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Sure, the communist era/occupation of eastern Europe was a tragedy for freedom, what would the option have been?: Extermanation under the Nazis. Even though the Soviet occupation was tough, I doubt more Poles etc were killed during 50 years of communist rule than during one year of Nazi occupation. Stalin was a monster but luckely he died in 1953 (and Beria was shot soon afterwards) and the worst purges died with him... But don´t get me wrong, offcourse it would have been best if the western allies could have convinced Stalin not to occupy eastern Europe.

 

BTW None of the Eastern/Central european countries, except from Czechoslovakia, had democratic governments before WWII.

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Matt, we'd love to hear your ideas on what the Allies should (and realistically could have done....

 

 

If WWII hadn't happened, none of us would be here today, because if those 50+ million of people survived, the world would be a different place. Does that mean it's wrong to wish WWII hadn't happened? Whether we would be alive today or not is pretty irrelevant when considering if WWIII would have been a good thing.

 

As for the rest of it, I must have missed Armenian, Tutsi or Kurdish troops fighting alongside the Allies in WWII. It's an interesting blind spot, given how quick people on this board are when picking up on veterans not getting what they were owed.

 

Or am I being naive again by claiming that, by most standards of decency, you owe people something if you let them fight and die for your cause?

173755[/snapback]

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<snip>

 

Or am I being naive again by claiming that, by most standards of decency, you owe people something if you let them fight and die for your cause?

173755[/snapback]

 

That's a pretty big chip you have on your shoulder.

 

I am curious, why you don't spend more of your time and energy blaming Chamberlain and the leadership of Poland in the early 30s for not preparing themselves to protect Poland.

 

Anytime you place the guarantee of your independence into the hands of others, you allow their political concerns to dominate yours. Poland got screwed when she should not have. However continuing to have hard feelings about it and holding a grudge about it today due to what the political leadership 50 years ago did, is about as useful as black people in the US today, attempting to gain reparations for what happened to their predecessors five or more generations ago.

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Or am I being naive again by claiming that, by most standards of decency, you owe people something if you let them fight and die for your cause?

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Well, whose cause do you mean by your cause? It seems to me that many countries had the opportunity to take on the Axis, in turn, and the early ones fell victim, exc for UK and USSR, and the latecomers survived, rallied and defeated the threat. Is there something else you wanted besides defeating the Axis? It reminds me of a Brit officer at one of the Normandy beaches, advancing inland, they stopped to brew tea and sample the raspberry patch....comes the local farmer, to remark, "in 4 years the Germans took not a single raspberry...."

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That's a pretty big chip you have on your shoulder.

 

I am curious, why you don't spend more of your time and energy blaming Chamberlain and the leadership of Poland in the early 30s for not preparing themselves to protect Poland.

 

Anytime you place the guarantee of your independence into the hands of others, you allow their political concerns to dominate yours. Poland got screwed when she should not have. However continuing to have hard feelings about it and holding a grudge about it today due to what the political leadership 50 years ago did, is about as useful as black people in the US today, attempting to gain reparations for what happened to their predecessors five or more generations ago.

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And you, like most people here, are still concentrating on defending a loathsome bit of politcs and trying to come up with excuses for it.

 

I never seriously contended that a)The US owed Poland its freedom, or b)That it was likely such freedom could be won. (And for that matter, have talked about the "Western Allies" throughout, rather than the US specifically, so if you see it as a "Blame America" thread that's your problem... I don't recall saying I hold anyone responsible for it today, or asking for reparations, either. Never mind that it's an absurd analogy, since Russian troops were stationed in Poland during most of my life - not several generations ago - as a result of this historical chain of events.)

 

When I asked "well, why not start WWIII over it" , it wasn't because I thought it was a realistic idea, but because I don't believe that a war to save the French from the Germans and the Germans from themselves was worth it either - it certainly wasn't worth the lives Poland put into it. (the Holocaust being a separate issue that unfortunately had nothing to do with why any of the allies persecuted the war)

 

At the risk of repeating myself, the main issue is that the Allies had knows for years what the Russian intentions were towards Poland, that they themselves planned to do less about it than the UN does about genocide, and that they lied about it. People who fought alongside the other Allied troops in good faith went home to be harrassed, imprisoned and executed. Was WWII really "worth it" for them?

