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He gave members of his intimate circle previews of his inclination to do so as early as July and August. Large numbers of German troops and war materiel had been shifted to the East by the time of Molotov's visit.

Hitler's basic rationale was that a quick defeat of the Soviet Union was the best way to forestall an eventual conflict with it which Hitler saw as inevitable and to remove Britain and the United States as threats by eliminating Russia as their last potential continental ally. As he told his military chiefs on July 31, 1940:

"Britain's hope lies in Russia and the United States. If

Russia drops out of the picture, America, too, is lost for Britain, because the elimination of Russian would greatly increase Japan's push in the Far East. Decision: Russia's destruction must be made a part of this struggle-the sooner Russia is crushed the better" (Clark 25).

Hitler had other options. Gross Admiral Erich Raeder, the German naval chief, and Goering indicated they believed that Britain should be defeated first. Raeder wanted to cut Britain's access to the oil of the Middle East and its communications with its Empire by eliminating British naval power in the Mediterranean by seizing Gibraltar, Malta and the Suez Canal. However, neither of them could convince Hitler that Germany could conquer the British Isles. Spanish leader Francisco Franco made prohibitive demands on Hitler in October 1940 as the price for Spanish cooperation in the plan to take Gibraltar. Benito Mussolini's forces fared poorly against the Greeks in Albania and the British in North Africa. Keegan said that "ideologically, his [Hitler's] fear and hatred of Bolshevism allowed him no freedom to choose an alternative to his desire to smash the Soviet Union by direct, frontal assault" (305). Keegan suggested in his counterfactual scenario that Hitler could have severed Britain's Mediterranean and oil lifeline and consequently have "fatally undermined" Britain's ...

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WORLD WAR II--GERMAN EASTERN FRONT. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 20:46, July 27, 2017, from
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