PDA

View Full Version : On History and how it is taught



Pages : [1] 2

George.
09-24-2009, 08:46 AM
As a child in Brazil, I learned in school that World War 2 was caused by an evil German regime that invaded its neighbors and tried to conquer the world.

As a high school student in the US, I took AP American history and then AP European history, and both classes taught a more in-depth version of the same story I had learned in previous grades. Hitler invaded Czecoslovakia and Poland for no reason beyond his desire to rule the world. After the war, the Soviets brutalized and exploited "their" Germany, but the nice and good Western Allies immediately set about rebuilding and reintegrating West Germany under the Marshall Plan.

Nothing I encountered in books, movies, or TV programs varied from this narrative. Occasionally there was passing mention of how nasty the bombing of Dresden and Hamburg were, but other than that it was Allies good, Germans evil.

The first hint that it wasn't all just so came from an American bomber pilot whom I met in my 20s, who gave me the first glimpse into the difference between the real war and the Hollywood version.

In the years and decades since, of course, I have come to realize that World War 2 was only the final phase of a long struggle for global hegemony, initially between Germany and Britain but eventually won by Britain's spawn, the United States. I understood that the invasion of Poland and Czecoslovakia per se, while objectionable for many reasons, was no different than the countless retakings of former provinces that had been redrawing Europe's borders for centuries.

I also learned about the Western Allied treatment of occupied Germany, first from an old German man in Brazil, then from many other sources. I came to realize that it was little different from, say, German treatment of occupied France and Belgium, and had no problem with civilians starving and dying in camps years after the Nazi surrender. I learned that the only reason it got any better was the onset of the Cold War and the need to have West Germany on the Western camp.

Why is it that half a century after the fact the narrative of those days still has to be so whitewashed, in schools and in popular culture? Why can't the many excesses of a generally just campaign be discussed as frankly and known as broadly as, say, Thomas Jefferson's hypocritical stance on slavery, or the abuses of 19th century imperialism?

Keith Wilson
09-24-2009, 09:23 AM
Why can't the many excesses of a generally just campaign be discussed as frankly and known as broadly as, say, Thomas Jefferson's hypocritical stance on slavery, or the abuses of 19th century imperialism? Bipolar thinking; we're the "good guys", they're the "bad guys", "If you not with us you're against us". It's easier and less embarrassing than thinking clearly, and is unfortunately a common human failing

That said, why is WWII presented this way, while other things aren't? A couple of guesses - it's closer; our fathers and grandfathers fought in it. It's more clearly a just cause then, say, 19th century imperialism. The Nazis really were as bad as generally portrayed, which encourages bipolar thinking. And lastly, people have started to look at it in a more balanced way. The general view of the atomic bombing of Japan has been very ambivalent for a long time, and the strategic bombing campaign often gets the same treatment. Give it time.

Kaa
09-24-2009, 09:26 AM
Why is it that half a century after the fact the narrative of those days still has to be so whitewashed, in schools and in popular culture? Why can't the many excesses of a generally just campaign be discussed as frankly and known as broadly as, say, Thomas Jefferson's hypocritical stance on slavery, or the abuses of 19th century imperialism?

Because it's still in living memory. Enough people who fought in WW2 are still alive.

Kaa

Taylor Tarvin
09-24-2009, 09:41 AM
The history you studied in Brazil and the US concentrated on the political cause of WW II and probably touched on major campaigns.

What the bomber pilot introduced you to was how wars are actually fought. The everyday violence and horror of combat.

While you may enjoy some of the movies made during the war they were nothing more than vehicles to keep the American public engaged with what was happening.

As for the post war. Keep in mind that Germany was divided into four parts (quadripartite signitories to the armistice). Each section was ruled autonimously by the allied power that claimed it. There were large differences in how each section was administered.

pefjr
09-24-2009, 09:50 AM
I play tennis with a very good Jewish friend. We call him "Red". He is 82 yrs old, runs like a 16 yr old. He was drafted into the Army at 18, trained for 3 mos. and was sent to further train and stage in Okinawa for the invasion of Japan. Then the bombs were dropped and his unit returned. To him, there is no doubt in his mind about the bomb. He is certain that he and thousands in his unit would have met certain death a week or so later, and still considers his life is "borrowed time". He has the best positive attitude of anyone I have ever met. Kaa, this man is where I first heard "forgetaboutit".

Anyway, when I hear any talk of the bombs dropped on Japan and if that was justified, I think of Red. He has said many times, "I could just as well be sand on the beach of Japan.

Keith Wilson
09-24-2009, 09:55 AM
I can't disagree. My father was on a carrier off Japan getting ready for the invasion and hoping to avoid kamikaze attacks. I'm pleased he made it back.

Andrew Craig-Bennett
09-24-2009, 09:57 AM
The person that I really want to hear from, on this subject, is Syed.

(Ddited to add, in view of the direction of the posts immediately around this one, that I mean "the subject in general" rather than WW2 in particular).

Taylor Tarvin
09-24-2009, 09:59 AM
My father was in his third theater of the war flying B-29s out of Saipan. He had probably pushed his luck as far as it would go. I believe using the bomb saved lots of people, not just the allies.

George.
09-24-2009, 11:45 AM
The history you studied in Brazil and the US concentrated on the political cause of WW II and probably touched on major campaigns.

The political cause of WW II was mainly the Treaty of Versailles.

The discussion about the A-bomb can be lively and controversial, by I am referring to a much less discussed aspect of the Allied war effort: the deliberate destruction and plunder of Germany from 1945 to 1948.

Peerie Maa
09-24-2009, 12:19 PM
The political cause of WW II was mainly the Treaty of Versailles.

The discussion about the A-bomb can be lively and controversial, by I am referring to a much less discussed aspect of the Allied war effort: the deliberate destruction and plunder of Germany from 1945 to 1948.

I do not believe that that happened. We learned our lesson from WW1. After WW1 the victors insisted on taking war reparations from Germany, which destroyed them, caused the massive run away inflation, and laid the seeds of WW2.
We did not make that mistake after WW2. Instead we did what we can with the ruins, see this for an example, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volkswagen#1945:_British_Army.2C_Major_Ivan_Hirst. 2C_unclear_future ,and a commentary on the post war policy changes. Less about punishment, more about preventing it happening again.
Do not forget that Europe was bankrupted by the war, most of its industrial sites had suffered bomb damage or were destroyed. There were no raw materiel available, little money with which to import food.
There were other "silly" problems. The German practice was to move men and materiel by rail. As they retreated, in the belief that the Allies would copy them, they ripped up all of the rail track. We were doing our best to destroy them from the air as well. So the infrastructure to move goods and materiel was disrupted for post war use.

Bobcat
09-24-2009, 12:40 PM
History is always written by the winners.

Taylor Tarvin
09-24-2009, 12:55 PM
"History is the sum total of things that could have been avoided".

Konrad Adenauer

George. I wish I had the time to go into this. I believe the answer is somewhere between your position and Nicks. Alas I have a simulator check ride this weekend for which I must prepare. If this thread is still going Sunday night I will attempt to interject my meager $.02 worth.

downthecreek
09-24-2009, 01:04 PM
At school in Scotland, I learned about the wicked English. At school in England, I learned about the barbaric Scots..........

Well, Yanks.....are you going to dodge responsibility for your misdeeds on the grounds that you are the "spawn of the British" or accept it on the grounds that you are nothing to do with the British, but Americans through and through? what a dilemma!

Very dicey thing, history. :)

George.
09-24-2009, 01:06 PM
I do not believe that that happened. We learned our lesson from WW1.

Nevertheless, the plan was to de-industrialize Germany and turn it into an agrarian nation. Industrial capital was to be seized, and huge quantities were seized as war "reparations" - just like after WWI. This in addition to the massive damage done by area bombing, which went on long after it could have any strategic value to justify it.

German civilians were deliberately deprived of aid, and died of privation in great numbers during the initial years of the occupation. At one point it was reported to Truman that US policy, if not changed, would result in the starvation of 25 million Germans.

Eventually this policy changed, but mainly because if kept up, the Soviets would take advantage of it.

pefjr
09-24-2009, 01:08 PM
The political cause of WW II was mainly the Treaty of Versailles.

The discussion about the A-bomb can be lively and controversial, by I am referring to a much less discussed aspect of the Allied war effort: the deliberate destruction and plunder of Germany from 1945 to 1948.

I don't think you can pull that period out of the context of the war period. To understand the revenge, look at the plunder of Jews for the preceding years. History is distorted, but from my point of view, I often wondered why Germany was not complete divided up and parceled out to the victors and the survivors of the Jews compensated.

Course the Iranians are getting a different history lesson.

George.
09-24-2009, 01:19 PM
Oh, I understand revenge. I can understand why France imposed the Versailles settlement on Germany, after four years of German occupation and bombardment of northern France. I understand why Soviet soldiers, having seen their women raped and their towns destroyed by the Germans, took retribution upon the Prussian heartland during their drive into Germany. I understand how the treachery of Pearl Harbor could have driven the US to intern Japanese immigrants in camps.

The difference is that the three instances above are well known and discussed, even in public school history classes.

Robert L E
09-24-2009, 01:34 PM
I play tennis with a very good Jewish friend. We call him "Red". He is 82 yrs old, runs like a 16 yr old. He was drafted into the Army at 18, trained for 3 mos. and was sent to further train and stage in Okinawa for the invasion of Japan. Then the bombs were dropped and his unit returned. To him, there is no doubt in his mind about the bomb. He is certain that he and thousands in his unit would have met certain death a week or so later, and still considers his life is "borrowed time". He has the best positive attitude of anyone I have ever met. Kaa, this man is where I first heard "forgetaboutit".

Anyway, when I hear any talk of the bombs dropped on Japan and if that was justified, I think of Red. He has said many times, "I could just as well be sand on the beach of Japan.


My father in law fought in the Philippines and had a rather sub human view of the "Japs". Being young and unmarried and his brothers all survived their service unscathed, he did not have enough points to muster out early and served another year in the occupation of Japan mostly in Osaka. He thinks that the nukes may have saved his life too (as did all other GIs). His time in the occupation did cause him to do a 180 in his attitude towards the Japanese though.

Nothing is particularly unusual about his story nor even this- He said that he spoke with an ex Japanese soldier while he was still in service. The soldier told him that until the first bomb was dropped he knew that he was going to die. When he heard of the bomb he said that he knew he was going to live.

I have since heard a similar story from two other Pacific theater vets and have seen another ex Imperial Army soldier say much the same thing in a documentary.

My father, father in law, two of my wife's uncles, and the man I was named after all were in the Pacific at the time the bombs were dropped. My 30 year old daughter came home from high school once saying how unnecessary the bombs were. I told her what I have written here and then told her that she may owe her very existence to the bombs.

While history written at the time is slanted, history written later is no less slanted. I, for one, chose to not second guess that decision made over 60 years ago.

Bob

paladin
09-24-2009, 02:03 PM
Most all the adult members of my family were in the Pacific....lost one uncle and an "Uncle" by marriage.

Shang
09-24-2009, 02:39 PM
Interesting article - Did the Allies starve millions of Germans? (http://www.serendipity.li/hr/bacque01.htm)

Hmmm... James Bacque's writings might not be the best-cited in this context. His opinions concerning post WW II Germany are notorious--he has become the darling of the neo-Nazi right, and his writings are not consistent with the views of main stream historians.

Lew Barrett
09-24-2009, 08:40 PM
I read it. I have trouble finding a single actual citation in it; all statements based on compilations that we are asked to believe based on the strengths or weaknesses of the author. mI have particular trouble with the following reasoning:

The fall of the Soviet empire in 1989 provided a spectacular test of the truth: If the KGB archives recorded how many Germans died in Soviet camps, the world would know how many died in the West.

In 1992, I went to the KGB archives in Moscow, where I was permitted to troll the long, gloomy aisles, free to read and photocopy anything I wanted. And there I found the reports from KGB Colonel I. Bulanov and others showing that 450,600 Germans had died in Soviet camps. Given the figure of 1.4 million deaths, this meant that close to one million had died in Western camps.



Really? Interesting (maybe) speculation, but accurate accounting this is not. Not even a hint of real methodology or support.

bobbys
09-24-2009, 09:02 PM
I play tennis with a very good Jewish friend. We call him "Red". He is 82 yrs old, runs like a 16 yr old. He was drafted into the Army at 18, trained for 3 mos. and was sent to further train and stage in Okinawa for the invasion of Japan. Then the bombs were dropped and his unit returned. To him, there is no doubt in his mind about the bomb. He is certain that he and thousands in his unit would have met certain death a week or so later, and still considers his life is "borrowed time". He has the best positive attitude of anyone I have ever met. Kaa, this man is where I first heard "forgetaboutit".

Anyway, when I hear any talk of the bombs dropped on Japan and if that was justified, I think of Red. He has said many times, "I could just as well be sand on the beach of Japan..

After the landings on Saipan there were thousands of dead bodies , My Dad had the job of pushing them into mass graves on the beach...


So yes he might have been pushed into the beach and turned into sand.

Shang
09-24-2009, 09:03 PM
Critique his article in this context, please.

Lew did a good job of this.
Bacque's arguments are strictly ipse dixit and provide no substantiation beyond his own opinion.
However you are right that we, didn't do the best job of 'saving' Germany at the end of the war. and that, we don't like to talk about not giving the Germans our best until 1948...
These were difficult times, and Europe was in shambles, so perhaps there is no "might have been," there is only "what was."

C. Ross
09-24-2009, 09:04 PM
Well, Yanks.....are you going to dodge responsibility for your misdeeds on the grounds that you are the "spawn of the British" or accept it on the grounds that you are nothing to do with the British, but Americans through and through? what a dilemma!

Easy. What misdeeds? ;)

You know anthropomorphism is this idea that we project human-like characteristics on animals or things, right?

What's the word that describes the tendency to ascribe human-like characteristics on nations and races? I am always leery of any history, "standard" or revisionist, that starts from the idea that a nation has consciousness and a narrative intent that lasts over generations.

bobbys
09-24-2009, 09:06 PM
My father was on the wrong side of WWII. He surrendered, and was sent to a camp in Huntsville, Alabama. Three years later, he had moved to Chicago, met and married my mother, the daughter of second generation Poles. The world’s a strange place, isn’t it?..

After the war my Dad sponsored many Germans to come and work and become citizens..

Even years later in the 70s i worked framing with men my dad brought over..

They had to have a job to come here.

My Dad belonged to a German speaking Catholic parish.

bobbys
09-24-2009, 09:09 PM
My father was in his third theater of the war flying B-29s out of Saipan. He had probably pushed his luck as far as it would go. I believe using the bomb saved lots of people, not just the allies..

My dad said the B29s would come back full of holes and crashing in the mountains and sea.

He built the hospital for the airmen and had to go there himself after being wounded.

pefjr
09-24-2009, 10:05 PM
However you are right that we, didn't do the best job of 'saving' Germany at the end of the war. and that, we don't like to talk about not giving the Germans our best until 1948...Shang

I don't buy this at all. Four countries occupied Germany. Why do any of them owe a people that cause so much death and destruction? Only an opportunity to make amends. It up to the Germans to pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and start over. I think they did a good job of it.

L.W. Baxter
09-24-2009, 10:45 PM
The history of WWII as it is generally taught in the west is a version of the story that was true according to the perceptions of many who lived in that day. Primary sources reveal that. Certainly, what "really happened" from diverse points of view is more complex and nuanced than any textbook or series of lectures can communicate, but that doesn't mean that the over-arching theme is poorly founded. It doesn't mean that the allied powers should have an equal share of "blame" for the perpetration or execution of the war, or that, worse yet, nobody should be blamed at all. The Axis powers did, after all, have imperialist designs over their neighbors, not to mention explicit genocidal ideologies, however you may choose to contextualize it.

An analogy (which I mention because it comes up on this forum several times a year) is the tendency by some modern commentators and southern apologists, emphasizing other historical trends such as longstanding geographical animosities and states' rights issues, to suggest that slavery was not a central issue for the secessionists of the American Civil War, despite the overwhelming proof of primary sources and the recorded perceptions of people who lived in that time.

It strikes me that your argument regarding WWII is similar in nature, George..

pila
09-24-2009, 10:51 PM
I don't know how things were right after the war, but I was in Germany for 3 years starting in 1952, mostly in the French zone. I certainly wasn't aware of any bad times for German civilians then. Of course the Germans were very good at getting themselves going again by that time.

George.
09-25-2009, 07:57 AM
I think what one might call "conqueror's abuses" by the Western Allies started with the decision to expel all German civilians from east of the Oder. While the Soviets actually did the dirty work, this was agreed to and supported by the other Allies.

Meanwhile, the US and Britain kept massively bombing German cities, cities full of civilians and refugees, even with parts of Germany already occupied and the remnants of the German Army in hopeless retreat.

Then came occupation and the Morgenthau plan to de-industrialize Germany. The US, Britain, and France carried off huge amounts of German heavy industrial equipment, seized patents, seized raw materials, and generally plundered the German economy at will.

The plan was to turn Germany into an agrarian country, presumably something like what Spain was at the time. The problem was that Germany's large urban population, swelled by refugees from the expulsion zones, could not possibly feed itself on the reduced territory that was left. Germany had to export industrialized goods and import food in order to survive. Moreover, they had to import Swedish iron ore to drive their base industries, and this was also forbidden.

