Design for Aggression: The inside Story of Hitler's War Plans

By Peter De Mendelssohn | Go to book overview

V
CASE BARBAROSSA

German-Soviet relations, 1939-41

TWO WEEKS BEFORE THE (GERMAN ATTACK ON POLAND, ON AUGUST 12, 1939, Hitler had a conference with Ciano at Berchtesgaden. Ciano informed him that Italy was not ready for war, and that Mussolini would like to see the invasion of Poland, which he was certain would lead to a general European conflict, postponed. Instead the Duce had in mind a proposal for an international conference. To this Hitler replied that

if a conference were held, the Soviet Union could no longer be excluded from future meetings of the Powers. In the German-Soviet conversations the Soviets had made it clear with reference to Munich and other occasions when they were excluded, that in future they would not submit to such treatment. In addition to the four great powers and apart from the Soviet Union, Poland and Spain must also be summoned to a conference. That would mean, however, that Italy and Spain would be ranged against Britain, France, the Soviet Union and Poland, i.e., an unfavourable position.

Toward the end of the conversation Hitler was handed a telegram from Moscow. After a short interruption he told Ciano what it contained. "The Soviets agreed to the despatch of German political negotiators to Moscow." Ribbentrop added that the Soviets were fully informed of the intentions of Germany with regard to Poland. He

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