Category Archives: History

Polish Corridor

The Polish Corridor was a strip of land granted to the newly created State of Poland by the Treaty of Versailles of 1919, connecting this new country to the Baltic Sea. It was about 150-km-long by 75-km-wide at the base, becoming narrower as it approached the sea. Having defeated the Germans in World War I, the Allied leaders arbitrarily decided to take away a chunk of territory from Germany to create Poland and its corridor, isolating East Prussia from the rest of the German territory. This infamous “peace” treaty also granted Poland full control of the sea port of Danzig, which was a city with a population composed of 85% of Germans.

The Polish Corridor created deep-seated resentment in the German people against the Allies; bitter resentment that would pave the way for Hitler’s rise to power in 1933. It would also be the main reason or rationale given by Hitler for German invasion of Poland in September 1939, which was the spark that triggered World War II, since the German population in the territories allocated to Poland, especially the Germans living in Danzig, demanded to be reincorporated to Germany. The granting of this territory and the control of the city of Danzig to Poland was one of the biggest mistakes made by the Allies right after the Great War. Also see mistakes made by US presidents. See also mistakes made by US presidents

Map of Polish Corridor

Polish_corridor_map

Annexation of Austria

The annexation of Austria into Greater Germany by the Third Reich took place on March 12, 1938, with the help of many Austrian supporters, who were part of a unionists movement known in German “Heim ins Reich” movement. In German the annexation of Austria is known as the “Anschluss”, which means connection, or link up. The main rationale for the annexation was based on the centuries-old historical and cultural links between the Germany and Austria which dated back from the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, which began in the year 962 AD with Otto I. This empire was regarded by the Nazi as the First Reich, which was made up of territories now occupied by Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, and Louxenbourg. From the 15th century on, when the Habsburg dynasty took the throne, the capital of Holy Roman Empire was Vienna. Germany and Austria not only shared a common history, but their people also spoke the same language.

 

Prior to March 12, 1912, Hitler had provided support for the Austrian Nazi Party in its bid to seize power from Austria’s Austrofascist leadership. The Chancellor of Austria, Kurt Schuschnigg, wanted his country to remain independent and tried to hold a referendum to ask the Austrian people whether they wished to remain independent or merge into Germany. Schuschnigg expected Austria to vote in favour of maintaining autonomy, but a well-planned coup d’état orchestrated by the Austrian Nazi Party took place on March 11, before the referendum was held. Once the Austrian Nazi members had seized power, they quickly transferred it over to Germany. Then, on March 12, 1938, Wehrmacht troops entered Austria to enforce the Anschluss. The Nazis held a plebiscite, asking the Austrian people whether they wanted to be part of Germany. The result of the plebiscite was 99.73% of the vote favored an integration with Germany.

Germany’s Territorial Losses

Germany is the country with one of the largest territorial losses in history, with part of her population descendants living in the regions she lost. It was not as a result of secession or emancipation movement of any of her states, or of selling land to a neighboring nation, as in the case of Mexico and Russia selling a portion of their territories to the United States, but of being deprived of big chunks of her territory to be annexed, by force, to her former war enemies, or to be used to form new countries. In 1648, at the end of the Thirty Years War, France had annexed Alsace and Lorraine through the Peace of Westphalia treaty, acquiring 33,900 km2 of territory inhabited by German-speaking people. These two regions had been part of the Empire of Charlemagne in the Dark Ages; with the dissolution of this Empire, Alsace and Lorraine became part of the Eastern Frankish Realm, under Ludwig the German, in 870 AD, by the Treaty of Meersen. In the next century the Eastern Frankish Realm would become the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation.

Although Germany recovered Alsace and Lorraine during the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871), the Treaty of Versailles (1919), which put an end to World War I, robbed Germany of these territories again, attaching them to France. These same “peace” treaty deprived Germany of huge chunks of territory to create two new nations: Poland and Czechoslovakia, isolating Eastern Prussia from the rest of Germany. French prime minister Georges Clemenceau and American President Woodrow Wilson were behind the idea of taking more than 110,000 km2 of territory away from Germany to create the States of Poland and Czechoslovakia. By doing so, they did not solve problems but laid the groundwork for the emergence of a monster: Nazism. At the end of World War II, East Prussia (about 50,000 km2) was annexed to the Soviet Union. Despite of these territorial losses, Germany has always been portrayed as the villain of history by Western media and movies screenplay writers.

