Anzac Day, again

On this day, nearly 100 years ago, thousands of young Australians and New Zealanders ran on to the beaches of Gallipoli. Many of them died before the day was out, along with many more among the Turkish defenders and troops from Britain, Canada and many other places. By the time the campaign ended in failure, over 100 000 were dead and hundreds of thousands more severely wounded. A small toll by comparison with the main Western and Eastern fronts, but quite sufficiently horrific to be remembered a century later.

The Anzacs had no quarrel with the Turkish soldiers who were trying to kill them, nor did the people of Australia and New Zealand have any quarrel with those of Turkey. Their bravery and their lives were expended in the course of a bloody and pointless war between alliances of which the armies fighting at Gallipoli were tiny parts, over pretexts no one alive now, and very few at the time, could comprehend as the basis for a cataclysmic war.

By the time the Gallipoli attack was planned, the dreams of rapid and glorious victory that had led both sides to war had drowned in the mud of France and Flanders. It should have been obvious that this was a war no one could win. But, a peace that restored the status quo ante would mean an admission that it had all been for nothing.

Instead, the war planners kept coming up with futile strategic ideas like Gallipoli, secret weapons like poison gas, and new tactics previously considered unthinkable such as submarine attacks, without warning, on merchant shipping. By the time of the armistice in 1918, ten million or more had died, and the seeds of future wars had been sowed.

For all those who died, bravely following their country’s call to unknown battlefields, lest we forget.

76 thoughts on “Anzac Day, again

  1. WWI killed an enormous proportion of early 20th century young men.

    The effects were devastating, and families which large losses did not celebrate ANZAC Day.

    This is a day for survivors, the lucky ones, and modernist jingoists.

    In my case, every great uncle that went to fight was killed, but one grandfather survived with serious wounds (but the Military Medal).

    Of those that died, only their diary remains, which is well worth a read.

    Gallipoli and France

    For the families – the deaths were not worth it and 90 years of ANZAC days is no compensation.

  2. Whilst what the Turks did to the Armenians and other minorities during this period is unforgiveable, consideration must surely be given to the fact that the Allies tactics in regards to the Ottoman Empire was a factor in precipitating the genocide.

  3. But we have forgotten. Tony Abbott is intent on planning more military adventures. Rudd still spinelessly supports illegal invasions of other countries. Both so-called leaders hypocritically observe a day which marked the use of chemical and biological weapons by the allies within an unjust Turkish invasion. The Anzacs were pawns – second rate cannon fodder – who mostly followed behind Indian troops who were often first in line. Young men with too much testosterone, blindly following orders from poor political leaders. This continues today, unquestioned. Lest we forget.

  4. Sadly, what we in the States mostly know about Gallipoli is that it was a battle that happened because one officer picked his second-best runner (Mel Gibson) to verify that there should be a battle that day.

    Decades later, we can only hope that later commanders learn from that mistake–only to note sadly that they make newer, even less understandable ones.

  5. I’m looking forward to Prof Henry Reynolds take on the ANZAC phenomena. The failure of conscription for WW1 seldom gets a run in the modern day frenzy. Now Rudd has appointed Malcolm Fraser and Bob Hawke, along with an RSL worthy, to advise on what the day possesses post 2015. Fascinating!

  6. I am no more fond of war than Prof Q, but I think it’s better to try to understand the motivations that led populations to support wars than assume they were duped, or unwilling, or stupid. Even though the past is another country, it does keep coming round again and again.

  7. It is difficult as a matter of history to say that Australians and New Zealanders had no quarrel with Turkey or its allies.

    The Great War broke out during the 1914 Australian election, as I recall. Elections were suspended neither in Australia nor New Zealand during that war. The Australian and New Zealand armies that marched into battle were volunteer armies, as I recall.

    Peace candidates could run in these elections. Any evidence to the contrary would be welcome. Germany had elections and the Reichstag passed a peace resolution in July 1917.

    That, of course, does not change the status of World War I as blood bath born and perpetuated in imperialist skulduggery. That war was also popular at the time.

