World War II and the Ingredients of Slaughter

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

World War II and the Ingredients of Slaughter

The spirit of certitude that dominated the politics of the 1930’s is not so distant from us today.

Joseph Goebbels Credit Universal History Archive/Getty Images

Bret Stephens

By 

Opinion Columnist

World War II began 80 years ago this Sunday after Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union signed a “nonaggression” pact that was, in fact, a mutual aggression pact. Adolf Hitler invaded Poland on Sept. 1, 1939. Russia’s invasion of Poland, no less murderous, followed two weeks later.

On Nov. 3 of that year, Joseph Goebbels, the propaganda minister, gave Hitler a report of his trip to Poland. “Above all, my description of the Jewish problem gets [Hitler’s] full approval,” he wrote in his diary. “The Jew is a waste product. It is a clinical issue more than a social one.”

For several years many commentators, including me, have written about the parallels between the prewar era and the present.

There’s the rise of dictatorial regimes intent on avenging past geopolitical humiliations and redrawing borders: Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia then; China, Iran and Russia now.

There’s the unwillingness of status quo powers to coordinate their actions, confront dictatorships, stamp out regional wars and rise to global challenges. The League of Nations then; the G7 now.

There’s the upsurge of nativist rancor, protectionist barriers and every-nation-for-itself policies, along with deep doubts about the viability of liberal democracy and the international order. Father Coughlin and the America Firsters then; Donald Trump and the America Firsters now.

All that, plus three crucial factors: new forms of mass communication, the rhetoric of dehumanization and the politics of absolute good versus absolute evil.

The (relatively) new technology of the 1930’s was the radio. “It is the miracle of radio that it welds 60,000,000 Germans into a single crowd, to be played upon by a single voice,” The Times reported in 1936. This was by design. Among Goebbels’s first efforts after the Nazis came to power was to produce and distribute a cheap radio — the Volksempfänger, or people’s receiver — that could bring the Führer’s voice and message into every home.

The radio made possible an unmediated, seemingly personal relationship between leader and subject. It cut out the information brokers — reporters, editors, spokesmen, pundits and so on — on whom previous generations of leaders had been forced to rely. It turned a nation into an audience and politics into a theater where emotion mattered much more than sense. In “The Nightmare Years,” the CBS correspondent William Shirer recalled being struck by the complete disconnect between the insanity of Hitler’s language and the spellbinding quality of his delivery.

Image
Credit Getty Images

Radio then, like Twitter today, was the technology of the id; a channel that could concentrate political fury at a time when there was plenty to go around.

It was also a time when ideology dictated that fury be directed at entire classes of people. The decade began with Soviet propaganda cheering Stalin’s announcement of “the liquidation of kulaks as a class” — a reference to millions of Ukrainian peasants who would die of forced starvation in the Holodomor.

The political mind-set that turned human beings into categories, classes and races also turned them into rodents, insects and garbage. “Anti-Semitism is exactly the same as delousing,” Heinrich Himmler would claim in 1943. “Getting rid of lice is not a matter of ideology. It is a matter of cleanliness.” Watching Warsaw’s Jewish ghetto burn that year, a Polish anti-Semite was overheard saying: “The bedbugs are on fire. The Germans are doing a great job.”

Today, the rhetoric of infestation is back. In the U.S., Trump uses it to describe Latin American migrants. In Europe, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, chairman of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice Party, warned in 2015 that migrants carried “all sorts of parasites and protozoa,” which, “while not dangerous in the organisms of these people, could be dangerous here.”

More of this talk will surely follow, and not just from the right. The American left has become especially promiscuous when it comes to speaking pejoratively about entire categories of disfavored people.

None of this would be possible without the third factor: the conviction that an opponent embodies an irredeemable evil, and that his destruction is therefore an act of indubitable good. That spirit of certitude that dominated the politics of the 1930’s is not so distant from us today. The unpopular political figures of our day are the people who seem to convey less than 100 percent true belief: the moderate conservative, the skeptical liberal, the centrist wobbler.

This 80th anniversary of World War II is an opportunity to reconsider how the world reached that dark defile, in which some 70 million people died. An opportunity, too, to remember the words of the American judge Learned Hand, on how free and civilized people can come back from the brink.

“The spirit of liberty,” he said, “is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right.”

