WORLD WAR II
The New York Times, May 27, 2011
Edited by Andy Ross
World War II began with a joint Nazi-Soviet invasion of Poland. For the
first two years of the war, Hitler and Stalin were allies, until Hitler
invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941.
Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin, Timothy Snyder spotlights
the region comprising the Baltics, Ukraine, Belarus, Western Russia and
Poland. This was the site of the titanic battles between the Wehrmacht and
the Red Army. It was also the scene of 14 million noncombatant deaths
between 1933 and 1945. This figure encompasses 10 million civilians and
prisoners of war killed by the Nazis including six million Jews murdered
in the Holocaust and four million civilians and prisoners of war killed by
The Soviet Union and Nazi Germany were both guilty of
killing millions of people for ideological reasons. The three million
Ukrainians starved by Stalin in 1932-33 were deliberate victims of state
aggression and ideological terror, no less than the three million Soviet
prisoners starved by Hitler in 1941-42.
Churchill's Secret War: The British Empire and the Ravaging of India During
World War II, Madhusree Mukerjee says Winston Churchill was responsible
for the Bengal famine of 1943, which resulted in the deaths of some three
million people. Churchill refused to divert resources from feeding Britain
to feeding India because, true to the logic of imperialism, he placed a far
higher value on British lives than on Indian ones.
The Fire: The Bombing of Germany, 1940-1945, Jörg Friedrich describes
the kinds of scenes that took place on German streets in the aftermath of
bombing raids: for instance, "a man dragging a sack with five or six bulges
in it as if he were carrying heads of cabbage. It was the heads of his
family, a whole family, that he had found in the cellar."
Among the Dead Cities: The History and Moral Legacy of the WWII Bombing of
Civilians in Germany and Japan, A. C. Grayling regards World War II as a
just war against morally criminal enemies. But he concludes that the
practice of area bombing in which RAF Bomber Command indiscriminately
bombed urban areas, in the hope of inflicting damage on Germany's economy
and morale was a moral crime.
Moral Combat: Good and Evil in World War II, Michael Burleigh disagrees.
He cites the motto of the RAF's 44th Bomber Squadron: "The King's
Thunderbolts Are Righteous". His impulse is understandable. If we lose our
ability to take pride in the victory over Hitler, we will be deprived of one
of our surest moral compass points.
To those who fought World War
II, it was plain enough that Allied bombs were killing huge numbers of
German civilians, that Churchill was fighting to preserve imperialism as
well as democracy, and that the bulk of the dying in Europe was being done
by the Red Army at the service of Stalin. But it was the irresolution and
military weakness of the democracies that allowed Nazi Germany to provoke a
AR World War II turns out to be a big theme
in my forthcoming autobiography.
By Adam Kirsch
Tablet, May 31, 2011
Philosemitism in History
Adam Sutcliffe and Jonathan
Cambridge University Press
Q: Which is preferable the antisemite or the philosemite?
A: The antisemite at least he isn't lying.
Jewish saying: A
philosemite is an antisemite who loves Jews.
antisemites share an unhealthy interest in Jews and an unreal notion of who
and what Jews are, as if being a Jew were the same as embracing a political
ideology rather than a religious and historical identity.
"antisemitism" and "philosemitism" were coined within the socialist movement
in 19th-century Germany. Wilhelm Marr coined "antisemitic" in 1879 as a
label proudly claimed by enemies of the Jews. Philosemitism was invented as
a term of abuse, applied by antisemites to those who opposed them.
In 1891, at the International Socialist Congress at Brussels, a motion was
proposed condemning antisemitism. Victor Adler and Paul Singer, the leaders
of Socialist parties in Germany and Austria and both Jews objected that
condemning antisemitism would only heighten the public perception of
socialism as a Jewish movement. The motion was amended to attack
antisemitism and philosemitism in equal measure.
American Evangelicals support Israel. For centuries, evangelical Christians
have been staunch Zionists. Yet the premise of that friendship is a
millenarian theology, which holds that the majority of Jews will be wiped
out in apocalyptic wars, and the remainder will convert to Christianity.
Genuine esteem between people cannot be grasped as an ism.
AR Was National Socialism an attempt
to purge the semitism from socialism?