First of all I should acknowledge that the information here (unless indicated otherwise) has been kindly provided to me by among others Igor Witkowski of Polish Military Intelligence, Luciana Fassati the last person to have known Reinhard Heydrich the most feared of Hitler’s paladins, but foremost the surviving staff of the British Embassy in pre-war Berlin; Charles Elwell, Robin and Iona Carnegie, Daphne Lamb and Gordon Etheridge Smith.
Where Stalin's endorsement of the Nazi-Soviet Pact, guaranteeing war between Britain, France and Germany, another factor was Roosevelt pressing Britain to take a hard line over Poland yet giving worthless guarantees to the Poles. Churchill in turn actively supported Roosevelt’s re-election. Both leaders wanted the war against Germany to continue after the fall of France in June 1940, Churchill and Roosevelt ignored opportunities to end the war, for example by avoiding negotiating with anti-Hitler groups within Germany. For his part, Churchill fooled Roosevelt, his opponents in Parliament and the British people into believing in a non-existent invasion threat, to maintain American aid and prevent his opponents pressing for peace talks. In return for Roosevelt's support, Churchill effectively lent him British intelligence, which then mounted operations to discredit, undermine and neutralize Roosevelt's political opponents in the US, and to secure his re-election for a third term. The result was that British intelligence hijacked the 1940 US Presidential elections and created 'straw man' candidate Wendell Willkie. British intelligence also supplied fake `Nazi documents' that Roosevelt used to further his own political ends.
The Nazis and the USSR agreed on the final partitioning of Poland, pledging to `tolerate in their territories no Polish agitation which affects the territories of the other party' and that they would “suppress in their territories all beginnings of such agitation and inform each other concerning suitable measures for this purpose"- i.e. no anti-Nazi activity in the Soviet zone or anti-Communist activity in the Nazi zone. Effectively, Polish Communists in the Soviet sector were silenced about the Nazi rule of the other sector, under pain of internment or worse. The `communisation' of Soviet-controlled Poland was announced by the secretary of the Ukrainian Communist Party, Nikita Khrushchev. To humour Stalin's paranoia, this first entailed executing the entire leadership of the Polish Communist Party - plus some 50,000 Polish refugees in the Soviet zone. The Russians also handed over to the Gestapo 600 German Communists who had fled to the USSR to escape Nazi persecution.
When the Russians invaded Poland, they took 180,000 prisoners of war, deporting ordinary soldiers to Soviet gulags. Officers, together with officials such as policemen - 15,000 in all - went to three special camps in the western Soviet Union, and in spring 1940 were transported to an unknown destination, after which they simply disappeared. In 1943, after the Nazi invasion, the bodies of 4,400 of these people were discovered in mass graves in Katyfi Forest near Smolensk, shot in the back of the head (NKVD style). The Russian government only admitted in 1990 that the NKVD had been responsible, giving locations of two other mass graves where inmates of the other two camps were buried. Stalin had ordered the massacre (The Oxford Companion to the Second World War, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1995, P.646).
In the spring of 1939, Roosevelt had asked Congress to repeal the Neutrality Act, but was rebuffed. In June, he had persuaded them to modify the arms embargo, allowing weapons and equipment to be supplied to `non-aggressors', and then only on a `cash-and-carry' basis - i.e. immediate payment and they picked up the goods themselves. But as Britain and France were technically the aggressors, having declared war, the embargo stood.
In the last days of peace, Roosevelt informed his Cabinet that if war came, he would delay applying the embargo. He asked the State and Justice Departments to prepare the paperwork at a snail's pace, while encouraging all American arms manufacturers to get as much as they could aboard ships or over the border into Canada before he signed the papers. In the event, he managed to delay only until September: after that, the shipment of British and French ordersworth $79 million in the pipeline ground to a halt. Although disastrous for them, it was also a massive blow for the USA; the embargo ensured that “American munitions factories fell idle” (Warren F. Kimball Forged in War: Churchill, Roosevelt and the Second World War, HarperCollins, London, 1997p.35).
Having pushed Britain and France into war with his promises, on 20 September Roosevelt petitioned Congress again to repeal the Neutrality Act - his speech, in the words of American historian Willard Range, `impregnated with subterfuge, never once admitting that his real objective was to aid England and France'." He argued that the embargo was `most vitally dangerous to American neutrality, American security, and, above all, American peace'." His other major card was that it was in America's financial interests to supply Britain and France."' With the backing of Congress, FDR signed the repeal on 4 November, although it applied only to Britain and France, and then only on cash-and-carry terms. But as the French historian Henri Michel writes: `It was a first infringement of neutrality and acceptable because it kept business turning over; but it was stripping the Allies of their gold reserves
Roosevelt made it clear through private intermediaries that aid would only be forthcoming if the British government took a tough line with Hitler: any further attempts at appeasement would jeopardize assistance. Halifax favored peace negotiations: therefore only Churchill could bring American support to the table.
Curiously, just a week after war broke out, during a discussion on the neutrality of Egypt - if it remained neutral it could be used as a `back door' for American supplies - Churchill confidently declared, `we certainly have no need to keep her neutral for the purpose of war purchases from the United States who will very soon give us all we want direct. But how could he be so sure, when at that stage there was no certainty that Congress would repeal the embargo?
In his biography of Joseph Kennedy, The Founding Father (1965), Richard J. Whalen writes that, despite his clash with Roosevelt over war policy, in 1940 the Ambassador served as an accomplice in maneuvers designed to deceive the American people as to the ramifications of Roosevelt's foreign policy. The maneuvers concerned the repercussions following the arrest of a junior American Embassy official in London, Tyler Gatewood Kent, on 20 May 1940.
Robert Shogan argues that the Kent affair was shrouded in secrecy specifically to protect Roosevelt and his secret negotiations with Churchill. Of course, while still expressing `non-interventionist' views in public and promising to keep America out of the war, Roosevelt's day-to-day communication with the British leader (even when First Lord of the Admiralty) would have been suspicious enough. Also, discussing ways of arming Britain that went beyond what was allowed by the latest version of the Neutrality Act would have been a gift to his opponents in an election year.
From late 1942, William J. Donovan’s Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and also British secret services in Asia were increasingly preoccupied, not with the war against Japan, but with mutual competition to safeguard or advance national interests in the fluid situation created in Asia after Japan’s dramatic southward expansion of December 1941. As Aldrich points out, many of the OSS officers in Asia were recruited from companies such as Texaco and Westinghouse, and so ‘required little encouragement to gather economic and commercial intelligence’ on America’s Allies.’ On the other hand, the British mostly wanted to curb the Americans, so that Britain would be at least restored to its pre-war position after Japan’s defeat.
In a Foreign Office briefing in March 1943, M16’s Pacific expert Lieutenant Colonel Gerald Wilkinson warned, ‘Wall Street imperialists were causing America to look far more interestedly already at these Eastern prospects than ourselves? Wilkinson was duly transferred to BSC in Washington, officially as Asia liaison with OSS, but also to spy upon the ‘Wall Street imperialists’. He complained that while the British had yet to realize Asia’s huge commercial potential, the Americans were already considering how best to exploit it.