There was a huge food deficit, and the US policy was to not allow any aid agencies to assist German nationals. There was hunger. My German source tells of people pressure-cooking rotten fish from a poisoned pond in the camp where he was, trying to autoclave them into edibility, the choice being starvation. Many, especially children and the elderly, did starve anyway.

It only got better once the US realized that "There is no choice between being a communist on 1,500 calories a day and a believer in democracy on a thousand". By 1948, if the Western Allies kept it up, the Soviets would be poised to foment revolution in West Germany, so they reversed course.

Again, it was all rather mild compared to what the Germans did in occupied Poland and Russia, and rather ordinary as military conquests go. However, it was morally indefensible and at times wantonly cruel. There can be no moral progress for mankind if such things are not openly discussed.

Andrew Craig-Bennett
09-25-2009, 08:00 AM
Well, it would be very interesting to hear from Henning and from Martin on this.

And I still hope that Syed will chip in.

George.
09-25-2009, 08:17 AM
True, Milo. I wonder to what extent the sanitized view of an American occupation that most of the public got from official WWII history drove the bad planning for the occupation of Iraq. Had people known what reality was like, they might have forecast less flowers, and taken better precautions to avoid economic collapse and Abu Ghraib.

Andrew Craig-Bennett
09-25-2009, 08:20 AM
That is a thundering good point, George.

pefjr
09-25-2009, 08:42 AM
Again, it was all rather mild compared to what the Germans did in occupied Poland and Russia, and rather ordinary as military conquests go. However, it was morally indefensible and at times wantonly cruel. There can be no moral progress for mankind if such things are not openly discussed.George, I read your words and I see your question clearly , however I ask why the concern for the Germans instead of the Jews? The survivors of the Jews deserved to be compensated for their untold losses, yet today the world is quiet while Iran is preaching hate and annihilation of Israel, and their lies of history being taught to another generation of school children. I think your priorities are off base. If you want moral progress, take action on today's issues, to prevent a repeat of history.

Andrew Craig-Bennett
09-25-2009, 08:52 AM
I fear I am going to differ.

"Compensating" one generation of a discrete group of people for ills suffered by an earlier generation must surely be nonsense, unless the present generation are disadvantaged in a quantifiable way by the wrongs done to their ancestors and the descendants of those who did the wrong, another discrete group, are benefitting in a quantifiable way from those wrongs.

I think moral progress is to be made by doing fewer wrongs.

George.
09-25-2009, 08:53 AM
What does starving German civilians do to compensate the Jews? How did the bombing of Dresden make up for Aushwitz?

This has nothing to do with Jews, or Poles, or Gypsies, or how evil Hitler was.

Andrew Craig-Bennett
09-25-2009, 08:59 AM
Milo makes a good point, though; the generation who actually ran the occupation of Germany are dead or in their dotage; the hands-on knowhow of how to occupy a country is lost, and we fell into the awful trap of believing our own propaganda, because we did not know that it was propaganda.

pefjr
09-25-2009, 09:02 AM
I fear I am going to differ.

"Compensating" one generation of a discrete group of people for ills suffered by an earlier generation must surely be nonsense, unless the present generation are disadvantaged in a quantifiable way by the wrongs done to their ancestors and the descendants of those who did the wrong, another discrete group, are benefitting in a quantifiable way from those wrongs.

I think moral progress is to be made by doing fewer wrongs.Of course, maybe I was not clear. Do you feel any obligation today to not let such a holocaust occur again?

Antonio Majer
09-25-2009, 09:05 AM
There was no bread after the II war.

pefjr
09-25-2009, 09:11 AM
What does starving German civilians do to compensate the Jews? How did the bombing of Dresden make up for Aushwitz?

This has nothing to do with Jews, or Poles, or Gypsies, or how evil Hitler was.
I do not worry about the consequences of war, only the winning of the war. I would not be here otherwise. I did not starve anyone, and have doubts about your claims that anyone was deliberately starved. The bombing of Dresden is second guessing, no one was ever tried for that crime. We can not make up for the Holocaust ,but we can make sure there is not another one. We can demand that from Iran. If we are united on that front.

George.
09-25-2009, 09:18 AM
pefjr, I think you are obsessing about Iran. That is not the subject of this thread.

As for preventing a new Holocaust, I assure you that mistreating Germans after the war did nothing for that cause, and arguably did harm. We will not rid the world of genocides with ideas like "I do not worry about the consequences of war, only the winning of the war" or "why the concern for the Germans/Jews instead of the Jews/Germans", or arguments about reparations owed for wrongs suffered in past wars. Those were precisely Hitler's arguments.

Antonio Majer
09-25-2009, 09:20 AM
For instance: the Jews coming back from the concentration camps, and not finding their houses anymore (or finding them occupied by others), had to go and live in the freed concentration camps of the West, and even work to get the bread (it happened in the camps administrated by the English Army). Should we say the English were cynic?

Keith Wilson
09-25-2009, 09:20 AM
yet today the world is quiet while Iran is preaching hate and annihilation of Israel,Eh? I seem to recall Mr. Amerind getting quite a lot of criticism. No, not quiet at all.
If you want moral progress, take action on today's issues, to prevent a repeat of history. I agree. But one aspect of that is to understand history as it really was. And one cannot compensate for wrongs done to some people by mistreating others.

Andrew Craig-Bennett
09-25-2009, 09:22 AM
If you had asked me, in 1936, say, whether genocide was possible, I would have said "no".

Mind you, had you asked me, in 1900, whether war in Europe was possible, I would have said "no".

Antonio Majer
09-25-2009, 09:25 AM
I mean, I know I'm ignorant, but not so ignorant: I know History it's a difficult job.

pefjr
09-25-2009, 09:27 AM
pefjr, I think you are obsessing about Iran. That is not the subject of this thread.

As for preventing a new Holocaust, I assure you that mistreating Germans after the war did nothing for that cause, and arguably did harm. We will not rid the world of genocides with ideas like "I do not worry about the consequences of war, only the winning of the war" or "why the concern for the Germans/Jews instead of the Jews/Germans", or arguments about reparations owed for wrongs suffered in past wars. Those were precisely Hitler's arguments. Bull

George.
09-25-2009, 09:30 AM
Mind you, had you asked me, in 1900, whether war in Europe was possible, I would have said "no".

I am surprised you would have said anything at all in 1900. :D

pefjr
09-25-2009, 09:32 AM
And one cannot compensate for wrongs done to some people by mistreating others. Sorry, the winners of war have recent memories of fallen comrades, sudden death, rot and destruction and are not in the state of mind that we are today. Its understandable.

Keith Wilson
09-25-2009, 09:35 AM
Its understandable. Oh, certainly. I might have done the same myself, under those circumstances. Doesn't make it right, though. And we should try to do better.

Antonio Majer
09-25-2009, 09:35 AM
Thank you Milo (btw, I was a bad student, believe me). Obviously I don't want to be polemic with this thread, simply I see here in Italy a strange phenomenon: there is the History (which has analyzed everything) and there is a sort of journalistic-history, made by journalists who write books. Their success is due to the ignorance of the people, they present as "new", facts that are well known to the specialists.

Well that last phrase probably is incomprehensible, too similar to Italian, sorry. I mean there is a sort of consumerism in this field; it's evident - for instance - about the Shoa. We are living the time in which even this subject becomes entertainment.

Rick Starr
09-25-2009, 10:05 AM
You know anthropomorphism is this idea that we project human-like characteristics on animals or things, right?

What's the word that describes the tendency to ascribe human-like characteristics on nations and races? I am always leery of any history, "standard" or revisionist, that starts from the idea that a nation has consciousness and a narrative intent that lasts over generations.

This is a very important point.

As this thread brilliantly illustrates, world history follows the balance (or imbalance) of vast and aggressive social interests within an equally vast but subtle context. It is almost impossible to avoid imparting human qualities to the engines that drive history, but we must try.

The personal anecdotes which so easily enrich our understanding of the events of the past tell only a small part of the story.

Lew Barrett
09-25-2009, 10:06 AM
Agreed, Milo. I went to bed last night wondering what sort of turns this would take, and find this morning's posts to be very well reasoned by and large.

Striking a balance in this is important enough of course, but there is always the specter of swinging the other way. And this is what the treatment of the European Jews have to do with this argument, in my view. (Not directed to you, Milo...but for discussion).

This stuff is cute (http://www.finalsolution88.com/prisoncamps.htm)

What does one make of this? (http://www.stormfront.org/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=36&)

Peerie Maa
09-25-2009, 10:37 AM
Sorry, the winners of war have recent memories of fallen comrades, sudden death, rot and destruction and are not in the state of mind that we are today. Its understandable.

However, well trained officers are supposed to understand the need for humanity, and have the organisational skills to make the most of whatever they have.

Antonio, what do you think of an opinion that I have heard. The USA wanted the advice of American Italians to help them prepare Italy for reconstruction. The had two choices, the Catholic Church, or contacts in the Mafia, they chose members of the Mafia.

Wayne Jeffers
09-25-2009, 10:44 AM
However, well trained officers are supposed to understand the need for humanity, and have the organisational skills to make the most of whatever they have. . .

True. But in the US especially, they are under the direction of the civilian authorities.

The civilian authorities were responsible for most of the wrong-headed decisions late in the war and shortly after.

Wayne

Antonio Majer
09-25-2009, 11:01 AM
Antonio, what do you think of an opinion that I have heard. The USA wanted the advice of American Italians to help them prepare Italy for reconstruction. The had two choices, the Catholic Church, or contacts in the Mafia, they chose members of the Mafia.
Are you referring to the time of the landing in Sicily? in this case the answer is obvious: Sicily was and is controlled by the Mafia. I see only a pragmatic and "technical" attitude, sorry. The Allied forces had to win, everything else was less important. One can see a cynic attitude; I don't.

Anyway I think the worst price we - Italians - paid to the war and the defeat, was the fact we were not brought to trial (Americans feared that the Italians could vote for the Communist Parties as a consequence of a trial against the Italian responsibilities). So the Germans had their trial, in Nürberg, while we had not. They could start again a new life, we - in my opinion - couldn't completely.

martin schulz
09-25-2009, 11:11 AM
...mind if I pitch in?
Its not that I have any 1st hand informations, but perhaps "our" evaluation of those WWII aftermath times brings some insights.

Right after the war the allies were of course not greated with flowers, but tolerated as occupants. This should not come as a surprise, because:
1. After WWI the mainland of Germany was essentially unharmed, so loosing WWII and having the winner inside the country was a new experience
2. the Nazi regime was based on indoctrination unheard of before. The whole system of exerting influence (not the classic communist pressure) throughout almost every public channel, including radio/television was, in a cynical way, the work of a genius (as I would consider Goebbels to be). And this is perhaps the crux in the German soul (if such a thing exists) - we tend to be perfectionists with a dangerous disregard of ethics or consequences. From such an isolated/indoctrinated society, ready to die for its concept of Vaterland, acceptance of occupation is hardly possible.

Then there definitely was a gradual change in the perception the allies had towards the German public (I will stick to the US since their "behaviour" is much better documented). In the beginning everything was done to filter out the real Nazis and to keep the situation under control. For the others (not Nazi hardliner) reeducation camps were installed. This definitely didn't work out, since Nazi hardliners couldn't be reeducated and others felt oppressed. Then, when the US realised the need to install Germany as bulwark against the communist-threat, efforts were doubled to win over the German population. But this was widely understood as ingratiation. What really turned the tables was the Berlin airlift, when the Rosinenbomber (raisin bomber) suddenly changed the perception the German public had about those weapons of war and of its occupants.
After that filtering out real Nazis suddenly wasn't important anymore (a fact that still hounds us today, because our current system is based on trying to be effective, without "cutting off" valuable heads).

Andrew Craig-Bennett
09-25-2009, 11:14 AM
May I commend, to all the native English speakers here, Antonio's and Martin's postings above this one?

Wayne Jeffers
09-25-2009, 11:22 AM
. . . There's some pretty good evidence that the civilian authorities weren't really aware of the severity of the problems. . .

1) I don’t buy it. There’s plenty of evidence that the US civilian authorities were aware of what was happening both during and after the war.

2) You’re thinking on a micro level; I’m speaking on a macro level, e.g., decisions such as demanding unconditional surrender and the policy of de-industrializing postwar Germany.

Wayne

2MeterTroll
09-25-2009, 11:22 AM
Happy to see those; its good to see history form those who are living it.
i had the story from folks in those countries years ago (sometimes theres not much to do at sea but talk.).
took a couple decades to figure out that what americans are taught as history is totally false but once its figured out getting up to date is not all that difficult.

Keith Wilson
09-25-2009, 11:26 AM
what americans are taught as history is totally false Y'know, I don't think this is true. There are many things left out, but "totally false" is going too far IMHO.

Wayne Jeffers
09-25-2009, 11:26 AM
May I commend, to all the native English speakers here, Antonio's and Martin's postings above this one?

Agreed!

Thanks to both.

Wayne

Wayne Jeffers
09-25-2009, 11:30 AM
. . . There are many things left out, but "totally false" is going too far IMHO.

Absolutely!

There are a number of falsehoods in the general American view of our history, but the errors are more a matter of omission (intentional or otherwise.)

Wayne

pefjr
09-25-2009, 11:46 AM
Good thread George, stimulating and eye-opening. Many view points.

2MeterTroll
09-25-2009, 11:48 AM
Y'know, I don't think this is true. There are many things left out, but "totally false" is going too far IMHO.

when it is stitched together in such a way as to obscure reality; and it is presented to children as the truth. then it renders the whole of it false.
the best way to lie convincingly is to weave enough truth into the lie as to make it plausible. this has been done to the history books in the country.

it took and takes years and much study to unravel the layers of lies, misconceptions, and downright propaganda in the history books as taught by K-12. it takes slightly less time to wade through the false from collage.

look around how many folks believe the US rolled up its sleeves and helped out in WW2 without something drastic. it took the sinking of more than one ship to get us involved. yet our history books make little mention of the US sitting on its hands while the horrors in Europe where going on.

Osborne Russell
09-25-2009, 11:52 AM
we fell into the awful trap of believing our own propaganda, because we did not know that it was propaganda.

In the US it wasn't propaganda, it was and is mythology. Jimmy Carter didn't honor the myths, Ronald Reagan did. Since then the Ghost Dance of American Exceptionalism spreads like wildfire among the tribes.

pefjr
09-25-2009, 11:53 AM
when it is stitched together in such a way as to obscure reality; and it is presented to children as the truth. then it renders the whole of it false.
the best way to lie convincingly is to weave enough truth into the lie as to make it plausible. this has been done to the history books in the country.

it took and takes years and much study to unravel the layers of lies, misconceptions, and downright propaganda in the history books as taught by K-12. it takes slightly less time to wade through the false from collage.

look around how many folks believe the US rolled up its sleeves and helped out in WW2 without something drastic. it took the sinking of more than one ship to get us involved. yet our history books make little mention of the US sitting on its hands while the horrors in Europe where going on."political correctness"

Andrew Craig-Bennett
09-25-2009, 12:01 PM
In the US it wasn't propaganda, it was and is mythology. Jimmy Carter didn't honor the myths, Ronald Reagan did. Since then the Ghost Dance of American Exceptionalism spreads like wildfire among the tribes.

I think you are certainly right.

Being a careful father, and having a teenager who is thinking of joining the Navy, I got him a copy of Nicholas Monserrat's "The Cruel Sea", and needless to say I re-read it myself. I had forgotten the quite lengthy disquisition, towards the end on how different the American way of war was to the British. Of course, our two nations have grown much closer, culturally, since the 1940's, but that book does illustrate the way in which the myths needed to be honored in the USA.

George.
09-25-2009, 12:04 PM
The reasons for the US to go to war against Germany are also covered in a partial way in standard history. There is much talk of the Lusitania and the rape of Belgium and making the world safe for democracy. There is, in schools and popular discourse, little or no mention of the fact that the US had been making a killing financing and supplying the Entente powers - would have done it for the Central Powers too if the British blockade didn't prevent them. When Russia fell, American business realized that if Britain and France were defeated in turn, as seemed likely, their bonds would be as worthless as Lehman's on September 16.

Keith Wilson
09-25-2009, 12:04 PM
"political correctness" If you mean emhasizing parts of history in order to support a point of view, then yes. But the term is usually used much more narrowly than that.

2MeterTroll
09-25-2009, 12:33 PM
In what way Pefjr?

one cannot learn from history if the truth of it is obscured. because of that lack of truth we are again in wars that cannot be won as they are supposedly being fought. Had we the unvarnished truth of Nam and the other failed wars would we have gotten into these?

had we the unvarnished truth of our involvement in south america would we be so eager to condemn the governments that want us out of those countries?
add to this the treatment of native Americans, blacks, Chinese, irish, Filipinos, mexicans &c. would our actions have been diffrent? would the american abroad be so disrespectful of every other culture? would we still be trying to ram our dogma down the worlds gullet?

we wont know and if the government/corporate culture has its choice we will never find out.

this is not PC on my part it is the view of a person who is very pissed off that we have a culture of ignorant savages masquerading as civilized humans. the general educated public in this country knows less real world history than the meanest villager in Africa. there are Dogong tribesmen who cannot read that have more true information.

