Archive for June, 2011

The Treaty Of Versailles

The Peace Treaty which formally brought the First World War to an end was signed in Versailles, France on June 28th, 1919. The terms forced Germany to give up territories, recognize her war guilt & pay compensation to the Allies.

Germany had to surrender fifteen percent of its territory & ten percent of its population. Allied troops also occupied the Rhineland & the Saar region, two of the country’s coal producing regions, limiting the output of iron & steel; many armament factories were also closed down. Alsace & Lorraine, the provinces taken from France following the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71, were also returned. Germany also handed over territory to Belgium & Denmark. Large tracts of the country’s eastern territories were given to Poland. Many of Germany’s overseas colonies were also divided up between the Allies.

New countries were established on Germany’s borders. Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary & Lithuania were created, while Austrian independence was assured; Danzig was also made into a free city. Many German-speaking areas would now be administered by new governments.

The German armed services were also severely restricted. The army was reduced to 100,000 men, conscription was abolished, tanks & heavy artillery were banned. The navy was limited to a small number of capital ships, & there were to be no U-Boats. Germany was not allowed to have a military air force.

The treaty was held in contempt by political parties & individuals across Germany. Political slogans called it the ‘Versailles Diktat.’ In December, 1918 an English reporter writing in the Zew Zurich newspaper noted that ‘as far as the German Army is concerned the general view is summarized in these words: it was stabbed in the back by the civil population.’

Nationalists & anti-Semites blamed the ‘stab in the back’ on traitors, black marketeers, Communists, Social Democrats & the Jewish community. The idea of betrayal appealed to soldiers returning from the trenches because many had marched home with their units to find their homeland in disarray. The German generals also wanted to believe that they had been defeated by forces beyond their control.

A Reichstag investigation later concluded that the morale of the German Army had been undermined by many internal & external factors. Although morale had fallen after the spring 1918 offensives, defeatists, pacifists, revolutionaries & corruption in Germany had reduced it further. The investigation concluded that the ‘stab in the back’ was a myth but it was a myth that the National Socialists exploited.

The League Of Nations

Towards the end of the war, plans were underway to prevent future conflicts. President Woodrow Wilson advocated the League, a group of nations formed to guarantee political independence & territorial integrity for all states, as part of his Fourteen Points of Peace. Although the formation of the League was approved at the Paris Peace Conference in January 1919, Wilson could not get the US to join. He was; however, awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for helping establish it. On June 28th, 1919, 44 countries signed up to the League & on January 16th, 1920 the first meeting was held. By the mid-1920s its role expanded beyond its original remit & the number of members increased.

The Weimar Republic

Germany needed a new government & the first National Constituent Assembly planned to draw up a new constitution in Berlin in February 1919. Battles between communists & parliamentary units forced the assembly to relocate to Weimar, 150 miles to the south-west, where it drew up the constitution in the city’s National Theater. The system of government in Germany between 1919 & 1933 become known as the Weimar Republic.

The constitution provided for an elected president in place of the Kaiser, who would serve for seven years. There was a bicameral legislature, involving two debating chambers, the national Reichstag & Reichrats representing the states. The system allowed proportional representation &, for the first time, women had the vote. Delegates were returned by percentage of votes, making it difficult for a single party to gain full control. The system favored minority parties & this resulted in many unstable coalition governments. There would be twenty cabinets between February 1919 & 1933.

The system curbed the powers of the states, particularly the largest state, Prussia, which had used its size to block many decisions. The Reichrat could veto Reichstag bills. In turn the Reichstag could overrule a veto if it had a two-thirds majority, an unlikely occurrence in the multi-party politics of the era.

Although the constitution was one of the most advanced & democratic in the world at that time, it had been written to both appease the Allies & serve the Germans; in trying to do both it did neither. It had serious weaknesses, including the fact that the President could use Article 25 to dissolve the Reichstag while Article 48 gave him the right to define & declare a national emergency. He could then suspend civil rights, rule by decrees (temporary laws) & use the army to restore order. The clause was intended to protect Germany if there was an internal revolution but it was also open to exploitation.

