Friday, July 18, 2008

Changing history

A "definitive" new account of the Second World War from Germany's perspective suggests that the country was ready to "surrender" as early as 1943 according to The Telegraph. The report goes on to say that only Hitler's "suicidal urge" prolonged the war.

Now, obviously I've not read this new version of history, but I would be very very surprised to find it actually said anything of the sort - it simply is not true. Either that or virtually every book I've read on the subject (and there are many) are wrong.

It's true that Hitler was advised long before the end of the war that Germany could not win if, and it is a very big if, they continued to fight against all the Allies, but there was as far as I am aware no question of accepting the terms for an unconditional surrender on all fronts. The plan was to make peace with Britain and the USA so that Germany could concentrate on the war with Russia. There was never any question of surrendering to the Soviet Union right up until Hitler's suicide and even after. This is at odds with one of the books findings according to The Telegraph.

So ingrained was the war effort and its aims that the history, called The German Reich and the Second World War, concludes: "To the Germans, no alternative appeared feasible, other than the unconditional surrender demanded by the enemy."

But we know this isn't true. Far from it. Long before and even after Hitler's death Germany was trying to reach terms with the western Allies and even ready to surrender to them. As the war reached it's conclusion many German units fighting the Red Army rushed westward to surrender to the British, Canadians and American rather than the Soviet Union.

Even after Hitler killed himself, the Germans tried to surrender to the western Allies only and implored them to join Germany in fighting back the Soviet Union - so we know that unconditional surrender to all the Allies was actually the least feasible rather than the only feasible alternative.

It's true that Germany was keen to end the war with Britain and USA long before 1945, but I've never read a single thing that suggested that Germany was prepared to surrender to the USSR at anytime until early May 1945 and only after all efforts to reach terms with the western Allies only had been rebuffed.

Personally I have little doubt that, had Germany reached terms with the West and gone on to fight the Soviet Union only, then the war would have been considerably longer and almost certainly ended with a Nazi victory as they would have developed the "bomb" and the means to deliver it long before the Russians.

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