Peter Hitchens Blog,
Mail Online UK,
28 November 2012.
“Orderly and Humane?”
Some time ago I decided to write a book about the damaging and deluded Cult of National Victory which has done this country so much damage since 1945. No doubt it will receive the usual mixture of abuse and silence which most of my books receive. But I shall write it anyway, as it seems to me to be a truth urgently in need of being expressed, especially as we shall soon be marking the 70th anniversary of the end of the supposedly ‘Good’ Second World War. It is now possible to have more-or-less grown-up attitudes towards the First World War, whose last remaining justification – that it was ‘The War to End All Wars’ – crumbled into dust and spiders’ webs in September 1939. But the 1939-45 conflict is still wreathed in delusions, delusions often employed to try to justify modern wars which are alleged to have comparably ‘good’ aims.
The belief in its goodness is in fact ludicrous. Our main ally (rejected at the beginning with lofty scorn, embraced later with desperate, insincere enthusiasm) was one of the most murderous tyrants in human history, whose slave empire we helped him to extend and consolidate, and to whom we afterwards handed thousands of victims, to whom we owed at least a life, though we knew he would murder them.
Our purpose in joining the war was not only not achieved, but the country whose independence we claimed to be ‘saving’ sank under successive waves of horror, cruelty, lawlessness, murder and despotism, to emerge 60 years later and many miles from where it had been when we ‘rescued’ it.
The main effect of the war on life in Britain (apart from the physical damage done by bombing, considerable though far less than the damage inflicted by us on Germany) was to bankrupt our economy, raise taxes to previously unheard-of levels, make state interference in all aspects of life more prevalent, wreck countless families, popularise divorce, weaken families, engender crime and delinquency, and subject the native culture to an invasion of American customs and language from which it has never recovered. The main effect of the war on Britain as a state and as an economy was to destroy her hold over her Empire, permanently weaken her currency and end her status as a first-class diplomatic and naval power. In the process, in Singapore at 1942, this country suffered the gravest defeat of its armies at any time in its history, a defeat so disastrous and irreparable that to this day most British people are – at best – dimly aware of it, though they are reasonably well-informed about the horrors which befell the captured armies.
During and immediately after the war, as I have discussed here, we employed methods which would have disgusted our forebears and which ought to disgust us, but which were so frightful that we still lie to ourselves about them, or hide them from our consciousness. Nobody who truly understood them could defend them, which is why the critic of these policies has first to confront a great wall of ignorance, sometimes wilful, sometimes not.
The first was the deliberate bombing of the homes of German civilians, not just in the famous incidents at Hamburg and Dresden, but all over Germany for many months, which has morally inexcusable and , as it happens, remarkably militarily ineffective. Most British people are either unaware of this operation, greatly underestimate it or refuse to believe that it was an act of deliberate policy, wrongly believing that the bombers were seeking to destroy military and industrial targets and only accidentally killed or mutilated civilians. The undoubted bravery and sacrifice of the aircrews in this operation, acknowledged unconditionally by me, has no bearing on the guilt of the politicians and commanders who authorised and executed it.
The second was the atrocious but still largely unknown ‘ethnic cleansing’ of perhaps ten million Germans from their former homes across Eastern and Central Europe, authorised and planned before the war’s end, approved by the victorious allies at Potsdam, and falsely portrayed – then and since – as ‘Orderly and Humane’. Those who ordered and authorised it knew perfectly well that it would be nothing of the kind. Those who carried it out made little effort to mitigate its chaos and cruelty, which well served their purpose – of driving their neighbours from their ancestral lands by mass terror and robbery.
These words, ‘Orderly and Humane’ which featured in the Potsdam document which authorised the atrocity, also provide the coldly bitter title of a new book by R.M. Douglas, recently published by Yale University Press.
Cold bitterness is the first reaction of any person who reads it, who claims to be in any way civilised. I have , night after night, sat in my homebound train reading this catalogue of horrors, unable to find any way of expressing or properly articulating my emotions.
The book takes us through several stages, the first being the deliberate planning of the expulsions, by civilised civil servants and politicians, who found very quickly, as they looked into the matter, that the thing could not be done without cruelty
What of those who were there at the time? Many protested, notably the left-wing publisher Victor Gollancz, that fine journalist Eric Gedye, and our old friends from the campaign against bombing Germans in their homes, Bishop George Bell of Chichester and Richard Stokes MP.
But as usual when something wicked is going on , the ‘mainstream’ consensus was complacent and defensive. Winston Churchill, who had urged the plan for years, and had ignored warnings of its dangers, started making hypocritical noises about its cruelty long after it was too late. There is a fashion these days for according sort of sainthood to Clement Attlee, the post-war Labour Prime Minister. Well, Saint Clement, confronted with advice that the plan would run into grave problems, notably severe human suffering, said:
‘Everything that brings home to the Germans the completeness and irrevocability of their defeat is worthwhile in the end.”
Winston Churchill, who had urged the plan for years , started making hypocritical noises about its cruelty long after it was too late.
Everything? We shall see.
(Editor’s Note: The author, Mr. Hitchens goes on to describe a number of the horrors faced and atrocities committed against the Germans after the war which are worth reading, though based upon some his comments, he does subscribe to the widely held views concerning the “evil Nazis” and the “righteousness” of the war, with which I take exception. Nonetheless l still recommend reading it and sharing it. I will just include a few more paragraphs here).
The story of the Czech Premsyl Pitter (who had laboured to save Jews from Nazi murder during the occupation) shows that small individual acts of human courage and kindness can counterbalance enormous weights of state necessity and cynicism. After rescuing a thousand German detainees from a secret prison in Prague, Pitter recounted: ‘As we brought emaciated and apathetic children out and laid them on the grass, I believed that few would survive. Our physician, Dr E. Vogl, himself a Jew who had gone through the hell of Auschwitz and Mauthausen, almost wept when he saw these little bodies. “And here we Czechs have done this in two and a half months!”, he exclaimed.’ Readers are invited to guess to which system of thought and belief Premsyl Pitter subscribed.
The Czech, Polish and Yugoslav authorities knew what was resulting from their policies (just as the Allies, who planned and permitted it knew what would happen in general, and had been warned by their own officials of the perils of such action). They did almost nothing about it.
To have spared the women and children from internment would have been to undermine the whole programme. I might add that when the refugees arrived in Germany, everything was made a thousand times harder and more miserable by the colossal destruction of housing, by British and American bombing.
What happened to the Germans after only a few short months in internment camps in Czechoslovakia should serve as a VERY BIG CLUE to telling us what really happened to those Jews and other internees in German camps when the allies had spent years bombing Germany to pieces, supply lines were gone, and where there was no food, clothing or supplies to be had ANYWHERE towards the end of the war, ultimately leading to mass starvation, rampant disease and inhumane conditions for ALL. So who is it that really needs to take responsibility for that? Hmmmm?
And ‘lest we forget’, the allies also had horrible concentration camps for German nationals and captured soldiers, as well as, what became “death camps” for surrendered German soldiers after the war, as I have previously posted about here, and you will also find links on the right hand side of this page for more info on those.