This is Appalling any way you cut it.

pefjr
09-25-2009, 01:12 PM
2MT
What I was saying is that your post #74 describing distorted history could be stated as "political correctness". Often times historians are limited in writing text books to only a current politically correct version to please the editors and then to please the school administrators and then to please the parents. True History is lost in this process.

Not so true in College. I will never forget my World History 101 teacher's first lesson. "We are not here to learn History yet, first we must unlearn what you have been taught in HS History." We were looking at each other and whispering, "What in the hell is this guy talking about." But we soon found out.

TomF
09-25-2009, 01:35 PM
Easy. What misdeeds? ;)

You know anthropomorphism is this idea that we project human-like characteristics on animals or things, right?

What's the word that describes the tendency to ascribe human-like characteristics on nations and races? I am always leery of any history, "standard" or revisionist, that starts from the idea that a nation has consciousness and a narrative intent that lasts over generations.I agree with Rick Starr that your point is important, yet I think it's important to recognize the power of culture, and the generational transmission, at least in part, of cultural traits.

Benedict Anderson's hugely influential book on nation states argued that all communities, including nations, are imagined into being. That members imaginatively self-identify with other members, and are identified as members in return. He argued that the edges of modern nation states were originally imaginatively determined when printing presses became common ... with the borders set by where a written language could be understood. People who could read the same words ... recognized themselves to be in community with others who did the same.

Such communities aren't necessarily bound in time - you can feel yourself standing in a tradition of thought (e.g. with America's founders) just as much as you identify with people in your local geographic community. Maybe more.

So while I'm reluctant to get all deterministic about projecting personality onto national stereotypes ... talking about the British bulldog tenacity, German precision, French joie de vivre (or arrogance), American entrepreneurialism etc., stereotypes don't arise from nowhere. There are cultural characteristics which persist across generations ... which are reflected in national stories of self-identity, certainly in language, and which in turn often frame behaviour choices.

I remember studying Italian and German when I was a singing student, so I wouldn't have to rely on translations for the art songs and operatic arias I was working up. Some of the stereotypical cultural differences you'd think of are reflected even in the grammar and the way the vowel sounds are produced. My German prof proudly said that even irregular verbs in German are always irregular in regular ways. German vowels are very controlled - carefully pronounced, "small" in the mouth and throat. In contrast Italian is quite loose with even its "regular" verbs, and the vowels are so open ... that the best way to learn to pronounce them is to simply let go of all reserve. It's no surprise that Puccini was Italian, but Schumann German.

If that is true ... that cultural approaches are deeply enough seated that they're in the very grammar and sound of the language ... then it is worth considering how those characteristics have played out. Recognizing that the same German precision and attention to detail which is expressed in superior engineering, exquisitely precise poetry, and rigorous philosophy ... is also expressed in darker ways. And that the same is true for any of us, and the communities in which we find ourselves.

We each have no choice but to react to, and in some manner express, our heritage. Not unlike how we do the same with our families of origin. While one generation is not responsible for the sins (or triumphs) of their predecessors or followers ... we're tied together. Their sins and triumphs are the ones we'd be inclined to express ... as we'd tend to be weak and strong in the same ways.

2MeterTroll
09-25-2009, 01:55 PM
Then I apologize.

George.
09-25-2009, 02:12 PM
There are cultural characteristics which persist across generations ... which are reflected in national stories of self-identity, certainly in language, and which in turn often frame behaviour choices.


True, and also observable within nations where different cultures co-exist, even if they share a language.



It's no surprise that Puccini was Italian, but Schumann German.


One could say the same of Mussolini and Hitler

Osborne Russell
09-25-2009, 05:56 PM
It's no surprise that Puccini was Italian, but Schumann German.

How do you account for Howlin' Wolf and Liberace?

TomF
09-25-2009, 06:08 PM
They represent different cultures too, eh?:D Who says you can only belong to one (i.e. a nation, but nothing else)? I'm as much a policy wonk, wooden boat lover, and dad as I am a Canadian. The groups overlap, but aren't subsets of each other.

The thing about identity groups, is that you know which one you're in, not least because the other folks there recognize that you belong. I don't expect that Liberace or Howlin' Wolf ever thought of themselves as mostly catering to the same people...

Cuyahoga Chuck
09-25-2009, 07:27 PM
The political cause of WW II was mainly the Treaty of Versailles.

The discussion about the A-bomb can be lively and controversial, by I am referring to a much less discussed aspect of the Allied war effort: the deliberate destruction and plunder of Germany from 1945 to 1948.

I don't comprehend where you are going. What was destroyed after the surrender, what was plundered and who did all this?

Keith Wilson
09-25-2009, 10:00 PM
If that is true ... that cultural approaches are deeply enough seated that they're in the very grammar and sound of the language Hmm - good point,but one can make too much of this. While no Anglo-Saxon would make much distinction between the Spanish-speaking and Portuguese-speaking Iberian cultures and their transplants in the Americas, the sound of the languages are very, very different. Spanish has extremely precise vowels, and a very clean sound; Portuguese is sloppy even by the standards of English, with slides and diphthongs everywhere. The written languages are quite similar; I can mostly read Portuguese, but can't speak or understand it to save my life.

Also, remember that the general reputation of Germans in the early 19th century was that they were impractical romantic dreamers. Imagined communities can sometimes be as fluid as the human imagination.

PeterSibley
09-25-2009, 10:35 PM
An equally good question would be , why did totalitarian fascism arise in Japan ,a country with a shiny new representative democracy in the prewar years and a Western WW1 ally .The war get discussed ad nauseum but the why seems of much less interest .

C. Ross
09-25-2009, 10:38 PM
I think it's important to recognize the power of culture, and the generational transmission, at least in part, of cultural traits.

That was a spectacular post, Tom.

I had hoped that my little throw-away line would stimulate some discussion, and then you covered the idea completely in a stroke. Bravo.

PeterSibley
09-25-2009, 10:48 PM
This has been extremely thought provoking .The problem of anthropomorphising a culture ,it's not human ,perhaps supra huma ,another animal ,greater and less than it's component parts ,living and dead .A conglomeration of myth and aspiration ?

Then overlapping cultures , sub cultures and nationalism .Stereotypes , current realities and recent history ...then of course the overlaying myths .

Complex isn't it ?

Thanks Tom .

2MeterTroll
09-25-2009, 11:24 PM
http://www.ndl.go.jp/modern/e/utility/chronology.html

try this Peter

PeterSibley
09-25-2009, 11:45 PM
Hmmm ,that's a very good page , I was definitely out on a few relevant dates !

2MeterTroll
09-25-2009, 11:49 PM
pretty much shows where and what the changes where and if you follow the links around it looks like it has a bunch of the why as well.

PeterSibley
09-25-2009, 11:56 PM
Some of the why ..... I've always been very interested in the effect of the Depression on the radicalisation of the Japanese ,being locked out of Western markets and the resulting quite horrify poverty , in a country that could not feed itself anymore except via trade and manufacturing .

Rick Starr
09-26-2009, 12:02 AM
A strong argument can be made that language is the very kernal of culture. I enjoyed a polyglot upbringing, and as a result I spent a very enjoyable few years studying and comparing religious language among cultures in an attempt to track down that kernel. I thought of it as the individual least-common-denominator upon which environment acts to bring about culture in a community.

But my earlier point was that culture is only a partial and vague determinant of foreign policy, and that it is dangerously easy to make the mistake of muddying nationalism and morality. Statements attributing human traits, emotions or motivations to nonhuman entities like nations are a big red flag.

There was a great discussion today on NPR which touches this thread tangentially. The explosion of social networks have proven fertile ground for the disemination of cultural memes. Studying the movement and dilution or distillation of these memes is yielding powerful insight into the mechanics of culture.

Syed
09-26-2009, 04:25 AM
Independent nations teach their youth a moulded history to produce nationalists. Masses are content with this and only a few at mature stages of life would look back into reality of the subject.

Our elders, during British rule studied British history in schools. And our generation, born 10 - 20 years after independence started learning history of Pakistan mentioning incidences like Jallianwala Bagh (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jallianwala_Bagh_massacre). I am curious to know if many people have heard about this.

ShagRock
09-26-2009, 04:42 AM
Independent nations teach their youth a moulded history to produce nationalists. Masses are content with this and only a few at mature stages of life would look back into reality of the subject.

Our elders, during British rule studied British history in schools. And our generation, born 10 - 20 years after independence started learning history of Pakistan mentioning incidences like Jallianwala Bagh (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jallianwala_Bagh_massacre). I am curious to know if many people have heard about this.

Thanks Syed for reminding the blind and arrogant of their wicked ways!

Andrew Craig-Bennett
09-26-2009, 04:59 AM
Independent nations teach their youth a moulded history to produce nationalists. Masses are content with this and only a few at mature stages of life would look back into reality of the subject.

Our elders, during British rule studied British history in schools. And our generation, born 10 - 20 years after independence started learning history of Pakistan mentioning incidences like Jallianwala Bagh (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jallianwala_Bagh_massacre). I am curious to know if many people have heard about this.

I have, but I was not taught it in school; as I recall I first became aware of it thanks to Richard Attenborough's film "Ghandi".

I was shocked and did not want to believe it, so I tried to find out more about it, which of course I did.

This illustrates something curious about the way that history is now taught in Britain.

When I was a boy I just caught the end of the old way of teaching history, in which King Alfred burned the cakes, Canute got his feet wet, Mary was Bloody and thereafter the Whig interpretation ruled; Britain invented almost everything and the pink bits were spread across the globe by the likes of Robert Clive.

By the time I reached secondary school this was stopping and sixth form History was European History with the Imperial stuff (including North America) curiously missing.

That has continued to this day, with more and more chunks being left off the curriculum as being possibly controversial - I think that is because most class rooms today will contain pupils whose ancestors came from South Asia, Africa and East Asia.

Alas this means that pupils learn the Second World War ("Allied version" and almost nothing else apart from a little Ancient History and something about knights and castles.

The most recent trend has been self-abegnating history in which we learn that the Slave Trade was Very Bad, etc. Alas with no historical context whatsoever.

To sum up, Syed, I think we have gone from "moulded history to produce nationalists" to "politically correct" history which is merely vacuous.

ShagRock
09-26-2009, 05:16 AM
Ya..Doesn't take much pretense to be a "stuffed shirt".

Andrew Craig-Bennett
09-26-2009, 05:56 AM
Ya..Doesn't take much pretense to be a "stuffed shirt".

remarkable

PeterSibley
09-26-2009, 08:20 AM
Independent nations teach their youth a moulded history to produce nationalists. Masses are content with this and only a few at mature stages of life would look back into reality of the subject.

Our elders, during British rule studied British history in schools. And our generation, born 10 - 20 years after independence started learning history of Pakistan mentioning incidences like Jallianwala Bagh (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jallianwala_Bagh_massacre). I am curious to know if many people have heard about this.

Like Andrew ,I first heard of this through the film Ghandi but I also live in a country community with a large Sikh population ,it encourages curiosity .

I learnt my schoolboy history in NZ and Australia and it seems the perifery of empire sees things a little differently than the centre .At school I studied NZ history which included lots of Maori perspective .In Australia it was Asian ,North Asian ,American ,European Economic ,Ancient ,the normal Europe since Napolean (that was the text ) and of course Australian history .Sth America was completely absent .Nothing in much depth of course and most were electives .

Not too bad for a schoolboy's introduction ,it certainly gets you interested and the TV news isn't such a surprise .

George.
09-26-2009, 10:08 AM
I don't comprehend where you are going. What was destroyed after the surrender, what was plundered and who did all this?

Cities were bombed to rubble in 1945, when it was no longer strategically relevant to do so (I didn't say after the surrender).

After the surrender, factories were seized and shipped West. Patents and industrial secrets were seized - Western companies were allowed full access to their German competitors secrets and equipment. Money was seized: the Germans were made to pay for the occupation. No relief of any kind was provided to the population of the bombed-out country, or to the millions of German displaced persons.

Come think of it, you can see where some of the early ideas for the occupation of Iraq were spawned.

John Smith
09-26-2009, 10:23 AM
Cities were bombed to rubble in 1945, when it was no longer strategically relevant to do so (I didn't say after the surrender).

After the surrender, factories were seized and shipped West. Patents and industrial secrets were seized - Western companies were allowed full access to their German competitors secrets and equipment. Money was seized: the Germans were made to pay for the occupation. No relief of any kind was provided to the population of the bombed-out country, or to the millions of German displaced persons.

Come think of it, you can see where some of the early ideas for the occupation of Iraq were spawned.
War is hell. I'm not sure we can be sure of how much accurate data was available at the time on whether or not more bombing was necessary.

When we look back, and have the luxury of more facts in doing so than were known at the time, it is easy to judge the decisions made then.

Where I live, we have annual civil war re-enactments held annually, and not too far a place with WWII vets meet annually. These people would be happy to come to our schools if they were invited, but I can't get our Board of Ed to invite them.

Meanwhile, all history books are written through the perspective of the writer. Different people saw different experiences within any given war, so perspectives vary.

There's a museum in Fort Lee, NJ, with a large chart showing the movements of Washinton and his men and the British. If the British knew then what is known now, they would have gone around one more bend, rather than camping.

Had they done so, they would have easily captured/killed Washington's troops. Not knowing that at the time, they made the cautious decision of camping and proceeding the next day.

Wayne Jeffers
09-26-2009, 10:43 AM
. . . Patents and industrial secrets were seized - Western companies were allowed full access to their German competitors secrets and equipment. . .

This occurred during the war. It is commonplace.

I’m not aware of any country at war that has honored the patents of companies from belligerent countries.

For example: DuPont was a small company that made paint and gunpowder until the US entered WWI. With sudden access to German patented processes, they found themselves in the chemical business. And of course, after a war, no one expects patents of former enemies to be honored once more.

After the war there was a policy of de-industrializing Germany. The idea was to convert them to a pastoral country that would never again be in a position of strength to threaten its neighbors. It didn’t take long to realize that Germany was needed on our side as a counterweight to the Soviets and the policy was reversed.

Wayne

P.S. BTW, this is one more reason that going to war is good business for corporations.

ishmael
09-26-2009, 11:10 AM
Not sure how much this will register, but Adolf Hitler was bent on a pan-German future for central and much of Eastern Europe. He was a petty man, by most accounts, and his allowance, nay encouragement, of those camps will haunt his memory forever. It was an evil thing done, enough said.

How this evil little man rose to control Germany is a question. A lot of discontent amongst the middle class after WWI, and Hiltler talked a good line. But to make him a puppet of evil is to miss the point. It's in all of us.

PeterSibley
09-26-2009, 05:08 PM
I have a general point to make about the centre versus the perifery ,big countries versus small .

I've discussed history and world geography with Indians (while in India ) and was not impressed ,overseas Indian are quite a different matter .There is something about a huge population and a diverse culture that does not encourage someone to look outside ...I may be horribly smearing Indians with generalities here but my experiences made me wonder whether these attitides would be common to other large countries ,China or the US are the obvious candidates .Europeans have fairly obviously spent a long time watching their neighbours and for very good reason ,the same reason the citizens of smaller nations are much more likely to be aware of the world around them,outside their borders .Being surprised can be unpleasant .

Perhaps the same attitude could exist in Britain ,as a holdover from the empire ?

Keith Wilson
09-26-2009, 09:39 PM
Peter, I think that's a good point. One can live in, say, Chicago, or St Louis, or Des Moines, and travel 1000 miles in any direction without encountering a very different culture (yeah , I know there are some neighborhoods in Chicago, and Quebec is probably within range, but more or less . . .), and the only people speaking a differnt language would be recent immigrants. Within the same radius of Frankfurt or Prague would be a dozen national borders, and as at least as many languages. It's far easier to be insular in a really big country.

Syed
09-27-2009, 02:25 AM
. . . .......................................
Edit: I'm willing to bet that there's a different "agenda" for teaching history in Pakistan than in Britain or the U.S.

Obviously!

Andrew Craig-Bennett
09-27-2009, 04:51 AM
I have a general point to make about the centre versus the perifery ,big countries versus small .

I've discussed history and world geography with Indians (while in India ) and was not impressed ,overseas Indian are quite a different matter .There is something about a huge population and a diverse culture that does not encourage someone to look outside ...I may be horribly smearing Indians with generalities here but my experiences made me wonder whether these attitides would be common to other large countries ,China or the US are the obvious candidates .Europeans have fairly obviously spent a long time watching their neighbours and for very good reason ,the same reason the citizens of smaller nations are much more likely to be aware of the world around them,outside their borders .Being surprised can be unpleasant .

Perhaps the same attitude could exist in Britain ,as a holdover from the empire ?

It certainly does exist in China.

I have been struck by how similar China is to the United States in that and in similar respects - vast countries which whilst not indeed culturally homogenous are none the less pretty similar. For instance, the Chinese make a big deal of their Minority Races and the Americans make a big deal of the Native Americans. In both cases one race, Caucasians and Han respectively, have spead across a vast area, displaced the native inhabitants and then more or less absorbed them but leaving them a distinct culture and some reservations. A foreigner just sees an American or a Chinese in both cases.

