Fuller is far too honest an historian to actually out right lie but he does have a curious habit of putting in interpretations that are belied / undermined by the facts he records. The origins of the Second World War are a case in point.1
Now its important to know in order to understand what Fuller writes to know that he was a member of Mosley’s British Union of Fascists (BU), for a time between the Wars and was still a member when war broke out.2 Fuller fails to mention this in his book or to mention that he was a guest of honour at Hitler’s 50th Birthday celebrations.3 From his book it appears he learned something about the bestiality of the Nazi regime but, alas, not enough. Before Fuller became involved in military affairs he was involved with the British mystic and all round weirdo Aleister Crowley. Which may explain some of Fuller’s later enthusiasms?
For example Fuller describes Hitler’s ideas has a struggle between ideas of “Heroic” man against ideas of “Economic” man, i.e., Capitalism and Marxism. I find this dichotomy fascinating although it is portended by Fuller’s discussion of the battle of Vittorio-Veneto has one of his decisive battles. It is also discussed in my opinion in a way to avoid the dreaded word “Fascist”, which is exactly what the so-called “Heroic” man idea really was.4
In retrospect Fuller describes Hitler as a “…Jekyll and Hyde, at one moment a normal human being and at another an inspired paranoic.”5 character. When Fuller knew Hitler in the 1930’s he seemed to have missed the “Hyde”, “paranoiac” bits.
Of Course Fuller quotes Churchill’s infamous statement, “If our country were defeated. I hope we should find a champion as indomitable to restore our courage and lead us back to our place among nations”.6 Its of interest that Fuller does not give a page number for this quote or give a full reference, i.e., publisher, place of publication etc. Since however I have read about this quote in other writings I believe it is genuine. Fuller forgets that Churchill did not hold this opinion very long.
Briefly Fuller gives Hitler’s aims as follows:
Hitler’s goal was Napoleonic: to establish a German Continental System under the aegis of Germany. Also his means were not far removed from those of the great emperor: to liberate Germany from the shackles of international loan-capitalism, to unite all Germanic peoples into the Third Reich, and to establish in eastern Europe what he called the German Lebensraum (living space) which he considered as essential to the economic security of Germany as Napoleon had considered the Confederation of the Rhine essential to the strategic security of France.7
The phrase about uniting all Germanic peoples manages to avoid dealing with the fact that this would involve war, after all the Netherlands, Belgium, (the Flemish part), Luxemburg and Alsace-Lorraine and the German part of Switzerland were all inhabited by "Germanic" peoples. Just how were those various countries to be acquired except by war. Especially since in none of those cases did the peoples want to be part of Germany. I could of course add Norway, Sweden Denmark and England as “Germanic” countries. By endeavoring to unite all Germans Hitler was posing a threat to his neighbours.
The comparison of Hitler’s Lebensraum with Napoleon’s Confederation of the Rhine is ludicrous. The intent of the expansion to the east was to displace the people there by mass murder, mass expulsion and turning the entire remaining population into a subject “inferior” population slated for eventual disappearance. Further such an aim could only mean war because just how else were the populations of the east to be destroyed? Further German domination of Eastern Europe would mean the complete obliteration of the balance of power in Europe. Napoleon’s Confederation of the Rhine by comparison was utterly benevolent. But it’s obvious by making the comparison Fuller is seeking to make Hitler appear no more inhuman than Napoleon. An insult to the Emperor I think.
British policy for centuries had been to oppose the rise to continental dominance of any continental power, so to preserve the balance of power. Hitler’s aims clearly would violate that policy and so would make war against Britain inevitable. This paragraph by Fuller is also of interest because Fuller subsequently “forgets” it.
Fuller than goes into a series of rather bizarre statements. For example concerning the “gold standard”. Fuller’s idea is that Hitler rejected the gold standard and based the value of German currency on production not on the fictitious value of gold.9 Fuller then makes a series of statements of Hitler’s plans regarding German finances. Hitler plan was to 1, Refuse interest bearing foreign loans, 2, obtain imports by direct goods exchange, 3, put a stop to freedom of the exchanges and limit the ability to transfer private fortunes, 4 create money when men and material where available.10.