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Bret L. Stephens has been an Opinion columnist with The Times since April 2017. He won a Pulitzer Prize for commentary at The Wall Street Journal in 2013 and was previously editor in chief of The Jerusalem Post. Facebook

A version of this article appears in print on , Section A, Page 23 of the New York edition with the headline: WWII and the Ingredients Of Slaughter. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe
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Does President Putin Have Dreams Of Creating Russia Into The Proverbial 4th Reich

 

Today on the Google News that I use as my computer’s homepage I noticed an article about Russia retreating from the International Criminal Court (ICC) via the direction of President Putin. To be honest with you I was surprised to hear that they actually belonged to it. The reason I was surprised is because the United States does not belong to it and as far as I know, China doesn’t either. In my belief either every Nation on Earth should belong to it or no Nation should. For most of my adult lifetime (born in 1956) it has seemed that only African Nations and some Eastern European Nations have been accused under its jurisdiction. I am not a person that looks forward to a one World Nation situation even though I know it is coming. When the UN or the Hague speak of War Crimes a lot of us older folks think of Germany under Hitler yet they did not charge Japan’s Emperor Hirohito. We have used such Courts to convict and to hang ‘War Criminals’ like Saddam in Iraq and Generals in Serbia and deposed Presidential butchers throughout Africa but never a ‘Western-World’ Leader. So yes, I was surprised to hear that Russia was a consenting member of the ICC.

 

In the media here in the U.S. we have been hearing of ‘possible’ war crimes being committed in Syria by ISIS and other ‘Rebel’ groups as well as by the Government of Syria via their President Mr. Assad. We are also now hearing that ‘War Crimes’ may be being committed by the Russian Military under the leadership of President Putin. I guess this would be a real good reason for Mr. Putin to have Russia withdrawn from the umbrella of the ICC so that he and or his Generals cannot be arrested and brought before that court. Personally if I were him I would have done so a long time ago. Before any of my fellow Americans get all uppity with me on this issue you need to remember that we do not belong to the ICC either. If we did belong to it would former President George W. Bush, former VP Dick Cheney, and former Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld  not have all swung from their gallows long ago for their actions in Iraq?

 

Now to the main issue of this article concerning President Putin. It is my own personal belief that the American Media, Hollywood, and our idiotic Politicians created President Putin. After the fall of the Berlin Wall in November of 1989 and the fall of the Soviet Union these three groups of idiots constantly belittled Russia in every form and medium. They portrayed the Russian people as backward, lazy and stupid. They trounced on them without mercy as a vanquished enemy instead of a future friend and Ally. These idiots gloated over, stomped on and spit all over the National Pride of the people of Russia without mercy. President Putin when he came to power started to rebuild the integrity of the Russian Country and their people. In my belief he was exactly what the people of Russia needed at that time. The Communists Russian Government fell in 1989 for many good reasons, among them was how horribly they treated their own citizens. If the ‘West’ had only made fun of the flaws of the Communist system and not of the Russian people, Mr. Putin would still be hiding in his closet bowing to his KGB Uniform in private. Mr. Putin should have helped bring in a new level of friendship with the people of the U.S. but how do you make yourself grow closer to someone who is laughing at and mocking your people? The answer is, you don’t.

 

President Putin is a very wise human being and he is a very strong Leader yet it would have been better for the World as a whole if he had only served his first two terms as their President then retired to a villa on the Baltic. 2008, Georgia, a chance for Mr. Putin to regain some National pride for the Russian people. Question for you, how do the Leaders of Countries usually do this? The answer is through their military, a huge Nation goes to war with a little Nation and squashes it. Just my opinion but the former President of Georgia was acting like an idiot by flaunting issue differences in Mr. Putin’s face and he got himself and his country spanked. American politicians have done the same kind of things before like with Cuba in the Spanish-American War, Granada, and Panama. Mr. Putin has restored the pride of the people of Russia yet at the same time it appears he has fallen back into his KGB mindset.

 

President Putin has taken total control of all aspects of Russian Society and when any leader/government does this it always means that the people of their Country lose their freedoms, their lively hoods and sometimes, their lives. President Putin is making some grave mistakes in his dealings with Iran though not so much with his dealings with President Assad in Syria. Even though Mr. Putin’s Mother was a Christian it seems that her knowledge was not passed down to him. Syria under Mr. Assad was much more secular even though it was obvious that he was by no means a Saint, Iran on the other hand is all about the Islamic religion, they are a total different mindset. In Syria Russia has had a major Naval Base for several decades, they were already allies. To not realise that Mr. Putin would step in to help secure his Ally was very short-sighted of Western Leaders. With the selling of 10 billion dollars worth of military equipment to Iran Mr. Putin is giving a ruthless murderer that is up against Russia’s underbelly the weapons that he will sooner or later turn against the Russian people.

