"Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the Sultan of Johor are seen in a blue Proton Saga... "When asked whether there is any tension with the sultan, Dr Mahathir said: “No, I don’t see anything because I went to see him and he drove me to the airport. I don’t want to comment on the sultans because if I say anything that is not good then it’s not nice because he is the sultan”"

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Thursday, February 28, 2019

The Germans who fought Hitler

The Germans who fought Hitler - History Extra

"Hitler almost by magic seemed to have some supernatural power that protected him at the very last moment. The plots didn't succeed... The facts have been known for some time. No one's ever put them together to present the picture. And indeed even the facts were uncongenial to know after the Second World War when no one wanted to believe there’d ever been a good German...

I discovered this whole conspiracy beginning in 1938 when Hitler was about to be removed, with the agreement of Winston Churchill and the plotters thought with British government as well. At the moment he ordered the invasion of Czechoslovakia he was going to be killed. The plan was to take him to Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s father where he's going to be declared to be mad but he was actually going to be killed on the way…

There was this extraordinary organization built up during the war known as the Schwarze Kapelle, the black orchestra, which did these things. Tried to warn the West of when he was going to launch his attacks, frustrated his plans, passed us his crucial military secrets, tried to kill him probably seven times of which we only publicly know the 20th of July and von Stauffenberg and sought to establish an early peace. These were people of extraordinary moral courage, who quite contrary to a lie put about after the war, that there was only ever a German resistance when it was obvious that Hitler was going to be defeated, actually began in 1935 and sustained their opposition at the very highest level of Hitler's administration right the way through to the hangman's noose in 1944...

Was the Second World War the war that didn't have to be?... Was the peace after it the peace that didn't have to hand over Eastern Europe to the Russians?...

In 1937 Carl Goerdeler the mayor of Leipzig, one time candidate for Chancellor of Germany and a high official in Hitler's government came to the national liberal club and had a dinner in which he warned that Hitler was intent on war, nothing would stop him. Appeasements wouldn't work. And in September of the following year, 1938, he was going to launch a coup, launch an invasion to take Sudetenland. And the deal was, supported by himself, members of the Foreign Office and all the key German generals that if Britain stood up to him, then at the moment that he ordered the troops to march on Sudetenland, they would remove him in a coup.

The coup by the way is in place, there are 50 armed officers ready to attack the Chancellory, the back door of the Chancellory has been secretly opened, only 15 SS men are there. It's supported by the Chief of Police in Berlin, by every one of the army officers in command of the regiments around Berlin and by key officials in the Foreign Office. Just at the moment, literally, within half an hour of the coup being launched, up pops Chamberlain and proposes Munich...

On the day war is declared on the first of September, 1939, [he] meets a colleague... and says this: if Germany loses this war, it will be history for Germany. But if Germany wins this war, if Hitler wins this war, it will be a catastrophe for mankind. We are utterly dedicated to make sure that he loses and help the Allies win. And that's what they do right through the whole period of the war until after the 20th of July plot...

Why did Chamberlain not allow that to happen? And I think the answer to that question lies in the personality of Chamberlain. He knew about the coup - of that I'm very clear. I think his flight to Godesberg before Munich was a deliberate attempt, at least in part to frustrate the coup. I think he regarded the plotters as undemocratic, and he's probably right. But I think above all, he believed that he was a great Peacemaker of the age and if anybody was going to deliver peace he was. And it was better to deal with the devil you knew, which was Hitler, rather than the plotters you didn't know. And I think in this, of course, lies Chamberlain's fundamental misjudgment that he believed that Hitler was a conventional leader, a conventional politician who could be negotiated with, who could be appeased, whereas Hitler, the others understood was a man of unique evil, who was never going to be appeased and was always going to go to war. And it's that fundamental misjudgment which I think causes him to have the hubris to believe that he could make peace himself with Hitler, rather than relying on the plotters to do the job...

Genuinely speaking, this was the best chance to get rid of Hitler. And if it did work, there wouldn't have been a Second World War. Would we then have a German government that was less democratic than we wished, that was slightly militarist, that was inherently anti semitic? Probably we would. But would it have been one that nevertheless clung to broadly Christian values and was in the line of German governments back to the Kaiser? Probably it would have been as well and that's the fundamental difference...

‘How many serious attempts were there to try to bring down Hitler?’

‘The answer is, we don't know... I've counted in the book, I think, seven or eight serious plots. And one of the things that is extraordinary is the extent to which Hitler almost by magic seemed to have some supernatural power that protected him. At the very last moment, the plots didn't succeed... Some of them fatalistically came to believe in the end that he was protected by malevolent power, and one of them, Canaris, said the truth is that God does not want him to be killed. God wants Germany to pay the full measure of her debt for the evil that he has created.’...

Right from the start, they seek to prevent the war widening from Czechoslovakia to Poland. And after the Polish invasion they seek to prevent the war widening to the west because then it became a global war. And constantly they're saying to the Allies through secret channels I discovered in Sweden, a bank in Sweden, to London. Look, here's a piece you can do. If we get rid of Hitler will you agree to this peace? Constantly Churchill and Roosevelt, who have adopted a policy from Casablanca onwards of unconditional surrender to keep Stalin on board are saying no. So these constant attempts to strike a peace in which by the way, Dietrich Bonhoeffer who was actually a member of the Abwehr, is closely involved with Bishop Belle of Chichester are constantly refused because they come up against the rock of unconditional surrender...

Is it ever possible to be a traitor and a patriot at the same time? That's the central question. My answer that is yes. And the lives of these men and women illuminate that fact...

The question you also have to ask is other parallels between that age and this and there are frightening parallels and lots of them, and I list them in the book. Are we going therefore to see the same outcome on balance? I think, no. And for two key reasons. First of all, there isn't a Hitler. There isn't somebody who combines both unique evil on the one hand, and unique genius in handling power on the other who is determined on war. Now, are the conditions right for somebody to emerge, maybe, but there's nobody there with that quality.

But secondly, and more comfortingly, actually, our democracies now are much more deeply founded than was the Weimar Republic Germany. A pretty rickety institution, quite easily overturned. If you look at America today, what I think you conclude is, the antibodies of the American Constitution are doing their work in restraining the power of President Trump indeed are quite recently in America, in Washington. And people described to me in exactly those terms. not perfectly, of course, but they are working in the battle between Trump and the Constitution. I think the Constitution is winning. And I think in Britain, it is probably inconceivable even though populism is abroad, and seems to be one of the primary spirits of our age. For, for the moment, at least, it's very difficult to see that our own constitutional settlement. It could be temporary, subverted, but could not be overturned in the way that the Weimar Republic was. In that sense, I think the worst aspects of this cannot be replicated today."
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