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World War II

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Tokyo, 2018
We landed in darkness. The last time I was in Narita was 18 years earlier. With a six-hour layover, I inexplicably didn’t leave the airport. “Can I possibly die without at least a glimpse of Japan?” I’d ask myself, cringing. Finally, I was there. My first impressions were the generous legroom on the train to... Read More
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The Current Holocaust Controversy Between Israel and Poland
An Israeli and eventually international Jewish mass hysteria erupted as of the last week of January 2018 over a Polish law that makes it a punishable offence to defame the Polish nation by speaking of “Polish concentration camps” or blaming the Polish people otherwise for the Jewish Holocaust. The hysteria started right at the top... Read More
“History is on every occasion the record of that which one age finds worthy of note in another.” ―Jacob Burckhardt What is one to make of “Darkest Hour”? Is it only yet another chance to bathe in nostalgia for the Second World War, and to dredge up an old story, out of which the British... Read More
Dresden, Germany, February, 1945
It was Shrove Tuesday, 1945 in the magnificent German art city of Dresden, which was packed with helpless Christian refugees fleeing the Red Army of the Stalinist USSR. Dresden’s native Lutheran and Catholic children, dressed in their festive Saxon folk costumes, were aboard a train taking them home after Mardi Gras parties at different points... Read More
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Dear friends: During our conversation you stated the following: The US needs a military One of the reasons why the US needs a military are regimes like the North Korean one The US has a right to intervene outside its borders on a) pragmatic and b) moral grounds During WWII the US “saved Europe” and... Read More
Don't talk about the war
I don’t watch many movies, but made an exception for Dunkirk because it was touted as giving centrality to the experiences of those who were there, rather than the more usual mixture of military strategy, tactical skirmishes, and a few personal stories. The actual retreat was a complicated matter, from 28 May to 4 June... Read More
If only we had a real left-wing instead of poseurs who suck their thumbs and lie A few ignorant morons, claiming to be liberal/progressive/left, have sent emails claiming that all of the authors whose works I listed are Nazis and Hitler-lovers. Nothing could be further from the truth. What these brainwashed morons are demonstrating is... Read More
UPDATE: Readers at home and abroad have brought to my attention that Thomas Goodrich is not the only historian to report crimes committed against the German people and German POWs after Germany had surrendered. Here are some of the sources brought to my attention: Wartime propaganda is not concerned with truth. It is concerned with... Read More
The showtrial of a somewhat arbitrarily selected group of 21 surviving Nazis at Nuremberg during 1945-46 was US Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson’s show. Jackson was the chief prosecutor. As a long-time admirer of Jackson, I always assumed that he did a good job. My admiration for Jackson stems from his defense of law as... Read More
Soldiers from the British Expeditionary Forceduring the Dunkirk evacuation.  Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Usually every Thursday I join a group of men I used to work with for lunch. Included in that group are a retired Army colonel, a couple of museum specialists, three PhDs, and a former high-level political figure—all of us retired. This past Thursday, after lunch, we went together to an early screening of the... Read More
There’s not a lot to be proud of in today’s America: the Punch and Judy show in Washington; brutal but inept colonial wars in the Mideast against poorly armed enemies; pollution of the climate, and culture of trash and violence. To see America as it once was, go back to the three days from 4... Read More
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How Americans Remember (and Forget) Their Wars
Some years ago, a newspaper article credited a European visitor with the wry observation that Americans are charming because they have such short memories. When it comes to the nation’s wars, however, he was not entirely on target. Americans embrace military histories of the heroic “band of [American] brothers” sort, especially involving World War II.... Read More
Our lives are, of course, our histories, which makes us all, however inadvertently, historians. Part of my own history, my other life -- not the TomDispatch one that’s consumed me for the last 14 years -- has been editing books. I have no idea how many books I’ve edited since I was in my twenties,... Read More
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Seven decades after Japan’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor some truth is finally beginning to emerge from the miasma of propaganda that still clouds our vision of World War II. It seems clear by now that President Franklin Roosevelt’s White House knew from deciphered codes that Japan was planning an attack on America’s key naval... Read More
