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22 November 2013

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Rocketrepreneur

Richard,

Not sure how the section on Lincoln's religion relates to your first point... But I liked your original point. Basically are you saying that "appeasement" was really a case of diplomacy being about saying "nice doggie" while you look for a bigger stick?

~Jon

Neil Richardson

Mr. Sale:

I believe there was a strong possibility that Beck, Canaris, Witzleben, Hoepner, Stuelpnagel and other plotters might've succeeded in overthrowing and/or killing Hitler had the Munich Crisis not been defused.

Babak Makkinejad

Richard Sale:

The analogy with Munich is invoked because of its presumed emotional content.

It is meant by its proponents in order to initiate a winnable - in their minds - war against Iran.

It was never invoked - to my knowledge - when US was negotiating arms control as well other security agreements with USSR.

Perhaps because USSR was a nuclear-armed state.

confusedponderer

The folks who blather appeasement all day have no inkling about what made the people of the late 1930s pursue appeasement.

They had the experience of a devastating war behind them. Many a leader in France or Britain had lost a son or two in the last war. For example junior officer losses in the British army were iirc somewhere near 19%, at a time when it was an honour for the social elite to serve as an officer. Western France was left devastated. That again?

Naturally, for someone for whom 1989 is ancient history all that matters little. And there are but a very few of the warmongers in DC whose children serve.

The people who today enthuse over bombing Iran already are, in the absence of such sobering experiences, completely unrestrained, and buoyed by a trust in the superiority of US and Israeli technology and arms see no risk in a war. It'll be another cakewalk!

After all, the US have demonstrated that they can kill safely from afar, and Israelis also haven't suffered any serious casualties ever since 1973 and have grown used to operating with impunity.

One may develop an invincibility complex that way and fancy reckless policies that one sees come at little personal cost.

The Iranians had to bury a lot of people during the Iraq-Iran war and they can bee counted on to not have forgotten. Apparently that has a moderating effect. It is an irony that appeasement of implacable enemies in the West is probably what Iranian hard-liners accuse Rohani of.

Here is the video of Rohani's speech at the council of foreign relations:

http://fora.tv/2013/09/26/Hassan_Rouhani_President_of_Iran

confusedponderer

"The analogy with Munich is invoked because of its presumed emotional content."

I agree, and the presumed emotional content lies in the implied equation "whoever" = Hitler, and then war and holocaust.

It's utter nonsense of course.

Babak Makkinejad

And so was Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact that kept USSR out of WWII for 2 years.

Neil Richardson

Babak:

The Munich analogy was invoked during the Korean War as well as the run-up and the early years of the Vietnam War. The misperception of monolithic communism made it easy to call upon it time and time again. Remember that the overriding concern of the US and British political leadership in 1950 was whether Korea was the opening gambit of the Soviet Union. And the neocons invoked Munich back in the 1970s.

confusedponderer

Eastern France, of course.

Medicine Man

Very interesting insights into Chamberlin's thinking, Mr Sale. Thank you for sharing.

David Habakkuk

Richard Sale,

First, my profound apologies for not responding to questions you raised about issues to do with ‘appeasement’ some months ago. This was partly because a lot of other business had to be attended to, but also because questions to do with ‘appeasement’ are both very complex and somewhat neuralgic for people like myself for whom they are an intimate, and painful, part of our family history.

Unfortunately, perceptions of ‘appeasement’ in the United States are still in thrall to Churchill’s accounts. And although he was a great man, he was not someone who, in giving an account of the events in which he had been involved, was primarily concerned to do justice to the views of his opponents. Sometimes he did justice, sometimes he was wildly unfair.

A few observations:

It is simply wrong that, confronted by the emergence of Hitler, Britain did not rearm. From 1934 onwards, ‘appeasement’ proceeded in conjunction with rearmament. But British rearmament was:

1. constrained by the need to balance with other priorities, so that it did not, as Hitler’s did, disregard considerations of economic sustainability and maintaining political consensus, on the basis that one could wage wars of plunder which would render such concerns irrelevant;

2. premised – also in sharp contrast to Hitler’s rearmament – on the view that another major global conflict was likely to last a long time, so that the development of the relevant military-industrial capabilities was critical; and

3. based upon a quite rational anticipation that if such a war was to come, it was unlikely to come in the immediate future, but would in all probability happen some years along the line.
The assumption behind the crucial development of the air force was all along that the most sensible date for which to plan was 1939. As a result, rather than a precipitate rearmament which would have squandered vast sums of money on biplanes which would have been shot out of the sky, Dowding and Keith Park were able in 1940 to deploy what turned out to be an adequate force of Spitfires – and also, crucially, Hurricanes.

