The Forced War, Dr. David Hoggan's monumental examination of the origins of the Second World War.
Diplomatic historian Hoggan presents a weighty Revisionist study of the origins of World War II which defines the climate and influences upon Germany's role in the war. Failures in international cooperation, European nations' internal power policies and attitudes toward Germany, and Hitler's peaceful intentions, as well as influences on other European nations' internal affairs are documented. Hoggan reveals that Hitler sought peaceful revisionism of the borders imposed on Germany at Versailles, presenting extensive documented research to support his claims. The Forced War is the most comprehensive and audacious revisionist account of the origins of World War II. It rejects the near-universal assumption that the aggressive policy of Hitlerian Germany was the sole cause of the Second World War in Europe.
Originally published in 1961 in West Germany as Der Erzwungene Krieg, this book gained instant notoriety in that country although it was lambasted by the German political and academic establishments. No English-language press dared to publish this taboo-shattering history for over two decades.
The book's American publisher, the Institute for Historical Review, specializes in promoting controversial books on World War II. Hoggan claims that Hitler's ambitions were limited to making Germany the preeminent power in Central Europe. Hitler did not seek world conquest, according to Hoggan, and his policies did not threaten Britain, the British empire, or Western Europe.
Leading British policymakers, however, opposed German hegemony in Central Europe on the basis of Britain's traditional balance of power policy ... To achieve the goal [a pretext for war], Britain, in March 1939, gave Poland an unconditional guarantee of its border with Germany, and later promised that it would support Poland in any conflict with Germany. Britain, however, had neither the intent nor the capability of actually defending Poland militarily... -
Hitler's demands on Poland, Hoggan emphasizes, were quite moderate. Hitler sought the return of the Free City of Danzig (detached from Germany by the Versailles Treaty) to the Reich, and German transit rights across the Polish Corridor ... In return, Hitler pledged to allow the continuation of
Polish economic privileges in Danzig and to guarantee the Polish boundary with Germany ...Emboldened by British promises, Polish Foreign Minister Jozef Beck was unwilling to make an effort to reach an understanding with Germany. Having an exaggerated view of Polish military capabilities, Beck even thought that a war with Germany would allow for Polish territorial gains.
It was Poland's aggressive intransigence, which included the persecution of the German minority in Poland, that ultimately led to war. Without the British pledge of support, however, Poland would not have been so bold, nor would a local conflict have escalated into a major war.
Much can be said for Hoggan's thesis, and he backs it up with a massive amount of material, but it is not completely convincing ... Had Hitler truly sought peace, he should have avoided even the appearance of aggressiveness.
In conclusion, Hoggan goes too far in exonerating Germany of guilt for the onset of World War II. But he does provide a needed antidote to the usual portrayal of exclusive German responsibility for the war. Responsibility for the outbreak of World War II is not a simple black-and-white matter, but should be pictured in shades of gray.