One of Germany’s war aims had been to avoid the much feared ‘two front war’. Hitler had aimed to knock France and Britain out of the war so that he could concentrate on his principal objective “Jewish Bolshevik Russia”. Awkwardly Britain had remained defiant and, even worse, had been able to increasingly rely on the support of the industrial might of the United States. Now the United States was providing material support to Soviet Russia as well.
For a few days, after Pearl Harbour, the United States’ principal enemy appeared to be Japan. But now Hitler changed the whole situation by declaring war on the United States. It was an enormous gamble that, with unrestricted U-Boat warfare, he could restrict the supplies coming across the Atlantic to Britain and Russia.
As usual the declaration came with perverse distortions and boasts:
the sincere efforts of Germany and Italy to prevent an extension of the war and to maintain relations with the U.S.A. in spite of the unbearable provocations which have been carried on for years by President Roosevelt, have been frustrated.
Since the beginning of the war the American President, Roosevelt, has been guilty of a series of the worst crimes against international law; illegal seizure of ships and other property of German and Italian nationals were coupled with the threat to, and looting of, those who were deprived of their liberty by being interned.
Today I am at the head of the strongest Army in the world, the most gigantic Air Force and of a proud Navy. Behind and around me stands the Party with which I became great and which has become great through me.
The enemies I see before me are the same enemies as 20 years ago, but the path along which I look forward cannot be compared with that on which I look back.
The German people recognizes the decisive hour of its existence millions of soldiers do their duty, millions of German peasants and workers, women and girls, produce bread for the home country and arms for the Front. We are allied with strong peoples, who in the same need are faced with the same enemies.
You, my fellow party members, know my unalterable determination to carry a fight once begun to its successful conclusion.
For those looking at the economic balance of power this was a grim moment for Germany. Economic planners within Germany despaired – for the full fascinating story see Adam Tooze: The Wages of Destruction – The Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy .
On the very same day Winston Churchill was telling Parliament in London:
We have a very hard period to go through, and a new surge of impulse will be required, and will be forthcoming, from everybody. We must, as I have said, faithfully keep our engagements to Russia in supplies, and at the same time we must expect, at any rate for the next few months, that the volume of American supplies reaching Britain and the degree of help given by the United States Navy will be reduced. The gap must be filled, and only our own efforts will fill it.
I cannot doubt, however, now that the 130,000,000 people in the United States have bound themselves to this war, that once they have settled down to it and have bent themselves to it — as they will — as their main purpose in life, then the flow of munitions and of aid of every kind will vastly exceed anything that could have been expected on the peacetime basis that has ruled up to the present.
Not only the British Empire now but the United States are fighting for life; Russia is fighting for life, and China is fighting for life. Behind these four great combatant communities are ranged all the spirit and hopes of all the conquered countries in Europe, prostrate under the cruel domination of the foe.
I said the other day that four-fifths of the human race were on our side. It may well be an under-statement. Just these gangs and cliques of wicked men and their military or party organisations have been able to bring these hideous evils upon mankind. It would indeed bring shame upon our generation if we did not teach them a lesson which will not be forgotten in the records of a thousand years.