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About a decade ago I'd gotten a little friendly with the late Alexander Cockburn, one of America's premier radical journalists and the founder of Counterpunch, a leading leftist webzine. With virtually all of America's mainstream media outlets endlessly cheerleading for the total insanity of our Iraq War, Counterpunch was a port in the storm, and... Read More
General Patton U.S. commemorative stamp, issued in 1953.  Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
During the long Cold War many Russians grew sufficiently disenchanted with the lies and omissions of their own news outlets that they turned to Western radio for a glimpse of the truth. The growth of the Internet has now provided Americans with a similar opportunity to click on a foreign website and discover the important... Read More
Was MacArthur a Japanese agent? For my generation, clickbait. For the younglings, it’s “Who’s MacArthur”? Douglas MacArthur was, in the words of an admiring biographer, “the American Caesar”, the brilliant military commander who won the Pacific War (the Japanese end of World War II), ruled postwar Japan with a sure imperial hand from 1945 to... Read More
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I came to Japan for the preview of Obama’s visit, when the G7 foreign ministers assembled at Hiroshima, led by the US State Secretary John Kerry. He should apologise, people said. You do not think Kerry apologised for nuking the city, did you? Neither did Obama. The Americans never apologise, banish the thought. Love means... Read More
For those, like this writer, who esteem the arts of modern fortification, Metz is the Florence of military architecture. I greet the spring each year in Metz. This imposing city combines the dazzling, art modern architecture of the France’s Maginot Line with the pre-World War I older forts of the great builder, Serré de Rivières.... Read More
Or How Texaco Supported Fascism
[This piece has been adapted from Adam Hochschild's new book, Spain in Our Hearts: Americans in the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939.] “Merchants have no country,” wrote Thomas Jefferson in 1814. “The mere spot they stand on does not constitute so strong an attachment as that from which they draw their gains.” The former president was... Read More
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Wilhelm Furtwängler in Nazi Germany
This past November 30, 2015, was the sixty-first anniversary of the death of German musician Wilhelm Furtwängler (1886-1954). Despite controversy surrounding his decision to remain in Germany during World War II, he is recognized globally today as one of the greatest musical masters of the twentieth century. From 1922 to 1945, and again after 1950,... Read More
“What'll we do to Holy Cross”? “Crucify them!” It was only a rallying cry in a football match against Holy Cross High School. No one took it literally, of course. And none of the players wound up dead after the game. Nevertheless, our Franciscan educators were not amused. On the eve of his visit last... Read More
The huge military parade held in Beijing this week was billed as a commemoration of China’s role in World War II. Over 15 million Chinese died in its eight-year resistance to Japanese invasion. China’s supreme leader, Xi Jinping, dressed in a finely tailored Mao suit, stood atop the Forbidden City’s Gate of Heavenly Peace to... Read More
All war is a crime. There is no such thing as a “good war.” As the great Benjamin Franklin said, “there is no good war; and no bad peace.” We are now in the midst of the annual debate over the atomic bombing of Japan by the United States. Seventy years ago this week, the... Read More
The Nagasaki Experience
[This essay has been adapted from chapters 1 and 2 of Susan Southard’s new book, Nagasaki: Life After Nuclear War, with the kind permission of Viking.] Korean and Chinese workers, prisoners of war, and mobilized adults and students had returned to their work sites; some dug or repaired shelters, others piled sandbags against the windows... Read More
Or How Patriotism Means Never Having To Say You're Sorry
By Christian Appy “Never, never waste a minute on regret. It's a waste of time.” -- President Harry Truman Here we are, 70 years after the nuclear obliteration of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and I'm wondering if we've come even one step closer to a moral reckoning with our status as the world's only country to... Read More
A Cheer for Irma the Caricaturist
Almost three quarters of a century ago, my mother placed a message in a bottle and tossed it out beyond the waves. It bobbed along through tides, storms, and squalls until just recently, almost four decades after her death, it washed ashore at my feet. I’m speaking metaphorically, of course. Still, what happened, even stripped... Read More
