I’m not sure whether Pat Buchanan was always barking mad or if he’s just become so in the last decade. He was always someone who – in my mind – kind of defined the boundary between tolerable conservativism and political leanings that really needed to be pushed to the swamps well outside the mainstream of American political dialog.
But he’s certainly insane today, and I don’t completely understand why he has any kind of a reputation or following today.
His latest is a column that suggests that the British – by their reluctance to negotiate in good faith with Hitler – were responsible for the Holocaust. No, really.
What of World War II? Surely, it was necessary to declare war to stop Adolf Hitler from conquering the world and conducting the Holocaust.
Yet consider. Before Britain declared war on him, Hitler never demanded return of any lands lost at Versailles to the West. Northern Schleswig had gone to Denmark in 1919, Eupen and Malmedy had gone to Belgium, Alsace and Lorraine to France.
Why did Hitler not demand these lands back? Because he sought an alliance, or at least friendship, with Great Britain and knew any move on France would mean war with Britain — a war he never wanted.
If Hitler were out to conquer the world, why did he not build a great fleet? Why did he not demand the French fleet when France surrendered? Germany had to give up its High Seas Fleet in 1918.
Why did he build his own Maginot Line, the Western Wall, in the Rhineland, if he meant all along to invade France?
If he wanted war with the West, why did he offer peace after Poland and offer to end the war, again, after Dunkirk?
That Hitler was a rabid anti-Semite is undeniable. “Mein Kampf” is saturated in anti-Semitism. The Nuremberg Laws confirm it. But for the six years before Britain declared war, there was no Holocaust, and for two years after the war began, there was no Holocaust.
Not until midwinter 1942 was the Wannsee Conference held, where the Final Solution was on the table.
That conference was not convened until Hitler had been halted in Russia, was at war with America and sensed doom was inevitable. Then the trains began to roll.
And why did Hitler invade Russia? This writer quotes Hitler 10 times as saying that only by knocking out Russia could he convince Britain it could not win and must end the war.
Wow, it’s hard to know where to begin here.
Let’s start with a few facts. Hitler had been building concentration camps and killing the inmates in unsystematic ways since – 1933. The first industrial killing of Jews – generally considered to be the responsibility of the Einzatzgruppen – took place in the conquered Baltic and Russian territories during 1940 and 1941. Note that the invasion of France took place in 1940. By 1942 when the Wanasee Conference rationalized what had been a fairly ad-hoc killing regime – it’s not logistically easy to kill millions of people. It’s not clear how Buchanan constructs a logical bridge to get from 1940, and the beginning of the war with the British – and 1942, or how he dismisses the wholesale murders of Jews, Gypsies, gays, Poles and others that took place before 1942. Because there were certainly trains running before Wanasee.
And it may have escaped Buchanan’s notice, but the Germans built a few boats between 1935 and 1939 (See “Bismarck” and “Tirpitz”). They planned to build more, but the Z Plan, like many of Hitler’s industrial plans, couldn’t be supported by his industrial infrastructure.
In the years before the war, the Kriegsmarine believed that any military confrontation in the near future would not be against Great Britain again, Poland and France were seen as possible enemies and the naval construction was directed to with this possible enemies in mind. A possible confrontation with one of the major sea powers was not believed before the mid or late 1940, at a time where the Z-Plan should have been completed. As it got obvious that tensions with Great Britain started to rise in 1938, the fear of a military confrontation with Great Britain caused the increased speed of the introduction of the naval construction program. But even at this time, the Kriegsmarine still believed that a war with England was several years away.
Look, I’m not aware of a mainstream history of World War II that suggest that Hitler ‘accidentally’ invaded France. This is just crackpottery. Nor am I aware of any history that suggested that Hitler could have been dissuaded if we’d only let him invade Poland without declaring war.
There are two reasons why the metaphor of Hitler is brought up: The first is that there are some people so evil they just need to be defeated; and the second is that not everyone who sits down to negotiate really intends to settle.
I’ll add a third point, which is not that bringing up more morally or historically ambiguous points about Hitler is somehow off bounds – but that if you’re going to do something like that you’d best walk in the door with better facts and arguments than are displayed here.
This is the kind of clueless commentator that our mainstream media supports?