Review of “France: The Tragic Years” by Sisley Huddleston

It has always appeared to me that the tragedy of our time is that the public, in consonance without professed democratic principles, should presume to exercise a real control over diplomacy while being swayed by emotional sentiments which, in turn, sway the sentiments of those whose business it is to guide the destinies of nations; for it is utterly impossible for the public to grasp the elementary precepts, much less the subtleties, of diplomatic dealings.

Like all good reactionaries, I have these books sitting on my bookshelf. So, when Moldbug mentioned Sisley Huddleston’s book the other day, I thought I’d give it a go.

The book explains the lead up to WWII, the position of France during the war, and the peace that follows the war. Huddleston is an interesting guy. He was plugged into various diplomatic circles, he apparently worked at the League of Nations for a while, and – most importantly – he was correct about a lot of issues over a long period of time.

The book really shines when he focuses on France during the occupation – a subject about which I knew very little. I’ll spend most of the review on that topic.

Diplomats – including Huddleston – knew that the Soviets were negotiating a peace pact with the Germans as early as 1939. As one Russian diplomat said, “The USSR was born out of the first war, and a second would end in the Soveitization of Europe.” If Germany went to war with Britain and France, all potential outcomes were good for the Soviets.

Anyway, interesting diplomatic factoids aside, our story really starts at Dunkirk. Dunkirk is usually considered a miracle for the British. Huddleston’s take is quite different.

At Dunkirk, the French and the Belgians basically fell on their collective swords so that England could live to fight another day. To eliminate any additional miraculousness, Huddleston also notes that Germany chose to let the Brits escape, in hopes that they would make peace.

France thus plays a sacrificial role, which too few in England (and France) seemed to understand or appreciate. From this point on, the general outline of Huddleston’s tale emerges. The most noble people are those that stay with their country through the terrible conditions that followed. More precisely, the most noble actors are those who stuck with their country, acted to minimize the suffering of their countrymen while walking the fine line between not provoking the Germans into totally destroying France and yet not actively assisting the Germans.

These people were later condemned as collaborators by others that fled their countries for more comfortable conditions.

Leopold III, who chose to stay in Belgium, is an example of the more noble sort. But, Huddleston’s favorite is Petain, who chose to stay in, and lead – what was left of – France. The politicians, whose silly choices had led to this point, fled to live in the relative comfort of unoccupied countries. From afar, the politicians could take pot shots at their countrymen.

It’s worth pausing to think briefly about the armistice terms between Germany and France. The French-German armistice terms were harsh, but were far more lenient than unconditional surrender. The Germans praised the valor and courage of the French. The French were allowed to keep a government (headed by Petain) in the south (Vichy), and were allowed to keep their ships and their colonies. The French knew that they had to defend North Africa if they didn’t want the Germans to impose new terms.

Petain’s strategy is perhaps best summarized by the following quote, “If our allies come with two or three divisions, I will fire on them; if they come with twenty I will receive them with open arms.” This is the fine line that Petain walked during the remainder of the German occupation. He also walked this line to ensure that French citizens who remained in France were as comfortable as possible. For his efforts, he died in jail after De Gaulle returned from England. Such are often the costs of doing the right thing.

Much of the book then details Petain’s efforts to avoid helping the Germans while also retaining the ability to fight the Germans when the time came. For example, Petain could – at any time – have obtained more generous terms for the French people by handing over the French fleet to the Germans. He never did so.

Despite the fact that (via diplomatic channels) the Allies knew of Petain’s intentions, the Allies repeatedly antagonized the French. For example, see here.

More broadly, Petain’s goal was to get the Germans to trust the French enough to turn as much of their arms against Russia as possible. (As we’ll see in a moment, much of the hatred against “collaborators” was led by the Communists – though, perhaps this is only a coincidence).

Huddleston believed that Russia goaded Hitler into declaring war, as the war in the west slowed. Huddleston also believed that as soon as Germany and Russia started fighting, Churchill should have withdrawn so that Germany and Russia could concentrate on destroying each other. Petain may have been a collaborator, but Petain’s aims – if Huddleston is right about them – appear to have been much sounder than Churchill’s or Roosevelt’s.

I’ve covered this view of the end of WWII before, but Huddleston provides additional evidence that Russia won WWII and that American and British policy was incredibly inept at the end of the war. Fighting Japan (to the point of total ruin) removed the last barrier to Bolshevism in the East. And, as Huddleston puts it, “The world was made safe for Bolshevism at Teheran.”

Huddleston brings some new, relevant and interesting information to the table. Specifcally he notes that, as it become safer for the Resistance to operate in France, the movement was increasingly led by Communists. He goes so far as to note that during the worst years after the Liberation, France was essentially governed by the Communists. It’s also interesting to note that De Gaulle was first recognized by Soviets.

Huddleston doesn’t imply that De Gaulle was a Communist, but he does mean to suggest that the Communists tried to divide France as much as possible following the war.

When we come to the Liberation, the real tragedy unfolds. Everyone was accused of “collaboration.” Indeed, to have lived in France and survived during the war years necessitated a certain amount of “collaboration.” Could one reasonably have refused to sell goods to any German? Etc.

