Why Everything You Know About World War II Is Wrong


by Ron Unz and Mike Whitney, The Unz Review:

“Much of the current political legitimacy of today’s American government and its various European vassal-states is founded upon a particular narrative history of World War II, and challenging that account might have dire political consequences.”—Ron Unz

Question 1: Hitler

Let’s start with Hitler. In the West it is universally accepted that:

  1. Hitler started WW2
  2. Hitler’s invasion of Poland was the first step in a broader campaign aimed at world domination

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Is this interpretation of WW2 true or false? And, if it is false, then—in your opinion—what was Hitler trying to achieve in Poland and could WW2 have been avoided?

Ron Unz—Until the last dozen years or so, my views on historical events had always been fairly conventional, formed from the classes I’d taken in college and the uniform media narrative I’d absorbed over the decades. This included my understanding of World War II, the greatest military conflict in human history, whose outcome had shaped our modern world.

But in the years after the 9/11 Attacks and the Iraq War, I’d grown more and more suspicious of the honesty of our mainstream media, and begun to recognize that history books often merely represent a congealed version of such past media distortions. The growth of the Internet has unleashed a vast quantity of unorthodox ideas of all possible flavors and since 2000 I’d been working on a project to digitize the archives of our leading publications of the last 150 years, which gave me convenient access to information not easily available to anyone else. So as I later wrote:

Aside from the evidence of our own senses, almost everything we know about the past or the news of today comes from bits of ink on paper or colored pixels on a screen, and fortunately over the last decade or two the growth of the Internet has vastly widened the range of information available to us in that latter category. Even if the overwhelming majority of the unorthodox claims provided by such non-traditional web-based sources is incorrect, at least there now exists the possibility of extracting vital nuggets of truth from vast mountains of falsehood. Certainly the events of the past dozen years have forced me to completely recalibrate my own reality-detection apparatus.

As a consequence of all these developments, I published my original American Pravda article a decade ago, which contained that passage. In that article I emphasized that what our history books and media told us about the world and its past might often be just as dishonest and distorted as the notorious Pravda of the vanished USSR.

  • Our American Pravda
    Ron Unz • The American Conservative • April 29, 2013 • 4,500 Words

At first, my focus had been on more recent historical events, but I soon began doing a great deal of reading and investigation into the history of World War II as well, gradually realizing that a large fraction of everything I’d always accepted about that war was completely incorrect.

Perhaps I shouldn’t have been too surprised to discover this. After all, if our media could lie so blatantly about events in the here and now, why should we trust it on matters that had happened long ago and far away?

I eventually concluded that the true history of World War II was not only quite different from what most of us had always believed, but was largely inverted. Our mainstream history books had been telling the story upside-down and backwards.

With regard to Hitler and the outbreak of the war, I think an excellent starting point would be Origins of the Second World War, a classic work published in 1961 by renowned Oxford historian A.J.P. Taylor. As I described his conclusions in 2019:

Hitler’s final demand, that 95% German Danzig be returned to Germany just as its inhabitants desired, was an absolutely reasonable one, and only a dreadful diplomatic blunder by the British had led the Poles to refuse the request, thereby provoking the war. The widespread later claim that Hitler sought to conquer the world was totally absurd, and the German leader had actually made every effort to avoid war with Britain or France. Indeed, he was generally quite friendly towards the Poles and had been hoping to enlist Poland as a German ally against the menace of Stalin’s Soviet Union.

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