7 August 1939
|Hermann Goering arrives at the Bredstedt train station for the drive out to the Dahlerus farmhouse. Crowds of local people have been alerted to expect a special visitor due to elaborate police precautions, and some can be seen in the foreground.|
German/English Diplomacy: After weeks of preparation, on 7 August 1939 Hermann Goering participates in a secret meeting with a random group of English industrialists. The meeting is arranged by unofficial Swedish diplomat Birger Dahlerus and held at his wife's farmhouse in northern Germany.
The highly unusual meeting is held at Sönke-Nissen-Koog, Germany, a remote location on the western shore near the Danish border. At the meeting are:
- Brian Moutain
- Sir Robert Renwick
- Charles MacLaren
- T. Mensforth
- A. Holden
- Stanley Rawson
- Charles Spencer
Some of the British civilians just happen to be summering in Germany, whilst Mountain, Renwick, MacLaren and Mensforth come across especially for the lunch meeting.
The meeting, despite its elaborate preparation and clandestine nature, has no discernible purpose. It is set up casually by Dahlerus, to whom the idea comes spontaneously after visiting England himself and then running into some of his new English industrialist friends back in Germany. Dahlerus himself knows Goering through his boss, Swedish Electrolux tycoon Axel Wenner-Gren, who had met Goering years previously through the family of Goering's first wife Carin von Rosen. While Wenner-Gren himself likes to dabble in diplomacy, he leaves the heavy lifting to his flunky Dahlerus to keep his hands clean.
The whole affair is just another of Goering's "back channel" freelance attempts at unofficial negotiation to see if he can prevent a large war from developing despite whatever action Hitler may take in Poland. He might be cold-blooded and callous, but Goering knows full well that the Wehrmacht, and in particular his Luftwaffe, are not ready yet for a general European War. Goering also feels that Foreign Minister Ribbentrop is incompetent and a war-monger who is creating in Hitler a false impression that the British will not fight. In addition, he would like to score points with Hitler and undercut Ribbentrop by neutralizing England. Goering apparently does not inform Hitler of the meeting out of fear that Hitler will forbid him from making any peace gestures and perhaps feel that Goering is becoming timid.
Goering lectures the British men on, among other things, Germany's growing ability to synthesize gasoline from coal. The discussion is pleasant but also vaguely threatening. After several hours, Goering ends the meeting by proposing a toast to peace. Not a trained diplomat, Goering does not appear to have a set agenda for the affair. He is "winging it" and apparently feels it is enough to be friendly and that this alone will create an atmosphere conducive to further negotiations. It doesn't.
Spencer gives a full report on the meeting to the Foreign Office which accurately predicts the meeting which Hitler will have at Berchtesgaden on 14 August to plan Case Yellow, the invasion of Poland. Goering appears to be expecting some British response to his gesture, but nobody in England really knows what the question posed had been. The British thus make no response and nothing comes of the meeting. Goering henceforth relies on Dahlerus for his unofficial diplomatic meddling, which inevitably goes nowhere.
8-9 November 1923: Beer Hall Putsch
December 20, 1924: Hitler Leaves Prison
September 18, 1931: Geli Raubal Commits Suicide
November 8, 1932: Roosevelt is Elected
30 January 1933: Hitler Takes Office
February 27, 1933: Reichstag Fire
March 23, 1933: The Enabling Act
June 20, 1934: Hitler Plans the Night of the Long Knives
June 30, 1934: Night of the Long Knives
August 1, 1936: Opening of the Berlin Olympics
September 30, 1938: The Munich Agreement
November 9, 1938: Kristallnacht
August 1, 1939: Flight Tests of B-17 Flying Fortress
August 2, 1939: Einstein and the Atom Bomb
August 7, 1939: Goering Tries to Broker Peace
August 14, 1939: Hitler Decides To Attack Poland
August 15, 1939: U-Boats Put To Sea
August 16, 1939: Incident at Danzig
August 20, 1939: Battle of Khalkhin Gol
August 22, 1939: Hitler Tips His Hand
August 23, 1939: Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact
August 25, 1939: Hitler Postpones Invasion of Poland
August 27, 1939: First Jet Flight
August 31, 1939: The Gleiwitz Operation