Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels wrote in his diary on January 20th 1939:
“Wir müssen versuchen, die ganze Welt gegen die feigen Londoner Kriegstreiber mobil zu machen”.
“We have to try to mobilize the whole world against the cowardly warmongers in London”.
It seems a bit strange that he would write something like this in private, but the term “English warmongers” was a staple of Nazi propaganda even before World war II, so it might have been out of force of habit. He also wasn’t being ironic, the Nazis would have preferred taking over Europe without a fight, of course.
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“Cowardly warmongers” gets it exactly backwards. Typical of a guy like Goebbels, totally, delusionally dishonest.
n 1914, Britain went to war over the principle of opposing aggression against neutrals, and fear that a German-dominated Europe would be bad for Britain. But they had spent the years leading up to the war NOT getting ready. Asquith, the PM, and Gray, his foreign minister, were true 19th C. liberals who believed that sensible Euorpean, Christian people would, at the end of the day, prefer to negotiate their differences. Wrong. But, again, like true 19th C. liberals, they were men of principle who could not leave evil in the form of militarism on the march unchallenged. And also, like liberals of all times, they feared and distrusted their own soldiers and sailors as warmongers and alarmists, discounting the threats posed by their foreign counterparts. And like liberals of all times, they begrudged money spent on arms when even on child went to bed hungry or cold. So, because of false economies and misguided principles, liberal Britain got the worst of all possible worlds — no deterrence and war with totally inadequate preparation. But, amazingly, was willing to fight anyway when all looked worst. The very antithesis of cowardly warmongers.
Lord Kitchener, who was made War Minister at the opening of hostilities, quipped at the time: “My cabinet colleauges are certainly courageous men. They have declared war on the greatest military power in the world and they have no army.” This was only a slight exaggeration. General Wilson was one of the commanders of the
British Expeditionary Force which went into France with four divisions. Wilson’s apt comment: “it is fifty divisions too few.”
Of course, the period immediately prior to World War II, during which Goebbels was writing was similar. The British were desperate NOT to get dragged into a continental war. Chamberlain believed, correctly, that a major war would bankrupt Britain and lose the Empire. Churchill, who thank God could not do the arithmetic, thought that Britain’s survival depended on opposing Hitler — and he refused to cut a deal with Hitler when he might have done so, but chose a long, risky war. Both Chamberlain and Churchill were right. Britain was saved, it was bankrupted, and the empire was lost. This was anything but cowardly warmongery. It was liberal wishful thinking, and bean-counting substituting for strategy, giving way to a noble desire to fight for the right against manifest evil.
Similarities to periods of liberal rule in America come to mind: Wilson 1914-16, FDR in the 30s, Truman 1945-50, Carter 1976-79, Clinton in the ’90s. Liberal piety cannot successfully replace stacks of arms and hordes of trained men to bear them. Each period of weakness led to military challenges, and except for the end of the Cold War, ended in war.
But we should not be surprised that Goebbels is totally wrong. What a jerk.
He was lying to himself, too.
That link doesn’t work. It’s here:
Ralf, I’m sure you are right. Goebbels lied to himself even in his own diary. The Nazis had a lot of weird complexes about England — love/hate, admiration/contempt, envy/scorn, jealousy/disdain. But the main thing was fear. Fear of their military skill and ruthlessness. They were right to be afraid of both, especially the latter. And they were in awe of centuries of military and naval success. Britain had a reputation in those days, which the hard facts no longer supported, but which had a big influence on its enemies’ thinking, which it is impossible for us to really appreciate nowadays.
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