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Showing posts from December, 2018

Eighty years ago: Japan rolls out its vision for Asia, Franco closes in on Catalonia and Chamberlain's planned visit to Rome looks set to backfire.

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The Japanese began to roll out a specious vision of solidarity amongst Asian races as a justification for their policy of naked conquest and domination. Their “New Order” in north Asia was supposedly intended to bring together non-whites in the region to protect their interests against the western powers. It came two years before the Nazi "new order" for Europe but the Japanese phrase has faded from memory whilst the Nazi one took firmer hold. The prime minister Prince Konoye made a “peace offer” to the Chinese government which was the targeted launch customer for this racial-diplomatic scam. The Chinese were invited to join the anti-Comintern pact and to recognise the Japanese puppet regime in Manchukuo. Japan fielded out a tame Chinese called Wang who was a leading collaborationist in Manchukuo as an advocate of the treaty. Predictably nothing came of this overture, but the “New Order” served as a basis for the “Greater Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere” which was to serve

Eighty years ago, a milestone in Nazi road-building and mileposts in appeasement

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Hitler addressed a lunch for 3,000 construction workers invited to celebrate the completion of the 3,000 th kilometer of Autobahnen in Germany. The final stretched had been formally opened by Fritz Todt, the German construction supremo who had just published a hagiographic book on Hitler and the Autobahnnen . Hitler emphasised the part that the road programme had played in the elimination of unemployment and touched other economic themes as well. The massive programme of fortifications then under way, notably the Westwall (Siegfried Line to the British) along the frontier with France was part of the same quasi-Keynesian plan as well as a military necessity. Germany needed to be self-sufficient to be strong. The other power forbade her to have colonies. Britain's civil defence chief, Sir John Anderson a civil servant lightly rebranded as a non-party politician, anounced a massive construction programme of air raid shelters. It was to cost the gigantic sum of £22m. The sh

Eighty years ago, Neville Chamberlain accidentally pleases an anti-Nazi crowd, Germany admits it wants to force out its Jews and a visitor to London heralds a new chapter in appeasement

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Quite by accident Neville Chamberlain delivered a speech that delighted its mainly anti-appeasement audience which proceeded to hi-jack the event for their own ends. In itself the occasion was innocuous: a formal dinner given by the Foreign Press Association. It was the Germans themselves who made the largest contribution to transforming the occasion into a near anti-Nazi demonstrationevent. At the last moment they had taken umbrage at some barely contentious comments by the Prime Minister. His predecessor Lord Baldwin had been savagely attacked in the German press for his rather tame remarks when launching a fund to support Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany and Chamberlain had defended him. German correspondents and diplomats pulled out of the dinner at the last moment leaving a good number of glaringly empty places. The audience then proceeded to treat Chamberlain’s bland speech as though it was an aggressive affirmation of the democracies in opposition to  Nazi Germany. His r