 

There's a world of difference between demanding that another country spend hundreds of thousands if not millions of lives to save you from an occupier (although it'd have been nice if someone even cared enough to send Stalin a strongly worded letter...) and objecting to being betrayed.

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And you, like most people here, are still concentrating on defending a loathsome bit of politcs and trying to come up with excuses for it.

 

No, I just refuse to take responsibility for the source of your anger. Maybe you should learn to deal with that?

 

I never seriously contended that a)The US owed Poland its freedom, or b)That it was likely such freedom could be won.  (And for that matter, have talked about the "Western Allies" throughout, rather than the US specifically, so if you see it as a "Blame America" thread that's your problem... I don't recall saying I hold anyone responsible for it today, or asking for reparations, either. Never mind that it's an absurd analogy, since Russian troops were stationed in Poland during most of my life - not several generations ago - as a result of this historical chain of events.)

 

I don't recall you taking the US to task specifically, and I don't recall me trying to give the US an exception in failing to protect Poland's interests regarding the topic, so you may as well stop using that particular strawman now.

 

The use of the anaology was to illustrate the fact that the events that were set into motion happened in the time of our great grandfathers and grandfathers reaching their adolesence. If you want to blame anything, blame Realpolitik.

 

When I asked "well, why not start WWIII over it" , it wasn't because I thought it was a realistic idea, but because I don't believe that a war to save the French from the Germans and the Germans from themselves was worth it either - it certainly wasn't worth the lives Poland put into it. (the Holocaust being a separate issue that unfortunately had nothing to do with why any of the allies persecuted the war)

 

Maybe the US fought in Europe because Germany declared war on us?

 

At the risk of repeating myself, the main issue is that the Allies had knows for years what the Russian intentions were towards Poland, that they themselves planned to do less about it than the UN does about genocide, and that they lied about it. People who fought alongside the other Allied troops in good faith went home to be harrassed, imprisoned and executed. Was WWII really "worth it" for them?

 

There's a world of difference between demanding that another country spend hundreds of thousands if not millions of lives to save you from an occupier (although it'd have been nice if someone even cared enough to send Stalin a strongly worded letter...) and objecting to being betrayed.

173836[/snapback]

 

As I said before, Poland got screwed. You can't change the past. Adults realize this, children throw tantrums.

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I don't see what the Allies could have realistically done to push the USSR back in 1945. I don't however expect the folks who ended up on the wrong side of the line to enjoy the sh!t sandwich they were served at the end of the war. I think it's a case of no alternative but a lousy deal to be given.

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ok, my bad. Chamberlain was Prime Minister, not Foreign Minister. Quite a difference. Nonetheless, courtesy (I hope) of Wikipedia , here is a bit of info on the subject :

 

 

 

 

" European policy

Neville Chamberlain, as with many in Europe who had witnessed the horrors of the First World War and its aftermath, was committed to peace at almost any price. Across the political spectrum in the major Western Democracies, there was a sense that war could, and should, be avoided by concession, negotiation and compromise. The theory was that dictatorships arose where peoples had grievances, and that by removing the source of these grievances, the dictatorship would become less aggressive. Chamberlain, as even his political detractors admitted, was an honourable man, raised in the old school of European politics. It was his misfortune, and Britain's, that the imperial rules and aristocratic norms in which he believed were, indeed, anachronistic. His attempts to deal with Nazi Germany through diplomatic channels and to quell any sign of dissent from within, particularly from Churchill, were called by Chamberlain "The general policy of appeasement". (June 7, 1934)

 

 

Neville Chamberlain and Adolf HitlerThe first crisis of Chamberlain's tenure was over the annexation of Austria. The Nazi Government of Hitler had already been behind the assassination of one Chancellor of Austria, Engelbert Dollfuss, and was pressuring another to surrender. Informed of Germany's objectives, Chamberlain's government decided it was unable to stop events, and acquiesced to what later became known as the Anschluss.

