Quotes Unworthy of Framing: Bishop Sheen

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Bishop Sheen

 

 

“The very fact that in World War II we chose to fight in alliance with one form of totalitarianism against the other two forms, though all were intrinsically wicked, proves not only the basic sympathy between Western materialism and communism but also the grave mistake of trying to drive the Devil out with Beelzebub.”

Bishop Fulton J. Sheen

The start of a new series.  In this set of posts we will take a look at truly foolish things said by people I generally admire.  First up, this gem from Bishop Sheen.

The idea that we chose to have the Soviet Union as an ally in the Second World War is a doozy.  Hitler made the choice when he invaded the Soviet Union.  If Bishop Sheen had then wanted us to be at war with both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, he would have had to have been content with Western casualty totals probably five times what they turned out to be, and his proposed course of action would have required the existence of Western leaders capable of explaining to puzzled populations why their nations were going to war with the Soviet Union that was holding down 80% of the Wehrmacht.  Such a policy would probably have resulted in an eventual renewal of the alliance between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany and led to a conflict that the Western Allies could not have won without resort to nuclear weapons, something that Bishop Sheen of course opposed.

At the end of the War we could of course have launched a new war to drive the Soviet Union out of Eastern Europe.  With the exception of General Patton, there was zero appetite among the Western Allies for a new conflict after the vast blood letting that had wrecked most of Europe.  I doubt if Bishop Sheen would have supported such a conflict for long, due to his coming out against the Vietnam War in 67.  When the going got tough geo-politically, Bishop Sheen tended to hit the road.

That any of this has anything to do with a basic sympathy between Western materialism and Communism is false and it was sophistical of Bishop Sheen to argue the contrary.  Any man, no matter how brilliant, can have an off day, and this quote is a prime example.

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51 Comments

  1. I’m sure the millions that died at the hands of the Soviets after WWII would agree with Bishop Sheen. And understanding the context of this quote (i.e. The cold war), might give a different perspective.
    As for Vietnam, unless one is sitting in the time period, watching your neighbors and friends coming home in body bags (and there were MANY), I’m not quite sure we can judge that stand today either. That again is easy to look through a lens of 2014.

  2. Do you recognize the contradiction in your comment? Vietnam casualties would have been as nothing compared to the casualties we would have incurred in a war against the Soviet Union either during WW2 or after WW2, not to mention the casualties we would have incurred in beating Nazi Germany without the aid of the Soviet Union. 75% of all troops of Nazi Germany who were killed in the War were killed by the Soviets.

  3. We really owe the soldiers of the Red Army a huge debt. There are a lot more Americans alive today because of their efforts.

  4. American food and trucks helped in their victory. Twenty million dead Soviets. Only Hitler could have made them fight so hard to maintain a regime most of them secretly despised. A war against Nazi Germany without the Soviets would have involved, conservatively, five to six million US casualties, with only concentrated use of as many atomic bombs as we could build probably bringing it to a conclusion.

  5. “Hitler made the choice when he invaded the Soviet Union.”
    .
    Excellent insight. A defensive war is waged by the aggressor.
    .
    “We really owe the soldiers of the Red Army a huge debt. There are a lot more Americans alive today because of their efforts.”
    .
    The Russians were fighting to save themselves. Like Napoleon, Hitler never counted on the Russian winter. Credit Our Lady with the lives saved.

  6. I don’t think that the quote of Bishop Sheen is in itself “truly foolish”. It is a broad over-generalization and an obviously overly intellectual statement. For example, it is an undeniable fact from the history of philosophy that communism was born out of Western materialism. As far as the phrase “grave mistake” is concerned, it would be dishonest for Sheen to have applied it to the entirety of U.S. and British war leadership (due to the necessity imposed by the war) but entirely on target for people who thought that there was any real affinity between Western democracy and the Soviets.
    Of course, there are tons of truly foolish implications that can be derived from any quote like this.

