Talk at Caen, France, WWII Normandy Memorial

And now for something rather different!

On the 14th of this month I will be leaving for Amsterdam where I will be spending three weeks aboard the three-masted schooner Regina Maris teaching conflict resolution and life skills to 34 bright Gymnasium students from all over Germany. I will be leaving the voyage at Tenerife, Canary Islands, on the 8th, and they will continue to the Caribbean for a six-month work-learning program, accompanied by teachers in all their schools subjects. These students will be actively running the ship under the supervision of the crew.
I have been asked by the organizer of this trip, Johan Krieger, to also prepare some remarks to the students for an American view of WWII when we stop at Caen and he gives them a history lesson regarding the war.
Here is a draft of my remarks. If you have any suggestions or recommendations, I would appreciate it….

 

Reflections on my view as an American on the war, its consequences and lessons from both.

My father was a dentist on board a mine sweeper in the Pacific.

He was just like your grandfather or grandmother probably was, – a small gear in the war machine, convinced of the justness of his cause, totally brainwashed. Mostly, he was simply doing what he was ordered to do, just like your great uncles and aunts were, a prisoner of his scripting and collective groupthink.

His ship was the first to dock at Nagasaki after the atom bomb was dropped.

The devastation was total.

75,000 civilians died from that one bomb;

My father found a picture in woven silk of an eagle sitting on a pine tree in the wreckage of a girl’s school. It hung in my home all the years I grew up. All that time I had little awareness of the lives of the students and teachers this picture had witnessed or the horror of the destructon of its home. Try to imagine an atom bomb dropped on your school, in your home town.

Many years later Dad developed testicular cancer, which he attributed to exposure at Nagasaki.

Regardless of the culture we grow up in, we are scripted by the values of our parents and our culture.

Like a fish swimming in water, we are unaware of both the water and its quality, just as a fish learns to tolerate polluted water if it wants to survive. So it is with us humans as we grow.

The values I was scripted in were that the United States was a democracy that stood for liberty and justice for all. I learned that the US won WWI and WWII and brought great prosperity and freedom to Europe as a result.

I learned that American culture and values were the best in the world, and a lot of the world agreed, watching its movies, imitating its fashion and art, adopting its governmental and economic system, and accepting its military bases on their soil.

As a boy I was interested in archaeology and thought I might want to become an archaologist. Therefore, when I was offered the chance to travel to the Middle East for five weeks to visit Italy, Greece, Egypt, Israel, Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan I jumped at the opportunity, just as you did with the opportunity to take this voyage.  It shaped the course of my life in many ways, just as this voyage is likely to change yours.

But this was in 1963, four years before the 1967 war in which Israel annexed the West Bank. There were no walls or Israeli military presence; Jerusalem was mostly Palestinian and you could travel back and forth between Jerico, the Dead Sea, and other points on the West Bank with ease. I met many Jews and many Arabs and got to know them as people.

My experiences traveling at an early age taught me something important, just as I hope your voyage will teach you:

We are one planet, one humanity. When you get to know individual people in Russia, in Israel, in Palestine, in Turkey, in Syria, when you get to know individual immigrants from these countries who have come to Germany, you can’t hate or fear them. Your heart will go out to them as you see that they are very much like you.

We frame the way we look at WWII and the struggles of our times all wrong. Life is not about the good guys and the bad guys. Life is about respect and treating other people the way we want to be treated.

War only happens when you first depersonalize an entire nation. When you go and meet the actual people, you find that they are as alive and rich with memories and abilities as you are, and in everyone there is much to admire.

Similarly, fear and hatred of immigrants in Germany today only happens because you don’t know these people as individuals. The solution is to get to know some of them, to listen to their lives and concerns.

I say this because, basic to the values exported by the US is a “good guy-bad guy” mentality. I grew up on it watching endless Westerns, in which cowboys and US Soldiers were the good guys and Indians were the bad guys. Then there were the endless war movies that brainwashed us with the same message: the US and its allies were the good guys and the nasty Germans and Japanese were the bad guys. Then there were the movies in which the Russians were the bad guys. We had McCarthyism and the “Red Scare” in the early 1950’s, in which communists were the bad guys. And today we have “Russophobia,” in which the US government and media are determined to make the public think Russia is bad.

