In 1939, approval for the fateful decision to bomb Azerbaijan's oil fields was granted by the Prime Minister and his Minister of Naval Forces on this day at British General Headquarters.
Crazy HeadsIntelligence reports unambiguously confirmed that Stalin's supply of Baku's oil had been transferred to the Nazis in a secret protocol of the Soviet German Pact (pictured). Twenty-five million barrels of oil per year would be sufficient for Hitler's Panzers Division to conquer Europe, and therefore the strike order was transmitted to French Air Forces in Syria without delay. Trouble was, the operation was bungled, and the oil wells and refineries in Baku and the northern Caucasus escaped with minimal damage. Allied military leaders were forced to revert to the inferior Plan B, in which British submarines would seek to prevent the transportation of oil in the Black Sea.
The "the possibilities of bombing and demolition of Baku" were first raised in Paris by the US Ambassador to France, W. Bullitt. The French Government ordered General Gamelen and Admiral Darlan to work out a "plan of possible intervention with the view of destroying Russian oil exploitation". Ambassador Bullit informed US President Franklin D. Roosevelt that Daladye considered that aircraft attacks against Baku would be "the most efficient way to weaken the Soviet Union".
It would prove a costly mistake. In postwar statements, Charles De Gaulle would later claim that "crazy heads that were thinking more of how to destroy Baku than of resisting Berlin". He was right. Forced into the conflict after Pearl Harbour, the US would find itself at war with the combined might of the German-Soviet-Japanese Axis powers.