Saturday, 31 December 2022

Vox populi

In the Turkish holiday village of Dalyan I'm having dinner with a Turkish bar owner in his 30s. Predictably, he loathes Erdogan, a would-be dictator.  

'What do you think of the war in Ukraine?' 

'I support the Russians, actually.' 

'Why?' 

'Because they are being attacked by America.' 

'Do many Turks think this?' 

'Some do. Some don't.'

Friday, 30 December 2022

Quotations

'Just be yourself. You'll save a lot time, money & energy by not trying to seem better than you really are.' Carmen Jurgens

'If Moses supposes his toeses are roses, then Moses supposes erroneously. For nobody's toeses are posies or roses, as Moses supposes his toeses to be.' Anon.


What a twisted society we have become. We stir up wars in other people's countries and praise ourselves for doing it...

Christmas brings news of terrible ultra-violent crimes in supposedly peaceful suburban areas. Migrants stride boldly ashore in unknown numbers. We pay heavy taxes for pitiful services, cratered roads and a health system that is the envy of nobody.

Yet, nothing happens about all this. The surest way to gain praise in politics is to make simple-minded statements about a crisis abroad and demand that we send bombs and shells to some strife-torn state, or actually bomb it ourselves.

Jesus the carnivore

According to the Gospels Jesus ate fish. 

We would know if Jesus had been a vegetarian and if he was not no Christian need be.

A similar point can be made about other things. If Jesus had been the only first century rabbi to approve of homosexual acts this certainly would have been recorded in the Gospels and known to the apostles. Norman Tebbit, a very clever debater, made that point.

The same goes for pacifism, capital punishment, revolutionary socialism and countless other things.

Vegetarianism and veganism are supererogatory mercies. Not required. Like giving away all your property. 

Freedom


 

Twenty Years After: Russia warned Nato against expansion in 2001

It used to be the 50 year rule, then the 30 year rule and now British government papers are released after around 20 years.

We learnt today that in early 2001, Anthony Blair told the new American Vice-President Cheney that Vladimir Putin was a Russian patriot, sensitive to Russia's "loss of respect" in the world, and had a similar "mindset" to Charles de Gaulle, though the two men were not directly comparable. Exactly my opinion.

Mr Putin told Mr Blair that he did not want to be seen as anti-Nato, but the Russian defence minister Igor Sergeyev told his Nato counterparts that further enlargement would be a major political error, in response to which Moscow would “take appropriate steps”.

Mr Putin was friendly to Mr Blair but a briefing note from January 2001 to the Prime Minister said that Russian spies continued to operate as during the Cold War. It listed many assurances that Mr Putin has given that were false, including that Russia would not help Iran develop nuclear weapons.

Mr Putin is a paradox, a shameless liar who nevertheless also tells the truth quite often, as in his May 9th speech, when he explained why he invaded Ukraine because of what he thinks is US aggression.

Saturday, 24 December 2022

Margaret Thatcher hated Menachem Begin, according to her official biography by Charles Moore


 

Stanley Baldwin said freedom was England's secret

Even as recently as the 1960s England was a free and Christian country. Abortion was illegal. Now a Catholic woman is arrested for PRAYING silently outside an abortion clinic. 



Fact checker check thyself

As you probably noticed, the fact checkers are often or even usually the enemies of truth. Here is a good example. The Cambridge Dictionary (something I had never heard of till today but which dates back, apparently, to the remote era of 1995) changed the definition of woman to include transgender man. 

Or rather, not. 

This was not, say the fact checkers, a change of the definition, only the addition of a subsidiary definition. 


So that is cleared up.







Another Brexit please

I wish England, by which I mean Great Britain and Northern Ireland, had a Brexit from America as well as from the European Union.

I wish we kept out of cold or hot wars with China, Russia or even Persia.

Had Stalin been clever he would have waited till the American troops left Europe before imposing Communism on Eastern Europe. But he was not clever and they stayed, seeing Communism as another Hitler. After the Cold War ended Nato, meaning American troops in Europe, continued and now the war in Ukraine means they will stay for the foreseeable future. 

Modernity is the enemy. Romania is an outpost of civilisation.

