Notes: The Monday Taki post is up. This week is a post about the natural coercion that takes place in any democratic system. Sunday Thoughts is up behind the green door, covering some news items of the day. SubscribeStar and Substack.
Toward the end of the Second World War, the “Allies”, which by this point was a polite fiction, were thinking about what comes after the war. The three big powers of Europe, France, Italy and Germany, were in ruins. The British were bankrupt. Then you had the Russians, who were clearly looking past the war. The big item on the agenda was what to do about the Germans. Within living memory, they had been blamed for two monstrous wars that crippled the West.
United States Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau produced a plan in 1944 that called for the annihilation of Germany as a country. The central argument was that there was something defective about German people that causes them for no reason at all to do the things they were doing. The only solution was to make it so these people could never do those things again. Morgenthau did not blame politics or ideology for the wars, but the German character.
The plan called for the de-industrialization of Germany. This would have been done by partitioning Germany into various bits. Some portion would go to Poland, while another portion would go to France. The Ruhr Area, the main industrial area of Germany at the time, would be stripped and occupied. What remained of Germany would be divided into two areas with no industry. Basically, the country known as German would cease to exist and its people would soon follow.
That last part is key. Even after it was made clear to Morgenthau and his supporters that his plan would result in wide-scale starvation, he pressed forward. Optimistic analysis at the time said that 40% of Germans would starve to death if the Morgenthau plan was implemented. Of course, the number would be much higher due to the inevitable revolts by the Germans, which would be met with force. The goal of the Morgenthau was the genocide of the German people.
From the point of view of this age, it sounds like madness, but war does funny things to people, especially long wars. The Russians had lost tens of millions of people fighting the Germans, so left to their own sensibilities at the time, they probably would have exterminated most of the Germans and reduced the country to rubble. What was left would have become a slave state in the Soviet Union. Of course, Morgenthau had similar motivations for destroying Germany.
The chief supporter of the Morgenthau plan in Britain was Churchill’s assistant Frederick Alexander Lindemann, 1st Viscount Cherwell. Besides having a great name, Lord Cherwell was described as having “a medieval desire for revenge” not just on Germans but on anyone he disliked. Naturally, the Morgenthau plan for Germany tickled his natural desire to see opponents suffer. This bit of trivial reinforces the fact that the plan was purely retributive, rather than remedial.
The Morgenthau plan has a curious history. It was published in the closing days of the war, but it became a rallying point for the Germans. All of sudden, the very real prospect of extinction was on the table. Allied commanders said the plan had made their job much more difficult. After the war, there was an effort to memory hole the idea because of the Cold War. Recently the plan has gained attention because it draws attention to certain subjects that are bad for current narratives.
Interestingly, the plan was quickly deemed impractical by the people who would be charged with implementing it. This happened before anyone stopped to consider the morality of committing genocide on the Germans. Genocide is the right word, as that includes erasing the culture of a people. Despite the obvious impossibility of the plan, the backers never gave up on it. It was only the clever machinations of people around Roosevelt and Churchill that prevented the genocide.
Today it would be nothing more than a side note to the history of the war, but it seems as if that old “medieval desire for revenge” still casts a shadow. The events in modern Europe look like an updated version of the Morgenthau plan. The Germans are slowly being reduced to peonage by Anglo-American policy. The pretext this time is not fear of German militarism, but fear of German independence. Ukraine policy makes sense when the goal is the destruction of Germany.
That is what is on tap unless something changes. German industry cannot survive if energy conditions persist much longer. Their primary advantage in Europe and the world has been easy access to cheap energy. The energy crisis not only deprives them of cheap energy but may deprive them of energy. The Germans are now facing the prospect of blackouts and periodic shutdowns due to gas shortages. This is just the start of what could be a long crisis.
Then there is the knock-on effect. Energy is not just about making things like cars and chemicals, but about growing food. All of Western Europe will be facing a serious fertilizer crisis in 2023. Germany has relied on imports for all of its commercial fertilizer, so cuts in those imports will wipe out German food production. A country that cannot make anything, heat its homes or feed itself looks a lot like what the people behind the Morgenthau plan had in mind eighty years ago.
Of course, there is another element to this. The first Secretary General of NATO was Brit named Hastings Lionel Ismay, also known as First Baron Ismay. He is credited with having said the purpose of NATO was “to keep the Soviet Union out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.” In retrospect, the sole purpose may have been to keep Germany down. Germany is the key to Russian involvement in Europe, so controlling Germany is a way to control Russia.
That is what we see in the current crisis. Washington blew up those gas lines because those gas lines primarily served the Germans. It allowed them to do business with Russia and could perhaps allow the Germans to be an honest broker in the war between Washington and Moscow. It speaks to that “medieval desire for revenge” that Washington would rather risk a nuclear war with Russia than let the ancient enemy get even a hint of independence and self-respect.
Perhaps the way to read this crisis in Europe is as the final chapter in a long story with roots into the 19th century. The cutting off of cheap energy to Germany will finally reduce the Germans to poverty. They will be dependent on Washington and the rest of Europe for survival. This may strike modern ears as insane as the original Morgenthau plan, but like that old plan, the new plan, maybe it should be called the Kagan Plan, is about a “medieval desire for revenge.”
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