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Posts Tagged With: WWII
Watch this video by British military historian Peter Caddick-Adams on the day that changed history 75 years ago:
Then read the recollections of one of the few remaining survivors of D-Day.
They fought so we wouldn’t have to.
At the end of World War II the Allies splintered between East and West, and they began carving up Germany and the rest of Europe. Even as the Cold War began to develop, the Allies were rounding up and preparing to try various members of the Nazi regime. It is no secret that while they were doing this, they were also deciding which Nazis to keep for their own purposes (and others would be released early from prison in the following years). This, and the consequences and questions of ethics, have been documented in many books such as The Nazi Next Door and Operation Paperclip.
The Allies also sent investigators to verify the death of Adolf Hitler, since the remains had been burned. There have always been whispers of Hitler escaping, but I’m not one to jump quickly to join conspiracy theories. Then two things happened.
First, there has been the continuing revelations of deception regarding the protecting of many Nazis brought to the U.S., or used in Europe, to “assist” in prosecuting the Cold War. The government’s nonsensical policy of picking and choosing who to use, and who to prosecute, and to occasionally change their mind years later, is a troubling window into what certain people in power do.
Second, something stood out in these accounts of investigating Hitler’s suicide in his bunker. The investigators relied on the testimony on Nazis and evidence provide by them. Continue reading
During the 1990s, as 50th year anniversaries of World War II began to come around, accounts of the war filled bookstores, television and film. Veterans who had said little for decades were now telling their stories. Some have wondered why in the years since so much attention has focused on studying Hitler. His motivations. His past. Attempt after attempt to figure out why and how he rose to power. Some think the attention is overdone.
The focus on Hitler isn’t entirely about him. It is also very much about the place. In 1945, as the Germans looked around them at their destroyed nation, more than one had to ask, “How did it come to this?”
Indeed, that is why Hitler and his Reich are studied so much. It all unfolded in nation made up of people very much like us.
Sure World War I, social chaos and the wild economies of the 1930s set the stage for Hitler’s rise. But Germany wasn’t a backwater, tribal nation ripe for a dictator. Germany was a sophisticated western nation with a deep history and a society of technology, intellect and culture.
Yet Hitler still led them down a path of ruin where tens of millions would die. He led a Reich that excelled in horror, destruction and death.
This is why the story of Hitler must be studied and remembered. Evil just doesn’t rise in nations of radicals and extremists. Do yourself a favor and check out the course, History of Hitler’s Empire or this classic volume.
And here look at the philosophies that gave rise to the Reich, which are growing again in our world:
More on those troubling times can be read here. Be vigilant, because wherever you live in this world, do not think evil cannot arise there and take hold. Make sure you don’t ever find yourself in the position to ask, “How did it come to this?”
Long a student of the history of space exploration, I knew of the Operation Paperclip (often called Project Paperclip) to bring rocket scientists to the U.S. after WWII from Germany. Never thought much about it until more studies on WWII and the Cold War started to reveal more about these scientists. Not all were innocents caught up in their nation’s war.
Some were part of the Nazi Machine.
Indeed, even when it was exposed in the ’40s that hundreds of these scientists, doctors and engineers were coming to America, protest was raised. It was largely too late. Records were scrubbed and classified. The people themselves remained quiet and evasive on the subject of their past until their death. While some Nazis to this day are hunted down in their old age, some were allowed to be free, in the open. Perhaps the most bizarre example of cognitive dissonance ever known, and widely at that. But most don’t know the whole story.
Annie Jacobsen remedies this in her new book, Operation Paperclip: The Secret Program that Brought Nazi Scientists to America. She isn’t the first to write on Paperclip, but perhaps the most thorough. She has brought new materials to light as more has become unclassified and through interviews with Paperclip family members and others with first hand knowledge.
I thought I knew a lot about the program, I didn’t. The twisted policy of chasing down prison guards in their 90s while other individuals were in effect acquitted. Some became American heroes. I have read of Von Braun and other rocket scientists who oversaw the V-2 production sites were thousands of prisoner-slaves died, but many know little of this. Jacobsen’s account will force you to look at our space heroes quite differently.
It wasn’t just the builders of rockets, however. Doctors involved in the Reich’s human experiments, experts in chemical and biological warfare and others were also spirited away by Paperclip. Most of these men lead productive lives contributing to our country. Others, though, were part of questionable state-sponsored activities here. In either case, Jacobsen writes this for us to ponder:
The question remains, despite a man’s contribution to a nation or people, how do we interpret fundamental wrong? Is the American government at fault equally for fostering myths about its Paperclip scientists — for encouraging them to whitewash their past…When, for a nation, should the end justify the means?
When most people hear “biography” they think of a boring recounting of some long-dead person’s life. The best biographers, however, bring these ghosts alive and allow you to travel to another time.
Think about it. You know Albert Einstein revolutionized physics. You may know a few of his quotes, have seen an iconic photo or two. When it comes down to it, this is a very one-dimensional knowledge of a person. You really don’t know him and what would drive the achievements that would cause history to memorialize him out of millions of others.
The audio courses Albert Einstein: Physicist, Philosopher, Humanitarian and Churchill will flesh out two iconic 20th Century figures that will leave you with a sense that they were contemporaries. You will no longer wonder why they are remembered. They will also become very human, not near-mythical super-people haunting a history textbook.
Biographies will also paint you a picture of a past era. History is best seen through studying the people that lived it, not memorizing dates, places and names. In the book Boone, you not only meet one of early America’s most fascinating people, but you will be immersed in the lost wild frontier that is hard for anyone to now imagine. Von Braun: Dreamer of Space, Engineer of War brings us back to an era that may seem distant, but then you realize many still live who overlapped in time with this man.
If you ever wished to time travel, biographies such as these are all you need.