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Launched from the Italian island of Rhodes, a successful invasion of Cyprus would have left him in position to assault Syria with an amphibious force. With the French army in Syria and Lebanon numbering only 38, troops and lacking modern equipment or air protection, it is hard to see how they could have turned back Hitler's armies. The one difficulty with this plan would have been to assemble enough ships to move Hitler's forces around.
Most of the suitable vessels in the eastern Mediterranean were already in British hands. If enough ships could not be found, however, Hitler could have pushed his way through neutral Turkey and into the Mid-East oil fields via Istanbul. He hinted an interest in doing this in Furher Directive 32 in which he talked about assembling a force in Bulgaria powerful enough to "render Turkey politically amenable or overpower her resistance.
The History Place - Triumph of Hitler: Nazis March into the Rhineland
Once Turkey fell, the surrender would have brought Hitler's forces to the edge of the oil fields. What's more, such an attack would have left the Germans into position to take the Russian Caucaus oil fields from the South. An attack from that direction would have eliminated much of the problem of terrain that hampered Operation Barbarossa from the west.
In fact, all the goals of Operation Barbarossa would have been easier to achieve if the attack had been put off for a year till Turkey had been secured and the German army could have advanced two directions - from the the south and from the west. German Field Marshall Rommel. Another factor suggesting that an attack by German into the Mid-East in would have been successful was Field Marshall Erwin Rommell.
Rommell and his 5th Light Division had been sent to Libya early in to assist the Italians who had just experienced a series of losses to the British. Rommell, nicknamed "the Desert Fox," outfought his allied opponents in North Africa despite being out numbered and ill supplied. He is generally acknowledged by historians as the best desert combat commander either side produced during the war. He was an aggressive leader who was willing to take risks if he saw a chance to exploit an enemy's weakness.
Rommell was always hampered, however, by lack of supplies and troops. In , for example, Rommell and his Afrika Korps managed to clear almost all Allied resistance from North Africa all the way to Egypt, but could go no further without additional support that Hitler never sent.
One can only wonder what would have happened if Hitler had invaded through Turkey or Syria and then matched that action with the necessary support to Rommel for a march through Egypt and Saudi Arabia to join troops advancing through Turkey. Japan could have seized the Indies and linked up with Germany from the east. This would have given them control over almost all of the non-English speaking world. They were joined by thousands who had gathered to cheer for Paul von Hindenburg, the president of Germany, and Hitler.
The two men responded to the crowd from separate windows—Hitler at the chancellery and Hindenburg at a hotel next door. From these brown-shirted, booted men, as they marched in perfect discipline and alignment, their well-pitched voices bawling war-like songs, there rose an enthusiasm and dynamism that were extraordinary.
Holocaust and Human Behavior
Melita Maschmann, then a year-old Nazi supporter, watched the parade that evening. The crashing treads of [booted] feet, the somber pomp of the red and black flags, the flickering light from the torches on the faces and the songs with melodies that were at once aggressive and sentimental. Many Germans followed the parade by listening to the radio.
Bernt Engelmann was struck by the voice of a new announcer:. Many years later, when the Third Reich was a thing of the past, I dug around in the archives of the Cologne broadcasting station and found the very text read by the announcer that evening of January As I perused it, I felt that same amazement and disgust that had filled me as a twelve-year-old boy. There it was, in black and white, and the announcer had spoken the text as an overwhelmed eyewitness might describe the finish of the Monaco Grand Prix auto race. He stands erect, stirred to the depths by the moment.
There he stands with his ministers, Adolf Hitler. Two days later, he and his family listened as Hitler spoke to the nation on his first day in office. Hitler proclaimed his new government officially in power. He did not do so before the Reichstag, the elected Parliament, but over the radio. No one in the room objected or voiced any concern.
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After the announcement, Nazi legal officials quickly set to work drafting the necessary laws, while Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels worked with Hitler to compose the actual proclamations to be read to Nazi Party members and the German people. The proclamations were then announced to the world by Goebbels at a hastily called press conference.
Everyone waited to see how they would respond to the news. Some of Hitler's more cautious Army generals thought there might even be an immediate military attack by France. But absolutely nothing happened, except for a few diplomatic protests. Hitler, for the first time in his career, had gambled against Germany's old enemies and won. He knew France was suffering from serious political in-fighting and that Britain was in the grips of an economic depression.
He wagered that the two countries, given their internal problems, didn't have the stomachs to respond militarily. And he was right. But Hitler still found it necessary to soothe the jangled nerves of the world's democracies and Germany's next door neighbors. On May 21st, two months after the conscription announcement, he appeared before the Reichstag in Berlin and delivered a conciliatory speech.
The Night of Hitler's Triumph
None of us means to threaten anybody," Hitler declared. He then announced a thirteen-point peace program containing all kinds of promises such as: Germany will respect all other provisions of the Treaty of Versailles including the demilitarization of the Rhineland; Germany is ready to cooperate in a collective system for safeguarding European peace; and the German government is ready in principle to conclude pacts of non-aggression with its neighbors.
Hitler's method of diplomacy in dealing with the gun-shy Western democracies was thus established. His original bombastic announcement was usually made on a Saturday to catch the other governments off-guard.
It came in the midst of an ongoing action, or after the fact, and was followed by a conciliatory speech full of reassuring promises. Between Hitler's gambles, there would be a considerable lapse of time, during which he returned to Berchtesgaden, contemplating his next move like a chess master pondering all of the potential outcomes.