What followed was an orgy of accusation, imprisonment, summary execution and other atrocities. As Huddleston puts it, “There has never been, in the history of France, a bloodier period than that which followed the Liberation of 1944-1945.” He cites several sources (including foreign ones) that claim that at least a hundred thousand citizens were murdered.

The real tragedy was ultimately that the division created by the “patriots” (none of whom actually did anything to hasten the end of German control of France) destroyed the country:

Was it wise, from the national viewpoint, to hold up France to the mocking yet shocked gaze of the world, as a country in which the marshal, the generals, the ecclesiastics, the members of the prefects, the officials, the ministers, the writers, the intellectuals, the artists, were devoid of love of their country, and were ready–or in fact did–“sell out” France to the “hereditary enemy”? Was it wise to pretend that large sections of the French people were traitors or near traitors, and that only the emirges and a relatively small number of active (and sometimes imprudent) Resistants were patriotic?

Indeed, it was not wise. As with so many things that happened following WWII, it was not wise, it’s not easy to explain, and it seems only to have benefitted the Soviets.

It’s worth noting that Huddleston credits the Marshall Plan for saving France. It made the French choose – yes or no – whether or not they were with the Americans.

Advertisements

58 Responses to Review of “France: The Tragic Years” by Sisley Huddleston

  1. >>Huddleston provides additional evidence that Russia won WWII and that American and British policy was incredibly inept at the end of the war<<

    As I have said, it all worked out quite well for the Anglophone elite. The only thing that had to happen was that Germany be defeated. If the Russians overran and destroyed alien cultures- Catholic and Orthodox- it meant nothing to them and on the balance was probably a good thing. And while they enjoyed visiting France, they certainly didn't want to see it as an independent political rival, so no doubt occupying American and British troops were instructed to turn a blind eye to all this.

    There is a great, heartbreaking film about life under occupation and the aftermath, "Malena" with Monica Bellucci.

    The Spanish, on the other hand, *they* know what to do with a communist.

  2. fnn says:

    >At Dunkirk, the French and the Belgians basically fell on their collective swords so that England could live to fight another day. To eliminate any additional miraculousness, Huddleston also notes that Germany chose to let the Brits escape, in hopes that they would make peace.

    The version I remember is that Hitler’s Generals persuaded him to
    abstain from advancing on Dunkirk because the approaches were
    marshland that was very poor for tanks. But of course that could be BS.

    • RS says:

      That sounds a lot more probable to me. ‘Let m go’ sounds awfully quixotic unless you actually know of a hot nazi/neutralist coup in England that is seriously about to pull the trigger.

      • Josh says:

        Well, we do know ey were trying to make peace. Hearts and minds theory isn’t exactly new and this was before the civilian bombings had started.

        The redcoats did not pursue the unarmed rebels after bunker hill, so it’s certainly not unprecedented.

    • dearieme says:

      They needed to do a lot of repair work on their tanks after their sprint across France. They also needed to face South against the French counterattack they believed inevitable. (It’s only hindsight that says that the French were licked.) Moreover they had the troops at Dunkirk trapped since they didn’t think there was any chance of their being evacuated: the Luftwaffe controlled the skies and could, Goering promised, bomb them to hell.

      But that’s not how it turned out: WKPD reports “by the ninth day, a total of 338,226 soldiers (198,229 British and 139,997 French) had been rescued by the hastily assembled fleet of 850 boats.” The British lived to fight another day; the French were carried by train across the south of England and carried back over the Channel safely behind French lines, where they soon were part of the general French capitulation. The British troops left behind at Dunkirk to create capacity for evacuating the French must have been considerably pissed off.

      The speculation that the Germans chose to let the British escape has been investigated many times – it’s not inconceivable but it turns out that there is no evidence for it.

  3. Handle says:

    The account I heard from French relatives was that many of the persecutions, both official, and, ahem, “informal”, were highly arbitrary and had little if nothing at all to do with actual “collaboration” and much more to do with one’s potential for political opposition. It was an accusation of convenience used to justify all sorts of purging, intimidation, and petty personal score-settling all in the name of “justice.”

  4. SOBL1 says:

    I will add this to my book wish list.

    Dunkirk’s miracle was that Hitler watched his army units fight incredibly well right up to Dunkirk but then caved into Goering’s requests that the air force be given the job of bombing the Brits to death while waiting for the flotilla to rescue them. The pilots weren’t up to the task. It was the first of many Luftwaffe mistakes.

  5. Samson J. says:

    Foseti, you should compile a list of these sorts of books, perhaps have it on your sidebar or something, sorted by relevant country.

  6. RS says:

    > Huddleston believed that Russia goaded Hitler into declaring war

    Shortly after getting humiliated by the Finns? Cochran would ask. I also seem to recall Stalin hiding out and becoming ‘a man of wood’ for some days when barbarossa started. Cochran adds that the sovs were plenty mean, and might well have attacked several years later if they thought they could swing it.