  7. your not accurate Winston Churchill and Montgomery wanted to take the Eighth Army fresh from so many victories to tear across the rest of Europe but Eisenhower said no. I suggest you might want to read Churchill’s memoirs, from the battle of the bulge onwards. He seems to have a different slant on some of your former comments

  8. The Eighth Army ended the war in Italy. It was in no position to tear across Europe. Churchill did recommend that Montgomery’s Twenty-First Army Group attempt to seize Berlin. Eisenhower rejected proposals to try to beat the Soviets to Berlin because there was no point to it. The Soviets and the Western Allies had already agreed to the boundaries between their two sectors at Yalta. The battle for Berlin cost the Soviets 81,000 dead and 280,000 wounded. I far prefer the Soviets to have sustained those casualties rather than the Americans and the Brits.

  9. Then let’s just get out of Korea, also.

    Who cares if the Commies slaughter millions of innocents and take away freedom from people?

    What sweat is that off our nose?

    Are we created just for our own comfort and ease? Or are we really to hate and fight evil, sometimes temporarily aligning with evil to defeat a greater evil in the moment?

  10. Bishop Sheen was a great man and should be lifted to the Altar as a Saint. Furthermore, when I first read the quote from Bishop Sheen above, I thought, “How profound.” Then I read Mr. McClarey’s discussion and realized my error. The Soviet Government was evil, not the Russian, Ukrainian and other Soviet people who opposed Hitler.
    .
    BTW, I wish that neither Americans nor Soviets had been killed. And we do owe a debt of gratitude to the Red Army however much that it was our mortal enemy in the Cold War.
    .
    War is never as clean and cut and dry as people playing armchair philosophers make it out to be. It’s bloody and muddy and full of equal amounts of heroism and depravity sometimes on both sides of the fence. Thank God the nukes on my sub were never let loose in the Cold War.

  11. PWP:

    Your sub nukes, along with B52’s/B-2’s and ICBM’s kept the Cold War from getting hot.

    Obama and the idiots are doing far worse damage today. They are arming Islamist terrorists. The only condition: the Islamist terrorist gang doesn’t call itself “ISIS.

    Here’s my advice to Americans, from Herodotus/Platea/Thessalonians with Persian army. The (pejorative deleted) foreigners (who we welcomed into our country) are deliberately planning to kill us. Then, arm yourselves and sell your lives dearly. Do not allow yourselves to be slaughtered. That disgrace, at least, you can avoid.

    Because Obama, Holder, eta al are on the same “team” as ISIS.

  12. “We really owe the soldiers of the Red Army a huge debt. There are a lot more Americans alive today because of their efforts.”

    Let’s not forget the Filipinos, whose homeland got invaded because it was American territory.

  13. Quite right Nathan, although I rather suspect that the Phillipines would have been invaded even if there were no Americans there. The Japanese needed to control it to protect their sea lanes to the oil of the Dutch East Indies.

  14. Years ago I read a comment that I thought over the top, but post 9/11 politics convinced me it was true: “World War Two was all about saving the Soviet Union”.

    Now, I don’t mean this was true for FDR or for the average American. Far from it. By early 1941 we had enough evidence for the malevolence of the Nazis. But the American left basically defended Hitler. Pete Seeger wrote anti-Roosevelt songs. Stalin had, after all become Hitler’s silent partner in Eastern Europe.

    But imagine an alternate history where Germany does not invade Russia and Pearl Harbor still happens. Roosevelt would have become the war-loving tool of robber barons such as Henry Ford, Henry Kaiser, and Glenn Martin. Pete Seeger would have continued to crank out the protest songs. Perhaps Rooseveltvilles would have sprouted up on the National Mall and even near Hyde Park, filled with ‘pacifists’ protesting “all those dead boys”.

    Of course, none of this happened. The divisiveness seen in nearly every other American conflict did not surface. On 9/11/2001 the U.S. lost 1,000 more people than at Pearl Harbor, and all were civilians, yet political activists within two years were sitting each others throats over the war. The only reasonable conclusion is that the activists of 12/7/1941, who a year earlier were antiwar and apparently quite willing to slit political throats, supported the war to save the Soviet Union. They put the USSR’s survival even ahead of the USA’s.

