In 1939 Hitler had no time to waste, he was getting to a point where he was losing time to broker a deal with Poland that evidently did not wish to concede the justified 'demands' made by Germany on Danzig and the Polish corridor.
After September 2nd Germany would've suffered poor weather conditions that would've made waging a successful war against Poland unlikely:
military operations, if it should come to war, ought not to begin after 2 September because of climate and weather factors. Road conditions thereafter would be too difficult for the army in Eastern Europe, and likewise flying weather for the air force. Thus, this date has an influence on Hitler's decision. [About whether to go to war with Poland or not.]
Gerd Schultze-Rhonhof, 1939 - The War that Had Many Fathers (Olzog Verlag, George F. Held English Translation, 2011), Pp. 572.
It should be recalled in this regard that during the 'Phoney War' the weather was a factor:
The Luftwaffe needed five consecutive days of good weather to destroy the French air force and the meteorological report on Tuesday the seventh was so unpromising that Hitler postponed A-Day. ['A-Day' was November 12th, 1939, the day Hitler initially planned to breakout in the West.]
John Toland, Adolf Hitler: The Definitive Biography (Doubleday, 1976), Pp. 590.
Not that this kind of weather would've been the same in the east, I don't know. But I think this is an interesting fact to keep in mind.
Not only was the weather a factor, but so was rearmament. Hitler did not have all the time in the world to wait while his arms stagnated and those of his encircling antagonists were ever growing:
Since Britain, France, the United States and the Soviet Union were all accelerating their rearmament at precisely this moment, Hitler found himself facing a sharp deterioration in the balance of forces at a date far earlier than he had expected.
Adam Tooze, The Wages of Destruction (Penguin Books, 2008), Pp. 663.
This meant the British and the Poles could count on their growing stronger and play for time by dragging out the negotiations. In doing so, Germany had two options - to give up her rightful aspirations or break out and risk a war with Poland. In either case Germany really only stood to lose. If she fought (as she did) she would be characterized as an aggressor who started a needless war when there was time to negotiate, or she could suffer a diplomatic defeat and remain enfeebled.
The fact is there was no time to wait, negotiations had been fruitless and were to remain that way. This is why Hitler invaded Poland in 1939. Even enemies of Hitler and Germany's ambitions Frederick Oechsner et al. had to tacitly admit Hitler was left with no other choice:
Hitler was taking no chances. He had arranged with Mussolini, exactly as in the Czech crisis, to make a public offer of mediation [on the Polish question]. Hitler and Ribbentrop seemed convinced that this proposal of a “second Munich" would work. Hotels in Munich had already been informed that they could expect prominent guests, and the Vierjahreszeiten, Munich’s leading hostelry, had already been earmarked by the Foreign Office for occupancy by French and British guests. The offer of mediation was ignored. The guests never came.
At this point it is quite clear that Hitler, antagonized not only by the flat refusal of the Poles to give way, but by the British and French rejection of a “course of reason," determined coldly to go ahead with war.
Frederick Oechsner, This is the Enemy (William Heinemann Ltd., 1943), Pp. 11.
I spoke in my previous post in this thread about the alleged agreement from the Poles on August 28th 1939 to accept immediate negotiations with Germany on the basis of a German offer that was given to Britain on August 25th. I'm now less sure the Poles didn't send a reply, as Rhonhof does actually cite a Polish reply on page 596 of his book (although the document he cites might be from the British Ambassador and not a member of the Polish government, I will have to investigate this further)
. In any case, it doesn't change the fact that by simply observing Polish actions it's patently obvious they didn't want to negotiate, which makes it interesting to view Hitler's subsequent actions from this perspective.
Prior to Henderson arriving in Berlin, Hitler told Brauchitsch about what he expected to happen:
When Brauchitsch reported to him, Hitler made no bones about his strategy: he would demand Danzig, right of transit across the Polish Corridor, and a Saar-type plebiscite there. Britain would probably accept these proposals, Poland would reject them, and the split would then be wide open. Hitler instructed the foreign ministry to draft a set of formal proposals along these lines, for the British government to study. The proposals – sixteen in all – were so moderate that one of his diplomats termed it ‘a real League of Nations document.’ He read them out to Keitel in the conservatory. The general naively replied, ‘I find them astoundingly moderate.
David Irving, Hitler's War and the War Path (Focal Point Publications, Millennium Edition, 2002), Pp. 210.
Later in the day when Henderson arrived Hitler confirmed that he still wanted to come to an agreement:
the British announced that they had received a ‘definite assurance’ from the Poles that they were prepared to negotiate. Hitler replied that he was still minded to deal with Poland on a ‘very reasonable basis’ – no doubt thinking of the still-unrevealed sixteen-point proposals.
On August 29th, Hitler woke up with a strategy in mind. He knew, or at least he was correct to suspect that the Poles in reality had no interest in negotiating. So Hitler decided to call their bluff:
He would ‘accept’ the British proposals for negotiations with Poland – but he would give Warsaw just one day to send a plenipotentiary to Berlin. They would, of course, refuse. Alternatively, if they agreed, on the thirtieth the Pole would have to arrive; the next day the talks would break down, and on September 1 ‘White’ could begin, as planned. As an Abwehr colonel noted in his diary: ‘The Führer has told Ribbentrop, Himmler, Bodenschatz, etc., “Tonight I’m going to hatch something diabolical for the Poles – something they’ll choke on.”’
Ibid., p. 211.
This scene has often been falsely portrayed to show that it was in-fact Hitler who wanted the negotiations to fail, when in truth there weren't going to be any negotiations to begin with, this is why the Poles would choke, and Hitler knew it:
That it was unlikely that a Polish plenipotentiary would appear before the deadline at midnight was known to Hitler from intercepted conversations (outside the scope of this Forschungsamt report, which solely describes Britain's policy) that the Poles were adopting deliberate delaying tactics [vershleppen]. While Hitler had not originally issued an ultimatum to the Poles, there was thus no profit from extending the deadline he had set. By their obstinacy, the Poles had thus rendered nugatory Hitler's attempt to separate them from their Allies. A few hours later. Hitler issued the executive order for the attack on Poland early next morning, 1 September.
David Irving, Breach of Security: The German Secret Intelligence File on Events leading to the Second World War (Focal Point Publications), Pp. 104.
Soon after midday the FA’s intercept of Warsaw’s explicit instructions to him was in Hitler’s hands: Lipski was ‘not to enter into any concrete negotiations,’ he was merely to hand a Polish government communication to the Reich government. Thus the Nazis knew that the Poles were merely stalling for time. Lipski went to ground – ‘He can’t be found,’ recorded Goebbels, ‘for hours at a time. Poland is obviously playing for time.’ It worried the minister that Field Marshal Göring, the Luftwaffe’s commander in chief, was ‘still sceptical,’ but he consoled himself in his diary: ‘The Führer still does not believe Britain will intervene.
Irving, Hitler's War, op cit., p. 213.
Nor did Lipski report Hitler's request to Warsaw:
The deadlock lasted until 29 August. Then it was broken by Hitler. He was in the weaker position, though the British did not know it. There was not much time left before 1 September for him to pull off diplomatic success. At 7.15 p.m. he made to Henderson a formal offer and a formal demand: he would negotiate directly with Poland if a Polish plenipotentiary arrived in Berlin the following day. [...] Henderson pressed the demand on his own government; he urged the French government to advise an immediate visit by Beck; he was most insistent of all with the Polish ambassador Lipski. Lipski took no notice—apparently he did not even report Hitler’s demand to Warsaw.
Taylor, Origins, op cit., p. 272-273. also see: Irving, Breach, op cit., p. 102.
Hitler therefore successfully called Poland's bluff because he knew they wouldn't come no matter how long the deadline was, and in any case they most certainly wouldn't concede on the German proposals, no matter how moderate:
The telegram [from Halifax to Kennard the British Ambassador in Warsaw asking the Poles if they will enter direct negotiations with Germany] contains not a single word about Danzig and not the least hint addressed to Warsaw that the Germans should be accommodated in any way. [...] One expects that Poland negotiate and nothing more. According to this message, in London one can be sure that Warsaw will stonewall in regard to Danzig.
Rhonhof, 1939, op cit., p. 596.
In which case the negotiations would break down. and could attack them without hesitation. The fact that Hitler correctly anticipated that his offers were going to come to nothing is evidenced by the fact that when Henderson went to see Lipski about making contact with Germany before it was too late on August 31st, he ignored him:
On his return to the British embassy, he summoned Lipski at 2 a.m., and urged him to seek an interview with Ribbentrop at once. Lipski took no notice, and went back to bed.
A.J.P. Taylor, Origins of the Second World War (Hamish Hamilton, 1983), Pp. 274.
Irving confirms in more detail:
The FA (Forschungsamt) knew that Henderson had advised the Polish embassy to telephone Warsaw for urgent instructions. At 8:30 a.m. Henderson had urgently telephoned the embassy again, warning that an unquestionably reliable source had informed him that there would be war if Poland did not undertake some move over the next two or three hours. The Polish ambassador Lipski, however, refused even to come to the telephone.
Irving, Hitler's War, op cit., p. 213.
The British didn't even try to get the Poles to concede either:
The British offered to arrange direct negotiations between Germany and Poland if Hitler would promise to behave peacefully; Hitler replied that there would be no war if he got his way over Danzig. Later writers have argued that Hitler’s reply was dishonest; that he was concerned to isolate Poland, not to avoid war. This may well be true. But the offer by the British government was dishonest also; there was no chance of extracting concessions from the Poles once the danger of war was removed, and the British knew it. In the previous year Benes had appealed for British support. They had implied that he might secure it if he were conciliatory enough; and he had swallowed the bait. Now the British were already committed—their hands tied not so much by their formal alliance with Poland, as by the resolution of British public opinion. They could not dictate concessions to the Poles; they could not allow Hitler to dictate them. Yet there would be no concessions unless someone did the dictating. On 28 August Sir Horace Wilson, acting on Chamberlain’s behalf, saw Kennedy, the American ambassador. After the conversation, Kennedy telephoned the State Department: “The British wanted one thing of us and one thing only, namely that we put pressure on the Poles. They felt that they could not, given their obligations, do anything of this sort but that we could”. President Roosevelt rejected this idea out of hand. Chamberlain—again according to Kennedy—then lost all hope: “He says the futility of it all is the thing that is frightful; after all, they cannot save the Poles; they can merely carry on a war of revenge that will mean the destruction of all Europe”
Taylor, Origins, op cit., p. 272.
The British evidently couldn't induce the Poles to concede to Germany, otherwise it would look like appeasement and in fact they had done the opposite (Rhonhof, p. 599-600.)
- somehow the Poles had to come to the conclusion on their own willingly, and they simply weren't going to, especially not when they had a guarantee. And we already know how the Poles responded to the German offer to negotiate, by mobilising their armed forces (Ibid., p. 603.)
The question that has to be answered is not whether time to negotiate could've been secured, but what exactly was going to be negotiated? If there was absolutely no way the Poles would 'give up' Danzig (that didn't even belong to them) then war was inevitable because Hitler would certainly not give her up either. So what good would negotiating do? The Poles were going to have to have been forced to give it up one way or another, either diplomatically or by war. Nobody can claim the Poles didn't have their chance.
The realisation of this fact makes the historians condemnation of Hitler's "aggression" even more ridiculous because to them the "right" thing to do was stand up to Germany and prevent any more concessions, and what could've been the outcome of that? Only war. Unless they honestly believe Germany's justified grievances over Danzig should've gone unaddressed. The fact is there was only one
moral solution, and that was to accept Hitler's 16 points.
Yesterday I emailed David Irving and asked him whether he thought it would be accurate to characterize Hitler's position in late August 1939 as that of being resolved upon a short war with Poland exclusively, barring intervention from the west, because it's known that the Poles were simply not going to accept any negotiations. That in the end Hitler had no choice but to resolve upon a war with Poland. He agreed with this.