The Nemesis of Power: The German Army in Politics, 1918-1945

By John W. Wheeler-Bennett | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 5
FROM THE BLITZKRIEG TO STALINGRAD (July 1940-February 1943)

(i)

ONCE again the 'quick peace' after a 'quick war' eluded Adolf Hitler. In July 1940 he stood in dominant victory as the autocratic arbiter of an area stretching from the North Cape to the Brenner and from the English Channel to the River Bug. Italy was his ally, and the Soviet Union, to all intents and purposes, his 'neutral friend'; while, though the United States was explicitly a hostile neutral, there was no apparent danger that she would permit her hostility to get the better of her neutrality.

Had Hitler been able to achieve that reshaping of the Peace of Westphalia of which he dreamed and planned, there might indeed have been a chance for his 'New Order' and his 'Thousand-Year Reich' to attain some degree of permanent stability, with an unchallenged hegemony over continental Europe. Had Britain concurred in the terms offered by the Führer in his Reichstag speech of July 19, and agreed to recognize such a hegemony in return for a German guarantee of her imperial and colonial possessions, the Pax Germanica might have lasted for an indefinite period. America might well have withdrawn into isolationism; collaborationist governments might have been established in the several capitals of Europe and in London; but behind them would have lurked the disgruntled elements in all countries waiting in fierce impatience to spring upon the back of the conqueror, at the moment when he should become engaged in his inevitable clash with Russia.

All these things might have happened had it not been for the indomitable leadership of one man and the grim and courageous determination of one people. In July 1940 there stood between Adolf Hitler and the realization of his grandiose ambitions only the defiance of Mr. Winston Churchill, backed by the obstinate and traditional refusal of the British people to recognize, let alone acknowledge, defeat.

According to all the rules of logical argument Britain should

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