History Series You Need to Watch: The Great War and World War Two

If you are like me there is no such thing as too much history. It would be comparable as to saying there is too much air to breathe. Fortunately for those of us that have a continuous history craving there is just the fix for us.

On Youtube there is a content creator by the name of Indy Neidell, along with his highly skilled team. This group specializes on covering the two world wars, week by week. This isn’t just history content released week by week, but the covering of the wars as they unfold in real time.

Certainly a daunting feat, but they have already done it with their first series, The Great War. For that project they covered the war each week for four years. Calling it impressive would be a bit of an understatement.

They manage to cover not only the numerous fronts around the world but also cover the political aspects, economics, and various other factors. With the amount of firsthand quotes from soldiers, generals, and civilians it also gives an intimate look into how they viewed the war.

They also produce various special episodes such as Out of the Trenches, where they answer viewer questions and a series where they cover the important players in the war.

The current production quality is quite high, thanks to the donations they receive from their audience. They have numerous clips and images to display as they narrate the events, custom animated maps to display troops movements and the situation of the war, and a lovely designed set from which Indy discusses the war.

If you are looking for an in depth coverage of both world wars there is no better series to watch. Although it may seem daunting at first to jump into such a lengthy series the years will flash by before you know it.

With the World War Two series just starting a few months ago it still has a little less than 6 years left, and I am eagerly awaiting every single episode.

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Book Recommendation: Why Hitler Came Into Power

The Second World War is a subject that has been covered extensively. Whether it be through documentaries, Hollywood films, or through books. Attempting to consume all there has been created about World War II would be very difficult, if not impossible.

Arguably more important, however, is the prewar situation of Weimar Germany. Had it not been for the chaos in Germany caused by the first World War and its consequences it is easy to assume the Third Reich would have never come into existence.

While there are many books on the death of democracy in Germany most of them focus on the big players and key events. While the German people are mentioned they have served as a backdrop, setting the stage for the events to come. Theodore Abel, however, had a different approach.

Seeking to understand how the Nazi Party came to power Abel went to Germany and created a contest. This contest offered  prizes for autobiographies on why members of the Nazi Party joined the movement. Without any outside assistance Abel had to provide the prize money out of his own pockets.

This contest resulted in one of the most illuminating insights into the development of the Hitler movement. It gives us, in the common peoples’ own words, why they were attracted to such an extreme movement.

The book is divided into three parts. Historical background, analysis of the movement, and six featured submissions from contestants.

Abel, in an effort to maintain trustworthiness and accuracy, filtered out submissions that appeared to be written to gain favor with party officials or other such insincere submissions.

One of the main recurring themes of the submissions is the feeling of betrayal, by forces seen and unseen. Reaction to the troops returning from the front was harsh, especially at the hand of socialist and communist revolutionaries. As one German writes

“Troops were once again returning to the Fatherland, yet a disgusting sigh met their eyes. Beardless boys, dissolute deserters and whores tore off the shoulder bands of our front-line fighters, and spat upon their field-gray uniforms. At the same time they muttered something about liberty, equality, and fraternity. Poor, deluded people! Was this liberty and fraternity? People who never saw a battle field, who had never heard the whine of a bullet, openly insulted men who through four and a half years had defied the world in arms, who had risked their lives in innumerable battles, with the sole desire to guard the country against this horror.”

(Why Hitler Came Into Power, Page 24)

This resentment and refusal to accept defeat led to the infamous Stab in the Back Myth, which became a rallying cry for nationalists throughout Germany.

The point in the book I found most interesting was how party members viewed nationalism and socialism. Initially seen as opposing forces  Hitler instead formed a synthesis, combining the two into his doctrine of National Socialism. As a few submissions illuminate…

“But there was another word that aroused our enthusiasm; the word connected with “German,” instead of being coupled with democracy and liberalism as was usually the case. Socialism, enlightenment, the development of the communal spirit… Once more we could respect every German as our brother. We sensed and we knew that if we succeeded in animating these printed words, if we could unite the concepts of nationalism and socialism, we would have a banner under which we could lead the German people to freedom.”

(Page 47)

“I read Hitler’s speeches, studied the program of the National Socialist party, and gradually I was politically reborn. Filled with a pure joy I realized that what my mother had once said was true after all- that it was a hallowed act to give up one’s life for Germany as the soldiers at the front had done. At the same time, my father’s lifelong yearning for a German socialism was tenable. I became a National Socialist.” (Page 212)

Another important factor in Hitler’s rise to power was his charisma. As many sources show seeing Hitler in person had an uncannily religious fervor to it. Supporters would become overwhelmed with a desire to struggle and work as much as possible to see that the ideals their leader set out would be implemented.

Due to attempts by the government to crack down on the Nazi party and the lack of unity early on many party members acted of their own initiative. Many members had to engage in grassroots efforts to expand the party, giving all they could afford to spread the message of National Socialism.

Now one must remember that although Abel tried to maintain accuracy it is unavoidable that a level of bias exists in these submissions. With the way some describe their devotion to Hitler it would be beyond ignorant to deny such bias. But in spite of this the autobiographies submitted shine a rare light into the Nazi party. One that tries to understand how a nation of civilized people could fall prey to Adolf Hitler.

I can’t recommend this book enough. If you want to gain a full picture of the Third Reich, you have to understand why the German people willingly gave it power.

If you order the book through my affiliate link I get a small commission from your purchase.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0674952006/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0674952006&linkCode=as2&tag=forumofcincin-20&linkId=815305ff91034778e9314a67f5d97cb0

 

Some of the Strange Names of Wars

As if taking cue from the monarchs’ historians can be quite bad at naming events. Why come up with a new name when you can just name your newborn Louis the fourteenth? Today I would like to take a look at some of the names of wars for their strange names, misleading titles, and other such oddities.

The Hundred Years’ War

The obvious fact wrong with this title is that the war did not last for one hundred years. It in fact lasted for one hundred and sixteen years. This may be a result of rounding off for simplicity or convenience, but other fields would be less forgiving. Just try rounding off numbers to that degree in chemistry or with temperature.

The French and Indian War

This one appears simple enough. It implies that the French and Indians were fighting each other.  Well yes and no. The French were fighting the Indian allies of the British and their colonists. But the French also had Indian allies. What I find most curious is that the title would omit the British, as they would be France’s major antagonist. But perhaps this is a way to distinguish itself from the innumerable wars the two have fought against each other.

The Continuation War

This title is completely devoid of meaning or context if you know nothing about the Winter War. And even then, the Winter War gives no clue to its combatants. Being a small war it would need to be able to stick out more on its own compared to The Second World War, which most people already know the major combatants. The Winter War was between the Soviet Union and Finland and after 3 months, despite the remarkable performance of the Finnish, the Soviet Union annexed parts of Finland. The Continuation War was, as you might be able to guess, a resumption of the war as Finland sought to regain lost land by the opportunity Operation Barbarossa provided. Finland failed to regain land and instead lost further ground.

The Pastry War

This title sounds like a joke, but I can assure you such a conflict actually took place. Displaying that even historians can have a sense of humor. A French bakery in Mexico sent a complaint to the King saying that Mexican officers had looted his shop. With more complaints of French citizens arriving the King demanded Mexico pay 600,000 pesos, an outrageous sum at the time. (The average daily wage was just one peso.) Mexico refused and thus war broke out.

Switching My Focus

As you can guess I haven’t updated in about eight months. This is because I have largely lost interest in writing about politics, mainly because it’s toxic nature drives me crazy and it has never been my biggest passion. I will instead be moving over to what I do care about the most, which will be making history content. I have no plans to use this blog for anything else at this time. I hope you give the following videos a watch over on my Youtube channel. Thank you for your time.

The Problem with the Left-Right Spectrum

In political discussion if one wants to quickly identify a person they describe them as ‘left’ or ‘right’. However this scale is woefully inadequate in properly discussing the array of ideologies. For one people will describe Donald Trump as “far right.” However he supports ideas that would not be described as right traditionally. He supports ‘fair trade’, a protectionist economic policy that runs contrary to previous norms of the Republican Party. He supports LGBT rights, breaking years of social norms within the Republican Party. He wants to replace and repeal the Affordable Care Act. If he was ‘far right’ he would only go with repeal and not implement a replacement.

When the phrase “far left” is used Communism or Socialism is inferred. When “far right” is used Nazism and Fascism is inferred. However how could two opposite ends of a spectrum both result in authoritarian styles of government? If it were to be sensible Nazism and Communism would be at one end and Anarchism at the other.

