Lessons from World War II

Looking back on the 64th anniversary of the Nazi surrender

This past weekend marked 64 years since the surrender of Nazi Germany and the Allied victory in Europe in World War II (May 8, except in Russia and a few other former Soviet republics where it is commemorated on May 9). In the United States, this date generally receives little notice except on the major anniversaries; in Russia, Victory Day is the most important public holiday, celebrated with much pomp and circumstance. Yet in any country directly affected by World War II, that war holds a unique place in our collective cultural and historical consciousness—a living past that continues to influence the way we see the present.

In modern-day Russia, victory in "the Great Patriotic War" is probably the only major event of the last hundred years that everyone can celebrate, regardless of political beliefs. The war, which took up to 14 million lives in Russia (and as many as 27 million in the entire Soviet Union), and caused untold hardship and suffering to most survivors, is a sacred memory, a source of both grief and rightful pride. For people who saw the collapse of Communism and were suddenly told that the Soviet experiment had not been a glorious struggle a better future but a 70-year road to nowhere, it means a great deal to know that their country's role in the defeat of Nazism is still a victory they can believe in.

There is, however, a darker side to this legacy. Russian apologists for Communism use the victory in World War II as a validation of the Soviet regime—and sometimes as an excuse for the odious rule of Joseph Stalin, Hitler's rival in butchery. In recent years, the Russian government has exploited the war to promote the image of Russia as a benign power and denigrate the claims of Eastern European countries and former Soviet republics which see themselves as victims not only of Nazi Germany but of Soviet Communism as well.

The glorified official Russian view of the war also ignores the extent to which the wartime suffering of the Russian people was inflicted by their own leadership. There is little mention of the fact that untrained, ill-equipped draftees were used as cannon fodder, that regular troops were routinely followed by special units which shot at soldiers who tried to retreat, or Soviet soldiers taken prisoner by the Germans were branded traitors for surrendering and often sent to the gulag prison camps for their homecoming.

But we too have our World War II blind spots—sometimes, ironic mirror images of the Russian ones. Russians commonly downplay the role of American and British allies in defeating the German war machine; Americans, much to the annoyance of Russians, often talk as if we almost single-handedly liberated Europe from Nazism. We, too, remain in thrall to the myth of "The Good War" that often glosses over some of the less noble actions taken on our own side. Even those on the left who denounce the bombing of Hiroshima and the internment of Japanese-Americans rarely mention the firebombing of German cities or the well-documented mistreatment of German civilians and POWs. Little is said about the morality of handing over Eastern Europe to Stalin, or of forcibly repatriating to the USSR Soviet POWs and other Soviet nationals who faced harsh punitive measures and sometimes execution without trial.

The "Good War," like the Good Book, can be put in the service of any agenda. Conservatives invoke it to justify military action: "What about Hitler?" is a devastating, if cliché, rebuttal to the pacifist insistence that there is never a good reason to go to war. It is, to some extent, an unfair argument that much too easily confers the status of Hitler on our enemy of the day. But it also makes a valid and important point: evil does exist (if usually on a smaller scale than Nazism), and to refuse to fight it is to ensure its triumph.

For liberals, particularly in response to the War on Terror and its excesses, World War II is the foremost example of how we were able to defeat a formidable enemy without abandoning our core principles, such as humane treatment of prisoners. But that is not so simple, either. After President Obama's statement attributing the line, "We do not torture," to Sir Winston Churchill, there were revelations that at least one British facility for captive Germans did, in fact, use brutal methods that qualify as torture—though probably without Churchill's knowledge. Besides, are brutal interrogation methods a worse departure from our moral principles than killing civilians in indiscriminate air raids?

Despite its darkest moments, World War II remains "the Good War"—not because we were impeccably good, but because we fought an enemy that was as close as one can be to pure evil. It also belies the popular notion that if we cross certain moral lines to achieve our war aims, we will become just as bad as the enemy: the staggering casualties in the firebombing of Dresden notwithstanding, Churchill did not "sink to the level" of the leaders of the Third Reich.

World War II reminds us about the limits of idealism. Looking back, many people wonder if we would have won the war with the level of media openness and respect for human rights that we have today. That's a legitimate question—but its seamy side is a dangerous nostalgia for a "simpler" time when soldiers could do their job without having to think of sissy stuff like rights and legalities.

