How elitist intervention prolonged World War II and perpetuated Nazi horrors
From the December, 1997 issue of Culture Wars magazine
by John Dombrowski
For more than half a century, every sixth of June,
countless patriotic Americans, Britons, Canadians and others gather to
pay homage to thousands of young men who "gave their lives for their
country" on the beaches of Normandy. More than 200,000 American fighting
men were killed in World War II, together with 375,000 British and millions
of other nationalities. Most of these deaths occurred after mid-1943, when
it was clear to all concerned that the Axis and Japan had lost. Why did
the fighting continue for two years after the issue had been decided?
Historical documents, including diaries, memos, correspondence and published memoirs of the participants make clear that there was a serious effort, coming from many points at the highest level of the German military and intelligence agencies offering, at various times, to surrender Germany's armed forces to the Western Allies.
This effort depended on many highly prestigious intermediaries who kept records of the contacts, conditions and issues involved. Perhaps most prominent were Pope Pius XII (together with the men who were to become Pope John XXIII and Pope Paul VI); U.S. General Albert Wedemeyer; former Pennsylvania Governor and U.S. Ambassador George Earle; FDR's son-in-law, Curtis B. Dall; Swiss historian, Carl Jacob Burakhardt; German Ambassador in Rome, Ulrich von Hassell; and prominent leaders of the World Council of Churches.
If the mutually reinforcing information provided
by the above-mentioned persons is true and accurate, there is no respectable
and plausible reason for World War II to have continued beyond 1943. That
it did so, was, above all, to the advantage of Joseph Stalin and the utopian
schemers (on both sides of the Atlantic) eager to create a Brave New World
on the wreckage and the ashes of the wanton devastation wrought by the
Allied Forces in 1944 and 1945. This article is intended to show that the
prolongation of the war was not in the least due to the activities of Swiss
bankers and industrialists. It was due to the conscious and deliberate
efforts of FDR, Winston Churchill, and their advisors. No doubt many of
these people are the heroes and idols of Edgar Bronfman and his cohorts.
As Hitler's most experienced diplomat, Franz von
Papen had been given a most difficult task. He was to offset British influence
in Turkey, prevent that country from joining the Allies, and maintain friendly
trade relations to insure continued delivery of the most strategically
vital item without which Germany's war effort would grind to a halt: chromium
(Albert Speer, Inside the Third Reich, trans. Richard and Clara
Winston Avon Books, 1971, p. 410). There was no other source for this raw
material, without which Germany could produce no high-grade steel.
When he arrived in April 1939 (Franz von Papen, Memoirs,
trans. Brian Connell New York: Dutton, 1953, p. 446), von Papen found the
Turks somewhat cool toward Germany (Ulrich von Hassell, The von Hassell
Diaries (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1947), p. 190.), but by 1943 he
had established excellent relations with that country's statesmen and military
leaders (von Papen, Memoirs, pp. 494-95.). He shared and was able
to capitalize on the dominant motivations of the Turks: fear of Russian
aggression and desire to stay out of the fighting. Von Papen was perfectly
satisfied with Turkey's diplomatic stance that friendship to Britain came
first, and was able to assure his hosts that Germany harbored no aggressive
intentions toward Turkey (Ibid p. 495).
On March 21, 1943, von Papen, on his own initiative,
took advantage of a ceremony honoring Turkey's war dead to again
send out peace feelers to "the Western powers, to study again...the
role that Germany must play, a historic mission with its roots deep in
the sands of time. They would then be better able to appreciate...the Russian
giant....(Ibid, pp. 494-96.)"
He appealed to statesmen in Britain and America to
help with a new organization of Europe to meet the threat of Russian Communism.
He made especially pointed and flattering references to FDR, feeling that
was from where the initiative should come. Von Papen writes:
"My remarks were widely reported in the enemy
press and my conception of European solidarity was widely commented on.
It remained for President Roosevelt to pick up the threads. The reaction
in Germany was curious. I expected a violent outburst from (German Foreign
Secretary) Ribbentrop because I had again disregarded his instructions
not to mention the subject of peace; but nothing of the sort occurred.
Perhaps they were afraid to disavow me before the whole world" (Ibid,
Having been a general staff officer during the First
World War, von Papen was astonished at the mess Hitler was making of the
military situation, especially by his interference in the tactical decisions
of local commanders. On his return to Berlin, he found "morale was
at zero." He was invited out to dinner by two high-ranking Nazis,
both formerly enthusiastic about Hitler's regime. They informed him now
that "the Bolshevist methods introduced by Hitler" could only
destroy Germany. One of them was Count Wolff-Heinrich Helldorf, Berlin's
chief of police. Through them he was informed of the anti-Hitler conspiracy
headed by former army chief of staff, Ludwig Beck, and Carl Goerdeler.
