Monday, June 19, 2023

More Falsehoods of World War II, by Ron Unz - The Unz Review

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The Many Falsehoods of the Second World War

World War II ranks as the greatest military conflict in human history and became the shaping event of our modern world, with the account told in many tens of thousands of books. But over the last five years I’ve published a long series of articles providing elements of the story that are sharply—sometimes even shockingly—at odds with the standard narrative.

About a year ago, I’d produced print collections of my writings and made them available on Amazon, with one of those volumes including most of my World War II essays.

Even if someone had previously looked at a few of my articles when they’d originally appeared four or five years ago, the impact of reading them together in a physical book was far greater. Mike Whitney told me that he’d found the historical material in my World War II collection so astonishing that he’d read the entire volume three separate times, so he suggested that he interview me on some of the major topics.

He sent me eight open-ended questions, and prompted by these I distilled and summarized the material I’d previously published. The resulting text ran over 12,000 words but was merely a tenth of the total original length.

Although the Second World War ended more than three generations ago, I had argued that it still retained enormous present-day relevance and he appropriately selected one of my sentences as a framing quote for the entire interview:

Much of the current political legitimacy of today’s American government and its various European vassal-states is founded upon a particular narrative history of World War II, and challenging that account might have dire political consequences.

My reconstruction of the true wartime history was exceptionally provocative and controversial, as indicated by my closing paragraphs:

In the wake of the 9/11 Attacks, the Jewish Neocons stampeded America towards the disastrous Iraq War and the resulting destruction of the Middle East, with the talking heads on our television sets endlessly claiming that “Saddam Hussein is another Hitler.” Since then, we have regularly heard the same tag-line repeated in various modified versions, being told that “Muammar Gaddafi is another Hitler” or “Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is another Hitler” or “Vladimir Putin is another Hitler” or even “Hugo Chavez is another Hitler.” For the last couple of years, our American media has been relentlessly filled with the claim that “Donald Trump is another Hitler.”

During the early 2000s, I obviously recognized that Iraq’s ruler was a harsh tyrant, but snickered at the absurd media propaganda, knowing perfectly well that Saddam Hussein was no Adolf Hitler. But with the steady growth of the Internet and the availability of the millions of pages of periodicals provided by my digitization project, I’ve been quite surprised to gradually also discover that Adolf Hitler was no Adolf Hitler.

It might not be entirely correct to claim that the story of World War II was that Franklin Roosevelt sought to escape his domestic difficulties by orchestrating a major European war against the prosperous, peace-loving Nazi Germany of Adolf Hitler. But I do think that picture is probably somewhat closer to the actual historical reality than the inverted image more commonly found in our textbooks.

I had thought that this long piece would do well, but it easily exceeded all my expectations, with the early traffic being far greater than anything I’d published in many years. Within the first six days, the interview had attracted more readership than any other article on our website had accumulated over the previous six months. And although my long piece seemed to boldly cross every forbidden red line in mainstream history, the reaction was also surprisingly favorable, including far less angry criticism than I had expected to encounter.

Indeed, some of the responses were remarkably heartening. For example, I received a plaintive and sympathetic note from an eminent international academic scholar, an elderly, fully mainstream figure who had specialized in human rights issues and was the author of many excellent books, several of which I had read.

He explained that during 1972-1975 he had done extensive archival research on the war and had also interviewed dozens of the key surviving figures on both sides, including many of the highest rank, discovering that the official story we had all been taught was merely a pack of lies. But

“…never published my research, because it is useless in a world that wants to be lied to. Mainstream history is a disgrace — contrary to the testimony of eye witnesses, contrary to the documents in the archives…”

“I feel like you do there is not only fake news but fake history fake law fake diplomacy and fake democracy…the level of falsification of history is appalling”

My presentation of the true history of World War II was organized by the eight separate interview questions and can be explored in that way:

Or the entire article can be read as a whole:

But although my responses ran a very long 12,000 words, even that was insufficient to include several of the most important “hidden histories” of the Second World War. Therefore, I’m now providing these in this follow-up piece.

The Suvorov Hypothesis

In 1990 the prestigious Times Literary Supplement had carried a long review of Icebreaker, a newly published book boldly seeking to overturn our entire settled history of the Second World War:

[Suvorov] is arguing with every book, every article, every film, every NATO directive, every Downing Street assumption, every Pentagon clerk, every academic, every Communist and anti-Communist, every neoconservative intellectual, every Soviet song, poem, novel and piece of music ever heard, written, made, sung, issued, produced, or born during the last 50 years. For this reason, Icebreaker is the most original work of history it has been my privilege to read.