Why?

My belief is because the US economy requires enemies to survive. Like Sparta in ancient Greece, the US economy is built around war and exceptionalism.

Do you know what “exceptionalism” is? It is the belief that I am better than you. It could be because of my values (liberty, justice, democracy), religion (Christian/Jewish/Buddhist), culture (iPhone and Western entertainment, arts, and fashion), form of government (Democracy), race (Caucasian), or even gender (Patriarchy has ruled the planet for millennia).

All of this is directly related to the causes of WWII:

Did you know that major US figures were supporters of Hitler and the Third Reich?

US Senator Prescott Bush, father of President George Bush and grandfather of President George W. Bush planned a fascist coup to overthrow President F.D. Roosevelt.

Did you know he was a director and shareholder in companies that profited from doing business with Nazi Germany, even after the US had entered the war?

If you want to know more about that, ask me about it later. I have the details: (The firm he worked for, Brown Brothers Harriman (BBH), acted as a US base for the German industrialist, Fritz Thyssen, who helped finance Hitler in the 1930s. The Thyssen’s were Germany’s most powerful industrial family before the war. Bush was the director of the New York-based Union Banking Corporation (UBC) that represented Thyssen’s US interests. Thyssen owned the largest steel and coal company in Germany and grew rich from Hitler’s efforts to re-arm between the two world wars. Bush has been linked to the Consolidated Silesian Steel Company (CSSC), based in mineral rich Silesia on the German-Polish border. During the war, the company made use of Nazi slave labour from the concentration camps, including Auschwitz. At least three of the companies Bush had control in were shut down by the government in 1942 for violation of the “Trading With the Enemy Act.” By the late 1930s, Brown Brothers Harriman, which claimed to be the world’s largest private investment bank, and UBC had bought and shipped millions of dollars of gold, fuel, steel, coal and US treasury bonds to Germany, both feeding and financing Hitler’s build-up to war. “This was the mechanism by which Hitler was funded to come to power, this was the mechanism by which the Third Reich’s defence industry was re-armed, this was the mechanism by which Nazi profits were repatriated back to the American owners, this was the mechanism by which investigations into the financial laundering of the Third Reich were blunted.”)

US companies that collaborated with Hitler prior to and during WWII were:

Coca-Cola, specifically Fanta. Coke played both sides during WW II; they supported the American troops but also kept making soda for the Nazis. Then, in 1941, the German branch of Coke ran out of syrup, and couldn’t get any from America because of wartime restrictions. So they invented a new drink, specifically for the Nazis: A fruit-flavored soda called Fanta. (Source: New Statesman)

Ford. Henry Ford was an anti-Semite. He was Hitler’s most famous foreign backer. On his 75th birthday, in 1938, Ford received a Nazi medal, designed for “distinguished foreigners.” He profiteered off both sides of the War — he was producing vehicles for the Nazis AND for the Allies. (Source: Reformed Theology.

Standard Oil. This was John D. Rockefeller’s company. It was split up into what we now know as Exxon British Petroleum and Chevron oil, The Luftwaffe needed tetraethyl lead gas in order to get their planes off the ground. Standard Oil was one of only three companies that could manufacture that type of fuel. (Source: MIT’s Thistle)

Chase bank. A lot of banks sided with the Nazis during World War Two. Chase is the most prominent.

They froze European Jewish customers’ accounts and were extremely cooperative in providing banking service to Germany. (Source: New York Times)

IBM.  IBM custom-built machines for the Nazis that they could use to track everything… from oil supplies to train schedules into death camps to Jewish bank accounts to individual Holocaust victims themselves. In September of 1939, when Germany invaded Poland, the New York Times reported that three million Jews were going to be “immediately removed” from Poland and were likely going to be “exterminat[ed].” IBM’s reaction? An internal memo saying that, due to that “situation”, they really needed to step up production on high-speed alphabetizing equipment. (Source: CNet)

Random House publishing. Random House’s parent company, Bertelsmann A.G., worked for the Nazis… they published Hitler propaganda, and a book called “Sterilization and Euthanasia: A Contribution to Applied Christian Ethics”. Bertelsmann still owns and operates several companies.

