(WARNING: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS GRAPHIC IMAGES OF WAR)
“This time Germany has forced a total war upon the world. As a result, she must be prepared to pay a total penalty. And there is one, and only one, such Total Penalty: Germany must perish forever! In fact—not in fancy!… the only way to accomplish that is to remove the German from the world. . . . There remains then but one mode of ridding the world forever of Germanism— and that is to stem the source from which issue those war-lusted souls, by preventing the people of Germany from ever again reproducing their kind.”
– Theodore N. Kaufman from his 1941 book, “Germany Must Perish!”
For those who may not be aware, this year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, which culminated with the surrender of Germany in April of 1945 and then the surrender of Japan four months later in August. This also marks the 70th anniversary of the “discovery” of the Holocaust when the Soviets liberated the German prison camps in Eastern Europe toward the end of the war. The celebration of the “Good War” continually saturates film screens with the release of a new World War II period movie hitting the theatres every movie season starring big name actors like George Clooney and Brad Pitt. Likewise, there is also the regular release of Holocaust period pieces that are seemingly pre-destined to win an Oscar.
Meanwhile on television, there is a continuous stream of “historical” documentaries that likewise portray the brave nobility of the Allied forces and the satanic evil of Adolf Hitler, the Nazis, and their “Axis of Evil”. In fact, one regular program that airs on the “American Heroes Channel” (a cable channel aimed at veterans which seems to play World War II programs almost non-stop) is entitled “Nazis: Evolution of Evil”. Unlike a seemingly sparse selection of films and programming on Vietnam, Korea, or any other war that the U.S. has been involved in, Americans cannot seem to get enough of World War II (the British love it, too). Why is that?
Unlike Vietnam or our recent incursions in the Middle East, World War II has been painted as a war we can “feel good” about. It is labeled as “the Good War”, where we literally fought the incarnation of Satan on Earth. But history is written by the victors, and there is perhaps no more shining example of this simple truth than World War II. The cartoonishly simplistic American narrative around the Second World War goes something like this:
World War II was the most JUST war EVER fought! It was fought by the GREATEST and BRAVEST generation ever! Yeah, the whole atomic bomb thing was kinda ugly, but… IT SAVED MILLIONS OF LIVES SOMEHOW! REMEMBER DECEMBER 7th?! The Japanese sneak-attacked us at PEARL HARBOR! And they were allies with HITLER and the NAZIS who were the most EVIL and WICKED MONSTERS EVER, so they deserved it! Don’t forget, Hitler was the ANTI-CHRIST and killed 6 MILLION JEWS for no good reason AND he wanted to TAKE OVER THE WORLD and TAKE OUR FREEDOMS! But we BEAT HIM and EVERYTHING we did was JUSTIFIED and GOOD!! U-S-A!! U-S-A!! U-S-A!!
This narrative is an incredibly black and white, over-simplified and one-sided view of history. History, especially history around war, is NEVER that simple. While the Germans and their allies were FAR from angels, the Allies were perhaps even further from sainthood. This is the hard truth.
The most brutal by far were the Soviets and their leader, Joseph Stalin. Referred to as “Uncle Joe” by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Stalin enjoyed a special relationship with his administration and its supporters. While the Roosevelt administration and the media were demonizing the “murderous Hun” of National Socialist Germany over a decade before any reports of a “Holocaust” surfaced, Stalin was committing genocide among his own people, while FDR looked the other way.
In 1933, the “Holodomor”, or “extermination by hunger” was perpetrated on the people of Ukraine. The primarily agricultural denizens of the region were forced to give up their crop yields at gunpoint, forcing an estimated 2.5-7.5 million people to die of starvation. This was done largely to pay back Wall Street and the City of London (not to be confused with London, England) for financing the Bolshevik Revolution. With the exception of a few select newspapers, no public outcry or condemnation of this act occurred anywhere. To this day, most people are not even aware that this even happened.
