by Anne Armstrong
On January 24, 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt closed a meeting of Allied leaders by stating that their collective aim was the unconditional surrender of the Axis nations. History records this as the mantra that won the war. But in Unconditional Surrender, Anne Armstrong examines the true impact of the policy. Drawing on first-hand experience as a military intelligence analyst in postwar Germany, as well as historical research and interviews with German generals, Armstrong catalogs how the unconditional surrender demand lengthened the war by giving the Nazi regime an effective piece of propaganda. Armed with FDR’s slogan, the Nazis were able to convince the German people that the Allies desired not just the destruction of the Nazis, but of all Germans. By lumping all Germans in with Hitler, the Allies undermined the support, particularly within the German military, for the internal resistance to him and his Nazi party. In Unconditional Surrender, Armstrong has presented a compelling case for reconsidering a policy that received much more criticism, even from the American military leadership, during the war than it has following it.
What to Read Next