Unless correspondents ask us not to, this Website will post selected letters that it receives and invite open debate.
Ben Matthews has "just a few questions," Sunday, July 29, 2007, about World War II
Just a few questions. . .
HAVE you heard of the OSS spy stationed in the Vatican, codenamed 'Black"? I am curious as to his identity, and I was made aware of him after reading a book called US Intelligence and the Nazis. I have met two of its authors, Richard Breitman, one of whose lectures I attended about three years ago, and Norman Goda, one of my former professors.
After reading your books on Churchill, and on Dresden, I wondered if Churchill could have cited two precedents for terror bombing of civilians; the first would have been Nazi air strikes against Poland in 1939, and the second the bombing of Rotterdam in May 1940.
I do not know the death toll for Rotterdam, and none of these early incidents compared to the loss of life in the terror bombings of the last years of the war, and they were not directed at England, but they still count as terror bombing, in my book, and they killed a lot of civilians.
I believe Poland was hit harder, but I could be wrong. Also, after watching an interview you did about your upcoming Heinrich Himmler book, in which you say that the Nazis were not going to play nice with Jews or anyone else because Germany was being mercilessly bombed, could you not say the same for the Soviet Union, and how it was obviously not going to treat the Germans well, given the nature of the war being waged in Eastern Europe?
The Nazi treatment of Soviet POWS inevitably led to similar treatment of German POWs in Red Army hands. I think it goes both ways.
David Irving writes:
THE bombing of Warsaw and Rotterdam were no precedents for the RAF's saturation bombing campaign; both cities were attacked for military tactical reasons, as is well established in the records. Winston Churchill in his six-volume history The Second World War subsequently claimed that "thirty thousand civilians" were killed in the Rotterdam raid on May 14, 1940. The city officials told me the actual figure was around 900, mostly from fires caused by the blazing margarine factory.
As for the Soviet and Nazi treatment of prisoners of war; Stalin in his wisdom had refused to sign the Geneva Convention on prisoners, so in the eastern campaign the gloves were off for both sides. Not many historians appreciate this legal point.
Perhaps the OSS agent in the Vatican was Myron Taylor, the US special envoy to the Holy See? His papers are now at Syracuse University, NY, where I consulted them for my Churchill biography.