Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Book Review: Keith Lowe’s Savage Continent

            Keith Lowe’s Savage Continent provides excellent commentary on the dangers of distorting history.  However, he frequently repeats commonly accepted distortions.  When discussing the bombing of Hamburg he states, “the statistics were not reliable.  In a city where bodies were concealed beneath a mountain of rubble, where some had been
fused together by the intense heat while others were reduced to mere ashes, it was impossible to measure the number of dead with any kind of precision.”  Yet, when discussing the bombing of Dresden he states the claims of 100,000 deaths are refuted by “most reliable sources” who put the figure at 20,000.  Over ninety percent of Dresden’s city center was destroyed.  It’s population had swelled to approximately 1.2 million with mostly women and children refugees fleeing the Red Army.  U.S. and British bombers had dropped 650,000 incendiaries on the city creating a firestorm.  Anyone looking at photographs of the rubble and believing it resulted it only 20,000 fatalities cannot be serious.  People claiming that Dresden was bombed for military reasons are not aware that the city’s military borough, the Albertstadt, was never targeted.
            Lowe minimizes the atrocities committed during the expulsion of Germans from Eastern Europe.  He makes only a brief reference to Henry Morgenthau who was instrumental in forming U.S. postwar policy.  He makes no mention of Harry Dexter White, the author of the Morgenthau Plan and a Soviet agent of influence.  This plan was devised by White to push the rest of Europe into the arms of the Soviets.  Lowe does not believe that Europe was on the verge of going Communist.  Most foreign policy experts believe the opposite.  Lowe claims “McCarthy’s portrayal of American Communists . . . was every bit as irrational as eastern Europe’s anti-Americanism.”  Senator McCarthy had no idea of how extensive Communist infiltration was.   His fears were far from irrational.

            There is an acceptable narrative that must not be contradicted.  Lowe mentions author John Sack who wrote a book about atrocities committed by Jewish prison camp officials in Poland.  Sack’s agent refused to represent the book and his published who had paid for the book decided not to publish it.  Lowe states, “like James Bacque’s book about German POWs, was considered dangerous precisely because it contained seeds of truth.”  The 1978 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records has a category for Mass Killings.  It placed Adolf Hitler in third place after Mao and Stalin.  The category did not appear in subsequent editions.  Clearly there is an effort to suppress information that does not conform to this narrative.  My own work on the Morgenthau Plan deserves more coverage than it has received.

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