The expansion of covert operations from 1942 led to a series of conferences between SOE and OSS to work out ‘turf agreements’: who would be in charge where. It was agreed that India was British ‘turf’ , the OSS could only operate there with their permission , while China, Korea and Manchuria were the American (Significantly for the British, this put Hong Kong on American turf.) But soon they were flagrantly encroaching on each other’s areas.
The US government was eager to establish American oil companies all over the Middle East, especially as Britain had tried for so long to keep them out. Because Britain more or less had the monopoly of Iran and Iraq’s oil supplies, the Americans turned their attention to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, continuing to negotiate concessions throughout the war.
When General William Donovan of the OSS began planning post-war espionage in the former colonies, the first territory he turned to was Saudi Arabia. He proposed that the team should pose as an archaeological mission, under the distinguished Harvard anthropologist Carleton S. Coon, a wartime OSS agent. After a few months touring the area to assess American intelligence’s military and commercial requirements, Coon recommended that the operation be extended to cover the whole of the Muslim world — what he called the ‘Islam show’ - and that a separate and self-contained operation, independent of OSS, should oversee it.
On April 5, 1944 Hitler was shown the complete five volumes of Wilhelm Canaris' diaries detailing the letters consistent attempts since 1938 to come to a understanding with London. And a few days later Canaris was hanged together with Karl Bonhoeffer and several others involved in the Claus von Stauffenberg plan.
But not only Canaris, by the summer of 1942-if not before, in December 1941, when the United States entered the War-as Jacob Wallenberg was to explain to the American secret service, Himmler himself was convinced that Germany would lose, and so he had begun searching for ways to ingratiate himself with the Western Allies, using the SS and the Nazi Party security apparatus as bargaining chips in an unrealistic scenario in which Germany, governed by him in alliance with the Western Powers.
However already earlier on 15 January 1944, Churchill wrote to the War Cabinet:
The expression “Unconditional Surrender” was used by the President at Casablanca without previous consultation but I thought it right to endorse what he said, and it may be that at that period of the war the declaration was appropriate to the circumstances.
Prolonging the war by demanding unconditional surrender was exactly what Roosevelt wanted — as it meant that the war would end with America in the position he wanted, and not before. The demand removed any incentive for the Nazis or Japanese to seek terms, and also Hitler and his henchmen knew that they had no option but to fight to the finish, taking millions with them into the apocalypse. More importantly, since the Allies refused to negotiate under any circumstances — or with any government — it was a massive disincentive to the anti-Hitler groups to risk a coup, Canaris calling it a “calamitous mistake”. This is detailed in the recent book by Richard Basset, “Hitler’s Spy Chief” February 25, 2005.
The other major question that divided Roosevelt and Churchill was the Fighting French’s role in the Alliance, particularly in the liberation of France. FDR thought that the liberation should be left to the Americans and British, which hardly endeared him to De Gaulle. Although Churchill fully understood de Gaulle’s fierce desire to lead the liberation of his homeland, for the sake of the wider picture once again he acquiesced to Roosevelt.
De Gaulle, who knew nothing about the so called Casablanca conference, received an invitation from Churchill on the third day, promising that if he flew to Morocco, he (Churchill) would arrange the meeting with Giraud. Deeply offended by this flagrant foreign interference, de Gaulle refused to go. Churchill pointed out that the invitation also came from the President of the United States, adding that a refusal to attend might jeopardize de Gaulle’s position as leader of the French National Committee. Although de Gaulle again refused, the Committee in London insisted he went.
This was de Gaulle’s first meeting with Roosevelt. The President was taken aback but privately amused when de Gaulle announced solemnly, ‘I am the Joan of Arc of today’. In turn, De Gaulle saw the President as manipulative and devious, writing,’ it was difficult to contradict this artist, this seducer.
De Gaulle was particularly incensed when he discovered that when Roosevelt had outlined his ‘world policemen’ idea to Molotov, he had stated that because the ‘Big Four’ (USA, UK, USSR and China) would have a monopoly on military power in the post-war world, France would not even be allowed to have an army.
But while Churchill turned against de Gaulle to placate Roosevelt, with the exception of Anthony Eden the rest of the Cabinet continued to support him. The ‘Giraud-versus-de Gaulle’ tussle was already threatening the Alliance, particularly because of its implications for the coming liberation of France. There was a fundamental difference in Churchill’s and Roosevelt’s antagonism towards de Gaulle: the Prime Minister respected France as a great nation but considered the man a complete pain, while Roosevelt detested both man and country. But their personal dashes boiled down to important questions such as whether France would have a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.
In November 1943, at Cairo, angered that de Gaulle was openly declaring that he would appoint France’s new government, Roosevelt had written to Cordell Hull, ‘The thought that the occupation, when it comes, should be wholly military is one to which I am increasingly inclined?" He declared that until France had ‘recovered its balance’ the country would be run regionally — effectively making Eisenhower the government.
Although Churchill told Eden he was opposed to giving the French Committee civil authority in liberated France, as D-Day approached, practicalities — and the usual Cabinet pressure — made it obvious that ignoring de Gaulle and his Committee was a bad idea. Just three days before Overlord, Churchill invited de Gaulle to join him in the special railway train he used as his mobile headquarters, where he finally briefed him on the operation on 4 June. When the Prime Minister repeatedly attempted to raise post-liberation French administration, de Gaulle refused even to consider it — it was France’s business. He always replied: ‘C’est Ia guerre, faites-la, on verra apris? (‘This is war, let’s get on with it, we will see afterwards."
At a meeting with Churchill and de Gaulle, Eisenhower announced that when the invasion began he would broadcast to the French, instructing them to follow his orders until elections could be held. Although de Gaulle was told he could amend Eisenhower’s draft, when he did submit his version he found the original was already poised for leaflet-drops over France. As Raoul Aglion, the French Committee’s representative in Washington, wrote, ‘De Gaulle was furious. The invasion of France that he had expected for years would be done without him, and finally the strategy of Roosevelt was going to eliminate him at the last hour
There were other humiliations. As the invasion began, one by one the exiled heads of state or government were to broadcast to their nations from the BBC. The scheduled order, set by protocol, was King Gustav V of Norway, followed by Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, the Grand Duchess of Luxembourg, the Prime Minister of Belgium, Eisenhower and - last and by all means least - de Gaulle.
In the two weeks following the invasion, de Gaulle’s Committee was recognized as the provisional government of France by Belgium Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia.
De Gaulle continued to put the Americans on the spot. Eisenhower’s liberation of Paris had to be brought forward because of a popular uprising, Allied tanks, including Leclerc’s, entering the city on 24 August. The dramatic figure of de Gaulle followed the next day amid enormous rapture — declaring that the French Committee of National Liberation was the continuation of the Republic an that he was its President.
President and Prime Minister refused to recognize de Gaulle’s government, Churchill wavered afterwards, telling Roosevelt in mid- October that he was now in favor of it — clearly angling for a joint announcement. But FDR stole a march: while cabling Churchill twice to urge further delay, on 23 October the US Ambassador in Paris was instructed to formally recognize de Gaulle’s provisional government. Now that Britain was the only nation not to have done so, it had to rush out its own announcement, as if slavishly following the Americans. When an embarrassed and irritated Churchill complained to Roosevelt, he was told, that, because FDR had been away campaigning, the State Department had taken ‘more precipitate action’ than he had intended. Aglion gloats: ‘The facts spoke for themselves and Roosevelt was finally forced to give in. In doing so, he tacitly admitted four years of error in his foreign policy towards France
However, there was a dividend for Roosevelt. The US elections were to be held on 7 November, and de Gaulle had always been popular with the American people. So by agreeing to recognize him as French leader just a few days before they went to the polls, FDR at least managed to squeeze some advantage from it.