    > Huddleston also believed that as soon as Germany and Russia started fighting, Churchill should have withdrawn so that Germany and Russia could concentrate on destroying each other.

    Most people seemed to have thought Germany would rock USSR. Which did sort of happen, ask Petrograd about it, or the wildly disproportionate Russian casualties. But voila, Stalingrad and the stall-out in front of Moscow. Tough mofos.

    • RS says:

      Cochran isn’t some discussion-ending authority. I’m basically saying, cool story, limitations exist.

      • Josh says:

        We’re getting into perhaps land, but perhaps they were promised big buckets of money and weapons from the usa.

      • RS says:

        That’s possible.

        It’s been pointed out that Stalingrad preceded the big actual push of aid. But it need not necessarily have preceded a big ol promise of aid.

      • RS says:

        If you want to be able to afford to mobilize a bunch of power to Stalingrad, nothing beats actually enhancing your total reified power, and moving a bunch thereof to Stalingrad.

        But if reliable promises can cover part of your predicted future power budget, that can also be a very real factor in letting you be able to afford to move power to Stalingrad. Words can be things.

    • Foseti says:

      “Shortly after getting humiliated by the Finns?”

      He does talk about this. He also talks about the Allies selling out the Finns later

      • Red says:

        I’ve heard that Russia stopped purging the military and brought back compliant commanders from the gulag after realization of exactly how badly the red army sucked. But then again the whole idea that the purges caused the red army to suck might have been nothing more than propaganda.

      • Red says:

        red army sucked against the finns*

      • Ace says:

        @Red

        In “Inside the Red Army,” Suvorov told of a Red Army Corps Commander, Rokossovskiy, being brought back into service after having had his toes hammered flat.

      • Tarl says:

        Incidentally that same “Viktor Suvorov” is dismissive of the effects of the purges and of the commonly accepted idea that the Finns humiliated the Red Army. Not saying I agree… just make of this what you will.

  7. Alrenous says:

    Aren’t you supposed to be disproving my glib Sophist theory?

    The Anglophones were not inept at destroying all non-sophist regimes. Second, they wanted France to fall on their swords again to maximize damage to non-sophist Germany and minimize that to sophist Russia. Again they were not-inept at persecuting those who resisted this goal.

    Anyone have a detailed history of public perception of Hitler? In my theory, he’s hated for being a traitor sophist, for converting a sophist Germany into a non-sophist Germany, necessitating a war to convert it back again. (Imagine how embarrassing their economy would have become by 1945 sans war.) This predicts that he was more or less fully demonized before the concentration camps were allowed to become public knowledge.

    If true:
    The cold war was a big brother trying to reign in an unruly little brother, or so they thought. Certainly not an existential war – most powerful anglophones would have thought they’d have little to lose in the event of Russian victory, imagining they’d be welcomed with open arms by the new regime.

    Present wars are most likely anti-sophist campaigns.

    Is Russia actually democratic and/or academ-ocratic? Or are they just pretending…and Putin would have got along well with Petain? (Thinking about this, I predict collaborating with the Soviets would have been fine.)

    These ‘ineptitudes’ are likely to be repeated. For example, cast the race conflict in America as Russia vs. Germany, count the parallels, subtract contrasts, and see what you get.

    • Federico says:

      Is Russia actually democratic?

      No.

      Their democracy is fraudulent. Putin is a dictator, and almost a Bodinian sovereign.

      Russian citizens’ idea that they should be a constitutional democracy keeps him somewhat in check. He needed an elaborate manoeuvre to stay in power once his term as President expired.

      Putin is a fervent nationalist, and I expect he would have seen eye-to-eye with Petain.

      • RS says:

        What does nationalism mean absent major trad or ethno elements? Just pride? Granted, there’s some level of trad there.

      • Alrenous says:

        Ah, thanks.

        “‘We don’t want to bargain,’ Voloshin said. ‘This is a bad war which will harm everyone. And Iraq has nothing to do with terrorism.’”

        Foolish Russia. Haven’t quite figured out that you don’t argue with the Cathedral. At least Putin doesn’t seem stupid enough to overtly declare a dictatorship.

      • Alrenous says:

        Internationalist elites don’t consider their subjects human. Worse than pigs, those “Very intelligent, sensitive” animals. They’d like to cleanse the world of the proles, only without actually using a final solution.

        Nationalist elites think their subjects are human. Perhaps care somewhat about them and maybe even feel they have a duty to see to their well-being.

    • RS says:

      U gonna gloss this bro? Are you basically saying Hitler is what you see is what you get? I suppose that’s pretty true. Most of his beliefs seem sincere. I think he was genuinely concerned about both the plight of German poor & degraded and the release of the potential of the best Germans — his unsettlingly predatory solution being to run very roughshod over Slavland, among other highly ‘activist’ schemes, but he didn’t really lie about it. Bolshis do not strike me as equally sincere ; they may have believed in disciplining the private sector to serve social well-being, as Hitler also did — but did they really go so far as to seriously believe in collective farms and total state ownership of capital, or was that largely a cover for a (somewhat effective, if brutal) industrial(izing) serfdom?

