Discover more from "The Real War" by David Pyne
What if Churchill had accepted Hitler’s May 1941 Peace Offer Carried by Deputy Fuhrer Rudolph Hess?
Hitler's peace terms were surprisingly lenient and would have amounted to a bloodless victory for the U.K., liberating Western, Northern and Southern Europe from Nazi occupation years earlier.
World War Two historians have shown that Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler never wanted war with Britain or France and that he took pains to avert one. As noted in Patrick Buchanan’s excellent treatise, “Churchill, Hitler and the Unnecessary War,” Hitler feared the outbreak of a Second World War and made clear he never wanted a war with Britain, France or even Poland. Rather, the historical record strongly suggests that he sought to make Britain and Poland allies in his planned invasion of the Soviet Union. This explains why, until the end of August 1939, he did not ask for one square inch of Polish territory but merely the return of the independent German city of Danzig and a road highway/rail corridor connecting Danzig and East Prussia with the rest of Germany. Hitler apparently believed that his uncharacteristically modest demands would be satisfied by diplomacy without the need for military conflict.
On September 2, 1939, the day after he invaded Poland but before Britain and France had declared war on Germany, Hitler offered to end the war and withdraw from the rest of Poland if he was allowed to keep Danzig and the Polish Corridor (an area defined by Hitler to include most but not all of the former German province of West Prussia and consisting of just over 4% of Polish territory) while allowing Poland to retain the rest of the former German territory of Posen and East Upper Silesia which they had annexed from Germany in 1919 without plebiscites. When Hitler was informed that Britain had declared war on Germany the following day in response to Germany’s invasion of Poland, accounts indicate that he turned ‘ghastly white’ and fell into a depression.
Hitler’s failure to ask for the return of all or even most of Germany’s lost eastern territories annexed by Poland after World War One combined with his offer to end his invasion of Poland the very day after it began provide substantial evidence both that he was serious in his determination to avert a world war with Britain and France and that his foreign policy objectives were limited in nature. If the Allies had accepted this peace offer, war between Germany and the Allies would have been averted and perhaps the Soviets would have actually ended up being viewed as the main aggressors for invading and annexing the eastern half of Poland two weeks later and Britain and France might have considered declaring war on the Soviet Union instead.
Subsequently, Hitler made a series of peace offers to the Allies to end the European war beginning on October 6, 1939 when he once again offered to withdraw from Poland except for the Polish Corridor in exchange for peace with Britain and France and then subsequently to Britain alone in June 1940 and in May 1941 immediately prior to his invasion of the Soviet Union. Accordingly, not only was war between Germany and the western Allies not inevitable, but Hitler himself desperately wanted to avoid it, and once it had broken out end it, so that he would have a free hand to carry out his planned international crusade against Soviet Communism.
On May 10, 1941, in order to underscore Hitler’s seriousness in negotiating a peace agreement, Hitler sent Deputy Fuhrer Rudolph Hess to fly to Britain in a Me-110 fighter aircraft in a daring, but extremely risky, mission to hand-carry his final peace proposal to British leaders. The British government at the time publicly revealed that Hess had brought with him a German offer of peace in exchange for a free hand in Europe but mysteriously has opted to keep the specific details of his peace offer top secret up to the present day, nearly eight decades later. The reason they decided to keep the details secret are now apparent given the generosity of the terms Hitler offered as most recently revealed by British military historian Peter Padfield in his excellent book, “Hess, Hitler and Churchill: The Real Turning Point of the Second World War – A Secret History,” and a few others which have been published in recent years which provide definite proof that Hitler was not trying to conquer the world but rather was limited in his ambitions to reuniting Germany and carving out a new empire for Germany at the expense of western Russia and Ukraine. Padfield’s book also provides a very credible case that Hess was physically incapable of committing suicide and was likely assassinated by British and/or U.S. intelligence agents at the age of 93 in 1987, forty-six years after his capture by the British, presumably to keep the specific details of Hitler’s peace treaty secret, at a time when sentiment in West Germany was growing for his release.
