I guess I'm kind of obligated to participate in this now... although I would anyways because of some of the historical misappropriations that are taking place.
Regarding Canada, it is worth noting that as of 1939 Canada was not
obligated to enter the war as the Statute of Westminster
, passed in 1931, granted Canada autonomy to decide all matters of foreign and war policy. Regardless the country entered the war out of loyalty and what some would argue was an "unofficial obligation." The war was also a chance to galvanize a country which had up until that point been a relative non-factor in the international scene. (Canadian diplomats practically begged to be included in the Treaty of Versailles despite Canada's inordinate contributions to the Great War.)So, what was the Second World War actually about?
Big question, but I'll give a small answer. It was about pursuing certain interests. Helpful? Too bad.
I'm kidding. The fact is that Germany's expansion was essential. The sort of corporate fascism being practiced by Hitler practically demanded military aggression as the economy was producing in excess of consumer demand, and it was that production which kept the Nazi ship afloat. Without military expansion the ideological fervour which maintained support for Hitler would flag, and the economy would have faltered threatening the party's political viability (ideology aside.)
The eventual involvement of Europe could
be seen as opportunism, but this is largely revisionism. After the invasion of Poland it was abundantly clear that Germany was a legitimate threat and that any conflict would be costly and dangerous. The fact is that alliances did
exist, and those alliances had been the foundation of European diplomacy for over 120 years. To dismiss Britain's involvement as
I've always believed that as well (and still do I think) but I wonder if the British had any other ulterior motives... the preservation of Imperial power for example. They must have understood that the stronger Germany became the more it threatened the British empire.
Is the sort of speculation that drives historians crazy. By the 1920's the British government was well aware of it's diminishing Imperial stature. However, British foreign policy starting in that time was carefully calculated to preserve whatever domains were possible while securing resource-based
holdings which could survive the transition to a post-colonial global political system. To that end Britain's only colonial rival at that point was France. The two nations competed aggressively for oil and territory in the Middle East (Iraq, Transjordan, etc.) while shedding colonial holdings which had developed into self-sustaining economies, or at the very lease moving away from direct control to the sorts of commonwealth arrangements which defined Canada-Britain relationships.
Unlike Britain (and to a lesser degree France) Germany's interests were primarily political and war-machine driven (see above.) While Germany did make token gestures towards the Hashemite rulers of Transjordan, it was those Arab leaders who pursued German relationships, not the other way around. Germany was not replete with oil, but it's colonial interests were confined to Europe and Britain's potential launching ground in Africa. As such, Britain's colonial holdings were not under sufficient threat to mandate a war which the British were desperate to avoid.
Leaving Russia for the moment, lets consider the United States. While it is well publicized that American private interests had strong ties with Germany, these ties were never warm (except in Henry Ford's case.) The U.S. may not have been altruistic, but to dismiss their involvement is foolish as well. The U.S could have formed trading relationships with an ascendant Germany that would surpass trade with Britain given Germany's hunger for coal and lack of high-tech non-military industry. Again, America protected her interests while at the same time realizing that there was potentially a "right" side. What is interesting is the appearance of General Marshall during the period leading up to Intervention as the chief voice for joining the war. At the same time we must consider ardent opposition to the war in public opinion. Roosevelt was a populist of the highest order and it is argued that his third term was decided by polling more than politics.Is it accurate to suggest that the Holocaust was a factor in why people fought the war?
Doubtful on a political/national level, entirely likely on a personal level. While governments were largely nonplussed
about discrimination in Nazi Europe, the scope of what was happening was unknown. What was known was the European Jews were being round up by Germany. Britain knew it, France knew, and the Americans knew it. The nature of their 'detainment' was only guessed at, and rarely accurately. If the Powers had known, their methods of intervention may not have changed, but it is a safe bet to say that American public opinion would have swayed to the war much earlier, and as such the war would have been joined sooner. While discrimination was hardly out-of-place in 1930's-1940's America, the key to the sort of discrimination that was practiced was rationalization. White, Christian Americans could rationalize and overlook insults and prejudicial social behaviour, but once the rationalization is no longer possible, discrimination of any nature becomes unpalatable.
Which brings us to the real meat of this debate. Frankly moif
, I've noticed an increasingly nasty streak in your posts of late. To be honest, it looks to me like you're looking for a beef where none exists. I've seen Band of Brothers (the whole series) about five times, and I've never
picked up what you are talking about. The chapter Why We Fight
makes it quite clear that the Americans did not
know about the Holocaust. In fact, I'm fairly sure you've completely missed the subject of that episode. What the whole show up until that point makes clear is that the soldiers of Easy Company joined for wealth, pride, romantic ideas and just plain guts. They continued to fight because of brothership
and cameraderie (hence the title.) This episode serves as a simple allegory of the dissillusionment of soldiers during war. Note the closing dialogue in the episode. Someone approaches "the boys," Captain Nixon if I remember correctly, and informs them that Hitler is dead. While they all pay attention, notice that nobody acts particularly excited or celebratory. To them Hitler was the reason why they were originally told to fight, and by now they had come to realize that it never really mattered.
The reason why the liberation of the Concentration Camp is a centrepiece of the episode is because it was a centrepiece of the book; and because it was a pivotal event for those same soldiers. Those men were haunted by the experience, and it is given the representation commiserate to their experiences, not the political goals of the production team.
I'm still not sure where you get the idea that Spielberg or Ambrose are preaching the altruistic intentions of the United States. Stephen Ambrose is a relatively prominent critic
of U.S. foreign relations. I can't recall him once saying anything about American altruism in anything of his that I've read. His book Rise to Globalism
is a two-hundred page indictment of American realist/neo-realist foreign policy from the 1930's on.
As for Spielberg, I just don't see it. Saving Private Ryan
was a profoundly cynical movie about war. It is widely held as the greatest anti-war film of all time (although I would still place Paths of Glory
higher.) The bulk of the dialogue in that film (with the exception of the barking of orders) consists of characters criticizing their mission, which reads as a clear indictment of the war.
The direction is also quite purposeful in demonstrating that the war was not
a humanitarian effort. Note the beginning, where a secretary first notes the unfortunate fates of the Ryan family. The revelation is made in what is essentially a "death letter" office. Note that there is no personal contact between the officer narrating the letter and Mrs. Ryan.
I don't see any sensationalization or revisionism of the jewish "character" in the war either. So far all you have done is say that such qualities exist, without demonstrating or defining them... until you do I can't really refute you any further.