Having recently read William Shirer’s END OF BERLIN DIARY — which covers the time period immediately after WWII when the Allies discovered secret Nazi documents that shed light on the Nazis’ actual goals as opposed to their stated propaganda goals — I now read the daily news of Russia’s saber rattling about Ukraine with deep concern.
Here is food for sobering thought that Shirer talks about – the November 5, 1937, secret protocol of Hitler’s meeting with the heads of the armed services.
A summary reads with boldface mine:
On November 5, 1937, Hitler and the most important representatives of the military leadership held a secret conference at the Berlin Reich Chancellery. During this meeting, Hitler outlined his foreign policy goals for the near future. Depending on the state of the German economy, the status of rearmament, and the diplomatic situation, Hitler foresaw a German war of conquest as early as the following year (1938) and no later than 1943.
His National Socialist conception of race and his belief in the need for additional German “living space” [Lebensraum] provided the justification for his war plans, which he regarded as absolutely necessary.
Present at the conference were: Commander-in-Chief of the Army Werner von Fritsch, Commander of the Navy Admiral Erich von Raeder, Minister of Aviation Hermann Göring, Foreign Minister Konstantin von Neurath, and Minister of War Werner von Blomberg.
The following record of the secret conference was issued by Hitler’s military adjutant, Colonel Friedrich Hossbach, on November 10, 1937. The so-called Hossbach Protocol reveals Hitler’s incontrovertible intention to launch a European war as soon as possible.
I am now reading war correspondent Virginia Cowles’ 1941 memoir LOOKING FOR TROUBLE in which she writes:
To-day, it is no exaggeration to claim that out of the eleven countries smashed and overrun by Germany, half of them were destroyed, not by tanks, but by propaganda.
Besides the relevancy of this statement to contemporary political maneuverings, the question arises to which 11 countries she is referring in 1941. It seems likely that she means Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxemburg, France, Greece, Yugoslavia. And this is all before the Nazis broke the nonaggression pact with the Soviet Union in June 1941. See this entry from Wikipedia for more information on countries occupied or controlled by Nazi Germany.
In Shirer’s BERLIN DIARY written while he was a CBS radio correspondent in Germany during the first years of WWII, he talks about how frustrating it is to be summoned to German press briefings by the Ministry of Propaganda only to be fed blatant lies. (Not to mention that every news report he broadcast from Germany had to be approved beforehand by Nazi censors.)
Thus I found this statement in Cowles’ book fascinating (boldface mine):
When I was in the Propaganda Ministry one day, I walked into the wrong room by mistake and found over 200 German journalists gathered to receive their daily instructions… I was hustled out quickly and discovered later that I had invaded the holy of holies. The penalty for a German who revealed the instructions given at one of these conferences was death.
In conclusion, given the current political situation with Russia and Ukraine, will the world’s democracies demonstrate that they have learned from history? Or will this be a repetition of the thin edge of the wedge of handing over the Sudetenland one year before Nazi Germany invaded Poland?
And as a reminder of what all of us — Jews and other minorities — have to fear from our countries being invaded by other countries (especially totalitarian countries invading democratic countries), listen to the above podcast that is part 2 of the NEVER AGAIN IS NOW podcast examination of the new Anne Frank betrayal book. (Part 1 can be viewed on my Times of Israel post “Unraveling the Mystery of the Anne Frank Betrayal.”)