Hitler’s Rise to Power

Adolf Hitler’s rise to power took place on January 30, 1933, when he was sworn in as chancellor of Germany by President Paul von Hindenburg, along with a new cabinet. The reason for Hitler’s appointment as chancellor was that in the last two parliamentary elections neither of the two winning parties, the NSDAP* and the DNVP*, had not obtained an overwhelming majority of seats in order to form a one-party’s government as the coalition of these two parties failed and got dissolved. Since the Nazi Party had come out second in the November 1932 election, right behind Hindenburg’s, with 35% of votes and 196 seats, the President was persuaded by Franz von Papen, former chancellor, and Alfred Hugenberg, influential businessman and politician, to designate the World War I German Army corporal chancellor of the Reich.

Although Nazi Party did not have majority in the Reichstag, the new Enabling Act of 1933, granted Hitler full legislative powers (to enact laws without parliament) for a four-year period. One of the first act of Hitler’s government was to suppress all political opposition. Upon the death of President Hindenburg, on August 2, 1934, a law was enacted naming Adolf Hitler Führer and chancellor. Without political opposition and backed by the powerful SS and SA paramilitary organizations, he put an end to the Weimar Republic and created the Third Reich through the Gleichschaltung, which was a Nazi Party policy of abolishing all opposition to Hitler government. In August 1934, all army officers had to swear an oath of loyalty to the Führer.

*NSDAP: Nationalsocialistische Deutsche Arbeitpartei (or simply Nazi Party). *DNPV: German National People’s Party

Postwar Germany

Invaded by the Allied armies at the end of World War II, Germany began the postwar period divided into four occupation zones: American, British, French, and Soviet. The sector occupied by the three western Allied countries would become the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany), a democratic country with a free market society; while the portion occupied by the Red Army would become the German Democratic Republic (East Germany), a non-democratic country whose economy was run by the State, which did not allow private property and free individual enterprise.

Four years after World War II, right after the Berlin Airlift and the approval of its new Constitution (the Basic Law) in May 1949, West Germany held its first democratic elections, in which Konrad Adenauer, from the Christian Democratic Union Party (CDU), was elected chancellor. During his government (1949-1963), and boosted by an American, financial aid package, called the Marshall Plan, Germany would undergo a period of great economic growth and technological development, despite the fact of having been literally razed by Allied carpet bombing during World War II. In 1955, as the Cold War Iron Curtain had been dropped by the Soviet Union across Europe from north to south, West Germany became a NATO member, the military organization of western free democratic countries.

In December 1989, the Berlin Wall, which divided the former capital of Germany, was partially torn down as the Berliners from East Germany were allowed for the first time to freely travel in and out of West Germany. In August 1990, with the collapse of Communism and the former Soviet Union, East Germany joined West Germany to become one nation again.

Mistakes Made By US Presidents

In the 20th and 21st centuries, US Presidents made big mistakes in the international arena, some of which acted like political gasoline that powered the breaking out of future wars, others prevented the United States of America from becoming the only hegemonic super power in the world. With the advantage of hindsight, I put down below what I consider the most serious blunders committed by American Presidents in history:

1- In his World War I peace program’s Fourteen Points, Democratic President Woodrow Wilson urged the Allied leaders the establishment of an independent Poland, with access to the Baltic Sea through a land corridor; thus, a huge chunk of territory was arbitrarily taken away from Germany to create the new State of Poland. As everybody knows, the main rationale behind the German invasion of Poland in September 1939, was the recovery of the city of Danzig and the German land that made up the Polish Corridor, which had isolated East Prussia from the rest of Germany. The loss of part of her territory was the main cause of the deep resentment in the German people, which paved the way for Adolf Hitler to get to power in Germany.

2- At the end of April 1945, Democratic President Harry Truman ordered General Dwight Eisenhower to delay the advance of the Allied spearhead ground units as they approached Berlin in order to give the Soviet Army time to get there first and take the that city so that it could be under the Soviet Union military control as it had been previous agreed on in the Yalta Conference in February 1945. Not complying with one of the key points of the same conference, Stalin did not allow free democratic election in East Germany, Poland, and other Eastern European countries invaded by the Red Army, as Europe was divided into a free capitalist block of nations and a communist block. By the end of 1945, the United States was the only country in the world that was armed with atomic bombs and long range bombers to deliver them; however the US government did not put any pressure on Stalin for this dictator to withdraw the communist troops from the Eastern European countries.

3- In November 1943, during the Tehran Conference, the American President Franklin D Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill persuaded Josef Stalin to declare war on Japan and attack this country, opening a second front in the Pacific theater. Complying with what had been agreed at Tehran and Yalta conferences, the Soviet Union attacked Japan on August 9, 1945, at the end of the war, overrunning the Japanese positions in Korea as they seized almost half of the former Japanese colony. Meanwhile, the United States invaded Korea from the south and both armies met near the 38º parallel. It was not necessary for the Red Army to attack Japan and invade Korea, for on August 9, 1945, the United States had already dropped two atomic bombs on Japan as this country was about to surrender. The Soviets stayed three years in the northern half of the peninsula, enough time to establish a communist regime, while the United States supported free election and the establishment of capitalist, democratic republic.This how Korea got ideological divided. This division was the root of the Korean War that would break out in 1950. The big mistake was to persuade Stalin to invade Japanese-held territory, which set the stage for future conflicts in Asia.

4- At the beginning of 1951, Presiden Harry Truman did not authorize General Douglas MacArthur to conduct a full scale counter-attack on the Chinese troops that had poured into North Korea in support of the communist government and carry the war into China and completely defeat this Marxist country. In April 1951, the Presidente removed MacArthur from his command, replacing him with General Matthew Ridgway. This inaction and decision of carrying out a limited war led to a draw and to the dangerous, present-day, political and military situation in the Peninsula, with human rights being violated in North Korea, which had already acquired its own nuclear weapons.

5- In 1964, the Johnson Administrations got involved in a limited yet exhausting and expensive war in Vietnam in support of an unpopular South Vietnamese government, which did nothing to improve the squalid living conditions of the South Vietnamese people. To defeat the Vietcong guerrilla, a total war against Ho Chi Minh’s regime should have decisively been carried out.

6- In 1977, President Jimmy Carter denied any military support to Anastasio Somoza, letting Nicaragua fall in the hands of the Sandinista pro-Castro, communist guerrillas. As a result, violence spread throughout Central America, with Daniel Ortega cracking down and banning dissenters, political activities, and muffling the press as he supported Colombian drug barons.

7- In 1982, the Reagan Administration began to supply extreme Islamist guerrilla groups with weapons in an effort to help them expel the Soviet Army from Afghanistan. Over the years, these Islamists got to power as the Taliban, who would organize the greatest terrorist act in history of mankind, which was the attack on the World Trade Center twin towers on September 11, 2001.

8- In November 2013, President Barack Obama eased up economic sanction on Iran as he began deplomatic negotiations to persuade the Islamist government to stop his nuclear program.

9- In 2011, the Amercan President Barack Obama began a huge undercover operation to overthrow secular dictators in North Africa and the Middle East. With the excuse to set up democratic governments in the region, the CIA supported all types of political opposition, even extreme Islamic guerrillas. These “democratic” revolution was called the “Arab Spring” by the international press. Thus, the governments of Libya, Egypt, and Tunez fell to these Muslim hordes, with Muamar al Qadhafi being assassinated and Hosni Mubarak sentenced to life.

10- In an attempt to oust from power Bashar al-Assad in Syria, the American goverment organized massive street demonstrations against the regime, arming through the CIA Islamic insurgent guerrillas, which triggered the Syrian Civil War in 2011; one of the bloodiest armed conflict in the history of the Middle East. This caused an unprecedented humanitarian crisis as hundreds of thousands of Muslim refugees poured into Europe, giving ISIS a big chance to infiltrate the European countries, specially Germany and France and launch terrorist attacks.