Because the life of international finance depended upon the issue of interest-bearing loans to nations in economic distress, Hitler’s economics spelt its ruination. If he was allowed to succeed, other nations would certainly follow his example, and should a time come when all non-gold-holding governments exchanged goods for goods, not only would borrowing cease and gold lose its power, but the money-lenders would have to close shop.11
… six months after Hitler became Chancellor, Samuel Untermyer, a wealthy New York attorney, threw down the challenge. He proclaimed a “holy war” against National Socialism and called for a economic boycott of German goods, shipping and services.12
Bluntly from his accession to power in 1933 Hitler was gearing the German economy for war. His barter system, and aukratic intentions were designed with that in mind. The militarization of German society and economy during the period 1933-1939 where amazing and vast. To quote.
The military budget expanded rapidly, taking 17 percent of GNP in 1938-39. In the last peacetime year 52 pefennigs out of every mark the German government spent went on defence. These were not remotely moderate proportions. In 1913, at the height of the re-1914 arms race, the German government spent an estimated 3 percent of GNP, and devoted 24 percent of a much smaller state budget to defence purposes.13
Of course it should not escape attention that the man Fuller has declare “holy war” on Germany has a Jewish name to say nothing of the obvious coded reference to Jews in the term “money-lenders”. It does appear Fuller buys into the whole Nazi propaganda fantasy of “International Jewry” plunging the nations into war.
The evidence indicates quite conclusively that Hitler wanted war and was planning for it right from the day he took power. That was and remains the main cause of World War Two.15
Then Fuller allows for a reality to intrude for he says.
Besides this cause of war, [attacks against Hitler’s “barter” system] between 1933 and 1939 others helped to inflame the international situation, and of these the most important was the violence with which Hitler set out to carry out his program of German regeneration.16
Rather surprisingly Fuller ignores here the rather obvious economic contest between Capitalism and Communism, which fits vastly better his idea of a economic battle between two systems. The point of fact is that Hitler’s challenge to international Capitalism was rather minor if that. Certainly Capitalists found Nazi Germany vastly more congenial than Communist Russia and American etc., business people and financiers continued to do business with Nazi Germany through out the 30’s even though trade contracted.17
To get back to Fuller’s overview of events leading up to the Second World War. Fuller repeats the old chestnut that League of Nation sanctions supported by Britain and France over the Abyssinian crisis threw Mussolini in with Hitler. This is a gross over simplification. Aside from a common implied view that the concerns of the Ethiopians did not and should not have mattered. This ignores the fact that the sanctions were deliberately ineffectual, that France and Britain and France recognized the conquest of Ethiopia a few years later and most importantly Mussolini had ambitions in Africa and the Mediterranean which France and Britain blocked. Mussolini wanted most of North Africa and to become the great naval power in the Mediterranean. The chances were zero that France and Britain would ever acquiesce to that. So Mussolini would naturally have tended to ally himself with a Germany that would allow him to try to carry out such fanciful dreams. Finally to be utterly blunt Germany treated its new ally very badly almost from the very beginning but Mussolini kept with it to the bitter end. Both France and Britain in a bid to win him over treated Mussolini much better, but since they could not satisfy Mussolini’s ambitions in the Mediterranean or North Africa he stuck with Hitler.18
Fuller than goes into a look at the Spanish Civil War and the Sudeten Crisis with a rather obvious bias. Czechoslovakia as a “pistol pointed at Germany”.19 There is further stuff about Bombing Germany from bohemian airfields. Fuller neglects to mention that the agitation in the Sudetenland was deliberately manufactured by Hitler. Neither does he mention that Hitler wanted a war against Czechoslovakia and was positively cress fallen and upset when it became clear his Generals weren’t eager for a war so that he accepted Chamberlain’s offer of mediation. This mediation amounted to imposing a settlement on Czechoslovakia without its participation. Fuller seems to argue that avoiding war was a good idea at this time because of lack of preparedness on the part of the Allied powers. Well we now know how poorly prepared Germany was at the time for a two front war. It would probably have been best that if war came it came then than a year later.20
Throughout Fuller ignores that if people were out to get Hitler why did they not stop him earlier, why for example were these groups of international financiers utterly unable to get France to march into the Rhineland in 1936 when Hitler occupied it. At little cost “International Finance” could have destroyed Hitler then and there and put a end to the alleged threat of “barter”. But then it is clear that such a contest only exists in Fuller’s mind.
