The misunderstood great man — Neville Chamberlain's logic and wisdom in handling of Hitler's unbounded expansionism

Jul 2018
497
Hong Kong
Most of the critics focused on Chamberlain's mistake in pre-WW2 diplomacy, this time let us focus on Hitler's instead.

Episode 8 : Hitler’s greatest mistake in his lifetime

Half a year from early 1939 to the eve of the Second World War was the most critical period that decided the course of history. During that period, undoubtly Hitler grasped the initiative, yet he committed a blunder, thus utterly ruined his initial strategic advantage.

In general, people always attribute the cause of the Second World War to Hitler’s aggression for waging the expansive wars against other countries, but this was definitely not the truth. Yes, the Fuhrer hoped acquiring lebensraum by war. But his aim pointed to the Soviet Union, rather than Britain and France. According to his original plan, there would be no world war, only the Soviet-German war, the regional war in the Eastern Europe rather than the full-blown war involved with most of the European countries.

Hitler did not even plan to conquer Poland initially. Even in March 1939, when the German-Polish negotiation about Danzig and the Polish Corridor broke down, Hitler told his commander-in-chief Wilhelm Keitel that he did not plan to attack Poland. The Case White for the invasion of Poland was only instituted on 3rd April 1939. By this time, Poland had become impervious to reason due to the vague promise from France and Britain.

Hitler was astounded when the news that Britain had changed his diplomatic policy towards Germany reached him on 1st April — he even suspected was this a trick of the “Fool’s Day”, because Britain would absolutely have nothing to gain for the protection of Poland ! Moreover, technically the British aid won’t work, he neither had the army strong enough to threaten Germany in the Western Front, nor had capability to send reinforcement to Poland, the only workable solution was relying on the Soviet Red Army, but imaginably Stalin would use this perfect chance to “blackmail” Britain and bargain for a high price. Would Britain rather give the domination of Eastern Europe to USSR, than to Germany ? If that was so, then why Britain chose compromise in Munich ?

Therefore, the British new policy was absolutely ridiculous — not only technically it would not work, but logically the British have nothing to gain ! In the subsequent several months, Hitler’s diplomacy was focused on changing the British government’s mind, and ruining the British-Soviet alliance, then signed the Pact of Steel with Italy on 22nd May. The pact stipulated :

1. When any of the signatory states’ security or vital interest is threatened by the exterior power, another side will offer the political and diplomatic support.

2. If any side is involved in the war, another side will offer military support from ground, sea and air.

3. When both sides mutually participate the war, neither side will conduct a separate negotiation or peace with any of hostile countries.

4. Establish the permanent committee for strengthening the coordination between both sides.

Unquestionably, this alliance pact was aggressive, rather than defensive. Despite the German propaganda immediately boasted how frightening the alliance was, the German generals scornfully looked down on the value of the Italian army — whether in quality or armament, the Italian military force was too weak to offer any substantial aid to Germany, Hitler realized that very well. He merely intended to utilize this treaty for bluffing, rather than planned for against Britain and France.

Hitlerly genuiuely believed that the British would sober up once they realize that the British-Soviet alliance was unworkable, compounded with the gigantic pressure from the German-Italian alliance — if Britain insist for helping Poland fight against Germany, then her resource in the Meditterranean would be severely weakened, and would be certainly exploited by the ambitive Italy ; without the Soviet aid, it was totally impossible for the British Commonwealth to gather sufficient resource for two-front war which would exhaust immeasurable financial resource and manpower Britain could ill afford.

Hence, Hitler supposed that Britain would not be foolish enough to declare war to Germany. He thought that the British politicians should be smart and calm enough to realize what was beneficial and harmful to their home-empire. But unfortunately, he miscalculated….

So why would Britain still choose the pointless war against Germany at last !? Indeed, even in the very last moment, the British cabinet headed by Chamberlain still longed for some sort of compromise with Hitler. Following the British-Soviet negotiation fell apart, Chamberlain returned to the appeasement policy by exerting increasing pressure upon Poland for another attempt of directing the “new Munich Agreement”. However, his government was too fragile this time. Had he dared refuse to bear the military obligation for the protection of Poland, then the parliament would oust him from the government by the motion of no-confidence.

When the German army crossed the border to invade Poland, followed up by the British declaration of war to Germany, the British liberalist MPs jubilantly cheered : finally, the British could teach Hitler a lesson ! It is time to annihilate that repugnantly dictatorial Fascist regime once at all !

But Lord Halifax seemed had different perspective to Hitler’s regime. He said, “Nationalism and racism are the very powerful force, but I don’t regard him unnatural or unethical.” Such a comment was imbued with admiration.

From the perspective of liberalism, it was absolutely rational for Britain to conduct the total war against Hitler — Nazi Germany or Britain, they will never co-exist ! Otherwise, Hitler will eradicate all the liberal force in Europe and eventually menace the universal mankind’s humanitarianism, democracy and civilization. Hence, Nazi Germany must be destroyed ! Britain might lose the war, but it doesn’t matter, the United States of America will step in and support the anti-Fascist war ! Britain might lose the empire, but it doesn’t matter, we’re the liberalist, the “international citizen” unbounded by nation or race and exist for fighting against injustice and tyranny !

The cause of the Second World War was essentially the war of ideology, as Churchill remarked, the British primary goal was to “protect the liberty”. Hitler’s greatest mistake was strengthening the pressure upon Britain through open defiance in diplomacy. But it backfired and heavily weakened Chamberlain’s government in turn, enabling the liberalists agitate the “Nazi threat” with substantial arguments.

Unquestionably, if there’re no British liberalist hindered Chamberlain’s policy, the Second World War would not break out. But essentially, who greatly aggrandized their power ? We have to know that in AD 1938 the “appeasement faction” headed by Chamberlain was firmly controlling the government, the one who toppled that faction was Hitler himself. Chamberlain demanded little from Hitler, just like what the Anglo-German Joint Declaration wrote, Germany was merely obliged to “consult” with Britain and France for the issues related with the Eastern and the Central Europe, obeying the international law and thus rendering enough “face” to Britain.

But Hitler recklessly trampled the Munich Agreement, and became increasingly unscrupulous ; his act of recapturing the Memel region was extremely brutal — issuing ultimatum to Lithuania : either give Memel to me, or I shall resort to military conquest ! Again and again, Hitler violently “slapped” and “thumped” the British Empire’s prestige without the slightest regard of her “face”. Hence, the appeasement faction was quickly losing support domestically as his reputation was completely ruined while the liberal faction clamored even louder for “death to the Nazis” !

Hitler had gone too far, too extreme and too aggressive, leaving no space for convolution — he failed to understand what kind of difference in government nature and ideologies between the democratic British government and his Nazi Reich. The same could be applied to Chamberlain, though.

Then, how the conflict for Danzig inevitably triggered the great European war in the last stage ? Why was the war inevitable in AD 1939 ?

Next time ! Episode 9 : Danzig Crisis and the troublesome year of AD 1939
 
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Likes: Futurist
Jul 2018
497
Hong Kong
Episode 9 : Danzig Crisis and the troublesome year of AD 1939

In the next halves of AD 1939, the weather turned into the early autumn from midsummer. From the perspective of Hitler, those "evil Poles" were consuming his patience — he could not wait any longer since the October rainy season would descend soon, turning the ground into muddy quagmire which would seriously hinder the German motorized troops' movement. And once the autumn pass, the winter which was ill-suited for combat would descend. In short, the military operation must be carried out in September or earlier, otherwise the Poles could mock the Germans for another half a year to the next spring in AD 1940.

On top of that, the nationalism in both Germany and Poland was increasingly upsurging. The Warsaw government unrestrainedly connived at the Polish persecution of Germans in the Polish territories — there was a serial of six cases of Germans being brutally castrated by lynch. Their tragic experiences were propagated wide and spread within the German territories by Goebbels' propaganda departments with much exaggeration and additional make-up stories. By this time, both countries were no longer able to brake their momentum of driving towards stronger hatred and resentment each other. This was not what Hitler could constrain. He only had two choices : either the Poles submit and make concession in the Danzig Question, or risk the large-scale military operation. Otherwise, his prestige in Germany would suffer a crushing blow if those Poles were able to stall the confrontation to AD 1940 — the German would question the Fuhrer : what're you doing in the whole AD 1939 !? Why couldn't you even solve the trivial matter of Danzig ? Then they might seriously question Hitler's leadership and ability....

The German resolution to the Danzig Corridor Question was as below :

Danzig must return to Germany. This is out of question. But the Poles could retain their newly-built port of Gdynia nearby. The referendum would be held in the Polish Corridor, the ownership of the region would be decided by the result of that referendum. But whether the Corridor would be in the hands of Germans or Poles, both sides would have right to construct a railway and two motorways possessing extraterritoriality.

Truly be told, even for the modern standard, this resolution is pretty fair and reasonable. Because Danzig was never the Polish territory, it was ever the mandated territories of the League of Nations until being forcefully annexed by Poland. Hence, the city ought to be returned to Germany. And the Germans even allowed the Poles to retain Gdynia, displayed much benevolence in negotiation. Deciding the ownership of territories by votes was also the major method of solving territorial disputes since the First World War. For ensuring both sides' export trade would not be obstructed by another side, both sides would be allowed to build the railway and motorways attached with extraterritoriality no matter the Corridor belongs to which country — it was a reciprocal suggestion.

