Category Archives: World War II

Rise of the Nazi-Grave Robbers

Thomas Rogers reports for Bloomberg Businessweek:

IMAGE TITLE[…] During the final months of World War II, Latvia was the site of especially bloody battles between German and Soviet forces. Approximately 350,000 Nazis were cut off here from the rest of the German line in the autumn of 1944, in what became known as the Courland Pocket. In the months that followed, about 100,000 of them were killed.

After Latvia came under Soviet control in 1945, authorities had little interest in exhuming dead soldiers, and today, 26 years after independence, numberless bodies are still buried in the country’s forests and fields. That has left well-meaning volunteers like Esmits’s group to exhume, identify, and rebury dead soldiers.

But in recent years, the often illicit market in Nazi memorabilia has intensified, creating a new class of diggers across eastern Europe that is at odds with Esmits’s work. Of particular interest are relics—items dug up from the ground. “When we first started, the market for relics was a local one—you couldn’t even call it a market,” Esmits said. “Then the internet appeared, and Europe and the world opened up, and many things changed.”

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New Hannah Arendt Documentary Is a Warning About the Fascist Within Us All

Chloé Cooper Jones wrote for VICE in April:

My interview with Israeli filmmaker Ada Ushpiz was pushed back an hour so that she could finish watching Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speak on television. “Im sorry,” said Ushpiz, calling from her home in Tel Aviv. “I had to watch. Abbas spoke to the Israelis and said things we’re told all the time he doesn’t say, which is, ‘I want to make peace.’ The discourse is always presented as if Abbas doesn’t want to talk and he’s not interested in a partnership with the Israelis and there is no possibility for peace. But Abbas said, ‘Let‘s sit and talk.’ It was great, you know? I don’t see Netanyahu coming back and saying, ‘OK, let‘s talk.'” Ushpiz let out a weary breath. “No, that will not happen.”

Ada Ushpiz‘s new documentary, Vita Activa: The Spirit of Hannah Arendt, is as much about present-day Islamophobia in Israel and abroad as it is about Arendt. The documentary—showing at New York’s Film Forum through April 19—reminds viewers of Arendt’s urgent relevancy for us today; and it does so without making any explicit political statements. Instead, the film allows Arendt’s decades-old arguments, presented through carefully curated quotes, to linger on the screen, asking the viewer to read, reflect, and perhaps reread before moving on. The restraint is intentional. “I didn’t want to preach,” explained Ushpiz. “But I didn’t stop thinking about our world while I was making the film. I was always thinking about my responsibility in this world.”

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Where Did the American Century Go?

Tom Engelhardt writes for TomDispatch:

Vladimir Putin recently manned up and admitted it. The United States remains the planet’s sole superpower, as it has been since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. “America,” the Russian president said, “is a great power. Today, probably, the only superpower. We accept that.”

Think of us, in fact, as the default superpower in an ever more recalcitrant world.

Seventy-five years ago, at the edge of a global conflagration among rival great powers and empires, Henry Luce first suggested that the next century could be ours.  In February 1941, in his magazine LIFE, he wrote a famous essay entitled “The American Century.”  In it, he proclaimed that if only Americans would think internationally, surge into the world, and accept that they were already at war, the next hundred years would be theirs.  Just over nine months later, the Japanese attacked the U.S. fleet at Pearl Harbor, plunging the country into World War II.  At the time, however, Americans were still riven and confused about how to deal with spreading regional conflicts in Europe and Asia, as well as the rise of fascism and the Nazis.

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Britain Rattles Postwar Order and Its Place as Pillar of Stability

Jim Yardley, Alison Smale, Jane Perlez and Ben Hubbard report for The New York Times:

Britain’s historic vote to leave the European Union is already threatening to unravel a democratic bloc of nations that has coexisted peacefully together for decades. But it is also generating uncertainty about an even bigger issue: Is the post-1945 order imposed on the world by the United States and its allies unraveling, too?

Britain’s choice to retreat into what some critics of the vote suggest is a “Little England” status is just one among many loosely linked developments suggesting the potential for a reordering of power, economic relationships, borders and ideologies around the globe.

Slow economic growth has undercut confidence in traditional liberal economics, especially in the face of the dislocations caused by trade and surging immigration. Populism has sprouted throughout the West. Borders in the Middle East are being erased amid a rise in sectarianism. China is growing more assertive and Russia more adventurous. Refugees from poor and war-torn places are crossing land and sea in record numbers to get to the better lives shown to them by modern communications.