Kodak. During World War Two, Kodak’s German branch used slave laborers from concentration camps. Several of their other European branches did heavy business with the Nazi government. Wilhelm Keppler, one of Hitler’s top economic advisers, had deep ties with Kodak. When Nazism began, Keppler advised Kodak and several other U.S. companies that they’d benefit by firing all of their Jewish employees. (Source: The Nation)

German companies you know that collaborated with Hitler prior to and during WWII were:

Hugo Boss. In the 1930s, Hugo Boss started making Nazi uniforms. The reason: Hugo Boss himself had joined the Nazi party, and got a contract to make the Hitler Youth, storm trooper and SS uniforms. That was a huge boon for Hugo Boss… he got the contract just eight years after founding his company… and that infusion of business helped take the company to another level. The Nazi uniform manufacturing went so well that Hugo Boss ended up needing to bring in slave laborers in Poland and France to help out at the factory. In 1997, Hugo’s son, Siegfried Boss, told an Austrian news magazine, “Of course my father belonged to the Nazi party. But who didn’t belong back then?” (Source: New York Times)

Volkswagen. Ferdinand Porsche, the man behind Volkswagen and Porsche, met with Hitler in 1934, to discuss the creation of a “people’s car.” Hitler told Porsche to make the car with a streamlined shape, “like a beetle.” And that’s the genesis of the Volkswagen Beetle… it wasn’t just designed for the Nazis, Hitler NAMED it. During World War Two, it’s believed that as many as four out of every five workers at Volkswagen’s plants were slave laborers. Ferdinand Porsche even had a direct connection to Heinrich Himmler, one of the leaders of the SS, to directly request slaves from Auschwitz. (Source: The Straight Dope)

Bayer. During the Holocaust, a German company called IG Farben manufactured the Zyklon B gas used in the Nazi gas chambers. They also funded and helped with Josef Mengele’s “experiments” on concentration camp prisoners. IG Farben is the company that turned the single largest profit from work with the Nazis. After the War, the company was broken up. Bayer was one of its divisions, and went on to become its own company. Aspirin was created by a Bayer employee, Arthur Eichengrun. But Eichengrun was Jewish, and Bayer didn’t want to admit that a Jewish guy created the one product that kept their company in business. So, to this day, Bayer officially gives credit to Felix Hoffman, a nice Aryan man, for inventing aspirin. (Source: Alliance for Human Research Protection, Pharmaceutical Achievers)

Siemens. Siemens took slave laborers during the Holocaust and had them help construct the gas chambers that would kill them and their families. In 2001, they tried to trademark the word “Zyklon” (which means “cyclone” in German) to become the name a new line of products… including a line of gas ovens. Zyklon, of course, being the name of the poison gas used in their gas chambers during the Holocaust. A week later, after several watchdog groups appropriately freaked out, Siemens withdrew the application. They said they never drew the connection between the Zyklon B gas used during the Holocaust and their proposed Zyklon line of products. (Source: BBC)

The point is that fascism is good for business in any country because it maximizes profit at the expense of employees. Why? Because fascism is essentially government controlled by business interests. Business wants cheap labor to cut costs and boosts profits. Fascism is the form of government that minimizes worker rights and maximizes control by plutocrats.

Did you know that US policies toward Judaism were also racist and barred Jewish immigration from Germany, even when the government knew that Jews were being exterminated in concentration camps?

