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Britain, 1939 -1940 And Its Alliances


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#41 R011

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Posted 15 February 2005 - 2049 PM

p620346,Tue 15 Feb 2005  1739

If the idea of a German dominated Europe was "unthinkable" why was the possibility of a Soviet dominated one not

It wasn't. That's why NATO was created. UNlike the Nazis, Stalin was careful (or lucky) enough not to give an obvious cuasus belli like the German invasion of Poland or to present enough of an iminemt threat that the West had to respond with a war in turn. After the Soviets got nuclear weapons, of course, a "hot" world war was something no one wanted.
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#42 richard g

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Posted 16 February 2005 - 0344 AM

Yes, Pol Pot, now there was a unmatched in modern times mass extermination program, basically without industrial aid too.

Yet not one country did anything significant about it. Morality indeed.
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#43 swerve

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Posted 16 February 2005 - 0417 AM

I think that we credit 'Hitler' with all the work done, but iirc there was a high-level meeting in 1943 which actually created the policies. In fact, Germany was divided into regions and each region had a sort of 'regent' with absolute power in charge of it, who answered only to Hitler. This much decentralization meant that any vast organization was difficult.


What you describe wasn't the administrative structure of Germany, but of the occupied territories in the east (Poland, Ukraine, etc). And while the regional heads did have considerable autonomy, it had to be exercised within the framework laid down by Hitler. So it wasn't possible not to oppress Jews & Gypsies, but there was considerable freedom to decide how to do it.

The conference you refer to was the Wannsee conference, January 1942, chaired by Reinhardt Heydrich. It didn't decide policy, it confirmed, & decided how to implement more efficiently, a policy which had already begun to be put into practice in an informal & haphazard way. The minutes survive, although they were ordered to be destroyed, & are very interesting. The methods & organisation of genocide were discussed in detail (but without actually saying what the purpose of the cyanide chambers, etc, was - we know Heydrich edited the minutes, but accounts by participants agree that Heydrich shut up anyone who was so tasteless as to mention death, so the minutes are mostly accurate in that respect). The policy itself was more or less taken for granted by most of those present. The few who didn't go along were sidelined in the discussion, &, it seems, bullied & threatened into silence during the breaks (Heydrich was perfectly capable of smiling at someone, offering him a canape, & enquiring after the health of his children - by name - with immense menace). Heydrich, & after the Czech resistance assassinated him, Himmler, drove the policy forward, but they couldn't have done it without Hitlers approval.
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#44 Manu

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Posted 16 February 2005 - 0708 AM

Though it was clear from abundant intelligence and aerial photography where the camps were, what they did, and how - no action was ever taken against them. No bombing missions were ever flown to destroy the ovens, infrastructure, or even just blast holes in razor-wire fences. The entire horrible operation could have been derailed for little expenditure, but we all know it wasn't. It wasn't even condemned publicly, for god's sake, until it was all over.


On a 100% cynical military POV, it was better not to bomb the camp : shipping jews there tied up transport ressources that were not used to for troops and equipment - so if you bomb only supplies transport and keep the camps going, you tie up more resources, which is ultimately more detrimental to Nazi war effort (every ressource used to kills jews or other undesirables isn't used to kill your soldiers).

Moraly repulsive, but militarily logical.
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#45 R011

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Posted 16 February 2005 - 1502 PM

UN-Interested Observer,Wed 16 Feb 2005  0135

Hitler killed for the sake of making people dead.

Not only did Stalin do great deal of that as well, the famine was not an unforseen byproduct of policy or resitance to it, but a result of a depraved indifference to human life. There is no moral difference between gassing a Ukrainian for being a Jew or taking away his food knowing that he will starve to death.

Whether the motivation for mass murder is Racial Hygeine or Building Socialism is immaterial.

Tue 15 Feb 2005 0118

Though it was clear from abundant intelligence and aerial photography where the camps were, what they did, and how


As for bombing the camps, the Western Allies had a number of reasons not to do so. Firstly, they did not know from photo recce what was happening inside the camps. Their sources came mostly from Jewish refugees. One can hardly blame them for taking such an obviously biased source telling such an outlandish story with a grain of salt.

They also decided that the best way to help the inmates of the camps was not to kill them for the Nazis , but to win the war.