In the book “My Exploited Father-In-Law”, Roosevelt’s son-in-law, Col. Curtis B. Dall explains this fuzzy relationship may have had to do with communist infiltration into FDR’s administration. Communist infiltration was already taking place in D.C., as it was in Europe and Asia during the 1930s under Communist International- an organization based out of the Soviet Union that sought to establish a worldwide communist “empire”.
Stalin himself was paranoid and obsessed with preserving his own power and was brutally oppressive towards his own people. The Stalin regime was responsible for the instituting the vast network of GULAG prison camps that operated throughout the Soviet Union. From petty criminals, to political prisoners, these camps were designed for anyone seen as an “enemy of the state”, i.e. ANYONE seen as a threat to Stalin’s power. This included soldiers who made decisions during combat that weren’t ordered by a superior. Independent thought and action was seen as a threat to the regime. GULAG prisoners were literally worked to death in abhorrent conditions that made any of the German camps look like a country club.
In his book, “Stalin’s Secret War”, Russian author Nikolai Tolstoy contends that Stalin himself was responsible either directly or indirectly for the majority of the 25-30 million Russian war dead of the Second World War. However, this isn’t the story we’ve been given. The narrative is this: Nazis were the bad guys. Allies were the good guys. That’s it. Case closed. But history isn’t Hollywood, and Hollywood isn’t history- regardless of whether or not it’s Steven Spielberg that directs it.
It was with the blessings of the United States government, that the Soviets, particularly the second-waive troops from Asiatic Russia (i.e. Mongols), raped and tortured German and other European civilians in great numbers during World War II. The documented stories surrounding these “liberators” are some of the most horrible I have ever heard.
The following is an excerpt from the book “Hellstorm: The Death of Nazi Germany 1944-1947” by author Thomas Goodrich (recently made into a documentary film which can be viewed freely online) in which an eye witness describes such horrors to army physician Lt. Heinrich Amberger (warning: this is incredibly disturbing):
“In the farmyard further down the road stood a cart, to which four naked women were nailed through their hands in a cruciform position. . . . Beyond . . . stood a barn and to each of its two doors a naked woman was nailed through the hands, in a crucified posture. In the dwellings we found a total of seventy-two women, including children, and one old man, 74, all dead . . . all murdered in a bestial manner, except only a few who had bullet holes in their necks. Some babies had their heads bashed in. In one room we found a woman, 84 years old, sitting on a sofa . . . half of whose head had been sheared off with an ax or a spade.”
Jewish Soviet writer, Ilya Ehrenburg cheered on the Red Army in his book, “The War”:
“The Germans are not human beings. . . . If you have not killed at least one German a day, you have wasted that day. . . . If you cannot kill your German with a bullet, kill him with your bayonet. . . . [T]here is nothing more amusing for us than a heap of German corpses… Kill, Red Army men, kill! No fascist is innocent, be he alive, be he as yet unborn.”
The Soviets were also responsible for the largest maritime disaster in history with the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff; a German cruise liner filled with some 8,000 women, children, elderly and infirmed refugees that were attempting to escape torture and annihilation in late January 1945. Some 7,000 civilians were lost in the frigid Baltic Sea in a tragedy that dwarfed that of the famous Titanic disaster. However, no multi-million dollar Hollywood productions have been produced around this story. We only have the forgotten testimonies of the few survivors like Eva Luck who recalls her family’s attempts to escape death:
“My mother had forgotten to put her shoes on, and I moved clumsily on high heels towards the iron rungs of the ladder going up the ship’s inside. People around us were falling about as the ship moved but I was able to grasp the rungs and haul up my little sister. . . . My mother followed us to the upper deck. When we got there it was terrible. I saw with horror that the funnel was lying almost parallel with the sea. People were jumping in. I could hear the ship’s siren and felt the ice-cold water round my legs. I reached out to try and grab my sister. I felt nothing but the water as it swept me out and over the side.”
The Americans and British however were not that far behind the Soviets in wartime barbarity. In fact it was these allies that changed the “rules” of war by creating planes that were specifically designed for bombing civilian populations (it had been standard practice to attack military targets before that point). The fire bombings of Dresden, Hamburg, and a slew of other cities burned women, children and elderly alive in a way that made the London bombings look pale in comparison. It should be noted that it was Britain, not Germany that began the practice of bombing civilian targets during the war.
“Celebrated” British Prime Minster Winston Churchill stated the following in regards to the bombing of German cities:
“German cities . . . will be subjected to an ordeal the like of which has never been experienced by a country in continuity, severity and magnitude . . . [T]o achieve this end there are no lengths of violence to which we will not go.”
Herbert Brecht, a survivor of the fire bombings of Hamburg recalls the results of Churchill’s “ordeals”:
“The burning people who were being driven past our bomb crater by the storm could never have survived. Eventually, there were about forty people lying in the crater. There was a soldier in uniform near me with a lot of medals. He tried to take his life with a knife. . . . About this time, I noticed that a car had driven into our crater and had buried some people beneath it. . . . I hadn’t seen this happen. It was only through the
crying of a small boy that I noticed it. He was lying with the front bumper of the car on top of him. . . . The screams of the burning and dying people are unforgettable. When a human being dies [like that], he screams and whimpers and, then, there is the death rattle in his throat.”
A survivor of the Darmstadt fire bombings recalls finding the remains of a woman who was “lying like a statue, her cold heels in their shoes stuck up in the air, her arms raised . . . , her mouth and teeth gaping open so that you did not know whether she had been laughing or crying.”
On the other side of the world we had decimation of civilian populations in mainland Japan, starting with the napalm (a sticky combustible chemical developed by DuPont and Standard Oil chemical companies) fire bombings of Tokyo. The U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey described the attack on the 84.7% residential (and made primarily of wood structures) city:
“The chief characteristic of the conflagration . . . was the presence of a fire front, an extended wall of fire moving to leeward, preceded by a mass of pre-heated, turbid, burning vapors . . . The 28-mile-per-hour wind, measured a mile from the fire, increased to an estimated 55 miles at the perimeter, and probably more within. An extended fire swept over 15 square miles in 6 hours . . .. The area of the fire was nearly 100 percent burned; no structure or its contents escaped damage… The mechanisms of death were so multiple and simultaneous… that probably more persons lost their lives by fire at Tokyo in a 6-hour period than at any time in the history of man. People died from extreme heat, from oxygen deficiency, from carbon monoxide asphyxiation, from being trampled beneath the feet of stampeding crowds, and from drowning. The largest number of victims were the most vulnerable: women, children and the elderly.”
A police cameraman named Ishikawa Koyo described the streets as “rivers of fire . . . flaming pieces of furniture exploding in the heat, while the people themselves blazed like ‘matchsticks’ as their wood and paper homes exploded in flames. Under the wind and the gigantic breath of the fire, immense incandescent vortices rose in a number of places, swirling, flattening, sucking whole blocks of houses into their maelstrom of fire.”
97,000 people were killed, 125,000 people were injured and 1,200,000 were left homeless as 15.8 miles of the city of Tokyo was reduced to ash. Later, the civilian population of Osaka would find themselves facing a similar fate, if on a “smaller” scale (4,667 dead and 8,463 injured). Civilian bombing, once referred to as “inhuman barbarism” by President Roosevelt, had now become standard practice for American warfare.
Then in August of 1945, there was the release of the atomic bomb upon Hiroshima, and then Nagasaki three days later. The pilots of the Enola Gay had no idea of the destructive capacity of the weapon they were unleashing on the civilian population. Co-pilot Robert Lewis wrote of the silence that filled the plane after the mushroom cloud burst. He could taste the lead-like atomic fission. Turning away to write in his journal, he said to himself, “My God, what have we done?”
The survivors of the atomic bombings described it as “living Hell in this world”. Survivor Kats Kajiyama described the scene:
“There were buildings burning. All the telephone poles were knocked down. Buildings had their roofs torn off. And people who had been outside when the bomb went off were running around, screaming and blind, with their flesh hanging off their bodies like ribbons.”