 

The second crisis came over a section of Czechoslovakia sometimes referred to as the Sudetenland, which was home to a large German minority. The Munich Agreement, engineered by the French and British governments, effectively allowed Adolf Hitler to annex the country's defensive frontier, leaving its industrial and economic core within a day's reach of the Wehrmacht. When Hitler invaded and seized the rest of Czechoslovakia in March 1939, Chamberlain felt betrayed by the breaking of the Munich Agreement and decided to take a much harder line against the Nazis, declaring war against Germany upon their invasion of Poland.

 

The repeated failures of the Baldwin government to deal with rising Nazi power are often laid, historically, on the doorstep of Chamberlain, since he presided over the final collapse of European affairs, resisted acting on military information, lied to the House of Commons about Nazi military strength, shunted out opposition which, correctly, warned of the need to prepare - and above all, failed to use the months profitably to ready for the oncoming conflict. However, it is also true that by the time of his Premiership, dealing with the Nazi Party in Germany was an order of magnitude more difficult. Germany had begun general conscription previously, and had already amassed a formidable U-Boat fleet and air arm. Chamberlain, caught between the bleak finances of the Depression era, and his own abhorrence of war - and a Kriegsherr who would not be denied a war, gave ground and entered history as a political goat for what was a more general failure of political will and vision which had begun with the Versailles Treaty in 1919.

 

 

Chamberlain holds the paper containing the resolution to commit to peaceful methods signed by both Hitler and himself on his return from Germany in September 1938. He said:

My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time.

Appeasement is defended by few today, particularly in light of its results and Chamberlain's own willingness to deceive the British public and go back on his word to Parliament. However, it should be remembered that a policy of keeping the peace had broad support; had the Commons wanted to appoint a more aggressive Prime Minister, Winston Churchill would have been the obvious choice. Even after the outbreak of war, it was not clear that the invasion of Poland need lead to a general conflict. What convicted Chamberlain in the eyes of many commentators and historians was not the policy itself, but his manner of carrying it out, and the failure to hedge his bets. Many of his contemporaries viewed him as stubborn and unwilling to accept criticism, an opinion backed up by his dismissal of cabinet ministers who disagreed with him on foreign policy. If accurate, this assessment of his personality would explain why Chamberlain strove to remain on friendly terms with the Third Reich long after many of his colleagues became convinced that Hitler could not be restrained.

 

Chamberlain believed passionately in peace for many reasons (most of which are discussed here), thinking it his job as Britain's leader to maintain stability in Europe; like many people in Britain and elsewhere, he thought that the best way to deal with Germany's belligerence was to treat it with kindness and meet its demands. He also believed that the leaders of men are essentially rational beings, and that Hitler must necessarily be rational as well. Most historians believe that Chamberlain, in holding to these views, pursued the policy of appeasement far longer than was justifiable, but it is not exactly clear whether any course could have averted war, and how much better the outcome would have been had armed hostilities begun earlier, given that France, as well, was unwilling to commit its forces, and there were no other effective allies: Italy had joined the Pact of Steel, the USSR had signed a non-aggression pact, and the United States was still officially isolationist.

 

Chamberlain was nicknamed "Monsieur J'aime Berlin" just before the outbreak of hostilities, and remained hopeful up until the invasion of the Low Countries by Germany that a peace treaty to avert a general war could be obtained in return for concessions "that we don't really care about". Again this policy was widely criticised both at the time and since; however, given that the French General Staff was determined not to attack Germany, but instead remain on the strategic defensive, what alternatives Chamberlain could have pursued were not clear. Instead, he took the months of the phony war to complete development of the Spitfire and Hurricane, and to strengthen the RDF or Radar defence grid in England. Both of these priorities would pay crucial dividends in the Battle of Britain.

 

[edit]

Outbreak of war

On September 1, 1939, the armies of Germany invaded Poland. Many in the United Kingdom expected war, but the government did not wish to make a formal declaration unless it had the support of France. France's intentions were unclear at that point, and the government could only give Germany an ultimatum: if Hitler withdrew his troops within two days, Britain would help to open talks between Germany and Poland. When Chamberlain announced this in the House on September 2, there was a massive outcry. The prominent Conservative former minister Leo Amery, believing that Chamberlain had failed in his responsibilities, famously called on the acting Leader of the Opposition Arthur Greenwood to "Speak for England, Arthur!" Chief Whip David Margesson told Chamberlain that he believed the government would fall if war was not declared. After bringing further pressure on the French, who agreed to parallel the British action, Britain declared war on September 3, 1939.

