Why did Hitler declare war on the United States? - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

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The Second World War (1939-1945).
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#14096345
This has always been a mystery to me.

Germany was already stretched thin in Russia. Why declare war on the United States too?

This just gave Roosevelt an excuse to fully enter the war on the British side while bypassing overwhelming domestic opposition.

Did Hitler just underestimate the potential of the US to wage war?

Was he trying to draw the Japanese into invading the Soviet Union?
#14096356
From my knowledge, to show solidarity with Japan. He'd always admired their resolve and martial spirit. On one hand, he was confident the declaration of war on the US would be inconsequential since he'd hoped the campaign in the East would end soon enough. Additionally, the strike at Pearl Harbor had been devastating enough to show the Americans' vulnerability.
#14096403
One could go on for pages about this, but let us simplify it, shall we?

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[youtube]9gifdR2k5Hg[/youtube]

Over the years people have not known of the entirety of this declaration, let alone had access to it. It certainly deserves a listen for the purposes of historical awareness.
#14097822
Care_Bear wrote:This just gave Roosevelt an excuse to fully enter the war on the British side while bypassing overwhelming domestic opposition.

Gallup opinion poll data suggests that there was not "overwhelming domestic opposition". That is to overstate the case considerably. One can only reach that conclusion with "Do turkeys vote for Christmas?" questions: Would you vote to declare war on Germany?, Should congress declare war on Germany now? etc. It is only natural that people would want to put off such a thing as long as possible, but if you look at American attitudes towards Germany and Britain, there was not that much opposition really.

Not only were a majority of Americans back in 1939 resigned to the inevitability that USA would eventually be drawn into a European war - and overwhelmingly supported Britain - but check the 1941 poll results:

Gallup, Interviewing Date 8/21-26/41 wrote:Do you think the United States should send war materials under the Lend-Lease program to the Free French forces of General de Gaulle?
Yes................................ 74%
No................................ 16
No opinion......................... 10


Gallup, Interviewing Date 8/21-26/41 wrote:Which side do you think will win the war —England or Germany?
England............................69%
Germany........................... 6
Stalemate, no opinion................ 25


Gallup, Interviewing Date 9/19-24/41 wrote:In general, do you approve or disapprove of having the United States navy shoot at German submarines or warships on sight?
Approve.......................... 62%
Disapprove.........................28
No opinion......................... 10


Gallup, Interviewing Date 9/19-24/41 wrote:Which of these two things do you think is the more important — that this country keep out of war or that Germany be defeated?
Keep out of war..................... 30%
Germany be defeated................. 70


Gallup, Interviewing Date 10/9-14/41 wrote:Which of these two things do you think is the more important — that this country keep out of war, or that Germany be defeated?
Keep out of war..................... 32%
Defeat Germany..................... 68


Gallup, Interviewing Date 10/24-29/41 wrote:Should the Neutrality Act be changed to permit American merchant ships with American crews to carry war materials to Britain?
Yes................................ 61%
No................................ 31
No opinion......................... 8


Gallup, Interviewing Date 11/15-20/41 wrote:Which of these two things do you think is the more important — that this country keep out of war, or that Germany be defeated?
Keep out of war..................... 32%
Defeat Germany..................... 68


Gallup, Interviewing Date 12/12-17/41 wrote:Which country is the greater threat to America's future — Germany or Japan?
Germany........................... 64%
Japan.............................. 15
Equal threats........................ 15
No opinion......................... 6


Of course Americans didn't want to go to war - nobody does. But they knew they were going to war anyway, and they knew they were going to war with Germany.

Hitler declared war on the USA because he was virtually at war with the USA anyway. Even if he didn't and even if the USA waited until Japan was destroyed first, the USA was coming for Germany. Perhaps Hitler thought it better to take on the USA while Japan was still 'in the game' to keep the majority of the US fleet out of the Atlantic.

The consistent prioritising of defeating Germany over remaining 'neutral' by the American people meant Roosevelt could be as provocative as he wanted towards Germany without public backlash, eventually forcing Germany to declare war on the USA if only to give their submarines a free hand to sink American ships.
#14099401
I only listened to/read the Hitler speech linked above until I got to the point where the little twit implied that Poland was seeking a peaceful solution to conflicts and being stymied in this by American manipulation. This is, after all, Adolf Hitler; one should take anything he said with a small salt mine. (To be specific: of COURSE Poland wanted a peaceful settlement. It was GERMANY that didn't. And whatever Roosevelt did to frustrate Polish desires for said peaceful settlement, it came nowhere near what Hitler did. WE didn't INVADE Poland fercrhissake.)

