Paths to War pp 367-382 | Cite as

Hitler Turns from the West to Russia May–December 1940

  • Esmonde M. Robertson


For Hitler, all treaties remained valid only for so long as expediency required. On 28 September 1939 he concluded a treaty with the Soviet Union settling the new German — Soviet frontier amidst the ruins of Poland, but as early as 23 November 1939 he was indicating to his military staffs that he would secure his objectives in the west, then turn on the Soviet Union before it too constituted a military threat. For the present he regarded the Soviet Union as weak because of the recent purges of senior Red Army officers,1 and later still he said that the Russian problem could even be disposed of by his successors.2 However, within a year he had altered his views once more and decided to embark upon a full scale attack on the Soviet Union in 1941.


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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    Documents on German Foreign Policy (DGFP), D, vol. viii, no. 384. See H.W. Koch, ‘Hitler’s “Programme” and the Genesis of Operation Barbarossa’, in Aspects of the Third Reich (ed.) H.W. Koch (London, 1985). Koch refers to many German works on ‘Barbarossa’.Google Scholar
  2. See also B.A. Leach, German Strategy against Russia 1939–1941 (Oxford, 1973)Google Scholar
  3. and Robert Cecil, Hitler’s Decision to invade Russia (London, 1975).Google Scholar
  4. 3.
    Generaloberst F. Halder, Kriegstagebuch (Stuttgart, 1962), vol. I, 15 June 1940, p. 35, also vol. II, 22 July, p. 30. See also General Thomas, Grundlagen der deutschen Wehr- und Rustungswirtschaft, pp. 320–321, 406 and 413–416; Leach (note 1), pp. 48–50. See Jodl’s Diary Fragments, Nuremberg Documents ND, International Military Tribunal (IMT) 1809 PS; Halder (note 3), 30 June, 9 July. Koch (note 9), p. 292, esp. note 34.Google Scholar
  5. 4.
    R. Wheatley, Operation Sea Lion: German Plans for the Invasion of England 1939–1942 (Oxford, 1958), p. 15 andGoogle Scholar
  6. Karl Klee, Das Unternehmen Seelowe. Die gelante deutsche Landung in England, 1940 (Gottingen, 1958). Halder (note 3), 30 June, p. 375. For Jodl’s directive, IMT vol. XXVIII 1776-PS, ‘Die Weiterfuhrung des Krieges gegen England’, 30 June 1940.Google Scholar
  7. 11.
    L.E. Hill (ed.), Die Weizsäcker Papiere 1933–1950 (Berlin, 1979) p. 204 and Halder Kriegstagebuch, 30 June 1940, vol. I, p. 375 and 3 July vol. II, esp. note ‘zu 3.7, 1940’.Google Scholar
  8. 17.
    Halder vol. II, 1 July, p. 19 and 22 July, p. 30. See also W. Carr, Poland to Pearl Harbor: The Making of the Second World War (London, 1985), pp. 101–102.Google Scholar
  9. 20.
    Koch, ‘Hitler’s “Programme”’, pp. 293–295 and Martin L. van Creveld, Hitler’s Strategy 1940–1941. The Balkan Clue (Cambridge, 1973), p. 4.Google Scholar
  10. 21.
    Creveld, Hitler’s Strategy, p. 7 et seq, and Macgregor Knox, Mussolini Unleashed 1939–1941. Politics and Strategy in Fascist Italy’s Last War (Cambridge, 1982), p. 139 et seq. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 33.
    James V. Compton, The Swastika and the Eagle: Hitler, the United States and the Origins of the Second World War (London, 1968), pp. 210–11. See also Carr (note 17). p. 150.Google Scholar
  12. 38.
    Koch ‘Hitler’s “Programme”’, pp. 304–305; A. Hillgruber, Hitlers Strategie und Kriegsfuhrung 1940–1941 (Frankfurt, 1971), pp. 188–192. See also Das Deutsche Reich und der Zweiten Weltkrieg (note 34), IV, Die Rucker zu einer indirekten Strategie gegen England by Klaus A. Maier, pp. 409–419.Google Scholar
  13. 41.
    For details see C.B. Burdick, Germany’s Military Strategy in Spain in the Second World War and H.H. Herwig, ‘Prelude to Weltblitzkrieg’: Germany’s Naval Policy towards the United States of America 1939–1941’, Journal of Modern History 4 (1971), p. 657. These works have been used in Dr Glyn Stone’s doctoral thesis: ‘Britain’s Oldest Ally, Anglo-Portuguese Relations’.Google Scholar

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© Esmonde M. Robertson 1989

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  • Esmonde M. Robertson

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