Christianity in Europe during WWII

Introduction

The propaganda by the Christian churches in regard to their role during WWII in Fascist Italy, Yugoslavia, and Nazi Germany has so conditioned their believers that most of them believe that Christianity played an honorable role at best, and only a silent role at worst. Yet there seems little recognition that the very framework of the beliefs owned by the Fascists and Nazis came from their Christian upbringing from church, school, and Christian traditions. The entire anti-Jewish and racial sentiments came not from some new philosophy or unique ideology, but rather from centuries of Christian preaching against the Jews, gypsies, and heretics. This comes especially true for European countries, for the Christian practice of crusades, inquisitions and holy wars occurred in their own backyards. Moreover, the wars conducted by Providence, approved by God, appears so often in the Bible, and practiced by Christians throughout the centuries has disciplined Christians to believe that they could engage in offensive war honorably and even worse—morally. One must remember that the Catholic raised and Protestant conditioned Hitler took his cause of war for an expanded Germany and his fight against the Jews, for Providence’s sake, and a fight for the Lord. He appealed to his fellow German Christians to put him in power and he achieved popular support. I find it unimaginable that Hitler, without this religious foundation, could have churches, politicians and citizens electing him into office, much less have acted against the Jews.

The intolerance against humans and religious wars committed before WWII comes from such abundant sources of Christian history that to deny an influential connection can only come from immeasurable ignorance. Moreover the justification for atrocious acts committed by Christians and priests during WWII could only have come from their own beliefs and faiths.

I do not think I understate the claim that the conditions required for a Nazi or Fascist state cannot occur without a deep religious or superstitious underpinning. I charge that the major accountability for World War II and the Jewish holocaust must go to the ones who created the conditions for it to occur. And the people who created the conditions come in the form of the Christian churches—the body of believing people who acted according to their Christian beliefs and who taught their children, preached to their congregations, and influenced their society’s political leaders.

I aim to provide the reader with a flavor of the forgotten or denied role of Christians during WWII. Nothing here comes from a unique or original understanding. Rather, I have taken parts of what comes almost directly from established and well researched historical works on the Catholic and Protestant involvement in Europe.

The Catholic Church during WWII

Jewish persecutions: banning Jews from working for public office, the enforcement of wearing yellow badges, the Jewish ghettos, burning of synagogues, and the extermination of Jews remind us of the atrocities committed by Nazis in WWII. However the atrocities above do not pertain to Nazi actions but rather the practices of Catholicism, centuries before Hitler came into power.

The seeds of Christian hatred for Jews begins from the readings of the New Testament and the persecutions began when the Church first held power to enforce its dogmas. The Biblical Paul, for example, put the blame of Jesus’s death entirely on the Jews. In the first epistle of Paul to the Thessalonians (2:14-15), it says, “the Jews who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets….” Also the gospel of John, makes it clear that the Jews represent an enemy (and John 8:44 puts the devil as the father of the Jews). Many prominent priests used Paul’s epistles and the gospels as Biblical justification for Jewish persecution.

Historical Christianity makes it clear that the Jews formed an essential part of early Christian theology. Examples include the letter of Barnabas (circa 130), Justin the Martyr’s “Dialogue with the Jew Trypho” (circa 160), Tertullian’s treatise against the Jews (circa 200), Orgin’s work against Celsus (circa 250). The sermons by John Chrysostom in 387, especially, show an indigence against the Jews. Origen had written, “The blood of Jesus falls not only on the Jews of that time, but on all generations of Jews up to the end of the world.” John Chrysostom wrote, “The Synagogue is a brothel, a hiding place for unclean beasts…. Never has any prayed to God…. They are possessed by demons.” [Cornwell, pp. 24-25]

When Christianity became officially accepted for the state in the 4th century, the Christians began to act against the Jews. Constantine imposed heavy penalties on anyone who visited a pagan temple or converted to Judaism. Mixed marriages between Jews and Christians were punished by death. In the Codex Theodosianus of Theodosis II (408-450), it forbade Jews to hold any public office. It first came from Justinian who legalized the burning and pillaging of Jewish synagogues by Christian bishops and monks (often canonized later). Thomas Aquinas, in the treatise De regimine Judaeorum ad Ducissam Brabantae, made it acceptable for popes and kings to dispose of property belonging to the Jews.

Compelling Jews to wear yellow badges came from an invention of the Catholic Church. The Fourth Lateran Council of 1215 set up the Inquisition along with enforcement of Jews wearing a yellow spot on their clothes and a horned cap (pileum cornutum) to mark them as the murderers of Christ and to remind them of their descent from the devil. During the Black Death plague which ravaged Europe in the 14th century, the Catholic clergy aimed its blame at the Jews claiming they worked for the Devil and had poisoned the wells and springs. Their extermination compares with the pogroms that took place in the 20th century under Hitler. During the Spanish Inquisition, the Catholic Church directed its actions against the baptized Jews, the marranos. They forbade them to hold any office in the Church or the state; many suffered torture or death.

Popes have traditionally supported anti-Jewish acts and beliefs. Pope Paul IV in the sixteenth century established the Roman ghetto (another Catholic invention). For more than two centuries afterward, Catholics humiliated the Roman Jews and degraded them at the annual carnival. In the same century, Pope Gregory XIII instituted enforced Christian sermons insulting Judaism. [Cornwell, p. 299]. In a Papal custom Popes performed an anti-Jewish ceremony on their way to the basilica of St. John Lateran. Here the Pontiff would receive a copy of the Pentateuch from the hand of Rome’s rabbi. The Pope then returned the text upside down with twenty pieces of gold, proclaiming that, while he respected the Law of Moses, he disapproved of the hard hearts of the Jewish race. [Cornwell, p. 27]

Forcing Jews, and heretics into the Catholic faith, of course has always served as a hallmark of Catholicism. When they could not legally use strong-arm tactics they used propaganda. Although most people associate the term with Hitler, propaganda actually came as an invention by the Catholics long before the Nazis, from the Sacra Congregatio de Propaganda Fide, an organization established by Pope Gregory XV in 1622.

In the 1930s, as the Catholic leaders listened to Hitler’s rhetoric against the Jews during his appeal for power, his speeches condemning Jews only correlated with the Church’s own long history of Jewish hatred. Indeed, in Hitler’s meeting with Bishop Berning and Monsignor Steinmann on April 26, 1933, Hilter reminded his Catholic guests that the Church, for 1,500 years had regarded the Jews as parasites, had banished them into ghettos, and had forbidden Christians to work for them. Hitler said he merely intended to do more effectively what the Church had attempted to accomplish for so long. [Lewy]

It should come to no surprise that at no time before or during Hitler’s rise did the Catholic Church speak up against such talk. Sadly the Church remained mostly silent, with its main objections concerned with its own power structure in Germany. Thus it aimed to prevent loss of control and, indeed, to gain Church control through an expansion of papal power, control of appointment of bishops, and the control of Catholic schools. This self-serving interest gave the Vatican an impetus to form an agreement with Germany. In this sense, Hitler actually saved Catholicism in Germany, especially considering that Bismark before him had begun a Kulturkampf (“culture struggle”), a policy of persecution against Catholicism. [Cornwell, p.14]

The Reich Concordat between Hitler and the Vatican

In 1917, Eugenio Pacelli, later to become Pope Pius XII, resided in a nunciature in Munich, directly opposite to what was later to become the Brown House, the cradle of Nazism. There he showed his first inkling of his unsympathetic feelings toward the Jews when he refused to come to the assistance of Jews and calling them a “Jewish cult.” [Cornwell, p.70]. In a typewritten letter, he described “a gang of young women, of dubious appearance, Jews as like all the rest of them, hanging around in the offices with lecherous demeanor and suggestive smiles.” [Cornwell, p.75] In the 1920s Pacelli presented his credentials to the Weimer government where he stated, “For my part, I will devote my entire strength to cultivating and strengthening the relations between the Holy See and Germany.” Pacelli’s stay in Germany with his familiarity with their political, religious, and racist views must have influenced his later work to unify Catholicism with Germany.

In Italy, the Holy See signed a pact (drafted by Pacelli’s brother and Pietro Gasparri) with Mussolini in February 1929, known as the Lateran Treaty. Hitler had taken note of the Lateran Treaty and hoped for an identical agreement for his future regime. [Cornwell, pp.114-115] The Vatican encouraged priests to support the Fascists and the Pope spoke of Mussolini as “a man sent by Providence.” The Church has a history of pacts with criminal states as the Holy See signed treaties with monarchs and governments regardless of slavery, inhumanity, or torture they may have induced upon fellow human beings. Even Mussolini’s attack on Ethiopia on October 3, 1935 was not condemned by the Holy See. Nor did Pius XI restrain the Italian hierarchy from war enthusiasm. “O Duce!, declared the bishop of Terracina, “today Italy is Fascist and the hearts of all Italians beat together with yours.” [Cornwell, p.175]

In the 1930s, Pacelli and his associates negotiated with the Nazis to form a contract which got signed in 1933 as the Reich Concordat with the approval of the Pope. Note that the Catholic hierarchy believes in the infallibility of Popes in matters of faith and morals (ever since the First Vatican Council of 1870). This Concordat with its Papal infallible authority had arguably neutralized the potential of 23 million Catholics to protest and resist and which helped Hitler into legal dictatorship. [Cornwell, p. 4] After the agreement, Hitler, mimicking Pacelli fourteen years earlier stated, “I will devote my entire strength to cultivating and strengthening the relations between the Holy See and Germany.” [Cornwell, p. 136] (Hitler, spent more time and effort on the concordat with Pacelli than on any other treaty in the entire era of the Third Reich [Cornwell, p. 150]). This Concordat gave Germany an opportunity to create an area of trust with the Church and gave significance to the developing struggle against international Jewry. According to John Cornwell, this papal endorsement of Nazism helped seal the fate of Europe which makes it plausible that these Catholic prejudices bolstered aspects of Nazi anti-Semitism. [Cornwell, p. 28]

The Concordat and the following Jewish persecutions resulted in the silence of the Pope and the bishops. Cardinal Faulhaber of Munich, referring to the Nazi attacks on the Jews, wrote to Pacelli, confirming that protest proved pointless since it could only extend the struggle to Catholics. He told Pacelli, “Jews can help themselves.” [Cornwell, p. 140] Most bishops and Cardinals were Nazi sympathizers as were bishop Wilhelm Berning of Osnabruck and Archbishop Grober of Freiburg (Pacelli’s choice for emissaries).

On April 25, thousands of Catholic priests across Germany became part of an anti-Semitic attestation bureaucracy, supplying details of blood purity through marriage and baptism registries in accordance with the Nazi Nuremberg laws which distinguished Jews from non-Jews. Catholic clerical compliance in the process would continue throughout the period of the Nazi regime. [Cornwell, pp.154] Any claimed saving of all-too-few Jewish lives by a few brave Catholics must stand against the millions who died in the death camps as an indirect result of the official workings of the Catholic body.

After Kristallnacht (where Nazis broke Jewish store windows and had synagogues burned) there issued not a single word of condemnation from the Vatican, the German Church hierarchy, or from Pacelli. Yet in an encyclical on anti-Semitism, titled Humani generis unitas (The Unity of the Human Race) by Pope Pius XI, a section claims that the Jews were responsible for their own fate. God had chosen them to make way for Christ’s redemption but they denied him and killed him. And now, “Blinded by their dream of worldly gain and material success,” they had deserved the “worldly and spiritual ruin” that they had brought down upon themselves. [Cornwell, p. 191] Cardinal Theodor Innitzer, archbishop of Vienna warmly received Hitler in Vienna after his triumphal march through the capital where he expressed public satisfaction with Hitler’s regime. [Cornwell, p. 201] Meanwhile, Cardinal Bertram sent Hitler an effusive telegram, published on October 2 in the Nazi newspaper Volkischer Beobachter, “The great deed of safeguarding peace among the nations moves the German episcopate acting in the name of the Catholics of all the German dioceses, respectfully to extend congratulations and thanks and to order a festive ringing of bells on Sunday.” [Cornwell, p. 202]

After the death of Pius XI, the electoral procedure to elect another pope had begun. The March 1939 election favored Pacelli and four days later, Pacelli made it clear that he would handle all German affairs personally. He proposed the following affirmation of Hitler:

To the Illustrious Herr Adolf Hitler, Fuhrer and Chancellor of the German Reich! Here at the beginning of Our Pontificate We wish to assure you that We remain devoted to the spiritual welfare of the German people entrusted to your leadership…. During the many years we spent in Germany, We did all in Our power to establish harmonious relations between Church and State. Now that the responsibilities of Our pastoral function have increased Our opportunities, how much more ardently do We pray to reach that goal. May the prosperity of the German people and their progress in every domain come, with God’s help, to fruition!

