Monday, December 28, 2009

Richard Widmann, Harry Elmer Barnes and Operation Barbarossa

Richard Widmann's Inconvenient History journal claims to be promoting peace in the tradition of Revisionist historian Harry Elmer Barnes (see here). However, the vast gulf between the views of the Barnes school and the columnists of Inconvenient History regarding Germany's invasion of the USSR suggest that the journal is exploiting Barnes' name without adhering to his actual views.

Like many current deniers, Inconvenient History's Joseph Bishop here and Wilfied Heink (aka neurigig) here swallow Suvorov's story that Barbarossa was a self-defence action by the Germans. However, in Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace (1953), edited by Barnes, F. R. Sanborn wrote the following:
In mid-January, 1941, another and more fateful thread was woven into the pattern. The American State Department, at Mr. Roosevelt's specific instruction, warned (138) the Russian ambassador, Mr. Constantine Oumansky, (139) of the contemplated German attack, and these warnings were later repeated. (140) By early February, 1941, the eastern movement of the German troops was well known. (141) Everything pointed toward an extension of the war by a German attack on Russia, but Anglo-American power politics succeeded in delaying it for five weeks. (142) The great cost of the sacrifice, made in order to obtain this small delay for Soviet Russia's benefit, was the loss of Yugoslavia, Greece, and Crete, the crippling of the British Mediterranean Fleet,(143) and the British defeat in Libya.(144) In the diplomatic intrigues in Greece and in Yugoslavia Americans (145) played a substantial and quite successful part in opposing Germany. Later, as the time approached for the commencement of the attack on Russia, Mr. Churchill meditated upon what his policy should be and concluded that he should "give all encouragement and any help we can spare." He cabled this to Mr. Roosevelt,(146) who replied in the sense of carte blanche-he would publicly endorse "any announcement that the Prime Minister might make welcoming Russia as an ally."
Furthermore, Barnes and his colleagues rejected the dominant US view of the early-1950's Cold War: that Stalin was planning an invasion of western Europe. Lew Rockwell highlighted that fact in this 1968 article:
Turning specifically to Communism, Barnes cut straight to the heart of the matter: military attack by the Soviet Union on the United States was most unlikely (unless "provoked as a measure of preventive war"), because "the Soviet program for communizing the world is not based on a plan of military conquest. It is founded upon propaganda, infiltration, and intrigue." Such ideological revolutions have never yet been extirpated by military force. The true answer to Communism, then, is to strengthen American ideology and institutions: to maintain American freedom and prosperity.
Rockwell further demonstrates that Barnes made a distinction between "broad Revisionism" and "narrow Revisionism", and rejected the latter:
The narrow Revisionist, through his overriding concern with the German tragedy, has therefore gotten himself enmeshed in a veritable tangle of contradictions. Beginning in a dedication to peace, he has become a virtual advocate of total war (against the Soviet Union)...

[...]

Thus, the narrow Revisionist, in the course of distorting the focus of his concerns, has ended by essentially abandoning Revisionism altogether.
Widmann's journal may pretend to promote broad Revisionism but its record to date is strongly in the narrow camp that was alien to Barnes in several respects. Widmann may wish to reflect on whether he is really following Barnes or just using him as a fig-leaf for Nazi apologetics.

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