Tag archives: World War II

Auschwitz Liberated 1.27.45

by Robert Morrison

January 27, 2015

The 2001 BBC film Conspiracy can be viewed on YouTube. The film opens servants preparing a great feast in an elegant mansion. Next, we see a snowy scene, looking down upon a forested lakeside villa The date of this gathering is January 20, 1942.

Black cars roll up to the front door of an elegant mansion. Out of those cars step dignified middle-aged European men who appear to be bankers or diplomats. They look sober and occupied in thought in their heavy topcoats and snap-brim fedoras.

Inside, the kitchens, halls, and conference room are being prepared. Tapestries and fine paintings line the walls, richly woven Oriental rugs are rolled out for the distinguished guests.

Liveried servants put out cut flowers—a festive touch for the dead of winter. At first, this film would appear to yet another episode of the popular PBS series Downton Abbey, with maids and butlers and footmen polishing the silver, placing name cards at each seat of the conference table. The best of salmon, meats and cheeses, caviar, wines and liqueurs are provided for the conferees.

A small plane circles above, preparing to land on the lake. On its wings we see Swastikas. This will be no party at a grand English country home. No, this is Wansee, a fashionable district in Berlin. As yet, this section on the outskirts of Hitler’s capital has not suffered bomb damage from nightly air raids by the Royal Air Force.

They are soon followed by an assortment of men in uniform. All the Mercedes have swastika flags. Out of these vehicles steps an assortment of men in military uniforms. Most are trim and fit. These are the notorious SS, the elite Nazi force with the Death’s Head on their high-peaked caps. Others of the conferees are fat and swinish. These are the Nazi party hacks.

British actor Kenneth Branagh, one of that nation’s greatest dramatic stars, plays SS General Reinhard Heydrich. Branagh makes no attempt at a German accent. But within minutes, he is Heydrich.

Slick, blond, affecting a hail-fellow-well-met manner, he moves the meeting along with Teutonic efficiency. Soon, very soon, it becomes clear what these men mean by the “Final Solution to the Jewish Question in Europe.” They are there to plan mass murder of the Jews.

One of the participants, the tall and courtly civilian, Dr. Friedrich Wilhelm Kritzlinger, is the Deputy Chief of the Reich Chancellery. He alone is troubled enough by what he is hearing to get up from the table and walk into the hallway. He comes back into the meeting, pale and shaken.

That we have determined to systematically annihilate all the Jews of Europe—that possibility has been explicitly denied to me by the Führer,” he says, expecting that Hitler’s personal assurances will stop the trains on their way to Auschwitz.

Heydrich does not miss a beat. Smiling benevolently, he says: “And it will continue to be.
Holocaust denial is born in that Wanseekonferenz—the same room in which the mass murders are planned in chilling detail.

We will outfit Auschwitz with “shower rooms.” They victims will be herded into the gas chambers, told they are there for de-lousing. They will be gassed and their bodies burned at the rate of 2500/hour. Sixty thousand innocent men, women, and children will be killed every day at Auschwitz.

Heydrich thanks the Americans—whom it is noted—have just come into the war against Germany. He notes with ironic detachment that American techniques of mass production—the assembly line invented by Henry Ford—will be used to effect genocide.

At 60,000 a day, we will advance the human race in a space of time so short Charles Darwin would be astonished,” says the grinning Heydrich. At his elbow is the ever eager to please SS Lt. Col. Adolf Eichmann. This conference is Eichmann’s project. So will be the Final Solution.

Agreeing grimly is a familiar face. Playing the part of SS Chief, Gen. Heinrich Müller is Brendan Coyle, known now to millions as John Bates, Lord Grantham’s faithful valet in the Downton Abbey series.

As Müller, he unsmilingly repeats Heydrich’s evolutionary message: Charles Darwin would be astonished.

Is there any one of these conferees who doubts that Darwin’s description of all Nature as a struggle for “the survival of the fittest” applies as well to the Nazis’ war on the Jews?

