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Who do you think is to blame for the outbreak of war in 1939?


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#1 darkwolf176

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 12:14 PM

With so many conflicting viewpoints from different historians, i'm finding it hard to establish who is really to blame. Could you help me with making up my mind?

Thanks :)

#2 Kai-Petri

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 12:21 PM

Hitler. He wanted war. For any price.To make Germany great again was just his excuse.

Adolf Hitler, in his speech to his generals on 22 August 1939, a week before the invasion of Poland:

"The enemy did not expect my great determination. Our enemies are little worms, I saw them at Munich. Now Poland is in the position I wanted. I am only afraid that some bastard will present me with a mediation plan at the last moment."

Munich Agreement - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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#3 Slipdigit

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 01:10 PM

With so many conflicting viewpoints from different historians, i'm finding it hard to establish who is really to blame. Could you help me with making up my mind?

Thanks :)


It is pretty obvious who had univited guests crossing it's borders early in the morning of Sep 1st.

When you say "historians", are you referring to some of Stormfront's finest?

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#4 OpanaPointer

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 01:26 PM

When you say "historians", are you referring to some of Stormfront's finest?

Gotta love those guys. They do keep trying to weasel into the main stream.

Back to the OP.

I can indorse word for word a speech by the People's Commissar, Molotov, the Russian Foreign Minister. As to our aims: I am firstly determined to solve the Danzig problem; secondly, to settle the problem of the Corridor, and thirdly, take care that German-Polish relations will be changed in a way permitting peaceful living side by side. I, therefore, am determined to fight until either the Polish government is ready to bring about such connections or until another Polish government is inclined to do so.

Germany Could No Longer Remain Idle

I WILL AGAIN PUT ON MY UNIFORM

By ADOLF HITLER, Chancellor of Germany

Address made to the Reichstag, September 1, 1939


"One of our King Tigers could take five of your Shermans, but you always had six of them."


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#5 Mussolini

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 01:31 PM

Well, I think it depends how you look at it. The manner in which World War I ended, and the Treaty of Versailles, certainly set things up to reoccur in 1939.

In 1939, no matter how you look at it, Hitler was responsible for the outbreak of war, but one could quite reasonably say that he was heavily influenced by events from 20 years before.

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#6 darkwolf176

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 01:36 PM

It is pretty obvious who had univited guests crossing it's borders early in the morning of Sep 1st.

When you say "historians", are you referring to some of Stormfront's finest?



No I mean historians such as AJP Taylor, who argues that Hitler never planned for the outbreak of war in 1939 and was merely an oppurtunist who took advantage of Britain and France's appeasement. In addition he argues that Germany's territorial ambitions were a direct result of the bad peace settlement of the Treaty of Versailles, which the Germans never would have accepted. Remember that it was Britain and France who declared war on the 3rd of September. Hitler believed wrongly when invading Poland that Britain and France wouldn't declare war as they hadn't on previous occasions such as over the Czech crisis and the Austrian Anschluss with Austria. I'm not sure if he would have been so ready to commit to war if he knew that they would (although he probably would have done - as he saw France as corrupt and weak).

The counter-argument by other historians such as Hugh Trevor Roper, is that Hitler had a deliberate plan for war from the outset - intending to undo the Versailles treaty and the invasion of Poland was merely a continuation of this idea. In addition it is clear that Hitler sought 'Lebensraum' or living space for the German Volk (a not entirely original idea but a potent one nevertheless) and Poland was perfect for this.

Basically the point I'm getting at is that it wasn't as simple as saying it was all Hitler's fault for the outbreak of war in 1939 - there were a lot of other factors at play. I'm not condoning his actions in anyway, I'm just trying to look at them from an objective viewpoint.

#7 OpanaPointer

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 01:43 PM

Darkwolf, failing to plan for war isn't the same as not being at fault for starting it. "I only meant to wound him" isn't a defense in a murder trial.
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"One of our King Tigers could take five of your Shermans, but you always had six of them."


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#8 darkwolf176

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 01:46 PM

Darkwolf, failing to plan for war isn't the same as not being at fault for starting it. "I only meant to wound him" isn't a defense in a murder trial.


Fair enough :)

#9 Slipdigit

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 01:56 PM

Whether he planned for it or not, his actions certainly drove Europe in that direction.

As far as Britain and France declaring war, that was a matter of putting down on paper what had already existed for three days. Treaties are international recoginzed proclamations, just as declarations of war are. They very fact that France and the UK honored their defensive committments, does not suppose that those two nations "started" the war. That arguement has always been a straw-man.

Hitler was no different than the neighborhood bully who has great succes picking on the one child at a time, but is greatly surprised when the various indviduals whom he has tormented, group together in mutual defense.

But then, Stalin was an opportunist also, by directing the signing of the Ribbentrop/Molotov pact with it's attendant territorial gains.

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#10 OpanaPointer

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 02:31 PM

If you go here:

New Page 1

And scroll down to The Color Books, you'll see each country's spin on the events. Go farther down, to "Words of Peace, Words of War", for much more coverage. (I've added links to "Foreign Relations of the United States" if you haven't visited there lately.)

"One of our King Tigers could take five of your Shermans, but you always had six of them."


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#11 Landsknecht

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 02:48 PM

The way I look at it, Hitler and Germany are not alone to "blame" for the conflict. I see World War II as a continuation of the Great War. The ceding of ethnic German territory to Poland bred for a future conflict, and the Polish unwillingness for compromise didn't help.

That said, I can understand Poland's situation too (although I'm pro-German). They had a few hundred years before been partitioned by the Germans, Austrians and Russians, and they didn't want to soften up to allow for history to repeat itself in this regard (which it did anyways because of the "German" and "Russian" land Poland was in control of).

#12 OpanaPointer

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 03:02 PM

The way I look at it, Hitler and Germany are not alone to "blame" for the conflict. I see World War II as a continuation of the Great War. The ceding of ethnic German territory to Poland bred for a future conflict, and the Polish unwillingness for compromise didn't help.

That said, I can understand Poland's situation too (although I'm pro-German). They had a few hundred years before been partitioned by the Germans, Austrians and Russians, and they didn't want to soften up to allow for history to repeat itself in this regard (which it did anyways because of the "German" and "Russian" land Poland was in control of).

You can discuss "causes", of course, and the Congress of Vienna must be included in those. :cool:

However, the fighting started when one army crossed the borders of another country. It was go-time from that point forward.

"One of our King Tigers could take five of your Shermans, but you always had six of them."


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#13 Totenkopf

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 03:08 PM

I think that France seeking revenge for the Franco-Prussian war some years before the great war set Germany up to be pretty vengeful themselves in the long run. But I dont like to use "blame" but rather "responsible".

Heh.. they are scratching your paint job, Helmut!


#14 formerjughead

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 03:12 PM

Taylor seems to have been more enamoured with the celebrity, his crontroversial views created, than he was with historical accuracy.

"I was born without ambition and this made the conventional rewards of life dust and ashes for me or not even that. History has always been my consuming passion: reading history, writing history, lecturing about history. I am afraid I enjoyed teaching history less: something I had to do in order to justify my academic position and of course also to bring in some money. Once I discovered that I could earn money more easily by becoming a journalist I slipped out of teaching history and I can almost say became an historian in my spare time. But I think I remained a good historian: careful about my sources, trying to set down the truth as I saw it. I have never belonged to a school of history, whether Marxism or Les Annales. I am a plain narrative historian and I hope I give the reader plenty of entertainment as well. For me writing history has been Fun on a high academic level. Add television lectures which combined history and entertainment and my enjoyment was complete. I would not have changed my professional life for any other in the world." (*)



A proclaimed pacifist with a Quaker education, he was moved by Hitler's actions in 1936. So it seems even he does not believe his ascertions that WW2 was an "accident".

As early as February 1936, however, Taylor came to view Hitler's Germany as most likely to become open adversary in the future and began to support rearmament regardless of the present British governmentment policy of hoping for an accomodation with Germany whilst holding aloof from association with Soviet Russia. (*)


Like most revisionist Taylor emphasises the facts that support his view while giving less emphasis to the facts that provide context:

Taylor's own statements such as "in principle and doctrine, Hitler was no more wicked and unscrupulous than many a contemporary statesman" outraged very many people who thought of the racial imperialism, and of the death camps, that had been evident in the Second World War as being monstrously evil.
Taylor does however say of Hitler that "in wicked acts he outdid them all." (*)


* A.J.P. Taylor revisionism Origins Second World War

#15 darkwolf176

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 03:38 PM

Are you saying Hitler was entirely to blame or only partially?

Edited by darkwolf176, 15 April 2010 - 03:53 PM.


#16 Spaniard

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 03:58 PM

JW When you say "historians", are you referring to some of Stormfront's finest?

LOL.

Well as you've read theres many different versions according to many historians :rolleyes:, or point of view concerning
this matter. Like they haven't been wrong many times. WWII was fought in many fronts, To MOI it started in 1937.
Go to the last link it explains Why.

Who started World War 2?

Stalin had been planning to start a European War to create revolutionary conditions, so the Soviet Army could move
in later as a stabilising force, after France and Britain had destroyed each other. Stalin entered into a secret Treaty
with Hitler allowing Hitler to invade Poland. Stalin new Hitler's invasion of Poland would spark a war with France and
Britain. That was Stalin's intention.

WikiAnswers - Who started World War 2


Who started World War II

Who started World War II


What started World War 2?

WW2 was started by Germany in 1939. Hitler invaded Poland ? Not quite.


It really began in 1937 with Japan's invasion of China. The first shots were fired in China and the first lives lost there as well.
This was the beginning of Japan's Co-Prosperity Sphere plan that was to eventually encompass all of Asia.
The war in Europe began in 1939 for certain. The causes there appear to indeed be complex but in my evaluation there are a
few distinct causes behind its outbreak.

Read the rest of the link quite interesting.

WikiAnswers - What started World War 2
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#17 darkwolf176

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 04:15 PM

But for the actual outbreak of war in 1939 - not the world war, how far can Hitler actually be blamed?

Edited by Skipper, 16 April 2010 - 10:39 AM.
no need to quote a quote over and over again


#18 Fury 1991

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 05:04 PM

Treaty of Versailles

#19 Landsknecht

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 05:12 PM

It really began in 1937 with Japan's invasion of China. The first shots were fired in China and the first lives lost there as well.
This was the beginning of Japan's Co-Prosperity Sphere plan that was to eventually encompass all of Asia.


The Japanese invasion of China and the subsequent trade embargo by the U.S., Britain and Netherlands certainly led up to the Pacific War, but I daresay the events in Eastern Asia didn't have any major impact on the decisions that led to the war in Europe.

#20 LJAd

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 05:12 PM

But for the actual outbreak of war in 1939 - not the world war, how far can Hitler actually be blamed?

Hitler can be blamed,or can be hold responsible,because,for a lot of reasons,he attacked Poland (he was convinced that Britain and France would not intervene .
The point is that,for Hitler,these reasons were sufficient or compelling to wage war (without waging war ,he could not achieve his goals ),while for Britain and France it was the opposite:these goals could not justify war .

#21 Landsknecht

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 05:14 PM

Hitler can be blamed,or can be hold responsible,because,for a lot of reasons,he attacked Poland (he was convinced that Britain and France would not intervene .
The point is that,for Hitler,these reasons were sufficient or compelling to wage war (without waging war ,he could not achieve his goals ),while for Britain and France it was the opposite:these goals could not justify war .


But then France and Britain had won the previous war, so it is not very strange that they were more or less content (though many in France would probably have preferred to impose even harsher terms on Germany).

#22 LJAd

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 06:11 PM

But then France and Britain had won the previous war, so it is not very strange that they were more or less content (though many in France would probably have preferred to impose even harsher terms on Germany).

I think Britain and France were willing to accept some of Hitler's goals (reunification of all Germans and domination of Central Europe ),if it was done without war or humiliation (occupation of Czechia ).
I am not a fan of IF-threads,but I think that,if Hitler had attacked in 1938,there would have been a war:that's why Chamberlain was undertaking that much diplomatic iniatives,why there was nothing to come from Paris,Prague,Berlin :at last resort,Prague could give away,laying the blame on Paris,and Paris could lay the blame on London .If there was a war,Chamberlain had the choice berween humiliation or fighting:that's why he compelled the Czechs to surrender .
In 1939,there was no possibility for Chamberlain to compel Poland to give away at Hitler;the only chance was to give Poland a guarantee,hoping that would be enough to frighten Hitler (in Chamberlain's mind,the guarantee was not to help Poland,if it was attacked ,it was only to prevent an attack),but,for Hitler,it was only bluff (Britain could not aid Poland,and France would do nothing without Britain)and Chamberlain had the choice:humiliation (and loosing the elections;) )or fight.
You will note that in 1938 and in 1939,France was sitting mum,Britain was conducting the dance and was speaking for France,which was not consulted .

#23 tali-ihantala

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 06:15 PM

It was France and Britain's fault for being wussies. In September of 1939, the French and British could have invaded western Germany with little trouble and force Hitler to leave Poland.

Edited by tali-ihantala, 15 April 2010 - 06:20 PM.


#24 OpanaPointer

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 06:23 PM

It was France and Britain's fault for being wussies. In September of 1939, the French and British could have invaded western Germany with little trouble and force Hitler to leave Poland.

Um, I know the rule in basketball is the second punch draws the foul, but I didn't know it applied in international relations.
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#25 brndirt1

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 06:34 PM

Treaty of Versailles


This is far too simplistic. It was a combination of things which built up to the point of war, and it was Hitler alone who was responsible for its outbreak in the European theater. I've posted this before, so bear with me.

The Canadian historical scholar/author Margaret Macmillan takes the position that "The allies (she says), were not the caricatures history has remembered: vengeful Frenchmen, pusillanimous Brits, or naive and bumbling Americans. And to blame the treaty for World War II (she says), is ‘to ignore the actions of everyone–political leaders, diplomats, soldiers, ordinary voters–for 20 years between 1919 and 1939.’ ‘Whatever the treaty,’ she argues, ‘Germany would have been an unhappy place in the 1920s.’ Reparations were initially set at $33 billion.

