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Exposing the Third ReichColonel Truman Smith in Hitler's Germany$

Henry G. Gole

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780813141763

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813141763.001.0001

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(p.332) Appendix D: The German-British Bombing Pause, Christmas 1940

(p.332) Appendix D: The German-British Bombing Pause, Christmas 1940

Exposing the Third Reich
University Press of Kentucky

When Smith received a letter from his friend, German Military Attaché Friedrich von Boetticher, he immediately contacted General Miles, G-2, by phone and followed up with the following letter and attachment. The personal dimension matters in diplomacy, as in all human activities.

December 27, 1940


The attached letter was delivered to me at my house on Christmas Eve between the hours of 4:00 and 5:00 P.M., at a time when I was not at home. Accompanying the letter were some flowers.

Upon arrival at my house, I saw the note attached to the flowers and that the envelope was marked to read, “Urgent. Please Open.” I recognized at once that the letter contained an informal notification of a German intention and that it was intended by General Von Boetticher that I pass it on immediately to higher authority. I, therefore, telephoned you at once.

Through my knowledge of German methods of doing business, it is my impression that this form of transmission was chosen for the following reasons:

  1. (1) The question of air bombardment, or no bombardment, of English cities during the holidays was a purely Air Force matter. It was not intended that formal notification be given Britain through diplomatic channels. It was intended that the matter should remain one between Air Force and Air Force; therefore, a method of transmission was selected by General Von Boetticher which passed through the Army of the United States and not through the State Department.

  2. (2) It is, furthermore, my definite impression that they did not wish to embody this statement in any formal note of any sort and (p.333) that this personal method of conveyance was selected rather than a formal notification to the War Department, probably because they did not wish to go on record in any such formal way.

  3. (3) I spoke to General Von Boetticher yesterday during his visit to the War Department, told him my action in the matter, and he stated that it was exactly what he hoped I would do.


Lieutenant Colonel, Infantry.



Original Letter



Christmas Eve, 1940.

Dear Friend:

I desire to extend the most cordial Christmas greetings to you, Mrs. Smith, and your daughter, Katharine.

I have just received the information from the Air Ministry in Berlin that the German Air Force will carry out no attacks on English cities from the afternoon of December 24th until the early morning of the 27th; hence, on all three festival days. During this period, retaliatory attacks will only take place in case the Royal Air Force, during this period, itself attacks cities.

In friendship,