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Old December 28th, 2012, 02:54 PM   #1
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British choices in WWII ?


I proposed this as a topic for the "worst mistake of the Second World War" topic but the thread was going elsewhere and no one picked up my question, so I'm starting a new thread here.

It would be interesting to talk about the grand strategy of UK, after any appeasement with Germany failed and the first german victories.

After the fall of France it was clear this was going to be no repetition of WWI.

The british sticked to the idea of destroying Hitler, and they managed to do it. Yet in the process they facilitated the world' division in great superpowers' speheres of influence. It was against the UK, the british were unsaddled from the position of world preminence and became a second rate power. Their empire was (for the most part) lost. Worse, they could no more move freely, even to defend their interest if the superpowers didn't like it. Maybe it was not clear from the start, it seems the Britsh didn't realize the truth till the Suez Crisis. The USA forced them (and the French) back, this disclosed the total loss of initiative for UK.

In my opinion Churchill could see something bad coming (in the late years of the war he wanted to keep the Soviets far from central Europe and the Balkans as possible). Still, when faced with the possibility of a truce with Hitler, he refused. We can imagine that a peace with Hitler would not be so stable and secure. Still, the British had nothing to gain from a victory gained with the USA and URSS intervention.

Could a truce with Germany be better than a continued war? Did Churchill and his advisors have a real alternative?

Did Churchill or some other british leaders realize the UK was following a lose-lose strategy?
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Old December 28th, 2012, 04:02 PM   #2

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The War hastened the end of Empire, perhaps, but Britain's reign as a Great Power was largely up anyway. I think keeping the war going long enough to ensure Hitler was beaten was probably our parting gift as we departed the World stage.
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Old December 28th, 2012, 04:21 PM   #3

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After the fall of France Hitler gave Britain permission to exit the war. He hoped they would take the offer so he could focus on Russia but it didn't work. So Britain had the option to exit but they feared the Nazi state would survive if they did so. Maybe they were right.
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Old December 28th, 2012, 05:07 PM   #4
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Old December 28th, 2012, 06:04 PM   #5

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Very emotive 'Walpole' but the victory was hardly suicidal. We're still here, after all.

What was the alternative but to go to war with Nazi Germany at some point, if not 1939 then soon afterwards?
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Old December 28th, 2012, 07:20 PM   #6

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So.....Germany wasn't really Britains enemy and were forced into the war by her allies.....and American interests. Ok.
This is completely forgetting what a thoroughly distasteful and brutal mob the Nazi's really were.
The British Empire may well have been at it's zenith in 1900, but it was already making the transition from Empire to Commonwealth. Australia had been granted self governing status and I'm pretty sure that other countries in the commonwealth were well on their way there.
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Old December 28th, 2012, 08:29 PM   #7
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It is true that the USSR and USA became much stronger as a result of WWII and the UK did not. However, that was not so obvious at the time. Not sure that WWII was the main cause of Britain's decline as a power.

Making a separate peace with Germany did not make sense because the Allies were winning the war. Also, it was not possible to negotiate with the Nazis who had repeatedly double dealt with the Munich Accords and Nonaggression Pact. It would also also be betraying allies and everyone knows all the things the Nazis did.
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Old December 28th, 2012, 08:47 PM   #8

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruno View Post
I proposed this as a topic for the "worst mistake of the Second World War" topic but the thread was going elsewhere and no one picked up my question, so I'm starting a new thread here.

It would be interesting to talk about the grand strategy of UK, after any appeasement with Germany failed and the first german victories.

After the fall of France it was clear this was going to be no repetition of WWI.

The british sticked to the idea of destroying Hitler, and they managed to do it. Yet in the process they facilitated the world' division in great superpowers' speheres of influence. It was against the UK, the british were unsaddled from the position of world preminence and became a second rate power. Their empire was (for the most part) lost. Worse, they could no more move freely, even to defend their interest if the superpowers didn't like it. Maybe it was not clear from the start, it seems the Britsh didn't realize the truth till the Suez Crisis. The USA forced them (and the French) back, this disclosed the total loss of initiative for UK.

In my opinion Churchill could see something bad coming (in the late years of the war he wanted to keep the Soviets far from central Europe and the Balkans as possible). Still, when faced with the possibility of a truce with Hitler, he refused. We can imagine that a peace with Hitler would not be so stable and secure. Still, the British had nothing to gain from a victory gained with the USA and URSS intervention.

Could a truce with Germany be better than a continued war? Did Churchill and his advisors have a real alternative?

Did Churchill or some other british leaders realize the UK was following a lose-lose strategy?
Those are all really hard questions.

I will agree that Churchill was the most brilliant and far sighted of all the allied leadership during WW2. Unfortunately there was nothing that Churchill could do to change or stop anything that Hitler and Stalin were doing.

Europe was doomed to be dominated by either Hitler or Stalin or both.

If Hitler had gotten nuclear weapons first, he would have conquered the whole world with them. And European Jews would all have been exterminated.

I don't believe one man anywhere deserves to rule the entire world and take away their democracy from them.

I also don't believe the Jews deserved genocide.

So Stalin ruling half of Europe was probably better than Hitler ruling all of Europe and possibly also the rest of the world.

Britian's power and wealth was transferred to the USA as a result of Hitler's pressure on Britian. The world is probably no better or worse off under US international domination than had it still been under British. We are both English speaking cultures, and both the USA and UK are still very close to each other in all respects.

What I really wonder is whether if King George the 3rd were still living, would he now regret over-taxing the American Colonies and triggering the massive tax rebellion which became the American Revolution? That in point of fact was actually the real beginning of the decline of British power across the world.

Just imagine a modern British Empire where the USA was still a part of the Commonwealth!?

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Old December 28th, 2012, 08:52 PM   #9

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Quote:
Originally Posted by astafjevs View Post
Very emotive 'Walpole' but the victory was hardly suicidal. We're still here, after all.

What was the alternative but to go to war with Nazi Germany at some point, if not 1939 then soon afterwards?
Exactly right. The day of reckoning was inevitable.

Stalin was after all more trustworthy than Hitler or Tojo or Mussolini.

Not much more. But more.
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Old December 28th, 2012, 08:54 PM   #10

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Originally Posted by Dragon View Post
After the fall of France Hitler gave Britain permission to exit the war. He hoped they would take the offer so he could focus on Russia but it didn't work. So Britain had the option to exit but they feared the Nazi state would survive if they did so. Maybe they were right.
Hitler would have eventually turned on Britian had Britian made an agreement, just like Hitler had turned on Stalin as well.

America was also doomed, because in Hitler's draft 2nd book, unpublished, he manifests his intent to pre-emptively attack the USA as well.

It was a brutal time in world history. We are lucky we ourselves have lived comparibly placid lives than our parents and grandparents who fought in those theatres of war.
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