  15. Mr, McClarey
    But he is not talking about fighting the Soviets. He is talking about the “deal with the devil”. And it’s context. It’s easy to look at his statement through 2014 eyes and say, oh no, he was wrong.
    This is what happens when one lifts a quote without looking at that time and out of context.

  16. “But he is not talking about fighting the Soviets.”

    His statement is historical hogwash and I took it seriously to demonstrate just how much Bishop Sheen was talking on a subject he was either bone ignorant about, or was too interested in attempting to make a ridiculous point to think through the implications of what he was saying. Trying to defend the statement by saying it was taken out of context is simply assinine.

  17. “His statement is historical hogwash and I took it seriously to demonstrate just how much Bishop Sheen was talking on a subject he was either bone ignorant about, or was too interested in attempting to make a ridiculous point to think through the implications of what he was saying. Trying to defend the statement by saying it was taken out of context is simply assinine. ”

    Best Mark Shea imitation I’ve seen in a while!

  18. How ridiculous. World War II was instigated in Europe in part by Stalin. If the good bishop Sheen ever believed that Stalin gave up any hope of spreading the Workers’ Paradise through Europe before WWII then Bishop Sheen was foolish.

  19. “Best Mark Shea imitation I’ve seen in a while!”
    It could be better:
    1. No use of the term reactionary.
    2. No blaming the US somehow for Stalin and Hitler.
    3. No condemnation of right wingers.
    4. No mention of “the thing that used to be called conservatism”.

  20. Very interesting idea for a set of posts.

    To be fair to Mark Shea, maybe you can do the reverse when you complete this series:

    Take a look at truly intelligent things said by people you generally don’t admire.

  21. Overall, Bishop Sheen’s statement seems sound: the US found it easy enough to work with the USSR above and beyond mere military coordination and supply. We helped repatriate refugees from the Soviet regime (at gunpoint when necessary) after the war, allowed Soviet expansion at Yalta and the other conferences, and chose to ignore Soviet atrocities such as Katyn forest at the Nuremberg trials and pretend the Nazis were behind them. (The three-part documentary “World War II Behind Closed Doors” touches on many of these cynical diplomatic maneuvers.) If all this doesn’t necessarily demonstrate a “basic sympathy,” surely it shows the futility of trying to drive out one devil with another, nyet?

  22. “We helped repatriate refugees from the Soviet regime (at gunpoint when necessary) after the war,”

    Members of Vlasov’s Russian Liberation Army who fought for the Nazis. Hardly refugees but rather enemy soldiers. I wouldn’t have turned them over to the Soviets, but calling them refugees is incorrect.

    “allowed Soviet expansion at Yalta”

    We “allowed” nothing at Yalta. The Red Army was already in control of Eastern Europe and only World War III was going to change that.

    “and chose to ignore Soviet atrocities such as Katyn forest at the Nuremberg trials and pretend the Nazis were behind them.”
    Correct, although until the War had ended it was difficult to prove conclusively who had been behind it, since the Nazis were in control of the area and had been busily murdering millions of Poles at the same time they were claiming that Katyn was a Soviet massacre.

    “If all this doesn’t necessarily demonstrate a “basic sympathy,” surely it shows the futility of trying to drive out one devil with another, nyet?”

    All those who survived the Nazi regime would vigorously disagree with both you and Bishop Sheen father. Of course, your comment does not address what other course the Western Allies should have taken after Nazi Germany attacked the Soviet Union.

  23. It is worth remembering that in September 1939, many people in Britain had grave suspicions of the motives of the British and French governments in going to war at all.
    This was a feeling that only intensified during the “phony war.” There were any number of local wildcat strikes on the railways, in the Glasgow shipyards and in the Lanarkshire coalfields (also in Kent, where many of the miners were Scottish). Trades Unionists, in particular, feared that the War was being used by the ruling class to erode the hard-won gains of organized labour.
    All that changed with Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union. The war was now perceived as a workers’ struggle against Fascism; hence the TUC’s demand for Europe to be liberated from the Urals to the Canaries.

  24. I do not find Archbishop Sheen’s comments on the materialism of the West and the marxist materialism of the Soviet Union off base at all. If a culture, society etc sees everything in solely an immanentist, this worldly perspective, whether marxist or capitalist, the root is the same, even if the expression and fruit are different.

