Adolf Hitler gathered 200 of his commanding generals on this day to convince his most senior officers of the need to invade France as soon as possible.
Earlier in the month, on 5 November, the leader of Nazi Germany had argued with his most senior officers about the need to invade soon. His officers wanted to delay until the weather was better and the army was ready, but Hitler had argued them down. Now, speaking at noon in the Reich Chancellory, Hitler argued further that to delay would be a huge mistake.
Everything is determined by the fact that the moment is favourable now; in six months it might not be so any more.Adolf Hitler, speaking to his generals in the Reich Chancellory, 23 November 1939.
Despite many generals secretly lacking enthusiasm for Hitler, the Nazi leader was hugely popular amongst the German people. Hitler was aware of this, and also he believed only he could achieve ultimate victory.
As the last factor I must in all modesty describe my own person: irreplaceable. Neither a military man nor a civilian could replace me… I shall strike and not capitulate. The fate of the Reich depends only upon me.Adolf Hitler, speaking to his generals in the Reich Chancellory, 23 November 1939.
Hitler continued by explaining the German military was the best in the world, and it was backed up by the best armaments infrastructure to supply it. And he explain he was the best leader, who was gambling everything to achieve victory and domination of Europe.
I shall attack France and England at the most favorable and earliest moment. Breach of the neutrality of Belgium and Holland is of no importance. No one will question that when we have won.Adolf Hitler, speaking to his generals in the Reich Chancellory, 23 November 1939.
Hitler, as mentioned, was very popular amongst the German population. But Hitler also suspected that, as the war dragged on, that popularity might fall and the German people might begin to tire of his leadership and the war.
I want to annihilate the enemy. Behind me stands the German people, whose morale can only grow worse.Adolf Hitler, speaking to his generals in the Reich Chancellory, 23 November 1939.
The commanding generals, listing to this speech, were in no doubt that only Hitler would choose the date of invasion.