A Brief History of World War 2
It is a great cliché that history is written by the victors. Indeed Winston Churchill famously remarked that history would be kind to him, for he intended to write it, and this he did. His wartime accounts became the central basis of the western view of World War 2 in historical study. It follows then that our view as Britons, Americans, Canadians and so on have been skewed by the self-aggrandising of a minor party of the victorious side.
I make these observations particularly on the back of reading multiple hubs that clearly evolve out of this misunderstanding of history. The intention of this piece is not to give an all encompassing account of all the nuances of the conflict, such an endeavour obviously would stretch to volumes. The intention is to provide what it is believed is a more accurate and realistic broad narrative of the war.
In 1933 on a minority of the vote, the Nazi Party and Adolf Hitler seize power in Germany. The landscape of European politics at the time reflected the global economic situation. The great depression was an indictment of the failing economic system, and so the bourgeois state was also widely viewed as an experimental failure. The masses at opposing poles fled to either communist parties or their polar opposite, the fascists.
The Nazi ideology was underpinned by anti-communism and anti-Semitism, both of which were equated (Judaism and Communism), as well as being blamed for Germany’s problems eg the defeat at WW1 and subsequent Versailles treaty as well as economic problems. Consequently Hitler sought to eliminate the internal communist and Jewish enemy and destroy the external manifestation of these ideologies: The Soviet Union. Thus the Nazis devised the policy of Lebensraum, meaning living space. This was to make up for the lands lost at Versailles in which Germans would move into the east and use the indigenous population as slave labour. It should be noted that the Slavs, like the Jews were thought of in terms of racial inferiority.
The Allies, the Western Narrative
Depending on which western state one resides they will likely subscribe to some variation of this narrative. They will say that Britain naturally wanted peace, thus Chamberlain signs the Munich agreement with Hitler. But Hitler went back on the agreement and the invasion of Poland was a step too far and the Western allies intervened to help save the Poles. Now under the leadership of Churchill, Britain was an ardent enemy of Nazism fighting for European freedom. The French are almost immediately defeated and Britain is left to stand alone and wins the Battle of Britain. Hitler then double crosses the Soviet Union, and while bogged down in Russia the Brits and Americans liberate the globe.
Of course this narrative is pure fantasy. That these events occurred is not pure fantasy, they surely did. But what is omitted is the occurrence of other events which when understood will dramatically change our narrative.
First of all it is of paramount importance to remember that fascist aggression did not begin when Hitler invaded the Sudatenland or Poland. Many events had occurred which psychologically encouraged Hitler’s aggression. In Manchuria, the Japanese intervention had gone unpunished, likewise Mussolini’s incursion into Abyssinia. Most famously for Europeans though was the Spanish Civil War. Without going into the event extensively, what must be noted is that General Franco with the assistance of the Nazi’s were able to overthrow the democratic Spanish Government. On this occasion the only country who stepped up and delivered assistance to the Spanish republic was the Soviet Union. Indeed the British and France de facto helped the fascists by blocking off access to Soviet ships in the Mediterranean. On every occasion the implied message sent from bourgeois democracies to the fascists was “do as you like, we wont prevent you”.
Likewise when long before the invasion of Poland, the Soviet government invited The British and French leaders to meet with Stalin in order to formulate a strategy for preventing fascist aggression, the British and French snubbed the Soviets and in a show of disrespect and lack of commitment sent lowly government figures to meet with Stalin. The British and French were not interested in stopping Hitler. Of course this is all ignored when people in the west talk of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact and cynically proclaim this as an alliance of Hitler and Stalin. The reality being that this was a response to the western powers having no appetite to face Hitler. What the Soviets did was buy time, time to build tanks, planes, ships and guns. And build they did, at a rapid rate.
In the meantime the western powers were dragged into war by way of treaty obligations to Poland. This was despite the fact they did next to nothing to save Poland in the immediacy of Hitler’s invasion.
