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

rvsakhadeo

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Sep 2012
8,924
India
#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
3,668
Dispargum
#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
3,668
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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

Ad Honorem
Aug 2011
5,032
#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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Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
16,874
SoCal
#26
Isn’t there a view that his position within Germany would have been at the least drastically weakened if he had been forced to back down?
Unlikely. Nazi rule over German society appears to have been very solid and secure by 1938 and even by 1936.

The only realistic threat to Nazi rule would have been from the German generals, and they would have probably been unlikely to risk their lives in an attempt to overthrow Hitler over a mere humiliation. If Germany was on the brink of a major defeat in a Great War, then their calculations would have been different, but not if Hitler had been humiliated and backed down--with war being averted for that moment.
 

Futurist

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May 2014
16,874
SoCal
#27
Had Britain, France, and the Soviet Union managed to form an anti-Nazi alliance in either 1938 or 1939, then it's very possible that Hitler would have backed down. Without the Soviets, though, things might have been harder. After all, Britain's and France's declarations of war on Nazi Germany in September 1939 didn't cause Hitler to back down--nor did they trigger an anti-Nazi coup within Germany.

From Franz von Papen's memoirs (pages 445-446):

https://archive.org/stream/in.ernet...5576.Franz-Von-Papen-Memoirs-Part1-5_djvu.txt

"The errors of psychology at this time were not entirely on
Hitler’s side. The British guarantee could only have acted as a
deterrent if the help that it promised could have been provided
effectively. The war was to show that it was no more than a paper
promise. It would only have been valid if Mr Chamberlain had
succeeded in persuading the Soviet Union to underwrite the
guarantee, even at the expense of permitting some revision of her
frontier with Poland. Hitler would not have attacked Poland if he
had been faced by a war on two fronts. But the fact that Great
Britain made the guarantee to Poland while her negotiations with
Russia were still deadlocked, revived in Russia the old fear of a
cordon sanitaire and drove Stalin into Hitler’s arms."
 
Jan 2017
1,184
Durham
#28
I’m reading Andrew Roberts’ biography of Churchill and I’m up to the chapters covering the UK's appeasement of Germany, and aside from the obvious frustration and shock one feels when reading about it, I was interested by one part, which reads:


To people that are more knowledgable in World War II than I am, would this be an accurate statement of his? Could Hitler truly have been pressured by a joint Anglo-French coalition into backing down by the threat of war, or was it already too late at this point?
Hitler and associates would not have backed down. They may have stepped back and tempered their ambitions in the immediate but it would have been for the shortest of timeframes. The whole point of the Nazi Party was conquest, and they had ploughed so much money into armaments that they simply couldn't have it lying around earning no return on that investment.
 
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Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
16,874
SoCal
#29
Hitler and associates would not have backed down. They may have stepped back and tempered their ambitions in the immediate but it would have been for the shortest of timeframes. The whole point of the Nazi Party was conquest, and they had ploughed so much money into armaments that they simply couldn't have it lying around earning no return on that investment.
Where could they expand without war, though? Britain had guarantees to Poland, Romania, Greece, and Turkey, correct? Thus, the only realistic Nazi conquests that could perhaps have been done without war are the Baltic countries and Yugoslavia--and Italy wanted the latter for itself.
 
Mar 2016
923
Australia
#30
Where could they expand without war, though? Britain had guarantees to Poland, Romania, Greece, and Turkey, correct? Thus, the only realistic Nazi conquests that could perhaps have been done without war are the Baltic countries and Yugoslavia--and Italy wanted the latter for itself.
Any attempt to annex the Baltic countries would have caused war with the Soviets, so I doubt the Germans would have done that just for the sake of three relatively small and irrelevant countries.