METZ, FRANCE - The dramatic seaborne rescue of 328,000 Allied troops from Dunkirk in June, 1940 is well known. But the tragic effort of almost 300,000 French troops to break out of encirclement in eastern France along the Maginot Line is almost totally unknown. On 10 May, 1940, Germany unleashed a new form of mobile... Read More
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Ignorance is renewed with each newborn, and by the time any man figures out anything, he can almost feel the mortician leaning over his stiff face. Though all lessons are embalmed within history, few care to explore that infinite corpse. Lewis Mumford, “So far from being overwhelmed by the accumulations of history, the fact is... Read More
It was churlish for western leaders to boycott this week’s Victory Parade in Moscow that commemorated the Soviet Union’s defeat of Nazi Germany 70 years ago. Historic events are facts that should not be manipulated according to the latest political fashions. Being angry at Moscow for mucking about in Ukraine does not in any way... Read More
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A Moral Fabulist
A couple of weeks ago Elie Wiesel, Nobel laureate and self-appointed moral conscience for Holocaust survivors, praised the expulsion of Palestinians from their homes to make way for yet more illegal settlements in Jerusalem. His chilling statement ran in an ad placed inHa’aretz. Here are Wiesel’s appalling words: Though Wiesel offers himself as a paragon... Read More
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Buchanan, Churchill and the “Necessary” Book
Back in 2008 Patrick J. Buchanan published his volume Churchill, Hitler, and The Unnecessary War. Although it was reviewed and discussed at the time, perhaps because it dealt with world history on such a vast, scholarly scale, or because the subject matter seemed to be more the province of academic specialists (which Buchanan isn’t), it... Read More
In my June 6 column, “The Lies Grow More Audacious,” I mentioned that Obama and the British prime minister, who Obama has as a lap dog, just as George Bush had Tony Blair as lap dog, had managed to celebrate the defeat of Nazi Germany at the 70th anniversary of the Normandy invasion without mentioning... Read More
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The Bombing of Pearl Harbor: What FDR Knew
Each Pearl Harbor day offers a fresh opportunity for those who correctly believe 
that Franklin Roosevelt knew of an impending attack by the Japanese and welcomed it as
 a way of snookering the isolationists and getting America into the war. And year by year the evidence continues to mount. The Naval 
Institute’s website featured a... Read More
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The prime minister meant to spray German troops if they landed on British beaches
A hundred experts from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which on Friday won the Nobel Peace Prize, and the United Nations are assembling to dismantle and destroy Syria's arsenal of chemical weapons including 1,000 tons of sarin and mustard gas as well as chemical mixing equipment. All are to be eliminated by... Read More
  SOSPEL, FRANCE – The wild Maritime Alps are the most remote and least known part of this country, a chain of vertiginous, snow-capped peaks and narrow defiles running due south along the Franco-Italian border from Switzerland down to the Mediterranean on the Riviera. As a military historian, I’ve come here to remember the heroic... Read More
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Japan’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor 71 years ago this month was a “day that will live in infamy” according to US President Franklin Roosevelt. Seven decades later, it increasingly appears that the president’s surprise and outrage may have been synthetic. Roosevelt had been maneuvering for more than a year to bring the United States... Read More
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Much to the consternation of Western intellectuals and journalists, Hungary’s government sponsors a House of Terror in Budapest which dares to devote attention to not only Nazi crimes, but also Stalinist ones. Ever since the ascendance of the “antifascist” (read: neo-Stalinist plus PC) persuasion in our “liberal democracies,” it has become gauche and somehow even... Read More
Remembering a brave soldier
Here is a story from World War Two. The place is the island of Crete; the date, May of 1941. The Wehrmacht was busily occupying Greece. The British expeditionary force in that country, overwhelmed, was being evacuated. Some of the Allied troops were moved to Crete, to fortify the rudimentary defenses of the place. They... Read More
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Political correctness has permeated the historian’s craft to such a degree that honest historians must reinvent the wheel. PC has infected German history in particular. The doctrine of German “collective guilt” is often held as a precondition for German good behavior. Established historians in the US, England, and especially Germany must assume their subjects’ general... Read More
The late historian Iris Chang, and now her mother, take up a generations-old fight to remember the Japanese atrocities...