"People who say that 'you cannot turn back the clock' obviously don't know very much about clocks." G.K. Chesterton

"I belong to a generation which, in the space of precisely one generation, has seen a religion, a culture, and a country all but disappear." Alain de Benoist

“Europe is committing suicide… by the end of the lifespans of most people currently alive, Europe will not be Europe and the peoples of Europe will have lost the only place in the world we had to call home.” Douglas Murray in The Strange Death of Europe.

Romania remains an outpost of Christian civilisation, like Ancient Britain in that short period after the Romans left but before the English migrants arrived, the mythical epoch of King Arthur.

Friday, 23 December 2022

Christmas quotations

 

Evelyn Waugh: 'Yes, I was determined to have a happy Christmas'
'Did you?'
'I think so. I don't remember it much, and that's always a good sign, isn't it?'

Oh look, yet another Christmas TV special! How touching to have the meaning of Christmas brought to us by cola, fast food, and beer.... Who'd have ever guessed that product consumption, popular entertainment, and spirituality would mix so harmoniously?

Calvin and Hobbes

At Christmas I no more desire a rose
Than wish a snow in May’s new-fangled mirth.
One of Shakespeare’s three references to Christmas, in Love’s Labour’s Lost

He was created of a mother whom He created. He was carried by hands that He formed. He cried in the manger in wordless infancy, He the Word, without whom all human eloquence is mute.
St. Augustine

Thursday, 22 December 2022

Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year!

Christmas in the jungle.


One of the Christmas carols that was handed out to the congregation to be sung in the 'Trad Anglican' parish church of Loughborough.



Letter to the Times.



The English Republic 1649-60 abolished Christmas (it was Popish) and King Charles II restored it.


The wildest hope of a healthy person is to get back to his first Christmas party, and be shy enough to be happy. 
G.K Chesterton



Morrissey, in Melody Maker, 1984

I find that people who are knee-deep in emotion and physical commitment with human beings, I find they're often totally empty of any real passion ... I mean, if we look back on the history of literature, it's always these really creased, repressed hysterics, if you like, who are enchained in these squalor-ridden rooms, who say the most poetic things about the human race.

Wednesday, 21 December 2022

The Deep State controls social media but is frightened

 A very important article by Mark Hemingway says:



That so few people are curious about the nexus between intel agencies and Big Tech should be a national scandal.

According to the latest drop of “Twitter Files” from Michael Shellenberger, “As of 2020, there were so many former FBI employees — ‘Bu alumni’ — working at Twitter that they had created their own private Slack channel and a crib sheet to onboard new FBI arrivals.” It appears that Twitter still has 14 employees on the payroll who worked at the FBI and CIA.

The problem isn’t just confined to Twitter. My colleague and Federalist contributor Ben Weingarten recently wrote an article for the New York Post, “Inside revolving door between Democrat Deep State and Big Tech.”

Tony Judt on the neo-cons

'In Bush's Useful Idiots he took apart the soi-disant liberals who had supported Bush's catastrophic foreign policy. He derided those members of the liberal intelligentsia who had supported the Iraq war but changed their minds after incompetent execution led to disaster. "Like Stalin's western admirers who, in the wake of Khrushchev's revelations, resented the Soviet dictator not so much for his crimes as for discrediting their Marxism," the liberal hawks were now "irritated with Bush for giving 'preventive war' a bad name".'
Geoffrey Wheatcroft writing Judt's obituary in the Guardian. I so disliked Judt's politics, but agree with and respect leftists of his sort when they condemn neo-cons and unjust wars. I came across last night Andrew Roberts praising Tong Blair for eschewing popularity to invade Iraq. My old friend Andrew and I are very different sorts of Tories indeed and disagree on so much, from Churchill and Margaret Thatcher to George W. Bush and Donald Trump (he likened him to Mussolini, when Trump is more a libertarian than anything).



Laurence Rees on the perpetrators of the Holocaust: “What they told us was, at the time, they felt it was the right thing to do”

An interesting insight into the Holocaust is provided here by Lawrence Rees, who became a historian of the Holocaust after he made the remarkable TV series The Nazis: A Warning from History. He was asked if those involved in the Holocaust still felt many years later when he interviewed them that they could justify it morally?


