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The History Revisionists and Holocaust Deniers

 
 
Tommy
 
Reply Tue 19 Nov, 2002 01:33 pm
It seems that a sufficient length of time has now passed since the Second World War, since the deaths of millions of civilians and soldiers and the systematic and deliberate eradication of a segment of the human race, for some of our German friends to come out the woodwork and assert, after virtually six decades of silence on the subject, that they too were victims of the war - albeit a war deliberately started by Germany - deliberately prosecuted by Germany and now denied by Germany as their fault.

Recently we had that great story-teller, Holocaust Denier and history revisionist David Irving, who unsuccessfully sued a woman for saying that he was a Holocaust Denier.

Now we have a book by Jorg Friedrich, "Der Brand" (The Fire: Germany Under Fire 1940-45). It is being serialised in a newspaper Called "Bild" - the German equivalent of the UK "Sun" or the US "National Enquirer".

Herr Friedrich, claims that his book is the most authoritative of the Bombing Campaign. Friedrich claims that the British Governent set out at the start of the war to to destroy as many German Cities and kill as many of their inhabitants as possible. Civilian deaths were not 'collateral' he says, but rather the object of the exercise.

Der Brand is far removed from the usual style of German histories, rather it is filled with emotive account of the horrors of bombing, but carried few references to the man who brought retribution on Germany, Adolph Hitler.

Yes, now that such a great time has elapsed, the history revisionists will be out in force, changing Germany's role in the last war from one of instigator to one of victim. But then they are onlt following the example set by their war-time ally - Japan.
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fishin
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Nov, 2002 01:48 pm
First of all, don't mistake the words of a few to be the words of the entire nation. Claims by less than 1% of a population shouldn't be considered the "normal" view.

Having lived in Germany for several years I know full well that the overwhelming majority of Germans are well aware of the historical significance and major events of the war. There have always been a very few that have denied anything and they've done so all along. This all isn't anything new.

WWII isn't discussed in the same manner in Germany as it is here in North America. Those that I discussed it with were, it seemed, largely embarrassed by the events that were revealed to have occured. They generally don't speak of those years with much reverence but as a blight upon thier history but not one of them ever denied that it happened or blamed anyone other than themselves for what occured.

IMO, There will alwys be a few that refuse to acknowledge the atrocities that occured but it's important that we not judge an entire culture on the basis of comments made by so few.
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Nov, 2002 02:17 pm
Tommy


This book came out come after recent disclosures of the vast number of rapes of German women by Soviet army soldiers, and a new novel by Gunter Grass about the bombing of the German refugee ship Wilhelm Gustoff towards the end of the war.

The author is a military historian (until recently Assistant Military Attaché in Washington, when I remember correctly) and has published several books on Nazi aggression.

Until this book came out, no (German) historian had done public researches on this subject:
" 'Terrible crimes were committed, yet no one could talk about them,' says the historian Jorg Friedrich, author of Der Brand (The Fire).
'How could we raise these issues when weighed against the German-inflicted horrors of the concentration camps? How could we point a finger at the British and Americans who were feeding us and teaching us democracy?' "

Due to this, the book was promoted by several tv-interviews.

I agree that the momentary serial publication in the right-conservative "Bild Zeitung" is giving a wrong idea.

The holocaust, the Nazi crimes, that's all covered very well here German: by historians, teachers, the media.
As in any other society, as elsewhere on the world, not everyone shares the other's opinion.

But, as said above, this doesn't seem to be topic of this book.


BTW:
My father's house was destroyed by British bombs, and my great-grandmother, grandmother, aunt and a some days old cousin died in this attack. An attack, which was primarily an exercise for the bombing of Dortmund five days later.
This was told me by the chief navigator of one of the squadrons (he even could show me documents), who was a friend of our family.
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Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Nov, 2002 02:31 pm
Just a quickie:

I always thought it was common knowledge that there was extensive and intentional bombing of German civilians.
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fbaezer
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Nov, 2002 02:43 pm
There are two different points being stressed.

One is the fact that there were no ideological boundaries when it came to attacking civilians, during World War II. Neither British, nor German, nor American bombings were always aimed at military targets. That should remain clear. Civilians were always victims.
There was a radical difference, though, between the generalised civilian damage caused by bombings and the structural, systematical, bureaucratical genocide committed by the Nazis. This boundary is to be underlined, or the deep reasons of the war will be lost.

