Was the Iron Curtain a US Psyops?

1949: One Year, Two Germanies

DW (1919)

Film Review

I found this documentary intriguing mainly because it contradicts nearly all the brainwashing I received in public school at the height of the anti-Soviet Cold War. Among other new facts I learned

  1. In the early post war period, there were socialist and communist Germans fleeing the Western zones (occupied by US, UK, and French military), as there were anti-Communists fleeing East Germany.*
  2. The Soviets and East Germans vigorously campaigned for a unified Germany, with Berlin as capitol. They were opposed by Western allies determined to create a separate West German state (presumably for the same reason the US insisted on creating two Koreas and two Vietnams – ie to enhance US control over the region).
  3. The East German Socialist Unity Party invited West German members to their first party conference, which was primarily concerned with lingering German antisemitism, ultra-nationalism and fascism.
  4. The East Germans blockaded trade to West Berlin (in the Eastern zone), when despite vigorous Soviet and East German opposition, the Allied occupiers created a separate West German currency (that threatened to collapse the East German economy). The blockade was lifted once West Germany adopted a constitution and elected a Parliament, president, and chancellor.**

*German communists and socialists were terrified of the new government of Allied occupied Germany, mainly owing to the brutal persecution they had received under the Third Reich (eg arrest, torture, extrajudicial assassination, and imprisonment in concentration camps).

**The Allies used the blockade to score a major propaganda coup, instituting an “airlift” of food and other consumer goods to West Berlin (with the implication that the East German government was depriving them of food and other necessities).

 

Hidden History: The Japanese Bombing of Australia

Croker Island Exodus

Directed by Stephen McGregor (2011)

Film Review

Prior to watching this documentary, I had no idea Japanese bombers attacked northern Australia 97 times during World War II.* This film reenacts the evacuation of 95 Aboriginal children from Croker Island during the bombing. Members of the “Stolen Generation,” the mixed race children were forcibly removed from their mothers to be raised in Christian missionary schools. Claiming the practice would facilitate assimilation, the Australian government continued to kidnap mixed race children until 1970.

The filmmakers also interview three of the surviving children as they reminisce about their separation from their families and their 42 day journey from Croker Island to Sydney.

Darwin was evacuated (except for essential services) in 1941, shortly before the first Japanese bombing raid. The three missionary sisters running the Croker Island school had the option to evacuate but chose to remain with their students.

Once Darwin was evacuated, the school ceased to receive food shipments from the Australian mainland. This left the sisters and children no choice but to evacuate. They traveled to Barclay Point in Queensland by naval frigate. From there two trucks drove them 50 kilometers through the tropical rainforest to Oenpelli. Because the trucks kept having breakdowns, most of the children ended up walking.

From Oenpelli, they walked barefoot 344 kilometers to the army base in Pine Creek. With limited provisions, they relied on bush water holes and wild water grass (wild sugar cane) for water and supplemented their bread and butter will lizards and wild berries.

At Pine Creek they were put on a train to Sydney. The army built two portable shelters for them on a mission homestead one-half hour south of Sydney.

In 1946, 63 of them chose to return to Coker Island. They remained there until age 16, when they went to Darwin to look for work. In 2011, when this film was made, only 12 evacuees were still living. The film ends with an extremely moving reunion they held with the last surviving missionary sister.


*Between February 1942 and November 1943, during the Pacific War of World War II, the Australian mainland, domestic airspace, offshore islands and coastal shipping were attacked at least 97 times by aircraft from the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Force and Imperial Japanese Army Air Force. These attacks came in various forms; from large-scale raids by medium bombers, to torpedo attacks on ships, and to strafing runs by fighters.

In the first and deadliest set of attacks, 242 aircraft hit Darwin on the morning of 19 February 1942. Killing at least 235 people and causing immense damage, the attacks made hundreds of people homeless and resulted in the abandonment of Darwin as a major naval base.

The film can be viewed free at the Maori TV website:

https://www.maoritelevision.com/shows/sunday-documentaries/S01E001/croker-island-exodus

Expose: US Concentration Camps in Post-War Germany

Other Losses: An Investigation into the Mass Deaths of German Prisoners at the Hands of the French and Americans After World War II

by James Bacque

General Paperbacks (1991)

Book Review

This book is a mind boggling expose about the 5 million German soldiers and civilians crammed into barbed wire cages in Allied occupied Germany. According to reliable witnesses, as many as three million of these detainees were civilians, ie had no military status. Survivors, military personnel and camp visitors reported seeing pregnant women in the camps, as well as children as young as six. The prisoners had no access to shelter, warm clothing, sanitation or medical facilities. Many were deliberately given starvation rations.

War Department records reveal the camps had death rates of approximately 30% annually from exposure and starvation related illnesses – though the US Army officially recorded them as “other losses.” For the most part they were buried in mass graves, some of which were later uncovered by German construction crews and grave diggers. Because the US military made no effort to identify them, by 1947 German families were reporting one million loved ones missing and unaccounted for.

How Eisenhower Circumvented the Geneva Convention

Military personnel who worked closely with Eisenhower and his aides believe this policy (to imprison large numbers of Germans in concentration camps) was devised in 1944. In April 1945, Eisenhower announced to the Combined Chiefs of Staff (CCS)* that he was creating a new category of military prisoner – Disarmed Enemy Forces (DEF).**

Although other generals in the CCS advised him against capturing any more DEFs after VE Day,*** Eisenhower went on to capture an additional 2 million.

In addition to denying them any form of shelter or adequate rations, Eisenhower also prohibited the Red Cross (ICRC), Quakers, Unitarians, YMCA and concerned German civilians from providing them food parcels.

Heavy Censorship: How the Camps Were Kept Secret

Owing to heavy censorship in US-occupied Germany, the deplorable conditions of these camps were kept secret outside of Germany until the US began transferring prisoners to French camps for slave labor assignments (which also violated the Geneva Convention). The French camps were allowing ICRC visits. Horrified by the extreme emaciation and poor health (with many on the verge of death) of the former US prisoners, Red Cross representatives made formal complaints with the US and French government and the press.

US Blames Fictitious “World Food Shortage”

In response, the US government launched a massive PR offensive shifting the blame for the prisoners’ horrendous condition first to the French and then to a non-existent “world food shortage.” There is incontrovertible evidence there were global surpluses of wheat, maize and potatoes in both 1945 and 1946. There were also hundreds of thousands of food parcels piled up in US Army and ICRC warehouses that the Red Cross was prohibited from delivering. There were also hundreds of thousands of unused tents captured form the German army.

There was absolutely no military reason for the Allies to keep millions of disarmed Germans in prison camps after Germany surrendered. The French kept them for slave labor and, where possible, to recruit them to the Foreign Legion to fight in Vietnam and Algeria. According to Bacque (based on actual statements by Eisenhower), the sole purpose of the US camps was a perverted and sadistic desire to take revenge on German soldiers and civilians.

Low Death Rates in Canadian and British POW Camps

The experience of POWs in Canadian and British camps was markedly different from that in the US and French camps. In the former, all inmates were provided tends or other shelter and, in all but one case, adequate food rations. The Canadian and British military also provided hospital care for sick and wounded inmates. The result was death rates comparable to the general population.

The US had only released 40% of their prisoners by January 1946. A year later 24,834 remained in custody.


*The Combined Chiefs of Staff (CCS) was the supreme military command of the military forces of the US and Great Britain during World War II.

**Clearly Eisenhower hoped that by calling them DEFs instead of Prisoners of War (POWs), he would avoid violating the Geneva Conventions governing POW treatment. It was for this exact reason, George W Bush declared all the detainees at Guantanamo Bay Enemy Combatants, rather than POWs.

***Victory over Europe Day (May 7, 1945) – the day the Allies accepted the German terms of surrender.

Hidden History: The US Wars Against Japan, Korea and Vietnam

The China Mirage: The Hidden History of American Disaster in Asia

By James Bradley

Back Bay Books (2015)

Book Review

This book details numerous myths about the origin of the US wars against Japan, Korea and Vietnam. Bradley begins by revealing how the Roosevelt administration was hoodwinked by the overt fascist Chiang Kai-Shek and Christian missionaries into believing China was ripe for wholesale conversion to Christianity and US-style capitalism. Deceived by Chiang’s promises to wage war against Japan,  Roosevelt poured billions into the civil war Chiang was waging with Mao Se Tung. FDR also created an illegal covert mercenary Air Force for Chiang, a major motivator in the Japanese decision to attack Pearl Harbor.

Had FDR listened to advisors who understood the strong support Mao enjoyed from China’s rural peasants, he never would have supported Chiang – or been forced to open a second front (against Japan) the US was totally unprepared for.

In addition to his greater popularity and military strength, Mao was also genuinely interested in establishing a trade relationship with the US.

According to Bradley, the civil war Mao won in 1949 was actually a war of liberation from European colonial powers, just like Kim Sung Il’s war of liberation in Korea and Ho Chi Minh’s war of liberation in Vietnam. Owing to the total ignorance of Asian society and culture, advisors in the Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy administration mistakenly viewed these wars of independence as part of a global communist conspiracy and military aggression the only possible response.

The China Mirage traces the  history of each of these conflicts (Japan, China, Korea and Vietnam) in a clear and compelling way, starting with the massive fortune Roosevelt’s grandfather amassed via the opium smuggling the US and UK forced on China via two opium wars.

For me the most interesting part of the book concerns the US oil/steel embargo that supposedly triggered the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. According to Bradley, Roosevelt opposed the embargo. It was surreptitiously enacted by members of his administration while he was at a secret meeting in Canada with Winston Churchill.

The Rise and Fall of Britain’s Working Class

the-people

The People: The Rise and Fall of the Working Class 1910-2010

By Selina Todd

John Murray Publishers (2015)

Book Review

The People is about the rise of the British working class during World War I and its systematic erosion during the seventies as the Thatcher government systematically dismantled Britain’s manufacturing base.

British workers first began to see themselves as a cohesive force during 1914-18 as hundreds of thousands left domestic service (where most were employed) for the war industry. Working class consciousness reached its zenith during World War II, in part due to discriminatory treatment by the Churchill government. Working class women were often forced to leave well-paying jobs to be conscripted into the munitions industry. In contrast, middle and upper class women were exempted from conscription because they did “voluntary” work. Middle and upper class families also found it easier to be exempted from the mandatory evacuation scheme. The latter required rural families were required to accept child evacuees from urban centers without compensation.

The Churchill government provided virtually no funding for the mandatory evacuation scheme (which was organized mainly by schools and charitable groups), nor for benefits for families who lost housing, jobs and breadwinners due to German bombing, nor for proper air raid shelters. Government provided shelters were so wet and filthy, Londoners spontaneously seized and occupied the subway system, and there was nothing the government could do to stop them.

According to Todd, the austerity cuts that have turned Britain into a low wage economy actually started in 1976 (three years before Thatcher was elected prime minister) with public spending cuts imposed on the UK as a condition of an IMF loan. For the most part, this “free market” attitude continued under Blair and New Labour.

In her Afterward, Todd sees evidence of a growing popular discontent over inequality in the rise of UKIP (the United Kingdom Independence Party) and the Scottish independence referendum. The latter, she maintains, was actually more about inequality. More recently, this discontent has manifested in the election of left wing Jeremy Corbyn to run the Labour Party and the successful Brexit referendum.

Debunking the Notion of Good Wars

In the following video author David Swanson discusses his book War is a Lie. As a long time anti-war campaigner, Swanson’s purpose is to demolish the widespread belief that some wars (eg the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Civil War and World War II) are “good wars. He carefully dispels the lies ruling elites have told us about each of these wars, simultaneously clarifying that each had the true purpose of expanding American empire.

With numerous historical examples, he demonstrates that war was totally unnecessary to win American independence (eg the US launched the War of 1812 as an excuse to invade Canada.). And not only was the Civil War unnecessary to end slavery, but slavery didn’t end in the US until World War II. (See 1941: The Year Slavery Finally Ended)

Swanson is extremely critical of environmentalists who are too timid to condemn war as the major destroyer of the environment and civil libertarians who condemn torture and assassination without condemning war as the root cause of these atrocities. He’s also highly critical of activists who bemoan that the corporate elite is too powerfully entrenched to be crushed by a mass movement.

Unlike most presentations, the Q&A’s – which start at 31:00 – are the best part of this video.