      I guess I’m pretty willing to see Hitler as naked brutal evil, USSR mendacious brutal evil, Angloland mendacious evil lite. While Russia seems rather degraded today, Angloland seems to have sophisted itself a little over the line — kind of lost the plot. I think Russia is pretty aware of veering too far into vice and disorder, while Angloland is just fucking dazed and confused beyond any obvious hope of recoherence or palingenesis.

  8. fnn says:

    “Thinking about this, I predict collaborating with the Soviets would have been fine.”

    Hasn’t this already been proven true?

  9. RS says:

    I don’t think Hitler enjoyed /nearly/ the good worldwide press of Mussolini — even long before he engaged in massive evil — partly because he came out adamantly against Jewry in ~’23 or earlier, long before the ’33 revolution. Italy barely had Jews, incidentally, and was very resistant to antijewish policy.

    USSR was already deeeep in the evil, but probably had better (ie, mixed) international press from what little I understand. Don’t get me wrong, Hitler at least /threatened/ lots of nastiness, is my impression(?), long before he mass-implemented any. He at least threatened mass war and conquest and probably(?) a sort of mass enserfment ; I’m not as sure about exterminations.

    Inside Germany he became an absolutely enormous hero ’33-39, because of the rapid economic improvements (sometimes alleged to be based not least on unsustainable deficit spending), and because he succeeded fantastically every time he took an audacious bite out of Versailles. Senior people were repeatedly terrified by his moves in this period, but he came out smelling like roses every single time. As for the war, I’m sure it was real popular early on ; it obviously became a nasty slog and neither he nor the Duce remained well-appreciated domestically after that turn. By ’43, ’44, quite a few senior NS/Army wanted to see him killed and I think feeling on the street was kind of mixed.

    • Alrenous says:

      Apparently your comments gave me enough of a nailhold to find some representative samples of press. Caveat, what the press thinks and what the peasants think aren’t quite the same.

      Hitler’s movement got good press, as it was explicitly compared to Mussolini’s, such as in this one, “Misfire of the German Mussolini” http://www.oldmagazinearticles.com/Hitler_in_the_1920s (vintage 1923)

      I would describe Hitler’s personal press as mild. Seen both in the above article, and these:

      http://rightcoast.typepad.com/rightcoast/2007/09/adolph-hitler-a.html

      “The message seemed to be, “This guy’s a big loon, but we think everything’s going to be okay, because he’s getting some adult supervision.””

      http://www.oldmagazinearticles.com/When_did_Hitler_come_to_Power_January_30_1933

      “Whether or not Hitler turns out to be a faker or a clown, those by his side now, and who may replace him later, are not to be joked with.”

      HItler: mass murdering genocidal modern-day Satan, or clown?

      I’m reassured that in the 1930s, the press was apparently read by adults. They didn’t flip from flowers and bunnies to the below in a few days, there had to be some transition. 1933 the Nazis had become concerning but not terrifying.

      Returning to the second link, in the run up to war, Hitler had mostly stopped being a clown.

      “On November 11, 1938, the Dallas Morning News’ top story was “HYSTERICAL NAZIS WRECK THOUSANDS OF JEWISH SHOPS, BURN SYNAGOGUES IN WILD ORGY OF LOOTING AND TERROR … The Houston Post’s lead story on November 23, 1939 was “NAZI GERMANY THREATENS TO EXTERMINATE JEWS”

      Well, I’ve perhaps been too easygoing about this evidence. Yes, modern press can pivot 90 degrees between one day and the next without their audience batting an eye, in extreme contrast to this. But did the 1930s press want to perform air show manoeuvres? I can’t be sure, but judging by the recognizably modern sophistries, I would suspect so.

      But either way, the press and its audience was vastly more respectable. Though we see modern sensationalism and propaganda in 38 and 39, it’s wartime. Who would expect different?

  10. RS says:

    > (Imagine how embarrassing their economy would have become by 1945 sans war.)

    Econ is kind of over my head, but I read most of ‘Wages of destruction’, which repeatedly suggested shaky economic fundamentals.

    I was therefore at least receptive when I heard people make more comprehensible (to me) suggestions about ’33-9 being kind of an orgy of deficit spending.

    If that’s really what happened to the sovereign balance sheet, and I don’t know for sure, then the likes of Kyle Bass might tell you that the sovereign debts would have tended to cause the war. His view is more or less that bad & worsening sovereign balance sheets are mutually-reenforcing with escalating bellicose thinking & stewing, and can be resolved by bellicose success. In case of bellicose failure you are of course ruined.

  11. RS says:

    > Nationalist elites think their subjects are human. Perhaps care somewhat about them and maybe even feel they have a duty to see to their well-being.

    Isn’t that basically because of ethny and tradition? Hence, in part, my eternal patience for sounding those two notes one more time.

  12. Tarl says:

    If Germany went to war with Britain and France, all potential outcomes were good for the Soviets.

    No, the outcome that actually happened was not good for the Soviets — a rapid defeat of France. The Soviets expected a repeat of WW1, i.e. prolonged stalemate that drained both sides.

