The Hidden but Awkward Origins of World War 2
The unexpected views of four key diplomats who were close to events:
Just consider the following:
Joseph P. Kennedy, U.S. Ambassador to Britain during the years immediately preceding WW2 was the father of the famous American Kennedy dynasty. James Forrestal the first US Secretary of Defense (1947-1949) quotes him as saying "Chamberlain (the British Prime Minister) stated that America and the world Jews had forced England into the war". (The Forrestal Diaries ed. Millis, Cassell 1952 p129).
Count Jerzy Potocki, the Polish Ambassador in Washington, in a report to the Polish Foreign Office in January 1939, is quoted approvingly by the highly respected British military historian Major-General JFC Fuller. Concerning public opinion in America he says "Above all, propaganda here is entirely in Jewish hands…when bearing public ignorance in mind, their propaganda is so effective that people have no real knowledge of the true state of affairs in Europe… It is interesting to observe that in this carefully thought-out campaign… no reference at all is made to Soviet Russia. If that country is mentioned, it is referred to in a friendly manner and people are given the impression that Soviet Russia is part of the democratic group of countries… Jewry was able not only to establish a dangerous centre in the New World for the dissemination of hatred and enmity, but it also succeeded in dividing the world into two warlike camps…President Roosevelt has been given the power.. to create huge reserves in armaments for a future war which the Jews are deliberately heading for." (Fuller, JFC: The Decisive Battles of the Western World vol 3 pp 372-374.)
Hugh Wilson, the American Ambassador in Berlin until 1938, the year before the war broke out, found anti-Semitism in Germany ‘understandable’. This was because before the advent of the Nazis, "the stage, the press, medicine and law [were] crowded with Jews…among the few with money to splurge, a high proportion [were] Jews…the leaders of the Bolshevist movement in Russia, a movement desperately feared in Germany, were Jews. One could feel the spreading resentment and hatred." (Hugh Wilson: Diplomat between the Wars, Longmans 1941, quoted in Leonard Mosley, Lindbergh, Hodder 1976).
Sir Nevile Henderson, British Ambassador in Berlin ‘said further that the hostile attitude in Great Britain was the work of Jews and enemies of the Nazis, which was what Hitler thought himself’ (Taylor, AJP: The Origins of the Second World War Penguin 1965, 1987 etc p 324).
Is all of this merely attributable to terrible antisemitism?
The economic background to the war is necessary for a fuller understanding, before casting judgement on the originators of these viewpoints.
At the end of the First World War, Germany was essentially tricked [see Paul Johnson A History of the Modern World (1983) p24 and H Nicholson Peacemaking 1919 (1933) pp13-16] into paying massive reparations to France and other economic competitors and former belligerent countries in terms of the so-called Treaty of Versailles, thanks to the liberal American President Woodrow Wilson. Germany was declared to be solely responsible for the war, in spite of the fact that ‘Germany did not plot a European war, did not want one, and made genuine efforts, though too belated, to avert one.’ (Professor Sydney B Fay The Origins of the World War (vol. 2 p 552)).
As a result of these massive enforced financial reparations, by 1923 the situation in Germany became desperate and inflation on an astronomical scale became the only way out for the government. Printing presses were engaged to print money around the clock. In 1921 the exchange rate was 75 marks to the dollar. By 1924 this had become about 5 trillion marks to the dollar. This virtually destroyed the German middle class (Koestler The God that Failed p 28), reducing any bank savings to a virtual zero.
According to Sir Arthur Bryant the British historian (Unfinished Victory (1940 pp. 136-144):
‘It was the Jews with their international affiliations and their hereditary flair for finance who were best able to seize such opportunities.. They did so with such effect that, even in November 1938, after five years of anti-Semitic legislation and persecution, they still owned, according to the Times correspondent in Berlin, something like a third of the real property in the Reich. Most of it came into their hands during the inflation.. But to those who had lost their all this bewildering transfer seemed a monstrous injustice. After prolonged sufferings they had now been deprived of their last possessions. They saw them pass into the hands of strangers, many of whom had not shared their sacrifices and who cared little or nothing for their national standards and traditions.. The Jews obtained a wonderful ascendancy in politics, business and the learned professions (in spite of constituting) less than one percent of the population.. The banks, including the Reichsbank and the big private banks, were practically controlled by them. So were the publishing trade, the cinema, the theatres and a large part of the press – all the normal means, in fact, by which public opinion in a civilized country is formed.. The largest newspaper combine in the country with a daily circulation of four millions was a Jewish monopoly.. Every year it became harder and harder for a gentile to gain or keep a foothold in any privileged occupation.. At this time it was not the ‘Aryans’ who exercised racial discrimination. It was a discrimination that operated without violence. It was exercised by a minority against a majority. There was no persecution, only elimination.. It was the contrast between the wealth enjoyed – and lavishly displayed – by aliens of cosmopolitan tastes, and the poverty and misery of native Germans, that has made anti-Semitism so dangerous and ugly a force in the new Europe. Beggars on horseback are seldom popular, least of all with those whom they have just thrown out of the saddle.’
Goodness gracious, Sir Arthur! What made you get out of the wrong side of the bed?
Strangely enough, a book unexpectedly published by Princeton University Press in 1984, Sarah Gordon (Hitler, Germans and the "Jewish Question") essentially confirms what Bryant says. According to her, ‘Jews were never a large percentage of the total German population; at no time did they exceed 1% of the population during the years 1871-1933.’ But she adds ‘Jews were over-represented in business, commerce, and public and private service.. They were especially visible in private banking in Berlin, which in 1923 had 150 private Jewish banks, as opposed to only 11 private non-Jewish banks.. They owned 41% of iron and scrap iron firms and 57% of other metal businesses.. Jews were very active in the stock market, particularly in Berlin, where in 1928 they comprised 80% of the leading members of the stock exchange. By 1933, when the Nazis began eliminating Jews from prominent positions, 85% of the brokers on the Berlin Stock exchange were dismissed because of their "race".. At least a quarter of full professors and instructors (at German universities) had Jewish origins.. In 1905-6 Jewish students comprised 25% of the law and medical students.. In 1931, 50% of the 234 theatre directors in Germany were Jewish, and in Berlin the number was 80%.. In 1929 it was estimated that the per capita income of Jews in Berlin was twice that of other Berlin residents..’ etc etc.
Arthur Koestler confirms the Jewish over-involvement in German publishing. ‘Ullstein’s was a kind of super-trust; the largest organization of its kind in Europe, and probably In the world. They published four daily papers in Berlin alone, among these the venerable Vossische Zeitung, founded in the eighteenth century, and the B.Z. am Mittag, an evening paper.. Apart from these, Ullstein’s published more than a dozen weekly and monthly periodicals, ran their own news service, their own travel agency, etc., and were one of the leading book publishers. The firm was owned by the brothers Ullstein - they were five, like the original Rothschild brothers, and like them also, they were Jews.’ (The God that Failed (1950) ed. RHS Crossman, p 31).
Edgar Mowrer, Berlin correspondent for the Chicago Daily News, wrote an anti-German tract called Germany Puts the Clock Back (published as a Penguin Special and reprinted five times between December 1937 and April 1938). He nevertheless notes ‘In the all-important administration of Prussia, any number of strategic positions came into the hands of Hebrews.. A telephone conversation between three Jews in Ministerial offices could result in the suspension of any periodical or newspaper in the state.. The Jews came in Germany to play in politics and administration that same considerable part that they had previously won by open competition in business, trade, banking, the Press, the arts, the sciences and the intellectual and cultural life of the country. And thereby the impression was strengthened that Germany, a country with a mission of its own, had fallen into the hands of foreigners.’
Mowrer says ‘No one who lived through the period from 1919 to 1926 is likely to forget the sexual promiscuity that prevailed.. Throughout a town like Berlin, hotels and pensions made vast fortunes by letting rooms by the hour or day to baggageless, unregistered guests. Hundreds of cabarets, pleasure resorts and the like served for purposes of getting acquainted and acquiring the proper mood..’ (pp. 153-4). Bryant describes throngs of child prostitutes outside the doors of the great Berlin hotels and restaurants. He adds ‘Most of them (the night clubs and vice-resorts) were owned and managed by Jews. And it was the Jews.. among the promoters of this trade who were remembered in after years.’ (pp. 144-5).
