A Conversation for Who Gained from World War II?

British Morality

Post 1

Emee, out from under the rock

I would like to take this opportunity to point out that it was not a sense of moral righteousness that pulled Britain into war with Germany. In fact, Britain was more than happy to make concessions to Hitler and allow him to occupy German-speaking countries. It was only on 23 March 1939 that Britain finally decided to end appeasement and promised defense to Poland after *two years* of German occupation of other, previously sovereign nations. Britain didn't declare war on Germany until September 1939 *after* Poland was invaded. I would also like to point out that if the victors hadn't been so vindictive with the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, the German people might not have been so ripe for the plucking when Hitler came along in 1933. As for the comment that the Americans were untouched by the war, I would like you to try to tell that to the people who lost loved ones at Pearl Harbor, to the Japanese-American citizens who lost their homes and places of business during the interrments, to the people across the country who had to ration everyday items so that we could fight the war, to the families who never saw their sons again.


British Morality

Post 2

Steve K.

I generally agree, especially that the Treaty of Versailles was a diplomatic disaster, triumphalism in full force. I am not a historian, but they seem to be in agreement on that point.

I don't think the author of the entry meant that the USA was without loss, although the wording is unfortunate:

" ... at the end of the war, the country and civilians had been untouched ..."

I think the reference is to the fact that no major US cities were devastated, like London, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Dresden, ...

BTW, I'm from Oklahoma also ... smiley - ok


British Morality

Post 3

Trin Tragula

>>it was not a sense of moral righteousness that pulled Britain into war with Germany<<

So what was it, then? I mean, quite right to point out that appeasement was a pretty disastrous policy, but exactly what changed in 1939?

No reason Britain couldn't have sat out the war and come to a deal with Hitler (who was something of an anglophile prior to 1939) which would have been far more advantageous than the outcome of the war itself (no deaths, no economic hardship, keep the empire, etc.) Ireland did it, Sweden did it, Spain took no part ... why not Britain?

Sorry, but I'm at a loss to know exactly what you mean. Fact is, Britain had a clear choice: appeasers on the one hand, Churchill and the will to resist on the other - no benefit of hindsight, of course - and the *people* went with Churchill (with, in 1940, every expectation that they'd lose).

I can't see any self-interest here - so why did Britain go to war?


British Morality

Post 4

Emee, out from under the rock

They signed an ally agreement with France - don't remember the year off-hand but will try to find a reference later. As I stated earlier, Britain promised Poland that if they were invaded they would declare war. Poland was invaded. Britain & France both declared war on Germany. Spain had their own issues trying to recover from their civil war. If it were a question of morality Britain would have nipped Hitler in the bud before he consolidated his power base and would not have allowed him to invade other nations under the guise of re-uniting German-speaking countries. To say that Britain entered the war based on morals is to over-simplify the situation.

BTW - Steve! I had no idea. I'll go check out your PS.smiley - run


British Morality

Post 5

Trin Tragula

>>To say that Britain entered the war based on morals is to over-simplify the situation<<

No - it would be an oversimplification to say that that was the only reason. Just as it would be an oversimplification to say that they played no part at all ... which is what I was objecting to in your first posting.


British Morality

Post 6

Steve K.

"BTW - Steve! I had no idea. I'll go check out your PS.run "

Just to clarify, I live near Houston now, but I grew up in Okla. City.


British Morality

Post 7

AgProv2

Steve K said:-
"I don't think the author of the entry meant that the USA was without loss, although the wording is unfortunate:

" ... at the end of the war, the country and civilians had been untouched ..."

I think the reference is to the fact that no major US cities were devastated, like London, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Dresden ..."

********************

It's an interesting point that right at the end of the war, the German Navy had virtually solved the technical problems associated with using submarines as a launching-pad for V1 and V2 missiles.

Effectively, the last generation of U-boats (designed as long-distance craft capable of staying underwater for a month or more, with a submerged range of up to 22,000 miles before they needed to surface again) could have been used as ICBM launchers to take the V-missile offensive to the continental United States.

Four or five U-boats standing off from the eastern seaboard could have plastered New York and Washington (not to mention a strategic target like Norfolk Navy Yard) and brought the war home to America in a very direct and destructive manner; one or two of these long-distance craft operating in the Pacific might well have had a jolly time among American shipping in support of Japanese interests, as well as plastering the Western cities with V-weapons...

The only thing that stopped the Germans from doing this was time - in May 1945 they'd run out of it.

Imagine a single U-boat, firing from 100 miles east of New York, dropping 50 or so fully-charged V-weapons on New York, Washington, or Boston. From such a short distance, the warheads would be big, as comparitively little fuel would have been needed.

And if the Germans had succeeded in creating a nuclear warhead to go with the V-weapons, might the outcome of WW2 have been different?


British Morality

Post 8

Steve K.

Maybe like Philip K. Dick's novel "The Man in the High Castle", with this description at Amazon:

"It's America in 1962. Slavery is legal once again. The few Jews who still survive hide under assumed names. In San Francisco the I Ching is as common as the Yellow Pages. All because some 20 years earlier the United States lost a war--and is now occupied jointly by Nazi Germany and Japan."


British Morality

Post 9

EvilClaw: The Catmanthing

I would like to point out that the more vindicative parts of the Treaty of Versailles went largely unenforced and unwanted by most of the victor countries. At times France seemed to be the only one who wanted to enforce the treaty to the letter.

In fact, the Treaty of Versailles has been described as being both too soft and too hard to have prevented another war.


British Morality

Post 10

undergroundroguenine

I agree that a lot of the Treaty wasn't enforced: however, this didn't help in terms of popular support for it in Germany. For example, the reparations payments, even though most of them never happened, were a central issue that Hitler used to rally people behind his cause. I think you make a good point that it was in some ways both too hard and too soft: too hard in the case that its defined provisions were severe enough to enrage the German people, and lead them to the arms of a militant leader like Hitler who promised to restore Germany's prestige, but also too soft in that they were not enforced, and thus allowed Germany to re-militarize the Rhineland, rebuild its army and navy, and even reunite with Austria. Personally, I think the best way to have prevented WWII would have been a softer treaty, which likely would have then led to the survival of the Weimar Republic: however, this can be seen in hindsight, but would have been a lot harder to see from that time period.


British Morality

Post 11

AgProv2

Maybe like Philip K. Dick's novel "The Man in the High Castle", with this description at Amazon:

"It's America in 1962. Slavery is legal once again. The few Jews who still survive hide under assumed names. In San Francisco the I Ching is as common as the Yellow Pages. All because some 20 years earlier the United States lost a war--and is now occupied jointly by Nazi Germany and Japan."

**************

Interesting point, as Dick's novel has a sub-theme concerning the possibility that when the extermination camp system ran out of Jews and Gipsies, it moved on to black people as the next class of "untermensch" to be eliminated: in the 1960's of Dick's novel, there are whisperings of some unspecified mass atrocity having been carried out in Africa to "clear" the continent for white people to live in. The hint is that chemical or biological weapons were used to wipe out the blacks; this having been successfully done, the lunatics who run Germany are gearing up for World War Three, a war in which the Asian races are the next"subhumans" to go, beginning with their former Japanese ally. Germany is gearing up for a full nuclear and biological strike on Japan in this world, even as tghe novel's narrator speculates on the existance of a saner gentler universe where the Nazis lost world war two...

ka


British Morality

Post 12

Steve K.

" ... allowed Germany to re-militarize the Rhineland, rebuild its army and navy, ..."

Reminds me of a line in one of Len Deighton's novels about WWII, giving perspectives from both the Allied and Nazi sides. As I recall, a German officer is laughing about the factory he worked in between the wars, which was strictly limited to production of farm equipment or some such. He said he stole parts and took them home, but no matter how he put them together, it came out a machine gun.


British Morality

Post 13

bourne106

Sorry but I would just like to comment on the OP.

To say that there was no moral dimension to why Britain went to war is wrong. To even say that it was only a small aspect of the reason is foolish at best.

Even though Germany's invasion of Poland threatened France's strategic security, it no way threatened Britian's. In fact, at that time French Army was considered to be more than a match for Germany, as Winston Churchill said at the time 'Thank god for the French Army'. It would have been easy for Britian to let France handle the situation, ignored their treaty with Poland (Britian hasn't a formal alliance treaty with France, just a pact of mutual interest) like they did to Czechoslovak, believing that Franch army would just roll across Rhine (which they could have done since Germany wasn't able to defend the Rhine and invade Poland at the same time). But they didn't! The British government had had enough of Hitler and decided to finally make a stand, putting themselves under threat from the Nazi bombers.

However, none of that was my main point in the article. My main point about the Britian's moral victory was after France had fallen and when Britian could have made peace Germany. THIS was when they had the moral courage to stand ALONE.

And regarding my comment about the USA being left untouched. Well you are right in saying we shouldn't forget the US civilian casulties at Pearl Harbour, the internment camps or even the even those that died during Japans balloon bombing campaign. But let's just put those into perspective:
US Civilian deaths: 6,000 (plus 9,300 merchant mariners)
UK Civilian deaths: 60,000 (plus 30,000 merchant mariners)
French Civilian deaths: 350,000 (160,000 in concentration camps)
German Civilian deaths: 3,800,000
USSR Civilian deaths: 7,700,000
Also, I would like to point out that rationing didn't end until 1953 in Britain. In the US, what little rationing there was ended in 1945.


British Morality

Post 14

AgProv2

I'm fairly sure the original rationale for the "pact of mutual interest" between Britain and France was the realisation that there had to be a more intelligent way for two neighbouring states to acknowledge each other's presence in the world than by spending 50-60% 0f the time at war with each other...

By 1815 Britain and France had worked out all their differences, and the British had been wise enough not to go for a punitive peace treaty along the lines of Versailles in 1919. Instead it was understood that the French were a great power with a place in the world and we understand you have legitimate interests in North Africa and the Far East that we won't interfere with, so long as you do not interfere with legitimate British interests.

The emphasis shifted to (in the short term) avoiding war with France, and (in the long term) developing mutual trust and interest that would make future war unthinkable.

Just a pity that as we were sorting out an enduring peace with the Frogs, (and it has endured: 191 years since our last hot war) this hitherto unregarded state called Prussia was beginning its ascendency...




Key: Complain about this post

British Morality

Write an Entry

"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a wholly remarkable book. It has been compiled and recompiled many times and under many different editorships. It contains contributions from countless numbers of travellers and researchers."

Write an entry
Read more