    At Dunkirk, the French and the Belgians basically fell on their collective swords so that England could live to fight another day.

    Not really. The French kept fighting, but what other choice did they have? The Belgians surrendered a week after the Germans reached the Channel. What was their big sacrifice? They, too, were honor-bound to fight the invader regardless of what Britain did.

    The French were allowed to keep a government (headed by Petain) in the south (Vichy), and were allowed to keep their ships and their colonies.

    Mainly because Hitler knew that he wouldn’t get them if he demanded them, they’d only fall into the hands of the British.

    Petain could – at any time – have obtained more generous terms for the French people by handing over the French fleet to the Germans. He never did so.

    At the same time, he never did anything cogent to help the Allies after it was obvious the Allies were going to win. For example, he could have made plans for the French fleet to join the Allies if the Germans invaded Vichy. He didn’t.

    as soon as Germany and Russia started fighting, Churchill should have withdrawn so that Germany and Russia could concentrate on destroying each other.

    No. The outcome would then have been either the Third Reich victorious from the Atlantic to the Urals, or the Red Army arriving on the Channel coast. The best outcome for Britain is to keep fighting and hope to bring in the Americans so that Anglo-American forces can liberate western Europe rather than the Reds.

    as Huddleston puts it, “The world was made safe for Bolshevism at Teheran.”

    This is right, but TREASON is a better explanation than ineptitude. Roosevelt purposely wanted to make the world safe for Bolshevism, he did not blunder into this outcome by accident.

    • Foseti says:

      Occupying France and worrying about the Brits required a fairly large amount of troops.

      Also, I’ve never understood how anybody could “take” Russia. Even if you capture Moscow, you’re still at the end of a huge, vulnerable ad often frozen supply line. If Russia is willing to sacrifice enough people (which it is) it basically can’t lose.

      • Tarl says:

        Not really. About 75% of the German Army was in the East at least until 1943.

        Most of Russia’s industry and agriculture was in the western part of the country. Occupy that and you “take” Russia for all practical purposes.

      • Handle says:

        The question is more of one of preserving a regime – maintaining an organized armed opposition, command and control, communication, logistics, and most importantly, manufacture and supply of new armaments, in the face of the majority of the Wehrmacht’s onslaught.

        For what it’s worth, it was the general consensus of the war staff of every nation that the Soviets would collapse by the end of the summer without truly extraordinary coordinated assistance from the allies and the decision by Japan to opt out of a second front in Siberia.

        But that’s what happened, so the estimates were wrong.

      • rightsaidfred says:

        Yeah, I gather Goebbels went around saying “the Bolshevik state is like an overfilled pig’s bladder: prick it and it will burst.” (Kind of like what we heard before invading Iraq the second time.)

        Interesting how bad intelligence was at the time. I’ve heard Hitler threw a fit when none of his immediate staff knew where Pearl Harbor was after the event.

        Hitler remarked to Guderian that he would have thought twice about invading the Sovs if he knew they had so many tanks.

        When recalled home, the German ambassador to the US met Hitler with a mass of info on US armaments and industrial capability, but presented none of it. Instead, he sat and listened to Hitler rant about how weak was the US.

      • foseti says:

        All this is true. Still . . .

        We know several things. The Germans imposed an infinitely more lenient peace on the French than any of the Allies were willing to impose on the Germans. This is particularly interesting since the US and the Brits (and the French) should – for obvious strategic reasons – have wanted a reasonably strong Germany following the war.

        The German lenience also lends credence to the suggestion that they were willing to go a bit soft on the Brits as they retreated (as does Hitler’s stated long term goals, which didn’t include long-term was against the Brits).

        As for Russia, I still don’t understand how you “capture” it. So, you’re in Moscow with a few thousand files of destroyed farmland to your west. How do you “hold” that?

      • Tarl says:

        The Germans imposed an infinitely more lenient peace on the French than any of the Allies were willing to impose on the Germans.

        Here it is worth noting that the Allies had imposed a lenient peace on the Germans in 1919,- indeed, Versailles was much more lenient than what the Germans imposed on France in 1940 in a lot of ways – but the Germans had broken loose and overrun the continent again. When contemplating the unconditional surrender policy, it is worth keeping in mind that everyone at the time thought, “conditional surrender didn’t work last time.”

        the Brits (and the French) should – for obvious strategic reasons – have wanted a reasonably strong Germany following the war.

        Heh, the French at least might have disagreed with that. The British did, for a fact, want a reasonably strong Germany after the war, but knew that the total defeat and occupation of Germany was the only way to get there. A Germany “put back in its box” but with the Nazis or the Germany Army in charge was an obvious non-starter.

        Say what you want with the perspective of hindsight, at the time the Americans – and in particular, Roosevelt – simply did not want a strong Germany after the war. On the contrary, Roosevelt wanted Germany economically and militarily crippled, partitioned, and disarmed. His strategy was not based on a balance of power in Europe at all. His strategy was based on US-Soviet partnership, the basis for which was the elimination of threats to Soviet security (i.e., Germany and Japan) in Europe and Asia.

