1939: Countdown to War by Richard Overy

By Richard Overy

A major historian re-creates the ultimate hours of peace in Europe.

On August 24, 1939, the area held its collective breath as Hitler and Stalin signed the now notorious nonaggression pact, signaling an forthcoming invasion of Poland and bold Western Europe to respond.

during this dramatic account of the ultimate days earlier than the outbreak of global warfare II, award-winning historian Richard Overy vividly chronicles the unraveling of peace, hour through grim hour, as politicians and traditional electorate brace themselves for a warfare which can spell the tip of ecu civilization. not anything was once totally predictable or inevitable. The West was hoping that Hitler may see feel in the event that they stood enterprise. Hitler used to be confident the West might backtrack. Moments of uncertainty alternated with these of war of words; mystery intelligence was once utilized by either side to aid their hopes. the single consistent function was once the choice of Poland, a rustic created merely in 1919, to guard its newfound independence opposed to a greatly greater enemy. 1939 files a defining second within the violent background of the 20th century.

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England had no more allies on the Continent, and, crucially, it could now be attacked from the air. A strategy for neutralising or possibly even defeating Britain therefore might be feasible. The one chosen was crucially dependent on the time available. Hitler had two basic options: a long siege or a quick decision. A siege meant using U-boats and air power to cut Britain's sea-lanes and wreck her economy. It would take many months, but it might work. However, he would then have to either postpone his plans for Russia or face a war on two fronts.

However, he would then have to either postpone his plans for Russia or face a war on two fronts. He was impatient to get on with things, and he was worried about the Russian threat. He really wanted a rapid decision. That meant establishing air superiority and backing it up with the threat of invasion. It was possible at any time that if they began to lose the air war, the peace lobby in the British government would gain the upper hand and negotiate. Air power was still an unknown factor. After Warsaw was bombed, the Poles capitulated.

Terror bombing might be either - nobody knew, but there was a lot of theory and some evidence suggesting that it could be quick, albeit the evidence from the bombing of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War pointed the other way. However that might be, it was crucial for the Germans to decide on the time-span and the basic strategy, for each meant deploying different forces and attacking different targets. They did not find it easy to make up their minds. The longer they spent doing so, the more they were forced into a siege - and for this they were poorly equipped.

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