NoOneImportant wrote:Hitler actually sought peace with the British, and the French after the fall of Poland.
Regarding the French, I believe it is wrong that Hitler ever intended to do anything other than to attack and defeat France.
After France and Great Britain declared war, but refused to attack Germany, Germany did negotiate while moving troops from Poland to the western Germany, but ...
Germany had planned this all along, that is why they had negotiated, what was at the time of Germany's attack on the Low Countries and North Eastern France, the still secret peace treaty with Russia that divided Poland. To the rest of the world it appeared that Russia had stood up to Hitler by defending part of Poland and Hitler had backed down.
German World War II battle plans had been, all along, to correct the errors they made by not overwhelming the Low countries fast enough in World War I and to capture Paris by flanking the French Army and attacking from the north. This was the Blitzkrieg plan.
Hitler fought in the trenches against the French in World War I and had no respect for the French Army.
But the French Army was the Largest Army in the World before World War II and had the most tank killing artillery and the most infantry killing artillery of any army. On paper the French Army alone could not lose to a German Blitzkrieg if they just dug in and fought.
The difference between World War I and World War II is that large divisions of Low Country infantry, in fortified strong points, surrendered to handfuls of German airborne troops dropped among their positions ( without even putting up a serious fight ), allowing German armored divisions to cross bridges unopposed. French Troops simply did not dig in and fight allowing German armored divisions to threaten to cutoff British expeditionary forces in Northern France from the Sea.
Most military history accounts show the German commanders did not believe in their own war plans because the Low Countries had much better defensive positions prepared than they did in World War I and the German commanders did not expect small numbers of lightly armed airborne troops to be able to defeat entire divisions of dug in and heavily armed infantry when the infantry merely needed to hold their strong points with unlimited stocks of ammunition and food available to the defenders.
German commanders also did not believe that French troops bypassed by German Armored divisions would simply run away and not attack and cutoff the supply lines Germans needed to drive all the way to Paris. Those same supply lines would have been needed to attack British forces from the flanks or from the rear. Germany simply did not have the infantry needed to protect their supply lines from the worlds largest army, virtually all of which was undefeated and behind German front lines after the German armored and mechanized divisions by-passed them.
The French Army commanders refused to stand and fight and thus convinced the British Army in North Western France that the British eastern flank and the British southern rear were at risk of German surprise attack.
German commanders were reluctant to engage the large British expeditionary forces on the ground when the German tanks and mechanized vehicles were in danger of running out of fuel and the largest army in the World was undefeated to their rear. The British were in the process of retreating without their equipment. Force the British to stand and fight to the death with their equipment and that might have encouraged the French to get a second wind.
The commanders of Low Country divisions in fortified defensive positions that could have held out for months without relief against armored divisions, did indeed refuse to take the causalities the would have been required to defeat the small numbers of airborne German troops that had landed among their strong points, and instead these Low Country commanders surrendered entire divisions to small numbers of airborne German troops who lacked sufficient numbers to even guard their unexpected prisoners.
French commanders refused to attack tanks with artillery at close range and refused to launch infantry attacks against German infantry defending German supply lines.
British commanders chose not to commit their troops to fight to the death for France and instead abandoned British equipment in France and bombed and sank the French Navy in French ports.
If you are correct in your claim that wars are always started by people who believe the enemy will not fight, then in this case the German leaders were more correct, than incorrect, in the early years of World War II ( 1939 and 1940).