    It is easier to persuade people to change their minds if you start with the views that they actually have. This includes the popularity of the Great War when it was fought. If those views were mistaken, say so.

    The failure to quickly pursue peace feelers was bad enough. The desire of Wilson and other progressives in power in the USA to enter the war in Europe prolonged the Great War because the Allies thought that holding out for U.S. entry would strengthen their hand.

  8. Since many of the arguments that WWI was a disaster all round in which Australia should not have become involved come from people on the left like John Q and myself, it’s worth noting that the conservative historian Niall Brennan, in his book The Pity of War, presents a very convincing counterfactual history from a right of centre perspective to show that a much less bad set of outcomes would have resulted had Great Britain (and, by implication, the English-speaking world as a whole) stayed out of the war, and also that this option was plausibly available to the British government at the time.

  9. @Jim Rose

    “It is difficult as a matter of history to say that Australians and New Zealanders had no quarrel with Turkey or its allies.”

    What quarrel did Australians and New Zealanders have with Turkey, that it would be difficult, as a matter of history, to say they didn’t have? What history book do you get this one from? Turkey didn’t even exist them anyway. Turkey being a creation that resulted from the war.

  10. @Freelander

    Good, question.

    Maybe Australia as such had no quarrel, but we were taken into the quarrel Britain had with this region ever since Queen Victoria.

    As I recall Australian’s only had British passports at this time. We invaded Gallipoli as patsies for British geo-politics.

    As we were on the winning side – Australia reaped huge subsequent benefits, which finally enabled it to become an independent economy and nation.

  11. I am not sure Britain had any real quarrel except sourced in its desire for empire, and I doubt Australia or NZ had any direct reason other than to follow the leader, or the old country, or whatever. After all the Ottoman empire was far away. I doubt they had a navy that ever ventured into these waters. Churchill’s dumb idea, Gallipoli was a big waste of life, on both sides, as was WWI, the war to end all wars, itself.

  12. One of the striking aspects of WWI is that all the major contending powers formluated their war aims **after** the war had started and a quick breakthrough by one side or another had not been achieved.

  13. WWI also screwed up the world monetary system, although it’s enemies had already had a few victories just prior to the war starting.

  14. A defence force can easily become an aggression force so long as it is government run. We ought to have more well armed patriots and less professional soldiers. And I’m inclined to agree with JQ that our surface navy should be history.

  15. Chris and others

    Individual Australians may have had no quarrel with individual Turks, but “Australia” was, at the time, firmly part of the British Empire, it’s citizens British subjects, and mostly loyal to the Empire. So Australia had a quarrel, as part of the Empire, with the Ottoman Empire – much, say, as Australia (but not individual Australians) had a quarrel with Manchukuo after 1941, or with Finland, Hungary and Slovakia from 1939. It’s a nonsense to confuse the motives of individuals with those of states.

    By the way, Empire day was still celebrated in the 50s, and we still sang God Save the Queen. The ties were very real.

    Terje – an a student of military history I can confidently say that the chances of a citizenry armed with light weapons against professionals with armour, aircraft, artillery and the rest of a full defence force are on a par with the chances of a mob of rabbits against a pack of wolves. They may choke them to death. You may also care to consider the many acts of aggression carried out by militia – against aborigines, Amerindians, Africans, Tutsis, Darfuris, Bosnians……The government is no defence against our baser desires.

  16. Australia had no quarrel with the Ottoman empire. It is not clear that the UK did. The Ottoman empire and the UK were dragged into the conflict due to their relationship with the initial parties to the dispute. The same way Australia and NZ were due to their relationship with the UK. It is obvious that, in the sense in which the original having ‘a quarrel with’ is being used that what is being talked about is not being dragged into the war, which is a matter of history that everyone know (Australia was dragged into the war), the sense is having a primary quarrel with, not joining someone else who was just joining some others anyway.

  17. If the original post wasn’t in that sense then it was a very silly post. And to assume it was silly would be to not exercise the principle of charity. In fact, to assume it silly would be extremely uncharitable.

