So yet again, we have an article putting the blame for WW2 on Britain. In Mr Wear’s alternative universe Adolf Hitler was a peace loving man with everyone else from the Soviets to the British wanting the demise of Germany. The reality of course, as we all know (well as all sane people know) is completely different.
Before I go on to look at Mr Wear’s work in detail, I feel a few comments need to be made about Mr Wear’s sources. It is very rare indeed that Mr Wear uses modern historical secondary sources or sources that have been peer reviewed. Primary sources are never used unless they can be found on the Internet. In this way, “revisionists” sources are given the same status as more creditable and certainly vastly more qualified historians; books that appear nowhere in institutions of higher learning are given the same status as books that are core elements in most university history departments dealing with the subject of Nazi Germany and World War 2. Any creditable sources used tend to be out of date and in many cases revised by more modern historians. Mr Wear loves to use the seminal work of A.J.P Taylor: “The Origins of the Second World War” written nearly 60 years ago whilst ignoring, or cherry picking small pieces from books by more up to date historians such as Richard Overy, Richard Evans, Adam Tooze or Ian Kershaw.
So, let us take a look in more detail at Mr Wear’s article.
Hitler had never wanted war with Great Britain.
No historian has ever claimed that Hitler ever intended a long drawn out war with Britain. Hitler had always intended to create a Germanic empire in the east, and not in the west. That is not to say that Hitler made no preparations for a war with Britain. He knew that a showdown with Britain was inevitable even before his invasion of Poland:
“…England is our enemy and the showdown with England is a matter of life and death”
Ian Kershaw, “Hitler, Nemesis” p 192.
Hitler had no ambitions against Britain or her Empire, and all of the captured records solidly bear this out.
Indeed…but Hitler knew that conflict with Britain was inevitable, regardless how much he admired the British Empire. No historian has ever claimed that Hitler had his eyes on the British Empire. Mr Wear is busy constructing one of several straw man fallacies.
Hitler had also never planned for a world war.
No historian has claimed that he ever did. This is yet another straw man fallacy.
British historian A.J.P. Taylor shatters the myth of a great German military buildup
No he doesn’t. Many historians have since revised the 60 year old opinions of Mr Taylor.
In 1938-39, the last peacetime year, Germany spent on armament about 15% of her gross national product.
Except that Germany had been spending similar amounts on military expenditure since 1933:
“The next 5 years in Germany must be devoted to the rearmament of the German people. Every publicly supported job creation scheme must be judged by the criterion of whether it is necessary from the point of view of the rearmament of the German people. This principle must always and everywhere stand in the foreground.”
Hitler to his Ministers, 8 February 1933. ( Richard Evans, “The Third Reich in Power”, p 337)
Adam Tooze, the recognised expert on the Nazi economy put it even more bluntly in his book “The Wages of Destruction”:
“…rearmament was the overriding and determining force impelling economic policy from the earliest stage. Everything else was sacrificed to it. In the 6 years between January 1933 and the autumn of the Munich crisis, Hitler’s regime raised the share of national output going to the military from less than 1% to almost 20%. Never before had national production been redistributed on this scale or with such speed by a capitalist state in peacetime.”
Taylor further states that Hitler was not intending or anticipating a major war
Yet another straw man fallacy; no historian has ever said that he was. It was one reason why the Germans were not prepared for a winter war against the Soviet Union in 1941. The invasion of the USSR was intended to be over before the winter set in.
Hitler was eager to make peace once Great Britain and France had declared war against Germany.
Hitler made all peace speeches from a position of power. In 1940 after the fall of France Britain was deemed to be “alone” and therefore Hitler could make demands from a position of power. In reality, there was no need for Britain to surrender of accept Hitler’s proposals. Hitler would find it difficult to invade the island, and Churchill knew it.
Hitler made a peace offer on October 6, 1939, that was quickly rejected.
An offer made after the capitulation and occupation of Poland. Hitler had his eyes on land further to the east. A peace with Britain and France would have allowed him more freedom to move eastwards.
Hitler dreamed of an Anglo-German alliance even when Germany was at war with Great Britain.
No he didn’t. Hitler made conditions which were not acceptable to the British government; conditions that would have made Britain simply a puppet state. Britain (and her Empire) was not willing to believe a man that had broken every agreement and treaty he had ever signed or promise he had ever made.
Germany’s offensive against Dunkirk was halted by Hitler’s order on May 24, 1940.
No it wasn’t. Mr Wear is distorting historical fact. The army may have been halted on 24 May 1940 but the attack on allied forces was not halted; it was simply taken over by the Luftwaffe on the request of Goring. The Evacuation of Dunkirk is always viewed by neo Nazis and Nazi apologists as some sort of policy by Hitler to deliberately allow the British and French forces trapped there to escape as a face saving exercise. The reality is far different.
Dunkirk was one big German military cock up based on faulty intelligence and preconceived ideas; it was a mixture of over estimation and under estimation.
- The German High Command over estimated the abilities of the French and British forces. The Germans were constantly under the impression that a counter offensive was about to be unleashed as happened at Arras days before. The Halt Order allowed the German infantry to catch up with the armour and reinforce the front line. The reality was that the British and French were totally defeated militarily. Even with the relatively few tanks still operational, the Germans could have swept down to the beaches and taken hundreds of thousands of prisoners.
- The German High Command under estimated the abilities of the Royal Navy. They did not believe that the British were capable of taking so many men off the beaches. They were wrong.
- The German High Command, and specifically Goering, underestimated the ability of the R.A.F. Goering promised Hitler that the Luftwaffe could destroy all British and French forces in the Dunkirk pocket, thus forcing a surrender. The reality was that the R.A.F. kept most of the German bombers away from the beaches. For the first time in the war, the Luftwaffe found they had met their match. The weather also played a role in keeping the bombers that did get through away from the beaches on key days of the evacuation.
The reasons why Hitler gave the stop order were based purely on military ones and not some far fetched story of Hitler magnanimity. Hitler went against the wishes of his generals, and not for the only time during the war. He had his eyes fixed on the future battles to come in the south. By the time that Hitler had realised his error, it was far too late. Hitler now risked having egg on his face. To save face, the myth of the “we let the British leave” kind was created.
Having been given the gift of Dunkirk by Hitler, Churchill refused to acknowledge it. Churchill instead described the evacuation of British troops off the beaches of Dunkirk as a heroic miracle accomplished by the British navy. Churchill became even more bellicose in his determination to continue the war.
Churchill took advantage of the British and French evacuation from Dunkirk, an evacuation he never thought possible. He also took advantage of the strategic error by Adolf Hitler, the latter going against the wishes of his generals. To believe that somehow Churchill owed Hitler a favour is a ridiculous notion.
He asks that England renounce some of its possessions and recognize the fait accompli. On these conditions Hitler would be prepared to come to an agreement.
Hitler wanted Britain out of Europe. He had no desire to take the British Empire away but he did want a free hand in the rest of Europe. With Britain a beaten country subservient to a powerful Germany, Hitler would be able to turn his full attention to the Soviet Union. All calls for peace made after the Dunkirk evacuation were aimed at bringing a close to the war in the west. Unfortunately for Hitler, the British were not willing to play his game and nor did they feel the need to do so. The British knew that an invasion across the channel would have been impossible without the destruction of the Royal navy. The Germans would have also needed air superiority, something which they never achieved. Britain was to become the thorn in Hitler’s side in those early years of the war. In the latter years, she was to become the jump off point for the destruction of the Nazi regime and the liberation of Europe.
There is no question that Hitler was eager to end the war.
No he wasn’t. He was determined to carry on the war elsewhere.
But Churchill was in the war with the objective of destroying Germany.
The two countries were at war. Winning the war was the aim. Really, Mr Wear…
Hitler’s peace offer was officially rejected on July 22, 1940.
Oh dear. Hitler did not get his way then. He must have been, as we say here in the UK…gutted.
Alan Clarke, defense aid to Margaret Thatcher, believes that only Churchill’s obsession with Hitler and “single-minded determination to keep the war going” prevented his accepting Germany’s offer to end the war in 1940
A decision that was instrumental in helping to bring about the defeat of Adolf Hitler and one of the most evil regimes of modern history.
Hitler continued to search for a way to end the war he had never wanted.
By now, we all have some idea as to why. Hitler was wanting to protect his rear and head in the direction of the USSR. This had been his aim for many years.
…and so to Hess.
While it is impossible to prove that Hess flew to Scotland with Hitler’s knowledge and approval, the available evidence suggests that he did.
Actually there is ZERO evidence that he did. There is no evidence at all that Hitler ordered Hess to go to Britain to talk peace terms. Hess was mad, and Hitler said as much. There is a great deal of evidence that Hitler was furious when he heard of Hess’ flight and several eyewitnesses attest to Hitler’s anger on hearing the news.
The relationship between Hess and Hitler was so close that one can logically assume that Hess would not have undertaken such an important step without first informing Hitler.
Pure supposition. Logic doesn’t really come into it. Facts are what matter.
The Allied policy of unconditional surrender ensured that the war would be fought to its bitter end.
Yes indeed. As it needed to be. There was no reason why, by 1943 the Allies, who were by now winning the war, should want a conditional surrender.
Maurice Hankey, an experienced British statesman
…had nothing to do with the British war cabinet during the war. He was left out of it. Sour grapes come to mind.
Numerous other historians and political leaders have stated that Great Britain and the United States made it impossible for Germany to reach a peaceful resolution to the war.
You don’t say. I think we are all aware what “unconditional surrender” actually means.
It is widely acknowledged that Hitler did not want a war with either Great Britain or the United States.
This is getting rather repetitive. Still, if Hitler had not wanted a war with the USA, he shouldn’t have declared war on it.
Rep. Hamilton Fish
was a supporter of the Nazi regime and opponent of Roosevelt. He seems to believe that everyone could trust Hitler as Hitler had everyone’s welfare at heart. Er…nope. Hitler broke nearly every treaty he made and every promise to the West that he ever made. His final betrayal was that of the USSR when he invaded in June 1941. The USSR were still sending exports to Germany on the eve of the invasion.
Hitler had even “offered to place fifteen German army divisions and the entire fleet at the disposal of the British government to support her empire in case of war anywhere in the world.”
…allegedly according to Ribbentrop.
Fish did not believe this statement from von Ribbentrop at the time
Hardly surprising. Why would Hitler give away forces that would have been badly needed on the Russian front?
but it was substantiated years later.
Was it? By whom exactly?
Even a diplomat from Churchill’s own Conservative Party admitted: “To the world at large, Churchill appeared to be the very embodiment of a policy of war. To have brought him into Government when the balance between peace and war was still quivering, might have definitely tilted the scales on the side of war.”
Chamberlain declared war and not Churchill. The point is moot.
The refusal of Winston Churchill to negotiate peace with Germany is remarkable in that Churchill spoke of the evils of communism
I fail to see the connection here. Churchill was unwilling to make peace terms with Hitler and was determined to continue the war with Germany…before the Soviets themselves were invaded in 1941.
Churchill once said of communism
Churchill said lots of statements in his lifetime, many contradictory. So what?
On January 20, 1943, Joseph E. Davies disclosed that Hitler offered to retire from office if by doing so Great Britain would make peace with Germany. Churchill and other British leaders refused Hitler’s offer.
Joseph Davis was US ambassador to Moscow! How would he have received an offer from Adolf Hitler that he was willing to retire? The source for this bunkum is well known revisionist nut job, Mike Walsh. Say no more.
Churchill never once attempted to make peace with Germany
Even leaders of the German resistance movement discovered that the Allied policy of unconditional surrender would not change with Hitler dead.
Why should it? The system was still in place. There were people there quite happy to step into his shoes and carry on. Certainly there was no drive to surrender to the Soviets. Even the more moderate German generals were happy to surrender to the western Allies but were still happy to fight it out against the Soviets…no doubt assuming that the US and British would jump sides and fight against those Bolsheviks on the side of the Germans.
There was no reason why the British should surrender to the Germans in the first years of the war. Nor was there any reason why the Allies should accept any surrender other than an unconditional one. Only Nazi apologists and neo Nazis seem to believe otherwise.