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Did the British start the WWII?

  1. Feb 7, 2006 #1

    EnumaElish

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    I came across this post under another (now locked) thread:
    which sounded unusual (in an impartial sense of the word). Can anyone elaborate or point me in the right direction as to what the underlying story might be here?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 7, 2006 #2

    turbo

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    Please start studying history. If you think that Britain was picking on poor little Germany, you might not have done your homework.
     
  4. Feb 7, 2006 #3

    Art

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    The second world war didn't have a definitive starting point as there were regional fights going on all over the place. The full blown war joined up all the dots. It started from Britain's point of view when Britain (and France a couple of days later) declared war on Germany when Germany (and Russia) invaded Poland having previously told Hitler as far as they were concerned he could have a free hand in the east (because Britain was more worried about Russia).

    It is also interesting (and telling) to note Britain had rejected an offer from Russia of a mutual defence pact the year before.

    The British strategy fell apart when Russia and Germany, instead of coming to blows, signed a non-aggression pact and set about carving up Poland between them.

    Poland were themselves no innocents they had been allies of Germany the year before and had happily shared the spoils of their joint invasion of Czecho-Slovakia.

    Poland and Germany fell out when Poland refused to return the Port of Danzig which had been taken off Germany and given to the Poles after WW1.
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2006
  5. Feb 7, 2006 #4

    jimmy p

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    If I recall, Germany was invading and pinching land all over the place, but Poland was the last straw. (brief and uninsightful :tongue2:)
     
  6. Feb 7, 2006 #5

    russ_watters

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    Art, could you be specific: are you claiming that Britain wanted to go to war prior to, say, 1938?

    Also, could WWII have been prevented by any action (or non-action) from Britain?
     
  7. Feb 7, 2006 #6

    Art

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    No, it is my understanding they didn't want to go to war prior to 1938. Britain's ruling elite were supportive of Hitler and saw Stalin's Russia as their greatest threat. In fact it is still a mystery to historians why Chamberlain did a complete U turn.

    As I said he encouraged Hitler to expand eastwards. First Hallifax in Nov 1937 followed by a cofidential meeting between the British Ambassador in Berlin, Sir Neville Henderson and Hitler where the message was conveyed that the British Gov't was "much in sympathy with Hitler's desire for change in europe to Germany's benefit." Respected historians such as Liddell Hart have stated their belief that without this encouragement Hitler would never have set out on his invasion path.

    People misunderstand what WW2 was. There were numerous conflicts going on. Some would have been avoidable and some not.

    It is possible that much of western europe could have avoided warfare if either Britain and France had allied with Germany (which if not for Churchill could have been a distinct possibility) or if Britain had signed the mutual defence pact offered by Russia in 1938.

    Another strong possibilty is that if Britain and France hadn't declared war it is possible that having carved up Poland, Russia and Germany would have come to blows far earlier and worn each other out.

    Or if, as stated above, were it not for the active encouragement given to Hitler by the British gov't. he would never have developed his ambitions. (This is based on documents recovered after the war detailing meetings between Hitler and his military)

    Going back a little further if the Versailles treaty following WW1 had not been so hard on Germany it is unlikely that Hitler would ever have risen to power.

    Whether the USA might have avoided the war in the Pacific and thus Britain might have avoided the loss of their eastern empire is another question entirely. That had it's own separate logic and motivations.
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2006
  8. Feb 7, 2006 #7

    russ_watters

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    Does the whole thing with the Jews weigh into that at all??

    Also, how do you differentiate between appeasement and actual encouragement?
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2006
  9. Feb 7, 2006 #8
    Antisemitism was pretty rampant at that point in history unless I am mistaken and I think that Art was right when he stated (in the other thread) that we didn't really know how bad the situation with the jews had gotten until the war was already under way.
     
  10. Feb 7, 2006 #9

    russ_watters

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    That isn't what I was getting at. I'm wondering what impact that had or what kind of indicator (even if not discovered until after the war) that was of whether or not war with Germany was inevitable.
     
  11. Feb 7, 2006 #10

    russ_watters

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    Also, do you have a reference for this quote?:
     
  12. Feb 7, 2006 #11
    It seems that not many were very concerned. Several European countries even assisted in rounding them up and executing them.
    I see what you mean though I think it may have fallen out like Rawanda where several people denounced what was going on but dragged their feet when it came to doing anything about it.
     
  13. Feb 7, 2006 #12

    EnumaElish

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    I think you are referring to the Appeasement Policy that was in effect until Churchill replaced Chamberlin. Hitler very much hoped and waited for Britain (or France) to join him in the fight against Communism.
     
  14. Feb 8, 2006 #13
    I was under the impression that the Nazi's were developing there munitions and warfare hardware with restrictions impossed on them by the British after WW1. One thing I found interesting is that they let the Nazi's after some negotiation to build there Army/Navy but restricted it to Tonnage not units. Which with recent (at the time) discoveries in Engineering ment that they could build a LOT of units with the restrictions impossed. Another thing I understood was that the Nazi's would have gone west in any event, because they did not like the fact we (UK/US/FR)had put restrictions on them. The Riech main aim was to form a massive empire, so even if we did sign anything with them I believe they would have gone west regardless.
     
  15. Feb 8, 2006 #14

    Art

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    History of the Second World War - Liddell Hart p9

    Here's some more corroborating quotes -

    Henry (Chips) Channon, diary entry (5th December, 1936)

    William Gallacher, a member of the Communist Party, was a strong advocate of a military alliance with the Soviet Union. He was also opposed to the appeasement policy of the Conservative government. He wrote about these views in The Chosen Few (1940).

    Hugh Christie, report to MI6 on a meeting he had with Hermann Goering on 3rd February, 1937.

    Henry (Chips) Channon, diary entry on the opponents of appeasement in the Conservative Party (22nd March, 1938)

    Note the use of the term insurgents to show how far out of step Churchill was at that time with British policy towards Germany.
     
  16. Feb 8, 2006 #15

    Art

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    No, at least the rampant anti-semitism prevalent particularly in Germany, although well known, never seems to have been mentioned in any of the discussions leading up to the war. It seems most european countries were at best indifferent to the fate of the jews.

    IMO Appeasement is giving up something you own in order to avoid war which Britain never did. Encouragement is actively supporting by word or deed other people giving up something they own in support of your own perceived national interest. In this case the fear of communism far outweighed the fear of Hitler who's anti-communist policies were admired by many in Britain.
     
  17. Feb 8, 2006 #16

    russ_watters

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    In other words, you don't think the appeasement policy existed?

    Given the history of Germany's actions leading up to the war, starting as far back as 1933 with the start of the persecution of the Jews and the withdrawal from the League of Nations, I find your perspective on this hard to reconcile with historical fact. I believe such facts show pretty conclusively that Germany was moving toward war long before it happened, and there was little anyone could do to stop it - about the only thing that could have been done was to have the war sooner, before Germany became so strong. Britain may have hoped to avoid joining the war (or opening a new front on the west) by appeasing Germany about pushing east, but that wasn't going to stop the war either way - contrary to the implication in the initial quote in this thread. That quote says, essentially, that WWII started when Britian declared war - but the war was, most certainly, already underway before Britain entered it. Perhaps it couldn't be called a "world war" until then, but a war for control of Europe was most certainly underway, whether the major powers choose to join or not.

    Quotes about how diplomats personally liked the Nazi diplomats are not equivalent to saying that they actively encouraged Germany's expansion and that view you are expressing is not the prevaling historical view.
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2006
  18. Feb 8, 2006 #17

    Art

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    Appeasement was simply a derogatory term used by opponents to criticise the conservative party's foreign policy at the time.

    Don't confuse historical facts with WW2 movies. The information I have provided is historical fact and serious historians have a very different view to the popular spin put on events by the eventual victors. Probably best summed up by a quote from Churchill "history will be kind to me because I intend to write it"

    edit- can you provide any sources to show that saving the jews from persecution was a factor in Britain or anyone else for that matter going to war with Germany?

    Appeasement suggests a begrudging approval. The records show that the PM and his foreign secretary actively supported Hitler's expansion eastward as did the Duke of Windsor and many other high ranking British officials.

    I have already expanded on my initial quote - when world war 2 actually started is a matter of perspective. From the British point of view it started when they declared war on Germany in Sept 1939 whereas the Ethiopians no doubt believe it started when Italy invaded them a few years earlier in 1935. It could equally be argued that WW2 began as early as the end of WW1 with the seeds of discontent sown by the Versailles Treaty or as late as 1941 when Japan and the USA became involved. For practical purposes it seems fair to say that it started when the first super power of the time - Britain, became involved in which case it is also fair to say it began with Britain's declaration of war.

    As for the timing of the war, Britain, France and Poland should have pulverised Germany in Sept 1939. It was a combination of brilliant generalship by the Germans coupled with unbelievable incompetence by the allies that led to Germany's initial conquest of europe.

    Given that combination any time would have been a bad time for the allies.

    At the outbreak Poland had 30 active divisions and 10 reserve divisions. It also had 12 large cavalry divisions although only 1 was motorised plus it had 2,500,000 trained men available to mobilise. France had 110 divisions including 2 mechanised and 1 armoured and a further 5,000,000 trained men available to mobilise. Britain sent 5 divisions to help France and imposed a naval blockade.

    Germany on the other hand had 52 active divisions who were very short of artillary and other weapons. At the start of the war Germany had 0 heavy tanks and only a handful of medium tanks.

    Records show that the German generals at the time were astonished and greatly relieved that France and Britain did not attack their western flank whilst they were fighting Poland. If they had done so Germany would have been crushed. Instead with their WW1 mentality they sat in their fixed defensive lines for 10 months whilst Germany built up it's armed forces with ironically the help of the Russians who's public overtures for an alliance with Britain had been spurned.


    already addressed
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2006
  19. Feb 8, 2006 #18
    So after the war, what happened to Germany in terms of restrictions placed on them? was there another treaty signed like at Versaille? Are those restrictions and laws (if any) still in effect to this day?
     
  20. Feb 8, 2006 #19

    Art

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    The allies accepted that the harshness of the Versailles treaty was the major influence leading to the popular support for the remilitarisation of Germany and that it provided the fertile conditions which allowed Hitler to come to power and so after WW2 the allies were far more gracious in victory. This time they helped to rebuild Germany through the Marshall Plan.

    Austria was split off again as an independent state and it and Germany were divided between 4 zones controlled by Britain, France, America and Russia. There were demands made for reparations by the allied powers totalling $320 billion but I am unsure if any of this was ever paid.

    The jews also made demands for reparations and several billion dollars was paid to the new state of Israel. Further reparations were sought and paid to compensate the eastern european jews following the reunification of Germany.

    Other than that the allies insisted Germany rewrite their constitution to prevent offensive wars and to prevent an individual such as Hitler grabbing power again.

    The allies also entrenched a large army in Germany both to make sure the Germans behaved and as a buffer in case of a Russian invasion.
     
  21. Feb 8, 2006 #20
    i doubt that the british actually started WWII because most of the western leaders wanted to fight communism. hitler was one of roosevelt's allies, & it's common knowledge that germany declared war on the US when they declared war on japan. the US, however did want to enter the war because of they (well the council on foreign relations & the state dept, etc) knew that the US would basically rule the world afterwards. bill blum has written that
    http://members.aol.com/essays6/abomb.htm
     
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