Accompanied by an upending of politics and middle-class assumptions in both the developed and the developing worlds, these forces are combining as never before to challenge the Western institutions and alliances that were established after World War II and that have largely held global sway ever since.

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Unjust Cause

Andrew Cockburn recently interviewed historian Gar Alperovitz for Harpers on the decision to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki:

As advertised, President Obama did not apologize for the U.S. nuclear strike that destroyed the city of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, on his recent visit to the city. Instead, he issued a vacuous call for the courage to “spread peace and pursue a world without nuclear weapons.” Steering clear of any specific reference as to why the United States chose to incinerate over 100,000 Japanese, he orated that “We come to ponder the terrible forces unleashed in the not so distant past. We come to mourn the dead … their souls speak to us and ask us to look inward. To take stock of who we are and what we might become”—a rhetorical exercise that in essence amounted to little more than Donald Rumsfeld’s infamous “stuff happens.” Seventy years after World War II, it seems the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki are still a matter for evasion, justified by U.S. officials as the only way to end the war and save American lives. To fill in Obama’s omissions, I turned to the historian Gar Alperovitz. His 1995 book The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb and the Architecture of An American Myth is the most definitive account we are likely to see of why Hiroshima was destroyed, and how an official history justifying that decision was subsequently crafted and promulgated by the national security establishment. As he explained, the bomb not only failed to save Americans lives, it might actually have caused the needless deaths of thousands of U.S. servicemen.

  • Let’s start with the basic question: was it necessary to drop the bomb on Hiroshima in order to compel Japanese surrender and thereby save American lives?

Absolutely not. At least, every bit of evidence we have strongly indicates not only that it was unnecessary, but that it was known at the time to be unnecessary. That was the opinion of top intelligence officials and top military leaders. There was intelligence, beginning in April of 1945 and reaffirmed month after month right up to the Hiroshima bombing, that the war would end when the Russians entered [and that] the Japanese would surrender so long as the emperor was retained, at least in an honorary role. The U.S. military had already decided [it wanted] to keep the emperor because they wanted to use him after the war to control Japan.

Virtually all the major military figures are now on record publicly, most of them almost immediately after the war, which is kind of amazing when you think about it, saying the bombing was totally unnecessary. Eisenhower said it on a number of occasions. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs said it—that was Admiral Leahy, who was also chief of staff to the president. Curtis LeMay, who was in charge of the conventional bombing of Japan, [also said it]. They’re all public statements. It’s remarkable that the top military leaders would go public, challenging the president’s decision within weeks after the war, some within months. Really, when you even think about it, can you imagine it today? It’s almost impossible to think of it.

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Bombing Hiroshima Changed The World, But It Didn’t End World War II

Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick write for the Los Angeles Times:

1945 aerial photo of atomic explosion's aftermath in New MexicoPresident Obama’s visit to Hiroshima on Friday has rekindled public debate about the U.S. atomic bombings of Japan — one largely suppressed since the Smithsonian cancelled its Enola Gay exhibit in 1995. Obama, aware that his critics are ready to pounce if he casts the slightest doubt on the rectitude of President Harry S. Truman’s decision to use atomic bombs, has opted to remain silent on the issue. This is unfortunate. A national reckoning is overdue.

Most Americans have been taught that using atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 was justified because the bombings ended the war in the Pacific, thereby averting a costly U.S. invasion of Japan. This erroneous contention finds its way into high school history texts still today. More dangerously, it shapes the thinking of government officials and military planners working in a world that still contains more than 15,000 nuclear weapons.

Truman exulted in the obliteration of Hiroshima, calling it “the greatest thing in history.” America’s military leaders didn’t share his exuberance. Seven of America’s eight five-star officers in 1945 — Gens. Dwight Eisenhower, Douglas MacArthur and Henry Arnold, and Adms. William Leahy, Chester Nimitz, Ernest King and William Halsey — later called the atomic bombings either militarily unnecessary, morally reprehensible, or both. Nor did the bombs succeed in their collateral purpose: cowing the Soviets.

