Showing posts from October, 2019

Eighty years ago, blacked out British roads kill more people than the Luftwaffe

Stalin continued in his attempts to remake European diplomacy in the wake of his partition of Poland in partnership with Hitler. His largest move met with a resounding failure. He might have abandoned his old Bolshevist heritage in many ways, but he retained a near-paranoid suspicion of Britain as the most vigorous military enemy of the Russian Revolution. He tried to browbeat Turkey into agreeing to come to the Soviet Union’s assistance should Britain and France attack. The Turks, though, understood that the Soviet Union posed a far greater threat than the western powers and signed a mutual assistance pact with Britain and France. This provided one of the bedrocks of Turkish neutrality through the war which ultimately worked firmly to the benefit of both sides. Stalin’s demands to Finland met with an equally cold response. A Finnish delegation left Moscow after a stay of barely hours after they had been presented with a catalogue of territories that they were expected to s

Eight years ago, the Germans paint Chamberlain as a war-monger as he bewails the horror of war privately

The German media – in other words – propaganda granted Neville Chamberlain what might be considered a badge of honour: the epithet of war-monger which it had previously reserved for committed opponents of appeasement such as Winston Churchill or Duff Cooper. His reaction is not recorded.   He was granted the title for his firm rejection of Hitler’s peace proposals. The aggressive German tone was designed to mask the fact that these proposals did not feature any kind or restoration of the Polish state which had just been destroyed. The raison d’ĂȘtre for the war had disappeared irretrievably so the Germans hoped that they could pass themselves off as the friends of peace. This kind of pitch was angled at isolationists in the US. Here one of the most vocal members of that tribe, Colonel Charles Lindbergh, broadened his assault on anyone willing to fight Hitler from his struggle to keep his own country out of war. In an outrageous criticism of an independent country, he ar

Eighty years ago, Hitler repeats his discredited demand for colonies in Africa as Lloyd George puts down his marker as the man of a negotiated settlement

Even before Hitler launched his much-heralded “peace offensive”, former British Prime Minister David Lloyd George rushed to stake his claim as the voice of potential compromise with a call to the House of Commons that any proposals coming from the German side should not be rejected out of hand. Few would have forgotten that he had visited Hitler at the Berghof in 1936. In the event there was little substance to what Hitler eventually proposed in his speech: some form of conference and a colonial settlement. It was little more than a manoeuvre to portray Britain and France as the war-mongers, but it did garner some favourable comment in the USA. The latter was an old chestnut that would have alerted any informed insider that he was hardly being serious; when Neville Chamberlain had tried to buy Hitler’s friendship in early 1938 with the suggestion of returning formerly German-held territories in African seized in the First World War with millions of inhabitants, Hitler had turn