IMO the Western powers should have left Germany alone. Hitler did not want to fight England or the USA. His quarrel was with communism in the East and international jewry. But it was all about economics. England saw Germany as the “upstart kid” in Europe getting too successful and competing against their long established world trade empire. Once England had a pretense to declare war, they were determined to destroy Germany and bring the USA in to help. Churchill rejected all of Hitler’s offers of peace. This is why the allies were still smashing German cities and starting firestorms long after it was thought necessary- they wanted to kill as many citizens as possible to eliminate their competition in the world market. In doing so Germany was completely crushed and communism was allowed to dominate much of Europe.
I’m replying to your post in this thread, because I didn’t want the other thread to drift too far off topic.
But it was all about economics.
You may be right. On the other hand, there are explanations for the Western democracies’ behavior which do not assume either a) that they were driven by economics, or b) that they were acting in their own interests at all. According to Diana West’s excellently researched book American Betrayal, over 500 Soviet agents had penetrated FDR’s administration. One of those agents was Harry Hopkins, the so-called “co-president.” While the Soviets hadn’t achieved enough influence for America to be called a Soviet client state, things were definitely headed in that direction. If you start with the belief that FDR put the Soviet Union’s interests ahead of America’s, you will have a clear and consistent explanation for every major element of his foreign policy; including the murderous Morgenthau Plan.
To the best of my knowledge, communists didn’t achieve nearly this same level of penetration in either Chamberlain’s or Churchill’s administrations. This makes British foreign policy more difficult to explain. For many decades, Britain had pursued one of two policies with respect to conflicts on the European mainland. 1) Neutrality. 2) Siding with the weaker party to prevent anyone from gaining hegemony over Europe. Both of these policies can easily be explained in terms of promoting British interests. So why did Britain abandon them in the late '30s? Why did Britain decide to defend Poland against German, but not Soviet, aggression, at a time when the Soviet Union was stronger than Germany in terms of population size, industrial capacity, military capacity, access to natural resources, and diplomatic position?
In 1935, France and the Soviet Union signed a defensive alliance. Also in 1935, Czechoslovakia and the U.S.S.R. became defensive allies. If Britain was to pursue its usual foreign policy of helping the weaker European nations against the stronger, it should have allied with Germany to counter this Franco-Soviet encirclement. For a while it seemed as though Chamberlain was willing to do exactly that. Or, at very least, was unwilling to work against Germany in its quest to redress some of the inequalities present in the Versailles Treaty.
But then Chamberlain had been humiliated at the Munich negotiations. Perhaps he concluded that neither his own personal prestige, nor Britain’s prestige, could be restored without plunging Europe into war. In 1938 he was willing to let Germany reclaim the Sudetenland. By 1939 he’d completely changed course. France had promised the Polish a general offensive against Germany if Germany invaded Poland. That lie was a deliberate, successful attempt to provoke a European war by maneuvering Poland into a false diplomatic position. Why did Chamberlain go along with this French plan? Maybe he was trying to salvage his political career. Maybe he was trying to punish Hitler for having lied to him. This was a bit of a double standard, because Chamberlain obviously had no objection to lying to the Poles. Maybe there were those who worked behind the scenes to pressure Chamberlain into adopting a more warmongering stance. Whatever his reasons, he adopted the kind of anti-fascist/non-anti-communist foreign policy the Soviet Union wanted Western democracies to adopt.
Churchill’s case is different. He’d developed strong anti-communist credentials back in the '20s. So why did he seem to take no interest in any sort of anti-communist foreign policy for Britain until after the Nazis had been eliminated? He was not acting the way one would expect an anti-communist to act. One possible explanation for Churchill’s behavior involves his own personal finances. At least according to one source, Churchill had initially been what he seemed: an anti-communist who lived a lavish, drunken lifestyle. Eventually his habits caught up with him, and he found himself on the verge of personal bankruptcy and financial disaster. Money was found to salvage Churchill’s finances, and to put him on a very solid financial footing. Those who provided this money did not wish for war between Britain and the Soviet Union, but did wish for war between Britain and Germany. I haven’t researched this enough to know whether this account is true. But at least it provides a possible, internally consistent explanation for why Churchill’s foreign policy bore no relationship to Britain’s best interests.