Saturday, June 21, 2008

Wait Pat, Did You And Barack Have The Same History Professor?

Pat Buchanan has a new book out, Churchill, Hitler, and "The Unnecessary War": How Britain Lost Its Empire and the West Lost the World, that, despite his best efforts, has been getting panned by many, including Victor Davis Hansen, whom I have a great deal of respect for as an historian.

I have not read the book yet but it is my understanding that people disagree with Buchanan's interpretation of history and his cherry picking of historical fact. Leaving out what is inconvenient to his premise, that Hitler was (well not to bring up recent wounds) "contained" and was not out to conquer the world. Christopher Hitchens hit him hard in a column earlier this week on theses issues.

It is Pat's belief that the war was made necessary by the mistaken policies of the British (specifically Churchill) and that the war was the cause of many of the terrors of that followed, not Hitler and the Nazi's.

Yesterday he published a column that was posted to entitled, Was the Holocaust Inevitable? Here is a bit of the column:

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?

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.

Hitchens mocks this view, invoking the Hitler-madman theory.

"Could we have a better definition of derangement and megalomania than the case of a dictator who overrules his own generals and invades Russia in wintertime ... ?"

Christopher, Hitler invaded Russia on June 22.

The Holocaust was not a cause of the war, but a consequence of the war. No war, no Holocaust.

He then finishes by correctly pointing out that Western Europe was not freed by WWII and that Stalin was worse then Hitler.

Again, I have not read the book, but when I read this column my first thought was, "wow, this guy completely missed some historical facts growing up! What, did Buchanan and Obama both go to the same school or something?" Both he and Obama have demonstrated fundamentally flawed views of historical facts.

(To my surprise I found that Columbia University WAS on both of their resumes, Pat attended Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and Barack attended Columbia University as an undergrad.)

Let me just make a couple of corrections to the two points quoted from Buchanan's column quoted above.

Why didn't Hitler build a great fleet?

In reality Hitler had actually begun doing just that with Plan-Z (German Navy -- History ):

The Z-Plan was Germanys fleet building program started shortly before World War 2.

In the mid 1930s a major discussion about a new fleet program started in Germany. There were two major opinions, what kind of program should have been chosen. One plan was focused on a large submarine fleet and a relatively small surface fleet for coast protection, this plan was preferred by the U-Boat fraction in the Kriegsmarine command. The other alternative was a mixed fleet of various surface ships and a much smaller U-Boat fleet, quite similar to the Imperial Navy in World War I or the British Royal Navy. In the end, this plan was chosen as the new fleet building program, after several modifications it was called the "Z-Plan".

According to this plan, the German Kriegsmarine should have grown to about 800 units, consisting of 13 battleships and battlecruisers, 4 aircraft carriers, 15 Panzerschiffe, 23 cruisers and 22 so called "Spähkreuzer" which were basically large destroyers. In addition to this many smaller vessels should have been build.

Those ships should have been build between 1939 and 1946, in this time, the personal of the Kriegsmarine should have been enlarged to 201.000 men and over 33 billion Reichsmark should have spend for building the new units.

When Plan-Z was implemented Hitler had promised the woefully unprepared German Navy that there would not a be war until 1945, his invasion of Poland short-circuited his own build up plans. Had Churchill waited he would have been met with a formidable fleet that would have put Hitler in a far stronger position then he was in 1939.

For comparison the Royal Navy was, in 1939, the largest naval force in the world. However the Home Water and Atlantic fleet contained just 9 Battleships, 4 Aircraft carriers, 35 cruisers, 95 Destroyers, 25 submarines and support vessels. The Navy had 200,000 men in service. Of the capital ships only 2 were built after WWI, the sea air power was limited to short range slow moving aircraft and the surface ships were unprepared for submarine warfare. While a build up was underway many of these ships were intended as replacements for the older ships and were built under the restrictions of tonnage, gun size, total fleet tonnage, and start date for new construction that was agreed to under the naval treaties post WWI. Hitler undermined these treaties during the 1930's and with the start of Plan-Z completely abandoned them.

Clearly German's planned fleet of newly designed and built vessels, unrestricted by treaty size, would have been a direct challenge to Britain had the war been put off for a few more years.

This doesn't include the Italian Navy which ranked 5th in size behind France,

Why didn't Hitler demand the French fleet?

In reality Hitler did demand that the French fleet be returned and neutralized, either scuttled or interred, "under German or Italian supervision."

With the start of war in advance of Hitlers planned naval build up there was a change in German Naval policy from that of Plan-Z as described above to the other major alternative, a large submarine fleet and a relatively small surface fleet for coastal protection. With that change in strategy Germany simply did not have the manpower available to man the fourth largest fleet in the world at that time.

However it was feared by the allies that this would leave the French fleet available in the future should Germany demand it and the main body of the French Fleet was destroyed by the British at the battle of Mers-el-Kebir. It is really not possible to know what Hitler would have done with the fleet had it been allowed to return to France.

For the six years before Britain declared war, there was no Holocaust, and for two years after the war began, there was no Holocaust.

In reality:

Hitler hesitated to eliminate Germans he considered undesirable by systematic killing. In 1935, he told Dr. Wagner he was considering a program of involuntary euthanasia and would start it in wartime. In 1938 he stopped waiting for war, deciding to use instead the cover of a health program and to keep the killing secret. Children were the first victims, as midwives and nurses were instructed to report births of defective infants (a category enlarged during the war to include “racially undesirable” ones). Thousands were killed by injection or deliberate starvation.

The killing was soon extended to adults, beginning with people in mental hospitals.


Up to 1939, about seventy thousand adults were killed. (…)

By 1940, the “euthanasia” program was a cover for killing political prisoners, slave laborers, Jews, half-Jewish children, and Gypsies.

Pat Buchanan has presented himself as some "conservative" standard bearer intent on preventing a repeat of some version of history he has constructed in his mind. Rather as his own column demonstrates he doesn't even have a basic knowledge of the subject.
Buchanan Column Via Gateway Pundit -- Nazi Tool Pat Buchanan Says Hitler Did Not Plan Holocaust


Frank said...

I mentioned your post in a comment at Wizbang but I thought your excellent post deserved a comment here. Well done and thanks.

LifeTrek said...

Thanks Frank!

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