By Richard Girard
"Only the history of free peoples is worth our attention; the history of men under a despotism is merely a collection of anecdotes."
Sebastien-Roch Nicolas de Chamfort (1741--94), French writer, wit. Maxims and Considerations, volume 2, number 487 (1796; translated 1926).
I finally got to read Patrick J. Buchanan's article "Did Hitler Want War?" (1 September, 2009) on Thursday the tenth, and as a student of the Second World War my first reaction was to demand that all of Mr. Buchanan's history instructors, from elementary school to college, retroactively give him an "F." I then considered Mr. Buchanan's age, and realized that most of them have probably passed away, rendering my plan an impossibility.
So I have decided to correct Mr. Buchanan's article, on a point by point basis. I do this for my father, my two great uncles, and my mother's cousin who served in that war, as well as the sixteen million other Americans, living and dead, who selflessly undertook the great crusade against the consummate evil that was Hitler and Nazi Germany.
Mr. Buchanan's article implies--in my opinion--that their sacrifice was in vain, and that Hitler did not need to be stopped; he would have stopped himself. Anyone who is familiar with Hitler's unpublished sequel to Mein Kampf (published in 1961 as Hitlers Zweite Buch, English version Hitler's Secret Book) knows better.
Where possible, I have given you book, author, and page where you can confirm my information. The exception is four books that I currently have in storage, William L. Shirer's The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, Alan Clark's Barbarossa, Samuel Eliot Morrison's Two Ocean War, and Heinz Guderian's Panzer Leader; but my memory of their information is as clear as if I read it today. They were not on the shelves of the local library, so I used Charles Messenger's Chronological Atlas of World War II (copyright 1989) to confirm my recollection of the facts and kept, what was for me, the original source.
"On Sept. 1, 1939"the German Army crossed the Polish Frontier."
Oversimplified, but basically correct. German special ops troops actually crossed the night before to take out communication centers and fake a Polish attack. (William L. Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.)
"On Sept. 3, Britain declared war."
Half right. On September 3, the British Empire and most of the Commonwealth (South Africa and Canada waited for Parliamentary confirmation on the sixth and tenth respectively) declared war, together with the French Republic.
Mr. Buchanan's apparent disdain for the French, by not mentioning that they declared war with Great Britain, should be obvious to everyone. In September 1939, the French had a larger army (69 active and 45 reserve divisions versus 55 and 51; Shirer, op cit., Messenger, op. cit.) than Germany, and a larger navy than still neutral Italy. France's problem was doctrine, not materiel.
"Six years later, 50 million Christians and Jews had perished. Britain was broken and bankrupt, Germany a smoldering ruin. Europe had served as the site of the most murderous combat known to man, and civilians had suffered worse horrors than the soldiers."
Sorry. Fifty million plus is the current low end estimate for the total deaths for the Second World War worldwide. Twenty million plus for the Soviet Union, fifteen--twenty million for China between 1937 and 1945, five-and-a-half million Germans, plus the casualties of the other nations (which included at least some of the eleven million-plus victims counted in the Holocaust: Resistance leaders, intellectuals, etc.), and the victims of the genocide of not quite six million Jews, and murders of roughly the same number of "undesirables," e.g., gypsies, homosexuals, disabled individuals, socialists, Communists, etc.. It wasn't just "50 million Christians and Jews" who had perished. Communists, atheists, Buddhists, Confucians, Taoists, Hindus and Muslims probably made up more than half. The exact number is one we can only guess at, never know. I have seen numbers from 50-78 million written of by respectable scholars (Wikipedia actually has very good, fully sourced material on this subject). The rest is correct--as far as it goes.
"By May 1945, Red Army hordes occupied all the great capitals of Central Europe: Vienna, Prague, Budapest, Berlin. A hundred million Christians were under the heel of the most barbarous tyranny in history: the Bolshevik regime of the greatest terrorist of them all, Joseph Stalin."