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  • I was so sure I’d be first

    Posted by Helen on September 1st, 2009 (All posts by )

    Well, after all, you do not expect Americans to notice that the Second World War began on September 1939 (sort of, if you disregard the real beginning, that is the Nazi-Soviet Pact). After all, it did not hit the United States till December 6, 1941, though there were plenty who had come over to fight with Britain. There is a memorial to the pilots killed in the Battle of Britain in Grosvenor Square, and their names are also listed on the big BoB memorial on the Embankment.

    However, here is my posting on Your Freedom and Ours on the start of the war as well as the importance of facing up to the past.

     

    16 Responses to “I was so sure I’d be first”

    1. tdaxp Says:

      On July 7, 1937, the Imperial Japanese Army and the National Revolutionary Army began open fighting across the Marco Polo Bridge. Within a month Beijing and Tianjin fell to the Empire. The Republic of China, “first to fight,” would gather allies over time until the general cease fire of 1945. The Treaty of Taipei would formally proclaim the restored peace between Japan and the ROC in 1952.

    2. Helen Says:

      And? You can find all sorts of dates but it is was the German invasion of Poland that triggered the world-wide war, whereas the Chinese-Japanese war went on being localized in a very large locality.

      Then again, if you take the view that it was just one Thirty Years’ War (which I discuss in the posting) then all these different dates people keep coming up with can be fitted in.

      Just as a matter of curiosity, Tdaxp, and you do not have to answer this: are you a high school teacher?

    3. MisterBixby Says:

      Helen, pardon my ignorance, please. I was educated in American public schools in the late 80s and early 90s. What is the significance of Dec. 6, 1941? Pearl Harbor was attacked the following morning (Hawaii time), but I don’t know what happened the day before.

      I will also admit my ignorance of the significance of 9/1/1939. I knew the war began that year, but not the date. Thank you and Lexington for giving me a new learning opportunity.

    4. Jim Miller Says:

      Actually, Helen, I did note the date, with a long quotation from an English historian. Oddly enough he addresses the very question being discussed in these comments.

      (And, later today, I plan a post on the Japanese election, which has been almost ignored by the English speaking blogosphere.)

    5. Sgt. Mom Says:

      And I will note the declaration of war by England and France tomorrow,with a post on both my blogs.
      All in good time, all in good time. :-)

    6. Tatyana Says:

      My opinion doesn’t count (for anybody by myself, that is), but I always thought the WWII started with the Spanish War. With all future characteristics already germinating there, for those perceptive enough to see – like betrayals of allies in the name of ideological purity (covering the banal fight for power), technological vectors, etc.

      Re-reading Lem’s Highcastle now, right after a book of his interviews (exists only in Polish @ Russian), where he talks about the start of the War, in my beloved city. How it was a Soviet occupation first, and then German, and what it meant for him, how the War shaped him and sharpened his survival instinct.

    7. tdaxp Says:

      Helen,

      And? You can find all sorts of dates but it is was the German invasion of Poland that triggered the world-wide war, whereas the Chinese-Japanese war went on being localized in a very large locality.

      Certainly. Following this logic, World War II ended on May 8, 1945. What remained was merely a localized fight in a very large locality (the Pacific Theatre).

      It strikes me this is a rather arbitrary decision, as it places the most important events (the dawn of the nuclear age, etc) after the end of the World War.

      It also would mean those members of the 1st American Volunteer Group of the Chinese Air Force who died were mercenaries, and not our honored dead.

      But sure, unless white people are dying on both sides, it’s not a world war, is it?

      There is no other standard by which your date makes sense, as Germany’s invasion of Poland also launched a very large locality (Europe). If your concern was the date at which the two theatres were joined, it would be December 8, 1941, with Japan’s attack on Britain.

      Just as a matter of curiosity, Tdaxp, and you do not have to answer this: are you a high school teacher?

      No.

      Are you developmentally delayed, or is your inability to avoid ad hominem attacks the result of a specific brain injury?

    8. Lexington Green Says:

      Dan, you just gratuitously called Helen a racist, you assumed she was insulting you, and generally made an ass of yourself.

      You need to take a few deep breaths before you post things.

      Or, if your intent is to slum around over here telling everyone what dunces and moral cripples they are, maybe you should get over that and spend your time with a class of people more suited to yourself

    9. tdaxp Says:

      > you just gratuitously called Helen a racist

      No, I pointed out her argument was ethnocentric.

      > you assumed she was insulting you

      Well, certainly she brought up a rhetoric, ad hominem, logic-free point. The
      implication is that my argument is pedantic.

      > and generally made an ass of yourself.

      I presented Helen with a reductio ad absurdum of her own position.

      > Or, if your intent is to slum around over here telling everyone what dunces and moral cripples they are

      I’ve never done either.

      But if you want to insult people who disagree with you, goahead.

      As you say, this is your own slum.

    10. Lexington Green Says:

      Yeah, this is my slum, Dan.

      Others may do as they wish.

