Falsification of history as a means to maintain imperial power

Why historical truth is so important even for the present

by Wolfgang Effenberger*

On 14 July, the French national holiday, 2017 President Macron and his American colleague Trump reviewed the military parade on the famous Champs-Èlysees in Paris, before the global public. The two presidents also commemorated the entry of the United States into the First World War on the part of the Entente on 6 April 1917, and integrated the memory of this monumental historical event into the festivities.1 Almost exactly a hundred years ago, on 13 June 1917, US General Pershing moved into Paris with his staff; and as early as at the beginning of July, the first 14,000 US soldiers were present in France.2 It was to be 2 million by the end of the war.

Now, a hundred years later, it would be a good idea to reflect the United States’ entry to the war without prejudice, and to uncover their motives for entering the war. Militarism and misguided heroism have no place in commemorations. Hereafter, I want to bring to mind some important background and motives.

“Close in on Germany and Austria”

During his visit to Europe on 29 May 1914, the American presidential advisor, Colonel House, wrote to Wilson from the US Embassy in Berlin: “[…] there is some day to be an awful cataclysm […] There is too much hatred, too many jealousies. Whenever England consents, France and Russia will close in on Germany and Austria.”3

He was not wrong in this. However, the fact had escaped him – as well as most of his contemporaries – that there were some men in and behind the British government who had already, from 1904 onwards, begun their preparations for the great war, bypassing the Prime Minister and his cabinet.4 The army was preparing an expeditionary corps for France, and in a secluded naval division, Lord Hankey was working on a deadly blockade against Germany. The official historian of the Royal Navy, Sir Julian Corbett, later wrote that the First World War had been prepared by Lord Hankey, the planner of the blockade, and by his co-workers within the British government with an “orderly completeness in detail that has no parallel in our history”.5 It is unfortunately in vain that we look for the names Hankey and Corbett in conventional histories – even in that of Christopher Clark.

A few days before the beginning of the war, on the day of his assassination, 31 July 1914, the French historian and socialist Jean Jaurès warned: “[…] Here in France we use all the means of violence for a war which has to be fought in order to satisfy disgusting desires, and because the Parisian and London stock exchanges have speculated in St. Petersburg [...]; The war is sought, which has long been stoked up.”

Rising armaments expenditure

Until the start of the war in early 1914, America had laid important foundations for its rise: it had ousted Spain from Cuba and the Philippines; it dominated the Caribbean, was completing the Panama Canal and owned safe harbours for its fleet in East Asia.
Armaments expenditure increased steadily – to the delight of the armaments groups. Also interesting are the expenses of the naval powers in the 10 years before the First World War. From 1904 to 1914, they rose by more than 800 million US dollars in Germany, but by more than 1.2 billion US dollars in the US and more than 1.8 billion US dollars in the UK.6
At the beginning of 1909, Lord Kitchener, the hero of Karthum, had spoken quite frankly about the inevitability of a General Staff, Karl Haushofer; and that this war “would probably cost England and Germany their dominion in the Pacific [...] and would have to be fought for the Americans and Japanese”.7

On 15 August 1914, two weeks after the beginning of the war, the first lockage took place in the Panama Canal. It was thus possible to unite the Pacific and the Atlantic fleets quickly and effectively. Four days later, the US declared its neutrality. And only one day later, on 20 August, Britain began the blockade against Germany, which was illegal under international law, without any criticism from the United States. This lasted until 28 June 1919 and it was especially the population that was hit hard by it. The blockade came as a surprise for the German Reich. It took almost six months for a reaction, which then came on 4 February 1915, in the form of the deployment of submarines.

War preparations in the US

Although Wilson repeatedly emphasised that he wanted to keep the US out of the European war, purposeful preparations for entering the war took place. On 3 June 1916, the “National Defense Act of 1916”8 was adopted in the US Congress. This defined a significant change for the “National Guard” in terms of strike capability, structure and mobilisation. For the next 5 years, a force of 425,000 men was to be maintained. Now began the time of propaganda and the preparedness parades. In the big cities, close on 50,000 war-crazed people marched through the streets in a carnivalesque way, accompanied by dozens of music bands, to promote military intervention on the continent. The course had been set for war. Those presidential candidates, who wanted to prevent a war entry, for example member of the US congress Bob LaFollette, had already been rejected. Instead, the Republicans nominated the anglophilic Charles E. Hughes, who was no alternative to the Democrat Wilson.

 David L. Hoggan wrote in 1979 in his book “The Blind Century”: “For the frustrated American voters, who could not break through the corrupt nomination system of the Party conventions, which at discretion dictated the choice of presidential candidates and subsequently made a great fuss about them [...] – for these American voters, 1916 was just a typical presidential election [...] between two candidates who ostensibly opposed each other, and who were in reality in cahoots with J. P. Morgan and J. D. Rockefeller. The two latter men had already decided long before the official election campaign that the official US entry into the war was an absolute necessity to secure the profits of the Morgan and Rockefeller bonds to the Allies.”9

War bonds to the Entente powers to be secured

At the beginning of March 1917, the Washington Oval Office received terrible news: there was mutiny in the French army. In addition, the collapse of Russia was beginning to become apparent. And on the high seas, Germany with its submarines seemed to be deciding the race in its favour. A German victory bringing with it the total loss of the war bonds to the Entente had to be prevented by all means, because a breakdown of the J. P. Morgan empire would have meant an implosion of Wall Street. To compare the loans: the imperial empire got 27 million and the Entente 2,300 million US dollars. On 2 April 1917, Wilson, in a highly emotional speech, called on the Congress to give him the consent to the declaration of war on Germany. To give a reason, he described the sinking of US merchant ships as “a crime against humanity.” And yet, on 9 March 1917, Wilson himself had ordered the arming of merchant ships. Seven days later, three US ships were sunk. And now 16 days later the declaration of war? It may be assumed that setting the course for a war of this order of magnitude has not been “envisaged” 16 days, but 16 months previously.10

Despite the massive psychotic impact of Wilson’s war message, during the heated debate Senator BobLa Follette demanded an immediate call for a popular referendum on peace or war, which he confidently predicted would be 10:1 against war. This naturally prompted a personal attack on LaFollette in the media11, which claimed he was “a better German than the leaders of Germany itself.”

In his reply, Senator George W. Norris rejected the reasons for war advanced by Wilson and, quoting from a letter written by a member of the New York Stock Exchange to his customers, demonstrated the interests of Wall Street:

“Canada and Japan are at war and are more prosperous than ever before. The popular view is that stocks would have a quick, clear, sharp reaction immediately upon outbreak of hostilities, and that then they would enjoy an old-fashioned bull market such as followed the outbreak of war with Spain in 1898. The advent of peace would force a readjustment of commodity prices and would probably mean a postponement of new enterprises.”12

After a debate held not without exasperation – Senator Bob LaFollette argumented against the intended war against Germany in a four-hour speech –, the United States declared the state of war with Germany on 6 April 1917.13

Protests in Germany

Subsequently to Wilson’s address, the German- language newspaper “Allgemeine Zeitung des Judentums” reflected, with a definite reference to Wilson’s double-game, “in which from the beginning of the war, he allowed, countenanced, perhaps even promoted the fact that the American factories were supplying our opponents with ammunition, weapons and all kinds of war equipment. No truly neutral state did this except America. By this support of our enemies, the United States have [...] already for almost three years proved themselves to be an enemy power despite their alleged neutrality. So not we are the instigators of this war, but they are.”14 As members of the German people, the editors of the Jewish newspaper protested against the suggestion that the United States was waging war only against the German government and not against the German people. “We did not want a war with America, least of all with Mr Wilson, we accept him because he has been enforced on us against all laws, and we bear in mind our every right and our holy cause.”15

“Merchants of Death”

In 1934, when fear of a new war was in the air in the US and the development of the “Rainbow War Plans” slipped into gear, a US Congress committee of inquiry chaired by Senator Gerald P. Nye (“The Special Committee on Investigation of the Munitions Industry”) on the reasons for the 1917 entry into the war started its work. After two years of careful investigation, the socalled Nye committee was able to convincingly show that bankers and armaments industrialist had, in addition to price agreements before and during the war, strongly influenced the US foreign policy and had “tricked the country into the war.”16

Some US arms manufacturers were able to achieve exorbitant increases of their net profits. Compared to the years 1911 to 1914, the net profits of Scovil Co. rose by almost 1200% in the years 1915 to 1918, those of Du Pont by almost 1000%, Niels Menet Pond scored an increase of more than 850%, Bethlehem Steel over 700%, Hercules Powder Co. almost 600%, by Atlas Powder Co. more than 400% and General Motors over 300%.16 In 1935 the American artist Mabel Dwight created a memorial against the profiteers of war and crises with her lithography “The Merchants of Death”:

“The merchants of death are tenacious and long-lived, [...] their sole interest is selfinterest, their only God is profit. [...] As politicians their interest is directed towards a strong ruling class and the concentration of privileges. [...] What they rarely understand is that their leader is death. He loves them because he knows that sooner or later they will fill his pockets. He knows that they hatch wars and revolutions, [...] their stubbornness and their traditional stupidity exceed every intelligible measure. We are talk-ing about beings that are very perceptive, but at the same time incurably short-sighted. In this country they hate the ideal of democracy, but they are glad about the loose reins and the free space it gives them.”17

The bankers have set the course

The First World War could only take place to that extent because the bankers had set the course in time, in order to create vast amounts of money. At the time of Wilson’s accession to office, the US was in an economic recession. Already at the end of April 1913, Wilson had advocated the first summary of the still secret legislative proposal for a central bank law, at the urging of influential bankers.

Largely unnoticed by the American public, it was passed by the House of Representatives, as “Federal Reserve Act”, on 22 December 1913. On the following day the Senate agreed – the deputies and senators had partly already begun the journey home for Christmas. Only hours later, Wilson signed the controversial law18 – for many, a license for private money creation. In this way, the Congress relinquished the privilege of printing money and handed this task over to international bankers, who had provided plenty of lobbying funds for this bill. Public opinion was against such a law, not least because Thomas Jefferson had warned time and again, that such an act would first accelerate inflation, and then rob the citizens of their assets through the ensuing deflation.

In this, Jefferson had shown astounding foresight. The FED introduced a new monetary system and was soon abused by its founding fathers to provide unsecured “Fiat money for the war” – what precious metal expert Reinhard Deutsch called “legal counterfeit money”19 – i.e. money with an imaginary value. Since then the lords of paper money and guardians of private public banks have been taking great care that countries with state-owned national banks are fought against.

Already Goethe described the “economy with its creation of paper money as a continuation of alchemy by other means.”20 “While the classical alchemists tried to make gold from lead, money is made from paper in the modern economy,” said Jens Weidmann as President of the Deutsche Bundesbank in his witty welcome speech on 18 September 2012. Goethe, who was also conversant in economic questions, was the minister responsible for Economic Affairs at the Weimar Court, and experienced the industrial revolution at close range. He himself advised Duke Carl August of Saxony- Weimar-Eisenach against the introduction of paper money. “Every monetary standard, whichever it may be, must be firm,”21 Goethe wrote in a report.

In order to be able to plunder globally without hindrance, national structures must also disappear. In 1914, it was primarily about destroying the three great dynasties on the continent of Europe. Cardinal John Murphy Farley, Archbishop of New York, stated at the Eucharistic World Congress in Lourdes (22–26 July 1914): “The war that is in preparation will be a struggle between international capital and the ruling dynasties. Capital wants to be dominant alone, knows no God or Lord and would like to have all states governed as large banking business. Their profit is to become the sole guideline of the government. [...] Business [...] uniquely and exclusively.”22

Much pomp and little truthfulness

On 14 July 2017, this historic event was celebrated in Paris with a lot of monumental pomp and little truthfulness. Nietzsche, who in his “Zweite unzeitgemässe Betrachtung” (“Second Untimely Meditation”) distinguishes between a monumental, an antiquarian and a critical dealing with history, warns: If the monumental dealing prevails, the past itself suffers damage – large parts are forgotten, despised or simply dissolve. “The monumental history uses analogies to deceive: with seductive resemblances it tempts the brave to audacity, the enthusiast to fanaticism; and if we even imagine this history in the hands and minds of gifted egoists and enthusiastic villains, then empires will be destroyed, princes murdered, wars and revolutions instigated, and the number of historical effects in themselves, that is, effects without adequate causes, will increase again.”

Falsification of history up to today

A critical historical view might minimise these negative effects. Unfortunately, the chances are rarely seized. On Saturday, 7 July 2017, a three-page conversation with the young historian Robert Gerwarth appeared in the feuilleton of the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” under the title “Echo of War”. You have to agree with him when he says that admittedly, history does not repeat itself, but that there are true parallels to the world a hundred years ago: “[...] One hears echoes from that time [...]”. Therefore, we must understand the historical roots of the conflicts that we are experiencing today. But then he does not go into the origins of the “echoes”. With his assertion that “Europe’s history can hardly be understood without the developments between 1917 and 1923,”23 he circles a dangerous cliff, namely the motifs that led to the First World War. In this way, those who caused the First World War are not dealt with, but instead, the Anglo-Saxon view of the world is presented – and, of course, Fritz Fischer’s long obsolete book “Der Griff zur Weltmacht” (“The Grasp for World Power”) is brought to mind. Any glance at the motives of the “masters of paper money” is avoided. In this way, wars and crises in the profit- and power interests of these circles will continue to bring further suffering to mankind. It is not surprising that the crises on the fault lines of the First World War – in the Near and Middle East, in the Ukraine and in North Africa – have reopened today, because the problems have neither been solved nor worked through. The war mongers of today are, as in those times, coolly calculating, power crazed, and inhuman risk-takers. We find them among speculative bankers and holders of armaments groups, and first of all in transnational corporations and transnational capital. •

1 cf. www.handelsblatt.com/politik/international/frankreich-trump
2 Gerste, Ronald D. Lafayette, “Here we come!” In: ZEIT Geschichte. No. 2/2017, p. 48
3 Seymour, Charles, The Intimate Papers of Colonel House. Cambridge 1926, p. 248
4 Walsh, Patrick. “Schlafwandler? Von wegen! Wie Grossbritannien seinen Krieg gegen Deutschland plante“ (Sleepwalkers? No way! How Great Britain planned its war against Germany). In: Effenberger, Wolfgang / Macgregor, Jim (eds.), “Sie wollten den Krieg. Wie eine kleine britische Elite den Ersten Weltkrieg vorbereitete.” (They wanted the war. How a small British elite prepared the First World War.) Rottenburg 2016, pp. 21–59
5 Corbett, Julian. Naval Operations. London 1921, vol. 1, p. 18
6 Figures from Engelbrecht, H.C./Hanighen, F.C. Merchants of Death. New York 1934
7 Haushofer, Karl, “Erdkunde, Geopolitik und Wehrwissenschaft” (Geography, geopolitics and military science). Munich 1934, p. 8
8 Federalizing the National Guard: Preparedness, reserve forces and the National Defense Act of 1916; www.nationalguard.mil/News/Article/789220/federalizing-the-national-guard-preparedness-reserve-forces-and-the-national-de/
9 Hoggan, David L., “Das blinde Jahrhundert” (The blind century). Tübingen 1979, p. 454
10 Effenberger, Wolfgang/Wimmer, Willy, “Wiederkehr der Hasardeure” (Return of the Gamblers). Höhr-Grenzhausen 2014, p. 364f.
11 cf.: Thelen, David P. Robert, “La Follette and the Insurgent Spirit”. Boston 1976
12 Senator Norris Opposes U.S. Entry into the War. In: Congressional Record, 65th Cong., 1st Session, Vol. LV, pt. I, pp. 212–13
13 Detailed description in Effenberger, Wolfgang, “Pfeiler der US-Macht” (Pillars of US power). Gauting 2005, pp. 192ff.
14 AZJ No. 15, from 13 April 1917, p. 171
15 AZJ No. 15, from 13 April 1917, p. 172
16 Report of the Special Committee on Investigation of the Munitions Industry (The Nye Report), U.S. Congress, Senate, 74th Congress, 2nd session, 24 Februar, 1936, pp. 3–13.
17 Dwight, Mabel, A Catalogue Raisonné of the Lithograhs. Smithosonians Institution Press 1997
18 The Federal Reserve Act of 1913 – A Legislative History; www.llsdc.org/FRA-LH
19 Deutsch, Reinhard, “Falschgeld”. In: Dokumentation des Symposium Steyerberg 2000: Für einen neuen Geldpluralismus (“Counterfeit money”. In: Documentation of the Symposium Steyerberg 2000: For a New Money Pluralism, p. 62f.
20 “Goethe’s Faust: ‘Grenzenloses Gelddrucken anno 1832”’ (‘Unlimited monetary printing in the year 1832’); diepresse.com/home/wirtschaft/hobbyoekonom/1293632/Goethes-Faust_Grenzenloses-Moneyprinting-anno-1832
21 diepresse.com/home/business/hobbyoekonom/1293632/Goethe-Faust_GrenzenlosesmoneyprintingAnno-1832
22 von Taube, Michael, “Der grossen Katastrophe entgegen” (Headed for the great catastrophe). Leipzig 1937, p. 37
23 “Echo des Krieges” (Echo of the War). In: “Süddeutsche Zeitung” No. 155, 8/9 August 2017, p. 11

(Translation Current Concerns)