WWII Turning Point.
A major turning point was the fight for Stalingrad during the winter of 1942—3, the most costly battle in history. The day after the last Nazi besieger surrendered on 2 February 1943, an incandescent and incredulous Führer announced the end of the offensive that had begun with Barbarossa. The five-month Battle of Stalingrad had cost nearly a third of a million German lives, and of the 90,000 prisoners of war only 5,000 returned from the hell-camps after the war. The immediate consequences of this were the slow, but inexorable advance of the Soviet forces from Stalingrad to Hitlers Bunker in Berlin.
Another major breakthrough was the Western Miles’ victory of the Battle of the Atlantic. Casablanca had made it a priority: without a safe passage across the Atlantic, preparations for the invasion of France were being hampered. Victory was achieved by the middle of 1943 by breaking the German codes and by a vast shipbuilding programme in the US. Faced with mounting losses, on 24 May 1943 Admiral Karl Donitz suspended U-boat attacks on the convoys: the Allies now controlled the Atlantic.
Churchill was out to defeat the Nazi regime, and was not averse to a deal with a non-Nazi government; his plan was to foster German implosion in order to turn the people against the Nazis, a plan which should have prompted him to encourage internal plots against Hitler. But Roosevelt believed German militarism was the problem, and so bracketed the anti-Hitler conspirators with the Nazis.
As Germany stared defeat in the face, its countrymen indeed began to turn against the Fuhrer. In mid-February 1943, an anti-Nazi demonstration by students in Munich spiraled out of control - and unrest spread to other cities in Germany and Austria. But faced with the prospect of unconditional surrender, what chance did the protesters stand?
In May 1943, Goerdeler returned to Stockholm and asked Marcus Wallenberg to contact the British government again for a list of traites that would be acceptable. Plus plans were made for Hitler’s assassination, Operation flash, and for wresting control from the Nazis.
Canaris concealed the plan for the takeover of Germany by cunningly suggesting to Hitler that a contingency was needed in case of civil unrest by the four million ‘guest’ (slave) workers in the country. Hitler authorized the setting up of Operation Valkyrie, in place by October 1942. At the codeword ‘Valkyrie’, martial law would be imposed, any commanders moving swiftly to ‘protect’ Nazi institutions.
Still believing that if they got rid of Hitler surely Roosevelt and Churchill would negotiate, on 13 March 1943 the conspirators made their first attempt on his life. Canaris arranged for a bomb disguised as a parcel to be on Hitler’s plane when he visited the Eastern Front, using British plastic explosives captured from the SOE in France. When the bomb exploded, the codeword ‘Rash’ would trigger ‘Valkyrie while agents in neutral countries would approach the British and Americans to negotiate a settlement. However, the acid fuse froze at the high altitude, and Hider’s curiously charmed life continued.
The opposition in Italy was also being ignored. This is even harder to understand, as Mussolini was considerably less secure than Hitler, being under such intense pressure that he was virtually unable to govern. Richard Lamb summarises the contradictions:
In 1941 Churchill was willing to go to great lengths to encourage the anti-Fascists in Italy to end the war, including bribing the Italian fleet to surrender, and offering a non-Fascist Italy a colony in Cyrenaica [of libya]. Yet in 1943, when Italy was down and out, no gesture was made by the Allies to the anti-Fascists and monarchists plotting to overthrow Mussolini, and thus a chance was missed to occupy Italy with Allied forces before the Germans poured over the Brenner Pass. This extraordinary and illogical volte face towards the Italian Resistance inside Italy was extremely costly.
On 12 May 1943, Churchill and Roosevelt’s two-week summit ‘Trident’ took place in Washington, and although the principle of Husky had been agreed at Casablanca, in April Eisenhower formally asked Churchill to agree to a postponement of the Sicilian invasion, on the grounds that time German presence there , two divisions , was too formidable. Churchill observed that this was odd, Eisenhower even told Churchill that Montgomery agreed with him , which turned out to be completely untrue.
Stalin was furious, and reports appeared in the Swedish press, of secret negotiations between German and Russian representatives in Stockholm. That these stories might be true is seen from Himmler’s actions in July 1944 to be mentioned later in the lecture.
According to German officers who attended as technical advisers, von Ribbentrop proposed as a condition of peace that Russia’s future frontier should run along the Djieper, while Molotov would not consider anything less than the restoration of her original frontier; the discussion became hung up on the difficulty of bridging such a gap, and was broken off after a report that it had leaked out to the Western Powers.
Despite its implications, this story has received surprisingly little attention. If Stalin and Molotov were prepared to discuss terms with Germany while the Western Allies refused to consider conditions at any price, it would be the perfect example of the unequal partnership within the ‘Grand Alliance’. But maybe the talks actually took place but the Russians intended them to leak in order to put pressure on their Allies.
Most of Trident’s wrangling centered on the problem of de Gaulle, to the frustration of both President and Prime Minister. But just as Churchill realized he had to get rid of him, de Gaulle himself managed to outmaneuver both of the despised ‘Anglo Saxons’.
De Gaulle also had the support of the French resistance, which demanded during Trident that he be appointed head of a provisional government in Algiers while remaining their leader. This prompted General Giraud to invite de Gaulle to Algiers to discuss the sharing of power. (Giraud’s change of heart may also be partly explained by his discovery that his daughter and grandchildren had been captured in Tunisia and transported to Germany.) Churchill was somewhat mollified when he heath about Giraud’s offer of a way out of the mess.
On 1 August, de Gaulle became President of the French Committee of National Liberation, with Giraud as Commander-in-Chief. At Quebec later that month, Roosevelt and Churchill finally agreed to recognize the Committee’s authority over any territories that acknowledged it themselves.
Although while courting Vichy FDR had consistently maintained that Indo-China would remain in French hands, after he broke with them, he made Indo-China "one of the most important focuses of I campaign against Western European imperialism in his desire n oversee the coming of a post-imperial world". Roosevelt told the Pacific War Council in July 1943: "Indo-China should not be given back to the French Empire after the war?" And at Cairo, he proposed it should be given to China" but Chiang Kai-shek refused to take it.
Even so, the colony's leadership remained loyal to Vichy until the Normandy landings, after which it seemed wise to reconsider theft position. But if Indo-China went over to de Gaulle, it was likely that the Japanese would invade so the Free French planned to send reinforcements.
Roosevelt backed neither the Vichyites nor the Free French "as either would decolonize" decreeing in February 1944 there would be no US aid to French forces liberating Indo-China, followed by an Executive Order in October expressly forbidding it. In fact, until March 1945 - when Churchill presented him with a fait accompli - Roosevelt scrupulously kept the Free French out of any Allied operations in the Far East.