Perhaps the real lesson of World War II is that a free, civilized society at war will always seek to strike some balance between self-defense and principle. Sometimes, it will err badly. To defend these errors as fully justified is to betray our own values and start on a road that leads to the kind of authoritarian mindset so rampant in Putin's Russia. To condemn them with no understanding of their context is a self-righteous utopian posture that, in the end, does liberal values a disservice.

Cathy Young is a contributing editor at Reason magazine. This article originally appeared at RealClearPolitics.com.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Xeones||

    Every town i went to in Russia in the mid 90s had some sort of tremendous WWII monument near its center, usually with an eternal flame burning. People were still leaving flowers.

  • ||

    Churchill's declaration of war upon Germany, itself, was a singular horrific, evil, profligate act. Britian was not attacked. Instead, he chose to be the totalitarain tough guy and plunge the world into war.

    Dresden, Eisenhower's holocaust, Hiroshima and Nagasaki are evil incarnate. Period. Mass murder on a spectacular scale.

  • ||

    How do you do there squire, also I am not Minehead lad but I in Peterborough, Lincolnshire was given birth to, but stay in Peterborough Lincolnshire house all during war, owing to nasty running sores, and was unable to go in the streets play football or go to Nürnberg. I am retired vindow cleaner and pacifist, without doing war crimes--tch tch tch--and am glad England win World Cup - Bobby Charlton, Martin Peters - and eating lots of chips and fish and hole in the toads, and Dundee cakes on Piccadilly line. Don't you know old chap I was head of Gestapo for ten years. Five years! No, no, nein, I was not head of Gestapo at all...I make joke.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "For liberals, particularly in response to the War on Terror and its excesses, World War II is the foremost example of how we were able to defeat a formidable enemy without abandoning our core principles, such as humane treatment of prisoners."

    Liberals who think that don't know what they're talking about - particularly about what went on in the island hopping campaign across the Central Pacific.

  • Xeones||

    Liberals who think that don't know what they're talking about - particularly about what went on in the island hopping campaign across the Central Pacific.

    Hell, that shows a pretty startling disinterest in the internment of Japanese-American civilians and confiscation of their property.

  • ||

    The biggest idiots are those that say things like, "we'd be speaking german today if it wasn't for our war effort" and "if we didn't nuke the japs we would have lost a million of our boys" and "we didn't start the war" and similar rubbish. Who in their right mind would buy such totalitarian drivel?

  • ! </a||

    Dresden, Eisenhower's holocaust, Hiroshima and Nagasaki are evil incarnate. Period. Mass murder on a spectacular scale.

    Three guesses on who is trying to suck-up to Matt Welch in comment #2.

  • ||

    How about mining japanese harbors and harassing japanese shipping? How about the clandestine assistance to racist, communist britian, including "lend/lease" and the "flying tigers" and the like? What business did we have in southeast asia? what business did we have in Burma? Laos? Vietnam? China? Europe? None, according to the declaration of independence and the constitution.

  • ||

    !#

    Who here least embodies one who is a suck up? The answer is not !#.

  • ||

    I took a course back in college called "The Decision to Build and Drop the Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima". Extraordinarily focused and interesting. Prompt and Utter Destruction was the best of the course material IIRC.

  • ||

    Hell, that shows a pretty startling disinterest in the internment of Japanese-American civilians and confiscation of their property.

    Sorry, Zee, but it does no such thing. Two entirely separate issues.

    OK, Libertymike, calling your bluff. How do you think the 1940's would have unfolded without the Allies taking on the Nazis? Specifically, I'd like to hear whether you think Hitler would have conquered Europe (including England), and do you think Hitler would have stopped (ie, not attacked USA) once done?

  • ! </a||

    Ooooo! libertymike, I must have touched a nerve. How about doing some more "US bad for self defense" suckup for us?

    You left out the part about Japan being on the verge of surrender at any moment but Truman bombed them anyway because his was racist.

  • ||

    Jesus Christ, there's always one laptop-bombardier on every forum/blog, and true to form he's a crank.

