What was the last point where Hitler could realistically have been pressured into backing down?

rvsakhadeo

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Sep 2012
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#21
I agree with your first paragraph, but I'm pretty sure Hitler didn't want to go to war with Britain and France in 1939. He attacked Poland believing that Britain and France would stand down after issuing their protests, just like they hadn't acted over the German invasion of the Czech rump state. As far as Hitler was concerned a big war was inevitable, but he and his allies needed a few more years to prepare for it.
In fact, Hitler was surprised when the British ambassador presented Britain's ultimatum on Poland to the German Govt. He had not expected that Britain would be ready to go to war on the Polish question. He asked Ribbentrop in a savage manner ' What now? ', as if Ribbentrop was at fault for the British ultimatum.
 
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Chlodio

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Aug 2016
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#22
... I'm pretty sure Hitler didn't want to go to war with Britain and France in 1939. He attacked Poland believing that Britain and France would stand down after issuing their protests, just like they hadn't acted over the German invasion of the Czech rump state. As far as Hitler was concerned a big war was inevitable, but he and his allies needed a few more years to prepare for it.
This is a gray area. The safest conclusion from the evidence is that Hitler hoped Britain and France would back down over Poland, but he gave serious consideration to the possibility that they would not. My interpretation is that Hitler expected war with Britain and France over Poland and would have been pleasantly surprised if it did not happen.

August 22, 1939 - Germany and USSR sign Non-Aggression Pact. Even before the Pact is announced Hitler told his generals:
"We must be determined from the beginning to fight the Western Powers... The conflict with Poland was bound to come sooner or later. I had already made this decision in the spring, but I thought I would first turn against the West and only afterwards the East... We need not be afraid of a blockade. The East will supply us with grain, cattle, coal... I am only afraid that at the last minute some Schweinhund will make a proposal for mediation... The political aim is set further. A beginning has been made for the destruction of England's hegemony."

August 23 - Britain gives unconditional guarantee to Poland, Hitler delays attack on Poland originally scheduled for August 25. At Nuremburg Goering testified the delay was to give Hitler a chance to negate British intervention. Hitler failed to neutralize Britain but went ahead with the Polish invasion anyway.

August 24 - Chamberlain writes a personal letter to Hitler explaining British resolve over Poland. Hitler's reply suggests he does not care. In his reply Hitler accused Chamberlain of encouraging Polish terrorism against the German population living in Poland.

August 25 - Britain announces a formal treaty with Poland.
Hitler tells French ambassador he does not want war with France. French ambassador says France will fight over Poland but will work for peace up until any German attack on Poland. Hitler replies, 'I believe you but the moderates in the French government are no longer in control of the situation.' www.ibiblio.org/pha/fyb/part_6b.html#242

August 26 - Hitler tells British ambassador he will consider peace proposals if Germany will eventually have her former colonies restored. British ambassador replies that he must have an assurance of peace to which Hitler replied "I can not give it and would prefer my proposals not be passed on." Mr. Chamberlain's Message and Herr Hitler's Reply (August 23-26)

Communication between Hitler and Mussolini in the last week of August 1939 was along the lines of: 'I [Mussolini] can support you [Hitler] diplomatically and economically but not militarily. You have previously assured me that war would not come until 1942 so that is where my planning was oriented to. I am not yet ready for war.' Hitler's response was 'I know what I said earlier about 1942, but the situation has changed and war is coming now.'

August 27 - The scheinhund that Hitler mentioned above must have been Mussolini, because Hitler ignored Mussolini's attempts to negotiate a settlement over Poland.

August 31 - Fuhrer Directive No. 1: Führer Directive 1
which devotes three times as many words addressing the possibility of war with Britain and France as it does on war with Poland.
 
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Chlodio

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Aug 2016
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#23
In fact, Hitler was surprised when the British ambassador presented Britain's ultimatum on Poland to the German Govt. He had not expected that Britain would be ready to go to war on the Polish question. He asked Ribbentrop in a savage manner ' What now? ', as if Ribbentrop was at fault for the British ultimatum.
This was a week before the attack on Poland. Even after thinking for a week about the possibility of British intervention, Hitler still decided to invade Poland.
 

authun

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Aug 2011
4,950
#25
This was a week before the attack on Poland. Even after thinking for a week about the possibility of British intervention, Hitler still decided to invade Poland.
You are thinking of the british Ambassador to Berlin, Sir Nevile Henderson's conversation with Baron von Weizsaecker, the Reich Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs on the 19th August in which he stressed the determination of Britain and France to fulfil their guarantees of help to Poland in the event of aggression. The british ambassador to Poland, Sir Howard William Kennard, was very unhappy about this because he had been hoping that Poland would accede to german demands. He thought the polish government was strengthened by Henderson's remarks and thereby war was more likely. The Ultimatum Letter was on the 3rd Sept after Germany invaded on the 1st Sept. But, you are correct to say that Hitler invaded despite having been notified as to what the response would be.
 
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