"Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the Sultan of Johor are seen in a blue Proton Saga... "When asked whether there is any tension with the sultan, Dr Mahathir said: “No, I don’t see anything because I went to see him and he drove me to the airport. I don’t want to comment on the sultans because if I say anything that is not good then it’s not nice because he is the sultan”"

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Friday, March 08, 2019

Germany in World War II / History and National Identity

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Andrew Roberts guest edits Today

"The 10th of May 1940, Winston Churchill was appointed Prime Minister. He nearly died of pneumonia when he was 10 years old. He took part in the last great cavalry charge of the British Empire. On that occasion the doctors administered brandy to him both orally and rectally… You might have thought that that would have put you off brandy for life. But it certainly didn't in Winston Churchill’s case...

‘There were actually calls notably for France for far more of German territory to be taken.’

‘Yes, the French had been invaded twice by Germany in the living memory of most people, including Georges Clemenceau the Prime Minister. In 1870, the French had been invaded by the German Confederation and lost the war and lost two provinces of Alsace and Lorraine, and then of course, they were invaded again in 1914.

I mean when people talk about France being vindictive at the peace conference I think we have to remember that the French didn't start the war, they were invaded by Germany. And they looked across the border and they saw Germany that was still pretty large… Germany where the birth rate was higher than the French birth rate. So more soldiers in the pipeline coming along, and they wanted to protect themselves. And what they did seriously contemplate, many of the French leadership, was dividing Germany up into its components again, or taking a piece, another piece of Germany, that the Rhineland which was the part of Germany west of the Rhine River and making that part of France. And so I think there really was a fear of a resurgent Germany, which, as it turned out, was quite right’...

‘Increasingly most Germans came to think that they hadn't actually lost the war... increasingly in the 1920s and 1930s, the Germans and others also began to argue that Germany hadn't started the war. And so if Germany wasn't to blame for starting the war, if it had just happened, which came to be a sort of common view in the English speaking countries, it was just an accident waiting to happen, if Germany hadn't started the war, if it hadn't lost the war, why should it pay any penalty?’...

The historian Harold James made the observation that paradoxically Versailles was one of those things that held Germany together. Remember, Germany was a Revolutionary Republic at the time that the treaty was being signed. The one thing Germans agreed on after 1919 was that they hated the Treaty of Versailles. And it was only when the treaty unraveled completely and the reparations were abandoned - in 1932, Germany defaulted on its payments - that Hitler's regime, Hitler’s movement really gained massive political traction. So I don't think that could have been a radically different peace in 1919 that would somehow avoided Hitler's coming to power, that didn't happen until 1933, after all...

‘Why is it do you think if you agree with Jeremy Black that we all in a sense want to claim that whatever we believe now is in line with our country's history, recent or much further distant?’

‘Because human beings now that they're no longer believing God have to find some way of legitimating what they do. And that's perfectly understandable. You see what I think is the most fundamental problem that we've got, if you go back to Henry the Eighth, if you go back to and British politicians throughout the great periods that Jeremy is familiar with. You know when Britain stood against Napoleon, when Britain stood against Hitler, there was a clear sense of a national interest.

The great problem with postwar Britain, Britain having lost an empire and not found a role is we've had no definition of a national interest. The very notion is regarded as being something dirty, especially by remainers, especially by the Foreign Office, by much of business. And this distinguishes us from the French and the Germans, you know the French fight their corner brutally within the EU. The Germans you know, look at how they defended their car industry to the extent of cheating. What did we do we? We decided out of virtue we were getting to have diesel. And then we've decided equally out of diesel that we're going to bugger the British car industry-’...

Churchill would have been fantastic on Twitter, many of Churchill's most punchy lines would have easily fit it into 280 characters… He was very good with hecklers for example, he would put down hecklers at public meetings. He gave 1000 public speeches before he became prime minister. And so he would have been great on Twitter"
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