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That day in history

“Some illusions persist that the wartime Allies missed opportunities to promote the cause of ‘good Germans’ who opposed Hitler, rejecting approaches from such men as Adam von Trott. Yet the British seemed right, first, to assume that any dalliance of this kind must leak, fuelling Soviet paranoia about a negotiated peace and, second, in believing that the anti-Hitler faction was both weak and flawed. Michael Howard has written: ‘We know that such “right-minded people” did exist; but the remarkable thing is that . . . there should have been so few of them, and that their influence should have been so slight.’ Howard notes that most of the July 1944 bomb plotters were right-wing nationalists, who cherished grotesquely extravagant ambitions for their country’s postwar polity. The principal objective of most of those who joined the conspiracy against Hitler, as the Foreign Office perceived at the time, was to enlist Anglo-American aid against the Russians. It is easy to understand why postwar Germans sought to canonise the July bomb plotters. But it would have represented folly for Churchill’s government to dally with them, and there is no cause for historians to concede them exaggerated respect. A large majority of the July 20 conspirators turned against Hitler not because he was indescribably wicked, but because they perceived that he was leading Germany to defeat.” – Max Hastings, Winston’s War (ellipsis in original)

Published inLit & CritMax HastingsThe Second World WarWinston Churchill

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