The 'Good War' Myth of World War Two
World War II was not only the greatest military conflict in history, it was also America's most important twentieth-century war. It brought profound and permanent social, governmental and cultural changes in the United States, and has had a great impact on how Americans regard themselves and their country's place in the world.
This global clash -- with the United States and the other "Allies" on one side, and Nazi Germany, imperialist Japan and the other "Axis" countries on the other -- is routinely portrayed in the US as the "good war," a morally clear-cut conflict between Good and Evil. / 1
In the view of British author and historian Paul Addison, "the war served a generation of Britons and Americans as a myth which enshrined their essential purity, a parable of good and evil." / 2 Dwight Eisenhower, Supreme wartime Commander of American forces in Europe, and later US president for eight years, called the fight against Nazi Germany "the Great Crusade." / 3 And President Bill Clinton said that in World War II the United States "saved the world from tyranny." / 4 Americans are also told that this was an unavoidable and necessary war, one that the US had to wage to keep from being enslaved by cruel and ruthless dictators.
Whatever doubts or misgivings Americans may have had about their country's role in Iraq, Vietnam, or other overseas conflicts, most accept that the sacrifices made by the US in World War II, especially in defeating Hitler's Germany, were entirely justified and worthwhile.
For more than 60 years, this view has been reinforced in countless motion pictures, on television, by teachers, in textbooks, and by political leaders. The reverential way that the US role in the war has been portrayed moved Bruce Russett, professor of political science at Yale University, to write: / 5
"Participation in the war against Hitler remains almost wholly sacrosanct, nearly in the realm of theology ... Whatever criticisms of twentieth-century American policy are put forth, United States participation in World War II remains almost entirely immune. According to our national mythology, that was a 'good war,' one of the few for which the benefits clearly outweighed the costs. Except for a few books published shortly after the war and quickly forgotten, this orthodoxy has been essentially unchallenged."
How accurate is this hallowed portrayal of America's role in World War II? As we shall see, it does not hold up under close examination.
First, a look at the outbreak of war in Europe.
When the leaders of Britain and France declared war against Germany on September 3, 1939, they announced that they were doing so because German military forces had attacked Poland, thereby threatening Polish independence. In going to war against Germany, the British and French leaders transformed what was then a geographically limited, two-day-old clash between Germany and Poland into a continental, European-wide conflict.
It soon became obvious that the British-French justification for going to war was not sincere. When Soviet Russian forces attacked Poland from the East two weeks later, ultimately taking even more Polish territory than did Germany, the leaders of Britain and France did not declare war against the Soviet Union. And although Britain and France went to war supposedly to protect Polish independence, at the end of the fighting in 1945 – after five and a half years of horrific struggle, death and suffering – Poland was still not free, but instead was entirely under the brutal rule of Soviet Russia.
Sir Basil Liddell Hart, an outstanding twentieth-century British military historian, put it this way: / 6
"The Western Allies entered the war with a two-fold object. The immediate purpose was to fulfill their promise to preserve the independence of Poland. The ultimate purpose was to remove a potential menace to themselves, and thus ensure their own security. In the outcome, they failed in both purposes. Not only did they fail to prevent Poland from being overcome in the first place, and partitioned between Germany and Russia, but after six years of war which ended in apparent victory they were forced to acquiesce in Russia's domination of Poland – abandoning their pledges to the Poles who had fought on their side."
In 1940, shortly after he was named prime minister, Winston Churchill spelled out, in two often quoted speeches, his reasons for continuing Britain's war against Germany. In his famous "Blood, Sweat and Tears" speech, the great British wartime leader said that unless Germany was defeated, there would be "no survival for the British empire, no survival for all that the British empire has stood for..." A few weeks later, in his "Finest Hour" address, Churchill said: "Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization. Upon it depends our own British life and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire." / 7
How strange those words sound today. Even though Britain supposedly "won," or at least was on the winning side in the war, the once-mighty British empire has vanished into history. No British leader today would dare defend the often brutal record of British imperialism, including killing and bombing in order to maintain exploitative colonial rule over millions in Asia and Africa. Nor would any British leader today dare to justify killing people in order to uphold "Christian civilization," not least for fear of offending Britain's large and rapidly growing non-Christian population.
Americans like to believe that "good guys" win, and "bad guys" lose, and, in international affairs, that "good" countries win wars, and "bad" countries lose them. In keeping with this view, Americans are encouraged to believe that the US role in defeating Germany and Japan demonstrated the righteousness of the "American Way," and the superiority of our country's form of government and society.
