80th Anniversary of the Beginning of World War Two

Valens

Ad Honorem
Feb 2014
8,303
Colonia Valensiana
#1
Yesterday marked the 80th anniversary of the beginning of World War Two in Europe, which began on September 1st, 1939, with Germany's attack on Poland. Only days later Britain and France declared war on Germany, honouring their obligations to Poland. As the evidence points out, Hitler and the leadership of the Third Reich believed Western powers have no stomach for a fight, encouraged by Britain and France's lukewarm response to Hitler's actions in Czechoslovakia and the Rhineland. The British policy of appeasement had convinced Hitler he could get away with attacking Poland (despite previous signals from Britain it would not stand by if Germany invades the country). Hitler's attitude towards Britain was best summarized in his dismissive attitude towards Chamberlain following the Munich Peace Conference. Hitler felt cheated by the British PM's peace initiative, for he had already resolved by that time to deal with the Czechs with force. However, as in the case of the remilitarization of the Rhineland in 1936, Hitler's intention to provoke Western powers over the question of Sudetenland was met with resistance and concern in the German high command. Top ranking German officers were worried that Germany was not prepared for the war against Britain and France and that Hitler's policy was leading towards a disaster. As British historian Ian Kershaw writes in his acclaimed biography of Hitler:

Hitler was scornful, too, of his generals after Munich. Their opposition to his plans had infuriated him all summer. How he would have reacted had he been aware that no less a person than his new Chief of Staff, General Halder, had been involved in plans for a coup d’état in the event of war over Czechoslovakia can be left to the imagination. Whether the schemes of the ill-coordinated groups involved in the nascent conspiracy would actually have come to anything is an open question. But with the Munich Agreement, the chance was irredeemably gone. Chamberlain returned home to a hero’s welcome. But for German opponents of the Nazi regime, who had hoped to used Hitler’s military adventurism as the weapon of his own deposition and destruction, Chamberlain was anything but the hero of the hour. ‘Chamberlain saved Hitler,’ was how they bitterly regarded the appeasement diplomacy of the western powers.
Hitler, Kershaw, XIV, V

Talk of a military coup against Hitler existed during the Rhineland crisis, with the general being fearful of potential British reaction, but clearly, that time, as during the Munich crisis later, their fears proved unfounded.

Kershaw makes it clear British appeasement policy strengthened Hitler's hold over Germany, increased his popularity, as he was now viewed as a hero by the Germans, a man who, without the drop of blood achieved the long-sought reclamation of Germany's status in Europe and the return of territories considered German by the majority of the populace at that time.

Hitler’s own popularity and prestige reached new heights after Munich. He returned to another triumphant welcome in Berlin. But he was well aware that the elemental tide of euphoria reflected the relief that peace had been preserved. The ‘homecoming’ of the Sudeten Germans was of only secondary importance. He was being fêted not as the ‘first soldier of the Reich’, but as the saviour of the peace he had not wanted. At the critical hour, the German people, in his eyes, had lacked enthusiasm for war.
Hitler, Kershaw, XIV, V

The legacy of Munich was fatally to weaken those who might even now have constrained Hitler. Any potential limits – external and internal – on his freedom of action instead disappeared. Hitler’s drive to war was unabated. And next time he was determined he would not be blocked by last-minute diplomatic manoeuvres of the western powers, whose weakness he had seen with his own eyes at Munich.
Hitler, Kershaw, XIV, V

No subsequent war Hitler unleashed had met with any significant resistance from the German military. His campaign against France was not met by resistance, nor, most importantly, was his decision to attack the USSR, and his enthusiasm about a swift and crushing military blow against the Soviets was shared by almost all of his generals. Hitler's frequents disagreements and the long-standing rift between him and the military HQ did not alter the bigger picture: German military had tied its fate with the Hitler regime, despite the opposition of some high ranking officers like Henning von Tresckow, who was one of the principal planners of the 20th July plot which was the last-ditch attempt by some circles in the military to remove Hitler and try to negotiate some kind of a peace with the Allies, or at least, the Western allies.

Back to the outbreak of the war and what I wrote in the beginning, Hitler believed the war with Poland could be localized, and the German government hinted that it was prepared to discuss peace with Britain repeatedly. Hitler offered peace to Britain in his speech to the Reichstag on October 6th but by that time, both sides knew there was no going back. Even though Hitler would entertain the prospects of a separate peace with Britain on many occasions (many people in his inner circle talked about this possibility) his gamble over Poland proved to be one of the significant aspects of his undoing.
 

Shtajerc

Ad Honorem
Jul 2014
6,743
Lower Styria, Slovenia
#2
September 1st is also when primary and high school starts in Slovenia each year, unless it falls on a weekend. Truly a day of evil.
 
Likes: delta1

Valens

Ad Honorem
Feb 2014
8,303
Colonia Valensiana
#3
A part of Hitler's address on September 1st, 1939:

I am determined to solve (1) the Danzig question; (2) the question of the Corridor; and (3) to see to it that a change is made in the relationship between Germany and Poland that shall ensure a peaceful co-existence. In this I am resolved to continue to fight until either the present Polish government is willing to continue to bring about this change or until another Polish Government is ready to do so. I am resolved t remove from the German frontiers the element of uncertainty, the everlasting atmosphere of conditions resembling civil war. I will see to it that in the East there is, on the frontier, a peace precisely similar to that on our other frontiers.

In this I will take the necessary measures to see that they do not contradict the proposals I have already made known in the Reichstag itself to the rest of the world, that is to say, I will not war against women and children. I have ordered my air force to restrict itself to attacks on military objectives. If, however, the enemy thinks he can form that draw carte blanche on his side to fight by the other methods he will receive an answer that will deprive him of hearing and sight.

This night for the first time Polish regular soldiers fired on our territory. Since 5.45 A.M. we have been returning the fire, and from now on bombs will be met by bombs. Whoever fight with poison gas will be fought with poison gas. Whoever departs from the rules of humane warfare can only expect that we shall do the same. I will continue this struggle, no matter against whom, until the safety of the Reich and its rights are secured.

Address by Adolf Hitler - September 1, 1939
 
Likes: Kubis Gabcik
May 2017
1,128
France
#4
The war became really "world war two " in 1941,when Germany attacked USSR and Japan USA.In 1939,France and UK bombed Germany with papers... Germany and Italy were in war in Spain since 1936,and Japan in China since 1931.They used weapons and not mass of papers.
 

Maki

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
3,412
Republika Srpska
#6
You mean the beginning of World War Two in Europe.
Well, it only became a WORLD War when Germany attacked Poland prompting UK and France to declare war. The Second Sino-Japanese War was not a WORLD War, it only became part of one when Japan attacked the US, the British and the Dutch.
 
Likes: Futurist

Maki

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
3,412
Republika Srpska
#9
No,the war became really "worldly" en 1941.
I don't agree. Even before Barbarossa and Pearl Harbor the war had:
1. soldiers fighting from all continents, mostly due to the colonial empires that recruited troops from their colonies.
2. fighting spread to much of the world, of course there was fighting in Europe, but also in Asia, Africa, off the coast of South America, on the seas.
 

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