 

In Chamberlain's radio broadcast to the nation, he noted:

 

This morning the British Ambassador in Berlin handed the German Government a final note stating that, unless we hear from them by 11 o'clock that they were prepared at once to withdraw their troops from Poland, a state of war would exist between us. I have to tell you now that no such undertaking has been received, and that consequently this country is at war with Germany.

You can imagine what a bitter blow it is to me that all my long struggle to win peace has failed. Yet I cannot believe that there is anything more, or anything different, that I could have done, and that would have been more successful... We have a clear conscience, we have done all that any country could do to establish peace, but a situation in which no word given by Germany's ruler could be trusted, and no people or country could feel themselves safe, had become intolerable... Now may God bless you all and may he defend the right. For it is evil things that we shall be fighting against, brute force, bad faith, injustice, oppression, and persecution. And against them I am certain that the right will prevail.

As part of the preparations for conflict, Chamberlain asked all his ministers to "place their offices in his hands" so that he could carry out a full scale reconstruction of the government. The most notable new recruits were Winston Churchill and the former Cabinet Secretary Maurice Hankey, now Baron Hankey. Much of the press had campaigned for Churchill's return to government for several months, and taking him aboard looked like a good way to strengthen the government, especially as both the Labour Party and Liberal Party declined to join.

 

Initially, Chamberlain intended to make Churchill a minister without portfolio (possibly with the sinecure office of Lord Privy Seal) and include him in a War Cabinet of just six members, with the service ministers outside it. However, he was advised that it would be unwise not to give Churchill a department, so Churchill instead became First Lord of the Admiralty. Chamberlain's inclusion of all three service ministers in the War Cabinet drew criticism from those who argued that a smaller cabinet of non-departmental ministers could take decisions more efficiently. "

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Someone remind me, please (and anyone else who might have missed it) exactly what was the specific action that triggered the British and the French to declare war on Germany.....

 

But that wasn't the USAs reason for fighting Germany. The USA wasn't bound to support all the war aims of Britain & France in 1939.

 

The aim of defeating Nazi Germany & preventing it extending its hegemony over Central Europe had been achieved. Circumstances had changed. Britain & France couldn't fight the USSR independently. The trigger for the war had become irrelevant to decisions about what to do next.

 

I was going to say "unfortunately for the Poles", but on reflection I'm not at all sure the Poles were worse off under 45 years of Soviet domination than they would have been being fought over again. WW2 killed ca 20% of the population of Poland. Excluding murdered Jews, it was 10%. Another war fought on their territory (assuming success for the Western Allies) in the circumstances of 1945-46 might have killed as many more, with mass starvation in the freezing ruins in the winter of 1945-46, epidemics of typhus & probably other diseases, & direct casualties of the fighting.

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But that wasn't the USAs reason for fighting Germany. The USA wasn't bound to support all the war aims of Britain & France in 1939.

 

173949[/snapback]

 

Well, I didn't specifically mention the United States, but as to the precipitating act (as reason), I think that whole Pearl Harbor/Axis Alliance thing had something to do with it....as well as Germany declaring war on us.

 

As for our reason as purpose (as opposed to excuse), it seems to have been not all that different from our reasons for engaging the Central Powers.

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Lauri Törni aka Larry Thorne has been found and is buried in Arlington. See:

 

http://www2.helsinginsanomat.fi/english/ar...?id=20030617IE9

 

173691[/snapback]

 

You read about guys like this and others from links on that page, you have to ask yourself why folks who had first-hand experience with the Soviets fought so hard against them for years and years...

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Brasidas:

"I am curious, why you don't spend more of your time and energy blaming Chamberlain and the leadership of Poland in the early 30s for not preparing themselves to protect Poland.

 

Anytime you place the guarantee of your independence into the hands of others, you allow their political concerns to dominate yours."

 

:blink: :blink: :blink:

 

The Polish government during the interwar years was certainly not anywhere as effective as it could have been, but it did all it could to preserve Polnad's independancy. We had the best army we could afford, powerful alies and non-aggression pacts with both our future enemies.