WW2 In HD: D-Day

Posted: June 22, 2011 in World War 2
Tags: , , ,

The Ghost of Goebbels: Historical Revisionism & World War II

This article written by Wayne Madsen, political scientist (USA), Strategic Culture Foundation expert, & was published in International Affairs magazine.

An expected outgrowth of the world’s steady descent into total & extreme capitalist control is the increasing tendency by some historians and their accomplices in the media to re-invent certain aspects of history.

Although the history of the Middle East & colonialism have been favorite playgrounds for the historical revisionists, it is World War II & the role played by the Soviet Union in the war that has attracted the attention of most of the alterers of history, both professional & amateur. As we recall the Nazi attack on the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, the 70th anniversary of which we now remember, it is important to note that the “revisionism” of the events of that day began with chief Nazi German propagandist Joseph Goebbels and the disappearance of historical facts “down the memory hole,” as George Orwell put it in 1984, is carried on to this day by Goebbels’s ideological heirs who are mainly funded by the barons of Wall Street through various tax-free right-wing “think tanks” & research institutes in the West.

Although the revisionists claim that the 1939 Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact & its secret protocol to divide eastern Europe into respective German & Soviet spheres of influence somehow made Soviet leader Joseph Stalin a “partner” of Hitler, little attention is paid to secret German-British talks in 1939 that would have divided the world into German & British spheres of influence while making common cause against the Soviet Union.

Goebbels’s ideological heirs would have everyone believe that Stalin & German Fuhrer Adolf Hitler were on the same ideological plane & were conniving to jointly conquer the world. This revisionist account is meant to mask the goals of the Western industrialists at the time. Many of the world’s wealthiest capitalists, including the German-descent British royal family, wanted Hitler to stamp out Soviet Communism & had no problem with the Nazis’ “long march East.”

The pandering of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain to Hitler at the 1939 Munich Conference, which saw the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia, was seen in the eyes of many British & American industrial barons as the remnants of Czechoslovakia being safe from Soviet Russia. That same mind-set would exist as Nazi troops invaded Poland, the Baltic states, Yugoslavia, & then, the USSR, itself. Not until December 7, 1941, & the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, would the western industrial barons decide it was time to support the war effort against the Axis Powers, albeit reluctantly.

Certainly, Britain was not alone in its secret campaign to align with the Nazis against the Soviet Union. U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt, who enraged many capitalists & Republicans by establishing diplomatic relations with the USSR after he took office in 1933, found himself almost ousted in a coup d’etat in 1933 arranged by Wall Street robber barons intent on declaring a state of national emergency & placing Roosevelt under virtual house arrest. The plot was discovered by retired Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler & communicated to the U.S. Congress where details of the plot remained secret until 1970. Among the chief coup plotters was Prescott Bush, the father & grandfather, respectively, of two later U.S. presidents. Prescott Bush was a chief Wall Street banker for German Nazi-owned businesses in the years leading up to & following the outbreak of World War II.

In 1936, U.S. ambassador to Berlin, William Dodd, wrote to Roosevelt to warn him that the threat posed to him in 1934 by the Wall Street-Nazi alliance remained as such two years later. Dodd wrote:

A clique of U.S. industrialists is hell-bent to bring a fascist state to supplant our democratic government and is working closely with the fascist regime in Germany and Italy. I have had plenty of opportunity in my post in Berlin to witness how close some of our American ruling families are to the Nazi regime . . . A prominent executive of one of the largest corporations, told me point blank that he would be ready to take definite action to bring fascism into America if President Roosevelt continued his progressive policies. Certain American industrialists had a great deal to do with bringing fascist regimes into being in both Germany and Italy. They extended aid to help Fascism occupy the seat of power, and they are helping to keep it there. Propagandists for fascist groups try to dismiss the fascist scare.