Pacelli became a crowned Pope on March 12, 1939 (Pius XII). The following month on April 20, 1939, at Pacelli’s express wish, Archbishop Orsenigo, the nuncio in Berlin, opened a gala reception for Hitler’s fiftieth birthday. The birthday greetings thus initiated by Pacelli immediately became a tradition; each April 20 during the few years left to Hitler and his Reich, Cardinal Bertram of Berlin would send “warmest congratulations to the Fuhrer in the name of the bishops and the dioceses in Germany,” to which he added “fervent prayers which the Catholics in Germany are sending to heaven on their altars.” [Cornwell, p. 209] By this time Pacelli could call on the loyalty and devotion of a half-billion people, of which half the populations of Hitler’s new Reich had become Catholics, including a quarter of the SS. At this time bishops, clergy, religious, and faithful had bound themselves to the Pope, and by his own self estimation, served as the supreme arbiter of moral values on earth. [Cornwell, p. 215]

Throughout the war, not only did Catholic priests pay homage to Hitler and contribute to the anti-Semitic feelings, several priests also protected Nazis from criminal charges. For example, Nazi sympathizers such as Bishop Alois Hudal helped Nazi criminals escape to South America by assisting them with false papers and hiding places in Rome. Father Dragonovic worked with the U.S. Army’s Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC) to organize the escape of the Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie to South America. Barbie had also lived under Dragonovic’s protection in San Girolamo for about a year.

Catholic Croatia’s Atrocities

In 1941 Croat Fascists declared an independent Croatia. Italy and Hungary (also a fascist state) joined forces with Hitler for a share of Yugoslavia. Hitler had issued his plan for a partitioned Yugoslavia, granting “Aryan” status to an independent Croatia under the Catholic Ante Pavelic. This resulted in a campaign of terror and extermination conducted by the Ustashe of Croatia against two million Serbs, Jews, Gypsies, and Communists between 1941 and 1945 (Note that the Croats were Roman Catholics, the Serbs were Orthodox Christians). According to Cornwell, “Pavelic’s onslaught against the Orthodox Serbs remains one of the most appalling civilian massacres known to history.”

From the outset, Pope Pius XII and the Vatican knew of the racist and anti-Semitic statements made by the Croats even as the Pope met with Pavelic and bestowed his papal blessing. Not only did the Croatian Catholic clergy know the details of the massacre of the Serbs and the virtual elimination of the Jews and Gypsies but many of the priests took a leading role! Monks and priests worked as executioners in hastily set up concentration camps where they massacred Serbs. These killings had gotten so brutal that even the Nazis protested against them. By the most reliable reckoning, the Catholic fascists massacred 487,000 Orthodox Serbs and 27,000 Gypsies between 1941 and 1945 in the independent State of Croatia. In addition, approximately 30,000 of the 45,000 Jews died in the slaughter.

At no time did the Vatican make an attempt to halt the forced conversions, appropriation of Orthodox property, or the mass killings. Croat priests had not only sympathized with the fascist massacres but took part in them. According to Cornwell, “Priests, invariably Franciscans, took a leading part in the massacres. Many went around routinely armed and performed their murderous acts with zeal. A father Bozidar Bralow, known for the machine gun that was his constant companion, was accused of performing a dance around the bodies of 180 massacred Serbs at Alipasin-Most.” Individual Franciscans killed, set fire to homes, sacked villages, and laid waste the Bosnian countryside at the head of Ustashe bands. In September of 1941, an Italian reporter wrote of a Franciscan he had witnessed south of Banja Luka urging on a band of Ustashe with his crucifix.” In the Foreign Ministry archive in Rome there sits a photographic record of atrocities: of women with breasts cut off, gouged eyes, genitals mutilated; and the instruments of butchery: knives, axes, meat hooks. [Cornwell, pp. 253-254] Not only priests, but even many nuns sympathized to the movement. Some of these nuns marched in military parades behind soldiers with their arms raised in the fascist salute.

From the very beginning the Catholic clergy worked in collaboration with the Ustashe. Archbishop Stepinac got appointed spiritual leader of the Ustashe by the Vatican in 1942. Stepinac, with ten of his clergy held a place in the Ustashe parliament. Priests served as police chiefs and officers of in the personal bodyguards of Pavelic. There occurred frequent BBC broadcasts on Croatia of which a February 16, 1942 typical report stated: “The worst atrocities are being committed in the environs of the archbishop of Zagreb [Stepinac]. The blood of brother is flowing in streams. The Orthodox are being forcibly converted to Catholicism and we do not hear the archbishop’s voice preaching revolt. Instead it is reported that he is taking part in Nazi and Fascist parades.” [Cornwell, p.256] The French cardinal Eugene Tisserant, a Slavonic expert, told a Croat representative on March 6, 1942, “that it is the Franciscans themselves, as for example Father Simic of Knin, who have taken part in attacks against the Orthodox populations so as to destroy the Orthodox Church in banja Luka….” [Cornwell, p. 259]

Even though petitions against the Catholics and their massacres got sent to Pius XII, not once did Pacelli, the “infallible” Pope, ever show anything but benevolence toward the leaders of the Pavelic regime. His silence on the matter matched his silence about his knowledge of Auschwitz.

To this day, there occurs ethnic cleansing, outbreaks of war and intense bitter feelings between Croats and Serbs. The religious organizations in the area must bear the major responsibility for these intolerances, atrocities and wars.

Yes there occurred some brave protests by priests and nuns against Nazism and their Jewish attacks but they came few and far between. For example, Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (a Jewish convert also known as Edith Stein) wrote a letter to Pius XI begging him to “deplore the hatred, persecution, and displays of anti-Semitism directed against the Jews, at any time and from any source.” Her letter drew no response. Faulhaber defended converted Jews, but not all Jews. Catholics point to the canonized friar, Maximilian Kolbe, who voluntarily took the place of another person in a concentration camp, but conceal the point that he took the place of a gentile, not a Jew; nor do we hear that he had served as editor of an antisemitic Catholic journal. We also have bishops such as Jozsef Midszenty of Hungary who openly condemned the Nazis after they invaded his country.

We should, of course, always applaud individuals against oppression, but the few protests cannot, by any standard, serve to absolve Christianity, much less honor it.

The deploring fact remains: the major body of the Catholic Church in Germany, that being popes, priests, nuns, and Catholic lay-people supported Hitler and anti-Semitism. Catholicism had links to government organizations, right-wing nationalism, including Fascism and Nazism. Moreover, most every right-wing dictator of the period had been brought up a Catholic: Hitler, Horthy, Franco, Petain, Mussoline, Pavelic, and Tiso (who has served as a Catholic priest). Catholic bishops and cardinals throughout the war expressed anti-Semitic views even as the actions against the visibly persecuted Jews increased. In 1936, for example, Cardial Hlond, primate of Poland, opined: “There will be the Jewish problem as long as the Jews remain.” Cardinal Maglione, even though he recognized the hellishness of Hitler, justified himself with the private view that “Hitler and all his diabolic works may be the process of the casting out of the devil in the subconscious of the German race.” [Cornwell, p. 282] Slovak bishops issued a pastoral letter that repeated the traditional accusations that the “Jews were deicides,” and evidence exists that anti-Judaism occurred in the heart of the Vatican. [Cornwell, p. 280] Pope Pius XII, his campaign of silence and subterfuge, his fanatical urge to complete a Concordat and to assist Hitler into legal dictatorship, shows his complicity with the Nazi Government. And at no time did the bishop of Rome make a single liturgical act for the deported Jews of Rome. Even after the lost war for Germany and upon hearing of the death of Adolf Hitler, Adolf Bertram, the cardinal archbishop of Berlin ordered all the parish priests of his archdiocese “to hold a solemn Requiem in memory of the Fuhrer and all those embers of the Wehrmacht who have fallen in the struggle for our German Fatherland, along with the sincerest prayers for Volk and Fatherland and for the future of the Catholic Church in Germany.” [Cornwell, p. 317]

The followers of the Catholic Church, the common German Catholic citizens also had ingrained into them a loyalty to the Church and to Germany. Most of them held anti-Semitic views. Many of the police battalions that formed execution squads came from religious men. According to Goldhagen, “some of the men who went to church, prayed to God, contemplated the eternal questions and recited prayers which reminded them of their obligations to other humans; the Catholics among them took communion and went to confession. And when they went at night to their wives and girlfriends, how many of the killers discussed their genocidal activities?” [Goldhagen, pp.267-268].

The Protestant Churches in Germany

Protestantism constituted the major religion in Germany during the early 1930s. Until Hitler attempted to establish a German Reich Church, there existed no such thing as an official German Protestant Church. The Nazi party made a call for all German Protestants to unite in the hour of national need [Holt, p.168-9]. The Christian Evangelical Church would receive the dignity due it within a National Socialist State (Nazism) based on positive Christianity (“Positive Christianity” was stated in point twenty-four of the Nazi Programme, their version of a constitution), and whom Martin Luther served as their spiritual patron.

Most German Protestants followed Luther (who they knew hated Jews) and believed in the sanctity of the secular authority and the supremacy of the authority over all religious organizations. To Luther, the head of the temporal state should also be head of “the church visible.” [McGovern, p.650] On May 14, 1933, Ludwig Muller, a prominent member in the ranks of the German Christian Movement became the principle Bishop of the Evangelical German Reich Church.

Of course the thought of a state controlled national church could mean loss of control by the pastors of the Church. Naturally many pastors became concerned; some protested quietly to themselves and others, openly, by forming the Confessing Church. Nevertheless, most pastors allied themselves with the Nazi party and their anti-Semitic views got published in the Protestant press even before Hitler’s election into power. The Protestant press influenced millions of its readers with the most prominent being the Sonntagsblatter, and the weekly Sunday newspapers. These weekly papers dwelled on religious piety and preached how they thought of Jews as “the natural enemies of the Christian-national tradition.” [Goldhagen, 1996] As far as anyone knows, there had never occurred any visible or vocal church protest against the anti-Semitism of the Nazi party before it came into power. Considering that the majority of Germans at that time held anti-Semitic feelings (no doubt due mainly to religious preachings and propaganda), this should not surprise anyone. As many have pointed out, the religious rhetoric influenced Hitler during his youth.

Other pastors openly welcomed the Nazi’s believing that the reintroduction of government by Christian authorities, affirmed St. Paul that “the power that be are ordained by God.” (Romans 13:1). Under the continuing influence of the Lutheran Court Preacher Adolf Stocker, they believed that the future of German Lutheranism lay in obliterating the Jewish background of Christianity, and creating a national religion based on the traditions of German Christianity. They repeatedly stressed Luther’s anti-Semitic statements.

One of the “moral” pastors of the nation, Bishop Otto Dibelius, declared in a letter after April 1933, that he has been “always an antisemite.” Dibelius had expressed that he wanted the Jews to die out peaceably, bloodlessly (what a guy!) Wolfgang Gerlach, a German Evangelical pastor and historian of the Christian churches during the Nazi period, observed Bishop Dibelius’ anti-Semitic sentiments as “well nigh representative of German Christendom in the beginning of 1933. [Goldhagen, pp.108-9].

Bishop Martin Sasse of Thuringia, a leading Protestant churchman, published a compendium of Martin Luther’s anti-Semitic vitriol shortly after Kristallnacht (the first openly public attacks against the Jews by the Nazis). He applauded the burning of the synagogues and the coincidence of the day: “On November 10, 1938, on Luther’s birthday, the synagogues are burning in Germany… of the greatest antisemite of his time, the warner of his people against the Jews.” [Goldhagen p.111] He also edited a brochure for his ministers at the end of November 1938 titled, “Martin Luther and the Jews: do Away with Them!” He quoted extensively from Luther’s book “On the Jews and their lies.” [Wollenberg, p.73]

After the Nazi party took over, they began to exclude Jews from jobs and schools and later to exclude baptized racial Jews from the Land churches and to force them to live completely by themselves. Notably, the churches deeply involved themselves in furnishing data about racial origins from the very beginning of the Nazi era. Even Bishop Wurm saw no harm in this, and in 1934 informed his clergy: “The use of the ‘hereditary passports’ (Ahnenpasse) can also be recommended from the standpoint of the church.” [Helmreich, p. 328]

On September 1, 1941, a national law made it compulsory for all Jews to display the Star of David when they appeared in public. The ordinance presented a problem to the churches because they did not know that many of the Christians in their congregations had Jewish origins.

How did the Protestant churches respond to this oppression of their fellow Christians? On December 17, 1941, Protestant Evangelical Church leaders of Mecklenburg, Thuringia, Saxony, Nassau-Hesse, Mecklenburg, Schleswig-Holstein, Anhalt, and Lubeck collectively issued an official proclamation:

From the crucifixion of Christ to the present day, the Jews have fought Christianity or misused and falsified it in order to reach their own selfish goals. By Christian baptism nothing is altered in regard to a Jew’s racial separateness, his national being, and his biological nature. A German Evangelical church has to care for and further the religious life of German fellow countrymen; racial Jewish Christians have no place or rights in it. [Helmreich, p. 329]

One must also remember that most of the German citizens held beliefs as Protestant Christians. Many of the German police battalions who executed Jews with anti-Jewish zeal got recruited straight from the German populace, citizens that grew up in traditional Christian homes. For example, the men of one Police Battalion came predominantly from Hamburg and the surrounding region, an overwhelmingly Evangelical Protestant area. And even those battalion members who renounced the Church, declared themselves “gottglaubig,” a Nazi term for having a proper religious attitude without being a member of a traditional church [Goldhagen, p. 209].