 

In my online dictionary I looked up the word ‘Reich’ to make sure of its definition before I used it in this title. The dictionary said that the word ‘Reich’ is from “old High German”. This should not surprise many of us as we have grown up hearing of Hitler and Germany’s 3rd Reich. Hitler considered the First Reich to be the Roman Empire and the Second was under Mr. Bismark during the 1880’s. He did not consider the German Government during World War One to be a ‘Reich’ as he considered it to be weak and not worthy of the title. Then of course Hitler thought his Germany would last a thousand years, he was only wrong by about 990 years. As far as English usage is concerned the dictionary says there was only one ‘Reich’ and it was the Germany of 1871-1945. Here is where I am tying Mr. Putin into the word and the world of “Reich”. The definition of ‘Reich’ is (Empire, Realm, Nation). I believe that President Putin, in his mind, is trying to return to a system of Communism/Czarism. Mr. Putin has made it clear that he is not one who believes in Democracy or Capitalism, but he does believe in Communism and the policies of the old KGB. His actions have proven without a doubt that he has no intention of ever letting go of power in Russia. I am sure he does not want to be known by the German word Führer which means ‘Leader, to lead’ so, maybe, will Mr. Putin decide to someday proclaim himself to be Czar Putin so that he can disperse of the need for future phony elections all together? Remember, ‘Reich’, the Nation/Empire of the ‘New’ Soviet Union under the Realm or Leadership of Czar Putin? I’m just saying, is it possible?

Black And White Pictures Of Hitler And Mussolini In 1938 Found In Virginia

(This article is courtesy of the Daily Post News Letter)

Hitler came on our honeymoon! Unseen pictures of The Fuhrer on tour in Naples unearthed in long-lost black and white collection of family vacation photos found in a Virginia thrift store

  • Pictures of the infamous leader were found in rolls of an unidentified family’s holiday snaps from the 1930s
  • Photography enthusiast Matt Ames was shocked to find the historical images on the film he bought at a thrift store

Photography enthusiast Matt Ames was pleased to find some rolls of old film among the usual collection of discarded bric-a-brac lining the shelves of a backstreet thrift shore in Virginia.

But what Mr Ames didn’t realize was that he’d accidentally stumbled upon a piece of Europe’s wartime history – as captured by a young American couple who appeared to be on their honeymoon in Italy.

For among the 400 or so negatives on the 35 mm nitrate films, he was shocked to uncover previously unseen photos of Adolf Hitler touring Italy at the height of his powers.

The pictures were taken by a mystery photographer, who Mr. Ames believes may either have ended up living in the city of Roanoke, where the films were purchased, or New York, which is featured in many of the photos.

Among the scores of holiday snaps and family photos, the pictures – taken in the years before the Second World War – reveal the unknown photographer’s brush with the 20th century’s most infamous leaders.

In one of the forgotten photos, Hitler is pictured sitting next to King Emmanuel III of Italy during a parade in Naples in 1938 after the Fuhrer had viewed fellow fascist leader Benito Mussolini’s naval fleet in the Mediterranean.

Mr Ames, who has held an exhibition of the photos in Martinsville, Virginia, said: ‘In 2013 I found several rolls of negatives in a thrift store in Roanoke, Virginia. They were standard 35 mm, black and white and some of the rolls were clearly nitrate film.

‘Much to my surprise the film included photographs of Hitler and King Emmanuel on parade, other Nazi images from Naples, Italy in the Spring of 1938, numerous photos of Naples city life, Pompeii and photos of Manhattan.’

Pictures of Adolf Hitler - sitting on the left beside King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy - were uncovered on films found in a thrift store in Roanoke, Virginia by photography enthusiast Matt Ames

Pictures of Adolf Hitler – sitting on the left beside King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy – were uncovered on films found in a thrift store in Roanoke, Virginia by photography enthusiast Matt Ames

The roll of film also includes a picture of a woman, thought to be the photographer's wife or girlfriend

The unknown photographer (pictured) would have had little his idea of the carnage Hitler was about to unleash, or that his photos would later end up in a thrift

Mystery couple: The roll of vacation snaps also includes a picture of the photographer and a woman thought to be his wife. The man is thought to have worked for Mobil Oil

Hitler visited Italy in 1938 to meet with fellow Axis leader Benito Mussolini. The photos uncovered in Virginia are believed to show him after he viewed Italy's naval fleet

Hitler visited Italy in 1938 to meet with fellow Axis leader Benito Mussolini. The photos uncovered in Virginia are believed to show him after he viewed Italy’s naval fleet

Hitler (circled) is pictured receiving fascist salutes from Italian troops, who lined the seafront road in Naples for his visit

Hitler (circled) is pictured receiving fascist salutes from Italian troops, who lined the seafront road in Naples for his visit

The images show Hitler's cavalcade surrounded by motorcycle outriders as he is paraded along the streets of the southern Italian city

The images show Hitler’s cavalcade surrounded by motorcycle outriders as he is paraded along the streets of the southern Italian city

The pictures also appear to show young members of Mussolini's Gioventu Italiana del Littorio or GIL youth movement, which was similar to the Hitler Youth in Germany

The pictures also appear to show young members of Mussolini’s Gioventu Italian del Littorio or GIL youth movement, which was similar to the Hitler Youth in Germany