Padfield states that he believes then British Prime Minister Winston Churchill suppressed public disclosure of Hitler’s proposed peace offer because its reasonableness, in particular Hitler’s offer to withdraw all German troops from 83% of the territory they had occupied from March 1939 onward, would have made his efforts to get the US into the war much more difficult. The reason is that it likely would have jeopardized his continued position as Prime Minister if he refused to accept it since a number of Cabinet officials and members of the Royal family supported a negotiated peace with Germany at the time. He believes it has been kept secret since to protect the reputations of Churchill and other past British leaders long since deceased. Padfield has also stated that he believes that the British government has suppressed the terms of the Treaty because he believes Hess informed the British of Hitler’s plans to mass murder the Jews if Churchill did not agree to peace and permit their deportation to Madagascar or Palestine which Churchill refused. If it was known that Churchill was given the opportunity by Hitler to stop the Jewish Holocaust and refused to do so, it would certainly be damaging to his reputation.
The details of Hess’ peace offer, which was reportedly sanctioned and likely even ordered by Hitler himself, were first corroborated by the American Mercury newspaper in an article entitled “The Inside Story of the Rudolph Hess Peace Flight” in 1943. It is unknown how many members of the British Cabinet supported accepting Hitler’s peace offer the details of which were known to them, but Churchill was adamant about rejecting it ironically largely due to the fact that Hitler allowed 336,000 BEF soldiers and 210,000 French soldiers to escape at Dunkirk. Had it not been for the so-called “Miracle at Dunkirk”, I believe Churchill may well have been successfully pressured by his Cabinet to accept Hitler’s June 1940 peace offer which was similar in many respects but may not have included a German military withdrawal from Denmark, Norway, Belgium or the Netherlands. In fact, history notes that Churchill did in fact seriously consider accepting an armistice from Germany on May 26, 1940 when Hitler’s panzers seemed poised to capture not only the French 9th Army which was trapped in the Dunkirk pocket but virtually the entire British Expeditionary Force as well.
Hitler’s Peace Offer to Britain
According to the American Mercury article as well as a number of other recent books, Hess reportedly hand-carried an official German peace proposal ready to sign with the following provisions including offers of German military withdrawals from all of Northern, Western and Southern Europe as well as the Mediterranean region:
1. All hostilities between the German Reich and the British Commonwealth will cease immediately.
2. Germany agrees to withdraw all military forces from France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark and Norway.
3. In addition, Germany agrees to withdraw all military forces from Yugoslavia, Greece, Libya, western Egypt and the Mediterranean region generally.
4. France will cede Alsace-Lorraine back to Germany.
5. All European Jews will be resettled in Palestine.
6. Germany will retain control of Luxembourg.
7. Belgium will return the Eupen-Malmedy District to Germany.
8. A Polish state will be restored (though undoubtedly under continued German occupation).
9. Britain will take a position of benevolent neutrality in the event of any potential conflict between Germany and the U.S.S.R. including facilitating the sale of foodstuffs and raw materials to Germany.
10. No war reparations will be levied against any belligerent country.
11. Germany will help mediate a peaceful resolution of the conflict between Britain and Italy including disputed Italian claims on Yugoslavia and Greece. Such a resolution might have included the Italian annexation of the northern Dalmatian coast of Yugoslavia and adjacent islands in the Adriatic Sea all of which had been promised to Italy by the Allies in exchange for declaring war on Germany and Austria-Hungary in World War I. This would likely have been followed by a withdrawal of Italian troops from the rest of those two nations as well as a resolution of Anglo-Italian conflicts over their African colonies potentially resulting in the transfer of British Somalialand, Malta, Corsica, Nice, the Savoy, Tunisia, and French Somalia to Italy.
12. Britain and France agree to return all former Imperial German colonies, (excepting those taken over by Japan), including German East Africa, Rwanda, Burundi, German Southwest Africa, Cameroon, Togo, Kaiser-Wilhelmsland (northeast New Guinea), Nauru, the Bismarck Archipelago, the North Solomon Islands and Samoa. In exchange, British troops will be permitted to have a rail corridor across German East Africa linking British colonies in northern and southern Africa.
13. German troops will be made available to defend the British Empire if needed, providing that Britain agrees to a 25-year Anglo-German alliance.
Hitler further stated that as long as the governments of northern and western Europe were not “anti-German”, he had no interest in continuing to occupy or control them. His peace terms for France likely would have been continued French production of tanks, aircraft and artillery in support of German military requirements and that they would provide Germany with raw materials as requested. Hitler also might have demanded France give Germany the French colony of Madagascar and transfer the French aircraft carrier Bearn and the battleships Provence, Strasbourg, Richelieu and Jean Bart (still under construction) to German control. In exchange, Germany would return all prisoners of war to their home countries including two-million French POW’s.
It is even possible that Churchill might have negotiated a German withdrawal to its 1914 borders with Poland and/or at least the nominal restoration of Poland’s independence as a Polish-led German protectorate, which he had offered in all previous peace offers without spelling out what the new Polish borders would be and which he had originally planned to do before abandoning the idea three weeks after Poland was defeated. Of course, Hitler would never have agreed to withdraw German troops from Poland. Churchill could say that since it declared war on Germany in defense of Poland it was a matter of British honor that no peace agreement be signed without Hitler’s previously offered restoration of an independent Polish state and a German guarantee of Poland’s territorial integrity. Given Hitler’s overarching desire for peace with Britain combined with previous desire to have Poland as an ally, not an enemy, for his long-planned invasion of the USSR, he likely would have accepted such terms, perhaps thinking that he would be free to revise them following an anticipated victory over the Soviet Union. Poland would have had to sign the Anti-Comintern Pact and sign a defense agreement with Germany allowing German troops to remain along its eastern borders along with transit railway rights in the event of a possible war with the USSR. Germany would stand to benefit from such an agreement as it likely would have succeeded in getting Poland to send at least a few divisions to help fight the Soviets in exchange for the return of some of the Polish territory annexed by the Soviet Union following their September 1939 invasion.
Given Churchill’s determination to continue the war against Nazi Germany if at all possible, it is clear that he would never have accepted Hitler’s peace offer unless Germany had either successfully invaded Britain or more likely if Hitler had pursued the so-called Mediterranean Option and General Heinz Guderian’s daring plan to use a couple of Panzer divisions to capture Gibraltar in September 1940. With a large number of German troops traveling through Spain, Spanish dictator Ferdinand Franco would likely have given in to pressure to join the Axis. Guderian then proposed invading and/or occupying Spanish Morocco, French Morocco, Rio De Orio and the Canary Islands. At the same time, a larger Panzer force under General Erwin Rommel could have conquered Egypt and the Suez Canal by early 1941 in order to cut off British forces from their Mediterranean possessions. At that point, Germany would have been in a position to successfully bribe Turkey to join the Axis with promises of a return of the former Ottoman provinces of Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Trans-Jordan, western Saudi Arabia, Yemen and possibly Egypt (which was then led by arguably pro-Axis King Farouk). Just as he did in actual history, Hitler could have also offered Turkey the return of the oil-rich southern Caucasus Soviet republics to Turkish control.
With Turkish military assistance and the Berlin to Baghdad Highway having been completed in 1940 and the British largely expelled from the Mediterranean following the German capture of the Suez Canal, the Germans might have been able to successfully invade the British held islands of Crete and Cyprus as well. Then, the Germans could have supported the pro-Axis coup in oil-rich Iraq in April 1941 and returned Kuwait to Iraqi control. Britain and the Soviet Union would likely have responded to a German intervention in support of the new Iraqi government by staging an unprovoked invasion of Iraq just as they did in actual history in September 1941.The Germans could have then occupied the mountainous western Iranian border region in order to secure Iraq from a potential Anglo-Soviet attack, but moving forces beyond that would have been difficult. Nevertheless, their increasing threat to Allied control of Iran and potential threat to British control of India where they could provide arms and military support to the pro-Axis Indian National Army in their attempts to liberate India from British rule would have posed a very serious threat to the British Empire causing British leaders to panic.
Had the Germans pursued this option, the British likely would have sought peace after the fall of the Suez Canal but certainly would have done so following a German-Turkish conquest of Palestine and Iraq, which was the source of much of their oil, thus ending the war in the West before Operation Barbarossa without the need for a full-scale invasion of Britain. If Churchill had refused to accept Hitler’s generous May 1941 peace offer after suffering a series of disastrous military defeats, he might have lost a vote of no-confidence in Parliament and been replaced by a Prime Minister who saw the wisdom of cutting Britain’s losses rather than risk the loss of most of her Empire.
A German Mediterranean offensive also would have had the further benefits of forcing the Soviets to divert a significant number of Red Army divisions to their southern flank to defend against a possible Axis invasion of the Caucuses from Turkey and/or Iran. This plan also would have allowed a peace treaty to be signed with pro-German Vichy France after which all German troops could have been withdrawn. Hitler could have also accomplished his objective of deporting all European Jews to Palestine or Madagascar, which the British had refused to allow him to do during the war in actual history thus averting the Jewish Holocaust, Needless to say, a successful Middle Eastern campaign would have successfully resolved the Axis fuel crisis while increasing the number of allies fighting on their side enabling it to fight more effectively and for many more years than in actual history.
Had the Axis succeeded in capturing all of these regions, it is highly unlikely that Hitler would have been willing to return Gibraltar, Palestine, Trans-Jordan and Iraq to British control though he may have been willing to compromise with regards to the status of Egypt and the Suez Canal perhaps proposing that Egypt be granted full-independence and control over the Suez Canal with all foreign troops withdrawn, which would have angered Italian dictator Benito Mussolini who wanted Egypt and the Suez for himself. King Farouk, who kept Egypt neutral during most of the war, very well might have sought to join the Axis Powers anyway as a hedge against a potential future British invasion. Hitler would likely have still been willing to withdraw German troops from the Mediterranean provided that Axis gains in the region remained under Axis control. Accordingly, the actual peace offer hand-delivered from Rudolf Hess to the British would have likely been modified accordingly.
A British acceptance of Hitler’s proposed peace treaty would have served as a major coup and bloodless victory for Britain as with the exception of the German speaking territories of Alsace-Lorraine, Luxembourg and Eupen-Malmedy it would have returned Germany to its October 1939 borders while Germany would have withdrawn from all of western, northern and southern Europe as well as the Mediterranean region, but not the Middle East. In addition, it would have been a very favorable peace for defeated France as well, certainly far more lenient than that imposed upon Germany in 1945, or even 1919 for that matter, by the victorious Allies. It is no wonder then that the details of Hitler’s most generous peace proposal remain blocked from the public under Britain’s Official Secrets Act, even seventy-eight years later, because it would have shown that Hitler, while certainly a brutal, mass murdering tyrant, was truly desirous of peace between the two nations and not bent on world conquest as liberal historians like Churchill have suggested.
How would British acceptance of this Treaty have altered the course of history?
Had Churchill accepted this treaty, he might have been re-elected Prime Minister in the 1941 elections that would have followed the signing of the peace treaty with Nazi Germany which would likely have been seen by the British people as something of a moral victory, given the extremely favorable terms offered by Hitler, and the fact that the British Empire was fighting Germany alone with no sure prospects of U.S. military intervention and no real hope of victory.
Churchill would have been far more likely to violate the terms of this peace agreement than Hitler (due to the fact that Hitler had a huge incentive not to as a resumption of the war with Britain would effectively remove any hope of defeating the Soviets), and in fact it might have been to Britain’s advantage to do so to exploit the German military withdrawals from northern, western and southern Europe. Britain might have opted to abrogate its armistice/treaty with Nazi Germany and re-initiate hostilities with Germany at the time and place of its choosing under more advantageous conditions after Britain had finished its rearmament program and Germany had suffered a couple million casualties and was still bogged down fighting a costly war against the Soviet Union. British military intervention in the Nazi-Soviet war including a naval blockade and terror-bombing campaign of large German cities might have enabled the Red Army to push the Germans back to the Riga-Odessa Memel-Odessa line or even enabled the Allies to defeat Nazi Germany within a few years of their defeat in actual history. If Britain did declare war on Nazi Germany again, their first territorial objective would have been to retake Egypt and the Suez Canal followed by Palestine, Trans-Jordan and Iraq to cut off the Axis Powers from their main fuel supply.
Of course, had this peace treaty been implemented, all of France would have remained under Vichy French control, led by Marshal Petain, who blamed the British for betraying France and destroying much of its naval fleet in the Battle of Mers-el-Kebir as much or more than he blamed Germany for defeating France. It seems very unlikely that Petain would have assented to British requests to send another British Expeditionary Force to France to open up a second front against the Germans. Likewise, Norway, Denmark, Belgium, Holland would have likely rebuffed British offers of military intervention having lost no territory following the agreed upon 1941 German military withdrawal other than Belgium in the case of the Eupen-Malmedy district. However, Greece might have been open to British offers to help them regain lost territory so that would likely be where Britain would have opened up its ‘Second Front’ after retaking its Middle Eastern colonial possessions. From Greece, the British could have provided more direct military aid to Tito to help his Communist rebels fight Axis forces while also threatening to capture Istanbul from Turkey.
Even if Britain didn’t declare war on Germany again, they could have still provided large-scale direct military aid to the Soviet Union in violation of the peace agreement while claiming to remain officially neutral in the war. They also could have helped the Free French take control of French North Africa from Vichy French control just as they did in actual history without a declaration of war, though in this alternate timeline that might have sparked a declaration of war against the British by the French government and the mobilization of two million French soldiers. With the British having been deprived of most, if not all, of their naval bases in the Mediterranean, the French might have succeeded in reinforcing French North Africa and repelling the British and Free French invaders.
The change to U.S. history by Churchill’s acceptance of this treaty would most likely have been profound. It is a little known fact that following US President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s July 1941 imposition of the crushing US-UK-Dutch oil embargo that, had it been continued for over a year, would have left Japan unable to sail its warships, Japan offered to withdraw from China (excluding Manchuria and Jehol province) and Indochina in exchange for a full end to the oil embargo and normalization of diplomatic relations as a last ditch effort to avoid war with the United States. Had the British accepted Hitler’s 1941 peace offer, President Roosevelt would not have been obsessed with finding a way to provoke the Japanese to engage in a ‘surprise attack’ on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 as ‘a back door to war’ to galvanize an anti-war public and anti-war Congress into declaring war on Nazi Germany. Accordingly, he would likely have accepted the Japanese peace offer to withdraw its forces from China and Indochina completely averting the outbreak of a US-Japanese Pacific War. He also likely would not have run for re-election in 1944 since reportedly the only reason he reversed his decision to retire after two terms was due to Germany’s occupation of France in June 1940 and his desire to help Britain liberate Western Europe from Nazi control which the Hess peace offer would have accomplished without the need for US military intervention.
Without the Allies opening up secondary fronts in France and Italy and without the massive Allied direct military aid which the U.S. and U.K. provided the Soviets in actual history including 22,000 tanks, 18,000 aircraft, over 15,000 artillery pieces and 430,000 trucks with which to Communize Eastern Europe and East Asia including mainland China and French Indochina, it is unlikely that the Soviet Union could have defeated Nazi Germany. If Churchill didn’t abrogate the peace treaty, the Germans wouldn’t have had to worry about the illegal Allied starvation blockade or having its oil resources cut off. Without having to worry about defending Germany against British terror bombers, Germany could have kept the vast majority of its 88mm guns on the eastern front where they could be put to better use destroying Soviet tanks and aircraft. Without the destruction of her arms factories and without having to build over 1,150 U-boats to fight a losing unrestricted submarine warfare campaign against Britain, Germany likely would have been able to build thousands if not tens of thousands more medium tanks and combat aircraft including jet fighters enabling it to retain air superiority over the Soviets. Perhaps, with his supply of Iraqi oil secure,
Hitler might not have felt the need to attack the Caucuses (and Stalingrad) and focused the German 1942 offensive on capturing Moscow instead. Eventually, Nazi Germany would likely have fought the war in the East to a stalemate and, after a few years, Hitler might have been able to secure favorable peace terms from Stalin. However, even if Nazi Germany had succeeded in defeating the Soviet Union, their victory would have likely have been limited in scope unless they had succeeded in capturing Moscow and pushing the Red Army back to the Archangel-Volga-Astrakhan Line. Even then, Stalin would have eventually counterattacked and pushed the Germans back likely making Germany’s victory temporary and prolonging the war considerably longer than it was waged in actual history. The most likely final outcome of a German victory in the war would have been continued German-domination of central and eastern Europe given German troops would have been completely withdrawn from Northern, Southern and Western Europe (except for Luxembourg and Alsace-Lorraine) in accordance with their peace treaty with Britain. The Soviet Union would have likely been restored to its 1938 borders while German troops would be present in Eastern Europe to defend against the prospect of renewed Soviet aggression while Poland would have become either a Polish-led German protectorate or a minor German ally similar to Hungary, Slovakia, Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria.
