How the Outbreak of World War Two Was Nearly Averted

There are many military historians who are familiar with the battlefield history of World War Two, but few know much about the diplomatic history of the war when it comes to German peace offers, long suppressed by liberal establishment historians. Americans have been indoctrinated to believe since grade school that the war could not have been averted and that our only mistake was not invading and crushing Nazi Germany in its cradle when it was still military inferior and in the process of rebuilding its armed forces following the crushing disarmament constraints of the Treaty of Versailles. The dominant historical narrative is that Hitler could not be trusted to keep any of his agreements so any negotiated peace settlement would only delay the inevitable. The only problem with this accepted historical narrative of the war is that none of it is true.

According to the book “Hess, Hitler and Churchill—The Real Turning Point of the Second World War—a Secret History”, a senior British Foreign Ministry official at the time revealed that there were a total of sixteen German peace offers or initiatives during the first twenty months of the war. The last of which, hand-carried by Nazi leader Rudolf Hess to Britain on May 10, 1941, was by far the most expansive with Hitler offering to withdraw from seven of the nine European countries he had occupied totaling 83% of German-occupied Europe in exchange for peace and British neutrality in any conflict between Germany and the Soviet Union. These peace offers, which have been largely covered up and/or erased from the annals of history, serve to convincingly rebut the myth that Hitler, an evil dictator who mass murdered five to six million Jews, was undeterrable and unappeasable. They provide convincing evidence that World War Two was, in fact, neither a necessary nor inevitable war to stop a dictator who was bent on world conquest as Americans have been taught to believe.

However, the most glaring historical misconception of the war by far, which has since been used to justify numerous wars including an indefinite, unnecessary, destabilizing and incredibly dangerous prolongation of America’s proxy war against Russia in Ukraine, was that it was Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s appeasement of Hitler with the Munich Agreement that caused the outbreak of World War Two and therefore the chief lesson of the war is that we must never accommodate our adversaries or else they will be emboldened to invade other countries and perhaps start another world war. In fact, it was not the British policy of accommodating Nazi Germany that caused the outbreak of World War Two but rather it was Chamberlain’s decision to abruptly abandon it and issue an ill-considered British military guarantee against a German invasion that Hitler had never previously considered, in view of the fact that he had spent the previous five years trying to cultivate Poland as an ally against the USSR, that resulted in the outbreak of the war.

In October 1938, German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop proposed that Poland return the free German city of Danzig and agree to an 18-mile long, extraterritorial German road-rail corridor connecting Danzig and East Prussia with the rest of Germany. In return, Germany promised to renounce all claims for the return of the Polish Corridor and continue Danzig’s status as a free city but under German, rather than Polish, administration to ensure continued Polish access to the Baltic Sea and an extension of the German-Polish Non-Aggression Pact for 10-25 years in the interests of “a final, comprehensive, and generous consolidation of our mutual relations.” On March 15, 1939, Hitler foolishly violated the Munich Agreement by ordering the German army to occupy the Czech Republic after berating the Czech President, Emil Hácha, to agree to allow his country to become a German protectorate, an act which Chamberlain took personally as a breach of honor. Hitler then renewed his proposal for the return of Danzig, commissioning plans for an elevated highway to alleviate any Polish security concerns. In response on March 31st, Chamberlain offered a British military guarantee of Poland followed by the signing of an Anglo-Polish alliance days later. Chamberlain’s decision to issue his military guarantee of Poland was a major departure from British Foreign policy up to that time as Britain had never issued a military guarantee to any nation in Eastern Europe before.

It is notable that despite the fact that Poland had annexed parts or all of three different German states with millions of German citizens either without a plebiscite or, in the case of East Upper Silesia, in opposition to the results of a plebiscite, Hitler did not demand a single inch of Polish territory until August 27th when he first demanded the return of the Polish Corridor, after Polish leaders had refused to negotiate with him to resolve the dispute over Danzig over the prior year. The German claims were not without some legitimacy. The free city of Danzig and the Polish Corridor had been carved out of the Imperial German province of West Prussia which had a population which was nearly two-thirds ethnic German. Many British and French leaders believed Hitler’s demands for the return of Danzig to be the most just and reasonable of his territorial claims and did not believe it was worth fighting a second world war with Germany over. Prime Minister David Lloyd George had nearly refused to sign the Treaty of Versailles because he felt it was much too harsh in consigning a couple million Germans in Danzig and the Polish Corridor to Polish rule presciently warning in the Fontainebleau Memorandum that “We shall have to fight another war in 25 years”. Britain signed the Locarno Treaties of 1925 to try to get the French to withdraw their occupation troops from the Ruhr and dissolve their military alliance with Poland after which it was believed Poland would peacefully return Danzig, the Polish Corridor and East Upper Silesia , thus averting a potential future military conflict with Germany. However, the Polish government persistently refused to return any German territory.

Most Americans have no idea how close the world came to averting World War Two altogether. In response to Germany’s invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939, Chamberlain offered to mediate peace talks between Germany and Poland on the condition that Germany immediately begin withdrawing its troops from all Polish territory. Later the same day, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini proposed a cease fire and a Four Power Conference to discuss Hitler's claims to Germany’s lost eastern territories annexed by Poland following the Treaty of Versailles. France immediately accepted, praising Italy’s offer to mediate an end to the conflict. The following day, Hitler also accepted Mussolini’s peace proposal and conditionally accepted Britain's ultimatum agreeing to implement a cease-fire/armistice agreement effective September 3rd and withdraw all German troops from Poland except for the Polish Corridor, which comprised scarcely more than four percent of Poland’s territory, and the city of Danzig which was not part of Poland. Chamberlain, briefly vacillated in his response but was pressured by Winston Churchill and other fellow Conservative Party leaders to refuse Hitler’s cease-fire and partial military withdrawal offer and issue a one-hour ultimatum followed by a declaration of war against Germany on September 3rd. French leaders were not given advance notice of the British war ultimatum but felt they had to follow suit because they viewed the 1939 Anglo-French alliance as the cornerstone of French security.

If Chamberlain had accepted Hitler's offer and Polish leaders had accepted the likely results of the Four Power Conference returning Danzig and the Polish Corridor back to Germany, it is likely that the Soviet Union would have invaded Poland just as they did in actual history to annex 67% of Poland as stipulated under the terms of a secret protocol dividing Poland between the Germans and the Soviets under the Hitler-Stalin Pact. Had they done so, the Soviet Union would then have likely been seen as the main aggressor instead of Nazi Germany forcing western Poland to pursue a defensive alliance with Germany to enable it to retake its lost territories from the Soviets. World War Two would have been entirely averted, restricted to a regional war between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union for control of Eastern Europe with the US, UK and France never being involved in the war. The German-Polish border war would have been referred to as “The Two-Day War”, a mere blip in the annals of history, remembered only for the Great Powers having narrowly dodged an unnecessary and catastrophic world war.

President Woodrow Wilson in late 1916 and Neville Chamberlain in September 1939 each were given historically unprecedented opportunities to save the world from costly and prolonged world wars which together cost the lives of over 100 million people but tragically both let those opportunities slip through their fingers. Wilson had the chance to save the world from the twin scourges of Nazism and Communism by championing Imperial Germany’s generous August 1916 peace offer with terms acceptable to both the UK and France. Chamberlain had the chance to continue pursuing the previous British grand strategy of encouraging Hitler to turn east so the Nazis and Soviets would bleed each other dry as then Senator Harry Truman wisely advocated in June 1941 thus ensuring the security of the West while enabling Hitler to pursue his original plans to deport the Jews from Europe, which though deplorable, would have at least spared the lives of five to six million Jews from the horrors of the Jewish Holocaust. Had Chamberlain resisted the calls for war and chosen peace instead, he would have been praised as a visionary leader while Churchill would have been appointed Prime Minister.

There are several important historical parallels with how Britain and France stumbled into an unnecessary world war over a border dispute between Germany and Poland and how the U.S. and NATO are stumbling into an unnecessary world war over a border dispute between Russia and Ukraine today that would quickly escalate to the nuclear level. Much like Hitler when he invaded Poland, Putin offered to withdraw Russian troops from 93.6% of pre-war Ukrainian controlled territory the day after he invaded in exchange for a Ukrainian pledge of permanent neutrality outside of NATO, This led to the tentative March 31st peace agreement reached in Istanbul, later repudiated by Ukraine, with the unilateral Russian military withdrawal from three northern Ukrainian oblasts including Kyiv as the first step towards implementing that agreement.

Western leaders have claimed, without support, that Russian President Vladimir Putin is a modern-day Hitler and genocidal war criminal who seeks to conquer, not merely all of Ukraine and other former Soviet republics, but some of NATO’s Eastern European member states as well. Of course, none of this serves to excuse Putin’s brutal and illegal invasion of Ukraine which has resulted in over 8,000 civilian deaths thus far. History has proven that the longer wars go on the more difficult they are to end without one side achieving total military victory. The U.S. objective should be to negotiate the best diplomatic outcomes realistically possible without war or without unnecessarily prolonging military conflicts.

Following what amounted to a one-year long diplomatic temper tantrum by the Biden administration, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken finally met briefly with his counterpart, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. One would think that preventing nuclear Armageddon with Russia over Ukraine that would destroy the US and our NATO allies and could cost the lives of 700 million people would be worth spending more than ten minutes a year but apparently the Biden administration doesn't think so. Even hard-core neoconservatives like former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have been critical of the administration for not keeping diplomatic channels open with Russia to guard against potential Russian nuclear escalation. The importance of negotiating an immediate cease-fire has never been greater in order to save Ukraine from further death, destruction and territorial losses and save the world from Russian nuclear escalation.

David T. Pyne, Esq. is a former U.S. Army combat arms and Headquarters staff officer, who was in charge of armaments cooperation with the former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the Americas from 2000-2003, with an M.A. in National Security Studies from Georgetown University. He currently serves as Deputy Director of National Operations for the Task Force on National and Homeland Security and is a contributor to Dr. Peter Pry’s book “Blackout Warfare” and his upcoming book “Catastrophe Now--What US Leaders Must do to Ensure America's Survival." He also serves as the Editor of “The Real War” newsletter. He may be reached at


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