The current mode of describing political positions needs to be replaced with one that can more properly take into account various positions.

The above chart is a far better one to go off. It takes into the account the various forms of authoritarianism and liberty based angles. It judges your overall position by your views on social and economic questions. It is possible to be socially liberal and authoritarian while being economically liberal and socially authoritarian.

It is important to remember the true meaning of the word ‘liberal.’ Liberal derives from the political school of thought classical liberalism. It is defined in the Merriam Webster dictionary as the following.

  1. a theory in economics emphasizing individual freedom from restraint and usually based on free competition, the self-regulating market, and the gold standard
  2. a political philosophy based on belief in progress, the essential goodness of the human race, and the autonomy (see autonomy 2) of the individual and standing for the protection of political and civil liberties; specifically : such a philosophy that considers government as a crucial instrument for amelioration of social inequities (such as those involving race, gender, or class)

In both we see that it advocates both economic and social freedom. The modern use of the world liberal then is a degradation to its original meaning. This just shows the laziness of the left-right spectrum that fails to take into the account all aspects of a belief system.

The above chart displays where I fall on the political spectrum after taking a test on https://www.politicalcompass.org/ . We should strive to broaden our understanding of political identity so we can have better discussion. These tests may not be perfect, but it’s a start.

 

Try for yourself and post your results!

https://www.politicalcompass.org/

https://www.isidewith.com/

End the War in Afghanistan

Afghanistan can be said to be America’s forgotten war. We have been involved in Afghanistan for fifteen years, which provides plenty of time to grow accustomed to the situation and eventually ignorant. Since the Taliban have not been able to directly attack us it is in a sense a peaceful war. We are much more inclined to the situation involving ISIS as they have launched a barrage of terrorists attacks through Europe and the United States. It’s easy to forget you are at war when there are no visible signs of it in your daily life. As George Orwell wrote in 1984 “War is peace.”

Breaking the trend of silence the Trump administration recently stated they could send up to three thousand additional soldiers to bolster the Afghanistan government and help in the fight against the Taliban. However sending more of our men in harm’s way has garnered little media attention. I would be surprised if anyone knew since the media obsesses over anything that could be treated as a scandal regarding President Trump. 

“But when war becomes literally continuous, it also ceases to be dangerous… It would probably be accurate to say that by becoming continuous war has ceased to exist.”

The Afghanistan War seems to be the best proof of Orwell’s sentiment.

After fifteen years of armed conflict and a price tag of a staggering $685.6 billion dollars we are no closer to securing peace in Afghanistan. Our policy of foreign intervention has failed spectacularly and it’s time to end it. We should no longer put the lives of our brave men and women at sake for wars that we gain nothing from.

It’s time to end the war in Afghanistan once and for all. I am for the full withdrawal of all US military personnel and equipment from Afghanistan.

Now I am sure some will be concerned that without our help Afghanistan will be faced with a power vacuum, and that the Taliban may use it to their advantage. It is certainly possible given the outcome of the US withdrawal from Iraq. However the number of US troops in Afghanistan is only 8400, and even then is limited in its roles. It mainly trains and supports the local soldiers, as well as providing support to counter terrorism operations. It is also worth noting that even after the surge of ISIS the Iraqi army is pushing them out of their country. They are only three districts away from liberating Mosul, a key ISIS stronghold. Iraqi army officials say by taking it they could drive ISIS out of Iraq.

It is far more important for Afghanistan to become self reliant rather than continuously depend on us. If they can not learn to stand on their own two feet after all this time it is not our problem. Iraq, along with the help of the Kurds, learned to adjust without US ground troops and are managing to fend for themselves.

Meanwhile those in power in Afghanistan seem little worried about the fate of their country. Corruption runs rampant, soldiers are given little ammo and are paid little money. Major General M. Moein Faqir, commander of the 215th Corps of the Afghan National Army was arrested in 2015 for misuse of money to supply food to his soldiers. Faqir was originally appointed to end corruption, and like many others in command are now being charged with what they pledged to eliminate. If we were to leave it just might encourage them to spend more on trying to preserve their country instead of lining their pockets. Nothing encourages accountability when you have a massive safety net.

We should stop making countries reliant and instead have them be able to preserve themselves. If only the Donald from a few years ago was the one we had today.