        The German lenience also lends credence to the suggestion that they were willing to go a bit soft on the Brits as they retreated

        For Britain to accept an armistice in 1940 would have been short-term thinking. The long-term implications for Britain would have been dire.

        As for Russia, I still don’t understand how you “capture” it. So, you’re in Moscow with a few thousand files of destroyed farmland to your west. How do you “hold” that?

        If you occupy Russian population and industrial centers – most of which are within range of the German army – then you can hold Russia because the Russians have no power to build an army to retake these centers from you.

      • Foseti says:

        Versailles was hugely more punitive than the terms between Germany and France after WWII.

        For example, the latter had no war guilt clauses, tried no one as (ex-post) war criminals, imposed no reparations, allowed France to keep her territories and her navy, and – perhaps most importantly – it was possible for France to live up to the terms of the treaty.

        “French at least might have disagreed with that”

        Which French? Huddleston cites lots of French who were much more afraid of Russian occupation than German. Certainly De Gaulle and the Communists disagreed, but it’s worth noting *which *French disagreed with what.

        I know what Roosevelt wanted. But it’s factually incorrect to claim that no one in the upper echelons of the US chain of command was concerned with the post-war situation with respect to Russia. ( https://foseti.wordpress.com/2012/10/01/review-of-wedemeyer-reports-by-albert-c-wedemeyer/). The more interesting question is why the entire process sorted itself out exactly the way Stalin would have designed it. Not just in Europe but also in Asia. Why on earth would Roosevelt want a Europe and Asia dominated by the Soviets? You say,

        “His strategy was based on US-Soviet partnership, the basis for which was the elimination of threats to Soviet security (i.e., Germany and Japan) in Europe and Asia.”

        But there were no threats to Soviet security in either place, there were only barriers to Soviet expansion. Helping secure an ally is a very different thing from laying the groundwork for the territorial expansion of an ally.

      • Tarl says:

        Versailles was hugely more punitive than the terms between Germany and France after WWII.

        For example, the latter had no war guilt clauses, tried no one as (ex-post) war criminals, imposed no reparations, allowed France to keep her territories and her navy, and – perhaps most importantly – it was possible for France to live up to the terms of the treaty.

        I disagree.

        With respect to colonies, the agreements of 1919 and 1940 simply recognized the facts on the ground at the time. In 1919, the Allies had conquered Germany’s colonies by force of arms, and therefore it was not “hugely punitive” for the Allies to keep them. Keeping conquered colonies was in keeping with centuries of European tradition. In 1940, Germany had not conquered any French colonies, and therefore had no right to demand them. More importantly, there is no doubt that the Germans knew that demanding colonies would be the same as handing the colonies to the British; not demanding colonies did not emerge from the desire to treat the French leniently but simply from the practical desire to deny them to Britain.

        As for reparations, take a look at Mark Mazower’s “Hitler’s Empire” and Gotz Aly’s “Hitler’s Beneficiaries”. The Germans plundered France ruthlessly for money, labor, capital, food, physical wealth, and war equipment. This far exceeded what the French imposed on the Germans after 1919. Worth noting is that the Germans billed the French for “occupation costs” at a rate that far exceeded the actual costs, and also pegged the Deutschmark at an artificial rate that gave the Germans excessively high buying power. The Germans kept millions of French prisoners as slaves, and rounded up over a million French civilians as forced labor. A “nice” occupation this was not.

        In 1940, the Germans occupied two thirds of the French homeland, including the capital city, and obtained the right of military transit across France. In 1919, the Allies did no such things to Germany.

        “It was possible for France to live up to the terms of the treaty” — so? It was possible for Germany to live up to the Versailles Treaty, too.

        Which French? Huddleston cites lots of French who were much more afraid of Russian occupation than German. Certainly De Gaulle and the Communists disagreed, but it’s worth noting *which *French disagreed with what.

        I suspect the French who feared Soviet occupation were small in number and importance compared to the number who feared German occupation.

        I know what Roosevelt wanted. But it’s factually incorrect to claim that no one in the upper echelons of the US chain of command was concerned with the post-war situation with respect to Russia.

        The people who expressed concern about Russia were ignored or sidelined. Everyone else got the message pretty quick. I don’t think even Wedemeyer had the courage to send that concern up the chain.

        The more interesting question is why the entire process sorted itself out exactly the way Stalin would have designed it. Not just in Europe but also in Asia. Why on earth would Roosevelt want a Europe and Asia dominated by the Soviets? You say,

        “His strategy was based on US-Soviet partnership, the basis for which was the elimination of threats to Soviet security (i.e., Germany and Japan) in Europe and Asia.”

        But there were no threats to Soviet security in either place, there were only barriers to Soviet expansion. Helping secure an ally is a very different thing from laying the groundwork for the territorial expansion of an ally.

        You may think the Soviets were not threatened in Europe or Asia in the 1930s, but they did not think so, nor did the American political elite.

