Franklin Roosevelt is considered one of America’s greatest presidents for good reason. On the surface he saved America from the worse economic failure in history and guided America’s policies during WWII. What is overlooked was his ability as the ultimate politician of his time and of America’s existence. Sure he made mistakes as anyone who is bold enough to go against the grain but ultimately he was proven right on so many policies that even his critics could only attack him personally.
Two books by the same author- “The Mantle of Command: FDR at War, 1941-1942” and “Commander in Chief: FDR at War, 1943” by Nigel Hamilton shows the depth of which the president controlled his own military, congress and the American people as well as the allies, Great Britain and Soviet Russia.
In “The Mantle of Command” Nigel Hamilton starts by documenting his first meeting with Winston Churchill and how masterful his performance with the “Bulldog.” Churchill was hell bent on getting the United States into WWII at a time when America was not ready militarily nor politically. His mandate, from the American people, was to keep the United States out of the conflict as long as possible and still supply Britain and Russia with the war supplies they needed to fight the Axis.
“Moreover, far from abandoning their hold on the Middle East— as American military observers were still advising the British to do, but the President was not— the British were holding General Erwin Rommel at bay in North Africa. British forces, in fact, had successfully driven into Iraq and Syria to deter Vichy French assistance to Hitler. As a result, neither Turkey nor Portugal, nor Spain, had moved a finger to help Hitler. Even Marshal Pétain’s egregious puppet government in Vichy had refused to alter the terms of its 1940 surrender to Hitler and permit French military cooperation with the Nazis. Hitler, the President was convinced, was not going to have things his own way.”
The United States military in fact was advising the president to cede to Germany, Italy and Japan much more of the tremendous gains the Axis had made in the earlier years of war, which would have been much more costly to eventually win back. How Roosevelt handled the sure defeatist attitude of all those who surrounded him should be a lesson to us all and all the politicians who have come and gone up to modern times.
“Life and Fate” is a Mini-Russian TV series based on the novel of the same name. Although I don’t care much for subtitles this one is much easier to read as it is blacked with white lettering.
The characterizations are pretty slick Hollywood-type in what westerners would call typical Russian stereotypes and icons. Still it is an enjoyable production that could have never been done in the Soviet era. “‘Life and Fate’ is an epic tale of World War II and a reckoning with dark forces emerging, including Stalinism. With Hitler and the Nazi army looming on the Front, the series takes us deep into the hearts and minds of citizens and soldiers struggling to cope with the ravages of war” as one reviewer succinctly wrote.
Still if you want to understand more about Russia and even understand the mindset of a nation that many think is still an adversary today, this drama may shed some light on a complicated dog and pony show of modern times.
If I was going to give any advice to the younger generation, I would try to save as much as you can if nothing more than a dollar a day. That doesn’t mean necessarily investing in something- I’d only do any investment if it was “safe” or the alternative would be- prepare yourself to lose it all. The fallacy of “amateurs” in investing is they get too nervous like in a Wall Street stock when it goes down- they sell off too quickly. Mutual funds with a track record of more than 20 years to me is a good safe investment. There’s plenty of funds that are either environment friendly or progressive. But you have to do some research. I would ask myself what would the future bring? I’d say solar, power companies, perhaps a few startups if they are involved in some sort of futuristic endeavor. Organic Farming would appear to me to be a pretty safe thing. Of course if you had the equity, land in the right location on the fringes of cities will pay off in 20 years or so. Even though things look bleak for many folks these days, investing and finding the right career will do more to lift one out of the lower classes. Don’t get me wrong, it’s tougher today to find a good paying job. Anything having to do with technology and the ability to learn new skills will enhance prospects. No matter how much automation the future will bring there will be a need for folks who can service the technology. Did i leave anything out of course- if you can add anything positive to this please do- save your criticism for when you get old and you know a lot more about the world…
“On their way to a justice of the peace to get married, a couple has a fatal car accident. The couple is sitting outside heaven’s gate waiting on St. Peter to do the paperwork so they can enter. While waiting, they wonder if they could possibly get married in Heaven. St. Peter finally shows up and they ask him.
St. Peter says, ‘I don’t know, this is the first time anyone has ever asked. Let me go find out,’ and he leaves.
The couple sit for a couple of months and begin to wonder if they really should get married in Heaven, what with the eternal aspect of it all. ‘What if it doesn’t work out?’ they wonder, “Are we stuck together forever?”
St. Peter returns after yet another month, looking somewhat bedraggled. ‘Yes, he informs the couple, you can get married in Heaven.’
Great,’ says the couple, ‘but what if things don’t work out? Could we also get a divorce in Heaven?’
St. Peter, red-faced, slams his clipboard onto the ground.
What’s wrong?’ exclaims the frightened couple.
Geez!’ St. Peter exclaims, ‘It took me three months to find a priest up here! Do you have any idea how long it’s going to take for me to find a lawyer?”
“I want to warn Americans. As a people, you are very naïve about Russia and its intentions. You believe because the Soviet Union no longer exists, Russia now is your friend. It isn’t, and I can show you how the SVR is trying to destroy the U.S. even today and even more than the KGB did during the Cold War.”
Comrade J: The Untold Secrets of Russia’s Master Spy in America After the End of the Cold War” by Pete Earley
“This book exposes secrets told by a top Russian intelligence officer who had access to information denied his countrymen. This book also describes an odyssey, a personal story about the disillusionment of a former Soviet patriot and the reasons he put his life and that of his family at risk by becoming a spy for the United States.”
Of course realizing that this book comes from someone who reportedly received nothing except asylum for defecting and was being “handled” by the FBI and CIA. I’m reading another book written in 1992 that predicts Russia would become very regressive in the years ahead. Folks make the mistake of associating communism with progressiveness when in fact it was an authoritarian dictatorship. Anybody should be able to figure that out by the number of billionaires in Russia after the fall of communism….
Much has been made of the division between the middle to the extreme left. Most folks would agree that any progressive candidate would need the majority of the middle of the road folks who no doubt voted Republican, especially in the sparsely populated states.
Now this begs the question as if candidates who garnered the votes necessary to win could lose the support of those who voted for them. Much of this is a distraction from issues since much if not most of the propaganda coming forth even from MSM is one of “personality.” The new mode of political discourse would appear to be the belligerent rantings from thoroughly unqualified candidates designed to stir the feelings of inadequacy so long part of the American electorate.
The only thing that trickles down is the consequences from voting and electing candidates who continually favor policies that enrich the elites.
This is the way the elites keep common folks at each other’s throats. Elites don’t want folks see all the things we have in common. Race and sexuality are such superficial bias that it shows the intelligence levels of most people. I do think there is an innate bias built into folks but of course we have a media and bigots ready to exploit it every step of the way- the only way obviously is to establish a dialogue and make it continually run all the time. Younger folks will be battling this for the rest of their lives so if you want change be prepared for the long run. Some joker from one of the pro-Trump groups posted a video of black folks humping each other fully clothed with a caption something like “you wonder why so many blacks get AIDS” and I commented something like “you wonder how long racists and bigots will keep posting the same old videos.” None of us can ever do an adequate job of policing bigotry because it’s all over the place except to either make fun of it or point out how silly this stuff is when we will in the now and future have more problems caused by our lack of unity. I gave up on trying to get my family to see that because it falls on deaf ears- the only person i could get any of this across to was my dad and now he’s dead. It’s a constant battle but what you can do is when you see a person of another race acknowledge them even if only to smile and say “hi.” That goes a long way to establishing some sort of sanity…
I was listening to NPR and they had an economist who wrote a book on 50 things that affect the economy. Interestingly he cited the guy who invented leaded gasoline which made it burn evenly. The inventor also was involved in fluorocarbon in spray cans and had lead poisoning and eventually developed polio, and then he invented a pulley system to lift him out of bed and strangled himself…another economist said that the reason why the crime rate has gone down was banning leaded gasoline, which lead was thought to lower IQ and inhibit thinking…as a side note…many cite lead being in the pipes in ancient Rome led (double pun lol) to the downfall…also mercury was used in animal skin hats to smooth the fur, which was also thought to contribute to the craziness of American frontiersmen…
WWII was unique compared to previous wars in the sense that civilians became much more part of the retaliatory destruction than previous wars. That’s not to say that civilians were not caught in between invading armies and defending armies before but rather it became the policy of the armies to actually go after civilian populations. The precedent seems to have started with the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in the early thirties. The Japanese were hell bent on expanding their territory because of their homeland perceived as being much too crowded.
That escalated even more so and with more furor when the Nazis invaded Poland and the Soviet Union. The Nazis sent SS troops behind the army to genocide the civilian populations to clear the way for the expansion of German peoples to take over the conquered land. To ramp it up even more the Nazis decided to bomb London and other cities primarily in civilian and non-military targets.
Churchill in retaliation decided to bomb German cities during the night and when America entered the war they bombed during the day. This policy was extended in the Asian theater by the Americans primarily in the Japanese homeland. Besides the obvious intent to intimidate the Soviet Union, the dropping of two nuclear bombs on Japan, which ended WWII, were also in a revenge treatment for atrocities committed against prisoners of war.
Atrocities against both civilians and even disarmed military on both sides increasingly was policy for the remainder of the war resulting in civilian casualties overwhelmingly outnumbering military injured and dead.
By the time of Korea and Vietnam, millions of civilians were killed, injured and wounded and the destruction of homes and property was just “collateral damage.”
Modern wars in the Middle East have added civilian casualties as the price for insuring the world was safe for the oil industry.
Today it is “normal” for civilian casualties and our policy makers no longer bat an eye for millions who have become cannon fodder for policies that should be reprehensible to any sane person…
As anyone who has an interest in the pre-war, WWII and its aftermath this book will shed some light on one man’s life of a memoir of growing up in Nazi Germany and then fighting against the allies. Bernhard R. Teicher remarks he was lucky to have survived, fighting in Russia and Italy. His observations are must reading- for with the use of hindsight and his memories of growing up in Dresden and being sent to war as a teenager are insightful.
His hometown was later in the Soviet zone- “As I only found out sixty years later, in the 1980s a very prominent Russian visitor resided in this suburb. He was the resident KGB boss, in charge of recruiting new agents for the Soviet Union”- Vladimir Putin.
His father served in the First World War and died when Dresden was fire-bombed by the allies in 1945. Teicher tells of his informative years and observes the rise of the Nazis. Hyper inflation after WWI was countered by the Nazis with the invention of “the Reichsmark. This was the brainchild of Hjalmar Schacht, the president of the Reichsbank or German Central Bank. This achievement was outstanding, because this financial genius ended hyper-inflation by simply claiming that the new banknotes were covered by the cumulative wealth of all the land in the country. A confidence trickster’s gamble, but it worked and the people believed him, partially because they wanted and needed to believe.”
Speaking of Hitler in the pre-war years the author noticed “The magnetism and charisma of this man was phenomenal. The enthusiasm and facial expressions of the attendants of his election rallies was clearly proof of that. And this magnetism was probably largely responsible for the electoral outcome. He was an outstanding and dangerous populist and demagogue, who clearly voiced what most voters wanted to hear.” After WWI, the German republic was doomed from the beginning in Teicher’s mind not only because of the war reparations but “Another nail in the coffin of democracy was the Allied war propaganda about German ‘Huns’ raping nuns in the occupied countries and butchering babies and women, particularly in Belgium.” The Nazis were different from the republic because “The operative word in the ‘Weimar System’ was compromise, whereas the Nazis stressed the necessity of ‘authoritarian decision making’, like in the military. In other words: action instead of talk.”
He notes that the Nazis’ economics were crazy- “…the German car factories were unable to build the car with a selling price of 990 Reichsmark, as demanded by Hitler. When the new factory was ready in 1939, the true costs of the cars would have been above 2000RM…”
Any careful analysis of WWII shows the arrogance and intoxication of power. “Hitler, referring admittedly to the situation in the first world war, had declared in his ‘bible’ Mein Kampf (My Struggle) that simultaneous fighting on the eastern and on the western fronts was suicidal for Germany.”
When he was in boot camp after the war started he recalled “The lecture given by the sergeant major was short and to-the-point: you follow any order given to you, you don’t ask questions and you don’t think, because you are too stupid for that. This concluded our first day as defenders of the Vaterland.”
Eventually Teicher was a prisoner of war on the Russian front but escaped only to become a prisoner of the British in Italy after the war and the Germans were kept in a camp with their officers because “…there was the possibility that the Russians would not honor previous Allied agreements, and would attempt to occupy territories not allocated to them.”
“In the early days, the fences were guarded by American Negroes, who were very friendly towards us. I had not realized before, how much animosity existed between white and colored Americans.”
“About a month after we had been transferred to the camp, the authorities showed us some documentary films on a huge open-air projection screen, about what the Allies had found when they had liberated some concentration camps. The Nazi atrocities during the war, which were shown to us here, had a tremendous impact on most of us and opened our eyes, because now we could see for the first time what really had been happening in Germany and the occupied countries during the war.”
Teicher could see that the prisoner of war camps had become corrupted and noted that “Behavior like that by supply NCOs, and at a very large scale, was later encountered quite often in Vietnam by the US Forces, and I also came across this when I later worked for the US Army in Germany. At least we were stealing only from the ‘enemy’, not from our own!”
Other observations, particularly about the bubble of living in rural Germany, Teicher stated that “the influx of millions of expelled Germans was a blessing in disguise: it ended the widespread in-breeding in rural communities and brought new blood into closely knit communities.”
Anyone who is interested in WWII should read this book as it is written well and has insights that can only be made by someone who lived through these horrible times.
“For All It Was Worth: A Memoir of Hitler’s Germany- Before, During and After WWII” by Bernhard R. Teicher, Harald B. Teicher