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Slaughtering Our Sacred Cows

Brits of my generation were taught that World War II was a moral enterprise and that as a country, we had fought for freedom, self-determination and democracy. Apparently, we declared war on Germany to defend Poland and six years later, after forging a "special relationship" with America, we had defeated Germany and won the war.

We grew up during what became known as the cold war, and we were led to believe that the forces of Communism could lay waste to the entire world. One American President faced them down when they tried to base missles in Cuba; another called the Soviet Union an "evil empire".

And yet, the British and Americans allied themselves with the Soviet Union during World War II. Evidently, it didn't matter that the Soviets invaded Poland along with the Nazis, or that they refused to return the Polish territory they captured during that military conquest.

How can the British and American wartime alliance with the Soviet Union, and the behaviour of our leaders towards the dictator Stalin, be reconciled with the claims that the war was a moral conflict and that Britain and America "won" it?

The American journalist Diana West has recently written a book which examines the extent of Soviet influence on American policy both during and after the war. She has been attacked by the former radical leftist David Horowitz for doing this, but the question being asked here is perfectly legitimate: To what extend did the British and the Americans do Josef Stalin's bidding during the war?

When I visited the Imperial War Museum in London a couple of years ago, there was a plaque on the wall that said serving in the Merchant Navy was the most dangerous thing anyone could do during the war. Having visited Malta not long before, I was familiar with the story of Operation Pedestal, so it was not difficult for me to accept that sailing in a supply convoy during the war was incredibly dangerous. And the Arctic convoys to the Soviet port of Murmansk were amongst the most dangerous of all.

The Arctic convoys were an attempt to meet the obligations of an agreement that had been made by Lord Beaverbrook on behalf of the British government during a trip to the Soviet Union in September of 1941. Beaverbrook had promised to send the Soviet Union 200 aircraft and 250 tanks each month, which would mean handing over to the Soviets between a quarter and a third of the output of Britain's military manufacturing output.1 In the House of Commons, Churchill had warned that "sacrifices of the most serious kind and the most extreme efforts will have to be made by the British people" in order to supply Russia with armaments.2

Military aid was therefore sent to the Soviet Union by sea, with convoys sailing up the coast of Norway and around the Barents Sea to the Soviet ports of Murmansk and Archangel.3 These journeys were so incredibly dangerous, and losses were so high, that the British Chiefs of Staff proposed cancelling Convoy PQ16, which was due to sail from Iceland on 18th May 1942.4

Churchill, knowing that Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov was due to visit London a few days later, insisted that the convoy go ahead "whatever the cost" because Britain's "comradeship" with the Soviet Union was at stake.5 As the acclaimed historian Laurence Rees has said, this shows clearly that the decision to sacrifice British lives was politically motivated.6 In other words, Winston Churchill was willing to let British sailors die in order to keep Stalin onside.

Why we would go out of our way to help the reds in the first place remains a mystery to me. I tend to agree with Lieutenant General Henry Pownall, the deputy of General Sir Alan Brooke, who wrote on 29 June 1941: "I avoid the expression “Allies”, for the Russians are a dirty lot of murdering thieves themselves, and double crossers of the deepest dye. It’s good to see the deepest cut-throats in Europe, Hitler and Stalin, going for each other."7 Senator Bennett Clark of Missouri expressed similar sentiments at the time: "It's a case of dog eat dog. Stalin is as bloody handed as Hitler. I don't think we should help either one."8

This assessment of the situation is borne out by the reality of life in the Soviet Union, which was hell on earth. An American sailor named Jim Risk, whose ship was tied up in Moltovsk for almost nine months during the war, experienced the Soviet regime first hand and drew the obvious conclusion: "We had learned that Stalin was a brute just like Hitler was a brute. They were just brutes in a different language." 9 Several of his shipmates had been full-blown Communists - "pinkies" - when they set sail, but when they cast off their ropes and sailed away from the Soviet Union, "they were no longer pinkies". In Risk's opinion, Josef Stalin was "the dirtiest, filthiest personality in the world".10