In the end neither the official Protestant or Catholic churches tried to stem the tide of anti-Semitic measure taken by the Nazis, The Kirchliches Jahrbuch summarized it after the war:

The anti-Semitism of the NSDAP found the Evagelical church unprepared. Indeed, at least the Confessing church resisted the Aryan paragraph in the church and the separation of Jewish Christians out of the Evangelical church of Germany, but against anti-Semitism they uttered no word, and even at the time of the Jewish persecutions and of their extermination it could not bring itself to stand against the measures of the National Socialist regime both in and without the church. [Helmreich, p. 332]

The Confessing Church

Inevitably, whenever one questions the role of Christianity during WWII, Christians will quickly respond by providing examples of heroic Catholics or Protestants who saved lives, protested against Nazism, or had given their lives by dying in concentration camps. What appears most puzzling by these defenses comes from their complete lack of perspective of the history of their own faith-system. Of course there lived a few brave Christian men and women who opposed Nazism and performed courageous deeds. But the key word here, “few,” can hardly absolve the whole. One can say the same of the few heroic Nazis who protested against the atrocities committed by their own government. But can we prop up these few as a banner, while ignoring the majority of those who committed crimes to justify a belief-system regardless if it comes from a political ideology or a religion? If this served the case, then we could mine any intolerant system for its “few” noble members as justification for the system by calling it the True system, as do Christians who love to use the term True Christianity as if this had any definable meaning. Any honest reader should recognize that if this ploy cannot work for support of Nazism, Communism, Islam, (or any religion not your own) or any ideological belief-system, then neither can it work for Christianity.

As for the Church’s supposed role against Nazism, when the focus gets narrowed as to just what Church opposed Hitler, sadly, one can only point to a single minor opposing Church body: the Confessing Church. Although one should always fairly honor any heroic struggle against oppression of human freedom, the ethical dilemma faced by the Confessing Church did not exactly meet the demands for opposing anti-Semitism.

Hitler wanted to combine all the regional Protestant churches into a single and united Reich Church. Of course this meant government control of the Church and a minority of Lutheran Pastors foresaw the dangers. In 1933, a few Protestant Pastors, namely Martin Niemöller, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Karl Barth and others formed the “Pastors Emergency League” which later became known as “The Confessing Church” to oppose the state controlled Nazi Church.

It bears some importance to understand that Germany did not recognize the Confessing Church as an official Church. Not only the Nazis, but all other Protestant Churches condemned the Confessing Church. They thought of it as a minority opposition that held little power. The vast majority of German churches supported Hitler and his policies against the Jews. Moreover, they advocated composing an “Aryan Paragraph” in church synods that would prevent non-aryans from joining the Church, which of course included Jews.

In spite of the myth that has developed that the Confessing Church opposed Hitler for anti-Semitic reasons, the main reason for the opposition actually aimed to protect the power of Pastors to determine who should preach and who they can preach to. The Barmen Declaration of Faith (by Karl Barth, et al) became the principle statement of The Confessing Church. Not a single sentence in it opposes anti-Semitism. According to Professor John S. Conway: “The Confessing Church did not seek to espouse the cause of the Jews as a whole, nor to criticize the secular legislation directed against the German Jews and the Nazi racial philosophy.”

Basically, the Confessing Church wanted to save themselves from state control by forming what they considered themselves as the “True Church” (don’t all Christians think of themselves as belonging to the True Church?). They did not want government interference with Church self-regulation. This of course deserves plaudits as history has shown that state controlled religions have always ended in oppressing its people. The formation of the United States with its secular government aimed at just this kind of freedom of religion from the state. On this account, the Confessing Church deserves honorable mention. However, just what did they oppose about the Jewish question?

It turns out that the Pastors of the Confessing Church held concerns only for Jews who converted to Christianity. Of course they viewed Jews who converted to Christianity as Christian, not Jewish. This Christian centered view gave them the reason for their objection to the “Aryan Paragraph.” For Jews who did not convert, they held strong anti-Semitic feelings. Remember that these pastors lived as well read Lutherans; any reading of Martin Luther will reveal strong anti-Semetic feelings toward Jews who did not convert (see, On the Jews and their lies).

Although Martin Niemöller opposed the Nazi regime, he concurred with the Nazi view in one foundational respect: the Jews as eternally evil. In one of his sermons, he attacked the Nazis (without naming them) by likening them to the Jews! [Niemöller 1937] Pastor Bonhoeffer, according to his beliefs, saw the Nazi treatment against Jews as proof of God’s curse on Jews. Shortly after Hitler came to power, Bonhoeffer wrote to a theologian friend that regarded the Jews “the most sensible people have lost their heads and their entire Bible.” [Goldhagen, 1996, p.109] To Bonhoeffer’s credit, he did proclaim a credo of non-violence, but this did not come from Christian theology. Rather he based his non-violent stand from Mahatma Gandhi and the humanistic movement (he claimed to be a disciple of Gandhi). His neo-orthodox view opposed most every cardinal doctrine of Christian faith to a point that some considered him an atheist. Indeed he claimed it impossible to know the objective truth about Christ’s real nature and even claimed that “God was dead” (Letters and Papers from Prison, ed. Eberhard Bethge, New York: Macmillan Co., 1972, pp. 9-12, 378; Ethics, pp. 38, 186; No Rusty Swords, pp. 44-45). Karl Barth, considered a great theologian, and an opponent of the Nazis, and to his credit, did oppose the persecution of Jews, had nevertheless, made us quite clear of his own anti-Semitism. In his Advent sermon of 1933, he denounced the Jews, Luther style, as “an obstinate and evil people.” In a July 1944 Lecture in Zurich, Barth said, “We do not like the Jews as a rule, it is therefore not easy for us to apply to them as well the general love for humankind…”

Richard Steigmann-Gall’s research found that, “many confessional Lutherans who would later join the Confessing Church received the Nazi movement warmly.” Otto Dibelius, General Superintendent of the Kurmark, and one of the most conservative in the Confessing Church, certified the Nazi movement as Christian: “The National Socialists, as the strongest party of the right, have shown both a firm, positive relationship to Christianity…. We may expect that they will remain true to their principles in the new Reichstag.” After the Nazi Seizure of Power, Dibelius continued to view Nazism this way, even to the point of excusing Nazi brutality [Steigmann-Gall]. At a 1933 service in Berlin’s Nikolaikirche for the new Reichstag, Dibelius announced: “We have learned from Martin Luther that the church cannot get in the way of state power when it does what it is called to do. Not even when [the state] becomes hard and ruthless…. When the state carries out its office against those who destroy the foundations of state order, above all against those who destroy honor with vituperative and cruel words that scorn faith and vilify death for the Fatherland, then [the state] is ruling in God’s name!” [Steigmann-Gall].

Unfortunately, several of the members of the Confessing Church lost their lives in opposing Hitler. Bonhoeffer, for example, joined with several high ranking Nazi officers in a plan to assassinate Hitler. He also contacted foreigners to gain support for a call to resistance. The Nazi’s sentenced him for his opposition to Hitler and his policies (not because of his Christianity as some believers want us to believe). He died in the Flossenburg concentration camp in 1945.

Nevertheless, even after the war, members of the Confessing Church admitted their guilt. For example, Gerhard Kittle, a world-renowned scholar of the New Testament confessed his political guilt as he insisted that a “Christian anti-Judaism” which he found in the New Testament and in the tradition of the Christian church determined his attitude toward the Jewish question during the Third Reich.[Wollenberg, p. 76] On March 1946, in a lecture in Zurich, Martin Niemöller declared: “Christianity in Germany bears a greater responsibility before God than the National Socialists, the SS and the Gestapo.” [Goldhagen, p.114]

Considering that the Confessing Church with its few members, represents the most active religious protest against Nazism in Germany, it projects a poor commentary on the state of Christiandom as a whole, even if the other churches had remained passive. Unfortunately most Christian churches in Germany took an active role, not only by accepting Nazism, but to support and strengthen it.

Remaining secrets

The repulsive behavior of the Catholic hierarchy and the Protestant leaders in Germany presented here gives only a glimpse of the known atrocities and inhumane acts perpetrated through religious beliefs. Much remains unknown; the uncovering of the terrible history of Catholic and Protestant Germany during WWII continues. The silence of Catholic and Protestants, church members, priests, and nuns continues to this day. However, there occurs a few brave researchers who dig to uncover the facts. As one example, Anja Elizabeth Romus (best known in the U.S. from the fictionalized movie, “The Nasty Girl [1990]”) continues to research and write about the priests who suppressed their anti-Semitic role in Germany (Romus’ first book: “A Case of Resistance and Persecution, Passau 1933-1939,” 1983). In her latest book, “Wintergreen: suppressed Murders,” she documents the atrocities in her hometown [Passau] at the end of the war including the slaying of 2,000 Soviet prisoners, the murder of slave laborers’ infants and the efforts to change memorials to victims so that Nazi horrors would remain forgotten. Rosmus has endured verbal abuse, death threats and lawsuits in response to her dedication to the memories of those who faced Nazi persecution.

Recent evidence has surfaced that shows that both Germany’s Roman Catholic Church and Germany’s Protestant Church used forced laborers during the Third Reich. Religious affairs organizations have attempted to get the Churches to pay into a compensation fund for Nazi victims. According to Christa Nickels, religious affairs spokeswoman for junior coalition government partners the Greens, said the Church should immediately pay into the fund; “The correct thing to do is for the Church to pay into the fund. It’s not about when, where and how many forced laborers were used, but whether the two main churches were involved in the system.” [Reuters news, 20 July 2000]

How can one come to terms with such a powerful and oppressive system that denies its involvements with crime? Priests and ministers get held in high regard as they unconsciously hide their tracks with “moral” platitudes and religious services that seem to have nothing in common with past Church intolerances. In the United States, Father Patrick Peyton in the 50s campaigned at encouraging the recital of the Rosary in the home with the famous slogan, “The family that prays together stays together” and “A world at prayer is a world at peace.” How in the world can anyone justify such fake sentiments in light of the fact that Christians have prayed for peace ever since Christianity’s invention without a single lasting result? The horrors of WWII introduced by religious minds appear so obvious and dominate that only some powerful agency could possibly conceal the obvious facts from so many people for so long a time. That agency, indeed, does exist and it confronts every conscious believing human being at every waking hour: the power of Faith, that hideous instrument of counterfeit reality that can convince even the most educated human.

One should also keep in mind that the sheep of Christ, the blind followers of Christian leaders, no matter how grievous their sins or the sins of their pastors and priests, could rest in assured comfort that they lived as a part of the people of God. This religious system excluded anyone who refused to pay allegiance to Popes and ministers.

The questioned cry of “How could these atrocities have happen?” could only come from a religious mind overwhelmed by falsification or who must live in a state of denial against the abundant facts of history to protect a religious illusion. The Nazi atrocities did not come from a mad leader (a common excuse) or from a superstitious Satan, or from the mysterious workings of God—they occurred from common people acting from their beliefs. The question has an obvious answer and it sits staring at us in the face for anyone who dares look.

Today the Catholic Church has undertaken a campaign of suppression and propaganda to belittle Cornwell, Goldhagen, Romus or any researcher that dares to uncover the reality of the atrocities committed by Roman Catholic Christians. Today, Protestant leaders rarely mention the influence by Martin Luther and his anti-Jewish sentiments taught throughout Germany. Indeed, most Protestants live completely unaware of the hatred and intolerances spread by their congressional ancestors. Instead of releasing documents and admitting to the crimes of their fellow Christians, they have opted to protect their religious power structures by silence, concealment, suppression, and projecting the story of persecutions committed against their own religion by other ideological systems, a ploy that disguises their own complicity of persecutions heaped upon others.

Catholics and Protestants might protest against revealing the reality of Church involvement by claiming a trampling on the sensibilities of the religious people between Church and the modern effort to form some sort of conciliation between Christians and Jews. However this tactic only distances themselves from the recognition of the very problem that created the problem in the first place. The seeds of intolerance sits firmly in the place where it has always been—in the “sacred” scriptures and in the minds of believers who read them and act upon its words.