People in the immediate vicinity of the blast were exposed to flash burns, causing their skin to literally melt off. Wandering dazed and dying, these people were referred to as “the procession of the ghosts”. One survivor describes their condition:
“In order to keep their red, exposed flesh from sticking, people thrust their arms in front of them like ghosts. Their skin, like the thin skin of a peeled potato, hung from the fingernails, where it was still attached.”
One survivor describes finding a mother with her children:
“The mother has died, sheltering her two babies, whose clutching fingers have cut into their mother’s flesh.”
Others described rivers choked with the bloated, discolored bodies of the dead. One man describes crossing a bridge and seeing “red, blue, green, and purple corpses swollen three or four times” floating under the bridge.
The torturing pain of the varying degrees of sickness caused by the radiation lasted for weeks, months and even years. People dying of thirst as the fires vaporized the world around them, welcomed the “black rain”, not realizing it was showering radioactive debris.
One woman describes the agonizing death of her younger brother weeks after the bombing:
“He returned home on August 20th. On around the 25th, his nose began bleeding, his hair fell out, and small red spots appeared all over his body. On the 31st, he died while vomiting blood.”
Estimates are that a total of 300,000 people died as a result of these attacks, which were later deemed as “militarily unnecessary” by the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey in 1946, as well as by General Eisenhower and many others. It was clear to many that Japan would have indeed surrendered before the end of the year without this sort of action. So why was this done, really?
There is much evidence that this was first and foremost a show of might by the American arms machine. President Truman (Roosevelt had died by this time) did not have the same sort of warm and fuzzy relationship with “Uncle Joe” Stalin as his predecessor and there was a good deal of mistrust, which was the beginnings of the Cold War.
It is also interesting to note that there were two different types of bombs used: one uranium and the other plutonium. There was also discussion about dropping it on a populous and developed city in order to observe the destructive capacity of the bomb on the infrastructure and the population. This was an experiment done on a mass scale that dwarfs anything that was “found” at the Nuremberg Trials.
This has been a hotly debated issue, even though never labeled as a “war crime” – the only nations charged with war crimes in World War II were Germany and Japan. How does a surprise attack on a military base (Pearl Harbor) justify a brutal attack of such magnitude on a civilian population? U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara reflected on the comments of General Curtis LeMay (who was charged with ordering the atomic bomb attack):
“’If we’d lost the war, we’d all have been prosecuted as war criminals.’ And I think he’s right. He, and I’d say we were behaving as war criminals. LeMay recognized that what he was doing would be thought immoral if his side had lost. But what makes it immoral if you lose and not immoral if you win?”
Back in Europe, the rank-and-file German soldiers were being given a taste of “justice” by the Allied victors in what has become known as the “Eisenhower Death Camps”. Here, German P.O.W.s were kept in fenced in fields and left to starve to death by the millions. Then-sixteen year old German soldier, Hugo Stehkamper described his experience:
“I only had a sweater to protect me from the pouring rain and the cold. There just wasn’t any shelter to be had. You stood there, wet through and through, in fields that couldn’t be called fields anymore—they were ruined. You had to make an effort when you walked to even pull your shoes out of the mud. . . . [I]t’s incomprehensible to me how we could stand for many, many days without sitting, without lying down, just standing there, totally soaked. During the day we marched around, huddled together to try to warm each other a bit. At night we stood because we couldn’t walk and tried to keep awake by singing or humming songs. Again and again someone got so tired his knees got weak and he collapsed.”
Another German P.O.W. from an Allied prison camp near Remagen stated:
“The latrines were just logs flung over ditches next to the barbed wire fences. To sleep, all we could do was to dig out a hole in the ground with our hands, then cling together in the hole. . . . Because of illness, the men had to defecate on the ground. Soon, many of us were too weak to take off our trousers first. So our clothing was infected, and so was the mud where we had to walk and sit and lie down. There was no water at all at first, except the rain. . . . We had to walk along between the holes of the soft earth thrown up by the digging, so it was easy to fall into a hole, but hard to climb out. The rain was almost constant along that part of the Rhine that spring. More than half the days we had rain. More than half the days we had no food at all. On the rest, we got a little K ration. I could see from the package that they were giving us one tenth of the rations that they issued to their own men. . . . I complained to the American camp commander that he was breaking the Geneva Convention, but he just said, ‘Forget the Convention. You haven’t any rights.’ Within a few days, some of the men who had gone healthy into the camps were dead. I saw our men dragging many dead bodies to the gate of the camp, where they were thrown loose on top of each other onto trucks, which took them away.”
