Hitler’s War – by David lrving

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  1. http://www.nazi.org.uk/political%20pdfs/HitlersWar.pdf DAVID IRVING: “Hitler’s War” (1977 edition) THE original edition of David Irving’s revolutionary biography Hitler’s War, published in 1977 in the UK by Hodder & Stoughton, London, and in the United States by The Viking Press, New York, has been scanned and converted into 42 chapters in html format; you can download each chapter individually, or download all 42 at once in a compressed (.zip) file (one megabyte) which expands to a folder containing all 42 chapters, a hyperlinked Contents list, and this note. Note that this 1977 edition does not include the pre-war chapters, which were published a year later as The War Path. (This is available as a separate free download.) The html pages are not as aesthetically pleasing as the pdf version (a pdf version of this 1977 edition will be uploaded later in 2003). But the html version has the advantage over the pdf format of being smaller, and more easily searchable. The small print: This a free download, and you are trusted to make only proper and appropriate use of it — reading it for your own enjoyment or for research purposes. This book is a copyright © document. It is not to be commercially exploited or distributed in ANY WAY without written permission from Parforce UK Ltd. PDF create by dudeman5685 (I’m sure Irving won’t mind) Contents Introduction “White” Overtures Incidents Clearing Decks Destroy Them Too Hors d’Oeuvre War Lord Big Decision The Dilemma Molotov Barbarossa Directive Hold its Breath Behind the Door A Bitter Victory Hess Bormann Pricking Bubble The Country Poacher Kiev Cold Harvest A Test of Endurance Hitler Takes Command Hitler’s Word is Law Blue Black Spot for Halder Africa and Stalingrad Trauma and Tragedy Retreat Strychnine Cluthing at Straws Correcting the Front Line “Axis” Feelers to Stalin “So It Will Be” Trouble from Providence Most Reviled Yellow Briefcase Recognize My Voice Who Rides a Tiger Rommel Gets a Choice Brink of a Volcano The Gamble Waiting for Telegram Hitler Goes to Ground “Eclipse” David Irving HITLER’S WAR Acknowledgments I like to think that I chose precisely the right ten years to work on Hitler. Any earlier, and the archives would not have begun to disgorge their captured papers ; any later, and those who came closest to enjoying Hitler’s confidence would have died. Hitler’s secretaries and adjutants were without exception of the utmost help. Traudl Junge and Christa Schroeder provided unpublished manuscripts and letters of the period ; his adjutants Admiral Karl-Jesco von Puttkamer (navy), General Gerhard Engel (army), and Colonel Nicolaus von Below (Luftwaffe) did the same, and labored through much of the resulting manuscript. Without the memories of Colonel Erik von Amsberg, Max W¸nsche, Fritz Darges, and Otto G¸nsche, many a gap in our knowledge would have remained unfilled. But many other adjutants attending Hitler’s conferences also assisted—of whom I must single out for mention Major General Ottomar Hansen, Lieutenant Colonel Ernst John von Freyend, Admiral Kurt Freiwald, and Captain Herbert Friedrichs, and particularly Johannes G–hler and Wolf Eberhard for the important diaries and letters they made available to me for the first time. The most important documents were provided by Professor Hugh Trevor-Roper and by Lev Besymenski. Dr. Cortez F. Enloe, Washington, D.C., furnished medical records on Hitler. FranÁois Genoud, Lausanne, Switzerland, supplied key extracts from Bormann’s personal files ; Frau Asta Greiner, Wiesbaden, Germany, her husband’s unpublished diaries and private correspondence ; the stenographer Karl Thot, Bonn, his war diary ; the late Colonel Karl-Heinz Keitel, papers from his father’s collection ; Albert Speer, Heidelberg, Germany, his office Chronik and other papers ; Reinhard Spitzy, Austria, certain letters ; G¸nter Peis, Munich, selected items from his unique collection ; and Dr. Heinrich Heim, Munich, papers originating from his period as Martin Bormann’s adjutant ; furthermore Hitler’s doctors Professor Hanskarl von Hasselbach, Dr. Erwin Giesing, and Dr. Richard Weber provided papers or other aid. Many of the collections deposited in the archives would have remained closed to me without the kindness of the following : Isabella Adam, Ursula Backe, Anni Brandt, Ilse Dittmar, Friedl Koller, Paula Kubizek, Baroness Jutta von Richthofen, the late Lucie Rommel, Anneliese Schmundt, Gertrud Seyss-Inquart, Ruth von Vormann, Elisabeth Wagner, Elisabeth Todt, Margarete von Waldau, Baroness Marga von Weichs, Baroness Marianne von Weizs”cker—all of whom either permitted me to see or provided me with direct access to their husbands’ papers, letters, and diaries. (The Weizs”cker diaries have been expertly transcribed by my colleague Professor Leonidas E. Hill.) Frau Blanda Benteler allowed me the diaries of her husband Walther Hewel ; Liselotte von Salmuth those of her husband, the Colonel General ; Else Renate Nagy the manuscripts and papers of her late husband Dr. Wilhelm Scheidt—adjutant of Hitler’s court historian General Walter Scherff ; Frau Gerta von Radinger the private letters of her late husband, Alwin-Broder Albrecht (whom she had married in 1940). Frau Anneliese Schmundt gave me her private war diary. I am also grateful to Dr. Peter von Blomberg, Manfred Br¸ckner, General Heinz-G¸nther Guderian, Joachim Hoepner, Hermann Leeb, Fritz von Lossberg, R¸diger von Manstein, and Roland Schaub for permission to use the private papers of their fathers. The late Karl-Otto Saur, Field Marshal Erhard Milch, Major General Ivo-Thilo von Trotha, General Walter von Seydlitz-Kurzbach, Ambassador Dr. Hasso von Etzdorf, and the late Ludwig Krieger, stenographer, all made diaries and papers available to me. Of those who gave up their time for long conversations or to write letters I must mention these : Ludwig Bahls, Werner Best, Karl Bodenschatz, Herta Berger—widow of the stenographer killed on July 20, 1944—Herbert B¸chs, Eugen Dollmann, Peterpaul von Donat, Xaver Dorsch, Baron Sigismund von Falkenstein, Ambassador AndrÈ FranÁois Poncet, Reinhard Gehlen, Otto-Heinz Grosskreutz, Werner Grothmann, Hedwig Haase, Ernst “Putzi” Hanfstaengl, Heider Heydrich, Ralph Hewins, Ambassador Hans von Herwarth, Professor Andreas Hillgruber, Professor Raul Hilberg, Gebhard Himmler, Walter Huppenkothen, Professor Hans-Adolf Jacobsen, Elisabeth Kaltenbrunner, Hans Kehrl, Werner Koeppen, Marlene Kunde (nÈe Exner), Dr. O.H. Schmitz-Lammers, Helmut Laux, Heinz Linge, Field Marshal Friedrich List, Heinz Lorenz, Colonel J.L. McCowen, Johanna Morell, Josef M¸ller, Pastor Martin Niem–ller, Max Pemsel, Leo Raubal, the late Anneliese von Ribbentrop, Walter Rohland, J¸rgen Runzheimer, Professor Ernst-G¸nther Schenck, Henriette von Schirach, Richard Schulze-Kossens, Dietrich Schwencke, former Federal Chancellor Dr. Kurt von Schuschnigg, General Curt Siewert, Otto Skorzeny, Gertrud and Friedrich Stumpfegger, the late Helmut S¸ndermann, Admiral Gerhard Wagner, Winifred Wagner, Karl Wahl, Walter Warlimont, and Karin Weigl. Walter Frentz placed his photographic collection at my disposal ; Peter Hoffmann his expertise ; Frau Luise Jodl her husband’s papers. For most of the ten years I also plagued archives and institutes with my inquiries. I am most indebted to the exemplary Institut f¸r Zeitgeschichte in Munich, and to its then director Professor Helmuth Krausnick and above all its head of archives Dr. Anton Hoch, who guided me as friend and mentor with great objectivity and ability from October 1966 onward ; Frau Karla G–tz, Hermann Weiss, and Anton Zirngibl fulfilled my often immodest demands, and Dr. Wolfgang Jacobmeyer permitted me to use his prepared edition of the Hans Frank diaries. In transferring to the Institut my entire Hitler document collection, including the interview and interrogation records, Hitler’s armament decrees, the Canaris/Lahousen fragments, a correct transcription of Greiner’s war diary notes, the Scheidt papers, and much else, I hope to have recompensed in part for the assistance given me. Much of the material was microfilmed by the Imperial War Museum, London S.E. I, before I transferred it to Munich ; these films are available from the museum’s Foreign Documents Centre. I also transferred my collection of records on Hitler’s medical history to the Bundesarchiv in Koblenz, Germany (where it is filed as item Kl. Erw. 525). I placed a copy of the Fritzsch Papers, 1938-39, in the Bundesarchiv- Milit”rarchiv in Freiburg, Germany, where Dr. Friedrich-Christian Stahl, Alfred Bottler, and Colonel Helmuth Vorwieg aided me. At the neighboring Militargeschichtliches Forschungsamt (of the German Defense Ministry) I was guided by Colonels Karl Gundeslach, Manfred Kehrig, Rolf Elbe, and Dr. Georg Meyer through the intricacies of their own archives. At Nuremberg’s State Archives Dr. Puchner and Dr. Schuhmann aided me ; and at the F¸hrungsakademie der Bundeswehr in Hamburg Colonel Helmuth Technau was kind enough to allow me to carry volumes of original records—including the important Koller diaries—to London with me to put on microfilm. In the Operational Archives Branch at Washington Navy Yard I met with the fullest cooperation of Dr. Dean C. Allard and Mrs. Mildred D. Mayeux ; and Robert Wolfe, John E. Taylor, Thomas E. Hohmann, and their colleagues provided assistance at the National Archives. I must also mention Mrs. Agnes F. Peterson of the Hoover Library, Stanford, California ; Detmar Finke of the Office of the Chief of Military History (OCMH), Washington D.C.; and Mr. George E. Blau, chief historian of USAEUR headquarters, Heidelberg, Germany. The U.S. Mission’s Berlin Document Center provided speedy and efficient assistance while under its director Richard Bauer, as did the heads of archives of the German, French, Finnish, and British foreign offices. In London I encountered particularly useful help from Dr. Leo Kahn of the Imperial War Museum ; Squadron Leader L.A. Jackets of the Air Historical Branch ; Mr. Brian Melland, Mr. Clifton Child, and Mrs. Nan Taylor of the Cabinet Office Historical Section ; and Mr. K. Hiscock at the Foreign Office Library. World War II researchers will find many of the special microfilms of materials prepared by me while researching this book available now from E.P. Microform Ltd., East Ardsley, Wakefield, Yorkshire, England. This book would have been impossible without the patience and generosity of the many publishers who waited long years for the scaffolding to be removed from this monumentum aeris which I have erected. My editors, Alan Williams of the Viking Press and Stanley Hochman, provided me with many a stimulus and useful reproof. Without the indulgence of my wife, Pilar, in putting up with the years of turmoil and inconvenience the book might not have appeared. Nor shall I forget the nameless legions who typed, translated, or trudged the archives with me : Mrs. Jutta Thomas, the only one of my secretaries to survive the full marathon, and my colleague Elke Frohlich, who encouraged me to persist and helped me to scale the mountains of records in Berlin, Munich, London, Freiburg, and Bonn that had daunted and dissuaded other writers and would otherwise have discouraged me. Introduction “ To historians is granted a talent that even the gods are denied—to alter what has already happened !” I bore this scornful adage in mind when I embarked on this study of Hitler’s war years late in 1964. I saw myself as a stone-cleaner—less concerned with a wordy and subjective architectural appraisal than with scrubbing years of grime and discoloration from the facade of a silent and forbidding monument, uncertain whether the revealed monument would prove too hideous to be worthy of the effort. In earlier books, I relied on the primary records of the period rather than published literature ; I naÔvely supposed that the same technique could within five years be applied to a study of Adolf Hitler, little realizing that it would be eleven years before I would lay bare the factual bedrock on which the legend of Hitler had been built. But I believe that hard rubbing has disclosed a picture of the man that nobody until now had suspected. My conclusion on completing the research startled even me : while Adolf Hitler was a powerful and relentless military commander, the war years saw him as a lax and indecisive political leader who allowed affairs of state to rot. In fact he was probably the weakest leader Germany has known in this century. Though often brutal and insensitive, Hitler lacked the ability to be ruthless where it mattered most, e.g., he refused to bomb London itself until the decision was forced on him in the late summer of 1940. He was reluctant to impose the test of total mobilization on the German “master race” until it was too late to matter, so that with munitions factories crying out for manpower, idle German housewives were still employing half a million domestic servants to dust their homes and polish their furniture. His military irresolution also showed through, for example, in his panicky vaccillation at times of crisis like the Battle for Narvik in 1940. He took ineffectual measures against his enemies inside Germany for too long, and seems to have been unable to take effective action against strong opposition at the very heart of his High Command. He suffered incompetent ministers and generals far longer than the Allied leaders did. He failed too to unite the feuding Party and Wehrmacht factions in fighting for the common cause, and he proved incapable of stifling the OKH’ (War Department’s) corrosive hatred of the OKW (the Wehrmacht High Command). I believe I show in this book that the more hermetically Hitler locked himself away behind the barbed wire and minefields of his remote military headquarters, the more his Germany became a F¸hrer- Staat without a F¸hrer. Domestic policy was controlled by whoever was most powerful in each sector—by Hermann G–ring as head of the powerful economics office, the Four- Year Plan ; by Hans Lammers as chief of the Reich Chancellery or by Martin Bormann, the Nazi party boss ; or by Heinrich Himmler, minister of the interior and “Reichsf¸hrer” of the black-uniformed SS. The problem is that Hitler was a puzzle even to his most intimate advisers. Joachim Ribbentrop, his foreign minister, wrote in his Nuremberg prison cell in 1945 : I got to know Adolf Hitler more closely in 1933. But if I am asked today whether I knew him well—how he thought as a politician and statesman, what kind of man he was—then I’m bound to confess that I know only very little about him ; in fact nothing at all. The fact is that although I went through so much together with him, in all the years of working with him I never came closer to him than on the first day we met, either personally or otherwise. As a historian I have resorted to the widest possible spectrum of source materials. I have not only used the military records and archives ; I have burrowed deep into the contemporary writings of his closest friends and personal staff, seeking clues to the real truth in their diaries or in the private letters they wrote to their wives and friends. In this way I have tried to understand the intricacies and contradictions in Hitler’s last years. The sheer complexity of that character is evident from a comparison of his extreme brutality in some respects and his almost maudlin sentimentality and stubborn adherence to long-abandoned military conventions in others. In the chapters that follow, we shall find Hitler cold-bloodedly ordering the execution of fifty or a hundred hostages for every German occupation-soldier killed ; dictating the massacre of Italian soldiers who turned their weapons against the German troops in 1943 ; ordering the systematic liquidation of Red Army commissars, Allied Commando troops, and—in 1945—even captured Allied aircrews ; in 1942 he announces to the General Staff that the entire male populations of Stalingrad and Leningrad will eventually be exterminated, and he justifies these orders to himself and to his staff by political doctrines and the expediencies of war. Yet the same Adolf Hitler indignantly exclaimed, in one of the last war conferences of his life, that Soviet tanks were flying the Nazi swastika as a ruse during street fighting in Berlin, and he flatly forbade his Wehrmacht to violate flag rules ! In an age in which the governments of the democracies, both during World War II and in later years, unhesitatingly attempted, engineered, or condoned the assassination of the inconvenient—from General Sikorski, Admiral Darlan, Field Marshal Rommel, and King Boris to Fidel Castro, Patrice Lumumba, and Salvador Allende—we learn that Hitler, the unscrupulous dictator, not only never resorted to the assassination of foreign opponents, but flatly forbade the Abwehr (Intelligence Agency) to attempt it (in particular he rejected Admiral Canaris’s plans to assassinate the Red Army General Staff). The negative is traditionally always difficult to prove ; but it seemed well worth attempting to discredit accepted dogmas if only to expose the “unseaworthiness” of many current legends about Hitler. The most durable of these concerns the F¸hrer’s involvement in the extermination of the Jews. My analysis of this controversial issue serves to highlight two broad conclusions : that in wartime, dictatorships are fundamentally weak—the dictator himself, however alert, is unable to oversee all the functions of his executives acting within the confines of his far-flung empire ; and that in this particular case, the burden of guilt for the bloody and mindless massacre of the Jews rests on a large number of Germans, many of them alive today, and not just on one “mad dictator,” whose order had to be obeyed without question. I had approached the massacre of the Jews from the traditional viewpoint prevailing in the mid-196os. “Supposing Hitler was a capable statesman and a gifted commander,” the argument ran, “how does one explain his murder of six million Jews ?” If this book were simply a history of the rise and fall of Hitler’s Reich, it would be legitimate to conclude : “Hitler killed the Jews.” He after all created the atmosphere of hatred with his anti- Semitic speeches in the 1930s ; he and Himmler created the SS ; he built the concentration camps ; his speeches, though never explicit, left the clear impression that “liquidate” was what he meant. For a full-length war biography of Hitler, I felt that a more analytical approach to the key questions of initiative, complicity, and execution would be, necessary. Remarkably, I found that Hitler’s own role in the “Final Solution of the Jewish Problem” has never been examined. German historians, usually the epitome of painstaking essaying on every other subject, to whom no hypothesis is acceptable unless scrutinized from a thousand angles, suddenly developed monumental blind spots when Hitler himself cropped up : bald statements were made, legends were created, blame was laid, without a shadow of historical evidence in support. British and American historians followed suit. Other writers quoted them. For thirty years, our knowledge of Hitler’s part in the atrocity has rested on inter-historian incest. Many people, particularly in Germany and Austria, had an interest in propagating the accepted version that the order of one madman originated the entire massacre. Precisely when the order was given and in what form has, admittedly, never been established. In 1939?—but the secret extermination camps did not begin operating until December 1941. At the January 1942 “Wannsee Conference”?