April 19, 2006

Countdown to Anzac Day - A minus seven

The Howard Government is spending huge amounts of tax payers' money on cranking up the Anzac Myth, hoping it will rekindle the jingoisitc, faux patriotic kneejerking necessary to give the much mis-used Defence Force new cannon fodder for his current, and future military misadventures.

To counter Howard's Hubris in whatever small way we can, we shall be posting, daily between now and Anzac Day, quotes by famous people through the ages, who might well have disagreed with our Dear Leader on the subject of war or the need to talk-up to the level of National Myth, that massive, pointless, military blunder which was the Gallipoli debacle.

Here's today's item:

Gustave Gilbert, a German-speaking intelligence officer and psychologist who was granted free access by the Allies to all the prisoners held in the Nuremberg jail during the period of the Nuremberg Trails, kept a journal of his observations of the proceedings and his conversations with the prisoners, which he later published in the book Nuremberg Diary. Gilbert recorded Goering's (Nazi Reichsmarshall and Luftwaffe-Chief) observations that the common people can always be manipulated into supporting and fighting wars by their political leaders:

Gilbert: "We got around to the subject of war again and I said that, contrary to his attitude, I did not think that the common people are very thankful for leaders who bring them war and destruction."

Goering: "Why, of course, the people don't want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece. Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship."

Gilbert: "There is one difference. In a democracy the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars."

Goering: "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

So there you have it, the full context for Goering's famous quote.

Source: Snopes