A Skeptic’s Guide to American History
Episode 19 Misconceptions and Myths About World War II
Mark Stoler PhD
I found this lecture, in which Stoler purports to challenge prevailing myths about World War II, extremely disappointing. It’s been well-established since 1943 (when George Seldes published Facts and Fascism) that numerous Wall Street corporations funded the rearmament of the Third Reich, enabling Hitler to launch World War II. Charles Higham also covers this in depth in his 1983 book Trading with the Enemy.
Instead Stoler makes the blanket statement that war was inevitable because Hitler refused to be “appeased” by Britain’s appeasement strategy. This also turns out to be untrue, based on evidence Peter Padfield explores in his 2013 book Hess, Hitler and Churchill: the real turning point of the Second World War. The book spells out how Hitler offered Britain a secret peace deal, in which which Germany would withdraw from Western Europe prior to invading the Soviet Union. And how Churchill rejected the offer.
Stoler does address the common myth that the US singlehandedly won World War II for the Allies. Although the US contributed two-thirds of the Allies’ munitions and military equipment, they only contributed 25% of the troops and suffered the lowest number of casualties (killed and wounded). US casualties totaled 418,500 and British 449,800. In contrast, Russian casualties were between 25 and 29 million. Russia also inflicted 93% of the casualties experienced by the German military.
However he disputes the so-called “conspiracy theory” that President Roosevelt had advance knowledge of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Based on documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, Robert Stinnett has clearly documented that US intelligence had decrypted various Japanese military and diplomatic cables delineating the the exact time and date of the Pearl attack and transmitted them not only to Roosevelt, but to key members of his cabinet and top military leaders, including US Army Chief of Staff, General George C. Marshall.**
The film can be viewed free at Kanopy.