A FEW SIGNIFICANT DOTS IN HISTORY, AND THE SLAYING OF A SELF SERVING MYTH.
To Jon Carroll, SF Chronicle:
I generally fancy your innocent chatter, but you just sneaked in a crucial lie about World War Two. That lie is often taught for the darkest reasons. You said :"Let's go talk about 1939... what did the Poles do? They kept fighting. England and France had pledged to come to their aid, but France and England BACKED OUT. The Polish cause was hopeless, but the Poles fought on. Death rained from the sky, and the Poles fought on. The Nazis installed puppet leaders and marched Jews to death camps and turned their attention westward to Belgium and France -and the Poles fought on" (9/21/04, SF Chronicle).
That France and England "backed out" is a pure and simple lie, that Americans are made to hear as often as possible, to make sure that the US population would never back out of anything like, say, Iraq (lest they be like France). Actually France and England went to war, getting more than a million of their citizens killed, plus untold suffering, and the war was about Poland. Maybe you did not learn reality, but you should be instilled some respect for those who fought for human rights, and their conscience. In contrast, the USA took Hitler's side, financed him and armed him to the hilt, and, then, not content with this, betrayed Poland further with Stalin's help. Stalin was another gentleman financed the same way Hitler was, by the same powerful American folks (Bush, Harriman, etc.). Now to give you the history lesson you deserve:
Hitler attacked Poland by surprise September 1, 1939, alleging Germany had been attacked. France and England did not believe the pathological liar's latest lie, and sent him an ultimatum. France declared general mobilization, and proclaimed a "state of siege", September 2. On September 3, 1939, before the end of her ultimatum to Hitler for pulling out of Poland, once she made sure Great Britain had joined the cause, France declared war. French troops crossed the border into the Saarland in heavy fighting and extremely difficult, thoroughly fortified terrain of a narrow sector of the Siegfried line, starting September 5, 1939 (the huge combined forces of the British empire, USA, France, and other allies would take 6 months in 44/45 to break through that "Siegfried line" on a 1000 kilometer front; the 43 French divisions of the Saar offensive had no room in 1939). The Versailles Treaty of 1919 had made it nearly impossible for France to attack Germany: "neutral" Belgium was everywhere the French army wanted to be. Another American gift, this one from 1919.
Anyway, compare the rapidity of the French response in 1939, with how long it took the USA to attack the Taliban and Al Qaeda in 2001. It took a month for America to do anything in 2001. The French took only 4 days between the attack against Poland and their own attack against the Nazi Reich. How is this about backing out?
Now, true, the French had 110 divisions, whereas the British had only 8 (and Germany 156), which explains why it took a month for the first British soldier to reach French soil. The reason for this is that the pro Nazis in England (and those would have included the Anglo American demi God Churchill, at some earlier point) had been shunned aside only by February 1939. Then the British allied themselves solidly with the French against Hitler. The belated British switch explains why they were not prepared.
For all practical purposes, organized Polish resistance stopped September 19. Warsaw surrendered September 27, followed by the last Polish forces, October 6, 1939. The Polish resistance started later (just like the French resistance killed its first German a full year after the armistice of June 1940, to be followed by fullscale insurrections).
When the Nazis invaded Norway, combined air-sea-land Franco-British forces organized landings, the first of their kind. The British sank many Nazi ships, and the French Foreign Legion, landing under heavy fire, defeated the elite Nazi troops and pursued them towards Sweden, freeing Narvik. Similarly, the French Mobile Army was sent to the help of Holland in May. Does this sound like backing out?
On September 3, 1939, France, England, Australia, and New Zealand had declared war to Hitler. South Africa and Canada followed (Sept 6 and 10). What did the USA do? Well, on September 5, 1939, the same day the French soldiers entered Germany, the USA declared its NEUTRALITY. Again. How appropriate. For years, the USA had been proclaiming they were no part of the quarrel between France, a republic, and the Third Reich, a racist fascist dictatorship. Speak about backing out. And speak about American betrayal. But who is counting?