If you want to know more, ask me later about the details: (“In the United States, antisemitism, which reached high levels in the late 1930s, continued to rise in the 1940s.  During the years before Pearl Harbor, over a hundred antisemitic organizations were responsible for pumping hate propaganda throughout the American public.  Furthermore, especially in New York City and Boston, young gangs vandalized Jewish cemeteries and synagogues, and attacks on Jewish youngsters were common.  Swastikas and anti-Jewish slogans, as well as antisemitic literature were spread.” “In Congress, antisemitism was a factor explaining the common hostility towards refugee immigration. antisemitism explained Congress’s actions that blocked all likely havens of refuge for the Jews.  For example, Congress passed a Visa policy that allowed only a minuscule number of Jews into the US, and supported Britain’s policy that placed tight limits on refugee entry into Palestine.” “If the American public and even worse, its government, looked down upon the Jews within their own country, why would they care about aiding Jews in Europe?”

(“In a speech delivered on September 11, 1941 at an America First rally, Charles Lindbergh claimed that three groups had been “pressing this country toward war”: the Roosevelt Administration, the British, and the Jews—and complained about what he insisted was the Jews’ “large ownership and influence in our motion pictures, our press, our radio and our government.”  In an expurgated portion of his published diaries Lindbergh wrote: “We must limit to a reasonable amount the Jewish influence. … Whenever the Jewish percentage of total population becomes too high, a reaction seems to invariably occur. It is too bad because a few Jews of the right type are, I believe, an asset to any country.”)

Of course, Americans are not taught their history of anti-Semitism in school.

Did you know that after the war the US secretly encouraged the immigration to the US of thousands of high-ranking NAZIs and employed them? Werner Von Braun, director of the US rocket program that eventually landed men on the Moon in 1969, is the most famous example. He designed V2 rockets for the Third Reich at Penemunde that rained down on London and SE England, killing hundreds.

I did not know any of this. I am ashamed and embarrassed to say that it took me years to slowly wake up and realize I had been brainwashed, just as you have been.

The internet is amazing. It has taught me a lot of things about WWII:

In the same month as D-Day, part of an operation that caused about 100k German military deaths, the Soviets launched Operation Bagration, which caused about 800k German military deaths.

Did you know that the US only came into WWII in Europe on the side of the allies after the German army had been crushed by Russia? Germany was defeated on the Eastern front. It is estimated that some 85% of the German army was destroyed by Russia. The back of the German army was broken in 1941 when Russia and the weather defeated the Wehrmacht at the gates of Moscow, where Germany lost some 400,000 soldiers and the Russians lost even more. Hitler’s generals knew the war was lost, but Hitler went on to further defeat at Stalingrad where he lost 730,000 and the Russians over 500,000 soldiers and another 500,000 civilians.

Did you know that while the US lost some 114,000 soldiers and no civilians in WWII, Russia lost 1,800,000, or about eighteen times as many soldiers and at least 15 million civilians? Total Russian war deaths were probably between 25 and 30 million. The Soviet Union as a whole lost well over 30% of its population. This is a HUGE number. Compare it to total German casualties of 9,000,000 or some 11% of its population. The US lost 1% and other allies lost a total of about 5%.

Did you know that in polls, over a decade later, many East Germans still preferred the pre-1989 Soviet system over the Western system?

If you want to know more, ask me later: (“Large numbers of ordinary workers lost their jobs, but so too did thousands of research workers and academics. As a result of the purging of academia, research and scientific establishments in a process of political vetting, more than a million individuals with degrees lost their jobs. This constituted about 50% of that group, creating in east Germany the highest percentage of professional unemployment in the world; all university chancellors and directors of state enterprises as well as 75,000 teachers lost their jobs and many were blacklisted. This process was in stark contrast to what happened in west Germany after the war, when few ex-Nazis were treated in this manner.” “After unification, 2.2m claims by non-GDR citizens were made on their homes. Many lost houses they’d lived in for decades; a number committed suicide rather than give them up.”

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2009/nov/08/1989-berlin-wall)

All this relates to the present immigration crisis in Germany and to the future of Germany.

After the war, Germans were so caught up in guilt for the actions of the Nazis that they swung to Political Correctness. They refused to interfere with the cultural preferences of immigrants. As a result, Turks and other Arabs were not forced to assimilate into the culture as they were in the US. They did not have to learn German, they could be taught in their own schools, they could work in their own neighborhoods. They could culturally remain Arabs, not Germans. This was not a fault of the Turks, nor is it today the fault of various groups of Arabic and Islamic immigrants. It represents a failure of the German system to force the assimilation of immigrants into German culture. Just as the US had to resort to forced bussing of students to integrate society, so Germany could do something similar if it wanted to solve its immigration crisis.

Because the problem is not the number of immigrants – Germany absorbed far more after WWII – and it is not because these immigrants are Islamic, because other countries, including the US have absorbed Islamic immigrants for decades. The problem are the policies of the German government that date back to WWII war guilt.

After the war Germans were extremely grateful to the US for the Marshall plan for rebuilding the economy. You probably have read about that.

Did you know that the Marshall Plan and NATO was not created to help Germany or Europe rebuild?

According to Hastings Ismay, a British soldier and diplomat, NATO was created to “Keep the Americans in, the Russians out, and the Germans down.” The Marshall plan was created to block Soviet expansion into Europe.

It has succeeded to this day.

Do you know how many nuclear weapons the US has on German soil?

At least 10 to 20 at Büschel AFB.

Do you know that these make Germany a target in case of a war between the US and Russia?

Do you know how many US bases there are in Germany?

36! With 35,000 American soldiers!

Do you know that the US has spying infrastructure all of over Germany and was listening to Angela Merkel’s private conversations on her Handy, as well as other officers of the German government?

Did you know that the sanctions the US and the EU have imposed on Russia have hurt the German economy much worse than it has hurt the Russian economy?

Losses to the German economy are at least 6 billion a year.

Do you know why Germany puts up with all of this?

It is a combination of money and fear.

The US is Germany’s largest export market.  The US can impose economic sanctions on Germany if it does not comply, as it has on France and Switzerland.

The Nuremburg Court set out principles necessary to prevent the atrocities of WWII from ever happening again.

These include:

“The fact that internal law does not impose a penalty for an act which constitutes a crime under international law does not relieve the person who committed the act from responsibility under international law.” and

“Complicity in the commission of a crime against peace, a war crime, or a crime against humanity as set forth in Principle 6 is a crime under international law.”

The Geneva Conventions of 1949 set out international laws to protect prisoners of war and non-combatants.

On January 11, 2002, the United States announced that it was refusing to abide by the 1949 Geneva Convention on the treatment of prisoners of war – in violation of the Third Geneva Convention.

Germany uses its alliance with the US to shield it from the responsibility of taking control of its own foreign policy. War guilt still hangs heavy on Germany, plus following the lead of the US has brought both economic security and protection from responsibility for war crimes committed by Germany in its alliance with NATO. These include the housing of US drone facilities at Ramstein and Stuttgart that are use to conduct assassinations in contravention of international law. This has been in collaboration with the German government.

Also, German arms sales to sponsors of terrorism, such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Germany is the number 3 exporter of arms in the world.

In my opinion, I am sorry to say, the US is more controlled by fascist interests than it was before WWII.

What you can do:

Refuse to look at people and nations as “good” or “bad.”

Judge individuals, not groups.

Do not judge individuals in a group until you get to know a number of them personally.

Anyone can now do this easily on line.

Refuse to support national policies that work against the greater interests of Germans as a whole and the  human rights of everyone.

Be aware that German media is largely controlled by Washington and reflects its policies. Be skeptical of what you hear in German media.

Don’t buy products from companies that don’t support human rights.

Don’t vote for politicians that do not protect the human rights of ALL humans, not just some.

Remember the basic rule: Treat others as you would want to be treated. This includes witholding judgment until you have good evidence, because this is what you would want others to do toward you.

Refuse to call anyone who kills other people, particularly on the orders of others a “hero.” This includes soldiers. At best, they are unwitting accomplices to crimes.

Stand up for the powerless: women, children, and those who have fewer opportunities and resources than you do.

Remember that you have received great gifts by virtue of where you were born and the family you were born into. Most others have not received such gifts. Therefore, your undeserved gifts place on you a responsibility to use your life to give back to those who have less.

 

Posted in Cultural Dreams, Finding Yourself

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