But before attempting to kidnap Hitler, the conspirators needed "to
know what attitude the Western Powers would adopt toward a Germany liberated
from Hitler's leadership and seeking just peace terms(Ibid, p. 498: and
Gerhard Ritter, The German Resistance: Carl Goerdeler's Struggle Against
Tyranny, trans. R.l. Clark New York: Praeger, 1958)." Von Papen
was given the task of ascertaining this.
Most importantly, the opposition to Hitler would have to be assured that the people who were about to risk their lives in an attempt to overthrow Hitler would, if they succeeded, be faced with something better than the "unconditional surrender" formula proclaimed as a British-American war aim at the Casablanca Conference of Churchill and Roosevelt in January 1943. Von Papen needed to know "whether they would grant, to a German Government which met democratic requirements, the rights to which Germany's history and position entitled her. This must be the decisive factor in any further step (von Papen, Memoirs, p. 499; and Albert C. Wedemeyer, Wedemeyer Reports! New York: Henry Holt & Co., 1958, p. 417.)."
Von Papen promised to get in touch with FDR. He decided
to ask his friend, Baron Kurt von Lersner (a friend of FDR) to make contact
with the former governor of Pennsylvania, Commander George H. Earle, FDR's
personal representative (i.e., eyes and ears) for the Balkans, stationed
in Istanbul. In the meantime, German Intelligence chief, Admiral Wilhelm
Canaris, long in contact with the Beck-Goerdeler group, had also decided
to make the same attempt through Navy Captain Paul Leverkuehn, an internationally-known
lawyer and acquaintance of William J. Donovan, head of the U.S. Office
of Strategic Services (Heinz Hoehne, Canaris, trans. J. Maxwell
Brownjohn Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1979, pp. 482-83; Ritter, Goerdeler's
Struggle; and von Papen, Memoirs, pp. 488-89, 499.).
According to U.S. Colonel Curtis B. Dall (who wrote
FDR, My Exploited Father-in-Law), Governor Earle, years later, reminisced
thus about the incident: ...one morning there was a knock on his (Earle's)
hotel room door...and there stood...in civilian clothes...Admiral Wilhelm
Canaris, head of the German Secret Service. The gist..was there were many
sensible German people...feeling that Hitler was leading their nation
down a destructive path. Admiral Canaris continued, saving that the unconditional
surrender policy recently announced...the German generals could not swallow....
(A)n honorable surrender from the German army to the American forces...could
be arranged. That the real enemy of western-civilization (Soviet Communism)
could then be stopped. The German Army, if so directed, would move to the
eastern front and stop the Communist Army's march into eastern Europe.
Then followed a meeting with the German ambassador...
von Papen, a devout Roman Catholic and strongly anti-Hitler in his feelings
(Hamilton Fish, FDR: The Other Side of the Coin New York: Vantage
Press, 1962, p. 238.)....
As Dall relates it, Earle soon became convinced of
the sincerity of Canaris and von Papen, and strongly persuaded of sinister
hidden designs of the Soviet Government, including its objective to establish
the USSR as the supreme power in Europe. Commander Earle immediately sent
an urgent message to Washington via diplomatic pouch, requesting a prompt
reply. A month later, Canaris phoned, as had been agreed, but Earle could
only say "I am waiting for news, but have none today." Several
months, and several follow-up messages, passed but still no reply. Presumably
Earle had informed FDR that this peace probe had the full backing of "the
Pope, Papal Secretary of State Maglione, Nuncio Roncali (the later Pope
John XXIII), and Bishop Montini (the later Pope Paul VI." (Hoehne,
Canaris, p. 484; and von Papen, Memoirs, p. 459.)
According to von Papen's Memoirs (English
translation) these peace probes were initiated in April. According to Heinz
Hoehne (biographer of Canaris), Earle and Canaris were already face to
face in January 1943 (Hoehne, Canaris, p. 483). It is not necessarily
a contradiction, as Earle mentions (in the account to Dall, published in
Fish's book) that he first met Canaris and then von Papen.
In the Hoehne version, Canaris urges von Papen's
friend Lersner ìto keep in touch with Earle at all costs,"
even after FDR ordered a halt to further negotiations with Canaris, apparently
sometime in May. Yet, even after this order came, Lersner let Earle in
on the details of the plan of Captain Georg von Boeslager to surround Hitler's
headquarters in East Prussia with his 3,000-man cavalry detachment and
capture Hitler, Himmler and Bormann (Ibid, p. 484; and von Papen,
Memoirs, pp. 498-99).
