These documents provided embarrassing evidence that Britain and France had hostile intent toward the Soviet Union, which in August had signed a non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany. Specifically, the captured documents provided details of by-then-defunct Anglo-French plans to help Finland counter the December invasion by the Soviet Red Army.
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While the French Government had been particularly eager to avoid fighting Hitler and proposed engaging Stalin instead, the British argued that Soviet economic support for Nazi Germany effectively made the two regimes military allies. In early March , Helsinki was forced to accede to Soviet territorial demands and come to an uneasy truce with Moscow.
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By early April, the RAF was gathering aircrews, bombers and ordnance to send to Iraqi airfields, and the French also began preparations in Syria — this as war in Scandinavia was exploding. As late as April 23, the prospect of launching an aerial offensive against the Soviet Union was a major topic of discussion at the Supreme War Council. The British would turn to the topic again as they picked up signs of an impending Nazi invasion of the USSR during the spring of This latter plan, dubbed RASPBERRY, was aimed at preventing Hitler from acquiring direct access to Soviet oil should Stalin cave in to Nazi demands for territorial concessions or should the Germans attempt to seize the oilfields against what the British assumed would be weak Soviet opposition.
Seraphim and Hillgruber argued for the preventive war thesis, which Weinberg stoutly opposed. Weinberg argued that the German invasion was primarily prompted by Nazi racial theories concerning the necessity of winning Lebensraum at the expense of Russia together with Hitler's ideological animosity towards what Hitler often called the "Judeo-Bolshevik" regime in the Soviet Union, and that the evidence for Soviet plans for an invasion of Germany in was slight.
In the opinion of most historians, Weinberg effectively demolished Hillgruber's and Seraphim's case. This marked the beginning of the first of many clashes between Weinberg and Hillgruber over interpretations of German foreign policy, though it should be noted that in regard to the intentionalist-functionalist and globalist-continentalist debates see below , the views of Weinberg and Hillgruber were quite similar. In his book World in the Balance , Weinberg stated that "Hillgruber's interpretation is not, however, followed here".
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Weinberg sarcastically commented that if the German Army had held out longer against the Red Army in as Hillgruber had wished, the result would not have been the saving of more German lives as Hillgruber had claimed, but rather an American atomic bombing of Germany. Another major scholarly debate involving Weinberg occurred in — when Weinberg wrote a review of David Hoggan's book Der erzwungene Krieg for the American Historical Review , which claimed that the outbreak of war in had been due to an Anglo-Polish conspiracy against Germany.
Weinberg wrote a hostile review generally considered quite devastating, in which Weinberg suggested Hoggan had probably engaged in forging documents the charge was later confirmed. Weinberg noted that Hoggan's method comprised taking of all Hitler's "peace speeches" at face value, and simply ignored evidence in favor of German intentions for aggression such as the Hossbach Memorandum.
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Weinberg noted that Hoggan had appeared to engage in forgery by manufacturing documents and attributing statements that were not found in documents in the archives. As an example, Weinberg noted during a meeting between Neville Chamberlain and Adam von Trott zu Solz in June , Hoggan had Chamberlain saying that the British guarantee of Polish independence given on March 31, "did not please him personally at all.
He thereby gave the impression that Halifax was solely responsible for British policy". As Weinberg noted, what Chamberlain actually said was:. Do you [Trott zu Solz] believe that I undertook these commitments gladly?
Hitler forced me into them! Subsequently, both Hoggan and his mentor Harry Elmer Barnes wrote a series of letters to the American Historical Review protesting against Weinberg's review and attempting to rebut his arguments. Weinberg in turn published letters rebutting Barnes's and Hoggan's claims. Major works Weinberg's early work was the two-volume history of Hitler's diplomatic preparations for war: The Foreign Policy of Hitler's Germany and ; republished In this work, Weinberg portrayed a Hitler committed to his ideology, no matter how inane or stupid it might seem to others, and therefore as a leader determined to use foreign policy to effect a specific set of goals.
Weinberg thus countered others, such as British historian A. Taylor, who had argued in The Origins of the Second World War that Hitler had acted like a traditional statesman in taking advantage of the weaknesses of foreign rivals. Weinberg's attention then turned to the Second World War.
Weinberg continued his studies of the World War II era even after the publication of his general history by examining the conceptions of World War II's leaders about the world they thought they were fighting to create. In this book, Weinberg looked at what eight leaders were hoping to see after the war ended. Weinberg has continued to be a harsh critic of those who claim that Operation Barbarossa was a "preventive war" forced on Hitler.
In a very hostile review of Ernst Topitsch's book Stalin's War , Weinberg called those who promote the preventive war thesis as believers in "fairy tales". In , Weinberg was somewhat less harsh than in his review of Topitsch's book, but still very critical in his assessment of the Czech historian R. Raack's book Stalin's Drive to the West which did not accept the preventive war thesis, but argued that Soviet foreign policy was far more aggressive than many other historians would accept, and Western leaders too pliant in their dealings with Stalin.
In the globalist versus continentalist debate, concerning whether Hitler had ambitions to conquer the entire world or merely the continent of Europe, Weinberg takes a globalist view, arguing Hitler had plans for world conquest. On the question of whether Hitler intended to murder Europe's Jews before coming to power, Weinberg takes an intentionalist position, arguing that Hitler had formulated ideas for the Holocaust by the time he wrote Mein Kampf.
In a article, Weinberg strongly criticized the American functionalist historian Christopher Browning for arguing that the decision to launch the "Final Solution to the Jewish Question" was taken in September—October In Weinberg's view, July was the more probable date In the same article Weinberg praised the work of the American historian Henry Friedlander for arguing that the origins of the Holocaust can be traced to the Action T4 program, which began in January Finally, Weinberg strongly praised the thesis put forward by the American historian Richard Breitman that planning for the Shoah began during the winter of , but argued that Breitman missed what Weinberg argued was a crucial point, that because the T4 program had generated public protests, the Einsatzgruppen massacres of Jews in the Soviet Union were intended as a sort of "trial run" to gauge reaction of the German people to genocide.
Based on his study of German documents, Weinberg established that the demands Hitler had made concerning the cession of the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia were not intended to be accepted, but were rather to provide a pretext for aggression against the latter state.
Weinberg has established that Hitler regarded the Munich Agreement as a diplomatic defeat that deprived Germany of the war that was intended to be begin on October 1, Weinberg has argued against the thesis that Chamberlain was responsible for the failure of the proposed putsch in Germany in Weinberg has argued that the three visits to London in the summer of of three messengers from the opposition, each bearing the same message that if only Britain would promise to go to war if Czechoslovakia was attacked, then a putsch would remove the Nazi regime, each ignorant of the other messengers' existence, presented a picture of a group of people apparently not very well organized, and that it is unreasonable for historians to have expected Chamberlain to stake all upon the uncorroborated words of such a badly organized group.
In a review of Ian Kershaw's book Fateful Choices , Weinberg, though generally favorable to Kershaw, commented that Chamberlain played a far more important role in the decision to fight on despite the great German victories in the spring of and in ensuring that Churchill was his successor instead of the peace-minded Lord Halifax, than Kershaw gave him credit for.
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