Whether the command and control systems which were devised by Dowding and enabled Park – the former New Zealand ‘lance bombardier’ who was the old Wykehamist Dowding’s choice as his key subordinate – to fight the tactical battle over South-East England in 1940 successfully were in place by 1938 is not clear to me.

A problem which confronted the British Government at the end of the Thirties was how to deal with two regimes which were based on different forms of populist demagogy – that of Hitler and that of Stalin. In both cases, the relationship between rhetoric and reality was opaque at the time, and still to a considerable extent remains so today.

In relation to Hitler, there were multiple problems. One is directly analogous to the problem with Netanyahu which we have discussed extensively here on SST – are we dealing with someone who is ‘crazy like a fox’, or an authentic fruitcake?

In the case of Hitler, among those in the best position to judge were figures in the German military – in particular military intelligence, where Hans Oster had a crucial role – and also in the German Foreign Office. As a result, these emerged as among the most committed opponents of ‘appeasement’. (Whether something similar has emerged with the relationship of sober figures in Israeli intelligence to Netanyahu is also not clear to me, yet at least.)

A difficult these very clear sighted and brave Germans faced was to do with the particularly configuration of political forces in their country. On the one hand, it was absolutely clear that the German population as a whole did not want re-run of 1914-18 – for the reasons which CP gives. However, there was a cult of Hitler, which was based upon a combination of his successes both in domestic and foreign policy, and also on the appeal of a populist demagogue in an increasingly ‘democratic’ culture: using that word in Tocqueville’s sense.

This led to a belief that he would always go on producing, as it were, 'rabbits out of hats', and each new confrontation with the Western powers would end in another ‘kitsch’ triumph. Such confidence was not shared by people like Oster and his collaborators in the Auswärtiges Amt, such as the brothers Erich and Theo Kordt, who had a good understanding of the outside world, and could see that Hitler really was the authentic fruitcake, but it was not easy for them to counter.

Accordingly, when they approached the British Government, the emissaries of what became the ‘Widerstand’ were not claiming that confronting Hitler’s demands in relation to Czechoslovakia would prevent war. Rather, they were suggesting that doing so might serve to make their fellow-countrymen realise that Hitler’s brinkmanship was going to lead them over the brink, and in so doing create conditions in which a military coup would be possible. They were asking the British to collaborate in an attempt to wake sleepwalkers out of their dream.

There were, however, a number of problems with this strategy. Certainly a commando led by Friedrich Wilhelm Heinz, who had a background in far right nationalist politics not dissimilar to that of the Nazi leadership, was waiting to seize Hitler and put a bullet through him if the British and French stood firm over Hitler’s demands. But there was no guarantee that Heinz would succeed. If he failed, then the result might be the kind of all-out war which the ‘appeasers’ correctly perceived could only have disastrous outcomes. (These were in large measure the outcomes which followed, as a result of the Second World War.)

Even if the attempt to out Hitler succeeded, moreover, it was a moot point whether the anti-Nazi generals could establish control over the country subsequently. After all, in large measure they came from traditional elites who had lost credibility. A civil war, which could destroy what was widely perceived as the only bulwark against communism, seemed a real possibility. And, of course, there was the fear that if German nationalism was destroyed, the communists might win out.

To understand why the Chamberlain government made the decisions it did, it is important to grasp that, as CP brings out, it was difficult for people of that generation in Britain and France to contemplate the possibility of a re-run of the catastrophe of 1914-18. Likewise, it was difficult for them to imagine how Hitler, who had four years front-line service behind him, could be eager for a re-run.

These are matters which, doubtless, some American Southerners can understand. In general, Americans seem to me to find any comprehension of the strategic dilemmas faced both by the British ruling elite and the British people in the late Thirties impossible.

The other side of the picture, of course, has to do with the related misreadings of the nature both of Hitler’s objectives and Stalin’s by the British ‘appeasers’. These are of some relevance in relation to the evolution of post-war American strategy, given that its supposed principal architect, George Kennan, was an ‘appeaser’ who made Chamberlain look positively Churchillian.

