At War 1939-1945:
Norman Davies' Falsification Of History
comments are based on Adam Tooze's review of the Davies book [Europe
at War] in the TLS of 11-16-2007. Tooze has a low opinion of both the
book and of Davies' scholarship. This is why.
a right wing revisionist view of the history of WW2 and uses his book
as the basis for an attack on the USSR wherein he argues for the moral
equivalency of the USSR and Nazi Germany. "The war in Europe was
dominated by two evil monsters, not by one. Each of the monsters consumed
the best people in its territory before embarking on a fight to the
death for supremacy."
Davies' "unrelenting revisionism" needs "a disciplined
presentation of reasoning and evidence." Davies book fails this
test. Some of the statistics and casualty figures he uses, especially
concerning loss of life caused by the allies in the air war, to bolster
his arguments are BOGUS. He mentions a nonexistent air raid on Berlin,
for example and cites some figures "preferred only by propagandists
of the extreme right."
it "is hard to take seriously" some of Davies' assertions.
It appears that Tooze rejects "moral equivalence" but points
out that Davies' is really beating a dead horse. The consensus of Western
historians for the last generation is that "Stalin's Soviet Union
was an oppressive regime of extreme brutality."
major point Davies wants to make is that the Eastern Front was more
important than the Western. This too has been settled for a long time.
It "was Stalin's forces," Tooze writes, "that played
the main part in the battlefield defeat of Hitler's Wehrmacht."
is also notable for "imprecision about sources and methods."
In general, "Davies fails to make good on his polemical intent."
But Davies does put forth some information that Western readers in general
are probably unaware of. We tend to think that D Day was the greatest
military operation of WW2. But D Day was not as important as Operation
on the Eastern Front. Launched by the Soviet Union on 6-22-1944, "This
assault," Tooze points out, "which resulted in the destruction
of an entire German army group in a matter of weeks, is widely regarded
as the single most dramatic operation conducted by any Allied army in
the entire war."
since the Red Army can do no good, Davies attributes the victory of
Operation Bagration mostly to Lend Lease and Soviet numbers, "the
familiar excuse of the Wehrmark."
of us who have read Michael Parenti's work on the exaggerated numbers
of people killed by Stalin [Blackshirts & Reds: Rational Fascism
and the Overthrow of Communism, City Lights Books, San Francisco, 1997],
Davies bogus numbers will be all too familiar, especially his use of
"Robert Conquest's discredited numbers for the famine of the 1930s...."
In any event, Davies' attempt to find a "moral equivalence"
between the Nazis and the Soviets doesn't hold water and is just an
example of right wing JUNK HISTORY being passed off as scholarship.
Tooze is no friend of Stalin, but he concludes we can't really understand
the complexities of WW2 and the Eastern Front "if we adopt Davies
's moralistic lens."
You can read
more about Norman Davies in Wikipedia, from which this tidbit comes:
"Davies’ historical treatment of the Holocaust was cited
as a factor in a controversy at Stanford University in which Davies
was denied a tenured faculty position for alleged 'scientific flaws'."
Riggins is the book review editor of Political Affairs magazine
and can be reached at email@example.com
or at Thomas Riggins' Blog.
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