The Second Great Brothers’ War
Hitler turned his attention to the Polish corridor made up of former German territory and the city of Danzig. The Germans hoped that France and Britain would not go to war over the issue—Hitler drew the analogy that Germany would not go to war with France if that country claimed one of its cities back from foreign rule. This hope was misplaced: on 3 September, France and Britain both declared war on Germany for the act of invading Poland.
[After a section about the Soviet Union invading Poland too, and Finland, and the Allies failing to react, and quite a few other very well-known World War II episodes that I’ll omit in these excerpts, Kemp wrote:]
USA wages de facto war against Germany
Although officially neutral, the United States made its partiality for Britain known from the beginning, even duplicating the British overlooking of the Soviet Union’s invasion of Poland and Finland as a reason to censure that country. In September 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorized American ships doing convoy duty to attack German warships or submarines. America was as good as at war with Germany already.
Air raids on German cities
By 1943, the British and Americans had launched a strategy of trying to demoralize the German civilian population by launching 24 hour round the clock incendiary bombing raids: the British by night and the Americans by day. Civilian targets were therefore specially selected, with huge losses for ordinary Germans: in raids on Hamburg in July 1943, 50,000 civilians were killed in four days. From then on the Allied bombing campaign of civilian targets in Germany would not cease until the very last days of the war.
The Nuremberg Trials
Once the war was over, the surviving leaders of Germany and Japan were put on trial by the Allies for what was called “War Crimes”. While some of the charges were based on wartime atrocities committed by the accused—any atrocities committed by the victors were unsurprisingly ignored—, the main defendants at Nuremberg faced the chief charge of “waging aggressive war.”
The most shocking failure of the Nuremberg trials was however the inclusion of representatives of the Soviet Union on the panel of judges, rather than in the accused box. The Soviet Union had also “waged aggressive war” against Poland, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia before it was attacked by Germany. No mention was ever made of the Soviet attacks at the trials, and the inclusion of a Soviet judge on the bench made the entire process a mockery and clearly showed the trials up for what they were: an act of political revenge and nothing else.
Even in many of the atrocity charges there were glaring inconsistencies: the massacre of 11,000 Polish army officers at Katyn, carried out by members of the Soviet military, was pinned on the German door at the trials, with the Katyn massacre specifically included in the charge sheet against lower echelon German defendants.
The Nuremberg trials—and the Tokyo trials in which similar politically-motivated charges were trumped up against the Japanese leaders—were a disgrace to the institution of international law.