—but the incontrovertible evidence is that Hitler ordered on November 30, 1941, that there was to be “no liquidation” of the Jews (without much difficulty, I found in Himmler’s private files his own handwritten note on this). On several subsequent dates in 1942 Hitler made—in private—statements which are totally incompatible with the notion that he knew that the liquidation program had in fact begun. In 1943, and again in early 1944, I find that documents being submitted to Hitler by the SS were tampered with so as to camouflage the truth about the pogrom : sometimes the files contain both the original texts and the “doctored” version submitted to Hitler. Small wonder that when his closest crony of all those years, SS General Josef (“Sepp”) Dietrich, was asked by the American Seventh Army for an opinion on Hitler on June 1, 1945, he replied, “He knew even less than the rest. He allowed himself to be taken for a sucker by everyone.” My own hypothesis, to which I point in the various chapters in which I deal in chronological sequence with the unfolding persecution and liquidation of the European Jews, is this : he killing was partly of an ad hoc nature, what the Germans call a Verlegenheitsl–sung—the way out of an awkward dilemma, chosen by the middle-level authorities in the eastern territories overrun by the Nazis—and partly a cynical extrapolation by the central SS authorities of Hitler’s anti-Semitic decrees. Hitler had unquestionably decreed that Europe’s Jews were to be “swept back” to the east ; I describe the various phase-lines established by this doctrine. But the SS authorities, Gauleiters, and regional commissars and governors in “the east” proved wholly unequal to the problems caused by this mass uprooting in midwar. The Jews were brought by the trainload to ghettos already overcrowded and underprovisioned. Partly in collusion with each other, partly independently, the Nazi agencies there simply liquidated the deportees as their trains arrived, on a scale increasingly more methodical and more regimented as the months passed. A subsidiary motive in the atrocity was the animal desire of the murderers to loot and plunder the Jewish victims and conceal their traces. (This hypothesis does not include the methodical liquidation of Russian Jews during the “Barbarossa” invasion of 1941, which came under a different Nazi heading—preemptive guerrilla warfare ; and there is no indication that Hitler expressed any compunctions about it.) We shall see how in October 1943, even as Himmler was disclosing to audiences of SS generals and Gauleiters that Europe’s Jews had virtually been exterminated, Hitler was still forbidding liquidations—e.g., of the Italian Jews in Rome—and ordering their internment instead. (This order his SS also disobeyed.) Wholly in keeping with his character, when Hitler was confronted with the facts—either then or, as Kaltenbrunner later claimed, in October 1944—he took no action to rebuke the guilty. His failure or inability to act in effect kept the extermination machinery going until the end of the war. It is plausible to impute to Hitler that not uncommon characteristic of Heads of State who are overreliant on powerful advisers : a conscious desire “not to know.” But the proof of this is beyond the powers of any historian. What we can prove is that Himmler several times explicitly accepted responsibility for the liquidation decision. Given the brutality of Hitler’s orders to “dispose of” the entire male populations of two major Soviet cities, his insistence on the execution of hostages on a one hundred to one basis, his demands for the liquidation of Italian soldiers, Polish intellectuals, clergy and nobility, and captured Allied airmen and Red Army commissars, his apparent reluctance to acquiesce in the extermination of Europe’s Jews remains a mystery. His order in July 1944, despite Himmler’s objections, that Jews be “sold” for foreign currency and supplies suggests to some that like contemporary terrorists he saw these captives as a potential “asset,” a means by which he could blackmail the civilized world. In any case, by April 1945 whatever inhibitions he may have felt were overcome, and we find him ordering Himmler to liquidate any unevacuated prisoners from concentration camps that were in danger of being overrun by American troops. My central conclusion, however, is that Hitler was a less than omnipotent F¸hrer and that his grip on his immediate subordinates weakened as the war progressed. Hitler certainly realized this, but too late—in the final days, in his Berlin air raid shelter. In the last two chapters we see him struggling vainly to turn the clock back, to reassert his lost authority by securing one last tactical victory over his enemies. But there are few generals—either Wehrmacht or SS—who now heed him. I also found it necessary to set very different historical accents on the doctrinaire foreign policies Hitler enforced—from his apparent unwillingness to humiliate Britain when she lay prostrate in 1940 (as I believe I establish on pages 152-53, for example), to his damaging and emotional hatred of the Serbs, his illogical and over-loyal admiration of Benito Mussolini, and his irrational mixtures of emotions toward Josef Stalin. For a modern English historian there is a certain morbid fascination in inquiring how far Adolf Hitler really was bent on the destruction of Britain and her Empire—a major raison d’Ítre for her ruinous fight, which in 1940 imperceptibly supplanted the more implausible one proffered in August 1939 : the rescue of Poland from outside oppression. Since in the chapters that follow evidence extracted again and again from the most intimate sources— like Hitler’s private conversations with his women secretaries in June 1940—indicates that he originally had neither the intention nor the desire to harm Britain or destroy the Empire, surely British readers at least must ask themselves : What, then, were we fighting for ? Given that the British people exhausted their assets and lost their Empire in defeating Hitler, was he after all right when he noted that Britain’s essential attitude was “AprËs moi le dÈluge—if only we can get rid of the hated National Socialist Germany ?” Unburdened by ideological idealism, the Duke of Windsor suspected in July 1940 that the war continued solely in order to allow certain British statesmen to save face, even if it meant dragging their country and the Empire into financial ruin. Others pragmatically argued that there could be no compromise with Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. But did Britain’s leaders in fact believe this ? Dr. Bernd Martin of Freiburg University has revealed that secret negotiations on peace continued between Britain and Germany in October 1939—negotiations on which, curiously, Sir Winston Churchill’s files have officially been sealed until the twenty-first century ! Similar negotiations were carried on in June 1940, when even Churchill showed himself in Cabinet meetings to be willing to make a deal with Hitler if the price was right. Of course, in assessing the real value of such negotiations and of Hitler’s publicly stated intentions it is salutary to know that in 1941 he confidentially admitted to Walther Hewel (as the latter recorded in his diary) : “For myself personally I would never tell a lie ; but there is no falsehood I would not perpetrate for Germany’s sake !” It is also necessary to take into account a string of broken promises that kept Europe in paralyzed inactivity for the better part of a decade. Nevertheless, one wonders how much suffering the (Western) world might have been spared if both sides had pursued this line. But modern historiography has chosen to ignore this possibility as heresy. The facts revealed here concerning Hitler’s recorded actions, motivations, and opinions should provide a basis for fresh debate. Americans will find much that is new about the months leading up to Pearl Harbor. The French will find additional evidence that Hitler’s treatment of their defeated nation was more influenced by memories of France’s treatment of Germany after World War I than by his respect for Mussolini’s desires. Russians can try to visualize the prospect that could conceivably have unfolded if Stalin had accepted Hitler’s offer in November 1940 of inclusion in the Axis Pact ; or if, having been defeated in the summer of 1941, Stalin had accepted Hitler’s offer to rebuild Soviet power beyond the Urals ; or if Hitler had taken seriously Stalin’s alleged peace offer of September 1944. In each case, this book views the situation as far as possible through Hitler’s eyes, from behind his desk. This technique was bound to yield different perspectives, while answering many questions that arose in the past as to the motives for his actions and decisions. For example, I have devoted great effort to accumulating the same Intelligence material that was presented to Hitler—like the rare intercepts of G–ring’s Forschungsamt (literally, “Research Office”), which monitored telephone lines and decoded international radio signals ; these explain, for instance, Hitler’s alarm in July 1940 over Stalin’s intentions. Because this tragic moment in history is told from Hitler’s point of view, we inevitably see the sufferings of the Germans, whereas the destruction and death inflicted on other nations remains somewhat more abstract. However, it is well to keep in mind that conservative estimates are that Hitler’s War resulted in 40,000,000 military and civilian deaths. Of this number approximately 2,500,000 were Germans. In modern Germany, some of my conclusions proved unpalatable to many. A wave of weak, repetitive, and unrevealing Hitler biographies had washed through the bookstores two or three years before my manuscript (running to over three thousand pages in the first draft) was published. The most widely publicized was that written by a German television personality, Joachim Fest ; but he later told a questioner that he had not even visited the magnificent National Archives in Washington, which houses by far the largest collection of records relating to recent European history. Stylistically, Fest’s German was good ; but the old legends were trotted out afresh, polished to an impressive gleam of authority. The same Berlin company also published my book shortly after, under the title Hitler und seine Feldherren, their chief editor found many of my arguments distasteful, even dangerous, and without informing me, suppressed or even reversed them : in their printed text Hitler had not told Himmler there was to be “no liquidation” of the Jews (on November 30, 1941); he had told him not to use the word “liquidate” publicly in connection with their extermination program. Thus history is falsified ! (My suggestion that they publish Himmler’s note as a facsimile had been ignored.) I prohibited further printing of the book, two days after its appearance in Germany. To explain their actions, the Berlin publishers argued that my manuscript expressed some views that were “an affront to established historical opinion” in their country. The biggest problem in dealing analytically with Hitler is the aversion to him as a person created by years of intense wartime propaganda and emotive postwar historiography. My own impression of the war is limited to snapshot memories of its side effects : early summer picnics around the wreckage of a Heinkel bomber on the fringe of the local Bluebell Woods ; the infernal organ note of the V-I flying bombs awakening the whole countryside as they passed overhead ; convoys of drab army trucks rumbling past our country gate ; counting the gaps in the American bomber squadrons straggling back from Germany in formation after the day’s operations ; the troopships sailing in June 1944 from Southsea beach, heading for Normandy ; and of course VE-Day itself, with the bonfires and beating of the family gong. Our knowledge of the Germans responsible for all this was scarcely more profound. In Everybody’s magazine, long defunct, I recall “Ferrier’s World Searchlight” with its weekly caricatures of a club-footed dwarf called Goebbels and the other comic Nazi heroes. The caricatures of the Nazi leaders have bedeviled the writing of history ever since. Writers have found it impossible to de-demonize them. Confronted by the phenomenon of Hitler himself, they cannot grasp that he was an ordinary, walking, talking human weighing some 155 pounds, with graying hair, largely false teeth, and chronic digestive ailments. He is to them the Devil incarnate. The process flourished even more after his death : at the Nuremberg Trials, the blame was shifted from general to minister, from minister to Party official, and from all of them invariably to Hitler. Under the system of “licensed” publishers and newspapers enforced by the Allies in postwar Germany, the legends prospered. No story was too absurd to gain credence ; the authority of the writers who created them passed unchallenged. Among these creative writers the German General Staff must take pride of place. Without Hitler, few of them would have risen higher than to the rank of colonel ; they owed him their jobs, their medals, their estates, their endowments. Often they owed him their military victories too—the defeat of France in 1940 (see pages 44-45, 8o-81, 114, 116-18), the Battle of Kharkov in 1942 (pages 387-88), to mention just two. After the war those who survived—which was not infrequently because they had been dismissed, and thus removed from the hazards of the battlefield—contrived to divert the blame away from themselves to the erstwhile F¸hrer and Supreme Commander. I have exposed the frauds and deceptions in their biographies. Thus in the secret files of the Nuremberg prosecutor Justice Robert H. Jackson, I found a note addressed to his investigator warning about the proposed tactics of General Franz Halder, the former German Army Chief of Staff : “I just wanted to call your attention to the CSDIC intercepts of Halder’s conversations with other generals. He is extremely frank on what he thinks should be suppressed or distorted, and in particular is very sensitive to the suggestion that the German General Staff was involved in anything, especially planning for war.” Usually, these tactics involved labeling Hitler a “madman”—although the medical experts who treated him are unanimous that clinically speaking he remained quite sane to the very end. Fortunately, this embarrassed adjusting of consciences and memories was more than once, as above, recorded for posterity by the hidden microphones of the Combined Services Detailed Interrogation Centers. When General Heinz Guderian—one of Halder’s successors as Chief of Staff and the arrogant, supercilious General Leo Geyr von Schweppenburg were asked by their American captors to write their history of the war, they felt obliged to obtain the permission of Field Marshal Wilhelm von Leeb as senior officer at the Seventh Army CSDIC. Leeb replied : Well, I can only give you my personal opinion : … You will have to weigh your answers carefully when they pertain to objectives, causes, and the progress of operations in order to see where they may affect the interests of our Fatherland. On the one hand we have to admit that the Americans know the course of operations quite accurately ; they even know which units were employed on our side. However, they are not quite as familiar with our motives. And there is one point where it would be advisable to proceed with caution, so that we do not become the laughingstock of the world. I do not know what your relations were with Hitler, but I do know his military capacity…. You will have to consider your answers a bit carefully when approached on this subject, so that you say nothing that might embarrass our Fatherland…. Geyr von Schweppenburg : The types of madness known to psychologists cannot be compared with the one the F–hrer suffered from. He was a madman surrounded by serfs. I do not think we should express ourselves quite as strongly as that in our statements. Mention of this fact will have to be made, however, in order to exonerate a few persons. The question is whether now is the right time to mention all this. After an agonized debate on whether and which German generals advocated war in 1939, Leeb suggested : “The question is now, whether we should not just admit openly everything we know.” The following discussion ensued : Geyr von Schweppenburg : Any objective observer will admit that National Socialism raised the social status of the worker, and in some respects even his standard of living as long as that was possible. Leeb : This is one of the great achievements of National Socialism. The excesses of National Socialism were in the first and final analysis due to the F¸hrer’s personality. Guderian : The fundamental principles were fine. Leeb : That is true. I was startled and, as a historian, depressed by the number of “diaries” which close scrutiny proved to have been faked or tampered with—invariably to Hitler’s disadvantage. Two different men claimed to possess the entire diaries of Admiral Wilhelm Canaris—the legendary Abwehr chief hanged by Hitler as a traitor in April 1945. The first produced “documents of the postwar German Intelligence Service (BND)” and original papers “signed by Canaris” in his support ; the second, a German High Court judge, announced that his set of the diaries had recently been returned by Generalissimo Francisco Franco to the West German government. Forensic tests on the paper and ink of a “Canaris” document supplied by the first man, conducted for me by a London laboratory, proved them to be forgeries. An interview with Franco’s chef de bureau—his brother-in-law Don Felipe Polo Valdes—in Madrid disposed of the German judge’s equally improbable claim. Neither ever provided the actual diaries for inspection. The Eva Braun diaries published by the film actor Luis Trenker were largely forged from the “memoirs” written decades earlier by Countess Irma Larisch-Wallersee ; the forgery was established by the Munich lawcourts in October 1948. (Eva Braun’s genuine diaries, and her entire correspondence with Hitler, were acquired by a CIC team based on Stuttgart-Backnang in the summer of 1945 ; they have not been seen since. I identified the team’s commander and visited him in New Mexico ; he admitted the facts, but I failed to persuade him to make the papers available for historical research—perhaps he has long since sold them to a private dealer.) The oft-quoted “diaries” of Himmler’s masseur Felix Kersten are equally fictitious, as for example the “twenty-six-page medical dossier on Hitler” described in them shows. Oddly enough Kersten’s real diaries— containing political dynamite on Sweden’s elite—do exist and have not been published. Similarly, the “diaries” published by Rudolf Semmler in Goebbels—the Man Next to Hitler (London, 1947) are phony too, as the entry for January 12, 1945, proves : it has Hitler as Goebbels’s guest in Berlin, when the F¸hrer was in fact still fighting the Battle of the Bulge from his HQ in West Germany. And there are no prizes for spotting the anachronisms in Count Galeazzo Ciano’s extensively quoted “diaries”: for example Marshal Rodolfo Graziani’s “complaints about Rommel” on December 12, 1940—two full months before Rommel was appointed to Italy’s North African theater ! In fact Ciano spent the months after his dismissal in February 1943 rewriting and “improving” the diaries himself, which makes them very readable but virtually useless for the purposes of history. Ribbentrop warned about the forgery in his prison memoirs—he claimed to have seen Ciano’s real diaries in September 1943—and the Nazi interpreter Eugen Dollmann described in his memoirs how the fraud was actually admitted to him by a British officer at a prison camp. Even the most superficial examination of the handwritten original volumes reveals the extent to which Ciano doctored them and interpolated material—yet historians of the highest repute have quoted them without question as they have Ciano’s so-called “Lisbon Papers,” although the latter too bear all the hallmarks of subsequent editing. They have all at some time been retyped on the same typewriter, although ostensibly originating over six years (1936-42). Other diaries have been amended in more harmless ways : the Luftwaffe Chief of Staff Karl Koller’s real shorthand diary often bears no resemblance to the version he published as Der letzte Monat (Mannheim, 1949). And Helmuth Greiner, keeper of the official OKW operations staff war diary until 1943, seized the opportunity in 1945, when asked by the Americans to retranscribe his original notes for the lost volumes from August 1942 to March 1943, to excise passages which reflected unfavorably on fellow prisoners like General Adolf Heusinger—or too favorably on Hitler ; and no doubt to curry favor with the Americans, he added lengthy paragraphs charged with pungent criticism of Hitler’s conduct of the war which I found to be missing from his original handwritten notes when I compared them with the published version. This tendency—to pillory Hitler after the war—was also strongly evident in the “diaries” of General Gerhard Engel, who served as Hitler’s army adjutant from March 1938 to October 1943. Historiographical evidence alone—e.g., comparison with the 1940 private diaries of Reichsminister Fritz Todt or the wife of General Rudolf Schmundt, or with the records of Field Marshal von Manstein’s Army Group Don at the time of Stalingrad—indicates that whatever they are, they are not contemporaneous diaries (regrettably, the well-known Institut fur Zeitgeschichte in Munich has nonetheless published them in a volume, Heeresadjutant bei Hitler 1938- 1943 [Stuttgart, 1974], rather feebly drawing attention to the diaries’ inconsistencies in a short Introduction). My exploration of sources throwing light on Hitler’s inner mind was sometimes successful, sometimes not. Weeks of searching with a proton-magnetometer—a kind of supersensitive mine-detector—in a forest in East Germany failed to unearth a glass jar containing stenograms of Goebbels’s very last diaries, although at times, according to the map in my possession, we must have stood right over it. But I did obtain the private diaries written by Walther Hewel, Ribbentrop’s liaison officer on Hitler’s staff, and by Baron Ernst von Weizs”cker, Ribbentrop’s state secretary. Field Marshal Wolfram von Richthofen’s widow made available to me the two thousand-page original text of his unpublished diaries too ; in fact every officer or member of Hitler’s staff whom I interviewed seemed to have carefully hoarded diaries or papers, which were eventually produced for my exploitation here—mostly in German, but the research papers on the fringe also came in a Babel of other languages : Italian, Russian, French, Spanish, Hungarian, Romanian, and Czech ; some cryptic references to Hitler and Ribbentrop in the Hewel diaries defied all my puny codebreaking efforts, and then proved to have been written in Indonesian ! For the sake of completeness, I would add that Field Marshal Fedor von Bock’s diary was pruned by him, but he does not seem to have interpolated fresh material ; and that General Halder’s diary is completely trustworthy (having been originally transcribed from the shorthand by the British) but is best employed without reference to Halder’s postwar footnotes. Many sources of prime importance are still missing, although enterprising West German publishers have now obtained the full text of Goebbels’s diaries. That those of Hewel and Weizs”cker remained hitherto unexplored by historians is a baffling mystery to me. They only had to ask the widows, as I did. The diaries of Hans Lammers, Wilhelm Br¸ckner, Karl Bodenschatz, Karl Wolff, and Professor Theo Morell are missing, although known to have fallen into Allied hands in 1945. Nicolaus von Below’s are probably in Moscow. Himmler’s missing pocket notebooks certainly are. Alfred Rosenberg’s remaining diaries are illicitly held by an American lawyer in Frankfurt. The rest of Field Marshal Erhard Milch’s diaries—of which I obtained some five thousand pages in 1967—have vanished, as have General Alfred Jodl’s diaries covering the years 1940 to 1943 ; they were looted with his private property by the British 11th Armored Division at Flensburg in May 1945. Only a brief fragment of Benito Mussolini’s diary survives (see pages 541-42) : the SS copied the originals and returned them to him in January 1945, but both the originals and the copy placed in Ribbentrop’s files are missing now ; a forgery perpetrated by two Italian nuns temporarily and expensively deceived the London Sunday Times some years ago, before it was exposed by the same laboratory that tested the “Canaris” document for me. The important diaries of Schmundt were unhappily burnt at his request by his fellow adjutant Admiral Karl-Jesco von Puttkamer in April 1945, along with Puttkamer’s own diaries. The diary of Dr. Stephan Tiso, the last Slovak premier (from August 1944) is unaccountably held in the closed files of the Hoover Institution. As for autobiographical works, I preferred to rely on the original manuscripts rather than the published texts, as in the early postwar years apprehensive publishers (especially the “licensed” ones in Germany) made changes in them—for example in the memoirs of Karl-Wilhelm Krause, Hitler’s manservant. Thus I relied on the original handwritten memoirs of Himmler’s Intelligence chief, Walter Schellenberg, rather than on the mutilated and ghostwritten version subsequently published. I would go so far as to warn against the authoritativeness of numerous works hitherto accepted as “standard” sources on Hitler—particularly those by Konrad Heiden, Dr. Hermann Rauschning, Dr. Hans Bernd Gisevius, Erich Kordt, and by Hitler’s dismissed adjutant Fritz Wiedemann. (The latter unashamedly explained in a private 1940 letter to a friend : “It makes no difference if exaggerations and even falsehoods do creep in.”) With the brilliant exception of Professor Hugh Trevor-Roper, whose book The Last Days of Hitler was based on the records of the era and is therefore virtually unassailable even today, each successive biographer has repeated or engrossed the legends created by his predecessors, or at best consulted only the most readily available works of reference themselves. Since it proved impracticable to study in detail such a dictator’s whole life within this one volume, I limited myself to his war years ; I eschewed as far as possible all published literature, since by 1964 when I began the research it was possible to speculate that “books on Hitler” outnumbered page for page the total original documentation available. This proved a sad underestimate. Idle predecessors had gratefully lamented that most of the documents had been destroyed. They had not—they survived in embarrassing superabundance. The official papers of the Luftwaffe Field Marshal Milch, G–ring’s deputy, were captured by the British and total over 60,000 pages (not that G–ring’s most recent biographer consulted even one page of them). The entire war diary of the German naval staff, of immense value far beyond purely naval matters, survived ; it took many months to read the 69 volumes of main text, some over 900 pages long, in Washington, and to examine the most promising of the 3,900 microfilm rolls of German naval records held there too. And what is the result ? Hitler will long remain an enigma, however hard the historians burrow and toil. Even his intimates realized they hardly knew him. I have already quoted Ribbentrop’s puzzlement ; but General Alfred Jodl, his closest strategic adviser, also wrote in his Nuremberg cell on March 10, 1946 : … But then I ask myself, did you ever really know this man at whose side you led such a thorny and ascetic existence ? Did he perhaps just trifle with your idealism too, abusing it for dark purposes which he kept hidden deep within himself ? Dare you claim to know a man, if he has not opened up the deepest recesses of his heart to you—in sorrow as well as in ecstasy ? To this very day I do not know what he thought or knew or really wanted. I only knew my own thoughts and suspicions. And if, now that the shrouds fall away from a sculpture we fondly hoped would be a work of art, only to reveal nothing but a degenerate gargoyle—then let future historians argue among themselves whether it was like that from the start, or changed with circumstances. I keep making the same mistake : I blame his humble origins. But then I remember how many peasants’ sons have been blessed by History with the name, The Great. “Hitler the Great”? No, contemporary History is unlikely to swallow such an epithet. From the first day that he “seized power,” January 30, 1933, Hitler knew that only sudden death awaited him if he failed to restore pride and empire to post-Versailles Germany. His close friend and adjutant, Julius Schaub, recorded Hitler’s jubilant boast to his staff on that evening, as the last celebrating guests left the Berlin Chancellery building : “No power on earth will get me out of this building alive !” History saw this prophecy fulfilled, as the handful of remaining Nazi faithfuls trooped uneasily into his underground study on April 30, 1945, surveyed his still warm remains— slumped on a couch, with blood trickling from the sagging lower jaw, and a gunshot wound in the right temple—and sniffed the bitter-almonds smell hanging in the air. Wrapped in a gray army blanket, he was carried up to the shell-blasted Chancellery garden. Gasoline was slopped over him in a reeking crater and ignited while his staff hurriedly saluted and backed down into the shelter. Thus ended the six years of Hitler’s War. We shall now see how they began. — David Irving, London, January 1976 Hitler’s People As an aid to following the narrative, brief biographical details follow of the principal German personalities referred to in the text. ALBRECHT, Alwin-Broder : Until June 1939 Hitler’s naval adjutant, his replacement was demanded by Raeder after an unfortunate marriage ; Hitler demurred and made him a personal adjutant instead. He is presumed to have died in the last days in Berlin. AMSBERG, Colonel Erik von : A former adjutant of Keitel’s, he stepped in as Hitler’s Wehrmacht adjutant after Below, Puttkamer, and Schmundt were injured in the July 20, 1944, bomb explosion. ASSMANN, Admiral Heinz : Jodl’s naval staff officer, who frequently attended Hitler’s war conferences from 1943 to 1944. BACKE, Dr. Herbert : The very capable state secretary in the food ministry, who virtually supplanted the minister, Richard Walter Darre, in 1942. BECK, General Ludwig : Was Army Chief of Staff until August 1938, when he was replaced by Halder and began to intrigue against Hitler ; after the July 20, 1944, bomb plot failed, he committed suicide. BELOW, Colonel Nicolaus von : Genteel and educated, Below served as Hitler’s Luftwaffe adjutant from 1937 until the F¸hrer’s suicide. BERGER, SS General Gottlob : Chief of Himmler’s SS Main Office (Hauptamt). BEST, Dr. Werner : A department head in the Gestapo, he was appointed Hitler’s Plenipotentiary in Denmark in 1942. BLASCHKE, Professor Johannes : Hitler’s principal dentist—his postwar interrogation by the Americans provides the main evidence that Hitler’s was the corpse found by the Red Army in Berlin. BLOMBERG, Field Marshal Werner von : The first field marshal created by Hitler—in 1937—Blomberg was fired as war minister in early 1938 after marrying way, way below his station ; but Hitler had a soft spot for him until the very end. BOCK, Field Marshal Fedor von : One of Hitler’s toughest and most successful soldiers in France (1940) and Russia (1941-42), he died in an air raid in 1945. BODENSCHATZ, General Karl : Officially G–ring’s chef de bureau, Bodenschatz became his permanent representative at Hitler’s HQ. BONIN, Colonel Bogislaw von : Latterly the chief of operations in the German General Staff. BORGMANN, Colonel Heinrich : Succeeded Engel as Hitler’s army adjutant in 1943 killed by air attack on his car in April 1945. BORMANN, Albert : Younger brother of Martin Bormann, but not on speaking terms with him ; Albert was an adjutant in Hitler’s Private Chancellary. BORMANN, Martin : Rose from relative obscurity as Hess’s right-hand man to position of vast personal power upon Hess’s defection in May 1941. Head of the Nazi Party Chancellery, and from 1943 the “F¸hrer’s secretary” as well. He was the dynamo inside the Nazi machine, converting Hitler’s half-spoken thoughts into harsh reality. Hard working, hard living-condemned to death at Nuremberg in absentia, his lawyer’s appeal for clemency is still on the case file, undecided. BOUHLER, Reichsleiter Philipp : As Chief of the Chancellery of the F¸hrer of the Nazi party, Bouhler handled the incoming mail of German citizens ; as such his office dealt with applications for clemency and thus became involved in the murderous euthanasia projects and the technicalities of the liquidation of Jews and other “undesirables.” He took his own life in May 1945. BRANDT, Dr. Karl : Hitler’s accompanying surgeon from the mid-Thirties onward, he was dismissed in October 1944 by Martin Bormann ; the Americans hanged him in 1947 for his part in the euthanasia planning. BRAUCHITSCH, Field Marshal Walther von : Appointed Commander in Chief, Army, by Hitler in 1938 for want of a better general ; Hitler tolerated him only reluctantly until his ill-health provided sufficient cover for his retirement in December 1941. He died in British captivity in 1948. BRAUN, Eva : Hitler’s only known mistress from 1931 onward ; she provided conversation and company, and according to Hitler’s secretaries, developed from the humble laboratory assistant she had been before then into a woman of great poise and charm. He formally married her thirty-six hours before their joint suicide in April 1945. BRUCKNER, SA Gruppenf¸hrer Wilhelm : A chief adjutant of Hitler’s, dismissed in October 1940—having, like Albrecht and Blomberg, contracted a much-criticized marriage. BURGDORF, General Wilhelm : Succeeded Schmundt as Hitler’s chief Wehrmacht adjutant and chief of the army personnel branch after Schmundt was wounded in the July 20, 1944, bomb explosion ; previously Schmundt’s deputy. A rough diamond and heavy drinker, he committed suicide soon after Hitler. CANARIS, Vice Admiral Wilhelm : Chief of the Abwehr—the OKW Intelligence Branch—until its absorption by the SS in 1944, Canaris weathered many storms. A man of few friends, with Indian manservants, Greek blood, and a liking for warm champagne for breakfast, he slipped off his tightrope between the traitors and the SS in 1944 and was hanged in the last month of the war. CHRISTIAN, General Eckhard : He had been Jodl’s chief staff officer until he married Hitler’s personal secretary Gerda Daranowski in November 1942 ; then he rose rapidly until he was the chief of the Luftwaffe operations staff. CHRISTIAN, Frau Gerda : One of Hitler’s four private secretaries, and certainly the most attractive—as the F¸hrer is known to have appreciated. She joined his staff before the war, retired on her marriage in November 1942, but returned a year later and stayed with Hitler until the end. DARGES, Fritz : Martin Bormann’s adjutant until 1939, he became Hitler’s personal adjutant from March 1943—until Hitler sacked him in July 1944, ostensibly because of an incident with an insect during a war conference, more probably because Darges had jilted Eva’s sister Gretl Braun. He was sent to the Russian front. DIETRICH, Dr. Otto : Hitler’s press spokesman. DIETRICH, SS General Josef “Sepp”: One of the Party Old Guard, he commanded the SS Leibstandarte (Life Guards) and then the SS Sixth Panzer Army. D÷NITZ, Grand Admiral Karl : Commander in Chief of the German U-boat service until 1943, he stepped into Raeder’s shoes when the latter resigned as Commander in Chief, Navy, that January. D–nitz supported Hitler’s bolder strategic decisions—i.e., to hold on to the Crimea and the eastern Baltic provinces—and satisfied Hitler that he was the best successor as F¸hrer in April 1945. DORSCH, Dr. Xaver : After Fritz Todt, one of the Reich’s most outstanding civil engineers ; became head of the Todt Organization building military sites in Reichoccupied countries. EICHMANN, SS Colonel Adolf : A minor official in Kaltenbrunner’s Reich Main Security Office, Eichmann was responsible for the smooth running of the Jewish deportation programs ; he was one of the driving forces behind the extermination of the Jews. EICKEN, Professor Carl von : The ear, nose, and throat specialist who operated on Hitler’s throat in 1935 and again in November 1944. ENGEL, Colonel Gerhard : Hitler’s army adjutant from 1938 to 1943, he then distinguished himself as a division commander. ETZDORF, Major Hasso von : Liaison officer between the General Staff and Ribbentrop’s foreign ministry, his often cryptic penciled notes were deciphered by the Americans postwar and present vital information on Hitler’s foreign strategy. FALKENHAUSEN, General Alexander von : The aristocratic Nazi Military Governor of Belgium, he entered into a liaison with an equally aristocratic Belgian lady which resulted in his dismissal in July 1944 ; this probably spared him from the hangman’s noose some weeks later, as his implication in the bomb plot escaped the attention of the Gestapo. FEGELEIN, SS General Hermann : Himmler’s representative at Hitler’s HQ from 1944 to the end ; married Gretl Braun (see also Darges) but left her a widow, as he was shot for attempted desertion in the last days. FELLGIEBEL, General Erich : Chief of the Wehrmacht’s and Army’s Signals Branches, he was executed after the failure of the 1944 bomb plot in which he was implicated. FRANK, Dr. Hans : One of Hitler’s oldest friends and his personal legal adviser in the Thirties. Hitler appointed him Governor General of rump Poland after that country’s defeat in 1939. FRANK, Karl-Hermann : Deputy Protector of Bohemia-Moravia. FRICK, Dr. Wilhelm : Minister of the Interior, until Himmler supplanted him in August 1943. FROMM, General Friedrich : A deadly enemy of Keitel, Fromm commanded the Replacement Army—divisions being raised and trained in Germany ; he was implicated in the July 20, 1944, conspiracy, but only vaguely—the People’s Court found no evidence, for example, that he had known of the plot, but condemned him to death for cowardice in not having acted more energetically against his Chief of Staff, Stauffenberg, that afternoon. GIESING, Dr. Erwin : Army ENT-specialist summoned from Rastenburg hospital after July 20, 1944, bomb explosion to treat Hitler’s head injuries. GLOBOCNIK, SS Brigadier Odilo : Formerly police commander in occupied Polish district of Lublin, he ranked with Eichmann as one of the Nazis behind the massacre of the Jews. GOEBBELS, Dr. Joseph : one of the Party’s Old Guard ; Gauleiter of Berlin, and after 1933 Reich propaganda minister—an outstanding speaker and master of dialectics, but undoubtedly one of the evil geniuses behind the F¸hrer. Took his own and his family’s lives after Hitler’s suicide. GOERDELER, Dr. Carl : Former mayor of Leipzig, Goerdeler was political leader of the anti-Hitler conspiracy culminating in the July 20, 1944, bomb explosion. G÷RING, Reichsmarschall Hermann : A man of many titles, but principally important as Commander in Chief of the Luftwaffe and head of the Four-Year Plan office. Alternating between bouts of laziness and spasms of intense activity, he was most closely identified by the German public with their eventual misery and defeat—but somehow his popularity remained virtually unimpaired until his October 1946 suicide. GUDERIAN, General Heinz : Ranks as one of World War II’s leading tank commanders ; was dismissed by Hitler in December 1941 to satisfy Kluge and remained in a command limbo until Hitler appointed him his personal Inspector of the Panzer Service in February 1943. Even then Guderian wavered in his loyalty ; he certainly had advance warning of the July 20, 1944, bomb explosion and prudently absented himself from the F¸hrer’s HQ that day—to return only hours later, to his own surprise, as the army’s new Chief of General Staff until March 1945. GÐNSCHE, SS Colonel Otto : Formerly a private in Hitler’s escort squad, G¸nsche—a big, blond bulldog of an officer—became his personal adjutant and bodyguard, and was entrusted by the F¸hrer with burning his corpse after his suicide in April 1945—and with giving him a coup de gr’ce with his pistol if necessary. HAASE, Professor Werner : Had treated Hitler before the war, became his doctor again briefly in the last days in Berlin. HALDER, General Franz : Succeeded Beck as the army’s Chief of General Staff in 1938 ; generally acknowledged to have been a good tactician, Halder retained this post until Hitler could stand him no longer—in September 1942. HASSELBACH, Dr. Hanskarl von : Dr. Karl Brandt’s deputy as Hitler’s accompanying surgeon until October 1944. HESS, Rudolf : Hitler’s official “deputy” until his flight to Scotland in May 1941. HEWEL, Ambassador Walther : He had joined the Nazi party as a student in the early Twenties, shared Hitler’s Landsberg imprisonment briefly in 1923, then emigrated as a planter to Java ; he returned to become a member of Ribbentrop’s staff—serving through the period of this book as liaison officer at Hitler’s HQ. HEYDRICH, SS General Reinhard : Kaltenbrunner’s predecessor as chief of the Reich Main Security Office of the SS ; as such he was more interested in the “executive” side—the building of a formidable police organization throughout Germany. Appointed “Reich Protector” of occupied Czechoslovakia in October 1941, embarked on reforms there, assassinated by British-trained agents in May 1942. As he was the brain behind the extermination camps, he merits no sympathy. HIMMLER, Heinrich : SS Reichsf¸hrer, chief of police, and—after August 1943— Minister of the Interior. “Himmler,” said the Nazi party newspaper chief Max Amann, “considered it his duty to eliminate all enemies of the Nazi ideology and he did so calmly and impersonally, without hate and without sympathy.” A rare mixture of crackpot and organizational genius. JESCHONNEK, General Hans : A lieutenant at sixteen in World War I, he seemed marked out for a brilliant career ; by 1939 he was Luftwaffe Chief of Staff—by August 1943 he was dead, a suicide. JODL, General Alfred : A pure soldier, of unquestionable loyalty to his F¸hrer, Jodl served as chief of the OKW operations staff (Wehrmachtf¸hrungsstab) from August 1939 to the very end. His strategic insight was profound. He was hanged at Nuremberg in 1946. JUNGE, Fran Traudl : Youngest of Hitler’s secretaries, she joined his staff when Gerda Daranowski married in 1942 ; she herself married Hitler’s manservant Hans Junge, was widowed by 1944, and stayed with Hitler to the end. (NÈe Traudl Humps.) JUNGE, Captain Wolf : Jodl’s naval staff officer until August 28, 1943, then again from summer 1944 onward while Assmann recovered from injuries sustained on July 20, 1944. KALTENBRUNNER, SS General Dr. Ernst : Heydrich’s successor as chief of the Reich Main Security Office—but personally more interested in the Intelligence side and less in the police and executive aspects, in which “Gestapo” M¸ller grew in influence. KEITEL, Field Marshal Wilhelm : Chief of OKW (German High Command) in title only ; he exercised his ministerial functions well ; the military and strategic side he— wisely—left to Jodl. Loyal and hardworking, Keitel shared Jodl’s fate at Nuremberg. KESSELRING, Field Marshal Albert : He held important air commands during the invasions of Poland, France, and Russia. Supreme commander of German forces in Italy (1943-1945), in March 1945 he took over from Rundst
  2. Keitel shared Jodl’s fate at Nuremberg.
    KESSELRING, Field Marshal Albert : He held important air commands during the
    invasions of Poland, France, and Russia. Supreme commander of German forces in Italy
    (1943-1945), in March 1945 he took over from Rundstedt as Commander in Chief West.
    In 1947 he was condemned to death for war crimes against Italian civilians, but this
    sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment. He was pardoned in 1952.
    KLUGE, Field Marshal Gunther Hans von : A good commander of men, like Rommel—
    always in the battle line with his troops, but politically ambitious too. Lent an ear to
    various groups of plotters, but would not commit himself. Fearing implication in the
    failed July 20, 1944, plot, Kluge took cyanide and closed his “big blue, patrician eyes”
    for the last time on August 18, 1944, his personal admiration for Adolf Hitler
    undiminished.
    KOCH, Erich : Gauleiter of East Prussia, he was appointed Reich Commissioner in the
    Ukraine in 1941, pursuing policies of such brutality as to achieve the impossible—a pro-
    Soviet Ukraine.
    KOEPPEN, Dr. Werner : Rosenberg’s representative at Hitler’s HQ, he recorded the
    F¸hrer’s political Table Talk for some months in 1941.
    KOLLER, General Karl : Luftwaffe Chief of Staff from November 1944 to the end ;
    Bavarian, dour but capable, having risen from the enlisted ranks.
    KORTEN, General G¸nther : Luftwaffe Chief of Staff following Jeschonnek’s 1943
    suicide, he died an agonizing death when a fragment of table pierced him after
    Stauffenberg’s bomb exploded beneath it in July 1944. Korten was the first to campaign
    for a strategic bomber force in the Luftwaffe.
    KRANCKE, Vice Admiral Theodor : Permanent representative of the Commander in
    Chief, Navy, at Hitler’s HQ after September 1942.
    KREBS, General Hans : Last Army Chief of Staff, he negotiated with the Russians in
    Berlin following Hitler’s death, then committed suicide.
    KREIPE, General Werner : Luftwaffe Chief of Staff from August 1 to September 21,
    1944, when Hitler banished him from war conferences at his HQ.
    LAMMERS, Dr. Hans Heinrich : A legacy of the Hindenburg regime, Lammers was an
    expert on constitutional law and, as chief of the Reich Chancellery, the most important
    civil servant of the Third Reich.
    LEY, Dr. Robert : Party Organization chief, he took over the trade unions in 1933 and
    molded them into the monolithic German Labor Front (DAF).
    LINGE, Heinz : Hitler’s manservant until the very end in Berlin.
    LOSSBERG, Colonel Bernhard von : Jodl’s army staff officer.
    LUTZE, Victor : Succeeded the murdered Ernst R–hm as chief of the SA brownshirt
    army in 1934. A heavy drinker and loose talker, he engaged Himmler’s displeasure by
    remarks about the SS, and died in a car crash in 1943.
    MAISEL, General Ernst : Burgdorf’s deputy in the Army Personnel Branch—a quiet,
    intelligent officer manhandled by postwar writers for his unfortunate part in Rommel’s
    death.
    MANSTEIN, Field Marshal Erich von : Universally acclaimed as Germany’s most
    outstanding General Staff product, as he displayed in offensive operations in Poland
    (1939), the west (1940), and the Russian campaign.
    MEISSNER, Dr. Otto : Like Lammers, a leftover of the Hindenburg era ; head of the
    Presidential Chancellery (Pr”sidialkanzlei).
    MILCH, Field Marshal Erhard : Founder of Lufthansa airline, Milch was called upon by
    Hitler and G–ring to build the secret Luftwaffe in 1933. After years of intense rivalry
    with G–ring, Milch—who had labored to conceal a serious defect in his family tree (he
    was pure Aryan, but accepted popular legend to the contrary to conceal the fact that he
    was the product of the illicit relationship between his mother and her mother’s brother)—
    was sacked in 1944.
    MODEL, Field Marshal Walter : Monocled, highly schooled, modern in outlook, he was
    the antithesis of Manstein ; when a front line needed holding or restoring, Hitler sent for
    Model.
    MORELL, Professor Theo : Morell alone had been able to cure Hitler of a gastric
    disorder in 1936 ; he appointed him personal physician and turned a deaf ear on all his
    critics until the very end.
    MÐLLER, SS General Heinrich : Chief of Amt IV (the Gestapo) under Kaltenbrunner, he
    vanished in the last days of the war and has not been positively seen since.
    PAULUS, Field Marshal Friedrich : Led his Sixth Army into Soviet captivity after the
    Battle of Stalingrad, 1943.
    PUTTKAMER, Admiral Karl-Jesco von : Hitler’s naval adjutant from March 1935 to
    June 1938, then again from August 1939 to the end—one of the most important witnesses
    still surviving from Hitler’s circle.
    RAEDER, Grand Admiral Erich : Was already Commander in Chief, Navy, when Hitler
    came to power in 1933, and forcefully resigned exactly ten years later.
    RATTENHUBER, SS Brigadier Hans : Chief of Hitler’s police bodyguard at HQ,
    responsible for his security, he sought to conceal his brutal and intriguing nature beneath
    a veneer of Bavarian charm.
    RIBBENTROP, Joachim von : Reich foreign minister after 1938, he realized that many
    of Hitler’s foreign policies were doomed to failure but allowed the F¸hrer to overrule him
    every time ; hanged at Nuremberg in 1946.
    RICHTHOFEN, Field Marshal Wolfram von : Perhaps the toughest Luftwaffe strike
    commander, Richthofen commanded first an air corps, then an air force (Luftflotte) ;
    Hitler always committed Richthofen where the battle was fiercest, and listened readily to
    the field marshal’s extravagant complaints about his army counterparts.
    ROMMEL, Field Marshal Erwin : Commandant of Hitler’s HQ 1939-40, he secured
    command of a panzer division in time for the attack on France, fought a brilliant if
    reckless campaign there, and repeated his triumphs on a larger scale in North Africa, until
    the lack of supplies and the Allied superiority in tanks and aircraft beat him back ; his
    loyalty to Hitler remained unchanged, but his hatred of the OKW and Jodl reached
    pathological proportions in 1944. Implicated by others in the July 20, 1944, conspiracy,
    he took the consequences—poison—in October that year.
    ROSENBERG, Alfred : Verbose Party philosopher ; bitter opponent of Koch,
    particularly after Rosenberg as Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories had to deal
    with him ; notorious anti-Semite.
    RUNDSTEDT, Field Marshal Gerd von : Blunt, chivalrous, loyal, but elderly and
    easygoing in later years, Rundstedt was the senior serving German soldier ; Hitler was
    fond of him and rightly trusted him—thrice appointing him to high commands, and thrice
    relieving him when expediency demanded. From 1942 to 1945 Rundstedt was—with a
    brief interval in the summer of 1944—Commander in Chief West.
    SAUCKEL, Fritz : Gauleiter of Thuringia, Sauckel was appointed by Hitler in 1942 to
    take charge of the manpower procurement program of the Reich ; this Sauckel achieved
    by contracts, inducements, or slave labor. Hanged at Nuremberg.
    SAUR, Karl-Otto : Outwardly the typical Nazi—stocky, forceful, crude—Saur was first
    Todt’s, then Speer’s right-hand man in the munitions ministry ; his phenomenal memory
    for dates and statistics made him one of Hitler’s favorites.
    SCHAUB, Julius : Joined the Nazi party in 1925, served as Hitler’s personal adjutant
    and factotum until the end ; of too limited an intellect to intriguehence valued highly by
    the F¸hrer in his entourage.
    SCHEIDT, Dr. Wilhelm : Adjutant to Hitler’s court historian Scherff. After Scherff’s
    injury on July 20, 1944, Scheidt took his place for many months at Hitler’s war
    conferences. But through his friendship with Beck, Goerdeler, and Kurt von
    Hammerstein, Scheidt was the source (unwittingly perhaps?) of much secret Intelligence
    that reached the enemy, direct from Hitler’s HQ.
    SCHERFF, General Walter : Chief OKW historian, appointed by Hitler in 1942 to write
    the Reich war history ; but he never got around to it—and on his orders the shorthand
    records of most of Hitler’s war conferences were burned in May 1945.
    SCHMUNDT, General Rudolf : Hitler’s chief Wehrmacht adjutant after 1938, and chief
    of the army personnel branch after October 1942 as well ; his role as private adviser to
    Hitler needs intensive research. He died a lingering death, blind and burnt, after the July
    20, 1944, bomb blast.
    SCH÷RNER, Field Marshal Ferdinand : Like Model, Sch–rner was usually assigned to
    sectors where other generals had failed, and he usually succeeded.
    SCHROEDER, Christa : Hitler’s private secretary after 1933, she stayed with him until
    ordered to leave Berlin on April 20, 1945. Hitler warmed toward her, despite her sharp
    tongue and feline comments on the war’s progress.
    SEYSS-INQUART, Dr. Arthur : A quiet-spoken Austrian lawyer, propelled by the 1938
    union between Germany and Austria into high office in Vienna as a Nazi sympathizer,
    Seyss-Inquart was Hans Frank’s deputy in Poland until May 18, 1940, when he was
    appointed Hitler’s viceroy in the Netherlands. Hanged at Nuremberg.
    SONNLEITNER, Dr. Franz von : diplomat, stood in for Hewel during his recovery from
    air crash injuries in 1944.
    SPEER, Albert : Nominated by Hitler as architect for Berlin, despite his youth ;
    ambitious, vain, publicity-conscious, but possessing—like G–ring—undoubted presence
    and organizing ability. Hitler shrewdly appointed him Todt’s successor as munitions
    minister in February 1942, but became disillusioned with him in the last weeks of his life.
    STUMPFEGGER, Dr. Ludwig : A well-known surgeon on Himmler’s staff, who began
    treating Hitler in October 1944.
    TODT, Dr. Fritz : Hitler’s main civil engineer, who had built the autobahn network on
    his orders, and then the West Wall in 1938-39 ; in March 1940 Hitler nominated him to
    head a new munitions ministry. When Todt was killed in a plane crash in February 1942,
    Speer succeeded him.
    VORMANN, General Nikolaus von : Appointed by Brauchitsch to act as army
    representative at Hitler’s HQ in August and September 1939.
    VOSS, Vice Admiral Hans-Erich : Succeeded Krancke as naval representative at Hitler’s
    HQ on March 1, 1943.
    WAGNER, General Eduard : Quartermaster General of the German army—until his
    suicide after the July 20, 1944, bomb plot failed.
    WARLIMONT, General Walter : De facto deputy to Jodl in the OKW operations staff,
    Warlimont deeply felt that he should have held Jodl’s position (which by rights was his).
    WEIZSŸCKER, Baron Ernst von : Ribbentrop’s state secretary at the foreign ministry
    after 1938 ; from early 1943 onward he was German ambassador to the Vatican.
    WOLF, Johanna : Oldest of Hitler’s private secretaries.
    WOLFF, SS General Karl : Chief of Himmler’s personal staff, SS representative at
    Hitler’s HQ until early 1943—when he was involved in a marriage scandal—and from
    September 1943 chief of police in Nazi-occupied Italy.
    ZEITZLER, General Kurt : Dubbed “Thunderball” (Kugelblitz) because of his intensive
    energy as Chief of Staff to a panzer corps in Russia, 1941-42 ; Hitler fetched him from
    his position as Rundstedt’s Chief of Staff in France (1942) to succeed Halder as Army
    Chief of Staff. Zeitzler put up with Hitler’s tantrums until June 30, 1944, when he simply
    vanished and reported sick.
    David Irving
    HITLER’S WAR
    PART 1
    HITLER’S WAR BEGINS
    “ White ”
    Late on the evening of September 3, 1939, Hitler exchanged the elegant marbled halls of
    the Chancellery for the special train, Amerika, parked in a dusty Pomeranian railroad
    station surrounded by parched and scented pine trees and wooden barrack huts baked dry
    by the central European sun.
    Never before had Germany’s railroads conveyed a train like this—a cumbersome
    assemblage of twelve or fifteen coaches hauled by two locomotives immediately
    followed by armored wagons bristling with 20-millimeter antiaircraft guns ; a similar
    flak wagon brought up the rear. Hitler’s personal coach came first : a drawing room
    about the size of three regular compartments, a sleeping berth, and a bathroom. In the
    drawing room, there was an oblong table with eight chairs grouped around it. The four
    remaining compartments in Hitler’s coach were occupied by his adjutants and
    manservants. Other coaches housed dining accommodations and quarters for his military
    escort, private detectives, medical staff, press section, and visiting guests. Joachim von
    Ribbentrop, Hans Lammers, and Heinrich Himmler followed in a second train codenamed
    Heinrich. G–ring’s private—and considerably more comfortably furnished—
    train, Asia, remained with him at Luftwaffe headquarters near Potsdam.
    The nerve center of Hitler’s train was the “command coach” attached to his own
    quarters. One half was taken up by a long conference room dominated by a map table,
    and the other half by Hitler’s communications center, which was in constant touch by
    teleprinter and radio-telephone with the OKW and other ministries in Berlin, as well as
    with military headquarters on the front. Hitler was to spend most of his waking hours in
    this hot, confined space for the next two weeks, while Colonel Rudolf Schmundt, Hitler’s
    chief adjutant, valiantly kept the stream of importunate visitors to a minimum. Here
    General Wilhelm Keitel introduced to the F¸hrer for the first time his chief of operations,
    Major General Alfred Jodl, a placid, bald-headed Bavarian mountain-warfare officer a
    year younger than Hitler, whose principal strategic adviser he was to be until the last days
    of the war. (Jodl was to be called upon by the Americans in the postwar period for his
    advice on the defense of western Europe, then hanged as a war criminal at Nuremberg.)
    Jodl took one of the chairs in the middle of the long map-table, while Keitel regularly sat
    at one end and Colonel Nikolaus von Vormann, the army’s liaison officer, sat next to the
    three telephones at the other.
    In the train, as at the Chancellery, the brown Nazi party uniform dominated the scene.
    Generally speaking, Hitler’s adjutants were the only others who found room there. Even
    Rommel, the new commandant of the F¸hrer’s headquarters, could not live in this train.
    Hitler hardly intervened in the conduct of the Polish campaign anyway. He would appear
    in the command coach at 9 A.M. to hear Jodl’s personal report on the morning situation
    and to inspect the maps that had been flown in from Berlin. His first inquiry of Colonel
    von Vormann was always about the dangerous western front situation, for of 30 German
    divisions left to hold the three-hundred-mile line, only 12 were up to scratch ; and
    against them France might at any time unleash her army of 110 divisions. But contrary to
    every prediction voiced by Hitler’s critics, the western front was curiously quiet. On
    September 4, an awed Colonel von Vormann wrote : “Meanwhile, a propaganda war has
    broken out in the west. Will the F¸hrer prove right after all ? They say that the French
    have hung out a banner at Saarbr¸cken reading We won’t fire the first shot. As we’ve
    strictly forbidden our troops to open hostilities, I can’t wait to see what happens now.”
    It was indeed a mystery. While Poland reeled toward defeat, her allies made ominous
    noises but remained inactive as their precious opportunities dwindled with each passing
    day.
    Poland was overrun in three weeks. Neither the bravery of her soldiers nor the promises
    of her allies prevented this overwhelming defeat ; it startled Stalin, astonished the
    democracies, and confirmed Hitler’s belief in the invincibility of his armies. They had
    fallen upon Poland from Pomerania and East Prussia, from Silesia and from the protected
    territories of Slovakia as well ; at no stage were the Poles able to establish a stable front.
    The gasoline engine, the tank, and the dive-bomber should not have taken the Poles by
    surprise, but they did. Hitler’s armored and mechanized units swept through the brittle
    Polish defenses in the west and encircled the enemy armies while they were still massed
    to the west of the Vistula, where they were deployed partly in defense of their country
    and partly in preparation for the drive to Berlin—the thrust which would bring about an
    anti-Nazi revolution in Germany, as the Polish government had so naÔvely been led to
    believe. German expectations came off somewhat better. What had been planned on the
    maps of the German General Staff throughout the summer now took precise shape in the
    marshlands and fields of Poland in September 1939.
    Hitler left General Walther von Brauchitsch in unfettered control of the army’s
    operations. He listened unobtrusively to all that went on about him in the command
    coach, soaking up the debates and discussions and no doubt comparing the course of the
    campaign with the events his self-taught knowledge had led him to expect. His being
    there did not distract his staff, as one member wrote, except that they were forbidden to
    smoke in his presence—a prohibition that fell heavily on his chain cigar-smoking naval
    adjutant, Captain Karl-Jesko von Puttkamer. Hitler’s only strategic influence had been
    on the “grand pincer” plan, with its powerful southward thrust with mechanized forces
    from East Prussia behind the Vistula. He had attempted to veto the appointments of
    Generals Johannes Blaskowitz to command the Eighth Army and G¸nther von Kluge the
    Fourth Army—the latter because of G–ring’s personal antipathy, and the former because
    he recalled that in manuevers three years before, the general had not committed his tanks
    as he himself would have considered best ; but on these appointments Hitler allowed
    himself to be overruled, although he did later find fault with the conduct of the Eighth
    Army’s operations. This produced the only real crisis of the campaign ; but the crisis
    occurred precisely where Hitler had expected, and he had ordered countermeasures in
    anticipation. The few days in which Kluge commanded his Fourth Army before an
    aircraft accident put him temporarily hors de combat convinced Hitler that here was a
    general to whom he should always entrust the most demanding operational commands ;
    the resulting affection probably spared Kluge from the gallows, though not from death,
    five years later.
    The Poles had committed the basic strategic error of concentrating their forces forward in
    the Posen (Poznan) salient, instead of establishing a main line of defense that could be
    more readily held, for example on the Vistula River. As it was, these forces were
    encircled and destroyed in the first phases of the campaign. The western border
    fortifications were weak and obsolete—those near Warsaw dated back to the Great War ;
    the capital’s fortifications were incorporated into its suburbs, and this inevitably resulted
    in heavy fighting there. But by that time the outcome was a foregone conclusion.
    At eight o’clock on the morning of September 4, after his train’s arrival at the front,
    General Fedor von Bock, the commander of Army Group North, joined Rommel in
    reporting to Hitler, and the three men set out on an extended tour of the battle areas.
    Accompanied by his adjutants and a manservant, Hitler rode in a heavy six-wheeled
    Mercedes, and the rest of his staff and escort followed in six identical vehicles. The little
    convoy, headed by two armored scout cars, with two more bringing up the rear, drove off
    to visit Fourth Army headquarters ; seventy or more cars packed with Party and
    ministerial personages jostled for position behind the F¸hrer’s convoy, completely
    ignoring the vehicle-sequence orders the frantic Schmundt had drawn up. A choking
    cloud of Pomeranian dust was flung up from the unpaved country roads. At each brief
    halt the same undignified scenes were repeated as Hitler’s generals and Party leaders
    elbowed their way into the foreground of the photographs being taken and then galloped
    back to their cars to urge their chauffeurs into even closer proximity to the F¸hrer’s
    Mercedes. Once when Martin Bormann angrily rebuked Rommel for these scenes of
    disorder the general coolly snapped back : “I’m not a kindergarten teacher. You sort
    them out, if you want !” Hitler affected not to notice all this—no doubt seeing it as
    further proof of his own popularity. During the first days of the campaign, no way could
    be found to shake off this horde of idle camp followers, but eventually Schmundt did
    manage to elude most of them by beginning each visit to the front with a short flight in
    the three available Junkers 52s to an airfield where a little motor convoy was waiting.
    The Wehrmacht was already steamrolling northward toward Thorn, and General Heinz
    Guderian’s armor was entering his birthplace, Chelmno (Culm). These were fields long
    steeped in German blood ; ancient German land was coming under German rule again.
