What existed in Europe in the 1930s were mostly democratic authoritarian systems. Systems that had closed down open political competition, but did so with the support of the majority, often the enthusiasm of the majority. The idea of choosing your own rulers had been greeted with initial enthusiasm, but when people tried it they found it mostly produced weakness and deadlock. So when competent authoritarians took over, this was generally welcomed. Franco’s Spain was the only real dictatorship, based on winning a Civil War with most of the army but slightly less than half the population, and never tested in a referendum.
Had France and Britain stalemated Nazi Germany, and perhaps later won with US support, it seems unlikely they would have had the same (imperfect) commitment to extending democracy and winding up empires that occurred in the actual war, in which the Soviet Union destroyed about two-thirds of German power. Churchill was scornful of the Soviet Union as late as January 1940, when the Maginot Line seemed secure and the Soviets were having trouble against the Finns, who were even better adapted to cold-weather warfare than the Russians were. He saw it as a confirmation of all of his prejudiced – the same prejudices he had set aside a couple of years later:
“The service rendered by Finland to mankind is magnificent. They have exposed, for all the world to see, the military incapacity of the Red Army and of the Red Air Force. Many illusions about Soviet Russia have been dispelled in these few fierce weeks of fighting in the Arctic Circle. Everyone can see how Communism rots the soul of a nation; how it makes it abject and hungry in peace, and proves it base and abominable in war.” (Collected Speeches)
By the autumn of 1940, things were very different. France had surrendered. Churchill wanted to fight on, but had little hope of victory. He had to widen the war to have any hope of winning it.
If one could go back in time (very unlikely) and if one wanted to see the war end with a compromise peace in 1940 (very moot), one might have drafted a speech for Hitler that might have made all the difference. Something like:
“People of Britain, I never wanted a war with you. I do not wish to harm your empire. Before the war, I was in favour of you keeping all you had, except perhaps for Ireland’s desire for full independence and Spain’s claim to Gibraltar. But since neither country helped Germany when the war’s outcome was doubtful, I see no need to do anything for them.
“The issue is no longer doubtful. France has been defeated and made peace. If you insist on a long war, German power can destroy you. But I do not wish this. I do not want to create a legacy of British bitterness for future German leaders to face, perhaps incompetently.
“Since you made war on me, I cannot let things go back to what they were. But I would be satisfied to have military control of Gibraltar, Malta and the Suez Canal, without demanding changes in how the non-military population is governed. And I want a binding promise that never again will your navy impose famine on Germany or any other countries by blocking imports of food which we have become dependent on. As for Germany’s former colonies, I am moderate on the issue and might be willing to see existing arrangements continue with suitable concessions.
“I do not seek any occupation of any part of Britain, and will gladly withdraw from the Channel Islands. Likewise from France, Holland, Denmark and Norway, as soon as I am assured that any restored exiled rulers will not be hostile. And I must insist that you do not permit Poles or other hostile forces to operate from your territory. You are otherwise welcome to keep them, ship them out to your colonies or otherwise get rid of them, just as it pleases you.”
Such a moderate offer would almost certainly have been accepted. It’s unlikely that Hitler wanted any more. It would at least have been foolish for him to carry on a war in the hope of more. For unclear reasons, he never said it. And so the war widened.
Note also, had the war ended in 1940, millions of Jews would have survived who were in fact killed in the later extermination program. This began when Nazi Germany realised that Britain would not make a compromise peace. Knew that Nazism was either going to win decisively or be crushed utterly, so they had nothing to lose by going to extremes.
Of course the British decision to continue the war had nothing to do with the Jews under Nazi control. These could have continued to be a useful labour force doing ordinary jobs within Germany, had Hitler chosen to play it that way. Most German Jews had fought loyally for the Kaiser, and it’s likely that many would have decided they were German first, had Hitler given them the option. Jews elsewhere would have mostly cooperated in the hope of surviving the war. Instead he chose to deport them to some unspecified location in the east. He create the conditions in which mass extermination occurred, almost certainly with his knowledge and approval.
Mass killing of Jews in Germany, Poland etc. would have been unlikely to have happened had Britain not fought on in 1940. But most people get this reversed and think that this sad consequence of the war continuing past 1940 was the noble and self-sacrificing reason that the British Empire went on fighting.
The British government was fighting to save its Empire, and to preserve the remnants of the global dominance it had had since 1759. It showed a striking lack of interest in the fate of East European Jews, even though the Poles and others told them just what was happening. Only when the war was almost won was it realised that this would make good propaganda. That was one way of evading British guilt.
This is an exerpt from White Knights in Blue-Collar Armour, which is mostly about US attitudes.
This article is good and a meaningful one.
And not only did the british not continue the war for any noble cause, they were actually guilty of having pushed the germans against the jews in the first place. Elsewhere on this site you discuss Manuel Sarkisyanz book From imperialism to Fascism and briefly mention H S Chamberlain. He spent decades urging the germans to prevent any assimilation of the jews claiming they would then be even more dangerous. His books were sold in hundreds of thousands and he influenced both the Kaiser and Hitler.
It is entirely impossible that he would be allowed to carry on like that for so long without the tacit approval of the british elites.
He was clearly a british agent of influence with the task of preventing any cooperation between germans and jews.
I follow some of the arguments on ending the war with Britain but its not clear to me that he would still not have invaded Russia (Lebensraum) and the Holocaust would then still have occurred.
It is complicated by classification of semisecret deals. According to Erkki Hautamäki’s account of Mannerheims dossier S-32 , the British French and Stalin made a secret deal a month after the M/R pact where they agreed to occupy Scandinavia together and attack Hitler from the north. And then the British made sure to leak this to Hitler (who just happened to bring down a courier plane with everything exposed) so Hitler was now cornered and saw no other option then to attack. I am not trying to justify the Nazis. The Soviets were just as much cornered and had no reason to trust Hitler. But the whole thing was fomented by the British. Both Neville Chamberlain and later Churchill deliberately bungled the Norway attack to make sure Hitler would succeed. The British were the real culprits causing all the misery. Way back in time Illuminati pupil John Ruskin, who incidentally has a swastika on his grave, was the one who characterized his followers (such as Cecil Rhodes who planned to substitute anglosaxons everywhere) as ‘The Best Nordic Blood’ and the Round Tabler’s who organized the Hitler project were eager to both pit Germany against Russia and to uproot the wealthy jews so they wouldnt assimilate and team up with the continental nations. That uprooting for the benefit of the angloempire is mostly unmentioned, but makes all the difference. This exploitation of the jews for Britains geopolitical aims began already in the 1830s and went on under Lord Palmerston.
The British government was led by Winston Churchill!! “We shall fight on the beaches – we shall NEVER surrender”. I’m guessing that he meant this….,
Churchills status was admired way beyond British influence. Roosevelt and Stalin respected the man!
He intended to carry out what the round tablers had planned: To provoke a huge war and he was already acting behind the scenes before he formally took over from N Chamberlain. The latter just like Churchill, was playing his part of the script. Feigning to be on Hitlers side – he saved Hitler from being ousted by the German Generals before Hitler embarked on his Czechoslovakian invasion – then as Churchills ‘delicious war’ – as he characterized it – had started up, he could continue with his part of the script.
The British elites were driven by a grand geopolitical aim in which there was no room for win-win, just for the angloempire takes it all. Both worldwars were caused by them and the preparations had been going on since after the Napoleon wars. They were patient and insightful, they studied all targeted nations regarding culture religion etc. Eventually the continental nations could be successfully pitted against each other.
Mark Gribler fails to realise that Churchill’s high status was only gained later. In 1940 he was vulnerable, and a section of the Tory Party wanted to replace him even without a decent offer from Hitler.
nobody in Britain was going to give up Gibraltar, Malta or the Suez canal without losing in a war, and if the Germans had focused on those objectives, they might have won too. Gibraltar, Malta and the Suez canal means the entire Mediterranean, North Africa and the Middle East. And America wasn’t going to let that happen either, since everything is part of a longer range plan anyway.
If “Hitler” (what is that, euphemism for all Germans?) had wanted peace, they could started by not bombing Britain, not trying to strangle Britain by u-boats, attacks on merchants, etc. And actually withdrawing from the countries of Western Europe under their own treaty- didn’t need the British for that one.. Nobody wanted war on the Continent enough to create one where it doesn’t exist. Anyway, this imaginary “peace offer” was already made several times, lastly by Rudolph Hess when he “went crazy” and flew his single engine plane to Scotland. Spent the rest of his life in prison for it too, in almost complete isolation. What he knew!
Gibraltar was left because the americans provided Hitler with oil via the Canary Islands where the load was transferred between meeting ships from the respective sides. Otherwise like you imply taking Gibraltar would have seriously damaged Britains access to vital supplies.
And Hitler initially strongly held back the subs, expecting to collaborate with the British.
And it was Churchill who wanted Hitler to bomb British civilians. The US ambassador Joseph Kennedy witnessed Churchill’s wish to provoke Hitlers aggression and the British bombed Berlin for over a week before Hitler retalliated. The exiled Edward VIII, who feared bolshevism was going to take over the world, wanted Hitler to fight them and therefore wanted peace with Germany. Edward is said to have encouraged the bombing of Britain in order to enable a regime change with Edward offering to rule over Britain under Nazi ockupation. When Edward visited Hitler, the latter took Edward’s wife Wallis in both hands and said: you will make a good queen.
Edward probably had little inside info about the deep state to which Churchill belonged. So his redscare, I believe, should be seen as genuine. In my view, Wallis however might have been a double agent judging from her actions. Her role would have been to aid Britain to fool Hitler in order for Britain to successfully pit Germany against the USSR while the British managing to stay out of most of the fighting ‘sitting on the fence’.