Bibliography

Cornwell, John, Hitler’s Pope: The Secret History of Pius XII, Viking, 1999

Goldhagen, Daniel Jonah, Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust, Alfred A. Knoph, 1996

Helmreich, Ernst Christian, The German Churches under Hitler: Background, Struggle, and Epilogue, Wayne State University Press, Detroit, 1979

Hold, John B., Under the Swastika, Chapel Hill, The University of North Carolina Press, 1936

Lewy, Guenter, “The Catholic Church and Nazi Germany,” Da Capo Press, 1964

Macfarland, Charles S., The New Church and the New Germany: A Study of Church and State, N.Y. Macmillan Co, 1934

McGovern, William Montgomery, From Luther to Hitler: The History of Fascist-Nazi Political Philosophy, Houghton Mifflin Co., 1941

Niemöller, Martin, Here Stand I! Chicago: Willett, Clarke & Co., 1937

Steigmann-Gall, Richard “The Holy Reich: Nazi conception of Christianity, 1919-1945,” Cambridge University Press, 2003

Wollenberg, Jorg, Ed., The German Public and the Persecution of the Jews 1933-1945: No One Participated, No One Knew (Chapter: When the Witnesses Were Silent, The Confessing Church and the Jews, by Wolfgang Gerlach), Humanities Press, New Jersey, 1996

Web sites

The Protestant Reaction to the Nazi Holocaust, by Michael Hakeem, Ph.D.:
http://www.ffrf.org/fttoday/back/hakeem/holocaust5.html

Dietrich Bonhoeffer:
http://www.rapidnet.com/~jbeard/bdm/exposes/bonhoeffer/general.htm

1945: The German churches before and afterwards:
http://www.concordatwatch.eu/kb-36941.934


2005-12-22

By Jim Walker

Source: No Beliefs

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The U.S. friendly dictators

Many of the world’s most repressive dictators have been friends of America. Tyrants, torturers, killers, and sundry dictators and corrupt puppet-presidents have been aided, supported, and rewarded handsomely for their loyalty to US interests. Traditional dictators seize control through force, while constitutional dictators hold office through voting fraud or severely restricted elections, and are frequently puppets and apologists for the military juntas which control the ballot boxes. In any case, none have been democratically elected by the majority of their people in fair and open elections.

They are democratic America’s undemocratic allies. They may rise to power through bloody ClA-backed coups and rule by terror and torture. Their troops may receive training or advice from the CIA and other US agencies. US military aid and weapons sales often strengthen their armies and guarantee their hold on power. Unwavering “anti-communism” and a willingness to provide unhampered access for American business interests to exploit their countries’ natural resources and cheap labor are the excuses for their repression, and the primary reason the US government supports them. They may be linked internationalIy to extreme right-wing groups such as the World Anti-Communist League, and some have had strong Nazi affiliations and have offered sanctuary to WWll Nazi war criminals.

They usually grow rich, while their countries’ economies deteriorate and the majority of their people live in poverty. US tax dollars and US-backed loans have made billionaires of some, while others are international drug dealers who also collect CIA paychecks. Rarely are they called to account for their crimes. And rarely still, is the US government held responsible for supporting and protecting some of the worst human rights violators in the world.

Friendly dictators

Abacha, General Sani —————————-Nigeria
Amin, Idi ——————————————Uganda
Banzer, Colonel Hugo —————————Bolivia
Batista, Fulgencio ——————————–Cuba
Bolkiah, Sir Hassanal —————————-Brunei
Botha, P.W. —————————————South Africa
Branco, General Humberto ———————Brazil
Cedras, Raoul ————————————-Haiti
Cerezo, Vinicio ———————————–Guatemala
Chiang Kai-Shek ———————————Taiwan
Cordova, Roberto Suazo ————————Honduras
Christiani, Alfredo ——————————-El Salvador
Diem, Ngo Dihn ———————————Vietnam
Doe, General Samuel —————————-Liberia
Duvalier, Francois ——————————–Haiti
Duvalier, Jean Claude—————————–Haiti
Fahd bin’Abdul-‘Aziz, King ———————Saudi Arabia
Franco, General Francisco ———————–Spain
Hitler, Adolf —————————————Germany
Hassan II——————————————-Morocco
Marcos, Ferdinand ——————————-Philippines
Martinez, General Maximiliano Hernandez —El Salvador
Mobutu Sese Seko ——————————-Zaire
Noriega, General Manuel ————————Panama
Ozal, Turgut ————————————–Turkey
Pahlevi, Shah Mohammed Reza —————Iran
Papadopoulos, George ————————–Greece
Park Chung Hee ———————————South Korea
Pinochet, General Augusto ———————Chile
Pol Pot———————————————Cambodia
Rabuka, General Sitiveni ————————Fiji
Montt, General Efrain Rios ———————Guatemala
Salassie, Halie ————————————Ethiopia
Salazar, Antonio de Oliveira ——————–Portugal
Somoza, Anastasio Jr. ————————–Nicaragua
Somoza, Anastasio, Sr. ————————-Nicaragua
Smith, Ian —————————————-Rhodesia
Stroessner, Alfredo —————————–Paraguay
Suharto, General ———————————Indonesia
Trujillo, Rafael Leonidas ———————–Dominican Republic
Videla, General Jorge Rafael ——————Argentina
Zia Ul-Haq, Mohammed ———————-Pakistan

GENERAL SANI ABACHA
President of Nigeria

General Sani Abacha is a corrupt and repressive dictator in the oil-rich country of Nigeria. Supported by oil wealth, Abacha has tried to cover his repression under a mantle of democracy by allowing fraudulent elections which only serve to guarantee his continued control. During elections in 1994, Chief Moshood Abiola, considered to be the likely winner, was arrested and placed in prison before the rigged results were announced; Abacha retained control. More than 100 government executions occurred in 1994, and numerous pro-democracy demonstrators were killed by police. Shell Oil provides most of the country’s wealth by extracting oil from the Ogoniland region, while in the process causing severe environmental destruction and devastating the local economy. More than 700 Ogoni environmentalists protesting the destruction of their way of life, were executed in recent years. The greatest travesty occurred in November 1995, when environmental leader Ken Saro-Wiwa and 8 associates, were hanged despite an international outcry. Shell supported Abacha’s policies by its silence. Despite an outcry that Nigerian oil be boycotted, the US government refused to do so.

IDI AMIN
General of Uganda

Amin was one of the most notorious of Africa’s post-independence dictators. A former heavyweight boxing champion in Uganda and a non-commissioned officer in the British Army there, Amin caught the attention of his superiors because of his efficient management of concentration camps in Kenya during the Mau Mau rebellion in the 1950s, where he earned the title of “The Strangler”. Because of his loyalty to Britain and his strongly anti-communist stance, Amin was picked by the British to replace the elected Ugandan government in a 1971 coup. While in power, he earned a reputation as a “clown” in some circles in the West, but he was no joke at home. Amin brutalized his people with British and US military aid and with Israeli and CIA training of his troops. The body count of his friends, the clergy, soldiers, and ordinary Ugandans rose daily, but the West ignored his cruelty. As he continued to demand more aid and sophisticated weapons, he finally lost support. In 1979, his quest for more power lead him to invade Tanzania. In retaliation, he was overthrown by an invading Tanzanian / Ugandan army. Amin fled to Saudi Arabia, where he now lives a quiet life in a modest villa outside Jeddah, looking after his goats and chickens and cultivating his vegetable garden. Traditional Arab garb has replaced the bemedalled Field Marshal’s uniform of his heyday.

COLONEL HUGO BANZER
President of Bolivia

In 1970, in Bolivia, when then-President Juan Jose Torres nationalized Gulf Oil properties and tin mines owned by US interests, and tried to establish friendly relations with Cuba and the Soviet Union, he was playing with fire. The coup to overthrow Torres, led by US-trained officer and Gulf Oil beneficiary Hugo Banzer, had direct support from Washington. When Banzer’s forces had a breakdown in radio communications, US Air Force radio was placed at their disposal. Once in power, Banzer began a reign of terror. Schools were shut down as hotbeds of political subversive activity. Within two years, 2,000 people were arrested and tortured without trial. As in Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil, the native Indians were ordered off their land and deprived of tribal identity. Tens-of-thousands of white South Africans were enticed to immigrate with promises of the land stolen from the Indians, with a goal of creating a white Bolivia. When Catholic clergy tried to aid the Indians, the regime, with CIA help, launched terrorist attacks against them, and this “Banzer Plan” became a model for similar anti-Catholic actions throughout Latin America.

FULGENCIO BATISTA
President of Cuba

Cuban Army Sergeant Fulgencio Batista first seized power in a 1932 coup. He was President Roosevelt’s handpicked dictator to counteract leftists who had overthrown strongman Cerardo Machado. Batista ruled or several years, then left for Miami, returning in 1952 just in time for another coup, against elected president Carlos Prio Socorras. His new regime was quickly recognized by President Eisenhower. Under Batista, U.S. interests flourished and little was said about democracy. With the loyal support of Batista, Mafioso boss Meyer Lansky developed Havana into an international drug port. Cabinet offices were bought and sold and military officials made huge sums on smuggling and vice rackets. Havana became a fashionable hot spot where America’s rich and famous drank and gambled with mobsters. As the gap between the rich and poor grew wider, the poor grew impatient. In 1953, Fidel Castro led an armed group of rebels in a failed uprising on the Moncada army barracks. Castro temporarily fled the country and Batista struck back with a vengeance. Freedom of speech was curtailed and subversive teachers, lawyers and public officials were fired from their jobs. Death squads tortured and killed thousands of “communists”. Batista was assisted in his crackdown by Lansky and other members of organized crime who believed Castro would jeopardize their gambling and drug trade. Despite this, Batista remained a friend to Eisenhower and the US until he was finally overthrown by Castro in 1959.

SIR HASSANAL BOLKIAH
The Sultan of Brunei

To illegally fund what they referred to as the “Democratic Resistance” in Nicaragua, Oliver North and Former Assistant Secretary d State Elliot Abrams solicited funds from several authoritarian regimes, including Taiwan, South Korea and the more obscure Sultanate of Brunei Darussalam. Sir Hassanal Bolkiah, the Sultan of Brunei, the world’s richest monarch, was indeed generous to the Contras — to the tune of $10 million. But, this generosity was not because of any commitment to democracy in Nicaragua or anywhere else, for Brunei is a monarchical dictatorship, under a State of Emergency since 1982. The Sultan also allows Brunei to be the ClA’s ears on the explosive Malaysian-lndonesian border. His Royal Highness was also involved with the infamous Nugan Hand Bank of Australia, a 1960s-70s CIA front for South East Asian drug operations and money laundering. In fact, according to a secret 1978 memo, Nugan Hand submitted a proposal to provide His Highness the Sultan with a bank structure and depository system which he alone can control should any change of government take place. The Sultan lives in a new palace that may have cost as much as a billion dollars, while over 90% of his subjects live in abject poverty. Those who protest such inequalities don’t fare well with the authorities. According to Amnesty International, Brunei’s jails hold “at least five prisoners of conscience who have spent 25 years in detention without having been convicted of any crime.”

P.W. BOTHA
President of South Africa

During P.W. Botha’s first term as President, the former Secretary of Defense altered the structure of government, giving the military and police unprecedented power. To justify this, he pointed to increasingly vocal discontent among South Africa’s disenfranchised blacks, the large number of black states In Africa, and a so-called “growing Marxist” threat in the region. South Africa, he said, was engaged in a “total war’ and must develop a “total strategy” to fight the battle. South Africa’s apartheid regime was quietly supported by the US government, despite a UN boycott and Congressional efforts to reduce US investment there, Ronald Reagan significantly increased military expenditures in the country. But few Americans realized that Botha’s total strategy against blacks had turned his nation into a ruthless aggressor. When Portugal withdrew from its colonies in Mozambique and Angola, Botha, claiming he wanted to strengthen capitalism on the continent, financed the Mozambique National Resistance (MNR) against the country’s popular government. The MNR, who receive direct training from South Africa, cut off the ears, noses, and limbs of civilians. After killing their parents and raping young women in front of 10 year old boys, they recruited these boys to fight. In 1989, P.W. Botha suffered a stroke and later resigned. In early 1990 his successor, F.W. De Klerk, watching as international sanctions ruined S. Africa’s economy, legalized political opposition parties and freed several important black political prisoners, including Nelson Mandela who had been imprisoned for 27 years for political activities against apartheid. Apartheid finally fell when Nelson Mandela was elected President of South Africa.

GENERAL HUMBERTO BRANCO
President of Brazil

In 1961, Brazilian President Jaao Goulart sought to trade with communist nations, supported the labor movement, and had limited the profits multi-nationals could take out of the country. These policies were clearly unacceptable to the American business interests. In 1964, the US took part in the overthrow of Goulart by General Humberto de Alencar Castello Branco, although US government officials have denied involvement. As an example of US support for Branco, just prior to the coup, US officials cabled Washington a request for oil for Branco’s soldiers in case Goulart’s troops blew up the refineries. Brancos regime was short but brutal. Labor unions were banned, criticism of the President became unlawful, and thousands of suspected communists (including children) were arrested and tortured. As in Paraguay, Argentina, and Bolivia, land was stolen from native Indians and their culture was destroyed. Drug dealers, many of them government officials, were given protection because they maintained national security interests. Brazil formed ties with the World Anti-communist League and assisted General Videla in his takeover of Argentina. When Branco stepped down in 1967, he left behind a constitution with greatly increased military and executive powers, crippling Brazil’s efforts to restore democracy.

RAOUL CEDRAS
General of Haiti

General Cedras seized power in Haiti in 1991 after the election of Jean-Bertrand Aristide. He ruled with the rod of iron associated with Haiti’s infamous former dictators, the Duvaliers — there were at least 4.000 political assassinations and more than 40,000 fled the country in boats for the US. He fled into exile in September 1994 when the US sent an invasion force under the banner of the UN.

Cedras is now in Panama, the only rival to France as the favorite haven for former dictators — Juan Domingo Peron of Argentina and the Shah of Iran once took refuge there, and Guatemala’s Jorge Serrano is a great success as a racehorse owner. Cedras has a penthouse suite in Panama City’s wealthy Punta Paitilla area. He is not short of cash — the US State Department alone pays him $5,000 a month in rent for his properties in Haiti. Panama University Professor Miguel Antonio Bernal complains: ‘Our country is being used as a wastebasket for the political toxic waste of the world.’

VINICIO CEREZO
President of Guatemala

According to Amnesty International, arbitrary arrest, torture, disappearance, and political killings were everyday realities for Guatemalans during decades of US financed military dictatorship. In January 1986, Christian Democrat leader Vinicio Cerezo was elected President and said he had “the political will to respect the rights of man”, but it didn’t take long to find out that his political will was irrelevant in the face of Guatemala’s well-oiled military machine. Hopes for change were dashed when Cerezo announced that Guatemala would continue to provide amnesty for all past military offenses committed from General Elrain Rios Montt’s coup in 1982 through the 1986 elections. Although Ronald Reagan’s State Department asserted “there has not been a single clear-cut case of political killing, within months of Cerezo’s inauguration, opposition leaders attributed 56 murders to security forces and death squads, while Americas Watch claimed that “throughout 1986, violent killings were reported in the Guatemalan press at the rate of 100 per month”. Altogether, Americas Watch says, tens-of-thousands were killed and 400 rural villages were destroyed by government death squads during Reagan’s term in office. Colonel D’Jalma Dominguez, former army spokesman, explains “For convenience sake a civilian government is preferable, such as the one we have now. If anything goes wrong, only the Christian Democrats will get the blame. It’s better to remain outside. The real power will not be lost.” Today, the real power still resides with the military.

CHIANG KAI-SHEK
President of Taiwan

The Chinese civil war pitted Mao Tse-Tung’s Communists against Chiang Kai-Shek’s Nationalists. The US-backed Chiang, but when he couldn’t do the job they also supported Japanese troops fighting the Communists, even before WWll had ended. Hated for his wanton cruelty, corruption, and decadence, Chiang did not enjoy the support of the Chinese people; entire divisions of the Nationalist army defected and fled to the island of Formosa (Taiwan). A presidential commission appointed by Harry Truman reported after Chiang’s arrival there that his forces “ruthlessly, corruptly, and avariciously imposed their regime on the population. Under Nationalist rule, 85% of the population was disenfranchised, but the onset of the Korean War and the anti-communist hysteria of the McCarthy era led the US to declare that the tiny island represented the real government of China. The US was crucial in keeping mainland China out of the UN until 1971. Chiang gave the World Anti-Communist League (an international organization with links to Nazis, drug smugglers, and the CIA) its first home, permitting WACL members to use a military academy there to train troops for Latin American military coups. President Carter tried to cut US ties to WACL, but Ronald Reagan received campaign funds from the group, and WACL became involved with training and supplying contras in Argentina and Taiwan. Chiang Kai-Shek died in 1975, but many of his policies continue in Taiwan.

ROBERTO SUAZO CORDOVA
President of Honduras

Honduras was the original “Banana Republic” — its history inextricably intertwined with that of the US-based United Fruit Company, but in 1979, when Anastasio Somoza was overthrown in Nicaragua, Honduras got a new nickname — “The Pentagon Republic”. In 1978 Honduras received $16.2 million in US aid. By 1985, it was getting $231 million, primarily because President Suazo Cordova, working with the US Ambassador and the Honduran military, allowed Honduras to become a training center for U.S. funded Nicaraguan contras. General Alvarez assisted in training programs and founded a special “hit squad”, the Cobras. Victims of the Cobras were stripped, bound, thrown into pits, and tortured. The Reagan Administration claimed ignorance of these human rights violations, but US advisors have admitted knowledge. Alvarez who made enemies among his troops because he pocketed U.S. aid and because he belonged to the “Moonies”, a far-right South Korean religious cult, was overthrown by the military in 1984. Suazo’s ties to Alvarez cost him his bid in the next election, but death squad activity and US aid to Honduras continued. Many high ranking government and military personnel during and after Suazo’s term were drug traffickers, and although the US government denies knowledge of this, there is evidence to the contrary. In fact, the US embassy was renting space from known drug dealers.

ALFREDO CRISTIANI
President of El Salvador

General Hernandez Martinez’s 1932 anti-communist purge, was carried out on behalf of El Salvador’s rich coffee oligarchy, the so-called “Fourteen Families”. New president Alfredo Cristiani is a member of those same ” Fourteen Families”, and his ARENA party is linked to brutalities surpassing Hernandez Martinez’s. Cristiani is moderate-sounding, schooled in Washington D. C., and indebted to the military for power. As puppet – president, he yielded to ARENA founder Roberto D’Aubuisson, whom a former US Ambassador called a “pathological killer”. D’Aubuisson, a former Army Major with ties to Jesse Helms and the US right, studied unconventional warfare in the U S and Taiwan. According to D’Aubuisson, “the Christian Democrats (Ex-President Jose Napoleon Duarte’s party) are communists, but Jesuit priests are “the worst scum of all”. US State Department cables indicate D’Aubuisson “planned and ordered the assassination of the late Archbishop Oscar Amulfoo Romero”. It’s believed he was behind the White Warriors Union (UGB), whose slogan was “Be patriotic-kill a priest”. In 1989 six priests were slain and Cristiani soon admitted his US trained soldiers had committed the murders. Yet, although assassinations of priests are notable, 70,000 other civilians were killed by the Salvadoran military and the death squads since 1980.

NGO DINH DIEM
President of South Vietnam

Ngo Dinh Diem oppressed the Vietnamese people so badly that many of them turned to the communists for protection from his ruthless rule. Even President Eisenhower admitted that “had elections been held, possibly 80% of the population would have voted for Ho Chi Minh, the communist leader”. Yet Diem, who had once lived in the US, had connections, in Washington, who liked his anti-communism. He founded the Can Lao Party (CLP), a secret police force overseen by his brother, Ngo Dinh Nhu, and Nhu’s wife, Madame Nhu. The three were notorious for their ineptitude and cruelty. The CLP was not even their idea, it was originally promoted by the US State Department to rid the country of communists. Diem alienated urban professionals by suppressing all opposition to his regime. He alienated peasants by canceling their age-old local elections, forcing them off their land, and moving them into “agrovilles” surrounded by barbed wire, which even US officials conceded bore a striking resemblance to concentration camps. Ultimately, he angered his own military officers because he promoted on the basis of loyalty, not merit. In an effort to keep Diem in power, the US tried to persuade him to make political reforms. He refused, so they persuaded him to make military reforms. But when Diem was finally overthrown and assassinated in 1963, none of his generals rose to defend him. Nor did the US, which, after 8 years, had finally realized that Diem wasn’t popular.

GENERAL SAMUEL DOE
President of Liberia

Samuel Doe came to power in a bloody 1980 coup, a Master Sergeant in military gear. Today, he is a self-made General in a suit, living on US aid and corporate kickbacks. But while Doe and his cronies live in luxury, the rest of Liberia dwells in squalor. Under his regime, the gross domestic product has decreased by 13%, the country’s health statistics are among the world’s worst, 80% of the population is illiterate, all opposition parties but one were forbidden to participate in the 1985 national elections, and those who protest these inequities are jailed or killed. Doe, a pro-American anti-communist, received $500 million in U.S. aid between 1980 and 1985. When Congress threatened to cut off funds because of Liberia’s human rights abuses, Doe requested “American financial advice” as a show of good will. The U.S. sent 17 accountants, bank examiners, and economists to help Doe balance his budget, but they realized a difficult task lay ahead when they learned that Doe had purchased over sixty $60,000 Mercedes Benz cars for his government ministers and had given the Liberian soccer team $1 million for winning a match against rival Ghana. Ultimately Doe refused to allow access to records concerning 40% of Liberia’s funds, for this “second budget”, revenues from gasoline and lodging taxes, goes directly into the President’s bank account. The American advisors returned home in 1989, mission not accomplished, and Samuel Doe remains in office, despite early 1990 rumblings of rebel plots against him.

FRANCOIS & JEAN CLAUDE DUVALIER
Presidents of Haiti

In 1957 Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier became Haiti’s President-For-Life, establishing a strategic relationship with the US that lasted until 1971, when he was succeeded by his son Jean Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier. During the 30 years that they ruled with an iron hand, 60,000 Haitians were killed and countless more were tortured by the Duvaliers’ Tonton Macoutes death squads. While Haiti became the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, the Duvaliers enriched themselves by stealing foreign aid money. In 1980, for instance, the International Monetary Fund granted Haiti a $22 million budget supplement. Within weeks, $16 million was “unaccounted for”. Baby Doc made Haiti into a trans-shipment point for Colombian cocaine. Nevertheless, as long as Papa and Baby Doc were anti-communists, they could do no wrong in the US government’s eyes. Their regime finally ended in 1986, when Baby Doc fled angry mobs of Haitians for asylum in France, with a fortune estimated at $400 million. It has been estimated that under Baby Doc’s rule 40,000 Haitians were murdered.

KING FAHD BIN ‘ABDUL – ‘AZIZ
King of Saudi Arabia

King Fahd bin ‘Abdul -‘Aziz is the absolute monarch of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Fahd and 2000 related royals rule with an iron grip of medieval feudalism. Control over the lives of their citizens is total and arbitrary. Torture is common, and amputation is frequently ordered by the courts. Women have few rights, and adultery by women is punished by death by stoning. Executions by hanging are public — there were at least 60 such executions in 1994. The main opposition is from Sunni Islamists, and hundreds are in prison. Saudi Arabia is supported by the United States and other western democracies because of the enormous oil wealth that lies below the country’s desert sands, its pro-West stance, and the royal family’s staunch anti-fundamentalist position. The irony of American policy in Saudi Arabia is that the US, the world’s most vocal advocate for democracy, supports one of the most undemocratic regimes in the world.

GENERAL FRANCISCO FRANCO
President of Spain

General Francisco Bahamonde Franco was not the most popular leader in Spain during the early 1930s. A man of humble origins, he had worked his way up the military ladder fighting colonial wars in Africa. Franco, a staunch conservative, was infuriated when a Republican alliance of socialists, Marxists, and liberals won Spain’s first free elections in 1936. So the General decided to restore order by force. Franco’s Nationalists were losing the civil war, but military support from Hitler, Mussolini, and the US corporations that backed Hitler, turned the tide in his favor. Italy and Germany sent 6,060 trucks to Franco’s fascists, but 12,000 were supplied by Ford, General Motors and Studebaker. The US claimed neutrality but didn’t stop these companies from aiding Franco. The failure of the US and other democratic nations to assist Spain’s democratic government was ultimately responsible for Franco’s victory in 1939, and sadly, American volunteers who fought for the Republic were relentlessly persecuted during the US anti-communist hysteria of the 1950s. Under Franco, all political parties and labor unions were banned, books were burned, and dissenters were tortured and executed. Spain was ostracized by the international community, but the US considered Franco a Cold War ally and sank millions into the country. After Franco’s death in 1975, Spain became a democratic republic once again.

ADOLF HITLER
Chancellor of Germany

As German bombs fell on London and Nazi tanks rolled over US troops, Sosthenes Behn president and founder of the US based ITT corporation, met with his German representative to discuss improving German communication systems. ITT was designing and building Nazi phone and radio systems as well as supplying crucial parts for German bombs. Our government knew all about this, for under a presidential order, US companies were licensed to trade with the Nazis. The choice of who would be licensed was odd, though. While the Secretary of State gave the Ford Motor Company permission to make Nazi tanks, he simultaneously blocked aid to German-Jewish refugees because the US wasn’t supposed to be trading with the enemy. Other US companies trading with the Third Reich were General Motors, DuPont, Standard Oil of New Jersey, Davis Oil Co., and the Chase National Bank. President Roosevelt did not stop them, fearing a scandal might lead to another stock market crash or lower US moral. Besides, the same companies that traded with Hitler were supplying the US with its armaments, and some corporate leaders threatened to withdraw their support if Roosevelt exposed them. Henry Ford was a good friend of Hitler’s. His book — The International Jew — had Inspired Hltler’s Mein Kampf. The Fuhrer kept Ford’s picture in his office, and Ford was one of only four foreigners to receive Germany’s highest civilian award. As for Sosthenes Behn, at the end of the war, he received the highest civilian award for service to his country — the United States of America.

