The Nazi victory over France and the low countries was an undoubted high point for Hitler. He had won over many in the military who had previously been sceptical about his plans. A round of victory promotions with generous tax free salaries helped secure that support. Hitler had every reason to be confident. William Shirer, the United States journalist watched his performance:
The Hitler we saw in the Reichstag tonight was the conqueror, and conscious of it, and yet so wonderful an actor, so magnificent a handler of the German mind, that he mixed superbly the full confidence of the conqueror with the humbleness which always goes down so well with the masses when they know a man is on top . .. His oratorical form was at its best. . . I’ve often admired the way he uses his hands, which are somewhat feminine and quite artistic. Tonight he used those hands beautifully, seemed to express himself almost as much with his hands – and the sway of his body — as he did with his words and the use of his voice.
Yet the expected victory was incomplete. The British, who had been beaten in both France and Norway, remained obstinately defiant and were not seeking peace terms as expected. At the conclusion of his speech Hitler made a rather weak ‘appeal to reason’ from the British. Some had expected something more substantial that might appeal to those in Britain who were interested in peace. It was easy for the Churchill administration to dismiss Hitler’s “offer” out of hand.