Lastly, even the closest of the camps, Auschwitz, was barely within bomber range and outside fighter escort range. At best, they would only encourage the Nazis to move the surviving inmates to Treblinka, Sobibor, and the other death camps.

No bombing missions were ever flown to destroy the ovens, infrastructure, or even just blast holes in razor-wire fences.

That level of accuracy was beyond night bombers of the time, and day bombers were rarely able to acheive it in practice, even if they would launch a day bomber raid without fighter escort.

It wasn't even condemned publicly, for god's sake, until it was all over.

Who would believe it? A civilized European nation committing industrial murder on a scale of millions? That's even more outlandish than the propaganda they used in the Great War about Germans bayonetting Belgian babies, stories known to have been false by 1944. It was so outlandish that even today, there are not only Holocaust deniers, but people who will take them seriously.
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#46 UN-Interested Observer

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Posted 16 February 2005 - 1749 PM

What you describe wasn't the administrative structure of Germany, but of the occupied territories in the east (Poland, Ukraine, etc). And while the regional heads did have considerable autonomy, it had to be exercised within the framework laid down by Hitler. So it wasn't possible not to oppress Jews & Gypsies, but there was considerable freedom to decide how to do it.

The conference you refer to was the Wannsee conference, January 1942, chaired by Reinhardt Heydrich. It didn't decide policy, it confirmed, & decided how to implement more efficiently,

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Thank you, that is good to know. I saw a video based on this very subject in the rental shop just the other day, I should probably rent it now, I'll let you know. I remember seeing a picture of Hitler with all his 'lieutenants' on an episode of 'World at War', though. It mentioned the different regions of Germany, I thought it meant Ruhr and Bavaria, but I guess I could have insinuated that when it really meant conquered areas.


Manu; that certainly is thinking outside the box, but I'm not sure it's gone through a thorough cost-benefit analysis. For instance, if a bombing mission hits a death camp, those that can walk will try to escape, and resources must be put into tring to recapture them. Then you have to replace the guards that are killed, repair the ovens and fences and all that stuff - it would really put a kink in the machine.


R011; I still think that when 2 sides fight with food over food for control of food, someone is going to starve. For instance, it was not like the Gypsies were fighting with chemical companies for control of Cyclon B gas. I rather agree with your point, though, except that you can surrender to a new system of government, a new economic system. You cannot surrender and change your genes. I just have this intangible feeling that conflicts over money and power are standard, while conflicts over ethnicity and race are a level below that.

I still think we knew what the camps were, however. If one did not believe the articles in German newspapers in the late 1930's that could be understandable, but when the ships packed with (what is that word for deporting and entire population?) those emmigrants are off your coast, it becomes more believable. It's hard to understand why the combined intelligence power of the mightiest coalition in the history of the world, one that could regularly decrypt even high-level Enigma transmissions, why they could not figure out that 'Death Camps' and 'Jewish Ghettos' and 'Death Squads' with soldiers in Poland marching Jews through the streets every single day, shooting them in the forest, and coming back - how could intelligence not figure out this was the 'Final Solution to the Jewish Problem'.

I had not considered the range in boming the camps, that is a good point. I think, though, that allied planes did operate out of Russia, and the further you are from Britain, the closer you are to Russia. Still, if I were in a camp I would pray for bombers to come every damned day. Accuracy may have been low (largely crew-based), but that didn't stop any other missions. A few bombs would be likely to damage railways or essential equipment.

As for propaganda, in WW1 the Germans had a corpse-factory to use human bodies for war materiel... It's disturbing to me that it was considered acceptable to lie about these things to incite anger against the Hun during WW1, yet when they really happen in WW2 the Nazis don't get any bad press, we help them keep the whole affair hidden not only from their citizens but our own, and make no effort to hinder the process.
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#47 R011

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Posted 16 February 2005 - 2306 PM

UN-Interested Observer,Wed 16 Feb 2005  2249

I still think that when 2 sides fight with food over food for control of food, someone is going to starve.

There were not two sides fighting for control, the Soviet stae already has it. The famine was the resulat of that Soviet state deliberately removing more food from the Ukraine than the populace needed to survive.

I rather agree with your point, though, except that you can surrender to a new system of government, a new economic system


Many victims of the purges were good Communists. Others were condemned by having been born bourgoise, Cossack, Chechen, or ethnic German among other reasons.

but when the ships packed with (what is that word for deporting and entire population?) those emmigrants are off your coast, it becomes more believable.

When that was happening, the Germans were not yet confining Jews to camps or even ghettos. They had passed the Nuremberg Laws which subjected Jews to a similar, though more serious, form of segregation than African-Americans had to endure in some states. They did know that Jews were routinely confined, tortured, and often murdered,. They didn't know for some time that the murders were more than occassional casual massacres or collateral with general mistreatment and confinement.

I still think we knew what the camps were,


We knew about the labour camps and ghettos, and we knew that conditions there were brutal in the extreme. I don't believe they knew what the death camps were until it was too late to do anythiing useful.

It's hard to understand why the combined intelligence power of the mightiest coalition in the history of the world, one that could regularly decrypt even high-level Enigma transmissions, why they could not figure out that 'Death Camps' and 'Jewish Ghettos' and 'Death Squads' with soldiers in Poland marching Jews through the streets every single day, shooting them in the forest, and coming back - how could intelligence not figure out this was the 'Final Solution to the Jewish Problem'.

Surely you do not think that the Germans were publicising the executions? Nor was it normal or necessary for radio traffic to discusss them even in code. It isn't as if there were intel officers in every Polish and Ukrainian village or BBC reporters embedded with Special Action Groups (they didn't call thenm "death squads") reporting on what was going on. In terms of information, german occupied Eastern Europe was a grat black hole - one reason the camps were located there. The intel they were getting about the camps was mostly from Zionist sources. They had a vested interest in spreading anti-Nazi stories, which made their credibily on this subject to doubt.

I just have this intangible feeling that conflicts over money and power are standard,


The victims are just as dead if they're murdered in the interests of some economically retarded economic policy or some insane racial theory.

I think, though, that allied planes did operate out of Russia,

If they did, it was certainly not with any frequency. I'm also not sure that Stalin would have given permission for a operation that was of no benfit to Soviet forces.

Accuracy may have been low (largely crew-based), but that didn't stop any other missions.


When the mission is to destroy a city, hotting within a mile or so of the aiming point is acceptable. Hitting specific buildings was beyond 1945 nav systems and bomb sights except in exceptional, i.e. training ground, circumstances.

yet when they really happen in WW2 the Nazis don't get any bad press,


Why diminish the effectiveness of anti-Nazi propaganda by spreading unvbelievable stories about "death camps"?
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#48 Guest_phil gollin_*

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Posted 17 February 2005 - 0420 AM

As far as I know there are only two raids that are really representative of the accuracy that might have been required for an attempt to breach the fences of a death camp. Both were by mosquitos, one on the Gestapo Headquarters in Rotterdam (?) and one, more relevant, on a prison holding resistance prisoners. The second is interesting because there were great discussions before it was given the go ahead because of the cnsequences of badly aimed bombs. During the raid which was sort of judged a success, one bomb did go astray and killed prisoners.

The allies DID know what was going on, although levels of belief tended to vary due to the SCALE envisaged as did the quality of the information over time. The first info came from Jewish escapees and resistance groups, as has been said this tended to be thought of as huge exagerations. They later picked up Enigma intercepts, first of death squads in Eastern Europe (this is what the "Enigma" book and film are based on) and later the general admin of the camps. There were discussions re. attacks, but it was too far for British based mosquitos and even then what was to be done ? There SEEMED no point in destroying the fences as the prisoners couldn't really go anywhere but there were schemes looking at destroying the rail junctions (by heavy bombers). But they seemed to have petered out quite quickly.

As a matter of interest this would only have stopped a small amount of the killing. Whilst the "Holocaust" killing of the Jews, Gypsies (Romany), homosexuals, etc.... amounted for 6 million odd, there were another 5 to 6 million civilians killed by the Nazis (figures DO vary) which include mass killings and deliberate starvation in occupied Eastern Europe and Russia and killing/working to death of Russian Prisoners of War.

As to the much more difficault question re comparing Hitler to Stalin to Pol Pot, one has to try to decide between evils which one can't really envisage. Personally I find Pol Pot the worst (killing a third of the population) but I really think it's rather pointless.

(Edited forlousy memory and awful typing)

Edited by phil gollin, 17 February 2005 - 0438 AM.

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#49 swerve

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Posted 17 February 2005 - 0433 AM

I still think we knew what the camps were, however. If one did not believe the articles in German newspapers in the late 1930's that could be understandable, but when the ships packed with (what is that word for deporting and entire population?) those emmigrants are off your coast, it becomes more believable. It's hard to understand why the combined intelligence power of the mightiest coalition in the history of the world, one that could regularly decrypt even high-level Enigma transmissions, why they could not figure out that 'Death Camps' and 'Jewish Ghettos' and 'Death Squads' with soldiers in Poland marching Jews through the streets every single day, shooting them in the forest, and coming back - how could intelligence not figure out this was the 'Final Solution to the Jewish Problem'.


The refugee ships have been discussed already, but I think I should add this: all the refugee ships left Germany before a single death camp had been set up, before a single mass execution had occurred, before even the concentration of Jews into ghettos had begun. None of that began until after the occupation of Poland.

The Germans never referred to "Death Camps" even in secret internal documents. The Wannsee conference participants used euphemisms (e.g "Special handling" - a term later used generally). The minutes mentioned (e.g.) burning as a means of disposal - but it was never said what was being disposed of. If it was like that at the highest level policy meeting, what do you think it was like lower down? I read a report a few years ago of an incident in Ukraine. The Jewish population of some small shtetl had been massacred, but the murderers hadn't been able to stomach killing the children, so they'd separated them beforehand & sent them to a nearby town, where they were housed in a school. There were frantic discussions on how to get rid of them, with messages flying back & forth between army, SS, civil & other authorities, everyone buck-passing. The nearest anyone got to hinting that they might be killed, rather than just moved to somewhere where they could be housed long-term, was someone pointing out that the removal would have to be done tactfully, since the local German garrison had adopted them (feeding them from their own rations, arranged medical care, etc), & care would have to be taken not to upset the soldiers lest they intervene. They were trying to pretend even to soldiers on the Eastern Front, most of whom must have had a pretty good idea what was going on, that Jewish children were being taken away to orphanages or for adoption.

There were no "soldiers . . marching Jews through the streets every single day, shooting them in the forest, and coming back". When the Jewish population of a locality was massacred, it was done all at once, in most cases by a special unit brought in for the purpose. 5000 men in 4 units killed 2 million people (the majority Jews, but also Gypsies & some others) that way. They arrived, marched the Jews away or put them on a train or in lorries, & never came back. So they could maintain the fiction the Jews had been taken to another place. Since there really were many movements of Jews to ghettos, it was often a convincing fiction.

All this was deliberate. The Nazis tried to make sure as few people knew as possible. Nothing so big could be completely secret, but it was as secret as they could make it. Everyone knew they were treating Jews horribly, & they didn't care, but they didn't want the world to know quite how horribly.

BTW, if that Wannsee video is the film with Kenneth Branagh as Heydrich, it's pretty good, & AFAIK as historically accurate as they could make it. I recommend it.

Edited by swerve, 17 February 2005 - 0442 AM.

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#50 swerve

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Posted 17 February 2005 - 0451 AM

There were not two sides fighting for control, the Soviet stae already has it.  The famine was the resulat of that Soviet state deliberately removing more food from the Ukraine than the populace needed to survive.


That was one famine, deliberately created to cow the Ukrainians, who were getting uppity, & to change the demographic balance in E. Ukraine & Kubanin favour of "more loyal" Russians, especially urban Russians. There were others which weren't deliberate, e.g. the Kazakhstan famine slightly earlier, which is generally held to be the model for Ukraine. Local officials desperate to please lied about food production (very bad as a result of forced collectivisation of Kazakh herdsmen, they said it was good), then met the consequent unrealistic delivery quotas set by Moscow by stripping the populace of food. About 1 million Kazakhs (25%) starved. Many officials were then shot. But the previously rebellious Kazakhs were broken, & Stalin was very interested in how it had been done.
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#51 KingSargent

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Posted 17 February 2005 - 1804 PM

Allied planes operated out of Russia on a couple of occasions. US bombers flew to Poltava after bombing targets in Eastern Europe that were too far away to make a round trip from England. They refuelled in Russia and went home. On one of these trips, the Luftwaffe caught the B-17s on the ground at Poltava and shot up about 60, IIRC.

617 and 9 Sqdns RAF based in Russia when they flew the "Tallboy" raids on the Tirpitz.
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