But if there is any validity to this view, it would be more accurate to say that the war's outcome showed the righteousness of the "Soviet Way," and the superiority of the Soviet Communist form of society and government. Indeed, for decades that was a proud claim of Moscow's leaders. As one official Soviet history book, published in the 1970s, put it:
"The war demonstrated the superiority of the Soviet socialist social and state system ... The war further demonstrated the social and political unity of the Soviet people ... Once again it underscored the significance of the guiding and organizing role of the Communist Party in socialist society. The Communist Party consolidated millions of people in their fight against the fascist aggressors ... The selfless dedication demonstrated by the Communist Party during the war years further solidified the trust, respect and love it enjoys among the Soviet people." / 8
In fact, Hitler's Germany was defeated, first and foremost, by the Soviet Union. Some 70-80 percent of German combat forces were destroyed by the Soviet military on the Eastern front. The D-Day landing in France by American and British forces, which is often portrayed in the United States as a critically important military blow against Nazi Germany, was launched in June 1944 -- that is, less than a year before the end of the war in Europe, and months after the great Soviet military victories at Stalingrad and Kursk, which were decisive in Germany's defeat. / 9
What were the American goals in World War II, and how successful was the US in achieving them?
In 1941 President Franklin Roosevelt, together with British prime minister Winston Churchill, issued a formal declaration of Allied war aims, the much-publicized "Atlantic Charter." In it, the United States and Britain declared that they sought "no territorial changes that do not accord with the freely expressed wishes of the peoples concerned," that they would "respect the right of all peoples to choose the form of governments under which they will live," and that they would strive "to see sovereign rights and self-government restored to those who have been forcibly deprived of them."
It soon became apparent, though, that this solemn pledge of freedom and self-government for "all peoples" was little more than empty propaganda. / 10 This is hardly surprising, given that America's two most important military allies in the war were Great Britain and the Soviet Union – that is, the world's foremost imperialist power, and the world's cruelest tyranny.
At the outbreak of war in 1939, Britain ruled over the largest colonial empire in history, holding more millions of people against their will than any regime before or since. This vast empire included what is now India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and South Africa.
America's other great wartime ally, the Soviet Union, was, by any objective measure, the most tyrannical or oppressive regime of its time, and a vastly more cruel despotism than Hitler's Germany. As historians acknowledge, the victims of Soviet dictator Stalin greatly outnumber those who perished as a result of Hitler's policies. Robert Conquest, a prominent scholar of twentieth century Russian history, estimates the number of those who lost their lives as a consequence of Stalin's policies as "no fewer than 20 million." / 11
During the war the United States helped substantially to maintain Stalin's tyranny, and to aid the Soviet Union in oppressing additional millions of Europeans, while also helping Britain to maintain or re-establish its imperial rule over many millions in Asia and Africa. / 12
Paul Fussell, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania who served in World War II as a US Army lieutenant, wrote in his acclaimed book Wartime that "the Allied war has been sanitized and romanticized almost beyond recognition by the sentimental, the loony patriotic, the ignorant and the bloodthirsty." / 13
An important feature of this "sanitized" view is the belief that whereas the Nazi German regime was responsible for many terrible war crimes and atrocities, the Allies, and especially the United States, waged war humanely. In fact, the record of Allied misdeeds is a long one, and includes the British-American bombing of German cities, a terroristic campaign that took the lives of more than half a million civilians, the genocidal "ethnic cleansing" of millions of civilians in eastern and central Europe, and the large-scale postwar mistreatment of German prisoners. / 14
After "forty months of war duty and five major battles" in which Edgar L. Jones served as "an ambulance driver, a merchant seaman, an Army historian, and a war correspondent," he wrote an article dispelling some myths about the Americans' role in the war. "What kind of war do civilians suppose we fought, anyway?," he told readers of The Atlantic monthly. "We shot prisoners in cold blood, wiped out hospitals, strafed lifeboats, killed or mistreated enemy civilians, finished off the enemy wounded, tossed the dying into a hole with the dead, and in the Pacific boiled the flesh off enemy skulls to make table ornaments for sweethearts, or carved their bones into letter-openers." / 15
Shortly after the end of the war, the victorious powers put Germany's wartime leaders on trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity. In doing so, the US and its allies held German leaders to a standard that they did not respect themselves.
US Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson was not the only high-ranking American official to acknowledge, at least in private, that the claim of unique Allied righteousness was mere pretense. In a letter to the President, written while he was serving as the chief US prosecutor at the great Nuremberg trial of 1945-1946, Jackson acknowledged that the Allies "have done or are doing some of the very things we are prosecuting the Germans for. The French are so violating the Geneva Convention in the treatment of [German] prisoners of war that our command is taking back prisoners sent to them [for forced labor in France]. We are prosecuting plunder and our Allies are practicing it. We say aggressive war is a crime and one of our allies asserts sovereignty over the Baltic States based on no title except conquest." / 16
At the conclusion of the Nuremberg trial of 1945-1946, the respected British weekly The Economist cited Soviet crimes, and then added, "Nor should the Western world console itself that the Russians alone stand condemned at the bar of the Allies' own justice." The Economist editorial went on:
"... Among crimes against humanity stands the offence of the indiscriminate bombing of civilian populations. Can the Americans who dropped the atom bomb and the British who destroyed the cities of western Germany plead 'not guilty' on this count? Crimes against humanity also include the mass expulsion of populations. Can the Anglo-Saxon leaders who at Potsdam condoned the expulsion of millions of Germans from their homes hold themselves completely innocent?... The nations sitting in judgment [at Nuremberg] have so clearly proclaimed themselves exempt from the law which they have administered." / 17
Another popular American assumption is that this country's enemies in World War II were all non-democratic dictatorships. In fact, on each side there were regimes that were repressive or dictatorial, as well as governments that had broad public support. Many of the countries allied with the US were headed by governments that were oppressive, dictatorial, or otherwise non-democratic. / 18 Finland, a democratic republic, was an important wartime partner of Hitler's Germany.
In crass violation of their own solemnly proclaimed principles, the US, British and Soviet statesmen disposed of tens of millions of people with no regard for their wishes. The deceit and cynicism of the Allied leaders was perhaps most blatant in the infamous British-Soviet "percentages agreement" to divide up South Eastern Europe. At a meeting with Stalin in 1944, Churchill proposed that in Romania the Soviets should have 90 percent influence or authority, and 75 percent in Bulgaria, and that Britain should have 90 percent influence or control in Greece. In Hungary and Yugoslavia, the British leader suggested, each should have 50 percent. Churchill wrote all this out on a piece of paper, which he pushed across to Stalin, who made a check mark on it and passed it back. Churchill then said, "Might it not be thought rather cynical if it seemed we had disposed of these issues, so fateful to millions of people, in such an off-hand manner? Let us burn the paper." "No, you keep it," replied Stalin. / 19
To solidify the Allied wartime coalition – which was formally known as the "United Nations" -- President Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Churchill, and Soviet premier Stalin met together on two occasions: in November 1943 at Tehran, in occupied Iran, and in February 1945 in Yalta, in Soviet Crimea. The three Allied leaders accomplished what they accused the Axis leaders of Germany, Italy and Japan of conspiring to achieve: world domination.
During a 1942 meeting in Washington, President Roosevelt candidly told the Soviet foreign minister that "the United States, England and Russia, and perhaps China, should police the world and enforce disarmament [of all others] by inspection." / 20
To secure the global rule of the victorious powers after the war, the "Big Three" Allied leaders established the United Nations organization to serve as a permanent world police force. Once Germany and Japan were defeated, though, the US and the Soviet Union squared off against each other, which made it impossible for the UN to function as President Roosevelt had intended. While the US and Soviet Union each sought for decades to secure hegemony in its own sphere of influence, the two "super powers" were also rivals in a decades-long struggle for global supremacy.
In his book, A People's History of the United States, historian Howard Zinn wrote: / 21
"The victors were the Soviet Union and the United States (also England, France and Nationalist China, but they were weak). Both these countries now went to work – without swastikas, goose-stepping, or officially declared racism, but under the cover of 'socialism' on the one side, and 'democracy' on the other, to carve out their own empires of influence. They proceeded to share and contest with one another the domination of the world, to build military machines far greater than the Fascist countries had built, to control the destinies of more countries than Hitler, Mussolini, and Japan had been able to. They also acted to control their own populations, each country with its own techniques – crude in the Soviet Union, sophisticated in the United States – to make their rule secure."
The United States officially entered World War II after the Japanese attack on the US naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii on December 7, 1941. Until then, the US was officially a neutral country, and most Americans wanted to keep out of the war that was then raging in Europe and Asia. In spite of the country's neutral status, President Roosevelt and his administration, together with much of the US media, prodded the American people into supporting war against Germany. A large-scale propaganda campaign was mounted to persuade Americans that Hitler and his Nazi "henchmen" or "hordes" were doing everything in their power to take over and "enslave" the entire world, and that war with Hitler's Germany was inevitable.
As part of this effort, the President and other high-ranking American officials broadcast fantastic lies about supposed plans by Hitler and his government to attack the United States and impose a global dictatorship. / 22
President Roosevelt's record of lies is acknowledged even by his admirers. Among those who have sought to justify his policy is the eminent American historian Thomas A. Bailey, who wrote: / 23
"Franklin Roosevelt repeatedly deceived the American people during the period before Pearl Harbor ... He was like the physician who must tell the patient lies for the patient's own good ... The country was overwhelmingly noninterventionist to the very day of Pearl Harbor, and an overt attempt to lead the people into war would have resulted in certain failure and an almost certain ousting of Roosevelt in 1940, with a complete defeat of his ultimate aims."
Professor Bailey went on to offer a cynical view of American democracy:
"A president who cannot entrust the people with the truth betrays a certain lack of faith in the basic tenets of democracy. But because the masses are notoriously shortsighted and generally cannot see danger until it is at their throats, our statesmen are forced to deceive them into an awareness of their own long-run interests. This is clearly what Roosevelt had to do, and who shall say that posterity will not thank him for it?"
As part of the US government's campaign to incite war, President Roosevelt in 1941 ordered the US Navy to help British forces in attacking German vessels in the Atlantic. This was reinforced by a presidential "shoot on sight" order to the US Navy against German and Italian ships. Roosevelt's goal was to provoke an "incident" that would provide a pretext for open war. Hitler, for his part, was anxious to avoid conflict with the United States. The German leader responded to the US government's blatantly illegal provocations by ordering his navy commanders to avoid clashes with US ships. / 24
Also in crass violation of international law, the officially neutral US government provided massive "Lend Lease" aid to Germany's enemies, especially Britain and its empire, as well as to Soviet Russia.
Two prominent American historians, Allan Nevins and Henry Steele Commager, noted that:
"This [1941 "Lend Lease"] measure was clearly unneutral, but the United States, committed now to the defeat of Germany, was not to be stayed by the niceties of international law. Other equally unneutral acts followed – the seizure of Axis shipping, the freezing of Axis funds, the transfer of tankers to Britain, the occupation of Greenland and, later, of Iceland, the extension of lend-lease to the new ally, Russia, and ... the presidential order to 'shoot on sight' any enemy submarines." / 25
In the view of British historian J.F.C. Fuller, President Roosevelt "left no stone unturned to provoke Hitler to declare war on the very people to whom he so ardently promised peace. He provided Great Britain with American destroyers, he landed American troops in Iceland, and he set out to patrol the Atlantic seaways in order to safeguard British convoys; all of which were acts of war ... In spite of his manifold enunciations to keep the United States out of the war, he was bent on provoking some incident which would bring them into it." / 26
So belligerent and unlawful were the Roosevelt administration's policies that Admiral Harold R. Stark, chief of US naval operations, acknowledged in a confidential September 1941 memorandum for the President: "He [Hitler] has every excuse in the world to declare war on us now, if he were of a mind to." / 27
Across Europe and Asia, the Second World War brought mass destruction, death to tens of millions of men, women and children, and great suffering to many more. Americans, though, were spared the horrors of large-scale bombing, combat fighting on their home soil, or occupation by foreign armies.
At the end of the war the United States was the only major nation not shattered in the global conflict. It emerged as the world's preeminent economic, military, and financial power. For the US, the half-century from 1945 to the mid-1990s was an era of spectacular economic growth and unmatched global stature.
Lewis H. Lapham, author and for years editor of Harper's magazine, put it this way:
"In 1945, the United States inherited the earth ... At the end of World War II, what was left of Western civilization passed into the American account. The war had also prompted the country to invent a miraculous economic machine that seemed to grant as many wishes as were asked of it. The continental United States had escaped the plague of war, and so it was easy enough for the heirs to believe that they had been anointed by God." / 28
But were Americans really better off than if they had stayed out of World War II? Among those who has not thought so is Prof. Bruce Russett, who wrote: / 29
"American participation in World War II had very little effect on the essential structure of international politics thereafter, and probably did little either to advance the material welfare of most Americans or to make the nation secure from foreign military threats ... In fact, most Americans probably would have been no worse off, and possibly a little better, if the United States had never become a belligerent...
"I personally find it hard to develop a very emphatic preference for Stalinist Russia over Hitlerite Germany ... In cold-blooded realist terms, Nazism as an ideology was almost certainly less dangerous to the United States than is Communism."
Although Third Reich Germany and imperial Japan were destroyed, the United States and Britain failed to achieve the political goals proclaimed by their leaders. In August 1945, the prestigious British weekly, The Economist, noted: "At the end of a mighty war fought to defeat Hitlerism, the Allies are making a Hitlerian peace. This is the real measure of their failure." / 30
Among those who were not happy about the war's outcome was British historian Basil Liddell Hart, who wrote:
"... All the effort that was put into the destruction of Hitlerite Germany resulted in a Europe so devastated and weakened in the process that its power of resistance was much reduced in the face of a fresh and greater menace – and Britain, in common with her European neighbours, had become a poor dependent of the United States. These are the hard facts underlying the victory that was so hopefully pursued and so painfully achieved – after the colossal weight of both Russia and America had been drawn into the scales against Germany. The outcome dispelled the persistent popular illusion that 'victory' spelt peace. It confirmed the warning of past experience that victory is a 'mirage in the desert' – the desert that a long war creates, when waged with modern weapons and unlimited methods." / 31
Even Winston Churchill had misgivings about the war's outcome. Three years after the end of the fighting, he wrote:
"The human tragedy [of the war] reaches its climax in the fact that after all the exertions and sacrifices of hundreds of millions of people and of the victories of the Righteous Cause, we have still not found Peace or Security, and that we lie in the grip of even worse perils than those we have surmounted." / 32
At the end of the war, Europe for the first time in its history was no longer master of its own destiny, but was instead under the domination of two great outer European powers, the United States and the Soviet Union, which for political and ideological reasons had no special interest in, or concern for, European culture or Western civilization. / 33
In the view of Charles A. Lindbergh, the world-famous author and aviator, the war was a great setback for the West. Twenty-five years after the end of the conflict, he wrote: / 34
"We won the war in a military sense; but in a broader sense it seems to me we lost it, for our Western civilization is less respected and secure than it was before. In order to defeat Germany and Japan we supported the still greater menaces of Russia and China – which now confront us in a nuclear-weapon era. Poland was not saved ... Much of our Western culture was destroyed. We lost the genetic heredity formed through aeons in many million lives ... It is alarmingly possible that World War II marks the beginning of our Western civilization's breakdown, as it already marks the breakdown of the greatest empire ever built by man."
The outcome of the US and British role in the war moved British historian J.F.C. Fuller to write: / 35
"What persuaded them [Roosevelt and Churchill] to adopt so fatal a policy? We hazard to reply – blind hatred! Their hearts ran away with their heads and their emotions befogged their reason. For them the war was not a political conflict in the normal meaning of the words, it was a Manichean contest between Good and Evil, and to carry their people along with them they unleashed a vitriolic propaganda against the devil they had invoked."
Even after the passage of so many years, this hatred has endured. American schools, the US mass media, government agencies and political leaders have for decades carried on a campaign of emotion-laden, one-sided propaganda to uphold the national mythology of World War II.
How a nation views the past is not a trivial or merely academic exercise. Our perspective on history profoundly shapes our actions in the present, often with grave consequences for the future. Drawing conclusions from our understanding of the past, we make or support policies that greatly impact many lives.
The familiar American portrayal of World War II, and the "good war" mythology of the US role in it, is not merely bad history. It has helped greatly to support and justify a series of arrogant US foreign policy adventures, with harmful consequences for both America and the world.
"World War II has warped our view of how we look at things today," said US Navy rear admiral Gene R. LaRoque, who served in 13 major battles during the war. "We see things in terms of that war, which in a sense was a good war. But the twisted memory of it encourages the men of my generation to be willing, almost eager, to use military force anywhere in the world." / 36
Since 1945, American presidents have repeatedly sought to justify US military actions in foreign countries by recalling the "good war" and, in particular, the US role in defeating Germany. During the 1960s, President Lyndon Johnson sought to win support for his Vietnam war policy with historically false portrayals of World War II and Hitler's Germany. / 37
This moved historian Murray Rothbard to write in 1968: / 38
" ...World War II is the last war myth left, the myth that the Old Left clings to in pure desperation: the myth that here, at least, was a good war, here was a war in which America was in the right. World War II is the war thrown into our faces by the war-making establishment, as it tries, in each war that we face, to wrap itself in the mantle of good and righteous World War II."
In recent years, American political leaders have tried to gain support for war against Iraq and Iran by drawing historical parallels between Hitler and the leaders of those two Middle East countries.
Many Americans are understandably outraged by the deceit and falsehoods of President George W. Bush and his administration in seeking public support for the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. But as we have seen, presidential deception to justify war did not start with him. Americans who express admiration for the US role in World War II, and for Franklin Roosevelt's presidential leadership, have little moral right to complain when presidents follow his example and lead the country into war by breaking the law, subverting the Constitution, and lying to the people.
If the history of war and conflict teaches us anything, it is the danger of arrogance and hubris – that is, the danger of going to war because a nation's leaders are convinced of their own righteousness, or have persuaded themselves and the public that a foreign country should be attacked because its government or society is not merely alien, hostile or threatening, but "evil."
This is perhaps the most harmful legacy of America 's national mythology about World War II -- the notion that worthwhile or justifiable wars are fought against countries headed by supposedly "evil" regimes. And it is this very outlook that moved President George W. Bush to refer to his "war on terrorism" as a "crusade," and, in a major speech, to proclaim a US foreign policy dedicated to "ending tyranny in the world." / 39
A nation should go to war only after prudent consideration, after carefully weighing the possible consequences, and only for the most compelling of reasons, after all other alternatives have been exhausted, and as a last resort. This is especially true given the awesome destructive power of modern weaponry, and because – as World War II , the "Good War," so tragically attests -- wars rarely turn out the way anyone expects.
About the Author
Mark Weber is director of the Institute for Historical Review. He studied history at the University of Illinois (Chicago), the University of Munich, Portland State University and Indiana University (M.A., 1977). This article was presented as a lecture at an IHR meeting in Costa Mesa, California, on May 24, 2008.
1. Studs Terkel, "The Good War" (New York: Pantheon, 1984), p. vi.
2. P. Fussell, Wartime (1989), pp. 164-165.Also quoted there by Fussell is Eric Severeid, an influential American journalist and commentator, who wrote that the war "absolutely" was a "contest between good and evil."
3. Eisenhower declaration of June 6, 1944, issued in connection with the D-Day invasion.
4. Clinton's second inaugural address, Jan. 20, 1997. See: M. Weber, "The Danger of Historical Lies: President Clinton's Distortion of History," The Journal of Historical Review, May-June 1997. http://www.ihr.org/jhr/v16/v16n3p-2_Weber.html )
5. B. M. Russett, No Clear and Present Danger (1972), pp. 12, 17.
6. Basil H. Liddell Hart, History of the Second World War (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1971), p. 3.
7. Churchill speeches of May 13, 1940, and June 18, 1940.
8. K. Gusev, V. Naumov, The USSR: A Short History (Moscow: Progress, 1976), p. 239.
9. N. Davies, No Simple Victory (2007), pp. 24, 25, 276, 484-485; John Erickson, The Road to Berlin (Yale Univ. Press, 1999), p. ix (preface); Soviet losses in the three-week Berlin offensive of April 16 to May 8, 1945, it's been estimated, were greater than the total of American dead in the Second World War, and greater than the losses of the Western allies in the whole of 1945. H. P. Willmott, The Great Crusade: A New Complete History of the Second World War (New York: 1990), p. 452; In the view of historian John Lukacs: "Their [the Soviet Russians'] resistance and victory over the Germans was their greatest – no, their only great – achievement during the seventy-four years of Soviet Communism." J. Lukacs, The End of the Twentieth Century and the End of the Modern Age (New York: 1993), p. 55.
10. British historian J. F. C. Fuller called the Atlantic Charter "first class propaganda, and probably the biggest hoax in history." J. F. C. Fuller, A Military History of the Western World , Vol. 3 (New York: DaCapo, 1987), p. 453.
11. R. Conquest, The Great Terror: A Reassessment (Oxford Univ. Press, 1990), p. 48. See also: N. Davies, No Simple Victory (2007), pp. 64-67
12. A few years after the end of the war, former US President Herbert Hoover recalled his critical view of Roosevelt's policy of aiding the Soviet Union: "In June 1941, when Britain was safe from German invasion due to Hitler's diversion to attack Stalin, I urged that the gargantuan jest of all history would be our giving aid to the Soviet government. I urged that we should allow those two dictators to exhaust each other. I stated that the result of our assistance would be to spread Communism over the whole world. ... The consequences have proved that I was right." Cited by: Scott Horton, "Saving England Wasn't Worth It," June 2007. ( http://www.antiwar.com/horton/?articleid=11213 )
13. P. Fussell, Wartime (New York: 1989), p. ix (preface)
14. See, for example: Max Hastings, Bomber Command (New York: 1979); Giles MacDonogh, After the Reich (2007); N. Davies, No Simple Victory (2007), pp. 67-72; Alfred M. de Zayas, The German Expellees: Victims in War and Peace (New York: 1993); Frederick J. P. Veale, Advance to Barbarism (IHR, 1993); Jörg Friedrich, The Fire: The Bombing of Germany, 1940-1945 (Columbia University Press, 2006); Ralph F. Keeling, Gruesome Harvest (Chicago: 1947)
15. Edgar L. Jones, "One War is Enough," The Atlantic, Feb. 1946. ( http://tmh.floonet.net/articles/nonatlserv.shtml ). Also quoted in P. Fussell, Thank God for the Atom Bomb and Other Essays (New York: 1988), pp. 50-51.
16. Jackson letter to Truman, Oct. 12, 1945. Quoted in: Robert E. Conot, Justice at Nuremberg (New York: 1983), p. 68. See also: James McMillan, Five Men at Nuremberg (London: 1985), pp. 67, 173-174, 244-245, 380, 414-415.
17. "The Nuremberg Judgment," editorial, The Economist (London), Oct. 5, 1946. Quoted in: M. Weber, "The Nuremberg Trials and the Holocaust," The Journal of Historical Review, Summer 1992, p. 176. (http://www.ihr.org/jhr/v12/v12p167_Webera.html)
18. In addition to the Soviet Union and the puppet states under British colonial rule, those countries included China, Brazil, Cuba, and Egypt.
19. Martin Gilbert, Road to Victory, Winston Churchill 1941-45, Vol. VII (Houghton Mifflin, 1986), pp. 992-994. Source cited: W. Churchill, The Second World War. Vol. 6, Triumph and Tragedy (London, 1954), p. 198.
20. Warren F. Kimball, The Juggler: Franklin Roosevelt as Wartime Statesman (Princeton Univ. Press, 1991), p. 85 and p. 235 (n. 6). Source cited: Foreign Relations of the United States, 1942, vol. III, pp. 573 f.
21. H. Zinn, A People's History of the United States (New York: HarperCollins/ Perennial, 2001), pp. 424-425.
22. In his nationally broadcast address of Dec. 29, 1940, President Roosevelt told Americans that "the Nazi masters of Germany" were seeking "to enslave the whole of Europe, and then to use the resources of Europe to dominate the rest of the world." In his address of May 27, 1941, Roosevelt said that "the Nazis" sought "world domination." On Oct. 25, 1941, US Assistant Secretary of State Adolph Berle told Americans that Hitler and the Nazis "planned to conquer the entire world." Two days later, the President issued perhaps his most extravagant claim of supposed Nazi plans to take over the world. See: M. Weber, "Roosevelt's 'Secret Map' Speech," The Journal of Historical Review, Spring 1985. See also: Thomas A. Bailey and P. Ryan, Hitler vs. Roosevelt (1979), esp. pp. 199-203; Ted Morgan, FDR: A Biography (New York: 1985), pp. 602-603;
"From the captured German archives, there is no evidence to support the President's claims that Hitler contemplated any offensive against the western hemisphere, and until America entered the war there is abundant evidence that this was the one thing he wished to avert." J. F. C. Fuller, A Military History of the Western World, Vol. 3 (New York: DaCapo, 1987), p. 629.
23. T. A. Bailey, The Man in the Street (1948), pp. 11-13. Quoted in: W. H. Chamberlin, America's Second Crusade, p. 123. See also: Joseph P. Lash, Roosevelt and Churchill, 1939-1941 (New York: 1976), pp. 9, 10, 420, 421.
24. C. Tansill, Back Door to War (1952), pp. 606-615; Joseph P. Lash, Roosevelt and Churchill, 1939-1941 (New York: 1976), pp. 298, 323, 340, 344, 392, 418, 419, 421; T. A. Bailey and P. B. Ryan, Hitler vs. Roosevelt (1979), pp. 166, 265, 268; Ted Morgan, FDR: A Biography (1985), pp. 589, 601; Frederic R. Sanborn, "Roosevelt is Frustrated in Europe," in H. E. Barnes, ed., Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace (1993), pp. 219-221; James McMillan, Five Men at Nuremberg (London: 1985), pp. 173-174; W. H. Chamberlin, America's Second Crusade (1950), pp. 124-147.
25. Allan Nevins, Henry Steele Commager, A Pocket History of the United States (New York: Washington Square Press, 1986), p. 433.
26. J. F. C. Fuller, A Military History of the Western World , Vol. 3 (New York: DaCapo, 1987), p. 416
27. Robert E. Sherwood, Roosevelt and Hopkins: An Intimate History (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1948), p. 380.
28. Lewis H. Lapham, "America's Foreign Policy: A Rake's Progress," Harper's, March 1979. Quoted in: Studs Terkel, "The Good War" (New York: 1984), p. 8.
29. B. M. Russett, No Clear and Present Danger (1972), pp. 19, 20, 42.
30. The Economist (London), August 11, 1945. Quoted in: J.F.C. Fuller, A Military History of the Western World , Vol. 3 (New York: DaCapo, 1987), p. 631.
31. Basil H. Liddell Hart, History of the Second World War (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1971), p. 3.
32. W. Churchill, The Gathering Storm (Boston: 1948), pp. iv-v (preface).
33. H. P. Willmott, The Great Crusade: A New Complete History of the Second World War (New York: The Free Press, 1990), pp. 102-103, 474 , 476; See also: F. P. Yockey, Imperium (Noontide Press, 2000).
34. Charles A. Lindbergh, The Wartime Journals of Charles A. Lindbergh (New York: 1970), pp. xiv-xv;
Donald Day, for years a correspondent in central Europe for the Chicago Tribune, was even more emphatic in viewing an Allied victory as catastrophic for Europe and the West. "Speaking as an American and as a newspaperman of 15 years experience who knows something about both the United States and Europe," he wrote in early 1943, "I think an American control and administration of Europe would be just as destructive and ruinous as Soviet control. Both would be really Jewish control." Donald Day, Onward Christian Soldiers (Noontide Press, 2002), p. 168.
35. J. F. C. Fuller, A Military History of the Western World, Vol. 3 (New York: DaCapo, 1987), p. 631.
36. Studs Terkel, "The Good War" (1984), p. 193.
37. President Johnson repeatedly compared the North Vietnamese leadership to Hitler to justify the use of American military power in Southeast Asia. At a news conference on July 28, 1965, for example, he said that "the lessons of history" showed that "surrender" in Vietnam would not bring peace. "We learned from Hitler at Munich," he said, "that success only feeds the appetite of aggression. The battle will be renewed in one country and then another country..."
38. Murray N. Rothbard, "Harry Elmer Barnes, RIP," Left and Right, 1968. ( http://www.lewrockwell.com/rothbard/rothbard165.html )
39. George W. Bush, Inaugural address, Jan. 20, 2005. "So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in the world."
For Further Reading
Michael C. C. Adams, The Best War Ever: America and World War II (Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1994).
Thomas A. Bailey, Paul B. Ryan, Hitler vs. Roosevelt: The Undeclared Naval War (New York: The Free Press, 1979).
Nicholson Baker, Human Smoke: The Beginnings of World War II, the End of Civilization (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2008)
Harry Elmer Barnes, ed., Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace (Institute for Historical Review, 1993)
Patrick J. Buchanan, Churchill, Hitler and 'The Unnecessary War': How Britain Lost Its Empire and the West Lost the World (New York: Crown, 2008).
William H. Chamberlain, America's Second Crusade (Chicago: 1950)
Benjamin Colby, 'Twas a Famous Victory (Arlington House, 1975)
George N. Crocker, Roosevelt's Road to Russia (Regnery, 1961)
Norman Davies, No Simple Victory: World War II in Europe, 1939-1945 (New York: Viking, 2007)
Alfred M. de Zayas, Nemesis at Potsdam: The Expulsion of the Germans from the East (University of Nebraska, 1989)
Paul Fussell, Wartime: Understanding and Behavior in the Second World War (New York: 1989).
"Germany's Declaration of War Against the United States: Hitler's Reichstag Speech of December 11, 1941," The Journal of Historical Review, Winter 1988-89. ( http://www.ihr.org/jhr/v08/v08p389_Hitler.html )
Max Hastings, Bomber Command (New York: 1979)
Robert Higgs, "Truncating the Antecedents: How Americans Have Been Misled about World War II." March 18, 2008 ( http://www.lewrockwell.com/higgs/higgs77.html )
Giles MacDonogh, After the Reich: The Brutal History of Allied Occupation (Basic Books, 2007)
Robert Nisbet, Roosevelt and Stalin: The Failed Courtship (London: 1989)
Amos Perlmutter, FDR & Stalin: A Not So Grand Alliance, 1943-1945 (University of Missouri Press, 1993)
Bruce M. Russett, No Clear and Present Danger: A Skeptical View of the U.S. Entry into World War II (New York: Harper & Row, 1972)
Michel Sturdza, The Suicide of Europe (Boston: 1968)
Charles C. Tansill, Back Door to War: The Roosevelt Foreign Policy, 1933-1941 (Chicago: 1952)
Studs Terkel, "The Good War": An Oral History of World War Two (New York: Pantheon, 1984)
Nikolai Tolstoy, Stalin's Secret War (New York: 1981)
F. J. P. Veale, Advance to Barbarism (Institute for Historical Review, 1993)
Mark Weber, "Roosevelt's 'Secret Map' Speech," The Journal of Historical Review, Spring 1985. ( http://www.ihr.org/jhr/v06/v06p125_Weber.html )