We now know that Stalin signed the orders for the Katyn forest massacre, which led to thousands of Polish prisoners being executed by agents of the Soviet secret police, the NKVD.11 What is not so well known is that both the leaders of the "Grand Alliance" were aware of what had happened. Sir Owen O'Malley, acting as ambassador to the Polish government in exile in London, sent a report on the Katyn massacre to the Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden in May 1943 in which he concluded: "there is now available a good deal of negative evidence, the cumulative effect of which is to throw serious doubt on Russian disclaimers of responsibility for the massacre.’12

The official policy of the British government was to ignore O'Malley's report and to say nothing about the Katyn massacre, lest the truth about Stalin find its way into the public consciousness. After all, the public schoolboys running the British Empire couldn't have the riff-raff thinking they were consorting with murderers and tyrants, old boy. That wouldn't do at all.

But they were.

Roosevelt was no better than the silver spooners in the UK - if anything, he was worse. A friend of the President's called George Earle III, who had at one time been governor of Pennsylvania, had a meeting with Roosevelt in 1944. He was warned beforehand by Joe Levy of the New York Times that Harry Hopkins had the President's ear, and "the whole atmosphere over there is pink".13

Earle explained to the President that he had examined the evidence of the Katyn massacre and found it to be "overwhelming" - the Soviets had committed the massacre and that they were "a great menace" to the United States. Roosevelt refused to listen. Later, when Earle tried to write about the Soviets, Roosevelt absolutely forbade him, and Earle discovered a few days later that he had suddenly been made assistant head of the Samoan Defence Group. He was obliged to leave the country for the South Pacific.14

As Sir Max Hastings has pointed out, by allying themselves with the Soviet tyranny, the British and Americans were "inescapably compromised". As Hastings has put it: "Once this evil was conceded, lesser ones remorselessly followed."15 So perhaps Roosevelt's behaviour towards Earle isn't too surprising. But it is rather shocking to read of Harry Hopkins influencing the President of America to such an extent that the White House had turned "pink". And it is interesting, in light of this, to recall Churchill's assessment of Hopkins, which he provides in "The Grand Alliance": "Harry Hopkins, that extraordinary man, who played, and was to play, a sometimes decisive part in the whole movement of the war."16

So we have Churchill sacrificing British lives in order to please Stalin, both Britain and America denying the truth about the Katyn forest massacre, and Roosevelt taking action to silence anyone who dared to expose Stalin for what he was - a "brute" with the "dirtiest, filthiest personality in the world." It looks like Laurence Rees was correct when he said that the central myth of the war, the idea that the history of World War II is a straightforward tale of good triumphing over evil, is something that we're going to have to let go.17

Diana West is to be commended for working her way through so much source material on this subject, and for writing about the "compromise" with "evil" that Sir Max Hastings spoke about, as well as the need to discard the "myth" that Roosevelt and Churchill wore white hats throughout the war.

The Israeli journalist Caroline Glick once said that the war has been misunderstood by the British because the cause of the war was not nationalisation and militarisation per se, but the fact that Germany had embraced evil.18 She is right, of course. What we are going to have to come to terms with is the realization that, to some extent at least, our political leaders did too.



References

1. Hastings, Max (2009-09-03). Finest Years: Churchill as Warlord 1940–45 (Kindle Locations 2867-2887). Harper Collins, Inc.. Kindle Edition;
Rees, Laurence (2012-04-24). World War Two: Behind Closed Doors: Stalin, the Nazis and the West (Kindle Locations 2315-2318). Ebury Publishing. Kindle Edition.

2. Hastings, Max (2009-09-03). Finest Years: Churchill as Warlord 1940–45 (Kindle Locations 2857-2861). Harper Collins, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

3. Rees, Laurence (2012-04-24). World War Two: Behind Closed Doors: Stalin, the Nazis and the West (Kindle Locations 2324-2326). Ebury Publishing. Kindle Edition.

4. Rees, Laurence (2012-04-24). World War Two: Behind Closed Doors: Stalin, the Nazis and the West (Kindle Locations 2336-2346). Ebury Publishing. Kindle Edition.

5. Rees, Laurence (2012-04-24). World War Two: Behind Closed Doors: Stalin, the Nazis and the West (Kindle Locations 2346-2358). Ebury Publishing. Kindle Edition.

