World War II: Britain Alone--The Strategic Suituation (June 1940-June 1941)

Soviet invasion of Poland
Figure 1.--World War II histories tend to focus on the NAZIs on the opening years of the War. The Sovierts who also invaded Poland launched their own series of aggressions throughout Eastern Europe. Here we see Soviet and German military forces as they coverged in central Poland. A German motorcycle patrol has pulled over to allow some Soviet tanks to pass in a unidentified Polish town (September 1939). They are T-26 Soviet tanks that are based on an exported British designed Vickers 6-Ton tank that the British Army rejected. While the Red Army tanks do not look very impressive, it should be noted that the Wehrmacht was still equipped with many Mark I and II tanks as well as light tanks seized from the Czechs a few months earlier. Wehrmacht assessments of Soviet armor were largely based on what they saw in Poland. It does not seemed to have occurred to OKW which was upgrading their Pabzer corps that the Soviets could upgrade their tanks cas well. By the spring of 1941, these two totalitarian powers with the Italian junior partner dominated Europe from the Urals to the Pyrénées. Given this sitution, British war policy became simply to survive until America joined the struggle. And there Charles Lindberrg and the isolations with a myopic view of history that dephies crudeulity were determined to allow Europe to fight its own battles. Image courtesy of the Military History of the 20th Century website.

Even if Britain was not precisely alone given the support of the Dominions and America, the strategic situation was dire--even worse than commonly explained in World War II histories. Britain and the Dominions were in a very real sence all that stood not only between the NAZIs, but totalitatian tyranny and human freedom. Europe had been divided up between two totalitarian powers, the NAZIs and the Soviet Union. While the press at the time and even historians today commonly focus on Hitler's invasion of Poland, Stalin from the east also invaded Poland (September 1939). And that was only the first of a dreadful series of Soviet aggressions. From the Urals to the Pyrénées, all of Europe with the eception of a few isolated, vulnerable enclaves (Sweden and Switzerland) were in the hands of merciless tyrannies. And except for the Jews (admittedly a big excepotion), there was not a great difference between the NAZIs and Soviets. Soviet oppressioin was so dreadful in fact that except in Poland, the NAZIs were seen by many as liberators and that even included areas of the Soiviet Union (especially the western Ukraine). The Soviet Union was not directly figting the British, but they were supplying the NAZI war machine with vast quantities of critically important war materials as agrreed to under the terms of the NAZI-Soviet Non-Agression Pact. Hitler had begun the War with serious deficiencies in the resources needed to fight a lengthy War, especially oil. The Soviets were providing the NAZIs what they needed to complete their victory in the West. So in a very real way, Brtitain faced the entire continent of Europe under the control of two cruel tyranies. Churchill realized that Britain by itself could never defeat the totalitarian powers that had seized control of Europe. Churchill's war policy was thus simply to survive until the sleeping colossus across the Atlantic would finally join the struggle against tyranny. And in America Lindberrg and his fello isolations with a myopic view of history that dephies crudeulity were determined to allow Europe to fight its own battles. As Churchill explained during the long, dangerous struggle after the fall of France, "We are fighting by ourselves alone, but we are not fighting for ourselves alone." American aid to Britain could help Britain survive, but without America as an active fighting ally, Britain could never challenge the NAZI hold on the captive European nations. And even with America, as long as the NAZI-Soviet alliance held, this would not have been posible. And Japan's adheremce to the Axis only added to the totalitarian strategic dominance Britain faced.

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Created: 5:37 AM 8/15/2012
Last updated: 5:37 AM 8/15/2012