The Allies - largely SOE had worked with the Free French to prepare to defend Indo-China through a campaign of subversion called Operation Belief. But following Roosevelt's directive, the Americans were conspicuous by theft absence. Instead, ironically in view of later events, the 055 threw its support behind the Communist nationalist organization led by Ho CM Minh, the Viet Minh, forerunners of the Viet Cong "not the last time US intelligence created a problem for the future by building up a guerrilla leader who would turn against them" which provoked serious deception and infighting between the British and Americans, sometimes with tragic consequences.
For example, in July 1944 SOE tricked the Americans into letting them use one of theft bases in southern China for dropping Free French agents into Indo-China. When the US Joint Chiefs, complained to Roosevelt, American air facilities in southern China were abruptly withdrawn from SOE. As a result, supplies for the resistance had to be flown in from Burma by the RAF â€” a long and hazardous journey. SOE also decided not to tell the Americans about these missions, even though the RAF flew over American-controlled airspace. Several British aircraft were shot down by US fighters!(1) With the liberation of France, at the beginning of 1945 the colony became subject to de Gaulle's new Free French Council of Indo China.
In autumn 1944, the US propaganda organization OWl concentrated on convincing the Japanese that a US-led land invasion was planned in Indo-China as the first step to re-conquer mainland Asia.
Also Prime Minister Sikorski’s death made life much smoother for the Big Three: as events proved, his removal weakened the Free Polish government. Neither his successor Stanislaw Mikolajczyk nor General Kazimierz Sosnkowski as Commander-in-Chief (Sikorski had held both offices) approached the same political stature, and they clashed on policy. Significantly, Mikolajczyk took a much more conciliatory line with Moscow than Sikorski.
Six days after Sikorski’s death, Anglo-American forces under Field Marshal Montgomery and Lieutenant-General George S. Patton began the first strike at the ‘soft underbelly’ of Axis Europe. By the middle of August, Sicily was under an Allied Military Government of Occupied Territories.
Although Churchill anticipated it would be the end for Mussolini, even he must have been surprised at the speedy fall of his one-time hero, after 20 years in power. Since the beginning of the year, Il Duce’s leadership had been under mounting pressure from rivals and the Italian people, and for some time Allied agents in Switzerland had been in contact with the anti-Mussolini faction in Italy.
Churchill believed they should concentrate on Italy, even though the ‘soft underbelly’ was more impenetrable than anticipated. At the week-long Quadrant Conference in Quebec in August 1943, he recommended a revision of the cross-Channel invasion plan, while Harry Hopkins, kept pushing for Overlord to begin as soon as possible. In the end, they compromised: the invasion of Italy was to continue, but they would also go ahead with a scaled-down version of Overlord, 29 divisions, not 48, on 1 May 1944. Although Churchill approved, Hopkins still worried that he might try to sabotage the plan later.
The cross-Channel plan was originally meant to draw some of the fire aimed at the USSR, but after Stalingrad that was no longer so important. So why did the Americans - particularly Hopkins - still want to invade France? As there was now little chance of Germany giving in without fighting to the last gasp, the overriding question was which plan would get the Allies to Berlin the fastest? And as the Germans Were collapsing in the east, which Ally would get to Berlin first - the Soviet Union or the Americans and British?
Churchill believed that not only was it essential to defeat Germany, but the Russians must also be kept as far east as possible, lessening their long-term threat to Europe and pre-empting the Allies’ inevitable clash over post-war Poland. The Prime Minister envisaged pushing up through Italy, opening the way for the Western Allies to invade Austria and liberate Czechoslovakia or the Balkans, before the Red Army arrived.’
But did the Americans champion the cross-Channel alternative because they believed it would get them to Berlin first? Curiously, the evidence points the other way entirely: that they preferred Overlord , at least politically ,because it would mean that the Western Allies would be slower in getting there, allowing the Russians to seize most of eastern Europe and even capture the German capital itself. Preposterous though this may seem, this was undoubtedly Roosevelt’s and Hopkins’ preferred choice once they smelt victory. It was a cornerstone of their post-war projections that Russia would inevitably emerge as the major Eurasian power, counter-balancing the United Sates.
Roosevelt and Hopkins also realized it would be easier to persuade the Allies to agree to the post-war dismemberment of Germany if lie Russians controlled a substantial chunk, and if the Americans were already in Europe. The assault on Germany from east and west therefore had to be carefully choreographed so everyone ended sip where Roosevelt and Hopkins wanted them to be — even if that meant slowing down the advance. We will see the extraordinary consequences of this in the last stages of the war.
Some have asked even if Hopkins persuaded Roosevelt to adopt these policies because he believed they were in America’s interest, or was he acting under orders from the Kremlin as a possible mole, not unlike the British spy Harold A.R.(“Kim”) Philby.
In May, the President sent Joseph E. Davies (former Ambassador of the USSR) to Moscow to arrange a private meeting with Stalin. When Churchill protested, humiliated, using the grounds that German propaganda would make capital out of a meeting from which Britain was excluded, Roosevelt replied, ‘I did not suggest to UJ [ Joe] that we meet alone.’ He lied.
More strategic conferences took place in November and December 1943, in Cairo and Teheran, the latter being the first time Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin met. Chiang Kai-shek was present in Cairo because the Japanese war was on the agenda, but as the USSR was not at war with Japan it was inappropriate for Stalin to attend.
In Cairo, Sir Charles Wilson recorded:
“Ran into Marry Hopkins, and found him hull of sneers and jibes. He had just come from a meeting of the Combined Chiefs of Staff, who were framing a plan of campaign to put before Stalin at Teheran. According to Harry, Winston hardly stopped talking, and most of it was about ‘his bloody Italian war’, many made it clear that if the PM takes this line at Teheran and tries again to postpone OVERLORD the Americans will support the Russians.”
But it was the Teheran Conference that not only brought about Hopkins’ final victory on that score, but also fundamentally changed the course of history. It was here that Roosevelt and Stalin ganged up— on Churchill, pronouncing that Normandy was to be the Allies’ focus, even diverting support troops from Italy. Mark Stoler writes: For the first time the British were outvoted and overwhelmed by their more powerful Soviet and US allies, who in effect struck a global strategic bargain at the expense of London’s indirect approach.
Roosevelt would deliver the long-awaited invasion of France, with Stalin supporting with a big push from the east. Ironically, the 1942 situation was now reversed: Stalin finally got his ‘Second Front’ by promising an offensive in the east to draw German forces off. Clearly, he wanted to forestall the threat to his plans for Eastern Europe posed by the Italian campaign. In return for his help, Stalin also undertook to declare war on Japan once Germany was defeated. All his dreams were fulfilled, because of Roosevelt’s support. As Robert Nisbet observed: ‘At Tehran, FDR played essentially the role Chamberlain had at Munich.
But after declining the Prime Minister’s invitation to stay at the British Embassy, FDR elected to stay at the Soviet Embassy, after Molotov told him that the US legation was not secure and that German agents were plotting to assassinate him. Of course, the President’s rooms were bugged.’ But this arrangement also allowed Roosevelt to have three private meetings with Stalin at which they agreed some of the major issues in advance of the official sessions. FDR refused Churchill’s requests for one-to-one meetings.