'Yes, and this is one of the reasons I’ve carried on with this subject for 25 years. You dig and dig and dig and you can’t get to the bottom of it, because often you don’t expect the responses you get. If you talk, for example, to former members of the NKVD (Stalin’s secret police), who were involved in the horrendous deportations of Kalmyks or Chechens or Crimean Tatars, in the most part what they’ll say is: “If I didn’t do it I would have been shot.” And it’s very hard to go somewhere in an interview after that. But what was extraordinary about all these former Nazis is that I don’t think we ever heard that answer in all the years we were doing this. What we tended to hear was at the time they felt it was the right thing to do.'
'Does this not make Holocaust denial even more ridiculous, when the perpetrators themselves don’t deny it?'

How England learnt about the German mass murder of the Jews and why it gets much more attention now than in 1945

I just want to make a few things clear: The Holocaust happened. Hitler was a demonic figure. And instead of giving it a platform, our political leaders should be calling out and rejecting antisemitism wherever it hides. Silence is complicity.


77 years after the Second World War it is still the most newsworthy subject in the world.


'There was never any mystery about what had happened to Europe’s Jews. That an estimated 6 million of them were put to death during the Second World War was widely accepted within a few months of the war’s end. The handful of survivors, whether in the displaced persons’ camps or in their countries of origin, paid implicit witness to the number of dead. Of 126,000 Jews removed from Austria, 4,500 returned after the war. In the Netherlands, where there had been 140,000 Jews before the war, 110,000 were deported—of whom fewer than 5,000 returned. In France, of 76,000 (mostly foreign-born) Jews who were deported during the years 1940-44, less than 3 percent survived. Further east, the figures were even worse: of Poland’s pre-war population of over 3 million Jews, fully 97.5 percent were exterminated. In Germany itself, in May 1945, there remained just 21,450 of the country’s 600,000 Jews.'

I quote Tony Judt in the epilogue to his Postwar (2005), a book I recommend highly, even though I dislike his left-wing politics. 

In it he said that recognition of the Holocaust is what Heine called baptism in 1825, 'the European entry ticket' and was required from countries like Poland and Romania before they were admitted to the EU.

The theme of Postwar is "the withering away of the 'master narratives' of European history": Christianity, national greatness or Marxism. Two hundred years after the French Revolution, the "cycle of ideological politics in Europe was drawing to a close" he wrote, but the book is a monument to the ideology that has replaced the others: the ideology of anti-racism, non-discrimination and equality of opportunity.

EU membership corrupted England very much

 If you doubt me, read this.

Tuesday, 20 December 2022

Quotations

 


Otium sine litteris mors est et hominis vivi sepultura. (Leisure without books is death, or the burial of a living man.) 

Seneca

Dear boy, you can do anything when you have style. 

Sir Hardy Amies, the tailor. 

The UN Secretary General says the biggest threat of terrorism today comes from the extreme right

 


Monday, 19 December 2022

Beginning and end

The wildest hope of a healthy person is to get back to his first Christmas party, and be shy enough to be happy. 
G.K Chesterton

Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again. 
C.S. Lewis
I had been reading Tales from the Iliad. Now, in boyish fancy, I watched the likes of Achilles, Ajax and Ulysses pass in triumph with aged Priam, proud even in defeat. I believe that day implanted in me a life-long craving for barbaric splendour, for savagery and colour and the throb of drums, and that it gave me a lasting veneration for long-established custom and ritual, from which would derive later a deep-seated resentment of Western innovations in other lands, and a distaste for the drab uniformity of the modern world.
Sir Wilfred Thesiger, The Life of My Choice (1987), p. 56

 

Why did Putin invade the Ukraine?

The most interesting question about the Ukrainian war is why did Putin invade the Ukraine?

Actually it's two questions. 

What led him to invade and what did he intend to do, having invaded? 

The first one I've discussed. But the second was mysterious to me, until today.

To conquer the county and instal a puppet government, to annex it (hard to believe) or simply to create a land bridge to the Crimea? 

(Putin would reach Paris if not stopped, Tim, a normally very intelligent and sensible American friend of mine, suggested. That, of course, was absurd but derives from the commonly held idea that Hitler was always bent on conquering Europe and so was the Kaiser.)

The answer is that the Russians had a puppet government prepared. 

Existence of God QED

Atheism requires a bigger leap of faith than theism. 

The cosmological argument for the existence of God is the strongest argument and is best expressed in the musical The Sound of Music:

"Nothing came from nothing.
Nothing ever could."

I just came across this clever remark on Twitter, by somebody called Glen Scrivener:

"Christians believe in the virgin birth of Jesus. Atheists believe in the virgin birth of the universe. Choose your miracle." 