  • ||

    libertymike:

    Unless you're trying to be sarcastic, your comment on Britain is idiotic. Britain (and France) had an alliance with Poland. When Germany invaded Poland, Britain's treaty with Poland obligated them to come to Poland's aid.

    All war, not just Dresden, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, are "evil incarnate" to use your words.

  • ! </a||

    p,

    All war, not just Dresden, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, are "evil incarnate" to use your words.

    Come on man, the only people who do anything wrong are the US, England and Israel. Everybody else is nice and would get along just fine if it were not for our meddling.

    Just ask Hitler, Stalin, Chavez and the entire Arts and Sciences departments at any major university.

  • ||

    Tonio-

    1. The internment of the japaneses was a just one more evil, totalitarian action undertaken by america. Ethnic cleansing is thy middle name.

    2. By the middle of June, 1940, France had been defeated and Britian chased from the continent. The huns did not even ATTEMPT to invade the socialist stiff upper lippers. They had over a year and half to try before amerika officially got into the war.

    So, at most, IMO, the germans may have been able to hold France, the low countries and parts of Poland and Czechoslovakia-but not for too long. They did not have the wherewithal to cross the atlantic and take us out. They just did not.

  • Xeones||

    Sorry, Zee, but it does no such thing.

    Confiscating the property of citizens and locking them up 'for the duration' without due process, based on national origin, is in line with core American principles?

  • ||

    Cathy Young:

    Thanks for a well-written, even-handed article.

    Particularly impressed by the following bits, which address the issues raised in the comments above:

    Despite its darkest moments, World War II remains "the Good War"-not because we were impeccably good, but because we fought an enemy that was as close as one can be to pure evil. It also belies the popular notion that if we cross certain moral lines to achieve our war aims, we will become just as bad as the enemy: the staggering casualties in the firebombing of Dresden notwithstanding, Churchill did not "sink to the level" of the leaders of the Third Reich.

    Because in the real world, there is no such thing as purity. Sometimes you have to make compromising decisions to achieve a greater good.

    "What about Hitler?" is a devastating, if cliché, rebuttal to the pacifist insistence that there is never a good reason to go to war.

    So, so true. Unfortunately, the pacifists rarely realize they've been devastated.

  • ||

    No, Britian did not have to come to the aid of Poland. The alliance was binding how? What was Poland going to do? Did the Brits honor the alliance all the way?

    NO. What did they do to stop the russians?

  • ! </a||

    lib,

    amerika

    Didn't you leave out 2 k's there?

  • ||

    "Not much fun in Stalingrad."

  • ||

    In the real world, you do not have to believe the totalitarian propaganda mouthed by folks a few fries short of a happy meal but all to willing to go to the parades and go wow look at the brave troopsies.

  • ! </a||

    Unfortunately, the pacifists rarely realize they've been devastated.

    You give them too much credit.

  • ||

    !#-

    Hi commie.

  • ||

    Confiscating the property of citizens and locking them up 'for the duration' without due process, based on national origin, is in line with core American principles?

    No, they aren't. They were wrong, period. But it's still a different issue from US treatment of Japanese soldiers and POWs during the Pacific campaign. Which were also wrong, but a different class and degree of wrong. And a different issue.

    I'm in total agreement with Ms. Young and her "Despite its darkest moments" paragraph.

  • ! </a||

    There ya go lib, you will be on the payroll in no time.

    Make sure you send a printed version of this and your other works to Brian Doherty.

    They say that they tak electronic submissions, but real writers know that it only counts on real paper.

  • ! </a||

    See? I spelled take wrong, so I am not even going to try.

  • Shannon Love||

    For Americans, the end of WWII (which for us had two endings) made little cultural impact. For us, the major cultural event was the attack on Pearl Harbor. The idea of sudden sneak attack has haunted our national psyche every since. We spent 50 years facing the very real possibility of sudden nuclear attack. 9/11 merely amplified the idea that we will be struck out the blue.

    The idea of the need to deal with sudden attacks underlies a lot of military thinking both politically and within the military itself. A lot of non-Americans really don't understand this and it causes them misunderstand a lot of our military preparations.

  • ||

    To suggest that the germans would have overrun North America if the US did not enter the war is lunacy. They had clear sailing for quite some time and did not even try to invade england.

  • ||

    Shannon Love-

    But it was not a "sneak attack." That line is just jingoistic propaganda garbage. We were already at war with the japs.

  • Xeones||

    But it's still a different issue from US treatment of Japanese soldiers and POWs during the Pacific campaign. Which were also wrong, but a different class and degree of wrong. And a different issue.

    I brought up the internment camps because that's the issue more people have heard of, and it happened to American citizens (naturalized and otherwise) on American soil. Neither one is a good example of this country upholding the values it purports to hold dear. If you're looking for someone to actually disagree with, i suggest you try the exclamation point or libertymike or something. Or Epi; he's been kind of punchy today.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    Hey, who's sock-puppeteering libertymike? Not cool, ya'll...

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    "we didn't start the war" and similar rubbish.

    I mean, really, libertymike.

  • ||

    Tonio, if you would just reference Robert Jordan in your argument with Xeones, you'll drive him into a rage which will cause him to lose all logic and you can pwn him easily. Try it; it's gold.

  • ||

    libertymike actually uses the phrase "in the real world" above.

    Threadwinner.

  • Mike||

    Good article, Cathy Young. It is truly annoying when somebody brings up a legitimate point regarding WWII, and somebody yells "Goodwin's Law" to try to shut him up. Here are some valid lessons from WWII:

    1. You have to deal with threats. Hoping that they won't hurt you if you don't bother them never works.

    2. When somebody says he wants to kill all members of a certain race, believe him. Don't say "Nobody would ever do something that awful." Someone already has.

    3. Sometimes you have to fight alongside a scumbag to take down another scumbag. You can't deal only with saints. They're aren't enough of them.

    4. Proportional representation is a bad way to run an electoral system. It encourages the formation of tiny, single issue parties, and allows people like Hitler to take power with less than a majority.

    PS: The Soviets used biological weapons at Stalingrad (tularemia). Without it, they might have lost the battle that turned the tide of the war. Were they justified? Discuss.

  • ||

    Oh come on people. Katya is just regurgitating the same tired cliches.

    not because we were impeccably good, but because we fought an enemy that was as close as one can be to pure evil.

    But we didn't fight Hitler because he was "evil" so you can't retroactively pat yourself on the back for that. We fought Hitler for the simple reason that he was trying to upset the European and global balance of power. Hitler is evil because he herded Jews into death camps, starved Russian and Polish POWs and civilians to death, and plundered and stole from Nazi occupied Europe. But we didn't declare war on Germany because he was doing those things, and we never tried to stop him from killing Jews if that put our boys at greater risk. You can say "well, we fought a war to stop him from kiling Jews!" but by that point 6 million Jews were already dead, so it's not much of a consolation to them, is it? We could have prevented most of Hitler's evil by the much simpler method of allowing any Jew in Europe to immigrate the US in the 1930s. But we preferred fighting a bloody and expensive war. Most people instinctively prefer punishing evil-doers to letting an evil-doer get away with something, no one wants to appear weak. It's a lot like Iraq - no question many more Iraqis died because we invaded than had we not, but many Americans and not a few Iraqis feel that justice was done despite that. If the price to stop evil is actually higher than letting evil continue, that's worth it to us at some primordial level. This is why "justice" and "economics" don't overlap.

    "What about Hitler?" is a devastating, if cliché, rebuttal to the pacifist insistence that there is never a good reason to go to war." It's devastating only if you refuse to think it through at all. The simple rebuttal to that is "What about Stalin?", "What about Mao?" Why didn't we declare war to stop them? They were no better than Hitler so how does the Hitler card prove anything? The more complex answer is that through war we managed to punish Hitler, but we didn't stop any of the evil he committed - the millions and millions of dead are still dead; the churches, synagogues and libraries are still burned to the ground; the displaced populations of Lwow, Pilsner, Danzig, Dalmatia, Chelmnitsky etc. will never get to go home; etc. Had we not fought Hitler millions of Jews, Poles and Ukrainians might have lived miserable lives as second class citizens in the new German Reich, but they would still have had lives. Don't pretend the trade-off is quite that simple. Hitler probably would have condemned millions of Soviets to death by starvation and misery had he beat Stalin, but there are millions of Soviets who might have lived had he beat Stalin. Even WWII is not as black and white as we like to pretend. Once again Katya refuses to actually think deeply about anything.

  • ||

    Tonio, if you would just reference Robert Jordan in your argument with Xeones, you'll drive him into a rage

    If Hitler had Balefire, all the allies in the world couldn't have stopped him. He was just too wool-headed to use it.

  • Warty||

    Robert Jordan

    Fuck! Fuck you, Epi. Fuck you. FUCK YOU.

    Did they ever find that goddamn bowl that fixed the weather? I stopped reading that fucking series TEN YEARS AGO and I still remember that fucking shitty bowl.

  • Shannon Love||

    libertymike,

    But it was not a "sneak attack." That line is just jingoistic propaganda garbage. We were already at war with the japs.

    Hush, the grownups are talking.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "No, they aren't. They were wrong, period. But it's still a different issue from US treatment of Japanese soldiers and POWs during the Pacific campaign. Which were also wrong, but a different class and degree of wrong. And a different issue."

    By the way, I am in no way condemning the behavior of our troops in Pacific war. The Japanse were some of the most fanatical soldiers in history and would often pretend to surrender in attempts to kill more American troops. Our soldiers did what they had to do in the circumstances. They do not apoligize for it and rightly so.

  • ! </a||

    WWII: WWOD?

  • Shannon Love||

    vanya,

    The simple rebuttal to that is "What about Stalin?", "What about Mao?" Why didn't we declare war to stop them?

    Well, there was that entire Cold War thing in which we created tens of thousands of nuclear weapons and threatened to incinerate the entire biosphere if they did anything major. We also lost 49,000 Americans fighting Stalin and Mao in Korea and another 50,000 in Indochina. But you right, beyond containing them by threatening to end the world, we pretty much ignored them.

    Your making a juvenile argument that because we can't or won't address every possible evil in the world that we don't have the moral authority to address any evil.

    We don't have unlimited power neither do we have a perfect understanding of the consequences of resorting to violence. Both these mature realities mean we have to be circumspect in our use of military power. We don't get to chose utopia. We just get to chose between bad and worse.

  • Warty||

  • ||

    It is irrational to label Vanya's argument "juvenile." Shannon's assertion that because we can't or won't address every evil in the world that does not mean that we do not have the moral authority to address any evil translated means the US has "the bully's prerogative."

  • highnumber||

    Your making a juvenile argument that because we can't or won't address every possible evil in the world that we don't have the moral authority to address any evil.

    Juh?

    If I may attempt to summarize what he wrote, what appears to be the right, just response is not necessarily the best response. That does not strike me as a juvenile attitude.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    Shannon's assertion that because we can't or won't address every evil in the world that does not mean that we do not have the moral authority to address any evil translated means the US has "the bully's prerogative."

    Huh? Since when is it the behavior of bullies to 'confront evil'? Hint: that's not bullyish behavior.

  • ||

    "Had we not fought Hitler millions of Jews, Poles and Ukrainians might have lived miserable lives as second class citizens in the new German Reich, but they would still have had lives."

    Yeah, the Nazis were forced by the warmongering west into committing atrocities. Uh huh.

    How many Buchanan acolytes post to this forum, anyway?

  • ||

    2. By the middle of June, 1940, France had been defeated and Britian chased from the continent. The huns did not even ATTEMPT to invade the socialist stiff upper lippers. They had over a year and half to try before amerika officially got into the war

    Have you ever read a history textbook? Hitler did want to invade Britain! The Battle of Britain was about the air supremacy necessary for a Nazi occupation of the UK. Yes, the Americans did join us (Britain and her colonies) in the last five minutes of WWII, for which we are grateful, and without which the war might have taken a generation, but don't belittle the accomplishments of Britain in her own defense.

  • ||

    Zee: Not trying to be contrary. I agree with you about internment, I just thought it was a really bad talking point to bring that up in conjunction with US ops in the Pacific during WW2.

    Epi: Don't know who Jordan is, and not trying to pick a fight with Zee. Will leave that to you.

    FWIW I consider you both to be the commenters here with whom I'm most likely to agree -- though obviously not on the same issues.

