Using fear as his paintbrush, Adolf Hitler created a macabre masterpiece out of a post-war Europe in the early 1930s through the late 1940s. By playing off the German citizen’s hatred of the Western Allies, he created a power hungry governmental system, with himself at the reins.
Hitler, as well as his Third Reich, died near the end of World War II in an underground bunker by his own hand. The same hand that signed away on the deaths of millions of non-Aryans would be the tool that took his own life. But would this fatal act signal the end of Hitler’s destruction? Would Europe and the rest of the world finally be safe from power mongers and bloodthirsty dictators? Or is it possible that Hitler’s own downfall ushered in a new era of terror, complete with its own cycle of death? Is it possible that the end of the Third Reich was not the victorious scenario that America and her Allies envisioned? Perhaps the most glaring effect of leaving Germany without its government was the “dividing of the spoils” by the Allies, where Joseph Stalin and the communist Soviets were given an eastern section of Germany to be under a communist rule, and the Americans and their democratic allies would have their own half of the war-torn country to be ruled under a (more) democratic form of government. Berlin, the former capital of the Nazi Government, however, would be split in half due to its position a hundred miles within Stalin’s East Germany. As with the whole of Germany, West Berlin would be under democratic rule, and East Berlin would be like the rest of its surrounding territory, under communist rule.
This simple configuration to some was actually increasingly complex, due to the logistical problems caused by two polar opposite political systems trying to peaceably cooperate and exist in the same space. In Berlin, for instance, there was a large influx of German citizens crossing the “border” between into the West from the East, the citizens once again trying to escape another violent rule, this time by another enemy. Stalin and his Soviets quickly responded by dividing Berlin with a 12 foot high wall, a literal “iron curtain”, to separate the “free” from the supposedly “liberated”. The most glaring question is why? Why did the Allies feel the need to divvy up Germany rather than leave it to rebuild autonomously, much like the Weimar Republic? Why did the Soviets feel the need to control the East Berliners by separating them from their friends and families across the street? Was this occupation actually a form of revenge for all of the countries who Hitler offended during his Reich? During the War, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt tried to dispel worries or rumors about a post-War Soviet occupation, saying, “I think that if I give [Stalin] everything I possibly can and ask for nothing from him in return…
he won’t try to annex anything and will work with me for a world of democracy and peace.” However, after Roosevelt’s death, Vice-President Truman took office, and he took a more concerned stance against Stalin and his Communist regime. In one circumstance, then US Secretary of War Henry Stimson advised Truman to give a courtesy call to Stalin, to inform him of America’s nuclear weapon program, the Manhattan Project. Truman waited and waited, informing Stalin of his plans to bomb Japan only twelve days before the bombing of Hiroshima. Stalin, interestingly, was unfazed by the plans; it was only later known that he had spies within the Manhattan Project, which ironically meant that Stalin knew of the United States’ plans even before President Truman knew, he being informed only after taking office.
In the end, however, Roosevelt’s public statements turned out to be wrong. When the other Allies threw the Soviets a bone by giving them bits and pieces of the former German empire, the bone was only to be hurled back over the 12 foot wall, back into the faces of the Americans. Was it always going to turn out this way? Churchill believed so. Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom during World War Two, warned Roosevelt in early 1945 of what he perceived as a future takeover of Eastern Europe by Stalin, which fell upon empty years. Perhaps blinded by hubris, the United States listened only to the United States towards the end of the War, and Churchill found himself going along with mostly American-devised plans, rather than ones designed mutually between all of the Allies.
One could argue that the entire foundation of Communism is based upon the revolution of the proletariat, and thus is inevitable, just as Karl Marx argued in his Communist Manifesto. In other words, it would not be Stalin’s takeover of Eastern Europe, as Churchill warned, it would simply be an awakening period for the masses of blue-collar workers to rise against their superiors. The flaw behind this thinking, of course, is that the Soviet Union was created off the basis of “forced enlightenment”, that while the proletariat would eventually awaken to the ideas of Communism, this could take decades, and it would be much more benefiting to the proletariat in the long run if this process were to be sped up. Thus was the essential difference between the Bolshevik Communists and the Menshevik Communists within the Russian Revolution; The Bolshevik victors created their false “Communist” country over the slow-footed Mensheviks who felt that the ideology should rise up naturally to truly have an effect. Joesph Stalin, a Bolshevik, did not believe in naturalism.
As Churchill coined it the best, the “iron curtain” stretched across the facade of Eastern Europe, cutting directly through the former Germany, separating the democratic countries to the West, and the plethora of “People’s Republics” to the East, and Stalin was at the heart of it all. While Stalin attempted to reassure Churchill that he would not “soviet-ify” Europe, he also influenced small bands of Communists within Nazi occupied territories, instructing them to form alliances with other non-fascist groups to band together against the Nazi oppression, just as he was doing on a larger scale. Of course, within this coalition, he instructed his followers to slowly organize or reorganize the coalitions to lean more and more Communist, until eventually, the Communists would have almost or complete control of the coalition. At this point, the power grubbing Commies could simply wave off the other anti-fascists, some of which were allied with the democratic west, and eventually bring their ideology to the forefront in the country once the Nazis were defeated. In other words, Stalin’s incredibly cunning takeover of Europe relied solely on the defeat of the rival Nazis, which could lead some to believe that while Stalin may have opposed Fascism, he really wanted to create his own empire of followers, and couldn’t do so with another empire (Hitler’s) standing in his way.