  18. Freelander,

    Australia and New Zealand was filled with first and second generation migrants happy to rally to defend their mother country. Do you have any other explanation for why so many volunteered so quickly in 1914? The people and governments of that time were British to their boot straps. The union jack was in their flags for a reason.

    You may think them mistaken, but these same people are deemed competent to vote and drive cars. Questioning their support of that war calls into question the capacity of the democratic process to handle even the biggest question: war and peace.

    Hayek suggested that there were only a certain amount of topics that a democracy can agree upon give the cost of become well-informed and organising to persuade others.

    It is hoped that one topic within democratic control is war and peace. It was more so in Germany. The Reich chancellor in office since 1909 quit after the Reichstag passed a peace resolution proposing a negotiated peace with no territorial gains in 1917.

    The blood-bath that was world war one did not encourage much learning.

    Cabinet and other papers published in the Dominion Post recently show that in 1939 the socialist government of New Zealand knew that war was imminent in Europe. A government led by several people imprisoned for resisting the First World War decided that it wanted to declare war on Germany a few moments as possible after the UK did so. The telegraph messenger was delayed in London by air-raid alert and New Zealand’s declaration of war was delayed to later in that day.

  19. @Jim Rose

    Yes. I though you couldn’t support the ‘quarrel’ claim. As for willingness to support the mother country, this was more so in the case of New Zealand than Australia, because in Australia, there were more than a few who didn’t look on Britain as the mother country, those with Irish backgrounds, for example.

    World War II was a different story. WWII which had its seeds in the unnecessary WWI, was a rare war that was worth the cost, and even former pacifists new that. The Nazis had to be stopped. Lesson seem rarely learnt from War. One lesson from WWI was the danger of alliances and ‘defense’ treaties dragging countries into wars that sober reflection would have indicated were wars to be avoided.

    The Nato alliance should have evaporated when the Warsaw pact evaporated and the Soviet empire collapsed. Following 911, the US used the treaty to ‘dirty up’ its allies and drag them into an unwise conflict with the muslim world, which until they had been dragged into it was really the US’s fight and then only a fight against a minor part of al Qaeda. The Taliban had not attacked the US, it wasn’t even al Qaeda that had attacked the US as the Americans found out from documents they obtained when they invaded Afghanistan, it was a splinter faction within al Qaeda that had done it, and al Qaeda proper were none too happy when they found out what they had done. If instead of the cowboy invasion, the slow and careful approach had been taken, the likelihood is that as well as avoiding the deaths of large numbers of Afgahanis, several Americans and allied soldiers, and the effective recruitment of a massive number of new terrorists, and the deaths from bombings in the UK, Spain and Bali, the US would have gotten bin Laden, and would have achieved its objectives in smashing that splinter group, and they wouldn’t have a problem with Afgahani poppies, or with Afghanistan being the mess it is today.

    But I digress. Joining the American cowboy adventure under the guise of Nato, and in a way the treaty was never intended for, was sheer madness and the ‘allies’ should have told the US to get lost when they made the request.

    Nato, otherwise has been being used, since the Communist collapse, to try to provoke Russia, with the obvious intent of starting a new cold war, so the US military-industrial complex (as Eisenhower called it in his warning in his farewell speech) will have a good excuse to continue to get large quantities of American taxpayer’s money to create yet more new and highly profitable ‘defense’ weapons. Profit is why Rumsfeld was so keen on an American defense force that didn’t need many soldiers. There is little profit for the military industrial complex in funding large numbers of soldiers, the profit is in fancy new weapons.

  20. Freelander,

    Their quarrel was that Turkey joined Germany and others to be war with the UK and others. Removing Turkey from that war would strengthen Russia. A stronger Russia would weaken Germany and its allies.

    Do you have an explanation for why the great war was popular at the time, and as evidence of this, why so many volunteered to fight both before and after 1915?

