the second world war – causes, culpability and lessons
“Might makes right.” – but not on this blog.
Why do I write this essay? Wars will occur until we stop the hate, the covetousness and the greed. Wars will occur as long as we unethical humans feel it is easier or preferable to take the fruit of our neighbor’s efforts (or his natural resources) than to work harder and smarter ourselves. Wars are never win-win propositions. In most cases, wars turn out to be lose-lose activities.
If we can learn from history – and there are many who feel that we humans do not learn from the study of history – and we can act ethically, we can work to prevent the scourge of war.
I write this essay in the hopes that it will serve to help others to resist the manipulation by their governments and news media that call for war, needless wars.
In an age of propaganda, misinformation and disinformation, seeking the objective truth is politically incorrect.
Before proceeding, it needs to be said that we are not “pro-German” nor “anti-German”.
As the section on causes is rather lengthy, let us take up the lessons first.
What lessons can we draw from the multiple causes of the war?
The first lesson we can draw is that an unjust peace will not be a lasting peace. The bitter fruits of the punitive Versailles Treaty after the First World War are relevant here. One lesson is that we cannot trust the victors’ history of the conflict, and more to the point, we cannot trust governments and news media in a crisis to report the objective truth. Misinformation is spread and objective truths are suppressed. Misdeeds of “enemy” nations are often fabricated or exaggerated, while misdeeds of one’s own country and/or of friendly nations are down played or ignored. Another lesson is that the responsibility for a war (the “blame” if you prefer) is usually multi-party. The major powers all had culpability for driving Europe to war in 1939 (and in late 1941, driving the world to war, with the US entry into the conflict). One lesson that is sure to be controversial is that powerful special interests, not clearly seen by the public, are often at work to foment war. One of these powerful special interests is that of international finance, the banksters. Yet another disturbing lesson is that the Allied military and political leaders of the time proved to be as hateful and bloodthirsty (or more so) than the Germans were claimed to be. (Consider the relentless Allied bombing of civilians in Germany during the war, and the post war occupation of Germany where the Germans were systematically starved in the mid to late 1940s. References to these and other Allied crimes (including the Morgenthau Plan) were in our previous essay – see link below.)
Concerned citizens: Do not be stampeded into war by dishonest governments and other forces (special interests) acting behind the scenes that profit from war.
It has been observed by others that the principal consequence or effect of the Second World War was to make large areas of the globe safe for communism (China and east Asia, and central and eastern Europe).
causes and culpability
We now note several causes of the war. Now that the emotions have calmed, and the passionate war frenzy is long past, important and relevant facts are slowly becoming more widely known.
First off, we are not excusing Hitler and Germany for their portion of the responsibility for the war. Hitler did tell his generals in November, 1937 to prepare for war. He was envisioning a war in the East with the Bolshevik state (Soviet Union). He really did not want a wider war nor a war with the western democracies. (Once war broke out, he made several peace overtures to Britain.)
Hitler made a major mistake in absorbing the rest (the non-German parts) of Czechoslovakia in early 1939 after the Munich agreement. This destroyed his credibility in the West, so that he was not believed when he said he only wanted Danzig joined to the Reich and a land transport corridor to East Prussia early in the crisis of 1939 over Poland. The British guarantee in early 1939 (of British protection) to Poland emboldened the Polish government not to negotiate with Hitler over land access to East Prussia, and not to make any concessions. Polish treatment of ethnic Germans in Poland (former German territories prior to 1918) was becoming increasingly harsh and hostile during 1939.
(Once war broke out: It is important to note that with Britain aggressively moving (in early 1940) to occupy or place its troops in nations either friendly to Germany (Norway) or neutral (the Low countries), Hitler moved quickly to occupy these nations so as to protect Germany. Again in the spring of 1941, with British involvement in the shifting alliances within the Balkans, Germany had to secure its southern flank prior to invading the Soviet Union in June. If Britain had not decided to go to war with Germany in 1939, had Britain stayed out of the conflict on the continent, it is very likely that there would have been no war in the West, and it is possible that the Balkans would have been spared German occupation.)
However, there were other contributing factors (causes) and culpability for the conflagration that was World War II.
The Versailles Treaty after World War I caused much suffering and severe economic dislocation in Germany in the 1920s. As well, ethnic Germans were treated harshly in the German territories that were given to newly established nations after the war (in Poland, and in the Austrian territory given to Czechoslovakia). The French acquired some territory from Germany and occupied other German territory where they mistreated German civilians. All this served to create the environment, the situation, in which a man like Adolf Hitler could come to power. This unjust treaty was forced on to Germany by the victorious allies after WW I.
American culpability is thoroughly documented in Back Door To War, The Roosevelt Foreign Policy 1933 – 1941, by Charles Callan Tansill (1952, Regnery, 5th printing 1971. This tome of several hundred pages has been reprinted recently by another publisher. We read this book in the summer of 2007.) US State Department documents make the case against President Franklin Roosevelt (FDR), who wanted to provoke Germany and Japan into attacking the US. Why? FDR needed a war to get the US out of its economic depression which FDR’s so-called New Deal had failed (abysmally) to do. (FDR greatly feared that he might be voted out of office in a future election because of the continuing economic hardship Americans were suffering.) Once the US refused to sell raw materials to Imperial Japan, the Japanese sought such needed raw materials through conquest of the Dutch East Indies and British Malaya. For such conquest to succeed, US naval forces in the Pacific would have to be neutralized, thus the attack on Pearl Harbor in December, 1941. As well, the diplomatic correspondences of 1939 make it clear that FDR was exhorting France and Britain to go to war with Germany and FDR was telling these nations’ diplomats that the US would be in the war at the end (thus assuring them of American military support). Franklin Roosevelt did all he could to turn 2 regional wars (in Europe and in east Asia) into a worldwide war. (Readers are encouraged to see our earlier essay, linked to below, on suppressed history.)
