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Five Days in London, May 1940 by John Lukacs

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 13, 2011 11:46 am    Post subject: Five Days in London, May 1940 by John Lukacs  Reply with quote

I very much enjoyed American historian John Lukacsí FIVE DAYS IN LONDON, MAY 1940 published in 2001. Itís history under the microscope Ė the detail is absorbing - dealing with just five days in the dark days at the beginning of World War 2, concentrating on Winston Churchill and his responses to what was happening in France and Belgium as Hitlerís army advanced.  Itís the time of Dunkirk.  There is much in the book about Cabinet meetings and the responses of ministers to news of catastrophe. Thereís also a lot about Lord Halifax and his opposition to Churchillís tactics. Itís also startling to read that had Halifax become Prime Minister instead of Churchill Britain might very well have made some sort of agreement with Hitler and become a satellite of Nazi Germany for god knows how many years.  Even at the distance of 70 years it makes one sweat to think how close we were to disaster. But Churchill always was determined to fight on to the bitter end, and this, plus some great strokes of fortune Ė like Hitlerís troops not arriving at Dunkirk -  ultimately made for Victory. Churchill, who, incidentally, prophesied that Communism would collapse by the 1980s, is a great hero to Lukacs, whom he calls the Saviour of Britain. Although he says that Churchill did not win the war Ė that was thanks to Russia and America Ė he enabled us not to lose it.  Lukacs book ends thus:
'At best, civilisation may survive, at least in some small part due to Churchill in 1940.  At worst, he helped to give us Ė especially those who are no longer young but who were young then Ė fifty years. Fifty years before the rise of new kinds of barbarism not incarnated by the armed might of Germans or Russians, before the clouds of a new Dark Age may darken the lives of our children and grandchildren. Fifty years! Perhaps that was enough.'

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Joined: 20 Dec 2008
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Location: UK

PostPosted: Sun Mar 13, 2011 1:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It is interesting to contmplate how the world would turned out if we had decided we were better off allied with Germany than fighting them, we were by no means defeated so a harsh occupation can be ruled out, how would the German push into the USSR have gone when Germany had access to middle east oil, would we have Russian slaves building our infra structure ?.
What of the Jews now they could be exiled to the British empire was there any need to Kill them?.
How would the Americans have reacted, it was fine for them to have their two idustrial rivals destroying each but if they were allies!!
How would the British have liked Queen bessie, I think King Edward would have been popular.

Peter Gino Marchese
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Joined: 22 Nov 2008
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Location: Lancashire

PostPosted: Sun Mar 13, 2011 3:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The 'ifs' of history are tantalising and fascinating aren't they?  I'm always surprised by how many of the so-called upper classes were sympathetic to Hitler's ideas.  King Edward VIII was.  Lukacs suggests that had Hitler made an aggremment with Britain we might have had a puppet government under Oswald Mosley.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 28, 2011 11:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't think any of us who didn't live through it will ever be able to comprehend just how close we came to losing the fight back at the beginning of WW2 and as time goes on and out of living memory the facts will become more and more hazy.  It is quite frightening though how many were nazi sympathisers and thought at that point that Hitler was an ok kind of guy.  Some of it could be explained although not excused as fear of another war after the horrors of the First World War the last thing anyone wanted was a repeat of that and it seems to me that they were prepared to do whatever Hitler wanted to try and avoid it at all costs.

It does make you wonder though what if... There were also rumours that should Hitler ever take control of Britain, he would install (or re-install) the Duke of Windsor as king, answering to the Nazi Empire. The rumours went as far as to say that Edward had made a deal with Hitler this effect, but it was never proven.

The Nazis sympathies of Wallis Simpson were well known she was extremely friendly with a lot of Naziís namely Joachim von Ribbentrop, then German ambassador to London and Herman Goering. As for Edward , the then Prince of Wales,  the fact was very well known he had huge nazi sympathies, I remember reading about  Albert Mensdorff , who was the Austrian ambassador at that time and who wrote about one encounter he had with the Prince of Wales. He spoke to the prince in 1933 and afterwards he wrote of his amazement that the prince had openly stated his sympathies for Nazi Germany. He recalled that Edward also announced that, he wanted no more war but, if it should come to that, Britain must win and that meant siding with the Germans and that due to the communist threat, Britain would also ultimately uphold the beliefs of the Nazis. I read that the ambassador recalled he asked Edward his opinion on ending the National Socialist dictatorship, but Edward did not reply and Mensdorff said that he had got the impression that  Edward hadnít really given much thought to what they been discussing, but  it hadnít stopped him airing his views of Germany. Then in 1937, after Edwardís abdication the Duke and Duchess toured Nazi Germany and met with Hitler where they were photographed giving the Nazi salute.

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