Fuller than mentions the “violent propaganda against Hitler”21. Of course the possibility that bad press about Nazi Germany may have been a understandable reaction to Nazi brutality and acts and that much or most of this “propaganda” entirely accurate is not a thought Fuller entertains for a moment. Of course Fuller does not mention the violent, hysterical propaganda of the Third Reich, against one enemy or another, Czechs, Poles and of course the hysterical manic, anti-semitic propaganda of the regime.22 Instead Fuller says the following:
Foreign affairs lost all objectivity and became wrapped in explosive animosity which so perturbed Dr. Goebbels, the German Minister of Propaganda, that he appealed to the American Ambassador in Berlin, who replied that the “most crucial thing that stood between any betterment of American press relationships was the Jewish question”.23
Now comes Fuller’s piece de resistance the so called Potocki Report and it is clear that Fuller approves of this Report for he says:
The situation as it was at the end of the year is so illuminatingly described by the Polish Ambassador at Washington, Count Jerzy Potocki, in a report to the Polish foreign Office, dated January 12, 1939, that we will quote from it fully:24
Above all, propaganda here is entirely in Jewish hands…
…their [Jewish] propaganda is so effective that people have no real knowledge of the true state of affairs in Europe…
…people are given the impression that Soviet Russia is part of the Democratic group of countries…
He had [Roosevelt] had a two fold purpose in mind: firstly, he wanted to divert American public opinion from difficult and complicated domestic problems ….
Secondly by creating a war panic …he [Roosevelt] wanted to induce Americans to endorse his huge program of armaments…
In this campaign of hatred individual Jewish intellectuals such as [follows a list] …have taken a prominent part in this campaign of hatred.
This particular group of people [Jewish of course] …are, in point of fact, linked with international Jewry by ties incapable of being torn asunder. For international Jewry –so intimately concerned with the interests of its own race- President Roosevelt’s “ideal” role as a champion of human rights was indeed a godsend. In this way Jewry was not only able to establish a dangerous centre in the New World for the dissemination of hatred and enmity, but it also succeeded in dividing the world into two warlike camps. The whole problem is being tackled in a most mysterious manner. Roosevelt has been given the power to enable him to enliven American foreign policy and at the same time to create huge reserves in armaments for a future war which the Jews are deliberately heading for.25
Even assuming it’s for real. It’s a collection of anti-semitic garbage.28 The campaign of hatred for example, do I have to mention the extreme hateful Nazi anti-Semitic campaigns. Projection anyone! Further does it have to be mentioned that Germany attacked Poland and that Germany declared war on America in 1941. So much for “International Jewry” arranging the war.
It’s rather obvious that by quoting this alleged document Fuller can give space to anti-semitic ravings while denying that these are his own ideas.
Fuller can’t deny Hitler’s aggressive moves regarding Poland or Hitler’s attack. Fuller could acknowledge the flood of vicious anti-polish propaganda that flooded the Nazi press before the outbreak of war. But Fuller says:
That by now had been decided on by others besides Hitler is clear:…29
…Winston Churchill told Bernard Baruch: “War is coming very soon. We will be in it and you (the United States) will be in it. You (Baruch) will be running the show over there, but I will be on the sidelines over here.”31It is fascinating that despite the fact Fuller gives the source he neglects to give a page number. But the insinuation is clear that Jews run the United States.
Fuller than mentions the Nazi-Soviet pact, while of course neglecting to mention that if Jews controlled Russia how did that happen?
Then Fuller mentions Hitler’s attack on Poland and makes a reference to Hitler agreeing not to bomb unfortified cities. How nice of him. Fuller of course neglects to mention the savagery and brutality of the German invasion, i.e., lots of German atrocities has deliberate policy, or that this promise was widely breached.32
Fuller then at the end quotes Goring saying “If We lose this war, then God have mercy on us.”33 Quite designed to make the Nazi Leadership look more human, unfortunately it appears that this quote is a myth because Paul Schmidt’s entire account of these events is likely complete fiction.34
It is worth mentioning that in regards to the Potocki document that in the footnote35 giving the reference, (German White Paper a Nazi propaganda document) Fuller than states as follows after giving the reference:
Addressing the Reichstag on January 30, 1939, Hitler said: “ I want to-day once again to make a prophecy: If the international Jewish financers within and without Europe succeed once more in hurling the people into a world war, the result will be, not the Bolshevization of the World and the victory of Jewry, but the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe.” This was to be only too true, for according to Goebbels: “About 60 percent. Of them will have to be liquidated; only 40 per cent. Can be used for forced labour” (Diaries, p. 103)36Read in with the Potocki document that Fuller quotes it appears that he is not too subtlety blaming “Jewish” financiers for the Holocaust by starting World War II and Hitler’s infamous act has retaliation for that. Of course it is nonsense. Hitler intended war from the get go and he was making threats to mass murder Jews for years.37 Hitler was projecting his aims and desires on others. Also does it really need mentioning that Hitler attacked Poland and that Hitler therefore deliberately started the war. I further note that Dr. Goebbels comments don’t go well with Fuller’s implication that of Goebbels the poor man having to deal with an unfair American media. But then Fuller does put the comment in a footnote where it is more likely a reader will overlook it. For all those Holocaust deniers who have used Fuller’s work it is of interest that he was no Holocaust denier.
In a later book The Conduct of War: 17 89 – 1961,38 Fuller goes over the Causes of World War II again. The differences are interesting Hitler is noticeably more prominent and so is the odiousness of the Nazi regime. Greater emphasis is given to Nazi policies and aims in causing the war. There is a few pages on the so-called conflict over different economic systems i.e., Loan Capitalism v. Barter but it is less prominent. The Potocki document is absent and so largely are Jews as being involved in causing the war.39. It is indeed a change. Perhaps Fuller learned something in the meantime?
Fuller also refers to the expulsion of 15 million Germans of which 6 million were unaccounted for.40 The similarity of the 6 million figure here with the 6 million figure usually given for the dead of the Holocaust is not likely coincidental. Further Fuller waxes quite eloquent about German suffering after the war and is very indignant.41 About the mass death of the Holocaust Fuller is silent.
In an abridgement of Fuller’s three volume A Military History of the Western World,42 John Terraine the editor criticizes Fuller at various points; for example Fuller’s views of the causes of World War I. Terraine disagrees with Fuller’s contention that the causes of the war were Economic.43 It’s a little strange that although the entire section in which Fuller gives his version of the causes of World War II are printed in full in this abridgement,44 there is no criticism by Terraine. Thus allowing Fuller’s anti-semitic insinuations to go unchallenged.
None of this means that Fuller’s books are useless in fact they are insightful and frequently brilliant. Its just that here Fuller allows a rather ugly bias to distort his work fortunately its more like an occasional undigested lump than something that permeates the whole work even in the sections on the Second World War. Unfortunately Fuller’s words especially his use of the Potocki document have been used by various Neo-Nazi groups.45 It’s all rather sad.
2. See Answers.com, Here and Wikipedia, Here
3. IBID. Wikipedia.
4. Footnote 1, pp. 300-330.
5. IBID. pp. 367-368.
6. IBID. p. 368 quoting Churchill’s book Step by Step.
7. IBID. p. 368.
8. See Herf, Jeffrey, The Jewish Enemy, Harvard University Press, Cambridge MASS, 2006, pp. 50-91. For the similarities between Fuller’s views of the causes of World War II and Nazi anti-semitic propaganda.
9. It is of interest that here Fuller quotes Hitler but the footnote to the comment refers to a statement by Churchill and nowhere does it provide a citation for Hitler’s comment. Fuller, 1956, p. 368 & Footnote 1 on that page.
10. IBID. pp. 368-369.
11. IBID. p. 369.
12. IBID. p. 369. Fuller gives no source for this comment.
13. Overy, Richard, Misjudging Hitler, The Origins of the Second World War Reconsidered, 2nd Edition, Gordon Martel, Routledge, New York, 1999, pp. 93-115, at. 109.
14. See Tooze, Adam, The Wages of Destruction, Penguin Books, London, 2006, pp. 67-134.
15. See Evans, Richard J., The Third Reich in Power, Penguin Books, London, 2005, pp. 612-664. Tooze, pp. 203-243.
16. Fuller, 1956, pp. 370.
17. See Tooze, pp. 87-88.
18. Fuller, 1956, p. 371. For an overview of the Abyssinian Crisis and its role in the road to war see. Sullivan, Brian R., More than meets the eye: The Ethiopian War and the Origins of the Second World War, The Origins of the Second World War Reconsidered, 2nd Edition, Ed. Martel, Gordon, Routledge, London, 1999, pp. 178-203.
19. Fuller, 1956, p. 372.
20. See Shirer, William L., The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, Simon and Shuster, New York, 1960, pp. 357-427, Watt, Donald Cameron, How War Came, Mandarin, London, 1990, pp. 26-31.
21 Fuller, 1956, p. 372.
22. Evans, pp. 208, 539, 549, 589, 668, 709. See Herf also.
23. Fuller, 1956, p 372.
24. Fuller, 1956, p. 372.
25. Fuller, 1956, pp. 372-374. quoting the Potocki document.
26. Fuller, 1956, p. 374 Footnote 1
27. See Randi Forum, Here
28. See Herf for a myriad of examples especially pp. 50-137.
29, Fuller 1956, p. 375.
30. Fuller, 1956, p. 375. Karl von Weigand was born in Germany and had known Hitler since 1921. He worked as a foreign correspondent for the vehemently isolationist anti-Roosevelt Hearst papers as a foreign correspondent. See also Lucas, John, American Heritage, Here See also Time Obituary Here
31. Fuller, 1956, p. 375. Bernard Baruch was subject to vicious Nazi propaganda attacks as part of the alleged “Jewish” cabal that controlled the United States. See Herf, pp. 128-130, 163-164.
32. Fuller, 1956, p. 375. For Poland see Megargee, Geoffrey, War of Annihilation, Rowman & Littlefield Pub. Inc., New York, 2006, pp. 10-18.
33. Fuller, 1956, p. 376.
34. See Weinburg, Gerhard L., Germany Hitler & World War II, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1995, p. 91.
35. Fuller, 1956, p. 374.
36. Fuller, 1956, p. 374.
37. Dawidowicz, Lucy S., War Against the Jews, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York, 1975, pp. 156-166.
38. Fuller, J.F.C., The Conduct of War: 1789 – 1861, Da Capo Press, New Brunswick NJ, 1961.
39. IBID. pp. 225-247.
40. IBID. p. 307. This figure is almost certainly a wild exaggeration.
41. IBID. p. 303-309.
42. Fuller, J.F.C., The Decisive Battles of the Western World, v. 1 & v. 2, Editor John Terraine, Paladin Books, London, 1970.
43. see IBID. v. 2, Editor’s Note 4, pp. 287-288.
44. IBID., v. 2, pp. 431-443.
45. See Storm Front, Here