 

During these years people were so much concerned with our only a couple years old sovereignty that it's quite incomprehensible to anyone not living then and there.

 

I have no idea what more would you expect?

 

On the topic itself:

The war on USSR after fighting the Germans was no more and no less viable than engaging in WWII itself. Both hard, costed or would cost lives and could have been lost with dire consequences.

 

The problem is that the Allies' governments were interested in the eastern countries' freedom only to a limited extent. The war was found worth waging until _some_ of the allience's countries were free from enemy occupation and _some_ mad dictators were outsed from power.

 

Of course "realpolitik" dictates, that when the situation is quite good for most they have very little reason fighting for the rest's cause. Still you may feel "a bit" betrayed. After all your allies are deciding your future behind your back. And care to such an extent, that they wouldn't even allow your troops take part in the victory parade, as not to irritate Stalin. Not to mention what Stalin did later and didn't amount even to a stern remark on your (former?) allies' side.

 

So from my POV it is perfectly understandable what Realpolitik demanded. That nobody was realy obliged to die for someone else's cause. Still Realpolitik doesn't mean that all will be happy about it. Not all must think along it's lines. And the bit with the parade and the "great" protests against how Stalin submited Poland post-war was a taking it a bit too far for my taste.

 

On another note. It is quite obvious that Poland would gladly take all it would take to get the USSR out. Arguing that "it would not be good" for those who lived and died then is at least a bit hipocrytical. Our capital was wiped out by the Germans as a result of an uprising which's goal was to give Poland some views of being independant from the USSR. We were I believe the 4th largest (?) allied force. And joining it was not very easy. The USSR waged 2 wars against Poland, was one of the original causes of WWII, killed our best and brightest in Katyn Forest. Russia occupied it for quite a while earlier. And of course Stalin was not realy their idea of a ruler. Or freind. Now tell me, would they fight or were they tired of it and would prefer to surrender to one of the invaders? Of course wars aren't "good for you". Neither is a power-mad murderer of a dictator I imagine.

 

And another:

In Poland there was little anti-soviet partisan activity mainly becouse tha largest partisan organisation chose to help the USSR's army fight the Germans on Polish soil. As a result it's got disarmed, shot, imprisioned in the process. :angry:

Edited by Michal W.
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The war on USSR after fighting the Germans was no more and no less viable than engaging in WWII itself.

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Except for the fact that we had no reason then to fear a Soviet attack on our nations. We went to war to stop Germany, not to free Poland. Nor did most Westerners believe then that Eastern Europe was entering a new tyranny.

 

That nobody was realy obliged to die for someone else's cause.
Defeating the Nazis wasn't Poland's cause as well?

 

Still Realpolitik doesn't mean that all will be happy about it.

 

No one asks you to be happy about it. The Soviets were going to rearrange Eastern Europe to suit them and there was nothing the West could do about it short of sabotaging the war effort or starting a new war when the one against Hitler was won.

 

The war was found worth waging until _some_ of the allience's countries were free from enemy occupation and _some_ mad dictators were outsed from power.

 

The war was waged until the enemy had been defeated. At that time, most, but not all, countries were free from enemy occupation. Norway, for instance, was still German occupied when the war ended. Poland had been freed of enemy occupation. As for mad dictators, the only ones we had committed to remove were those with whom we were at war. We left Franco, Peron, and Salazar untouched, for instance.

Edited by R011
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When I said "someone else's cause" I ment freeing Poland.

 

And Poland was not as much freed by anyone, as a battlefield between two of our enemies, one of them gaining the upper hand.

 

All I am saying is that there are good reasons why some feel betrayed and realpolitik for them means very little. They died and it was not realpolitik what they fought for.

 

As much as I would like Poland to be freed then I see why it was quite a hard endevear for the western countries to take up, both becouse of the strategical situation and the views of their people. Still I believe it would be the "right" thing to do. As opposed to what happened, which is at best "understandable".

 

The westerners didn't see Stalin as a blood-thirsty maniac becouse of the Allied propaganda. Still, how much would it hurt if they knew the truth? Stallin would be so unhappy, that he would cease to fight? The same with accepting the treatment the eastern-block countries (former allies I remind you) got from him. Was there as much as a former protest? Maybe a strong one, on behalf of all the other allies? That's a bit much, even for realpolitik.