It must be pointed out, again, that while Stalin may have shared in the same empire building as the Nazis did, Stalin’s method of governing was much more indirect. Through the usage of satellite states, most notably the “independent” country of East Germany, Stalin (and eventually, successors to Stalin within the USSR) was able to keep a considerable amount of influence in exchange for military and economic backing. In this way, Stalin was no different than his anti-Communist counterparts, the Americans, who, through the Marshall Plan, spread influence throughout countries by offering them economic and military incentive to become more democratic and open. The Allies, in addition to buying influence via economic incentives, were at the same time, ironically, trying to distance themselves from the notion of an Empire. The United Kingdom and other European countries, for example, were dumping their held territories in Africa and elsewhere to rid themselves of the hypocritical PR that it might caused–we fought Adolf Hitler and won to keep one power from taking over the world, yet we continue to militarily enforce our powers thousands of miles away.
Unfortunately, perhaps because their priorities for doing so were a little backwards, this arbitrary manner of dumping territories into an immediate chaotic independence caused, well, chaos. It is for this reason that there are so many problems in Africa right now–it arguably stems from the lack of stability brought on by the sudden absence of a respected authority. While Hitler’s absence certainly did bring about a resulting foreign chaos and essentially a political standoff for the next several decades, his domestic policies during his Third Reich brought on its own form of torture, both for the Jews he attempted to exterminate, and one parcel of land in the Middle East called Palestine later on. The Jewish race has always laid claim to the biblical “land of Abraham”, what we know as Israel, but since 635 AD, their claimed territory was governed by the Islamic government of Palestine, which was initially set up by the Ottoman Empire. This didn’t necessarily dispel the Jewish claim; several thousands of the descendants of Jews who fled in exile from their homeland because of the Islamic takeover laid out many plans for a Jewish repopulation of their “God-given” land. In one particular instance alone, a Rabbi led a group of 1,500 strong in a resettlement pilgrimage.
Their “God-given” land of what was the now British Mandate of Palestine was still not a Jewish state, as many in the Zionist movement of the early to mid 1900s would have liked it to be. This stalemate would have continued if it were not for the philanthropic genocide that Adolf Hitler so graciously gave to the Jewish “exiles” within his Nazi territories. Philanthropic, used here, is more a facetious term; Hitler fully intended to wipe out the Jewish race but was defeated before this could have came to fruition; the tragedy that the Jewish race suffered due to the events surrounding the Holocaust helped the Zionist movement gather more and more sympathy and support for their cause.# It is safe to say that if Hitler was never defeated, we have a more-peaceful Middle East. Due to the arbitrary dumping of territories by the United Kingdom, as referenced above, the British Mandate of Palestine had its day to be up on the chopping block to autonomous chaos. Citing that they (the British) could not truly settle the debate between the Arabs and the Jews–whose population in Palestine rose 33% in the few years that followed World War Two–and dumped the territory in 1947.
The newly chartered United Nations decided to step in, creating one of their earliest infamous commissions to consider the options that were possible in regards to the territory of Palestine. The Commission, in the end, recommended a partitioned Palestine, so that the Arabs and the Jews could both have their own peace of the land. In other words, the Commission recommended that the almost century old population of Palestine should be exiled outside a certain territory to make way for all of the “displaced” Jewish people after the Holocaust; the people forgetting that the Jewish people have been advocating for an autonomous state for at least the last half of this century. In what should have been a surprise to no one, the Palestinian people and their leaders refused to accept the proposal, and for a while, kept a standoff against the full implementation of the plan. Unfortunately for them, the Arab economy collapsed, which caused a massive ex-flux of Palestinians to exile in other countries, and effectively signaled the beginning of the Israeli state. The fighting between Israel and the small portion of Palestine continues today.
It is ironic that the United Nations, the “governing” body that partitioned Palestine in the first place, just now has given the supposedly self-governing state of Palestine any sort of recognition in their General Assembly. It’s not much–nonmember observer status–but it was apparently enough for Israel to proceed with plans to further invade the Palestinians’ territory to build settlements for the Jews, which would then mean that the territory surrounding the settlements would belong to the country of Israel. But when Palestine or any of its allies tries to attack Israel, suddenly, they become evil terrorists. In the end, Adolf Hitler’s defeat ultimately brought its own problems, much more so than his existence did. While no one can argue that Hitler was even close to a good guy, there can be no disputing the conflicts that his leave created stemming from the events surrounding his reign. Even today, in the case of Israel, we still see the continued effects of his Third Reich; the destructive powers of this man are endless.
Will we ever see a day where the world will truly be in peace, as the United Nations was supposedly chartered for? Or perhaps the only “peace” is for countries with democracies and those who aren’t ruled by Muslims. The United Nations today only serves a friendly facade that the world is getting along much better after Nazi Germany, when really, it is only getting worse.