History of the Second World War, Volume 1

Europe M arch/September 1939 alliance with British backing and the promise of Soviet aid —if it should be needed and wanted —would be quite enough in the British view to restrain him. MAY: WEBS OF DIPLOMACY The rejection of Litvinovs proposal —when taken with the evidence of British diplomatic success in the Balkans and of Balkan re­sistance to Soviet help against Germany —must have seemed suspicious in Moscow, even though Potemkin said he was satisfied. Everywhere the Soviets were being wel­comed only as an adjunct to British policy, an insurance against its failure to bring Hitler to see reason everywhere British initiative and leadership were paramount- in the Baltic in the Balkans and in Poland and Rumania. The Soviet Union was still outside the circle. On Potemkin’s arrival in Ankara on April 29 he remained virtually inactive for four days. On May 4 the news of Litvinovs dismissal from office and replacement by Stalin s right-hand man, Vyacheslav Molotov burst upon a startled world. It was as startling to the Germans as to the West. During April Hitler must have begun to feel a little hemmed in by what German propaganda persisted in calling the British encirclement policy. His diplomats, it is true did score a minor success in the north by blocking the Russian attempt to negotiate non-aggression pacts with Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania and getting them to accept non-aggression pacts with Germany instead. But similar pressure oil the Turks in Ankara and on the Rumanian Foreign Minister failed to detach either from the British-inspired 'front. And to make mat­ters worse the British made their commit­ment to a continental war clear on April 26 when the Minister for War Mr Leslie Hore- Belisha announced the introduction of conscription in Britain. And in addition, the German diplomats were getting no further with their alliance negotiations with the Japanese. Denunciation by Hitler Hitler reacted as might have been ex­pected to the British introduction of con­scription. On April 28 at Wilhelmshaven, he denounced both the German-Polish non­aggression pact and the 1935 naval agree­ment with Britain —the two treaties he had always cited when rebutting accusa­tions that he did not keep his word in treaty Oslo ¦NOR WAY cv Tallinn Stockholm ESTONIA LITHUANIA L Kaunas aCopenhagen Memel BRITAIN Bromberg (B ydgoszcz) BW arsaw POLAND Amsterdam NETHERLANDS Berli London Brussels BELGIUM ^Paris IflGIN O Tj JrSIEG FRIED line/y ^ Berchtesgaden^ Berne SWITZERLAND enna ^Budapest HUNGARY Innsbruck RUMANIA Bucharest Belgrade "YUGOSLAVIA Danube TURKEY Rome X? ALBANIA T iran a MEDITERRANEAN GREECE Europe on the eve of war. Britain is allied with France Poland and Turkey and has an understanding with the USA. Germany is allied with Italy, and has an understanding and non-aggression pact with the USSR Miles RUSS I A UKRAINE 3
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