  21. So there was no Australian quarrel with the Ottoman empire. Thought so. Thanks for clearing that up.

  22. Freelander,

    If Australia had no quarrel with the Ottoman Empire, was it by chance that Australian troops turned up on its shores aiming to take the capital?

    It is common knowledge that the aim of the Gallipoli campaign was the knock Turkey out of the war. At the time, Turkey was also known as the Turkish Empire or the Ottoman empire.

    In May 1915, Turkey passed issue the Tehcir Law which started the deportation of ethnic Armenians, particularly from the provinces close to the Ottoman-Russian front. This resulted in the Armenian Genocide. Is genocide grounds to quarrel?

    Australia and New Zealand were not dragged into the two world wars. In both cases, their governments were keen, regarding it as a matter of course that they were also at war. The reasons given for going to war were seen as a sufficient a quarrel by the voters at subsequent elections. Volunteer armies fought a war with majority support at elections.

    As mentioned in a previous post, the New Zealand Government’s main concern was declaring war at the same time as the UK did in 1939. The state of war with Germany was officially held to have existed simultaneous with that of Britain. In fact, the declaration was not made until official confirmation had been received that the British ultimatum to Germany had expired.

  23. @Jim Rose

    The first question had already been answered above. The second, well, as far as “In May 1915 … This resulted in the Armenian Genocide. Is genocide grounds to quarrel?”goes… First, not clear that Australia or NZ cared less. Second, given that Australia entered the war in August 1914, unless you are suggesting precognition, it is not clear to me how the Armenian Genocide motivated that entry, even assuming that they did care.

    Not clear also, what WWII has to do with it? Bringing WWII into things is requiring an even greater level of precognition in 1914.

  24. Freelander,

    You and Professor Quiggin seem to have some serious reservations about democracy as a means of discovering what people want and what the majority viewpoint is even on a matter as profound as war even in the time of citizen volunteer mass armies.

    Governments in Australian and New Zealand fell over themselves to declare war and pledge troops.

    Parties wanting to pursue those wars were elected or re-elected to office.

    In the September 1914 election, both Andrew Fisher and Joseph Cook stressed Australia’s unflinching loyalty to Britain, and the nation’s readiness to take its place with the allied countries. Voters returned a Labor government led by Fisher.

    Fisher’s campaign pledge was to “stand beside the mother country to help and defend her to the last man and the last shilling.” He won majorities in both houses. Warmonger Billy Hughes and his nationalist party won the 1917 election in a landslide.

    Do either of you know of a superior mechanism to elections for measuring the will of the people? Are elections inadequate to the task of deciding if the people support a war and that support of the public is based well-founded reasons?

  25. @Jim Rose

    You seem to have some magic ideas. People can see into the future to justify their actions, even when they couldn’t care less about that thing that happens in the future. What happened to the Armenians which wasn’t really known until later, that is after the war.

    That when something happens back when they didn’t have polls elected representatives magically new what the electorate wanted.

    Again with the magic what the politician found out in 1917, wining by a landslide, they knew, in 1914, would happen if they ran their policies of supporting Britian.

    Magic. Magic.

    And libertarianism and market magic.

    Do you believe in magic? Apparently so, and not just in a young girl’s eyes.

    With such a strong belief in magic I would think either you are a policy advisor to the New Zealand government or a former policy advisor to the Icelandic government. Which is it?

  26. Freelander,

    You mention that “What happened to the Armenians which wasn’t really known until later, that is after the war.” In an earlier post, you say that “The Nazis had to be stopped.” Why?

    In common with the Armenian genocide in 1915, Hitler’s genocide wasn’t really known until late in the Second World War. Little was done to stop Hilter’s genocide such as bombing the railroads leading to the death camps.

    In 1939, Hitler was another grubby European dictator playing the race card to a rather receptive German public. Territorial revisionism, territorial conquest and racial persecution were all too common in that era. The only known mass murder in 1939 was Stalin. He and Hitler were allies in 1939. They divided up Poland. Stalin switched sides when Hitler turned on him.

    Political parties in Australia did not have to wait to 1917, as you suggest, to test whether their support of the war in Europe would be popular with the voters.

    There was an immediate test of whether there was public support for Australia joining that war. The September 1914 Australian election was held a few weeks after war broke out in Europe on 5 August 1914. Fisher’s promise to stand beside the mother country to help and defend her to the last man and the last shilling was made before that war was even declared. 12 per cent of total population of New Zealand volunteered to fight; 13 per cent of the male population of Australia volunteered to fight.

    The 1914-1918 war was popular. Better to explain why that was so, rather than pretend that it was not popular.

    As for your stereotyping of the Irish, New Zealand’s Prime Minister in 1914 was an Irish protestant; after the 1915 election, he formed a coalition and an Irish catholic became his deputy.

  27. Stalin wasn’t really threatening to interfere with places we might want to spend our holidays, clearly Hitler was, and having a decent holiday in the areas in which the Turks dealt harshly with the Armenians was not really threatened before or after the war by any of the Ottoman policies. It is hardly a stereotype to suggest that Irish catholics of that period whether of convict colonial stock or otherwise, tended to be none to happy with the British. Of course, I recognise that this would not be true of every Irish catholic and that some Irish are ‘proddies’. They all have funny accents though.

  28. By the way, Australia was in WWI in August which is the month before September, but anyway, 1914 is the year before 1915, and if you work your way forward you find, 1914 is also before 1917, the landslide year you referred to, and that 1914 is before that is as I indicated. Worth knowing which month comes after which and what the next number is, that is, the number you get when you add one. You never know when that sort of knowledge will come in handy.

  29. @Jim Rose
    Unhfortunately Jim Rose when you say Hitler’s genocide wasnt known until late in the war…is factually incorrect. The British government was being flooded with letters from jewish people seeking admission from 1940. They simply were not wanted in Britain.
    The more cynical amongst us are probably closer to the truth. The railways to the death camps were not bombed yet the location of every nearby factory or industrial complex was known closely enough to be bombed? No accident? Anti semitism wasnt exclusive to Germany.

  30. German Jews fled Germany in the 1930s because they were striped of their citizenship and other rights and the threats of violence. The mass genocide started after 1940.

    The Grojanowski Report reached London via Warsaw by June 1942.

    In December 1942, the Allies released a declaration that described how Hitler’s oft-repeated intention to exterminate the Jewish people in Europe was being carried out and condemned in the strongest possible terms this policy of cold-blooded extermination. The events were reported regularly in newspapers and literary journals around the world. In 1943, the news about gassing Jews was broadcast from London to The Netherlands.

    The United States had several consulates throughout the Ottoman Empire until it joined the Allies in 1917. There were also numerous missionary compounds established in Armenian-populated regions.

    Hundreds of eyewitnesses, including the neutral United States and the Ottoman Empire’s own allies recorded and documented numerous acts of state-sponsored massacres. Many foreign officials offered to intervene on behalf of the Armenians, including the Pope. The wiki entry on the contemporary reporting of the genocide is instructive with a scan of 16 July 1915 U.S. diplomatic cable mentioning a campaign of race extermination.

    On May 24, 1915, less than a month after 25 April 1915, the Triple Entente warned the Ottoman Empire that in view of these new crimes against humanity and civilization, the Allied Governments announce publicly that they will hold personally responsible for these crimes all members of the Ottoman Government, as well as those of their agents who are implicated in such massacres.

    The starting date of the genocide is conventionally held to be April 24, 1915.

    The 1st Australian Imperial Force arrived a day later and had more moral reasons to fight the Ottoman Empire than did the 2nd Australian Imperial Force to fight the Nazis. That is, based on the evidence available at the time, rather than magical precognition about the monster that Hitler became in 1941 and after, fighting on to take Constantinople and depose a genocidal government was a just cause to save the Armenians from genocide.

    The original posting said that “The Anzacs had no quarrel with the Turkish soldiers who were trying to kill them.” They had every right to quarrel with the Turkish soldiers killing Armenians.