British world empire has much culpability for the war in Europe. Despite the “official” British concern for the integrity of Poland’s borders and territory, Britain was acting on its long held “balance of power” policy as regards the continent (Europe). Britain did not want any continental power becoming too powerful nor dominant on the continent. Germany posed the threat of becoming the dominant power on the continent. Why should Britain care about this? (German General von Manstein, in his postwar memoirs – Lost Victories, criticized the British for not seeking a global balance of power instead of a European one. Germany was the only European nation that could balance or offset the Soviet threat from the East.) The British Empire, based on the history of its actions, operated under the rules of “me first, and nobody else second”. The British did not want any competition, potential or actual. And, the war monger Churchill (along with the others in his war time government) after becoming prime minister in May, 1940, rejected all German offers of peace.
At the time of the German invasion of the USSR in June, 1941, Stalin’s Soviet Union had the world’s largest army by far in manpower, tanks and field artillery. Stalin wanted to impose communism on all of Europe. (The communists had been calling for worldwide revolution for decades.) Between September, 1939 and the end of June, 1940, the Soviet Union invaded and annexed eastern Poland, the 3 Baltic states, a section of northeastern Romania (northern Bukovina and Bessarabia), and fought a war with Finland to acquire territory. Odd, is it not, that Britain did not declare war on the USSR when it invaded Poland from the east on 17 September, 1939?! Because of the size of its armed forces and its aggressive acquisitions of territories bordering the Reich (most of which were permitted under the German-Soviet pact of August, 1939), Hitler was moved to invade Russia in a pre-emptive strike. (There is now much controversy as to a planned Soviet invasion of Germany, but Hitler did not feel he could afford to wait.) Note that 2 dictatorial regimes were seizing territory and making entire peoples captive in Europe at the time, but only one regime is universally blamed for the entire war.
Hitler was a threat to the profits of international finance. His barter system of exchange with neighboring countries (whereby Germany exchanged its quality manufactured goods for foodstuffs and raw materials from its neighbors) was depriving international finance of some profits to be made on international commerce. International finance feared that such a circumventing of its power could be contagious (with other countries adopting the barter practice) and thus deprive it of even more profits over time. For international finance (largely based in London at the time), Hitler and thus Germany had to be destroyed.
Hitler is universally condemned for his policies against the Jews. However, what is not widely known is that prior to the anti-Jewish laws enacted in Germany in 1934 and 1935, world Jewry had organized a boycott against the National Socialist regime very early on. Within several weeks of Hitler becoming German Chancellor, a call to boycott German goods was made in late March, 1933. (This is seen in the infamous headlines from The Daily Express in London on March 24, 1933: “Judea Declares War on Germany – Jews of All the World Unite – Boycott German Goods”.) If you think this is not true, Hitler responded to this Jewish orchestrated boycott in an address to the National Socialist Party on 28 March 1933. Hitler’s order can be found in the Voelkischer Beobachter, No. 88, March 29, 1933.
We must clarify this for the reader.
The National Socialists had come into power and that meant that the communists had failed in their bid for power in Germany. Hitler’s party had defeated the communists in the elections that helped Hitler to become chancellor. The communist leadership in Germany was largely made up of Jews. Not every Jew was a communist, far from it, but nearly every communist leader was Jewish. (This Jewish leadership of communist movements was true also in Russia where most of the Bolshevik leaders were ethnic Jews. This is not “anti-Semitism”, but simply a historical fact that you can verify for yourself.) After the failed communist revolution of 1905 in Tsarist Russia, the Tsarist government began taking steps to protect itself and cracked down on communist agitators. This led many Jewish communists to flee to Germany where the Kaiser allowed them to take up residence. These Jewish communists saw the National Socialists as their enemies. As well, the National Socialists saw the communists, led mainly by Jews, as their enemies. Recall that the 2 factions had been fighting in the streets of German cities for years prior to Hitler coming to power. They knew each other well, so to speak.
As a Jewish friend of mine was fond of saying “the truth is the truth”. Many truths are inconvenient, even uncomfortable to face.
Germany depended upon its exports of manufactured goods to feed itself. This boycott, which reached even to the US, deprived, to the extent that the boycott was successful, Germany of the means to provide for its citizens. Was this not a form of economic warfare directed against Germany?! The intent of this boycott of German goods in international markets was to cripple Germany economically – actually to prevent Germany from recovering from the very severe economic dislocation following World War I and the punitive Versailles Treaty.
Churchill, Stalin, Franklin Roosevelt, and the many accessories (both known and those working behind the scenes) wanted war and wanted Germany destroyed.
Demonizing Hitler, and placing the entire blame for the war on Germany, diverts attention away from British, and Soviet, and, yes, American culpability for what became a world war.
The interested reader is directed to our earlier essay on WW II.
And, our recent essay on Allied war crimes:
Regarding the legacy of the British Empire: