Saturday, December 07, 2013

Letter: Hitler prevents German victory in WWII

I’ve written earlier of my admiration for Cambridge Professor Richard J. Evans’s fluency, the extent of his learning and his indefatigable industry. I’ve also complained that I see him standing like a colossus astride the scholarly gates blocking views not to his liking. His dismissive review of a new book by Paul Kennedy, Engineers of Victory: The Problem Solvers Who Turned the Tide in the Second World War, is another case in point. In his NYRB review, “ What the War Was Really About”( December 5, 2013 distributed about two weeks earlier), Evans derides a recent example of a view I’ve recently stumbled upon, namely that Hitler had to work night and day against his military commanders to keep Germany from winning WWII, and from blocking Allied victory.

My letter to the NYRB follows:

New York Review of Books:

December 7, 2013
To the editor:

Re: Richard J. Evans, “What the War Was Really About,”   NYRB , December 5, 2013.

Professor Richard J. Evans dismisses Paul Kennedy’s suggestion that the Germans might have won the war as “beside the point,” writing that “Defeat was preprogrammed for the Axis by the very nature of its war aims.”

Regarding Japan few would doubt that her resources were unequal to destroying U.S. might, nor that its “brutal and sadistic behavior” in pursuit of a Co-prosperity Sphere served to doom its prospects.

But Germany is another story. Evidence suggests that it wasn’t horrific Nazi war aims, but radical interference by Hitler himself that brought German ruin. Early victories in Operation Barbarossa unveiled remarkable and still not adequately explored possibilities. Bevin Alexander (How Hitler Could Have Won WWII: The Fatal Errors that Led to Nazi Defeat [(2000]) writes of Army Group Center’s “astonishing success” advancing 440 miles in only six weeks. With few Soviet troops in their way, Guderian’s and Hoth’s tanks were only 220 miles from Moscow when Hitler issued orders that amounted to self-sabotage. He ordered a halt to the drive on Moscow, forcing instead Center’s panzer groups south to the Ukraine and north to Leningrad. Guderian was so outraged by Hitler’s deflection orders that he struggled, ultimately unsuccessfully, to force Hitler to allow him to proceed to Moscow before the end of the summer.

Surely the possibility of an early Nazi victory over Stalin and the prospect of Hitlerian world domination are topics worthy of further study.


Ronald Bleier

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Bill the Butcher: Did Hitler Deliberately Lose the War?

Bill the Butcher: Did Hitler Deliberately Lose the War?
You wrote:
But the question is: how is it that Hitler actually lost the war?
Think about it a moment. Here’s a man who had absolute control over his people, his nation and his armed forces. He had more absolute control than other dictators because he had succeeded in achieving a kind of Godhead status amongst his people (more about that in a moment). His General Staff was completely beholden to him, and every general who even thought of treason had been co-opted or purged. His armies, even in their last days, were technologically superior to all their enemies. And, militarily speaking, by 1942 he was unchallenged master of everything between the river Volga and the English Channel. How could he possibly have lost?
Yet, as we know from history, he did, completely and catastrophically.
I believe, and in this article I shall endeavour to show, that Hitler lost because, subconsciously, he was determined to lose.    
--Read the whole of Bill's blog on this topic:

Did Hitler Deliberately Lose the War?

 My email to Bill:

Thanks for this, Bill. Much appreciated. I'm really glad I found you via Google. Your article represents a major breakthrough. (Perhaps there are others who are also working on this?)  I'm working on  exactly the same theme: I'd just remove the question mark and I also believe that it wasn't at all subconscious. Hitler  knew exactly what he was doing. He had developed a long term plan for destruction,  including the destruction of the German military and German society along with everything else.
Thanks for the pointer to Clark on Barbarossa. I found Bevin Alexander, How Hitler Could Have Won WWII: The Fatal Errors that Led to Nazi Defeat  (2000) perhaps the most helpful.
Best wishes,


Monday, October 21, 2013

Marci on Obama and the NSA dragnet; Stalin -- and Primo Levi on atheism

I gather a good deal of the Left needs to protect what remains of their belief in Obama.. Here's a quote from Marci Wheeler, whose invaluable blog, Emptywheel, is as critical and skeptical as it gets. Yet she's persuaded that Obama is basically a good guy getting bad advice – this time on the NSA dragnet. Marci writes: 

I suspect Obama, having been convinced by partial briefings the dragnet is great for America, also believes he can persuade the rest of us (who aren’t stuck in his partial briefing bubble) to love it too. - See more at:

Reminds me of what loyal Party victims said of Stalin as they were marched off to be shot in the back of the head.

If only Uncle Joe knew.

And Stalin reminds me of a passage from  the brilliant Primo Levi  who wrote that he entered Auschwitz  -- the Lager --  as an atheist, and he left a year later with the same belief. 

In discussing his atheism, Levi mentions one passing moment when he briefly considered saying a prayer to god when it seemed not unlikely that he would be chosen for the gas chambers. Levi writes that he quickly returned to his atheism, explaining:  One does not change the rules of the game at the end of the match, not when you are losing..

And then he goes on to explain why believers may have had an easier time in the Lager.

Not only during the crucial moments of the selection or the aerial bombings but also in the grind of everyday life, the believers lived better…It was completely unimportant what their religious or political faith might be…all held in common the saving force of their faith. Their universe was vaster than ours, more extended in space and time, above all more comprehensible: they had a key and a point of leverage, a millennial tomorrow so that there might be a sense to sacrificing themselves, a place in heaven or on earth where justice and compassion had won, or would win in a perhaps remote but certain future: Moscow or the celestial or terrestrial Jerusalem.

Their hunger was different from ours. It was a divine punishment or expiation, or votive offering, or the fruit of capitalist putrefaction. Sorrow in them or around them, was decipherable and therefore did not overflow into despair. They looked at us with commiseration, at times with contempt; some of them, in the  intervals of our labor, tried to evangelize us.

As an example of the power of faith, Levi  writes that  not long after the Soviet forces brought them freedom, he  made some banal—as he calls them—comments to a fellow former inmate who was giving him a haircut. Were we not fortunate, Levi  asked, to have survived our ordeal?  The  barber, astonished at such an attitude,  replied in French: “Mais, Joseph [Stalin] était là!  [But Stalin was always there to save us!]

I guess the moral is: We all  believe what we need to believe.  And by  providing us with meaning, our belief can enable our survival. And our beliefs can give meaning to our deaths and hope for our lives. And sometimes enable our survival.

And our beliefs can give meaning to our deaths, and hope for our lives. And sometimes, enable our survival.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Has Obama been engineering attacks on women and the poor?

This essay looks at the manner in which President Obama has handled two issues mostly affecting women -- abortion rights and sexual assaults in the military – raising questions about the disparity between his earnest rhetoric and the effects of his policies.
The essay begins with a damaging development which appears to threaten prosecutions of sexual assault in the military. 
The essay concludes with brief remarks about the implications of White House policy on wider national and international matters.

The issue of sexual assaults in the military rose to media prominence in the spring of 2013 largely due to news of a Pentagon study that estimated that 26,000 men and women in the military were sexually assaulted in 2012 up from 19,000 in 2011. In May, NY Senator Kirsten Gillebrand stirred debate when she grilled military brass in a Senate hearing and pressed for removing sexual assault prosecutions out of the military chain of command.

 President Obama, in turn, made a strong public statement supporting the victims of sexual abuse at a press conference. Weeks later a front page story in the New York Times informed readers that Remark by Obama Complicates Military Sexual Assault Trials.”  The word “complicates” actually seemed to downplay the effect of the president’s remark since the Times’ story indicated that it could mean an end to “almost all” prosecutions for sexual assault in the military.

What did the president say?

Answering a reporter’s question, Mr. Obama said that those who commit sexual assault in the military should be “prosecuted, stripped of their positions, court-martialed, fired, dishonorably discharged.” While these directions may have seemed appropriate to a general audience, the Times  explained that Obama’s remark “mudd[ied] legal cases across the country” because “Mr. Obama’s words as commander in chief amounted to ‘unlawful command influence,’ tainting trials as a result.”  The Times report explained that the bulk if not all prosecutions for sexual assault in the military are now under question because “defense lawyers will seize on the president’s call for an automatic dishonorable discharge…arguing that his words will affect their cases.”

The Times cited five cases where the president’s remark has already had the effect of “complicating” matters, including one at Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina, where “a judge dismissed charges of sexual assault against an Army officer, noting the command influence issue.”

The president’s statement raises the question of his intentions. Did he purposefully enumerate the various penalties in order to squelch such military prosecutions?   The main piece of evidence is the unusual specificity of his instructions.
President Obama said offenders should be:
 stripped of their positions,
dishonorably discharged.

The Times article cites a precedent could have provided him with a suggestion on how to proceed if he wished to block these cases.  

The president’s comments have not been the only ones cited as influencing sexual assault cases. Last year, lawyers in more than 60 Marine Corps sexual assault cases filed motions claiming “unlawful command influence” because of a series of remarks made by Gen. James F. Amos, the commandant of the Marine Corps, according to a McClatchy-Tribune news report.

If the president really intended to block military prosecutions in these cases, he would be reinforcing his first term policy when there was no detectable White House action to address the problem.

In any event,  the President’s unguarded statement  is  one of a number of examples where, largely under the radar,  he seems to be pursuing  Republican  rather than  Democrat objectives on issues of particular interest to women,  especially  with regard to abortion  rights and reproductive services.    

Ronald Reagan and Abortion Rights,

 Ronald Reagan’s high profile support of the anti-abortion movement was arguably the key turning point on the road to the evisceration of abortion rights in the U.S.  President Reagan’s consistent championship of the movement gave the somewhat disreputable anti-abortion forces a new legitimacy. Since then they have moved from strength to strength.

A generation and a half later, when Republicans took lop-sided control of many governorships and statehouses in the 2010 election,  another a decisive nail was driven into the coffin of personal freedom. Although women in the U.S. are nominally free to obtain abortions, their practical access has been narrowing decade by decade. According to a mid 2012 report, a third of women of reproductive age resided in one of the 87 percent of U.S. counties without an abortion provider. And only seven states have abortion providers in more than 50 percent of their counties. (Search: lack of abortion providers in U.S.)

A self- proclaimed fan of Ronald Reagan,  President Obama, over the years  has largely  refrained from any practical steps in support women’s  concerns, and he has also presided over what has amounted to the greatest threat to their rights: the Republican takeover of state legislative seats in the 2010 election. In addition to gaining 63 House seats, and taking control of the House, Republicans in 2010 seized a total of 680 legislative seats, breaking the previous record when Democrats added 628 such seats in 1974 in the aftermath of Watergate. Five states, Minnesota, Maine, North Carolina and Alabama saw both state legislative chambers switch from Democrat to Republican.  (United States elections, 2010)

Once again the question of Obama’s motivations arises. President Obama came into office at one of those unique moments of history when he had a powerful reformist wind at his back. Had he so chosen, he could have marshaled his political capital and put into effect much of the change and hope for which America and the world was so desperate. In the event, however, the 44th president turned his back on such Democratic priorities as:  accountability for the crimes of the previous administration, Medicare for all, diplomatic rather than military solutions in foreign hot spots; putting a brake on Big Brother snooping, accountability for bankster crimes  and reform of Wall Street; aid to millions of underwater homeowners and those in danger of foreclosure; real movement on climate change, etc., etc.

Had he gone in the direction many of his supporters hoped and expected it’s likely that, as FDR before him, he would have bolstered his Democratic majorities instead of presiding over the calamitous Party reversals that eventuated. The question is not so much whether President Obama deliberately intended a Republican takeover of the House and perhaps also the Senate, but rather one of responsibility.  Was it not predictable that if Obama had the opportunity to institute a reformist agenda and chose not to, then his supporters would be confused and his opponents energized?

The Abortion Propaganda war

Those fighting to maintain abortion rights in the U.S. have largely lost the propaganda war from the moment when anti-abortion forces successfully made the issue the life of the unborn child.  Focusing on the unborn effectively marginalizes the rights of women, making it far more difficult for many to compete socially, economically and politically. The larger society is also negatively impacted since the exclusion of women from so many productive spheres restricts their opportunity to contribute.   

Pro-abortion forces have had difficulty pushing back against the totalitarian impulse to repress women, to lock them in their poverty and to handcuff them politically. Understanding the authoritarian anti-abortion movement for what it is, would also help shine a light on the Catholic Church’s exactly similar motives in prohibiting most forms of contraception and abortion services. The Church has a financial and political stake in limiting the options of their constituency, believing that repression and lack of  education and opportunity helps to maintain its power.

Many of those fighting against the abortion rights of women will protest that their motives are sincere and deeply felt.  Is it fair to charge many of the grassroots right to life supporters with same authoritarian motivations of many politicians, Church leaders and other stakeholders? The answer may be to note the disparity between their declared devotion to the human rights of the unborn with their tendency to oppose government assistance for  pregnant women and their children  once they are born.

There are always reasons that people choose one side or another, one political party or another, one policy or another. The key is to look not at what people profess, but at the effects of the policies they advocate.

President Obama and Abortion

Is there a connection between President’s Obama’s gaffe with regard to sexual assault in the military and his position on abortion?  As a Democrat, President Obama is at least nominally  100% supportive of a woman’s right to choose. But on the margins he has preferred, on more than one occasion, to snip away at abortion rights. The first such noticeable occasion was on the occasion of the “compromise” he struck with Republicans in the spring of 2011 over the remainder of the 2011 budget. 

One wonders, first of all, why such legislation couldn’t have been passed routinely in 2010 when Democrats controlled both Houses of Congress instead of waiting until Obama would be forced to bargain with the House Majority Leader and other Republicans. A similar point was made by none other than Bill Clinton in his 2011 book, Back to Work, where he asked why the country had to go through four months of  angst over the issue of raising the federal debt ceiling when appropriate legislation could have been passed when Democrats controlled both chambers of Congress in 2010.

The “compromise” that President Obama struck on the remainder of the 2011 budget included agreeing to $38 billion in cuts to Democratic priorities like nutrition for poor women and children. In addition, to the apparent surprise and delight of Republicans, he  allowed  language barring the District of Columbia from using its own tax dollars to finance abortions.

Democratic outrage at the details of President Obama’s compromise and the way it was reached behind closed doors with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker, John Boehner, seemed to reach a peak in the spring of 2011.  

Democratic House members' fury at the debt ceiling deal Obama “negotiated” with the House Republicans was reflected in a tweet by Eldridge Cleaver a mild mannered Democrat from Missouri who fretted about the way in which the $38 billion in cutbacks would hurt the most vulnerable Americans.” We don’t have enough time to talk about the ways it violates our values,” he told The Daily Beast.

The Daily Beast quoted a senior Democratic lawmaker who seemed to sum up the outrage of many of his colleagues. “I have been very disappointed in the administration to the point where I’m embarrassed that I endorsed him”…“It’s so bad that some of us are thinking, is there some way we can replace him? How do you get rid of this guy?”

The morning after pill

Had Obama been a Republican president his opposition to allowing unrestricted sales of the morning after pill would not have been notable.  As it is, his opposition to such sales dismayed many for whom the controversy was more than a passing headline. In December 2011, just as the  Food And Drug Agency (FDA)  was about to approve over-the-counter availability without restriction, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius overruled the FDA, preventing  young girls from purchasing the pill on their own. President Obama stated that he agreed with Secretary Sebelius’s decision.

After federal judge Edward Korman (appointed by Ronald Reagan),  in blunt language , overruled the administration, writing that it  had behaved ”in bad faith,”  the Obama administration backed down and allowed over the counter sales for one type of morning after pill, known as Plan B One Step. Nevertheless the administration continues to use its remaining power to oppose the cheaper two-pill version, preferring to restrict sales to young girls. The administration says they are concerned that they might not understand how to take two pills.

Whose side is he on?

The policies that discourage, even outrage many of President Obama’s current and former supporters are not limited to the relatively narrow issues of sexual assault in the military and abortion rights. The Snowden/NSA surveillance revelations along with the Obama administration’s bitter, even ferocious attacks on whistleblowers have helped unmask some of the president’s positions on freedom of the press, civil liberties, and fourth amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure.

 Such policies  also call to mind the administration’s operation in a zone free of laws, such as his escalation of the Bush-Cheney drone attack program, the reported 75-85 special operations squads (including the Joint Special Operations Command –JSOC) engaged in assassination and destabilization around the world (including the reintroduction of such special forces assassination teams into Iraq); the administration’s apparent determination to indefinitely maintain a core group of prisoners at Guantanamo prison, and more such hard line positions on “terror “and imperial reach.  President Obama’s policies on women and the poor are only somewhat more subtle and less high profile examples of the right-wing, authoritarian orientation of his regime.

Paraphrasing an anonymous senior Democrat at the height of Party revulsion with his tactics: “Who is this guy?”


A  New York Times July 2013  front page story on  the Republican’s upcoming  “offensive  on Obama’s goals” outlined deep cuts that Republicans say they plan to make to administration priorities. The Times  cited such  cuts  as  34% to  the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget;  50% cut to the National Endowment for the Arts and humanities, 27%  reduction to the Fish and Wildlife Service. The House bill also zeroes out funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, cuts education grants for poor students by 16% and the Labor Department by 13%.

Many Democrats in   Congress will certainly fight to maintain their budget priorities. The question is how sincerely and actively will they be supported by the White House? And to what extent will the president “submit” to compromises?   Past practice suggests that President Obama will not merely preside over allowing an agenda weighted toward Republican desiderata, but that is actually the direction he prefers.

Similarly, in foreign affairs, the subject for a separate investigation, President Obama’s policy has largely been rhetoric for peace and stability while the facts it supports on the ground undermine his professed goals. 
The End

Monday, June 10, 2013

Glenn Greenwald interviews Snowden: Fw: to watch and listen to this guy who blew the whistle on NSA

BJ sent me the  link below  to the Guardian report on an extraordinary new whistleblower.
I can only repeat what BJ said: You've got to watch this, and marvel -- at so many things.
The link is to  a 12 minute video interview plus a 450 word  commentary by the amazing Glenn Greenwald.
For more check out Democracy Now last week and for sure this coming  week.
In the interview, Snowden says his biggest fear out of this whole thing is that nothing will change.
As of now, it seems his fear is  likely to be realized and, as he says in the interview,
 if that happens,  the monster will grow and grow and grow.
From: BJ
Subject: to watch and listen to this guy who blew the whistle on NSA 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

FDR and the Jews: Gruber et al. vs Lilienthal

A  New York Times  feature story, “FDR and Jews: Book Tries for Balanced View on Roosevelt and Jews” March 9, 2013, took up a subject I addressed some seven years ago. As suggested by the Times headline, the new book attempts to revise the widely held  understanding  of FDR as unwilling to do much to help save Europe’s threatened Jews. According to the article, FDR and the Jews  contends that while FDR  might have done more, he  saved,  by means of  “little known initiatives…several hundred thousand Jews” a total which “exceeds that of any subsequent  president in responding to genocide in the midst of fierce political opposition.”

As it happens  I had a slight personal connection with the subject in that as an infant I was one of about  1,000 (mostly Jewish) refugees that FDR managed to bring to the U.S., by ship from Italy, in the summer of 1944, on condition that we be repatriated to Europe at the end of hostilities.  (In the aftermath, under the Truman administration, a law was passed that allowed us to remain in the U.S.)

Two books were written about our little group. One of those books, Haven, (and an undistinguished  TV movie based on the book), was  by noted journalist and author,  Ruth Gruber, whom I and my family met around 1990.

My  understanding (backed up in part by the March NYT article) is that the view of FDR as unwilling to help European Jews is still widely held. In a typical instance, I recall happening to catch Madeline Albright on CSPAN II Book TV last  year discussing her memoir where the subject came up. As a young Czech girl, her family – one of the fortunate ones -- had to relocate more than once during the Hitler years.  Although I don’t’ recall that she actually used the word reprehensible, she didn’t hide her indignation at what seemed to her to be FDR’s lack of compassion behalf of the wartime refugees.
Ruth Gruber’s book repeated the same theme of FDR’s indifference (at best) to the fate of the Jews with the added  twist of her research  findings in State Department files  in preparation for her indispensable and much appreciated  mission as liaison to our little group.

(Here I copy from my 2006 article on the subject,” FDR, Gruber and me: Zionists stymie WWII rescue plan.” (available on the internet)

According to Gruber (Haven, Ch.2),President Roosevelt was forced into making some kind of demonstration on behalf of European, especially Jewish, refugees because of the embarrassing publication of war time cables from the U.S. Embassy in Switzerland to Washington.  In these documents, the State Department revealed its disinterest if not outright anti-Semitic hostility toward the mostly Jewish victims of Nazi persecution by ordering their colleagues in Switzerland to discontinue sending Washington such news.

In Gruber’s version, the shocking disclosure of these communications empowered members of the Jewish community to apply to a reluctant President Roosevelt, with a proposal to save hundreds of thousands of European Jews. In Gruber’s version, FDR finally agreed that the U.S. provide temporary haven for 1,000 refugees.

I believed Gruber’s story and repeated it often to friends. Only later did I learn that the very opposite was the truth. The real FDR was very much aware of and troubled by the plight of the wartime refugees and he proposed a plan to save half a million or more. He envisioned an agreement with such countries as the UK, Canada, Australia, and others, with the U.S. and the U.K. leading the way. Both countries would shelter some 150,000 “displaced persons” as they were then called. FDR’s emissary for this plan managed to get agreement in principle from the British but in the end the plan was vetoed by the Zionists. The Jewish leadership were afraid that providing haven for European Jewish refugees anywhere but Palestine would be at cross purposes with their plan for a Jewish state.

Lilienthal rebuts popular view of FDR –- Points to  Zionists

Noted anti-Zionist author Alfred Lilienthal tells this story in his important and effectively buried book What Price Israel.

President Roosevelt was deeply concerned with the plight of the European refugees and thought that all the free nations of the world ought to accept a certain number of immigrants, irrespective of race, creed, color or political belief. The President hoped that the rescue of 500,000 Displaced Persons could be achieved by such a generous grant of a worldwide political asylum. In line with this humanitarian idea, Morris Ernst, New York attorney and close friend of the President went to London in the middle of the war to see if the British would take in 100,000 or 200,000 uprooted people. The President had reasons to assume that Canada, Australia and the South American countries would gladly open their doors. And if such good examples were set by other nations, Mr. Roosevelt felt that the American Congress could be "educated to go back to our traditional position of asylum." The key was in London. Would Morris Ernst succeed there? Mr. Ernst came home to report, and this is what took place in the White House (as related by Mr. Ernst to a Cincinnati audience in 1950):

Ernst: "We are at home plate. That little island [and it was during the second Blitz that he visited England] on a properly representative program of a World Immigration Budget, will match the United States up to 150,000.

Roosevelt: "150,000 to England—150,000 to match that in the United States—pick up 200,000 or 300,000 elsewhere, and we can start with half a million of these oppressed people."

A week later, or so, Mr. Ernst and his wife again visited the President.

Roosevelt (turning to Mrs. Ernst): "Margaret, can't you get me a Jewish Pope? I cannot stand it any more. I have got to be careful that when Stevie Wise leaves the White House he doesn't see Joe Proskauer on the way in." Then, to Mr. Ernst: "Nothing doing on the program. We can't put it over because the dominant vocal Jewish leadership of America won't stand for it."

"It's impossible! Why?" asked Ernst.

Roosevelt: "They are right from their point of view. The Zionist movement knows that Palestine is, and will be for some time, a remittance society. They know that they can raise vast sums for Palestine by saying to donors, 'There is no other place this poor Jew can go.' But if there is a world political asylum for all people irrespective of race, creed or color, they cannot raise their money. Then the people who do not want to give the money will have an excuse to say 'What do you mean, there is no place they can go but Palestine? They are the preferred wards of the world."

Morris Ernst, shocked, first refused to believe his leader and friend. He began to lobby among his influential Jewish friends for this world program of rescue, without mentioning the President's or the British reaction. As he himself has put it: "I was thrown out of the parlors of friends of mine who very frankly said 'Morris, this is treason. You are undermining the Zionist movement.' " He ran into the same reaction amongst all Jewish groups and their leaders. Everywhere he found "a deep, genuine, often fanatically emotional vested interest in putting over the Palestinian movement" in men "who are little concerned about human blood if it is not their own."

This response of Zionism ended the remarkable Roosevelt effort to rescue Europe's Displaced Persons.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Letter: Hitler, a sick homosexual? Evans vs Machtan and Trevor-Roper

Note: I wrote the following brief letter to the London Review of Books in reply to Cambridge Professor Richard J. Evans’s review of a new book on Hitler's illnesses. I had occasion to think Evans an academic bully as I say in my letter because he seems to take the “my way or the highway” approach to his readers.

I was moved to write when Evans attacked Lothar Machtan’s brilliant and persuasive finding that Hitler was a homosexual (The Hidden Hitler) without proffering any evidence. Similarly Evans dismissed a key finding in H. Trevor-Roper’s remarkable and indispensable The Last Days of Hitler, a book which provides essential evidence for my own views and theories about Hitler (see below). --RB

To The London Review of Books
Re: Richard J. Evans, “Thank you, Dr Morell," LRB, 21 Feb 2013,

February 20, 2013

To the Editor:

I've long since learned to be wary of many of Professor Richard J. Evans’s assertions. While I have the highest regard for his research and writing abilities, ever since he explained that he was substituting “Leader” for “Fuhrer” and “Hail Hitler” for “Heil Hitler,” etc., in the first volume of his WWII trilogy, I felt that he was gratuitously imposing his authority on his readers just because he could: the proverbial academic bully.

In his review article Evans doesn't make clear whether his refutation of Lothar Machtan's superbly researched and more than persuasive expose of Hitler's homosexuality is based on his own research or on what he learned from the Newmann-Eberle book under review.

Typical of Evans’s bullying is his claim that “Hitler is known to have had affairs with a number of women, and spent his last years in a conventional heterosexual partnership with Eva Braun.” This seems a classic case of begging the question. Why doesn't Evans name one of those women? What evidence does Evans have that Hitler actually had sexual relations with Eva Braun?

Since Evans could have strengthened his argument by pointing to evidence in the book under review or elsewhere, but chose not to, I wouldn't be surprised if such proof doesn't exist and that Evans’s assertions are simply meant to uphold the conventional view of Hitler as heterosexual.

I agree with Evans’s conclusion that Hitler was “fully responsible for his actions” but I'm not sure what to do with his contention that “Hitler was sane according to any reasonable definition of the term.”

I believe that Hitler was a suicidal psychopath, bent on destroying as much of culture and civilization as he could, and taking down with him as many scores of millions, especially Germans, as possible. There's plenty of evidence that Hitler fully understood his criminal liability and for me his pathology does not conflict with his “full responsibility.”

Ronald Bleier

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Letter: Stalin's Invasion of Finland Contextualized

Note: In connection with my research on WWII, specifically, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain collusion with Hitler, I had occasion to quibble with an excellent review article in the New York Review of Books (perhaps the most important intellectual periodical in the United States) by veteran journalist and historian, Norman Davies, on  “Poland: Malice, Death, Survival,”  NYRB, Jan 10, 2013. 

January 2013
The New York Review of Books, 
To the Editors:

Readers may wonder if Norman Davies’s expressed annoyance at the burden of reviewing three new books on “a few small corners of Polish history,” is in some way connected to his omission of crucial context relating to the beginning of WWII. Davies might have  mentioned that Stalin's decision to ally with Hitler allowing the German invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939, was largely a reaction to Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain's refusal to negotiate in good faith a common allied  front against Hitler's aggression. 

Similarly Davies’s  reference to Stalin's invasion of Finland,  was based, as William Manchester records (The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill, Alone 1932-1940: [1988], p. 598), on the  need to guard his Baltic flank from a future Nazi attack, especially to protect the entrance to Leningrad.   Russia was so vulnerable that before the November 30, 1939 Red Army invasion of Finland, Moscow signed pacts with Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Stalin then attempted to negotiate with Finland, offering  2,134 sq miles in exchange for 1,066 Finnish sq miles.
Manchester concludes:  “In retrospect ... Russia's need to defend Leningrad is clear. The city came perilously close to conquest by the Germans later, and would certainly have fallen to the Nazis without the strip taken from the Finns.”

Ronald Bleier

Monday, January 07, 2013

Letter: Matt Taibbi's Potty Mouth

I wrote a letter to the editor of Rolling Stone after reading Matt Taibbi's latest brilliant expose  of the unbelievably massive and continuing bailout of Wall Street in the January 17, 2013 issue.  

January 6, 2013

Rolling Stone:

To the Editor:
Matt Taibbi is a national treasure as he demonstrates again with his latest article on “Secrets and Lies of the Bailout,” RS, January 17, 2013; and it's wonderful that he's found a superb home at RS.

It's a terrible shame, though, that he permits himself – and RS permits – the occasional (and not so occasional) vulgarity. First, it's an awful model for his readers. Second it's a sign that he's out of control emotionally. Such inappropriate language effectively strikes out at his readers, just as in other contexts it's a brutish weapon in verbal conflict.
Ronald Bleier