Author Topic: The Kaiser and Britain  (Read 23836 times)

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Offline grandduchessella

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Re: The Kaiser and Britain
« Reply #30 on: February 15, 2008, 09:39:01 AM »
I think it's important to clarify whether Churchill actually offered asylum. According to the papers of his secretary that I quoted, it doesn't seem an actual, formal offer was made but rather a communication letting the Kaiser know that he would be welcomed and treated with dignity if he chose to come to the UK and assistance (in the form of an RAF plane) if needed. It seems one step down from actually granting formal asylum.
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Re: The Kaiser and Britain
« Reply #31 on: February 15, 2008, 09:59:38 PM »
GDE -  then it would seem that again, "his majesty's government does not insist".  Not much changed from one war to the next.

Offline Adagietto

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Re: The Kaiser and Britain
« Reply #32 on: February 16, 2008, 06:51:52 AM »
It seems that the offer was a personal initiative from Churchill; if the Kaiser had accepted, the British government would naturally have confirmed any terms offered by Churchill; in the current situation, this would have been a wholly marginal issue on which little attention woulfd have been wasted.

As to blaming Churchill for the post-war division of Europe, Stalin was in a position to determine what happened in the countries occupied by Soviet troops, and the allies were negotiating from a very weak postion in that regard; they tried reach as favourable agreements as they could at Yalta etc., but they cannot be reasonably accused of having given Stalin any lands that the Red Army had occupied. Does anyone seriously believe that Churchill and the allies would not have wished Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia to become Western democracies after the end of the war? But the most that they could do was to try to get Stalin to give (generally valueless) assurances about alllowing free political processes, and to try to reach agreements about the divison of spheres of influence. In the final resort, the only thing that the allies could have done to prevent the installation of subservient Communist regimes in the areas controlled by Russia would have been to declare war on Russia!! An eminently practical option. It is easy to indulge in fantasies about these matters from the far side of the Atlantic, but nobody in Europe (except perhaps a few far-right revisionists) would ever claim that Eastern Europe was willingly and voluntarily surrendered to Russian control.
« Last Edit: February 16, 2008, 06:54:08 AM by Adagietto »

Offline HerrKaiser

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Re: The Kaiser and Britain
« Reply #33 on: February 16, 2008, 01:27:43 PM »
Well, aside from your notion that Americans live in a fantasy world about European history (and by the by, a history that TWICE in the 20th century would have taken a vastly different path had you-know-who not bailed the continent out), the logic that the soviet "occupied" areas was a fait d'accompli begs the question why then was the German occupation of Poland not so? The soviets were in eastern Europe NOT to occupy, rather to liberate. General Patton was strongly in favor of utilizing the remaining Wehrmacht to go onward to confront the Russians, but he was sorely put down, dismissed. There is no revisionistic aspect to the fact that the willingness of Churchill, mostly, along with Roosevelt to deal properly with the Russion occupying threat was minimal and chose to simply let it go in order to polictically get the best end of hostilites and a "win" to go home with. There "win" was a huge loss to eastern europe, the price of which is still being paid.
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Offline Ilias_of_John

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Re: The Kaiser and Britain
« Reply #34 on: February 16, 2008, 09:07:09 PM »
Patton was a it of a psychic wasnt he?
He knew what the Soviets were up to, and was willing to publicise it. He got put down by Eisenhower if memory serves me correctly.
He also foertold Eisenhower's run for the Presidency and McCarthur's demise.He obviously knew how international politics worked. A shame he died from that car accident really!

 I remember he was fuming when he wasn't allowed to beat the Russians to Hungary even  though his troops were only 80 miles away, that would have prevented an SS massacre.
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Offline Adagietto

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Re: The Kaiser and Britain
« Reply #35 on: February 17, 2008, 09:11:50 AM »
If the 'Soviets were in eastern Europe NOT to occupy, rather to liberate', there would have been no 'Russian occupying threat' for Churchill and Roosevelt to deal with, - or fail to deal with! The claims of the Russians to be liberators would be a good deal more convincing if they had not sat on the opposite bank of the Vistula while the Germans were crushing the Warsaw uprising. After their experience in 1940, it is understandable that they should have wished to ensure that there were compliant regimes on their western borders. I was not meaning to be rude about Americans (indeed I am part-American myself), but this claim that Churchill or the allies deliberately surrendered Eastern Europe to Russian control is simply one that one encounters in Europe outside far-right circles. Nor, in my experience, is there any very marked difference in the way in which British historians and German historians interpret the general course of European history during the last century (although there are of course divergent personal interpretations of various issues). If there were really a victor-imposed orthodoxy, many aspects of Churchill's actions would hardly be a subject of so much controversy! Though funnily enough, it is Americans who are most liable to be shocked by criticism of Churchill. He had a far clearer appreciation, by the way, of the Russian threat than did Roosevelt.

Offline HerrKaiser

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Re: The Kaiser and Britain
« Reply #36 on: February 18, 2008, 03:50:43 PM »
As for this nonsense about the winners dictating the historical record, that rather overlooks the fact historians from the defeated nations are capable of thinking and writing for themselves (and in the case of West Germany and Italy, in an atmosphere of freedom for decades too);

I note the point above to draw attention to the fact that while it may appear the defeated nations are capable of thinking for themselves, you have to realize it is ILLEGAL in Germany to question, adjust, or research the period of the Third Reich. The history is done; and they cannot think for themselves in this regard.

The reason "Nor, in my experience, is there any very marked difference in the way in which British historians and German historians interpret the general course of European history during the last century" can be said by you, adaggieto, is due to the overt and lasting dominance British/American/French based history has been rooted in all discourse.

I've seen the charge of "revisionist" used as a demeaning, almost hateful epithet. I'm all for revisionism if it brings to bear truths untold or data previously unearthed. The Native American history of the U.S. for decades and decades was riddled with beliefs that the native populations were savage murderers, ingnorant, no culture, etc, etc. The heralded U.S. government policy was 'the only good indian is a dead indian.' Well my friend, it was "revisionists" who began the effort to re-educate the population with a truer and more accurate understanding of that period of history and all that went with it. There were no laws passed in teh US. to NOT refute what had been locked in as "truth" as if spoken by God.
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Offline Adagietto

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Re: The Kaiser and Britain
« Reply #37 on: February 19, 2008, 05:16:37 AM »
Accusations of 'revisionism' can indeed be used to try to stifle the questioning of orthodoxies, but I think one can justifiedly use the term to describe certain strains of pseudo-historical writing; I was referring specifically to the kind of far-right historians who try to claim that no Jews (or very few Jews) were killed in the concentration camps, and that Hitler's war was purely defensive in nature etc.

The situation in Germany with regard to research and reflection on the history of the Third Reich etc. is far more complicated and far less constrained than you suggest. The fact that there are holocaust denial laws in Germany does not mean that it is illegal in Germany 'to question, adjust or research the period of the Third Reich'; there has been any amount of serious research on the period in Germany, and there are also joint research programmes in which German historians work alongside historians from other nations. If there were really such limitations on the freedom of action of German historians, they could easily work and publish in other countries (there is free movement within the EU). If certain trends of thought are not respectable in Germany, this has not something that has been imposed on them by the former victors, but has resulted from the Germans' own efforts to come to terms with certain unfortunate aspects of their own history. And they deserve every respect in that regard, one only has to compare attitudes in Germany to those in Japan, where the majority of people have never really come to terms with comparable aspects of their historical aspects of their historical record (e.g. massacres and brutal repression in China). Other trends of opinion in Germany that are more sympathetic to the nationalist/ far-right/ miltaristic currents are not, and cannot be, wholly suppressed. One might consider, for instance, the views expressed in this internet forum:
http://www.nexusboard.net/index.php?siteid=6365
The sentiments - and resentments - that one finds there are probably more widespread than one might gather than from what one reads in the 'respectable' German media; but the level of discussion strikes me as being lower than what one generally encounters in the mainstream. If there is a prevailing (and admittedly, occasionally rather stifling) orthodoxy among academic historians, it is not a British/American/French orthodoxy but a liberal orthodoxy which has native roots in Germany as much as in any other European country. Since all forms of nationalism are viewed with considerable suspicion within this tradition, it cannot be accused of having fostered victor-nation national myths, or having adopted an uncritical attitude to the war-record of the victor-nations (e.g with regard to mass-bombing). In Europe nowadays, people just have no appetite to view the history of the continent in terms of competing national narratives.

Offline HerrKaiser

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Re: The Kaiser and Britain
« Reply #38 on: February 19, 2008, 11:22:53 AM »
In Europe nowadays, people just have no appetite to view the history of the continent in terms of competing national narratives.

ie...don't ask, don't tell. I guess if Americans had "no appetite" for its "competing national narratives" on the histories on native peoples, the natives Indians would still be targets for the vile hate dumped on them in the 19th century.
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Offline Adagietto

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Re: The Kaiser and Britain
« Reply #39 on: February 19, 2008, 11:53:02 AM »
That is hardly fair; it is not that the whole range issues should not be - and are not - raised and examined, it is that European historians are less inclined nowadays to interpret them in the framework of exclusive and competing national narratives. So I cannot agree with you when you suggest that the lack of a fundamental division between German and (say) British historians on the interpretation of the events of the 30's and 40's is a consequence of the imposition of victor-nation narratives.  If a more balanced view is now taken of the history of the American native peoples, it is because they longer viewed as bit-players in an over-arching white American national narrative (of manifest destiny etc.), it is not as a result of the construction of a competing narrative of the same kind.

Offline HerrKaiser

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Re: The Kaiser and Britain
« Reply #40 on: February 19, 2008, 02:30:07 PM »
Well, I am not sure the point is unfair. If you are correct that "European historians are less inclined nowadays to interpret them (issues on historical fact) in the framework of exclusive and competing national narratives", then it is a fait d'accompli that we get the facts as locked down from the 1940s onward. It is clear from the dialogue that there is little room for debate on the standardized version of this period. Who then is going to edit encyclopedia Britianica, which is a solid basis to what most anglo speaking school children have as a resource?

Niall Ferguson's The Pity of War is an absolute contradictory example to your opinion, and ferguson is a highly regarded professor at Harvard who has many such theses. But to live within the bounds you suggest are appropriate, his work would be trashed. In fact, so much of thought and discourse is controlled by the power base of yes, the winners' circle, Ferguson has actually garnered little attention.

I do know many German academicians and high level business people. They shrug their shoulders, in large part, and willingly accept the 'whatever they want to say' attitude because they know that putting forth a different set of facts or interpretations is verboten and they would be considered 'revisionists'; and that to most of the world means they believe there was no holocaust. Even the outrage expressed of the highly regarded (in some circles) film "the Downfall" is exemplory of the desire to keep the immediate post-war emotions as peeked as ever. 'how could you dare to show hitler as even a bit of a human?'

It seems pointless to debate this. But, I would pose one last question since the histories we are considering are up to the January/februrary period 1945. Had the allies been repulsed in the battle of the bulge and the russians stopped at the Oder and peace treaties signed leaving Germany and its government essentially in tact, do you really think the historical record of the war would still match?

HerrKaiser

Offline Adagietto

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Re: The Kaiser and Britain
« Reply #41 on: February 21, 2008, 08:15:53 AM »
Sure, let's agree to an armistice, especially as all this doesn't have much to do with the Hohenzollerns! Strangely enough, I was watching a recording of 'the Downfall' just a few days ago, and thought it was superb in every way. I hadn't realized that it had caused any controversy in Germany. The portrayal of that claustrophobic world within the bunker seemed to accord very well with the portrayal in H.R.Trevor-Roper's "Last Days of Hitler".

Offline HerrKaiser

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Re: The Kaiser and Britain
« Reply #42 on: February 21, 2008, 02:08:15 PM »
If you like claustrophobic scenes, try to see "Das Boot". You'll squirm with need to open the windows.

HerrKaiser

Offline Adagietto

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Re: The Kaiser and Britain
« Reply #43 on: February 21, 2008, 02:21:06 PM »
They showed it (I think a television version which was longer than the cinema version) on British TV; fantastic stuff. Ages ago I went round an old WW2-type submarine and have never been able to understand how anyone could endure being depth-charged in one of those things without going utterly crazy.

Offline Kurt Steiner

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Re: The Kaiser and Britain
« Reply #44 on: April 27, 2008, 10:13:09 AM »
Is there any picture of Wilhelm II and George V together? Sheer curiosity, you know...