“Having a good relationship with leaders of other countries is a good thing,” said President Trump last week, when the subject of North Korea emerged in the final debate. “That’s like saying we had a good relationship with Hitler before he in fact invaded Europe,” countered Joe Biden, who rightly took heat for the claim.
As Conrad Black notes, U.S. relations with Hitler were frosty from the start in 1933, and President Roosevelt withdrew the American ambassador after the infamous “Kristallnacht” pogroms in November of 1938. What could use more attention is Biden’s claim that Hitler “in fact invaded Europe.” Here’s what really happened.
On August 23, 1939, Adolf Hitler of National Socialist (Nazi) Germany signed a pact with Communist dictator Josef Stalin of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The pact provided cooperation on trade, military technology, cultural exchange, and contained secret protocols that divided up swaths of Europe.
On September 1, 1939, Hitler invaded Poland, effectively starting World War II. On September 17, 1939, Stalin invaded Poland, and on September 29, Hitler and Stalin divided up Poland, and the pact handed the Baltic States to Stalin. In June of 1940, Stalin invaded Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia. Behind the scenes, the two dictators were collaborating in more sinister ways.
Barely a month after signing the pact, Stalin began deporting anti-fascist and Communist refugees back to Nazi Germany, handing hundreds of Jews directly to the Gestapo. Such deportations continued throughout the pact. There was nothing Stalin wouldn’t do for his ally, and that extended to the national Communist Parties controlled by the Comintern.
The American Communist Party had opposed Hitler’s National Socialist regime but that all changed after the Stalin-Hitler pact. The Communists went along 100 percent, and even picketed the White House, demanding that President Roosevelt stay out of a “foreign war.” Stalin and Hitler took full advantage.
On November 30, 1939, Stalin invaded Finland and on December 14 the League of Nations expelled the USSR. The outgunned Finns duly turned back the Red Army but Stalin continued to support his Nazi ally. On April 9, 1940, Hitler invaded Denmark and Norway. Sweden remained neutral and during the war supplied Hitler with iron ore for the Nazi war machine.
On May 10, 1940, Hitler invaded France, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, with full approval of the USSR. Then on June 22, 1941, Hitler turned the tables and invaded his Communist ally.
Stalin was completely unprepared for the betrayal, and Nazi forces advanced deep into the USSR. This effectively ended the Stalin-Hitler Pact, which gets little attention from those who readily invoke Hitler in contemporary political discussions.
The United States did not enter the war until after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. That gave hope to those suffering under Nazi tyranny, but victory was not a done deal.
On June 6, 1944, in the largest invasion in history, British, Canadian, American, Polish and Australian troops stormed the beaches at Normandy. Many of those brave soldiers met their end that day, but the Allies went on to take down the National Socialist regime and liberate western Europe.
On April 12, 1945, the “B” Squadron of the 8th Canadian Reconnaissance Regiment liberated the Westerbork transit camp in Holland. From that outpost, the Nazis deported 97,776 Jews, 54,930 to Auschwitz, 34,313 to Sobibor, 4,771 to the Theresienstadt ghetto and 3,762 to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. At Westerbork, the Canadians forced the Nazis to flee and saved 876 inmates from certain death.
In recent years, some have attempted to place Soviet troops among the D-Day forces but a ballpark figure for their number is zero. Their first invasion was of Poland, in September of 1940, and they backed all Hitler’s invasions until June of 1941.
After the war, Stalin retained control of Eastern Europe, including the Baltic States that were part of the Stalin-Hitler pact. Stalin also backed Kim Il Sung’s invasion of South Korea in 1950. According to I.F. Stone, author of The Hidden History of the Korean War, the United States started the conflict, a typical leftist inversion of reality. Stone, a faithful recycler of Communist propaganda, had little to say about Stalinist repression in North Korea.
Kim Il sung gave way to Kim Jong-il and North Korea remains a Stalinist dictatorship under Kim Jong-un. Democrats were predicting war if Donald Trump won the presidency in 2016. When Kim Jong-un ramped up missile tests, Trump raised the prospect of massive retaliation if the dictator threatened the United States or its allies.
No war occurred, and when North Korea came up in the debate, Trump said “having a good relationship with leaders of other countries is a good thing,” Joe Biden countered that the USA had good relations with Hitler before “Hitler invaded Europe.”
If anybody thought Joe Biden had no clue what actually happened it would be hard to blame them. Meanwhile, like the English Socialists in George Orwell’s 1984, Democrats now proclaim that ignorance is strength.