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Reactions to initial German victory

LAURENCE REES: The Germans as a whole might not have been so keen on the war in 1939, but then you see that amazing footage of Hitler coming back from the victory over France and the reaction in the streets is ecstatic. Is this because there’s now a sense in Germany that the Germans can win this war at little cost?

NORBERT FREI: For the Germans it’s just a wonderful experience after such a long fight and long historical battle between France and Germany. It seemed that we are in Paris, and we have achieved this victory and we have achieved it on a rather low cost. So this is one aspect of it and it’s an important one. And this gives hope that at a certain point Hitler will be satisfied with what he has achieved and we might end up with a war that in the end will be ended without spilling too much blood.

LAURENCE REES: And did the Nazis then want to invade Britain?

NORBERT FREI: No, that’s not the reality at all, because Hitler would have been willing to come to terms and to arrange peace with Britain. If he had the continent he would, at least for the time being, have had his will. The German concept of the battle over Britain is certainly a different one than the British.

LAURENCE REES: So the idea was to fight the Battle of Britain and force the British to make a compromise peace?