Finding a suitable incident was traditionally the difficulty of launching a premeditated preventive war, which is what Hitler’s eastern crusade had now become. Neither Hitler nor his military advisers were any longer in doubt as to Stalin’s long-term intentions. Halder was to state that if the Russian deployments were shown to an impartial military expert he would have to concede that they were offensive in design. Throughout March, Russian troop movements close to the frontier had been so intense, with a heavy flow of reinforcements from Moscow toward Smolensk and Minsk, that eventually Halder felt anxiety about the threat of a Russian preventive action. The danger would be acute at least until April 20, for until then the Russians would have great superiority in strength. “The disposition of Russian forces gives food for thought,” Halder wrote on April 7. “If we discount the catchword that the Russians want peace and won’t attack anybody themselves, then it has to be admitted that the Russian dispositions could allow them to convert very rapidly from defense into attack—and this could prove highly embarrassing for us.” He had Jodl ask Hitler whether the top-capacity “Barbarossa” transport plan should be thrown into action now, six weeks early, but Hitler was against it.
The Führer himself was in no doubt. Stalin’s pact with Belgrade, coupled with a communiquÈ of March 24,(5) provided further justification for “Barbarossa.” At the end of it all he was to say, “I didn’t take the decision to attack Moscow lightly, but because I knew from certain information that an alliance was being prepared between Britain and Russia. The big question was, Should we strike out first or wait until we were overwhelmed some time in the future ?” According to his army adjutant, Hitler’s decision was reinforced by Intelligence reports on feverish airfield and arms dump construction by the Russians throughout the spring ; there were also reports from Polish agents of Russian troop movements from as far away as the Far East, and of the creation and deployment of new armies for what could only be offensive purposes. The Russians were also instructing their commissars, for example in Leningrad, to get ready for a long and grueling war with Germany.
German Intelligence collected concrete evidence of long-range Soviet planning. The naval attachÈ reported from Moscow that the Soviet naval construction program was in the process of building three battleships, eleven cruisers, sixty-one destroyers, and nearly three hundred submarines ; most of this fleet would be concentrated in the Baltic. On April 4 the German naval code-breakers noticed that the Russians had suddenly adopted completely new radio- and code-systems for two days—evidently a test of war procedures. After April 7, the German embassy in Moscow observed a steady call-up of reservists and raw recruits. On the eighth, the families of the Russian trade mission began leaving Berlin. Trainloads of the paraphernalia of war were observed moving westward from Kiev to the Polish border. On the ninth, the military attachÈ in Bucharest reported that Marshal SemÎn Timoshenko, believed to be the only capable Soviet commander, had just held a council of war at Kiev and ordered an alert for all units on the western front. Rumors swept the General government that Russia would exploit her present brief superiority of arms to strike into Germany, destroying the “Barbarossa” assembly and capturing the huge arms dumps Hitler was moving into the front line. On April 13, Hitler was shown a Forschungsamt summary on the multiplying rumors of war with Russia. On the twenty-third there were fresh reports from Bucharest of immense Soviet reinforcements in Bukovina and Bessarabia, some of the reinforcements arriving from as far away as the Caucasus and Finland ; the next day the German military attachÈ in Bucharest reported that the Russians were evacuating the civilian population along their side of the Prut River front and that shiploads of Red Army troops were arriving at Odessa and being transported by rail to the Bug and Dniester. On the twenty-fifth the naval decoders intercepted the British military attachÈ’s report to London from Moscow. A thousand people a day were now being called up in Moscow alone, he said, many of them being sent to the Baltic states. “Our military attachÈ in Budapest, who was traveling to Moscow a few days ago, saw at Lemberg [Lvov] at least one tank brigade ... on the railway line between Lemberg and Kiev heading westward ; he passed seven troop trains of which four were conveying tanks and mechanized equipment and three troops.” The German attachÈs undertaking similar journeys also saw many military transports heading west between Minsk and Baranovichi. By May 5, Antonescu was able to tip off the Germans that Soviet troops were massing between Kiev and Odessa and that reinforcements were still pouring westward from Siberia. “The thing worth noting is that factories around Moscow have been ordered to transfer their equipment into the country’s interior.”
