Adolf Hitler met his army commanders Generaloberst von Brauchitsch and General Halder today in an icy meeting which left Brauchitsch shaken and thoroughly humiliated.
Brauchitsch, the army commander-in-chief, had arranged a meeting with the Führer to express the army’s views of the impending invasion of France. Brauchitsch, urged on by his fellow army commanders, told Hitler that he did not support the plan of invading France later this month. He also stated the army was not ready. Brauchitsch told Hitler that the army command should be responsible for planning an invasion without outside involvement. Hitler apparently met this statement with icy silence. When Hitler failed to reply, the German general continued:
The aggressive spirit of the German infantry [is] sadly below the standard of the First World War… [there have been] certain symptoms of insubordination similar to those of 1917–18
Generaloberst von Brauchitsch, 5th November 1939
Brauchitsch also said that the invasion of Poland had shown that the German army was ill disciplined and badly trained. Upon hearing this, Hitler became furious with Brauchitsch, accusing him of “disloyalty, cowardice, sabotage and defeatism”. He demanded to be presented with examples of poor training and ill discipline. Brauchitsch was apparently unable to think of examples on the spot. As Brauchitsch left the meeting, Hitler stated he knew the spirt of Zossen. Zossen is a German town where the army’s underground command centre is located.
A shocked and humiliated Brauchitsch returned to Zossen. The meeting, and threat towards Zossen, is particularly significant as Brauchitsch, General Halder and other commanders at Zossen have been secretly planning to overthrow the Führer. With Hitler indicating he is aware of something going on at Zossen, Brauchitsch has told his fellow conspirators he wants no further part in any plans agains the Führer.