When Roosevelt and Stalin discussed Poland’s borders, time Russian demanded that they revert to the position defined in time Nazi—Soviet Pact. According to the official US minutes, Roosevelt responded that: ‘when the Soviet armies reoccupied these areas, he did not intend to go to war with the Soviet Union on this point’.
Privately with Stalin, Roosevelt also pushed his ‘Four Policemen’ idea, in which France was conspicuous by its absence. In fact, he and Stalin agreed that France deserved nothing from the war, and should be stripped of its colonies.’ FDR also told Stalin he would like to discuss India with him some time, astonishingly saying he preferred to see Indian reform ‘somewhat on the Soviet line’. It was just as well Churchill was not present.
Clearly, Roosevelt’s main agenda was to ensure that the Soviet Union became the dominant power in Europe. The two leaders agreed that to prevent further German aggression, Germany should be hacked up into its original constituent states after the war. But FDR assured Stalin that France would also be reduced to a ‘third-rate power’. There would be nothing to stop the Soviet domination of Europe.
Teheran was a major humiliation for Churchill, not just politically but personally. Even in the official sessions, Roosevelt delighted in insulting the Prime Minister in front of Stalin - signaling that he and bluff Uncle Joe were new best friends." At Stalin’s banquet at the Soviet Embassy, Stalin openly taunted Churchill: ‘In 1919 you were so keen to fight and now you don’t seem to be at all. What happened? Is it advancing age? How many divisions do you have in contact with the enemy? What is happening to all those two million men in India?’
During the serial vodka toasts, when Stalin proposed that at the end of the war 50,000 randomly selected German officers should be shot as a lesson to Germany, Churchill was appalled, declaring emphatically that no one, ‘Nazi or no’, should be dispatched without a proper trial. Pretending to compromise, Roosevelt facetiously proposed to reduce the number to 49,500. As Elliott Roosevelt recorded: ‘Americans and Russians laughed. The British, taking their cue from their Prime Minister’s mounting fury, sat quiet and straight- faced.’
The anti-Hitler cabal certainly wanted the war to end. On l9 July, when von Stauffenberg was summoned to Hitler at Rastenburg in East Prussia, yet again Operation Valkyrie was dusted off. The next day, he placed the briefcase-bomb under the table where Hitler was receiving his daily briefing, before leaving the room.
Having witnessed the explosion, von Stauffenberg made the fatal error of assuming the Führer was dead, returning to Berlin to initiate Operation Valkyrie. A few hours afterwards, as scheduled, Hitler met Mussolini off a train, telling him: ‘After my miraculous escape from death today I am more than ever convinced that it is my fate to bring our common enterprise to a successful conclusion?
Yet, unknown to the slightly battered Hider, Valkyrie was swinging into action. It called for a state of emergency, the arrest of pro-Hider officers and Nazi and SS leaders, and the army to take over the rank and file. The formation of a new, non-Nazi government would then be announced.
That night, Berlin was electric with tension. Remer’s troops surrounded the Staff headquarters where the coup leaders, including General Beck and von Stauffenberg (still convinced he had killed Hider), were trying to retain control of the uprising.
Dispatching tanks to besiege the SS headquarters, a battle on the streets of Berlin seemed inevitable. As the coup crumbled, General Fromm, to cover up his own role on the fringes of the conspiracy ordered the immediate executions of von Stauffenberg and other plotters, but allowed the elderly and respected General Beck the option of suicide. Ironically, Valkyrie went smoothly in Paris: all 1,200 SS officers in the city were arrested. But when the coup fell apart in Germany itself, there was no point in going it alone, and they were freed.
The British War Cabinet agreed their official stance about the plot before the Commons debate on 2 August: they would discourage any remaining anti-Hitler plotters, reinforcing the message that unconditional surrender was required from any German government." So near to victory, they needed the Americans.
Where the Stauffenberg plan was to replace the Nazi Governement with that of an ultra-conservative meaning German Royalists but also Catholics, Himmler’s proposals the details of which have been published in the 2002 book by John H.Walker “The Devil’s Doctor” was more along the lines of the proposal carried to the UK by Hitler’s right hand Hess, with the difference that Himmler would illuminate Hitler and take his place with the argument, that it would avoid dividing the spoils of Europe with Stalin.
To proof his intention Himmler told by Hitler to “kill all Jews left in the concentration camps” stopped doing so (shortly before the end of the war) after a private arrangement with Count Folke Bernadotte.
And although Himmler's peace overtures were directed mostly towards London, he also contacted Allen W. Dulles in Bern, and General William ("Wild Bill") Donovan, head of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), received secret peace overtures from spy chief Schellenberg , and Kersten, Himmler’s masseur (Waller , The Devil’s Doctor, 2002, p. 142.).
On March 20,1944, General William Donovan, passed on to President Roosevelt a memorandum sent to him by Abram Hewitt (code designation number 610), Hewitt's message, which summed up his conversations with Felix Kersten and Walter Schellenberg, emissaries of Himmler, must surely have caught the president's attention. Not only were its contents startling, but the report had been sent by Hewitt, his longtime friend whom he had sent to Stockholm under the aegis of OSS to get a feel for the role and significance of Scandinavia. William Donovan's position and his personal relationship with the president gave him easy access to the White House. Hewitt's report, however, was more important than most communications that required Roosevelt's personal attention: it concerned a secret proposal proffered by Heinrich Himmler, and iterated by Schellenberg and Kersten, for ousting Hitler and negotiating peace with the Western Allies.
Hewitt described in the report how he met Kersten in October 1943, although the OSS officers had usually brushed off “earlier” efforts by the Nazis to make contact (Waller, The Devil’s Doctor, p.143).
T. Roosevelt according to Waller, “did not want to aggravate Stalin by any apparent machination that left him out of the picture” (Waller, 143).
Hewitt elaborated on Swedish-German industrial and banking ties, including Enskilda Banken, a bank dominating Sweden's mining and manufacturing sector of the economy and controlled by the powerful Wallenberg family.
Hewitt explained that he had first met Jacob Wallenberg in 1932 and ware that Hewitt was well connected in the United States and was even a friend of President Roosevelt, Wallenberg, secretly tied in with the German Resistance, confided freely in him(Allen W. Dulles, Germany's Underground (New York: Macmillan, 1947), pp. 142, 143)
Explaining that he was "in touch with a cross-section of the high ranking German financial and manufacturing interests," Wallenberg told him that Resistance "cells were forming in Germany for the purpose of overthrowing Hitler." He asked Hewitt if he "would be willing to meet with representatives of such cells." Because of the highly sensitive political nature of this information, Hewitt informed Herschel Johnson, the American minister in Stockholm, who telegraphed it to the State Department.
In commenting on Hitler, Wallenberg explained to Hewitt that "his friends" in Germany-a euphemistic reference to Resistance members he knew-were somewhat perplexed about the Reichsführer's true motives. While Himmler was supposed to be entirely loyal to Hitler, certain changes were taking place in Germany that could only raise questions in the minds of intelligence observers. Hewitt drew the conclusion that Wallenberg, though vague on this score, meant that Himmler's intention was to oust Hitler and take over Germany's government himself as a prelude to reaching a peace agreement with the Western Allies. It was Wallenberg's opinion that by the summer of 1942-if not before, in December 1941, when the United States entered the War-Himmler was convinced that Germany would lose, and so he had begun searching for ways to ingratiate himself with the Western Allies, using the SS and the Nazi Party security apparatus as bargaining chips in an unrealistic scenario in which Germany, governed by him in alliance with the Western Powers, would turn their guns on the Russians and defeat the mutually hated Communist bogey.(Waller , The Devil’s Doctor, p. 144).
