Posts Tagged ‘politics’

Title: The Noor Inayat Khan Story: A Muslim Heroine Who Fought The Nazis During World War Two
Genre: War Drama
Category: WWII, Politics

Alex Kronemer is the co-founder of Unity Productions Foundation, a nonprofit organization that seeks to “create peace through the media” by producing documentaries on Muslim stories. His latest film, “Enemy of the Reich: The Noor Inayat Khan Story,” premiered on PBS stations on Tuesday, September 9th.


Title: 48 Hours of Kristallnacht
Author: Mitchell G. Bard, Ph.D.
Genre: World War II, Politics

I have posted a couple of excerpts from this book over the past year or so & it is high time I recommended it to those of you who are interested in what transpired on Kristallnacht (the Night of Broken Glass).

48 Hours of Kristallnacht is the first book to thoroughly chronicle this pivotal event by presenting a wide array of eyewitness testimony, much of it previously unpublished, & to set the event firmly in historical context. Drawing on his unprecedented access to key archives, Dr. Mitchell G. Bard presents a shocking story that centers on the words of those who, as children, were on the scene first-hand. Together, these accounts & Bard’s incisive analysis reveal what led up to the pogroms, how they transpired, & their aftermath – & why the Holocaust can be dated from these two harrowing nights.

Kristallnacht’s new Book of Lamentations. The power of Mitchell Bard’s 48 Hours of Kristallnacht derives from the start & vivid words of German Jewish children who, in a single day, saw their well-ordered world suddenly destroyed by the Nazis’ brutality & by the apathy & silence of their neighbors & classmates.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper
Associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center

Mitchell G. Bard’s book, 48 Hours of Kristallnacht can be purchased online via Amazon in hardcover, paperback or for your Kindle.

Title: Fateful Choices: Ten Decisions That Changed The World (1940-41)
Author: Ian Kershaw
Genre: World War II, History, Politics

The series of events that marked the opening of the Second World War left most of the world in a state of shock. Suddenly it seemed almost anything was possible. For the aggressors there was no limit to what they could do; for their victims a new Dark Age seemed to beckon. Within this hurricane of events, small groups of individuals were faced with a huge range of decisions on which triumph or extinction could turn.

In this gripping book Ian Kershaw re-creates ten critical decisions taken between May 1940 (when Britain decided to fight on rather than surrender) & the autumn of 1941 (when Hitler decided to destroy Europe’s Jews). In London, Tokyo, Rome, Moscow, Berlin & Washington, politicians & generals, often working with very poor information & vast logistical, financial, economic & military problems, had to decide how they were going to exploit or combat the unfolding crisis. These decisions really did determine the future of the world.

Fateful Choices gives the reader an extraordinary sense both of the real constraints within which leaders worked but also of the role of personality: Churchill fighting on in the face of the catastrophe in France, Hitler ordering the invasion of the USSR despite Germany’s failure to defeat Britain, Stalin trusting Hitler & leaving his country wide open to Operation Barbarossa, Roosevelt realizing that the revolutionary idea of lend-lease could keep Britain fighting, the Japanese high command opting to attack the USA even in the face of evidence that it would fail.

Fateful Choices is a remarkable book that looks into the terrible heart of the modern age, & attempts to understand how decisions that changed or ended millions of lives really came about.

Read more about Sir Ian Kershaw @ Wikipedia

This morning the British Ambassador in Berlin handed the German Government a final note stating that unless we heard from them by eleven o’clock that they were prepared at once to withdraw their troops from Poland, a state of war would exist between us. I have to tell you that no such understanding has been received & that consequently this country is at war with Germany.

Neville Chamberlain, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, 1939


On the eve of World War II the German chemical complex of I.G. Farben was the largest chemical manufacturing enterprise in the world, with extraordinary political & economic power & influence within the Hitlerian Nazi state. I. G. has been aptly described as “a state within a state.”

The Farben cartel dated from 1925, when organizing genius Hermann Schmitz (with Wall Street financial assistance) created the super-giant chemical enterprise out of six already giant German chemical companies — Badische Anilin, Bayer, Agfa, Hoechst, Weiler-ter-Meer & Griesheim-Elektron. These companies were merged to become Inter-nationale Gesellschaft Farbenindustrie A.G. — or I.G. Farben for short. Twenty years later the same Hermann Schmitz was put on trial at Nuremburg for war crimes committed by the I. G. cartel. Other I. G. Farben directors were placed on trial but the American affiliates of I. G. Farben & the American directors of I.G. itself were quietly forgotten; the truth was buried in the archives. [Read more]

Hitler was Farben & Farben was Hitler.

Senator Homer T. Bone to Committee on Military Affairs, June 4th, 1943

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.


The next time someone argues that the New Deal failed, and only the Second World War ended the Depression, as ‘proof’ that government spending does not work, one can respond with the details of economic growth and unemployment reduction up to 1940, or one can ignore the claim & thank them for making your case for massive government spending in a deep, broad recession.

Right wing politicians are loathe to credit the New Deal with any success in hoisting the United States out of the Great Depression, but credit World War II for that achievement, believing that that somehow disproves Keynesian economic theory.

That claim, however, undermines their entire premise. [Read More]