This is a stark contrast to the treatment Allied P.O.W.s received at the hands of the Germans in their prison labor camps. The British P.O.W.s, for example, had a soccer team; there was a swimming pool at Auschwitz; this was due largely in part to the National Socialist philosophy that a well cared-for worker was a productive worker. However, these are all things you don’t commonly hear about or see portrayed in any Hollywood re-enactments.
The images and narratives the American public was given during World War II, was entirely geared toward the dehumanization of the enemy- a tactic that has been used by the promoters of war for a very, very long time. The idea is to make the enemy appear as far from “human” as possible, so the general public will easily despise them and the soldiers will have no problem killing them. In fact, they will see the death of the “enemy” as making the world safer and better. However, World War II was able to take this tactic of demonization to a whole new level with the evolution of Hollywood as a way to condition the attitudes and opinions of the public. We see this idea continuing and evolving to this day with modern war propaganda films like “Zero Dark Thirty” and of course, the unending promotion of the “Good War” of World War II. The “Nazi” continues to be dehumanized and portrayed as the greatest evil the world has ever seen to this day in film and television.
Of course, the most obvious response by many would still to say that the German civilian population “reaped what the sowed” through the popular support and election of the “murderous” and “megalomaniacal” Hitler and the Nazis, which “started” the war and led to the infamous “Holocaust”. Japan, well they apparently did some bad stuff in China and Southeast Asia, but honestly the only thing most Americans know about them is the “sneak attack” on Pearl Harbor, which has apparently been good enough to keep this 2-dimensional picture alive. In subsequent postings, I will be delving further into the origins of the “fable” that is World War II.
There was a reason most World War II veterans didn’t really talk about what they saw or did and war is not what Hollywood portrays it to be. But when an 18-year old kid is “programmed” with the images and ideas of the “enemy” and then given a gun and a new “family” in his unit, he will oftentimes do what he needs to survive. However it should also be noted that even through the horror of that war, there are many forgotten stories of men (and women) from across enemy lines that were able to see through the “fog of war” and save the life of another fellow human being, irregardless of what “side” they were on.
I am writing this out of no disrespect to my grandparents’ generation, who had the heart to survive a Great Depression and a World War and continue my family line so I could be here to write about it. I am writing this in service to truth and understanding. The “Good War” narrative has shaped the consciousness of the western world to the point where we don’t question it. Giving birth to what is known as the “Military-Industrial Complex”, the formerly peace-loving United States has been in a continual state of war ever since, erecting military bases across the globe.
Honestly looking at institutions like the CIA, the NSA, the World Bank, the IMF, the World Trade Organization, and the UN; all of which arose out of this war, one can’t help but ask themselves, “Did the ‘good guys’ really win?”. Perhaps it is time we begin to question whether the path the Allied “victors” took is the one we want to continue on.
More importantly, humanity needs to be allowed to heal and move on from this war, so we can further evolve to our full potential. This cannot happen without acceptance of the TOTALITY of truth so it can be positively integrated into the collective human psyche, allowing us to move forward with clarity. In order to do this we need to have honest self-reflection as a people divorced from justifications or false pretenses. I am not saying we should internalize the guilt of our ancestors, but we should not feel pride in what was done, either.
Through recognizing the suffering of our “enemy” that we see his/her humanity as akin to ours. This will allow for healing across time and generations. It is time to stop playing the collective “blame game” and be willing to look at the full picture of what took place at that pivotal point in history and learn from it. We don’t need illusions anymore; it is the truth that shall set us free. Those who have ears should hear. Until next time, Namaste and God Bless.