      I am finished talking to you.

    11. Anonymous Says:

      Actually, Australia and New Zealand declared war on Germany on September 3 as well and Canada did a fortnight later. So it was not simply a European war. Tatyana has a point: if China then why not Spain as the start? Or the occupation of the Ruhr? Or the invasion of the Rhineland? Or the Versailles Treaty that left just about everybody dissatisfied and preparing for the next round? Or, maybe, those shots on June 28, 1914 in Sarajevo?

      Why do you think asking if you are a high school teacher constitutes a gratuitous insult, TDAXP? I have known some very admirable and highly intelligent high school teachers. Have you not? And, actually, you are pedantic and do take people’s postings apart very pedantically. But then, I have been accused of that, too. Mind you, I think Lex is right. There really is no point in talking to you as you do go over to personalities very quickly.

    12. Marty Says:

      Sept. 3, 1939. The first 2 days were just between Germany and Poland. I’m with Sgt Mom.

      But really, this business about magical dates is a bit, uhhh, beside the point. Lex’s previous post was about the loss of cultural memory and there was nothing in Helen’s post that required a precise date, really.

      Personally, I like the locution of Philip Bobbit and others, of “The Long War,” that lasted from 1914 to 1991, tho I might even go back and pick up the Balkan Wars of 1912-1913. If you really want to define an historical era, 1912-1991 works best. The fall of empires in WW1, the defeat of fascist/Nazi totalitarianism in WW2 and the defeat of communist totalitarianism in the Cold War. A world transformed, if you will, between 1912 and 1991.

      But for the “human face” of it all, WW2 was certainly a distinct chapter and whether it started in Danzig or the Marco Polo Bridge is not as important as recognizing teh importance of both, regardless of exactly how we place them with respect to particular terms.

    13. Mrs. Davis Says:

      Thank you, Lex.

    14. Helen Says:

      First of all, that Anonymous about Australia and New Zealand was me. I was posting from another computer and forgot to put my name to the comment.

      Secondly, apologies to MisterBixby and thank you to everyone else for not noticing my mistake. It was December 7, 1941, of course. Don’t know why I had the 6th in my mind.

    15. Lexington Green Says:

      Shows you are a Brit, Helen. December 7, 1941 is one of the few historical dates that is commonly known among a large number of otherwise historically illiterate Americans, right up there with June 6, 1944. Pearl Harbor, D Day. The two big days.

    16. tdaxp Says:

      Anonymous/Helen,

      Actually, Australia and New Zealand declared war on Germany on September 3 as well and Canada did a fortnight later. So it was not simply a European war.

      True. Likewise, much of the fighting between China and Japan occured on land, making it not simply a Pacific war. Still, we speak of a European theatre and a Pacific theatre, for the sake of brevity.

      Tatyana has a point: if China then why not Spain as the start? Or the occupation of the Ruhr? Or the invasion of the Rhineland? Or the Versailles Treaty that left just about everybody dissatisfied and preparing for the next round? Or, maybe, those shots on June 28, 1914 in Sarajevo?

      I think it depends on if one is defining ‘war’ precisely or vaguely.

      If a precise definition is used, then it is best to consider war (in this period) to be a formal outbreak of hostilities between recognized states that ends in a formal peace. The Rhineland was a dispute over territorial control of German soil that did not involve formal hostilities, while Spain was a civil war. Indeed, Spain was not even a party to the Second World War. One would further discard the Winter War because whle it began in 1939, it ended in 1940.

      The first two state-level beliggerents of the Second World War, who formally declared the beginning of hostilities, were the Empire of Japan and the Republic of China.

      If one uses a broader definition, however, then any number of dates are possible. If one is thinking in terms of, say, the collapse of empire and the rise of the nation-state, one can date it to the French Revolution, and continue it till the Kosovo War, if not Russia’s invasion of Georgia/Abkhazia. Under these broader definitions no definite right answer is possible. It depends on the narrative one chooses. Those interested in the nation-state may choose 1787, those interested in the collapse of the British Empire may choose 1914, those interested in an ethnocentric narative of the Korean people may choose 1910, those interested in an ethnocentric narrative of white people may choose 1941.

      Why do you think asking if you are a high school teacher constitutes a gratuitous insult, TDAXP? I have known some very admirable and highly intelligent high school teachers. Have you not?

      Why do you think asking if you are developmentally delayed or brain damaged constitutes a gratiuous insult? I have known some very admirable and highly caring brain damaged people. Have you not?

      Of course, you would reply that this is a cheap defense, as the original question carried rhetorical baggage. Indeed, as did yours. That’s why I offered it as a reductio ad absurdum.

      And, actually, you are pedantic

      Clearly, I failed in my objective. I had assumed that when the role of ad hominem comments was reduced to absurdity, you would cease to use them. Sadly, I was mistaken.

      do take people’s postings apart very pedantically.

      I am interested in this. If you mean precisely, then I thank you for the comment. If you mean in a narrow-minded fashion, I would appreciate some examples.