Wednesday, March 30, 2016

History 101: Why Great Britain is Responsible for World War II

World War II.

The greatest conflict in human history.  And by greatest, I mean World War II claimed more human lives then any other conflict in the history of the world.  It is estimated that over 60,000,000 people died as a result of the conflicts of World War II.  Of those 60,000,000, it is only estimated that 25,000,000 of those were soldiers.  That leaves an estimated 35,000,000 civilians that lost their lives during World War II.  As a society we have spent a lot of effort and time remembering the 6,000,000 Jews who died in the Holocaust during World War II, but even that leaves another 29,000,000 civilians who died.  And after reading this BLOG post, you will see why not only is France complicit, but Great Britain is just as responsible for their deaths as any one else in the world.

After the atrocities of World War I, it would have seemed obvious that the entire world would have done anything necessary to avoid a conflict of that magnitude.  When the United States, France and Great Britain sat down in Versailles to discuss the terms of Germany's surrender (without Germany at the table), the world thought this would be a seminal moment in which the world's greatest powers could create a document that would guarantee a lasting peace and prevent more German aggression.  Instead, the document they produced shamed Germany and its people.  Even though United States President Woodrow Wilson came to Versailles hoping to negotiate a reasonable treaty that would engender support throughout Europe.  His fourteen point plan aimed to rebuild Europe and make sure everyone played nicely together.  But the French Prime Minister, George Clemenceau, came to the table with little more then revenge and a weakened Germany on his mind.  The French delegation had little more on their mind beyond humiliating and castrating Germany.  For their part, the other major world power at the Paris Peace Conference, Great Britain was more middle of the road.  They hoped to secure security for their French neighbors, while making a statement against the Germans.  But as David Lloyd George said, it was difficult being put in between "Jesus Christ and Napoleon," which is how the world saw Woodrow Wilson and George Clemenceau.  One wanting a friendly peace, and the other seeking redemption and vengeance.  In the end, while Great Britain did not advocate for locking down the Germans, they did side with them on most points.  And Germany was tagged with paying steep reparations, being fully demilitarized, being disallowed from having any military in the Rhineland and admitting singular guilt for the entirety of the war.  I am of the personal opinion that Great Britain was more at fault for World War I, too, but that is a different BLOG post.  But because Great Britain did not want to stand up to France and advocate for a treaty that made sense, Germany was given everything they needed to set the stage for World War II.  It also worth mentioning that the League of Nations, a powerless precursor to the United Nations, was formed at this time.  The goal of the LON was to prevent large scale conflict through negotiations and boycotts.  More on that later.

So you're thinking, "that's it?  That is why you think Great Britain is responsible for 60,000,000 deaths?"  -- No, of course not.  Read on.

We all know now that Adolph Hitler was a soldier in World War I, and when the Treaty of Versailles was shoved down the throats of everyone in Germany, Hitler was in a war hospital.  He emerged from that hospital angry and
geared for restoring Germany's "rightful place" in the world.  He, and millions of Germans with him, felt the German government sold out the German people.  The admission of guilt for the war was the thorn in the side of every German in 1919.  But as Hitler began his slow, and ultimately legal climb into the seat of power in Germany, he had one goal in mind: to restore Germany to its seat at the top of the world.  And while he was doing it, he wanted to make sure the France and Great Britain would pay for their sins against Germany.  

As mentioned above, the Treaty of Versailles explicitly prevented Germany from having a military.  They were allowed a national police force for domestic use, but nothing that could be considered a threat to its neighbors.  However, as Hitler's star was on the rise in Germany, so was its military.  As Hitler gained more power, he knew that he would need a strong military to achieve his goals.  But he also knew that if he built an army overnight, the world would notice -- and object.  So Hitler pushed his agenda with tempered patience while testing how far he could go against the world community.  It is worth noting at this point that not only was Germany forbidden from having a "military force", and from having any weapons of aggression or troops in the Rhineland, but France and Great Britain were tasked with defending the Treaty of Versailles.  If Germany was seen to have violated the military or Rhineland clause, both France and Germany has the right and duty to invade Germany.  But that isn't all -- in 1925, Great Britain, France, Belgium, Italy and Germany entered into the Treaty of Locarno.  This treaty did several things to try and heal the wounds between France and Germany, but most importantly brought all these countries together in agreement regarding the status of the Rhineland. That it is and should remain a buffer between France and Germany.

The League of Nations was the brain child of Woodrow Wilson, and when it was formed he was seen as a great peace maker.  Unfortunately, the League of Nations was largely inept because it lacked any real force in its threats.  Of its original 24 members, the United States, Russia and half of Europe were not members.  And while it was successful in mediating a few small disputes, it could not and did not have any impact in real conflicts - even with Great Britain and France as members.