Hitler took a tour of Italy in 1938, and joined Mussolini and the king on board the battleship Conte di Cavour in Naples to watch military exercises

Hitler took a tour of Italy in 1938, and joined Mussolini and the king on board the battleship Conte di Cavour in Naples to watch military exercises

The photographer managed to capture a picture of the Italian fleet, which was amassed of the coast for the Fuhrer's visit

The photographer managed to capture a picture of the Italian fleet, which was amassed of the coast for the Fuhrer’s visit

The pictures also offer an insight into the fascist architecture being built in Italy at the time, with swastikas adorning a number of public monuments (above and below)

The pictures also offer an insight into the fascist architecture being built-in Italy at the time, with swastikas adorning a number of public monuments (above and below)

The pictures also offer an insight into the fascist architecture being built in Italy at the time, with swastika's adorning a number of public monuments

Hitler's visit to Naples was one of many meetings between the two leaders, pictured here ahead of the 1938 Munich conference. File Photo

Hitler’s visit to Naples was one of many meetings between the two leaders, pictured here ahead of the 1938 Munich conference. File Photo

The rolls of film were later bought by Matt Ames, who used newspaper cuttings to work out when they were taken

The rolls of film were later bought by Mat Ames, who used newspaper cuttings to work out when they were taken

The rolls of film were later bought by Matt Ames (pictured left with the films), who used newspaper cuttings to work out when they were taken

THE ‘MAD LITTLE CLOWN’ WHO SIGNED THE PACT OF STEEL – HITLER AND MUSSOLINI’S ROCKY RELATIONSHIP

Hitler and Mussolini

Mussolini’s fascist regime, which took control of Italy in 1925, was in many ways seen as a forerunner to Hitler’s own Nazi party.

Hitler is known to have admired the way Mussolini swept to power and wrote to him in 1923, the year after the Italian’s famous ‘March on Rome’ protests.

After Mussolini took control of Italy, he provided financial assistance to Hitler’s National Socialist movement and allowed the SS to train with his ‘Blackshirts’ brigades.

After taking power in Germany, Hitler backed Mussolini’s invasion of Abyssinia (now Ethiopia) in 1935 and the two countries’ forces lined up together with the Nationalists in the Spanish Civil War.

But despite the diplomatic consensus, the pair’s first meeting in 1934 (pictured right) went badly, with Mussolini struggling to understand Hitler’s Austrian accent.

Hitler is believed to have felt upstaged by Mussolini’s elaborate uniform and the Italian is said to have found Hitler boring and described him as ‘a mad little clown’.

Despite the personal differences, the two leaders signed the so-called ‘Pact of Steel’ in 1939, agreeing military and economic cooperation.

Italy didn’t officially enter the Second World War until 1940 and after a disastrous campaign in North Africa, the Allies invaded Sicily in 1943, with Mussolini later expelled from power and executed. Berlin fell in 1945, with Hitler committing suicide in his military bunker.

The pictures also include some street scenes of 1930s Naples, including this one, showing a children's goat-drawn cart in a city square

The pictures also include some street scenes of 1930’s Naples, including this one, showing a children’s goat-drawn cart in a city square

The snaps show the photographers' interest in Italy's famous sportcars, including a photo of this vehicle, pictured on a seaside promenade

The snaps show the photographers’ interest in Italy’s famous sports cars, including a photo of this vehicle, pictured on a seaside promenade

The rolls of film also contain more usual holiday snaps from the photographer's visit, including shots of the Naples skyline at the time

The rolls of film also contain more usual holiday snaps from the photographer’s visit, including shots of the Naples skyline at the time

Mr Ames also found a series a photos of New York on the films, apparently taken from a boat rolling into the city's famous harbour

Mr Ames also found a series a photos of New York on the films, apparently taken from a boat rolling into the city’s famous harbor.

The pictures, which show a crowded boat about the dock in the US, suggest the man either visited Italy on a trip or moved to America from Europe ahead of the Second World War

The pictures, which show a crowded boat about the dock in the US, suggest the man either visited Italy on a trip or moved to America from Europe ahead of the Second World War

The photos, along with tales from Mr Ames' attempts to work out their origins, were made the subject of a recent exhibition at Patrick Henry Community College in Martinsville, Virginia

The photos, along with tales from Mr Ames’ attempts to work out their origins, were made the subject of a recent exhibition at Patrick Henry Community College in Martinsville, Virginia.

Mr Ames traced the location of the pictures by comparing this shot of Naples waterfront with modern-day pictures of the same location

Mr Ames traced the location of the pictures by comparing this shot of Naples waterfront with modern-day pictures of the same location

The photographer, seemingly a car enthusiast, also took photos of this Fiat garage and motorists filling their vehicles outside

The photographer, seemingly a car enthusiast, also took photos of this Fiat garage and motorists filling their vehicles outside.