In Britain we have quite a clash going on - the hangover of the sort of history teaching that produced Empire Builders clashing with the sort of history teaching that is used to skirt around the issues raised by having the great grandchildren of citizens of that Empire now growing up as British citizens. This I think qualifies as a first class cultural "surprise" - the older generation of West Indians, for example, being commonly arch-Imperialists, because that was the history that they were taught.

ishmael
09-27-2009, 06:42 AM
I have to commend this site as one of erudition, insight, and heart. I'd forgotten about Jallianwala Bagh. Thanks for reminding us, Syed.

If you look into any nation's history there are matters that are unsavory. Wounded Knee was no cake walk. When Europeans first settled this continent they intentionally gave smallpox infested blankets to the natives, or so it's told. I've always wondered how they did that without contracting the illness themselves.

All the human world's myths focus in large part on good and evil. Why is that? I look at my cat's actions, and when she catches a mouse and tortures it I don't call it evil, though it looks pretty dark for the mouse. Humans, because of our ethical and religious structures, are supposed to rise above that, and we often do. We also, all too often, don't.

The US, though a bit spotty, has done a fairly good job of it.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Saltiguy
09-27-2009, 07:05 AM
I read Milo's cut&Paste and can say simply that I think it's hogwash. Almost every statement in that mess is easily refuted or explained.
All I have to add is this: If I was a country, and I was going to start a war, knowing I would lose it, I'd start a war with the United States.

George.
09-27-2009, 08:57 AM
I’m not aware of any country at war that has honored the patents of companies from belligerent countries.


From Wikipedia:


Beginning immediately after the German surrender and continuing for the next two years the U.S. pursued a vigorous program to harvest all technological and scientific know-how as well as all patents in Germany. John Gimbel comes to the conclusion, in his book "Science Technology and Reparations: Exploitation and Plunder in Postwar Germany", that the "intellectual reparations" taken by the U.S. and the UK amounted to close to $10 billion. During the more than two years that this policy was in place, no industrial research in Germany could take place, as any results would have been automatically available to overseas competitors who were encouraged by the occupation authorities to access all records and facilities.





After the war there was a policy of de-industrializing Germany. The idea was to convert them to a pastoral country that would never again be in a position of strength to threaten its neighbors. It didn’t take long to realize that Germany was needed on our side as a counterweight to the Soviets and the policy was reversed.


"Didn't take long" if you think three years of famine, suffering, and thousands of deaths is not long:


For several years following the surrender German nutritional levels were very low, resulting in very high mortality rates. Throughout all of 1945 the U.S. forces of occupation ensured that no international aid reached ethnic Germans. [28] It was directed that all relief went to non-German displaced persons, liberated Allied POWs, and concentration camp inmates.[29] During 1945 it was estimated that the average German civilian in the U.S. and U.K occupation zones received 1200 calories a day.[30] Meanwhile non-German Displaced Persons were receiving 2300 calories through emergency food imports and Red Cross help.[31] In early October 1945 the UK government privately acknowledged in a cabinet meeting that German civilian adult death rates had risen to 4 times the pre-war levels and death rates amongst the German children had risen by 10 times the pre-war levels. [32] The German Red Cross was dissolved, and the International Red Cross and the few other allowed international relief agencies were kept from helping Germans through strict controls on supplies and on travel.[33] The few agencies permitted to help Germans, such as the indigenous Caritas Verband, were not allowed to use imported supplies. When the Vatican attempted to transmit food supplies from Chile to German infants the U.S. State Department forbade it.[34] The German food situation became worst during the very cold winter of 1946–1947 when German calorie intake ranged from 1,000–1,500 calories per day, a situation made worse by severe lack of fuel for heating.[35] Meanwhile the Allies were well fed; the average adult calorie intake was; U.S. 3200–3300; UK 2900; U.S. Army 4000.[36] The German infant mortality rate was twice that of other nations in Western Europe until the end of 1948.

My italics. Perhaps someone might try to explain how starving German children compensated Nazi victims.

pefjr
09-27-2009, 09:35 AM
Perhaps someone might try to explain how starving German children compensated Nazi victims.

This is a "liberallie cry". A failure to see the full picture of war. Maybe the Germans should have considered "What will happen to us and our children should we lose this war?"

I do not believe even in the aftermath of a terrible war that humans will deliberate starve children.

Syed
09-27-2009, 10:02 AM
I have to commend this site as one of erudition, insight, and heart. I'd forgotten about Jallianwala Bagh. Thanks for reminding us, Syed.

If you look into any nation's history there are matters that are unsavory. Wounded Knee was no cake walk. When Europeans first settled this continent they intentionally gave smallpox infested blankets to the natives, or so it's told. I've always wondered how they did that without contracting the illness themselves.

All the human world's myths focus in large part on good and evil. Why is that? I look at my cat's actions, and when she catches a mouse and tortures it I don't call it evil, though it looks pretty dark for the mouse. Humans, because of our ethical and religious structures, are supposed to rise above that, and we often do. We also, all too often, don't.

The US, though a bit spotty, has done a fairly good job of it.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Animals act under their instinct whereas human have got a choice.

I certainly don't talk about any other society but our own when I say that people are not very honest in general. Parents would criticize other children and protect their own for the similar behaviours.

Nations behave much like individuals of our society and do not practice the morality very strictly. A different yard stick at home and abroad.

Wayne Jeffers
09-27-2009, 10:30 AM
From Wikipedia:








"Didn't take long" if you think three years of famine, suffering, and thousands of deaths is not long:



My italics. Perhaps someone might try to explain how starving German children compensated Nazi victims.

I’m not trying to argue with you, George, except to say that the taking of German patents did not begin only after the war. To the extent that patented processes were known, they were used by Germany’s enemies, including the US, without paying royalties to the German patent holders. This stuff happens in war. What happened after was more exceptional.

I’m not trying to argue that three years is not a long time if you’re hungry, etc. In the big picture, it’s a relatively short time for a policy to change. Besides, that phrase (which I could have written more clearly and succinctly) was peripheral to the essence of my statement, which was that the policy changed because we came to realize that we needed Germany as a counterweight to the Soviets, i.e., not because of humanitarian reasons or a newfound love for the German people.

BTW, quoting Wikipedia without a link is poor form. Makes it impossible to check the references used in the Wikipedia article, if there are any. Wikipedia by itself is of little value absent citations.

Wayne

George.
09-27-2009, 10:42 AM
This is a "liberallie cry". A failure to see the full picture of war. Maybe the Germans should have considered "What will happen to us and our children should we lose this war?"



"Liberallie?" Are you one of those obstinate people who see everything through a contemporary political prism? I hope not, or I'll be wasting time responding.

No nation ever seems to consider "What will happen to us and our children should we lose this war." It would be a workable deterrent if it worked, but it doesn't. Victors have been slaying and enslaving the children of vanquished since way before Rome sacked Carthage, and still nations keep going to war.

The only deterrent that seems to work at all is a high probability of defeat. Reprisals and reparations after defeat only encourage a hopeless defense to drag on to the bitter end. And Hitler obviously didn't care about the German civilian population - much to the contrary, he wanted to see them go down in flames like him.




I do not believe even in the aftermath of a terrible war that humans will deliberate starve children.

Nevertheless it is quite frequent, and was Allied policy after World War 2.

George.
09-27-2009, 10:55 AM
BTW, quoting Wikipedia without a link is poor form. Makes it impossible to check the references used in the Wikipedia article, if there are any. Wikipedia by itself is of little value absent citations.


I know. Sorry. The internet on the island is slow enough, and the forum software annoying enough in response, to make me avoid posting links and pictures when I can get away with it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Germany_since_1945

Cuyahoga Chuck
09-27-2009, 11:19 AM
From Wikipedia:








"Didn't take long" if you think three years of famine, suffering, and thousands of deaths is not long:



My italics. Perhaps someone might try to explain how starving German children compensated Nazi victims.

What you are charging contains some very serious allegations. If you want any of this to stick you need a more serious basis for your accusations than Wikipedia.
To my mind starving Germans in one area while running a year long air lift to feed starving Germans in another area seem illogical.

At the end of WWI mass starvation was emminent in Germany, Belgium and some other war-torn areas. The US stepped in and created an emergency transport of food, headed by Herbert Hoover, to get food to populations, including Germans, that were in danger. I read recently that there still exists a statue of Herbert Hoover in Poland that commemorates US benevolence.

Depriving Germany of it's industrial might was an idea that was broached but it occurred as a result of WWI not WWII, to the best of my knowledge.

It's widely known that the US occupation forces scooped up all the documents they could get their hands on. The last of what they brought home was returned in about 1956. Then US National Archives has a copy of an x-ray taken by a German dentist of Adolph Hitler's bridge work among other things.
It was of prime importance to discover what Germany had achieved in weaponry including atomic research. They wanted to know about Nazi organization, the death camps, war crimes. They scooped up rockets , jet planes and any other ground breaking war materials. The US certainly didn't need to confiscate industrial equipment at all. The US was the most industrialized country in the world. If some proprietarey informantion was scooped up in the process that was unfortunate. In the condition Germany was in at the time it wasn't going to return to it's powerhouse status for a long time. It has to be remembered the Allies destroyed a lot in the process of bring the war to Germany and the retreating Germans were under orders to destroy anything that could be of help to the enemy as they retreated. In the end Germany was physicaly flattened and it had lost a large chunk of it's most productive male population. When the Allies took over there was a lot of head scratching because the ruination of Germany seemed so complete. One of the first programs initiated was the clearing of roadways. Capable women and elderly were paid with food for doing stoop labor clearing the streets. I believe there is a monument to those folks in Berlin.

George.
09-27-2009, 11:29 AM
So Wikipedia is lying, all the sources on the extensive documentation on Wikipedia's page are lying, Herr Achim, my first-hand source - sorry, he's dead, so I cannot post a link - was lying, a pile of serious books by respected historians is full of lies, and my seventh-grade history teacher told me the whole truth?

I don't think so.

George.
09-27-2009, 11:47 AM
This is a link to the Truman Presidential Library, to a photocopy of a report written by Herbert Hoover on starvation in Germany. There are many other documents at the Truman Library. I hope they are found to be more credible than Wikipedia.

http://www.trumanlibrary.org/hoover/internaltemplate.php?tldate=1947-02-26&groupid=5166&collectionid=hoover

pefjr
09-27-2009, 01:04 PM
"Liberallie?" Are you one of those obstinate people who see everything through a contemporary political prism? I hope not, or I'll be wasting time responding.

No nation ever seems to consider "What will happen to us and our children should we lose this war." It would be a workable deterrent if it worked, but it doesn't. Victors have been slaying and enslaving the children of vanquished since way before Rome sacked Carthage, and still nations keep going to war.

The only deterrent that seems to work at all is a high probability of defeat. Reprisals and reparations after defeat only encourage a hopeless defense to drag on to the bitter end. And Hitler obviously didn't care about the German civilian population - much to the contrary, he wanted to see them go down in flames like him.




Nevertheless it is quite frequent, and was Allied policy after World War 2.There is a big difference in killing children (in times of war or for other reasons) and the deliberate starvation of children you speak of when there is no war or reason to do so. A mission to deliberately starve children would require a conspiracy and a level of hatred that was not present in the aftermath of WWII. No doubt some starved and some died of various causes but not at that level you imply.

No nation ever seems to consider "What will happen to us and our children should we lose this war." George

Sure they do. Japan is an example. They surrendered after the two bombs. Germany chose not to, ???why?

Robert L E
09-27-2009, 01:51 PM
Japan is an example. They surrendered after the two bombs. Germany chose not to, ???why?

I never thought of it that way but it is true. Germany chose to continue until they were completely over run and completely in ruins.

Japan did surrender before a land war was waged on most of the country.

I am no historian, familiar with how Germany was treated immediately after the war but I do have second hand history about how the Japanese were treated at least on the island of Ishigaki. My father spoke with several people who witnessed the torture and execution of an Avenger crew from his aircraft carrier. Common citizens and homeland defense forces were required to watch. A few years ago a monument was dedicated to this crew and my parents were there at the dedication.

As told to my father- During the war the Imperial Navy was unable to supply adequate food, and clean water, medicine was unavailable, and so was power. People were treated poorly if they were not actually members of the Imperial Navy.

Dad was told that quickly after the surrender field hospitals were set up and power was supplied from cables from anchored ships. Water treatment was restarted and food was brought in. Further, they were treated better by the Americans than by the Imperial Navy on a personal level. On Ishigaki Americans are pretty well liked. Some of the Ishigakians(?) also seemed to speak as though they are not Japanese.

I know that this is just one place and perhaps reflects the influence of a strong occupation leader, Douglas MacArthur. Germany is far from Japan.

Bob

pefjr
09-27-2009, 02:23 PM
Some other interesting aspects of WWII that I have read at one time or another:

German POWs being transported through the south were treated better than American Black Soldiers guarding the POWs.

American POW's were treated better by the Germans than their European POWs.

Italian POWs were treated better by American Soldiers than their German POWs.

Allied POWs in the Pacific War had it much worse than Allied POWs in Europe.

Milo Christensen
09-27-2009, 03:02 PM
What you are charging contains some very serious allegations. . . .

Allegations based on actual historical events of which you seem completely unaware.


. . . To my mind starving Germans in one area while running a year long air lift to feed starving Germans in another area seem illogical. . . .

Certainly it would be in 1948 when the airlift started. George.'s entire thread is based in 1946-1948 prior to the airlift. But refer back to my first comment.

We can take no pride, we Americans and British, in the complete abdication of our moral responsibility for almost three years in the face of Soviet demands for the utter destruction of Germany's ability to kill even one Soviet citizen, let alone 27 million Soviet citizens ever again.

pefjr
09-27-2009, 03:29 PM
We can take no pride, we Americans and British, in the complete abdication of our moral responsibility for almost three years in the face of Soviet demands for the utter destruction of Germany's ability to kill even one Soviet citizen, let alone 27 million Soviet citizens ever again.
There is no one spouting about being proud, and there was no abdication. It was an understanding and a willingness, and a moral responsibility to protect present and future generations from a repeat of these wars started by the Germans. What, 60 years later you are writing your own history?

I guess you can pick and choose the history you want to believe, but I can fully understand Russia's reluctance to ever trust Germany again. The US does not trust Japan.

PeterSibley
09-27-2009, 04:54 PM
No one trusrts anyone in international affairs , you'd need to be crazy to do so .

Osborne Russell
09-27-2009, 08:43 PM
Easy. What misdeeds? ;)

You know anthropomorphism is this idea that we project human-like characteristics on animals or things, right?

What's the word that describes the tendency to ascribe human-like characteristics on nations and races? I am always leery of any history, "standard" or revisionist, that starts from the idea that a nation has consciousness and a narrative intent that lasts over generations.

I think the word you're looking for is "reification".

Osborne Russell
09-27-2009, 08:51 PM
Benedict Anderson's hugely influential book on nation states argued that all communities, including nations, are imagined into being. That members imaginatively self-identify with other members, and are identified as members in return. He argued that the edges of modern nation states were originally imaginatively determined when printing presses became common ... with the borders set by where a written language could be understood. People who could read the same words ... recognized themselves to be in community with others who did the same.

A polite way of saying they're delusional, and the delusion becomes cultural with time, aided by the technology of delusion-making.

Linguistic uniformity is an effect, not a cause. Bismarck undertook to do it by force. The Italians still grapple with it. It's against the law to speak in dialect in the Italian national legislature. A guy was arrested on the floor for speaking Venetian.

Osborne Russell
09-27-2009, 09:09 PM
No one trusrts anyone in international affairs , you'd need to be crazy to do so .

Here's a thought expertiment for you:

Assuming that to be so, and also assuming that America is a Christian Nation, with a special mission to fulfill, as is fervently believed by a frighteningly large percentage of Americans, including many on the Wooden Boat Forum -- what would the foreign policy of such a nation look like?

"Onward Christian soldiers, get out there and turn the other cheek. If your enemy is cold, give him your coat. Then smite him in the name of The Lord."


What had happened in almost three centuries, between the time Machiavelli was either praised as a daring rebel or denounced as an emissary of Satan and the time when he began to be acclaimed as a prophet, was that all Europe had become what Italy was in Machiavelli’s lifetime already was, a congeries of autonomous, purely temporal sovereign states, without any common end to bind them into a single society or any interest higher than their own egotistical drives for survival and expansion.

To pretend that the relations between such states were governed by Christian ethics seemed to Machiavelli a contemptible hypocrisy.

Garrett Mattingly, Machiavelli, included in J. H. Plumb, The Italian Renaissance (1961) American Heritage Inc.

George Jung
09-27-2009, 10:01 PM
Fine post, OR -

Of course, it's a moot point, since (as you as well as many others have told us) -

this is not a christian nation. So what devil of mischief are you trying to muck about in? The last God vs Darwin thread has just settled over the horizon - do you crave another so soon?

S B
09-27-2009, 11:28 PM
History is taught for the continuation of society, as we know it, same as everything else. The idea of teaching for society, as yet to be explored, is too dangerous for the establishment to consider.

boylesboats
09-27-2009, 11:53 PM
History sometime is very confusin' even when you learned about it in the same school in different grades... except for in high school we get see more violents, nudities and languages...
Yeah, we did... watch it all on films and seen it on overhead projector...