In 1934, Hitler and his top officials gave the French press information that confirmed that Germany was building an Air Force and a strong military.  Hitler allowed this leak of information to see what France, Great Britain and the rest of the world would do about it.  The world did nothing.  Great Britain complained, France sweated a little but in the end nothing came of it.  Both countries cited Hitler's speeches regarding a united Europe and a lasting peace in their inaction.  But it is worth noting that at this time, both France and Great Britain could have stepped in.  Both chose no to do so.  By this time, the strained kinship between Mussolini and Hitler was starting to show on the international stage.  But as Hitler was moving up the world, the arrogant and self-interested Mussolini was on the way down.  And in 1935, to show that Italy was still a world class power he invaded Ethiopia.  Now, this invasion was obvious more complex then that - but that isn't what this BLOG post is about.  What is important about the Italian invasion of Ethiopia in 1935 is that the Italians used chemical weapons and the League of Nations was powerless to do anything about it.  And Hitler watched with great interest as the Italians annexed Ethiopia with little international resistance.  And by this time, Italy and Belgium had backed out of the Treaty of Locarno which set the stage for Hitler's next move.

And Hitler's next move was to take back his own land.  On March 7, 1936, Hitler ordered 19 German infantry battalions and a handful of planes to enter and occupy the Rhineland.  By doing so, it was the most audacious violation of the Treaty of Versailles to date.  What is interesting about this is that while the world was up in arms regarding this "invasion", Great Britain's position was that Germany was simply "tending their back yard" and it was fine.  Great Britain also cited Hitler's promise of a non-aggression pact with France.  What they did not know was that Hitler had told his generals that if they encountered any resistance, to pull out and fall back into Germany.  This would have signaled the end of the rise of the Reich, but Hitler knew he was greatly outnumbered and could not win a fight.  In essence, he was bluffing.  In fact, there were hundreds of battalions of French troops on the border who could have stepped in and pushed the Germans back with little resistance.  But France was nervous, and when they turned to Great Britain -- Great Britain did not have the resources to help.  France did not want to stand alone in the fight, and there was no one there to help.  If Albert Lubron had known that Hitler was testing the waters, and that he was not militarily ready for a conflict, the world would be a very different place today.  If France and Great Britain had lived up to their obligations in 1935 or 1936, the entirety of World War II could have been avoided -- or if not avoided, very different.  Instead, Hitler poked at the Treaty of Versailles again and found it to be an empty document.  

What the eastern European powers took away from the move into the Rhineland was that they were on their own against Hitler.  That it was clear that France lacked the will to fight, and Great Britain lacked the ability.  This played into the Soviet-Nazi Non-Aggression Pact of August, 3 1939.  Hitler essentially said, "Hey Russia, no worries.  I'm not coming after you..." when in reality, Russia was the biggest prize that Hitler never won.  Most likely, the reason he lost the war.  But when Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939 it became undeniably clear that Hitler had more on his mind then simply tending his own backyard.  His pact with Russia kept Stalin from taking action to protect Poland, because they had a pact -- right?  Stalin can't defend Poland, and Hitler isn't coming any further east.  But Stalin wasn't fooled, and he began to amass troops along his western border -- just in case.  And, as we know now, Germany attacks Soviet positions in Eastern Poland on June 22, 1941 officially declaring war on Russia.  In this series of events, one can see how important Hitler's move into the Rhineland going unchecked was as the world rolled towards war.

Yes, I know I led this BLOG blaming Great Britain for the deaths of 60,000,000 people.  In reality, both Great Britain and France are effectively equally culpable in not taking action to put Hitler and Germany in check in the 1930s.  What if France had been more reasonable at the Paris Peach Conference?  What if Great Britain had stood up to France?  What if France had stood up when they knew the Germans were building a military force?  What if Great Britain had backed France after the Rhineland invasion?  What if France has simply stood their ground in Rhineland?

The questions are unending, and hindsight is always 20/20.  But as the world continually blames the United States for invading this country or that one, or becoming involved in conflicts that they should not be in, it is worth considering these questions.  What if someone -- France, Great Britain, Russia... what is someone had stood their ground in 1935 or in 1936?  How many lives would have been saved in the long run?  So yes, I place the blame for 60,000,000 people losing their lives in World War II at the feet of Great Britain and France.

Bruce holds a degree in Computer Science from Temple University, a Graduate Certificate in Biblical History from Liberty University and is working towards a Masters Degree in American History at American Public University.  He has worked in educational and technology for over 18 years, specializes in building infrastructures for schools that work to support the mission of technology in education in the classroom.  He also has served as a classroom teacher in Computer Science, History and English classes.  

Bruce is the author of five books: Sands of TimeTowering Pines Volume One:Room 509The Star of ChristmasPhiladelphia Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel and The Insider's Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel

Saturday, March 26, 2016

History 101: Nazi Germany, Hitler and the Night of the Long Knives

Hitler's rise to power was not as meteoric as many people believe.  Hitler began his long climb towards ultimate power in the early 1920's, and even though he served some time in jail and skirted the law on a number of occasions he was ultimately granted power over Germany based on the letter of the law.  Yes, that's right, he did not take over the government, rule over Germany was willingly and legally given to him.  There were a number of hurdles that he had to overcome, and some of those were internal within his own followers.  As he cleared each milestone in his rise to power, and went from position to position as the Nazi party continued to gain power, Hitler aligned with individuals or groups and then shed them as they were no longer needed.  The biggest "step" in which Adolf Hitler turned his back on people who had supported him and helped him rise to the level he was at, in the moment, is now referred to as the "Night of the Long Knives."  Hitler had gone as far as he felt he could with the support of the Nazi Storm Troopers (the SA) and their four million members.  Within the SA there were a number of people who took his previous propaganda push too seriously, and Hitler felt these people and their supporters had to be eliminated.  In spite of it being impossible for him to have reached the position he had in 1934, on June 30th Hitler launched a bloody purge of everyone that he felt could become a threat to his gaining ultimate power in Germany.  

In the early 1920s, Hitler's Nazi party great quickly with millions of angry and resentful Germans.  These supporters leaned heavily towards hating the Jews, the democratic government and any leftist thinking.  And after Germany resumed the payment of World War I reparations as dictated in the Treaty of Versailles, Hitler harnessed all that anger and attempted a military takeover of the German government called the "Beer Hall Putsch."  Even though it enjoyed initial success, the Putsch ultimately failed and landed Hitler in jail for five years for high treason.

While in Landsberg jail, Hitler worked on his speaking skills and his masterwork, "Mein Kempf".  While in jail, Hitler recognized that the only way to truly rule Germany and bring her back to her rightful place on top of the world was to do it legally.  He was released after serving only nine months because of political pressure.  Once released, he reorganized the Nazi party and began building support for gaining control over the government through legal channels.  Hitler ran for President against President Hindenberg, only to lose.  However, support was growing.  Hindenberg and others in the government saw Hitler as a threat and chose to keep him close.  After much wrangling and dealing, Hindenberg appointed Hitler as chancellor and a part of his cabinet.

Unfortunately, Hindenberg underestimated Hitler.  When the Reichstag building burned, Hitler used the clearly staged tragedy to call for new general elections.  One of the more powerful Nazi leaders, Hermann Goering, led the German police in suppressing party opposition during this election to help the Nazi party gain more power in the Reichstag and continue to grow the party power base.  And then in 1934, President Hindenberg died and Hitler took power as the Fuhrer through the Enabling Acts.

Hitler was concerned that the brownshirted SA soldiers might not like that he was not going to lead a second revolution, that his power was simply to be declared and no one else would share in it.  In February of 1934, he
holds a meeting where he declares that the SA would not be the elite military force of Germany, that they would only be a police force to be used when needed.  SA leader Ernest Rohm was a a World War I veteran, and saw Hitler as nothing more than an ambitious corporal who served in the war and pushed his way to power.  Rohm saw a military coup coming, and he saw the SA as leading the way.  Hitler was aware of this, and knew that and saw the SA as a real threat to the future of Nazi Germany.  Hitler decided to meet Rohm one on one to address the situation.  On June 4th, 1934 Hitler and Rohm met for over five hours of heated discussion and argument.  The results of this meeting were to have the SA go on leave for the entire month of July, and Rohm would be taking a leave of absence for a "personal illness."  This was to be followed up with a meeting between Hitler, Rohm and the rest of the leadership of the SA at the end of June.  Instead, on June 30, 1934 Hitler launched his internal cleansing.

At 6:30AM Hitler went to Ernst Rohm's hotel room and, after accusing him of treason, Hitler placed Rohm under arrest.  At 10:00AM Hitler placed a call to Goring, gave him the prearranged codeword "Kolibri" (hummingbird) and that signaled a full assault on everyone Hitler felt was a threat.  The SS was let lose in Berlin and twenty other cities across Germany.  The SS execution squads alone with Goring's own private police, the Gestapo, SA leaders and dozens of others on the "enemies list" or "Reich List of Unwanted Persons" were rounded up and executed.  Some of those included were: Gregor Strasser, one of the original party founders but had fallen out of favor with Hitler over political differences; Kurt von Schleicher, former chancellor of Germany; Gustav von Kahr, who opposed Hitler during the Beer Hall Putsch; Father Bernhard Stempfle, a priest who helped edit Mein Kempf and "knew too much" about Hitler's relationship with Geli Raubal and the SA leader Karl Ernst, who was shot along with three other SA men who were thought to be responsible for burning the Reichstag.