        Roosevelt wanted Eurasia to look the way Stalin would have wanted it because Roosevelt thought that by thus appeasing Stalin, there would be no reason for Stalin to misbehave after the war. This of course flies in the face of all experience — which is that the appetite grows with the eating — including recent experience with Hitler. But nonetheless, it is incontrovertible that FDR thought he could appease Stalin, and that Stalin was appeasable. It is even more baffling that the American political elite persisted in attempting to appease the Soviets for forty years after the war — every single administration from Truman to Reagan sought “detente” with the Soviets.

        Ideology is certainly a factor. The inclination of the American political elite to trust the Soviets from 1933 to 1991 was in no way unrelated to the fact that the American political elite were themselves, with rare exceptions, Leftists. Pas d’ennemi à gauche, so to speak.

    • dearieme says:

      “The best outcome for Britain is to keep fighting and hope to bring in the Americans”: which Britain failed to achieve. It was Hitler who brought in the Americans by declaring war on them, perhaps the looniest decision of the war. I’m disappointed that conspiracy theorists don’t have an exciting explanation for it.

      • Tarl says:

        Hitler declared war partly because the Americans were behaving so un-neutrally in order to support the British (giving them vast quantities of money and military equipment, occupying Iceland, escorting convoys, fighting an undeclared war in the Atlantic, etc.) that Hitler figured he might as well get the benefit of unrestricted naval warfare against a country that was fighting him anyway.

        Germany would never have declared war on the USA had Britain not remained in the war and convinced the USA to support Britain, and Churchill deserves credit both for keeping Britain in the war and getting American support.

      • Handle says:

        @dearieme:

        I’m afraid that’s not a fair summary of the real history of America’s involvement in World War II and that Tarl’s synopsis is closer to the mark, but leaves out our interactions with the Japanese. The government was pro-British from the start, but was constrained by staunchly anti-war American public opinion and congressional opposition to international intervention. The story is one of doing all it could within these constrains to help the British, gradually massaging the politics to do more and more, and trying, with increasing recklessness and disregard for the international law at that time (which Roosevelt plainly admitted), to provoke an incident which would serve as the casus belli and help rally the population to throw their support behind full participation.

        The Tripartite powers were desperate to keep America out of the war and attempted to sue for peace on very generous terms, but met nothing but obvious stonewalling and intransigence from the inplacable Americans and it gradually dawned on them that the policy of trying to avoid conflict with the United States was futile and war was inevitable. The US government had already decided to wipe out their regimes.

        Frank Sanborn’s Design For War is an indispensable and excellent chronicle of these events.

      • dearieme says:

        Tarl, Handle – nah, those not the sort of exciting conspiracy theories I was hoping for. Nor, I’m sorry to say, do I think your suggestions quite measure up. What would have happened if Hitler hadn’t declared war on the US? No-one knows. but it must be worth some speculation.

      • Tarl says:

        Dearieme, are you familiar with the revisionist school of thought on FDR’s foreign policy prior to Pearl Harbor? Is that type of conspiracy theory not exciting enough for you?

        Not sure what you think doesn’t measure up. Can you be more specific?

        If Hitler had not declared war on the US, then the US would quickly have declared war on him. If you look at news stories on December 8 through 10, before the German declaration of war, you will see the White House arguing that Germany pushed Japan into war, and that Germany and Japan were conspiring together against America, and even that Germany participated in the Pearl Harbor attack. FDR was building a case for a declaration of war on Germany, and unlike the time before Pearl Harbor, public and Congressional opinion was solidly with him, and would have supported a declaration of war on Germany. But, the German declaration of war made this a moot point.

  13. Tarl says:

    Here is what Roosevelt proposed at Tehran. Not a “reasonably strong” Germany, but a Germany divided into five parts (and of course Austria would regain its independence) plus critical economic regions placed under international control (meaning, open to plunder by the Russians):

    THE PRESIDENT said he had a plan that he had thought up some
    months ago for the division of Germany in five parts, These five
    parts were:
    1. All Prussia to be rendered as small and weak as possible.
    2. Hanover and Northwest section.
    3. Saxony and Leipzig area.
    4. Hesse-Darmstadt
    Hesse-Kassel and the area South of the Rhine
    5. Bavaria, Baden, and Wurtemburg

    He proposed that these five areas should be self-governed and that there should be two regions under United Nations or some form of International control. These were:
    1. The area of the Kiel Canal and the City of Hamburg.
    2. The Ruhr and the Saar, the latter to be used for the benefit of all Europe.

  14. Handle says:

    Recommended (essential) reading on the subject: Defeat in Victory, by Jan Ciechanowski (for being the Free Polish ambassador to the United States during the war, he’s oddly absent from the English Wikipedia, maybe it’s a spelling thing.) Our ambassador to them was this fascinating character.

  15. RS says:

    > [foseti] Also, I’ve never understood how anybody could “take” Russia. Even if you capture Moscow, you’re still at the end of a huge, vulnerable ad often frozen supply line. If Russia is willing to sacrifice enough people (which it is) it basically can’t lose.

    They did use scorched earth extensively in WWII and I’m almost sure against Bonaparte. There were also plans in WWII, partly implemented, to move shit west. My guess is that this would’ve been less than spectacularly efficient. Nevertheless, the infinite strategic depth of Russia (the technical term for having a ton of space) was certainly much-cited in the report to Churchill about possibly attacking Stalin in 45. You and I are too old to take these reports at face value, but there’s probably a lot more than a grain of truth there. Also the Red Army was still 10 M at that time.

    I think Tarl and Handle are on the right track, combined with my thoughts above. The German command seemed pretty sure they could get the Red Army to give battle pretty much to the end in front of Moskva, and pretty much finish the war — especially, I’d venture to guess, after Petrograd was blockaded and basically mass starved. Getting a high percentage of the people and factories out of Mosc and over to the Urals would have been an imposing bill in roubles and morale at that point. While Russia is justly celebrated for incredible hardiness, cruelty, and collectivism, I think largely because they faced Turkic raids since basically forever until 1500, they are not indomitable, as seen in WWI.

    In theory, after capture of Mosc, Japs and/or Yanks could have landed in the east, if they somehow felt like it. Whether that would have any chance of being effective might have depended on the success of the other German goal in USSR, which was to get the oil in the south. Sure, the nazi empire was gassifying coal, but they were starving for coal, and food basically, so they needed oil, hence the oft-questioned (overambitious?) dual-prong aspect of barbarossa. It’s not like they had a whole Montana of coal (or well-fed miners to spare) ; rather the opposite. Where a lot of coal was in Europe was, was Britain.

    • RS says:

      > They did use scorched earth extensively in WWII and I’m almost sure against Bonaparte. There were also plans in WWII, partly implemented, to move shit west

      east

  16. RS says:

    > When recalled home, the German ambassador to the US met Hitler with a mass of info on US armaments and industrial capability, but presented none of it. Instead, he sat and listened to Hitler rant about how weak was the US.

    That may have been dissumulative propaganda, or drug and desperation induced wishful thinking. I haven’t read Hitler’s unpublished “second book” (or even much of Mein Kampf), but I think it is well-authenticated and predates the war and even the ’33-5 revolution. It holds that the Nordish-Jewish combo found in the US is extremely potent, and forecasts a final hot war decades later.

  17. dearieme says:

    “If Hitler had not declared war on the US, then the US would quickly have declared war on him”. Maybe.

    • Foseti says:

      The US would never have declared war first. They would have just kept provoking Germany. After enough provocation, Germany would have eventually declared war first.

      • Tarl says:

        Nah. After Pearl Harbor, the gate was wide open for FDR to declare war on Germany. Isolationism was dead.

        Just look at the excerpt from FDR’s Fireside Chat on December 9 (before Germany declared war). These are not the words of a man who is going to wait to declare war if Hitler doesn’t do it first.

        Your Government knows that for weeks Germany has been telling Japan that if Japan did not attack the United States, Japan would not share in dividing the spoils with Germany when peace came. She was promised by Germany that if she came in she would receive the complete and perpetual control of the whole of the Pacific area—and that means not only the Far East, but also all of the islands in the Pacific, and also a stranglehold on the west coast of North, Central, and South America.

        We know also that Germany and Japan are conducting their military and naval operations in accordance with a joint plan. That plan considers all peoples and Nations which are not helping the Axis powers as common enemies of each and every one of the Axis powers.

        That is their simple and obvious grand strategy. And that is why the American people must realize that it can be matched only with similar grand strategy. We must realize for example that Japanese successes against the United States in the Pacific are helpful to German operations in Libya; that any German success against the Caucasus is inevitably an assistance to Japan in her operations against the Dutch East Indies; that a German attack against Algiers or Morocco opens the way to a German attack against South America, and the Canal.

        On the other side of the picture, we must learn also to know that guerrilla warfare against the Germans in, let us say, Serbia or Norway helps us; that a successful Russian offensive against the Germans helps us; and that British successes on land or sea in any part of the world strengthen our hands.

        Remember always that Germany and Italy, regardless of any formal declaration of war, consider themselves at war with the United States at this moment just as much as they consider themselves at war with Britain or Russia. And Germany puts all the other Republics of the Americas into the same category of enemies. The people of our sister Republics of this hemisphere can be honored by that fact.

        The true goal we seek is far above and beyond the ugly field of battle. When we resort to force, as now we must, we are determined that this force shall be directed toward ultimate good as well as against immediate evil. We Americans are not destroyers —we are builders.

        We are now in the midst of a war, not for conquest, not for vengeance, but for a world in which this Nation, and all that this Nation represents, will be safe for our children. We expect to eliminate We expect to eliminate the danger from Japan, but it would serve us ill if we accomplished that and found that the rest of the world was dominated by Hitler and Mussolini.

  18. […] definition excludes people like General Wedemeyer, Joseph McCarthy, Sisley Huddleston, John T. Flynn and perhaps even General MacArthur.  It may include some inconvenient people, but […]

  19. […] One Dozen Candles: The Americanist Library. Start with Joseph McCarthy’s (yeah, that Joseph McCarthy) America’s Retreat from Victory. Foseti wrote about Huddleston’s France: The Tragic Years here. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: