“Much of the current political legitimacy of today’s American government and its various European vassal-states is founded upon a particular narrative history of World War II, and challenging that account might have dire political consequences.”—Ron Unz
Question 1: Hitler
Let’s start with Hitler. In the West it is universally accepted that:
- Hitler started WW2
- Hitler’s invasion of Poland was the first step in a broader campaign aimed at world domination
Is this interpretation of WW2 true or false? And, if it is false, then—in your opinion—what was Hitler trying to achieve in Poland and could WW2 have been avoided?
Ron Unz—Until the last dozen years or so, my views on historical events had always been fairly conventional, formed from the classes I’d taken in college and the uniform media narrative I’d absorbed over the decades. This included my understanding of World War II, the greatest military conflict in human history, whose outcome had shaped our modern world.
But in the years after the 9/11 Attacks and the Iraq War, I’d grown more and more suspicious of the honesty of our mainstream media, and begun to recognize that history books often merely represent a congealed version of such past media distortions. The growth of the Internet has unleashed a vast quantity of unorthodox ideas of all possible flavors and since 2000 I’d been working on a project to digitize the archives of our leading publications of the last 150 years, which gave me convenient access to information not easily available to anyone else. So as I later wrote:
Aside from the evidence of our own senses, almost everything we know about the past or the news of today comes from bits of ink on paper or colored pixels on a screen, and fortunately over the last decade or two the growth of the Internet has vastly widened the range of information available to us in that latter category. Even if the overwhelming majority of the unorthodox claims provided by such non-traditional web-based sources is incorrect, at least there now exists the possibility of extracting vital nuggets of truth from vast mountains of falsehood. Certainly the events of the past dozen years have forced me to completely recalibrate my own reality-detection apparatus.
As a consequence of all these developments, I published my original American Pravda article a decade ago, which contained that passage. In that article I emphasized that what our history books and media told us about the world and its past might often be just as dishonest and distorted as the notorious Pravda of the vanished USSR.
- Our American Pravda
Ron Unz • The American Conservative • April 29, 2013 • 4,500 Words
At first, my focus had been on more recent historical events, but I soon began doing a great deal of reading and investigation into the history of World War II as well, gradually realizing that a large fraction of everything I’d always accepted about that war was completely incorrect.
Perhaps I shouldn’t have been too surprised to discover this. After all, if our media could lie so blatantly about events in the here and now, why should we trust it on matters that had happened long ago and far away?
I eventually concluded that the true history of World War II was not only quite different from what most of us had always believed, but was largely inverted. Our mainstream history books had been telling the story upside-down and backwards.
With regard to Hitler and the outbreak of the war, I think an excellent starting point would be Origins of the Second World War, a classic work published in 1961 by renowned Oxford historian A.J.P. Taylor. As I described his conclusions in 2019:
Hitler’s final demand, that 95% German Danzig be returned to Germany just as its inhabitants desired, was an absolutely reasonable one, and only a dreadful diplomatic blunder by the British had led the Poles to refuse the request, thereby provoking the war. The widespread later claim that Hitler sought to conquer the world was totally absurd, and the German leader had actually made every effort to avoid war with Britain or France. Indeed, he was generally quite friendly towards the Poles and had been hoping to enlist Poland as a German ally against the menace of Stalin’s Soviet Union.
The recent 70th anniversary of the outbreak of the conflict that consumed so many tens of millions of lives naturally provoked numerous historical articles, and the resulting discussion led me to dig out my old copy of Taylor’s short volume, which I reread for the first time in nearly forty years. I found it just as masterful and persuasive as I had back in my college dorm room days, and the glowing cover-blurbs suggested some of the immediate acclaim the work had received. The Washington Post lauded the author as “Britain’s most prominent living historian,” World Politics called it “Powerfully argued, brilliantly written, and always persuasive,” The New Statesman, Britain leading leftist magazine, described it as “A masterpiece: lucid, compassionate, beautifully written,” and the august Times Literary Supplement characterized it as “simple, devastating, superlatively readable, and deeply disturbing.” As an international best-seller, it surely ranks as Taylor’s most famous work, and I can easily understand why it was still on my college required reading list nearly two decades after its original publication.
Yet in revisiting Taylor’s ground-breaking study, I made a remarkable discovery. Despite all the international sales and critical acclaim, the book’s findings soon aroused tremendous hostility in certain quarters. Taylor’s lectures at Oxford had been enormously popular for a quarter century, but as a direct result of the controversy “Britain’s most prominent living historian” was summarily purged from the faculty not long afterwards. At the beginning of his first chapter, Taylor had noted how strange he found it that more than twenty years after the start of the world’s most cataclysmic war no serious history had been produced carefully analyzing the outbreak. Perhaps the retaliation that he encountered led him to better understand part of that puzzle.