Another is the possible using of the data to change the public opinion about the role of Germany in WWII. That is ethically unacceptable, IMHO.
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blacksmithn
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Nov, 2002 02:46 pm
Well, it WAS a WAR, after all and war, as we all know, is hell. I don't recall that the Germans took especial care to lessen civilian casualties in their bombing of London during the Battle of Britain. Nor were they particularly upset by the carnage caused by the bombing of Guernica in the Spanish Civil War. And terror and civilian death was rather the whole point of German V-type weapons. As for the raping and pillaging done by Soviet troops in their advance into Germany, please recall that the Germans had done as bad or worse in their invasion of the Russian homeland.

Not that any of these things justify the other, but neither side was innocent of the charge of deliberate, intentional and purposeful infliction of death on enemy civilians.
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Nov, 2002 02:52 pm
blacksmithn wrote:

Not that any of these things justify the other, but neither side was innocent of the charge of deliberate, intentional and purposeful infliction of death on enemy civilians.


That is just the point, blacksmithn, that and the fact that German historians didn't research AND publish a lot about it.
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Steve 41oo
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Nov, 2002 07:27 am
This topic is somewhat premptive of my own

http://able2know.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=1239

If you set out deliberately to kill civilians as part of a strategy of destroying the war-waging capacity of a country, that is a war crime. Churchill knew that very well. That's why he kept his distance from 'Bomber' Harris who was systematically destroying German cities and towns, area by area. By 1945 Harris had refined bombing techniques so well that he could wipe any city in Germany off the face of the map. Churchill was wise enough to know that his post war reputation could be damaged. He should have stopped area bombing when it was clear that the war was won. The fact that he did not but took the credit for winning the war whilst allowing Harris to take the 'blame' for the bombing, shows the ugly side of Churchill's character. He's not my 'Greatest Briton'.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Nov, 2002 10:48 am
Another little know aspect of Churchill's decisions in the war was the "disinformation" campaign. Nearly all of the German agents in the country were rounded up in the first week of September, 1939. The majority were "turned," so that false information could be fed to the Nazis with the clandestine radios they had in their homes in England. It is asserted now, by those who claim to have seen British documents, and used them to get relevant documents from American sources through the FIA, that Churchill "played god." That is to say, he decided who would be the victim of bombing, and especially of V-weapons attacks, by the expedient of feeding false targeting information to the Germans. For example, if a V-weapon landed in the West End of London, the "turned operative" would report that it had fallen west of the city--which would likely result in an adjustment to targeting which would cause the next weapon to land in the East End of London, or in the countryside of East Anglia or Kent. I cannot personally vouch for this information, though, having read about it in sources i consider reliable, i haven't done the reading to verify it. Twentieth century history interests me, but i concentrate my study of history to Europe and North America before 1900 . . .
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Tommy
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Nov, 2002 01:34 pm
The first German bombing raid on London took place on the night of 24 August l940, sparked an air war of attrition that lasted 5 years. This raid was interpreted by Churchill as deliberate and the following night 40 bombers were sent on a mission to bomb Berlin. This raid so incensed Hitler that he vowed that for every bomb dropped by Britain, Germany would retaliate with 100 times more. At the end of September l940, a 58 day air onslaught began on London with a major effort on the part of German Military Planners to attack civilians rather than military sites. Devastating as it was for many British cities, the shift away from military targets allowed the RAF to re-group and continue operations, which arguably aided Britain's eventual victory.

Rightly or wrongly, the British decision to bomb industrial cities was that for much of the conflict, bombing was the only method that Britain had to attack Germany and, given the "Blitz" on Britain in l940-41, these attacks were seen to free the British from any obligation not to attack civilian centres.

Be that as it may, the "Blame-Game" has now started between the Far Right of the German Political Scene and British Historians. "You started it" - "No, you did" and so on. The serialisation of this book will furnish the Right wing of German politics with arguments to back its revisionist claims. It will also cause bad feeling and overshadow recent reconciliation attempts between Britain and Germany over the bombing of Dresden. In a sign of friendship British businesses have paid into a fund to reconstruct the Frauen-Kirche which was destroyed in the raid and is due to open in three years time.

