Something I found odd about Longerich's belief regarding Hitler's desire to form an alliance with Britain, was that he claims a few times in this book that Hitler had 'given up' on an alliance by 1937 (eg. p. 527.). He supports this idea in one case from two excerpts from the Goebbels diary. One from the 23rd of February 1937 and the 13th of July 1937. Neither of these entries confirmed any such desire by Hitler. On February 23rd Goebbels simply writes that the English were directing their armaments towards Italy, and that in such a confrontation Germany couldn't 'remain neutral'; in the entry for July, Goebbels remarks that Hitler sees Britain's Empire as waning in strength, and that Britain as an Island nation was at a disadvantage while Italy was 'invulnerable'. Hitler also thought that England made a mistake going to war in 1914. Yet these observations hardly amounted to an about-face policy regarding an alliance with Britain. So I'm not sure what Longerich really thought was being said. Yet he doesn't deny that Hitler sought peace with Britain throughout the early war years, even if it had to be accomplished by force.
I wanted to briefly mention this before quoting him. He says:
an alliance with Britain was not central to Hitler’s considerations, even if he had by no means abandoned the idea. On 12 August, in other words during the Olympic Games, he had sent Ribbentrop as the new ambassador to London with the task of bringing about the desired alliance, and in the coming months he was to return repeatedly to the idea that in the long term it would come about.
Longerich, Hitler, p. 462.
Hitler certainly wasn't going to give up his ambitions for German greatness if his desire for an alliance with Britain couldn't be obtained. He would have to find another way. So in that sense an alliance wasn't 'central' to his considerations, meaning that it wasn't as if without an alliance he couldn't continue. Nonetheless, an alliance with Britain was still something he deeply desired which is evident by Longerichs admission on page 471 that it was one of Hitler's 'cherished ambitions'.
One should not however confuse an alliance with the making of peace, which Longerich shows Hitler still very much wanted to bring about:
Hitler was initially opposed to a formal alliance with Japan. However, he changed his mind in the light of Britain’s rejection of his peace offer and the threat of the United States entering the war, and in August came out in favour of such an alliance. The aim was to force the United States to focus on the Pacific region, putting Britain under greater pressure to accede to Germany’s ‘desire for peace’.
Longerich, Hitler, p. 705.
Longerichs admission that Hitler allied with Japan to distract America so that it would hopefully limit the possibility of Britain thinking she could rely on support from them, and would therefore be more amicable to Germany's offer of peace, clearly shows that Hitler's peace offers were not empty attempts to absolve himself as Longerich claims on one occassion (p. 675.). On that real quick, If it was 'likely', as Longerich claims, that the west would not accept Hitler's peace offer (p. 663), then what does that say about the West? And what, I wonder, would Longerich's answer be to the question of what Hitler would've done had the West agreed? An inconvenient question for sure.
Even Hitler's preliminary discussions about potentially going to war with Russia were cantered on how peace could be made:
Three days later, Hitler had to face the fact that Britain had officially rejected his ‘peace offer’, as Lord Halifax made clear in a radio address.55 Even before this definitive rejection, Hitler had already indicated that he rated the chances of his approach as being very slim. At any rate, on 21 July, during a meeting with Brauchitsch (Halder produced detailed minutes), he said that Britain would continue the war, as it was pinning its hopes on the one hand on the United States, and, on the other, on the Soviet Union. He considered an invasion to be a ‘major risk’; it would be an option only if all other possibilities ‘of coming to terms with England’ were ruled out. If Britain decided to fight on, then they would have to try to confront her with a solid political front: Spain, Italy, Russia. ‘If we decide to attack, Britain must be finished off by mid-September.’ Stalin was ‘flirting’ with England, in order to exploit Germany’s being tied down by her military engagement in western Europe, and ‘to take what he wants, and what he won’t be able to take when peace comes’. However, Hitler continued, at the moment there was ‘no sign of Russian activity directed against us’. And so they must ‘get to grips with the Russian problem’.
Longerich, Hitler, p. 698.
Notice that Lebensraum is not mentioned in these early discussions over a possible war with Russia. Nor was it a hot-headed decision Hitler took because he was erratic and didn't know the possible risks.