There were however people in the American Moscow Embassy of the Thirties who took a very different view to that of Kennan and his associates – in particular the military attaché, Philip Faymonville. As I see it, Faymonville had a quite rational view that the imperative need for the United States to make contingency plans to confront Japan necessitated that one should keep bridges open to the Soviet Union – rather than indulging in Presbyterian moralising, as Kennan did.

I used to believe that it was impossible, in the hysterically zenophobic climate of Russia in the mid-Thirties, for officials in Western Embassies to cultivate Soviet contacts. This turns out to be complete nonsense – Faymonville cultivated such contacts, as did his counterparts in the German Moscow Embassy, who included some of the best analysts of the international situation in the Thirties anywhere: honest and brave men who went to great lengths to prevent their country committing suicide.

In recompense for Faymonville’s efforts, his ‘comrades’ in the U.S. Army engaged in all all-out attempt to find evidence to prove that he was gay. Fortunately, they failed.

Ingolf


Fascinating comments, David.

Are there any books (or articles on the net) you would recommend that deal with these American and German diplomatic efforts in Russia?

Neil Richardson

Dear Mr. Habakkuk:

"But there was no guarantee that Heinz would succeed. If he failed, then the result might be the kind of all-out war which the ‘appeasers’ correctly perceived could only have disastrous outcomes."

If this had been their calculation at the time of the Sudetenland Crisis, then why did Britain authorize the mission in Venlo in September 1939?

"Even if the attempt to out Hitler succeeded, moreover, it was a moot point whether the anti-Nazi generals could establish control over the country subsequently. After all, in large measure they came from traditional elites who had lost credibility. A civil war, which could destroy what was widely perceived as the only bulwark against communism, seemed a real possibility. And, of course, there was the fear that if German nationalism was destroyed, the communists might win out."

I'm not sure if the threat of civil war would've been as acute as it had been in the Ebert years or in 1944. In 1938, the SS was no more than the Leibstandarte plus replacement pool. Hoepner had commanded the XVI Panzerkorps and was ready to put them down. Witzleben had also commanded Wehrkreis III (Berlin). Halder and Stuelpnagel headed the General Staff. The Heer had become a completely transformed force by 1938. As I noted some years ago, the SS was nothing more than a small band of thugs and murderers who lacked even minimum tactical competence at that point in history. The Reichsheer had put down a number of putsches when they'd been effectively disarmed after the Versailles Treaty

Babak Makkinejad

The English wanted Germany as a counter-weight to USSR.

That is why they made sure Litvinov's mission failed - through deliberate neglect.

I also think that almost all Germans - excepting communists and socialists - desired Hitler - he was their Black Messiah. They were all NAZIs to the core.

C G Jung once observed that he did not see WWI coming but he was sure of World War II since he could see Wotan in every German.

Even with an Entente consisting of France, UK, and USSR the war might have come - since Germans desired it.

But it could probably have been terminated more quickly.

In my opinion.

Neil Richardson

Dear Babak:

"The English wanted Germany as a counter-weight to USSR."

I agree but these German officers weren't "liberal democrats." They tended to be monarchists (or at minimum preferred an authoritarian regime) who also happened to be ardent anti-Communists. It seems to me they would be a lot more acceptable to British desire to use Germany as a bulwark against communism. In fact if the fear of a potential German civil war had been one of primary factors, then why would the British intelligence try to make contact with German generals in Venlo? (It was a setup by the SD) It seems to me this was an attempt to close the stable door after the horse has bolted.

"I also think that almost all Germans - excepting communists and socialists - desired Hitler - he was their Black Messiah. They were all NAZIs to the core."

I disagree. The mood in Germany in 1938 was the opposite of the prevailing one in August 1914. That is the reason why these generals had seriously prepared to depose Hitler. They had expected a repeat of the First World War. Remember that the French army was considered the strongest in Europe at the time. Until February 1940, Hitler had not adopted Manstein's plan for Case Yellow. That's why the conspirators were still planning a coup as late as November 1939. Simply the General Staff had no faith in the Heer's ability to achieve a breakthrough against the French army. And as Karl Heinz-Frieser and others have shown Halder and other senior officers had very low expectation of success as their first two proposals were modifications of the Schlieffen Plan. Blitzkrieg as a doctrine was a myth created by Goebbels. The Breda variant or the Dyle Plan might not have been adopted had the Belgians not recovered Case Yellow documents in Mechelen in January 1940. Defeating Poland had been expected, but France was a completely different nut to crack as far as the OKH had been concerned.

different clue

I remember reading somewhere in Orwell's collected Letters, Essays, and Reviews a little essay he wrote about the imminent defeat of France. In it he wrote (and I paraphrase), " you just know Hitler will take the Signing of the Armistice railcar out of its museum and use it to humiliate the French officials by having them sign their surrender in it. So why doesn't someone fill that railcar with hidden explosives and detonate it when Hitler and all his principals are inside? But you just know that nobody will do that."