In fact British RAF planes dropped blocks of Deutsches Reich stamps with a portrait of Himmler rather than Hitler onto the bemused Austrian peasants beyond Bad Ischl and other parts of the German Reich. The stamps can be viewed in Austria at the Fischerhuette Archiv, Toplitzsee /Styria.
Undaunted, Himmler July 1944 got in touch with the Zionist leader Weizmann and as a sign of good faith, rounded up and shot all the Germans who were attempting to reach a settlement with Russia, to insure there would be no double dealing. This is evidence by the document Mallet PRO 15-12-- 1944 FO 371/35178; Prem 3/197/1, quoted on p. 285 of Basset “Hitler’s Spy Chief”, 2005.
Stalin was also treated as an equal when the victors divided up Germany and Europe. The original plan was that the "four victorious powers" would draw up a peace treaty, set up a new democratic government in Germany and then withdraw. However, disagreements soon set in between the three Western Allies and the Soviet Union, and in 1948 Britain, France and the USA began to create a new state in their zones of occupation, while the Soviet Union set up its own regime in its zone. The division into East and West Germany would last for nearly half a century. Stalin also quickly tightened his grip on the nations that had fallen into his sphere of influence - including Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Bulgaria - until they were nothing more than Soviet puppets.
What they failed to anticipate was the development of the atomic bomb and the to deliver this new weapon between continents, in the shape of the long-range bomber and, late; the Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile. Their grand design backfired badly, creating the Cold War and t threat of nuclear annihilation that chilled the lives of generations. It is easy to forget just how dose this came, and that the Cold War blew exceedingly hot for many millions of people.
Shortly after the German surrender, tensions surfaced between the two new superpowers, particularly when Stalin blatantly ignored the Yalta agreement on Poland. One brazen breath particularly shocked the Americans: 16 leaders of the Polish underground visited Moscow for talks about the new government, on a guarantee of safe conduct but once there they were arrested and charged with treason. The nervous Polish government-in-exile in London wanted the mess sorted out before they became involved in the Moscow talks.
In May 1945, Averell Harriman and Chips Bohlen proposed that Truman ask Hopkins - inevitably the continuity between the two Presidents' foreign policy's to visit Moscow to try to resolve matters with Stalin. Hopkins duly left on his last major adventure on 23 May: as Christopher Andrew and Oleg Gordievsky write: "A number of historians, though unaware that the NKVD/NKGB regarded Hopkins as a Soviet agent, have nonetheless been struck by his pro- Soviet approach to the negotiations."
Hopkins stated the US position: "We would accept any government in Poland which was desired by the Polish people and was at the same time friendly to the Soviet government." Of course, Stalin achieved this simply by ensuring that any Poles who sought any other form of government were eliminated, deported or intimidated into inaction. He proposed that the new government in Warsaw could include up to four non-Communists (out of twenty) provided he could nominate them. George McJimsey writes clearly with no sense of irony:
The question of the Polish Soviet border having been decided at Yalta, the Polish-German border was defined at Potsdam, although less controversially, as members of the provisional Lublin government were allowed to participate. The border would follow the rivers Oder and Neisse, hiving off land from Germany to recompense Poland for its losses to the USSR agreed at Yalta. Not only was the Polish border moved some 125 miles west but the 3.5 million Germans there were also expelled, to resettle in the new, smaller Germany. Poles living in the areas now belonging to Stalin were also evicted, to settle the areas taken from Germany but soon found themselves under Soviet control anyway.
The Soviet Union now controlled Central and Eastern Europe, the Baltic and the Balkans. The new western border added 21 million people to its population, and the governments of all the adjacent nations were now acceptable to Moscow, becoming even more amenable as the Iron Curtain clanged shut on huge tracts of Europe. The Baltic states were quietly re-absorbed into the USSR as "Soviet Republics"; as Polish specialist Norman Davies points out, this "dearly breached international law; but it passed without challenge".
The Free Poles in Britain, Italy, the Middle East and part of Germany agonised over whether to return to a Soviet-dominated home or stay where they were if they could.
Lublin Communists and 5 from the government-in-exile, including Mikolajczyk as Deputy Prime Minister - was formally recognised by Britain and the US a month later. Elections in 1947 unsurprisingly resulted in an overwhelming victory for the Communist Party; a few months later, Mikolajczyk fled to Britain, in fear of his life.
Nearly six years previously, the British had gone to war in order to keep Poland free; now they allowed it to be handed back to one of the original invaders. Poland was both first victim of the Second World War and first victim of the Cold War.
By the time of the Yalta conference, it was dear that an Allied victory was inevitable even without the atomic bomb: it was just a question of how long it would take and how many lives it would cost.
In Burma, Japanese forces continued to be pushed back steadily. Rangoon was recaptured by Indian troops on 3 May 1945, just as the European war was coming to an end. The Japanese attempt to break out of the Arakan region produced one of the most mismatched battles of the war, with 17,000 Japanese casualties to just 95 on die Allied side. The assault on Okinawa, just 350 miles from the Japanese mainland, began on 1 April, but there was ferocious resistance, even from the local children. Of 77,000 Japanese troops on the island, less than 10 per cent were taken prisoner.
There always had been an active peace movement, although because of the military caste's grip on the government during the war it remained unobtrusive. But as the tide turned, it began to re-emerge, led by General Koisi's Deputy Prime Minister, Admiral Yonai Mitsumasa. There was another change of leadership in Japan in April 1945. Koisi had made a bumbling attempt to persuade Chiang Kai-shek's government to break away from the Alliance, but when this was leaked he was forced to resign. He was succeeded by the 78-year-old Admiral Suzuki Kantaro, who had the backing of the peace lobby.
By the end of July, Japan was under siege, heavy bombardment and blockade causing economic chaos and food shortages. The government and military was split between those who believed that Japan should defend its honor to the last breath and those who wanted to save it by suing for peace. Under Suzuki, the first tentative peace feelers were put out. Navy Secretary James Forestall noted on l3 July 1945:
The first real evidence of a Japanese desire to get out of the war came today through intercepted messages from Togo [Foreign Minister, to Sato, Jap Ambassador in Moscow, instructing the latter to see Molotov if possible before his departure for the Big Three meeting [and if not then, immediately afterward, to lay before him the Emperor's strong desire to secure a termination of the war.
Before Potsdam, Emperor Hirohito had already made it clear that although he was prepared to talk peace, unconditional surrender was not acceptable. On 26 July, the Pots dam Proclamation reiterated the demand and those of the Cairo Declaration, that all territory outside Japan itself would be removed from Japanese control. A more democratic system would be introduced, Japan being occupied until this was done.
Both sides believed the Pacific war would run at least for another year, because even very few Americans knew about the atom bomb. In advance of the test, Churchill cabled to Truman: "Let me know if it's a flop or a Truman replied," It's a plop.”