Siberian Fox wrote:Perhaps Hitler thought it better to take on the USA while Japan was still 'in the game' to keep the majority of the US fleet out of the Atlantic.


Yes. That's the best hypothesis I've seen yet. If that was Hitler's thought he was wrong, of course; Roosevelt had every intention of placing Germany at the top of the list if possible. But it makes sense Hitler might have been thinking that way.
#14099413
The Tripartite Pact wrote:ARTICLE 3. Japan, Germany, and Italy agree to cooperate in their efforts on aforesaid lines. They further undertake to assist one another with all political, economic and military means if one of the Contracting Powers is attacked by a Power at present not involved in the European War or in the Japanese-Chinese conflict.

I guess he thought the US would be too busy with fighting Japan, so he would beat the USSR and get ready to resist the Allies on the Western front till they recover and finish off the Japanese.

He made his big mistake when he invaded the USSR anyway, he should have focused on the North Atlantic instead, as Karl Dönitz advised him to do.
#14101197
(To be specific: of COURSE Poland wanted a peaceful settlement. It was GERMANY that didn't. And whatever Roosevelt did to frustrate Polish desires for said peaceful settlement, it came nowhere near what Hitler did. WE didn't INVADE Poland fercrhissake.)


Actually, there was nothing which impeded a German settlement with Poland and integration of Poland into the Axis as Romania, Hungary, and Slovakia were beyond Polish intransigence. Polish foreign policy was effectively dominated by an authoritarian military clique which rejected any notion of settlement with German officials, as well as boasting of the Polish Army entering Berlin in three weeks. To say that the Polish elite desired a peaceful settlement is a historical distortion. The Second Polish Republic was at the time an extremely aggressive and hostile entity, most foolishly toward two powers, NS Germany and the Soviet Union, which had every means at their disposal to see it smashed as a state. That it met its historical fate of facing a joint invasion and subsequently suffering occupation and the privations of war is nothing less than extremely predictable.
#14101227
Far-Right Sage wrote:Over the years people have not known of the entirety of this declaration, let alone had access to it. It certainly deserves a listen for the purposes of historical awareness.


Very interesting, FRS- in all honesty, we just glossed over who declared war on who after Pearl Harbor. I guess I never considered it important; we were all fighting the same people.

In short, his answer seems to be that the US was already attacking German, Italian, and Japanese forces on the seas and materially, and that with Japan jumping into the war, he and Mussolini would stand side by side.
#14101262
Far-Right Sage wrote:Actually, there was nothing which impeded a German settlement with Poland and integration of Poland into the Axis as Romania, Hungary, and Slovakia were beyond Polish intransigence.


Sure there was.

1) An independent, allied Poland would not have provided the same launching pad for invasion of the Soviet Union.

2) An independent, allied Poland would not have provided concealment for the death camps used to kill Jews.

3) An independent, allied Poland would certainly never have consented to have its entire population killed off and replaced by German colonists.

Hitler was unusual in that he actually published his bizarre intentions and stuck by the plan all the way through as far as he could. As spelled out in his book, it was:

A) Unify ethnic Germans under a single authoritarian government. (Done.)

B) Position German forces for a decisive knockout blow against the Soviet Union. (Done.)

C) Fight a lightning-fast war to knock France out of the picture. (Done.)

D) Make peace with Great Britain. (Oops.) (Actually in Mein Kampf Hitler expressed a desire for an alliance with Britain.)

E) Invade the Soviet Union and capture European Russia. (Oops.)

E') Under cover of war, kill all the Jews. (Came far too close.)

F) Make peace with everyone Germany is still at war with.

G) Systematically depopulate all territories east of Germany as far as the Urals.

H) Through encouraging high birth rates and emigration to the east, breed a super-generation of Germans that would dominate the world in the following generation (almost surely after Hitler's death).

All of this (except the annihilation of the Jews) was spelled out in the final few chapters of Mein Kampf. The plan didn't work out because the British refused to make peace and the invasion of the USSR failed, but every step of it was pursued as far as was possible. That includes drafting a set of administrative plans involving the working and starving to death of the entire population of the Ukraine and European Russia. The idea that this plan could have been compromised to the extent of leaving Poland as a lump in the gullet of Greater Germany, or that the Polish government would ever have cooperated in the extermination of its own people, is nonsensical.

