The Unnecessary War
In a speech before the Dallas, Texas Alumni Club of Columbia University on Armistice Day, 1950, General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower stated that as Supreme Commander in Europe he made a habit of asking American soldiers why they were fighting the Germans and 90% of the boys said they a had no idea. Very significantly, General Eisenhower did not offer members of his Alumni Group any precise answer to his own question. The high point of his speech was a statement of his hope that Columbia might become the fountain-head for widely disseminated simple and accurate information which will prevent our country from ever again stumbling in war at ―the whim of the man who happens to be president (notes taken by the author, who attended the Alumni Club meeting, and checked immediately with another Columbian who was also present).
The American soldier is not the only one who wondered and is still wondering about the purposes of World War II. Winston Churchill has called it The Unnecessary War. In view of our legacy of deaths, debt, and danger, Churchill‘s term nay be considered an understatement.
Before a discussion of any war, whether necessary or unnecessary, a definition of the term war is desirable. For the purposes of this book, war may be defined, simply and without elaboration, as the ultimate and violent action taken by a nation to implement its foreign policy. The results, even of a successful war, are so horrible to contemplate that a government concerned for the welfare of its people will enter the combat phase of its diplomacy only as a last resort. Every government makes strategic decisions, and no such decision is so fruitful of bitter sequels as a policy of drift or a policy of placating a faction, which has money or votes or both, and it is on just such a hybrid policy of drift and catering that our foreign policy has been built.
A commonly made and thoroughly sound observation about our foreign policy beginning with 1919 is that it creates vacuums for a hostile power to fill. The collapsed Germany of 1923 created a power vacuum in the heart of Europe, but Britain and France made no move to fill it, perhaps because each of them was more watchful of the other than fearful of fallen Germany. The United States was far-off; its people of native stock, disillusioned by the bursting of Woodrow Wilson‘s dream bubbles, were deposed to revert to their old policy of avoiding foreign entanglements; and its numerous new Eastern European citizens, hostile to Germany, were watchfully awaiting a second and final collapse of the feeble republic born of the peace treaty of 1919. The new Soviet dictatorship, finding Marxism unworkable and slowly making it over into its later phases of Leninism and Stalinism, was as yet too precariously established for a westward venture across Poland.
As a result, Germany moved along stumblingly with more than a dozen political parties and a resultant near-paralysis of government under the Socialist President Friedrich Ebert to 1925 and then, with conditions improving slightly, under the popular old Prussian Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg, who was President from 1925 to 1933.
Meanwhile two of Germany‘s numerous political parties emerged into definite power the Communists, many of whose leaders were of Khazar stock, and the National Socialist German Workers Party, which was popularly called Nazi from the first two syllables of the German word for National. Faced with harsh alternatives (testimony of many Germans to the author in Germany), the Germans chose the native party and Adolf Hitler was elected Chancellor.
The date was January 30, 1933, five weeks before Franklin Roosevelt‘s first inauguration as President of the United States; but it was only after the aged President von Hindenburg‘s death (on August 2) that Hitler was made both President and Chancellor (August 19 th ). Differences between the rulers of the United States and Germany developed quickly. Hitler issued a series of tirades against Communism, which he considered a world menace, whereas Roosevelt injected life into the sinking body of world Communism (Chapter III, above) by giving full diplomatic recognition to Soviet Russia on November 16, 1933, a day destined to be known as American-Soviet Friendship Day by official proclamation of the State of New York.
Sharing the world spotlight with his anti-Communist words and acts, was Hitler‘s domestic policy, which in its early stages nay be epitomized as Germany for the Germans, of whom in 1933 there were some 62,000,000. Hitler‘s opponents, more especially those of non-German stock (510,000 in 1933 according to the World Almanac, 1939), were unwilling to lose by compromise any of their position of financial and other power acquired in large degree during the economic collapse of 1923, and appealed for help to persons of prominence in the city of New York and elsewhere. Their appeal was not in vain.
In late July, 1933, an International Jewish Boycott Conference (New York Times, August 7, 1933) was held in Amsterdam to devise means of bringing Germany to terms. Samuel Untermeyer of New York presided over the Boycott Conference and was elected President of the World Jewish Economic Federation. Returning to America, Mr. Untermeyer described the planned Jewish move against Germany as a holy war a war that must be waged unremittingly (speech over WABC, as printed in New York Times of August 7, 1933). The immediately feasible tactic of the economic boycott was described by Mr. Untermeyer as of the economic boycott was described by Mr. Untermeyer as nothing new, for President Roosevelt, whose wise statesmanship and vision are the wonder of the civilized world, is invoking it in furtherance of his noble conception of the relations between capital and labor. Mr. Untermeyer gave his hearers and readers specific instructions:
It is not sufficient that you buy no goods made in Germany. You must refuse to deal with any merchant or shopkeeper who sells any German made goods or who patronizes German ships and shipping.
Before the Boycott Conference adjourned at Amsterdam, arrangement was made to extend the boycott to include France, Holland, Belgium, Britain, Poland and Czechoslovkia and other lands as far flung as Finland and Egypt (New York Times, August 1, 1933). In connection with the boycott, the steady antiGerman campaign, which had never died down in America after World War I, became suddenly violent. Germany was denounced in several influential New York papers and by radio.