Leahy, who was Truman’s personal chief of staff, wrote in his memoir that the “Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender…. The use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan.” MacArthur went further. He told former President Hoover that if the United States had assured the Japanese that they could keep the emperor they would have gladly surrendered in late May.

It was not the atomic evisceration of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that ended the Pacific war. Instead, it was the Soviet invasion of Manchuria and other Japanese colonies that began at midnight on Aug. 8, 1945 — between the two bombings.

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Noam Chomsky on Obama’s Visit to Hiroshima and Presidential Legacy: “Nothing to Rave About”

Amy Goodman speaks with world-renowned political academic Noam Chomsky about President Obama becoming the first serving U.S. president to visit Hiroshima, Japan, where the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb toward the end of World War II on what Chomsky calls “the grimmest day I can remember.” Chomsky examines the U.S. role in launching the nuclear age, Obama’s role in continuing it, and the rest of his legacy. “I don’t usually agree with Sarah Palin, but when she was ridiculing this—what she called this ‘hopey-changey stuff,’ she had a point. There were a few good things. … But opportunities that were available, especially in the first two years when he had Congress with him, just were not used. By the standards of U.S. presidential politics, it’s kind of nothing special either way, nothing to rave about, certainly.” (Democracy Now!)

Allegations of Anti-Semitism Fired Up Ahead of Pivotal UK Local Elections: Interview with Max Blumenthal and John Weeks

Sharmini Peries talks to journalist Max Blumenthal and economist John Weeks, who agree that the charges of anti-semitism levelled against the Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party in the UK are part of an orchestrated effort from the Right. (The Real News)

Why a British Fight Over Israel and Anti-Semitism Matters to the Rest of Us

Robert Mackey writes for The Intercept:

At first glance, the heated argument two members of the British Labour Party conducted in front of reporters’ iPhones on Thursday, sparked by accusations that one of their colleagues posted anti-Semitic comments on Facebook, seems like a story of interest mainly to political junkies in London.

When the debate is unpacked, however, it becomes clear that what’s at stake is something much broader: whether critics of Israel, who question its government’s policies or its right to exist as a Jewish state, are engaged in a form of coded anti-Semitism. That matters because attempts to disqualify all critics of Israel as racists are widespread across the globe.

In the United States, for instance, supporters of a movement to boycott Israel until it grants Palestinians full civil rights have recently been condemned as anti-Semites by Hillary Clinton; last month, the University of California, adopted a policy on discrimination that implies anti-Semitism is behind opposition to Zionism, the political ideology asserting that the Jewish people have a right to a nation-state in historic Palestine.

But how did this issue come to dominate the political debate in Britain, a week before important local elections?

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Hiroshima: Last Military Act of World War II or First Act of the Cold War?

William Blum wrote on the 50th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1995:

Does winning World War II and the Cold War mean never having to say you’re sorry? The Germans have apologized to the Jews and to the Poles. The Japanese have apologized to the Chinese and the Koreans, and to the United States for failing to break off diplomatic relations before attacking Pearl Harbor. The Russians have apologized to the Poles for atrocities committed against civilians, and to the Japanese for abuse of prisoners. The Soviet Communist Party even apologized for foreign policy errors that “heightened tension with the West”.

Is there any reason for the United States to apologize to Japan for atomizing Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

Those on opposing sides of this question are lining up in battle formation for the 50th anniversary of the dropping of the atom bombs on August 6 and 9, 1945. During last year’s heated controversy surrounding the Smithsonian Institution’s exhibit on the Enola Gay, the B-29 that dropped the atom bomb on Hiroshima, US veterans went ballistic. They condemned the emphasis on the ghastly deaths caused by the bomb and the lingering aftereffects of radiation, and took offense at the portrayal of Japanese civilians as blameless victims. An Air Force group said vets were “feeling nuked”.

In Japan, too, the anniversary has rekindled controversy. The mayors of the two Japanese cities in question spoke out about a wide “perception gap” between the two countries. Nagasaki Mayor Hitoshi Motoshima, surmounting a cultural distaste for offending, called the bombings “one of the two great crimes against humanity in the 20th Century, along with the Holocaust”.

Defenders of the US action counter that the bomb actually saved lives: It ended the war sooner and obviated the need for a land invasion. Estimates of the hypothetical saved-body count, however, which range from 20,000 to 1.2 million, owe more to political agendas than to objective projections.