 

If your people knew what an ally they had there would at least be slightly more chances of finding someone willing to continue the fight. Or at least not willing to turn a blind eye to what he did to those who a few years earlier helped protect their homes.

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Speaking of Poland, why didn't Britain and France declare war on the Soviets as they invaded Poland in 1939??

174272[/snapback]

 

The USSR comes into Poland weeks later, lost in the dust & commotion, at the same time they are laying pressure on the Baltic "neighbors," who cave, except for the Finns, leading to the Winter War 1939-40. At that point, the allies have their cups full enough with Germany vice dealing with these Russians taking advantage of the general situation. Their demands on Romania have the same sense.

 

It would have made little sense to a govt & public in UK/Comm & France already struggling to face up to the immediate challenge of war. Adding declared enemies to the list was not considered a useful end.

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The USSR comes into Poland weeks later, lost in the dust & commotion, at the same time they are laying pressure on the Baltic "neighbors," who cave, except for the Finns, leading to the Winter War 1939-40.  At that point, the allies have their cups full enough with Germany vice dealing with these Russians taking advantage of the general situation. Their demands on Romania have the same sense.

 

It would have made little sense to a govt & public in UK/Comm & France already struggling to face up to the immediate challenge of war. Adding declared enemies to the list was not considered a useful end.

174392[/snapback]

 

Though they were on the verge of doing just that, but then the Norwegian campaign intervened...

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http://www.nationalreview.com/hanson/hanson200505130808.asp

 

May 13, 2005, 8:08 a.m.

 

Remembering World War II: Revisionists get it wrong…

 

Victor Davis Hanson

 

As the world commemorated the 60th anniversary of the end of the European Theater of World War II, revisionism was the norm. In the last few years, new books and articles have argued for a complete rethinking of the war. The only consistent theme in this various second-guessing was a diminution of the American contribution and suspicion of our very motives.

 

Indeed, most recent op-eds commemorating V-E day either blamed the United States for Hamburg or for the Soviet domination of Eastern Europe, or for our supposed failure to credit the Russians for their sacrifices.

 

It is true that the Russians paid a horrendous price. Perhaps two out of every three soldiers of the Wehrmacht fell on the Eastern Front. We in the West must always remember that such a tragic sacrifice allowed Hitler to be defeated with far less American British, Canadian, and Australian dead.

 

That being said, the Anglo-Americans waged a global war well beyond the capability of the Soviet Union. They invaded North Africa, took Sicily, and landed in Italy, in addition to fighting a massive land war in central Europe. We had fewer casualties than did the Russians because we fought more wisely, were better equipped, and were not surprised to the same degree by a treacherous former ally that we had supplied.

 

The Soviets invaded the defeated Japanese only in the last days of the war; the Anglo-Americans alone took on two fronts simultaneously. Submarine warfare, attacking the Japanese and German surface fleets, conducting strategic bombing over Berlin and Tokyo, and sending tons of supplies to Allied forces — all this was beyond the capability of the Red Army. More important, Stalin had been an ally of Hitler until the Nazi invasion of 1941, and had unleashed the Red Army to destroy the freedom of Finland and to carve up Poland.

 

Do we ever read these days that when the Luftwaffe bombed Britain, Russia was sending the Nazis fuel and iron ore? When Germany invaded Russia, however, Britain sent food and supplies.

 

Yes, World War II started to free Eastern Europe from fascist totalitarianism, and ended up ensuring that it would be enslaved by Soviet totalitarianism. But Roosevelt and Churchill were faced with an inescapable reality in 1945 that to keep the Russians out of Eastern Europe they would have had to restart the war against their former ally that possessed it — a conflict that might well have gone nuclear in two or three years. The latter had been in great part armed and sup plied for four years by their own taxpaying democratic citizenries. The Red Army was near home in Eastern Europe; the American 3rd Army was 5,000 miles from the United States.

 

Of course, we bombed German civilian centers. But in a total war when 10,000 a day were being gassed in the death camps, and Nazi armies in the Balkans, Russia, and Western Europe were routinely murdering thousands a week and engaged in breakneck efforts to create ballistic missiles, sophisticated jets, and worse weapons, there were very few options in stopping such a monstrous regime. This was an age, remember, before computer guidance, GPS targeting systems, and laser-guided bombs.