Here is a map of the world as it likely would have existed had the US and/or Britain accepted the terms of Hitler’s May 1941 peace offer including a restoration of limited independence for Poland. While we frequently hear that if the US and UK had made peace with Hitler, it would have enabled Hitler to conquer the world but the truth is that Hitler’s territorial aims were far more limited and his military capabilities even more so. Accordingly, at most Hitler might have hoped to reclaim most of Germany’s lost colonies and to conclude an armistice with the Soviets that would have, at most, left Germany in control of the Baltics, Belarus, Ukraine and the oil-rich Caucuses which Stalin would have certainly fought successive wars with Germany to try to recover. This would have likely left Germany as only the fifth largest empire behind the British, the Soviets, the Americans and the French.
Ultimately, a victorious Nazi Germany likely would have been a contented, but contained, regional power, not bent on world domination as Allied war propaganda, war hysteria and popular mythology suggested at the time and since. While the world might have had to endure decades of Nazi German control of Central and Eastern Europe, the U.S. and the rest of the world would have been much better off and the evil, murderous excesses of the Nazi regime likely would have mellowed over time until the regime was forced to undergo democratic reforms. While this outcome of World War II might have allowed Nazi Germany to survive decades longer, had the British accepted Hitler’s compromise peace offer, the outlook for freedom in East Asia would have been far better. In actual history, Truman’s decision to allow the Soviets to repeat the vast majority of the territorial fruits of the Allied victory over Japan’s led directly to the Communization of mainland China, which alone cost the lives of at least sixty million innocent people, with millions more innocents mass murdered by Communist regimes in North Korea, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. All of these Communist takeovers would have likely been averted. Ideally, Hitler would have been assassinated and the Nazis overthrown by the German resistance shortly thereafter, returning Germany to democratic control. Then the new German government could have granted full independence to Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and the Czech Republic and returned all Polish majority territories to Poland and invited them to join a new Central & Eastern European mutual defense alliance against the Soviet Union similar to NATO in actual history.
Meanwhile, with the war in Europe ended with acceptable terms for Britain and France, FDR would have had no reason to pursue his ‘back door to war’ strategy to get Japan to attack the US o achieve his ultimate goal of war with Nazi Germany. If FDR had accepted Japan’s August-November 1941 peace offer to withdraw from Indochina and southern China and accept US mediation to negotiate an end to the Second Sino-Japanese War in exchange for an end to the crushing US-UK-Dutch oil embargo, Japanese territorial possessions would have likely been far more limited than actual history including northeast and east central China and perhaps the Soviet Far East leaving Burma, the Philippines and Indonesia free of Japanese occupation. The withdrawal of all Japanese forces from southern China and the failure of the Soviet Union to occupy Japanese-controlled Manchuria as a safe haven for Mao’s Communist forces would have provided a golden opportunity for the Nationalist Chinese, led by Generalissimo Chiang Kai Shek, to defeat Communist Chinese dictator Mao Tse Tung’s Red Army once and for all at a time when they were still very weak. Nationalist China likely would have seized control of all of modern-day China including Sinkiang and Tibet with the exception of Manchuria and Jehol province (which were then part of Manchukuo, a Japanese puppet state), which would remain under Japanese control, while Mongolia would have likely remained under Soviet control. Furthermore, a Nationalist victory over the Communists followed by the return of Manchuria to Nationalist control, which without the implementation of Communist China’s infamous ‘one-child’ policy, would have likely increased the population of China from nearly 1.45 billion today to as many as 2.25 billion (averting nearly 800 million forced abortions and infanticides committed by Communist China thus far). This, along with free-enterprise based economic reforms, would have likely enabled Nationalist China to eclipse the U.S. as the world’s largest economy a decade or two earlier than Communist China was able to do.
