It’s amazing how the public expects the truth regarding congressional acrobatics, while, this many years later, we still haven’t even gotten the truth about World War II!
Yes, Germany started it and was the world-class bad guy, with Japan playing a breathless runner-up. Italy wanted Germany to help carry its imperial fantasies all the way over into reality, a dream that started out weak and then gradually tapered off. Japan saw an opportunity to blast America out of the Pacific Ocean and become the Asian power to be reckoned with. But beyond that, don’t make any bets.
Let’s start off easy. How well I remember: In 1938 American headlines roared “Hitler’s first conquest,” the annexation of Austria. Conquest! Oh, how sorry we felt for the helpless little Austrians caught up in the unrelenting vise of Hitler’s tyranny! Lost somewhere, perhaps while crossing the Atlantic, was the undeniable fact that Austria hated being grabbed by Nazi Germany about as much as a world-class nymphomaniac hates being grabbed by Hollywood’s leading male sex rage!
How well I remember coming to school after Easter Sunday of 1939 and finding my classmate John Pema’s desk vacant. “John’s parents are from Albania,” Miss Hobbs explained lugubriously, “and yesterday Mussolini attacked and took over Albania, so we’re going to forgive John’s absence today.” Again, the good-guy media portrayed little Albania as a helpless victim of Mussolini’s rampaging hordes. Here again, Albania was as happy to be “conquered” by Italy as Austria was by Germany, albeit just a little less manic about showing it. That tiny Balkan nation of Albania hated their King Zog and rejoiced at finally being under the influence of a modern country like Italy. To this day Albania remains grateful to Italy for building a railroad and modern buildings in Skanderbeg Square, and bringing Albania forward by a century in all key respects. And the Albanians especially liked Italy’s partner Germany opening their border with Yugoslavia’s Serbian republic, an aspiration which, after the German-Italian forces were defeated, remained unfulfilled until the tender ministrations of that noted Balkan conqueror Bill Clinton in the 1990s! Lost somewhere is the hilarity of the Italian landing being delayed for seven hours because they didn’t have the proper permission!
And now let’s examine the myth that Hitler’s great Luftwaffe, the Nazi air force, metamorphosed from the crop-dusters and glider clubs still permitted under the Versailles Treaty that banned military aviation after Germany’s surrender in World War I. Barack Obama’s birth certificate may not be the only one in error as to place of birth. Actually, the Luftwaffe was born, not crop-dusting German fields, but in the Soviet Union. Don’t bother re-reading that sentence. You got it right. To avoid the scrutiny of the allies enforcing the Versailles Treaty, Hitler at first made a deal with the Soviet Union to rent the town of Lipetsk, so he could build, not the kind of air force the allies permitted, but whatever kind he wanted. And he wanted the real thing and plenty of it!
Nobody was unhappier on June 21 of 1941, when the Hitler hordes swarmed across the Russian border and war began, than the Russian women of Lipetsk who had enjoyed torrid romances with the good-looking German pilots in training. The hero of the Battle of Britain, RAF Group Capt. Peter Townsend, covered the birth of the Luftwaffe in Lipetsk in his excellent book, “Duel of Eagles,” published in the late 1960s.
It’s easy to see why this next “error” was covered up. Our “gallant Soviet Allies” weren’t always so gallant. Nor were they always so Soviet. The Ukrainians, 6 million of whom had been systematically starved to death by Josef Stalin (the cover-up of which earned New York Times reporter Walter Duranty a Pulitzer Prize that has never been returned), welcomed the Nazis as liberators. You don’t have to look far for confirmation of this infamy.
Another World War II story the democracies failed to cover was the barely believable story of the Vlasov Army. Gen. Andrey Vlasov was a Soviet general captured by the Germans during the first battle for Moscow. He renounced Communism and begged Hitler to let him recruit and lead an army that would ensure Stalin’s defeat. Hitler’s generals were ecstatic, but Hitler himself was hostile to the idea. Vlasov swore he could easily recruit a million to a million and a half Soviet prisoners of the Germans to fight against the Soviets. Eventually, in a compromise, Vlasov was to be allowed to recruit only 850,000 former Soviet troops to fight the Soviets. The project came to a miserable end as the remnants wound up fighting against the American and British troops at Normandy. Vlasov’s men had no stomach for fighting the Allies.
A son of Stalin, a captain, was captured by the Germans, who were certain Moscow would trade a German general for the son of the Soviet ruler. The entreaty brought a curt reply from the Soviets to the Nazis, stating “The Red Army does not exchange generals for captains.”
After my cousin Guerney’s first visit to democratic and prosperous post-war Japan and democratic and prosperous post-war Germany, he shook his head and said, “You know something? I swear, I think we lost World War II and they lied to us!”