Early Nazi aggression is evidence of Lebensraum in action. They were moving east to conquer territory and people. There was no desire to move west, but Hitler was dragged west by French and British treaty requirements. Indeed Hitler admired Britain and saw it as a model of how to build an empire which dominates the world with little manpower.
After conquering France, the Battle of Britain ensued and typical of Hitler’s impatience after Operation Sealion had not produced immediate results he turned his attentions back East and on the ultimate goal of eliminating Communism and Judaism.
Operation Barbarossa was name given to the Soviet invasion. Now the narrative of this given in the west, actually largely stems from the now known lies of Nikita Khrushchev at the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Here the myth was born that Stalin was shocked at Hitler’s apparent betrayal, that he was not ready for war, that he hid away for two weeks paralyzed by fear. Kremlin documents released after the fall of the Soviet Union in fact document extensively the actions of Stalin and the central committee in the initial days of war, thereby shattering this myth.
Throughout this period the Soviets fought valiantly often from street to street, in places like Stalingrad. Stalin continually appealed to his western allies to open a second front in western Europe. Churchill and Roosevelt, particularly the former dragged their feet. Churchill in particular wanted not to liberate France, Poland or the Jews of Europe, but instead was intent on fighting in Africa and Asia in defence of the colonies. His interest was on saving the British Empire. Eventually Roosevelt grew impatient with Churchill and went ahead devising plans with the Soviets himself, fed up with the dithering of the old imperialist.
With the D-Day landings and the Soviets having secured massive victories at Stalingrad and Kursk, the writing was on the wall for the Nazi regime. The second front allowed the Soviet forces to push on rapidly through eastern Europe. They went liberating town by town, street by street and camp by camp. And so they marched on to Berlin and the Nazi regime collapsed with its leader committing suicide while Bolsheviks marched on his city. The master race was conquered by the “subhumans” it sought to turn into slaves.
Soviet victory came at a massive cost. It was they who had fought between 80 and 90% of the German army. It was the Soviets who had lost the highest population of any participant, around 27 million. The Soviet republic of Belarus suffered the highest proportional losses. At Stalingrad alone, more Russians were killed than Americans and Britons combined in the entire war effort. Yet despite all of this many still espouse the notion that Britain and/or the US were mainly responsible for victory. But it is only a natural view to have when popular history is written by the victors and thereby history has been kind to men like Churchill. It is actually entirely fanciful that Churchill liberated Europe or freed the Jews or any such notion.
“In the Soviet institutions the predominance of Jews is even more astonishing. And the prominent, if not indeed the principal, part in the system of terrorism applied by the Extraordinary Commissions for Combating Counter-Revolution has been taken by Jews, and in some notable cases by Jewesses.”
Who uttered these words, Adolf Hitler, Heinrich Himmler? No, in fact it was one Winston Churchill.
And in 1935 well into the persecution of the Jews, socialists, trade unionists and communists, he tells us
“We cannot tell whether Hitler will be the man who will once again let loose upon the world another war in which civilisation will irretrievably succumb, or whether he will go down in history as the man who restored honour and peace of mind to the Great Germanic nation.”
Two years later he tells us
“I have always said that if Great Britain were defeated in war I hoped we should find a Hitler to lead us back to our rightful position among the nations.”
And how about
“I do not agree that the dog in a manger has the final right to the manger even though he may have lain there for a very long time. I do not admit that right. I do not admit for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, a more worldly wise race to put it that way, has come in and taken their place.”
“If I had been an Italian, I am sure I would have been entirely with you from the beginning to the end of your victorious struggle against the bestial appetites and passions of Leninism.”
It is of no wonder that our history has been unfavourably kind to the empire which he headed at this time, and conversely that little kindness is shown to those who did fight honourably with courage and virtue.
For the man who unlike Churchill told us the following and led the great victory against Nazism has his role altogether downplayed and distorted
“National and racial chauvinism is a vestige of the misanthropic customs characteristic of the period of cannibalism. Anti-semitism, as an extreme form of racial chauvinism, is the most dangerous vestige of cannibalism.” - Josef Stalin