    Everywhere Hitler was surrounded by jubilant soldiers who sensed that this was an
    historic hour and that the injustices of Versailles were at last being wiped out. On the
    sixth he toured the battlefield of Tucheler Heide, where a powerful Polish Corps had been
    encircled and now desperately struggled to break out. (Apparently convinced that the
    German tanks were only tinplate dummies, the Polish cavalry attacked with lances
    couched.) Here the roads were hideous with the carnage of unequal battle. A radio
    message told Hitler that Cracow was now in German hands. As he had hoped, the greater
    part of the Polish army had been trapped west of the Vistula, while the strong force
    assembled at Posen for the attack on Berlin was now aimless and isolated—far from the
    main scene of events.
    At 10 P.M. that evening, September 6, Hitler returned to his command coach. Colonel
    von Vormann briefed him on the western front. “The phony war continues,” he wrote
    later that day. “So far not a shot has been fired on the western front. On both sides there
    are just huge loudspeakers barking at each other, with each side trying to make it clear to
    the other how impossible their behavior is and how stupid their governments are.
    Tomorrow Brauchitsch and Raeder are due here…. Poland’s situation is worse than
    desperate.” Vormann already talked of the dissolution of the Polish army : “All that
    remains now is a rabbit hunt. Militarily, the war is over.” Hitler stared at him
    incredulously ; then, beaming with pleasure, he took the colonel’s hand in both of his
    and pumped it up and down before leaving the command coach without a further word.
    The situation in the west had a comic-opera quality. From both sides of the Rhine,
    loudspeakers assured the enemy they would not open fire first. At some places the troops
    were bathing in the river. There were secret exchanges of food and drink between the
    French and German lines. French deserters disclosed that their frontline sentries were not
    permitted to load live ammunition in their rifles. German commanders had the strictest
    possible instructions not to fire into French territory or permit flights over the frontier. In
    addition, Hitler went out of his way to avoid provoking British public opinion : when G–
    ring begged for permission to bomb the British fleet riding peacefully at anchor at Scapa
    Flow, Hitler rejected the Luftwaffe commander’s request as overeager. He was furious
    when Britain announced on September 4 that one of her transatlantic liners, the Athenia,
    had that morning been torpedoed off the Hebrides by a German submarine, with some
    loss of life among the eleven hundred British and American passengers. Admiral Erich
    Raeder checked with his submarine commander, Karl D–nitz, and assured Hitler that
    none of their handful of U-boats could have been near the alleged incident and that in any
    case they were under orders not to attack British passenger vessels. Hitler suspected that
    Winston Churchill, as First Lord of the Admiralty, had himself ordered the liner sunk to
    provoke American public opinion, and he instructed the propaganda ministry to expose
    this “lord of the liars” forthwith. Shortly afterward, however, Raeder advised him
    confidentially that a U-boat commander had now admitted the sinking. The liner, he
    contended, had been blacked-out and zigzagging, and he had mistaken it for a cruiser and
    sunk it. The damage had been done. Raeder and Hitler agreed to keep the truth to
    themselves, and it is doubtful that even Goebbels learned it. Submarines were henceforth
    forbidden to attack passenger vessels even if in convoy with naval forces.
    Hitler’s territorial plans for Poland were still indeterminate. He had expected to be
    forced to accept Italian mediation and an eventual armistice, and to improve his position
    at the bargaining table he had seized as much Polish territory as possible in the first days.
    But the armistice offer never came. As his armies surged on, his appetite grew. In a
    secret speech to his generals on August 22 he had set as his goal “the annihilation of the
    Polish forces”—an orthodox Clausewitzian objective—rather than any particular line on
    the map. A week later he still talked only of fighting his “first Silesian war” and wrote
    off eastern Poland to the Russian claim. But on September 7, when Stalin had not yet
    moved his armies, Hitler also mentioned to his army Commander in Chief, General von
    Brauchitsch, the possibility of founding an independent Ukraine.
    Hitler’s hazy notion was to mark the ultimate frontier between Asia and the West by
    gathering together the racial German remnants scattered about the Balkans, Russia, and
    the Baltic states to populate an eastern frontier strip along either the Bug or the Vistula
    river. The troops in their garrisons would be like the Teutonic knights in their castles or
    like the northwest frontier of India in more modern times. To the west of the 1914
    Polish-German frontier, the Poles and Jews would be uprooted and displaced eastward ;
    the land would be resettled by the skill and industry of the Germans—those whom
    Himmler was already extracting from the South Tyrol would populate the northern slopes
    of the Beskid Mountains, for example. Warsaw would become a center of German
    culture ; or alternatively it would be razed and replaced by green fields on either side of
    the Vistula. Between the Reich and the “Asian” frontier, some form of Polish national
    state would exist, to house the ethnic Pole—a lesser species of some ten million in all.
    To stifle the growth of new chauvinistic centers, the Polish intelligentsia would be
    “extracted and accommodated elsewhere.”
    With this independent rump Poland, Hitler planned to negotiate a peace settlement that
    had some semblance of legality and thereby spike the guns of Britain and France. If,
    however, this rump Poland fell apart, the Vilna area could be offered to Lithuania, and
    the Galician and Polish Ukraine could be granted independence—in which case, as
    Abwehr Chief Wilhelm Canaris noted, Keitel’s instructions were that his Abwehrcontrolled
    Ukrainians “are to provoke an uprising in the Galician Ukraine with the
    destruction of the Polish and Jewish element as its aim.” On no account was this
    Ukrainian nationalist ferment to spill over into the Soviet Ukraine, Keitel warned.
    Moscow’s attitude toward Poland was still uncertain, however ; the Russians were eager
    to amputate a slice of territory but reluctant to wield the knife in public.
    Hitler’s army fell upon the hated Poles with well-documented relish. Colonel Eduard
    Wagner, as Quartermaster General initially responsible for occupation policy, wrote
    privately on September 4 : “Brutal guerrilla war has broken out everywhere, and we are
    ruthlessly stamping it out. We won’t be reasoned with. We have already sent out
    emergency courts, and they are in continual session. The harder we strike, the quicker
    there will be peace again.” And a week later : “We are now issuing fierce orders which I
    have drafted today myself. Nothing like the death sentence ! There’s no other way in
    occupied territories.”(1)
    Hitler’s own anti-Polish feelings were comparatively new ; born of his frustrated plan in
    the fall of 1938 for an alliance with Poland against Stalin, they were now reinforced by
    events in this campaign. There is no trace of his crueler plans for Poland among the
    documents predating the outbreak of the war. In Poland, however, Hitler and his generals
    were confronted by what they saw as still warm evidence that Asia did indeed begin just
    beyond the old Reich frontier in the east. In the western Polish town of Bydgoszcz
    (Bromberg) the local Polish commander had ordered the massacre of several thousand
    German residents on the charge that some of them had taken part in the hostilities. G–
    ring’s paratroopers were being shot on the spot when captured by the Poles. It was also
    charged that the Poles had used poisonous blister-gases in manufacturing booby traps.
    Hitler was particularly angered by a report that a Polish prisoner who had jabbed out the
    eyes of a wounded German soldier had been routinely sent to the rear through regular
    army channels. (Hitler said he should have been tried and executed on the spot by a
    drumhead court-martial.)
    On the evening of the eighth, moreover, Warsaw radio imprudently appealed to civilians
    to join in the fight to defend their invaded homeland, and this was deplored as an open
    incitement to franc-tireur warfare. The population was instructed, for example, to pour
    gasoline over disabled German tanks and set them on fire. “Against Germany the Polish
    people fight side by side with the Polish soldiers, building barricades and combating the
    German operations and positions by every means they can.”
    There was no acceptable explanation for Stalin’s inactivity. While Hitler could easily
    finish off Poland alone, he was particularly eager for Russia’s strategic involvement
    because then Britain and France would have to think twice about implementing their
    guarantee. As Reinhard Heydrich explained to his department heads : “Then Britain
    would be obliged to declare war on Russia too.”(2) Above all Hitler wanted to get the
    Polish campaign over before the U.S. Congress reassembled on the twenty-first.
    His heavy special train, Amerika, had left for Upper Silesia on the ninth. It finally halted
    in a railway siding at Illnau. The pleasing draft in the corridors ceased, and the
    temperature within the camouflage-gray walls and roofs rose. The air outside was thick
    with the hot dust-particles of mid-September. His secretary Christa Schroeder wrote
    plaintively :
    We have been living in this train for ten days now. Its location is
    constantly being changed, but since we never get out the monotony is
    dreadful. The heat here is unbearable, quite terrible. All day long the sun
    beats down on the compartments, and we just wilt in the tropical heat. I
    am soaked to the skin, absolutely awful. To top it all, there is hardly
    anything worthwhile to do. The Chief drives off in the morning leaving us
    condemned to wait for his return. We never stay long enough in one
    place. Recently we were parked one night near a field hospital through
    which a big shipment of casualties was just passing…. Those who tour
    Poland with the Chief see a lot, but it’s not easy for them because the
    enemy are such cowards—shooting in the back and ambushing—and
    because it is difficult to protect the Chief, who has taken to driving around
    as though he were in Germany, standing up in his open car even in the
    most hazardous areas. I think he is being reckless, but nobody can
    persuade him not to do it. On the very first day he drove through a copse
    still swarming with Polacks just half an hour earlier they had wiped out an
    unarmed German medical unit. One of the medics escaped and gave him
    an eyewitness account…. Once again, the F¸hrer was standing in full view
    of everybody on a hummock, with soldiers streaming toward him from all
    sides. In a hollow there was this Polish artillery ; obviously they saw the
    sudden flurry of activity and—since it’s no secret that the F. is touring the
    front—they guessed who it was. Half an hour later the bombs came
    raining down. Obviously it gives the soldiers’ morale a colossal boost to
    see the F. in the thick of the danger with them, but I still think it’s too
    risky. We can only trust in God to protect him.
    “ The F¸hrer is in the best of moods ; I often get into conversation with him,” wrote
    General Rommel. “He says that in eight or ten days it’ll all be over in the east and then
    our entire battle-hardened Wehrmacht will move west. But I think the French are giving
    up the struggle. Their soldiers are bathing in the Rhine, unmolested by us. This time,”
    he concluded, “we are definitely going to win through !”
    That day, September 12, Hitler summoned G–ring, Brauchitsch, and Keitel to his train at
    the Ilnau railway siding and flatly forbade them to provoke the French in any way. Late
    that afternoon he received Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, Keitel’s chief of Intelligence, for a
    rare audience. Canaris was white-haired, weary, and elderly, a frail stooping figure with
    a soft lisping voice, a studied sloppiness of dress, and an apparent naÔvetÈ of manner
    that were designed to disarm his critics. The admiral was known widely as “that slimy
    Greek”—a soubriquet he sought to disprove by circulating a family tree which supported
    his claim to Italian ancestry.
    Hitler walked into the command coach just as Canaris was outlining to Keitel the
    unfavorable effect a German bombardment of Warsaw would have on foreign opinion.
    When asked for news from the western front, Canaris craftily replied that the French
    were systematically marshaling troops and artillery opposite Saarbr¸cken for a major
    offensive.(3) Hitler remained politely incredulous. “I can hardly believe that the French
    will attack at Saarbr¸cken, the very point at which our fortifications are strongest.” They
    would also then run into second and third lines of even stronger defenses. They might,
    Hitler conceded, invade across the Rhine or even—though less probably—through
    Belgium and Holland in violation of their neutrality. Keitel agreed, and Jodl added that
    the artillery preparation for a major offensive would take at least three weeks, so the
    French offensive could not begin before October. “Yes,” responded Hitler, “and in
    October it is already quite chilly, and our men will be sitting in their protective bunkers
    while the French have to wait in the open air to attack. And even if the French should
    manage to penetrate one of the weaker points of the West Wall, we will in the meantime
    have brought our divisions across from the east and given them a thrashing they’ll never
    forget.”
    Before Canaris left, Keitel forbade him to brief Mussolini on the German military
    situation. Hitler no longer trusted the Italians, as he had found out that they were in
    contact with the French.
    Hitler’s tours of these battlefields were his first real contact with “the East.” They
    reinforced his unhealthy fantasies about the “subhumans” and the Jews.
    On September 10 he had visited the Tenth Army, busy finishing off the Polish forces
    encircled at Radom. The Polish countryside struck him as tangled and unkempt, as
    though from prehistoric times. Was this still Europe ? Indiscriminately scattered about
    the untended acres were wretched wooden hutlike dwellings with thatched roofs ;
    between them were miles of endless swamps with occasional farmsteads and rare,
    magnificent castles gleaming on the horizon. The laborers’ buildings were caked with
    filth, the barns and sheds were dilapidated, the roads were treeless and rutted by centuries
    of wheels. At the roadsides, knots of submissive Polish civilians stood in the swirling
    dust of Hitler’s motorcade. Among them he glimpsed Jews in high-crowned hats and
    caftans ; their hair in ritual ringlets ; they looked for all the world like figures out of
    medieval anti-Semitic drawings. Time had stood still here for centuries.
    The Jews were the enemy. He had given them clear warning in a bellicose speech to the
    Reichstag eight months before. How often in his life had his prophecies been laughed at
    by them ! How the Jews had mocked his earnest prediction that one day he, a humble
    street agitator, would lead the German people to true greatness ! Their peals of laughter
    had died to a croak in their Jewish throats, Hitler had jeered in January 1939. “Today I
    am going to be a prophet again. If the international finance-Jewry inside and outside
    Europe manages just once more to precipitate the world into war, the outcome will be,
    not the bolshevization of the earth and the consequent triumph of Jewry, but the
    annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe.” The Berlin newspapers had headlined the
    Reichstag speech as one of Adolf Hitler’s greatest : PROPHETIC WARNING TO THE JEWS.
    Now, in September 1939, Hitler was upon the verge of world war. And Dr. Chaim
    Weizmann, the president of the Jewish Agency, had written to Neville Chamberlain
    promising explicitly that all Jews everywhere stood by him and would fight on the side of
    the democracies against Nazi Germany. The Times published Weizmann’s letter on
    September 6, and Hitler no doubt considered it an unorthodox Jewish declaration of war.
    He often referred to it in later years—by which time his grim prophecy was being cruelly
    fulfilled. “For the first time we are now implementing genuine ancient Jewish law,” he
    boasted on January 30, 1942. “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” And on
    November 8 he reminded his Party faithfuls of that unique 1939 “prophecy,” adding with
    ominous ambiguity : “As a prophet they always laughed at me. But of those who
    laughed loudest then, countless laugh no longer today. Nor are those who are still
    laughing even now likely to laugh when the time comes . . .”
    While Hitler’s overall anti-Jewish policy was clearly and repeatedly enunciated, it is
    harder to establish a documentary link between him and the murderous activities of the
    SS “task forces” (Einsatzgruppen) and their extermination camps in the east.
    For the pogroms that now began, Himmler and Heydrich provided the initiative and drive
    themselves, using arguments of Reich security. Hitler’s only order to the Reichsf¸hrer
    SS, Himmler, in this context was one for the general consolidation of the German racial
    position ; there is no evidence that Hitler gave him more specific instruction than this,
    nor did Himmler ever claim so. When army generals became restless about deeds being
    enacted by the SS in Poland, Himmler reassured them in a secret speech at Koblenz in
    March 1940, of which his handwritten notes survive—though they are infuriatingly
    cryptic in parts. He explained that now for the first time, under Adolf Hitler, the solution
    of the thousand-year-old historical problem of Poland was possible : only the infusion
    into Poland of Germanic blood during the years of Germany’s weakness had made some
    Poles great and dangerous ; now that Germany was strong she must see to the “final
    annexation of the area, its purification and Germanization”; a simple merging of the
    peoples was impossible for racial reasons. But a “Bolshevik method”—which Himmler
    defined in a memorandum two months later as downright extermination of the minority
    races—was “equally impossible.” He conceded that the “leading brains of the resistance”
    were being executed but this was not, stressed Himmler in this piËce justificative, “a wild
    excess by subordinate commanders—still less by me.” Here Himmler’s jottings show a
    German phrase (Weiss sehr genau, was vorgeht) which might be translated either as “(I)
    know precisely what is happening” or “(He) knows precisely what is happening.”(4) Two
    weeks later Himmler spoke in a Ruhr city. Here his notes read : “The F¸hrer’s mission
    to the Reichsf¸hrer SS : the quality of the German species. Blood our most supreme
    value. New territories not a political, but an ethnological problem.”
    This ethnological mission had been assigned to Heydrich. As in Austria and
    Czechoslovakia, the advancing tide of German army units had been followed by his
    police net. In the present Polish campaign his task forces were subordinated directly to
    the generals. Each army had its Einsatzgruppe, and each corps an Einsatzkommando of a
    hundred officials in Waffen SS uniform with SD (Sicherheitsdienst, security service)
    emblems on their sleeves. Their primary role was Intelligence—seizing enemy
    documents—and counterinsurgency operations, or what the army orders more formally
    described as “combating any anti-Reich or anti-German elements in rear areas.”
    According to Heydrich, writing ten months later, the special order directing the task
    forces to conduct “security operations of a political and ideological nature in these new
    territories” was issued by Hitler himself. But the order’s practical interpretation—
    embodying what Heydrich calmly referred to as the liquidation of Polish leaders “running
    into several thousands”—evidently sprang from him. On September 7 he briefed his staff
    (without any mention of a F¸hrer Order) as follows : “The Polish ruling class is to be put
    out of harm’s way as far as possible. The lower classes that will remain will not get
    special schools, but be kept down in one way or another.” To Heydrich, the prophylactic
    mission of his task forces was the essential one—hunting down the thousands of leading
    Poles already listed in black books and liquidating them before they could unite in
    opposition.
    Parallel to the SS task forces attached to the armies, there was an independent “special
    duties” task force which rampaged through Poland under the command of the arrogant
    and brutal SS General Udo von Woyrsch. Most of the early savagery against the Poles
    and Jews was Woyrsch’s work. When he was eventually kicked out of Poland on
    German army orders, he loudly protested that he had received direct instructions from the
    F¸hrer via Himmler to spread “fear and terror” in what would seem an illogical attempt to
    dissuade the Poles from committing acts of violence. (Himmler’s orders to Woyrsch
    survive, dated September 3 : he was charged with the “radical suppression of the
    incipient Polish insurrection in the newly occupied parts of Upper Silesia”; Hitler is not
    mentioned. Heydrich was nettled by Woyrsch’s ouster and later ascribed the army’s
    interference to its ignorance of the “political mission” entrusted to the task forces by
    Himmler, who was acting, Heydrich claimed, on the directives of the F¸hrer and G–ring ;
    it was wrong for the army to see the task force operations as “arbitrary acts of brutality,”
    he complained.
    There is no surviving record of when—or if—Heydrich conferred with Hitler during the
    Polish campaign. But the German army’s records of briefings by Hitler are voluminous,
    and they offer a curious and distasteful picture. In short, many of Hitler’s generals
    learned from him that he planned to eliminate the Polish intelligentsia one way or another
    ; either they welcomed it, or they joined a conspiracy of silence.
