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
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
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.