Within months, Heydrich will be known as the Butcher of Prague in Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia. In June, 1942, Heydrich was assassinated by Czech resistance fighters parachuted in by the British. In reprisal, the entire Czech village of Lidice will be wiped off the face if the earth, even pets.

That leaves Eichmann to carry out the mass murder of the Jews.

All of this ended long ago. Threescore and ten years ago. Surely, the world wants no more of this kind of thing. Surely, the Liberation of Auschwitz on this date in 1945 means that the entire world has pledged “Never Again.”

Today, President Obama is in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He joins Saudi rulers who allow no Jews to live in their country. They are in mourning for King Abdullah, who refused to let the U.S. question Madani al-Tayyib in 1998. Al-Tayyib was the finance chief of al Qaeda. He might have helped us unravel the 9/11 plot before it occurred. Abdullah refused the urgent request of then-Vice President Al Gore. Abdullah’s refusal is documented on p. 122 of the 9/11 Commission Report.

Did President Obama know of this refusal to help us when he bowed to King Abdullah in London in 2009? Does he know that the Saudis are funding Islamist extremist throughout the world with their petrodollars?

King Abdullah was only upholding a family tradition in his refusal to help us or to even recognize the possibility of a Jewish state in the Mideast. Abdullah’s father was Abdul Aziz, the founder of Saudi Arabia. Abdul Aziz fathered all the kings of Saudi Arabia until today.

When President Roosevelt met with King Abdul Aziz on February 14, 1945, just a few weeks after the Liberation of Auschwitz, he pleaded with the Arab ruler to agree to let desperate Jews settle in their ancient homeland in Palestine. Nothing doing, the king told the president. But, millions of Jews have been murdered by the Nazis in Poland and Germany, FDR told the king, appealing to his humanitarian instincts.

Then there should be plenty of room in Poland and Germany to settle the remainder of the Jews, the Saudi king told Roosevelt. So much for humanitarian.

From that date until this—seventy years later—the official position of Saudi Arabia and virtually every member of the Arab League is their own translation of the Nazis’ call:

Juden raus. Jews get out! U.S. policy in the Mideast might be more successful and more honorable if we recognized that basic fact.

Appeasement of Hitler did not stop the trains rolling into Auschwitz. Appeasement of Islamists—whether of the Saudi or Iranian stripe—will not stop war or genocide now.

The most admired man in the Muslim majority lands is Hassan Nasrallah. This leader of Hezbollah in Southern Lebanon is armed and paid by Iran. He wants Jews to gather in Israel. But only so it will save him the trouble of “hunting them down.”

Is it any wonder Mr. Obama’s Mideast policy is in shambles?

March 22/23: 1775: Another of Those Spiritual Puns?

by Robert Morrison

March 22, 2012

Historian John Lukacs is one of Americas treasures. He has written extensively on our history and, especially, the history of World War II. As an emigre from Hungary, he brings a unique perspective to his writing. One of John Lukacss many excellent books is The Duel: The Eighty Day Struggle between Churchill and Hitler. The period May 10August 31, 1940, Lukacs writes, determined whether Hitler would win the Second World War.

What are spiritual puns? Thats Lukacss own phrase. He says there really are not coincidences in history. Instead, he calls them spiritual puns. The classic example he provides is this one. Early in the morning of May 10, 1940, Hitlers sleek, silent, black train suddenly changed directions. It had been proceeding noiselessly northward over specially constructed rails. No characteristic clickety-clack disturbed the rest of the sleeping Nazis as the train veered west. Hitler wanted to be on the Northwest frontier as his panzers broke through theArdennesForest and broke through French and Belgian lines. What American journalists had called the phony war would end that fine spring morning as German forces crashed through the democracies defenses in what soon became known as blitzkrieg, or lightning war.

Just a few hundred miles away, that day, Winston Churchill was being driven to Buckingham Palace to kiss hands and receive the seals of office as Prime Minister. There could hardly have been a worse time to come to power. Leaving the palace, Churchill accepted the congratulations of his body guard, Scotland Yard Inspector Walter Thompson. I just hope its not too late, he said somberly.

