Friday, September 25, 2009

Friday, September 11, 2009

we remember...

...and will never forget.

We honor all those who lost their lives and all those families who lost love ones.

Oh, I know it's a penny here and a penny there, but look at me. I worked myself up from nothing to a state of extreme poverty.


Tuesday, September 01, 2009

70 years ago today...

On this day, 70 years ago, Hitler and his army started a pre-dawn invasion of Poland; generally regarded as the first aggression and act of World War II. Great Britain and France declared war on Germany that same day, and in about two years time, many other nations, including the United States would be embroiled in the conflict. In many ways it was the defining time of the 20th century and the world that was before, was no longer recognizable after the war was over.

But things didn't just happen on September 1st, 1939- events and movements occurred in the years before which led Germany and eventually the world, down that road. The National Socialist German Workers Party took advantage of political and economic turmoil, and was able to secure a foothold in Reichstag (German Parliament) and eventually Hitler consolidated his party and the Nazi party's control through parliamentary elections and backdoor deals, ending in the Enabling Act of 1933. The (puppet) President of Germany, Paul von Hindenburg, appointed Hitler as Chancellor on 30 January 1933, and the Enabling Act gave Hitler legislative powers: virtual dictatorial control over the government. The National Socialists had broken off from the larger, more nebulous socialist movement that had clouded Europe for several decades and had declared capitalism a virulent evil upon the world, fostering a socialist view with a nationalistic bent and one that placed emphasis on centralized control, and opposed communism, which had also broken off from socialism, as weak and more involved with "international Jewry." Controlling the means of production, the distribution of wealth and the military had become first objectives- declaring that these things were done in the name of the German people to assure that the elites would no longer solely benefit from the "wealthy of Germany." The Nazi party added a mythological and ethnic bent to socialist politics- declaring that there should be "pure German blood" and eventually espousing a German "master race." Over the next few years, German would see the abolishment of democracy, the elimination of the separation of powers in the German constitution and eventually a one party rule and system. The Nazi's further consolidated control by suspending civil liberties, the purging of the "old guard" in the military and civil service, and by imposing a Nazi "German" culture- revitalizing Bismarck’s old “Kulturkampf” policy (which advocated moving the German people away from church centered values and towards a modern, secular and government centered values) and the Hitler Youth are just two examples.

Also during this time, Italy had seen it's own fascist dictator take control in the form of Mussolini. He had begun his political life as a fervent Marxian Socialist, and eventually found himself at odds with the Italian socialist leaders, who didn't advocate his violent extremist nationalist bent. He split from the socialist part and combined his nationalist views, and a variety of political, economic and even some of his socialist views to create a "fascist" party. He too would eventually gain power and then consolidate it - and like much like Hitler, sought to revitalize a "national mythology" and to restore Italy to the "glories of the days" of the Roman Empire. Later, Mussolini furthered the reach of Italy and aggressively invaded parts of Mediterranean Northern Africa including Ethiopia and further it's dominance over its colonies; a move that would soon be mirrored by Hitler.

Once Hitler had begun to secure power in country- he began a push to overtake and acquire portions of Eastern Europe - and eventually controlled Austria and the Sudetenland- without significant opposition from the major European democratic powers. In fact, British Prime Minister Chamberlain had thought he had effectively stopped Hitler designs by securing a treaty wherein the Sudetenland was ceded to Germany against the protest of the Czechoslovak government in exchange for a promise that Hitler would go no further. Chamberlain infamously declared that he had secured "peace in our time." In reality, they had only emboldened Hitler's ambition. In 1939 Hitler pushed further into Czechoslovakia, and with Mussolini's support forced the Czech government to concede more of it's territory. The same year Italy conquered Albania and while France and Great Britain publicly advocated support for a free Poland, Romania and Greece, Mussolini and Hitler solidified their mutual support with the "Pact of Steel". Meanwhile, Stalin had been observing and sending overtures to Hitler, and had his own designs on parts of Eastern Poland. Hitler and Stalin eventually signed a Non-aggression pact in 1939, while also secretly agreeing to divide control of Poland once invaded.

Then on September 1st, 1939, Germany began an invasion of Poland. Great Britain and France declared war on Germany and provided some small military support to Poland, but it was in vain. The Soviets had invaded Eastern Poland and by October the country was under control of the Germans and the Soviets. In the ensuing years, two major sides would develop- the Axis powers led by the countries of Germany Italy and later Japan, and The Allies, which included several dozen countries and led by the "Big three"- Great Britain, The United States and The USSR (Hitler would go back on his treaty with Stalin and invade the USSR- effectively pushing Stalin to join the Allies).

This day is one of great significance and should be remembered within its context and for the lasting changes wrought upon the world- a world which was never the same again. Indeed the bloodshed, the sacrifice and destruction should provide lessons for us all to remember. The question is- have we learned the lessons from the 20s and 30s- the things which led to the war?

Oh, I know it's a penny here and a penny there, but look at me. I worked myself up from nothing to a state of extreme poverty.

Now that I'm in charge of the Navy, Mr. Hitler and his Nazi thugs had better look out. We're going to teach them a lesson that they'll never forget.


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