When Will America Join the Fight?
While the German press printed long-winded articles on the effect of German air attacks on London, only small type was available on 10 September for the news that the House of Representatives had on the day before accepted the Bill for Compulsory Military Service. The question was no longer, “Will the U.S.A. fight?” but, “When?”
Supposedly, the invasion was to take place during the night of 15-16 September 1940, but the English fighter defense was still too strong, the Navy was still intact, and German preparations were too inadequate. Only a few of the 1,000 large transport gliders called for had been completed. The espionage service had almost completely failed to function; in particular the establishment of a network of radio agents had never gotten beyond very modest beginnings. The intercept service provided virtually no information regarding the military situation in the British Isles.
Hitler Expected England to Make Peace
Of course the decisive factor was Hitler himself. He did not seriously believe it would be necessary to invade by force; he expected England to make peace and Ribbentrop held the same view. Not until four weeks after the conclusion of the campaign in the
West did Hitler realize that this assumption was not correct. Hitler could pursue a goal with great obstinacy but he was an easily influenced, emotional character and now he shifted suddenly and ordered the General Staff (or at least part of it) to make plans for a
Russian campaign which had never been mentioned before. He thought that England would change its attitude immediately, if Germany should attack the Soviet Union. Hess entertained the same opinion. Points of difference between England and the Soviet Union were well known, likewise Churchill’s aversion to Bolshevism. If the English attitude took the course they expected, then invasion was superfluous.
Hitler with Two Types of Messages
It is true that there was a dilemma; Hitler must say one thing to the Germans and another to the English. It was necessary to explain to the German people why the invasion did not come off: first there was fog, then there were storms, then it was said spring was the only proper time, and then when at Headquarters the idea had long since been dropped, “preparations for the invasion” were carried on in an ostentatious manner. The British were to get the impression that the invasion was imminent and the bombing attacks continued, although their intensity decreased. The main activity was confined to threats.
Bluff to Invade?
Amid this tense expectation there was concluded with great pomp on 26 September 1940 the so-called Three Power Pact between Germany, Italy, and Japan. This act was purely theatrical. It was the first confession of the fact that from now on the whole threat of an invasion was merely a bluff, because if there were an invasion and England were defeated, then there would be no need of exerting pressure on England in the Far East. The fact that this step was taken proved that the German Government had no illusion regarding the invasion, even if it should be carried out. Actually the plan had already been given up. It was interesting to see how they reached the same conclusion in England; this was revealed by the mass of intercepted diplomatic messages of other governments, Poland in particular.
The Polish Government had fled to London and was in close contact there with all organs of the British Government and with the British armed forces. The
English on their part esteemed this cooperation since the Polish element all over Europe gave a unique basis for the organization of a large scale spy network for the English secret service. The reverse of the medal lay in the fact that the Polish Government in London talked too much out of school in its exchange of telegrams.
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