William R. Cumming

How did the USA factor into Hitler and Stalin's thinking between September 1939 and December 1941?

William R. Cumming

At what point did the various Great Powers armed forces become fully mechanized post WWI?

Has the rule of the tank in ground warfare largely ended?

Ulenspiegel

The German army was 1939 in a quite bad shape when we used as reference 1914. The situation was even worse in 1938, therefore, the appeasement backfired IMHO.

In 1938, the relevant counterweight in respect to ground forces was the French army and the situation was much more favourable then compared to 1939/40.

According to Frieser (Blitzkrieglegende) the large scale training program of the German army in winter 1939/40 made the difference.

In retrospective the appeasement was a mistake, in the contemporary framework it was considered to be an acceptable solution.

confusedponderer

Babak,
"I also think that almost all Germans - excepting communists and socialists - desired Hitler - he was their Black Messiah. They were all NAZIs to the core."

You judge by results. The picture is more complex than you put it.

Only because they couldn't prevent what also happened that still doesn't mean that all Germans were Nazis. Lines went right through families.

There is a reason why the Nazis kept secret things like Aktion T4. Because they were quite aware that there would have been opposition to that. And they were right in that assumption, since it was public dissent that stopped it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clemens_August_Graf_von_Galen#.22Lion_of_Munster.22

When I look at my mother's family from the Rhineland, I was told of an uncle who left the house on the evenings of 9–10 November 1938 with a briefcase and a hatchet.

My grandmother herself was landlady for a Jewish couple and one day her employers disappeared. She asked the police about their whereabouts, and was told, as friendly advice, that, having children, and with that curly black hair of hers, she ought to know better than to cause trouble for herself.

My other grandmother, father's side, was from rural East Prussia and a hardcore Catholic, from a Catholic enclave in an otherwise Protestant country. Her husband was in favour of the Nazis. When teachers tried to get my father, a good pupil, into a NAPOLA, it was her adamant refusal that made sure that didn't happen, because that was a godless school.

When she told me about the Kristallnacht, she condemned it on grounds that it was wrong to destroy houses of God.

She also told about when the local Nazi party had the idea to bust her parish's Corpus Christi procession. They trucked in SA guys from the next big city to block and harass the procession. They were beaten up by the local farmers. I recall my grandmother's smirk when she said: "Everybody beat them up, even the party members."

All NAZIS, to the core?

confusedponderer

NR,
you may be interested in: "The German Army and the Defence of the Reich - Military Doctrine and the Conduct of the Defensive Battle 1918 - 1939" by Matthias Strohn, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-19199-9

turcopolier

WRC
NR and the Germans will have more to say. None of the armies of the major powers were anything like mechanized or even motorized before WW2. The Wehrmacht invaded France and the USSR while largely a marching force dependent on horses for transport, artillery units, etc. the Germans had a horse cavalry division in Operation Barbarossa. The panzer and panzer grenadier divisions were always a minority of the force. If you look at film of the France campaign of 1944, you will see lots of dead German Army horses killed by allied air. The same thing was true of the US Army. Most US infantry divisions had little organic motorized transport right up to the end of the war. There were trucks used as prime movers for the divisions' artillery and logistics trains vehicles but that was pretty much "it." Outside the armored force most motorized transport was held in pools and assigned as needed. pl

jonst

"I also think that almost all Germans - excepting communists and socialists - desired Hitler - he was their Black Messiah. They were all NAZIs to the core.

C G Jung once observed that he did not see WWI coming but he was sure of World War II since he could see Wotan in every German"

Simplistic nonsense.

Charles I

kitsch triumph, classic, isn't that what we have now?

William R. Cumming

Thanks PL!

Lamoe2012

The last paragraph about Lincoln is why I love history so much.

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