Longerich says some very silly things regarding Germany's pre-war conflict with Poland:
Finally, Hitler gave Dahlerus a concrete offer to take away with him: Germany sought an alliance with Britain and was prepared to participate in defending the Empire. It was exactly the same proposal that he had made to Henderson. Hitler now increased his demands, however: for the first time he now demanded, in addition to Danzig, most of the Corridor (apart from a strip providing access to Gdingen, which would remain Polish), whereas hitherto he had declared himself content with an extraterritorial transport link through the corridor. Moreover, according to Hitler, Germany would be prepared to guarantee Poland’s borders. At the same time, it wanted guarantees for the German minority in Poland and a settlement of the colonial question. By increasing his demands relating to the Corridor, making it impossible for Poland to agree, while, at the same time, suggesting to Britain his willingness to negotiate, he was trying to drive a wedge between Poland and its guarantor, Britain. This tactic is revealed in a note by Halder, who, in the late evening of 26 August, wrote: ‘Faint hope that we can get Britain to accept demands through negotiation that Poland is rejecting: Danzig-Corridor.’
Longerich, Hitler, p. 640.
Obviously this is utterly ridiculous. The Poles weren't going to agree to anything, as their first response to any attempt at any negotiation was to mobilise their armed forces and declare how they weren't going to accept anything the Germany had to offer. They certainly weren't going to 'give up' Danzig and never once indicated that they'd be willing to do so.
Longerich ignores the moral reality, that Hitler had no need to make it difficult for Poland to agree, because still nothing he offered here was unreasonable. Poland should've agreed, but she wouldn't. Hitler knew a war with Poland would need to be fought, the actual revelation here is that Hitler wanted to avoid a large scale conflict by preventing Britain from getting involved by driving a wedge between Poland and the Britain. Yet to emphasise this fact would be to show how Hitler wasn't the aggressive war-monger he is portrayed to be.
Halder's note in fact proves this. Quite apart from Germany somehow 'forcing' Poland not to accept their reasonable demands, the Poles simply weren't accepting anything, and as we know, were not even authorised to negotiate! Yet it's Germany who was 'forcing' them to do this? It makes no sense. If the Poles wouldn't negotiate in the first place, that's their own choice regardless of what the German proposals were.
Hitler's offer to Henderson as Longerich mentions also flies in the face of his contention that Hitler had 'given up' his desire for an alliance in 1937.
Longerich goes on to write:
This was therefore Hitler’s last attempt before the attack on Poland to use a diplomatic manoeuvre to prevent Britain from intervening, even though she had repeatedly threatened to do so in the event of such an attack. Britain was to be persuaded to accept the German demand for the Corridor, and Germany’s negotiations with Poland were then, using some pretext, to be broken off. It was hoped that, in this event, the British government would pull back from starting a European war and, without Britain, France would not move. If this failed, then he would still be able to put the blame for the war on the other side, as he had, after all, shown himself willing to negotiate right up to the last minute.
Longerich, Hitler, p. 641.
Longerich is trying his damnedest to soften the blow that Hitler was actually trying to prevent a widespread European conflict by limiting the war that would have to be fought to Poland exclusively.
His language is intended, clearly, to invoke the idea that Hitler wanted a war, even if on such a small scale, while it would've been unnecessary to do so had Hitler actually desired peace; because if it hadn't been for Hitler's desire to fight Poland, so Longerich implies, then an agreement with the Poles could've been made. But this is nonsense. As I've shown multiple times before, Poland had no desire to negotiate. Yet even so, we must wonder what an agreement that would be 'reasonable' to the Poles would've looked like. Because clearly, Germany wanting Danzig returned to her is still an 'unreasonable demand' that the Poles wouldn't accept, so Longerich says. Which means that the only agreement the Poles would've accepted was on in which Germany would've had to compromise on everything that she had the right to demand. How is that reasonable? The Poles only had to compromise on that which never belonged to them. If Hitler needed or wanted to peruse a war because of it, then so be it. Longerich actually admits that Hitler wanted to solve the question 'one way or the other' (p. 641.), which can be either peacefully or by war. It doesn't seem to be as predetermined as Longerich wants us to think.
There is yet another issue with the argument that Hitler was trying to engineer a war that he could proclaim himself guilt-free of instigating by appearing 'willing to negotiate'. The issue is that Longerich doesn't ever explain why it is that Hitler never got tripped up by his opponents on his façade. After all, if Hitler had shown himself willing to negotiate, even if it was a trick, why didn't Britain and Poland accept it, thereby calling Hitler's bluff? If it was truly their intention to avert a war and secure negotiations with Germany they surely would've done this. Yet this isn't what happened. Clearly, Hitler's intentions, or knowledge of events were different than Longerich would have us believe. Hitler, quite apart from acting like he wanted negotiations when he really didn't, in fact knew that no such negotiations would ever occur due to the obstinacy of his opponents. Clearly he was proven to be correct. This is the most obvious, and least convoluted explanation.
Again though, I think Longerich is right to say that Hitler wanted to drive a wedge between Britain and Poland. But this, if anything, shows that Hitler genuinely had peaceful intentions. As the really contentious part of what Longerich writes here, is that he frames the negotiations between Poland and Germany as being purely maintained by Hitler for the sake of a diplomatic manoeuvre to start a war, albeit limited. And it had to be a limited war, not a general European war let alone a worldwar, otherwise Longerich couldn't explain why Germany bothered with the façade of negotiating in the first place. Hitler would clearly have had to have some reason for it. And indeed he did, as it can only be explained by the fact that he wanted to neutralise any other potential adversaries. If this is not true (which is impossible) and Hitler wanted and was willing or expected the war we know that resulted, he hardly would've bothered negotiating with Poland even if it was a ruse. He could've simply attacked Poland and taken the West at their word that they'd fight him. Then he would've had his war. But this cannot be the case, even if Hitler was trying to engineer a war with Poland, he still didn't want conflict with the others.
So he tried to drive a wedge between his adversaries. This makes sense, and hardly reflects badly on Hitler. So Longerich has to try to offset this inconvenient fact with the insinuation, without explicitly saying it, that Germany didn't want to negotiate, while Poland did. There is no evidence whatsoever for this, as Lipski and the Polish governments actions in those final days clearly show. The Poles were not authorised to negotiate or even view any German proposals. So why, knowing this, should Hitler have bothered trying to secure negotiations with a country for a peaceful resolution that would've been futile?
Hitler in truth required no 'pretext' to break off negotiations, because there hadn't even been any negotiations in the first place. Germany had tried to offer a solution that Poland repeatedly rejected since March 1939. What had the Poles offered? Nothing. You cannot 'break off' negotiations with a country that wasn't even authorized to negotiate with you, which Lipski admitted to Ribbentrop.
Longerich actually had to admit that Hitler wanted Poland to accept his proposals, and fight with him against the Russians. But this failed:
After the destruction of Czechoslovakia, however, all Hitler’s plans to compel Poland, his partner since 1934, to accept his terms for the settlement of the Danzig question and to join an anti-Soviet alliance failed. Instead, Poland preferred the safety of the Anglo-French guarantee.
Longerich, Hitler, p. 645.
What he also tacitly admits here, is that the Poles, rather than negotiate, depended on their alliance with the West to avoid coming to terms with Germany. It was therefore the Poles who were responsible for the conflict that resulted, by their obstinacy in light of the pledge of British military assistance, and their inflated sense of superiority as we can observe in British documents:
It will be noted that the Deputy Chiefs of Staff form the opinion that the Poles tend to underrate the German strength, and overrate their own (paragraphs 9 and 14).
Anglo-Polish Staff Conversations, July 17, 1939. Source.
The remark made by Lipski that the Polish army would 'arrive in Berlin in Triumph', which I have quoted multiple times already in other threads also proves this. An alliance with Poland failed because of the Poles, not the Germans. How Longerich could on the one hand tacitly admit that the Poles wouldn't be 'compelled' by German terms due to their alliance with the west, and then imply the Poles only couldn't come to terms with Germany because of Hitler is beyond me. It appears to be a mighty contradiction.
I'm struggling to see the logic behind the alleged German war guilt, other than that historians like Longerich despise Hitler and his movement and cannot therefore think rationally about it.
If I write any more notes about this book, or want to add other notes I've already written regarding it then I will do so at a later date.