Post by Bernardz
At the end of WW1, almost every German was resentful over the result
particularly the loss of land both in Alsace-Lorraine and Poland. Even
if Hitler had never come to power, a revitalized Germany would have
demanded territory changes in the region nearby.
As in the OTL sooner or later Germany would have demanded that Poland
give something. Poland would have refused. If war breaks out between
Poland and Germany, it would have taken some wise acts of politicians to
have stopped a war from expanding or risk the development of a German
super state in Europe.
In 1919 Marshal Foch said, This isn't a peace treaty -- it's a truce for 20
What he meant was that it was a mistake to permit Germany to remain united.
But there was no longer any way to break it up -- Germany had fostered
national feeling (since 1815) at the expense of particularist feeling
everywhere except in, perhaps, Bavaria.
But if you accept Hitler coming to power, the first time he could have been
stopped -- and it could have been done quite easily -- was March, 1936, the
first time he violated Versailles, by fortifying the Rhineland. France could
have stopped him with barely any effort -- the French army was much the
largest in Europe (still true in 1940, by the way) -- but did not because
(a) the British were all out of town for the weekend and did not return
calls to express support, and (b) the French army and body politic were
being torn apart by feuds among communists and fascists, and the government
was seriously afraid of a civil war. This is also why they did not help the
Spanish Republic, which was facing the same situation, in the civil war that
broke out the following July.
Hitler could not have started with Poland because Czechoslovakia was stuck
behind the lines that would advance there, and could cut him off. Also,
Poland and Czech. were allies of France. So Czech. had to be dismantled
first. It was also landlocked, so the British couldn't have helped much if
they'd wanted to.
But the real reason the French and British wanted to accommodate Hitler was
that both were too much afraid of a possible Bolshevik takeover if they got
him overthrown to take serious action against him. For the same reason, they
did not seriously engage themselves to aid Stalin, though they did pressure
Poland to permit the Soviet army to enter their country to face Hitler. The
Poles refused -- and were heartily blamed by the French and the British for
this. But of course the Poles knew the Russians would treat them as
atrociously as the Germans would, and had no desire to be a sacrificial lamb
for French and British cowardice.
Hitler took advantage of all of this -- brilliantly. Everyone else was
afraid of each other, and he played them very skillfully. It would have been
different, perhaps, had Chamberlain not been an egotistical fool or had the
French Right not been pro-Hitler or had the Soviets been remotely honest or
had Mussolini been as strong as the French and British thought he was.
After Munich, Hitler could not have been stopped; before it, there wasn't
the will to do so.
Jean Coeur de Lapin