Cuyahoga Chuck
09-28-2009, 12:35 AM
So Wikipedia is lying, all the sources on the extensive documentation on Wikipedia's page are lying, Herr Achim, my first-hand source - sorry, he's dead, so I cannot post a link - was lying, a pile of serious books by respected historians is full of lies, and my seventh-grade history teacher told me the whole truth?

I don't think so.

What you are charging is the US government, as a state policy, starved German civilians in the immediate postwar period. That would be a heinous crime if true. To make it stick there has to be a name appended to it other than Wikipedia's or yours otherwise it's just more chaf posted on the internet.The veracity of it depends on what exists to substanciate it.
I'll give you an example:
It was the stated policy of the British government in WWII that all British citizens living in the British Isles should have a minimum guaranteed caloric intake of 1500 calories per day. How this was guaranteed was not stated but, because Britain was dependent on imported foodstuffs brought in by problematic
seaborn trade, and because existing port facilities could only pass thru' X hundreds of tons per day, much of which was war material, the government had extrapolated that it could logically not guarantee more than 1500 cal/day for the numbers it had to feed.
I cite as my source Winston Churchill, "The Second World War- The Hinge of Fate".
I could probably find the page number where the 1500 cal/day was stated. But the problem of importing enough food in the face of the ever rising German u-boat activity was discussed in a numerous chapters across at least the first two volumes so I might have a problem coming up with a single citation to back up what I claimed. But I could do it if the problem were urgent enough.
That's the situation with your claim of US criminality in the post -WWII period in Germany. If any legitimate historians believed that such a policy was intitaed by the US some historian(s) would have looked into it and, if they found it creditable, would have published their findings because it would be one hell-of-a big coup and would have done there careers a lot of good. Of course they would have to withstand whatever challenges arose.
In the case of the Holocaust denier, David Irving, a trip into court where his accusers were just as smart as he, showed that his thesis was wrong because it was based on an incorrect assumption. He was not shown to be a liar just a sloppy historian who let his politics cloud his professional judgement. And there are many more David Irvings out there.

George.
09-28-2009, 04:02 AM
What you are charging is the US government, as a state policy, starved German civilians in the immediate postwar period. That would be a heinous crime if true. To make it stick there has to be a name appended to it other than Wikipedia's or yours otherwise it's just more chaf posted on the internet.

:confused:

I posted a link to official reports to the president in the Truman library. The Wikipedia pages on the subject - History of Germany Since 1945, Morgenthau Plan, and others - are extensively documented with links to primary sources. And if you hit the bookstore you will find no lack of serious books on the subject.

Methinks it is those who persist in believing the myths they learned in high school that are posting chaff.

PeterSibley
09-28-2009, 04:20 AM
It's interesting the way national myths of virtue disallow anything that clashes with the preconcieved version .

Australia has just had it's version of the "history wars " ,white armband versus black armband so called .The black armband crowd being those that dare believe anything other than the approved school boy story of growth , developement and in our case an aborigine population who somewhat strangely gave up the land to the new comers ,no shots fird in anger or greed .A surprising tale that many insisted was the way things were .:rolleyes:

PeterSibley
09-28-2009, 04:24 AM
Chuck ,it does seem not inconceivable that people who can firebomb cities full of civilians can starve those same civilians once hostilities are over .

Not to say it's true ,I really don't know .But to expect that the hatred and bile of the previous years would magically vapourise seems difficult to believe .

Andrew Craig-Bennett
09-28-2009, 04:44 AM
I think we need to sort out a few different ideas.

First, there is the “mainstream” view of pretty much any area of history – the view held at a given time by the majority of academic historians working on that area. This view naturally changes over time, thanks to the process of academic research and publication. By and large, this process happens outside public notice. By way of example, and a very well known one, Lewis Namier’s “The Structure of English Politics at the Accession of George III” brought in a revolution in the way that political history is studied, and his methods were swiftly adopted by historians working elsewhere, but this is not a book that the general reader will have come across, still less read.

Somewhere below this level is the level of the school textbook; these are often somewhat “political” in intent, being approved in many countries by committees of politicians. A slant towards the building of national unity is often encouraged, as Syed pointed out earlier in this thread.
Then we have the sort of history that is shown on television and which pops up in newspapers and magazines; in order to attract an audience this history has to present a “new idea” but in order to be understood it must start with what its audience already knows, as result of what they were taught in school. A study of the reforms of Gustavus Adolphus, for instance, will be immediately understandable to a Swedish audience but perhaps not to a French one, and almost certainly not to a Brazilian one.

At a level between this and pure academic history we have serious studies that convey a new idea but which do so in a very accessible way, and which consequently attract a wider readership than professional academic historians – Simon Schama’s “The Embarrassment of Riches” is an excellent example of this. Writers of this sort of history tend to be lionised and to emerge as fully fledged Literary Lions, at which point they can earn a lot from the media and they may be tempted out of the areas that they really know a lot about.

Apart from all of these, there is a sort of historical counter-culture which tends to be closely associated with the idea that the real truth about events has not merely been lost, but has been actively suppressed by groups with an interest in promoting another version of events.
Very often, this sort of conspiracy-theory history attracts a large audience, and I think this is mainly because of the intrinsic interest of any “secret knowledge”. We all think that we want to know best, or at least better, and if we can know better without going to the effort of really reading up a subject, then that tends to be the route that we will take.



Then we have the sort of history that is shown on television and which pops up in newspapers and magazines; in order to attract an audience this history has to present a “new idea” but in order to be understood it must start with what its audience already knows, as result of what they were taught in school. A study of the reforms of Gustavus Adolphus, for instance, will be immediately understandable to a Swedish audience but perhaps not to a French one, and almost certainly not to a Brazilian one.
At a level between this and pure academic history we have serious studies that convey a new idea but which do so in a very accessible way, and which consequently attract a wider readership than professional academic historians – Simon Schama’s “The Embarrassment of Riches” is an excellent example of this. Writers of this sort of history tend to be lionised and to emerge as fully fledged Literary Lions, at which point they can earn a lot from the media and they may be tempted out of the areas that they really know a lot about.
Apart from all of these, there is a sort of historical counter-culture which tends to be closely associated with the idea that the real truth about events has not merely been lost, but has been actively suppressed by groups with an interest in promoting another version of events.
Very often, this sort of conspiracy-theory history attracts a large audience, and I think this is mainly because of the intrinsic interest of any “secret knowledge”. We all think that we want to know best, or at least better, and if we can know better without going to the effort of really reading up a subject, then that tends to be the route that we will take.

George.
09-28-2009, 04:58 AM
... an aborigine population who somewhat strangely gave up the land to the new comers ,no shots fird in anger or greed .

Wow! Just like our Indians did! What a coincidence! :rolleyes::(

Nowadays, of course, the kids in Brazil get a radically different story. The Indians were noble savages who were cruelly misused and enslaved. What one never seems to get in school is a balanced view.

Andrew Craig-Bennett
09-28-2009, 05:16 AM
Wow! Just like our Indians did! What a coincidence! :rolleyes::(

Nowadays, of course, the kids in Brazil get a radically different story. The Indians were noble savages who were cruelly misused and enslaved. What one never seems to get in school is a balanced view.

There was a serious attempt to solve this in UK schools history teaching at secondary level - the Schools Council History Project.

I know more than I ought to about this as my first wife was very heavily involved in it, but I do think it has been good. The idea is that students study quite unrelated areas of history from primary sources and thereby gain some understanding of historical method.

My 14 year old son is just starting the course now - he will be studying the history of medicine, the growth of international terrorism (long view, starting with the Anarchists) and the American West.

I could not find a Wikipedia entry or similar to link to, but here is a link to a teachers' resources site:

http://www.schoolshistoryproject.org.uk/AboutSHP/index.htm

and here is the Statement of Principles:

Six core principles underpin SHP's work:

1. A determination to connect history to young people’s lives was the foundation of the original Schools Council History Project. However, research suggests that many young people still find it difficult to articulate why they are studying history. As history educators we still have a long way to go in making our subject meaningful for all children and young people by relating history to their lives. The Project strives for a history curriculum which helps children and young people to develop their own opinions and values, and which helps them to understand and to articulate their multiple identities.
2. Engaging in the process of historical enquiry and interrogating evidence were central to the original philosophy of SHP. However, the potential for pupils to undertake historical enquiry, to use historical sources constructively, and to communicate their understanding in creative and historically rigorous ways has yet to be fully realised. The Schools History Project believes that historical enquiry, the constructive use of historical sources and creative communication should form the bedrock of the school history curriculum. It continues to argue for this, and to develop innovative approaches to these aspects of history education.
3. A particular hallmark of the original Schools History Project was the emphasis it placed on diversity. SHP believes that the history curriculum in England is often too narrowly defined, and that it should continue to offer more opportunities for young people to study a range of periods in history, civilisations and cultures beyond Europe, and more social and cultural history. SHP promotes a history curriculum that both reflects the diversity of the population of modern Britain and enables children and young people to learn about the diversity of historical experience globally. The promotion of diverse content, diverse approaches to the study of history and a focus on the diverse experiences of people in the past are central to the Project’s work.
4. Engaging with the ‘history around us’ can be one of the most stimulating aspects of learning history. Generating an interest in, and knowledge of, the local historic environment has been a core principle of the Schools History Project since its inception. The Project believes that there are still too few opportunities for children and young people to undertake history fieldwork and it continues to promote the study of history in the local historic environment.
5. The study in development was a core aspect of SHP’s original philosophy. Understanding the connection between past and present, and identifying changes and continuities across time, are vital dimensions of historical study. Helping children and young people to develop a strong sense of period and constructing robust chronological frameworks are challenging aspects of learning history. A focus on changes and continuities in human affairs over long periods of time is central to SHP’s work.
6. The Schools History Project believes that learning history should be an enjoyable and life-enhancing experience for all children and young people, providing the foundations for lifelong thinking and engagement with history. SHP is committed to developing approaches to teaching and learning that combine enjoyment and active engagement with historical rigour.

George.
09-28-2009, 08:41 AM
Brazil's Great War in national mythology is the Paraguayan War, which also shows how mercifully stunted our national bellicosity is.

When I went to school, it was taught as a just and heroic war against a bloodthirsty dictator, Solano Lopes, who wanted to rule South America and had attacked Brazil pretty much unprovoked. It echoed of how WWII and Hitler were presented, and fit in nicely with all the squares and avenues in Brazil named after heroes and battles of that long-forgotten war.

Nowadays, in the public schools, they teach that Lopez' Paraguay was merely trying to be independent and socially just in an age of exploitation and imperialism, and for that was mercilessly crushed after being goaded into war by a Brazil that was in part imperialist itself, and partly acting as a proxy for the real imperialist schemers of the time: the British, of course.

Somewhere in between is the reality of two overambitious and cynical states going to war for the usual bad reasons, to the chagrin of their impoverished populations.

Osborne Russell
09-28-2009, 09:25 AM
Somewhere in between is the reality of two overambitious and cynical states going to war for the usual bad reasons, to the chagrin of their impoverished populations.

Two great intuitions of the ambitious:

1. If you can't enlist the rabble you ain't goin' nowhere.
2. Appealing to their reason is dangerous because reason is a two-edged sword.

Cuyahoga Chuck
09-28-2009, 09:46 AM
Chuck ,it does seem not inconceivable that people who can firebomb cities full of civilians can starve those same civilians once hostilities are over .

Not to say it's true ,I really don't know .But to expect that the hatred and bile of the previous years would magically vapourise seems difficult to believe .

A lot of the things that were done during the war and thereafter can now be seen as possible misdeeds but their occurance does not proove they were official policies of the state whose army commited the deed.
The bombing of the Benedictine Abbey at Casino required an OK from the highest level of government but most other bombing targets didn't. And things like the firestorms, which occured at Hamburg and Dresden, can't be predicted. A lot of the requirements are in the hands of Mother Nature.
To get back to my original statement, Claiming that supplying Germans with a minimum1200 cal/day is starvation when one of the victorious powers, Britiain, sustained their home population for six years on 1500 cal/day seems to be a stretch. Britian's home population was about 40 million while the number of continental citizens under Allied occupation was more than twice that plus the military administrations had to feed their armies which were additional millions. To me it seems the 1200 cal/day figure may have been a calculated estimate based on the number of mouths and the available shipping and port facilities. Germany, in particular, was flattened. The prelude to feeding such a vast population was a rebuilding of some major port facilities along with most of the railroad lines. Until that was done they were locked in to using the road net that featured hundreds and hundreds of temporary, single-track military bridges.
The greatest port in Europe was and may still be Antwerp. The Germans controlled it's use until about 3 months before the capitulation.
So, this discussion seems to boil down to whether the evidence says the US was involved in a genocide against German civilians or was locked into a knotty logistical problem brought about by the enormous distruction that occured during the war.

Andrew Craig-Bennett
09-28-2009, 10:20 AM
I go with the latter.

Incidentally, the general health of the British population has never been better than it was in 1945 after six years of rationing - and be it noted that rationing was cut further after the end of the war and not abolished until the early 1950s.

I think its safe to assume that the British Government was not trying to starve its own people.

pefjr
09-28-2009, 10:23 AM
From the Las Vegas view point, maybe food rationing would be a good idea today.

Keith Wilson
09-28-2009, 10:29 AM
Brazil's Great War in national mythology is the Paraguayan War, which also shows how mercifully stunted our national bellicosity is.
For Solano Lopez to get Paraguay into a war against an alliance of Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay seems - well, unwise is a bit mild, and reducing the country's population by over half is a record that few dictators can match. One can be as revisionist as one likes, but he's a very hard fellow to rehabilitate. Stroessner tried; that's telling.

George.
09-28-2009, 11:03 AM
So, this discussion seems to boil down to whether the evidence says the US was involved in a genocide against German civilians or was locked into a knotty logistical problem brought about by the enormous distruction that occured during the war.

Neither: it was not genocide, but it was not a "logistical problem"; it was deliberate policy to impose suffering and deny relief to German civilians, and it was deliberate policy to impoverish Germany and make it pay reparations.

From some of the reflexive denials we see here, coming from Americans of all political persuasions, we can see how well and thoroughly these facts were suppressed in popular history.

1945 to 1948 is the most misunderstood period of 20th-century history. Most people, including myself until a few years ago, think that immediately after the end of WWII came the Marshall Plan and the Cold War.

If the realities of that period were better known, perhaps the Americans would have been more skeptical about hopes that their troops invading Iraq would be greeted with flowers, and would understand the thinking behind the assertion that the occupation would pay for itself. Perhaps the damage done by de-Baathification could have been avoided if people knew what happened when de-Nazification went too far.

The fact is that most Americans - hell, most people in the world, even those who were opposed to the Iraq war - expected America to come in reconstructing and rehabilitating from day one, because that is what the mythology taught us. No one expected profiteering, collective punishment, and detainee abuse, because no one knew there was a precedent for those things. Had these things been expected, they might have been avoided. That is why there is utility in a balanced view of history, even for the nationalist.

pefjr
09-28-2009, 11:40 AM
de-Nazification went too far. George

Impossible from a realistic point of view. Even a current Germany view

Kaa
09-28-2009, 12:07 PM
Impossible from a realistic point of view.

Rather depends on what your criteria and, more importantly, goals are.

Kaa

Kaa
09-28-2009, 12:10 PM
The fact is that most Americans - hell, most people in the world, even those who were opposed to the Iraq war - expected America to come in reconstructing and rehabilitating from day one, because that is what the mythology taught us. No one expected profiteering, collective punishment, and detainee abuse, because no one knew there was a precedent for those things. Had these things been expected, they might have been avoided. That is why there is utility in a balanced view of history, even for the nationalist.

I think that's an excellent and an important point.

Blocking out bad things from your past just sets you up to repeat them in the future.

Kaa

pefjr
09-28-2009, 01:57 PM
Rather depends on what your criteria and, more importantly, goals are.

KaaRight, if you are a nazi, or sympathizer, then the de-nazification went too far. My sympathies lie with the Jews. Until those wrongs are righted, I see no need to worry about any supposed de-nazification. Bringing up the possibility is an insult to the Holocaust victims, survivors, and descendants.

Kaa
09-28-2009, 02:15 PM
Right, if you are a nazi, or sympathizer, then the de-nazification went too far. My sympathies lie with the Jews. Until those wrongs are righted, I see no need to worry about any supposed de-nazification. Bringing up the possibility is an insult to the Holocaust victims, survivors, and descendants.

I don't see any insults. If you don't think you can rationally discuss the subject, we'll drop it, that's fine.

Otherwise, I think the issue of the criteria, goals, and limits of de-X-ification programs (e.g. for Nazi Germany, German Democratic Republic, the Soviet Union, etc.) is a valid and nontrivial one.

Kaa

pefjr
09-28-2009, 02:31 PM
I don't see any insults. If you don't think you can rationally discuss the subject, we'll drop it, that's fine.

Otherwise, I think the issue of the criteria, goals, and limits of de-X-ification programs (e.g. for Nazi Germany, German Democratic Republic, the Soviet Union, etc.) is a valid and nontrivial one.

KaaI have just posted an opinion with no restrictions attached. Discuss whatever you like.

more opinion: A rebel flag is an insult to some Blacks. Discussing it is good if you need the therapy. Flying the flag is a different story and may imply a leaning toward the acceptance of the associated bigotry.

Kaa
09-28-2009, 02:43 PM
I have just posted an opinion with no restrictions attached. Discuss whatever you like.

more opinion: A rebel flag is an insult to some Blacks. Discussing it is good if you need the therapy. Flying the flag is a different story and may imply a leaning toward the acceptance of the associated bigotry.

Did you notice recently a whooshing sound above your head? :-)

That may have been the George's post...

"...because that is what the mythology taught us. No one expected profiteering, collective punishment, and detainee abuse, because no one knew there was a precedent for those things. Had these things been expected, they might have been avoided. That is why there is utility in a balanced view of history."

Kaa

pefjr
09-28-2009, 02:57 PM
Did you notice recently a whooshing sound above your head? :-)

That may have been the George's post...

"...because that is what the mythology taught us. No one expected profiteering, collective punishment, and detainee abuse, because no one knew there was a precedent for those things. Had these things been expected, they might have been avoided. That is why there is utility in a balanced view of history."

KaaI heard no whoosing sound, but I did, as you have noticed, read something that stood out and spoke to me and stimulated me to respond. But, carry on, I don't expect everyone to agree with me. We all are different and have different ideas. :)

George.
09-28-2009, 03:01 PM
Right, if you are a nazi, or sympathizer, then the de-nazification went too far.

Then I guess the Americans and Brits became Nazi sympathizers once the Cold War got started. ;)

Then again, from the very start, when it came to the cream of the Nazi crop, denazification meant removal from Germany... to America. :D

Keith Wilson
09-28-2009, 03:07 PM
"Once the rockets are up, who cares where they come down
That's not my department," says Wernher von Braun

TomF
09-28-2009, 03:07 PM
... when it came to the cream of the Nazi crop ...This is such an oxymoronic phrase, for all that it's factually true. The world's always had such interesting, conflicting standards.

pefjr
09-28-2009, 03:26 PM
Then again, from the very start, when it came to the cream of the Nazi crop, denazification meant removal from Germany... to America. :Dmay I add of their own free will. America is full of cream, even from Brazil. You jealous?


Then I guess the Americans and Brits became Nazi sympathizers once the Cold War got started. Nope they did not, but today new generations have forgotten the lesson. I am sure you have noticed how the sides of a war are continually changing. Allies sometimes shift during the night.

Osborne Russell
09-28-2009, 03:37 PM
Fine post, OR -

Of course, it's a moot point, since (as you as well as many others have told us) -

this is not a christian nation. So what devil of mischief are you trying to muck about in? The last God vs Darwin thread has just settled over the horizon - do you crave another so soon?

Thanks.

The Christian Nation idea is a domestic enemy as in "all enemies foreign and domestic" and I'll stop fighting it when I stop seeing it.

Osborne Russell
09-28-2009, 03:41 PM
No one expected profiteering, collective punishment, and detainee abuse, because no one knew there was a precedent for those things. Had these things been expected, they might have been avoided.

Yes, it's not enough that there is a precedent, people have to be aware of it, which is why being ignorant of history is un-American. Reds prattle about honoring our predecessors and then turn around and hit them with the worst possible insult.

carioca1232001
09-28-2009, 03:48 PM
...... America is full of cream, even from Brazil. You jealous?............

Well, the answer to that question is, quite frankly, NO !

PeterSibley
09-28-2009, 03:58 PM
Not many of us are .

pefjr
09-28-2009, 04:00 PM
Well, the answer to that question is, quite frankly, NO !
Can't blame you
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ze3KHxISv74&feature=fvw

Keith Wilson
09-28-2009, 04:08 PM
Oh yes, voluntarily indeed. The German scientists had the voluntary choice of coming to the US, working in their fields, having their Nazi backgrounds expunged from the records, being respected members of the US defense establishment, or to stay in Germany and be denazified, and scrounge for food amid the ruins. Here: Operation Paperclip (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Paperclip). Von Braun was only the best known; there were hundreds of others. I'm not saying that the US shouldn't have done it, you understand.

PeterSibley
09-28-2009, 04:13 PM
The choice was not staying in Germany Keith , rather it was being moved very quickly to Soviet Russia.... for just the same purpose .

paladin
09-28-2009, 04:25 PM
and they definitely wouldn't have liked Russia had they a real choice.....I've been in some of those places....resorts they is not.

pefjr
09-28-2009, 04:36 PM
Oh yes, voluntarily indeed. The German scientists had the voluntary choice of coming to the US, working in their fields, having their Nazi backgrounds expunged from the records, being respected members of the US defense establishment, or to stay in Germany and be denazified, and scrounge for food amid the ruins. Here: Operation Paperclip (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Paperclip). Von Braun was only the best known; there were hundreds of others. I'm not saying that the US shouldn't have done it, you understand. One is lucky to have those choices, many jews did not have any choice.

Keith Wilson
09-28-2009, 04:38 PM
Yes. What's your point?

Peerie Maa
09-28-2009, 04:46 PM
pefjr,
I'm curious, how do you think that the wrongs that the jews suffered can be righted?

pefjr
09-28-2009, 04:53 PM
You insinuated that the Germans had limited choices, imposed by the US?? My point is they a choice, not a death sentence because of being Jewish. Some I am sure chose to stay, or go to France, Russia, Britain, elsewhere. I see no problem with that policy. We all as a whole benefited from the policy.

pefjr
09-28-2009, 05:20 PM
pefjr,
I'm curious, how do you think that the wrongs that the Jews suffered can be righted?Impossible, but by capitalizing the word Jews, by education, teaching tolerance of others, by keeping one eye on Iran, and asking Jews that question, you can maybe help prevent another Holocaust like that one.

I am not Jewish. Older Jewish generations would be glad to discuss this question with you.

PeterSibley
09-28-2009, 05:24 PM
I'm curious, how do you think that the wrongs that the Rom suffered can be righted?

Cuyahoga Chuck
09-28-2009, 07:54 PM
Neither: it was not genocide, but it was not a "logistical problem"; it was deliberate policy to impose suffering and deny relief to German civilians, and it was deliberate policy to impoverish Germany and make it pay reparations..

That is nonsense. The Allies conficated the liquid assets of Germany immediately. Beyond that there would be nothing forthcoming. And reparations on the scale of WWI were not likely to be demanded because those reparations did nothing but spiral Germany into an unstable political/economic situation from which Hitler rose to power.
Anyone who had a good look at what was left of Germany at the end of WWII knew instantly that Germany was a broken wreck and the big question was how to put it back together so that it would not be a drain on the victors forever more. Britain, in particular, was not interested because it was bankrupt.


From some of the reflexive denials we see here, coming from Americans of all political persuasions, we can see how well and thoroughly these facts were suppressed in popular history.

Baloney. Our historians and other intellectuals are as active in seeking out anything that looks to be shielded from public view as similar people in other countries. Academic freedom here is as good as any place on the globe. If your take on a piece of history is not receiving acclaim it's better to look at what you have to offer rather than maligning the intellectual drive of those who don't climb on your bandwagon.
First water historians don't often delve into popular history. They sift thru' the details looking for newer or clearer understandings in the knottier parts of history. We have plenty of those first water historians. If none of them have signed on to your historical views I an sorry. None of them care what I think, either.


1945 to 1948 is the most misunderstood period of 20th-century history. Most people, including myself until a few years ago, think that immediately after the end of WWII came the Marshall Plan and the Cold War.

Those did come immediately after WWII. What's your point?


If the realities of that period were better known, perhaps the Americans would have been more skeptical about hopes that their troops invading Iraq would be greeted with flowers, and would understand the thinking behind the assertion that the occupation would pay for itself. Perhaps the damage done by de-Baathification could have been avoided if people knew what happened when de-Nazification went too far..

De-Nazification hasn't been part of this arguement up to now and I am at a loss as to how it applies.


The fact is that most Americans - hell, most people in the world, even those who were opposed to the Iraq war - expected America to come in reconstructing and rehabilitating from day one, because that is what the mythology taught us. No one expected profiteering, collective punishment, and detainee abuse, because no one knew there was a precedent for those things. Had these things been expected, they might have been avoided. That is why there is utility in a balanced view of history, even for the nationalist.

You, really, shifted gears here. Since this is your thread how about containing the debate to manageable proportions?

2MeterTroll
09-28-2009, 09:45 PM
has anyone stopped to think about something other than the raelitivly small number of a small religion that where killed? there was no jewish genocide out of the war zone. so all the jews in the US and England And all over the other places in the world where mostly not affected.

its funny to hear folks bicker over a religion as if it was important; while actual genocide is going on. yes it wrong to kill folks for there religion; and maybe we should stop it our selves.

Kaa
09-28-2009, 10:36 PM
has anyone stopped to think about something other than the raelitivly small number of a small religion that where killed? there was no jewish genocide out of the war zone. so all the jews in the US and England And all over the other places in the world where mostly not affected.

:eek: That's an umm... unexpected comment.

Kaa

Cuyahoga Chuck
09-28-2009, 10:45 PM
I just read the first 16 pages of the Hoover report and outside of the charge that the Allies confiscated whatever liquid assets Germany had left the rest of the discussion was nothing but an analysis of the nutritional problems facing the various catagories of Germans in allied territories. Since a large part of the agricultural lands of Germany where now in the control of unfriendly regimes ( Poland and the USSR) the people in Western Germany who had no access to farmland were eating a difficient diet likely to cause severe harm if continued.
Nothing in there was about maintaining nutrition at a starvation level. The report was merely a laundry list of facts that pointed out a nasty situation.
As I said previously Herbert Hoover was an international hero for running a program after WWI that brought huge quantities of US foodstuffs to starving millions in wartorn Europe. I doubt he would now sully his reputation by being a participant in a plot to starve the same kind of people he worked so hard to save after the previous war.

2MeterTroll
09-28-2009, 10:57 PM
Why is that Kaa it seems to be the whole of the modern argument about WWII.

it seems to go "they did this to these folks so they where bad and deserved any horrors visited on them." only that is a small part of it and not a reason to condemn an entire country to several years of starvation. WWII was a war thats all nothing in that war was diffrent than in other wars; taking the holocaust blinders off and looking at the jewish extermination as just a subset of the population that the government of the time wished to be rid of. changes the whole look of the thing.

Kaa
09-28-2009, 11:12 PM
Why is that Kaa it seems to be the whole of the modern argument about WWII.

Why, no, it doesn't seem to me to be that way.


it seems to go "they did this to these folks so they where bad and deserved any horrors visited on them." only that is a small part of it and not a reason to condemn an entire country to several years of starvation.

Perhaps you want to take this up with pefjr? It was he who looked to be quite uncomfortable with the idea of limits to the collective punishment of Germans. Me, I was trying precisely to discuss these limits.


WWII was a war thats all nothing in that war was diffrent than in other wars;

I don't understand what you're trying to say.


taking the holocaust blinders off and looking at the jewish extermination as just a subset of the population that the government of the time wished to be rid of. changes the whole look of the thing.

I am not sure what you mean by Holocaust blinders. Thankfully, genocide is not that frequent in recent human history -- governments rarely decide to exterminate an ethnic minority. Genocide is also one of rare crimes against humanity. Are you trying to say that genocide -- specifically, the Holocaust -- is not a big deal?

I also don't understand what changes the whole look of the thing, and what is the thing that it changes the look of.

Kaa

jbelow
09-28-2009, 11:31 PM
As a child in Brazil, I learned in school that World War 2 was caused by an evil German regime that invaded its neighbors and tried to conquer the world.

As a high school student in the US, I took AP American history and then AP European history, and both classes taught a more in-depth version of the same story I had learned in previous grades. Hitler invaded Czecoslovakia and Poland for no reason beyond his desire to rule the world. After the war, the Soviets brutalized and exploited "their" Germany, but the nice and good Western Allies immediately set about rebuilding and reintegrating West Germany under the Marshall Plan.

Nothing I encountered in books, movies, or TV programs varied from this narrative. Occasionally there was passing mention of how nasty the bombing of Dresden and Hamburg were, but other than that it was Allies good, Germans evil.

The first hint that it wasn't all just so came from an American bomber pilot whom I met in my 20s, who gave me the first glimpse into the difference between the real war and the Hollywood version.

In the years and decades since, of course, I have come to realize that World War 2 was only the final phase of a long struggle for global hegemony, initially between Germany and Britain but eventually won by Britain's spawn, the United States. I understood that the invasion of Poland and Czecoslovakia per se, while objectionable for many reasons, was no different than the countless retakings of former provinces that had been redrawing Europe's borders for centuries.

I also learned about the Western Allied treatment of occupied Germany, first from an old German man in Brazil, then from many other sources. I came to realize that it was little different from, say, German treatment of occupied France and Belgium, and had no problem with civilians starving and dying in camps years after the Nazi surrender. I learned that the only reason it got any better was the onset of the Cold War and the need to have West Germany on the Western camp.

Why is it that half a century after the fact the narrative of those days still has to be so whitewashed, in schools and in popular culture? Why can't the many excesses of a generally just campaign be discussed as frankly and known as broadly as, say, Thomas Jefferson's hypocritical stance on slavery, or the abuses of 19th century imperialism?

What is the historical view of the slave trade in Brazil ? The vast majority of African slaves sent to the americas went to Brazil. 3 millon African slaves were imported by Brazil between the 16th-19th century verses 645 thousand imported by the United States during the same time period. Brazil was also the last country in the americas to abolish slavery (1888)

2MeterTroll
09-28-2009, 11:34 PM
WWII was simply a war. nothing was done in that war that was any diffrent than in other wars. the same crimes and cruelties are happening today. such is the nature of war.


it was not genocide there where populations outside of the war zone. that is the holocaust blinder i was speaking of. I am sorry if it makes folks uncomfortable and i am not denying the holocaust. however i do categorically deny that it was genocide.
it makes little diffrence other than to remove a filter that colors any rational look at WWII.


edit: i also understand the word genocide was coined to describe what happened in WWII. however; if the definition is taken at face value then several countries are guilty of this conduct and as such should be up on charges. that they are not means the world has changed the definition. as such it no longer applies to the actions in WWII.

Kaa
09-28-2009, 11:49 PM
So let me see if I understand you correctly. WWII was "simply a war", just like any other war, nothing really interesting or unusual about it. In the process of that garden-variety war, a "raelitivly [sic] small number of a small religion" got the short end of the stick, but that also wasn't anything extraordinary or worthy of much attention. Certainly wasn't a genocide, right? Just the extermination of "a subset of the population that the government of the time wished to be rid of"and if we forget about it and ignore it, just recognize it for a little trivial detail of war that it is, we can look at WWII the right way, without any blinders or colored glasses.

Does that summarize your position correctly?

Kaa

jbelow
09-28-2009, 11:56 PM
One thing that is certain in any war ..... those that are unarmed will suffer the most and will be victims of genocide.

PeterSibley
09-29-2009, 12:10 AM
One thing that is certain in any war ..... those that are unarmed will suffer the most and will be victims of genocide.

I think you will find that most of the non military citizens of Europe were not armed and most of the citzens did NOT suffer genocide .Try not attempt to convert this thread into an argument for the American right to bear arms .

2MeterTroll
09-29-2009, 12:14 AM
pretty much, but without the sarcasm. WWII like any war has its horrors and its cruelties. like any other war it also has its minority that is brutalized beyond reason.

letting those get in the way of historical accuracy by magnifying them out of proportion is disinformation at its best. One of the great things about studying the crusades is the number of diffrent observers that wrote things down about them. you get a perspective from a vantage point that is diffrent then the victors writing the history books.

jbelow
09-29-2009, 12:21 AM
I think you will find that most of the non military citizens of Europe were not armed and most of the citzens did NOT suffer genocide .Try not attempt to convert this thread into an argument for the American right to bear arms .

No need to do that. Ask the European jews who live to tell about it. If every British citizen had an anti-aircraft gun to shoot at the German bombers , less would have died during the blitz. Can you imagine the wall of steel in the air ?

pefjr
09-29-2009, 12:36 AM
2mt, may I suggest to you; study this genocide like you have studied the Crusades. The number of sources available to you is greater than you could ever imagine. Then we can talk.

PeterSibley
09-29-2009, 12:37 AM
I can imagine an absurdity , yes .

2MeterTroll
09-29-2009, 01:04 AM
No Pfjr there are not. there are only a few that where not involved and only one or two that did not write from a position of hate. many where involved in or children of the first world war and carry that grudge into the second.

it colors Every detail of the second war.

just like Nam has colored every war since it's time.

I dont actually care who was at fault. i care about the accurate data and what was lost, not who.
my kin where in the first and second war's, I honor them for doing what they thought was right. however the personal stories have little impact on me colored as they are by the experiance of the revision. battles that where horrific reduced to foot notes because they don't tell how noble the rest of the world was.

the amount of propaganda in the world for the first and second wars was huge and out lived the wars. that propaganda has found its way into every crack and crevice of the world culture.

maybe when i am old some one will find first hand accounts in a country that was not involved and publish them without censor.

PeterSibley
09-29-2009, 01:24 AM
Ah! there goes George !

pefjr
09-29-2009, 01:34 AM
No Pfjr there are not. there are only a few that where not involved and only one or two that did not write from a position of hate. many where involved in or children of the first world war and carry that grudge into the second.

it colors Every detail of the second war.

just like Nam has colored every war since it's time.

