Why didn't Britain and France demand unconditional surrender from Germany in 1939-1940?

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
18,743
SoCal
#1
Why didn't Britain and France demand unconditional surrender from Germany in 1939-1940? Was it because they were hoping for a compromise peace and feared that a demand for unconditional surrender would discourage anti-Nazis within the German military from launching a coup against Hitler and the Nazis? Or was there another reason for this?
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
18,743
SoCal
#3
If they didn't have that kind of ability and wouldn't have had that kind of ability, though, wouldn't that have fared rather poorly on their chances of achieving their war aims? After all, even if Hitler and the Nazis are overthrown, the new German government might be disinclined to return to Germany's August 1939 borders in the east unless it is actually forced to do so by Britain and France.
 
Jun 2017
2,881
Connecticut
#4
Why didn't Britain and France demand unconditional surrender from Germany in 1939-1940? Was it because they were hoping for a compromise peace and feared that a demand for unconditional surrender would discourage anti-Nazis within the German military from launching a coup against Hitler and the Nazis? Or was there another reason for this?
That was not the ordinary product of wars between great powers at the time. Even when one is winning, when one is losing.......even more so. Every peace between great powers for centuries had been a compromise peace(1814/1815 is a semi exception), Versailles and Trianon had been about as harsh as could be and those weren't unconditional so think at the time would expect some sort of negotiated peace. The UK and France had no ability to compel said surrender in 1939 regardless. When the Allies made that declaration later on it was done at a time when they knew they were going to be able to likely follow through on it(and not a second sooner).

I think WWII and the ending has caused a funadmental misunderstanding of wars among the modern public, since that is the most recent major war. For example there was this guy I was arguing with a few years back who insisted if Germany won in France they'd be able to compel the UK to give back all their stuff and would magically gain the power to attack the UK cause the coalition winning equals the power to demand anything one wants and to receive it even if they if don't have that ability against each partner. That's not how things work to demand things you have to have the ability to force them to do them, in 1918 and 1919 the Russians and Germans agreed to the conditions they agreed to because they didn't have a choice and those were settlements not surrenders.

The Allies would have reached some sort of deal that would have made both sides save face for ending the war. Who knows the would be conditions?
 
Mar 2019
1,255
Kansas
#5
That was not the ordinary product of wars between great powers at the time. Even when one is winning, when one is losing.......even more so. Every peace between great powers for centuries had been a compromise peace(1814/1815 is a semi exception), Versailles and Trianon had been about as harsh as could be and those weren't unconditional so think at the time would expect some sort of negotiated peace. The UK and France had no ability to compel said surrender in 1939 regardless. When the Allies made that declaration later on it was done at a time when they knew they were going to be able to likely follow through on it(and not a second sooner).
And I think Stalin had some say in that. He was never one to let a grudge go by, no matter how much time had passed. The US were probably equally fed up, this was the second time they had been invited to play and basically refight the last war
 
Jun 2017
2,881
Connecticut
#6
And I think Stalin had some say in that. He was never one to let a grudge go by, no matter how much time had passed. The US were probably equally fed up, this was the second time they had been invited to play and basically refight the last war
To be fair evil person he might have been, this is one grudge where it's pretty hard to blame him for that mentality. Also think it was about establishing a world order, normally war aims were considerably more conservative than that.
 

redcoat

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
7,726
Stockport Cheshire UK
#8
Why didn't Britain and France demand unconditional surrender from Germany in 1939-1940? Was it because they were hoping for a compromise peace and feared that a demand for unconditional surrender would discourage anti-Nazis within the German military from launching a coup against Hitler and the Nazis? Or was there another reason for this?
They were hoping that their economic blockade and defensive posture would lead to unrest in Germany and the overthrow of the Nazis regime, so demands for an unconditional surrender would be folly.
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
18,743
SoCal
#9
They were hoping that their economic blockade and defensive posture would lead to unrest in Germany and the overthrow of the Nazis regime, so demands for an unconditional surrender would be folly.
Wouldn't the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and the resulting Nazi-Soviet trade have been enough for Germany to weather the storm of the British blockade, though?
 
Likes: andyferdinard

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
18,743
SoCal
#10
That was not the ordinary product of wars between great powers at the time. Even when one is winning, when one is losing.......even more so. Every peace between great powers for centuries had been a compromise peace(1814/1815 is a semi exception), Versailles and Trianon had been about as harsh as could be and those weren't unconditional so think at the time would expect some sort of negotiated peace. The UK and France had no ability to compel said surrender in 1939 regardless. When the Allies made that declaration later on it was done at a time when they knew they were going to be able to likely follow through on it(and not a second sooner).

I think WWII and the ending has caused a funadmental misunderstanding of wars among the modern public, since that is the most recent major war. For example there was this guy I was arguing with a few years back who insisted if Germany won in France they'd be able to compel the UK to give back all their stuff and would magically gain the power to attack the UK cause the coalition winning equals the power to demand anything one wants and to receive it even if they if don't have that ability against each partner. That's not how things work to demand things you have to have the ability to force them to do them, in 1918 and 1919 the Russians and Germans agreed to the conditions they agreed to because they didn't have a choice and those were settlements not surrenders.
Good points.

The Allies would have reached some sort of deal that would have made both sides save face for ending the war. Who knows the would be conditions?
The problem is, though, that even Weimar German politicians such as Gustav Stresemann hated the Polish Corridor (and the settlement in Upper Silesia as well). Thus, I don't think that any post-Nazi German leadership would have been willing to give up Danzig, the Polish Corridor, and perhaps eastern Upper Silesia as well unless it was clearly forced to do so by the Anglo-French at the point of a gun. Permanently giving up on a goal of German foreign policy of over 20 years isn't exactly easy to do--especially if a significant part of the country (Germany) will already view you as traitors for overthrowing Hitler and the Nazis.