[lit-ideas] Re: Quote from Allan Bullock's book
- From: david ritchie <ritchierd@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Sat, 24 Dec 2005 09:28:34 -0800
On Dec 24, 2005, at 8:49 AM, Andy Amago wrote:
Page 571 from Allan Bullock's, Hitler and Stalin, a quote. Bill
read it to me.
"On one occasion, July 2, [1938, during the planning of the
invasion of Czechoslovakia] when Ribbentrop was lunching with
Hitler in Munich, the arrival of a British emissary was announced.
Hitler started up and said: 'Gott im Himmel! Don't let him in
yet. I am still in a good humor.' He then proceeded, in front of
his staff, to work himself up until his face darkened, he was
breathing heavily, and his eyes were glazed. His reception of the
Englishman was so stormy that it was clearly audible through the
door to those still sitting at the lunch table. When he had
finished, Hitler returned, wiping his brow. 'Gentlemen,' he said
with a chuckle, 'I need tea. He thinks I'm furious.'"
I'm dipping into a book of essays by military historians. Last
night's reading was an essay by John Keegan on how Hitler might have
won. I learned something--that Hitler, at one point in the summer of
1941, decided to demobilize thirty five infantry divisions. Alas
there are no footnotes, but if Keegan says it, I'll trust that he's
Now I'm chewing over Keegan's suggested strategy, which rises from
the standard analysis of why Hitler launched operation Barbarossa: to
get oil and to get Stalin. Keegan argues that a more rational
leader--and there's the rub--might have seen that he could eventually
achieve both objections by seizing middle eastern oil fields. How?
Route one would be to send Rommel from North Africa, through Egypt
and Transjordan towards Kuwait and Basra and Baghdad. As we know,
the British would prove a stubborn obstacle here.
Route two is more interesting--skipping the invasion of Crete and
sending the 7th Airborn Division instead to Cyprus and thence through
Lebanon and Syria to Mosul and Baghdad. Keegan concludes that this
was impossible because the Axis had insufficient shipping in the
The route he thinks might have won the war is an invasion from
Bulgaria, through Istanbul to Baku, Tehran and Mosul, with Abadan as
a final target. He concedes that the Turks would have fought hard in
response to this violation of their neutrality, but, he argues, their
equipment was all First World War era stuff. And his point is that
there was no way for the Allies to respond to such a move. If Hitler
had used the twenty divisions he sent to invade Russia, it is
Keegan's view that a) he would have succeeded and b) he would have
secured oil that would have made possible a subsequent campaign to
seize Russian oil fields and hence to paralyze Stalin's army.
It's all "would haves" and "ifs," but since everyone is looking at
these maps nowadays, it's not impossible to try the notion out.
I remember "Six Characters" quite well, but I can't think of anything
interesting to say about it.
not grinding lamb or cleaning house in
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