 

When the lumbering and often unescorted bombers started out against Europe and Japan, the Axis infrastructure of death — rails, highways, communications, warehouses, and decentralized production — was intact. When the bombers finished their horrific work, the economies of both Axis powers were near ruin. Armies that were systematically murdering millions of innocents in forgotten places like Yugoslavia, Poland, the Philippines, Korea, and China were running out of fuel, ammunition, and food.

 

Revisionism holds a strange attraction for the winners of World War II. American textbooks discuss World War II as if a Patton, Le May, or Nimitz did not exist, as if the war was essentially the Japanese internment and Hiroshima. That blinkered and politically correct focus explains why so many Americans under 30 are simply ignorant about the nature and course of World War II itself. Similarly, the British have monthly debates on the immorality of their bombing Hamburg and Dresden.

 

In dire contrast, even the post-Soviet Russian government will not speak of the Stalin-Hitler non-aggression pact, the absorption of the Baltic states, the murder of millions of German citizens in April through June 1945 in Eastern Europe, and the mass execution of Polish officers. If we were to listen to the Chinese, World War II was about the gallant work of Mao’s partisans, who in fact used the war to gain power, and then went on to kill 50 million of their own citizens — about the same number lost in all of World War II. Japan likewise has never come to terms with the millions of Asian civilians its armies butchered or its systematic brutality waged against American POWs.

 

The truth is that the supposedly biased West discusses the contribution of others far more than our former enemies — or Russian and Chinese allies — credit the British or Americans.

 

The German novelist Gunter Grass — who served in the Wehrmacht — recently lectured in the New York Times about postwar “power blocs,” in terms that suggested the Soviets and the Americans had been morally equivalent. German problems of reunification, he tells us, were mostly due to a capitalist West, not a Communist East that caused them.

 

Grass advances the odd idea that Germany w as not liberated from American hegemony (“unconditional subservience”) until Mr. Schroeder’s recent anti-Bush campaign distanced the Germans from the United States. To read this ahistorical sophistry of Grass is to forget recent European and Russian complicity in arming Saddam, their forging of sweetheart oil deals with the Ba’athist dictatorship, and the disturbing German anti-Semitic rhetoric that followed Schroeder’s antics. Unmentioned are the billions of American dollars and years of vigilance that kept the Red Army out of Western Germany, or the paradox that the United States is ready to leave Germany on a moment’s notice — which might explain the efforts of the Schroeder government to keep our troops there.

 

There is a pattern here. Western elites — the beneficiaries of 60 years of peace and prosperity achieved by the sacrifices to defeat fascism and Communism — are unhappy in their late middle age, and show little gratitude for, or any idea about, what gave them such latitude. If they cannot find perfection in history, they see no good at all. So leisured American academics tell us that Iwo Jima was unnecessary, if not a racist campaign, that Hiroshima had little military value but instead was a strategic ploy to impress Stalin, and that the GI was racist, undisciplined, and reliant only on money and material largess.

 

There are two disturbing things about the current revisionism that transcend the human need to question orthodoxy. The first is the sheer hypocrisy of it all. Whatever mistakes and lapses committed by the Allies, they pale in comparison to the savagery of the Axis or the Communists. Post-facto critics never tell us what they would have done instead — lay off the German cities and send more ground troops into a pristine Third Reich; don’t bomb, but invade, an untouched Japan in 1946; keep out of WWII entirely; or in its aftermath invade the Soviet Union?

 

Lost also is any sense of small gratitude. A West German intellectual like Grass does not inform us that he was always free to migrate to East Germany to live in socialist splendor rather than remain unhappy in capitalist “subservience” in an American-protected West Germany — or that some readers of the New York Times who opposed Hitler might not enjoy lectures about their moral failings from someone who once fought for him. Such revisionists never ask whether they could have written so freely in the Third Reich, Tojo’s Japan, Mussolini’s Italy, Soviet Russia, Communist Eastern Europe — or today in such egalitarian utopias as China, Cuba, or Venezuela.

