Skip to comments.The missing weapons....
Posted on 10/16/2004 6:07:47 PM PDT by pickrell
The antiaircraft gunners scanned the skies for enemy aircraft. They would all too soon be facing the same enemies that their fathers had fought in the Great War, as World War One was then called.
But how had this happened? Only a few scant years before, it seemed these same young gunners had watched some old newsreels where grim-faced men looked squarely into the cameras and assured the world...that Germany had been blanketed with inspectors looking for any trace of what was newly referred to as "weapons of mass warfare". After all, that was what the first Armistice was all about. Germany would not be allowed to ever again develop terrible weapons, and threaten all of their neighbors in the region, with poison gas, or any other such weapons. No one even conceived then, of a threat to the entire world!
The Americans had sent troops from across the ocean, and had left a miniscule handful, to help enforce a no-fly zone over all of Germany. Their inspectors, who had been approved under the auspices of the League of Nations, ( that sad forerunner of the even sadder United Nations which was still in the future ), knew that the Americans could even less afford to maintain a continuing presence in a foreign country so many miles away. And anyway, under the Kellogg-Briand treaty, war had been formally abolished in the 1920's by the League of Nations, and these supposed mass warfare weapons; these submarines, and these new aeroplanes were nowhere to be found, after YEARS of search! Some lame talk was heard about how they must have been hidden somewhere, but the French and Russian inspectors sighed theatrically, and most of their countries' newspapers began strident attacks against what they labeled as that cowboy warmonger Churchill, and other spooks under the bed, who were obviously trying to "invent out of whole cloth" these weapons as a pretext for their crass political motives. The British and American inspectors looked on rather lamely, and muttered about enforcing League of Nations resolutions, and pre-empting a threat. No one was listening.
What our young antiaircraft gunners never knew, and what would only come to light many decades later, was the real story of the weapons of mass warfare. It seemed that Stalin, though he considered Germany to still be a bitter enemy, and Britain and the U.S. to still be officially allies of his, realized that a little more dirty dealing was required. And dirty dealings and Stalin were no strangers to each other.
In his purges, he had a year or so before killed most of his aircraft designers, and the rest had fled to the U.S. and elsewhere. One of them, Igor Sikorsky, had, ( BEFORE the first World War!!!), designed and built a four engine airliner, the "Le Grand", that was so far ahead of it's time that even now serious researchers shake their head at the thought. Sikorsky soon realized, in spite of the amazing performance displayed in the Great War by his "Ilya Mouremetz" series of 4-engine bombers (derived from his airliner designs, the exact spelling is from way back in my memory, so be tolerant!), that the life expectancy of engineers in Russia was now a short one. He came to the U.S. while there was still time, and founded our flying boat and helicopter industries practically by himself!
And so Stalin, beginning with the secretive 1922 Treaty of Rapallo, ended the reparations payments owed by Germany, and began to deal. Behind closed doors Germany and Russia agreed to thwart the sanctions put on Germany to prevent her from ever again developing forbidden weapons. Russia's inspectors would still "inspect" for the cameras, and were quietly warned about what would happen to them and their families if they ever "found" anything. Meanwhile, they would loudly proclaim Germany free of any such weapons. The beauty of it was...that it was sort of the truth. Some prototypes were built there, but the real progress came in the knowledge gained. For only the design and development occurred in Germany. Papers were easily hidden, prototypes were moved around and covered up. The knowledge could be converted from the final blueprints into full scale production in literally only a matter of months! It was finalizing the technology that was the difficult part. It was also the easiest part to hide.
A new base at Lipetsk, some 200 miles from Moscow, and thereby as remote as if on the moon in 1922, was opened to German secret flight testing. By 1926, a large complex had expanded inside Russia, ("safe" from the Russian "inspectors", as well as the diligent but ineffective "allied" inspectors, and logged as a Soviet Air training center), and was testing out designs for new German aircraft. Stalin's political officers got access to every design and all data developed there and elsewhere.
Also over the ensuing years, 120 pilots would be trained and turned into the seeds of a new German Air Force. Secrecy was enforced with a finality that only the Russians and Germans could manage. They could out-wait the Americans and the British, who would certainly tire soon of trying to find forbidden weapons. For the Americans weren't smart enough to realize that the real danger was where the Americans couldn't look: in the heads of their designers, and on the fields of their "new" allies-of-convenience, the Russians. And the Americans were concerned about not alienating their good friends, the French and the Russians.