No matter what the diplomatic details of the time involve, we need to recognize that the Nazi regime was not simply another warmonger or authoritarian government. It wasn't even just another fascist regime. It was something new and abominable in the world, quite unique. No other fascist state committed comparable crimes or even contemplated them. Fascism is objectionable because it is authoritarian, anti-liberty and warlike, and Nazi Germany was all of those, but it was also genocidal and guilty of mass-murder on a scale that other fascist regimes never even considered. And that's only to speak of the 11 million people that were actually murdered in the Holocaust (including the famous 6 million Jews but not limited to them). The number the Nazis intended to wipe out but didn't because they lost the war dwarfs that figure into insignificance. We can't account for this just by labeling Nazi Germany as "fascist." It was in a class by itself.
#14102434
Far-Right Sage wrote:Actually, there was nothing which impeded a German settlement with Poland and integration of Poland into the Axis as Romania, Hungary, and Slovakia were beyond Polish intransigence.

German policy towards Poland was a pretty serious impediment to any possible settlement with Poland. Early overtures (from around 1934 to 1936) towards Poland by Germany tended to revolve around Germany trying to isolate Poland a limit it's capability for independent policy, for example by trying to weaken Poland's ties with the western powers. Had Poland joined the Anti-Comintern Pact it would have been as a subservient junior partner which not unsurprisingly they rejected.

Then of course as war became a more serious possibility Germany's policy simply became a demand that Poland surrender territory. This was hardly a policy likely to lead to a peaceful settlement.

What you label intrasigence would be praised by you were the positions reversed for Germany and Poland. Perhaps you would call it shrewd political acumen, or glorify a German determined stand on principles.
#14109185
Hitler was convinced (in that deluded confidence he had) that Japan was far more powerful than it was...

He stated to his inner circle something to the effect that, "now we have an ally who has not seen defeat for hundreds and hundreds of years".
#14109883
Smilin' Dave wrote:Had Poland joined the Anti-Comintern Pact it would have been as a subservient junior partner which not unsurprisingly they rejected.

I don't see how that's a problem. Join the Axis or never again see your country on the map. Every European country that signed the Anti-Comintern Pact was in some measure subservient to Germany. Alliances with big players are like that.

I'm quite interested about this, though. Did Germany ever approach Poland earnestly and "offer" them Axis entry, and they refused? I imagine Poland would have lost its connection to the sea, in this case.
Last edited by Preston Cole on 20 Nov 2012 12:32, edited 1 time in total.
#14110626
Preston Cole wrote:I don't see how that's a problem. Join the Axis or never again see your country on the map. Every European country that signed the Anti-Comintern Pact were in some measure subservient to Germany. Alliances with big players are like that.

Perhaps but pretending to be surprised that Poland refused such a deal, or suggesting the German position is somehow more reasonable for having made the offer, strains credulity.

Poland had a large military in large part so it could refuse those sorts of deals and make the 'wiped off the map' alternative seem less attractive to possible invaders.
#14110633
There are many ways WWII could have gone differently, and you can easily see how well the Nazi's started off on all fronts to see why they might have been convinced they could win. However, Poland was conquered in a few short weeks, it's government and officers immediately fled to the border, and the entire matter shows no reason they could've expected a favorable result in such a war. FFS, they sat between Germany and Russia, and, when Germany asked for their help invading Russia, they didn't stop to think they'd end up fighting them, anyways?
#14111455
Figlio di Moros wrote:There are many ways WWII could have gone differently

There are a lot of ways the invasion of Poland could have gone differently, what's your point? Much as I'm sure Hitler figured things wouldn't go all 1945 on him in 1939, I suspect the Polish leadership probably didn't see things going totally wrong in 1939.

Figlio di Moros wrote:However, Poland was conquered in a few short weeks

A month a five days, which compared to France (which had a number of advantages over Poland) at a month and 15 days, was actually a pretty good effort.
#14117608
France Didn't have much of an advantage militarily over Poland, because of the Maginot Line and France's alliance with Belgium. All of France's half-Decently equipped troops were in the Maginot line.
#14118209
Locke II wrote:France Didn't have much of an advantage militarily over Poland, because of the Maginot Line and France's alliance with Belgium. All of France's half-Decently equipped troops were in the Maginot line.

Actually the best divisions were further north, in the process of marching into Belgium, rather than deployed on or behind the Maginot line. If they had of been in the Maginot line they wouldn't have been totally wrong footed by the 'sickle stroke' of the Wehrmacht. Or alternatively subsequent German attacks against the Maginot line would have been considerably more costly for them.

Although on the other hand, the French over depenence on the Maginot line defences does bear some comparison to Poland's over dependence on the 'Romanian bridgehead' strategy. Like the Maginot line, it wasn't a totally stupid idea... it's just that the opposition didn't attack as planned (the Maginot line was bypassed, the bridgehead was rendered unsustainable by the Soviet invasion).
#14280073
Actually, there was nothing which impeded a German settlement with Poland and integration of Poland into the Axis as Romania, Hungary, and Slovakia were beyond Polish intransigence. Polish foreign policy was effectively dominated by an authoritarian military clique which rejected any notion of settlement with German officials, as well as boasting of the Polish Army entering Berlin in three weeks. To say that the Polish elite desired a peaceful settlement is a historical distortion. The Second Polish Republic was at the time an extremely aggressive and hostile entity, most foolishly toward two powers, NS Germany and the Soviet Union, which had every means at their disposal to see it smashed as a state. That it met its historical fate of facing a joint invasion and subsequently suffering occupation and the privations of war is nothing less than extremely predictable.


The Second Polish Republic also was extremely anti-Semitic, a boastful, weak kitten in foreign policy, whose army was still mounted on horses using cavalry against tanks in 1939. Their intransigence would eventually lead to them disappearing from the map of Europe from 1939 to the end of the Cold War essentially. Its two greatest enemies were Germany and the USSR. That England and France went to war with Germany to protect this backward, anti-Semantic, antiquated republic is surprising. When major nations fall out, it is better for smaller ones to simply fall in line. Poland had no chance of surviving, and the German claim on the Danzeg Corridor was one of portions of the Versailles Treaty Hitler needed to eliminate, mainly to insure an uninterrupted flow of Swedish iron ore to the German steel mills.

What is really surprising about the 1941 start for America in the war at Pearl Harbor, is that Hitler decided to declare war on us, but didn't insist on quid pro quo of Japan declaring war on the Soviet Union, which was engaged in a mighty struggle which if Germany won, would have ended the war. In control of China, a Japanese attack from the opposite direction against the Soviets could easily have succeeded, and broke the Russian spirit, and won the war quickly, before America had time to regroup. That would have left Germany and Japan to deal with America and England alone. One of the most unusual stories of World War II, is American Lend Lease convoys sailing to Russia, through Japanese waters, without ever being attacked by the Japanese navy.

The Japanese had no plans for conquest against America or Britain, they just wanted their Greater Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere, and probably would have been successful at it if their army hadn't been so harsh on native populations in China, Korea, Burma, Philippines, etc. They eliminated American naval power in the Orient for a year with the Pearl Harbor attack, eventually, all those battleships sunk, except the Arizona, would be repaired and fight again later in the Pacific War. They also eliminated British Naval power within days of Pearl Harbor, catching the two British battleships, Prince of Wales and Repulse, based in Singapore, out in the open and sinking them with air attacks. They knocked American infantry and air power out at Clark Field in the Philippines the day after Pearl Harbor, catching Douglas MacArthur's American planes (200), all lined up wing-tip to wing-tip, for easy destruction. That made the Philippines indefensible, although American and Philippine forces held out for six months on Bataan and Corrigidor, delaying Japanese expansion plans.

The Pearl Harbor attack on America was a huge mistake. Roosevelt would never have been able to send the American navy at Pearl Harbor sailing 12,000 miles west to Japanese waters based on their invasion of China, Korea or the Philippines. Public opinion would never have approved of it. Up until Pearl Harbor, the American public was completely neutral regarding entering the war. After Pearl Harbor, the Yanks were riled up, enlisting in droves, ready to fight the "Yellow Peril" for revenge. Roosevelt was a master and knew enough to trust the war policies to experienced military leaders, unlike Hitler, and Churchill for that matter, who were military meddlers. Admiral King with the U.S. Navy, and Chief of Staff George C. Marshal performed brilliantly during World War II. Marshal's decision to persuade Roosevelt that Germany First was necessary, and let the Pacific theater against Japan wait, was the main reason for the Nazi's defeat, along with sending American armaments to the USSR. The idea that America was able to recruit and create an entire army of GI's (General Issue) soldiers, to tackle the German's in World War II, and never loose a battle to Germany in two world wars was amazing, if one ignores the brush at Kasserine Pass in Africa. On December 6, 1941, American public opinion opposed any active involvement in that war. On December 8, 1941, America was all in..........Stan........

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