Douglas Reed, Chief Central European correspondent before WWII for the London Times, was profoundly anti-German and anti-Hitler. But nevertheless he reported: ‘I watched during the one-day boycott of Jewish shops the Brown Shirts going from shop to shop with paint pots and daubing on the window panes the word "Jew", in dripping red letters. The Kurfürstendamm was to me a revelation. I knew that Jews were prominent in business life, but I did not know that they almost monopolized important branches of it. Germany had one Jew to one hundred gentiles, said the statistics; but the fashionable Kurfürstendamm, according to the dripping red legends, had about one gentile shop to ninety-nine Jewish ones.’ (Reed Insanity Fair (1938) p. 152-3). In Reed’s book Disgrace Abounding of the following year he notes ‘In the Berlin (of pre-Hitler years) most of the theatres were Jewish-owned or Jewish-leased, most of the leading film and stage actors were Jews, the plays performed were often by German, Austrian or Hungarian Jews and were staged by Jewish film producers, applauded by Jewish dramatic critics in Jewish newspapers.. The Jews are not cleverer than the Gentiles, if by clever you mean good at their jobs. They ruthlessly exploit the common feeling of Jews, first to get a foothold in a particular trade or calling, then to squeeze the non-Jews out of it.. It is not true that Jews are better journalists than Gentiles. They held all the posts on those Berlin papers because the proprietors and editors were Jewish’ (pp238-9).
The Jewish writer Edwin Black notes ‘For example, in Berlin alone, about 75% of the attorneys and nearly as many of the doctors were Jewish.’ (Black, The Transfer Agreement (1984) p58.
To cap it all, Jews were perceived as dangerous enemies of Germany after Samuel Untermeyer, the leader of the World Jewish Economic Federation, declared war on Germany on August 6 1933. (Edwin Black The Transfer Agreement: the Untold Story of the Secret Pact between the Third Reich and Palestine (1984) pp272-277) According to Black, ‘The one man who most embodied the potential death blow to Germany was Samuel Untermeyer.’ (p 369). This was the culmination of a permanent worldwide boycott of German goods led by international Jewish organizations. The London Daily Express on March 24, 1933 carried the headline Judea Declares War on Germany. The boycott was allegedly particularly motivated by the German imposition of the Nuremberg Laws, however imposed in 1935 only, which ironically were similar in intent and content to the Jewish cultural exclusivism practiced so visibly in present-day Israel (Hannah Arendt Eichmann in Jerusalem p 7).
Hitler saw the tremendous danger posed to Germany by Communism. He appreciated the desperate need to eliminate this threat, a fact that earned him the immense hatred and animosity of the Jewish organisations and the media and politicians of the west which they could influence. After all, according to the Jewish writer Chaim Bermant, although Jews formed less than five percent of Russia's population, they formed more than fifty percent of its revolutionaries. According to the Jewish writer Chaim Bermant in his book The Jews (1977, chapter 8):
‘It must be added that most of the leading revolutionaries who convulsed Europe in the final decades of the last century and the first decades of this one, stemmed from prosperous Jewish families.. They were perhaps typified by the father of revolution, Karl Marx.. Thus when, after the chaos of World War I, revolutions broke out all over Europe, Jews were everywhere at the helm; Trotsky, Sverdlov, Kamenev and Zinoviev in Russia, Bela Kun in Hungary, Kurt Eisner in Bavaria, and, most improbable of all, Rosa Luxemburg in Berlin.
‘To many outside observers, the Russian revolution looked like a Jewish conspiracy, especially when it was followed by Jewish-led revolutionary outbreaks in much of central Europe. The leadership of the Bolshevik Party had a preponderance of Jews.. Of the seven members of the Politburo, the inner cabinet of the country, four, Trotsky (Bronstein), Zinoviev (Radomsky), Kamenev (Rosenfeld) and Sverdlov, were Jews.’ Other authors agree with this:
"There has been a tendency to circumvent or simply ignore the significant role of Jewish intellectuals in the German Communist Party, and thereby seriously neglect one of the genuine and objective reasons for increased anti-Semitism during and after World War 1.. The prominence of Jews in the revolution and early Weimar Republic is indisputable, and this was a very serious contributing cause for increased anti-Semitism in post-war years.. It is clear then that the stereotype of Jews as socialists and communists.. led many Germans to distrust the Jewish minority as a whole and to brand Jews as enemies of the German nation." (Sarah Gordon Hitler, Germans and the ‘Jewish Question’ Princeton University Press (1984) p 23).