Given the long list of prominent and known figures who were brutally slaughtered, and the sheer numbers of those executed, this could hardly be kept quiet.  On July 13, Hitler addressed the Reichstag:

"In this hour I was responsible for the fate of the German people, and thereby I became the supreme judge of the German people.  I gave the order to shoot the ringleaders in this treason, and I further gave the order to cauterize down to the raw flesh the ulcers of this poisoning of the wells in our domestic life.  Let the nation know that its existence -- which depends on its internal order and security -- cannot be threatened with impunity by anyone!  And let it be known for all time to come that if anyone raises his hand to strike the State, then certain death is his lot."

And with that, and cabinet approval of the sterilization of those seen as enemies of the state by his cabinet, Adolf Hitler legally murdered everyone whom he saw as a threat to his power. 

Bruce holds a degree in Computer Science from Temple University, a Graduate Certificate in Biblical History from Liberty University and is working towards a Masters Degree in American History at American Public University.  He has worked in educational and technology for over 18 years, specializes in building infrastructures for schools that work to support the mission of technology in education in the classroom.  He also has served as a classroom teacher in Computer Science, History and English classes.  

Bruce is the author of five books: Sands of TimeTowering Pines Volume One:Room 509The Star of ChristmasPhiladelphia Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel and The Insider's Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Tech: Stopping a Scheduled Windows 10 Update from Windows 7 or Windows 8

We all knew it would come to this... that with Microsoft's "free" offering of Windows 10 that there would be a catch... or several.  Well, the first show recently dropped as Microsoft began pushing an update that significantly changes the in which the upgrade from Windows 7 and Windows 8 is offered to folks.  If you have not seen a screen like this yet, it is coming to a Windows computer near you soon.  Instead of simply letting you know the upgrade is available, you see a dialog box similar to this one that simply asks you to schedule your upgrade.  Sometimes you can click a red X in the upper right hand corner, sometimes you can not!

And while Windows 10 is a fantastic upgrade, there are a number of reasons why users are nor ready to do it.  If you got this message, or if you have not yet -- do not fret.  No matter what step of this process you are in, there is a way out!

Follow these instructions, and Windows 10 won't be hassling you again (until the next scheme to force the update on you comes down the wire).  

  1. First, locate that Systray Windows 10 icon (the systray is where the clock is).  Click on the upwards facing arrow.
  2. Next click on Customize.

  3. This will bring up a list of everything that runs in your Systray.  Find "GWX - Get Windows 10".  It will be set to "Show icon and notifications".  Click and select "Hide icon and notifications."
  4. Next, Click Start and then Run -- or hold down the WindowsKey+R.
  5. Type CONTROL to bring up the Control Panel.  Not settings in Windows 8, there is a difference!
  6. In the Upper Right Hand Corner you should be able to search, in this box type PROGRAMS, select Add/Remove Programs from the list of results.
  7. Next, click on the VIEW INSTALLED UPDATES link in the left pane.

  8. You will be shown a list of all the updates that have been downloaded and installed.  Your list is likely to be quite long, but there is no need to parse through it with your eyeballs -- you can search.  Just like before, type in the following values one at a time in the upper right hand search box.  Once located, select them and click UNINSTALL. You are looking for KB2952664, KB2990214 and KB3035583.  You may have one of these, or all three.  No matter what -- if you do not want Windows 10 to schedule your update, you'll need to remove them.  Once removed, your computer will need to restart and do some reconfiguration of itself.  No problem, let it happen.
  9. Once your system has come back up, you have a decision to make.  What we've done here is enough to stop the scheduled update, and prevent Windows from harassing you every day about it -- for now.  Microsoft may push down new updates that change this.  The only foolproof way to stop these updates from coming back is to *not update* your computer.  I do not recommend this... but if you choose to, you can turn off Automatic Updates in the Control Panel.

Bruce holds a degree in Computer Science from Temple University, a Graduate Certificate in Biblical History from Liberty University and is working towards a Masters Degree in American History at American Public University.  He has worked in educational and technology for over 18 years, specializes in building infrastructures for schools that work to support the mission of technology in education in the classroom.  He also has served as a classroom teacher in Computer Science, History and English classes.  

Bruce is the author of five books: Sands of TimeTowering Pines Volume One:Room 509The Star of ChristmasPhiladelphia Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel and The Insider's Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel