May 5 or May 10: A World of Difference

 

After Germany and the USSR divided up Poland in 1939, Hitler set many dates for an attack on the West. There were repeated cancellations due to bad weather. A date of May 5 was set but it was delayed again due to morning fog expected to interfere with Luftwaffe attacks. The attack finally came on May 10. What difference did the five days make? In the meantime, Parliament had a debate over the disastrous battle in Norway. Chamberlain won the no-confidence vote but lost so much support that he resigned and Churchill became Prime Minister in a coalition government on May 10.

What if conditions had been better and the attack had commenced on the 5th? The debate over Norway would doubtless have not occurred since everyone would have been concentrated on the epic struggle. It’s hard to believe that anything substantively different would have happened in the fighting. The Germans took 11 days to reach the English Channel and split the allied forces in two. When the British Expeditionary Force began its evacuation, Foreign Minister Halifax proposed approaching Mussolini for peace talks. Churchill disagreed and Chamberlain supported him.

But what if Chamberlain had still been Prime Minister? He wobbled in September 1939 when Hitler attacked Poland. In spite of the guarantee he’d given Poland, he hesitated to declare war on Germany. One could easily envision him asking for terms if he had been PM with the BEF in danger. What a difference five days made in the history of the world.

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  1. Doctor Robert Member
    Doctor Robert
    @DoctorRobert

    Had Chamberlain asked for terms, England would have capitulated, been humiliated but probably not occupied.  There would have been no ongoing war.  Europe would have suffered Nazi rule without the need for occupation and stern repression.   There would have been no Eastern Front.  Russia would not have taken the future Warsaw Pact nations.  The Jews of Europe would likely have been wholly exterminated. Apart from the Final Solution, the Continent would have done better after a German victory over England than it did in reality.

    • #1
  2. Richard Easton Coolidge
    Richard Easton
    @RichardEaston

    Doctor Robert (View Comment):

    Had Chamberlain asked for terms, England would have capitulated, been humiliated but probably not occupied. There would have been no ongoing war. Europe would have suffered Nazi rule without the need for occupation and stern repression. There would have been no Eastern Front. Russia would not have taken the future Warsaw Pact nations. The Jews of Europe would likely have been wholly exterminated. Apart from the Final Solution, the Continent would have done better after a German victory over England than it did in reality.

    Hitler would have attacked the Soviet Union. That was always his plan. Without the need to defend on land and air against the UK, he might well have beaten Stalin.

    • #2
  3. Doctor Robert Member
    Doctor Robert
    @DoctorRobert

    Richard Easton (View Comment):
    Without the need to defend on land and air against the UK, he might well have beaten Stalin.

    Now THAT would have been a remarkable alternate history!

    • #3
  4. CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill Coolidge
    CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill
    @CarolJoy

    Doctor Robert (View Comment):

    Had Chamberlain asked for terms, England would have capitulated, been humiliated but probably not occupied. There would have been no ongoing war. Europe would have suffered Nazi rule without the need for occupation and stern repression. There would have been no Eastern Front. Russia would not have taken the future Warsaw Pact nations. The Jews of Europe would likely have been wholly exterminated. Apart from the Final Solution, the Continent would have done better after a German victory over England than it did in reality.

    Why wouldn’t the Jewish people in England have been exterminated? After all, Hitler was not able to let go of Jews in Scandinavia, except for the Chosen People having a good ally in the  Danish king.

    At the time of the German Occupation, there were 3200 Jewish refugees who had arrived in Denmark and Norway from other parts of Third Reich-dominated Europe, who by 1940 were being forcibly taken by German soldiers and sent off to concentration camps. There were another 5,000 or so Jews living in Scandinavia who were not refugees, but Scandinavian born.

    They too were targeted by The Occupiers:

    https://www.jta.org/archive/nazis-interning-refugees-in-norway-denmark-exiles-in-sweden-trapped

    • #4
  5. Richard Easton Coolidge
    Richard Easton
    @RichardEaston

    Here’s a good scene from the 1969 Battle of Britain film.

    • #5
  6. Gary Robbins Reagan
    Gary Robbins
    @GaryRobbins

    I watched five different clips from “The Darkest Hour” today.  Any of them would be great to watch again.

    Thank you so much for your history.

    • #6
  7. Richard Easton Coolidge
    Richard Easton
    @RichardEaston

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    I watched five different clips from “The Darkest Hour” today. Any of them would be great to watch again.

    Thank you so much for your history.

    Alas, it has that absurd scene in the underground which imported 2017 themes into 1940.

    • #7
  8. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    We were lucky.  Hitler was a nut.  There are lessons from the whole episode and we learned some of them.  I think the Chinese have learned them all and one of them was to make sure that any Churchill type folks who understand the threats don’t get to keep power and that folks far worse than Chamberlain are moved forward.  Another was to move gradually but always forward on their side.  It’ll work if they can help us keep Biden types in power here and they can hold the center there for a couple of US terms.  There are so many absolute well organized nuts here who make big bucks from the process and mindless fools who are easily manipulated that it’s so easy they mostly just watch 

    • #8
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