Showing posts from July, 2017

Nazi economics, Old South "justice" and British liberalism

Nazi Germany’s push for economic autarky took another step forward with the announcement that the state-owned Reichswerke A.G. fur Erzbergbau und Eisenhütten General Goering was to build a steel plant in Salzgitter in the east of Prussia to process the abundant but low-quality iron-ore available in Germany particularly in that region. The company was named after Herman Goering in his capacity as Plenipotentiary for the Four Year Plan (he was promoted to Reichsmarschall only in 1940). The scheme was not popular with the established steel barons of the Ruhr to whom the added competition did not appeal but Goering secured their acquiescence. The Volkswagen car plant was built nearby at Wolfsburg in part to use the plant’s output. Under the somewhat less contentious name of Salzgitter AG the company has acquired a number of other steelworks and operates as a publicly traded entity following privatization in 1998. The first, protracted phase of the Scottsboro case brought about b

Furious Debates on FDR's "Court-packing" Bill Claim a Victim

The struggle to pass President Roosevelt’s bill reorganizing the Supreme Court claimed a very high profile victim. The measures designed to allow the President to appoint sympathetic judges and thus to expedite legislation he favoured, had aroused immense controversy and opposition even from fellow Democrats: it had been labelled “the Court-packing bill”. It had been vigorously championed by Arkansas senator Joseph Taylor Robinson, leader of the Democratic majority and a key ally of the President. His style was naturally aggressive and over-bearing and this had produced some furious exchanges in the Bill’s already bitter battles through Congress. Robinson’s sudden death from heart failure was almost universally blamed on the strains to which he subjected himself. The President announced that he was still committed to the Bill but ultimately it failed. It is a moot question as to whether Robinson would have secured its passage had he lived. The Labour Party succeeded in tying it

The Duke and Duchess of Windsor flirt indiscreetly with Nazi sympathizers in Spain and Portugal

The latest release of documents from the National Archives hugely fleshes out the record of the Duke of Windsor’s time in Spain and Portugal after fleeing France in 1940. The main lines of the story were already known but it appears that far from all of the telegrams from the German missions to Spain and Portugal had previously seen the light of day. Churchill’s argument for suppressing the telegrams is valid insofar as they come purely from the German side and describe a Nazi intrigue to entrap him and they depend on the “assertions of German and pro-German officials”. Certainly, the documents must be read with the caveat that they give only an indirect picture of the Duke. However, unless the documents are entirely false, the “impression that the Duke was in close touch with German Agents and was listening to suggestions that were disloyal” is accurate. At best the Duke was wildly indiscreet, at worst treasonous. It would have required enormous naïveté on his part to be unaware

Appeasement lags in Europe and tension builds in the Far East

Somebody must have reminded Neville Chamberlain that he had become the Prime Minister in a supposedly national government rather than a Conservative government supported by a couple of minor, fringe elements. A mass meeting of the supporters of the three parties concerned was held at the Albert Hall, which attracted a respectable audience of 8,000. The only precedent had been in the election year of 1935. The giveaway were the representatives chosen to represent the two minor parties: Malcolm Macdonald, son of the National Government’s begetter, and one of the tiny handful of National Labour MPs, and Sir John Simon for the National Liberals, a party affiliation that only dedicated historians will recall. Chamberlain’s 45 minute speech was felt to be rather perfunctory and the reference to the fact that it was his late father’s birthday, redundant. Beyond deploring the failure of his plan for the German Foreign Minister to come to London – appeasement was still very much on the

Disappearance of Amelia Earhart Opens Decades of Conspiracy Theory

Spanish Republican forces launched a counter-attack against the Nationalist troops besieging Madrid in the Brunete sector. It achieved some local success but proved anything but decisive. The Republic’s military position was poor and this kind simply frittered away what resources remained. Having established a comfortable position in northern china Japan resumed its attempts to squeeze territory out of the Soviet Union. In defiance of an agreement reached the previous weak between Litvinoff, the Soviet foreign minister, and Shigemetsu, the Japanese ambassador, Japanese troop landed on a few worthless islets in the Amur River. In response to Soviet protests the Japanese foreign ministry first declared it knew nothing of any such move and then asserted that Japan would be entirely within its rights to do so. As the Soviets had evacuated the islets in an attempt to defuse tension, it was clear that this particular issue was not one over which Moscow was going to go to war.