HASSAN II
King of Morocco

Like his former ally, the Shah of Iran, King Hassan ll of Morocco spares himself no earthly delight. He has seven principal palaces, keeps 260 horses in just one of his many stables, boards most of his camels, ostriches, and zebras with his 945 head of cattle at his 1500 acre dairy farm, and he’s got a couple of harems. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate in Morocco is over 20%, and 95% of the population lives in abject poverty, sheltering in makeshift huts in the country’s increasingly swollen cities. Citing dubious historical ties, in 1975, Hassan took his nation into a war in the Western Sahara that is costing the country over $l million a day. Although the International Court of Justice ruled that Morocco has no historical claims to the territory, the US continues to back Hassan diplomatically and financially in his war to annex the area. The US also takes an active role in stopping coup attempts against the King. According to one dissident, the CIA gave Hassan a video tape that enabled him to catch the plotters in the act. The favor was returned when Hassan visited Washington in 1982 — he and President Reagan agreed that the US could use Morocco as an emergency base for its planes. Although Hassan has been less repressive in recent years, members of the opposition are still arrested and tortured. But as his people start to make connections between the rising cost of living and the war in the Sahara, criticism grows, and even the CIA has admitted that Hassan may not be able to keep the lid on dissent much longer.

FERDINAND MARCOS
President of the Philippines

Ferdinand Marcos began his career with a bang. At age 21, convicted of gunning down Julio Nalundasan, his father’s victorious opponent in the Philippines first national elections, he went to prison. He was later release by a Supreme Court Justice who, like Marcos and his father, was a Nazi collaborator. Despite Marcos’s record as murderer, fake WWll hero and Nazi agent, he was elected Philippine President in 1965. Under Marcos, the Philippine national debt grew from $2 billion to $30 billion, but US corporations in the Philippines prospered, perhaps explaining why the US didn’t protest Marcos’s imposition of martial law in 1972. The Marcoses enjoyed a luxurious lifestyle, and they salted away billions of dollars in the course of their US-backed rule between 1965 and 1986.

The Carter Administration engineered an $88 million World Bank loan to Marcos, increased military aid to him by 300%, and called him a “soft dictator”. But a 1976 Amnesty International report identified 88 government torturers, and stated that alleged subversives had their heads slammed into walls, their genitals and pubic hair torched, and were beaten with clubs, fists, bottles, and rifle butts. By 1977, the armed forces had quadrupled and over 60,000 Filipinos had been arrested for political reasons. Yet, in 1981, Vice President George Bush praised Marcos for his “adherence to democratic principals and to the democratic processes”. Marcos was overthrown in 1986 by followers of Corazon Aquino, widow of an assassinated opposition leader.
Ferdinand and Imelda fled to Hawaii, only to be indicted in 1988 for fraud and tax evasion. Marcos died in 1989. Imelda returned to the Philippines in 1991 and stood unsuccessfully in the Presidential elections of 1992. In 1993 she was sentenced to 18 years imprisonment for criminal graft and to other long sentences for corruption. She is still free while she appeals. She was elected to Congress in May 1995. Meanwhile, in it attempts to recover the lost Marcos billions from Swiss bank accounts and other shadier locations the Philippines Government has, after paying its US lawyers, recovered the princely sum of $2,000.

MAXIMILIANO HERNANDEZ MARTlNEZ
General of El Salvador

Maximiliano Hernandez Martinez seized power El Salvador in a 1931 coup. His philosophy with regard to human rights was clear — “It is a greater crime to kill an ant than a man,” said the General.

Hernandez Martinez initiated an anti-communist purge in 1932 in El Salvador. Subsequent massacres left 40,000 peasants dead and wiped out the country’s Indian culture. An uprising, six weeks later, organized by El Salvador’s Communist Party founder, Farabundo Marti, failed, and was followed by the crackdown on “communists”. Roadways and drainage ditches were littered with bodies. Hotels were raided, individuals with blond hair were dragged out and killed as suspected Russians. Many were executed and then shoved into mass graves they had first been forced to dig. U.S. warships were stationed off-shore, ready to send in Marines to aid the General in case he ran into serious opposition. Hernandez Martinez was run out of the country in 1944, but his memory was celebrated as recently as 1980, when the Maximiliano Hernandez Martinez Brigade carried out a series of death-squad assassinations of prominent Salvadoran leftists. Farabundo Marti, killed during the purge, has also left a legacy — the rebels who fought the U.S. backed government of El Salvador during the 1980s, call themselves the FMLN, the Farabundo Marti Liberation Front.

MOBUTU SESE SEKO
President of Zaire

When Zaire’s first elected President, Patrice Lumumba, appeared to be getting too close to socialism, US companies feared they might lose control of Zaire’s precious cobalt, copper, and diamonds. So the CIA stepped in, assassinated Lumumba, and replaced him with Mobutu Sese Seko. Since 1965, Mobutu has been the US’s main man in Central Africa. Mobutu has amassed an estimated $5 billion personal fortune at his nation’s expense. He is perhaps the only world leader who could pay his national debt from his own bank account. In fact, there seems to be no division between his pocket and the national treasury. In 1974, when the US sent $1.4 million to assist troops fighting a civil war, Mobutu pocketed the entire sum. And no foreign company sets itself up in Zaire without a tribute to Mobutu. Although Zaire has more resources than most other countries in the region, it is the fifth poorest. Malnutrition takes the lives of one-third of Zaire’s children, and one child out of two dies before age five. But Mobutu has vowed to keep the world safe for democracy and according to Amnesty International, in the name of anti-communism, he imprisons and tortures, often without trial, anyone who threatens his power base. While some members of Congress grumble about giving assistance to Mobutu, they continue to reward his work against communism and his warm reception of American corporations.

GENERAL EFRAIN RIOS MONTT
President of Guatemala

“A Christian has to walk around with his Bible and his machine gun”, said born-again General Efrain Rios Montt, military ruler of Guatemala from March 1982 to August 1983. Rios Montt was one in a long series of dictators who ran Guatemala after the Dulles brothers and United Fruit, backed by the CIA, decided that democratically-elected President Jacobo Arbenz was too reform-minded. And so, they overthrew the country’s constitutional democracy in 1954. The succession of corrupt military dictators ruled Guatemala for over 30 years, one anti-communist tyrant after another receiving U.S. support, aid, and training. After the 1982 coup that brought Rios Montt to power, the U.S. Ambassador to Guatemala said “Guatemala has come out of the darkness and into the light”. President Reagan claimed Rios Montt was given “a bum rap” by human rights groups, and that he was cleaning up problems inherited from his predecessor, General Romeo Lucas Garcia. Ironically, Garcia had given $500,000 to Reagan’s 1980 campaign, and his henchman, Mario Sandoval Alarcon, the ‘Godfather’ of Central American death squads, was a guest at Reagan’s first inaugural celebration. Sandoval proudly calls his National Liberation Movement ” the party of organized violence”. Montt simply moved Garcia’s dirty war from urban centers to the countryside where “the spirit of the lord” guided him against “communist subversives’, mostly indigenous Indians. As many as 10,000 Indians were killed and over 100,000 fled to Mexico as a result of Rios Montt’s “Christian” campaign.

GENERAL MANUEL NORIEGA
Chief of Defense Forces, Panama

The US command post for covert Latin American operations is located in the Canal Zone where a series of figurehead presidents, some backed by General Manuel Noriega, had involved Panama in US intelligence operations. General Noriega became commander-in-chief of the National Guard in Panama in 1983, and for the next six years was more powerful than the President. He was the kind of ruthless leader the US favored in the rest of Central America. Noriega first met with then CIA Director George Bush in 1976, while Noriega was collecting $100 thousand a year as a CIA asset. Their friendly relationship persisted even after Noriega’s drug dealing was revealed by a 1975 DEA investigation. During the Reagan era, Noriega collaborated with Oliver North on covert actions against Nicaragua, training contras and providing a transshipment point for CIA supported operations that flew weapons to the contras and cocaine into the US.

But he fell foul of the US when he failed to support their plan to invade Nicaragua — they withdrew aid and imposed sanctions. In 1987, a Miami grand jury indicted him for drug-trafficking, and the CIA tried to destabilize his regime. Noriega warned Bush that he had information which could change the course of the 1988 US elections and the CIA backed off. When Noriega annulled Panama’s 1989 elections, citing CIA interference, Bush renewed attempts to unseat his one-time ally. Critics called Bush’s failure to support an abortive 1989 coup “indecisive”, but his response to that criticism, the December 1989 invasion of Panama, led to world condemnation. Noriega eventually surrendered to face US drug charges. The invasion of 26,000 American troops led to over 4,000 Panamanian deaths and installed a regime with similar close links to drugs, plus a willingness to alter Panama Canal treaties to serve US interests.

Noriega was taken prisoner and stood trial in Miami on charges of drug trafficking and was sentenced to 40 years’ imprisonment. He is still in a Florida jail contemplating the irony that he was once also the protégé of the US Drug Enforcement Agency. Meanwhile the legal office of the President the US installed in his place was discovered to have connections with 14 companies that had laundered drug money.

TURGUT OZAL
Prime Minister of Turkey

Turgut Ozal was elected prime minister of Turkey in 1983, after several years of harsh military rule. But while free expression in Turkey has opened up somewhat in recent years, torture and long prison terms for political opponents and government critics have remained a way of life. In 1988, according to Amnesty International, “thousands of people were imprisoned for political reasons…and the use of torture continued to be widespread and systematic”. Turkey’s torturers are ruthless. Says one victim: ” I loosened the blindfold and looked around. The scene was horrific. People were piled up in the corridor waiting their turn to be tortured. Ten people were being led, blindfolded and naked, up and down the corridor and were being beaten to force them to sing reactionary marches. Others, incapable of standing, were tied to hot radiator pipes. A man was forced to watch while his children were tortured.” Regardless of the repression that a succession of governments have subjected the country to, US-Turkish relations remain cordial. In the past, US officials have even attributed the torture problem to “the violent nature of the Turkish people.” Retired Turkish General Turgut Sunalp explains it a different way. “There has been, still is, and will be torture in Turkey because there is torture everywhere in the world,” he said. But despite its human rights abuses, Turkey can do no wrong in US eyes, for it is one of the CIA’s key listening posts on the Soviet border. Not surprisingly, in 1987, Turkey was the third largest recipient of U.S. aid.

MOHAMMAD REZA PAHLEVI
Shah of Iran

1953 was a busy year for Allen Dulles. Even as he readied the CIA for a coup in Guatemala, his agents were toppling the liberal left government of Dr. Mohammad Mossadeq and paving the way for the Shah of Iran. With Dulles’ encouragement, the Shah made the Iranian people an offer they couldn’t refuse — join his party or go to jail. Thousands who refused to yield were imprisoned or murdered. During regional elections in 1954, the Shah’s agents raided a religious school and hurled hundreds of students to their deaths from the roof. His regime received 100% of the vote that year, in an election which registered more votes than there were voters.

The Shah’s subsequent solidification of power led to an iron fisted rule enforced by fear and torture. His secret police agency, SAVAK, was created in 1957 and managed by the CIA at all levels of daily operation, including the choice and organization of personnel, selection and operation of equipment, and the running of agents. SAVAK’s torture methods included electric shock, whipping, beating, inserting broken glass and pouring boiling water into the rectum, tying weights to the testicles, and the extraction of teeth and nails. Iran under the Shah became a devoted US ally and a base for spy operations on the border of the Soviet Union. But eventually, the Shah was overthrown in 1978 by an indigenous people’s revolution that held sway until fundamentalist religious leader Ayatollah Khomeini returned to Iran from exile and reasserted his power during the 1979 US hostage crisis.

GEORGE PAPADOPOULOS
Prime Minister of Greece

When President Lyndon Johnson offered a solution to the Greek Ambassador for the dispute between Greece and Turkey over Cyprus, the Ambassador protested, saying the solution was unacceptable to the Greek parliament and constitution. Three years later, in 1967, a military coup overthrew the freely elected government of Andreas Papandreou. The coup was headed by CIA employee and ex-Nazi George Papadopoulolis. He had been on the CIA payroll for 15 years when he came to power, and during WW ll he was a captain in the Nazi Security Battalions, whose main purpose was to catch members of the Greek Resistance. Almost anyone who even said the word “communist” was jailed. During Papadopoulos’s first month in power, 8,000 so-called “leftist” were imprisoned and tortured. Greece was expelled from the European Commission on Human Rights, but continued to receive US aid. In return, Greece kept the world safe for democracy by housing US military bases. Papadopoulos was ousted in 1973 after falling from grace with the inner clique that helped him rule. When the entire government fell in 1974, he and his comrades were tried for human rights abuses.

PARK CHUNG HEE
President of South Korea

Free and open expression has not come easily to South Koreans. Beatings, torture, and execution of the regimes’ political opponents have been a way of life since the Korean War. The tenure of former President Park Chung Hee, who came to power in a 1961 military coup, exemplifies the kind of leader South Koreans have been forced to endure. Park’s virulent anti-communism won him U.S. support. The water torture, which leaves no physical marks on the victim, was a favored technique of Park’s security forces. Cold water was forced up the nostrils through a tube, while a cloth was placed in the victim’s mouth to prevent breathing. Many anti-communist interrogations were run by the KCIA, a US creation modeled after the American CIA. One victim told Amnesty International, ” I was taken to KCIA headquarters, my hands tied together, and I was tied to a chair. I was not allowed to have any sleep. At night, they would drag me to the basement where they would beat me with a long, heavy stick, and jump on me. They were trying to make me confess that I was a spy. Despite such brutal behavior, the US has maintained a first-rate strategic relationship with South Korea, providing successive repressive regimes with extensive US aid. Park Chung Hee was assassinated by the KCIA in 1979, but South Korea is still a nation troubled by lack of human rights.

GENERAL AUGUSTO PINOCHET
President of Chile

Augusto Pinochet deposed democratically elected President Salvador Allende in 1973, and buried Chile’s 150 year old democracy. “Democracy is the breeding ground of communism”, says Pinochet. The bloody coup, in which Allende was assassinated, was carefully managed by the CIA and ITT. Tens of thousands of Chileans have been tortured, killed, and exiled since then, according to Amnesty International. A U.S. congressional delegation was told by inmates at San Miguel Prison that they had been tortured by “the application of electric shock, simultaneous blows to the ears, cigarette burns, and simulated executions by firing squads.” Despite Chile’s bad human rights record, the U.S. government continued to support Pinochet with international loans. Even the state-sponsored car-bomb assassination of Chile’s former Ambassador to the U.S., Orlando Letelier, did not convince the U.S. to break with Pinochet. In 1988 a plebiscite refused to extend Pinochet’s rule, so he altered the constitution to reduce the powers of the incoming elected President, and left himself head of the armed forces. All the other South American dictators are gone but Pinochet has found the perfect solution: Chile now has the squeaky-clean sheen of democracy yet he still has his finger on the trigger.

POL POT
Commander of the Khmer Rouge

The bombing of Cambodia by the US from 1969 to 1972, left 600,000 civilians dead, millions of refugees, tens-of-thousands dying from disease and starvation, and the Cambodian economy and culture in ruins. Cambodians blamed the US and the puppet regime of Lon Nol for the country’s destruction, and gradually sided with the guerrilla army of the Khmer Rouge led by Pol Pot, which finally defeated Lon Nol, and took power in April, 1975. Once in power, Pol Pot emptied the cities, forcing the people into the countryside. Virtually all educated people were killed and more than 1.5 million people perished in this “holocaust”. Only when the Khmer Rouge was ousted by Vietnam in 1979, did the terror stop. Washington took steps to preserve the Khmer Rouge as a counter force to the Vietnamese. International relief agencies were pressured by the US to provide food and humanitarian assistance to the Khmer Rouge, which had fled to Thailand, and the US sent military aid as well. In 1982, in an effort to isolate the Vietnamese, the US forced together the three contending anti-Vietnamese groups, insisting that the Khmer Rouge be part of the negotiations. Cambodia continues to suffer from the devastation produced by both the US bombing and the Khmer Rouge atrocities. Pol Pot is considered to still be the power behind the Khmer Rouge, which has a strong presence in Cambodia today, thanks to the US.

GENERAL SITIVENI RABUKA
Commander, Armed Forces of Fiji

On May, 1987, General Sitiveni Rabuka stormed the Fijian Parliament and arrested the newly elected Prime Minister, Dr. Timoci Bavadra. Bavadra’s fledgling Labor Party had just defeated Fiji’s pro-US puppet Prime Minister, Ratu Slr Kamese Mara, and although Bavadra’s support for a nuclear free South Pacific was welcomed by the regional populace, a nuclear free zone was be unacceptable to the US. Thirty-two days after his electoral victory, Dr. Bavadra was overthrown by the pro-nuclear General Rabuka, with the help of the US. Once in control, General Rabuka quickly allied himself with some of the most brutal regimes in the world. “Military dictators seem to like other military dictators”, says deposed Fijian Prime Minister Bavadra. “It did not take long for our illegal rulers to establish strong ties with Indonesia, Taiwan, and South Korea”. Under General Rabuka’s US supported police state, Amnesty International has reported, for the first time in Fijian history, cases of illegal detention and torture — the beginning of the Latinization of the Pacific.

ANTONIO DE OLIVEIRA SALAZAR
Prlme Minister of Portugal

Antonio de Oliveira Salazar worshipped Hitler and Mussolini, but after they lost, he joined the Allies and became a card-carrying member of NATO. However, he always kept a piece of fascism alive in Portugal. His secret police, the PIDE, were much like the Gastapo; concentration camps were set up for “enemies of the state”, news organizations were merely propaganda machines, and all schools had their lesson plans carefully monitored by “Big Brother”. Salazar also kept a little piece of the Dark Ages alive in Western Europe. In 1970, 30% of the population was illiterate, and the infant mortality rate was the second worst in Europe. The Portugese economy stagnated. Most of the land was held by 5% of the population, the vast majority of Portuguese worked in agriculture, and all union activities were forbidden. Portugal was the last stronghold of European colonialism. Salazar refused to give up colonies in East Timor, Portuguese Guiana, Mozambique, and Angola. He believed the “white man” must bring higher civilization to the ” black man”. The U.S. openly backed Portugal’s colonial claims, due to the strategic importance of military bases such as the one in the Portugese Azores. Salazar died in 1968, after 40 years in power. His regime fell in 1974, at which point Portugal left Angola, but the US continued to back South African efforts there.

HALIE SELASSIE
Emperor of Ethiopia

Emperor Halie Selassie may have been a better king to the animals of Ethiopia than to its people. In 1973, during the height of a drought in which 200,000 Ethiopians died of starvation, Salassie fed beef to his Great Danes. Selassie was a fairer ruler than many of those around him. For example, as a young provincial governor, he only took 50% of his peasants crops while other governors were taking 90%, and in the 1950s as few as 100 political prisoners were tortured in his jails at one time. But, under his long rule, Ethiopia remained in the dark ages. Just after his overthrow in 1974, the annual per capita income was $90, the literacy rate was 7% and Ethiopia was the poorest nation in Africa. Under Selassie, Ethiopia received more US aid than any other African country and Washington purchased a $2 million yacht for the Emperor. When Selassie faced an uprising in the province of Eritrea, the US sent advisors and arms to help him smash the revolt. In return for our support, Selassie provided the United States with a naval oasis in the Red Sea and a place for a strategic communications station. Selassie’s kindness to his animals was his downfall; he was overthrown when photos of him feeding his dogs during the 1973 famine were circulated among his outraged troops.

IAN SMITH
Prime Minister of Rhodesia

lan Smith promised the whites who elected him Prime Minister of Rhodesia in 1982 that he would keep Rhodesia white, at any cost. To stop the black guerrilla fighters trying to overthrow his regime, Smith rationed food for Africans whom he believed were feeding the guerrillas. This cruel measure only served to starve the already undernourished black population. Studies found that over 90% of Rhodesia’s black children were malnourished and nutritional deficiencies were the major cause of infant death. Smith rounded up blacks into concentration camps he called “protective” villages. Believing that ignorant people were less likely to revolt, he cut funding for black education, spending $5 on each black child compared to $80 on each white child. His all white Parliament passed a law protecting officials who took actions for the suppression of “terrorism”, enabling the police and military to commit atrocities. An international trade boycott against Rhodesia arose, but while the US publicly condemned the government, it continued to do business there. In 1971, President Nixon lifted the chrome embargo against Rhodesia at a time when there was a surplus of chrome in the US. Blacks were eventually given the right to vote for some officials, but the opposition to Smith’s government grew so strong that he was ultimately forced to give up some power to blacks. In 1979, Rhodesia became Zimbabwe, a country primarily ruled by blacks.

ANASTASIO SOMOZA, SR. AND JR.
Presidents of Nicaragua

The Marines invaded Nicaragua in 1912, and stayed until 1933, fighting but never defeating the revolutionary Augusto Sandino. They created the Nicaraguan National Guard and installed Anastasio Somoza Garcia in power. Then Sandino, who had signed a truce and put down his arms, was assassinated by Somoza. A general who led the Marines into Nicaragua, explained, ” I was a high class muscle-man for big business, for Wall Street and for the banks. In short, I was a racketeer for capitalism. l helped purify Nicaragua for an International banking house.” President Franklin Roosevelt put it another way. “Somoza may be a son-of-a-bitch, but he’s our son-of-a-bitch.” Corruption, torture, and wholesale murder of dissidents continued for 45 years under two generations of Somozas, for after Somoza Garcia was gunned down in the streets in 1956, his son Anastasio Somoza Debayle took control. The Somozas plundered Nicaragua and became millionaires. The younger Somoza, made $12 million a year buying the blood of his people and selling it abroad at a 300% mark-up. In 1972 after an earthquake killed and wounded hundreds of thousands of Nicaraguans, Somoza had his National Guard seize $30 million in international relief supplies and sold them to the highest bidder. Near the end of his reign, he aerially bombed his own capital to stay in power, but he was overthrown in 1979 by a rebel group who called themselves the Sandinistas, after the revolutionary hero his father had slain.

ALFREDO STROESSNER
President of Paraguay

Alfredo Stroessner seized power in Paraguay in 1954. European correspondents who visited Paraguay during his rule used the term the “poor man’s Nazi regime” to describe the Paraguayan government. Of German descent, Stroessner was a great admirer of Nazism, and this showed not only in the refuge he offered to many Nazi war criminals, such as Joseph Mengele, but also in his ruthless methods.

From the Nazis the Paraguayan military learned the art of genocide. The native Ache Indians were in the way of progress, progress represented by American and European corporations who planned to exploit the nation’s forests, mines, and grazing lands. The Indians were hunted down, parents killed, and children sold into slavery. Survivors were herded into reservations headed by American fundamentalist missionaries, some of whom had participated in the hunts.

Between 1962 and 1975, Paraguay received $146 million in U.S. aid. Paraguayan officials seemingly wanted more, however, for in 1971, high ranking members of the regime were implicated in the Marseilles drug ring, with Paraguay their transfer point for shipments from France to the US. In the 1980s, America finally condemned Paraguayan civil rights abuses and drug trafficking. Stroessner still looked as if he’d be dictator for life, but in 1988 one of his closest generals, Andres Rodriguez, a known drug dealer, took over after a coup. Rodriguez promised to restore democracy, and President Bush called the 1989 elections a democratic opening, but opponents declared them a massive fraud. Rodriguez’s Colorado party won 74% of the vote. Stroessner took refuge in Brasilia, Brazil. He still lives there, in comfort.

GENERAL SUHARTO
President of Indonesia

Indonesia is a totalitarian state and its uncontested ruler for over 20 years, General Suharto, is one of the most brutal dictators in history. After a CIA organized coup brought him to power in 1965, Suharto, decided to purge every communist subversive from Indonesian soil. General Nasution, a close associate of Suharto, called for the extermination of three million Indonesian communist party members, and with the CIA supervised the murderous purge.

Paratroopers would arrive in a region with a list of “subversives” and provide it to local vigilante groups. Using machetes and other crude weapons, the vigilantes would hack the alleged subversives to death. Entire populations of towns and villages were herded to central locations and massacred. Children would be asked to identify communists who would then be executed on the spot. In addition to the half million people who were killed outright after the coup, another 750,000 were arrested and tortured. Ultimately, one million people died in one of the most savage mass slaughters of modern political history. The US continues to this day to train and arm the Indonesian military with the latest high-tech equipment. (Suharto resigned in 1999 after mass public protest)

RAFAEL LEONIDAS TRUJILLO
President of the Dominican Republic

The US occupied the Dominican Republic in 1916 and created the National Guard to put Rafael Leonidas Trujillo into power. The fact that Trujillo was court-martialed for kidnapping and rape in 1920 did not impede his rise to power or taint his relationship with the US. As dictator of the Dominican Republic for 30 years, Trujillo had a penchant for self-adulation, and put his personal stamp on everything, including the capital, village water pumps, and homes for the aged. Trujillo won the 1930 presidential election with more votes than there were registered voters, but because he was anti-communist, Washington was happy. He invoked anti-communism to justify mass deportations, torture and summary executions. Workers who asked for wage increases were labeled communists, and shot on the spot, as were farmers who tried to stop Trujillo from confiscating their land. He eventually controlled over 80% of the country’s sugar plantations, using slave labor provided by neighboring Haiti to keep profits high. In 1937, he decided to blame depressed sugar prices on the Haitian workers, and massacred 20,000 them. Trujillo was finally assassinated by the CIA in 1961 after he attempted to have President Romulo Betancourt of Venezuela murdered because of his criticism of Trujillo’s brutal regime. It was only then that the Marine Corps made public the fact that our ally Trujillo was a convicted rapist.