  31. Jim,

    Didn’t the impending Gallipoli invasion help push the Ottomans into destroying ‘internal enemies’, such as the Armenians? Again, what the Turks did was unforgivable, but the Allies gave them a trigger to some extent.

    BTW….. both Iraq (2003) and Armenia (1915) sugget to me that if you are disarmed, watch it, you will be invaded/slaughtered, no matter if you ‘deserved’ it, or not!!!

  32. Paul Norton@#9 said:

    the conservative historian Niall Brennan, in his book The Pity of War, presents a very convincing counterfactual history from a right of centre perspective to show that a much less bad set of outcomes would have resulted had Great Britain (and, by implication, the English-speaking world as a whole) stayed out of the war, and also that this option was plausibly available to the British government at the time.

    Its not only Niall Ferguson who argued for an Anglosphere “bye” to the World Wars. Its was also the option, argued retrospectively, by David Irving and Pat Buchanan. I daresay NF got the idea from them. The UK Right bitterly resent the way the US dismantled the British Empire with barely so much as a bye-your-leave. They also have a sneaking admiration for the Germans.

    Its easy to play the counter-factual game, loading the die to give a happy ending to History. But one can also play counter-factual to the counter-factual (and so on, leading to infinite regress…).

    Britain could have stayed out of WWI and kept much of its Asian Empire, leaving Germany to dominate the Continent and attack Russia. This was Cabinet’s option in both WWI and, less appealingly, in WWII.

    Of course this would have been a hard option for a British government to take as there was tremendous antipathy to Prussian militarism throughout the British Isles. Not without some justification, one might add.

    Had the British taken this option in WWI the Germans would likely have defeated the French after no more than a couple of years fighting, perhaps even in six weeks. They then would have made short work of Russia. The Austro-Hungarians would probably have cleaned up Italy with some German help.

    This would have given the Mettle-European dynasties hegemony over most of Europe during the 20thC. It certainly looks a better outcome than ten million deaths and the rise of Bolshevism and Nazism. But who says that the rule of Hohenzollern-Hapsburgs would have been a stable equilibrium?

    More likely it would have inaugurated an era of imperial civil war. European nationalization from, the French Revolution through to the EEC, was an unstoppable world-historic process. During the 19thC it happened to France, Germany, Italy, then Poland, Greece, et al. This nationalisation and ethnic cleansing process went on during the 20thC, before WWI (eg Turkey), after WWI (Versailles Treaty) & after WWII (expulsion of German Auslanders from Eastern Europe). It even occurred after the end of the Cold War (Yugoslavia, Baltic States, Czechoslavia).

    So had the Germanic olde European imperial dynasties achieved an early victory in WWI they were going to be ruling over a multitude of unruly European populations. I am not sure that guerilla and nationalist wars against the Hohenzollerns and Hapsburgs throughout the 20thC would have been a pretty sight.

    And that still would have left the sea-girt British Empire facing off the land-based German Empire for most of that time. With the Imperial Germans having all those Jewish physicists more or less on-side cooking up bigger and better bombs AND long-range rockets. Its not hard to imagine a nuclear holocaust emerging from that monumental antagonism.

    Maybe everyone could have found a way to just get along until the inevitable process of post-modernisation more or less sapped the will to power of the elites and turned the populi into happy little consumer capitalists/bureaucratic serfs.

    OTOH, its hard to imagine worse political outcomes than what actually happened. First Lenin, then Hitler and then Stalin dominating most of Europe. STALAGs & GULAGs from the Baltic to the Pacific. It still blows my mind to think of it.

  33. thanks

    I understand the Turks turned on Armenians, many who lived near the Russian border, because they were thought to disloyal in the context of the war with Russia. Some Armenians joined with the Russians in the hope of indepedence.

    The Turks could have joined either side of world war one. Both wanted them.

    Guilt lies with the Turks and no one else.

  34. thanks

    I understand the Turks turned on Armenians, many who lived near the Russian border, because they were thought to be disloyal in the context of the war with Russia. Some Armenians joined with the Russians in the hope of indepedence.

    The Turks could have joined either side of world war one. Both wanted them.

    Guilt lies with the Turks and no one else.

  35. True enough, gregh. On the other hand I’m not sure how I’d feel if Greg Sheridan were to describe me as “timeless, profound and beautiful”.

  36. Perhaps the most useful point in Sheridan’s esay is Australia’s awareness from its earliest days of a need to ally itself with a stronger power to defend itself from foreign domination in the short and longer term. Who this power was changed pragmatically.

    Simplistic peacemaking can cause war, while arms race, credible war threats and mutually assured destruction can reliably prevent war.

    Peace through weakness is foolish. If you want peace, you must prepare for war.

  37. As I recall, bombing the railroads to the camps was considered. Eisenhower rejected this because it would take resources away from finishing the war as quickly as possible. Defeating Germany as quickly as possible was the fastest way to finish all the horrors of the Nazis.

    Sending bombers on surgical strikes is one of the delusions of post-heroic warfare.

    An example is Iran. It is a delusion to suggest that it is possible to stop any nation with a reasonable supply of mountains and underground caves from acquiring the capability to assembly nuclear weapons. Dirt poor North Korea seems to have got them. Plutonium to make a bomb could be easily hidden in my refrigerator, or to evade radiation detection, it could be hidden at the bottom of the water in a well.

    Nuclear disarmament is a self-delusion. As Schelling pointed out in 1961, short of universal brain surgery, nothing can erase the memory of these weapons and how to build them. If total disarmament is to make war unlikely, it must reduce incentives. The most primitive war can be modernised by fully rearmament as it goes along.

    As for the recent proposals, Schelling compared the sleepy world of today with a world without nuclear weapons. That would be a world in which the United States, Russia, Israel, China, and half a dozen or a dozen other countries would have hair-trigger mobilisation plans to rebuild nuclear weapons and mobilize or commandeer delivery systems, and would have prepared targets to preempt other nations’ nuclear facilities, all in a high-alert status, with practice drills and secure emergency communications. Every crisis would be a nuclear crisis, any war could become a nuclear war. The urge to preempt would dominate; whoever gets the first weapons will coerce or preempt. It would be a nervous world indeed.

  38. Anzac Day, again, again

    Anzac Day will never be forgotten. The veterans may all be dead; if not they soon will be. But the day will never be forgotten, not as long as old codgers are rushing to fill their place, all to willing to reinvent or simply invent our ‘glorious’ past.

  39. @Jim Rose
    says ” bombing the railroads to the camps was considered. Eisenhower rejected this because it would take resources away from finishing the war as quickly as possible. ”

    Could have been done. Could have saved many lives.

    Gloss Jim and if you beleive it you are subscribing to a history that is untrue and this is the alternative convenient “truth” (spin). The jews were not wanted in Britain. Its that ugly and that simple.

  40. The effectiveness of strategic bombing of Germany is subject to dispute starting as early as the Strategic Bombing Survey of Germany. German production rose in so many areas despite the bombing because the German economy did not go on a complete war footing until late 1942 and 1943. Up until then, many factories were onsingle shifts.

    One major strategic benefit of the bombing of Germany was repelling these bombers drew fighters and the vital 88mm artillery away from the Eastern front and elsewhere. Bombing people the Germans wanted to kill anyway may not have had that effect.

    There were countless camps spread out all over Germany. The military argued that aircraft did not have the capacity to conduct air raids on the death camps with sufficient accuracy, and that the Allies were committed to bombing military targets to win the war as quickly as possible. That did end the killing.

    Roosevelt permitted only a small number of Jewish refugees to enter, often leaving existing immigration quotas as much as 90% unfilled. He almost never publicly mentioned Nazi atrocities against the Jews. He refused to pressure England to open Palestine to Jews fleeing the Holocaust. Roosevelt rejected pleas to bomb the Auschwitz death camp in 1944, even though U.S. bombers were striking German oil factories nearby. Roosevelt also had a poor record on civil rights.