Indeed, as it is all too often the case with the American government, or the American media, America was comfortably swimming in a warm sea of lies. It was a lie that the US was neutral. The US was fully involved in the attack against Poland, be it only by inducing other countries, such as Belgium and Holland, to proclaim their "neutrality". The Nazis had been financed by America for nearly two decades. America intervened massively on the side of Nazism in the 1932 civil war in Germany. Most of the Nazi army's equipment was American, from all sorts of Nazi tanks, to all sorts of Nazi planes, and engines, and even arcane Nazi equipments and technics, like Nazi synthetic fuel, or rubber, or Nazi armor, or Nazi automatic pilots, or Nazi computers (IBM), or even jet fighter technology (in development with American help). Far from being neutral, the US played a direct role in the destruction of Poland. The Nazi Air Force ("Luftwaffe") was short on some special chemicals to rain death from the sky, as you say, so the US rushed in 500 (five hundred) tons of it.
The final order of the German Armed Forces, issued on 9 May 1945, stated in part: "By command of Admiral Dönitz the Armed Forces have given up the hopeless struggle. A heroic fight that has lasted for nearly six years thus comes to an end ... the German Armed Forces have succumbed to overwhelming superior strength ... Every German soldier, sailor and airman can therefore lay aside his arms with justifiable pride... ". Notice the "nearly six years" in this Nazi statement. German losses in the Polish, Norvegian and French campaigns of 39/40, comprised more than 50,000 irreplaceable elite troops killed (with 5% officers). The US was at war only two years and a half. Far from backing out, France started that war, that world war, for a matter of principle, because France had enough of Hitler, and his lies. From his point of view, Hitler wanted just to eradicate Poland, as he did Czechoslovakia and Austria, and he had got American and English assurances that he could do so, years before. Hitler claimed he just wanted to correct the injustice of the Versailles Treaty. After he got the unexpected British declaration of war, Hitler faced a window silently, a very long time, and then savagely addressed his Foreign Minister: "Now what?" Hitler felt betrayed by the British. But notice the Americans kept their side of the bargain: they had the longer view. They could see, beyond the shadows of the valley of death, all the good things coming to America, once Old Europe was completely destroyed.
Hitler's main allies were some American contractors, and financial types, similar to those which profit from the war in Iraq (this time, everybody can see them). They wanted the world for themselves, Hitler was their tool. By trying to make the world believe that, somehow, the problem with the second word war was that the British and the French dropped the ball in 1939, one succeeds to change the subject from the crucial point: the main culprit of World War Two was the country which profited the most from World War Two. That would be the United States of America. In the detail, of course, some individuals profited even more, such as the Bush family, which was well rewarded for having made Hitler all he could be, complete with arming him for civil war (in 1932), and helping him manage slave labor (Prescott Bush, 1941/42).
It is true that, after Hitler declared war to his benefactor the USA on December 11, 1941 (a big mistake), the USA ended up with 68 divisions in Europe by 1945, and 135,000 American soldiers died. But American troops were never a majority of the allied forces. Actually the French liberated Paris themselves, despite American opposition, and threats to cut off French Armed Forces ammunitions and fuel. The French Second Armored Division rushed in to come to the help of the Paris resistance, beating to the punch a few SS armored divisions, and thus avoiding the destruction of Paris. Coincidentally Warsaw was being destroyed by the Nazis, in full view of sun bathing Soviet soldiers. Later on the Americans made good on their threats to cut off supplies to French armies, but, nevertheless the French armies crossed the Rhine under fire, and even entered Austria first.
And what about Poland? At Yalta, Roosevelt advisers (some of them related to those who had helped Hitler), having excluded France from the proceedings, used the occasion to give Poland to Stalin. As long as there was a dictator to terrorize Europe, the US was satisfied. So Poland, in a few years, was mauled by the Nazis and the Soviets, and betrayed several times over by the Americans, creating a "new Europe".
By repeating like a parrot what your Leader Bush says, that the British and the French backed out in 1939, you are not a better man than he is. It is difficult to disagree much with someone with whom one shares the same data base. At least President Bush has the excuse that his grandfather was among that small group that profited from making Hitler possible, so the President is trying to save his family's honor, which is understandable.
People are not just what they do, but also what they know. Who knows little is not much. Who knows only good reasons for his nation to own the world is despicable.
Patrice Ayme' , September 2004.