Preventive War

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Stefan Doernberg
Berlin, February 24th 2007, 18:30 - 19:00


The war of conquest was always firmly established in history. Until the beginning of the 20th century it was even considered to be a legitimate means of politics. After the murderous world war of 1914-1918 wars of conquest often were passed off as «preventive wars». So it became quite normal to declare wars of aggression as mere measure of defence started only under pressure. For this was built especially this notion of an alleged preventive war. In reality this is a very mendacious circumscription of a wilfully, often long-term and perfectly planned act of aggression. And this act was passed off as an inevitable prevention of an enemy attack of which one says that its danger was only realized at the last minute. But the proof of it has never been furnished. In reality the objective was always the expansion of the own political and economic sphere of influence up to a new dividing of the world. As a rule the impact of preventing wars was always the intention of murder including the civilian population and even genocide. Since the beginning of the 20th century this method in the further excrescence of war and the whole military factor got more and more the upper hand.

But also the acts of war not according with international law at the end of the 20th and in the beginning of the 21st century were unleashed on the pretext that they are only a preventing war and do only serve to repulse an immediate crime of an other state. The use of military force, including acts of aggression of any kind, declared demagogically as mere prevention wars should be classified as the worst crime off all. They are not only a threat for the life of millions but more and more also for the further existence of the whole human civilisation. Thus, from the view of a historian and political scientist but also of a witness not only of the Second World war I allow myself to give more detailed reasons for the fact that I recommend to include the item «preventing war» in the Dictionary of War.

There are many examples. Different states used the term «preventing war» in order to justify their acting not according to international law. Sometimes it takes years or even decades to proof how mendacious was this alleged predicament that led to the use of military means. But often very soon the was no doubt that in reality the preventing war feigned as defence was a not provoked act of aggression of the state that unleashed the war and all its consequences.

A very crass example is the German attack on the Soviet Union at 22 April 1941. Thus I want to deal with it more detailed. From the beginning it was an open secret that one had to do with an exactly planned act of aggression of the German Reich within the world war unleashed by its command. Outside of Germany nobody believed the fairytale of a preventing war against an alleged immediate attack of the Soviet Union on Germany. Later, by historical research and already the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg it was proved undoubtedly that the claim of a pre-emptive strike was part of the usual propagandist lies of Goebbels. The resurgence of claims like this in the nineties was unmasked, by many serious scientists in whole world but also in Germany, as falsification of history or at least as sensation-seeking. To repeat these well-known things is a waste of time.

The aggression against the USSR was long-term and precisely prepared. This is not only true in concerns of Hitler’s directive 21 enacted in November 1940 that confirmed the already worked out Operation Barbarossa, a project in which the general staff of the «Wehrmacht» had prepared in a detailed manner a massive attack. For decades the military destruction of the Soviet Union was one of the most important objectives of the fascist leaders, and in Hitler’s bible Mein Kampf it was proclaimed as a basic statement. In an extremely anti-communist view the USSR was considered as the chief enemy. But this is not the only reason of the fact that the ruling political class in Germany and on its instructions Hindenburg, the President of Germany, decided in 1933 the handling over of the power to Hitler. The conquest of new «German lebensraum» promised by Hitler should take place above all in the East and create the condition of the aimed hegemony in the world.

There is another important reason for the proposal to add the item of «prevention war» to the Dictionary of War with reference to June 22, 1941. The attack of the German Armed Forces, declared as prevention war, developed into a catastrophe until then unknown in history. If hardly anybody previewed its dimension, for many people it was already planned. Because of this reason June 22, 1941 went down in German history as a warning sign.

The attack on the Soviet Union was planned as the main objective of the war of conquest, whether in ideological, geopolitical or economic respect. By the Nazi-leaders it was planned as a war of extermination laying the foundation-stone of the word-wide hegemony of the German Reich. Beyond that it should create the condition to make possible the planned genocide of the Jews and the mass murder of other «subhuman creatures», above all in the Slavonic people.

As well known, in general understanding the beginning of the Second Word War is dated 1 September 1939, the attack of the German Armed Forces on Poland. Here too, it began with the lie of the alleged Polish attack on the radio station near Gleiwitz. In reaction to this self-orchestrated provocation «shot back». But the 1 September 1939 was preceded by other acts of aggression also draped as measures of defence by the fascist leaders. One should remember that in the thirties not accidentally they were seen as the beginning of a new world war. To this do belong: the Munich Agreement (September 30, 1938) with Hitler of the Western Powers that set the seal on the breaking up of Czechoslovakia, followed in March 1939 by the invasion of Prague by the «Wehrmacht»; shortly after the German Reich annexed the Memelland, demanded the «anschluss» of Danzig and a considerable revision of the German/Polish borderline; at the same time were made claims for the separation of Ukrainia from the Soviet Union, with the aim to re-establish at least the situation of spring 1918. At that time this situation was imposed to the Soviet Union by the treaties of Brest-Litovsk. For a time Ukrainia and Georgia were even occupied by German forces.

Thus, in summer 1939 the leaders of the Third Reich propagated, without any reservation and like never before, their aggressive intentions concerning the East. After 1933, for a while were made promising efforts to establish a system of collective security with the aim to dam up the threat of war. In Munich this efforts came to nothing, and instead the German aggression was channelled to the East. The first victim was Poland. In the view of the fascist leaders the German-Soviet Non-aggression Pact was meant as a dummy manoeuvre. The firmly planned intention of expansion to the detriment of the Soviet Union, the real and clearly denominated chief enemy, was not at all withdrawn. But first the aggressors had to seize Western Europe. Besides, the political and military leaders in Berlin expected that France and Great Britain, not to mention other states, would be a sitting duck. After that they were supposed to be useful for the campaign in the East. It’s no accident that the first concrete outlines put on Hitler’s table date from the time shortly after the capitulation of France. But first Hitler wanted to force Great Britain to its knees. Through a successful invasion or even a favourable peace agreement. (Was the flight of Hess, in Mai 1941, until today not completely explained, made to serve this intention?) Thus, the Non-aggression Pact was not suited to give the illusion that the fascist leaders gave up the main objective of their politics of expansion, though for nearly two years they adopted a moderate tone. (The same happened on the Soviet side, had adverse effects, caused the wrong idea that there was no danger to peace.)

Today are known the intensive preparations for the attack on the Soviet Union. Since autumn 1940 and, to a greater extent, spring 1941 the «Wehrmcht» massed forces for the attack on the Soviet Union, that surpasses by far the mobilization for the former blitzkrieg in the west, the north and southeast of Europe. Within six weeks or at least three of four months nearly the whole European part of the USSR was supposed to be occupied. This was seen as the condition for the objective that no one, even the USA, would dare to resist to the striving of the German high finance and its fascist potentates for global hegemony. At that time nothing less was the objective.

Beyond this, with June 22, 1941 the attack on human civilisation, because of another reason, got a new, particularly awful dimension. June 22, 1941 marked the beginning of the greatest crime for which the fascist leaders for ever bear the responsibility in the face of the world history. This day prepared the ground for the already intended genocide of, at first, the European Jews and then of many Slavonic people. With the gassing, mass executions and the industrially organized murder in the extermination camps after the attack on the Soviet Union began also realization of the racial fanaticism in the form of the «Final Solution to the Jewish question».

According to the «Encyclopaedia of the Holocaust» nearly 6 million became victims of this genocide, among them 3 million Polish citizens, 1,3 million citizens of the USSR, 570.000 Hungarian and 300.000 Rumanian Jews as well as 150.000 from Czechoslovakia, 100.000 Jewish citizens from the Netherlands and 80.000 French Jews. From the 600.000 Jewish citizens still living in 1933 in Germany 200.000 were killed in gas chambers and in other ways. Germany was the only country from which the majority could escape by emigration before «Final Solution» that was only practiced in the war, more precisely, after June 22, 1941. Only in the Soviet Union, also by evacuation and flight, a greater part, but hardly the half of the Jews could escape from the territories occupied immediately after the German attack. Until today the so-called Holocaust is considered as the most perfidious crime committed by the aggressors, their customers and their beneficiaries and the compliant executors. It was also thought as a warning sign to all other people that in the view of the intended global hegemony were classified as «subhuman creatures».

During the war more than 15 Million men, women and children from all European countries were cooped up in the extermination and concentration camps and other places of torture. There, more than 11 million human beings from whole Europe were killed by mass executions and other cruel ways. In addition there were other millions of victims from the civilian population. All this happened to a great extend after June 22, 1941. The same thing is true for the deportation of many millions transported from the whole of Europe to Germany for to become forced labourers. They worked in the army industry producing weapons for the cruel extermination of subjugated people and brought additional profits to the owners.

From more than 50 millions victims that caused the Second World War, more than 40 millions, thus the greater majority, fall to the time after June 22, 1941. The same goes for the German soldiers and officers and the numerous casualties among the civilian people that got killed by bombing and shot while trying to escape. The deliberately calculated mass murder is chargeable to the blood account of those that on the long-term had planned the new phase of the unbridled striving for expansion and extended it to extermination war.

The inclusion of the term «preventing war» in the Dictionary of War has to take all this into account. Nevertheless, today there is sometimes raised the question whether the genocide as well as the whole extermination war planned by the fascist leaders could not be hindered by a prevention war. As well known history does not know the subjunctive. Beyond this nobody was able to read the consequences of a such decision. Before 1939, not a prevention war should have been on the agenda, but the establishment of a system of collective security in Europe, so to say an alliance of peace. The right solution would have been the bringing about, then possible and also necessary, of an Anti-Hitler-coalition that only in the war itself prevented the threatening fall of human civilization. As known, because of several reasons this did not happen. Here is not the place to talk about this. Reflections on the start of a preventing war with the aim to pre-empt, in the West as well as in the East, the danger of an aggression of the fascist Axis Powers are not known. And this, though the intention to make war of Germany and Italy and also their coalition with Japan could not have been a secret to anybody. But, as already said, not a military action with incalculable consequences but political means to prevent the war was required. If the later European allies of the Anti-Hitler-coalition in 1938 or at least in summer 1939 had agreed to a mutual assistance pact there would have been the necessary barrier to prevent the world war and all the more the catastrophe coming along with it.

Today, in face of the further developed military technology this is true all the more. And also because of the fact that there are still forces insisting on the right to make a prevention war and even a nuclear one. Beyond this, quite a lot acts of war in the last two decades until the beginning of the new millennium were passed off as forced reactions with the aim to prevent an alleged imminent military attack of the enemy. Remember only the dirty war on Vietnam, the attack on Yugoslavia and the war on Iraq. As well known, just these two wars were triggered off on the pretext that, as prevention war, they should avert an imminent aggression, a planned genocide or a massive act of terrorism. Assertions like this made with highest authority did right from the beginning not convince and soon turned out to be a lie. Unfortunately the danger of new actions not according to international war declared as prevention war is also today still pressing. This shows not only the precarious situation around the Persian Gulf. The international community, the United Nations with its mandates, the governments as well as the civil societies have the duty and the force to draw the necessary lesson from the history, particularly from the last hundred years, and to outlaw the so-called prevention war as a crime against world peace. This is, in my view, one more reason to put this mendacious and bad term in the «Dictionary of War».

Translation: Ronald Voullié