According to Hitler’s Luftwaffe adjutant, the Intelligence brought back by a team of Göering’s engineers from a tour of Soviet aircraft factories late in April convinced the Führer there was no time to be lost. These air ministry experts had been allowed to tour eight or nine of the biggest Russian factories producing ball bearings, alloys, aircraft, and aero engines, and to see the advances made by Soviet research. It was clear that the Soviet air force was a far greater menace than Hitler had bargained for—both in size and aircraft performance. The aircraft factories themselves were the biggest and most modern in Europe—and more were under construction. When the German experts attended a dinner party, the leading Soviet aircraft designer, Mikoyan (who later designed the MIG fighters), stated explicitly, “Now you have seen the mighty technology of the Soviet fatherland. We shall valiantly ward off any attack, whatever quarter it comes from !” Years later Hitler was to describe this commission’s report on the Soviet air force as having finally convinced him of the need to attack Russia now.
And this all makes sense. You do not, as these people pushing Soviet Patriot myths would have us believe, simply attack a country without assessing it's military capacity and movement of troops. Even if there was some kind of malicious intent in Hitler's view, what he saw, the reports he got cannot be denied, he was witnessing evidence that he must strike Russia hard and fast in a preventative strike.
The premise of this I find to be faulty anyway. Nobody pushing the standard narrative would deny the necessity to fight Hitler from day one. They think appeasement was a mistake and thought war was the only reasonable option to fight Hitler. These people thirst for it, they wanted war so much they write book after book about appeasement and how the British if they weren't blood thirsty enough should've slammed down the gauntlet and smashed Hitler before he could ever have a chance to act in favor of Germany to gain the living space he desired for his people. Norman Davies for instance writes in his 'A History of Poland' that
there is plenty of evidence to suggest that Pilsudski seriously considered a preventive war against Hitler, if only the western powers had shown willing. 'Strict mutuality' was the basis for relations with both great neighbours, and the Doctrine of the Two Enemies was never abandoned. - Norman Davies, God's Playground: A History of Poland Vol 2 1795 to the Present, (Columbia University Press, 2005), pp. 311
a new book on the Munich Agreement reviewed by Kirkus Reviews https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/pe-caquet/the-bell-of-treason/ wishes for war as well
War seemed imminent, which, Caquet emphasizes, might have been a good thing.
Accompanied by the classic claim in the books description that
something we've all heard before. Churchill was the only man, the Czechs, Schuschnigg etc. etc. and in many cases these same men the historians declare as unusually adept at seeing Hitler "as he really was" were all men of war, that wanted to fight a war and the historians see it morally correct to do so. It all comes down to a matter of perspective. Historians aren't the people to decide which preventative war was more moral. But apparently there are some people out there who see Hitler as uniquely evil as they hypocritically revel in the fantasy of their own heroic crusades against the Führer.The Czechoslovakian authorities were Cassandras in their own country, the only ones who could see Hitler's threat for what it was
The British, Americans, French et al. all had their chances to claim lad, conquer it and kill whoever they needed to in order to keep it. But Hitler? No, he in the eyes of the Allied patriots is uniquely evil and deserving to be crushed for his bid for territory in a way no other man or power has ever been. And so what about Soviet Russia? A free hand in the east to take down the Communists doesn't hurt my feelings in the slightest, they're no saints, if Hitler did attack unprovoked I personally couldn't give a darn. Am I or anyone else supposed to sit here and retrospectively wish Hitler didn't make a decisive strike against such a true evil? No.
It has never been summed up better than by A.J.P. Taylor.
The historian A.J.P. Taylor once mischievously remarked that 'in international affairs there was nothing wrong with Hitler except that he was a German'. From this point of view, he was right. Taylor laughed at those who described the German dictator as a man of unique wickedness - Mark Mazower, Hitler's Empire Nazi Rule in Occupied Europe, (Penguin Books, 2008), pp. 182