Dr Johnson, an Anglican Tory saint

Dr. Johnson said that there are few ways in which a man can be more innocently employed than in making money.

Christopher Hollis said this was the most un-Christian remark imaginable. Hollis was the kind of Conservative politician I like, but I am coming round to siding with Dr Johnson.

Saturday, 17 December 2022

From Mark Galeotti's review in The Times of Owen Matthew's book, Overreach



'The invasion also took the military by surprise: this was a war that was not planned by the professionals in the general staff, but brainstormed by Putin’s circle of spooks and yes-men, and foisted on the soldiers at the last minute. Decades of thinking about how to wage a modern war, libraries of dense theoretical literature, the hard-won lessons of past conflicts and massive exercises were all ignored. So too were all the indications that Ukraine was not the frail fake-state of Putin’s imagination governed by a drug-addicted clown and ready to welcome invaders as liberators.

From 'The case for mass migration is built on lies', Matthew Lynn, Daily Telegraph, 6 October 2021

My laptop is full of open tabs. I've posted quotations here on my blog from a few articles, to serve me as an index. This article is here.

'Now that we have restricted freedom of movement from the EU, what is happening? Wages are rising rapidly. Average earnings are going up 8 per cent annually, and in trades such as transport or construction by 20 per cent. While this has much to do with the effect of workers returning from furlough, these are still astonishing figures.

'The Labour Party, the main architect of unrestricted immigration, ties itself up in knots over whether to back a £15 minimum wage, deaf to the irony that most companies would kill to find someone willing to work for less than twenty quid an hour right now. If this was a lab experiment, and to some degree it is, the conclusion would be clear. Turning off the flow of workers increases salaries.

From Peter Hitchens' Roger Scruton lecture delivered at the Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford, 24th October 2022

[The lecture is here. I completely agree with most of what Peter Hitchens says here (and elsewhere). I especially agree that Margaret Thatcher was not a conservative (unlike him I thought so in her time), excepting for the famous Section 28 which prohibited the "promotion of homosexuality" by local authorities and which was a dead letter. And, a small thing, creating three hereditary peerages, two of which she awarded to men without heirsTony Blair was a modern liberal rather than a socialist, but though socialism is a terrible, authoritarian and misguided ideology, that has been shown not to work, the worst thing about socialists is that they are also liberals.]

'The great institutional buildings of London and Oxford are still standing after many decades of turmoil. In many cases they are in better condition than they have ever enjoyed.

'But they lie. Here in Oxford, the kingdom of thought and learning which used to lie in the small damp triangle between the Cherwell and the Thames, is not at all the same place as it once was. The commercial imperative roars ever more loudly for its money. The Egalitarian siege tightens, more total and inevitable than anything the Cromwellians ever managed. And as these things happen, Oxford’s role as a home for independent thought will shrivel.

Alastair Crooke on 'Europe’s Eerie Silence'

Putin is entirely to blame, legally and morally, for the invasion of Ukraine. It is worse than a crime, it's a blunder. 

I don't necessarily think America wanted to humiliate him and I don't think (some do) that the State Department wanted to provoke a war, but this was what they did. 

I think, as with the outbreak of the two world wars, it was bad diplomacy on all sides that led us here.

As AJP Taylor said of Hitler, Putin is a rational, though no doubt a wicked statesman. 

Quotations

“Hearts that are delicate and kind and tongues that are neither - these make the finest company in the world”

Logan Pearsall Smith


"The historian's task is to complicate, not to clarify. He strives to celebrate the diversity of manners, the opacity of things, the variety of species. He is barred, thereby, from making a frontal assault on his topic. Like the pilgrim, the historian is obligated to approach his subject obliquely. He must circumambulate the spot several times before making even the most fleeting contact. His method, like that of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, is that of the digression.

Quotations

'At the height of the IRA’s terrorist campaign on mainland Britain in December 1974, a bomb was lobbed through the front window of the In & Out – the Naval and Military Club, then in Piccadilly. Exploding, it knocked everyone off their feet, including the barman Robbins, and trashed the Long Bar. But in the silence that followed came the unwavering request of senior member Commander Vaughan Williams: ‘Another pink gin please, Robbins.’'

