Missed Opportunities for Peace-The Secret Diplomatic History of the Second World War
Detailing long-buried diplomatic offers showing how close we came to avoiding the outbreak of World War Two on both continents or ending it years earlier offering important lessons for war in Ukraine
British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain fatefully declares war on Germany on September 3, 1939, signaling the commencement of a Second World War which cost the lives of an estimated 70 million people
There are many military historians who are familiar with the battlefield history of World War Two but few know much about the diplomatic history of the war when it comes to peace initiatives, long suppressed by liberal establishment historians, to terminate the war, in many cases years before it ended in actual history, or even prevent it from happening at all. Americans have been indoctrinated to believe since grade school that the war could not have been averted and that our only mistake was not invading and crushing Nazi Germany in its cradle when it was still military inferior and in the process of rebuilding its armed forces following the crushing disarmament constraints of the Treaty of Versailles.
According to the dominant historical narrative, Hitler could not be trusted to keep any of his agreements so any negotiated peace settlement would only delay the inevitable. The only problem with this accepted historical narrative of the war is that none of it is true. These peace offers, which have been largely covered up and/or erased from the annals of history, serve to convincingly rebut the myth that Hitler, an evil dictator who mass murdered five to six million Jews, was undeterrable and unappeasable. They provide convincing evidence that World War Two was, in fact, neither a necessary nor inevitable war to stop a dictator, who Americans have incorrectly been taught to believe, was bent on nothing less than world conquest.
Thanks for reading "The Real War" by David Pyne! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.
However, the most glaring historical misconception of the war by far, which has since been used to justify numerous wars including an indefinite, unnecessary, destabilizing and incredibly dangerous prolongation of America’s proxy war against Russia in Ukraine, was that it was Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s appeasement of Hitler with the Munich Agreement that caused the outbreak of World War Two and therefore the chief lesson of the war is that we must never accommodate our adversaries or else they will be emboldened to invade other countries and perhaps start another world war. In fact, it was not the British policy of accommodating Nazi Germany that caused the outbreak of World War Two but rather it was Chamberlain’s decision to abruptly abandon it and issue an ill-considered British military guarantee against a German invasion that Hitler had never previously considered, in view of the fact that Hitler had spent the previous five years trying to cultivate Poland as an ally against the USSR, that resulted in the outbreak of the war.
Many do not realize that the British policy of accommodation of Nazi Germany during the late 1930’s, later derided by Winston Churchill as a policy of appeasement, pre-dated the government of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain. Prime Minister David Lloyd George had nearly refused to sign the Treaty of Versailles presciently warning in the Fontainebleau Memorandum that “We shall have to fight another war in 25 years” even more deadly than the first because he felt the Treaty was much too harsh in consigning a couple million Germans in Danzig and the Polish Corridor to foreign rule. In 1923, following the unprovoked Franco-Belgian invasion of the Ruhr industrial region which caused Germany’s economy to collapse with unprecedented hyperinflation, Britain broke off its alliance with France in protest and withdrew British troops from the occupation of the Rhineland with U.S. troops being withdrawn in protest as well. One of the greatest injustices of the Treaty of Versailles was the decision to cut Germany in half with the Polish Corridor whereas President Woodrow Wilson had originally envisioned that Germany would retain it and that Poland would be granted an international railway from Warsaw to Danzig giving it access to the Baltic Sea.
Under the Locarno Treaties of 1925, the boundaries of Germany’s western neighbors were guaranteed but its boundaries with Poland were open to revision to rectify some of these perceived injustices of Versailles in the interests of averting a potential future military conflict to reunite Germany by force. For the British, the main purpose of the Locarno Treaties was to get the French to withdraw their occupation troops from the Ruhr and dissolve its military alliance with Poland after which it was believed Poland would peacefully return all of the German territories it had annexed following the Treaty of Versailles including the Polish Corridor, Danzig and East Upper Silesia excepting only the former German province of Posen. However, the Polish government stubbornly refused to return any former German territory.
When Stanley Baldwin became Prime Minister in 1935, it was expected that Hitler would attempt to overturn the harsh provisions of the Treaty of Versailles one by one. His policy was to continue to draw a redline against any territorial revisions in the West while being open to German territorial revisions in the east as a matter of strategic policy to drive Hitler’s aggressive tendencies eastward away from Britain, France and the Low Countries. The clear implication of this unstated British policy was that the British government would not be adverse to a regional war between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union which would serve to weaken both of their potential adversaries. The year after he left office, Baldwin summarized this policy when he asked Lord Hinchingbrooke: "Can't we turn Hitler East? Napoleon broke himself against the Russians. Hitler might do the same." Before World War Two, the world was defined by a British-led international order so it was understood that the prerequisite for any territorial revisions was that they would have to be done peacefully through diplomatic negotiation with British approval. Accordingly, Chamberlain’s decision to sign the Munich Agreement was in furtherance of longtime British policy.
After he returned triumphantly to Britain having persuaded Hitler to sign a compromise agreement in Munich on September 29, 1938 ceding the Sudetenland which, along with the rest of German Austria, had voted for Anchluss with Germany nearly two decades earlier, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain gave a speech to cheering crowds. He declared that the Munich Agreement was just the beginning and that he hoped to follow up this diplomatic success with a second Four Power Conference to resolve all remaining territorial issues in Europe to spare its people from the outbreak of another great war. On October 24, 2938, German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop proposed that Poland return the free German city of Danzig and agree to an extraterritorial German road-rail corridor connecting Danzig and East Prussia with the rest of Germany. In return, Germany would renounce all claims for the return of the Polish Corridor and continue Danzig’s status as a free city but under German, rather than Polish, administration to ensure continued Polish access to the Baltic Sea and an extension of the German-Polish Non-Aggression Pact for 10-25 years in the interests of “a final, comprehensive, and generous consolidation of our mutual relations.”
Hitler foolishly refused to take Chamberlain up on his offer for a Four Power Conference to address his claim to Danzig and proceeded to violate the Munich Agreement by ordering the German army to occupy the Czech Republic on March 15, 1939 after berating the Czech President, Emil Hácha, to agree to allow his country to become a German protectorate, in an act which Chamberlain took personally as a breach of honor. Following his unprovoked occupation of the Czech provinces of Bohemia and Moravia, Hitler renewed his proposal for the return of the “Free City” of Danzig, which was 95% ethnic German and had been occupied by Poland since 1920 as well as an 18-mile-long road-rail corridor connecting Danzig and East Prussia with the rest of Germany, commissioning plans for an elevated highway to alleviate any Polish security concerns. In response on March 31st, Chamberlain offered a British military guarantee of Poland followed by the signing of an Anglo-Polish alliance days later. Many if not most British and French leaders believed Hitler’s demands for the return of Danzig to be the most just and reasonable of his territorial claims and did not believe it was worth fighting a second world war with Germany over. They continued to urge Polish leaders to compromise with Hitler on the Danzig issue to avoid war but to no avail.
Beginning in May 1939, Poland’s refusal to negotiate caused Hitler to order contingency plans for a German invasion of Poland while redoubling his diplomatic efforts to resolve the Danzig issue diplomatically. It is notable that even though Poland had annexed parts or all of three different German states with millions of German citizens either without a plebiscite or in the case of East Upper Silesia in opposition to the results of a plebiscite, Hitler did not demand a single inch of Polish territory until August 27th when he first demanded the return of the Polish Corridor, after Polish leaders had refused to negotiate with him to resolve the dispute over Danzig during the prior year. The free city of Danzig and the Polish Corridor were carved out of the Imperial German province of West Prussia which had a population which was nearly two-thirds ethnic German so Germany actually did have a legitimate claim to these territories.
Chamberlain’s decision to issue his military guarantee of Poland was a major departure from British Foreign policy up to that time as Britain had never issued a military guarantee to any nation in Eastern Europe before. It was sharply criticized by former British Prime Minister David Lloyd George who noted that the British would not be able to deploy a single army battalion to defend Poland in the event of war due to Germany’s control of the Baltic Sea. Former President Herbert Hoover, who like Chamberlain was a lifelong anti-Communist, was shocked by the move presciently warning that fighting another world war against Germany would likely enable a Soviet takeover of much if not most of Europe. Chamberlain himself inexplicably expressed his belief that guaranteeing Poland would decrease rather than greatly increase the chances of the outbreak of war because it would deter Germany from invading. Instead, it accomplished the exact opposite because it caused Polish leaders to refuse to negotiate a diplomatic solution to the Danzig issue. President Franklin D. Roosevelt reportedly urged Polish leaders not to negotiate a compromise peace deal with Hitler to avoid war, thus contributing to the outbreak of war himself.
Hitler’s Acceptance of an Armistice and Offer to Withdraw all German Troops from over 95 percent of Polish Territory.
Most Americans have no idea how close the world came to averting World War Two altogether. In response to Germany’s invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939, Chamberlain offered to mediate peace talks between Germany and Poland on the condition that Germany immediately begin withdrawing its troops from all Polish territory. Later the same day, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini proposed a cease fire and a Four Power Conference to discuss Hitler's claims to Germany’s lost eastern territories annexed by Poland following the Treaty of Versailles. France immediately accepted, praising Italy’s offer to mediate an end to the conflict. The following day, Hitler also accepted Mussolini’s peace proposal and conditionally accepted Britain's ultimatum agreeing to implement a cease-fire/armistice agreement effective September 3rd and withdraw all German troops from Poland except for the Polish Corridor, which comprised scarcely more than four percent of Poland’s territory, and the German city of Danzig which was not part of Poland.
As can be seen by the map above, Hitler’s war aims to retake control of Danzig and the Polish Corridor had largely been achieved by September 3rd with most of the Polish forces in the Corridor surrounded by the Germans. so that explains his willingness to sign an armistice agreement. Chamberlain, briefly vacillated in his response but was pressured by his fellow Conservative Party leaders to refuse Hitler’s cease-fire and partial military withdrawal offer and issue a one-hour ultimatum stating there would be no armistice without a German commitment to immediately begin withdrawing its troops from all Polish territory including the hotly disputed Polish Corridor. Before Germany had a chance to respond, Britain declared war against Germany. French leaders felt they had to follow suit in declaring war on Germany because they viewed the 1939 Anglo-French alliance as the cornerstone of French security.
Hitler was so taken aback by news of the British and French declarations of war followed by Chamberlain’s appointment of Winston Churchill to the War Cabinet that when informed of it, he dejectedly fell to his chair and exclaimed “So the war is real” providing further evidence that he never wanted to fight Britain or France and sincerely hoped to avoid a direct military conflict with the Western Powers. This was followed by eight months of inaction on the Western Front, which came to be known as “the Phoney War” following the abortive French Saar offensive from Sept 7-16th suggesting that Britain and France had almost as little interest in fighting a real war than Hitler. Chamberlain believed that the illegal British starvation blockade would help ensure ultimate victory over Germany just as it had during the First World War and hoped that Hitler would be overthrown in a military coup.
Ultimately, Chamberlain bears chief responsibility for starting an unnecessary world war that cost the lives of seventy million people and tragically that will always be his life’s legacy. The reason is that while Hitler bears sole responsibility for his illegal invasion of Poland it was Britain's declaration of war on Germany on September 3, 1939 that transformed the German-Polish border dispute into a world war, a war that without the British military guarantee would have been over within five weeks. In fact, it is very possible the outbreak of war might not have happened at all as Polish leaders might have negotiated a peace deal over the Danzig issue had they not had pledges of unconditional British and French military support. It is indeed ironic that Britain fought another world war against Germany costing tens of millions of lives to prevent it from retaking a small piece of territory for which it had spent the previous decade and a half trying to persuade the Polish government to return.
If Chamberlain had accepted Hitler's September 2nd offer of an armistice agreement and Polish leaders had accepted the results of the Four Power Conference returning Danzig and the Polish Corridor back to Germany, it is likely that the Soviet Union would have still invaded Poland just as they did in actual history to annex 67% of Poland as stipulated under the terms of a secret protocol dividing Poland between Germany and the USSR under the Hitler-Stalin Pact. Had they done so, the Soviet Union would then have likely been seen as the main aggressor instead of Nazi Germany forcing Poland to pursue a defensive alliance with Germany to enable it to retake its lost territories from the Soviets. World War Two would have then likely been entirely averted, restricted to a regional war between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union for control of Eastern Europe with the US, UK and France never being directly involved in the war at all. This brief German-Polish border clash would likely then have been referred to as “The Three-Day War”, a mere blip in the annals of history, remembered only for the Great Powers having narrowly dodged an unnecessary and catastrophic world war. Even with Britain rejecting Hitler’s September 2nd peace offer, he could have implemented his offer of a near-full German withdrawal from Poland unilaterally after German troops succeeded in retaking control of the entire Polish Corridor on September 5th. Britain and France would have then likely negotiated a German armistice agreement within weeks, particularly if the Soviets invaded Poland later that month as in actual history. Polish leaders reportedly feared that exact outcome, which in retrospect would have been far more preferable to lose 4.3% of their territory rather than lose 100% and having their country erased from the map of Europe for six long years as in actual history.
President Woodrow Wilson in late 1916 and Neville Chamberlain in September 1939 each were given historically unprecedented opportunities to save the world from costly and prolonged world wars which together cost the lives of over 100 million people but tragically both let those opportunities slip through their fingers. Wilson had the chance to save the world from the twin scourges of Nazism and Communism by championing Imperial Germany’s generous August 1916 peace offer with terms acceptable to both the UK and France. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill later passed up the chance to encourage Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union to bleed each other dry as then Senator Harry Truman wisely advocated in June 1941 ensuring the security of the West while enabling Hitler to pursue his original plans to deport the Jews from Europe, which although deplorable would have at least spared the lives of 5-6 million Jews from the horrors of the Jewish Holocaust.
As noted by Sean McMeekin in his outstanding and groundbreaking book, “Stalin’s War—A New History of World War Two,” Chamberlain himself had rejected Stalin's offer to ally with Britain and France against Hitler in June 1939 in exchange for Soviet occupation (and likely annexation) of parts or all of six Eastern European nations, presciently warning that an alliance with the USSR would lead to the Soviet conquest of central and eastern Europe. But tragically he was pressured by Winston Churchill and other fellow Conservative Party members to pursue what was later exposed to be a disastrous course not just for Poland and the British Empire but for the entire world. Had Chamberlain resisted the calls for war and chosen peace instead, he would likely have been praised as a visionary hero to this very day while Churchill would never have been appointed Prime Minister.
Great power alliances transformed two regional conflicts in Eastern Europe into unnecessary world wars that together cost the lives of over 100 million people. Will America’s membership in NATO transform a third regional conflict in Ukraine into an unnecessary Third World War that could potentially cost the lives of a billion more?
Summary of Other German, Soviet and Japanese Peace Offers
In addition to Hitler’s little-known September 2, 1939 peace offer outlined above and the Munich Agreement, there are a number of German, Soviet and Japanese peace offers both before and during World War Two, many of which few are aware of. After he came to power in 1933, Hitler initiated several diplomatic agreements seeking to enable Germany to safely break out of the unjust disarmament restrictions of Versailles Treaty which ensured permanent German military inferiority as to avoid military conflict with the UK, France and Poland and prepare the way for his plan to lead an international crusade against Bolshevism hoping to have Poland and the UK as allies. Here is a list of some of those peace initiatives.
1934-Polish-German Non-Aggression Pact—The signing of this agreement was followed by five years of German attempts to persuade Poland to sign the Anti-Comintern Pact and align with Nazi Germany against the USSR while reaching a peaceful settlement on the contentious Danzig issue.
1935-Anglo-German Naval Agreement—This agreement superseded the German naval restrictions contained in the Treaty of Versailles banning Germany from building capital ships including battleships, battlecruisers, aircraft carriers and submarines with an agreement with Britain allowing Germany to build up to 35% of the aggregate Royal Navy tonnage in capital ships. This agreement was the first in which Germany was allowed to break out of the stringent restrictions of the Treaty of Versailles which German leaders had been fighting for almost since the day it was signed.
The Franco-German Declaration of December 6th, 1938—Under this agreement, Germany accepted its border with France as permanent giving up all claims to recover the German-speaking province of Alsace-Lorraine which had been annexed by France following the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. Hitler had abandoned his plans for war with France following the French military withdrawal from bridgeheads on the left bank of the Rhine and the Rhineland itself except the Saarland in 1930 so this treaty was a formal reiteration of his thinking on this matter. Following the German remilitarization of its Rhineland region, Hitler had begun building the Siegfried Line in 1936 to defend Germany from a potential future Anglo-French invasion, which was the first concrete sign that he had no offensive plans or territorial demands in the west.
Jan 5, 1939 German Peace Offer to Poland--Hitler called Polish Foreign Minister Beck to Berlin and offered to support the Polish annexation of Lithuania including the former German port of Memel in return for the return of Danzig and the Polish Corridor which consisted of only 4.3 percent of Polish territory at the time. Hitler and Goering informed him that they had no intention to recover the former German province of Posen which comprised the majority of Germany’s territory lost to Poland at the Treaty of Versailles but made no mention of the lost territory of East Upper Silesia which was far smaller. They subsequently offered Poland parts of Ukraine and all of Slovakia in exchange for Poland accepting the deal in a hint of Hitler’s plan to move eastward against the Soviet Union. Polish Foreign Minister Beck had briefly entertained negotiating a condominium with Germany for the joint German-Polish administration of the free city of Danzig following this meeting but the idea of a diplomatic compromise with Germany was quickly shelved by Polish leaders.
August 23rd Hitler-Stalin Pact (subsequently revised on September 28, 1939)—Hitler believed that the Hitler-Stalin Pact, which divided eastern Europe into a German and a Soviet sphere of influence, would ensure that Britain and France would not declare war on Germany over the Danzig question knowing that their hopes for a two-front war were dashed but was proven very much mistaken by the British and French declarations of war a week and a half later.
German Peace Initiatives After the War Began
According to the book “Hess, Hitler and Churchill—The Real Turning Point of the Second World War—a Secret History”, a senior British Foreign Ministry official stated that there were a total of sixteen German peace offers or initiatives from October 1939 to May 1941. The question must be asked if indeed Hitler was bent on the conquest of Europe, then why did he make so many peace offers to the UK and France to end the war on terms favorable to the Western powers? Hitler even offered the restoration of an “independent” Polish state but of course would never agree to remove German troops from western Poland given his plans to move eastward. Here are some of the other best-known German peace offers:
Oct 6, 1939, Peace Proposal, Hitler offered to end the war with an armistice to avert the need for war in the west pledging to restore a Polish state in exchange for peace. Chamberlain and Halifax responded by informing German leaders that they would not agree to peace “unless the wrongs to Poland and Czechoslovakia had been righted” essentially demanding that Germany restore its prewar borders in Poland and to its Munich Pact borders with regards to Czechoslovakia though the wording of the British demand as with the September 1st offer suggested Germany could have retained control of the German city of Danzig as part of any peace settlement as it was not Polish territory. The previous week, on September 28th 1939 German-Soviet Boundary and Friendship Treaty was signed causing Hitler to temporarily abandon his plans to invade the Soviet Union until November 1940 after Stalin rejected his offer of a Four Power Alliance with Germany, Italy and Japan with each having its own clearly delineated sphere of influence unless Hitler agreed to cede Bulgaria to Soviet occupation and its sphere of influence. Later the same day, French leaders stated they saw no reason to continue the war as even if Germany could be forced to restore Poland’s prewar borders, they saw no way that the Soviet Union would ever restore the 52% of Polish territory it had annexed.
March 19, 1940 Peace Proposal—In an 11-point peace proposal conveyed by the Pope, Hitler offered to recreate a Polish state presumably based on the borders of the General Government with a population of 10-12 million Poles with free access to the Baltic Sea ports of Danzig and Gdynia while offering to give up German control of the Czech Republic and allow it to form a federation with Slovakia and Hungary. He also offered to deport the Jews from Europe to Palestine, Italian East Africa and French Madagascar while repeating his call for general disarmament and free trade with the U.S. and the British Empire. This was reported as Hitler’s final peace offer before his spring offensive into the Low Countries and France which would bring an end to “the Phoney War” in the West which lasted eight months from September 1939 to May 1940, an offensive he sincerely hoped to completely avoid.
This picture of the Birmington Gazette newspaper was provided by Alamy.com
July 19, 1940 Peace Offer—Hitler essentially offered to withdraw all German troops from Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Holland and France except for Alsace-Lorraine and Luxembourg, in exchange for peace with Britain. This was a fantastic offer given that Hitler had only just conquered France the month before. Just prior to issuing this peace proposal, Hitler ordered all military research and development projects to be cancelled if they did not produce a finished weapon system by year’s end confidently declaring that the war would soon be over, and that Germany would soon be returning to a peacetime economy. It seems at this point with the Germans and the Soviets on good terms with Germany exchanging manufactured industrial parts and tools in exchange for raw materials, Hitler had temporarily given up his previous plan to lead an international crusade against the Soviet Union, only renewed after Stalin’s rejection of Hitler’s offer of a Four Power Alliance in November.
Needless to say, the fact that Hitler seemed content with returning to Germany’s October 1939 borders, ending the war less than a year after it began and withdrawing from virtually all of western and northern Europe while canceling Germany’s advanced weapons program strongly suggests that Hitler was a man of limited ambitions, not a madman bent on conquering the world as many Western liberal establishment leaders and court historians would have us imagine. Churchill shared the terms of Hitler’s peace proposal with U.S., Canadian, Australian and South African leaders with FDR agreeing with Churchill that he should reject it while a number of British royal family members, reportedly including King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, were open to considering such a peace with Germany to ensure the security of the British Empire. Public revelation of their support for peace with Hitler was a potential scandal the British government was willing to kill to protect.
November 14, 1940 Peace Offer—This peace offer contained almost identical terms as Hitler’s previous July 1940 peace offer surprisingly including an offer for limited German reparations to five western European countries it had invaded. As reported in the outstanding book "The Hitler/Hess Deception" by Martin Allen on November 14, 1940, the Papal Nuncio met with former British Foreign Minister Sir. Samuel Hoare in Switzerland and conveyed following German peace terms proposed by Hitler:
1. Full German military withdrawal from France (presumably except for the former German province of Alsace-Lorraine which was about 87% German speaking and Madagascar where Hitler hoped to forcibly deport millions of Jews where they were to be granted self-rule), Belgium, Holland, Denmark, and Norway. Germany would not claim any military concessions in return for so doing. The exact amount and type of reparations paid by Germany to these countries for damages sustained during the invasion of those countries was to be negotiated.
2. Britain to return all former German colonies with the possible exception of German South-West Africa. Germany might consider payment of an indemnity for any improvements affected in these colonies since 1918 and the purchase of property from present owners who might desire to leave.
3. Restoration of an independent Polish state in the German occupation zone (not Soviet annexed eastern half of Poland).
4. Greater Czech autonomy within the German Reich.
5. Greater European economic solidarity with the solution of important economic questions solved by negotiation and national European agreement.
6. Increased disarmament measures and reductions in the size of the armed forces of all European countries (which wouldn’t really be feasible until the Soviets returned to their prewar 1939 footing as from 1939-1941, they engaged in a massive military mobilization aimed against Germany).
These remarkable concessions represented Hitler's initial offer and of course it was possible he might agree to further concessions to the British in exchange for peace including perhaps a restoration of Poland’s 1918 western borders. Unfortunately, Hoare was operating under orders from Churchill to make the Germans believe that he was part of a British opposition movement to Churchill so that he would give up the idea of Germany invading Britain in the belief he could end the war diplomatically so there is no evidence this peace proposal was ever seriously considered.
May 10, 1941 Peace Offer—This was an even more comprehensive and expansive peace offer than that one Hitler had offered ten months earlier in which Hitler offered to withdraw from all of the countries in his July 1940 peace offer as well as Yugoslavia and Greece totaling 83% of German-occupied Europe while also withdrawing all German troops from Libya and western Egypt in exchange for peace with Britain and its benevolent neutrality in the event of the outbreak of war between Germany and the Soviet Union. Notably, Hitler’s peace offer would have served to liberate six of the seven European countries liberated by the Western Allies in actual history except for Luxembourg (as well as the German-speaking province of Alsace-Lorraine which constituted just over 2% of French territory) that were liberated by the Western Allies at great cost to the Western Allies without a drop of Allied blood being shed.
The terms of this peace offer was leaked to the U.S. government and to the U.S. media who largely cooperated with the Roosevelt administration to censor it with the exception of the American Mercury magazine which published them in 1943. The British media which was operating under heavy censorship from the UK government also prevented the terms from going public. Had the British public been made aware of Hitler’s generous terms, they likely would have demanded that Churchill agree to its terms which would have essentially amounted to a bloodless British victory, potentially putting Churchill at risk of a no-confidence vote which could have forced his resignation.
Tragically, Churchill refused this comprehensive German peace offer despite the fact that had he accepted it, it might have saved the lives of well over a million Allied soldiers and 10-20 million civilians including six million Jews given that one of the express terms of Hitler’s peace offer was to forcibly deport them to Palestine. As previously stated, such a mass deportation would have been very inhumane but far preferable than Hitler’s monstrous crime of exterminating them in the Jewish Holocaust which he did not consider doing until after Churchill rejected his final peace offer. Had Hitler publicized his peace offer, it is likely that the British public would have pressured the British government to accept it and end the war because the peace terms were so generous and far reaching.
Missed Opportunities for the Allies to End the War by Supporting the German resistance in their efforts to overthrow or assassinate Hitler
While the conventional wisdom is that all Germans were supportive of Hitler and were collectively guilty of his crimes because they did nothing to stop the Jewish Holocaust, the truth is very different. The German resistance against Hitler was the most high-level political and military resistance movements in modern history. I have identified 11 German Field Marshals and 19 Colonel Generals who supported one of the attempts to overthrow Hitler at one time or another from 1938-1944. Here are two of the most promising German resistance peace offers that could have ended the war on much better terms for the Western Allies including the liberation not merely of six or seven European countries as in actual history but rather the liberation of all of Europe from the twin evils of Nazism and Communism.
April-June 1943--German resistance leader Admiral Wilhelm Canaris offers to overthrow Hitler and the Nazis and surrender to the West in exchange for the US and UK agreeing to keep the Soviets out of central and eastern Europe and contain them at their prewar borders, but again Churchill refused insisting on nothing less than Germany’s unconditional surrender at a time when the Soviets were offering a separate peace with Germany along the same lines. The map below provides a rough outline of what a post-World War Two European order might have looked like had FDR and Churchill accepted Canaris’ peace offer rather than Soviet control of much of Central Europe and nearly all of Eastern Europe as was the case in actual history.
July 20, 1944 Coup—This coup led by Colonel Klaus von Stauffenberg which many people did not learn about until the release of the movie Valkyrie in which Tom Cruise played the lead rule was the last of forty-three known coup attempts against Hitler according to the German Resistance Museum in Berlin, which I visited personally in April 2019. Had the coup been successful, the German resistance planned to implement a conditional surrender in the West in exchange for Western Allied guarantees against the Soviets if not a continuation of Germany’s war against the Soviets to defend Eastern Europe from being overrun by the Red Army and half of Europe from being Communized.
Japanese peace offers
April 1941 Soviet-Japanese Neutrality Pact--It is a little known fact that this non-aggression pact between the Soviet Union and Imperial Japan included a secret agreement that Mao’s Red Army would cease all attacks on the Japanese army for the duration of the war.
August-November 1941—Japan offers to withdraw from Indochina and southern China (likely excluding Hainan Island) leaving them in control of Japanese puppet states in Manchukuo and central China and have the US mediate an end to the Second Sino-Japanese War in exchange for the US lifting its crushing oil embargo on Japan. This was a very generous offer that had it been accepted could have entirely prevented the outbreak of the Pacific War, which cost the lives of 36 million people but President Franklin Delano Roosevelt rejected it because the purpose of the US-UK-Dutch oil embargo was to provoke a Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor as “a back door to war with Germany” as his attempts to provoke war with his undeclared naval war against Germany in the Atlantic had failed to do so. Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, FDR succeeded in provoking Hitler to declare war on the U.S. four days later in response to his decision to leak America's top secret war plan known as “Rainbow Five” a few days before the attack, revealing plans for America to send an expeditionary force of five million troops to invade Nazi-occupied northern France even through the US was ostensibly still neutral.
July 1944—Emperor Hirohito orders the Imperial Cabinet to begin making conditional surrender overtures to the US via third parties like Sweden and the Soviet Union following the first B-29 bomber fire bombings of Japanese cities declaring his fear that the U.S. would not stop fighting until the last Japanese subject had been killed unless the Japanese surrendered.
January 1945—MacArthur Memorandum—General Douglas MacArthur compiled five separate high-level Japanese surrender overtures—offering virtually identical surrender terms as we imposed on them seven months later—and sent them to FDR in January 1945 just before the Yalta Conference in a forty-page memorandum. Sadly, FDR refused them all. I discuss the ramifications of the MacArthur Memorandum further in my recent article in The National Interest, “The Atomic Bombings did not Produce Japan’s Surrender.” Had FDR accepted Japan’s surrender at that time, not only would he have saved the lives of tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers, airmen, and sailors who died unnecessarily, but Communist China and North Korea would not exist today due to the fact that Mao Zedong’s Red Army would not have had the sanctuary of Soviet-occupied Manchuria to fall back to rest, refit, and rearm with captured Japanese weapons. Instead, Chiang Kai Shek’s National Revolutionary Army would likely have defeated them in 1946, bringing all of China under its control. This would have saved up to 100 million lives lost to Communist mass murder and wars, not including over half a billion forced Chinese abortions and infanticides. It also would have saved the lives of nearly 100,000 U.S. soldiers who lost their lives in the Korean and Vietnam Wars.
Soviet Peace Offers
While, these Soviet peace offers are not missed opportunities for peace from the Western Allied perspective, I am providing them as a matter of historical interest.
July 1941—Mere weeks after the German invasion of the Soviet Union and with the German army advancing at an alarming rate, Stalin sued for peace offering Germany control of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Ukraine in exchange for an armistice agreement to end the war, but Hitler rejects his peace offer believing that the German offensive could achieve its aims of not merely capturing the Soviet capital of Moscow advancing all the way to the Archangel-Volga-Astrakhan Line by December.
May 1942—Stalin repeated his peace offer from the previous summer but added Belarus to encourage Germany to agree to an armistice. Hitler again rejected his peace offer believing it is necessary for Germany to occupy the oil-rich Caucasus region to prevent future Soviet attempts at economic blackmail and make Germany self-sufficient in fuel oil to alleviate German oil shortages that limited the mobility of the German armed forces. Hitler was a fool not to accept this peace offer after the Germans failed to capture the Soviet capital of Moscow. Had Hitler accepted this Soviet peace offer he could have achieved a limited victory in the east though Stalin likely would have resumed the war within a couple years once he had rebuilt Red Army forces and Hitler had demobilized a couple million German troops after the war ended.
May 1943—German and Soviet generals meet along the frontline to discuss a potential armistice with Germany offering to withdraw all German troops east of the Dnieper River which it proposed as the new western Soviet border but the Soviets insisted on the restoration of their prewar August 1939 borders, a demand which the Germans rejected.
May 1944—Prior to the beginning of the massive Red Army offensive known as Operation Bagration, Stalin made one final offer for a separate peace with Germany in exchange for German troops being withdrawn to Germany’s 1937 borders but Hitler again rejected his offer. Here is an article I published in the National Interest a few years ago discussing these Soviet peace offers to Germany in greater detail.
Lessons Learned From These Missed Opportunities for Peace
There are several important historical parallels with how Britain and France stumbled into an unnecessary world war over a border dispute between Germany and Poland and how the U.S. and NATO are stumbling into an unnecessary world war over a border dispute between Russia and Ukraine today that would quickly escalate to the nuclear level. Much like Hitler when he offered to withdraw from 95.6% of Polish territory the day after Germany invaded, Putin offered to withdraw Russian troops from 93.6% of pre-war Ukrainian controlled territory the day after he invaded in exchange for a Ukrainian pledge of permanent neutrality outside of NATO, This led to the tentative March 31st peace agreement reached in Istanbul, later repudiated by Ukraine, with the unilateral Russian military withdrawal from three northern Ukrainian oblasts including Kyiv as the first step towards implementing that agreement. However, back in January, Biden reportedly offered Russia 20% of Ukraine back in exchange for peace, but Ukraine rejected it whereas Chamberlain refused all of Hitler's peace offers unless Hitler withdrew German troops to their September 1938 Munich Pact borders except for Memel and possibly Danzig.
Western leaders have claimed, without support, that Russian President Vladimir Putin is a modern-day Hitler and genocidal war criminal who seeks to conquer, not merely all of Ukraine and other former Soviet republics, but some of NATO’s Eastern European member states as well. Of course, none of this serves to excuse Putin’s brutal and illegal invasion of Ukraine which has resulted in over 8,000 civilian deaths thus far. History has proven that the longer wars go on the more difficult they are to end without one side achieving total military victory. Accordingly, the U.S. objective should be to negotiate the best diplomatic outcomes realistically possible without war or without unnecessarily prolonging military conflicts.
Following what amounted to a one-year long diplomatic temper tantrum by the Biden administration, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken finally met briefly with his counterpart, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. One would think that preventing nuclear Armageddon with Russia over Ukraine that would destroy the US and our NATO allies and could cost the lives of 700 million people would be worth spending more than ten minutes a year but apparently the Biden administration doesn't think so. Even hard-core neoconservatives like former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have been critical of the administration for not keeping diplomatic channels open with Russia to guard against potential Russian nuclear escalation. Sadly, during the Second World War, there were never any meetings held between western Allied diplomatic representatives and German Foreign Ministry officials to discuss a negotiated peace to end the greatest and most costly war in human history. If there had been, tens of millions of lives, including millions of Jews, might have been saved.
Tens of millions of people died in an unnecessary Second World War in Europe and the Pacific because the British refused to negotiate an end to the border dispute between Germany and Poland over control of the free city of Danzig and the Polish Corridor (a small strip of territory a little larger than Montenegro), even though they had supported their return to Germany since 1925, and because FDR refused to accept Japan's pre-war offer to withdraw from southern China and Indochina and have the US mediate an end to its war with China. Will a couple hundred million Americans have to die in an unnecessary Third World War because U.S. leaders refuse to negotiate an end to the border dispute between Ukraine and Russia (over who controls a small percentage of Ukraine’s internationally recognized territory the size of Lithuania) and over Taiwan (a small island about the size of Moldova) with the PRC? We can only hope and pray that our leaders learn from the mistakes of history so that they might not be condemned to repeat them on a far grander scale.
My World War Two Interviews
On January 17th, I sat down with Dr. Pascal Lottaz of Neutrality Studies to discuss how US military involvement in its past wars have made the US much less safe and led to a number of tragic and unforeseen consequences as well as a number of the lost opportunities for peace discussed in this article.
Here is a link to one of my past interviews from 2021 discussing Hitler’s May 1941 peace offer. Here is another link to an interview I did on American Warrior Radio a few years ago that explores the origins of World War Two, how a just, negotiated peace after World War One could have avoided the rise of Hitler and the outbreak of World War Two entirely. I also address the ‘what ifs’ as to how history would have been different had the British accepted one of Hitler’s peace offers, had Hitler accepted Chamberlain’s offer for a Second Four Power Conference in 1939, had the German resistance overthrew Hitler in 1944 or if Dewey had won the 1944 presidential election and the US had accepted one of Japan’s surrender offers outlined in the MacArthur Memorandum in January 1945.
Recent and Upcoming Media Interviews:
March 3, 2023--Worldview Weekend Hour Hosted by Brannon Howse on Lindell TV discussing my newly published national security presentation entitled, “What America Must do to Stop Provoking World War III with the Sino-Russian Alliance” (interview link to be posted soon)
March 3, 2023--Civil Defense Radio hosted by Preston Schweitzer discussing my newly published national security presentation entitled, “What America Must do to Stop Provoking World War III with the Sino-Russian Alliance” (interview link to be posted soon)
February 27, 2023 on the Stew Peters show discussing how the US proxy war against Russia in Ukraine is threatening to escalate to a nuclear World War Three. Here is the link.
March 7th—I will speak to the Citizens for Constitutional Government in St. George, UT. (location TBD) My presentation is entitled, “How the U.S. Must Stop Provoking World War Three with Russia and China.”
April 6-8th--I will also be speaking twice at the Firm Foundation Expo being held at the Mountain America Expo Center (MAEC) 9575 S. State Street in Sandy, Utah. I will provide the exact speaking times as soon as they are finalized and will be sure to update all subscribers of “The Real War.”
My Latest Strategic Intelligence Briefing
Here is a link to my latest national security threat briefing, entitled “What America Must Do to Stop Provoking World War III with Russia and China.”
© David T. Pyne 2023
David T. Pyne, Esq. is a former U.S. Army combat arms and Headquarters staff officer, who was in charge of armaments cooperation with the former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the Americas from 2000-2003, with an M.A. in National Security Studies from Georgetown University. He currently serves as Deputy Director of National Operations for the Task Force on National and Homeland Security and as a member of the Committee on the Present Danger-China. He recently co-authored the best-selling new book, “Catastrophe Now--America’s Last Chance to Avoid an EMP Disaster." He also serves as the Editor of “The Real War” newsletter at dpyne.substack.com and as a contributor to “The National Interest”. Here is a link to his interview archive. He may be reached at email@example.com.
Thanks for reading "The Real War" by David Pyne! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.