For all those nice terms, Britain and France expressed approval, yet Poland steadfastly declined and even refused to dispatch any plenipotentiary delegate for negotiation. In spite of this, Britain was unable to exert greater pressure upon Poland — the House of Commons' MPs would surely clamoring that Chamberlain was planning another "Munich Conspiracy" for appeasing Hitler.

Why Britain and Germany ultimately turned against each other ?

As times slowly passed, resort to military resolution became the only option of Hitler. On 23rd August 1939, the German Foreign Minister Ribbentrop flew to Moscow and concluded the German-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact, arranging and marking their "sphere of influence" in the Eastern Europe including Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland for the future partition of those countries' territories. Hitler was determined to wage a war by this time. He aspired for establishing the huge German Reich. He desired to be a great man achieving this imperial dream with military success. His alliance with the Soviet Union had sealed the fate of Poland.

He signed the attack order — the Case White would be commenced at 4:30 A.M. on 26th August, signify the beginning of the invasion of Poland. Yet three days earlier than the day of planned attack, on 23rd August, Chamberlain made a last desperate effort for stopping Hitler. He delivered a note and a personal letter to Hitler, told him that Britain would be resolute in fulfilling the Anglo-Polish Mutual Pact even with the signing of the German-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact. If Germany dare to attack Poland, Britain would surely declare war to Germany in response !

Receiving a British diplomatic note, Hitler was furious and told the British embassy : I don't scare war ! If Britain wish war, then come and get me !

But soon Hitler calmed down from thunderous rage and realized how foolhardy his expression was. He decided to make a last attempt to retrieve the Anglo-German relations. He summoned the British Embassy Henderson and displayed his utmost honesty — probably his most honest moment in diplomatic expression to foreign countries — he told Henderson that he was a WW1 veteran and surely understood how scary the war was, thus he really didn't want war, particularly the war with Britain. He'd rather be an artist than a politician ; however, he could not witness those hapless Germans which were regarded as second-rated citizens being persecuted in other countries. If Britain would stay neutral in the Polish affair, then Germany could reach an unprecedented agreement and establish the long-term alliance with Britain, both countries would fight side-by-side together, all he demanded was merely the takeover of Danzig and a railway and motorway with extraterritoriality accessed to that city.

Hitler adopted the unconventional tactic in diplomacy — he showed his intention so completely without preservation, in an attempt of moving Chamberlain and changing his mind. Few hours before the planned commencement of the Invasion of Poland on 26th August according to the Case White, Hitler ordered a halt in order to prolong the Anglo-German negotiation. Received Hitler's terms, Chamberlain's feeling was mixed — what a historic alliance could be ! The naval supremacy Great Britain and the overland hegemony German Empire could finally unite together. This would be an unprecedented diplomatic achievement ! He, his elder brother, his father, his entire family dedicated so much on the establishment of the Anglo-German relations, it could finally bear fruit by now....if Britain was not operating under the representative democracy — what Neville Chamberlain reined was an unstable coalition government which gave him no chance to "appease" Hitler further.

Chamberlain sighed....he probably thought : I really want to pluck this delicious peach from the blossoming tree, it looks so close, but too far from my reach. So grudgingly, he gave a solemn reply to Hitler, "I'm also unwilling to catalyze the war with Germany under any circumstance, but the British Majesty's government could not relinquish the obligation merely because of the other countries' offer of benefits. The British government would not abandon the Anglo-Polish Mutual Pact."

The Poles was as stubborn as the British in diplomatic stance, meant that there would be no compromise possible. The great European war was inevitable, even though Chamberlain and Hitler genuinely hoped for peace and devoted much of their effort on that goal.

Now I have finished the main storyline. In the next episode, I will conduct an in-depth analyze of Chamberlain and his family's background as the political elite, as the extra information for enabling our better comprehension of Chamberlain's decisions and thought in his experience and career.

Next time ! Extra Episode 1 : The birth and growth of Chamberlain in the British elite society
 
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Aug 2010
15,735
Welsh Marches
There may well be some true stuff mixed into such a work, I don't know about the particular alleged case, but making a quick search it seems to be mentioned only by revisionist authors.
 
Oct 2013
13,861
Europix
Not quite the incident in May but it all started with Eger.
There are more than that in May, in Eger, my Lord Oda. Not all demonstrations were repressed by Czechoslovakian government, not all agressions were Czechoslovakian police's doing.