The words of Dodd: “propagandists for fascist groups try to dismiss the fascist scare” ring true today. Wall Street of the 1930s & 1940s owned the major media outlets, including the large publishing houses, that gave notoriety to the revisionist commentators & historians of their day. The situation remains much the same today.

There is the distinct danger that soon, the historical revisionists will not be content in putting Stalin & Hitler on the same level. With global media in the hands of a select few capitalists, it is forseeable that Stalin will be re-assessed as the reason Hitler had to conquer most of Europe & Hitler will be painted favorably. There are already signs that this historical revisionism is taking place among the right-wing political parties of Europe that are adopting many of the planks of the neo-Nazi movement, including the meme that Hitler had no choice to invade eastern Europe & the Soviet Union to protect the world against Bolshevism. That argument of the capitalists is nothing new but it is one, 70 years after the invasion of the USSR by the Nazis, that should have long ago been discarded into the ash bin of fascist propaganda.

Final Statement

We, the assembled representatives of historical research communities & civil societies of Belarus, Latvia, Moldova, Russia & Ukraine participating in the Sevastopol International History Conference commemorating 70th Anniversary of the outbreak of 1941-1945 Great Patriotic War, regard the War and our Victory as one of the most tragic and at the same time heroic pages in the common history of our nations.

We are increasingly alarmed with the current rise of revisionism of the history of World War II in the West & in several post-Soviet republics where incendiary political considerations outweigh commitment to historical accuracy.

We consider it absolutely unacceptable to draw the Great Patriotic War against fascism as a ‘fight of two totalitarian regimes’, to deny the justified & liberating nature of that war for our nations, to depict the Red Army’s liberation mission in 11 European countries as ‘Soviet occupation’.

We state that the concept ascribing ‘mutual responsibility’ for unleashing the war to ‘the Nazi & Soviet regimes’ lacks any historical & moral foundations. As historians, we are aware that the responsibility for that devastating war rests fully with the Western powers. Until now the diplomatic archives in London keep guarding the secrets of the British-German talks held in June 1939 on the division of the world into Great Britain’s & Germany’s spheres of influence, aimed to deter Soviet Union from taking part in shaping the future of Europe.

While Hitler’s military machine was destined to exterminate Soviet Union as a ‘hotbed of Bolshevism’, today the Nazism is sometimes being portrayed as a ‘natural response to the red threat’. This is an utmost lie contradicting recognized historical facts.

We claim that all civilized nations should officially outlaw any endeavors to justify fascism, Nazi criminals or collaborationists. Any revisions of the Nuremberg Tribunal outright statements condemning fascism are totally inadmissible.

The present round of revisionism is supposed to provide an ideological backing for “anti-totalitarian” appeals like the notorious OSCE Parliamentary Assembly resolution adopted on July 3, 2009 calling for a trial over the Soviet Union’s allegedly ‘criminal past’. Such campaigns, provoking territorial claims against Russia & compensation demands for ‘damages caused during Soviet occupation’ trigger imminent & far-reaching dangerous consequences for the European security, still not adequately assessed by the short-sighted instigators of these campaigns & their blind contractors.

A distorted view on the meaning and the results of World War II & Russia’s Great Patriotic War would pave the way for a new division of Europe & the world with catastrophic consequences. This is why we are calling upon the academic community for a fair & unbiased research of the period of 1941-1945 in the name of historical truth & our common future. The sacrifices of millions of Russians in the defeat of Fascism & the devastation wrought in the war must not be perverted for current political narratives. Such actions only serve to cause division within Europe, & prevent the advancement of peace & unity amongst peoples.

(Views expressed in this article reflect the author’s opinion & do not necessarily reflect those of RIA Novosti news agency. RIA Novosti does not vouch for facts & quotes mentioned in the story.)