  25. Please Botolph, if you are going to make excuses for Sheen’s comment address the points I raised or do not bother taking up space in the combox on this thread. He made a very specific allegation and it deserves to be addressed in a historical, and not a metaphysical context, as Sheen made a historical allegation in support of his preposterous contention.

  26. Sorry about irritating you Donald but Sheen’s historical comment about the alliance between the West and the Soviets during WWII was actually a ‘metaphysical’ one: “the sympathy between Western materialism and communism but also the attempt to drive out the Devil with Beelzebub”

    I cannot forget that the Soviet Union had made a pact with the Devil of Nazi Germany, dividing up Poland etc with not a pang of conscience. What seemed to be two diametrically opposed forces: fascism and communism were allied (if temporarily). Of course it is not coincidental that both had ‘socialist’ [materialist] in their titles. As for the West, in the struggle to emerge from the Great Depression there was such emphasis on ‘material good’ etc. one could say-and this is what I believe Sheen was saying-there was a real shift in the consciousness. soul of the West toward materialism

  27. Once again Botolph address my comment. Sheen said that the Allies chose to ally themselves with the Soviet Union. I explained why that was historical rubbish and that the only alternative was to declare war on the Soviet Union, as well as on Nazi Germany. Sheen was attempting to make a point against Western materialism and abusing history in the process. Such misuse of history always arouses my ire, even when someone I admire is doing it.

  28. ahhhh Ok Point taken, Donald. We became allies because Hitler invaded the Soviet Union: Hitler made us allies. That I can see and agree with. It leaves another question however-which is related-why the Soviets, if such ‘great allies’ waited until a few days before the end of WWII in the Pacific to declare war on Japan. [This is not a argument against what Sheen or what you said but a question that keeps bugging me]

  29. Prior to 1943 they lacked the troops to do so. They stripped their best troops to send against the Nazis. As a matter of fact it was the Siberian divisions who spearheaded their counteroffensive in the winter of 41-42. After that, we put no pressure on them to declare war on the Japanese as we assumed, correctly, that a ground offensive by the Soviets in Manchuria would have a negligible impact on Japan without American naval and air supremacy, which we did not achieve around and over Japan until the Spring of 45. At that time we pressed the Soviets to go to war against Japan after Germany was beaten and Stalin promised to do so within 90 days of the German surrender, to give the Soviets time to send veteran units to the far East. Quite a few of our military men thought bringing the Soviets into the War at that point was unnecessary, but they were overruled by the civilian leadership. The simple fact was that we had beaten Japan by that time. Getting the Japanese leadership to admit that fact was the problem.

  30. Botolph you wrote “What seemed to be two diametrically opposed forces: fascism and communism were allied”.
    It is of course a modern myth that they were “diametrically opposed”, a myth derived from the 1941 invasion of the USSR by the Wehrmacht. In fact both forces were dedicated above all to coercion and control of human beings for immoral ends. In theory they differed on private ownership of property and on racism, but in practice there was little difference – see what happened to Hugo Junkers or to the Crimean Tatars for counterexamples to the prevailing wisdom.

  31. I wasn’t referring to enemy combatants, properly so called, in regard to the forced repatriation, but rather to the minority populations (civilians) who tried to flee the Soviet armies into non-Soviet territory and were turned back, forcibly. Our troops, reportedly, stood by helplessly as some of these poor souls leaped to their deaths rather than submit to the Soviet yoke. I don’t have the reference at hand, unfortunately, but this allegation of Solzhenitsyn’s (in “The Gulag Archipelago”) was later substantiated by, of all papers, “The Sunday Oklahoman” in the late 1970’s.

    As to ceding territory to the Soviets at Yalta, et al.: does this include eastern Germany, for instance? Are you saying that it wasn’t agreed that Russia would move in from the east to Berlin, so that, consequently, our forces (Patton, for example) were deliberately halted to allow the Soviets to arrive in Berlin first?