Was Britain's war of attrition unnecessarily brutal? Maybe. But terror bombing was not invented or carried out by the British. The Luftwaffe obliterated whole cities and that certainly preceded what the British did. What the British did was appalling and more terrifying, but it was a natural progression of the war. But to say that Winston Churchill, who was the only capable military and political leader left in Europe after the depredations of the Germans was a war Criminal is like saying that Roosevelt and Truman were War Criminals - who joined Britiain in the defence of individual freedom and the destruction of the evil that was Nazism.
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Nov, 2002 02:38 pm
Tommy


Actually I wonder,
a) if you have really read this book,
b) if -and how- you follow up German reactions on the Bildzeitung serial.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Nov, 2002 04:47 pm
The contention that the German switch to bombing cities allowed the R.A.F. to recover during the "Battle of Britain" has been made frequently, and more so, now that the history of the second world war is again a hot topic. Like all such over-simplistic historical statements, it is made while ignoring several important factors. The bulk of Fighter Command was NOT in the south of England. Large numbers of fighters were stationed in the midlands and in the north, as well as in Scotland and Wales--and the R.A.F. left them there, for the very good reason that they constituted the only reserve available to the only air force still opposing the Germans. The majority of aircraft manufacturers were, it is true, located in the south of England, but most of them were at the extreme limit of the range of the Me109, a 1938 vintage fighter. Neither the Me109 nor the Supermarine Spitfire had very much flight time--the Messerschmidt has about 90 minutes operational time at 10,000 feet, which dropped sharply with any significant altitude changes, and high-speed maneouvering which occured in "dog-fights." The Spitfire had only about 40 minutes--which, as the air battles were fought over England, gave them an advantage in flight time over the Luftwaffe. The Hawker Hurricane, the work horse of the R.A.F. during the war, had a much longer flight time, and were quite effective, despite performance deficiencies. An escort need only distract fighters attacking the bombers; the combat air patrol need only distract the bombers. Given the relative positions of the opposing fighter commands in this exchange, the defense was much favored both by numbers and by distance. A further contention that the R.A.F. was on the point of running out of pilots is a shallow contention as well: pilots from more than a dozen nations joined the R.A.F. to participate in the air battles over England in the summer and fall of 1940. Of the 250+ aircrew casualties listed by the R.A.F., more than 100 were Poles--the Polish flyers made up about 40% of the fighter pilots in this campaign, and they suffered casualties in a commencerate degree; the R.A.F. used all resources available to keep up the fight without disrupting the deployment they had made at the start of this air campaign. Once again, the aircrew in the fighter groups in the midlands, the north and in Scotland and Wales were not involved--the R.A.F. was keeping a substantial reserve.

If you read The First and the Last, Adolf Galland's war time autobiography, you'll quickly note the recurrant theme that the fighter arm was the poor step-child of the Luftwaffe. Naturally, the fighter pilots wanted to "get" the English aircraft industry--but they were not heeded, Hitler's priorities were quite different. The initial attacks against the fighter bases and the aircraft factories in the south of England were part of the Luftwaffe's operational planning, but they did not produce results which were immediately dramatic, and therefore suitable for propaganda purposes. Hitler was convinced of the false prophecy of the italian writer (whose name escapes me at present) who had predicted that future wars would be decided in the air, by long-range bombers, with terror attacks which would break the will of the defenders. Goering is usually seen by modern readers as somewhat of a clown--that he was a sycophantic lackey of Hitler is certain. But Goering has been a competent fighter pilot in the first world war, a protege of von Richtoffen, and had taken command of the "flying circus" after von Richtoffen's death. Had he possessed the spine of Admiral Rader, he might have opposed Hitler's meddling in Luftwaffe operations, and he might have given the necessary support to the fighter arm. He did not, however, and, knowing full well it was a mistake, he issued the necessary orders to switch operations to the objective so dear to Hitler--bombing enemy cities to break their will to resist.

In this, of course, Hitler was as blind as he was in all other military areas. Because he was a born politician, he had correctly read the spineless English and French governments he faced in 1938 and 1939. But he decided from this that he could also predict the outcome of military operations, and this makes Hitler the best friend the Allied powers had in this war. Terror bombing in Warsaw did not lead to its surrender. The collapse of the ability of the Polish Army to defend the city lead to that result--the citizens of Warsaw were in the suburbs every day, carrying off and caring for the wounded, burying the dead, rebuilding destroyed trenches and bunkers, and digging new ones. Certainly they feared the bombers, and abhorred the results of the air raids--but they were nothing daunted by them. The results in London were identical--these raids only steeled the resolve of the English; and also lowered the level of civilized feeling of the combatants--i doubt if anyone who survived the "Blitz" ever had the least sympathy for the citizens of Hamburg, or Cologne or Dresden. But have no doubt, the bombing campaign was always intended to attack the English cities, after the R.A.F. was brushed aside--at a certain point in the middle of September, 1940, Hitler basically said in so many words: all right, that's enough, now go after the cities.
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Steve 41oo
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Nov, 2002 05:04 pm
Tommy, Setanta

Great posts, thanks.