As I explained in my 2018 article:

Icebreaker‘s author, writing under the pen-name Viktor Suvorov, was a veteran Soviet military intelligence officer who had defected to the West in 1978 and subsequently published a number of well-regarded books on the Soviet military and intelligence services. But here he advanced a far more radical thesis.

The “Suvorov Hypothesis” claimed that during the summer of 1941 Stalin was on the very verge of mounting a massive invasion and conquest of Europe, while Hitler’s sudden attack on June 22nd of that year was intended to forestall that looming blow.

Since 1990, Suvorov’s works have been translated into at least 18 languages and an international storm of scholarly controversy has swirled around the Suvorov Hypothesis in Russia, Germany, Israel, and elsewhere. Numerous other authors have published books in support or more often strong opposition, and even international academic conferences have been held to debate the theory. But our own English-language media has almost entirely blacklisted and ignored this ongoing international debate, to such an extent that the name of the most widely-read military historian who ever lived had remained totally unknown to me.

Finally in 2008, the prestigious Naval Academy Press of Annapolis decided to break this 18 year intellectual embargo and published an updated English edition of Suvorov’s work. But once again, our media outlets almost entirely averted their eyes, and only a single review appeared in an obscure ideological publication, where I chanced to encounter it. This conclusively demonstrates that throughout most of the twentieth century a united front of English-language publishers and media organs could easily maintain a boycott of any important topic, ensuring that almost no one in America or the rest of the Anglosphere would ever hear of it. Only with the recent rise of the Internet has this disheartening situation begun to change.

The Eastern Front was the decisive theater of World War II, involving military forces vastly larger than those deployed in the West or the Pacific, and the standard narrative always emphasizes the ineptitude and weakness of the Soviets. On June 22, 1941, Hitler launched Operation Barbarossa, a sudden, massive surprise attack on the USSR, which caught the Red Army completely unaware. Stalin has been regularly ridiculed for his total lack of preparedness, with Hitler often described as the only man the paranoid dictator had ever fully trusted. Although the defending Soviet forces were enormous in size, they were poorly led, with their officer corps still not recovered from the crippling purges of the late 1930s, and their obsolete equipment and poor tactics were absolutely no match for the modern panzer divisions of Germany’s hitherto undefeated Wehrmacht. The Russians initially suffered gigantic losses, and only the onset of winter and the vast spaces of their territory saved them from a quick defeat. After this, the war seesawed back-and-forth for four more years, until superior numbers and improved tactics finally carried the Soviets to the streets of a destroyed Berlin in 1945.

Such is the traditional understanding of the titanic Russo-German struggle that we see endlessly echoed in every newspaper, book, television documentary, and film around us.

But Suvorov’s seminal research argued that the reality was entirely different.

First, although there has been a widespread belief in the superiority of Germany’s military technology, its tanks and its planes, this is almost entirely mythological. In actual fact, Soviet tanks were far superior in main armament, armor, and maneuverability to their German counterparts, so much so that the overwhelming majority of panzers were almost obsolescent by comparison. And the Soviet superiority in numbers was even more extreme, with Stalin deploying many times more tanks than the combined total of those held by Germany and every other nation in the world: 27,000 against just 4,000 in Hitler’s forces. Even during peacetime, a single Soviet factory in Kharkov produced more tanks in every six month period than the entire Third Reich had built prior to 1940. The Soviets held a similar superiority, though somewhat less extreme, in their ground-attack bombers. The totally closed nature of the USSR meant that such vast military forces remained entirely hidden from outside observers.

There is also little evidence that the quality of Soviet officers or military doctrine fell short. Indeed, we often forget that history’s first successful example of a “blitzkrieg” in modern warfare was the crushing August 1939 defeat that Stalin inflicted upon the Japanese 6th Army in Outer Mongolia, relying upon a massive surprise attack of tanks, bombers, and mobile infantry.

Certainly, many aspects of the Soviet military machine were primitive, but exactly the same was true of their Nazi opponents. Perhaps the most surprising detail about the technology of the invading Wehrmacht in 1941 was that its transportation system was still almost entirely pre-modern, relying upon wagons and carts drawn by 750,000 horses to maintain the vital flow of ammunition and replacements to its advancing armies.

During Spring 1941 the Soviets had assembled a gigantic armored force on Germany’s border, one that even contained enormous numbers of specialized tanks whose unusual characteristics clearly demonstrated Stalin’s purely offensive aims. For example, the Soviet juggernaut included 6,500 high-speed autobahn tanks, almost useless within Soviet territory but ideally suited for deployment on Germany’s network of highways and 4,000 amphibious tanks, able to navigate the English Channel and conquer Britain.

