September First 1939 is generally accepted as the beginning of World War II, for Europe as to an armed conflict this is true. But was it as great a surprise as most would report? All the signs of German aggression where in place to warn world leaders far in advance, the aggressive steps which led to a war which could have been avoided. Then why wasn’t it? Failures in diplomacy due to the measures of appeasement, placed into the hands of a man who had outlined his intentions years before in a book “Mein Kampf” the confidence to care out his plans. He explained his aims in detail, yet with the wounds of the last Great War still fresh (losses in human life coupled with the economic price) the democratic nations in their unwillingness to confront the growing militarism of Germany under the Treaty of Versailles, or deny Germany its territorial demands allowed this to fester into an armed conflict. Germany had years before had begun to lay the foundations for the events of September.
The re-entry in to the Rhine Land (7 March 1936): Occupation and Annexation of Austria (12 March 1938): Munich Agreement (30 September 1938): Non-aggression Pact with the Soviet Union (23 August 1939). All these were the stepping stones to war. Refusal to accept the actions of any one of these actions in its one right could have prevented the war, or at least pro-longed it’s commencement. It is inconceivable to believe that the intelligence agencies of the allied nations failed to comprehend the grand scheme of the Nazi regime and its ramifications of inactions.
The first signs of a growing Germany in its territorial plans was the reclaiming the Rhine land, true it was German territory in the pre-World War Imperial Germany. But under the conditions of the Treaty of Versailles as follows:
Germany is forbidden to maintain or construct any fortifications either on the left bank of the Rhine or on the right bank to the west of a line drawn 50 kilometers to the East of the Rhine.
In the area defined above the maintenance and the assembly of armed forces, either permanently or temporarily, and military maneuvers of any kind, as well as the upkeep of all permanent works for mobilization, are in the same way forbidden.
In case Germany violates in any manner whatever the provisions of Articles 42 and 43, she shall be regarded as committing a hostile act against the Powers signatory of the present Treaty and as calculated to disturb the peace of the world, it relinquished its management to France.
A de facto state of war existed [in violation of this treaty] the moment any German military unit crossed over into the restricted territory. So why did the allied not react? The only rational explanation could be, their reluctance to risk the resumption of the slaughter of 20 years previous, both Britain and France had been bleed dry with those losses. Their acceptance would cost them far more in the long run.
Hitler seeing this failure of the allies only emboldened him the more. In this first test of wills, he saw their unwillingness to confront him in a military manner, thus freeing his ambitions. Hailed as a victor and hero in Berlin, he began planning his next conquest.
As a son of this nation Hitler forsook his native land during the Great War by joining the Imperial German Army, wounded and awarded the Iron Cross in its service. His greatest wish was to combine Austria to the Greater Germany, while touting that they were, one people, one nation, something that history contradicts and had never been a fact, he pushed for annexation. Again in violation of The Versailles Treaty as follows:
Germany acknowledges and will respect strictly the independence of Austria, within the frontiers which may be fixed in a Treaty between that State and the Principal Allied and Associated Powers; she agrees that this independence shall be inalienable, except with the consent of the Council of the League of Nations.
Another provocation for war yet again no response from the allies. Some will say that Austria held a Aushliss to decide their fate of Union, that is false. The night before this was to take place the German army crossed over the border, invading the sovereign nation of Austria; there was never a populist vote.
The disgraceful agreement signed in Munich which dissolved a smaller weaker nation by consent of the “greater powers” without forethought to its people. “Peace in our time” was a slap in the face to the people of Czecho-Slovakia, whose country they had allowed to just cease to be, there was no peace or honor on for them, only years of brutality and genocide that followed. In violation the Treaty of Versailles as follows:
The boundaries of Germany will be determined as follows:
- With Czecho-Slovakia: The frontier of August 3, 1914, between Germany and Austria from its junction with the old administrative boundary separating Bohemia and the province of Upper Austria to the point north of the salient of the old province of Austrian Silesia situated at about 8 kilometres east of Neustadt.
Germany, in conformity with the action already taken by the Allied and Associated Powers, recognizes the complete independence of the CzechoSlovak State which will include the autonomous territory of the Ruthenians to the south of the Carpathians. Germany hereby recognizes the frontiers of this State as determined by the Principal Allied and Associated Powers and the other interested States.
The old frontier as it existed on August 3, 1914, between Austria-Hungary and the German Empire will constitute the frontier between Germany and the Czecho-Slovak State.
Germany renounces in favour of the Czecho-Slovak State all rights and title over the portion of Silesian territory defined as follows: starting from a point about 2 kilometers south-east of Katscher, on the boundary between the Kreise of Leobschiitz and Ratibor: the boundary between the twoKreise; then, the former boundary between Germany and Austria-Hungary up to a point on the Oder immediately to the south of the Ratibor-Oderberg railway; thence, towards the north-west and up to a point about 2 kilometres to the south-east of Katscher: a line to be fixed on the spot passing to the west of Kranowitz.
Non-aggression Pact with the Soviet Union
The signing of the non-aggression pact in Moscow between the fascist dictator of Germany and the communist socialist dictator of the Soviet Union with its secret protocols defining their spheres of influence in Europe and the division of Poland, Poland’s fate was sealed. Four days, September 1, later Germany launched the armed invasion of Poland on the pretext of an armed incursion (perpetrated by the SS) of Germany by Poland. Three days later the United Kingdom of Britain and Ireland with the Republic of France declared war on Germany, the blood bath they both had gave everything to avoid was now upon them.
The allies soon began to see the fruits of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact; on 17 September 1939 as the Polish army was being destroyed by the German Wehrmacht to the west, the Soviet army invaded from the east. The Soviet Union began the occupation of the Baltic States; 28 September 1939 of Estonia; 5 October 1939 of Lativa; 10 October 1939 of Lithuania; on 30 November 1939 the Soviet Union invaded the Nation of Finland in the “Winter War”. The allied reaction was predictable, none.
While the two great European totalitarian ideologies’ divided up Europe the west struggled with trying to just maintain their own independence. The world got its first true view of the socialist system of Stalin, and many came to the same opinion of it as they had of fascism.
The rest they say is “History”
Thank you for taking the time to read this
THE COMMENTARY GAZETTE®
REFERENCE: Transcripts from Trials of the Major War Crimes Tribunal: Nurnberg 1945-46 (NARA)
Sources: Treaty of Versailles; Library of Congress
CONTRIBUTOR: Eddy Toorall