Letter: Anti-Hitler Communists who fail 'good German' test

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Sir: Your leading article 'Remembering the good Germans' (20 July) raises a point long neglected in discussions of the relative merits of German resistance to Hitler 'whose existence the Allies found it inconvenient to recognise, let alone support'. As you write: 'Britain's leaders had been deeply suspicious of the German opposition from its first formal pre-Munich approach in 1938 onwards.'

Two approaches, pre-Munich, were, in fact, made by private emissaries representing General Beck, the German Army Chief of Staff sacked by Hitler in 1938 for opposing the planned invasion and annexation of Czechoslovakia and Austria. He did so through British intermediaries in Berlin to the highest levels of government in London. Lord Halifax, at No 11 Downing Street, passed secret and urgent messages on to No 10, suggesting a public warning be issued by the British to Hitler.

'Give me proof that England will fight if we attack Czechoslovakia,' Beck reportedly said, 'and I'll do away with this regime.' However, Chamberlain said no, having his own plans for dealing with 'Herr Hitler'.

Undeterred, a conspiratorial group headed by Beck (not yet including Stauffenberg) proceeded with plans for a coup, even setting a date: Monday 29 September. At noon the day before, Berlin radio triumphantly announced that the British and French prime ministers, Chamberlain and Daladier, had accepted Hitler's invitation to fly to Munich the next day. The rest, unfortunately, is history.

Yours sincerely,

LUDWIG RANG

London, NW3

Comments