For us as Americans, how strange it must seem to read John Lukacss book and realize that our fate was being decided on that May day, too. Although no American was on Hitlers private train and no American was in the War Cabinet rooms where Churchill now presided amid clouds of tobacco smoke, we had a rendezvous with destiny. Our looming presence was felt that day. Hitlers train was code-named: Amerika.

Hitler and Churchill had never met. They almost met one day in Munich, Germany, in 1932. Churchill was there researching the biography of his great ancestor, the Duke of Marlborough. But Hitler, not yet in power, decided that Churchill was a washed-up old British politician, so why bother with him? Churchill had angered Hitler by his outspoken writings against the Nazis anti-Semitism. Churchill would live for another twenty years after walking over the bunker where Hitlers committed suicide.

The great eighteenth century English parliamentarian, Edmund Burke, never met Patrick Henry. And there is surely no parallel between these Christian lawmakers and those twentieth century warlords, Churchill and Hitler. But I was struck by what may be another of Lukacss spiritual puns. Burke and Henry shared a common Christian worldview. And we see that in two of their most famous addresses.

For more than a century and a half, American school children would be called upon to memorize parts of Burkes famous Speech on Conciliation. It was delivered March 22, 1775 in London. Also a favorite to be memorized by young Americans would be portions of Patrick Henrys Give Me Liberty speech, given at St. Johns Church, in Richmond, Virginia, March 23, 1775. There was a vast ocean separating them. The sentiments those two great friends of liberty expressed just hours apart made them almost brothers.

All Protestantism, even the most cold and passive, is a sort of dissent. But the religion most prevalent in our northern colonies [New England] is a refinement on the principle of resistance; it is the dissidence of dissent, and the Protestantism of the Protestant religion. This religion, under a variety of denominations agreeing in nothing but in the communion of the spirit of liberty, is predominant in most of the northern provinces…The colonists left England when this spirit was high, and in the emigrants was the highest of all; and even that stream of foreigners, which has been constantly flowing into these colonies, has, for the greatest part, been composed of dissenters from the establishments of their several countries, and have brought with them a temper and character far from alien to that of the people with whom they mixed.

Here, Burke understands that these colonists came here for liberty. They were not about to submit tamely to the British yoke.

If Hitler had picked up a radiotelephone and put through a call to Winston Churchill from his private train car, it is doubtful they would have had anything to communicate in May, 1940.

United by the fear of the Lord and by their love of Liberty, Burke and Henry might have enjoyed an extensive conversation. Parliament ignored Burkes sage advice. The Prime Minister, Lord North, proceeded instead with a plan to subdue the Americans, to try to bayonet us into submission.

Happily, Americans did not ignore Patrick Henrys appeal.

Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!

Four years ago, I was privileged to take a class of Witherspoon Fellows to Williamsburg, Virginia, and there hear Richard Schumann, historical interpreter. My daughter, who was with child, and my law student son-in-law joined us. Mr. Schumann delivered Patrick Henrys most famous speech in its entirety. As he spoke, his voice rose in volume and tempo. At the conclusion, my daughter said her unborn child leaped in the womb. Now, thats my idea of a spiritual pun. Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

Barbarossa: 22 June 1941

by Robert Morrison

June 22, 2010

It was a quiet Sunday morning just before dawn in early summer 69 years ago. The Soviet border guards had nervously reported sighting clouds of dust over the western horizon in the previous days. Increasing numbers of aircraft with swastika markings on their wings had been overflying the Soviet airspace.

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill sent repeated messages to Communist dictator Josef Stalin in the Kremlin: Hitler is going to attack the Soviet Union. British intelligence had confirmed that after the last great Luftwaffe bombing raid over London on 10 May 1941, German aircraft, armored units, and infantry were all moving toward the east. Hitler had proclaimed his intentions to the world in his book, Mein Kampf (My Struggle) He saw the east as the place where Germanys burgeoning population would find lebensraumroom to live.

Despite all warnings and all indications, Stalin refused to believe that Hitler would attack him. He had signed a Non-Aggression Pact with Hitler barely two years earlier. In late August, 1939, Hitler had felt secure to go to war with the British and the French over Poland. He knew that the Pact would prevent Stalin from attacking him from the east.

Now, after his Luftwaffe had failed to defeat the Royal Air Force in the year-long Battle of Britain, Hitler secretly ordered his generals to prepare a drang nach ostena drive to the east. Frustrated in his invasion of Britain, Hitler convinced himself that when he defeated Soviet Russia, Britain would have no choice but to make peace with him.

Hitler and his Nazis had seen how poorly the Soviet military fared against little Finland in the winter of 1939-40. The tiny Scandinavian country had defied Stalins demand for a chunk of its territory and had killed a million Red Army soldiers in the winter war that followed. Virtually without weapons, the Finns invented Molotov cocktails, bottles filled with gasoline. They lit the wicks and hit Soviet tanks with them. Finally, in the spring, Stalins overwhelming numbers forced the Finns to sue for peace. Not a single Finn remained behind in the Karelian Peninsula that their leaders were forced to give over to Stalin.

Seeing this and knowing that Stalin had shot thousands of his own generals, colonels and other high-ranking army officers in a series of bloody purges throughout the 1930s, Hitler was convinced we have only to kick in the door and the whole rotten structure will come falling down.

Most observers in the west thought Hitler might be right. They had seen his Wehrmacht roll over Poland in 40 days and over Belgium, the Netherlands, and France in just six weeks.

Churchill disagreed. He told his closest friends he would bet them a monkey to a mousetrap (a term he picked up from horse racing) that Russia would still be fightingand fighting more successfullytwo years from that day.

Churchill won the bet. But not before tens of millions of Russians, Ukrainians, Byelorussians, Georgians, Armenians, and many, many others in the old USSR lost their lives. Jews were singled out by Hitler for extermination. The siege of Leningrad (as St. Petersburg was known in the Soviet era) claimed three million livesmore than the U.S., Britain, France, and Canada lost in all of World War II.

When Hitler attacked without warning that morning in June, 1941, Stalin had a nervous breakdown. He cowered in his dacha (vacation home) outside of Moscow. For the first ten days of the German assault, while millions of Red army soldiers were killed or taken prisoner, the Communist rulers of the Kremlin remained paralyzed. Trains full of Russian wheat continued to race westward to Germany as part of the terms of the 1939 Pact. No one had thought to order them stopped. When his Communist comrades came to his dacha to beg for his guidance, Stalin at first thought they had come to arrest him and have him shot.

They should have. No ruler in human history had been responsible for such a catastrophe in his own land. Stalin trusted no one on earth, except Adolf Hitler. But Stalin would survive those first ten days of Barbarossa and live on to see his Red Army come roaring back. Stalins train would carry him to the rubble of Berlin in 1945. He would meet Prime Minister Churchill and President Harry Truman at Potsdam, a Berlin suburb. The allied leaders met, almost literally, over Hitlers dead body.

All through World War II, all through the tragic and bloody conflict that his own alliance with Hitler had made possible, Stalin continued to enjoy a great press in the west. He was called Uncle Joe. Millions of Communists and leftists regarded him and not Churchill, not even FDR, as the leader of progressive mankind. Amazing.

Even more amazing: We have had people in the Obama White House who claim to be Communists, claim to view Chinas Communist dictator Mao Zedongthe only man who managed to kill more people than Stalin and Hitleras a favorite political philosopher.

Eighty-five percent of the Allied war effort in World War II went against Adolf Hitler. Two-thirds of that fight was on the Soviet Front. We had no choice but to align with Stalin. But no onethen or nowshould be under any illusions about what a thoroughly evil man he was. No American should ever be able to claim to be a Communist or to admire Communists without being made to answer for the murderous records of Stalin and Mao.