The original contact between the Beck-Goerdeler group
and von Papen was the former Rhodes scholar and German Foreign Ministry
official, Adam von Trott zu Solz, a prominent member of Count Helmuth von
Moltke's Kreisau circle and well known in Britain and America for his 1939
peace efforts (von Papen, Memoirs, p. 499; Christopher Sykes, Tormented
Loyalty (New York: Harper and Row, l969), pp. 280-85, 292-322: and
Hans Rothfels, The German Opposition to Hitler, trans. Lawrence
Wilson (Chicago: Regnery, 1962), pp. 130-33). By June von Moltke himself
came to Istanbul with the suggestion that a German General Staff officer
to go to Britain "to arrange with the Western Allies to open up the
German Western Front" (Hoehne, Canaris, p. 484; and Hoffmann,
German Resistance p. 226)
William J. Donovan, head of the Office of Strategic
Services was able to persuade his old friend, Paul Leverkuehn, of the Abwehr,
"to sign a statement, typed on official paper from the German Embassy
in Ankara, in which Canaris' representative promised on behalf of the German
opposition that German military commanders would offer no resistance if
the Allies invaded France" (Hoehne, Canaris, p. 484; and Hoffmann,
German Resistance, pp. 226, 598).
On October 4, 1943, von Papen received what he thought
might be an answer to his feelers through Commander Earle. An American
in his late thirties, traveling on a Portuguese passport, asked to speak
to von Papen on behalf of President Roosevelt. He brought with him a roll
of microfilm which outlined conditions to serve as a basis of peace, once
Hitler had been arrested and handed over to the Allies for "fair trial."
The envoy suggested that Hitler be kidnapped during one of his many flights
by having his plane land in Allied occupied territory. The peace terms
on the microfilm included pre-war borders on Germany's Nest and an independent
Poland. The Ukraine was to be formally independent, but economically within
Germany's sphere. Von Papen writes:
"I told our emissary that these conditions seemed
to provide a solid basis for peace talks. But...Germany would do much better
to decline any association with the Ukraine...We then went into further
details of a peace settlement in which I presented again my propositions
for European unity. I made it quite clear that I could not take any further
step until I had written proof from President Roosevelt that he would undertake
to negotiate on the basis we had discussed.... No one on the German side
could take responsibility for the drastic steps involved merely on the
basis of vague generalizations such as President Wilson's fourteen points."
(von Papen, Memoirs, p. 505).
The envoy expressed doubt that FDR could be prevailed
upon to commit himself in writing. He suggested that von Papen fly to Cairo,
where the President was due to arrive shortly, and take it up with him
in person. Von Papen declined to risk such a flight out of fear that news
of it would be bound to leak out, and he would be stranded as an Èmigre,
in which capacity, he could serve no useful purpose. The envoy promised
to return to Von Papen after getting in touch with Roosevelt. He never
returned, leaving doubts in von Papen's mind regarding the authenticity
of his mission (Ibid, p. 505.).
While Commander Earle was still left in doubt as
to whether his increasingly urgent messages were getting through to the
President the secret service chiefs of Germany, Britain and the U.S. decided
on a momentous decision of their own. Wilhelm Canaris, General Menzies,
Chief of British Intelligence and William J. Donovan met unofficially,
and secretly (of course), at Santander, Spain, in the summer of 1943, for
the purpose of searching for a way to get their respective countries to
stop fighting (Hoehne, Canaris, p. 484.).
Canaris had been the one to propose the meeting,
and he also:
...presented Menzies and Donovan with his peace plan...
a cease fire in the West, Hitler to be eliminated or handed over, and continuation
of the War in the East. The British general raised few objections and even
the... American bowed to the German Admiral's logic.... F. Justus von Linem,
an Abwehr officer who was present at Santander recalls: "Donovan,
his British colleague and C[anaris] reached an agreement on the basis of
C's proposal..." But...Roosevelt called his presumptuous OSS chief
to heel and the head of the SIS took pains to minimize the significance
of his forbidden trip to Spain vis-a-vis the British Foreign office (Ibid,
Nevertheless, back in Istanbul:
"Governor Earle...then prepared and sent a most
urgent message to Roosevelt in Washington, not only via the diplomatic
pouch but through Army-Navy channels this time, to make sure the important
message got through to FDR." (Fish, FDR, p. 239).
In November, 1943, von Moltke of the Kreisau circle
received word that contact with the American President had been established
and Alexander Kirk (whom von Moltke had known since 1936) would soon be
in Turkey for secret discussions. With the help of Canaris, von Moltke
was able to go to Istanbul in December.
But Kirk was not in Istanbul after all. Moltke was
under imminent threat of arrest.... He did meet Major-General O.R.G. Tindall,
the American Military Attache in Turkey.... the American merely wanted
military information from Moltke. (Hoffmann, German Resistance,
At one point Donovan himself flew to New York
with a peace offer. Professor Karl Brandt of Stanford University
was called in to give his opinion on the authenticity of the
resistance movement and the letter containing the peace offer.
The letter said...opposition could not guarantee
that the entire western front would remain inactive in the event of an
Allied invasion; it had, however, sufficient influence to ensure that counter-measures
against an Allied landing would at least be delayed.... Western powers
should be prepared to negotiate with a German government formed by the
opposition after a coup. (Ibid, pp. 227, 598).
With Brandt's endorsement, the letter was taken,
under guard, to Washington. In spite of Donovan's pleadings "President
Roosevelt had flatly declined to negotiate with 'these East German Junkers.'"
On January 10th, 1944, Kirk wrote to von Moltke, who had offered to come
to Istanbul again, that "...war could be ended by nothing other than
the unconditional surrender of the German Wehrmacht." The letter
never reached him. The Gestapo picked him up on January 19th (Ibid, p.
227; and Sykes, Tormented Loyalty, p. 412).
In March, 1944, von Papen decided to make another
effort to persuade FDR, through Earle, to mitigate "unconditional
surrender" and accept a separate surrender of the German armies to
the Western Allies. He decided, in case of favorable reply to his probe,
to secretly fly Earle to Germany for a discussion of terms and conditions
with two members of the Beck-Goerdeler resistance group: Count Gottfried
Bismarck (grandson of the Iron Chancellor) and Berlin Chief of Police,
Count Wolf-Heinrich Helldorf (von Papen, Memoirs, p. 522; and Wedemeyer,
Wedemeyer Reports!, p. 418).
A plane had been readied in Istanbul ...upon receipt
of the hoped-for favorable reply from Roosevelt, Governor Earle was to
fly to an undisclosed spot in Germany there to receive more details leading
to surrender terms.... The plane near Istanbul awaited the next step --
and it waited and waited, finally, in effect a purported answer did come.
It was that he should take up with the field commander in Europe any proposal
for a negotiated peace. Could any procedure have been more impractical
or tragic (Fish, FDR, pp. 239-40)?
According to Earle's account of the whole episode,
as published by the Philadelphia Inquirer on January 30, 1959, von
Papen's offer of a separate peace in return for handing over Hitler "was
explained to President Roosevelt at once, by courier, and rejected."
FDR insisted that any attempt at negotiation had to go through Eisenhower,
a general with whom von Papen had no contact ...nor was he in a position
to make a decision of a purely political nature." Earle flew to Washington
for a personal confrontation with the President who forbade him to talk
about the matter and sent him "to Samoa as Deputy Governor of 16,000
natives" (von Papen, Memoirs, p. 523; and Wedemeyer, Wedemeyer
Reports!, p. 417).
Beginning in early 1937,"the first 'cell' of
the Resistance Movement" was formed by Ludwig Beck, Army Chief of
staff, and Carl Goerdeler, who had just resigned as Mayor of Leipzig as
a gesture in defiance of Nazi anti-Semitism (Ritter, Goerdeler's Struggle,
pp. 35-3G, 75-79). As financial adviser to the Robert Bosch firm of Stuttgart,
Goerdeler was sent abroad by his employer "on business" between
early 1937 and late 1939 to the U.S., Britain, Switzerland, Palestine and
a dozen other countries, making contact with persons interested in the
overthrow of Hitler's regime (Ibid, pp. 47, 81, 83, 305, 484; and Hoffmann,
German Resistance, p. 153).
In September, 1939, Adam von Trott zu Solz, a former
Rhodes Scholar with many valuable contacts in England (notably Lord Halifax)
was able to leave Germany on a grant from the Rhodes Trust (Sykes, Tormented
Loyalty, p. 287; Gallin, Ethical and Religious Factors, pp.
109-111; and Harold C. Deutsch, The Conspiracy Against Hitler in the
Twilight War Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1968, p. 151).
Von Trott had for years been active in helping persecuted Jews in Germany.
He was able to persuade Baron Ernst von Weizsaecker, a high official of
the German Foreign Ministry, to temporarily attach him to the Information
Department so that he could travel officially to the U. S. Weizsaecker
persuaded his ministry "that a mission by Adam to the United States
could be of great value to Germany in whose foreign policy American neutrality-
was a major objective" (Sykes Tormented Loyalty, p. 287).
Adam had set himself a definite task.... Since the
war had broken out the aim of preventing it was now translated into terms
of confining it and bringing it to an end as soon as possible...by an anti-Nazi
uprising in Germany. This uprising needed the encouragement of... a close
and generous definition of 'war aims', in which neutral America would be
associated.... There must be the strongest guarantee that anti-Nazism would
not be rewarded by Draconian terms of settlement. (Never did he forget
the lesson of Weimar.)
Von Trott had no doubts about Nazi brutality and
fanaticism, but he wanted a post-Hitler government to build upon
the positive achievements of the Nazi-regime "notably the Labor
Corps, which had swiftly relieved the misery of unemployment in
Germany; the masterly network of...roads: the revitalized social services
and the slum clearance." (Ibid, pp. 291-92).