"The second paroxysm of strong anti-Semitism came after the critical role of Jews in International Communism and the Russian Revolution and during the economic crises of the 1920s and 30s… Anti-Semitism intensified throughout Europe and North America following the perceived and actual centrality of Jews in the Russian Revolution.. Such feelings were not restricted to Germany, or to vulgar extremists like the Nazis. All over Northern Europe and North America, anti-Semitism became the norm in 'nice society', and 'nice society' included the universities." (Martin Bernal, Black Athena vol. 1 pp. 367, 387).
"The major role Jewish leaders played in the November (Russian) revolution was probably more important than any other factor in confirming (Hitler's) anti-Semitic beliefs." (J&S Pool, Who Financed Hitler, p.164).
Hitler came to power in Germany with two main aims, the rectification of the unjust provisions of the Versailles Treaty, and the destruction of the Soviet/ Communist threat to Germany. Strangely enough, contrary to the mythology created by those who had an opposing ethnic agenda, he had no plans or desire for a larger war of conquest. Professor AJP Taylor showed this in his book The Origins of the Second World War, to the disappointment of the professional western political establishment. Taylor says, "The state of German armament in 1939 gives the decisive proof that Hitler was not contemplating general war, and probably not intending war at all" (p.267), and "Even in 1939 the German army was not equipped for a prolonged war; and in 1940 the German land forces were inferior to the French in everything except leadership" (p104-5). What occurred in Europe in 1939-41 was the result of unforeseen weaknesses and a tipping of the balance of power, and Hitler was an opportunist ‘who took advantages whenever they offered themselves’ (Taylor). Britain and France declared war on Germany, not the other way around. Hitler wanted peace with Britain, as the German generals admitted (Basil Liddell Hart, The Other Side of the Hill 1948, Pan Books 1983) with regard to the so-called Halt Order at Dunkirk, where Hitler had the opportunity to capture the entire British Army, but chose not to. Liddell Hart, one of Britain’s most respected military historians, quotes the German General von Blumentritt with regard to this Halt Order:
"He (Hitler) then astonished us by speaking with admiration of the British Empire, of the necessity for its existence, and of the civilisation that Britain had brought into the world. He remarked, with a shrug of the shoulders, that the creation of its Empire had been achieved by means that were often harsh, but ‘where there is planing, there are shavings flying’. He compared the British Empire with the catholic Church – saying they were both essential elements of stability in the world. He said that all he wanted from Britain was that she should acknowledge Germany’s position on the Continent. The return of Germany’s colonies would be desirable but not essential, and he would even offer to support Britain with troops if she should be involved in difficulties anywhere.." (p 200).
According to Liddell Hart, "At the time we believed that the repulse of the Luftwaffe in the ‘Battle over Britain’ had saved her. That is only part of the explanation, the last part of it. The original cause, which goes much deeper, is that Hitler did not want to conquer England. He took little interest in the invasion preparations, and for weeks did nothing tospur them on; then, after a brief impulse to invade, he veered around again and suspended the preparations. He was preparing, instead, to invade Russia" (p140).
David Irving in the foreword to his book The Warpath (1978) refers to "the discovery.. that at no time did this man (Hitler) pose or intend a real threat to Britain or the Empire."
This gives a completely different complexion, not only to the war, but to the successful suppression of this information during the war and afterwards. Historians today know only too well where the boundaries lie within which they can paint their pictures of the war and its aftermath, and the consequences of venturing beyond those boundaries, irrespective of the evidence. Unfortunately, only too few of them have been prepared to have the courage to break out of this dreadful straitjacket of official and unofficial censorship.
E-mail comment received:
I worked and studied in Berlin for three years, have an MA in International Relations and a BA in Government with a minor in History. I am embarrassed to say that until I read this article, I had no idea of the scope and cause for the anti-Semitism in Germany before WWII. The Halt Order at Dunkirk was never mentioned in my studies, nor was the ownership of the media, banks and businesses.
Thank you for the excellent article. It certainly gives me a new perspective. I have always questioned the actual numbers of Jewish victims of the concentration camps, as the numbers didn't make sense based upon Germany's population. Perhaps it was fear of failing or being labeled an anti-Semite by my history professors (all but two were Jewish) and classmates that I refrained from demanding an honest discussion during my classes. I once said that the only reason Israel existed was out of Holocaust guilt, and I was immediately labeled a terrorist sympathizer.
I see what is now happening in Israel and I am aghast. The parallels to WW II are frightening. Even today, one cannot bring up this subject without being labeled a Holocaust denier or white supremacist.
Thanks again for an excellent article. I am forwarding it to several friends.