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Was the German attack on the Netherlands in 1939 a strategic mistake?

Discussion in 'Western Europe 1939 - 1942' started by scipio, Aug 14, 2012.

  1. green slime

    green slime Member

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    Lord Halifax probably wouldn't have succeeded in negotiating a peace that would have been acceptable to the coalition govt. nor the general populace either.

    Furthermore, it seems Halifax was more interested in gaining time to strengthen the UK and the Empire, rather than an abject surrender.

    Additionally, the whole situation at the end of May - June is mired by concerns about the future of France, and whether and what the terms for peace would be.

    Churchill was of the opinion, that the terms would be too harsh (disarmament), and wanted nothing of it (requesting terms would be seen as a weakness), Halifax wanted to investigate, Hitler doesn't seem to have made them clear, he was probably waiting to hear what was on offer, rather than make a reasonable offer at this time.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/events/churchill_decides_to_fight_on sums it up nicely.

    Churchill's entire position could perhaps have been undermined by a reasonable offer from Germany made by 27th May.
     
  2. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Some more mixing of the spring 1940 politics...

    http://www.amazon.com/Troublesome-Young-Men-Brought-Churchill/dp/0374179549

    and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!"

    With those words to Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain on May 7, 1940 (quoting a speech of Oliver Cromwell to Parliament in 1653), Conservative Member of Parliament (MP), Leo Amery stunned Parliament and Britain and sounded the death knell for Chamberlain's term as Prime Minister.During the premiership of Neville Chamberlain it was not Winston Churchill who stood out as the primary threat to Chamberlain's appeasement policies but the young MPS who are the subject of Olson's book.
    "Those MPs included future Prime Ministers in Anthony Eden and Harold Macmillan and others including Robert Boothby, Ronald Cartland, Bobbety Cranborne (the future Lord Salisbury) and Violet Bonham Carter. Leo Amery was certainly not young, he was a schoolmate of Churchill's at Harrow, but was just as `troublesome'.
    Perhaps the most compelling and disturbing portrait painted by Olson is that of Anthony Eden. It is easy to forget that during the premiership of Neville Chamberlain that it was not Winston Churchill who stood out as a threat to Chamberlain's appeasement policies but Anthony Eden. The troublesome young men were generally considered to be "Edenites. But Eden, for all his intelligence, comes across as a timid and vacillating political rival notoriously incapable of making tough political decisions.Time and time again the troublesome young men turned to Eden and time and time again he found a way to avoid making a tough decision. It is no wonder that even his friends referred to him as Hamlet.
     
  3. WilcoV.

    WilcoV. New Member

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    Scipio, my comment was no attack against the French, but just to state the the French advance in Brabant was not intended to help the Dutch defence. The Dutch defensive plans were primarily to defend the industrial and economic heart of the both Holland's and Utrecht provinces. I do not discharge the French actions this way, but just clear any idea that the French act was intended to help the DUtch defences. However, if they could have acted against the German Panzers coming through Brabant towards Rotterdam, they actually could have helped the defensive plans. One of the major problems of linking up defences of the Dutch, Belgians and French were the complete different defensive lines drawn through the countries. They just could not link up, not even if they wanted.
     
  4. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    I would have thought that if this had been a genuine attempt by Hitler to obtain an honourable agreement with Britain, then Halifax would have been appraised by some backdoor means (eg the Swedes or the Swiss) and would have started his Campaign in the Cabinet for Peace on 24th May.

    Good observation, and that's one of the best arguments against the idea that the halt was a peacemaking gesture. Another is that the halt applied only to the advanced panzer divisions; German forces continued attacking everywhere else around the Allied perimeter, trying to cut off the Allies' escape to Dunkirk. In fact substantial French forces, about two corps IIRC, were cut off, and the British in the front lines did not experience any letup of pressure. Air attacks also continued unabated throughout. If the halt of the panzers was a peacemaking gesture, it was a remarkably inept one.
     
  5. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    A researcher called David Pounder several years ago now turned up significant information regarding a planning COUP in London on the 28th of June 1940! The diary of Ralph Edwards, Director of Naval Operations at the Admiralty, and now kept on public view at the Bodliean Library record his various meetings with the disaffect Capt. Bill Tennant (of Dunkirk fame) and Ernie Spooner of the Renown; all three were VERY disaffected with Churchill's conduct of the war since may...Tennant had dashed out a hellfire-and-damnation pamphlet slating Winston since his return from Dunkirk...and Edwards' diary records the "conspirators" were to meet with Walter Monckton, a relative of Queen Elizabeth and IIRC a Royal Equerry - who along with Leo Amery and Max Beaverbrook were going to try to persuade the Quwwen to persuade George VI to order Churchill to stand down as PM...to be replaced by Lord Halifax, who would immediate sue for peace!

    Edwards' diary records that the date set for the "transition of power" was the 28th of June...

    As we know...nothing happened. This COULD all be poppycock of course.....

    So, three navy captains were going to overthrow the government? And they had set a firm date for the change, even though they apparently had yet to meet with Monckton? I could understand people being discontented with Churchill, but would they want to replace him with someone who would give up the war or someone who prosecute it more effectively? From what I know of Amery, he criticized Chamberlain's conduct of the war rather than the war itself. Max Aiken, Lord Beaverbrook, had just accepted a cabinet post from Churchill and remained close to him throughout the war, although they had their differences. Seems like quite a tale......
     
  6. steverodgers801

    steverodgers801 Member

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    Could the King force a resignation, my understanding is that Parliament had to go to the king and say we want a new PM. Besides, the events of France were way beyond Churchills control so to blame him is quite ridiculous.
     
  7. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Member

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    That bit in bold that disagrees with the The World At War account of the meeeting...which is that Halifax asked was there any good reason why he couldn't lead a government from the Lords....and THAt was when Churchill and Chamberlain were silent ;)

    You'll note that that account ALSO makes absolutely no mention at all of the Labour Party pre-involvement ;)
     
  8. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Member

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    No - they were approached by Walter Monckton who seems to have been the one drawing the strings of the plot together...and for some time...

    Having not seem Edwards' diary myself, I don't know exactly where in the diary's account of events the 28th of June is mentioned...but it was certainly mentioned in HALIFAX'S diplomatic letter to Stockholm ;)

    There was a considerable body of opinion that simply didn't want war ;) Remember - the Commons still contained all the Appeasers it had in the late 1930s! And...

    ...Max Aitken had been a staunch suporter of Appeasement! Yes, he worked wonders at the MAP...but also remember he had a massive political and military policy falling out with Winston in 1942 over the "Second Front", so much so that he resigned as minister, though he remained Lord Privy Seal for the rest of the war.

    Germaine (sic!) to this would be exactly when he became reconciled to the need to fully prosecute the war against Germany, and turned away from his previous Appeaser beliefs...
     
  9. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Member

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    But that was the beauty of the situation, if you look at it again ;) Chamberlain might have been a hopeless war prime minister, and Hitler may have run cirlces round him...but until the last few days of his government he was a gifted politician..

    Chamberlain didn't actually do any persuading! He simply didn't make any answer that encouraged Halifax...when Halifax needed him to ;)
     
  10. Tomcat

    Tomcat The One From Down Under

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    This was my thinking as well, Germany couldn't leave a neutral country bordering an ocean basically controlled by the British Navy with close ties to the enemy they are facing. You couldn't run the risk of leaving them for fear of the enemy using that country as a spring board with a direct route into Germany's heartland. I would say the same thing about Denmark.
     
  11. Ruud

    Ruud Member

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