  41. World War 1 is probably best considered as starting as the last of the “old wars” – the ones fought by European powers every 20 or so years for 400 or more years. Everyone thought it would be a traditional war – and it was supported by most people for all the reasons traditional wars were usually supported (national pride, calculation of national interest, the opportunity for advancement, adventure and loot and more). Alas, the technology and the power of states to mobilise made it something else. It is ahistorical to cast modern attitudes and motives back to pre-1914, which was a real watershed.

    Alice – you do the allies a disservice. The UK, France and the US protested in the strongest terms to Germany about the treatment of jews before the war, and allowed entry to all the refugees the Nazis allowed to leave (there was some bureaucratic mucking about, but not a lot). By late 1939, about 75% of the jewish population of Germany and Austria had left – basically everyone who would leave had. The holocaust caught up with jews in the occupied territories, in the Soviet Union and in the axis allies – none of whom could be rescued except by force of allied arms. The allies became aware of the atrocities fairly early, and warned the Germans over the BBC and through third parties that they knew of it and would take retribution.

    Precision bombing was not possible before late 1943, much of the extermination was not done in camps, the camps were deep in eastern Europe, and proposals to bomb the camps were rejected by jewish leaders – who were consulted.

    The inescapable fact is that Hitler asnd the Nazis were prepared to divert resources from war against the allies to ensure that as many jews as possible died, and there was very little that could be done. The story that allied neglect or indifference lost lives started in the late 60s, but the record does not support it.

    It’s well documented, if grim reading.

  42. WWII was hardly about the extermination of the Jews, just as the US Civil War had next to nothing to do with concern about or the freeing of the slaves. Even if Hitler had not exterminated the Jews, or the others. There were plenty of good reasons for even pacifists to oppose him. Unopposed Germany would have become the sole nuclear power and we would all be speaking German today. [Or maybe down here, Japanese would be our main language and German the second language.]

  43. Remembrance days are Great. Gives all the old fogies a chance to re-fight the war, all blanketed up, from the safety of their wheelchairs.

  44. Where are the Godwin police?
    Any rigour and you’d all be spending time on Xmass Island, dagnammit!
    I think, from memory, that the new economics well under way by the mid-late seventies, remember doing a matric econonomics subject in 1976, with the teacher exhibiting an almost mystical child like faith in the intellectual powers of Paddy Mc Guinness. Meanwhile, Fraser was adopting a confrontationist approach with unions, welfare etc.

  45. Freelander,

    It is good to see we are now in full agreement.

    First, neither world war were started to fight genocide. The Turks and Germans started their genocides against the Armenians and Jews after the two respective wars had started.

    Second, Australian troops had every reason to quarrel with Turkish troops to stop them from leaving the front to massacre Armenians. The Armenian genocide became quickly known and widely denounced.

    Australian troops were still fighting on Turkish shores after the Allies had promised to punish those who ordered the genocide and those who carried out those orders such as the Turkish army. Even pacifists had a reason to fight on and take Constantinople from that point in time in the same way than if it was the case that Australian troops happened to be on the German border in 1941 and after.

    These reasons to fight are in addition to the just cause of fighting militarism and territorial conquest, empire solidarity, regional security interests such as the growing number of neighbouring German colonies, and long-term Australian security. These are all reasons to quarrel. Some might not think these are not enough reasons to fight, but that is different from having no reason at all.

    Third, both wars have high levels of democratic legitimacy because elections were held within months, as you note.

    As you note, the Australian election came a mere month after the start of the war. Australian replaced the incumbent PM with a man promising to fight to the last man and the last shilling. The two major war parties got about 98 per cent of the vote.

    New Zealanders had even a better chance to reflect on the war-making choices of their leaders. Their election was in December of 1914. The passions of the moment had some chance to calm, and the fighting has started for real. The will of the people was a 90 per cent vote for the war parties. New Zealanders could have voted for the Labour MPs, several of whom were later imprisoned for their anti-conscription activities or for refusing military service.

  46. Well I don’t think we are in agreement. The Germans started their genocide against the Jews and others before the war had started.

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