Copyright 1999 Times Newspapers Limited The Times (London) September 23, 1999, Thursday SECTION: Overseas news HEADLINE: Britain to blame for Holocaust, says Buchanan BYLINE: Ben Macintyre in Washington The right-wing presidential candidate Pat Buchanan has ignited a historical firestorm with a new book claiming that Britain saved Stalinism and may have expanded the Jewish Holocaust by going to war with Hitler in 1939. Mr Buchanan is expected to quit the Republican Party to seek the presidential nomination of the Reform Party, and his bizarre interpretation of modern history has prompted outrage among historians, Jews and his political rivals. In "A Republic, Not an Empire," published to coincide with his presidential campaign, the veteran television commentator claims that Britain and France were wrong to go to war with Hitler after the invasion of Poland. He also asserts that Hitler posed no threat to the US after his initial victories, that America had no stake in the war even after the Nazi occupation of France. Mr Buchanan's questionable thesis, which blames most 20th century evils on the defeat of Germany in the First World War and the decision to oppose Hitler in the Second, has offered a tempting target in the contest for the lucrative Reform Party nomination. Donald Trump, the New York property developer who is being urged to run on the Reform ticket by Jesse Ventura, the Governor of Minnesota and the party's rising star, condemned Mr Buchanan for insulting the memory of Americans who died fighting Hitler. Mr Trump's critique, distributed by fax, was only slightly undermined by the misspelling of "Adolf". "Pat says Hitler had no malicious intent towards the United States. Hitler killed six million Jews and millions of others. Don't you think it was only a question of time before he got to us?" Mr Trump told The New York Times, revealing a hitherto unknown interest in history. Mr Buchanan responded with typical ferocity: "Mr Trump's views reflect an almost paralysing ignorance of the history of the Second World War," he said. But historians say that Mr Buchanan's take on modern history is also as dubious as it is intemperate. In his book he argues that if Hitler had been allowed to swallow Poland and go on to attack the Soviet Union, then Stalinism and countless Jewish deaths at the hands of the Nazis could have been stopped. "By redirecting Hitler's first blow upon themselves, Britain and France bought Stalin two extra years to prepare for Hitler's attack - and thus saved the Soviet Union for Communism," Mr Buchanan writes. "Had Britain and France not given the guarantee to Poland, Hitler would almost surely have delivered his first great blow to Russia ... had Hitler conquered the USSR at enormous cost, would he then have launched a new war against Western Europe, where his ambitions never lay?" He concludes that, by going to war over Poland, Britain and France made a fatal error, without which "there might have been no Dunkirk, no blitz, no Vichy, no destruction of the Jewish populations of Norway, Denmark, Holland, France, Belgium, Luxembourg and even Italy." Mr Buchanan also takes a starkly isolationist approach to the First World War, claiming that Britain and her supporters pulled America into a conflict in which "no vital US interest was at risk". If America had held back from the conflict, "the Allies would probably have been forced to negotiate an armistice or sue for peace," Mr Buchanan writes, before indulging in some full-blown hypothesising. "Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin and the whole grisly gang might have been hung from the lampposts of Petrograd. A strong, united and prosperous Germany would not have spawned a Hitler. There might have been no Holocaust, no quarter-century reign of Stalin, no Cold War. There would have been no Versailles, no occupation and dismemberment of the German nation, no American war dead, no debt, no era of disillusionment." Deborah Lipstadt, a historian, described the Buchanan argument as a "serious distortion of history because it shifts blame for the Holocaust to the Allies". Michael Kelly, a Washington Post, columnist went further. "This is all a fantastic, hideous lie," he wrote. Arguing that the US should avoid "unsustainable" foreign commitments, Mr Buchanan also emphasises the influence of ethnic groups over US policy abroad. "After the Second World War, Jewish influence over foreign policy became almost an obsession with America leaders," he writes. Mr Buchanan has often been accused of anti-Semitism. He recently suggested that three quarters of all places at Ivy league universities should be reserved for "non-Jewish whites" and once described the memories of Holocaust victims as "group fantasies of martyrdom". Supporters of Mr Buchanan said that the row would not derail his prospects of winning the Reform Party nomination, and the $13 million (Pounds 8 million) in federal campaign funding that goes with it.
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