Hints don't come much less subtle than the one the late Iris Chang received in a small package in 1998. Inside the box, which has been mailed to her front door, were two bullets. Almost anyone else might, there and then, have opted for a less stressful life. Not Iris Chang. The episode is recounted... Read More
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METZ, FRANCE — In this ancient fortress city on the Mosel River that stand guard on the traditional invasion route into France, one is surrounded by the ghosts of great wars past — and the often cruel myths that still linger. As a former instructor of military history and specialist in France's 20th century wars,... Read More
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YALTA – As Russian imperial residences go, Livadia is a rather small palace, even modest. Czar Nicholas II had this pretty palace of white limestone built as a family vacation residence in the sunny Crimea. Livadia overlooks one of the Crimea’s amazingly lush sub-tropical forests and the shimmering Black Sea. The last Soviet leader, Mikhail... Read More
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Among the neoconservatives' kept pontificators on modern history, Victor Davis Hanson may well be the most ridiculous. A respectable scholar when writing about Greek hoplites and other aspects of ancient military history, Hanson becomes a raving maniac as soon as he puts on his neocon spectacles. His latest syndicated column, "World War II: Unfashionable Truths"... Read More
Steve Sailer's interpretation of Tarantino and his latest flick Inglorious Basterds coincided with that of my older son, who discussed Tarantino's work with me last night over the phone. Like Steve, Joe viewed the subject matter of Tarantino's latest blood-and-guts spectacle as more of the same violence and cynicism that one encounters in all of... Read More
METZ, France — President Barack Obama's visit to Normandy to commemorate the 65th anniversary of D-Day makes us think about the entire course of World War II, and the lingering propaganda or myths that still becloud it. As a former instructor of military history and lover of history, let me address four of these myths... Read More
Much of the Western world just honored the millions of soldiers fallen in the two world wars. But we also need to look beyond postwar myths and understand the tragic political mistakes that sent these soldiers to die in wars that might have been avoided. In his powerful new book, Hitler, Churchill and the Unnecessary... Read More
Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who died this week aged 89, will rank with literary immortals Tolstoy and Dostoevsky as a great chronicler of Russia's soul and its profound suffering. Solzhenitsyn's epic works Ivan Denisovich and The Gulag Archipelago are literary monuments for all mankind. After years as a political prisoner in the Soviet gulag, Solzhenitsyn declared, "a... Read More
Richard Spencer has furnished a detailed report of NRO's discussion of Buchanan's grievous errors about the Second World War. With due respect to Richard, from the standpoint of those doing the shunning, it does not seem to have been an oversight to keep Pat from participating. The author of the book at issue does not... Read More
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Without wishing to talk to death certain issues raised by Churchill, Hitler and "The Unnecessary War," I have been noticing the obsession of Buchanan's critics with German blame for World War One. This fixation has recently come up with particular force in one truly egregious article in Newsweek that global democratic atheist and part-time Teutonophobe... Read More
Category Classics
The major media overlooked Communist spies and Madoff’s fraud. What are they missing today?
The “war hero” candidate buried information about POWs left behind in Vietnam.
What Was John McCain's True Wartime Record in Vietnam?
The evidence is clear — but often ignored
Confederate Flag Day, State Capitol, Raleigh, N.C. -- March 3, 2007