The Soviets also fielded many thousands of heavy tanks, intended to engage and defeat enemy armor, while the Germans had none at all. In direct combat, a Soviet KV-1 or KV-2 could easily destroy four or five of the best German tanks, while remaining almost invulnerable to enemy shells. Suvorov recounts the example of a KV which took 43 direct hits before finally becoming incapacitated, surrounded by the hulks of the ten German tanks it had first managed to destroy.

Suvorov’s reconstruction of the weeks directly preceding the outbreak of combat is a fascinating one, emphasizing the mirror-image actions taken by both the Soviet and German armies. Each side moved its best striking units, airfields, and ammunition dumps close to the border, ideal for an attack but very vulnerable in defense. Each side carefully deactivated any residual minefields and ripped out any barbed wire obstacles, lest these hinder the forthcoming attack. Each side did its best to camouflage their preparations, talking loudly about peace while preparing for imminent war. The Soviet deployment had begun much earlier, but since their forces were so much larger and had far greater distances to cross, they were not yet quite ready for their attack when the Germans struck, and thereby shattered Stalin’s planned conquest of Europe.

All of the above examples of Soviet weapons systems and strategic decisions seem very difficult to explain under the conventional defensive narrative, but make perfect sense if Stalin’s orientation from 1939 onward had always been an offensive one, and he had decided that summer 1941 was the time to strike and enlarge his Soviet Union to include all the European states, just as Lenin had originally intended. And Suvorov provides many dozens of additional examples, building brick by brick a very compelling case for this theory.

Given the long years of trench warfare on the Western front during the First World War, almost all outside observers expected the new round of the conflict to follow a very similar static pattern, gradually exhausting all sides, and the world was shocked when Germany’s innovative tactics allowed it to achieve a lightening defeat of the allied armies in France during 1940. At that point, Hitler regarded the war as essentially over, and was confident that the extremely generous peace terms he immediately offered the British would soon lead to a final settlement. As a consequence, he returned Germany to a regular peacetime economy, choosing butter over guns in order to maintain his high domestic popularity

Stalin, however, was under no such political constraints, and from the moment he had signed his long-term peace agreement with Hitler in 1939 and divided Poland, he ramped up his total-war economy to an even higher notch. Embarking upon an unprecedented military buildup, he focused his production almost entirely upon purely offensive weapons systems, while even discontinuing those armaments better suited for defense and dismantling his previous lines of fortifications. By 1941, his production cycle was complete, and he made his plans accordingly.

And so, just as in our traditional narrative, we see that in the weeks and months leading up to Barbarossa, the most powerful offensive military force in the history of the world was quietly assembled in secret along the German-Russian border, preparing for the order that would unleash its surprise attack. The enemy’s unprepared airforce was to be destroyed on the ground in the first days of the battle, and enormous tank columns would begin deep penetration thrusts, surrounding and trapping the opposing forces, achieving a classic blitzkrieg victory, and ensuring the rapid occupation of vast territories. But the forces preparing this unprecedented war of conquest were Stalin’s, and his military juggernaut would surely have seized all of Europe, probably soon followed by the remainder of the Eurasian landmass.

Then at almost the last moment, Hitler suddenly realized the strategic trap into which he had fallen, and ordered his heavily outnumbered and outgunned troops into a desperate surprise attack of their own on the assembling Soviets, fortuitously catching them at the very point at which their own final preparations for sudden attack had left them most vulnerable, and thereby snatching a major initial victory from the jaws of certain defeat. Huge stockpiles of Soviet ammunition and weaponry had been positioned close to the border to supply the army of invasion into Germany, and these quickly fell into German hands, providing an important addition to their own woefully inadequate resources.

For those who prefer to absorb Suvorov’s information in a different format, his October 2009 public lecture at the U.S. Naval Academy is available on Youtube:

Earlier that same year his lecture at the Woodrow Wilson Center had been broadcast on C-SPAN Book TV.

I naturally read some of the books purportedly claiming to refute Suvorov’s thesis, such as those by historians David M. Glantz and Gabriel Gorodetsky, but found them rather unpersuasive.

A far superior book, generally supportive of Suvorov’s framework, was Stalin’s War of Annihilation, by prize-winning German military historian Joachim Hoffmann, originally commissioned by the German Armed Forces and published in 1995 with an English revised edition appearing in 2001. The cover carries a notice that the text was cleared by German government censors, and the author’s introduction recounts the repeated threats of prosecution he endured from elected officials and the other legal obstacles he faced, while elsewhere he directly addresses himself to the unseen government authorities whom he knows are reading over his shoulder. When stepping too far outside the bounds of accepted history carries the serious risk that a book’s entire print-run will be burned and the author imprisoned, a reader must necessarily be cautious at evaluating the text since important sections have been skewed or preemptively excised in the interests of self-preservation. Scholarly debates on historical issues become difficult when one side faces incarceration if their arguments are too bold.