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How Associated Press Cooperated With the Nazis

Philip Oltermann reports for The Guardian:

The Associated Press news agency entered a formal cooperation with the Hitler regime in the 1930s, supplying American newspapers with material directly produced and selected by the Nazi propaganda ministry, archive material unearthed by a German historian has revealed.

When the Nazi party seized power in Germany in 1933, one of its first objectives was to bring into line not just the national press, but international media too. The Guardian was banned within a year, and by 1935 even bigger British-American agencies such as Keystone and Wide World Photos were forced to close their bureaus after coming under attack for employing Jewish journalists.

Associated Press, which has described itself as the “marine corps of journalism” (“always the first in and the last out”) was the only western news agency able to stay open in Hitler’s Germany, continuing to operate until the US entered the war in 1941. It thus found itself in the presumably profitable situation of being the prime channel for news reports and pictures out of the totalitarian state.

In an article published in academic journal Studies in Contemporary History , historian Harriet Scharnberg shows that AP was only able to retain its access by entering into a mutually beneficial two-way cooperation with the Nazi regime.

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Hugh Wilford on America’s Great Game: The CIA’s Secret Arabists and the Shaping of the Modern Middle East

John Batchelor talks to Hugh Wilford, a historian at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) and the author of several books on the CIA and British intelligence during the Cold War. In this interview Wilford discusses information found in his 2013 book America’s Great Game: The CIA’s Secret Arabists and the Shaping of the Modern Middle East. (The John Batchelor Show)

10 American Companies That Aided The Nazis

The Kochs, The Nazis and Stalin: Interview with Jane Mayer

Juan Gonzalez and Amy Goodman speak to Jane Mayer, reporter for the New Yorker and author of a new book: Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right. In the book, Mayer explores how the Koch brothers and other right-wing billionaires have funded a political machine aimed at shaping elections and public policy. The book contains a number of revelations and new details, one of them being that the Kochs’ father, industrialist Fred Koch, helped build an oil refinery in Nazi Germany—a project approved personally by Adolf Hitler. The refinery was critical to the Nazi war effort, fueling German warplanes. Mayer joins us to discuss. (Democracy Now!)

Italy’s Puppet Master: Licio Gelli Dies Aged 96

Eric Margolis writes:

The French, who know much about intrigue, have a very useful expression, “an Italian scandal.” This means a scandal or plot that is so complex or tangled it defies understanding, and never gets solved.

The death of 96-year old Masonic Grand Master Licio Gelli this week reopened the mystery of Italy’s greatest and most murky political scandals. I’ve been following this wonderful case since the 1980’s. Gelli, a lifelong Fascist, was what was known in the US as “one of our SOB’s.”

As US Republicans hysterically warn of “terrorism,” it’s useful to look back to the Cold War years and see who really had – and has – clean hands.

Gelli first appeared as an 18-year old volunteer Black Shirt fascist sent by Mussolini to Spain to fight the Communists.

Soon after World War II, Gelli was recruited by CIA to help build “Gladio,” a top secret underground organized in 14 Western European nations of former fascists and other right-wingers designed to combat an expected Soviet invasion.

The Soviet threat eventually subsided, but Gladio, its far right members and its arms caches remained. In the 1980’s and early 90’s, Gladio and Gelli would be involved in numerous plots and intrigues known as “the years of lead” aimed at blocking Communists from power and paving the way for fascist coups. CIA and Britain’s MI6 were implicated.

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Irradiated: 33,480 Americans Dead After 70 Years of Atomic Weaponry

Brittany Peterson reports for McClatchy:

“Irradiated,” a special report published today by McClatchy, offers an unprecedented look at the costs of war and the risks of a strong defense, using federal records to chronicle the deaths of at least 33,480 nuclear workers who helped the U.S. win World War II and the Cold War.

The number of deaths has never been disclosed by federal officials. It’s more than four times the number of American casualties in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. And it looms large as the nation prepares for its second nuclear age, with a $1 trillion plan to modernize its nuclear weapons over the next 30 years.

McClatchy determined the count after analyzing more than 70 million records in a database obtained from the U.S. Department of Labor under the Freedom of Information Act. It includes all workers who are dead after they or their survivors received compensation under a special fund created in 2001 to help those who got sick in the construction of America’s nuclear arsenal.