GENERAL JORGE RAFAEL VIDELA
President of Argentina

Soon after the coup that brought him to power in 1976 General Jorge Rafael Videla began Argentina’s dirty war. All political and union activities were suspended, wages were reduced by 60%, and dissidents were tortured by Nazi and US-trained military and police. Survivors say the torture rooms contained swastikas and pictures of Hitler, Mussolini and Franco. One year after Videla’s coup, Amnesty International estimated 15,000 people had disappeared and many were in secret detention camps, but although the U.S. press admitted human rights abuses occurred in Argentina, Videla was often described as a “moderate’ who revitalized his nation’s troubled economy. Videla had a good public relations firm in the U.S., Deaver and Hannaford, the same firm used by Ronald Reagan, Taiwan, and Guatemala. Videla also received aid from the World Anti-Communist League (WACL), through its affiliate, CAL (Confederation AntiCommunists Latinoamericana). CAL sent millions of dollars to Argentina from the US, including old anti-communist organizations with alliances with the Italian drug mafia. As part of its WACL affiliation, Argentina trained Nicaraguan contras for the US. Videla left office in 1981, and after the Falklands Crisis of 1982, he and his cohorts were tried for human rights abuses by the new government.

MOHAMMED ZIA UL-HAQ
Presldent of Pakistan

In 1979, when General Mohammod Zia Ul-Haq executed his elected predecessor, Zulfigar Ali Bhutto, and declared martial law, drugs were unknown in Pakistan, but by 1984 Pakistan was furnishing 70% of the world’s high grade heroin. That same year, George Bush addressed a group of Pakistani officials and praised the government of President Zia for its anti-narcotics program. However, among the guests listening to Vice-President Bush were many high ranking officials with links to one of the most lucrative heroin syndicates in the world. Although the US government had some very capable drug enforcement agents in Pakistan, they did not break even one narcotics case there. A senior Pakstani narcotics officer said he had concluded the US was unwilling to press for arrests that might embarrass a government so closely tied to Washington. Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger called Pakistan a “frontline state” defending “free people everywhere’. That may explain why despite its unsavory record of jailing and torturing dissidents, Pakistan under Zia was the largest recipient of US. aid, receiving over $3 billion in 1982, of which over half was for weapons. Zia eventually lifted martial law and called for general elections in 1985. However, many of his outspoken opponents were jailed during the elections and for several days afterward. Zia died in a mysterious plane crash in 1988, and the political party of his predecessor then formed a government behind the late President Bhutto’s daughter Benazir Bhutto.

Appendix

U.S. Imperialism List
1. China – 1945 to 1960s
2. Italy – 1947-1948
3. Greece – 1947 to early 1950s
4. The Philippines – 1940s and 1950s
5. Korea – 1945-1953
6. Albania – 1949-1953
7. Eastern Europe – 1948-1956
8. Germany – 1950s
9. Iran – 1953
10. Guatemala – 1953-1954
11. Costa Rica – Mid-1950s
12. Syria – 1956-1957
13. Middle East – 1957-1958
14. Indonesia – 1957-1958
15. Western Europe – 1950s and 1960s
16. British Guiana – 1953-1964
17. Soviet Union – Late 1940s to 1960s
18. Italy – 1950s to 1970s
19. Vietnam – 1950-1973
20. Cambodia – 1955-1973
21. Laos – 1957-1973
22. Haiti – 1959-1963
23. Guatemala – 1960
24. France/Algeria – 1960s
25. Ecuador – 1960-1963
26. The Congo – 1960-1964
27. Brazil – 1961-1964
28. Peru – 1960-1965
29. Dominican Republic – 1960-1966
30. Cuba – 1959 to 1980s
31. Indonesia – 1965: Liquidating President Sukarno … and 500,000 others
East Timor – 1975: And 200,000 more
32. Ghana – 1966: Kwame Nkrumah steps out of line
33. Uruguay – 1964-1970: Torture — as American as apple pie
34. Chile – 1964-1973
35. Greece – 1964-1974
36. Bolivia – 1964-1975
37. Guatemala – 1962 to 1980s: A less publicized “final solution”
38. Costa Rica – 1970-1971
39. Iraq – 1972-1975
40. Australia – 1973-1975
41. Angola – 1975 to 1980s
42. Zaire – 1975-1978
43. Jamaica – 1976-1980
44. Seychelles – 1979-1981
45. Grenada – 1979-1984
46. Morocco – 1983
47. Suriname – 1982-1984
48. Libya – 1981-1989
49. Nicaragua – 1981-1990
50. Panama – 1969-1991
51. Bulgaria 1990/Albania 1991
52. Iraq – 1990-1991: Desert holocaust
53. Afghanistan – 1979-1992
54. El Salvador – 1980-1994
55. Haiti – 1986-1994
56. The American Empire – 1992 to present


By Dennis Bernstein and Laura Sydell

Source: U.S. Imperialism Page

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CIA Discovered Who Helped Hitler To Win Elections In Germany And To Become A Chancellor In 1933 – A Document of Evidence

cia-discovers-putin-helped-hitler-to-winn-elections

The 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact & Imperialist Propaganda

The Soviet army hoisting its flag over the German Reichstag after the battle for Berlin in 1945

The Soviet army hoisting its flag over the German Reichstag after the battle for Berlin in 1945

If we see that Germany is winning we ought to help Russia and if Russia is winning we ought to help Germany, and that way let them kill as many as possible…”
Harry S. Truman, 33rd POTUS, 1941

Since the end of the Second World War, the bourgeois historiography has tried to distort various incidents in order to vilify Socialism and the USSR. One of these incidents- which has been a “banner” of imperialism’s apologists and other anticommunists- is the so-called “Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact* which was signed in 1939. In it’s unscientific, unhistorical effort to equate Communism with Nazism, the bourgeois propaganda presents the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact as a medium of expansive policy by the USSR and Hitler’s Germany. The distortion of historical events, the amalgamation of lies and the half-truths by the Imperialists and their collaborators aim in defaming the huge role of the Soviet Union in the anti-fascist struggle of WW2.

However, the reality is different than the one presented by the bourgeois historiography. Here, we will examine the circumstances and the events which led to the Molotov-Ribbentrop non-agression pact, in an effort to debunk the anti-communist propaganda on this matter.

Having the financial and technical support of US and European monopolies, Hitler’s Germany began to strengthen its armed forces in the mid-1930s. In 1936, the Nazis proceeded to the militarization of Rhineland, helped Mussolini in capturing Abyssinia (Ethiopia) while they played a crucial role in the imposition of Franco’s fascist dictatorship in Spain. The strengthening of Nazi Germany and the beginning of fascism’s expansion in Europe took place under the tolerance of the then powerful “democratic” imperialist powers; Britain, France and the US.

After the annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany in March 1938, the Allies (Britain, France) proceed to the Munich Agreement (30 September 1938). The apologists of Imperialism usually try to downgrade the importance of this agreement between Britain, France, Mussolini’s Italy and Hitler’s Germany. However, the impact of the Munich agreement- an act of appeasement towards the Nazis- was definitely significant. With the signatures of the then British and French Prime Ministers, Neville Chamberlain and Édouard Daladier, the Nazis annexed Czechoslovakia and intensified their expansionist aggressiveness towards Eastern Europe.

The participants of Munich Conference, 1938. From left to right: Neville Chamberlain, Eduard Daladier, Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini.

The participants of Munich Conference, 1938. From left to right: Neville Chamberlain, Eduard Daladier, Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini

A few months later, on April 7, 1939 the fascist regime of Italy invaded and captured Albania. On March 31, 1939, the governments of Britain and France guaranteed the protection of Poland in case of a Nazi attack- Both London and Paris signed bilateral agreements of mutual aid with Poland. When Germany invaded Poland on September 1st, 1939, Britain and France declared war against Hitler but without taking any military action until next year! From their side, the United States declared their neutrality.

Before the invasion of the Nazi army in Poland, the government in Warsaw had tried to negotiate with Hitler a possible joint attack against the Soviet Union. The negotiations failed, as long as the Polish bourgeoisie prefered instead to sign defense agreements with Britain and France. What is important here is that Poland had rejected an agreement of mutual defense (against Nazis) offered by the Soviet Union.

The Imperialist propaganda tries to obfuscate Britain and France’s stance of appeasament towards the Nazis and hides the reasons behind the US “neutrality”. The words of US Senator Robert A. Taft are characteristic: “A victory of communism would be much more dangerous for the United States than a victory for fascism” (CBS, 25 June 1941). According to historian John Snell, the western powers regarded the Third Reich as a “barrier” against the Soviet Union in central Europe. The strategic aim of the “democratic” imperialist states was to turn Hitler against the Soviet Union; in a few words, to use the Nazis as a weapon against the contruction of Socialism in the USSR. That was the initial aim of the so-called “allies”.

On that point, we must remind that, before the war and while Hitler’s regime was building a powerful military, the Soviet Union took numerous initiatives in order to deal a defensive agreement with the European capitalist states. Despite the Soviet calls for the preparation of a common front against the Nazis, the western European “allies” declined such a perspective. For example, before the 1938 Munich Agreement, when Hitler annexed Austria, the Soviet Union proposed an International conference (March 1938) which would deal with the confrontation of Nazi agressiveness.

On July 23, 1939, the Soviet Union proposed to Britain and French the beginning of negotiations for the formation of a defense plan in case of a German attack. However, the British government had other priorities: to secretly negotiate a non-agression pact with Hitler’s representatives in London. Indeed, while the Soviet Union was proposing to the capitalist states an anti-fascist front, the British government was secretly negotiating with the Nazis the “spheres of influence” in Europe!

What the bourgeois historiography deliberately hides is the fact that the Soviet Union was the only state that had not an aggressive, expansionist policy. Both the two sides of international imperialism (the “democratic” capitalist allies and, on the other hand, the Nazi-fascist Axis) were aiming at the elimination of the Soviet Union. The real enemy of both sides was the Socialist construction in the USSR and for that they didn’t hesitate to use each other against Moscow.

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The temporary non-agression pact between the Soviet Union and Germany came after numerous efforts by the Soviets to deal a defense agreement with Britain and France. Therefore, being under the continuous threat of the expanding Nazi army and in order to prepare itself for an extensive war, the Soviet state forced to sign the non-agression pact with Berlin. What the bourgeois historians and the apologists of Imperialism call an “alliance between Hitler and Stalin” was in fact a needed diplomatic manoeuvre by the Soviet Union in order to gain time and prepare effectively for a full-scale war. Even bourgeois historians admit that the Soviet policy was complete realistic, given the then circumstances and the danger of a German attack (F.Dulles, The road to Tehran, New York, 1944, p.203-207).

According to the imperialist propaganda, the Molotov-Ribbentrop non-agression pact led to the Soviet “capture” of a part of Poland and the Baltic states of Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia. Such arguments- about the supposed “Soviet occupation”- have fostered the rise of fascist, neo-Nazi groups in these countries after the counter-revolution in the USSR. However, the truth is also quite different. Poland had participated actively in the allied imperialist attack which was launched against the newly-founded Soviet state in 1918. With the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk (3 March 1918) the Bolshevik leadership had renounced Tsarist claims to Poland. The Polish government kept under it’s control a number of areas in the Baltic region, including western Belarus, western Ukraine and a part of Lithuania). After the Nazi invasion in Poland in 1939, the Red Army moved towards the Soviet-Polish borders and liberated the abovementioned areas.

The bourgeois-imperialist propaganda tries to distort history when it refers to “Soviet occupation”- on the contrary, the Soviet Army was the one which liberated the Baltic countries and eastern Europe from the Nazis. The Motolov-Ribbentrop pact did not include any kind of Poland’s “partition”. On the contrary, the 1938 Munich Agreement between Britain, France and the Axis (Germany, Italy) led to the partition of Czechoslovakia and the seizure of the country by Hitler’s army.

Conclusion

The imperialist propaganda regarding the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact consists one of the numerous cases of blatant anticommunist lies. Through bourgeois historiography, Imperialism tries to equate communism and fascism, to vilify Socialism and the Soviet Union. In order to do this, Imperialism’s apologists distort history and invent the most hideous slanders against the Soviet Union and the socialist states; from the “Moscow trials” and the “gulags” to the supposed “Stalin-Hitler alliance” and the “Soviet invasion” in Afghanistan. What the Imperialists want to hide is the fact that fascism is just another kind of bourgeois authority- the simple fact that, as Bertolt Brecht said, fascism is the “most naked, brazen, oppresive and deceitful form of capitalism”.

By Nikos Mottas

Source: https://off-guardian.org/2016/09/03/the-molotov-ribbentrop-pact-and-the-imperialist-propaganda/

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