The new religion

I saw many years ago that the anti-discrimination ideology that dominates the West was a religion, before I ever heard or saw the idea expressed but now the idea is pretty commonplace - it could hardly not be since it is explains what would otherwise be inexplicable. 

Here is an interesting essay on the subject by one James M. Patterson.

Looking him up quickly I find this news item:

'Author James Patterson said in a statement, "I apologize for saying white male writers having trouble finding work is a form of racism."'

Wednesday, 14 December 2022

500,000 have died in 2 years in Ethiopian war, almost 400,000 in 7 years in Yemeni war (an illegal invasion by the Saudis)


Since the start of the conflict in Ethiopia in November 2020, it is said that over 500,000 have died in the fighting or from famine and lack of health care, tens of thousands have been sexually assaulted; and well over 2 million have been displaced.

Wikipedia thinks that the numbers killed in the Ukrainian war are somewhere between 33,000 and 8,000 but I have seen 100,000 mentioned. Death figures in general are much exaggerated, but not always. US General Milley on November 10 estimated that over 100,000 had died or been injured on each side. The Kremlin’s highest publicly disclosed figure of war dead has been 5,937. The Ukrainian side's highest is 11,000

Yet we hear nothing of the Ethiopian war or of the horrors for which our ally Saudi Arabia is to blame fighting Shias both in her unjust war in Yemen and at home.

In February, the war in Yemen had killed an estimated 377,000 people through direct and indirect causes.

The socialist Senator Bernie Sanders, whom Joe Biden defeated for the Democratic nomination, on Tuesday night withdrew his bill to end US support for the Saudi war on Yemen, because he learnt that Mr Biden would veto it.

Alternative title: Brain damage makes you a leftist

 


Acknowledgements to Adi Pop for this capital joke.

Facebook posts from 2014 and 2012



I can't stop wasting time on Facebook. Reviewing my reviews, I see I gave Samuel Beckett's 'Malone Dies' one star and Enid Blyton's 'Castle of Adventure' five. I suppose this is probably right.



My recipe for happiness: trust in God; good health; a sense of beauty; a passion for books; friends; enjoying your own company; not caring about material things; a good sense of humour; a quick mind; a sense of history; being in Romania; glorious spring weather.

Feminists rewrite prehistory

'What seems obvious to the general public — that prehistory was a bloody mess of invasions, migrations, battles and conflict — is not always a commonplace view among researchers. Worse, the idea that ancient peoples organised themselves among clear ethnic and tribal lines is also taboo. Obvious statements of common sense, such as the existence of patriarchy in the past, are constantly challenged and the general tone of academia is one of refutation: both of established theories and thinkers and of disagreeable parts of the past itself.

'Added to this is the ever-present fear that studies and results are being used by the wrong kind of people. In a 2019 journal article, entitled “Genetics, archaeology and the far-Right: An unholy trinity”, Susanne Hakenbeck expresses grave concern that recent genetics work on the early Bronze Age invasions of the Indo-European steppe are needlessly giving oxygen to dangerous ideas — namely that young men from one ethnic group might have migrated from the Pontic-Caspian grasslands and violently subdued their neighbours, passing on their paternal DNA at the expense of the native males. This narrative, fairly well-supported in the genetics literature, is for Hakenbeck deeply unpleasant and wrong:

Quotations

Writer Mary McCarthy said of writer Lillian Hellman ...'Every word she utters is a lie. Including 'and' and 'the.' Was reminded of this having just binge watched Meghan and Harry's 'truth'. Feel I am about to go into a diabetic coma. I won't go on...only to say her next book should be 'The Ladybird Book Of Re Writing History', My favourite bit was when Harry gave her an adoring look as she explained; 'I said....'Walk about? What on earth is a walk about?' It was very well done, fantastic PR and stomach churning.

Saturday, 10 December 2022

The decline of Germany and Europe

From an article in the Financial Times, Tuesday 6 December.
'Constanze Stelzenmüller, director of the Center on the US and Europe at the Brookings Institution, has said Germany is a case study of a western state that made a “strategic bet” on globalisation and interdependence — and was now suffering the consequences.

'“It outsourced its security to the US, its export-led growth to China, and its energy needs to Russia,” she wrote in June. “It is now finding itself excruciatingly vulnerable in an early 21st century characterised by great power competition and an increasing weaponisation of interdependence by allies and adversaries alike.”