A total of 107,394 workers have been diagnosed with cancers and other diseases after building the nation’s nuclear stockpile over the last seven decades. The project includes an interactive database that offers details on all 107,394 workers.

McClatchy’s yearlong investigation, set in 10 states, puts readers in the living rooms of sick workers in South Carolina, on a picket line in Texas and at a cemetery in Tennessee. It includes interviews with more than 100 workers, government officials, experts and activists and across the country.

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WW2 Veteran Says The ‘Politicised’ Red Poppy Is Used To ‘Sell’ The Government’s War On Terror

Kathryn Snowden reports for The Huffington Post:

harry leslie smith

[…] Harry Leslie Smith, a former RAF serviceman, does not wear a red poppy. He announced in 2013 that he would no longer allow his “obligation as a veteran” to be manipulated by governments to promote present-day wars.

Speaking to the Huffington Post UK, Mr Smith said: “Unfortunately, since we fell into the quagmire of the Iraq war and the ubiquitous war on terror, Armistice Day and the wearing of the poppy have been not only politicised but also commercialised.

“It is now almost a month long dirge of patriotism without context and without understanding the true cost of war.”

But the Royal British Legion maintains that the red poppy raises funds for veterans and their families and is “non-political and does not depict or support war”.

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Harry Patch: Anti-War Hero

The British Legion and the Control of Remembrance

Rod Tweedy writes for Veterans for Peace UK:

With its links to the arms trade, increasingly militarised presentation of Remembrance, and growing commercialisation and corporatisation of the poppy “brand”, it’s time to reconsider whether the Royal British Legion is still suitable to be the “national custodian of Remembrance”.

My Name is Legion: The British Legion and the Control of Remembrance explores how the Royal British Legion’s status as the self-appointed “national custodian of Remembrance” has been compromised through its collaboration with some of the world’s most controversial arms dealers, its increasingly militarised presentation of Remembrance, and its commercialised and trivialising corporatisation of the poppy “brand”.

It draws on the work of a number of journalists, campaign groups, veterans, and religious organisations who have expressed concern at the direction the Legion is taking, and asks whether the charity is still fit to be the “national custodian of Remembrance”.

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Puritan poppy-shamers should find a better use of their time

Simon Kelner writes for The Independent:

Poppy fascists[…] We never used to worry, or possibly even notice, whether someone was wearing a poppy or not. Now, the outcry starts weeks before Remembrance Day if anyone in public life, newsreaders and politicians especially, appears with an unfurnished lapel.

Why Sienna Miller should be subject to the same reactionary tendency is beyond me. I only wish that the actress, brave enough to take on the big media battalions over phone hacking, could have faced down those who criticised her and told them to mind their own business.

Opinions don’t need to be worn like badges, or indeed poppies.

Feeling compassion for fallen servicemen is no more noble a sentiment than supporting our fellow citizens to express their opinions without fear or favour. After all, that was one of the freedoms our soldiers were fighting for.

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The Firebombing of Tokyo

Rory Fanning wrote for Jacobin back in March:

Charred remains of Japanese civilians after the firebombing of Tokyo. Ishikawa Kouyou / Wikimedia Commons[9th March marked] the seventieth anniversary of the American firebombing of Tokyo, World War II’s deadliest day. More people died that night from napalm bombs than in the atomic strikes on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But few in the United States are aware that the attack even took place.

The lack of ceremonies or official state apologies for the firebombing is unsurprising considering that many Americans see World War II as the “just war” fought by the “greatest generation.” These labels leave the war and the atrocities Americans committed during it largely untouched by critique.

The little that is available to study on the firebombing, at least here in the US, is told from the perspective of American crewmen and brass, through usually biased American military historians. Those seeking better understanding of the March 9 tragedy must wade through reams of history primarily devoted to strategy; the heroics of American soldiers; the awesome power behind the bombs unleashed that day; and a cult-like devotion to the B-29 Superfortress, the plane that dropped the napalm over Tokyo and the atomic bombs, and was the inspiration for George Lucas’s Millennium Falcon.

The overriding narrative surrounding the events of March 9, 1945 is that the American pilots and military strategists such as Gen. Curtis LeMay, the architect of the firebombing, had no other option but to carry out the mission. The Americans had “no choice” but to burn to death nearly one hundred thousand Japanese civilians.

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70th Anniversary of US Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Interview with Nobel Laureate Kenzaburo Oe

‘Seventy years ago today, at 8:15 in the morning, the U.S. dropped the world’s first atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. Destruction from the bomb was massive. Shock waves, radiation and heat rays took the lives of some 140,000 people. Three days later, the U.S. dropped a second atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Nagasaki, killing another 74,000. President Harry Truman announced the attack on Hiroshima in a nationally televised address on August 6, 1945. Today, as the sun came up in Hiroshima, tens of thousands began to gather in Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park to commemorate the world’s first nuclear attack. We are joined by the acclaimed Japanese novelist and winner of the 1994 Nobel Prize for Literature, Kenzaburo Oe, whose books address political and social issues, including nuclear weapons and nuclear power. “If Mr. Obama were to come to the memorial ceremonies in Hiroshima or Nagasaki, for example, what he could do is come together with the hibakusha, the survivors, and share that moment of silence, and also express considering the issue of nuclear weapons from the perspective of all humanity and how important nuclear abolition is from that perspective—I think, would be the most important thing, and the most important thing that any politician or representative could do at this time,” says Oe, who has also spoken out in defense of Japan’s pacifist constitution, which Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has pushed to amend in order to allow the country to send troops into conflict for the first time since World War II.’ (Democracy Now!)

The indefensible Hiroshima revisionism that haunts America to this day

Christian Appy writes for TomDispatch:

The indefensible Hiroshima revisionism that haunts America to this dayHere we are, 70 years after the nuclear obliteration of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and I’m wondering if we’ve come even one step closer to a moral reckoning with our status as the world’s only country to use atomic weapons to slaughter human beings. Will an American president ever offer a formal apology? Will our country ever regret the dropping of “Little Boy” and “Fat Man,” those two bombs that burned hotter than the sun? Will it absorb the way they instantly vaporized thousands of victims, incinerated tens of thousands more, and created unimaginably powerful shockwaves and firestorms that ravaged everything for miles beyond ground zero? Will it finally come to grips with the “black rain” that spread radiation and killed even more people — slowly and painfully — leading in the end to a death toll for the two cities conservatively estimated at more than 250,000?

Given the last seven decades of perpetual militarization and nuclear “modernization” in this country, the answer may seem like an obvious no. Still, as a historian, I’ve been trying to dig a little deeper into our lack of national contrition. As I have, an odd fragment of Americana kept coming to mind, a line from the popular 1970 tearjerker Love Story: “Love,” says the female lead when her boyfriend begins to apologize, “means never having to say you’re sorry.” It has to be one of the dumbest definitions ever to lodge in American memory, since real love often requires the strength to apologize and make amends.

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Behind the infant Queen’s gesture lies a dark history of aristocratic Nazi links

Editor’s Note: Karina Urbach is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Historical Research at School of Advanced Study and is the author of “Go-Betweens for Hitler“.

Karina Urbach writes for The Guardian:

When analysing the approach taken by the British royal family to events in Germany in the 1930s, key is the pervasive fear of communism among the aristocracy in Europe. In 1933, Edward (later Duke of Windsor) said of the Nazi regime: “It is the only thing to do. We will have to come to it, as we are in great danger from Communists, too.”

The royal family was also particularly susceptible to such fears because some of their German relatives had from the outset been great admirers of Hitler. To this day, the royal archives have ensured that correspondence between the monarchy and these German relatives remains closed to historians. But, thankfully, relationships always have two sides to them. Other archives – in Germany – reveal the substance of contacts between Queen Mary, her sons – George VI, the Duke of Windsor and the Duke of Kent – and their German cousins.

Among these were members of the houses of Hessen, Coburg, Hanover, Hohenzollern and Waldeck-Pyrmont. Many of them were infatuated with Hitler. These German relatives had an agenda and their agenda was written by Hitler: an alliance with Britain.’

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British Royals told: Open archives on family ties to Nazi regime

Jamie Doward and Tracy McVeigh report for The Guardian:

Buckingham Palace has been urged to disclose documents that would finally reveal the truth about the relationship between the royal family and the Nazi regime of the 1930s.

The Sun’s decision to publish footage of the Queen at six or seven years old performing a Nazi salute, held in the royal archives and hitherto unavailable for public viewing, has triggered concerns that the palace has for years sought to suppress the release of damaging material confirming the links between leading royals and the Third Reich.

Unlike the National Archives, the royal archives, which are known to contain large volumes of correspondence between members of the royal family and Nazi politicians and aristocrats, are not compelled to release material on a regular basis. Now, as that relationship becomes the subject of global debate, historians and MPs have called for the archives to be opened up so that the correspondence can be put into context.’

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Queen’s Nazi salute footage is matter of historical significance, says Sun

Jamie Grierson reports for The Guardian:

The managing editor of the Sun has defended his newspaper’s decision to release leaked footage, apparently shot in 1933 or 1934, showing the Queen perform a Nazi salute as a matter of “historical significance”.

The black-and-white footage shows the Queen, then aged six or seven, and her sister Margaret, around three, joining the Queen Mother and her uncle, Prince Edward, the Prince of Wales, in raising an arm in the signature style of the German fascists.

Edward, who later became King Edward VIII and abdicated to marry the American socialite Wallis Simpson, faced numerous accusations of being a Nazi sympathiser. The couple were photographed meeting Hitler in Munich in October 1937, less than two years before the second world war broke out.’

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Nazi Collaborators Triumph Over Communists in Ukraine

Leonid Bershidsky writes for Bloomberg:

<p>Everything must go.</p>
 Photographer: Sergei Supinsky/AFP/Getty ImagesIt’s goodbye Lenin, hello Nazi collaborators in Ukraine these days. Laws signed into effect by President Petro Poroshenko require the renaming of dozens of towns and hundreds of streets throughout the country to eliminate Soviet-era names. At the same time, Ukraine will begin to honor groups that helped Hitler exterminate Ukrainian Jews during World War II.

Ukrainians’ desire for a European identity and a break with the country’s Soviet past is Poroshenko’s biggest political asset, but these latest steps should worry the country’s Western allies.

A law Poroshenko signed May 15 bans all Soviet and Nazi symbols, even on souvenirs, and criminalizes “denying the criminal character” of both totalitarian regimes. It bans place names, monuments and plaques glorifying Soviet heroes, Soviet flags and communist slogans. Statues of Lenin have been toppled in many Ukrainian cities since the “revolution of dignity” last year, but the new law goes further. ‘

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The Cost of Soviet Victory

Andrew Kornbluth writes for The Moscow Times:

With the 70th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany upon us and relations between the former Allies at their coldest in a generation, one of the more common refrains in Russian nationalist discourse has been the “ingratitude” of the Europeans and Americans for the Soviet Union’s leading role in the victory.

Most recently, that victory has become a prominent rhetorical device in the ongoing war in Ukraine, where Russia constantly juxtaposes the “fascist junta” in Kiev with its own image as a champion against Nazism.

There is no question that the defeat of the Third Reich would have been impossible without the Soviet Union, but, as with all self-congratulatory claims to national exceptionalism, the reality is far more complicated.

The damage done to countries liberated by the Red Army was so great, in both political and human terms, that while Europeans can and should be glad that the Soviet Union triumphed, there are many in Europe who do not feel grateful.

The simple fact that there was no other force capable of dislodging the Nazi armies does not change the somber truth that the liberation was simultaneously a war of expansion by another totalitarian state.’

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Stalin’s Soviet Union Defeated Nazi Germany, We Should Not Forget

Eric Margolis writes:

It was churlish for western leaders to boycott this week’s Victory Parade in Moscow that commemorated the Soviet Union’s defeat of Nazi Germany 70 years ago.

Historic events are facts that should not be manipulated according to the latest political fashions.  Being angry at Moscow for mucking about in Ukraine does not in any way lessen the glory, admiration and thanks owed to the Russian people for their heroism during World War II.

Americans and Canadians like to believe they won the war in Europe and give insufficient recognition to the decisive Soviet role.  Most Europeans would rather not think about the matter.  By contrast, Russians know that it was their soldiers who really won the war. They remain angry that their military achievements are ignored by American triumphalists and myth -makers.

Not only did Stalin’s Soviet Union play the key role in crushing Nazi Germany, its huge sacrifices saved the lives of countless American, British and Canadian soldiers.  Were it not for the USSR’s victory,  Nazi Germany might be alive and well today.

Let’s do the numbers..’

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Interview with historian Richard Overy on the truths and myths of World War II

Richard Overy is a British historian who published multiple books on World War II including The Dictators: Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Russia.