Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Hitler vs Henry Dawson : why contrast these two scientists ?

War historians are unlikely to ever be happy with a Hollywood movie presenting WWII as "The Battle between Ultimate Evil and Ultimate Good".

Like us ordinary laypeople, they can all quickly find the human who best represented ultimate evil , but again like us, they can't settle on the exact nature of this thing called ultimate evil : what was the common thread uniting all of its obviously horrific deeds?

But the war historians know too much (and have spend too much of their careers detailing all the many Allied moral failings we'd  much rather forget) to find any one human representing all of what little 'ultimate good' can be found in that long sorry mess of a moral conflict.

Sure, Winston and Franklin both talked a good line, but the historians know that these two leaders' actions too often failed to be in the same universe as their soaring rhetoric, let alone be found reading from the same page.

The fact is that despite all of its death and destruction, 1939-1945 represented Planet Earth's far-from-total-war, a war that most of the world's nations sat out, most of the time.

If sitting out the battle of absolute good and evil was itself evil, than there was a lot of it going around.

Because the sad truth is while we today all agree that a big country like Germany invading a small neighbour just to steal and enslave is a great moral wrong, well worth going to war to stop, the world of our grandparents obviously didn't think so.

Many nations didn't think so in September 1931, when Japan invaded Manchuria, or in October 1935 when Italy invaded Ethiopia. Not even in March 1939, when Germany invaded Czechoslovakia after specifically promising the world it would never do so.

They retained that opinion right up until September 1945.

WWII movies remain intensely popular world wide but most nations must enjoy them vicariously, because of the fact that their own nation did not really fight in WWII, but instead chose to sit out what today is regarded as the greatest moral conflict of all time.

Hard to imagine, for example, how much pride Mexico's 100 million citizens can take in the bathetic fact that the grand total of three (3) of their grandfathers died in combat in WWII .

Still that was a lot more combat (Brazil aside) that all the rest of Latin America's two dozen democracies saw put together.

Almost all the nations of the world remained neutral while dozens of small nations were gobbled up by big nations.

 Almost all the rest remained  *"effectively neutral" , unless and until their own soil was invaded.

(* "Effectively neutral"  is a term I use to account for the many nations who 'declared war' on another nation but didn't go into actual combat against them  -- their declaration of war was not a moral but rather a diplomatic decision, usually so they won't be kept out of the UN at the war's end.)

A mere handful were more forthright : Germany, Japan , along with Italy and sometimes Russia were the obvious big territory-seeking aggressors.

Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Slovenia in Europe - together with Thailand and Burma  in Asia- were some of the small jackal nations who saw a chance to take land from some of the other small nations around them  if they nominally joined in with the war started by the big aggressor nations.

Noteworthy that even the big aggressors too all remained neutral , if they at all could, when one of the others in their group invaded a small neighbour.

Only two nation-empires fought WWII without themselves either being invaders or being invaded : England and France, and even this nearly didn't happen, as is well known.

Worth remembering that even these two sat out the earlier invasions of small nations undertaken by Japan, Italy and Germany.

So if  examples of absolute good existed in WWII, it can't found in the conduct of any individual nation on Earth, but only in the activities of individual individuals.

Hitler was always at pains to show how conventionally his scientific racist theories were and that all he did new was to put into action what other scientists had only ever talked about.

Taking Hitler at his consistent word, from his word in 1919 to his last word in1945, on the scientifically conventional nature of his thinking and actions, I then sought out a contrasting figure whose scientific views were as far as possible from being conventional in 1939.

 They had to not just to greatly contrast with Hitler, they had to join in with Hitler and put their scientific beliefs into concrete political action.

This because most scientists (conventional or otherwise) fail to take their scientific beliefs outside the lab and into the thick of the real world.

Henry Dawson's Aktion 4F project, that lesser known Manhattan Project, was as far opposed as it was possible to be to Hitler's Aktion T4 project, which I take to better represent the core of his thinking that his Holocaust of the Jews.

The Jews, to Hitler, were but a subset of the weak and foolish human germs Hitler saw as infecting the volk body : the Aktion T4 hoped to kill them all.

Dawson's Aktion 4F sought to remind the Allies that they couldn't hope to really defeat Hitler's thinking if they simply did to the Allied weak and small as Hitler was doing the weak and small in Europe.

It doesn't really matter in 2013 that Dawson's actions in WWII were far smaller than the actions of the British Conservative Party or the German Nazi Party : whose ideas of 75 years ago, as opposed to actions of 75 years ago, best reflects the majority's way of thinking today ?

I don't think Winston Churchill won WWII, not if by that you mean that his prewar views are reflected in our postwar world --- but Henry Dawson's prewar ideas certainly are.....

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