Almost immediately upon disembarking in New York,
von Trott came under the strong suspicion of the FBI of being a Nazi spy
and sending radio messages back home (Hoffmann, German Resistance,
pp. 116-17; and Sykes, Tormented Loyalty p. 293). This suspicion
would continue to hound him throughout his stay in the U.S., in spite of
his spending much of his time with prominent Americans associated with
the Foreign Policy Association, the Council on Foreign Relations and the
Institute of Pacific Relations. Von Trott had no doubt that he was being
followed and that his telephone conversations were being monitored, but
at first he was convinced it was being done by the Nazis. "It was
only slowly that he realized that this shadowing was the work of the FBI."(Sykes,
Tormented Loyalty, p. 296).
In Washington, through an intermediary, von Trott
was able to get a memorandum on peace terms with post-Hitler Germany to
Assistant State Secretary, George Messersmith, on November 13th, 1939.
The latter's response was enthusiastic. He had 24 copies made and distributed
to prominent people, including FDR. "...it seems that the President
himself had read the paper with approval" (Ibid, p. 302; Hoffmann,
German Resistance, pp. 114-1G; and Deutsch, Twilight War,
p. 151). One copy went to "a man much esteemed by the President,"
Felix Frankfurter. "...Adam's meeting with him in Boston in 1937 had
been particularly happy. He looked forward to meeting him again, but...he
knew how bitter this leading Zionist had become against Germany" (Sykes,
Tormented Loyalty, p. 303).
The two of them hit if off very badly this time.
Frankfurter resented the implications "that the Treaty of Versailles
had led to the rise of Hitler." And von Trott's open candor, the very
trait that endeared him to most people, infuriated his host, causing Frankfurter
to find his remarks intolerable and insulting" (Ibid. pp. 303-04;
and Hoffmann, German Resistance, p. 117). According to von Trott's
account of the meeting, the fatal remark to Frankfurter was: "Would
you react so strongly against the plan (put forward in the memorandum)
if you were not a Jew?"
From this time on Adam's mission began to fail. Mistrust
increased. Undoubtedly this mistrust was helped on agitation against him
maintained strenuously by Felix Frankfurter.... To this day the mistrust
persists in America. It came from many different quarters. It's main origin
was that FBI conviction that Adam was not only a Nazi agent but Hitler's
master-spy. As usually happens when a name is blackened by rumor, many
chance circumstances seem to afford proof of iniquity. Adam's enforced
secretiveness as to what he was doing seemed to mark him out as following
the trade of espionage, but his openness in moments of indiscretion pointed,
in the eyes of the FBI, to the same conclusion (Sykes, Tormented Loyalty,
With the failure of von Trott's mission began the
habit of turning down or disregarding peace overtures by members of the
anti-Hitler opposition. With the rapid conquest of Western Europe by the
German army in 1940, Hitler's popularity soared and the hopes of the opposition
plummeted (Hoffmann, German Resistance, p. 205; and Ritter Goerdeler's
Struggle, pp. 100-125). Beck, Goerdeler, Ulrich von Hassle, Wilhelm
Canaris, Helmuth von Moltke and others of the top leaders opposed to littler
had no doubt that Germany was bound, eventually, to lose the war which
at the moment seemed so glorious. But they also knew that if they overthrew
Hitler now they would be condemned by the vast majority of their compatriots
for having betrayed their country at its moment of victory and having caused
its defeat. For most, especially the army generals, it seemed too bitter
a remedy a hopeless situation.
In spite of the gloomy prospects, Helmuth von Moltke's
Kreisau circle maintained contact during 1940 with Alexander C. Kirk, the
American Chargé in Berlin. To contact the British they depended
on Albrecht Haushofer, son of the famous geopolitician, General Karl Haushofer.
Albrecht was a friend of Hitler's deputy, Rudolf Hess, in spite of the
fact that his mother was half Jewish. On September 19, 1940, Haushofer
wrote a letter to the Duke of Hamilton who had access to both the King
and Churchill. The letter was an invitation for a get-together "somewhere
like Portugal for a highly important discussion..." Although the letter
reached the Duke, Haushofer received no answer.
In January, 1941, the Swiss professor, Carl Jacob
Burckhardt, approached Ulrich von Hassell in Geneva to convey to him
...private word from London that people there were
still ready to conclude a negotiated peace with Germany... somewhat on
the following basis: reestablishment of Belgium, Holland and some form
of Poland minus the former German provinces; Denmark and the Czech area
remain German spheres of influence; the former German colonies restored.
None of this could be done with Hitler, however, whose word no one believed
any more (Hoffmann, German Resistance, p. 208).
It seems more than likely that this was the peace
offer that induced Hess to fly to Britain on May 10, 1941,in search of
the Duke of Hamilton, in order to make peace between Germany and Britain.