Most recently, Sean McMeekin’s outstanding 2021 history Stalin’s War has provided a wealth of additional evidence strongly supporting the theory that the Soviet dictator had massed his enormous offensive forces on the German border and was probably preparing to invade and conquer Europe when Hitler struck first.

The original 1990 Times of London review of Icebreaker had been written by Andrei Navrozov, a Soviet emigre long resident in Britain. As a Russian Slav, he was hardly favorable to the German dictator, but he accepted Suvorov’s remarkable theory that only Hitler’s Barbarossa attack had forestalled Stalin’s conquest of all Europe and he closed his twentieth anniversary discussion with a powerful declaration:

Therefore, if any of us is free to write, publish, and read this today, it follows that in some not inconsequential part our gratitude for this must go to Hitler. And if someone wants to arrest me for saying what I have just said, I make no secret of where I live.

The Nazi-Zionist Economic Partnership of the 1930s

Forty years ago the New York Times and other mainstream newspapers published some astonishing revelations regarding the wartime activities of Yitzhak Shamir, who was then serving as Israel’s Prime Minister. I discussed these in a 2018 article:

Apparently, during the late 1930s, Shamir and his small Zionist faction had become great admirers of the Italian Fascists and German Nazis, and after World War II broke out, they had made repeated attempts to contact Mussolini and the German leadership in 1940 and 1941, hoping to enlist in the Axis Powers as their Palestine affiliate, and undertake a campaign of attacks and espionage against the local British forces, then share in the political booty after Hitler’s inevitable triumph.

Among other things, there were long excerpts from the official letters sent to Mussolini ferociously denouncing the “decadent” democratic systems of Britain and France that he was opposing, and assuring Il Duce that such ridiculous political notions would have no future place in the totalitarian Jewish client state they hoped to establish under his auspices in Palestine.

As it happens, both Germany and Italy were preoccupied with larger geopolitical issues at the time, and given the small size of Shamir’s Zionist faction, not much seems to have ever come of those efforts. But the idea of the sitting Prime Minister of the Jewish State having spent his early wartime years as an unrequited Nazi ally was certainly something that sticks in one’s mind, not quite conforming to the traditional narrative of that era which I had always accepted.

Most remarkably, the revelation of Shamir’s pro-Axis past seems to have had only a relatively minor impact upon his political standing within Israeli society. I would think that any American political figure found to have supported a military alliance with Nazi Germany during the Second World War would have had a very difficult time surviving the resulting political scandal, and the same would surely be true for politicians in Britain, France, or most other western nations. But although there was certainly some embarrassment in the Israeli press, especially after the shocking story reached the international headlines, apparently most Israelis took the whole matter in stride, and Shamir stayed in office for another year, then later served a second, much longer term as Prime Minister during 1986-1992. The Jews of Israel apparently regarded Nazi Germany quite differently than did most Americans, let alone most American Jews.

These remarkable historical disclosures were the product of extensive research by Lenni Brenner, an anti-Zionist of the Trotskyite persuasion and Jewish origins, which he had published in his 1983 book Zionism in the Age of the Dictators, as well as his later companion volume, 51 Documents: Zionist Collaboration with the Nazis.

The cover of the 2014 paperback edition of Brenner’s book displays the commemorative medal struck by Nazi Germany to mark its Zionist alliance, with a Star-of-David on the front face and a Swastika on the obverse. But oddly enough, this symbolic medallion actually had absolutely no connection with the unsuccessful attempts by Shamir’s small faction to arrange a Nazi military alliance during World War II.

Although the Germans paid little attention to the entreaties of that minor organization, the far larger and more influential mainstream Zionist movement of Chaim Weizmann and David Ben-Gurion was something else entirely. And during most of the 1930s, these other Zionists had formed an important economic partnership with Nazi Germany, based upon an obvious commonality of interests. After all, Hitler regarded Germany’s one percent Jewish population as a disruptive and potentially dangerous element which he wanted gone, and the Middle East seemed as good a destination for them as any other. Meanwhile, the Zionists had very similar objectives, and the creation of their new national homeland in Palestine obviously required both Jewish immigrants and Jewish financial investment.

After Hitler had been named Chancellor in 1933, outraged Jews worldwide had quickly launched an economic boycott, hoping to bring Germany to its knees, with London’s Daily Express famously running the banner headline “Judea Declares War on Germany.” Jewish political and economic influence, then just like now, was very considerable, and in the depths of the Great Depression, impoverished Germany needed to export or die, so a large scale boycott in major German markets posed a potentially serious threat. But this exact situation provided Zionist groups with an excellent opportunity to offer the Germans a means of breaking that trade embargo, and they demanded favorable terms for the export of high-quality German manufactured goods to Palestine, together with accompanying German Jews. Once word of this major Ha’avara or “Transfer Agreement” with the Nazis came out at a 1933 Zionist Convention, many Jews and Zionists were outraged, and it led to various splits and controversies. But the economic deal was too good to resist, and it went forward and quickly grew.

The importance of the Nazi-Zionist pact for Israel’s establishment is difficult to overstate. According to a 1974 analysis in Jewish Frontier cited by Brenner, between 1933 and 1939 over 60% of all the investment in Jewish Palestine came from Nazi Germany. The worldwide impoverishment of the Great Depression had drastically reduced ongoing Jewish financial support from all other sources, and Brenner reasonably suggests that without Hitler’s financial backing, the nascent Jewish colony, so tiny and fragile, might easily have shriveled up and died during that difficult period.

Such a conclusion leads to fascinating hypotheticals. When I first stumbled across references to the Ha’avara Agreement on websites here and there, one of the commenters mentioning the issue half-jokingly suggested that if Hitler had won the war, statues would surely have been built to him throughout Israel and he would today be recognized by Jews everywhere as the heroic Gentile leader who had played the central role in reestablishing a national homeland for the Jewish people in Palestine after almost 2000 years of bitter exile.

This sort of astonishing counter-factual possibility is not nearly as totally absurd as it might sound to our present-day ears. We must recognize that our historical understanding of reality is shaped by the media, and media organs are controlled by the winners of major wars and their allies, with inconvenient details often excluded to avoid confusing the public. It is undeniably true that in his 1924 book Mein Kampf, Hitler had written all sorts of hostile and nasty things about Jews, especially those who were recent immigrants from Eastern Europe, but when I read the book back in high school, I was a little surprised to discover that these anti-Jewish sentiments hardly seemed central to his text. Furthermore, just a couple of years earlier, a vastly more prominent public figure such as British Minister Winston Churchill had published sentiments nearly as hostile and nasty, focusing on the monstrous crimes being committed by Bolshevik Jews. In Albert Lindemann’s Esau’s Tears, I was surprised to discover that the author of the famous Balfour Declaration, the foundation of the Zionist project, was apparently also quite hostile to Jews, with an element of his motivation probably being his desire to exclude them from Britain.

Once Hitler consolidated power in Germany, he quickly outlawed all other political organizations for the German people, with only the Nazi Party and Nazi political symbols being legally permitted. But a special exception was made for German Jews, and Germany’s local Zionist Party was accorded complete legal status, with Zionist marches, Zionist uniforms, and Zionist flags all fully permitted. Under Hitler, there was strict censorship of all German publications, but the weekly Zionist newspaper was freely sold at all newsstands and street corners. The clear notion seemed to be that a German National Socialist Party was the proper political home for the country’s 99% German majority, while Zionist National Socialism would fill the same role for the tiny Jewish minority.

In 1934, Zionist leaders invited an important SS official to spend six months visiting the Jewish settlement in Palestine, and upon his return, his very favorable impressions of the growing Zionist enterprise were published as a massive 12-part series in Joseph Goebbel’s Der Angriff, the flagship media organ of the Nazi Party, bearing the descriptive title “A Nazi Goes to Palestine.” In his very angry 1920 critique of Jewish Bolshevik activity, Churchill had argued that Zionism was locked in a fierce battle with Bolshevism for the soul of European Jewry, and only its victory might ensure amicable future relations between Jew and Gentile. Based on available evidence, Hitler and many of the other Nazi leaders seemed to have reached a somewhat similar conclusion by the mid-1930s.

The very uncomfortable truth is that the harsh characterizations of Diaspora Jewry found in the pages of Mein Kampf were not all that different from what was voiced by Zionism’s founding fathers and its subsequent leaders, so the cooperation of those two ideological movements was not really so totally surprising.

Also quite ironic was the role of Adolf Eichmann, whose name today probably ranks as one of the most famous half-dozen Nazis in history, due to his postwar 1960 kidnapping by Israeli agents, followed by his public show-trial and execution as a war-criminal. As it happens, Eichmann had been a central Nazi figure in the Zionist alliance, even studying Hebrew and apparently becoming something of a philo-Semite during the years of his close collaboration with top Zionist leaders.

Brenner is a captive of his ideology and his beliefs, accepting without question the historical narrative with which he was raised. He seems to find nothing so strange about Eichmann being a philo-Semitic partner of the Jewish Zionists during the late 1930s and then suddenly being transformed into a mass-murderer of the European Jews in the early 1940s, willingly committing the monstrous crimes for which the Israelis later justly put him to death.

This is certainly possible, but I really wonder. A more cynical observer might find it a very odd coincidence that the first prominent Nazi the Israelis made such an effort to track down and kill had been their closest former political ally and collaborator. After Germany’s defeat, Eichmann had fled to Argentina and lived there quietly for a number of years until his name resurfaced in a celebrated mid-1950s controversy surrounding one of his leading Zionist partners, then living in Israel as a respected government official, who was denounced as a Nazi collaborator, eventually ruled innocent after a celebrated trial, but later assassinated by former members of Shamir’s faction.

Following that controversy in Israel, Eichmann supposedly gave a long personal interview to a Dutch Nazi journalist, and although it wasn’t published at the time, perhaps word of its existence may have gotten into circulation. The new state of Israel was just a few years old at that time, and very politically and economically fragile, desperately dependent upon the goodwill and support of America and Jewish donors worldwide. Their remarkable former Nazi alliance was a deeply-suppressed secret, whose public release might have had absolutely disastrous consequences.

According to the version of the interview later published as a two-part story in Life Magazine, Eichmann’s statements seemingly did not touch upon the deadly topic of the 1930s Nazi-Zionist partnership. But surely Israeli leaders must have been terrified that they might not be so lucky the next time, so we may speculate that Eichmann’s elimination suddenly became a top national priority, and he was tracked down and captured in 1960. Presumably, harsh means were employed to persuade him not to reveal any of these dangerous pre-war secrets at his Jerusalem trial, and one might wonder if the reason he was famously kept in an enclosed glass booth was to ensure that the sound could quickly be cut off if he started to stray from the agreed upon script. All of this analysis is purely speculative, but Eichmann’s role as a central figure in the 1930s Nazi-Zionist partnership is undeniable historical fact.

Hitler’s Jewish Soldiers

Once World War II began, this Nazi-Zionist partnership quickly lapsed for obvious reasons. Germany was now at war with the British Empire, and financial transfers to British-run Palestine were no longer possible. Furthermore, the Arab Palestinians had grown quite hostile to the Jewish immigrants whom they rightfully feared might eventually displace them, and once the Germans were forced to choose between maintaining their relationship with a relatively small Zionist movement or winning the political sympathy of a vast sea of Middle Eastern Arabs and Muslims, their decision was a natural one. The Zionists faced a similar choice, and especially once wartime propaganda began so heavily blackening the German and Italian governments, their long previous partnership was not something they wanted widely known.

However, at exactly this same moment a somewhat different and equally long-forgotten connection between Jews and Nazi Germany suddenly moved to the fore.

Like most people everywhere, the average German, whether Jewish or Gentile, was probably not all that political, and although Zionism had for years been accorded a privileged place in German society, it is not entirely clear how many ordinary German Jews paid much attention to it. The tens of thousands who emigrated to Palestine during that period were probably motivated as much by economic pressures as by ideological commitment. But wartime changed matters in other ways.

This was even more true for the German government. The outbreak of a world war against a powerful coalition of the British and French empires, later augmented by both Soviet Russia and the United States, imposed the sorts of enormous pressures that could often overcome ideological scruples. A few years ago, I discovered a fascinating 2002 book by Bryan Mark Rigg, Hitler’s Jewish Soldiers, a scholarly treatment of exactly what the title implies. The quality of this controversial historical analysis is indicated by the glowing jacket-blurbs from numerous academic experts and an extremely favorable treatment by an eminent scholar in The American Historical Review.

Obviously, Nazi ideology was overwhelmingly centered upon race and considered racial purity a crucial factor in national cohesion. Individuals possessing substantial non-German ancestry were regarded with considerable suspicion, and this concern was greatly amplified if that admixture was Jewish. But in a military struggle against an opposing coalition possessing many times Germany’s population and industrial resources, such ideological factors might be overcome by practical considerations, and Rigg persuasively argues that some 150,000 half-Jews or quarter-Jews served in the armed forces of the Third Reich, a percentage probably not much different than their share of the general military-age population.

Germany’s long-integrated and assimilated Jewish population had always been disproportionately urban, affluent, and well-educated. As a consequence it is not entirely surprising that a large proportion of these part-Jewish soldiers who served Hitler were actually combat officers rather than merely rank-and-file conscripts, and they included at least 15 half-Jewish generals and admirals, and another dozen quarter-Jews holding those same high ranks. The most notable example was Field Marshal Erhard Milch, Hermann Goering’s powerful second-in-command, who played such an important operational role in creating the Luftwaffe. Milch certainly had a Jewish father, and according to some much less substantiated claims, perhaps even a Jewish mother as well, while his sister was married to an SS general.

Admittedly, the racially-elite SS itself generally had far stricter ancestry standards, with even a trace of non-Aryan parentage normally seen as disqualifying an individual from membership. But even here, the situation was sometimes complicated, since there were widespread rumors that Reinhard Heydrich, the second-ranking figure in that very powerful organization, actually had considerable Jewish ancestry. Rigg investigates that claim without coming to any clear conclusions, though he does seem to think that the circumstantial evidence involved may have been used by other high-ranking Nazi figures as a point of leverage or blackmail against Heydrich, who stood as one of the most important figures in the Third Reich.

As a further irony, most of these individuals traced their Jewish ancestry through their father rather than their mother, so although they were not Jewish according to rabbinical law, their family names often reflected their partly Semitic origins, though in many cases Nazi authorities attempted to studiously overlook this glaringly obvious situation. As an extreme example noted by an academic reviewer of the book, a half-Jew bearing the distinctly non-Aryan name of Werner Goldberg actually had his photograph prominently featured in a 1939 Nazi propaganda newspaper, with the caption describing him as the “The Ideal German Soldier.”

The author conducted more than 400 personal interviews of the surviving part-Jews and their relatives, and these painted a very mixed picture of the difficulties they had encountered under the Nazi regime, which varied enormously depending upon particular circumstances and the personalities of those in authority over them. One important source of complaint was that because of their status, part-Jews were often denied the military honors or promotions they had rightfully earned. However, under especially favorable conditions, they might also be legally reclassified as being of “German Blood,” which officially eliminated any taint on their status.

Even official policy seems to have been quite contradictory and vacillating. For example, when the civilian humiliations sometimes inflicted upon the fully Jewish parents of serving half-Jews were brought to Hitler’s attention, he regarded that situation as intolerable, declaring that either such parents must be fully protected against those indignities or all the half-Jews must be discharged, and eventually in April 1940 he issued a decree requiring the latter. However, this order was largely ignored by many commanders, or implemented through a honor-system that almost amounted to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” so a considerable fraction of half-Jews remained in the military if they so wished. And then in July 1941, Hitler somewhat reversed himself, issuing a new decree that allowed “worthy” half-Jews who had been discharged to return to the military as officers, while also announcing that after the war, all quarter-Jews would be reclassified as fully “German Blood” Aryan citizens.

It has been said that after questions were raised about the Jewish ancestry of some of his subordinates, Goering once angrily responded “I will decide who is a Jew!” and that attitude seems to reasonably capture some of the complexity and subjective nature of the social situation.

Interestingly enough, many of part-Jews interviewed by Rigg recalled that prior to Hitler’s rise to power, the intermarriage of their parents had often provoked much greater hostility from the Jewish rather than the Gentile side of their families, suggesting that even in heavily-assimilated Germany, the traditional Jewish tendency toward ethnic exclusivity had still remained a powerful factor in that community.

Although the part-Jews in German military service were certainly subject to various forms of mistreatment and discrimination, perhaps we should compare this against the analogous situation in our own military in those same years with regard to America’s Japanese or black minorities. During that era, racial intermarriage was legally prohibited across a large portion of the US, so the mixed-race population of those groups was either almost non-existent or very different in origin. And when Japanese-Americans were allowed to leave their wartime concentration camps and enlist in the military, they were entirely restricted to segregated all-Japanese units, but with the officers generally being white. Meanwhile, blacks were almost entirely barred from combat service, though they sometimes served in strictly-segregated support roles. The notion that an American with any appreciable trace of African, Japanese, or for that matter Chinese ancestry might serve as a general or even an officer in the U.S. military and thereby exercise command authority over white American troops would have been almost unthinkable. The contrast with the practice in Hitler’s own military is quite different than what Americans might naively believe.


This paradox is not nearly as surprising as one might assume. The non-economic divisions in European societies had almost always been along lines of religion, language, and culture rather than racial ancestry, and the social tradition of more than a millennium could not easily be swept away by merely a half-dozen years of National Socialist ideology. During all those earlier centuries, a sincerely-baptized Jew, whether in Germany or elsewhere, was usually considered just as good a Christian as any other. For example, Tomas de Torquemada, the most fearsome figure of the dreaded Spanish Inquisition, actually came from a family of Jewish converts.

Even wider racial differences were hardly considered of crucial importance. Some of the greatest heroes of particular national cultures, such as Russia’s Alexander Pushkin and France’s Alexandre Dumas, had been individuals with significant black African ancestry, and this was certainly not considered any sort of disqualifying characteristic.

By contrast, American society from its inception had always been sharply divided by race, with other differences generally constituting far smaller impediments to intermarriage and amalgamation. I’ve seen widespread claims that when the Third Reich devised its 1935 Nuremberg Laws restricting marriage and other social arrangements between Aryans, non-Aryans, and part-Aryans, its experts drew upon some of America’s long legal experience in similar matters, and this seems quite plausible. Under that new Nazi statute, pre-existing mixed-marriages received some legal protection, but henceforth Jews and half-Jews could only marry each other, while quarter-Jews could only marry regular Aryans. The obvious intent was to absorb that latter group into mainstream German society, while isolating the more heavily-Jewish population.

Over the last few years, many outside observers have noted a seemingly very odd political situation in Ukraine. That unfortunate country possesses powerful militant groups, whose public symbols, stated ideology, and political ancestry all unmistakably mark them as Neo-Nazis. Yet those violent Neo-Nazi elements are all being bankrolled and controlled by a Jewish Oligarch who holds dual Israeli citizenship. Furthermore, that peculiar alliance had been mid-wifed and blessed by some of America’s leading Jewish Neocon figures, such as Victoria Nuland, who have successfully used their media influence to keep such explosive facts away from the American public.

At first glance, a close relationship between Jewish Israelis and European Neo-Nazis seems as grotesque and bizarre a misalliance as one could imagine, but after recently reading Brenner’s fascinating book, my perspective substantially shifted. Indeed, the main difference between then and now is that during the 1930s, Zionist factions represented a very insignificant junior partner to a powerful Third Reich, while these days it is the Nazis who occupy the role of eager suppliants to the formidable power of International Zionism, which now so heavily dominates the American political system and through it, much of the world.


A couple of years ago I encountered another strikingly ironic vignette, almost totally excluded from our mainstream histories.

In reading wartime accounts of Britain’s government I came across Leo Amery, a prominent British political figure and one of Churchill’s closest lifelong friends, who eventually served as a member of the British Cabinet. He was also secretly of Jewish ancestry and according to some accounts was the individual who had actually drafted the Balfour Declaration, which was the basis for the creation of the State of Israel.

But oddly enough, in my other readings I had also discovered that during World War II, Amery’s eldest son John had become a great supporter of Adolf Hitler. As a result, he defected to Nazi Germany and served as a leading wartime propaganda broadcaster for the Third Reich, afterwards hanged as a traitor by the British.

All our standard history books always mention the postwar execution of British Nazi broadcaster “Lord Haw-Haw,” a total obscure individual, but strangely omit the similar fate of John Amery, the son of Churchill’s closest friend, a Jewish member of Britain’s Cabinet, whose wartime efforts on behalf of Nazi Germany seem far more noteworthy.

The Continuing Importance of World War II

The Second World War ended nearly eighty years ago and despite the enormous role it played in shaping our modern world, many might argue that revisiting the factual details of that conflict would merely be an intellectual exercise, devoid of relevance to our present-day situation. But I think otherwise.

Our relentlessly aggressive foreign policy towards Russia and China today constitutes an enormous threat to world peace, and as I suggested last year, uncovering the true history of World War II might have an important impact upon our current debate.

Consider our Secretary of State Antony Blinken, one of the key figures formulating our current policies. Prior to his appointment, I’d never heard of him, but I soon discovered that he’d attended the same college that I did, graduating one year later. We may have even shared some classes, though since my major was Theoretical Physics and his was Social Studies, probably not. But I do think that I have a very good understanding of his view of the world and the history of the twentieth century since until the last decade or so mine was probably not too different. Most of the other senior figures in the Biden Administration seem to fall into that same category.

These individuals have a fixed set of particular beliefs regarding America’s role in the world, beliefs shared by their entire ideological circle, and I’m sure that they would immediately reject any challenges to that framework with regard to Russia or China. Such challenges are probably not uncommon, but are regularly dismissed and ignored.

However, I suspect that none of them have ever imagined that the deepest foundations of their belief-system—their assumed history of World War II—is actually false and rotten to the core. They have probably never encountered such ideas in their entire lives, and as a consequence, their psychological defenses might be much weaker. And if any of them begins to even consider the slightest possibility that every source of information they have absorbed since elementary school has been based upon the same underlying set of falsehoods, that realization might shake their confidence in contemporary matters, including the circumstances surrounding the current war in Ukraine.

Mules are stubborn animals. But there’s a classic joke that they can be persuaded to follow directions if you first get their attention by hitting them on the head with a two-by-four. For most American policy-experts discovering that their entire accepted history of World War II is upside-down and backwards amounts to being hit on the head with a two-by-four.

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