The tentative decision to continue bombing until Japan surrendered was made by Roosevelt and Churchill n September 1944, although ironically it was their successors who were faced with the terrible responsibility. The first of only two atomic bombs ever to have been used in war was dropped on the city of Hiroshima at 8.15 a.m. on 6 August 1945. The bomb was nicknamed "Little Boy" after Roosevelt, the Nagasaki bomb was "Fat Man", after Churchill.
Five square miles of city were flattened. Of the 350,000 people in Hiroshima, besides the 92,000 destroyed by the searing flash and blast, others were to experience a slow death, sometimes many years later, from the after-effects of the heat and radiation. Within a year over 118,000 deaths had been recorded, the eventual total being approximately 140,000. Through the genetic damage caused by the radiation, the horror was also visited on mutated unborn children.
The next day, when the Japanese Ambassador in Moscow asked Molotov to act as a mediator for peace talks, he received instead declaration of war â€” the million-man Russian offensive on Manchuria and northern Korea beginning just two hours later. Soviet forces also attacked southern Sakhalin (the large island off the Siberian coast that had been divided between the two nations since 1905) and the Kurile Islands. There is little doubt that Stalin only joined the war so late in the day because Japan's surrender was imminent, and if he stood aloof from the Allies he would never get the territory he wanted.
As the Japanese hawks and doves were still deadlocked, Suzuki appealed to the Emperor to make the final decision: on 10 August, the Japanese informed the Allies that they accepted the terms, except for one condition, "that it does not comprise any demand which prejudices the prerogatives of the Emperor as sovereign ruler". As Truman accepted, technically it was not actually unconditional surrender after all. On 14 August, Hirohito broadcast to his people "despite an armed attempt to prevent the broadcast" telling them hostilities had ceased. Predictably, Stalin only ordered his forces to lay down their arms when they had taken everything he wanted in China, Sakhalin and the Kuriles, prolonging hostilities by another two weeks. The formal surrender took place on 2 September, bringing Britain's involvement in the Second World War to an end just one day short of its sixth anniversary.
Undoubtedly, according to international law, dropping the bombs on japan as a war crime pure and simple the Geneva and Hague Conventions forbid the deliberate targeting of civilians in order to put pressure on their government. Its apologists argue that it saved lives "mostly American" as an attempt to invade Japan would have been the most savage battle yet, while many others argue that such apocalyptic carnage could never be justified.
between the stark choices of these two evils lies the specter of unconditional
surrender. Had peace talks and some form of compromise been possible to save
Japan's lice, neither invasion nor the Bomb would have been necessary. Yet the
unconditional- surrender policy remained unyielding to the last. The Allies'
priorities were curious, to say the least: faced with a choice between
vaporizing thousands and an invasion of carnage beyond imagining, they still
considered backing down on unconditional surrender less acceptable than either.
After Japan surrendered, close to two-thirds of a million soldiers and civilians in Manchuria, Korea, Sakhalin and the Kuriles were deported to the Soviet gulags, mostly in Siberia.
Shattered Britain felt the shockwaves from the Japanese surrender in very immediate terms, for as David Dimbleby and David Reynolds explain: "Eight days after they ended with Japan's surrender, President Truman cancelled Lend-Lease. . . The British Food Mission, dispatching tons of supplies from the United States, only learnt about it when one of theft ships was refused permission to sail. Next day, die official announcement was made Keynes aptly called the decision a "financial Dunkirk".
To be fair to Truman, this was not his initiative, but that of Congress. As the Lend-Lease Act gave the President unprecedented control over the terms of supplies, Congress had no wish for this to continue into the phase of post-war reconstruction. Wanting to control the aid and its conditions, they stuck rigidly to the letter of the law: Lend-Lease applied only while a state of war existed.
By 1945, Britain had a balance-of-payments deficit of around $3 billion and had sold off a huge amount of its assets. War production had diverted 1.5 million workers from export industries "which meant they were unable to carry out the export drive necessary for economic recovery. Britain also needed imports for its reconstruction, and, as the only industrial nation left intact, the United States was the only real source of what it needed" but, thanks to Harry Dexter White and Morgenthau, the British dollar reserves were insufficient to buy it.
In order to survive, once again Britain had to go cap-in-hand to the US Treasury. Keynes was sent to Washington to negotiate a loan, asking for $5 billion and eventually getting $3.75 billion (and $1.25 billion from Canada), repayable with 2 per cent interest in 50 annual installments, beginning in 1951.
Congress approved the Marshall Plan in March 1948, but largely because of events that had prompted fears of a Soviet takeover in Europe. In February 1948 came the first great crisis of the Cold War "when it seemed it was about to become very hot" with a Communist takeover in Czechoslovakia. The American commander in Germany reported that war "may come with dramatic suddenness." In response to this threat, Truman urged Congress to approve the Marshall Plan, as well as re-introducing the draft.
The crisis also led to the Brussels Defense Pact of March 1948, in which Britain, France, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg undertook a mutual defense agreement, and to the first discussions with the United States that culminated in the formation of NATO in April 1949.
Roosevelt's and Hopkins' division of Europe, creating a menace that now required Truman's doctrine of containment, meant that, unlike the First World War, this time the American GIs did not go home; this time, they stayed in Europe in case hostilities flared up with the Soviet Union.
On 4 September 1945, Hopkins was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal by Truman, only just in time. He died on 29 January 1946, aged 56. Although not many people today even know his name, Hopkins' legacy was of truly epic proportions. This sickly man "unelected and holding no official post in the US administration" actually shaped the world according to his own grand design.
With a grotesque irony, Britain, the United States, France and the other Allies fought in partnership with a regime that equaled that of the Nazis in brutality, repression and totalitarianism, whose alliance with Germany had caused the war in the first place and even participated in the invasion of Poland that had exploded the war into being. It was also a regime that explicitly sought the downfall of its Allies indeed, it boasted a political creed with world domination at its very core.
And yet at the end of the conflict the Soviet Union was handed nearly half a century's domination of eastern and central Europe. Millions of people who had been promised liberation were enslaved by a brutal totalitarianism - with the blessing of the British and American governments. And, much to the disgust of those who knew the truth about his regime, Stalin and his henchmen were elevated to the same moral high ground as the other victors.
As the Allies were locked in a struggle for post-war supremacy, the conflict was deliberately and cynically extended as each player battled for prime position for after the dust settled. Lives were lost and terrible destruction visited on Allies and Axis alike to an extent that was unnecessary had victory been the only goal. The devastation of Europe need never have happened, yet without it, there would have been no necessity for the United States to step in again with the Marshall Plan.
In conclusion one could say that every one of the wartime governments had its own agenda, the Roosevelt administration actively encouraged the war between Britain and Germany, yet Anglo-American relations during the Second World War were characterized by suspicion, mistrust and a struggle for future supremacy.
British agents tricked Hitler into declaring war on the US in order to bring America into the European conflict and under the guise of war aid, the US gave the USSR the means to establish itself as a world superpower - including, from 1943, the secrets of the atom bomb.
How much sooner could the war have ended? What opportunities were missed? The choices open to the Allies are usually depicted as either fighting to total victory or ignoble surrender followed by abject enslavement. However, there were several other options, but history has been deliberately distorted in order to make it appear that those alternatives never existed.