It might be interesting to look into this too:

Mutige Warnung vor Nazis

(it's in German, but I looked at the G-translate version, ans it's totally readeble)
 
Jul 2018
497
Hong Kong
I actually found the evidence from the following forum. The thread host listed a number of Polish books as bibliography. (though I am unable to check the claim since I don't know Polish and certainly could not find any Polish book in the region I live) Let me show his article here anyway.

Source : https://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=1960

In the wake of the Versailler Vertrag, many Germans found themselves living in Polish territory and ruled by Poles. Poland was highly hostile to Germany and especially the German minority which found itself dislocated, something that spawned from even before W.W.I but would reach its peak after the first World War.

The first Polish atrocities against Germans took place during the what is called “dritten polnischen Aufstands” (the ‘third Polish uprise’) in Upper Silesia in May and June 1921. (1)

On the fifteenth of May 1927 an anti-German pogrom took place in Rybnik. (2)

Starting from April/May 1939 regularly assaults started taking place, the atrocities were no longer sporadic but the increasing hate-feelings of the Poles started to show. Several months before Germany invaded Poland, the news and radio services in Poland spread the message that; “daß im Kriegsfalle kein einheimischer Feind lebend entrinnen wird”. (3)

Translated:

In the case of war, no ethnical enemy (meaning the Germans living in Poland) will escape alive.”

Also before the outbreak of war, the Poles constructed two concentration camps where the German population was to be brought too after being arrested, and, if we listen to the Polish media, annihilated. One was situated at Polowanie, the other one at Niemcow. (4)

The outbreak of the war on 1.9.39 between Germany and Poland was to seal the fate for a lot of Germans. The hunt against them began immediately, as planned by the Polish authorities. The main centre of outbreak of these pogroms was the city of Bromberg, where German inhabitans were slaughtered like beasts. This day is known in German history as “Bromberger Blutsonntag” (5). Lodz, the Polish corridor and Ostpreußen were also the background of Polish deportations and atrocities.

Deportations started with lists of all German residents who were to be arrested and deported. These lists had been long prepared. Officially, the ground on which these people were arrested and deported concluded ‘espionage’ or ‘subversive activity’. The arrested civilians were brought to Eastern-Poland on foot-marches. Those, who could not follow, were struck dead. Of the 700 arrested Germans from Obornik, 231 were killed during the march (6). The perpetrators of these acts were Polish policemen and paramilitary youth-units.

The Ukrainian minority in Poland also suffered from these attacks by Poles. (7)

Poland now admits that these atrocities took place, and the government has come up with the number of 3.841 casualties. German sources, however, established a total of 5.490 deaths and missing people, with hints that the total number is likely to be over 6.000. (8)

=========================

1. “Die Geschichte der polnischen Nation 1918-1978”, Hans Roos, p. 180.
2. Alfred Bohmann, “Menschen und Grenzen”, p. 38.
3. Peter Aurich, “Der deutsch-polnische September 1939”, p. 48, Theodor Bierschenk, “Die deutsche Volksgruppe in Polen 1934-1939” p. 319
4. Zayas, Alfred M. de/Rabus, Walter: “Die Wehrmacht-Untersuchungsstelle” p. 249
5. Mühlfenzl, Rudolf, “Geflohen und vertrieben”, p. 36
6. Nawratil, Heinz, “Schwarzbuch der Vertreibung 1945-1948”, p. 43-52
7. Ibid. op. cit.: de Zayas
8. Zayas/Rabus, p. 244 (an estimated 4000-5000 casualties) op.cit.: Wehrmacht-Untersuchungsstelle + Schubert, Günter: ‘Das Unternehmen "Bromberger Blutsonntag" ‘, p. 199.


=========================

Obviously, violence, racism and discrimination were not the patent of Nazi Germany. The only difference was the latter make them much horrifying with magnitude in scale.
 
Jan 2015
5,427
Ontario, Canada
I think you may find that it comes from this wartime propaganda compilation:

http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/NHC...es.Against.German.Minority.in.Poland.1940.pdf
There may well be some true stuff mixed into such a work, I don't know about the particular alleged case, but making a quick search it seems to be mentioned only by revisionist authors.
The Germans took existing claims and exaggerated them. It did in fact happen. Now assuming we don't have direct evidence we could still infer by other state documents which mentioned these incidents. I think there is an incorrect perception of what constitutes Propaganda. Propaganda is just control of the narrative, it can be true or false, but what matters is the propagation of that narrative. In the case of Poland the Germans took casualty figures and increased them while also inserting some made up incidents.

There were multiple incidents which culminated in events like Bloody Sunday and partisan warfare. The actual German death toll would be something like 3,000 to 6,000 total if I had to guess. The death toll of 50,000 Germans is grossly exaggerated.
 

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