 

Second, revisionism requires knowledge of orthodoxy. One cannot dismiss Iwo Jima as an unnecessary sideshow or allege that Dresden was simple blood rage until one understands the tactical and strategic dilemmas of the age — the hope that wounded and lost B-29s might be saved by emergency fields on Iwo, or that the Russians wanted immediate help from the Allied air command to take the pressure off the eastern front in February 1945.

 

But again, most Americans never learned the standard narrative of War II — only what was wrong about it. Whereas it is salutary that an American 17-year-old knows something of the Japanese relocation ordered by liberals such as Earl Warren and FDR, or of the creation and the dropping of the atomic bomb by successive Democratic administrations, they might wish to examine what went on in Nanking, Bataan, Wake Island, Guadalcanal, Manila, or Manchuria — atrocities that their sensitive teachers are probably clueless about as well.

 

After all, this was a week in which thousands of the once-enslaved Dutch in Maastricht were protesting the visit of a president of the nation that once liberated their fathers, while thousands of neo-Nazis were back in the streets of Berlin. A Swedish EU official recently blamed the Second World War on "nationalistic pride and greed, and…international rivalry for wealth and power" — the new mantra that Hitler was merely confused or perhaps had some “issues” with his neighbors. Perhaps her own opportunistic nation that once profited (“greed”?) from the Third Reich itself was not somehow complicit in fueling the Holocaust.

 

How odd that Swedes and Spaniards who were either neutrals or pro-Nazi during World War II now so often lecture the United States not just about present morality but about the World War II past as well.

 

If there were any justice in the world, we would have the ability to transport our most severe critics across time and space to plop them down on Omaha Beach or put them in an overloaded B-29 taking off from Tinian, with the crew on amphetamines to keep awake for their 15-hour mission over Tokyo.

 

But alas, we cannot. Instead, the beneficiaries of those who sacrificed now ankle-bite their dead betters. Even more strangely, they have somehow convinced us that in their politically-correct hindsight, they could have done much better in World War II.

 

Yet from every indication of their own behavior over the last 30 years, we suspect that the generation who came of age in the 1960s would have not just have done far worse but failed entirely.

 

— Victor Davis Hanson is a military historian and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. His website is victorhanson.com.

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http://www.nationalreview.com/hanson/hanson200505130808.asp

 

How odd that Swedes and Spaniards who were either neutrals or pro-Nazi during World War II now so often lecture the United States not just about present morality but about the World War II past as well.

 

174436[/snapback]

 

Huh? Have I missed something?

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Brasidas:

"I am curious, why you don't spend more of your time and energy blaming Chamberlain and the leadership of Poland in the early 30s for not preparing themselves to protect Poland.

 

Anytime you place the guarantee of your independence into the hands of others, you allow their political concerns to dominate yours."

 

:blink:  :blink:  :blink:

 

The Polish government during the interwar years was certainly not anywhere as effective as it could have been, but it did all it could to preserve Polnad's independancy. We had the best army we could afford, powerful alies and non-aggression pacts with both our future enemies.

 

During these years people were so much concerned with our only a couple years old sovereignty that it's quite incomprehensible to anyone not living then and there.

 

I have no idea what more would you expect?

174003[/snapback]

 

Here, let me illustrate.

 

If the US is conquered, and no one liberates the US because it would be "to difficult", whose fault is it that the US was conquered? The UK's fault? France's fault? The UN's fault? No one is responsible for your freedom except yourself. The US is blessed with a highly favorable strategic position, a result of over one hundred years of luck and haphazard planning. Poland is not so blessed, I don't think anyone denies this. However, just because Poland doesn't have the best strategic position, does not mean she should expect her allies to lose significant parts of their male populace to defend her own sovereignty to overcome her poor strategic situation.

 

It sounds a real bitch to say it, but I just don't think the west was willing to shoulder the burden and pay the price to free the country whose subjugation started the whole party to begin with after almost 6 years of war for most of the participants in question.

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Basically I agree with Hanson, but

 

http://www.nationalreview.com/hanson/hanson200505130808.asp

... they might wish to examine what went on in Nanking, Bataan, Wake Island, Guadalcanal, Manila, or Manchuria — atrocities that their sensitive teachers are probably clueless about as well.

174436[/snapback]

why Guadalcanal?

 

Hojutsuka

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