Revisionist history. Is all history revisionism?From John Lukacs’s The Last European War, almost forty years old, but still valuable…
After 1941, “the destiny of Europe depended on two extra-European powers, the United States and the Soviet Union- a condition that has prevailed ever since that time…” Thus, Lukacs says, the 1939-41 war was the last war that Europe will have as Europe. “The people of Europe may yet experience revolutions and civil wars; they may be conquered from the outside; they may be set against each other. But a war in which one nation sets out to dominate Europe, with the result of an all-European war- that is very unlikely to happen.”
And finally,after 1941, according to Lukacs, the conclusion of the war was no longer in doubt. In Lukacs’s own words: “The last European War began in September 1939. It became the Second World War in December 1942. The years 1939-41 were more than the opening phase, they were the decisive phase of the Second World War. Had Hitler defeated Britain in 1940 or had he conquered the Russians in 1941, he would have won the war. Before December 1941 he came close to winning it…After December 1941 he could no longer win it. Such clear cut turning points of great wars are rare.”
This is a remarkable conclusion. If true, it leads us to revisions of our previous understandings of World War II; it lead us, for example, to the proposition that American participation in World War II was absolutely unnecessary and irrelevant. That is revisionist history with a vengeance. no question of that; but, as Lukacs writes, “All history is revisionism of a kind…All history-indeed, all thinking- consists of the rethinking of the past.”
John Lukacs:In 1945 the defeat of Hitler and his Germany was complete; and, except for a small number of embittered ideological fanatics, his movement did not survive the war. Yet one of his important convictions lives on: his recognition that a nation is more important than a state. This is one reason why the word totalitarian, meaning the total police rule of a state, is incorrect. Another reason: the rule of everyday life, even in Hitler’s Germany or in Stalin’s Russia, was never “total” or complete. Even though he often had to consider the interests of the German state not only above the interests of National Socialist ideology but also above those of German nationality, he believed and, on occasion, said that the state is a framework dictated by necessity, while the essence of history is the nation, Volk, whose existence both precedes and survives that of states. Now consider that nationalism—a populist phenomenon, and therefore distinguishable from an old-fashioned patriotism (nationalism is the illegitimate marriage of patriotism with a habitual inferiority complex)—is still the principal political factor even now, 70 years later, in many places of the world, including the United States. Consider, too, that less than six months after Hitler’s disappearance and defeat Juan Perón in Argentina rose to power as the leader of a new nationalist and socialist and populist movement: a minor example, but an example nonetheless….
…At least in the Western world there are few people who choose to openly rehabilitate Hitler. Even those who respect or admire the Third Reich and National Socialism find it best to attack Hitler’s Second World War opponents rather than openly extol him. We have also seen that the portion of voters who in some countries reject liberalism or parliamentary democracy amounts to about 15 percent—if such electoral statistics are clear indications o
tional sentiments, which they are not. What we ought to recognize is that most if not all of these political and ideological preferences are rooted in what people, even now, keep thinking about the Second World War….Read More:http://theamericanscholar.org/seventy-years-later/