by Daniel Carter
If news is fake now, imagine the inaccuracies of history books. How often were they distorted to make the victor look good and the loser look evil? How often do history books leave out cause-effect relationships that reveal the true nature of geopolitics? How often do they simply leave out important information on accident? The more one researches history outside of what is taught in school, the more one comes to realize that the answer to the above questions is “pretty darn often.” Let’s now look at some of the more interesting things that are left out of the discussion regarding World War Two.
The Soviets Defeated The Nazis
In America, it is often taught that the US stepped in to put an end to Nazi’s expansion through Europe. However, it was the Soviets that sacrificed the most and stopped the Nazi’s from dominating the region. In the Battle of Stalingrad, which lasted over five months, Soviet troops suffered over 1 million casualties compared to over 700,000 casualties for the Axis countries. Although the Soviets lost more troops, they handed the Germans their most significant loss up to that point in the war. That was truly the beginning of the end for the Nazis.
The US may not like to admit that the Soviets were the most significant force for the Allie’s for two reasons: 1) The US was on the winning side as well and wanted to take most of the credit for defeating the Axis countries, and 2) the US did not want to give credit to the Soviets because they became enemies immediately after the war was over. Below is a chart that shows just how significant the Soviet sacrifice was in defeating the Axis powers.
The US Provoked An Attack From Japan
It has become known that the Roosevelt administration was looking for a way to get the US into WWII. In support of the Open-Door Policy for China, secretary of war Henry Stimson favored the use of economic sanctions to obstruct Japan’s advance in Asia. Roosevelt hoped that such sanctions would goad the Japanese into making a rash mistake by launching a war against the United States. Roosevelt stopped the flow of steel and oil into Japan and froze all Japanese assets in the US. Then the British and the Dutch followed suit.
This put immense pressure on the Japanese economy. After the US severed all diplomatic ties with Japan, the Japanese government had almost no other options to save their country than to go to war with the US. This is how the Roosevelt government was able to convince the US public to enter WWII.
The US Public Didn’t Want To Go To War
Roosevelt had to provoke Japan into an attack because much of the US public was strictly anti-war. From 1939 to 1941, Americans were deeply divided and hostile about the war. They were divided into isolationists and interventionists. The atrocities of WWI still lingered in the minds of Americans, and they did not want to fight in another one of Europe’s wars.
Just as the anti-war movement got its legs on college campuses during the Vietnam War, the college campuses were much of the epicenter of the anti-war movement during WWII. After all, the young people were going to be the ones sent off to fight and die.
Roosevelt led the way for the interventionists while aviator Charles Lindbergh became the unofficial leader of the isolationists. Lindbergh’s reputation was damaged by accusations that he was a Nazi sympathizer. This also damaged the legitimacy of the isolationist movement. Ultimately, FDR won reelection in 1940 and was able to provoke Japan to get the US into the war.
These are just a few examples of what is often glossed over regarding WWII history. In a future article, I will talk more about the powerful interest groups (e.g. weapons manufacturers and banks) that wanted the US to get into WWII. I believe it is important to revisit this complex pre-war and war history because we may be on the cusp of another major war. If we better understand these times, we may be able to avoid the mistakes of the past.