In Germany, Hitler's reaction to Hess's flight was largely motivated by fear of losing face before his own people should they discover that their Führer, whilst exhorting them to fight on in his war of conquest, had actually been secretly involved in negotiations with certain top Britons to make peace and end the war. Indeed, he had even offered to at some point to withdraw all German forces from occupied western Europe in order to attain a deal.
Aus der Akte Nr. 462a im Bestand 5 Verzeichnis 30 im Russischen Staatsarchiv für Zeitgeschichte, Moskau. (English text continues underneath)
„Aus Hitlers Umgebung sickerte durch, dass die Entscheidung, Heß für geistesgestört zu erklären, in Hitlers Besprechung mit Göring, Ribbentrop und Bormann gefallen war.
Als aus London die Meldung kam, der Duke of Hamilton bestreite, mit Heß bekannt zu sein, entfuhr es Hitler spontan: »Was für eine Heuchelei! Jetzt will er ihn nicht einmal kennen!«
Bei den Gesprächen in Hitlers Stab über den Flug von Heß wurde unter dem Siegel der Verschwiegenheit geäußert, dass dieser ein Memorandum über die Friedensbedingungen mit England bei sich habe: Heß hätte es aufgesetzt und Hitler zugestimmt.
Dessen Hauptpunkt sei gewesen, dass England Deutschland freie Hand gegenüber Sowjetrussland lassen werde, während Deutschland England den Erhalt seines Kolonialbesitzes und die Vorherrschaft im Mittelmeerraum garantiere.
Außerdem würde in dem Memorandum herausgestellt, dass ein Bündnis »der großen Kontinentalmacht Deutschland« mit der »großen Seemacht England« ihnen die Herrschaft über die ganze Welt sichern werde. Zudem wurde bekannt, dass Heß seit dem Februar 1941 intensiv- mit der Ausarbeitung der politischen und wirtschaftlichen Vorschläge befasst gewesen sei, die die Grundlage der Verhandlungen mit den Engländern bilden sollten. Daran waren weiter beteiligt: der Chef der Auslandsorganisation der nationalsozialistischen Partei Bohle, der Ministerialrat im Reichswirtschaftsministerium Jagwitz, General Karl Haushofer und Heß' Bruder Alfred, Bohles Stellvertreter. P. 145 from:
The extraordinary truth is that, for sixty years, a potentially devastating political secret has been covered up by subterfuge. This secret was related to British fears in 1940 and 1941 that the country might go down to crushing defeat, and to how Britain's top political minds determined that Britain would survive. The means they used to accomplish this were ingenious and extremely subtle, but also unscrupulous. They were the acts of desperate men, faced with the options of either catastrophic defeat or national survival.
By its very nature, what was done became a secret that could never be revealed. The decision to promulgate the legend of the standalone nation - that Britain had survived through pure military endeavour and luck - meant that disclosure during the dangerous years of the Cold War would have resulted in the shattering of Britain's international credibility, and the ruin of many political careers.
Yet it could also be said that there was another, more noble, purpose to keeping this secret for all time. The impression has always been maintained that the Nazi leaders were a bizarre range of individuals, devoid of compassion for humanity - and, in many cases, evil personified. If, however, the truth should turn out to be that some of these men had considerable political acumen, but that the inexorable spread of the Second World War resulted largely from their inability to control the situation, the distinction between pernicious men of evil intent, and politicians unable to control the flames of war they had themselves lit, becomes less clear-cut.
As early as January 1936, shortly after succeeding to the throne, King Edward VIII had sent word to Hitler via a German kinsman, Carl Eduard, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, to say that he believed an alliance between Great Britain and Germany was politically necessary and that it could even lead to a military pact including France. It was therefore his wish, King Edward said, to speak personally to the Reich Chancellor as soon as possible, either in Britain or Germany.
Hitler thus saw Edward's abdication as a victory for those forces in Britain that were hostile to Germany. Joachim von Ribbentrop, the German ambassador in London, confirmed Hitler's view that `the King had been deposed as the result of a “Jewish-Masonic conspiracy” ( the traditional view of the Nazi’s overall, see: Hitler’s Secret Protocols.
After Edward's abdication One of the first big projects the Windsors undertook in 1937 was a trip to National Socialist Germany. Now would come the meeting that Edward had wished for: as Duke of Windsor he visited Adolf Hitler, Chancellor of the German Reich, albeit not in Berlin, but at his private residence, the Berghof, near Berchtesgaden in Bavaria.
There have never been any British disclosures of the details of what the Duke of Windsor was negotiating with Hitler and later the German government when he was working for the British Foreign Office in Portugal. The only clues to have surfaced allude to a seven-point plan, which was of sufficient importance for Hess secretly to meet the Duke in the privacy of the Sacramento a Lapa home of the German Ambassador to Portugal, Hoyningen-Huene, on Sunday, 28 July 1940, for a series of secret meetings. Unfortunately, the Duke was spotted by expatriates living nearby.
And on 1 August the Duke, under increasing pressure from the London, departed for the faraway Bahamas. His endeavours to negotiate a peaceable accord proceeded not one jot further, for the British government refused to countenance any more interference from the man who had caused such constitutional turmoil less than four years before. Also, unbeknownst to the Duke of Windsor, peace with Germany was the last thing on Winston Churchill's mind.
The next (some say it was the fourth) peace offer would emanate directly from Hitler himself, and it would be so secret that the Führer told no one in Germany about it at all, not in the diplomatic service, the government, or the party; not even his inner circle.
This latest attempt to open peace discussions caused considerable consternation in Whitehall. The very few men in the British Foreign Office who knew about it feared that the more impressive these peaceable attempts became, the greater the likelihood that they might dent Lord Halifax's determination to stand by Churchill and his `no surrender' policy, and the resolve of those in the government who might be tempted to accept a quick fix today, and worry about a Europe dominated by Nazi Germany tomorrow. There was concern that the British government might split between those determined to defeat Germany, and those who might vote against Churchill in the House of Commons for peace, to save Britain from any further suffering. This new initiative came at the height of the Blitz, those crucial weeks of the Battle for Britain, which made the situation all the more worrying.
Hitler's offer on this occasion indicated that he was now approaching peace from a geopolitical, rather than military, point of view, revealing the continuing influence of his long discussions with Karl Haushofer in the 1920s and thirties. It also perhaps indicates that the intellect and the foreign affairs interests of Rudolf Hess lay behind the offer now being proposed to the British Ambassador in Stockholm, Victor Mallet, via Swedish High Court Justice Dr Ekeberg, duly reported back to London that:
Hitler's peace terms as follows:
Empire remains with all the colonies and mandates.
2 The continental supremacy of Germany will not be called into question.
3 All questions concerning the Mediterranean and the French, Belgian and Dutch colonies are open to discussion.
4 Poland. There must be `a Polish State'.
5 Czechoslovakia must belong to Germany.
But, that Hitler wished to re-establish the sovereignty of all the occupied countries 'auf die dauer' [i.e. later on, on a permanent basis]. In the economic sphere, however, the occupied countries must be part of the European continent, but with complete political liberty (Doc. No. FO 371/24408 - Public Records Office, Kew, England).