Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The 1937 Meeting of Ribbentrop and Churchill: Hitler Offered an Alliance to Britain and Permanent Peace

The foundation of Hitler's goals was the reunification of the German people and the goal of securing their future existence. Hitler's prewar vision of the future conceived of an alliance with Britain and Italy, a Europe united in peace, and the extension of German living space to the East at the expense of Stalin. An alliance with Germany was near the polestar of his vision. In 1937, Ribbentrop met with Churchill and conveyed Hitler's vision; Germany was ready to make concessions to realize an alliance.

Map showing British shipping and the Empire's holdings as of 1937.

The polestar of Hitler's foreign policy was the absorption of lost German peoples and lands back into the Reich and the securing of their future existence. To secure their existence, he envisioned the extension of German living space to the East. To secure Germany's place in Europe prior to this goal, Hitler sought key allies in Europe; these allies would be strategic and geopolitically significant. After World War I, Hitler formed definite ideas about different nations. In Mein Kampf, he concluded that Britain and Italy were ideal allies:
On soberest and coldest reflection, it is today primarily these two states, England and Italy, whose most natural selfish interests are not, in the most essential points at least, opposed to the German nation's requirements for existence, and are, indeed, to a certain extent, identified with them. [1]
Hitler's desire for an alliance with Italy was principally political and cultural: Hitler admired Mussolini's Fascist regime, and in time would come to develop a sense of loyalty to the Duce that would not dissipate even at the height of war. Mussolini's ambitions, moreover, were not a threat or nuisance to Hitler's real ambitions. Mussolini's conception of Italian "vital space" (spazio vitale) would be extended principally to nations and peoples within the Mediterranean. Hitler and Mussolini were also united in their anti-Bolshevism.

Hitler's desire for an alliance with Britain was racial, cultural, and ideological. In 1940, after Hitler had occupied France and the Low Countries, all that was left of British forces had fled to Dunkirk. Hitler had to decide between capturing these forces and using them to negotiate with Britain or else allowing them to escape and be rescued. Hitler was determined to persuade Britain to see that Germany had no vital interest in humiliating or subduing Britain, and so he allowed the forces to escape. Hitler would explain to Frau Troost that:

The blood of every single Englishman is too valuable to shed. Our two people belong together, racially and traditionally. That is and always has been my aim, even if our generals can't grasp it. [2]
Hitler respected the British people and viewed a war between Britain and Germany as a "crime against the race." Moreover, he viewed the Empire that the British had built as a force for stability in the world. The power of the British Empire was commercial, naval, and colonial and was concentrated in the seas of the world. However, the German people were a land power, with aims and vital interests that were continental in scope. Hitler looked East, away from the British Empire, whose vital interests were scattered in the world.

Exhibition flag for the British Empire, from 1924-25, the same period in
which Mein Kampf was being written and prepared for publication.

Hitler viewed the world in terms of a natural constellation vital interests: The United States as handmaiden of the Americas, the British Empire as master of the seas, the Empires of Western Europe as overseer of Africa, Central Asia, and the Far East, and the German people as steward of Eastern Europe and Eurasia.[3] From 1933, Hitler's efforts with Britain were directed at the creation of an Anglo-German alliance. In general, the peace offers and proposals made by Hitler throughout the 1930s were thorough and extensive.

In 1937, Ribbentrop, still German Ambassador to Britain, asked to meet with Churchill, who was influential in Parliament but not yet Prime Minister. Ribbentrop would later remark on this meeting at Nuremberg. In The Gathering Storm, Churchill recalls their meeting, stating that Ribbentrop told him that Hitler was prepared to make far-reaching concessions:
The gist of his statement to me was that Germany had sought the friendship of England. On the Continent we are still often called England. He said he could have been Foreign Minister of Germany, but he had asked Hitler to let him come over to London in order to make the full case for Anglo-German entente, or even alliance. Germany would stand guard for the British Empire with all its greatness and extent. They might ask for the return of the German colonies, but this was evidently not cardinal. What was required was that Britain should give Germany a free hand in the East of Europe. She must have her Lebensraum, or living space, for her increasing population. Therefore, Poland and the Danzig Corridor must be absorbed. White Russia and the Ukraine were indispensable to the future life of the German Reich, of more than seventy million souls.
Behind Ribbentrop's informal proposal was a serious conviction on Hitler's part that Britain and Germany belonged together. Hitler believed that British difficulties with Germany arose not from any real conflict of interest, but from discord created by Jewish influence and both Zionist and American meddling. Among the several points Ribbentrop raised, he said:
  1. Germany sought at least the friendly neutrality of Britain.
  2. Germany sought at most a formal alliance with Britain.
  3. Germany recognized the existence of the British Empire, and whether in an entente or alliance, was prepared to use its own resources to preserve it.
  4. Germany sought to extend its influence and presence in the East at the expense of the Soviet Union; all it asked of Britain was noninterference.
In the early 1950s, Churchill recorded an audio version of The Gathering Storm. Here is the segment pertaining to the above passage from his postwar book:


US neoconservatives claim that Churchill had some sort of special insight into Hitler's actual intentions; for example, that Hitler was bent on war, despite a stated desire for peace. Such claims twist the facts. They appear credible, because they are partially factual: Hitler was indeed bent on war, but the war he ultimately wanted was against Stalin's regime. Churchill knew this, both from his meeting with Ribbentrop and via his own understanding of Hitler in his writings and speeches. It was Churchill's choice to lie so he could get his war.

Churchill also knew that Hitler had preferred an alliance with Poland to war. Polish Marshal Rydz-Smigly, who had been supported by Poland's Jews in his promotion to his post, once remarked that "Poland wants war with Germany and Germany will not be able to avoid it even if she wants to." Churchill was aware a British war guarantee to Poland would compel Hitler to use force if he wanted to regain Danzig and make a thrust toward the Soviet Union. For Churchill and world Jewry, the British war guarantee was meant to ensure war.
"There is only one power which really counts. The power of political pressure. We Jews are the most powerful people on earth, because we have this power, and we know how to apply it." - Vladimir Jabotinsky, Jewish Daily Bulletin, 27 July, 1935
"When the National-Socialists and their friends cry or whisper that this [World War II] is brought about by Jews, they are perfectly right." - Jewish magazine, Sentinel of Chicago, 8 October, 1940
"Germany’s most unforgivable crime before the Second World War was her attempt to extricate her economic power from the world’s trading system and to create her own exchange mechanism which would deny world finance its opportunity to profit." - Winston Churchill, to Lord Robert Boothby, quoted in Sidney Rogerson, Propaganda in the Next War, Foreword to 2nd Ed., 2001
World Jewry wanted a war of retribution against Hitler and an opportunity to use historical victimization as a weapon to bludgeon nations into funding their Israeli State. Both Jewish and Anglo-American financiers wanted to bring Germany back to heel under world finance and have unlimited opportunities to exploit her resources. Hitler had wanted a Germany with sufficient living space to secure autarky for the German people. His vision was a threat to the order that world Jewry wanted to impose on Europe and the entire world.

After the war, a victorious Soviet Union betrayed a resentment over what it claimed was the efforts of the British government to 
conspire with Hitler to give him a free hand in the East in exchange for an alliance; Soviet intelligence had it backwards, as it was Hitler that sought a union with Britain, but it is telling that they were aware of this fatal contingency.

The specter of this contingency raises questions about the outcomes of an Anglo-German alliance, or even a minimal assumption of British neutrality: There would have been no war guarantee to Poland and no war in the West; an agreement over Danzig would likely have been followed by a German-Polish alliance; a war against the U.S.S.R. may have occurred in early 1940, and with the Red Army reeling from Stalin's Great Purge in the late 1930s, it would likely have been defeated. Communism may have collapsed in 1940.

The Empires of Western Europe, including the French Empire, the Dutch Empire, and the Belgian Empire, would have endured, and Europe would have remained central in world affairs with few, if any, assailants. Hitler would have used Germany's position to block competition, including from Japan, to Europe's cornering of markets. There would have been no racial decline, and no crisis of mass immigration to Europe and America, and the nations of the West would likely have undergone a scientific and cultural renaissance.

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[1] Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, Vol. 2, Ch. 13.
[2] Quoted in John Toland, Adolf Hitler, Doubleday & Company, New York, 1976, p. 706.
[3] This map shows the distribution of world powers and Europe's Empires. If you click on the map, you can see the imperial possessions of Britain, France, Belgium and Holland. Each nation is labeled as such.