Hitler apparently blamed the Haushofers, at least in part, for the flight
of his deputy. Albrecht was arrested immediately upon his return from Switzerland
and not released until the summer of 1941 (Gallin, Ethical and Religious
Factors, pp. 122-23). In increasing disfavor, he was killed by an SS-squad
in April 1945 (Hoffmann, German Resistance, p. 209).
In May, 1941, James D. Mooney, President of the General
Motors Overseas Corporation, traveled incognito to Germany posing as Frederico
Stallforth (Hoehne, Canaris, p. 477). He talked with a large number
of high-ranking military officers, including generals Walter von Brauchitsch
and Wilhelm Keitel. At a luncheon with a group of officers, where several
expressed the hope that war with the United States would not occur, Mooney
"replied that neither the United States nor Britain would make peace
with the present German Government. In answer to a question of one officer
concerning what the situation would be if there were a change in government,
Mooney replied, "that probably the whole regime would have to be replaced
by a constitutional one." He also expressed the belief that a constitutional
monarchy on the British model would be acceptable (Hoffman. German Resistance,
The next day one of the officers present at the luncheon
came by for a private talk. He vas assured that it was possible that "the
army would be acceptable as a negotiating partner."
The officer stated these conditions:
(1) No double-crossing of Germany, as happened after
Germany's acceptance of Wilson's Fourteen Points. (2) The Army to remain
in control to avoid chaos. ...Stallforth said it should be possible...and
he mentioned...Donovan.... The German officer mentioned. Falkenhausen,
Lialder, Stuepnagel and Hassell (Ibid, p. 212).
By October, Mooney had returned from the United States
and informed von Hassell that "the proposition had been well received."
Von Hassell suggested a cease fire between Germany and Britain on the condition
that the existing government be removed and occupied territories vacated,
"except the Saar, Austria and Danzig. Poland got German East Prussia
and Germany the Polish Corridor, and the Allies waived reparations"
(Hoehne, Canaris, p. 478).
On his return from Paris in January, 1942, von Hassel
visited Burokhardt in Geneva. The latter told him, "in the view of
government circles close to Lord Halifax and Churchill peace could still
be concluded with a 'decent Germany.'" At this point Britain was willing
to use Germany's 1914 borders as "a perfectly practical basis for
peace talks" (Hoffmann, German Resistance, p. 212). This was
after von Hassel had refused Mooney's telephoned invitation from New York
"to meet some 'authorized person' in Lisbon." Von Hassel wanted
to know by whom the person was "authorized", and was reluctant
to expose himself to the many eyes watching Lisbon. He also had some doubts
concerning Mooney himself. Furthermore, he did not know, how he could prove
From von Hassel's point of view, a new complication
was the August, 1941, Churchill-Roosevelt declaration of the "Atlantic
Charter," in effect a statement of ,joint war-aims nearly- four months
before the United States' formal entry into the war. Particularly bothersome
was paragraph 8, "which certainly would be interpreted by our generals
as proof that England and America are not fighting only against Hitler
but also want to smash Germany and render her defenseless" (Ibid,
It also seems that Britain was using information
obtained through the Mooney ("Stallforth") talks with the German
military as ammunition in its propaganda war. For example "English
radio broadcast to the effect that Papen had said indiscreetly that before
long the regime would be overthrown by a military dictatorship under Falkenhausen"
(Ibid, p. 208).
Von Hassell later found out that von Papen had said
nothing remotely resembling the statement attributed to him by the British.
But Falkenhausen had been mentioned to Mooney as a leading member of the
opposition (see above).
On the other hand, von Hassell's diary makes clear
the urgency felt by leaders of the opposition to get peace talks going
before it would be too late.
"In Berlin I saw Popitz, Oster and Dohnanyi and also visited General Olbricht. They were unanimously convinced that it would soon be too late. Then our chances for victory are obviously gone or only very slim there will be nothing to be done." (Ibid, p. 209)
German ambassador to Turkey, von Papen, had been
continually sending out unauthorized peace feelers, and getting the carpet
by Ribbentrop for having done so. His offer to resign was rejected and
Ribbentrop began to treat him better.(Ibid, p. 217).
However, von Hassell and much of the military leadership
were convinced by this time that Britain and the United States would never
make peace with Hitler (Ibid, p. 240). On the other hand, General Jodl
and many others were equally certain that the Western Allies were fighting
not to get rid of Nazism but to destroy Germany, thus getting rid of Hitler
would only play into their hands by creating chaos and causing a civil
war (Anne Armstrong. Unconditional Surrender: The Impact of the Casablanca
Policy Upon World War II New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press,
1961, pp. 276-77). Von Hassell also found out through Burckhardt that powerful
people in Britain were just as opposed to the traditional German aristocracy
as they were toward the Nazis who were trying to annihilate that aristocracy
(Von Hassell, Diaries, pp. 209, 240).
As late as September, 1941, von Hassel had been assured by Mooney ("Stallforth") that FDR's policy "was to bring about the downfall of Hitler; if this succeeded, peace would be possible." In response to von Hassel's query about the restoration of the monarchy, Mooney indicated "Prince Louis Ferdinand would be downright popular." As for the other members of the regime, Mooney "pointed to Ribbentrop as the principal mischief maker. Halifax...has indicated that Ribbentrop bears the chief responsibility for the war" (Ibid, pp. 213-14). However, about this same time Bulgaria began to doubt the possibility of an ultimate German victory and began to look for a way to disassociate herself from her axis alliance and even within Germany it became "apparent that in Himmler's outfit they are seriously worried and looking for a way out." By January, 1942, von Hassell notes in his diary, those,
"...who joined the party out of honest idealism...cannot
cope with what is happening in Russia: mass murders of Jews which demoralize
both the perpetrators and the onlookers and immeasurably befoul our honor
as a nation.... brutal treatment of the Russians, and, of late...the Ukrainians
as well, exceeding anything yet known." (Ibid, pp. 213, 21G, 242)
The transformation of the attitude toward peace probes
from the German opposition is probably best exemplified by the experiences
of the American head of the Associated Press bureau in Berlin, Louis P.
Lochner. Toward the end of September, 1941, when it became known that Lochner
would soon be returning to the United States, he was approached by Ernst
von Harnack on behalf of the German organized opposition to Hitler. In
November, he was taken to a meeting of at least a dozen persons representing
the leadership of the now dissolved free labor movement, of several former
political parties, and of the non-Nazi dominated "Confessional"
(fundamentalist) Lutheran churches. Also present were personal representatives
of Admiral Wilhelm Canaris and former army chief of staff, General Ludwig
Beck, representing the government which would take over upon the overthrow
of Hitler's regime.
Lochner was chosen because he was known to be a friend
of FDR and of Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia, both of whom knew one
another (Hoffmann, German Resistance, p. 214). He was commissioned
by the group to inform the American President "in the greatest detail
of the opposition's composition, aims, and activities. He was also to ask
the President to say something on the form of government America would
prefer for a Germany liberated from Hitler (Gallin, Ethical and Religious
Factors, p. 124; and Hoffmann, German Resistance, p. 214).
Because of mutual declarations of war following December,
1941, Lochner's trip home was delayed by half a year. In June, 1942, he
desperately and insistently attempted to get through to FDR "saying
that he had personal and confidential messages from Prince and Princess
Louis Ferdinand...and secret information on resistance groups in Germany
which he might not confide to anyone else.
After all attempts to see the President in person
failed, Lochner went back to Chicago and wrote from there. No answer ever
came from the White House but the Washington office of the Associated Press
informed him, "that there was no desire to receive his information
and he was requested to refrain from further efforts to transmit it"
(Hoffmann, German Resistance, p. 215).
Peter Hoffmann concludes:
"The United States was not merely fighting the
Nazi regime but a people permeated by an illiberal ideology who had learnt
nothing from a fearful defeat.... (A) total victory must be won. Looked
at in this light, the American government, as Lochner was informed, could
only be embarrassed if it learnt and was forced to acknowledge that an
anti-Hitler opposition existed in Germany, capable of taking over the government."
An indication that the new "Germany must be
destroyed" attitude went into effect at about the same time in Britain
was indicated by British reaction to the Ecumenical Council of Churches'
efforts to find a way out, which originated with Helmuth von Moltke's Kreisau
Circle. Adam von Trott zu Solz together with the German Protestant clergymen,
Dr. Hans Schoenfeld and Dr. Eugen Gerstenmaier, drafted a memorandum on
possible peace terms with the Western Allies and "handed it to Dr.
W.A. Vissert Hooft, Secretary General of the Ecumenical Council of Churches,
intended for Sir Strafford Cripps, the British Lord Privy Seal" (Ibid,
The memorandum pleaded for solidarity between the
German resistance movement and the "civilized world" on the basis
of opposition to "destruction so vast...even the victors would suffer
from extreme poverty....totalitarian control...increasing even in liberal
countries...tendency to anarchism and the abandonment of all established
civilized standards...the threat of bolshevization.... The memorandum asked
that the Western Allies not decry in public "statements and appeals
of the German opposition" (Ibid, p. 216). It attempted to portray
the horrors of world revolution which the German resistance saw as the
sole alternative to a negotiated peace between Germany and the Western
Among peace feelers, this document was probably unique
in that it spelled out in detail why the resistance movement needed to
count on at least the passive cooperation of Britain and the United States
if it were to successfully supplant Hitler's regime with one enjoying the
broad backing of all significant sectors of the German populace. It indicated
that the elimination of Hitler would still leave in place the power of
the Gestapo which would likely foment "Nazi revolts after the coup,"
and the hatred toward Germans in the occupied territories which would make
an orderly withdrawal difficult. Cripps read the memorandum with enthusiasm
and handed it to Churchill, "who thought it 'very encouraging' as
he noted in the margin." He gave no answer to it (Ibid, pp. 217-18).
During May, 1942, German pastors Hans Schoenfeld
and Dietrich Bonhoeffer separately traveled to Sweden for meetings with
Vissert Hooft and Bishop Bell of the Ecumenical Movement. It vas in this
context that Bonhoeffer acknowledged that he prayed for the defeat of his
own country. Nevertheless, pastors Bonhoeffer and Schoenfeld explained
that it made no sense for "the resistance movement accepting all the
perils...if the Allied governments intended to mete out to a Germany purged
of Hitler and his minions exactly the same treatment as to a Hitler-Germany"
(Ibid, p. 220).
When Bishop Bell returned to England he got in touch
with Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden on June 20, 1942. Eden's response was
that he could envisage "the possibility that...the two pastors were
being used by the German government to put forward peace feelers; similar
attempts....were being made...in Turkey and Spain." At this point
Bishop Bell gave Eden a secret memorandum dealing with the substance of
what was discussed with the pastors representing the resistance, including
the resistance objective "to eliminate the Hitler regime including
Himmler, Goering, Goebbels and the heads of the Gestapo, the S.S. and the
S.A." (Ibid, p. 221).
The resistance also asked whether Britain would like
to see a revival of the monarchy in Germany, and if so, would they approve
of Prince Louis Ferdinand. The movement pledged itself to "renounce-aggression,
repeal the Nuremberg laws and cooperate an international solution of the
Jewish question." They also pledged the next government to make good
the damage wreaked by German armed forces. They would settle for either
private or public response to their feelers.
Bishop Bell, incidentally, had pumped Bonhoeffer
for the names of the leaders of the opposition (nearly all of whom were
executed following July 20, 1944), so Eden knew with what level of opposition
he was dealing. Yet on July 17, 1942, Eden responded to Bishop Bell that
he had come to the conclusion that it would not be in Great Britain's national
interest to reply." Copies handed to the American Ambassador in London
to be passed on to the State Department in Washington did not even evoke
a response (Ibid, p. 220-23).
All that fanatical Nazi rage could do at this point was to take revenge on war's most helpless victims. The number of concentration camp victims (mainly Jews and Poles) during 1943 (the first year that the 'facilities' were functioning fully was probably something near the ratio of 5:1 of concentration camp victims to German civilians killed in bombing raids (Arthur D. Hiorse, While Six Million Died New York: Random House, 1968, pp. 222-224; and David Irving, Hitler's War New York: Viking Press, 1977), pp. XIV, XV, 291, 303, 326-30, 393, 510, 525, 575, 631).
That Western civilization returned to pre-Christian standards was made clear by "Stalin's demand at the Teheran Conference (November, 1943) for four million Germans to serve as forced labor in the USSR indicating in the words of Admiral Doenitz that in the event of our submitting "we should have no rights whatever, but would be wholly at the mercy of our enemies" (Armstrong, Unconditional Surrender, p. 147).
At least one person not directly involved in the conflict saw what was at stake:
Pope Pius XII in June, 1944, warned President Roosevelt...that
"the temple of peace would stand and endure only if... not alloyed
with vindictive passion or any elements of hatred." The Pope explained...that
he considered the demand for "unconditional surrender" incompatible
with Christian doctrine (Ibid, p. 262).
German General Heinz Guderian claims that "the
demand for 'unconditional surrender' certainly contributed to the destruction
of every hope in Germany for a reasonable peace." He called FDR the
"gravedigger not only of Germany but also of Europe" and says
that the "entire civilized world" will have to pay for Roosevelt's
policy. "With the destruction of Germany
Europe was deprived of the dam against Bolshevism.
He considers the policy an unmitigated disaster from every angle. "The
effect...on the Army was great. The soldiers...were convinced...that our
enemies...were no longer fighting...against Hitler...but against their
efficient, and therefore dangerous, rivals for the trade of the world"
(Ibid, pp. 141-42).
"...some members of the anti-Nazi resistance movement insist that this proclamation disrupted their organization overnight.... (Generals) Kluge and Flanstein, for example, now refused implement their opposition to Hitler since the Allies seemed determined to destroy Germany...(General Alfred) Jodl warned that there was now clearly no political solution possible, that there was only one way out -- a fight to the finish -- that capitulation under the Casablanca Formula would mean the end of the German nation... (T)he German people...were soon fired by Goebbels... with determination for the all-out program he called Total War" (Ibid, pp. 119-20).
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