Numerous other leading scholars and journalists, both contemporaneous and more recent, have come to very similar conclusions, but they too often suffered severe retaliation for their honest historical assessments. For decades William Henry Chamberlin had been one of America’s most highly-regarded foreign policy journalists, but after he published America’s Second Crusade in 1950, he vanished from most mainstream publications. David Irving quite possibly ranks as the most internationally successful British historian of the last 100 years, with his seminal books on World War II receiving enormous critical praise and selling in the millions; but he was driven into personal bankruptcy and narrowly avoided spending the rest of his life in an Austrian prison.
By the late 1930s Hitler had resurrected Germany, which had become newly prosperous under his rule, and he had also managed to reunite it with several separated German populations. As a result, he was widely recognized as one of the most successful and popular leaders in the world, and he hoped to finally settle the Polish border dispute, offering concessions far more generous than any of his democratically-elected Weimar predecessors had ever considered. But Poland’s dictatorship instead spent months rejecting his attempts at negotiations and also began brutal mistreatment of its German minority, finally forcing Hitler into declaring war. And as I discussed in 2019, provoking that war may have been the deliberate goal of certain powerful figures.
Perhaps the most obvious of these is the question of the true origins of the war, which laid waste to much of Europe, killed perhaps fifty or sixty million, and gave rise to the subsequent Cold War era in which Communist regimes controlled half of the entire Eurasian world-continent. Taylor, Irving, and numerous others have thoroughly debunked the ridiculous mythology that the cause lay in Hitler’s mad desire for world conquest, but if the German dictator clearly bore only minor responsibility, was there indeed any true culprit? Or did this massively-destructive world war come about in somewhat similar fashion to its predecessor, which our conventional histories treat as mostly due to a collection of blunders, misunderstandings, and thoughtless escalations?
During the 1930s, John T. Flynn was one of America’s most influential progressive journalists, and although he had begun as a strong supporter of Roosevelt and his New Deal, he gradually became a sharp critic, concluding that FDR’s various governmental schemes had failed to revive the American economy. Then in 1937 a new economic collapse spiked unemployment back to the same levels as when the president had first entered office, confirming Flynn in his harsh verdict. And as I wrote last year:
Indeed, Flynn alleges that by late 1937, FDR had turned towards an aggressive foreign policy aimed at involving the country in a major foreign war, primarily because he believed that this was the only route out of his desperate economic and political box, a stratagem not unknown among national leaders throughout history. In his January 5, 1938 New Republic column, he alerted his disbelieving readers to the looming prospect of a large naval military build-up and warfare on the horizon after a top Roosevelt adviser had privately boasted to him that a large bout of “military Keynesianism” and a major war would cure the country’s seemingly insurmountable economic problems. At that time, war with Japan, possibly over Latin American interests, seemed the intended goal, but developing events in Europe soon persuaded FDR that fomenting a general war against Germany was the best course of action. Memoirs and other historical documents obtained by later researchers seem to generally support Flynn’s accusations by indicating that Roosevelt ordered his diplomats to exert enormous pressure upon both the British and Polish governments to avoid any negotiated settlement with Germany, thereby leading to the outbreak of World War II in 1939.
The last point is an important one since the confidential opinions of those closest to important historical events should be accorded considerable evidentiary weight. In a recent article John Wear mustered the numerous contemporaneous assessments that implicated FDR as a pivotal figure in orchestrating the world war by his constant pressure upon the British political leadership, a policy that he privately even admitted could mean his impeachment if revealed. Among other testimony, we have the statements of the Polish and British ambassadors to Washington and the American ambassador to London, who also passed along the concurring opinion of Prime Minister Chamberlain himself. Indeed, the German capture and publication of secret Polish diplomatic documents in 1939 had already revealed much of this information, and William Henry Chamberlin confirmed their authenticity in his 1950 book. But since the mainstream media never reported any of this information, these facts remain little known even today.
I discussed these historical events at great length in my 2019 article:
- American Pravda: Understanding World War II
Ron Unz • The Unz Review • September 23, 2019 • 20,500 Words
Question 2: The London “Blitz”
Germany launched the “Blitz” on England in order to terrorize the British people into submission. Do you agree with this or were there other factors involved which have been omitted in western history textbooks? (Like Churchill’s bombing of Berlin?)
Ron Unz—Once again, this standard account of World War II is largely the opposite of the truth. In that era, the aerial bombardment of urban centers far behind military lines was illegal and considered a war crime, with Hitler having absolutely no intention of attacking Britain’s cities in that way.
Indeed, the German leader had always had favorable views toward Britain and also believed that the preservation of the British Empire was in Germany’s strategic interest since its collapse would create a geopolitical vacuum that might be filled by a rival power.
After Germany attacked Poland, Britain and France declared war. The Polish army was defeated in just a few weeks, and Hitler then offered to withdraw his forces from the Polish territories they had occupied and make peace, but the two Western powers vowed to continue the war until Germany was crushed. Little fighting occurred until spring of 1940 when the Germans finally attacked and defeated the huge French army, seizing Paris and knocking France out of the war.
The British forces were evacuated at Dunkirk and there’s quite a lot of evidence that Hitler deliberately allowed them to escape as a face-saving gesture rather than ordering them captured. He followed his victory in France by offering extremely generous terms to the British government, making no demands against them and instead proposing a German alliance, including military support for protecting the security of their worldwide empire. Hitler naturally believed that they would accept such an attractive offer and end the war, which he assumed was essentially over.
Several of the top British leaders seemed eager to make peace on Hitler’s generous terms, and according to the evidence found by renowned British historian David Irving, Prime Minister Winston Churchill himself seemed willing to do so before changing his mind and pulling back. Churchill had spent decades seeking to become Prime Minister, and Irving plausibly argues he realized that losing a disastrous war within weeks of finally achieving that position would have rendered him a laughingstock in the history books.
But given Britain’s military defeat on the Continent and the very generous terms Hitler was offering, Churchill faced a huge problem in persuading his country to continue a war that was widely regarded as lost. Therefore, he began ordering a series of bombing raids against the German capital, an illegal war crime, hoping to provoke a German response. This led Hitler to repeatedly warn that if they continued bombing his cities, he would be forced to retaliate in kind, and he finally did so. Since the British public was unaware that their own government had initiated the campaign of urban bombing, they regarded those retaliatory German aerial attacks as monstrous, unprovoked war crimes, and just as Churchill had hoped, they became fully committed to continuing the war against Germany.
Irving and others explain all these important facts in their books, and a riveting Irving lecture summarizing his information is still available on Bitchute after having been purged from Youtube.
Irving is a crucial source for much important information on the war and in 2018 I explained why the results of a high-profile lawsuit against Deborah Lipstadt had demonstrated that his historical research was extremely reliable:
These zealous ethnic-activists began a coordinated campaign to pressure Irving’s prestigious publishers into dropping his books, while also disrupting his frequent international speaking tours and even lobbying countries to bar him from entry. They maintained a drumbeat of media vilification, continually blackening his name and his research skills, even going so far as to denounce him as a “Nazi” and a “Hitler-lover,” just as had similarly been done in the case of Prof. Wilson.
That legal battle was certainly a David-and-Goliath affair, with wealthy Jewish movie producers and corporate executives providing a huge war-chest of $13 million to Lipstadt’s side, allowing her to fund a veritable army of 40 researchers and legal experts, captained by one of Britain’s most successful Jewish divorce lawyers. By contrast, Irving, being an impecunious historian, was forced to defend himself without benefit of legal counsel.
In real life unlike in fable, the Goliaths of this world are almost invariably triumphant, and this case was no exception, with Irving being driven into personal bankruptcy, resulting in the loss of his fine central London home. But seen from the longer perspective of history, I think the victory of his tormentors was a remarkably Pyrrhic one.
Although the target of their unleashed hatred was Irving’s alleged “Holocaust denial,” as near as I can tell, that particular topic was almost entirely absent from all of Irving’s dozens of books, and exactly that very silence was what had provoked their spittle-flecked outrage. Therefore, lacking such a clear target, their lavishly-funded corps of researchers and fact-checkers instead spent a year or more apparently performing a line-by-line and footnote-by-footnote review of everything Irving had ever published, seeking to locate every single historical error that could possibly cast him in a bad professional light. With almost limitless money and manpower, they even utilized the process of legal discovery to subpoena and read the thousands of pages in his bound personal diaries and correspondence, thereby hoping to find some evidence of his “wicked thoughts.” Denial, a 2016 Hollywood film co-written by Lipstadt, may provide a reasonable outline of the sequence of events as seen from her perspective.
Yet despite such massive financial and human resources, they apparently came up almost entirely empty, at least if Lipstadt’s triumphalist 2005 book History on Trial may be credited. Across four decades of research and writing, which had produced numerous controversial historical claims of the most astonishing nature, they only managed to find a couple of dozen rather minor alleged errors of fact or interpretation, most of these ambiguous or disputed. And the worst they discovered after reading every page of the many linear meters of Irving’s personal diaries was that he had once composed a short “racially insensitive” ditty for his infant daughter, a trivial item which they naturally then trumpeted as proof that he was a “racist.” Thus, they seemingly admitted that Irving’s enormous corpus of historical texts was perhaps 99.9% accurate.
I think this silence of “the dog that didn’t bark” echoes with thunderclap volume. I’m not aware of any other academic scholar in the entire history of the world who has had all his decades of lifetime work subjected to such painstakingly exhaustive hostile scrutiny. And since Irving apparently passed that test with such flying colors, I think we can regard almost every astonishing claim in all of his books—as recapitulated in his videos—as absolutely accurate.
- The Remarkable Historiography of David Irving
Ron Unz • The Unz Review • June 4, 2018 • 1,700 Words