-five and fifty years ago.


    Endnotes:

    1. Terry Parssinen, The Oster Conspiracy of 1938 (New York: Harper Collins, 2003), 133, 160-61; James Duffy and Vincent Ricci, Target Hitler: The Plots to Kill Adolf Hitler (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1992), 70.

    2. Paul Schmidt, Hitler’s Interpreter (London: Macmillan, 1951), 104-05; Patricia Meehan, The Unnecessary War: Whitehall and the German Resistance to Hitler (London: Sinclair-Stevenson, 1992), passim; Parssinen, 153.

    3. Hjalmar Schacht, Account Settled (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1949), 125; Peter Hoffman, Hitler’s Personal Security, 2nd ed. (New York: Da Capo Press, 2000), 160; Parssinen, 134.

    4. Meehan, 150.

    5. Parssinen, 133-34; Meehan, 150.

    6. Parssinen, 108.

    7. Winston S. Churchill, The Gathering Storm (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1948), 280.

    8. Schacht, 119-25; Meehan, 149-50; Parssinen, 98-100.

    9. Hans Bernd Gisevius, To the Bitter End: An Insider’s Account of the Plot to Kill Hitler 1933-1945 (London: Jonathan Cape, 1947), 296-304; Parssinen, xix-xx.

    10. Chamberlain to his sister Hilda, 30 December 1939, in Robert Self, Neville Chamberlain: A Biography (London: Ashgate, 2006), 412.

    11. Chamberlain to a Conservative Party rally, 4 April 1940, in Self, 415.

    12. Harold Nicolson diary, 7 May 1940, in Nigel Nicolson, ed., Harold Nicolson: Diaries and Letters, 3 vols. (London: Collins, 1966-68), II 76.

    13. Churchill, “Defence of Freedom and Peace,” broadcast, London, 16 October 1938, in Robert Rhodes James, ed., Winston S. Churchill: His Complete Speeches 1897-1963, 8 vols. (New York: Bowker, 1974), VI 6015.

    14. Churchill, The Gathering Storm, 281.

    15. Stephen Roberts, The House That Hitler Built (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1938), 359-62.

    16. Andrew Roberts, The Holy Fox: Biography of Lord Halifax (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1991), 108; Meehan, 144; Parssinen, 74.

    17. Meehan, 141-42; Parssinen, 71-72, 76.

    18. Meehan, 173; Parssinen, 76. Churchill’s letter was headed, “My dear sir,” to protect von Kleist’s identity. The letter was delivered to Kleist in London on 20 August; Churchill sent copies to Chamberlain and Halifax, along with notes of his meeting. Unfortunately, Kleist kept his copy in his desk and its discovery by the Gestapo following the failed 1944 assassination attempt resulted in his execution.

    19. Meehan, 152-54.

    20. Meehan, 147-48; A. Roberts, 110; Parssinen, 91.

    21. A. Roberts, 110-11; Parssinen, 122-23.

    22. Gisevius, 322.

    23. Meehan, 172.

    24. Ibid.

    25. A. Roberts, 112-13; Parssinen, 140-41; Meehan, 173.

    26. Gisevius, 323; Parssinen, 139.

    27. A. Roberts, 115-17; Parssinen, 143-45.

    28. Parssinen, 146; A. Roberts, 117.

    29. Martin Gilbert, Winston S. Churchill: The Prophet of Truth 1922-1939 (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1977), 981; Graham Stewart, Burying Caesar: Churchill, Chamberlain and the Battle for the Tory Party (New York: Overlook Press, 1999), 303; Parssinen, 142.

    30. Meehan, 178-79; Parssinen, 163.

    31. Meehan, 178. Cooper and Churchill had unsuccessfully urged Chamberlain to move the Fleet to its war station at Scapa Flow four weeks earlier.

    32. Meehan, 179; Parssinen, 163.

    33. Gisevius, 326.

    34. Parssinen, 219-20.

    Further Reading

    Churchill briefly discusses the 1938 conspiracy in The Gathering Storm (1948), based on his involvement and testimony at Nuremberg. He did not have the benefit of postwar memoirs by conspirators like Gisevius, Erich Kordt, Schacht and Schmidt, nor of later-released British Foreign Office documents. Two books telling the story in more detail from both the British and German sides are Patricia Meehan, The Unnecessary War, Whitehall and the German Resistance to Hitler (London: Sinclair-Stevenson, 1992); and Terry Parssinen, The Oster Conspiracy of 1938 (New York: HarperCollins, 2003), which are relied upon in this account. From the German side, see also Peter Hoffman, German Resistance to Hitler (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1988); and Joachim Fest, Plotting Hitler’s Death: The Story of the German Resistance (New York: Metropolitan, 1996). Fest considered the 1938 conspiracy “probably the most promising of all the plots against Hitler.”
     
  15. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    Thank you for the links. I'm going to download, save them and add to the library. I've been needing some new reading material.
     
  16. wm.

    wm. Well-Known Member

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    This only proves Chamberlain was unwilling to reveal the existence of the secret protocol. Very reasonable of him, it would be a propaganda victory for the Nazis.

    As to the Polish Ambassador, his official note informing about the Soviet invasion from 17 September didn't mention any British obligation, nor he was authorized to do it (as far as I know - no Polish diplomatic document from that time mentions this).
    The only sentence there concerning itself with obligations was:

    Le Gouvernement Polonais se réserve de faire valoir les obligations découlant pour ses alliés des Traités en vigueur.
    (The Polish Government reserves the right to enforce the obligations of its Allies according to the existing treaties).

    Poland was with Romania in a defensive alliance against the USSR, the only obligation of Britain was to ​ consult together on the measures to be taken in common, and nothing more.

    Wikipedia is most likely wrong on this, the source mentioned there is secondary and rather obscure.
     
  17. Triple C

    Triple C Ace

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    USMC Price,
    I don't understand what's the China angle in your original post. I am by no means a fan of Chiang Kai-shek, but he could not have decided war and peace with Japan. That decision rest with the Japanese high command, the Diet and the emperor.
    Chiang was not an efficient administrator or a pleasant moral being; corruption under him was rampant; that and his heavy-handedness alienated the entire intelligentsia from whom China drew its government administrators. He did not fight the war well; but he was not responsible for the Japanese invasion, and I don't see how a change of government could have forestalled it or substantially altered the outcome.
     
  18. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    The German conspirators said to Chamberlain : if you say NO to Hitler,even at the risk of a war, we will overthrow him .

    In september 1939,Chamberlain said NO;there was a war,and the conspirators did not move .Why would they have moved in 1938 ?

    The German conspirators agreed to the attack on Poland, they agreed to an attack on CZ, but considered that it was not the moment .Besides we have no proof that the Wehrmacht and the population would have followed them .

    Beck had retired, besides he had no power before he retired;his successor (Halder) never did anything against the regime, the superior of Beck ,Fritsch, who had been unjustifiedly treated ,remained loyal to Hitler,the same as Brauchitz .

    Nebe was during the war commander of an Einsatzgruppe and responsible for countless victims;Helldorf( from the SA ) was totally corrupt,and Gisevius? A born liar,whom no one should trust,besides,this antinazi had been one of the founders of the Gestapo but paraded after the war as a born antinazi .
     
  19. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    Part of the reasoning behind the China Incident was the fact that Chiang was doomed and it would be best for Japan to step in and take over the country when the Nationalists collapsed. I guess this proves that even the Japanese shouldn't get involved in a land war in Asia.
     
  20. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    Thanks for correcting me, I totally read your information out of context. Looking back I now see that the heading should have tipped me off.

    [Secret]
    From: Washington
    To: Tokyo
    1 December 1941
    (Purple)
    #1227

    It was a Purple intercept. It makes much more sense taken in it's correct context.
     

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