Seated: President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill. Standing, front row, left to right: General Arnold, Admiral King, General Marshall, Admiral Pound, Air Chief Marshal Portal, General Brooke, Field Marshal Dill, and Admiral Mountbatten. January 1943.

The Great Military Decisions

Turning Points of the War

ANY attempt to specify authoritatively the most important military decisions of the Second World War would require too much by way of preliminary definition to be possible in reasonably short compass. Yet to join together, however sketchily, some of the events which to one individual marked the general pattern of the war may induce other more serious efforts and possibly provoke a reappraisal of some events heretofore overlooked or taken for granted.

In spite of the extraordinary press coverage of World War II, so many facts remain undisclosed or obscure that even the large generalities of strategy have to be stated with caution. The necessity for such a warning is rather spectacularly borne out by the disclosures resulting from the statements of former German and Japanese officials who have been interrogated since the close of hostilities, and by the documents which were made available at the war criminal trials and thereafter. For example, there is no need to debate further the once lively issue of whether Hitler was bluffing when Chamberlain and Daladier surrendered Czechoslovakia to him without a fight. The Nuremberg documents show incontestably that Hitler was prepared to invade Czechoslovakia immediately and to take on a general European war then and there. Although some obscurities still cling to the Soviet-German alliance of 1939, there seems to be little room for doubt that the Soviet Union then agreed with Germany to carve up Poland and other parts of Europe, and that Mr. Molotov even appeared willing to join the Axis as late as the spring of 1941 if the Soviet Union were made a full partner. Again, the disclosures contained in the minutes of the Hitler-Matsuoka conversations in early 1941 in Berlin, dealing with the impending Japanese attack on the United States and Hitler's "blank check" commitment to Japan, make inconsequential the American decisions respecting Japan in the summer and fall of 1941, which appeared important at the time.

The German campaigns in Norway, the Low Countries and France, following the "phony war" of 1939,

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