6. Rees, Laurence (2012-04-24). World War Two: Behind Closed Doors: Stalin, the Nazis and the West (Kindle Locations 2358-2362; 2481-2485). Ebury Publishing. Kindle Edition.

7. Rees, Laurence (2012-04-24). World War Two: Behind Closed Doors: Stalin, the Nazis and the West (Kindle Locations 1676-1680). Ebury Publishing. Kindle Edition.

8. Rees, Laurence (2012-04-24). World War Two: Behind Closed Doors: Stalin, the Nazis and the West (Kindle Locations 1685-1688). Ebury Publishing. Kindle Edition.

9. Rees, Laurence (2012-04-24). World War Two: Behind Closed Doors: Stalin, the Nazis and the West (Kindle Locations 3436-3455). Ebury Publishing. Kindle Edition.

10. Rees, Laurence (2012-04-24). World War Two: Behind Closed Doors: Stalin, the Nazis and the West (Kindle Locations 3473-3478). Ebury Publishing. Kindle Edition.

11. Rees, Laurence (2012-04-24). World War Two: Behind Closed Doors: Stalin, the Nazis and the West (Kindle Locations 908-913). Ebury Publishing. Kindle Edition;
Stalin DID order the execution of 3,500 Polish soldiers according to newly discovered testimony of U.S. officer who watched Nazis exhume the bodies, Daily Mail 9th January 2014, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2536325/Stalin-DID-order-execution-3-500-Polish-soldiers-according-new-testimony-U-S-officer-watched-Nazis-exhume-bodies.html (accessed 26/01/2014).

12. Rees, Laurence (2012-04-24). World War Two: Behind Closed Doors: Stalin, the Nazis and the West (Kindle Locations 3179-3182). Ebury Publishing. Kindle Edition.

13. Rees, Laurence (2012-04-24). World War Two: Behind Closed Doors: Stalin, the Nazis and the West (Kindle Locations 4203-4208). Ebury Publishing. Kindle Edition.

14. Rees, Laurence (2012-04-24). World War Two: Behind Closed Doors: Stalin, the Nazis and the West (Kindle Locations 4226-4232, 4234-4243). Ebury Publishing. Kindle Edition.

15. Hastings, Max (2009-09-03). Finest Years: Churchill as Warlord 1940–45 (Kindle Locations 9327-9328). Harper Collins, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

16. Churchill, Winston (2010-07-01). The Grand Alliance (Winston Churchill World War II Collection) (Kindle Locations 444-447). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

17. Rees, Laurence (2012-04-24). World War Two: Behind Closed Doors: Stalin, the Nazis and the West (Kindle Locations 6956-6958). Ebury Publishing. Kindle Edition.

18. Glick, Caroline (2008-04-20). Shackled Warrior: Israel and the Global Jihad (p. 160). Gefen Publishing House. Kindle Edition.



Tags: American Betrayal, Roosevelt, Katyn, Stalin, Arctic Convoys To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the Patriot's Corner. Thanks!

2 Comments - Share Yours!:

PatriotUSA said...

Really excellent writing Nick. Superb, just superb and I think West was quite accurate in her book. It was a lot of territory she had to cover and I think she did well. I have yet to read the book and it is NEXT on my list.

Thank you so much.

Nick said...

It does appear to be an area that needs investigation - sending British sailors to certain death in order to keep Stalin onside doesn't fit in with the official narrative, and Roosevelt actually preventing people from talking about the Katyn forest massacre doesn't put him in a good light at all.

The comment by Churchill that Harry Hopkins was so important, coupled with the NY Times guy's remark that he had the President's ear and had turned the atmosphere in Washington "pink", also bears investigation.

As for Britain declaring war after Germany invaded Poland, but doing nothing when the Russians did the same a fortnight later - how can that be explained?

Stalin was adamant that he was going to keep the area he had captured under the terms of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, and the Brits and the Americans let him. So we fought the war for what, exactly? To defend Poland?

Well we didn't do a great job then, did we? And yet we are supposed to have "won" the war?