Thus, there would have been no need for U.S. intervention in the European War, no U.S.-Japanese war and no Unholy Alliance between the U.S., Britain and the Soviet Union. As a result there would have been no Allied war crimes committed by the U.S., Britain and France including no terror bombings, no illegal starvation blockade of Germany, no post war starvation of millions of its civilians and POWs as part of the implementation of the Morgenthau Plan/JCS 1067 and no Operation Keelhaul forcibly returning two million anti-Communist freedom fighters and their families to be executed by Stalin. Finally, there would have been no Allied surrender of half of Europe to Soviet Communism at Yalta. Without U.S. involvement in World War Two, the U.S. would not have gotten involved as an interventionist power and would not have lost over 400,000 men in World War Two and another nearly 100,000 in the Korean and Vietnamese wars. Also, the U.S. might not have developed the atomic bomb until several years later with Soviet development of the atomic bomb not occurring until several years after that.
If he had run for re-election, FDR would likely have been defeated in the 1944 presidential election leaving Republican nominee Gov. Thomas Dewey (R-NY), not Truman, to replace him. General Eisenhower would likely have never become well-known to the American people, let alone President. Senator Robert Taft or even General Douglas MacArthur might have been elected President instead in the 1944-1952 timeframe. Certainly, had a staunch anti-Communist like General MacArthur been President, they would likely have sought to take strong action to deter or defend against any potential Soviet aggression particularly against Nationalist China. The U.S. would have remained the pre-eminent economic superpower and likely would have become a nuclear superpower as well, but would not have likely been the interventionist power it is today. This outcome might have been better as it would not have lost so much blood and treasure fighting first to effectively help spread Communism in central and Eastern Europe and East Asia and then later fighting to defend against it. In fact, the United States might not have ended up getting involved in the conflict with the Soviet Union at all, outside of arms shipments to its Western European and Nationalist Communist Chinese allies. Most importantly the proud flag of the United States would never have been sullied with the terrible war and post-war crimes our liberal, pro-Soviet political and military leaders actually committed during and after World War Two against millions of innocent Japanese and particularly German civilians.
This alternate history timeline would have likely ended up being much less favorable for the Soviets in Europe and Asia, much better for the people of China which would have remained under Nationalist control, much better for Japan whose empire would likely have survived in some form and much better for the Jews and for the Poles, which had a large Jewish population, given that the Jewish Holocaust would have been entirely averted. This outcome would have left open the possibility of a Jewish state being founded with as many as three times the current population of Israel, though admittedly the impetus for founding the Jewish state would have been lessened without Nazi persecution and genocide. It would have less favorable for France, but much better for Britain which would have been strengthened by having the war shortened by four years likely enabling it to retain its Empire for a considerably longer period of time. It would have been much better for Italy, and of course, much better for Germany as well, particularly if Hitler had been assassinated and the Nazi regime overthrown. Korea would likely have remained part of Japan probably for a couple decades later but thereafter would likely have become united and free.
Perhaps, the biggest long-term difference of this alternate history timeline would have been that Germany, Imperial Japan and their minor allies along with perhaps Nationalist China would have fought a half-century long Cold War against the Soviet Union rather than the United States and its Western European allies. This would have saved the U.S. a great deal of its precious blood and treasure which it ended up expending during the Cold War. Instead of having the U.S., Russia and Communist China as the three nuclear superpowers today, we would more likely have only had the U.S. & Russia since Communist China would not likely exist, again leading to a more peaceful and safer world. Japan, and subsequently Nationalist China, would also likely have joined the U.S., Britain, France, Germany and the Soviet as nuclear powers. Ultimately, the Soviet Union would likely still have ‘collapsed’ in 1991. This would have rendered Communism largely extinct, unlike today where Communism still controls nearly a quarter of the world’s people, and the existential threat of Russian nuclear attack might be directed against Germany, Japan and the Republic of China rather than the United States.
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.
© David T. Pyne 2019
David T. Pyne, Esq. is a former U.S. Army combat arms and H.Q. staff officer with a M.A. in National Security Studies from Georgetown University. He currently serves as a Vice President of the Association of the United States Army’s Utah Chapter and is a regular contributor to The National Interest.