The public became dazed by the propaganda, and the U.S. Government soon placed on German imports the so-called general tariff rates as against the most favored status for all other nations. This slowed down but did not stop the German manufacture of export goods, and the U.S. took a further step, described as follows in the New York Times (June 5, 1936): Already Germany is paying general tariff rates because she has been removed by Secretary of State Cordell Hull from the most favored nation list. Now she will be required to pay additional duties … it was decided that they would range from about 22 to 56 per cent. There were protests. According to the New York Times (July 12, 1936): importers and others interested in trade with Germany insisted yesterday that commerce between the two countries will dwindle to the vanishing point within the next six months. The prediction was correct.
An effort of certain anti-German international financial interests was also made to call sufficient German treasury notes to break‖ Germany. The German government replied successfully to this maneuver by giving a substantial bonus above the current exchange rate for foreigners who would come to Germany, exchange their currency for marks, and spend the marks in Germany. Great preparations were made for welcoming strangers to such gatherings as the World Conference on Recreation and Leisure Time (Hamburg, August, 1936), one of whose programs, a historic pageant on the Auszen-Alster, was attended by the author (who was visiting northern European museums and coastal areas in the interest of his historical novel, Swords in the Dawn). Special trains brought in school children from as far as northern Norway. Whether from sincerity or from a desire to create a good impression, visitors were shown every courtesy. As a result of the German effort and the money bonus afforded by the favorable exchange, retired people, pensioners, and tourists spent enough funds in the Reich to keep the mark stable.
But this German financial victory in 1936, though it prevented an immediate currency collapse, did not solve the problem of 62,000,000 people (69,000,000 by 1939) in an area approximately the size of Texas being effectively denied export trade.
Through Secretary of State Cordell Hull and other officials President Roosevelt sponsored Mr. Untermeyer‘s economic war against Germany, but he still adhered, in his public utterances, to a policy of nonintervention in the internal affairs of foreign nations. In two speeches in the summer of 1937 he voiced our entanglements (American Foreign Policy in the Making, 1932 – 1940, by Charles A. Beard, Yale University Press, 1946, p. 183).
Some sinister underground deal must have been consummated within two months, however, for in a speech in Chicago on October 5 th the President made an about-face, which was probably the most complete in the whole history of American foreign policy. Here are two excerpts from the famous Quarantine speech:
Let no one imagine that America will escape, that America may expect mercy, that this Western Hemisphere will not be attacked!
When an epidemic of physical disease starts to spread, the community approves and joins in a quarantine of the patients in order to protect the health of the community against the spread of
This pronouncement, so inflammatory, so provocative of war, caused unprecedented consternation in the United States (see Beard, op. cit., pp. 186 ff.). Most outspoken in opposition to the quarantine policy was the Chicago Tribune. Violently enthusiastic was the New Masses, and Mr. Earl Browder promised the administration the 100 percent unconditional support of the Communist party provided Roosevelt adopted a hands-off policy toward Communism. Incidentally, this Democratic-Communist collaboration was openly or covertly to be a factor in subsequent United States foreign and domestic policy to and beyond the middle of the twentieth century. I welcome the support of Earl Browder or any one else who will help keep President Roosevelt in office, said Harry S. Truman, candidate for Vice President, on October 17, 1944 (National Republic, May, 1951, p. 8).
Far more numerous than denouncers or endorsers of the quarantine speech of 1937 were those who called for clarification. This, however, was not vouchsafed nor was it, apart from possible details of method and time, really necessary. It was perfectly obvious that the President referred to Japan and Germany. With the latter country we had already declared that no quarter economic war recommended by the President of the World Jewish Economic Federation, and now in unquestionably hostile terms our President declared a political war. In his diary, Secretary of Defense James Forrestal recorded that he was told by Joseph P. Kennedy, our Ambassador to Britain, that Prime Minister Chamberlain stated that America and the world Jews had forced England into the war (The Forrestal Diaries, ed. by Walter Millis, The Viking Press, New York, 1951, pp. 121-122).
Censorship, governmental and other (Chapter V), was tight in America by 1937. It had blocked out the reasons for Mr. Roosevelt‘s public change of policy between summer and autumn, and it blacked out the fact that the President‘s threatening attitude caused Germany to make, and make a second time, an appeal for peace. These appeals did not become known to the American public for more than ten years. Here is the story, summarized from an article by Bertram D. Hulen in the New York Times of December 17, 1948:
In 1937 and again in 1938 the German government made “a sincere effort to improve relations with the United States, only to be rebuffed.” The U.S. Government‟s alleged reason was “a fear of domestic political reactions in this country unfavorable to the Administration.” Germany was told that the American public would not tolerate a conference. Some officials favored exploring the German offer “after the congressional elections in the fall” (1938).
The sequel, of course, is that the Roosevelt administration blocked Germany‟s further efforts for peace by withdrawing our ambassador from Berlin and thus peremptorily preventing future negotiations. Germany then had to recall her Ambassador “who was personally friendly toward Americans” and, according to the New York Times, “was known in diplomatic circles here at the time to be working for international understanding in a spirit of good will.” Here, to repeat for emphasis, is the crux of the matter: The whole story of Germany‟s appeal for negotiations and our curt refusal and severance of diplomatic relations was not published in 1937 or 1938, when Germany made her appeals, but was withheld from the public until ferreted out by the House Committee on UnAmerican Activities after World War II and by that committee released to the press more than ten years after the facts were so criminally suppressed. Parenthetically, it is because of services such as this on behalf of truth that the Committee on Un-American Activities has been so frequently maligned . In fact, in our country since the 1930‟s there seems little question that the best criterion for separating true Americans from others is a recorded attitude toward the famous Martin Dies Committee.