I dont actually care who was at fault. i care about the accurate data and what was lost, not who.
my kin where in the first and second war's, I honor them for doing what they thought was right. however the personal stories have little impact on me colored as they are by the experiance of the revision. battles that where horrific reduced to foot notes because they don't tell how noble the rest of the world was.

the amount of propaganda in the world for the first and second wars was huge and out lived the wars. that propaganda has found its way into every crack and crevice of the world culture.

maybe when i am old some one will find first hand accounts in a country that was not involved and publish them without censor.
Hmmmm..... you have a problem.

PeterSibley
09-29-2009, 01:44 AM
Hmmmm..... you have a problem.

A different perspective yes , a problem ,why ?

Andrew Craig-Bennett
09-29-2009, 03:57 AM
I no longer understand this thread. Could someone tell me what we are talking about?

martin schulz
09-29-2009, 04:00 AM
I no longer understand this thread

Me neither…

But this is really funny (if only every citizen could be armed with whatever is possible, then we probably won't have any oppression nor war anymore):

If every British citizen had an anti-aircraft gun to shoot at the German bombers , less would have died during the blitz. Can you imagine the wall of steel in the air ?

Andrew Craig-Bennett
09-29-2009, 04:23 AM
But this is really funny (if only every citizen could be armed with whatever is possible, then we probably won't have any oppression nor war anymore):

I think that is entirely backwards.

Amazing how everything turns into a gun thread.

martin schulz
09-29-2009, 04:29 AM
Amazing how everything turns into a gun thread.

Yes, but entirely understandable.
Thats something I learned in advertising. If there is no real benefit (or argument in favour), you have to make something up, no matter how ridiculous.

"NEW! Sparkling water - now without cholesterol"

Andrew Craig-Bennett
09-29-2009, 04:33 AM
As a child, I remember my mother laughing over a packet of white flour that she had bought in an American supermarket (supermarkets were new at the time) - the label read "De-germinated, enriched" - in other words the wheat germ had been removed (it was white flour) and then artificial vitamins had been added back!

seanz
09-29-2009, 04:36 AM
"NEW! Sparkling water - now without cholesterol"

Surely you mean "NEW! Sparkling water - less than 1% fat!"?

:)



Judging from this thread, history may have been taught but it doesn't seem to have been learned.

George.
09-29-2009, 05:09 AM
Those did come immediately after WWII. What's your point?


They didn't. That's my point.

End of WWII: 1945

Marshall Plan: 1947

Truman doctrine: 1947

George.
09-29-2009, 05:10 AM
If every British citizen had an anti-aircraft gun to shoot at the German bombers , less would have died during the blitz.

And if every Frenchman had a bazooka, the blitzkrieg would have been stopped in its tracks. Except that in that case, every German citizen would have a panzer, and there are more of them, and every Soviet would drive a Katyusha launcher, and they can't be trusted, so maybe we should just give every American citizen an atomic bomb, and then the world will be safe from armed madmen.

George.
09-29-2009, 05:11 AM
What is the historical view of the slave trade in Brazil ? The vast majority of African slaves sent to the americas went to Brazil. 3 millon African slaves were imported by Brazil between the 16th-19th century verses 645 thousand imported by the United States during the same time period. Brazil was also the last country in the americas to abolish slavery (1888)


Slavery has always been presented as bad and exploitative, with little discussion of its economic importance - keep in mind that the whole of Brazil had an economy like the American South at the time, so slavery essentially was the economy.

In school we are taught that the Portuguese first tried enslaving the Indians, like the Spanish were doing in Peru and Mexico, but found our Indians unsuited to hard labour - hard to break, and once broken they would waste away and die. So they started importing Africans. These came already broken and were more suited to slave labour. An African slave was worth ten times more than a native one in the local markets.

What has changed over the years is that there used to be a view of Brazilian slavery as more benign than elsewhere. Nowadays those who studied the subject have concluded that while urban and domestic slaves were indeed treated better than elsewhere in the Americas, often even marrying whites and inheriting property, rural slaves - the overwhelming majority - were treated with great brutality. Brazil is close to Africa, replacements were very cheap, no need to invest too much in caring for the ones you have: working them to death was not unusual.

Unfortunately, the politically correct version that most of the public buys is the one where slavery was benign.

PS: Cuba was last. We have to settle for second place. US is third from last, thanks to the Civil War.

PeterSibley
09-29-2009, 05:18 AM
And if every Frenchman had a bazooka, the blitzkrieg would have been stopped in its tracks. Except that in that case, every German citizen would have a panzer, and there are more of them, and every Soviet would drive a Katyusha launcher, and they can't be trusted, so maybe we should just give every American citizen an atomic bomb, and then the world will be safe from armed madmen.

:D:D:D Thank you !

Keith Wilson
09-29-2009, 09:27 AM
however i do categorically deny that it was genocide.
Yeah, right. Out of 3.3 million Jews in Poland in 1939, 3 million were dead after the war - but it wasn't genocide? You certainly have a curious definition of genocide. What would it take? 95%? 99%?

Parts of WWII were elike any other war. Thae Nazis' extermination of European Jews was something quite different.

Osborne Russell
09-30-2009, 12:21 AM
And if every Frenchman had a bazooka, the blitzkrieg would have been stopped in its tracks. Except that in that case, every German citizen would have a panzer, and there are more of them, and every Soviet would drive a Katyusha launcher, and they can't be trusted, so maybe we should just give every American citizen an atomic bomb, and then the world will be safe from armed madmen.

Very funny.

2MeterTroll
09-30-2009, 12:40 AM
Yeah, right. Out of 3.3 million Jews in Poland in 1939, 3 million were dead after the war - but it wasn't genocide? You certainly have a curious definition of genocide. What would it take? 95%? 99%?

Parts of WWII were elike any other war. Thae Nazis' extermination of European Jews was something quite different.

was there a viable breeding population of jews outside of Poland and Germany? yes as a matter of fact there was in most of the surrounding countries. Then its not genocide! they wrote the bloody definition.

The emotional crap that is embellished around WWI and WWII history makes the whole of it invalid. you cannot get rid of the taint.

the extermination of the jews was no diffrent then pogroms that have and are currently going on. It is simply numbers; the bodies in rowanden mass graves are from a single tribe and they are being exterminated root, branch and stalk.

George.
09-30-2009, 05:59 AM
OK, so Rwanda was not genocide either, because there was a viable breeding population of Tutsis in Burundi next door.

Come think of it, if we have a captive breeding program in zoos, we could exterminate groups of people in the "wild" and it won't be genocide! Now why didn't the Fuhrer think of that! Jews in the Tiergarten! :rolleyes:

pefjr
09-30-2009, 08:48 AM
was there a viable breeding population of jews outside of Poland and Germany? yes as a matter of fact there was in most of the surrounding countries. Then its not genocide! they wrote the bloody definition.

The emotional crap that is embellished around WWI and WWII history makes the whole of it invalid. you cannot get rid of the taint.

the extermination of the Jews was no diffrent then pogroms that have and are currently going on. It is simply numbers; the bodies in rowanden mass graves are from a single tribe and they are being exterminated root, branch and stalk.

! they wrote the bloody definition.

who is they ?

The definition is clear and you need to re-read it. Extermination, root, stalk ,branch are not there. There is also a legal definition, look it up. "Emotional Crap" is an excuse to "DENY"

Interesting how people take their freedoms for granted. Like you 2mt, your freedom to "DENY". So deny a genocide to the Jews, 2mt, now what are you going to call it? premeditated murder? or are you going to deny that because the whole world of information is tainted? Can you label the killing of Jews by Germans? or "DENY"? Pick one.

Keith Wilson
09-30-2009, 09:07 AM
2meter, to clarify - you're not saying that the Nazis didn't kill millions of Jews (and other folks as well), right? Rather that it's not technically "genocide"? With all respect, you're simply wrong. Merriam-Webster defines genocide as 'the deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, political, or cultural group". Here's the definition of genocide under international law, from the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Here's the complete text. (http://www.preventgenocide.org/law/convention/text.htm)What the Nazis did is the type species, the example that defines the word.

Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

Adopted by Resolution 260 (III) A of the U.N. General Assembly on 9 December 1948. Entry into force: 12 January 1951.

The Contracting Parties,
Having considered the declaration made by the General Assembly of the United Nations in its resolution 96 (I) dated 11 December 1946 that genocide is a crime under international law, contrary to the spirit and aims of the United Nations and condemned by the civilized world,

Recognizing that at all periods of history genocide has inflicted great losses on humanity, and

Being convinced that, in order to liberate mankind from such an odious scourge, international co-operation is required,

Hereby agree as hereinafter provided:

Article I: The Contracting Parties confirm that genocide, whether committed in time of peace or in time of war, is a crime under international law which they undertake to prevent and to punish.

Article II: In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Andrew Craig-Bennett
09-30-2009, 09:30 AM
An earlier example of genocide:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Carthage_(c.149_BC)

George.
09-30-2009, 09:49 AM
There is at least one going on right now.

What's unusual about the Holocaust is that it took place in "enlightened" Europe. The "benighted" nations do it all the time.

Osborne Russell
09-30-2009, 10:21 AM
What's unusual about the Holocaust is that it took place in "enlightened" Europe. The "benighted" nations do it all the time.

At a rough guess, it's the other way around. Genocide requires large scale organization unless the victim group is pretty small and weak.

Andrew points out Rome v. Carthage. Then there's the Trojan war, various Old Testament smitings, the Crusades, pogroms, Protestants v. Catholics, Europeans v. aborigines . . .

Keith Wilson
09-30-2009, 10:28 AM
Genocide requires large scale organization unless the victim group is pretty small and weak. No greater organization than putting an army together. You don't need gas chambers and crematoria if you have enough people helping; machetes will work almost as well.

Andrew Craig-Bennett
09-30-2009, 10:33 AM
I don't think Catholics v Protestants makes it - there was never a serious attempt to wipe out the other lot.

Here is some Old Testament genocide:

Samuel also said unto Saul, The LORD sent me to anoint thee to be king over his people, over Israel: now therefore hearken thou unto the voice of the words of the LORD.

2Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt.
3Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.
4And Saul gathered the people together, and numbered them in Telaim, two hundred thousand footmen, and ten thousand men of Judah.
5And Saul came to a city of Amalek, and laid wait in the valley.
6And Saul said unto the Kenites, Go, depart, get you down from among the Amalekites, lest I destroy you with them: for ye shewed kindness to all the children of Israel, when they came up out of Egypt. So the Kenites departed from among the Amalekites.
7And Saul smote the Amalekites from Havilah until thou comest to Shur, that is over against Egypt.
8And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword.
9But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly.

.....

32Then said Samuel, Bring ye hither to me Agag the king of the Amalekites. And Agag came unto him delicately. And Agag said, Surely the bitterness of death is past.
33And Samuel said, As thy sword hath made women childless, so shall thy mother be childless among women. And Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the LORD in Gilgal.

pefjr
09-30-2009, 10:44 AM
There is at least one going on right now.

What's unusual about the Holocaust is that it took place in "enlightened" Europe. The "benighted" nations do it all the time.
"Do it all the time" means routinely, in the nature of man. In that respect, your thoughts of distorted history or "no history" are correct. Who is going to write the history of the "benighted"? Who among the benighted nations will cry out? The 15 million Chinese "Experiment" is barely a footnote of WWII. Do the Chinese care?

The Jews are the most intelligent of the "hated" and have determined that it will not happen again and have demanded the historians document the atrocity and place it in the face of the "enlightened".

2MeterTroll
09-30-2009, 11:05 AM
Look up when the word was coined. it was coined SPECIFICALLY to describe what happened in Europe by the JEWS! However it cannot discribe that thing unless it covers every other thing like it. that includes the pogroms currently going on and we are doing nothing about those. they are not be said to be genocide because there is a breeding population in the same area. since this is so then the halocost was not genocide.

martin schulz
09-30-2009, 11:07 AM
I do think (and I have stated this numerous times) that there is a big difference between genocide as method to get rid of "unwanted" ethnic groups in a certain area, as it has happened in the past (Bosnia) and happens now (somalia) and the Holocaust.

Perhaps its just the difference how a genocide is organised/executed. Like the difference between manufacturing and large scale industrialisation. In that regard Germanys genocide crime is definitely unmatched in its "professionalism" and organised execution.
I believe that the organised mass murder, which integrated all aspects and all levels in the German society and economy, from public railway to private chemical-factories and army/police (SA, SS, Gestapo) has never been as "effective" anywhere else. And then the "philosphical" background has also been exceptional - jews were not murdered to get rid of them in Germany, but a plan was conceived to get rid of them as a whole! And this really makes the difference.

pefjr
09-30-2009, 11:24 AM
Look up when the word was coined. it was coined SPECIFICALLY to describe what happened in Europe by the JEWS! However it cannot discribe that thing unless it covers every other thing like it. that includes the pogroms currently going on and we are doing nothing about those. they are not be said to be genocide because there is a breeding population in the same area. since this is so then the halocost was not genocide.You are defining "exterminate". Look up "The Final Solution".

Keith Wilson
09-30-2009, 11:33 AM
2meter, I really don't understand your point. "Genocide" has a generally accepted definition, which fits the activities of the Nazis exactly. Yes, the word was invented after WWII. Words are invented all the time; previously the same activity was called "extermination" or "massacres". So?

As far as other examples of the same thing - Rwanda, Sudan, Carthage, the Cathars - they are indeed called genocide. The existence of a "breeding population" (very odd expression when applied to human beings) has nothing at all to do with it. Genocide that's only partially successful is still genocide.

The fact that other nations haven't stopped every attempt at genocide may be shameful, but it doesn't change its nature.

And Martin, I'd say that the Nazi's plan for extermination of the Jews was exceptional in degree - scale and efficiency - but not in kind. It is exceptional in one regard - it made absolutely no rational sense. Other genocides have provided at least a little benefit to those ordering the killing.

Kaa
09-30-2009, 11:37 AM
2meter, I really don't understand your point.

It does look like he's slowly getting up to the point of saying that the Jews did invent all their suffering to hoodwink everyone into feeling sympathy for them while they amass wealth, gain control, and prepare to take over the world.

Kaa

pefjr
09-30-2009, 11:44 AM
[

And Martin, I'd say that the Nazi's plan for extermination of the Jews was exceptional in degree - scale and efficiency - but not in kind. It is exceptional in one regard - it made absolutely no rational sense. Other genocides have provided at least a little benefit to those ordering the killing.[/quote]Keith

I have often wondered about this. Blind hatred is blind. The genocide actually worked against the nazi, like if the Yankees put their best players on the bench.

Keith Wilson
09-30-2009, 11:49 AM
It does look like he's slowly getting up to the point of saying that . . . . But he hasn't. I don't think he means that, but I could be wrong.

Andrew Craig-Bennett
09-30-2009, 11:59 AM
As far as other examples of the same thing - Rwanda, Sudan, Carthage, the Cathars - they are indeed called genocide. The existence of a "breeding population" (very odd expression when applied to human beings) has nothing at all to do with it. Genocide that's only partially successful is still genocide.

The fact that other nations haven't stopped every attempt at genocide may be shameful, but it doesn't change its nature.

And Martin, I'd say that the Nazi's plan for extermination of the Jews was exceptional in degree - scale and efficiency - but not in kind. It is exceptional in one regard - it made absolutely no rational sense. Other genocides have provided at least a little benefit to those ordering the killing.

Agree entirely.

2MeterTroll
09-30-2009, 12:05 PM
Kaa i didnt insult you. Go piss up a rope.

What i am saying now and before the deviation is that there are no unbiased reports from WWI or WWII so you cannot look at it objectively.

The application of genocide in useage as a working term seems only to apply to the holocaust. The same or worse action does not elicit the same reaction from the member countries of the UN or the rest of the world in this day. The right or wrong of the action is not relivent, the number of dead is not relivent. the level of distortion is.

Kaa
09-30-2009, 12:17 PM
...it made absolutely no rational sense.

I don't know about that. A weak enemy is highly useful politically and Nazi Germany liked political manipulation a lot.

Besides, rational sense from which point of view? I would guess that a lot of Nazis did really believe the whole thing about Uber- and Untermeschen.

Kaa

Kaa
09-30-2009, 12:20 PM
Kaa i didnt insult you.

Precisely what did you take as an insult..?

Kaa

Keith Wilson
09-30-2009, 12:23 PM
The application of genocide in useage (sic) as a working term seems only to apply to the holocaust.This is completely false. Google "Rwandan genocide"; 315,000 hits. Why the enormous fuss from Turkey about whether the killing of Armenians in the teens was genocide or not?
The same or worse action does not elicit the same reaction from the member countries of the UN or the rest of the world in this day. Again, the reaction or lack thereof does not change the nature of an act. Had the Nazis contented themselves with killing Jews rather than trying to conquer the world, the world's reaction might have been rather different.
The right or wrong of the action is not relivent, the number of dead is not relivent (sic). the level of distortion is. What "level of distortion"? What in the world are you talking about? Nations generally act according to self-interest, not according to morality. This may not be good, but it is a fact.

