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THE SECOND WORLD WAR > 2. SECOND WW - January 26 – February 1 ~~ Book One – Chapters IV -V (47 - 80) -Non Spoiler

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message 1: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
Hello Everyone,

This will be the second weekly spotlighted thread for The Second World War - Volume One - The Gathering Storm by Winston S. Churchill.

The Second World War, Volume 1 The Gathering Storm by Winston S. Churchill

We will open up a thread for each week's reading. Please make sure to post in the particular thread dedicated to those specific chapters and page numbers to avoid spoilers. We will also open up supplemental threads as well which will not be non spoiler. However, the weekly threads are NON-SPOILER.

Oldesq and I are sharing in the board tasks.

We look forward to your participation. Amazon and other noted on line booksellers do have copies of the book and shipment can be expedited. The book can also be obtained easily at your local library, on your Kindle or free on Google.

There is still time remaining to obtain the book and get started.

There is no rush and we are thrilled to have you join us. It is never too late to get started and/or to post.

Welcome to the discussion.

This week's readings are the following:

January 26 – February 1 ~~ Book One – Chapters IV -V (47 - 80)
Also: Preface (XIII – XIV)
Also: Appendix A. A Conversation with Count Grandi (607)
Also: Appendix B. My Note of the Fleet Air Arm (608 – 610)
Also: Appendix C. Memorandum on Supply Organization (611 – 612)
Also: Appendix D. My Statement…..July 28, 1936 (613 – 618)


message 2: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jan 26, 2009 09:30AM) (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
I have to agree with you Oldesq; I do not see how Hitler was capable of anything honourable; but then again we have been inculcated for generations about this man and about his horrendous actions. I have read somewhere that some of his household staff stated that he was a wonderful boss; so who knows. But I think I would have to weigh Hitler's deeds over a "turn of phrase" by Churchill; even though I like WSC. It could also be that Churchill was trying to be charitable to his bitter enemy after the fact; and he may have wanted to point out Hitler's tortured mind and aberrations by using the word "abnormal" and "mystic". I don't buy it; but others might.


message 3: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jan 28, 2009 01:19PM) (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
Hello Antoine,

The parallels are getting beyond the pages noted; but in this instance you are trying to respond to Oldesq and explain the Hitler quote. It would be terrific if everyone did learn from history; but alas that does not seem to be the case in this world; the world powers continue to make a mess of things.

I am not sure about any honor that Hitler himself might have had or respect; it could have been rather self serving. HIs deeds themselves were not honorable.

It is depressing in a way that the cycle seems to perpetuate itself. Yes Americans were there to lend a helping hand and realized that humiliation does not seem to inspire lasting peace or rehabilitation.

I think that Roosevelt did the best he could and was already a sick and tired man. But part of the problems were all of the exorbitant numbers of dead at the hands of the Germans (both in fighting and extermination). It was difficult I think for the world to swallow. Disarmament I think has always been important; but these countries seem to rise up even after being purposely thwarted in their attempts or maybe in spite of or because of it.

History does have a way of repeating itself and George Mitchell is right in saying that any conflict can be stopped because it is perpetrated by people who actually want to perpetuate the conflict and keep it going; when they decide to stop that is when it will stop.


message 4: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
I think it has been discussed in message 3; but since WSC is writing it I would assume it is his or part of his political ideology.

Also, I believe that meeting a person in the flesh as some of the leaders of that time period must have done; might give a different impression than history has cited; one never knows. I think we have pondered this point more than we have any proof - one way or the other. Antoine made some good points as well. I doubt that anybody else would have much more to add on that one quote. Have you discovered any source material which might prove revealing concerning this WSC citation? That would be interesting.

message 5: by Prunesquallor (last edited Jan 29, 2009 08:31AM) (new)

Prunesquallor | 37 comments RE Bentley message #3: "I have to agree with you Oldesq; I do not see how Hitler was capable of anything honourable; but then again we have been inculcated for generations about this man and about his horrendous actions."

I think the "demonization" of Hitler serves some "good" purpose, allowing people to be trained to see his excesses as totally "beyond the pale" for human behaviour -- but, in refusing to view Hitler as a human, capable (as all of us are) of a mixture of honourable and dishonourable deeds, it waters down that very warning. By making him a "one-off" monster, a "non-human," maybe it allows us to pretend that another such cannot rise again, and certainly not from OUR own society. So if we do have another Hitler in the making, would we ever recognize that fact? We might be on the look-out for an absolute monster, but not a comforting, human-faced seducer? Hitler did not look evil to most Germans (nor even to MANY British and American citizens before 1939), he had no defining marks to be read upon his brow in fiery letters, and he does seem to have answered the Social-Darwinistic/Conservative-Imperialistic needs of his own people: telling them precisely what they wanted to hear, preparing for them an agenda of "greatness" that they just could not refuse...

The "truth" as I see it: Hitler was all too human, and had enough charisma, enough "honourability" to attract a wide diversity of followers; and far from being a unique monster, I fear he has all too many potential emulators.

message 6: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
There was a lot of sycophantic behavior back then wasn't there. It almost seems that some admired what he had been able to do. I am not a fan of Buchanan but in his recent book he pointed out that fact as well.

message 7: by Virginia (new)

Virginia (va-BBoomer) | 210 comments #9 Prunesquallor - I agree with you totally. When I was old enough to ask my parents about WW2 and Hitler, they both said, 'he was insane, and killed many, many people.' It took me years to learn of his being responsible for the deaths of 6 million + people, and trying to wipe out an entire people.
But he was human, too, much as we do hate to admit it. And there is a difference between being insane and have a 'screw loose'.
Hitler did tell the German people what they wanted to hear, what they were clammering to hear. He grew up with a lot of baggage, i.e. his problems handling the fact that he had Jewish blood/genes in him. He was taken in by the emotions of the day in the German people's desperation with the conditions post WW1 as they saw it. Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass) in Germany in 1938 was an acknowledged unofficial beginning of Hitler's dictatorship and the camps, and the result of five years of building anti-Semitism as the people blamed the Jews for Germany's defeat in WW1, and the economic mess afterwards. Hitler had personally signed into law the Nuremberg Law in 1935, which forbade Jews from being citizens of Germany, and marrying any non-Jewish German, and shortly before Kristallnacht, Hitler had ordered the expulsion of 12,000 Polish-born Jews out of Germany. While Goebbels ordered Kristallnacht, it was the result of this building of anti-Semitism and persecution of the Jews, starting in Germany, and this led to the invasion of Poland in 1939, which is considered the official beginning of WW2 in the European theatre.
While Hitler certainly wasn't 'normal', he was swept up in the anti-Semitism runnig rampant in Germany and it gave his own prejudice a wide outlet. He was crazy as a fox, but the war and the killing he ordered and considered responsible for did its own job on him, I feel.
I see that Churchill has been referring to Hitler since the beginning, and it is obvious he, like most of us, consider Hitler the key of WW2, cause and effect. Will be interesting to read what Churchill writes of Hitler and the progress of his attempt at eliminating the Jews, and invasion of Poland and the 'true' beginning of WW2.

message 8: by Virginia (new)

Virginia (va-BBoomer) | 210 comments #19 & #20: What you two, Antoine and Kristen, have mentioned about anti-Semitism in Europe is very true. Hitler was indeed the "bad man at the right time". That anti-Semitism may have been the main reason behind Hitler's shunning of his Jewish heritage which most believe was a big part of his becoming a monster against his 'own people', so to speak.
I work for a Jewish organization, so am constantly exposed to, and acutely aware of the Holocaust history - our chief executive's parents were survivors, and I've met more than a few other survivor offspring, as well as a number of survivors as well. I find the whole arena of anti-Semitism disgusting and frightening, and wonder if it will ever end. Hitler is, understandably, looked upon with great hate and the chief icon of the great trauma of that time. I know a few survivors who testified very willingly for Stephen Spieberg's Testimonies when that became available years ago, and also others who couldn't deal with bringing up the horrible memories. So I am very sensitive to today's anti-Semites bringing up "The Protocols of Zionism" as the chief 'example' of their justification for being anti-Semites.

message 9: by Sara (new)

Sara | 4 comments I do think it is important to remember, when reading about Hitler, that people are not born "evil or crazy". Not in this sense anyway. Hitler did not come up with these racial ideas on his own. He is just a product of his experiences and a reflection of the society he grew up in.

Additionally, it is important to remember that history is riddled with occurrences of the masses supporting a man who later was labeled insane. This topic brings to mind an audio book I just recently finished, Hegemony or Survival America's Quest for Global Dominance. It compares America's current political state to Nazi Germany and Communist Russia. It draws some scary parallels between all three.

message 10: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
Oldesq, I agree with you. I do not think that society makes a monster; although it may contribute to one; Rufus Fears is correct from my vantage point.

message 11: by The Antiquary (last edited Feb 19, 2009 01:05AM) (new)

The Antiquary | 9 comments The demonising of Hitler does seem to have obscured the facts of his life. Bonhoeffer's life and background were pretty different. As just a couple of examples Hitler as a child was routinely beaten and humiliated by his father, while Bonhoeffer was gently brought up, home-schooled by his mother and missed out on WWI.

I think part of Churchill's intent in the introduction to Hitler is to remind the reader that he went through the most traumatic war ever to have been fought. In popular imagery, which has some basis in truth, the horrors of WWI were matched only in WWII by the Holocaust. Well known at the time, less so today, Hitler really went through the thick of it too, his actions marked him out as a hero, winning two Iron Crosses, suffering, as well as his wounds, psychological damage; dubbed 'hysteria' at the time.

Add on top of that the pain of defeat, something that takes real effort for us to begin to imagine - minus any appropriate eddifying lessons from history - that the search for a scapegoat is a natural human reaction (the term scapegoat interestingly derived from Yom Kippur) - and the psychological damage of upbringing, his early adult life and the war leading Hitler to latch onto a crackpot conspiracy theory has more mitigating factors than believers in conspiracy theories do today. Also do not forget that in Hitler's mind he was not persecuting an innocent minority. In a sense too the Holocaust was a trial by fire where all the idiocies of anti-semitism were proven false.

Churchill's phrase, 'honourable inversion', referring to love of country, I think reflects that although perverted to evil, these feelings are, or at least begin as honourable. Though disturbing when thinking of Hitler as capable of good qualities, it would be wrong to think he did not have any.

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