    Not until October 1939 did the major “mopping up” of “potential dissidents” begin in
    Poland. It was evidently delayed at the request of the army, even though Heydrich was
    eager to get on with the job. Hitler’s blood was already boiling at the ponderous courtmartial
    procedures being implemented against Polish guerrillas—he wanted their swift
    and summary execution ; but Heydrich had his eye on bigger game. He was quoted as
    saying, “We will let the small fry off ; but the nobility, the papists, and the Jews must all
    be killed.” He proposed discussing with the army ways and means of eliminating these
    enemies after the Germans entered Warsaw. On September 7 Hitler met with
    Brauchitsch in his private coach and for two hours discussed the political future of
    Poland. He instructed the army to abstain from interfering in the SS operations.
    The next day Hitler issued a set of guidelines in which the emphasis was on the
    appointment of Party functionaries as civil commissars—to do the dirty work—whose
    task it was to parallel the army’s military government in Poland. Little is known in detail
    of what Hitler told Brauchitsch. After talking to General Franz Halder on the ninth,
    Eduard Wagner noted in his diary : “It is the F¸hrer’s and G–ring’s intention to destroy
    and exterminate the Polish nation. More than that,” Colonel Wagner noted in his diary,
    “cannot even be hinted at in writing.” The same day a member of Hitler’s staff—Colonel
    von Vormann—wrote : “The war in Poland is over…. The F¸hrer keeps discussing plans
    for the future of Poland—interesting but scarcely suited for committing to the written
    word.” Yet another colonel on Halder’s staff joined this dumb chorus a few days later.
    “A lot is happening and the questions looming ahead give rise to much food for thought,
    above all the proposals over Poland’s fate…. Too hush-hush to write even one word about
    them.” Only General Walther Heitz, the new military governor of West Prussia, lifted a
    corner of this veil of secrecy in writing up a conference with Brauchitsch on September
    10 : “Other business : I am to rule the area with the mailed fist. Combat troops are
    overinclined toward a false sense of chivalry.”
    That the nature of the SS task force operations had been explained to Brauchitsch was
    established two days later when Admiral Canaris reminded Keitel of the damage the
    planned “widespread executions” of Polish clergy and nobility would inflict on the
    Wehrmacht’s reputation. Keitel retorted that this had long been decided on by the F¸hrer,
    who had made it plain to Brauchitsch—who had visited Hitler with G–ring that
    morning—“that if the Wehrmacht wants nothing to do with it, they will merely have to
    put up with the SS and Gestapo appearing side by side with them.” Hence the creation of
    parallel civil authorities in Poland. On them would fall the job of “demographic
    extermination,” as Canaris recorded Keitel’s phrase. In fact Heydrich, recognizing that
    time was on his side, readily heeded the army’s urgent appeal to postpone the really
    bloody business until it was out of Poland. Thus, when Heydrich informed a member of
    Halder’s staff—Colonel Wagner—that the planned “mopping up” of Poland would
    embrace “the Jewry, intelligentsia, clergy, and nobility,” the army officer asked only that
    the army not be compromised—in other words, that the murderous orders flow directly
    from Heydrich to his task forces in the field. Preferably, even this would not happen until
    full control of the occupied areas had been transferred to the Party and its civil
    commissars.
    But Heydrich had not in fact secured Hitler’s approval for liquidating the Jews. On
    September 14 he reported to his staff on his tour of the task forces. The discreet
    conference record states : “The Chief [Heydrich] enlarged on the Jewish problem in
    Poland and set out his views on this. The Reichsf¸hrer [Himmler] will put certain
    suggestions to the F¸hrer, on which only the F¸hrer can decide, as they will also have
    considerable repercussions abroad.” Hitler, however, favored only a deportation of the
    Jews, as became clear to both Brauchitsch and Himmler when they conferred separately
    with Hitler at Zoppot on September 20. To Brauchitsch he talked only of a ghetto plan
    for the Jews (causing Halder to warn that nothing must happen to give foreign countries a
    peg for “atrocity propaganda”). Hitler’s somewhat more moderate instructions to
    Himmler were presumably those echoed by Heydrich to his task force commanders in
    Berlin next day : the formerly German provinces of Poland would be reannexed to the
    Reich, an adjacent Gau, or district, made up of a Polish-speaking population, would have
    Cracow as its capital and probably be governed by the Austrian Dr. Arthur Seyss-
    Inquart. This Gau—the later Generalgouvernement—would be a “kind of no-man’sland”
    outside the planned East Wall : it would accommodate the Polish Jews. Hitler also
    authorized Heydrich to unload as many Jews as possible into the Russian zone. To
    facilitate this expulsion the Jews were to be concentrated in the big Polish cities. They
    would be joined by the Jews and the remaining thirty thousand gypsies from Germany.
    About 3 percent of the former Polish ruling class remained, said Heydrich ; they would
    be put in concentration camps. The educated class of teachers, clergymen, aristocrats,
    and demobilized officers would be rounded up and dumped in the rump Polish Gau. The
    working class would provide a reservoir of migratory labor for the Reich. Hitler asked
    Himmler to act as overlord of this resettlement operation.
    For his part, General von Brauchitsch circularized his field commanders

  3. For his part, General von Brauchitsch circularized his field commanders thus : “The police task-forces have been commanded and directed by the F¸hrer to perform certain ethnographical (volkspolitische) tasks in the occupied territory.” The commanders were not to interfere, nor would they be held responsible. The only stipulation Brauchitsch made when he met Heydrich on September 22 was that the expulsion operations must not interfere with the army’s movements or Germany’s economic needs. Heydrich readily agreed. Hitler’s positive enjoyment of the battle scenes was undeniable. He visited the front whenever he could, heedless of the risk to himself and his escort. It irritated him when his convoy took a wide detour around the city of Lodz en route to Eighth Army headquarters, and he ordered that on the way back the convoy was to drive right through the heart of the city (an order the unhappy army authorities fulfilled by cordoning off the entire route, clearing away the Polish population in neighboring streets and conducting Hitler’s convoy at an uninterrupted fifty miles an hour, two vehicles abreast, from one end of the city to the other). He enjoyed meeting his troops and, for all we know, was exhilarated by the smell of cordite and sight of blood. At a divisional headquarters set up in a school within range of the Polish artillery, he made the acquaintance of General von Briesen, who towered head and shoulders above him. Briesen had just lost an arm leading his division into an action which warded off a desperate Polish counterattack by four divisions and cavalry on the flank of Blaskowitz’s Eighth Army ; he had lost eighty officers and fifteen hundred men in the fight, and now he was reporting to his F¸hrer not far from the spot where his father, a Prussian infantry general, had been killed in the Great War. Hitler could only stare entranced as this monumental officer reported the battle situation to him. Afterward he exclaimed to his staff, “That is just what I always imagined Prussian generals looked like when I was a child !” He repeated these words a dozen times to different listeners that evening and insisted that Briesen immediately be awarded a Knight’s Cross. “That is the commander I have been looking for for years for my SS”—a less than realistic appraisal of so blue-blooded an officer. On the fifteenth we find Hitler at Jaroslav, watching his soldiers bridging the river San. By September 16, 1939, the greatest strategic triumph of the campaign was complete : the Polish army optimistically assembled at Posen for the attack on Berlin had been encircled, and Kutno had been captured by the Fourth and Eighth armies. In a model operation that the legendary Field Marshal von Schlieffen himself could not have improved on, a former corporal had destroyed the last vestiges of Polish military strength west of the Vistula. The bold pincer operation starting from bases nearly two hundred miles apart could have been blunted by a successful Polish stand, but now it was only a matter of days before Warsaw itself fell. Hitler had begun to debate the fate of that city with Jodl on the fifteenth. As has been noted he was particularly eager to have the capital in his hands by the time the U.S. Congress reconvened. Since he wanted to avoid the high casualties inherent in house-tohouse fighting, he hoped that the mere threat of concerted ground and air attack would bluff the city’s commandant into capitulating. On the thirteenth he had repeatedly plagued General Blaskowitz for estimates on how long it would take to starve the city into submission, and a few days later he worried at his own liaison officer with the same question. The General Staff, erroneously believing that the armies parked outside Warsaw would not be immediately needed for other purposes, favored a bloodless siege of the Polish capital ; but this would take weeks and Hitler could not spare the time. Early on the sixteenth a German officer carried to the Polish lines a written ultimatum giving the commandant six hours in which to surrender unconditionally. If he failed to do so, the Germans would regard the city as a defended fortress, with all that that implied. Hitler’s bid for an easy and bloodless victory was rejected. The Polish commandant refused even to receive the ultimatum. He had spent every waking hour since September 9 preparing the capital for the German assault. The civilian population had been urged to join with the military in defending the city against the invaders ; all fortifications and defenses had been strengthened ; every suburban building had been reinforced by sandbags, concrete, and barbed wire, its basement linked by a honeycomb of tunnels to a network of resistance strongpoints ; deep antitank trenches cut across Warsaw’s main thoroughfares, and there were barricades formed of heaped-up streetcars, cobblestones, and rubble ; the parks and squares bristled with heavy artillery. Surrender was unthinkable. As Blaskowitz was later to report : “What shocked even the most hardened soldier was how at the instigation of their military leaders a misguided population, completely ignorant of the effect of modern weapons, could contribute to the destruction of their own capital.” Until then, Hitler had limited the bombardment of the capital to dive-bomber and artillery attacks on strategic targets. But whatever inhibitions he may have felt about the presence of a million civilians and nearly two hundred foreign diplomats were apparently about to break down under the demands of his timetable. At three o’clock on the afternoon of the sixteenth, Luftwaffe aircraft released over Warsaw several tons of leaflets giving the civilian population twelve hours to leave by two specified roads, and Hitler ordered a saturation bombardment for the next day. The people of Warsaw were never able to take advantage of the leaflet offer because by some incredible oversight nobody had informed the local German army commanders of it. As a result, they of course had kept the two egress roads under heavy artillery fire. Shortly before midnight, Hitler called off the scheduled bombardment. At midday on the seventeenth, the Germans monitored a Warsaw Radio message asking them to accept a Polish officer who would come toward their lines under a flag of truce. His mission would be to negotiate the release of the civilian population and the foreign diplomatic corps. Hitler immediately began to suspect that the Polish commandant was playing for time— that he planned to wage a bitter house-to-house resistance and that under those circumstances civilians were likely to be encumbrances and useless mouths to feed. Better, therefore, that Warsaw’s civilians should remain bottled up in the city. At 6 P.M. the Deutschland Sender broadcast an invitation to the Polish forces to send officers to the German lines for negotiations to begin at 10 P.M. Meanwhile, Keitel telegraphed Brauchitsch that since the civilian population had failed to leave the city by the earlier deadline, that offer was now void. Any Polish officers who turned up for negotiations were to be instructed to hand to their commandant an ultimatum calling for the unconditional surrender of the capital by 8 A.M. the next day. Arrangements for the evacuation of the diplomatic corps would be made on request, but the civilian population had to stay put. Leaflets to this effect were dropped. When by 11:45 A.M. on the eighteenth no Polish officer had appeared at the German lines, Hitler ordered Brauchitsch and G–ring to prepare at once to attack Warsaw from the eastern suburb of Praga. His attempts to obtain the city’s bloodless capitulation were apparently sufficient to give him a clear conscience in ordering death to rain down on its one million inhabitants. The Polish government and military command had already escaped to neutral Romania, thus the Russians could now claim that the Poland with whom they had concluded their nonaggression pact no longer existed. “To protect the interests of the Ukrainian and White Russian minorities,” two Soviet army groups invaded eastern Poland in the small hours of September 17. The news reached Hitler’s train soon after. He canceled his planned flight to Cracow and at about 4 A.M. entered the command coach of his train, where he found Schmundt waiting with Keitel and Jodl. All of them were grouped around the maps of Poland, guessing at the Soviet army’s movements until the arrival of Ribbentrop, who on Hitler’s instructions now revealed to the astonished generals the details of secret arrangements made with Moscow for Poland. “We decided with Stalin on a demarcation line between the two spheres of interest running along the four rivers— Pissa, Narev, Vistula, and San,” the foreign minister explained as he somewhat crudely drew the line on the map. The generals frostily pointed out that Russian aircraft were evidently even now taking off without any notion of where the leading German units were, and that the Wehrmacht had suffered considerable casualties in capturing territory which was apparently a hundred miles and more beyond the demarcation line secretly agreed upon. Now joint staff talks with the Russians had to begin at once—Ribbentrop somewhat tactlessly suggested Brest-Litovsk, the scene of Russia’s World War I humiliation, as a venue—and the most advanced German units had to disengage from the fighting immediately and withdraw to the proposed line. By September 19, when Hitler and his staff drove into Danzig, the Polish campaign was all but over ; it had lasted only eighteen days, a breathtaking victory that confounded all his opponents. How he now privately mocked the foreign ministry Cassandras who had predicted military disaster !(5) Only the garrisons of Warsaw, Modlin, and Hela were still holding out. It was a soldier’s world. He had spent two hours last evening talking with Rommel about the problems of war. “He is exceptionally friendly to me,” wrote Rommel. As the victorious F¸hrer drove through the streets of Danzig for the first time, flowers rained down from the windows, swastika flags draped the streets, and the crowds of German Danzigers were wild with emotion. When the convoy of cars stopped outside the ancient Artus Hof, Schmundt was heard to comment to a newer staff member who was overwhelmed by this reception, “It was like this everywhere—in the Rhineland, in Vienna, in the Sudeten territories, and in Memel. Do you still doubt the mission of the F¸hrer ?” Here, in a long, columned fourteenth-century hall built in the heyday of the Germanic knightly orders, Hitler delivered a lengthy speech on which he had been working for many days. He pathetically compared the humanity with which he was fighting this war and the treatment the Poles had meted out to the German minorities after Pilsudski’s death. “Tens of thousands were deported, maltreated, killed in the most bestial fashion. These sadistic beasts let their perverse instincts run riot and—this pious democratic world looks on without batting one eyelash.” In his peroration he spoke not of the blessing of Providence, but of “Almighty God, who has now given our arms his blessing.” Afterward his staff cleared a path for him through the heaving Danzig population packed into the Long Market outside. A bath was provided for the sweatsoaked F¸hrer in one of the patrician houses, and he worked over the text of his speech for release to the press. Then he took up quarters for the next week in the roomy seafront Kasino Hotel at Zoppot, near Danzig, where Ribbentrop, Lammers, and Himmler also found rooms for themselves and their staffs. Hitler received most of his official visitors in his suite of rooms— numbers 251, 252, and 253 on the second floor—while the war conferences were conducted in Jodl’s suite, rooms 202 and 203. His mood was irrepressible. At midnight two days after his arrival, followed by one of his manservants with a silver tray of champagne glasses, he burst into Jodl’s room, where a number of generals were celebrating Keitel’s birthday. Despite the thick fog of cigar smoke, he stayed there an hour or more drinking and talking. His Polish victory had convinced him that the Wehrmacht he had created was equal to any task he set before it. Here at Zoppot Hitler began weighing a course of action as hideous as any that Reinhard Heydrich was tackling in Poland : “mercy killing,” or euthanasia. The ostensible occasion for this formal decision was related to war needs. About a quarter of a million hospital beds were required for Germany’s mental institutions ; of Germany’s disproportionately large insane population (a result of centuries of lax and indiscriminate marriage laws) of some seven or eight hundred thousand people all told, about 10 percent were permanently institutionalized. Others were in and out of hospitals. They occupied bed space and the attention of skilled medical personnel which Hitler now urgently needed for the treatment of the casualties of his coming campaigns. Above all they were a glaring genetic impurity marring the blood of the German race. According to Dr. Karl Brandt, his personal surgeon, Hitler wanted between 40 and 60 percent of the permanently hospitalized insane to be quietly put away. To his suite at the Kasino Hotel the F¸hrer now summoned his constitutional and medical advisers, and in particular Hans Lammers, chief of the Reich Chancellery, and Dr. Leonardo Conti, chief medical officer of the Reich, together with the ubiquitous Martin Bormann ; Reichsleiter Philipp Bouhler, chief of the “F¸hrer’s Chancellery” (an essentially Party authority) was also present for a reason that will shortly become plain. Hitler instructed Dr. Conti that in view of the war, a program for the painless killing of the incurably insane should be initiated ; this would release badly needed hospital beds and nursing facilities for patients with a greater national priority. Dr. Conti appears to have suggested restricting this program to only the most hopeless cases, and he questioned whether there was any scientific basis for assuming it would produce eugenic advantages. He believed the authorities would be justified only in aiding, for example, a terminal case of paralysis through the most painful stages to a rapid end. During the conference the word “euthanasia” was actually used, but Hitler made it plain that under no circumstances was the real cause of death to be divulged to the next of kin. There was some discussion of the actual mechanics of the program. Dr. Conti proposed the use of narcotics to induce in the patients a sleep from which they would not awaken ; but in separate discussions with Dr. Brandt Hitler learned that barbiturates would be too slow to be “humane” and that most physicians considered carbon monoxide gas the fastest and most peaceful lethal dose, if somewhat unmedical in character. Hitler asked Brandt shortly to investigate which was the fastest way consequent with the least amount of pain. After this Zoppot discussion, some time passed without any results. In fact Dr. Conti had become involved in lengthy discussions with Lammers, with the ministry of justice, and with psychiatric and legal experts, in which the legal and ethical bases of Hitler’s proposals were explored. Lammers favored the enactment of a secret law which would protect the doctors and nurses involved in the program against potential criminal charges. The consequence of this delay was that Hitler bypassed both Lammers and Conti, and peremptorily dictated onto a sheet of his private stationery, which bore a goldembossed eagle and “Adolf Hitler,” an order that was both simple and unorthodox, and that considerably enlarged the scope of the euthanasia project : Reichsleiter Bouhler and Dr. Brandt, M.D., are herewith given full responsibility to enlarge the powers of certain specified doctors so that they can grant those who are by all human standards incurably ill a merciful death, after the most critical assessment possible of their medical condition. (signed) Adolf Hitler. It was a curious confirmation of the fact that Hitler regarded the war as Germany’s struggle to the end that this F¸hrer Order was symbolically backdated to September 1, the start of what he had envisaged as his “first Silesian war.” Now it was no longer a local campaign but a bloody crusade in the course of which the German people were to become ennobled by conflict and purged of the impure elements in their blood and seed. An extensive camouflage organization was set up by Bouhler’s Chancellery ; census forms, ostensibly for statistical survey purposes, were circulated to doctors and hospitals as from October 9, 1939 ; on these forms there were separate listings of the senile debilitated, the criminally insane, and patients of non-German blood. Panels of three assessors then decided the life or death of each patient on the basis of these forms alone. As Hitler had told Bouhler, he wanted a process untrammeled by red tape. He resisted every effort Lammers made to codify the procedure in a Reich law, for this would have led to too many ministries and officials learning what was afoot. Hitler had been an enthusiastic advocate of the racial rejuvenation of the German people ever since the Twenties, supporting his beliefs with an inadequate grasp of the Mendelian laws of genetics. (In fact, the processes of “negative eugenics” are extraordinarily slow : if all living epileptics were sterilized, for example, it would still take three centuries for the incidence of epilepsy in a population to be reduced by one quarter!) In 1929, however, Hitler had brutally summed up his views as follows : “If Germany were to have a birthrate of a million children a year, and to put away seven or eight hundred thousand of the weakest, then the end result might even be a net increment in strength.” On the pretext that—according to some authorities—20 percent of the German population had hereditary biological defects, the National Socialists had instituted a program of racial hygiene immediately after they came to power ; Minister of the Interior Wilhelm Frick was a fervent advocate. In July 1933 the Cabinet had passed the first related law ; it was henceforth obligatory for doctors to report on patients with hereditary diseases so that they could be sterilized. From sterilization and abortion it was an easy step to the “destruction of human beings unworthy of life,” the program initiated by Hitler in 1939. An elderly Darwinian (Alfred Ploetz) whom the Reich had made a professor after 1933 was to point out in 1935 that “the contraselective effects of war must be offset by an increase in the extermination quotas.” In other words, so much fine blood is lost in battle that equal quantities of impure blood must be let if the race is not to be polluted—a pseudoscientific justification which emerged openly and unmistakably in arguments adduced by Hitler in private in 1943. Frick had drafted the necessary laws concerting the operations of the local health offices in 1934, parallel to which functioned the racial-politics agencies of the Party in each Party district. In that same year, the Bavarian provincial commissioner of health affairs urged that sterilization alone was not enough. Psychopaths, imbeciles, and other subnormals must be sorted out and exterminated. “This is a policy,” he added, “which has in part already begun in our concentration camps.” Over the next ten years tens of thousands of senior medical officials were to pass through special courses in racial hygiene, and perhaps significantly these were attended after 1938 by senior officers and staff of all the Wehrmacht services as well. Subtle appeals were made to their latent racial psychoses, the economic burden represented by these unworthy specimens was explained, and particularly repulsive samples were fed and housed at the institutions as walking laboratory exhibits. In June 1935 a Reich law allowed abortions for genetic reasons. In the same year Hitler openly told Dr. Conti’s predecessor that should war come he would “tackle the euthanasia problem,” since a wartime psychology would reduce the risk of opposition from the church. But it was not until the end of 1938 that Hitler was directly involved in any euthanasia decisions, and then it was in “mercy killing,” rather than the infinitely more controversial blanket program to eliminate the insane. Bouhler’s Chancellery had repeatedly submitted to him appeals from patients in intolerable pain, or from their doctors, asking Hitler to exercise the Head of State’s prerogative of mercy and permit the doctor to terminate the patient’s life without fear of criminal proceedings. When Hitler received such an appeal from the parents of a malformed, blind, and imbecile boy born in Leipzig, he sent Dr. Brandt early in 1939 to examine the child, and on hearing the doctor’s horrifying description of the pathetic case, he authorized the doctors to put him to sleep ; at the same time he orally authorized Bouhler and Brandt to act accordingly in any similar cases in the future. A ministerial decree was eventually passed in August 1939 requiring all midwives and nurses to report to the local health office the details of such deformed newborn babies ; a panel of three assessors judged each case, and if all three agreed, the infant was procured from the parents either by deception or by compulsion and quietly put away with as little pain to the child and sorrowing parents as possible. From a theological expert(6) Hitler had in 1939 secured formal assurances that the church need not be expected to raise basic objections to euthanasia. Perhaps as many as five thousand children were eventually disposed of in this way. The “mercy killing” of the few was followed by the programmed elimination of the burdensome tens of thousands of insane ; and all this was but a platform for far wider campaigns of extermination on which the Reich was to embark now that it was at war. 1 From unpublished letters of Wagner, in my possession. When the tide turned against Hitler, Wagner joined the opposition ; he committed suicide in July 1944. By the whims of modern historiography, he was transformed into a hero of the anti-Nazi resistance. 2 Britain was not in fact obliged to declare war on Russia when she invaded Poland on September 17, 1939, as by a secret clause in her August treaty with Poland she had providently specified that the only “European Power” to which the treaty referred was Germany. 3 Canaris, a confirmed anti-Nazi, had deliberately exaggerated reports of a planned minor French attack—in regimental strength—in the hope of disrupting Hitler’s Polish campaign strategy, according to Colonel Lahousen, who accompanied him. 4 General Ulex, who was present, recalled this after the war as “I am doing nothing of which the F¸hrer does not know.” (Cf. Professor Helmut Krausnick, “Hitler and the Murders in Poland,” VJZ, 1963, 196ff.) However, nobody else recalled this. And General von Leeb, whose diary has been available to me, would certainly have mentioned such a candid statement in it, given his pronounced Christian convictions. Ulex had been humiliated by Hitler late in 1938. No other authors have bothered to transcribe Himmler’s speech notes. Colonel Eduard Wagner wrote his wife on the following day : “It was highly interesting yesterday. In the evening Himmler spoke to the Commander in Chiefs at Koblenz. More about that verbally . . .” 5 Cf. Hewel’s unpublished diary, October 10, 1941 : “ Triumphant conversation [with the F¸hrer] about the foreign ministry. Who in 1939 believed in victory ? The state secretary at the foreign ministry [Weizs”cker] ?” 6 The rector of the theological high school at Paderborn, a Professor Maier. Notes p. 4 Colonel Eduard Wagner echoed Vormann’s awe in a letter of September 4. “Even so not a shot has been fired in the west yet, a funny war so far. It’s official that France hesitated to the last moment and was only pulled in by Britain. Once again you can only say Gott strafe England !” Apart from reference to the published sources, I based my account of the Polish campaign on the diaries of Jodl, Bock, Halder, Helmuth Groscurth, Milch, Vormann, the naval staff Wagner, Lahousen, Rosenberg, and the commandant of Hitler’s HQ ; and on interrogations of Hans von Greiffenberg, Blaskowitz, G–ring, D–nitz, Scheidt, Warlimont, Keitel, and others. pp. 8-9 Hitler’s policies are well defined in Professor Martin Broszat’s Nationalsozialistische Polenpolitik 1939-1945 (Stuttgart, 1961). On the Bromberg massacre see the war diary of Rear Army Command 580 (General Braemer) in BA files (page 824), and of the Military Commander of West Prussia (RH 53-20/v. 16). A sample of lower Party officials was Kreisleiter Werner Kampe, appointed lord mayor of Bromberg with the job of “extracting compensation for ethnic Germans who suffered Polish atrocities”; Kampe swindled the victims out of millions of marks to benefit befriended Party and civic officials. The Reich ministry of justice indicted him, but Gauleiter Albert Forster secured his release (BA file R 22/4087). About seven thousand Germans were massacred by the Poles in Bromberg. p. 10 Three copies of Canaris’s memorandum on his conference in Hitler’s train on September 12, 1939, exist : one in the “Canaris-Lahousen fragments”—a hitherto neglected file of key documents and extracts from the Canaris diary obtained by the Cabinet Office (AL/1933); one in Groscurth’s papers (N 104/3); and an abbreviated copy in Lahousen’s IMT file (3047-PS); cf Lahousen’s pretrial interrogation of September 19, 1945, and Vormann’s diary, September 12, 1939 : “G–ring and Brauchitsch here at Ilnau. Canaris on account of Polish population.” p. 13 Read in sequence, Heydrich’s R.S.H.A. (Reich Main Security Office) conferences (on NA film T175/239) during September and October 1939 show a gradual shift in emphasis and urgency. Professor H. Krausnick also published Heydrich’s related memorandum of May 1941 in VfZ, 1963, page 197 ; and see Heydrich’s frank memorandum of July 1940, in Kurt Daluege’s papers (BA, R 19), on the role of his task forces. p. 14 The purge in Poland : I used W. Huppenkothen’s 1945 essays, in BDC files ; a CSDIC interrogation of Udo von Woyrsch ; Dr. Rudolf Lehmann’s testimony ; Halder’s diary ; Heydrich’s conferences ; and army documents. David Irving HITLER’S WAR Overtures Hitler’s train idled on a siding in outer Pomerania until 9:30 A.M. on September 26 and then began the eight-hour haul back to Berlin. The journey passed in heavy silence. Hitler went into the command coach, but Keitel was in Berlin and Jodl must have been in his private compartment, for only Colonel von Vormann was there, seated at his customary place next to the telephones, writing and sorting the heaps of papers that had accumulated. For the next few hours Hitler spoke no word but restlessly paced the length of the swaying carriage while the train drew closer to Berlin. There were no messages, no calls, no visitors. Just after 5 P.M. the train reached Berlin’s Stettin station, unheralded by any crowds or scenes of jubilation. The motor pool had sent cars to pick them up ; Hitler and his entourage drove almost stealthily to the Reich Chancellery, where dinner was served at the large round table in his residence. The atmosphere was funereal. After a while Hitler abruptly rose, bid the others good night, and retired to his rooms. Without doubt his thoughts now revolved around the next step he must take : could the western powers be made to see reason, or must he defeat them as he had defeated Poland ? In January 1944 he was secretly to address his skeptical generals with words that he might well have been thinking now. “If I am now taken to task about what concrete prospects there are of ending the war, then I should just like to ask you to look at the history of wars and tell me when in the major campaigns any concrete idea emerged as to how each would end. For the most part there was not even a concrete idea as to how the campaign should be conducted. Moltke himself wrote that it is erroneous to expect that any plan of war can be drawn up that will hold good after the first battles.” In the same speech he was to explain : “In my position one can have no other master than one’s own judgment, one’s conscience, and one’s sense of duty. Those are the only masters to whose commands I bow.” The army had already taken matters into its own hands, issuing in mid-September 1939 an order for the withdrawal of most of the combat divisions from Poland and their partial demobilization. Keitel warned General Halder that such an order was unthinkable without Hitler’s consent ; and when Hitler heard of it he sat sharply upright and ejaculated, “We are going to attack the west, and we are going to do it this October !” There are small indications that Hitler had known all along that he was on the threshold of a long and bitter war with Britain—that Britain would not withdraw even now that Poland no longer existed. As early as September 5 the F¸hrer instructed Walther Hewel—Ribbentrop’s liaison officer on Hitler’s staff, who as a student had spent several months with him in Landsberg prison in 1923—to use every possible diplomatic channel to rescue his disconsolate friend “Putzi” Hanfstaengl from the consequences of his own stubbornness in London and arrange his escape to Germany.(1) A few days later, the British Cabinet announced that Britain was preparing for a war that was expected to last at least three years ; this blunt statement evidently jolted Hitler, for he was still referring to it three weeks later. Britain was clearly going to play for time until her rearmament was complete—and this was the one development Hitler feared most. On the evening of September 12 he confidentially disclosed to Colonel Schmundt that as soon as Poland had been defeated he would swing around and attack in the west ; he must exploit the western weakness while he could. But he deliberately kept General von Brauchitsch uninformed of his thinking. A few days later, on the fourteenth, he discussed with his chief engineer, Fritz Todt, architect of the West Wall fortifications, the need for a proper permanent headquarters site in the west, as his special train would be too vulnerable to air attack. One site was debated and discarded, and another near Munstereifel was eventually selected. To his adjutants, Hitler explained that his Great War experience in Flanders had taught him that until January the weather would hold good for an offensive, after which it would be imprudent to launch a large-scale campaign before May. He admitted that he did not expect the victorious campaign in Poland to influence the western powers ; he proposed to make one more peace offer to Britain, but he had small hopes for it. He did not seriously expect Britain to come to terms until the Wehrmacht was arrayed on the English Channel, he said. On the twentieth, General Keitel, chief of the OKW (Wehrmacht High Command), warned a member of his staff that Hitler was planning to launch an offensive in the west as soon as it became clear there was no chance of reaching an understanding with the western powers. In a long speech, Hitler revealed this intention to his startled supreme commanders on September 27, the day after his return to the Chancellery : what disturbed the army was Hitler’s insistence that since German superiority of arms and men was only temporary, the offensive against France must therefore begin before the end of 1939, and, as in 1914, it would have to be carried through Belgium and at least the southern tip of a Holland he hoped would bow before the inevitability of such action. Hitler explained that he was unconvinced of Belgium’s honest neutrality, for she was clearly fortified only along her frontier with Germany, and there were indications that she would permit a rapid invasion by the French and British forces massing on her western frontier—perhaps a secret military convention already existed between Belgium and the western powers to that end. (In this belief he was mistaken.) Thus the Ruhr, seat of Germany’s armaments industries, would be lost and so would the war. He ordered General von Brauchitsch to establish the earliest date by which the German buildup could be complete. Aware that Brauchitsch inwardly rebelled against this new campaign, Hitler tolerated no discussion of his decision or of the prospects. He terminated the conference by shredding his brief notes and tossing them into the fire burning in the study grate. As he privately informed Reichsleiter Alfred Rosenberg on September 29, he intended to propose a grand peace conference to arrange an armistice, demobilization, and the general settlement of outstanding problems, but if need be he would launch an offensive in the west. He was not afraid of the Maginot line. If the British would not accept the peace he offered, then he would destroy them. And Baron Ernst von Weizs”cker recorded Hitler as saying in his presence that day that the new offensive might cost Germany a million men—but it would cost the enemy the same number, and the enemy could ill afford the loss. Hitler repeated his arguments to his army and army group commanders when he assembled them in the Chancellery the next day to receive his thanks for the Polish triumph. Warsaw had just fallen. It had been at the mercy of German ground and air bombardment since September 10. Elsewhere in Poland the towns had largely escaped damage. In Cracow, only the railroad station and the airfield had been bombed. But this was not to be the fate of Warsaw, whose commandant Hitler suspected of stalling for time in which to fortify the city against the encircling German armies. By the twentyfirst it was clear that Warsaw would have to be taken by storm. The two hundred foreign diplomats were allowed to escape through the German lines, and the artillery bombardment of the city’s vital gas, power, and water installations was stepped up. On the twenty-fifth Hitler had visited the Tenth and Eighth armies ; the latter had a hundred and fifty batteries of artillery drawn up for the final bombardment due to begin next day. From the roof of a sports stadium Hitler and a handful of his followers watched with binoculars as the artillery pounded Warsaw. Blaskowitz’s final report states : On September 25 the F¸hrer and Commander in Chief of the Wehrmacht visited the Warsaw front with the Commander in Chief of the army and his Chief of Staff. He was briefed on the Eighth Army’s plan of attack : according to this the main artillery assault on the fortress will commence early on September 26. Until then only identified military objectives, enemy batteries, and vital installations such as gas, water, and power stations are being bombarded by ground and air forces. Thirteenth Army Corps’ attack is to begin at 0800 hrs on September 26, followed by Ninth Army Corps one day later ; opportunities of improving on the opening positions before then will be exploited…. After the plan of attack has been outlined broadly to him and been given the detailed approval of the Commander in Chief of the army, the F¸hrer, who is deeply troubled by the suffering that lies in store for the population of the fortress [Warsaw], suggests that one more last attempt should be made to persuade the military command of Warsaw to abandon its lunatic course. He guarantees that the officers of the fortress will be granted honorable captivity and may retain their daggers if they surrender forthwith, and orders that the NCOs and troops are to be assured of their early release after the necessary formalities. Millions of new leaflets publishing these terms were dropped over Warsaw that evening. The Polish commandant made no response. Early on the twenty-sixth, therefore, the target of the artillery bombardment was changed to the city itself, and the infantry assault began. The next day it was all over ; the Poles had capitulated with virtually no further military resistance. For a week there had been no water in the city ; the railroads were in ruins ; there was no food or electric power. Unburied in the ruins lay some twenty-six thousand civilian dead, over twice the total German military casualties of the entire Polish campaign. On October 2, General Rommel and Colonel Schmundt visited Warsaw and afterward reported to Hitler on the terrible scenes of destruction. Rommel wrote to his wife the next day : “All went according to plan yesterday. Flight to Berlin, flight to Warsaw, talks and inspection there, flight back to Berlin, report in the Reich Chancellery, and dinner at the F¸hrer’s table. Warsaw is in bad shape. There is hardly a building not in some way damaged or with its windows intact. … The people must have suffered terribly. For seven days there has been no water, no power, no gas, and no food…. The mayor estimates there are forty thousand dead and injured…. Apart from that everything is quiet. The people are probably relieved that we have come, and that their ordeal is over. The NSV(2) and the ‘Bavaria’ rescue convoy and the field kitchens are besieged by starving, exhausted people. It’s raining here in Berlin, and there are lowlying clouds. In Warsaw the weather was fine but cloudy.” A pall of death still hung over Warsaw as Hitler flew in for his big victory parade there on October 5. The stench of rotting bodies soured the Polish air. Handpicked regiments of the finest infantry divisions stomped past in a parade-march that could not have been improved upon, but according to his closest staff the F¸hrer was unnerved by the spectacle of the death and destruction all about. Outwardly he remained hard and callous. To the foreign journalists swarming around him as he returned to the airfield he said menacingly, “Take a good look around Warsaw. That is how I can deal with any European city. I’ve got enough ammunition.” But when he saw the banquet that the army had prepared at the airfield, either his stomach rebelled or his instinct for bad publicity warned him not to sit at a vast, horseshoe-shaped table with spotless white linen and sumptuous food at a time when hundreds of thousands of Warsaw’s inhabitants were starving. He turned on his heel and instructed Keitel and his staff to follow him immediately to the aircraft. He had wanted to eat at a field kitchen with his troops, he said. The frontiers of eastern Europe had now been agreed upon between Germany and the Soviet Union. Hitler had insisted that his foreign minister personally fly to Moscow to settle the details. Since Ribbentrop was unenthusiastic about the mission, Hitler told him with some feeling : “Laying down the definitive frontiers between Asia and Europe for the next thousand years is after all a task worthy of the foreign minister of the Grossdeutsches Reich !” The partition of Poland had caused some anguish in Germany. G–ring, a fanatical huntsman—a member of what Hitler called “that green freemasonry of men”—turned greedy eyes on the forests of Bialystok, rich with game, and he persuaded General Hans Jeschonnek to telephone Hitler’s train to point up the importance of the Bialystok wood supply to the German economy ; Hitler had bellowed with laughter. “He talks of wood and he means stags !” and he instructed that Bialystok should nevertheless be assigned to the Russian side of the demarcation line. Ribbentrop settled the line on a small-scale map of Europe in Stalin’s Kremlin office on September 28. Whereas the line provisionally agreed upon in mid-September had run along the Vistula River, it now followed the Bug River far to the east, since Stalin had also assigned to Germany the districts of Warsaw and Lublin in exchange for the Baltic state of Lithuania, which the August pact had placed within Germany’s sphere of influence. So now the German troops who had advanced to the Bug, only to be ordered to withdraw to the Vistula, had to march eastward once again, spanning the difficult terrain for the third time in as many weeks. Stalin offset the only other dissatisfaction with the partition—the fact that the oil-producing region at Lvov (Lemberg) was on his side of the line—by a promise to supply Germany with three hundred thousand tons of the oil annually. All in all, as Ribbentrop remarked to Hitler on his return to Berlin, talking with Stalin and the other Kremlin potentates he had felt he was among comrades barely distinguishable from his National Socialist acquaintances. Rosenberg almost choked when he heard of Ribbentrop’s flattery of Stalin. He saw the strategic weakness in the new eastern frontiers almost at once. The new demarcation line would give Germany no common frontier with Romania, thus Germany’s sole railway link with the Romanian oil fields and the Black Sea would run through Soviet-controlled territory. As another minister commented to Rosenberg, “If the Russians now march into the Baltic states, we shall have lost the Baltic as well, strategically speaking ; Moscow will be more powerful than ever and they will be able to act against us in concert with the West any time they choose.” Rosenberg probably put this view to Hitler with some emphasis when he saw him on the twenty-ninth. In fact the indecent haste with which Stalin moved to take up the options extended to him gravely embarrassed Ribbentrop’s ministry ; it can only be explained by the Soviet leader’s alarm at the speed with which Hitler’s Wehrmacht had polished off Poland and by his fear that peace might break out. Under pressure from him Estonia conceded air and naval bases to Russia on September 29, and Latvia and Lithuania followed suit a few days later. Finland, however, made it clear from the outset she would offer the most determined resistance to similar Russian demands. For the first two weeks of October 1939, Hitler unquestionably wavered between continuing the fight—which meant launching an almost immediate offensive in the west—and making peace with the remaining belligerents on the best terms he could get. The fact that he had ordered the Wehrmacht to get ready for “Operation Yellow” (Fall Gelb, the attack on France and the Low Countries) in no way detracts from the reality of his peace offensive. Whatever his final decision, there was no time to be lost. Hitler saw powerful arguments against stopping the fighting while the Reich’s military advantage was at its height. Nevertheless, he would probably have settled for what he had already conquered—if only to be able to return to his grandiose architectural dreams. Besides, Germany would have needed at least fifty years to digest the new territories and carry out the enforced settlement programs planned by Heinrich Himmler to fortify the German blood in the east. Thus Hitler’s peace feelers toward London were sincere—not just a ploy to drive a wedge between Britain and France. Weizs”cker wrote early in October : “The attempt to wind up the war now is for real. I myself put the chances at 20 percent, [Hitler] at 50 percent ; his desire is 100 percent. If he obtained peace, the thesis that Britain would sacrifice Poland would be proven quasi right. And besides, it would eliminate the awkward decision as to how to reduce Britain by military means.” Early in September G–ring had hinted to the British through Birger Dahlerus, the Swedish businessman whom Hitler had already accepted as an unofficial intermediary to London during August, that Germany would be willing to restore sovereignty to a Poland shorn of the old German provinces excised from the Fatherland at the end of the Great War ; there would also be an end to the persecution of the Jews and a reduction in German armaments. The British response had been a cautious readiness to listen to the detailed German proposals. But since these proposals had been made, the Russians, as per their agreement with the Nazis, had seized eastern Poland. Hitler told G–ring and Dahlerus in Berlin late on September 26 that if the British still wanted to salvage anything of Poland, they would have to make haste. They would have to send a negotiator who would take him seriously, and now he could do nothing without consulting his Russian friends. As for the Jewish question, the Germans proposed that it be solved by using the new Poland as a sink into which Europe’s Jews should be emptied. Hitler approved the proposal that a secret meeting take place between German and British emissaries—perhaps G–ring himself and General Sir Edmund Ironside—in Holland. Dahlerus left for London at once.(3) The German army had good reason to keep anxious track of Hitler’s peace offensive. Late in September, Halder’s deputy had gloomily—and wholly inaccurately—warned that the German army could not launch a frontal assault on the French before 1942. Hitler was aware of the army’s reluctance to apply its mind to “Yellow”; this was one reason for his speech of September 27. But even in that speech he had referred to a western assault only as a necessary evil if the French and British failed to see reason. If that happened, then “we must resolve to batter the enemy until he gives in.” The army marshaled what arguments it could against executing “Yellow” now : the tactics which had proved so successful in Poland would not suffice against the wellorganized French army ; the foggy weather and short hours of autumn daylight would set the Luftwaffe at a disadvantage ; the army lacked ammunition, stores, and equipment. Brauchitsch enumerated these arguments to Hitler on October 7, and Hitler—already angered by the reluctance of his soldiers to follow him—asked the Commander in Chief to leave his notes behind, an ominous sign that he was not satisfied. Over the next two days he dictated a fifty-eight-page memorandum for the eyes of Keitel and the three commanders in chief alone ; in it he explained just why they must launch “Yellow” at the very earliest opportunity and just why time was working against Germany. The F¸hrer read this formidable document to his uncomfortable generals on the tenth. We shall return to it at greater length shortly. In it, he insisted that Britain’s long-range goal remained unchanged : the disintegration of the powerful German bloc, and the annihilation and dissolution of this new Reich with its eighty million people. The longrange German war aim must therefore be the absolute military defeat of the West (in which the destruction of the enemy’s forces was more important than the gaining of enemy territory). This was the struggle which the German people must now assume. Despite all this, he added, a rapidly achieved peace agreement would still serve German interests—provided that Germany was required to relinquish nothing of her gains. Hitler ignored none of the various unofficial channels for negotiation with the West now that Poland had been laid low. Over the next few days, however, it became clear that while some circles in Britain—notably in the air ministry—wanted an armistice, there was in the British Cabinet a hard core of opposition to whom all talk of making a deal with Hitler was anathema. Hitler was probably right in identifying the main source of this stubborn anti-German line as Churchill, now First Lord of the Admiralty, and the clique around him. On September 29, Alfred Rosenberg secured Hitler’s permission to take up feelers put out through an intermediary in Switzerland by officials of the British air ministry ; but this glimmer of hope was shortly extinguished when the intermediary reported that the forces for peace in that ministry had been pushed to the wall by the more militant forces at Churchill’s beck and call. Little more was heard of these diffident approaches from London. At this stage in Hitler’s thought processes there came an ostensible intervention by President Roosevelt that was as abrupt in its approach as it was enigmatic in denouement. At the beginning of October an influential American oil tycoon arrived in Berlin on a peace mission for which he had apparently received a ninety-minute personal briefing from Roosevelt. He was William Rhodes Davis, whose own personal interest lay in preventing any disruption of his oil business with Germany. He had been brought into contact with Roosevelt by John L. Lewis, leader of the CIO, the United States labor federation whose fourteen million members represented a political force no president could afford to ignore. Lewis was originally both anti-Fascist and anti-Communist, but he had, said Davis, been impressed by the significant rise in the living standards of the German worker under National Socialism. Anxious about the effects of a long war on American export markets, Lewis had obliged Roosevelt to entrust this unofficial peace mission to Davis. In Berlin the oilman met G–ring, and a seven-page summary of the discussion of the alleged Roosevelt proposals survives.(4) It was evidently given wide confidential circulation in Berlin, for sardonic references to Roosevelt’s sudden emergence as an “angel of peace” bent on securing a third term figure in several diaries of the day. President Roosevelt is prepared to put pressure on the western powers to start peace talks if Germany will provide the stimulus. President Roosevelt asks to be advised of the various points Germany wants to settle, for example, Poland and the colonies. In this connection President Roosevelt also mentioned the question of the purely Czech areas, on which however a settlement need not come into effect until later. This point was touched on by President Roosevelt with regard to public opinion in the United States, as he must placate the Czech voters and the circles sympathizing with them if he is to exercise pressure on Britain to end the war. Davis assured G–ring that Roosevelt’s main strategic concern was to exploit the present situation to destroy Britain’s monopoly of the world markets. “In his conversation with Davis, Roosevelt explained that he was flatly opposed to the British declaration of war. He was not consulted by Britain in advance.” Roosevelt suspected that Britain’s motives were far more dangerous and that they had nothing to do with Poland ; he himself recognized that the real reason for the war lay in the one-sided Diktat of Versailles which made it impossible for the German people to acquire a living standard comparable with that of their neighbors in Europe. Roosevelt’s proposal, according to the unpublished summary, was that Hitler be allowed to keep Danzig and all the now Polish provinces taken from Germany by the treaty of Versailles, that all Germany’s former African colonies be restored to her forthwith, and that the rest of the world give Germany financial assistance in establishing a high standard of living. This was not all. If Daladier and Chamberlain refused to comply, then President Roosevelt would support Germany—Davis reported—in her search for a just, tolerable, and lasting peace : he would supply Germany with goods and war supplies “convoyed to Germany under the protection of the American armed forces” if need be. John L. Lewis had privately promised Davis that if some such agreement could be reached between Germany and the United States his unions would prevent the manufacture of war supplies for Britain and France. G–ring outlined Davis’s message in detail to the F¸hrer immediately after the meeting, and on October 3 the field marshal announced to the American that in his important speech to the Reichstag on the sixth Hitler would make a number of peace proposals closely embodying the points Davis had brought from Washington. (Hitler’s more detailed proposals as described by G–ring indeed went so far that their sincerity is open to question.) G–ring told Davis : “If in his [Roosevelt’s] opinion the suggestions afford a reasonable basis for a peace conference, he will then have the opportunity to bring about this settlement…. You may assure Mr. Roosevelt that if he will undertake this mediation, Germany will agree to an adjustment whereby a new Polish state and an independent Czechoslovak government would come into being. However this information is for him [Roosevelt] alone and to be used only if necessary to bring about a peace conference.” G–ring was willing to attend such a conference in Washington. When Davis went back to the United States with the five detailed points Hitler proposed, he was accompanied by a German official, a “special ambassador” appointed to settle any details. Hitler hoped for an interim reply from Roosevelt by the fifth. (As Rosenberg wrote : “It would be a cruel blow for London to be urgently “advised” by Washington to sue for peace!”) But something had gone wrong with the mission : when Davis reached Washington he was not readmitted to the President, and they did not meet again. A different aspect of Roosevelt’s policy was revealed by the Polish documents ransacked by the Nazis from the archives of the ruined foreign ministry building in Warsaw. The dispatches of the Polish ambassadors in Washington and Paris laid bare Roosevelt’s efforts to goad France and Britain into war with Germany while he rearmed the United States and psychologically prepared the American public for war. In November 1938, William C. Bullitt, his personal friend and ambassador in Paris, had indicated to the Poles that the President’s desire was that “Germany and Russia should come to blows,” whereupon the democratic nations would attack Germany and force her into submission ; in the spring of 1939, Bullitt quoted Roosevelt as being determined “not to participate in the war from the start, but to be in at the finish”—the United States without doubt would fight, but “only if France and Britain kick off first.” Bullitt was said by the Poles to have carried with him to Paris a “suitcase full of instructions” outlining the pressure he was to put on the Quai d’Orsay not to compromise with the totalitarian powers ; at the same time Washington was applying “various exceptionally significant screws” to the British. Washington, Bullitt had told the Polish diplomats, was being guided not by ideological considerations but solely by the material interests of the United States. The Warsaw documents left little doubt as to what had stiffened Polish resistance to German demands during the August 1939 crisis. On Friday October 6, Hitler spoke to the Reichstag. His “appeal for peace” was addressed to the British in more truculent and recriminatory language than many of his more moderate followers would have wished. He singled out Churchill—who was then First Lord of the Admiralty—as a representative of the Jewish capitalist and journalistic circles whose sole interest in life lay in the furtherance of arson on an international scale. On the ninth, he issued to his commanders in chief a formal directive to prepare for “Yellow” with all haste, in the event that “Britain and, under her command, France as well” were not disposed to end the war. His soldiers were, however, full of optimism. General Rommel wrote from Berlin on the seventh : “The reaction of the neutrals [to the F¸hrer’s speech] seems very good. The others will be able to think it over during the weekend. There is not much going on here otherwise. If the war ends soon, I hope I will soon be able to go home. . . .” Hitler had sent Dahlerus to London for talks with Chamberlain. Late on October 9 the Swede reported to him the conditions Britain was attaching to peace negotiations : in addition to insisting on a new Polish state, Britain wanted all weapons of aggression destroyed forthwith ; and there must be a plebiscite in Germany on certain aspects of her foreign policy. These were hard terms to swallow, for in public Hitler was still claiming that the future of Poland was a matter for Germany and Russia alone to decide, and Britain was blithely ignoring the growing armed strength of the Soviet Union and her expansionist policies. Nevertheless, on the tenth, Dahlerus was instructed to advise London that Hitler would accept these terms on principle. The Swedish negotiator saw Hitler twice that day before he departed for a promised rendezvous with a British emissary at The Hague. He took with him a formal letter from G–ring and a list of Hitler’s proposals—which included a new Polish state ; the right for Germany to fortify her new frontier with Russia ; guarantees backed by national plebiscite ; nonaggression pacts between Germany, France, Britain, Italy, and the Soviet Union ; disarmament ; and the return of Germany’s former colonies or suitable substitute territories.(5) Dahlerus noted to one German officer after meeting Hitler that “Germany for her part was able to swallow even tough conditions, provided they were put in a palatable form.” He said he was taking with him to Holland more than enough to dispel Britain’s smoldering mistrust of Hitler. In Holland, however, Dahlerus waited in vain for the promised British emissary. The British foreign office asked him to describe Hitler’s proposals to their local envoy and to remain at The Hague until he heard from London. Berlin optimistically viewed this request as a positive token of British interest and agreed that he should wait there. But Chamberlain’s eagerly awaited speech to the House of Commons the next day, October 12, exploded Hitler’s confident expectation that peace was about to descend on Europe after five weeks of war. Chamberlain dismissed Hitler’s public offer (of the sixth) as “vague and uncertain”—he had made no suggestion for righting the wrongs done to Czechoslovakia and Poland. If Hitler wanted peace, said Chamberlain, “acts—not words alone—must be forthcoming.” That same evening Hitler sent for G–ring, Milch, and Udet of the Luftwaffe and instructed them to resume bomb production at the earliest possible moment. “The war will go on !” Dahlerus was asked to return from The Hague to Berlin forthwith. Edouard Daladier’s reply to Hitler was no less abrupt. “Before these answers came,” Weizs”cker wrote two days later, “the F¸hrer himself had indulged in great hopes of seeing his dream of working with Britain fulfilled. He had set his heart on peace. Herr von Ribbentrop seemed less predisposed toward it. He sent the F¸hrer his own word picture of a future Europe like the empire of Charlemagne.” To the Swedish explorer Sven Hedin a few days later Hitler voiced his puzzlement at Britain’s intransigence. He felt he had repeatedly extended the hand of peace and friendship to the British, and each time they had blacked his eye in reply. “The survival of the British Empire is in Germany’s interests too,” Hitler noted, “because if Britain loses India, we gain nothing thereby.” Of course he was going to restore a Polish state— he did not want to gorge himself with Poles ; as for the rest of Chamberlain’s outbursts, he, Hitler, might as well demand that Britain “right the wrongs” done to India, Egypt, and Palestine. Britain could have peace any time she wanted, but they—and that included that “brilliantined moron” Eden and the equally incompetent Churchill—must learn to keep their noses out of Europe. And in a fit of anger Hitler complained to Dahlerus about “the unbelievable behavior of Mr. Chamberlain”; from now on Germany would fight Britain tooth and nail—he did not propose to bargain with her any longer. Dahlerus left the Chancellery in a huff at the failure of his peace effort, but was later soothed by G–ring, who sent an important German decoration around to him that same evening. To Hitler it was clear there was no alternative but to proceed with the war. The urgency of resuming the offensive was what he had most impressed on his supreme commanders in his memorandum of October 9. While German military advantage was now at its very zenith, every month that passed in idleness would see a relative weakening vis-ý-vis the enemy ; in Italy, moreover, Mussolini was not getting any younger ; the West might succeed in blackmailing Holland or Belgium into abandoning their neutrality, or in bribing the venal Balkan countries to the same effect ; Russia’s attitude could easily change. And there were other reasons why Germany must strike swiftly and avoid a protracted war : as Britain patched up her military resources and injected fresh units into France, the psychological boost this gave to the French could not be ignored ; conversely it would become progressively more difficult to sustain the German public’s enthusiasm for war or to feed the German war effort with foodstuffs and raw materials as each month passed. Germany’s air superiority was only temporary—the moment the enemy believed he had achieved air superiority he would exploit it regardless of any reprisals Hitler might announce. Above all the British and French knew of the vulnerability of the Ruhr industries, and the moment the enemy could base aircraft or even long-range artillery on Belgian and Dutch territory, Germany would have to write off the Ruhr from the war effort ; enemy bombers would have to fly barely a sixth of the distance that German bombers would have to cover to reach important British targets from the small strip of Germany’s North Sea coast. This was why Hitler was convinced that the occupation of Belgium and Holland must be on the western powers’ agenda already, and this was how he justified ordering his army to prepare to attack France through Belgium. If the coast of western Europe were in Hitler’s hands, the advantages to Germany would be decisive if the war against Britain was to continue : for sound strategic reasons the German navy needed submarine bases west of the English Channel. (On the tenth, Raeder also proposed that Germany obtain naval bases in Norway for the same reasons.) Similarly the Luftwaffe would have a disproportionate advantage in striking power if its flying distance to British targets involved only the short shuttle route from Holland, Belgium, or even the Pas de Calais in France. The battle performance of the arms, men, and leadership of the German Wehrmacht had been strikingly demonstrated in Poland. In the fighting in the west, Germany could field a modern army of proud and battle-hardened soldiers. Their weapons were up-to-date and plentiful, particularly in the panzer and air forces ; the artillery had at least two to three times as much ammunition per gun as at the onset of the war in 1914. Hitler proclaimed himself unimpressed by France’s superiority in heavy howitzers and longrange artillery. But he warned emphatically against underestimating the value of the British divisions ; as each month brought more to the shores of France, it would become increasingly awkward for the French government to extricate itself from the war. These were the reasons Hitler gave for asking the Wehrmacht to put the offensive first, attacking in the west “this very autumn,” and en masse ; after all this might well be the push that ended all the fighting in Europe. The German army would attack the French along a front from south of Luxemburg to north of Nijmegen, in Holland. Splitting into two assault groups on either side of the Belgian fortress of Liege, it would destroy the French and British armies which would have come to meet it. The German armored formations would be used with such speed and dexterity that no cohesive front could be stabilized by the enemy ; on no account were the tanks to become entangled in the endless maze of Belgian streets. The cities were to be bypassed, invested by lesser troops, and starved into submission. The Luftwaffe was to concentrate on shattering enemy railroad and road networks, rather than squander effort on hunting down individual aircraft. “Extreme restrictions are to be imposed on air attacks on cities themselves”; they were to be bombed only if necessary as reprisals for raids on the Reich cities. The war aim of the Wehrmacht, he

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