George.
09-30-2009, 12:23 PM
"Do it all the time" means routinely, in the nature of man. In that respect, your thoughts of distorted history or "no history" are correct. Who is going to write the history of the "benighted"? Who among the benighted nations will cry out? The 15 million Chinese "Experiment" is barely a footnote of WWII. Do the Chinese care?

The Jews are the most intelligent of the "hated" and have determined that it will not happen again and have demanded the historians document the atrocity and place it in the face of the "enlightened".

Well put.

Troll, there are no unbiased reports of anything. You have to look at all the versions that fit the facts, and then decide as rationally as possible.

George.
09-30-2009, 12:28 PM
I would guess that a lot of Nazis did really believe the whole thing about Uber- and Untermeschen.


They certainly believed in keeping all the gains they had gotten from robbing and extorting the Jews of Germany and Eastern Europe, who were not an impoverished set to begin with. Once the Nazis realized they would lose the war and be liable to restitution, as a state and as individual thugs, they came up with the Final Solution. One more year and they most likely would have finished the job and eliminated the evidence.

2MeterTroll
09-30-2009, 12:37 PM
yes George I agree. however unlike the two world wars there are usually outside observers who do not carry a strong bias.

WWI is carried into WWII by most of the world. between the two wars almost the whole globe was involved.

nam has observers that had nothing to do with the war. the only filter is the not very strong opinion of a thing that does not involve the observer.

anyhow if i have not gotten the point across by now then i cant do so.
sorry i waisted your time and my effort.

Peerie Maa
09-30-2009, 01:21 PM
Kaa i didnt insult you. Go piss up a rope.

What i am saying now and before the deviation is that there are no unbiased reports from WWI or WWII so you cannot look at it objectively.
There is plenty of photographic evidence, both still and movie, and as one behaviour of the Nazis mentality was to document everything there is written evidence that they provided themselves. There is also the physical evidence "liberated" by the allies. All of this can be re-evaluated by unbiased historians. It is studied with rigour and objectivity.


The application of genocide in useage as a working term seems only to apply to the holocaust. The same or worse action does not elicit the same reaction from the member countries of the UN or the rest of the world in this day. The right or wrong of the action is not relivent, the number of dead is not relivent. the level of distortion is.
Wrong again. The UN did act to try to stop the genocide in the Adriatic nations, the UN has a policy of encouraging African nations to sort out African problems, in this they are less successful.

Antonio Majer
09-30-2009, 02:57 PM
In the years and decades since, of course, I have come to realize that World War 2 was only the final phase of a long struggle for global hegemony, initially between Germany and Britain but eventually won by Britain's spawn, the United States.
I was reading again this thread, going back to the first post by George. I'm finding this phrase by George somewhat obvious :): this long struggle is the long march of humans, nothing new, it seems to me. The last century was exceptional because of the technical progress, and therefore the wars of that century, but besides that nothing new. There were the great social conflicts, and therefore the great ideologies trying to answer the social questions - strangely nobody (if I'm not wrong) mentioned the Communism and the fears following the Russian revolution - but again everything seems a consequence of that exceptional technical progress. Even the destruction of the Jews is anything but new, only the technique of destruction was exceptional, but antisemitism is millenarian.
---
Mussolini was used to define the Allied forces with the derogatory expression "le democrazie plutocratiche".I confess I didn't know what "plutocracy" meant: "a system of government in which the richest people in a country rule or have power". But at that time the alternative was the governament of a DUX or a Führer, who had claimed the right to lead his People, in which the individual disappears.

What's better? Therefore even the ingenuous (George would say "hypocritical") idea of a conflict between Good and Evil isn't so paradoxical, in my opinion.

George.
10-01-2009, 05:34 AM
The last century was exceptional because of the technical progress

Technical and social "progress," geared to war: in addition to new weapons, during the Great War (1914-1945) means were developed to completely control society and the economy, and turn all its efforts to warfare. Before then, even during the Napoleonic "mass" wars, the bulk of a society was rather unaffected by war. After 1914, anyone not involved became practically a traitor.

Both sides did this, and for both it was a slippery slope: reductio ad absurdum. One side ended up with the Holocaust, the other with the destruction of entire cities from the air.

The only reason no further total wars have happened is the deep trauma suffered by all involved. Moral progress comes from fear and suffering in this case. But as that memory fades and those generations die off, we are at risk once again. We are particularly at risk due to the growing population of yahoos that cultivate a patriotic, good-vs-evil, sanitized view of war in general and WWII in particular. Such views would have been untenable in 1945.

Andrew Craig-Bennett
10-01-2009, 05:47 AM
Ho hum.

I think you have got the last century pretty much backwards.

I think it was the technical changes that affected society.

These changes had started right at the outset of the last century

First, the internal combustion engine and its impact on land and air transport.

Next, the development of electricity...

Leading to the telephone and the telegraph.

Next, the cinema

Next, the radio, leading in due course to broadcasting.

The development of schooling for the working classes.

All these affected the Great War itself, which proved to be quite unlike any other wars before it.

Next, the Russian Revolution; something for which there was no parallel and which was very adept at turning the technologies I have listed to its ends.

The development of the tools of totalitarian mind control, most particularly radio and cinema, was something without which the great totalitarianisms - Communism, Fascism, Nazism would have been impossible.

These technologies are eventually superseded by new ones which render totalitarian control very much more difficult.

We also see the explosion in world population due to the spread of western medicine.

These events are far more important that wars.

P.I. Stazzer-Newt
10-01-2009, 05:56 AM
....

We also see the explosion in world population due to the spread of western medicine.
....

The medics like to claim the credit - without actually deserving it.

Farming yields, sewage systems, and transportation.

Andrew Craig-Bennett
10-01-2009, 06:06 AM
The medics like to claim the credit - without actually deserving it.

Farming yields, sewage systems, and transportation.

I think I agree with that.

George.
10-01-2009, 06:28 AM
I don't know. The two main things that turned what could have been another "splendid little war" like 1870 into the Great War were the machine gun and mass mobilization. The former was technological, but the latter is what made the continuous front possible.

After that it did become a technological arms race, but in my opinion the essential ingredient that led to disaster was the ability to mobilize the entire nation, rather than to give up after a few battles decided whose standing army was best.

George.
10-01-2009, 06:30 AM
Something I just read in this morning's NY Times which I think is a propos:


Germans think America made a mistake by humiliating Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union. They draw a parallel, inevitably, with Weimar. They also think it was not force — America’s — that won the Cold War but détente — Germany’s.

pefjr
10-01-2009, 07:41 AM
Something I just read in this morning's NY Times which I think is a propos:I think it was worldwide satellite communication, TV, INTERNET, and the spread of ideas.

George.
10-01-2009, 07:49 AM
As long as you don't think it was Reagan's arms race.

pefjr
10-01-2009, 07:53 AM
As long as you don't think it was Reagan's arms race.

The same is influencing Iran today, but its much more difficult and slow under a blanket of religious fanaticism.

George.
10-01-2009, 08:00 AM
And I am sure that if Iran's clerical regime collapses and the country comes clean and backs off, in twenty years' time there will be revisionists suggesting that W and his "Axis of Evil" confrontational tactics should get the credit.

pefjr
10-01-2009, 08:16 AM
And I am sure that if Iran's clerical regime collapses and the country comes clean and backs off, in twenty years' time there will be revisionists suggesting that W and his "Axis of Evil" confrontational tactics should get the credit.
I'd say when it collapses.

Antonio Majer
10-01-2009, 08:18 AM
George, I have already stated I'm ignorant: not because of a somewhat cowardly modesty, but because I do think history is much more complex then what you are thinking, sorry.
The fact that Bush (or Berlusconi here in Italy) used some categories (like good v evil) to justify his choices, doesn't mean that nazifascismus and democracy could be put at the same level. If I can say berlusconi is corrupted and corrupter, it's only because some people, 60 years ago, fought for liberty.

I agree with you that we are at risk once again though: there are huge dangers outside, and huge wikness inside, if I can write this way. Berlusconi is our updated Buffoon and here the Left is weak and - I would say - comic, as 90 years ago.

Just a thing:


One side ended up with the Holocaust, the other with the destruction of entire cities from the air.
This is a true stupidity, hope you can see it by your own. Nazi didn't end up at all, they did what they did methodically, having been planing it since the early 30's.

Americans did end up with the destruction of entire cities. They HAD to do this way. I would say they HAD to become murderers to give salvation to the others, to me and you for instance. What do you think such a war was? a game of cricket?

George.
10-01-2009, 08:48 AM
The Nazis planned the Holocaust. Most of the Germans who voted them into power probably didn't. They ended up with it, just like my bomber pilot friend ended up ****ting in his pants while forced to bomb residential areas, even though he never thought it was a good plan.

My point is that if you don't learn from history you end up in places you didn't think were possible. The Germans might not have ended up with Hitler and the Holocaust if they had known that the stabbed-in-the-back theory was BS.

Antonio Majer
10-01-2009, 08:54 AM
Yes, but you are not learning from history. You are indifferent (in Italian: qualunquista).

Keith Wilson
10-01-2009, 09:03 AM
I think you have got the last century pretty much backwards.
I think it was the technical changes that affected society.
These changes had started right at the outset of the last century.

If we’re going to do the history of technology, I think we’d better get the dates straight.

The revolution in transportation was not because of internal combustion engines, but steam engines; steamships and railroads, and it took place in the mid-19th century. Inexpensive automobiles caused social changes, but that wasn’t until the mid-20th century in the US and Western Europe, and in many places it hasn’t happened yet.

The telegraph was enormously significant, the first speed-of light communication, also mid-19th century. The first deep-sea cables were laid in the late 19th century. The telephone was just a further development, widening the availability of instant communication.

Universal public education started earlier in the US than elsewhere, but was pretty much in place by the late 19th century. Near-universal literacy made mass communication through newspapers possible far earlier than the development of broadcasting in the early 20th century. Radio and cinema only became important in the 1920s-1930s in the most developed countries, considerably later elsewhere.

George.
10-01-2009, 09:17 AM
Yes, but you are not learning from history. You are indifferent (in Italian: qualunquista).

I am not indifferent. I am deliberately presenting my argument in a tone that attempts to be impartial and take the long clinical view - rather as one might try to draw lessons from the Peloponnesian War, as opposed to a war that one's parents lived through.

This would not have the same effect were I writing in Italian, for much the same reason that Puccini is so deeply moving in the original but can sound corny in English translation.

pefjr
10-01-2009, 09:20 AM
[quote=Antonio Majer;

Americans did end up with the destruction of entire cities. They HAD to do this way. I would say they HAD to become murderers to give salvation to the others, to me and you for instance. What do you think such a war was? a game of cricket?[/quote]

I agree, not murders, but defenders. It wasn't like they had nothing to do today so lets go bomb some cities. They wanted to do their job and get back safely. They wanted to end the war as quickly as possible and get back home to family.

I wonder why Germany did not surrender. What was the reason? A surrender would have saved many lives. It was an option.

Andrew Craig-Bennett
10-01-2009, 09:22 AM
Radio, the cinema and aeroplanes were all very early 20th century.

Be warned that I can bore for England on subsea telegraph cables (mid- 19th century) compound expansion steam engines in steam ships (ditto) and the role of the steam turbine (early 20th century again) :)

Keith Wilson
10-01-2009, 09:30 AM
Be warned that I can bore for England . . . Oh, you can go on as much as you like about that; I certainly won't be bored, although I can't speak for anyone else.

Do you know Kipling's little poem about telegraph cables? He was right. I think everything done since, from telephones to the internet, is just an expansion of speed-of light communication; an increase in bandwidth, to use the trendy modern term.

The Deep-Sea Cables
Rudyard Kipling

The wrecks dissolve above us; their dust drops down from afar --
Down to the dark, to the utter dark, where the blind white sea-snakes are.
There is no sound, no echo of sound, in the deserts of the deep,
Or the great gray level plains of ooze where the shell-burred cables creep.

Here in the womb of the world -- here on the tie-ribs of earth
Words, and the words of men, flicker and flutter and beat --
Warning, sorrow and gain, salutation and mirth --
For a Power troubles the Still that has neither voice nor feet.

They have wakened the timeless Things; they have killed their father Time;
Joining hands in the gloom, a league from the last of the sun.
Hush! Men talk to-day o'er the waste of the ultimate slime,
And a new Word runs between: whispering, "Let us be one!"

George.
10-01-2009, 09:32 AM
What about those steam turbines, now? :D

Kaa
10-01-2009, 09:33 AM
...during the Great War (1914-1945) means were developed to completely control society and the economy, and turn all its efforts to warfare. Before then, even during the Napoleonic "mass" wars, the bulk of a society was rather unaffected by war.

I think your baseline -- medieval Europe -- is not necessarily that universal. Societies completely oriented towards war were not unknown in ancient times, Sparta would be a classic example.

I guess it boils down to economics. In medieval Europe you could not mobilize the population because the country would starve and both the victor and the vanquished would end up with a famine in a wasteland. To conscript a large percentage of your population you need economy that's efficient enough so that a relatively small number of people can produce enough food and goods for everyone while the soldiers fight.


Both sides did this, and for both it was a slippery slope: reductio ad absurdum. One side ended up with the Holocaust, the other with the destruction of entire cities from the air.

Genocide and razing cities to the ground are by no means a modern invention. Again, look at ancient times. And again, medieval Europe where relatively small armies of nobles and their retainers fought for control of largely indifferent peasants and craftsmen, is not that good of a baseline.


...cultivate a patriotic, good-vs-evil, sanitized view of war in general and WWII in particular. Such views would have been untenable in 1945.

On, quite the opposite, I would say. You may be right with regard to sanitized, but the "patriotic, good-vs-evil" view of war was in full swing in 1945. I think it was much much stronger than today.

Kaa

Kaa
10-01-2009, 09:35 AM
As long as you don't think it was Reagan's arms race.

Events like the collapse of the Soviet Union tend to have multiple and complex causes. I would not say that the Reagan's arms race "caused" the fall of the USSR, but I would say that it definitely was one of the factors.

Kaa

Andrew Craig-Bennett
10-01-2009, 09:39 AM
Oh, there is a tremendous romance about the early subsea cables - did I tell you about the extraordinary 1850's paddle steamer "Glengyle"?

She was built with but a single purpose - to sail from Calcutta one dat after the mail steamer left for Hong Kong and to arrive two days before it - she consisted of boilers, paddle engine, coal bunkers and not a lot else - cargo capacity was negligible.

Because the cables terminated at Calcutta...

She would sneak into Hong Kong, anchor in Junk Bay and her Mate would go ashore in a sampan...

to the officer of her owners, Jardine Matheson, who could complete all necessary bond and stock trades a day before the news from the London stock markets arrived...

and she would then steam into port, clear Customs and anchor in the regular way.

By the time the cable got to Hong Kong, two years later, she had paid for herself several times over.

Kaa
10-01-2009, 09:42 AM
I wonder why Germany did not surrender. What was the reason? A surrender would have saved many lives. It was an option.

That's one of the (many) drawbacks of totalitarian regimes. The top sees no appeal in surrender and the masses are not given the choice. If the Generals' Plot succeeded, maybe, but I suspect that with Hitler in power mentioning surrender meant a quick trip to meet the firing squad.

Kaa

George.
10-01-2009, 09:49 AM
I think your baseline -- medieval Europe -- is not necessarily that universal. Societies completely oriented towards war were not unknown in ancient times, Sparta would be a classic example.


Nah. To compare with the Kaiser's Germany Sparta would have had to draft the helots and set the women to work the fields.

Athens came closer during the days of radical democracy, when even the poor and slaves were set to row the triremes.

Andrew Craig-Bennett
10-01-2009, 09:52 AM
At this point in the discussion it is customary to allude to AJP Taylor's theory that the First World War was the inevitable consequence of the Russian railway timetable.

pefjr
10-01-2009, 09:53 AM
set the women to work the fields.

Modern times has more women leaders, fewer wars?

George.
10-01-2009, 09:54 AM
That's one of the (many) drawbacks of totalitarian regimes. The top sees no appeal in surrender and the masses are not given the choice.


The masses knew all about how the Soviets were treating East Prussia, and all about how the Americans planned to treat the West, thanks to the Morgenthau Plan being out before the war ended. Goebbels made sure everyone was briefed on what to expect. Under the circumstances, most Germans figured that any condition of minimally humanitarian treatment would be better than the unconditional surrender the Allies demanded.

And even then, IIRC, the Germans did try to surrender to the West at one point, to save as much of Germany as possible from the greater catastrophe of Soviet occupation. They were turned down.

George.
10-01-2009, 10:00 AM
At this point in the discussion it is customary to allude to AJP Taylor's theory that the First World War was the inevitable consequence of the Russian railway timetable.

Barbara Tuchman says it was the German railway timetable. She says that Moltke freaked out when the Kaiser tried to change the plan and not attack France, which would throw the whole ultra-efficient, minutely-planned railroad mobilization schedule into hopeless disarray.

Of course Moltke freaked out permanently after the Marne, so the Kaiser should probably have gone with his gut and counted on the Russians messing mobilization up even more, which they did.

pefjr
10-01-2009, 10:02 AM
And even then, IIRC, the Germans did try to surrender to the West at one point, to save as much of Germany as possible from the greater catastrophe of Soviet occupation. They were turned down.
Interesting, when was this?