But MacMillan maintains that Germany paid only about $4.5 billion in the entire period between 1918 and 1932. Slightly less, she points out, than what France paid after the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71–with a much smaller economy. And the French paid in gold, on time and in full (Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World", McMillan)

Stephen Schuker, a University of Virginia historian and author of "American 'Reparations' to Germany, 1919- 1933", believes the Germans, by using the proceeds of American loans to pay off their debts in Europe, ultimately paid no reparations at all. And when the Germans defaulted in the early thirties as a result of the "depression" (Schuker argues), American bankers had effectively paid reparations to Germany. Indeed, according to Schuker's calculations, the total net transfer from the United States to Germany in the period 1919-1931, adjusted for inflation, "amounted to almost four times the total assistance that the United States furnished West Germany under the Marshall Plan from 1948 to 1952."

"It is much easier to make war than peace," complained French Premier Georges Clemenceau during the Paris Peace Conference in 1919. (Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World", McMillan)

Hitler, for one, claimed in the 1920s and '30s that the European boundaries drawn at Versailles unjustly separated thousands of "ethnic" Germans from their brethren in the Fatherland. But many historians now believe Wilson stayed as close to his declared principle of drawing boundaries on the basis of ethnicity as was economically and strategically feasible at the time. Czechoslovakia and Poland, for example (both of which were recognized but not "created" by the peace conference) could not have survived ethnic homogeneity.

The Czechs needed the mountains to the north, the Sudetenland, to protect their cities and industries in the valleys below, and the Poles, to be commercially viable, required access to the sea. As a result, tens of thousands of those ethnic Germans living in those areas ended up either Czech or Polish.

If the Allies had drawn boundaries on ethnicity alone, as Boston University historian William Keylor points out, they would have made postwar Germany bigger than it was in 1914! And that, after four years of fighting and millions of deaths, "was politically impossible (unthinkable)."

When you look at Europe at the end of 1919, says Keylor, author of A World of Nations: the International Order Since 1945, "it (Versailles) comes as close to an ethnographic map as any settlement before or since."

So why has it taken historians so long to reconsider Versailles, and give it a fair shake? For one thing, because the conventional view makes such a good story, says MacMillan. "We like to believe that statesmen are a bunch of boobs anyway, if not wicked," and for many years after the settlement respectable voices said just that.

She credits the end of the Cold War, though, for bringing many historians into her camp. Civil wars in the Balkans, rebellions in Africa, fighting in Palestine, the squabbling of minorities in Iraq–all are the same issues faced by the peacemakers in Paris. Today, as western leaders continue to struggle with these same problems, she says, we can see that Clemenceau was right: "Making peace just isn't as easy as we thought."

"Hitler did not wage war because of the Treaty of Versailles, although he found its existence a godsend for his propaganda," the Canadian-born historian writes. As for the three peacemakers, she believes they were genuinely well intentioned: "They could not foresee the future and they certainly could not control it. This was up to their successors. When war came in 1939, it was a result of 20 years of decisions taken or not taken, not of arrangements made in 1919."

The traditional view is that onerous war reparations drove the German economy to the collapse that brought Hitler and the Nazis to power in 1933. But Ms. MacMillan demonstrates that the reparations demanded of Germany were less than those paid by France after its defeat in the 1870 Franco-Prussian war. Further, she notes, Germany paid only about one-third of what it owed in compensation for its occupation and destruction of Belgium and northern France.

Rather, she believes, the real problem was that Germany did not feel defeated. "They didn't think they had lost the war," she said during a recent visit to Paris. "They'd never seen foreign troops on German soil. The German army marched back in good order to Berlin. German industry was intact. Germany was still the biggest European country west of the Soviet Union. It never really disarmed, and it was strong enough in 1939 to conquer most of Europe."

I (Clint) agree with this portion most strongly, the German Heer marched back in parades where they were feted and applauded, almost as if they had won something. The Allies allowed the new Weimar government to not only demobilize and shrink their army, but to disarm them, and try the 900+ accused war criminals as well. The army was shrunk (on paper at least), but many small arms and machineguns remained outside of their control. Only about a dozen war criminals were tried at all, and most were released with "time served" as their sentences.

If on the other hand, the Heer had marched back into Germany without their weapons, and marching behind an armed foreign army who paraded in Berlin, the German populace may have felt less "betrayed by a stab in the back"; and fully recognized their defeat.


Hitler was responsible for the beginning of what would become to be called World War II, his double dealing, "cooking the books" to make unemployment appear to be contained, and Ponzi scheme economics made going to war nearly his only option.

Remember his words from Mein Kampf; "if land (lebesraum) is to be gained in Europe it can only come at the expense of Russia (he always called the Soviets Russians). Following the path of the Teutonic Knights of old we must use the German sword to take land for the German plow." (paraphrasing from memory)

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