Below is a provocative review of David Irving's three-book series: Churchill's War: The Real History of World War II. On the book jackets of Irving’s books, the question is asked: What is real history? The answer is that real history is history that travels straight from history-maker to the history-maker’s documents and from the document archives to the historian’s book without politicalization and free of academic and patriotic prejudice. Irving tracked down and unearthed many documents that permit a better understanding of the war. Many official papers are still under lock and key, even after 75 years, and many have been destroyed... or we might understand even more of the real history.
It is history that cannot be bought. Irving goes against the grain of recording history and gives us the unvarnished truth: “All truth-tellers are denounced, and most end up destroyed. Truth seldom serves the agendas of powerful interests.” The fake history that most of us are familiar with is a self-protective device for those with something to hide. Remember, secrecy is used to hide crimes. It is reputations that are protected, not national security.
People in the Western world have been indoctrinated for 75 years into a white hat/black hat story of World War II that exonerates the “allies” and demonizes Hitler and Germany. To tell people, especially elderly ones whose memory of the war was formed by war propaganda, that the “allies” were as bad or worse war criminals than the Germans brings fire and brimstone down on one’s head. It nevertheless needs to be done, because our view of ourselves reflects the make-believe story of the war with which we are inculcated. In the false history comes strength for the opinion that we Americans and our country are exceptional and indispensable and that these traits justify Washington’s hegemony over the world.
The destruction in whole or part, before Trump, of seven countries in the 21st century, our withdrawal from arms limitation agreements, our dangerous demonization of militarily powerful countries such as Russia and China all rest in our self-righteous view of ourselves. Of course, not all Americans share these self-righteous views, but the views are the basis for both Republican and Democrat foreign policy. Even the left-wing, or whatever remains of it, believes in war in order to overthrow dictators and “bring democracy and human rights.”
Hitler did not start World War II. England and France launched World War II with a declaration of war against Germany. Hitler did not want a war with Britain and France and tried to avoid it and then end it with a peace agreement very favorable to Britain and France. Hitler regarded the British Empire as essential to the survival of European dominance. He promised Churchill in exchange for an end of hostilities that Germany would defend the British Empire with the German military anywhere in the world that it was in jeopardy. Hitler left a large part of France and French North Africa unoccupied. He left the French fleet in French hands.
Hitler’s aim was to restore the integrity of the German nation which had been torn apart and distributed to Czechoslovakia, Poland, Denmark, and France by the Versailles Treaty which had been forced on Germany after World War I by a policy of starvation. Germans in the territories turned over to Czechoslovakia and Poland were being persecuted and murdered. Hitler had no choice but to do something about it. He recovered German territory from France, Czechoslovakia, and Denmark without war.
The same outcome was likely in Poland except the British interfered. The British gave the Polish military dictatorship a “guarantee” to come to Poland’s aid if Poland refused Hitler’s demands. Consequently, the Polish dictatorship broke off negotiations with Germany. Germany and the Soviet Union then split Poland between them.
The guarantee compelled “British honor” to declare war on Germany—but not on the Soviet Union—and the hapless French were pulled along.
The British relied on the “powerful French military” and sent an expeditionary force which was promptly trapped at Dunkirk where Hitler let them go, thinking that an act of magnanimity and his refusal to humiliate the British would bring an end to the conflict. However, Churchill kept Hitler’s overly generous peace terms from the British people and from Parliament. Churchill had wanted war and had worked hard for one and now that he had power and a chance to repeat the military leadership of his great ancestor, the Duke of Marlborough, he was determined to keep his war.
With Hitler in control of Europe, Churchill began working harder to get the US into the war. All along the way President Roosevelt had given Churchill war encouragement but without promising any definite course of action from America. Roosevelt wanted Britain at war. He knew it would bankrupt the British and place them economically in Washington’s hands, which would permit the US to break up the British system of trade preferences that allowed Britain to control world trade, destroy the British Empire, dethrone the British pound and replace it with the dollar. Roosevelt was an enemy of empire except America’s own. From FDR’s standpoint, World War II was an attack by the US on British trade preferences that were the backbone of the British Empire.
So Churchill got his war which cost Britain her empire, and Roosevelt replaced the British Empire with an American one. FDR paid a cheap price—about 300,000 US combat deaths. In her defeat of Germany, Russia lost about 9,000,000 soldiers in combat deaths and 26 million people altogether,
After the Russians stopped the German offensive, the war could have ended, but FDR and Churchill had established a policy of unconditional surrender, which shackled allied wartime foreign policy to two more years of death and destruction.
Churchill used secrecy to protect his war crime of ordering the bombing of civilian residential areas of German cities with his emphasis on bombing the homes of the working class as they were closer together which helped the conflagration to spread. Churchill would first have the civilian areas firebombed, and then when firemen and rescue workers were engaged the British would drop high explosives. Churchill ignored military targets, preferring instead to break the morale of the German population by bombing civilian areas. He tried to get the British Air Force to include poison gas when dropping incendiary and high explosive bombs on civilian residential areas.
As the British people did not know Churchill was bombing civilians, Churchill hoped Hitler would be provoked into replying in kind. Hitler refused for three months to take the bait, but finally his military insisted that unless he bombed the British they would keep on bombing German civilian areas. Hitler gave in but initially insisted that only British industrial targets be bombed. Once a few bombs went astray, Churchill had his rallying cry that the Nazi barbarians were bombing civilians. He got away with this, but officials in the know worried that the British Air Force, especially “Butcher” Harris, would face war crimes trials when the war was over. British generals and admirals disagreed with Churchill’s bombing policy. They regarded it as unprofessional and unprincipled. They complained that it harmed the war effort by denying the army and navy needed air support.
In November 1942 British Air Chief Portal compared the German bombing of Britain with the British bombing of Germany. The Germans had dropped 55,000 tons of bombs, killing 41,000 British and destroying 350,000 homes. The British had dropped 1,250,000 tons of bombs, killing 900,000 German civilians, maiming one million more, and destroying 6,000,000 German homes. The UK/US firebombing of Dresden at the end of the war stands as one of the worst war crimes in history. It killed as many or more civilians as the atomic bombs Washington dropped on the two Japanese cities, also at war end.
Churchill was determined to bomb Rome, but was resisted by the British Air Force. In contrast, Hitler ordered the German military not to risk the destruction of Rome by defending it.
Churchill ordered the bombing of the French fleet, which Hitler had left in the hands of Vichy France, killing around 3,000 French sailors. Churchill together with FDR and Eisenhower invaded French Northwest Africa which was in the hands of Vichy France. Vichy France Admiral Darlan used his influence to persuade the French not to resist the invasion, thus minimizing British and American casualties. Darlan cooperated in every way. His reward was to be assassinated in a plot organized by Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden, later one of Britain’s disastrous prime ministers. The assassin protested that he was promised immunity by the British, but was quickly executed to silence him. Eden, whose ambition was larger than his intelligence, was in DeGaulle’s pocket, and DeGaulle wanted Darlan out of his way to power.
The military schemes that Churchill imposed on the British military, such as his invasion of neutral Norway, always came to a bad end, but he rescued himself with masterful speeches in Parliament.
The British had a poor opinion of Eisenhower, and FDR had a poor opinion of Eden. There was so much conflict between the British and the Americans that it is amazing they were able to agree to any plan of action. The American people disliked the British for drawing them into “their war.” The British disliked the Americans for the Negro troops sent to England where they were believed to be responsible for rapes and a crime wave. A lot of propaganda was necessary to focus the hate on the Germans.
The British did not want to sacrifice Arab interests to Zionists but usually did because Zionists had the money. Churchill himself was indebted to a multimillionaire Jew who bailed him out when he faced bankruptcy. Zionists attempted to use their leverage over Churchill to force his approval of both more Jewish immigration to Palestine and for the formation of a “Jewish fighting force,” allegedly to fight the Germans but in reality to drive Palestinians out of Palestine. Zionists promised Churchill that if he would agree to their demands, they would bring the US into the war against Germany. Such was their power.
The British saw Zionists interests as detrimental to their hold on their Arab colonies. When deportations of Jews and their mistreatment began leaking out, the British Foreign Office saw the reports as the work of the international Zionist campaign to create sympathy and to use the sympathy in behalf of their Palestinian purpose. When 700 Jews found incapable of work were shot in a work camp, the Foreign Office responded, “Information from Jewish refugees is generally colored and frequently unreliable.” Eisenhower was pleased with Darlan and was unaware of Eden’s plot against him. An American newsman told Eisenhower’s staff that the agitation against Admiral Darlan came from “Jews of press and radio who wish to make certain we were fighting a war to make the world safe for Jews.” The Jews cried wolf so often that when he actually showed up they were not believed.
Much information emerges in the second volume about Churchill’s character, personal habits, excessive drinking—he was dependent on alcohol—and autocratic ways. He could turn people against him and then with a speech or by taking special notice of them put them back in his pocket. Churchill had flaws and the ability to survive them. Irving does not excoriate Churchill. He merely shows us what he was like. There are things to admire and things to disapprove.
Moreover, it is not only Churchill who was ambitious. All were. It is a mystery that organization survived ambition. Somehow officers were able to devote time to war against the Germans from the time they spent warring against one another for commands and promotions. The same with cabinet ministers. The same for the military services fighting one another for resources. And the same for the Germans. The Italian and German generals were so jealous of Rommel’s initial successes in North Africa that they worked to undermine him.
And German efficiency also bites the dust. German intelligence never caught on that the British were reading their codes and knew precisely every shipment to resupply Rommel which the British seldom failed to send to the bottom of the Mediterranean. One would think that after nothing gets through time and again that a light would come on.
Churchill was frustrated by his inability to come to Stalin’s aid. He tried to compensate by sending supply convoys. The convoys lost half of more of the ships along with escorting Royal Navy warships. British admirals resisted these death convoys, but Churchill, perhaps afraid that WW I would repeat with a Russian separate peace, leaving Britain to face Germany alone, insisted. He continually sent reassuring messages to Stalin, who was not reassured.
Stalin must have despaired of the fighting capability of his British and American allies. All the British could do was to sic an entire fleet on a single German warship and bomb French and German civilians. In North Africa the British failed to push out the outnumbered Germans and called in the Americans. Eisenhower was far from a good field commander. After Rommel smashed through the Kasserine Pass, delivering to the American army “one of the most resounding defeats ever inflicted on the Americans in war,” Rommel reported to Berlin that despite being outnumbered and without supplies, he could again take the offensive. He attributed success in part to “the low fighting value of the enemy.” Eisenhower’s aide Harry Butcher recorded, “We sent out some 120 tanks and 112 didn’t come back.” Churchill shared Rommel’s dismissal of the American fighting man. “After Kasserine Churchill made little attempt to conceal his contempt for the American forces and their fighting value.”
The Germans, of course, were vastly overextended. In addition to a 1,000-mile Russian front and being bombed at night by the cowardly British who attacked unprotected civilian residential areas, Hitler had to occupy Europe and to rescue his Italian ally by sending troops to Greece and North Africa. The Germans might have had the will, but they did not have the resources to fight most of the world in a war of attrition.
Germany lost 4 million soldiers on the Russian front. On the Western front, which did not materialize until the Soviets had the war won, Germany lost a few hundred thousand. The Americans and the British never faced an intact German army. They faced understaffed divisions of an army exhausted and worn down by three years of fighting the Red Army. Hitler had 80% of his remaining forces on the Russian front. To oppose the Normandy invasion in June 1944 Germany had divisions of less than full strength with no reserves and little fuel. Despite the weakness of German forces, it took the Americans six and one-half months to reach the Ardennes, where the invasion was halted for 6 weeks by a German counterattack. Despite these facts, in recent celebrations of the Normandy Invasion the Americans in a show of extreme pettiness prevented the participation of Russia. The Americans and British persist in pretending that they all by themselves won the war.
This may be the kind of history that only gets written once in a century. Irving is clearly the master of historical documentation. When you disagree with Irving, most likely you are disagreeing with the documented historical record. It is noteworthy that if you would like to read Irving's works on Churchill and Hitler you will pay an exorbitant price to buy his books. Those who do not want the reading public to know the truth make sure that lower-priced volumes are not available, further substantiating Irving's claims of credibility. Again, real history proves that “All truth-tellers are denounced, and most end up destroyed. Truth seldom serves the agendas of powerful interests.”