I wrote this one year ago

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, is 37 and his Duchess turns out (it slipped out in the trial) to be 43, not 39 as she admits to. He has married his mother in more than one sense and his mother was a manipulative, self interested and ruthless woman. Mad, bad and dangerous to know, as Lady Caroline Lamb said of Lord Byron.

Friday, 9 December 2022

"To put it bluntly, he is a liar"

AJP Taylor, John Charmley, Hugh Trevor-Roper and other great historians rightly praised David Irving's industry and gift for research, but added, also rightly, caveats. 

Professor Charmley, one of my great heroes, said that he is not to be trusted without checking him. Often, of course, it isn't possible. 

Hugh Trevor-Roper, Lord Dacre as he became, said much the same.

I read extensive parts of his Churchill's War and learnt a lot, enjoyed it a lot, but one sees that one is being manipulated, to see Hitler in a good light or, in this case, his enemies in a bad one. 

I started reading about the libel case which Mr Irving brought and lost with a very open mind. That is to say, I was a prejudiced against all three of the main historians in the case.

I suspect the historian whom he sued, Deborah Lipstadt, is a very annoying woman and a useless historian, if only judging by her outrage that Ernst Nolte considered Stalin as bad as Hitler. 

Sir Richard Evans, the expert witness whom she called and who was paid a cool quarter of a million for his two years of work, can also be very annoying, a histrionic progressive sometimes and wrong about lots of things about the National Socialists. Still one only need read a little of his book Lying About Hitler, the evidence he gave in the trial, to see that David Irving has sinned against the Holy Ghost by playing fast and loose with historical evidence for political purposes.

Or to read the defence counsel Richard Rampton, KC's closing speech.

I am not complaining about bias - 
Deborah Lipstadt and Sir Richard Evans are very biased indeed, as are Gibbon, Lord Macaulay, Tacitus and pretty much all historians - nor of inaccuracy. Everyone is inaccurate sometimes. I complain of distortion and trickery, of not being in good faith. 

Eyewitnesses to the Babi Yar massacre

A friend tells me I should not write about the massacre of ninety freshly orphaned Jewish children in Belaya Tserkov on August 22, 1941 without mentioning the far greater numbers killed at the ravine at Babi Yar, starting on 29 September, by German kommandos led by the same man, Paul Blobel

Actually I did so already, in January 2020, here.


This conversation between two German generals in 1944 (about Babi Yar?) is interesting, from David Irving's site. (Note that, in the last sentence on the page, David Irving describes the Babi Yar massacre as a reprisal.)

Wednesday, 7 December 2022

I intend to read Benjamin Abelow's new book, 'How the West Brought War to Ukraine'

This review summarises his ideas.

I quote.

'.... the fact is that had one NATO-member leader – perhaps French President Emmanuel Macron – simply quashed the idea of Ukrainian membership the conflict might have been averted.

'Second, Russia cannot help but associate American involvement in the war with the threat of regime change; consider events this century in Kiev, Tbilisi, Bishkek – not to mention Baghdad, Tripoli, and a clear intent in Damascus – along with statements from members of the US Congress and the executive branch, and it is hardly fanciful to think of Moscow as the ultimate trophy, raising further the prospect of a pre-emptive response by Russia.

Quotations

"Covid and the Ukraine war have shaken our society’s very foundations. Dreams of The End of History after the end of the Cold War have been dashed. Politicians can no longer pretend that shocks can be absorbed simply by “going shopping” – as George W Bush put it, when he advised people to go on as normal in the wake of 9/11 – or by submitting to the elemental forces of change – as Tony Blair ordained. Instead we are plunged into a world of dark-age geopolitics, super-wicked problems, black swan events." Sherelle Jacobs 2 days ago in the Daily Telegraph

"It’s not about not believing. It’s about rejecting a god who looks like the ruling class." Gloria Steinem discussing her lack of religion in 2012. In fact, she had not kept up with the modern world that she helped shape. A god who looks like the ruling class is multi-faith, multicultural, feminist and enthusiastic about homosexuality and was so in 2012.

"In every class society that's ever existed, the ruling element does not rule nakedly. They always adorn their rule with myths, themes and symbols to justify their position at the apex of the social pyramid.“ Michael Parenti

Tuesday, 6 December 2022

The Eastern Front

Another book I have been reading is Stalingrad by Anthony Beevor. I am not as enthusiastic about it as the friend who recommended it, don't advise you to read it unless military history is your thing, but it's readable and the first part is interesting. I recommend that you read RHS Stolfi instead, but Stolfi's book Hitler: Beyond Good and Evil does not do narrative history, which is Beevor's métier.

Mr Beevor agrees with other historians that Hitler was psychologically very odd, and acted almost as if he subconsciously wanted to lose.

'Hitler in the Wolfsschanze used to gaze at the operations map showing the huge areas notionally controlled by his forces. For a visionary who had achieved total power in a country possessing the best-trained army in the world, the sight induced a sense of invincibility. This armchair strategist never possessed the qualities for true generalship, because he ignored practical problems. During the brief campaigns in Poland, Scandinavia, France and the Balkans, resupply had at times been difficult, but never an insuperable problem. In Russia, however, logistics would be as decisive a factor as firepower, manpower, mobility and morale. Hitler's fundamental irresponsibility - a psychologically interesting defiance of fate - had been to launch the most ambitious invasion in history while refusing to gear the German economy and industry for all-out war. In hindsight, it seems more like the act of a compulsive gambler, subconsciously striving to increase the odds. The horrific consequences for millions of people seemed only to strength his megalomania.'

Was the Second World War inevitable, once Hitler came to power?

I have just read for the third time AJP Taylor’s Origins of the Second World War and I highly recommend it. It was, however, published in 1961 and so is very out of date. We know much more now.

He wrote:

"Danzig was the most justified of German grievances: a city of an exclusively German population which manifestly wished to return to the Reich and which Hitler himself restrained only with difficulty. The solution too seemed peculiarly easy. Halifax never wearied of suggesting that Danzig should return to German sovereignty, with safeguards for Polish trade.

"Hitler wanted this also. The destruction of Poland had been no part of his original project. On the contrary, he had wished to solve the question of Danzig so that Germany and Poland could remain on good terms. Was Polish obstinacy then the only thing, which stood between Europe and a peaceful outcome? By no means. Previously Danzig might have been settled without implying any upheaval in international relations. Now it had become a symbol of Polish independence and, with the Anglo-Polish alliance, of British independence as well. Hitler no longer wished merely to fulfill German national aspirations or to satisfy the inhabitants of Danzig. He aimed to show that he had imposed his will on the British and on the Poles. All parties aimed at a settlement by negotiations, but only after victory in a war of nerves.

"...Many however believe that Hitler was a modern Attila, loving destruction for its own sake and therefore bent on war without thought of policy. There is no arguing with such dogmas. Hitler was an extraordinary man; and they may well be true. But his policy is capable of rational explanations; and it is on this policy is built. The escape into irrationality is no doubt easier. The blame for war can be put on Hitler's Nihilism instead of on the faults and failures of European statesmen - faults and failures which their public shared. However, human blunders usually do more to shape history than human wickedness."

The view of Hitler as a nihilist bent on war is now the standard view, as it was when Taylor wrote his very shocking book. It may be accurate, but war against whom?

A good place to see a summary of recent historical judgements is the site of Lawrence Rees, who made the really wonderful TV programme The Nazis: A Warning from History.

He interviewed many famous historians about the war and on this page discusses why it broke out. 

He quotes Sir Richard Evans 

“We know now through documentation that has become available over the last few years that he intended there to be a general European war really absolutely from the outset. He’s telling people in private in 1932, 1933, when he’s coming to power, that he’s going to have a general war.”

Sir Ian Kershaw and Adam Tooze agree.

Hitler did want a big war, but he certainly didn’t want war with England. Every historian accepts that. 

He wanted a war with the USSR. 

A greater historian than Evans, Maurice Cowling, said the clever thing to have done was to have arranged things so that the British Empire stayed out of his war with Stalin. Had France done the same very much suffering could have been saved.

Instead England and France fumbled their way into the war that Baldwin and Chamberlain had intended to avoid.

Lawrence Rees quotes Adam Tooze saying Hitler went to war

“because he’s convinced, in my view, that the world Jewish conspiracy has taken on a whole new ominous character, and this starts in the summer of 1938, I think, fundamentally with the Evian Conference in which America becomes involved in European affairs around the issue of the organised emigration of eastern European Jews”.

So by 1939 Hitler had come to believe that “the real centre of the world Jewish conspiracy is Washington and Wall Street and Hollywood, and that, of course, fundamentally shifts your assessment of the strategic picture, because behind Britain and France, as in the First World War, ultimately stands the force, the full force, of the American armaments economy.

This is very interesting. It ties in with what Chamberlain said to the US Ambassador Joseph Kennedy, according to what he told James Forrestal, US Secretary of the Navy on December 27th, 1945 as recorded in Forrestal's diary. The two played golf that day.

'I asked him [Kennedy] about his conversations with Roosevelt and Neville Chamberlain from 1938 on. He said Chamberlain's position in 1938 was that England had nothing with which to fight and that she could not risk going to war with Hitler. Kennedy's view: that Hitler would have fought Russia without any later conflict with England if it had not been for Bullitt's [William C. Bullitt, then ambassador to France] urging Roosevelt in the summer of 1939 that the Germans must be faced down about Poland; neither the French nor the British would have made Poland a case of war if it had not been for the constant needling from Washington. Bullitt, he said, kept telling Roosevelt that the Germans wouldn't fight, Kennedy that they would, and that they would overrun Europe. Chamberlain, he says, stated that America and world Jews had forced England into the war. In his telephone conversation with Roosevelt in the summer of 1939 the President kept telling him to put some iron up Chamberlain's backside. Kennedy's response always was that putting iron up his backside did no good unless the British had some iron with which to fight, and they did not. . . .'
Yet it still seems clear to me that clever diplomacy by Poland and England could have meant Germany going to war with Soviet Russia and not with Poland, England and France. 

Poland, in fact, had the chance to go to war with Communist Russia as Germany’s ally. Poland declined, not from sympathy for Russia but from refusal to make the small concessions for which Hitler asked over Danzig and the Polish Corridor. 

The Polish Foreign Minister Beck thought that Poland was powerful enough to defy Germany and Russia. This is an incomprehensible delusion, as Taylor points out.

England then gave her guarantee to Poland and Germany prepared for war against Poland, a war in which Hitler did not expect England and France to join.

Had Germany and Russia fought it out, while England armed to the teeth and stayed out, as Lloyd George wanted, and had France done the same, would Germany or the Russians have won?

Nobody can say. It depends on how the two sides fought. It depends on the decisions of Stalin and Hitler. 

It might well have been the Russians.

But either way would have been better than what did happen. The British Empire might have survived for decades. Japan would not have attacked it. France might not have fallen. Half of Europe might have remained at peace.

Sunday, 4 December 2022

Himmler's Report to the Fuhrer on fighting against gangs, presented to Hitler on 29 December 1942, proves Hitler knew of the mass murder of Jews

 




I don't remember hearing about this document, which Himmler presented to Hitler on 29 December 1942.

The "Report to the Führer on fighting against gangs" Nr. 51., which covered the period from August to November 1942 and which referred only to a part of the occupied Soviet area, (southern Russia, Ukraine and the district of Bialystok); included the following numbers concerning persons imprisoned or executed:

1. Bandits

a) Established number of deaths after combat 1,337
b) Prisoners executed immediately 737
c) Prisoners executed after lengthy thorough interrogation 7,828

2. Gang helpers and suspects

a) Arrested 16,553
b) Executed 14,257
c) Jews executed 363,211

The left and right agree about Ukraine

People who admire Putin, back his invasion of Ukraine or think him a standard-bearer for Christianity are horribly mistaken, but mistaken too are people who see wars simply as crimes, rather than the continuation of diplomacy by other means.

"Right now if you’re a respectable writer and you want to write in the main journals, you talk about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, you have to call it ‘the unprovoked Russian invasion of Ukraine'. It’s a very interesting phrase; it was never used before. You look back, you look at Iraq, which was totally unprovoked, nobody ever called it ‘the unprovoked invasion of Iraq.’ In fact I don’t know if the term was ever used — if it was it was very marginal. Now you look it up on Google, and hundreds of thousands of hits. Every article that comes out has to talk about the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. Why? Because they know perfectly well it was provoked. That doesn’t justify it, but it was massively provoked. Top US diplomats have been talking about this for 30 years, even the head of the CIA."

Noam Chomsky. (I absolutely hate to agree with a crazily left-wing figure who once praised Pol Pot's 'noble experiment', but here he is right.)