    I think we can all agree that LM has won the trifecta by adding "lunacy" and "irrational" to his previous thread win.

  • ||

    Art-P.O.G.-

    Did you notice how she responded to my 1:05 post with snark? The reality is that we were mining japanese harbors. We were harassing japanese shipping and we were aiding and abetting the british empire in southeast asia. We were kiling japanese long before Pearl Harbor. We were bullying the japs.

  • phalkor||

    Guys, I've had enough. If you need me I'll be getting unstuck in time on Tralfamador.

  • ! </a||

    We were kiling japanese long before Pearl Harbor.

    Might wat to leave that one out of your portfolio. Don't worry, the editors will never see it here.

  • ||

    "We fought Hitler for the simple reason that he was trying to upset the European and global balance of power."

    No we fought Hitler because he declared war on the US the day after we declared war on Japan. There was no gaurentee that we would enter the war in Europe as opposed to just fighting Japan until Germany declared war on the US.

    The amount of historical ignorance displayed on this thread by the Pat Buchanan pro nazi posters is appalling.

  • Pat Buchanan||

    What did you say about me?

  • ||

    "We were kiling japanese long before Pearl Harbor. We were bullying the japs."

    that is such crap. During the 1920s Japan was the US ally. We stood by idly and said nothing as they raped Korea. It wasn't until they invaded China in the 1930s that we started having problems with them. The Japanese launched an agressive war accross all of east Asia and treated the conquered people with unimaginable brutality. They are 100% responsible for the war that followed. You are appallingly historically ignorant Mike.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "Have you ever read a history textbook? Hitler did want to invade Britain! The Battle of Britain was about the air supremacy necessary for a Nazi occupation of the UK. Yes, the Americans did join us (Britain and her colonies) in the last five minutes of WWII, for which we are grateful, and without which the war might have taken a generation, but don't belittle the accomplishments of Britain in her own defense."

    Yes Hiltler did indeed want to invade Britian.

    However we got into the war just a LITTLE bit sooner than the "last five minutes of WW2"

    Also WW2 included the Pacific war as well as the European war. And in that theater, Britian willingly let America carry about 95% of load of fighting it.

  • ! </a||

    Also WW2 included the Pacific war as well as the European war. And in that theater, Britian willingly let America carry about 95% of load of fighting it.

    That was the one where the Soviets entered the last 5 min. of the war, leading to a long occupation of a Japanese island.

  • ||

    John, you are the guy that supports multi trillion dollar defense expenditures. You are the guy that seems to be okay with the empire and the imposition of income taxes in order to support empire. You are much more of a national socialist than moi.

    You, by your own admission, are part of the military industrial complex. You have an axe to grind. You are the rent seeker. You are blinded by stars and stripes forever.

    Ignorance? Anybody who is interested in the truth seeks it out. They don't rely upon what their public school or sergeant major tells them. The United States was mining Japanese harbors. In fact, we also blockaded much of Indochina-before Pearl Harbor. Funny, the brits considered a blockade to be an act of war.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    [sarcasm]No, John, the Japanese were exceedingly polite to all the countries they subjugated. They weren't trying to dominate the Pacific, we just started bullying them for no reason. [/sarcasm]

  • ||

    Ultimately, Hitler did not invade Britian, did he? He had the opportunity. He chose not to. I guess that means that if the imperialist US had not entered the war, we would be speaking german today. Brilliant.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    OK, libertymike, enough ad hominems. Chillllllll

  • Warty||

    He had the opportunity. He chose not to.

    After he failed to destroy the RAF, he didn't have the opportunity. That's what that Battle of Britain thing was about, homeboy.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    libertymike, I'm trying to figure out how the second part of your 3:13 post links with the first part.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "After he failed to destroy the RAF, he didn't have the opportunity. That's what that Battle of Britain thing was about, homeboy."


    Of course

    mike can't be that stupid.

    Must be trolling.

  • Obama </a||

    mike can't be that stupid.

    Yes he can!

  • ||

    Mike is off his meds today. I am part of the military industrial complex so therefore I am wrong when I say that the Japanese invaded China and commited atrocities like the rape of Nanking. Ok.

  • ||

    Mike,

    If we had not entered the war, Germany would have subjegated all of Europe. And they would have murdered all of the Jews and most of the slavs. And finally they would have used the empty space in Eastern Europe for living space. We would have faced a cold war against a victorious nuclear armed fascist state that owned all of Europe. But Frankfurt would still have its medieval buildings I guess. That sure makes me feel better about it.

  • ||

    People like Mike will never forgive the Jews for Auschwitz.

  • Warty||

    People like Mike will never forgive the Jews for Auschwitz.

    Those fucking freeloaders never even paid Germany back for their train tickets!

  • Cabeza de Vaca||

    "We boiled the flesh off enemy skulls to make table ornaments for sweethearts, or carved their bones into letter-openers."

    Thamks sweetie, just what I always wanted a Japanese skull.

  • ||

    They had over a year and half to try before amerika officially got into the war.

  • ||

    They had over a year and half to try before amerika officially got into the war.

    Usually, people who spell it that was do so to suggest that the U.S. is as bad as Nazi Germany. Until now, I'd never seen it spelled that way to suggest that the U.S. was bad because it *resisted* Nazi Germany.

    (Don't know why my comment didn't appear when I tried it at 4:27.)

  • ||

    John-3:28

    Did I say that?

    John-3:31

    First two sentences are just rank speculation. Besides, Stalin did a pretty good job of killing millions of slavs, didn't he?

    John, are you one of those folks that will never forgive the Sioux for wounded knee? The Four Dead in Ohio? The Cheyenne for Sand Creek? The vietnamese at Mai Lai?

  • ||

    Specifically, I'd like to hear whether you think Hitler would have conquered Europe (including England), and do you think Hitler would have stopped (ie, not attacked USA) once done?

    I'm just speaking from memory now, but my recollection are that reading Mein Kampf makes it hard to avoid the conclusion that Hitler wasn't interested in subjugating Western Europe, but that he saw Eastern Europe and Russia the way the Manifest Destiny crowd in the U.S. saw the American West (and the Slavs living there the way Generals Andrew Jackson and Phil Sheridan and Colonel John M. Chivington saw the American Indians). He didn't seem to have ambitions outside of the East. (For example, IIRC, he thought that trying to recover the African and Asian colonies lost in World War I should not be a very high priority.)

  • Baslim||

    libertymike, before you try and argue the merits of the war, and blam the whole thing on Churchill, American Evil, and socialist upper lips, you should really try reading one histroy of the war.
    Just off the cuff, Churchill wasn't even in power when the war started, he was a washed-up, much ignored backbench MP. Chamberlin, the appeaser was the Prime Minster and issued the declaration, then brought Churchill on to command the Royal Navy. Only after the Phony War did Churchill become PM.
    And teh Brits didn't become real socialist until after the War with the elction of the first ever Labor government

  • ||

    "John-3:31

    First two sentences are just rank speculation. Besides, Stalin did a pretty good job of killing millions of slavs, didn't he?"

    No. There is nothing speculative about it. That is exactly what Hitler's plan was. Read Mein Kopf some time. Also, read Albert Sphere's autobiography. Go to Nuermburg and see the big "world Congress" building they Nazi's were constructing where they planned to let the conquered peoples come and praise the reich. The Nazis made no secret of their plans and followed up on every one they could.

  • ||

    Warty-

    There was a period of time where the Luftwaffe had control of the skies and the RAF was not carrying the day. Furthermore, you are missing the point. The germans were not going to successfully invade england because they did not have the wherewithal to do so. Therefore, the proposition that if the US had not fully entered the fray that we would be speaking german today is just idiotic.

    Further, as you may know, Hitler really did not want to invade England because he thought of the english as kin folk to the reichfolk.

  • ||

    Baslim-

    My mistake on the September 1939 declaration of war. You are right. Yes, Mr. Chamberlain was still the PM. But, the brits were already well down the road of socialism by WWII-with some of that road having been paid by Winston hisself.

  • ||

    John-

    I have read Mein Kopf. I do not recall that he laid out plans to subjugate North America. I think Seamus' point is right in that Hitler frequently spoke?wrote of lebensraum(sp.?), living space, with respect to the east.

    His contempt for the slavs approached his contempt for the jews. He viewed the slavs as inferior and being in the way of germany having its lebensraum.

  • ||

    I have read Mein Kopf.

    Musta been a goyischer Kopf.

  • ||

    Operation Sea Lion. Look it up.

  • Pantera||

    Does nobody remember the shitstorm that was Okinawa? That alone seems a pretty good justification for the atomic bombs.
    And I've always thought that if Japan didn't want their cities to be destroyed, they shouldn't have attacked us. You accept the risk when you make the descicion to wage war.

  • deja moo||

    You've read Mien Kampf? Which version, the real one or the sanitized edition Hitler had issued for foreign consumption?

  • Meh||

    libertymike | May 15, 2009, 4:55pm | #
    John-

    I have read Mein Kopf.


    Is anyone here surprised by this?

  • Her Royal Badness Queen Liz||

    everybody else's historical revisionism is all wrong about this

    Stalin, FDR, Hitler, Tito, Mussolini et al were socialists,

    Chuchill was a drunk, a capitalist and a Tory and therefore rocked


    The Great Escape, The Battle of Britain, Escape to Victory, The Dam Busters, Guns of Navarone, Dirty Dozen etc informed us that the real action was goin on in Europe where real men were doing real manish things, like drinking tea, playing real football against the Nazis, digging tunnels, whistling and blowing things up.

    no body cares about the asia/pacific part of the war cus it was boring
    Pearl Harbour was like the worst film ever, Empire of the son was shit, that film that went on for forever and they like went up a mountain on some island was uber-dull, Bridge over the river Kwai boring

  • Craig||

    The whole article reads like a weak attempt by the author to justify the invasion and occupation of Iraq -- evil exists, and will win if we don't do evil things to stop it!

    Hitler? Undoubtedly evil. Killed millions of innocent people.

    Stalin? Undoubtedly evil, killed millions of innocent people, and was our ally.

    Roosevelt? Brought fascism to America while waging a war to fight fascism.

    Truman? Ordered the atomic bombing of two Japanese cities, killing hundreds of thousands of innocent people. Would it have been okay if he had ordered the execution of 100,000 civilian captives by firing squad? What's the difference?

    Eisenhower? Alleged to have allowed the deaths of 726,000 German POWs through denial of food, shelter, and medical care.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eisenhower_and_German_POWs

    War is hell, and should be avoided whenever possible. Sometimes it's not possible, but that doesn't justify whatever war neocons want to justify.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    Re: alleged 726,000 German POWs dead due to willful neglect. I don't believe Bacque at all. Maybe I should ask some high-ranking survivor of the Wehrmacht, but I doubt Eisenhower disappeared entire German Army Corps in the postwar. No doubt German POWs were subject to widespread mistreatment, but Bacque's account doesn't even seem plausible to me.

    As anecdotal evidence, there's a memorial to KIA troops from a German Battalion from WWII on my post back Germany way. Were Bacque's account accurate, I think there'd be a lot of these. All over Germany.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    I will +1 your last two sentences, though, Craig.

  • ||

    The amount of Pat Buchanan-esque drivle in this thread makes me want to vomit in pain. Hitler was going to kill anyone who didnt fit his Ayran race vision no matter what happened

  • cathy||

    Life is movement!!!
    Best shoes for your sports,Nike,Jordan,Puma sneakers.
    Best website for you: http://www.madnike.com
    The same shoes,surprise price.
    Save up to 60%,free shipping to the worldwide.
    Waiting for you!!!

  • Neil Craig||

    2 points
    - while the pure pacifist position is disproven by itler so is the "trust your government in standing up to villains" position - WW2 could have been prevented or at worst ended in weeks if the western powers had been willing, either over Czechoslovakia or later, to enter a defencive alliance with the USSR. Far from being pacifist the reality is that western governments, particularly Chamberlains, were rather keen on a war as long as it was between itler & the USSR, that Stalin managed to outwit them does not make them less reprehensible.

    - the fact that the NATO powers destroyed ugoslavia to help former members of Hitler's forces still publicly committed to genocide, though the MSM didn't mention that, extablish racially purified Croatian, Bosnian Moslem & Albanian regimes proves that western elites still hold the same at least equivocal attitude to Nazism.

  • nike shox||

    is good

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement