Why did WWII happen ? - Page 6




 
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March 23rd, 2006  
Ollie Garchy
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by redcoat
Clap-trap.
Germany was responsible for WWII because she invaded Poland.

Germany doesn't invade Poland, no war.

You can find as many reasons as you want for why Germany would wish to attack Poland, but the fact Germany did, despite knowing what her actions might lead too, means Germany bears the responsibity for starting the conflict which later became WW2.
Morale of this story.
If you don't want war, don't invade other nations with your army.
Initial Qualification: I am not trying to suggest that the Nazi invasion of Poland was a good thing, a wise course of action, or the only alternative for Berlin. I am trying to point out that the events of September 1939 were far more complex than normally presented. There is one problem in particular that is often overlooked -- the Nazi "blending" of traditional or normal political aims with their other crazy views. If you accept the type of argument that I am presenting, it is possible to understand why many Germans (like the normal Prussian conservatives) were blinded by Hitler. It is then also possible to explain how difficult it was for the Allies to understand the true scope of Hitler's plans.

My Response:

(1) "You can find as many reasons as you want for why Germany would wish to attack Poland, but the fact Germany did, despite knowing what her actions might lead too, means Germany bears the responsibity for starting the conflict which later became WW2."

This view is a slight adaptation of the normal thesis, and I am thankful that you at least recognize German grievances. I in fact agree with you to a certain point. Paris-London warned Hitler not to attack Poland. [I think it was a week prior to the German invasion.] Hitler moved forward irregardless.

Hitler's actions in the final week before war demonstrate a couple of points, however. Hitler seemed quite nervous and worried about initiating a European war. Stalin however helped him out. By agreeing to the partition of Poland during consultations between Molotov and Ribbentrop, Stalin altered the balance of power in central Europe. Hitler then moved forward because (a) diplomacy had made a two-front war unlikely, (b) Poland faced impossible odds and would quickly collapse, (c) and Hitler speculated that the Anglo-French decision was political and would not have any military consequences on the western front. He was correct. The Allied declaration of war did not have any really tragic consequences for Germany. [The wars against the USA and USSR did].

(2) I have to ask this question (nobody else does): was Germany's declaration of war "illegal" or a flagrant rejection of international law?

The Allied judges asked this question at Nuremberg after the war. The lawyers came armed with documents to prove it. Their case (like a lot of the Nuremberg trial, but certainly not those elements concerned with atrocities or the holocaust) was hilarious. I will not go into the details. [The major problem for the Allies was the Nazi-Soviet Pact of August 1939. I have tried to point out this paradox]. For Godsakes, the Americans invaded Iraq three years ago using nothing more than one single excuse (WMD and only later "regime change"). The Germans had many more: (a) protecting German civilians, (b) regaining their territory, (c) and they were part of a coalition of major powers involved in the action.

(3) "Morale of this story. If you don't want war, don't invade other nations with your army."

This is untrue. The story should read differently. Germany should not invade other countries. Most other states can. There are so many examples as to boggle the mind.

Ollie Garchy
March 23rd, 2006  
Ted
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ollie Garchy

(3) "Morale of this story. If you don't want war, don't invade other nations with your army."

This is untrue. The story should read differently. Germany should not invade other countries. Most other states can. There are so many examples as to boggle the mind.

Ollie Garchy
This is playing the victime a bit. The "everybody-can-do-it-so-why-can't-we" would be fair if it was a tabula rasa situation. But Germany had displayed an agressive foreign policy for quite some time. You know that you'll get special attention in the end and you can't go on too long. I rather stick to the theory that Germany overplayed it's hand on this occasion and it cost her dearly.
March 23rd, 2006  
Ollie Garchy
 
 
A Critique of Vincent J. Esposito's "The War in Brief" (Part 01)

Vincent J. Esposito Colonel, United States Army Head, Department of Military Art, United States Military Academy http://gi.grolier.com/wwii/wwii_1.html

This post attempts to spell out the problems surrounding WWII origins in a simple and straightforward manner. I decided to take a barebones synopsis of the argument by Vincent J. Esposito and show why nearly every paragraph is flawed, distorted, or outright incorrect. Esposito's argument is in my opinion the one teachers offer young people at school. The structure of my post is simple. I cite a paragraph and then demonstrate the weaknesses.

My again refined thesis now reads: London and Paris chose to declare war on Hitler's Germany during the first days of September 1939 and officially unleashed what later became known as WWII. The western Allies used the German invasion of Poland as the pretext to initiate a preventive war. The governments of Britain and France quite simply aimed at preventing the further development of German geostrategic power. The two states wanted to contain the Hitler menace. [This menace does not mean the following: (1) German rearmament was illegal, (2) German actions in the Rhineland, Austria, Sudetenland, Czechoslovakia or Poland were evil or dangerous or illegal, or (3) that the Allies cared about the previous points.] They declared war in 1939 to stop Hitler from fulfilling his dreams of empire. [Declaring war is not necessarily a bad thing, guys] Poland was unimportant...a pretext. Poland was never freed. Stalin simply altered the Nazi-Soviet Pact and took all of it under his control.

(A) Para 01: "At the end of World War I the victorious nations formed the League of Nations for the purpose of airing international disputes, and of mobilizing its members for a collective effort to keep the peace in the event of aggression by any nation against another or of a breach of the peace treaties. The United States, imbued with isolationism, did not become a member. The League failed in its first test. In 1931 the Japanese, using as an excuse the explosion of a small bomb under a section of track of the South Manchuria Railroad (over which they had virtual control), initiated military operations designed to conquer all of Manchuria. After receiving the report of its commission of inquiry, the League adopted a resolution in 1933 calling on the Japanese to withdraw. Thereupon, Japan resigned from the League. Meanwhile, Manchuria had been overrun and transformed into a Japanese puppet state under the name of Manchukuo. Beset by friction and dissension among its members, the League took no further action".

Esposito cites the League of Nations to set the tone of his little paper. He writes that the League was devoted to the "collective effort to keep the peace". The League Charter spells it out slightly differently. The group wanted to "promote international co-operation and to achieve international peace and security". Nobody takes issue with the need for peace. But the Charter's emphasis was on creating the conditions for peace and not just one of military reaction.

The problems arise elsewhere. Esposito points out that (1) the United States was not a member and (2) that the group was ineffectual in Manchuria. What he does not tell the reader is that the League of Nations' membership list was very limited. The group of nations did not include Germany, the Soviet Union, the United States, or Japan by the end of the 1930s. The League therefore did not have any real coercive capabilities or the legal right to bind non-members to their own whims.

(B) Para 02: "In 1933 also, Adolf HITLER came to power as dictator of Germany and began to rearm the country in contravention of the provisions of the Treaty of Versailles. He denounced the provisions of that treaty that limited German armament and in 1935 reinstituted compulsory military service. That year the Italian dictator Benito MUSSOLINI began his long-contemplated invasion of Ethiopia, which he desired as an economic colony. The League voted minor sanctions against Italy, but these had slight practical effect. British and French efforts to effect a compromise settlement failed, and Ethiopia was completely occupied by the Italians in 1936".

Hitler first of all did not begin rearming until over one year later and rearmament during the early phase was geared to the expansion of civilian industries. We can dismiss this little factual error. Esposito glosses over one important issue, however. Global disarmament existed as one of the prerequisites or official excuses for keeping Germany disarmed. During the 1930s, at the disarmament talks in Geneva, the League participants discarded this policy and held onto the right to produce aircraft and other weapons systems. German diplomats (this policy was developed prior to Hitler) raised the point that the unwillingness to disarm invalidated the Versailles Treaty. They then left the conference and the League itself. The League had reneged on a primary condition of their own policy. German rearmament was therefore NOT illegal. Hitler rescinded the Versailles Treaty (using the pretext that the Allies had failed to fulfill their obligations) and then pursued outright rearmament. Esposito should have concentrated on Hitler's aims and not try to trick his reader into believing a lie.

Esposito is also instinctively placing German rearmament on the same level as the Japanese invasion of Manchuria or the Italian invasion of Ethiopia. That trick is a farcical ploy often used by historians. He also forgets to mention the Polish invasion of the Soviet Union in 1919, the Lithuanian attack on Germany (Memel) in 1923 at the height of the Ruhr crisis (where the French invaded the Ruhr once again), The Polish seizure of Wilna from the Lithuanians after WWI, etc.
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March 23rd, 2006  
Ollie Garchy
 
 
A Critique of Vincent J. Esposito's "The War in Brief" (Part 02)

(C) Para 03: "Alarmed by German rearmament, France sought an alliance with the USSR. Under the pretext that this endangered Germany, Hitler remilitarized the Rhineland in 1936. It was a dangerous venture, for Britain and France could have overwhelmed Germany, but, resolved to keep the peace, they took no action. Emboldened by this success, Hitler intensified his campaign for Lebensraum (space for living) for the German people. He forcibly annexed Austria in March 1938, and then, charging abuse of German minorities, threatened Czechoslovakia. In September, as Hitler increased his demands on the Czechs and war seemed imminent, the British and French arranged a conference with Hitler and Mussolini. At the Munich Conference they agreed to German occupation of the Sudetenland, Hitler's asserted last claim, in the hope of maintaining peace. This hope was short lived, for in March 1939, Hitler took over the rest of Czechoslovakia and seized the former German port of Memel from Lithuania. There followed demands on Poland with regard to Danzig (Gdansk) and the Polish Corridor. The Poles remained adamant, and it became clear to Hitler that he could attain his objectives only by force. After surprising the world with the announcement of a nonaggression pact with his sworn foe, the Soviet Union, he sent his armies across the Polish border on Sept. 1, 1939. Britain and France, pledged to support Poland in the event of aggression, declared war on Germany two days later".

I have writen enough about these points. The remilitarization of the Rhineland only meant placing German troops on German soil. The Austrians generally applauded union with Germany. Hitler took over Czechoslovakia along with Hungary and Poland. And Memel was a German city since the 15th Century...a city that was willingly returned to German control by the Lithuanian government. Memel is particularly important here because it demonstrates Esposito's need to rewrite history in order to create a particular slant. None of these actions appear violent or in the spirit of Lebensraum. It takes a particular twisted bias to view them this way.

The German invasion of Poland represented Hitler's first really aggressive move. I have already listed the German reasons for attacking Poland. It is just interesting to note the treatment of the Soviet Union. Esposito really plays down the dangerous Soviet involvement in 1930s European international relations. He forgets to note the massive Soviet rearmament of the 1930s (as if the Germans were the only ones), how Stalin played Germany and France against each other (a very easy thing), forgets about the secret protocol of the Nazi-Soviet Non-Agression Pact that divided Poland (a plain attempt at colouring the facts), and...take a look at the next paragraph. It is just classic.

(D) Para 04 and 05: "As the Germans ravaged Poland, the Russians moved into the eastern part of the country and began the process that was to lead to the absorption in 1940 of Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania. They also made demands on Finland. The recalcitrant Finns were subdued in the Winter War of 1939-1940, but only after dealing the Russians several humiliating military reverses.

Meanwhile, Japan had undertaken military operations for the subjugation of China proper, and was making preparations for the expansion of its empire into Southeast Asia and the rich island groups of the Southwest Pacific. Mussolini watched the progress of his fellow dictator, Hitler, while preparing to join in the war at a propitious moment".

What can I write about this portrayal? The Germans "ravaged" Poland. The Soviets only "absorbed" it. Stalin in fact only "made demands". Esposito's words tell us more about what he thinks than the points listed. In other words, Stalin represented a legitimate state with legitimate aims. He later writes the following about the Cold War: "friction over the treaties with Austria, Germany, and Japan and Soviet aggressive designs in eastern Europe brought increasing tension, and by the end of 1948 their relationship could be considered one of cold war". "Friction"? "Aggressive designs"? Esposito refutes his entire little essay in the last sentence: "The cold war between the East and West continued thereafter, with the Communists striving for world domination through subversion and infiltration, and the West seeking to frustrate their designs". Nothing more needed here.

[A note: The "War in Brief" is followed by larger sections that address the issues in greater detail. Esposito is not really as dumb as the picture I paint above...just totally biased].

[A question: I hope that these long posts are acceptable in this forum? I like these threads, I type fast, and I have too much spare time at the moment].
March 23rd, 2006  
Ted
 
 
Holy smokes Olly, could you put a seperate post with the extract of these enormous posts? I am at work and people tend to notice when my screen goes black because of a huge text..... I'll read through it when I get home.
March 23rd, 2006  
Doppleganger
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ollie Garchy
[A question: I hope that these long posts are acceptable in this forum? I like these threads, I type fast, and I have too much spare time at the moment].
Long posts are good IMO. Gives me a bit more to get my teeth into and like you, I tend to go into the detail of things more than some others who post.

Keep 'em coming.
March 26th, 2006  
redcoat
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ollie Garchy
)
(2) I have to ask this question (nobody else does): was Germany's declaration of war "illegal" or a flagrant rejection of international law?
The only nation that Nazi Germany ever declared war on was the USA.
In all other cases,with the exception of Britain and France who declared war on her, she attacked without warning.
March 26th, 2006  
Ollie Garchy
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by redcoat
The only nation that Nazi Germany ever declared war on was the USA.
In all other cases,with the exception of Britain and France who declared war on her, she attacked without warning.
True. But the attack list is small. Think about the following cases:

1. Canada, Australia & Colonies. (Declared war around Sept 1939)
2. Yugoslavia (Declared war on Germany in 1941)
3. Greece (Already at war with Italy)
4. The "End of the War" cases (Former allies & the entire planet in 1945)

The countries Germany "attacked" include two types:

1. Poland (open aggression)
2. Denmark/Norway (reaction to Br/Fr moves ie. strategic)
3. Luxemburg, Belgium, Netherlands (strategic decision)
4. Soviet Union (open aggression)

It is remarkable that the "aggression" list (Poland/USSR) is so small considering the prewar/wartime/postwar illusion and myth that Hitler wanted world domination (defined as physical possession).

The list is important. Geoffrey Stoakes wrote a good argument a decade or so ago about the subject. It is as good as any. He argues that Hitler sought to create an empire in Europe. An empire is a political entity that can exert a tremendous amount of power on the periphery. (ie. the Soviet Union during the Cold War or the United States today).

The events of the war, as seen by many people today, lead to an incorrect interpretation of Hitler's war aims. It all goes back to the view that the militarization of the Rhineland represented something sinister.

All of this was, however, sinister from the perspective of those groups impacted by Nazi ideology. This does not mean that the Allies fought the war to save the Slavs from subjugation or the Jews/Gypsies/Homosexuals from extirpation.

Ollie Garchy
March 27th, 2006  
boris116
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ollie Garchy

Hitler's actions in the final week before war demonstrate a couple of points, however. Hitler seemed quite nervous and worried about initiating a European war. Stalin however helped him out. By agreeing to the partition of Poland during consultations between Molotov and Ribbentrop, Stalin altered the balance of power in central Europe. Hitler then moved forward because (a) diplomacy had made a two-front war unlikely, (b) Poland faced impossible odds and would quickly collapse, (c) and Hitler speculated that the Anglo-French decision was political and would not have any military consequences on the western front. He was correct. The Allied declaration of war did not have any really tragic consequences for Germany. [The wars against the USA and USSR did].
This is exactly the same point made by V. Suvorov(Rezun)!
In his book "Icebreaker" he states that Stalin has won the WWII in 1939 by provoking Hitler to become an agressor...
March 27th, 2006  
redcoat
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by boris116
This is exactly the same point made by V. Suvorov(Rezun)!
In his book "Icebreaker" he states that Stalin has won the WWII in 1939 by provoking Hitler to become an agressor...
Kindly explain how coming to a secret agreement with Germany on the carve up of Eastern european nations, 'provoked' Hitler.
If you read Mein Kampt, you would realise he didn't need any provoking.