Rescuing World War II History
Paul Craig Roberts
The American Free Press has published a book by John Wear titled Germany’s War: The Origins, Aftermath & Atrocities of World War II. The book is a compendium of WW II revisionist history. Wear pulls together work of Harry Elmer Barnes, James Bacque, Viktor Suvorov, David Hoggan, David Irving, and others to deliver a picture of WWII very different from the standard view that is familiar to all of us.
This is a courageous undertaking as Hitler and the Third Reich are respectively the most demonized leader and government in history. Adjusting the familiar story in the interest of a more truthful history opens John Wear to charges of being a Nazi sympathizer. Powerful Jewish lobbies also have vested interests in defending the official story, and those who trespass upon it are designated anti-semites and holocaust deniers.
To review a book that itself is a review of extensive historical research is beyond my capability. I have secured permission from the American Free Press to post Wear’s book chapter by chapter. You will see that there is a different story from the one taught to us. You make of it what you will.
My reason for posting Wear’s chapters is that of all of the many articles I posted in 2019 on a large variety of subjects of intense interest, the ones most read were about World War II. My article, “Germany Did Not Start World War II,” was the most widely read. My article, “The Lies About World War II,” was the second most widely read. My article, “The Truth About World War II Is Beginning To Emerge 74 Years Later,” was the fourth most widely read. That three of the four most widely read articles of the 834 postings this year on this website as of December 28 are about WW II indicates great interest in understanding WWII.
The carefully controlled explanation of World War II has shaped post-war history as much as any other force. If we are to be an aware people in charge of our destiny, we have to escape from controlled explanations even when the new explanation is unpalatable.
This is not to say that Wear is completely correct and the official story is completely incorrect. What is clearly wrong is the standard emphasis that Germany was the sole villain. Revisionist historians have made nonsense of this false claim.
It should not be surprising that the official history is problematic. It was written by the court historians of the victors for the purposes of making the court historians popular and successful by presenting the war as a great moral achievement. Unfortunately, this led to self-worship as Americans were declared to be the “The Greatest Generation” and then by the neconservatives to be the “exceptional, indispensable people.”
In the 21st century this view of ourselves has so far had two disastrous outcomes. One is the destruction in whole or part of seven Muslim countries. The other is the resurrection of the highly dangerous nuclear arms race and Cold War with Russia.
Truth is the best protection against destructive self-deception. Those who attempt to get at the truth should be respected rather than smeared and shouted down or locked away on false charges as Julian Assange and Manning are.
World War II, as far as I can tell, was the result of the ambitions of four men. Hitler wanted to put Germany, dismembered by the Versailles Treaty after WWI despite President Woodrow Wilson’s “guarantee” of no territorial losses, back together. Churchill wanted to use war and the threat of war to gain the Prime Minstership and to be a successful war leader like his ancestor the Duke of Marlborough. Roosevelt wanted England ruined by war so that Washington could take the world reserve currency role away from the British pound and control international finance. Stalin wanted to take advantage of a war torn Europe to add Eastern and Western Europe to his Communist empire.
Historians have not explained WWII in this way. In the official history, Hitler’s ambitions are misrepresented or overstated. The ambitions of Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin are largely ignored. The revisionist historians are bringing these neglected ambitions into the story.
Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but only if it is an informed and considered opinion. Don’t be too hasty to arrive at an opinion until you have considered all aspects to the story. Keep in mind that fake news did not begin with the Democrats’ attack on Trump. It has always been a control mechanism that governments have used to coverup their crimes and to justify and build public support for their policies. War propaganda is the epitome of fake news.
Some years ago I wrote that if Hitler had not followed Napoleon into self-destruction by invading Russia, the Third Reich would still be standing. In order that the incompetents and trolls who denigrate truth-tellers on Wikipedia do not misrepresent me as a person who regrets Hitler’s demise, I will say that I am not lamenting Hitler’s demise, only acknowledging the folly of invading Russia, a folly that some of those who denigrate me wish to repeat.
A couple of readers corrected me about Hitler’s march into Russia. The German invasion of Russia was not a folly, they said. It saved Europe from Soviet conquest. The readers said that Hitler had no choice as Germany was faced with Soviet invasion. Their contention seemed implausible to me. I was influenced by standard history, such as Overy’s account that Hitler, frustrated by Britain’s refusal to negotiate peace, decided the reason was Britain’s hope that the Soviet Union would enter the war on the British side. Hitler decided to defeat the Soviet Union in order “to bring Britain to the negotiating table.” I attributed Hitler’s amazing initial success of his invasion of the Soviet Union to Stalin’s purge of the Soviet officer corps, leaving a leaderless army.
Not being a WWII history buff I was unfamiliar with Suvorov who has conclusively proven that Stalin was on the verge of a massive invasion of Germany and Western Europe with the most formidable army in history assembling on Germany’s border. As the Soviet army was being assembled in attack formation and not in defense in depth, caught offguard it was decimated. Suvorov says Hitler was aware of the impending Soviet attack and struck first. But David Irving reports that Hitler later said to his generals that if he had known of the massive size of the Soviet Army, its superior weapon systems, and its massive war production capability, he would not have attacked. I wait for historians to resolve whether Hitler’s attack was pre-emptive or a fortuitous event that saved Western Europe from Soviet conquest. Either way, the history of WWII is substantially different from the official history.
I have not read all of the revisionist historians or all of the standard histories. Nevertheless, I think I might be able to provide a brief indication of basic differences. Revisionist historians begin with Hitler’s aim of restoring the boundaries of Germany. Hitler’s aim was motivated less by territorial ambition than by the persecution, dispossession, and murder of German people under Polish and Czech rule. The pressure on Hitler, leader of a resurgent Germany, to protect Germans was intense.
Everywhere except Poland, Hitler suceeded in restoring Germany’s boundaries and in uniting with German Austria without war. Official history attributes Hitler’s success not to its inherrent rationality but to the cowardice of the British and French who appeased Hitler. British Prime Minister Chamberlain’s return from Munich with “peace in our time” has been much ridiculed by standard history. Revisionist historians see it differently. The British and French understood that the Versailles Treaty had been a mistake and to avoid war were willing to accept the reconstitution of Germany until it came to Poland. Here the British interferred in the negotiations between Hitler and the Polish military dictatorship by giving Poland a “guarantee” to come to Poland’s defense against Germany. This extraordinary act gave the Polish military dictatorship control over British war policy. This control was immediately used by breaking off negotiations with Germany. When Hitler attacked Poland, together with the Soviet Union, the British and French declared war on Germany, but not on the Soviet Union. The fact that the British caused WWII by giving Poland an unenforceable guarantee and by declaring war on Germany is the most neglected aspect of standard histories.
In standard histories the war is from start to finish Hitler’s War. Even Richard Overy’s sensible standard history, The Origins of the Second World War, begins with Hitler’s responsibility: “Without Hitler’s restless quest for empire, war might have been avoided.” In his quest for empire, Hitler “provoked” and “launched” World War II. Later in his book Overy repeats his claim: “The choice of war and grandiose imperialism was Hitler’s . . .”
Overy knows that revisionist historians have gained in credibility and acceptance. Overy is unwilling to stick with the traditional account with which he opens, but he knows he has to be careful in moving away from it. Having blamed Hitler’s restless quest for empire on his first page, Overy acknowledges on his second page British and French responsibility:
“It must not be forgotten that war in 1939 was declared by Britain and France on Germany and not the other way round. A large part of any explanation for the war that broke out in September 1939 must rest on this central point. Why did the two Western powers go to war with Germany? Immediately the question is put this way round, the role of Germany assumes a new and very different perspective.”
Overy makes an honest and reasonable attempt to explain WWII in terms of resource conflicts between the British and French empires on the one hand and the empire-desiring “have-not” countries of Germany, Italy and Japan on the other hand. Overy finds another cause of the war in the decline of the British and French empires. The impression that their power was fading made the British and French even more determined to assert their influence as predominant. The rise of nationalism is also an ingredient in Overy’s pot. His conclusion is:
“The cause of the Second World War was not just Hitler. The war was brought about by the interplay beween specific factors, of which Hitler was one, and the more general causes making for instability in the international system.
“These general causes can be traced back, as we have seen, to the strains placed on the diplomatic world in the late nineteenth century by the rise of nationalism, empire-building, and industrial power.”
In other words, Hitler was a catalyst that set off impersonal forces that were primed for war. The ambitions of Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin are not in the picture. In this way Overy succeeds in adjusting standard history for some revisionist facts while protecting the victorious allies from accountability. In Overy’s index and bibliography, there are no references to Barnes, Bacque, Irving, Suvorov and other revisionists who have pushed Overy through four editions of his history to a more inclusive account of WWII. I don’t know the reason for the absence of revisionist references, but I suspect that Overy wishes to protect his incremental improvements to the history of WWII from charges of soft-on-Hitler revisionism.
Truth can only be arrived at, if at all, through free expression and fact-based open debate. Ruling entire subjects closed to investigation does not advance truth. In many countries doubting the Holocaust is illegal and lands a person in prison. According to reports I have read, the German government has apparently gone further and has made it illegal to doubt the official history of Germany’s sole guilt for WWII. With constraints like these, how can we know the truth? Moreover, such severe constraints on historical investigation make historians shy away from making any correction to historical accounts. All revisionism is suspect because it might move into forbidden territory and ruin the historian’s career.
Overy has maneuvered his way through this minefield carefully and has succeeded in moderating the one-sided history of German guilt. Perhaps in his fifth edition Overy will bring the guilt of Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin into focus.
With this column serving as an introduction, John Wear’s book will appear chapter by chapter in the Guest section of my website. Not much of Wear’s book needs to be correct in order to substantially alter the history of the Second World War.
The first chapter of Wear’s book is here: https://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2020/01/06/the-allied-conspiracy-to-originate-world-war-ii/