It struck me earlier that Arthur Harris, Winston Churchill, Josef Stalin and President Truman (forgotten his first name) were never brought before a war crimes tribunal. Thus at Nuremburg, German war leaders were found guilty...but they never had the opportunity of pronouncing on Allied leaders. Perhaps Truman would have appreciated the opportunity of explaining why the Nagasaki bomb was necessary.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Nov, 2002 05:43 pm
It would be rather a stretch to have blamed Truman for Nagasaki, unless you would find both Hiroshima and Nagasaki to be candidates for prosecution. The Japanese were warned in advance of a new attack, for which they were assured they would not be prepared, and told that the attack would be renewd if there were not a diplomatic response. There was none, so the second bomb was dropped. It was a very successful bluff, by the way, because there was no third bomb.
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Tommy
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Nov, 2002 10:36 pm
Well, I suppose you could call it a 'bluff' if you look at the resultant devastation and carnage visited upon Nagasaki and Hiroshima, through the eyes of US Military Planners.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 Nov, 2002 07:00 am
It was a bluff in that if there had been no diplomatic response from the Japanese, we were not prepared to do it a third time . . . don't go all moral on me, as though i've ratified that holocaust . . .
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Tommy
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 Nov, 2002 07:16 am
The History Revisionists and Holocaust Deniers
I have not read "Der Brand", nor do I intend to follow up any readers reaction to the serialization of this book in the tabloid newspaper "Bild", for the following reasons:

1. What is done is done. No amount of 'Uriah Heep-ish' hand wringing or attempts to divert the blame for that horrifying war started by Hitler and his evil 'acolytes', with the passive connivance of a majority of the German people, will convince any right-thinking person that the German people were the victims in the last great war.

2. The serialization of this book has caused the out-break of a wide-spread debate, kindling yet again the evil hopes of those who still retain a vestige of belief in the 'rightness' of Naziism and keeping the anti-German/anti-British pot of hatred boiling.

Herr Friedrich asked: "Do you want to live in a nation which doesn't know its own past because it cannot look into the face of its own past? Is this the way of honest men? No."

"You have to look into the face of the past to ask if it is a heroic one or a tragic one, or perhaps a criminal one". You have to look into this face even if it has a Medusa face and in the British case the Medusa's face is the bombing campaign".

To look into the face of the German would Medusa would turn anyone to stone.

The debate is about whether Churchill ordered the deliberate bombing of German population centres, rather than military-industrial centres, and whether Churchill was a war criminal.

There is no evidence to suggest in any of the Cabinet Papers, released under the 30 year rule, that Churchill deliberately ordered the bombing of civilians.

To accuse Churchill of being a War Criminal is the same as accusing anyone else who is defending his country, against war criminals, of war crimes.

I don't think that Herr Friedrich wrote this book for any altruistic motives.
At best it was for financial gain - at worst, to revive the spectre of Naziism.
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 Nov, 2002 12:44 pm
Tommy

Rather surprising that you can quote Friedrich, know about the book and German reactions, without having read it.


As far as I know, historians all over the world could underline the above Friedrich quotation.
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Tommy
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 Nov, 2002 03:18 pm
You cannot know what was in the minds of the US Military Planners or the Commander-in-Chief when 'Fat Man' and 'Little Boy' were dropped. Had there been a 'Baby Bunting' no doubt it would have been dropped too. It should be remembered that there were several reasons for the dropping of Atomic Bombs - not least to see exactly what they would do. That it they stopped the war in the Far East was a bonus. The Trinity Test was only a test in the desert after all, and not against human beings or property. Who knows whether a third bomb - if it had been available - would have been used. As far as the Japanese were concerned the Americans had an Armoury of Bombs: it was not bluff that ruled the Japanese decision to sue for peace, but pragmatism.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 Nov, 2002 03:24 pm
You just like to argue, is that it, Boss? Certainly no bluff works if the other side knows what cards you're holding--and as for your contention that no one knows what Harry Truman and George Marshall had in mind, i'd say you need to do some more reading.
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