Priceless years were gained unmolested, and once the dozen or so years of flight testing, adjustments, and re-designs were perfected, Germany was ready. She had already managed in 1926 to get the French to agree, under the Paris Air Agreement, to allow her to resume production of "harmless" civil transport aircraft. Gotta love those Frenchmen. So far the only mistake that the Russians had made was in not realizing that the Germans, after they had gotten all that they wanted out of the "dirty little deal", would then turn on the Russians five years later and ravage their countryside.
Stalin wasn't very smart- his only superlative was in being the most ruthless.
A year later, in 1927, the Control Commission, having found no trace of any forbidden weapons, disbanded itself. Now full scale production could resume in cordoned-off rooms next to her "civilian" aircraft factories. Aircraft that looked oddly military, in spite of the Lufhansa chevrons, lumbered off of her new "civilian" airfields, and began the full scale training of thousands of fresh new "airline" pilots. When the bombers were ready, so would be many squadrons of bomber pilots, with a surprising number of flight hours already logged in those airframes, especially considering that those airframes hadn't been "invented" yet. Still, an unnecessary conflict had been avoided, and the League of Nations had disarmed Germany. They hadn't rushed to war.
Scant years later, a few young men found themselves at the controls of antiquated anti-aircraft guns, waiting for the Heinkels, Messerschmitts, and Junkers aircraft that seemed to get designed, built and produced overnight!
Several Russian designers, Tupolev and Zhukovsky immediately began producing their own new aircraft with more than a hint of Prussian familiarity. Chalk it up to co-incidence!
When these young anti-aircraft gunners died, a few months later, they never knew how the Europeans had been duped, and how it was that in the Spanish Civil War of 1935, so many modern German Aircraft suddenly seemingly came out of nowhere to be combat-tested against French and Russian airplanes, which also just...popped into existence! Many say that the Spanish civil war would have remained a minor skirmish, if not for the need to pre-test aircraft for the coming World War 2.
Hopefully the two dead British antiaircraft gunners would have been comforted if they had known as they died just how effective that the "sanctions" had been in keeping weapons of mass warfare out of Germany. Good thing they had a liberal government that didn't rush into war, years earlier.
If they had, the British might have deposed Hitler before his plans could be carried out, and been left with egg on their faces, when the expected weapons weren't found. Then, the political opposition, and their allies in the liberal press, could have had a field day with the "total failure" of the Administration. Hell, they probably would have been forced to put Hitler back in power!
Good thing they didn't rush to war over a lie.
Ron Pickrell, Veteran for Bush
Excellent post. Thank you so much for that. It just goes to show that war is not always black and white. Sometimes intel is right, even if there is no massive physical evidence by the time you get there.
This story falls right in line with the war in Iraq. Where would we be today if we hadn't deposed Saddam? I'll tell you, we would be facing down two, three, or more hostile nations with nuclear weapons. Why does no one put together the facts that Libya never would have rolled over and given up N Korea/Pakistan/Iran's nuke production that was passing through his country? Without the information we gained from them that put us on the trail of the underground nuke trade, it's almost certain that we would already have lost the war against proliferation by terrorist states.
Just this event alone has justified everything we have done in Iraq, and I sleep better at night. Had we not gone... where would we be now? It's not something I like to think about.
Bump for a great historical perspective and a great read.
Thanks guys. I appreciate the replies more than you know.
The current wisdom in the Media is that you cannot draw historical parallels, and point out the necessity of teaching history, lest we repeat it, because the target audience is simply too wrapped up in Oprah to read it.
They are wrong. There is always a core group of citizens who are unimpressed by rhyming phrases, and don't necessarily believe that, "if the glove doesn't fit, you must acquit..."
It is all there: a liberal(socialists in any decade) press, dirty deals(insert oil for fooled), hidden weapons, a helpless UN-like League of Nations, limp wristed politicians, power grabs by the ruthless...history still repeats.
Yeah. Isn't it painful? And yet those elites who disdain us commoners, apparently haven't bothered to study history at all, and perhaps never will.