    As to the appeal to “all those who survived the Nazi regime”: we have to remember that many of them ended up back in Soviet gulags or in front of firing squads because they had somehow been corrupted by being POW’s of the Nazi regime. This kind of appeal seems to me like something imponderable; I mean. how do we begin to assess whose gratitude is more weighty amid so much violence?

    What other course could we have taken at that point? I’m not sure I see how letting them fight it out could have been worse than forty-odd years of Soviet domination in eastern Europe and the suffering and death that entailed for countless people.

  32. Stalin and Hitler agreed to carve up Poland for a bunch of reasons. First, Poland existed. It was no longer carved up between the Kaiser and the Czar, as it was from 1793-1918. Second, Poland threw Germany out of Greater Poland in 1918-19, received Gdansk (Danzig) as a free city and took over much of Pomerania as a result of the Versailles Treaty. All were embarrassing to Germany. Stalin was an officer in the Red Army who made a huge screwup that led to the Miracle of the Vistula during the Polish-Soviet War of 1919-20. The USSR sued for peace after the Polish Army drove the Red Army out of Poland and halfway to Moscow.

    Hitler hated Communists as much as he hated Poles and Jews and the USSR was always his main target. Stalin was stupid enough to believe Hitler would keep his word. Byelorussians, Ukrainians and Russians paid for this stupidity with their lives. As Mr. McClarey said, Stalin kept huge reserves of hardened, cold-weather trained troops in Siberia to guard against a Japanese invasion, releasing them only after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor.

    Stalin received massive aid from the USA. Weapons, food, oil, trucks, anything FDR could give Stalin – Stalin got. Meanwhile, the USSR did nothing to assist the USA in our fight against Japan. Stalin wanted another front opened in Europe, accusing the West of letting the USSR bleed to death, ignoring his own complicity in starting the war in Europe – and, of course, Stalin had his spies in the FDR administration, including the Manhattan Project.

    The USSR declared war on Japan three months after the end of the war in Europe. They kept after the Japanese Army, smashing them in China, Manchuria and Mongolia, even after Japan surrendered, carting off factories and shipping them back to the USSR.

    Stalin got his empire. Stalin took Polish territory east of the Curzon Line (the Kresy) and gave Poland some of Germany. Stalin swept through the rest of Eastern Europe. Stalin got Communist dictatorships from Berlin to North Korea, from the Baltic to the Adriatic.

    The USSR was never more than an an enemy of an enemy, other than Communist dupes in the Democrat Party, Hollywood, certain unions and elsewhere, but Bishop Sheen should have known that.

  33. Fr. Johnson, regarding “Our troops, reportedly, stood by helplessly as some of these poor souls leaped to their deaths rather than submit to the Soviet yoke”, I definitely recall reading a biography of Harry Truman in the early 1970’s in which Truman stated that this event disgusted him and led to his decision to give North Korean POWs the choice to not return – a decision that delayed the Korean armistice for months. Many such events were known when they happened, and then forgotten.

  34. I’m not quite sure where this fallacy began that because we allied ourselves with Russia during WWII for strategic reasons means that we accept carte blanche their actions in every other regard but it’s not rational.

    This same fallacious refrain can be heard when discussing America’s Middle Eastern foreign affairs strategy from yesteryear. Often we strategically align ourselves with an enemy of our enemy and it backfires at some future point years later.

    It’s certainly possible for prudent decisions today to require further prudent containment from fallout tomorrow.

  35. PF wrote: “Stalin got his empire. Stalin took Polish territory east of the Curzon Line (the Kresy) and gave Poland some of Germany. Stalin swept through the rest of Eastern Europe. Stalin got Communist dictatorships from Berlin to North Korea, from the Baltic to the Adriatic.”
    In 1946 that empire was even more frightening. It included part of Austria, parts of Finland, northern Iran, and the Chinese regions of Manchuria, Xinjiang (which the USSR had occupied before 1940), and Inner Mongolia.

    “The USSR was never more than an enemy of an enemy, other than Communist dupes in the Democrat Party, Hollywood, certain unions and elsewhere, but Bishop Sheen should have known that.”
    Well, not as far as Democrats were concerned. Harry Truman and his allies had purged most such dupes from the Democratic party in Sheen’s time. The anti-communist actions of the Americans for Democratic Action under people like Arthur Schlesinger Jr were largely successful, and resulted in their bolting the Democratic party for the Progressive party with Henry Wallace in 1948. The dupes didn’t slink back in until after 1968 when people like Schlesinger had lost their nerve, and they later got their revenge and took over the ADA.

  36. “I wasn’t referring to enemy combatants, properly so called, in regard to the forced repatriation, but rather to the minority populations (civilians) who tried to flee the Soviet armies into non-Soviet territory and were turned back, forcibly.”

    The only forced repatriation I am aware of were enemy combatants. We did return Soviet prisoners of war as the Soviets returned our prisoners of war from camps they captured from the Germans. We also repatriated Soviet slave laborers sent to the West by the Germans to work as slaves. Hundreds of thousands of Eastern Europeans were allowed as refugees to stay in the West.

    “As to ceding territory to the Soviets at Yalta, et al.: does this include eastern Germany, for instance? Are you saying that it wasn’t agreed that Russia would move in from the east to Berlin, so that, consequently, our forces (Patton, for example) were deliberately halted to allow the Soviets to arrive in Berlin first?”

    Yep. The Western Allies had liberated much of what made up East Germany and a fair amount of Czechoslovakia and were obliged to withdraw from these territories due to the Yalta agreements.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Line_of_contact

    “This kind of appeal seems to me like something imponderable; I mean. how do we begin to assess whose gratitude is more weighty amid so much violence?”

    We destroyed one of the worst regimes that has ever besoiled this planet. Are you suggesting we then should have started another war to end the Soviet Union? That was the alternative to what occurred in 1945. Blaming the Western Allies because the Soviet Union survived due to the fact that Hitler was mad enough to attack Stalin strikes me as wrong-headed.

    “What other course could we have taken at that point? I’m not sure I see how letting them fight it out”

    Harry Truman proposed just that after Hitler invaded the Soviet Union. It was foolish in the exteme. If Hitler had managed to conquer the Soviet Union he may have been unstoppable, especially since it is likely that he would have had ICBMs with nukes before we had them. World War IV might then have begun with a Nazi nuclear strike on the Continental US circa 1949. Of course, this ignores the fact that Hitler declared war on the US immediately after Pearl Harbor, so we really had no choice about being involved in the War against Hitler. As for Eastern Europe, Hitler planned to kill all Slavic untermensch, as he considered them, except the few he kept as slaves, or “racially pure” kids who could be raised as Germans.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generalplan_Ost

    He managed to kill six million Poles before the war concluded. I say without hesitation that the Eastern Europeans were better off under Communist domination than they would have been if the Third Reich had won the war.

  37. “If Hitler had managed to conquer the Soviet Union he may have been unstoppable, especially since it is likely that he would have had ICBMs with nukes before we had them.”
    Don, the opinions I’ve seen among the European physicists at Los Alamos was that this was unlikely. Their consensus was that the timing of the 1939 discovery of fission was most fortuitous for the U.S. A fission discovery a year or two earlier would have favored a German first development, since the Germans would have benefited from the further discoveries of these very scientists prior to the imposition of wartime secrecy (it is well documented that secrecy and the flight of these physicists to America hamstrung the German nuclear program, and a Soviet collapse would not have changed that). A fission discovery a few years later might have favored a Soviet first development, since the Manhattan Project might have been given a lower priority if it was approved at all. If this conjecture is true it makes one wonder about Providence.

  38. Once the US had the bomb the Germans would quickly have built one. Captured German scientists were instrumental in building the Soviet bomb in 1949. Combine this with Werner von Braun and his rocket whiz kids and I think the world narrowly missed a nuclear war in the fifties.

  39. Sorry Don, but the only German scientist I know of who aided the Soviet bomb program was Klaus Fuchs, and he did it from Los Alamos. They ‘captured’ him a long time before.
    As to the rest of you idea, I do agree with some alternative history buffs that a German triumph in Europe could have set the stage for a nuclear confrontation and Cold War between the U.S. and Germany. Could have. Such a scenario would have required that the U.S. refrain from using nuclear weapons against Germany in August 1945, and that would not have happened unless perhaps Hitler never declared war on the U.S. and Churchill’s government fell.

  40. Periodically, when I see the topic of fission come up, I have to mention that there is a fundamental difference between nuclear reactors making lots of pollution-free electricity and nuclear bombs making really big explosions. I work in the former. Making electricity from fission is safe, clean and cheaper than fossil. I have been involved in this work for 30+ years. I still live and breathe. Reactors use fuel with less than 5% U-235 or Pu-239 enrichment. Making explosions from bombs requires fuel enriched to greater than 93% U-235 or Pu-239. Reactors do NOT explode. Bombs do explode. A reactor is NOT and CANNOT be a bomb. But I don’t have time for a physics lesson here, so kindly read on:
    .
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2014/09/20/a-nuclear-primer-its-all-about-uranium/
    .
    There will be more in the next post at that blog.

  41. “German physicists who worked on the Uranverein and were sent to the Soviet Union to work on the Soviet atomic bomb project included: Werner Czulius, Robert Döpel, Walter Herrmann, Heinz Pose, Ernst Rexer, Nikolaus Riehl, and Karl Zimmer. Günter Wirths, while not a member of the Uranverein, worked for Riehl at the Auergesellschaft on reactor-grade uranium production and was also sent to the Soviet Union.

    Zimmer’s path to work on the Soviet atomic bomb project was through a prisoner of war camp in Krasnogorsk, as was that of his colleagues Hans-Joachim Born and Alexander Catsch from the Kaiser-Wilhelm Institut für Hirnforschung (KWIH, Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Brain Research, today the Max-Planck Institut für Hirnforschung), who worked there for N. V. Timofeev-Resovskij, director of the Abteilung für Experimentelle Genetik (Department of Experimental Genetics). All four eventually worked for Riehl in the Soviet Union at Laboratory B in Sungul’.[90][91]

    Von Ardenne, who had worked on isotope separation for the Reichspostministerium (Reich Postal Ministry), was also sent to the Soviet Union to work on their atomic bomb project, along with Gustav Hertz, Nobel laureate and director of Research Laboratory II at Siemens, Peter Adolf Thiessen, director of the Kaiser-Wilhelm Institut für physikalische Chemie und Elektrochemie (KWIPC, Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Chemistry and Electrochemisty, today the Fritz Haber Institute of the Max-Planck Society), and Max Volmer, director of the Physical Chemistry Institute at the Berlin Technische Hochschule (Technical University of Berlin), who all had made a pact that whoever first made contact with the Soviets would speak for the rest.[92] Before the end of World War II, Thiessen, a member of the Nazi Party, had Communist contacts.[93] On 27 April 1945, Thiessen arrived at von Ardenne’s institute in an armored vehicle with a major of the Soviet Army, who was also a leading Soviet chemist, and they issued Ardenne a protective letter (Schutzbrief).”

  42. Don, funny that you list some German nuclear physicists who worked in the Soviet Union. In the last few weeks my manager has had a copy of Asif A Siddiqi’s Challenge To Apollo: The Soviet Union and The Space Race, 1945-1974, NASA Special Publication 2000-4408 on his desk, and I managed to read several chapters. An online version can be found here: http://www.ntrs.nasa.gov/search.jsp?R=20000088626

    Using documents made available just after the collapse of the USSR, Siddiqi does an excellent job documenting the use of German rocket science expertise. He comes to a number of interesting conclusions:

    1) The Soviet counterpart to the U.S. Operation Paperclip may have been most beneficial to the Soviets not because of the German talent it acquired but rather because it broke down the compartmentalization between Russian design teams and thus better pooled existing Russian talent
    2) The USSR, in failing to acquire significant amounts of A-4 (V-2) hardware, was forced into a remanufacturing regime that gave it more expertise than simple pilfering in Germany would have given them
    3) And this:
    “There are, however, key differences in the role of Germans in the United States versus that of those in the Soviet Union. The Germans in the Soviet Union never participated in the mainstream rocketry program. In fact, after the restoration of A-4 production and the G-I debacle, they worked completely independently and without much influence on Soviet plans. Not a single one of the German missiles designed in 1947 through 1950 was ever built. Following the significant events of 1946-47. the Germans essentially played a peripheral role. proposing a number of important technical innovations. only some of which were adopted by the Soviets. Compounding Korolev’s personal resistance toward cooperation with the Germans was a much more imposing political imperative-one that was grounded in xenophobia and distrust. While some Soviet engineers may have realized the extremely important value of potential German contributions to the rocketry program, there was never any concerted effort to make maximum use of Grottrup’s team.

    “There is no doubt that the Soviet Union benefited from A-4 technology in developing its early ballistic missiles. There is compelling reason to believe that the USSR might have floundered for years before moving ahead to such ambitious concepts as the R-3 had it not been for mastering the design and manufacturing technologies of the A-4 rocket. On the other hand, the available evidence suggests that Korolev and his team made very little use of German expertise, at least after 1947. Their influence over the direction of the Soviet ballistic missile program was marginal at best. Thus, if the parameters of the debate are limited to “the Germans,” their contribution to the rocketry program in the Soviet Union was far less than that in the United States. In purely technical terms, the benefit to the Soviets were in such areas as the design of guidance systems and the test and launch equipment. Perhaps some of the more advanced managerial techniques among the Germans may also have found their ways into Soviet institutions. A CIA report, authored in 1960 and declassified in 1980, summed up the total German contribution:

    “The German scientists made a very valuable contribution to the Soviet missile program; however, it cannot be said that without the Germans the Soviet Union would have had no significant missile program…There is no doubt that it took the German wartime success with guided missiles to cause Stalin and his colleagues to devote large scale support to the Soviet effort in this field. Once this support was forthcoming the use of German scientists permitted the Soviets to achieve results in a much shorter time than it would have taken them along but there is no reason to believe that the Soviets could not have eventually done the job by themselves.”

    I doubt that the Soviet bomb program would have been run any differently than the Soviet missile program, and so I would conclude that any captured German nuclear scientists would most likely have played only peripheral roles there.

  43. Mr. McClarey, isn’t that the great geopolitical tragedy for the Philippines? Every time someone wants to build an empire in the Pacific, the Philippines gets the raw end of the bargain. Think Spain 1565, USA 1898, Japan 1941 . . .

    Just a humble suggestion, but what about a series of posts on the war efforts of the lesser-known Allied countries? E.g., Poland, Czechoslovakia, the Philippines, etc.

  44. Mr. Ang, remember that the United States pretty quickly repented of any desire to build an empire with the Philippines. Recall also that the biggest ‘raw deal’ the Philippines ever got from the U.S. was when a delegation of Filipino leaders travelled to Washington in 1898 and requested U.S. statehood in a meeting with Secretary of State John Hay, only to be rebuffed on basically racist grounds (not that Hay was a racist, but he bowed to the racist politics of his day). Had Hay then and there agreed either to statehood or to commonwealth status the later 1899-1909 conflict would likely have never happened.

  45. Penguins Fan wrote, “Stalin was stupid enough to believe Hitler would keep his word.”
    I doubt that. What were his options? The Western powers had excluded the Soviet Union from the Munich conference of 1938. Subsequent Western reactions to the annexation of Czechoslovakia had convinced him that the Western democracies lacked the will to take on the Nazis. Having been rebuffed by Britain and France in the March and April of 1939, when the Soviet Union had proposed a collective security pact with a guaranteed two-pronged attack on Germany, he concluded the Non-aggression pact in the August.
    Events seemed to justify Stalin’s scepticism. Even after they declared war in September, Britain and France adopted a purely defensive posture and, had Hitler launched his attack on the Soviet Union then, there is every likelihood they would have continued to sit on their hands, or even conclude an armistice.

  46. “Just a humble suggestion, but what about a series of posts on the war efforts of the lesser-known Allied countries? E.g., Poland, Czechoslovakia, the Philippines, etc.”

    Not a bad idea Nathan. I’ll see what I can do.

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