Historical parallels are interesting to observe in real time, and now that the big boys are bringing out their best tanks and missiles for show and tell, and a fledgling democracy in Ukraine—and perhaps democracies across Europe—appears to swing in the balance, I was struck by the contemporary parallels to the year 1939. There are others, of course, but these in particular rang a familiar note.
Consider Hitler’s claims in light of Putin’s public statements, as William Shirer, who would later write the seminal masterpiece The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, broadcast to a still somnambulant American audience from London. The German people, he said—and he means Hitler–believed the following:
- That Great Britain, backed by France, the Soviet Union, and the United States, was forging an encirclement of Germany designed to crush it.
- In view of the Great War, Hitler was right to attempt to break that encirclement.
- That Eastern and Southeastern Europe were a natural part of Germany’s Liebensraum…and that neither Britain nor any other country, including America, had any right to interfere with Germany’s action there.
- That Germany could get what it wanted without war.
- That there would be no war, and it would only come if the “encirclement powers” attacked the Reich.
- That Hitler had outsmarted the “foreign tyrants” who were trying to keep Germany down and that he had restored it to its proper place in the world and done it without a single shot being fired.
Putin, and his mouthpieces—and kudos to the Rooskies for at least understanding the necessity for consistent messaging–have expressed precisely the same views. NATO is dangerously encircling the motherland. The Russian history of invasion by European powers creates a moral necessity to strike before (and here one wonders who is interested in invading Russia…Macron?) they are invaded. Ukraine is an invention of politics, has no historical precedent, is culturally and ethnically Russian, and therefore no outside power has a right to interfere. That a lasting peace can be won if Putin’s demands, in re NATO expansion, are met. That war will only come as a result of western resistance to logic and by recklesss agitation. That the collapse of the Soviet Union was a historical catastrophe and that Putin’s mission is to restore Russia to its rightful place in the world as a superpower.
That’s the gist of it, of course, at least on the Ukrainian plains and on up through the Baltics, although farther east the temptation toward a similar sort of Anschluss is clearly tempting Chairman Xi, who has followed the same playbook with Taiwan.
It’s hard to believe that WW3 is anything more than a matter of time, and it’s interesting that the Germans, who have tied basic necessities, such as the warmth of their houses, to the whims of a Russian dictator, have become so utterly flaccid as a nation. I predicted earlier that Russia would not invade Ukraine, and that Shuffling Joe would have his Chamberlain moment. I leave room for a last minute capitulation, but perhaps I underestimated Uncle Joe, this brave soul who once did battle with Corn Pop on the mean streets of Delaware. Or Scranton, or wherever it was that the little black kids were so enamored of his blonde body hair in the swimming pool.
But there is another interesting parallel that might be useful to note given recent public reports of Russian Red Flag operations. It’s interesting because the Russians have already done such things—notably in the 2008 invasion of Georgia, a war I studied at some depth prior to embedding with US Marines who were training Georgians in, of all places, Germany, a few years ago.
Although the official reason for invading Poland was given, by the Nazis, as Polish attacks on the border, the truth of the matter surfaced at Nuremburg where, incidentally, some 70 years later my luggage was arrested by grumpy baggage handlers at Iceland Air, sequestered for over a week, and finally put on trial for war crimes.
At any rate, it was at Nuremburg the world learned that in August ’39 Hitler ordered Admiral Wilhelm Canaris to supply Himmler and Heydrich with 150 Polish army uniforms and small arms. The mission was to “attack” the German radio station on the border at Gleiwitz. To execute the mission, Himmler chose a notorious rake named Alfred Helmut Naujocks, who had familiarity with this sort of thing as an agitator in Slovakia during the gin up to the Sudetan takeover.
So Naujocks took a dozen condemned concentration camp inmates, dressed them up in Polish uniforms, gave them fatal injections, and then shot up the corpses while SS troopers in Polish uniforms fired shots in the air, “seized” the radio station, and broadcast in Polish that Poland’s attack on Germany was underway. The German code name for the hapless concentration camp victims was “Canned Goods”.
The Russians are quite talented at pulling off similar projects. It’s unclear if they have actual canned goods to rip from the wooden beds of a concentration camp barracks, but then again Russia is a vast country full of millions and millions of deceitful matryoshka dolls.
The SS men involved in the operation were also eventually killed for what they knew, although Naujocks’ utility kept him alive until he would desert to the Americans on the western front in 1944.
Back home, of course, we have other problems, not least of which is testing the winds, sticking to the shadows, and leaning into the whispers to avoid becoming Canned Goods ourselves. There is more truth in that than many would like to believe, our obsession with “safety” having long trumped any real concerns with fundamental liberty. What’s now clear is that despite the hype the vaccines are a leaky prophylactic, that masks are pure theater, and that after two years of rostrum pounding by Herr Fauci and his Branch Covidians nothing has really changed except to have drilled into even deeper levels of cynicism, and in some cases the substrata of actual despair, in the general public. The Washington Fear Machine has been running at full steam for a very long time, and great headway seems to be made only by politicians of either persuasion exploiting a virus to various political ends. It’s a melancholic drama that boils down to who can lift or install a mask mandate the fastest, and which also calls for the occasional detention and deportation of a tennis star, or the arrest of a designated Can of Peaches at a school board meeting. Australia may be, in fact, at this very moment, the largest prison camp in the world.
I’m cynical, but not as cynical as the wits who seized on the long standing desert tradition of hanging shoes from a roadside juniper by draping it with Covid masks. I admit to laughing out loud when I was crossing Oatman Flat—you won’t find it on a map—intending to make another round of photographs of the notorious Bra Tree. In the event, some Karen had apparently felt sorry for the juniper which was once decorated with hundreds of bras—from AAs to DDDFs—like a collection of colorful prayer flags on the outback, and stripped it bare of bras. So I was heartened to see the rebel heart still at work, as the tree had a few fresh bras gleefully swinging from the limbs. But the mask tree was the real ticket, because it offered a heart warming message about resistance–if nothing else.
The main thing is—avoid becoming Canned Goods. That’s a real challenge in the age of Surveillance Capitalism, where your every preference is a digital commodity—and let’s just face it, we are being reduced, as living beings, into digital commodities traded and exchanged each minute by extremely powerful forces we can do precious little about. But the effort remains worthwhile, and it is probably critical. So hang your face diaper on a juniper tree. Tell your city councilman to eat a bowl of dicks. Throw a foam brick at the television whenever Herr Fauci shows up on it. Be kind to your neighbor. Bring some food to an old woman whose family doesn’t visit her anymore.
I would suggest shooting your television, but it can still be a useful tool, and proof of that is my final note on this frosty, but sunny, Cascade morning. Watch this film. It is excellent. In a saturated world, be a saturation diver, and fight like hell for your life and your dignity at the bottom of the North Sea.