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What Hitler Told Goering

In response to:

The Gambler from the April 30, 1981 issue

To the Editors:

The new evidence from diplomatic, military, and economic archives in numerous countries used in preparing my book on the origins of World War II points in directions your Reviewer, Norman Stone, does not approve, so he condemns both the book and my search for evidence [NYR, April 30]. But if my challenge to tenaciously held interpretations explains the vigor of his rejection, it hardly justifies distortion of the evidence.

Stone writes: “In summer 1936 he [Hitler] instructed Goering to militarize the economy so as to face aggressive war in eight years’ time. Goering went ahead—with plans that would mature in about eight years’ time…” Hitler’s instructions to Goering actually called for the economy to be ready for war in four years’ time, and Goering accordingly organized the Office of the Four-Year-Plan. Four years fits my interpretation, but eight years fits Stone’s—so he has translated the German word “vier” into the English “eight.” Since he will not face new evidence, at least he should get a new dictionary.

Gerhard L. Weinberg

Department of History

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC

Norman Stone replies:

Hitler told Goering, in summer 1936, to prepare the economy for a defensive war in four years, and an offensive one in eight. The difference should be important enough for Weinberg not to omit it.

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