At the end of World War II, one of America's top military leaders accurately assessed the shift in the balance of world power which that war had produced and foresaw the enormous danger of communist aggression against the West. Alone among U.S. leaders he warned that America should act immediately, while her supremacy was unchallengeable, to end that danger. Unfortunately, his warning went unheeded, and he was quickly silenced by a convenient "accident" which took his life.
Thirty-two years ago, in the terrible summer of 1945, the U.S. Army had just completed the destruction of Europe and had set up a government of military occupation amid the ruins to rule the starving Germans and deal out victors' justice to the vanquished. General George S. Patton, commander of the U.S. Third Army, became military governor of the greater portion of the American occupation zone of Germany.
It was only in the final days of the war and during his tenure as military governor of Germany -- after he had gotten to know both the Germans and America's "gallant Soviet allies" -- that Patton's understanding of the true situation grew and his opinions changed. In his diary and in many letters to his family, friends, various military colleagues, and government officials, he expressed his new understanding and his apprehensions for the future. His diary and his letters were published in 1974 by the Houghton Mifflin Company under the title The Patton Papers.
Several months before the end of the war, General Patton had recognized the fearful danger to the West posed by the Soviet Union, and he had disagreed bitterly with the orders which he had been given to hold back his army and wait for the Red Army to occupy vast stretches of German, Czech, Rumanian, Hungarian, and Yugoslav territory, which the Americans could have easily taken instead.
On May 7, 1945, just before the German capitulation, Patton had a conference in Austria with U.S. Secretary of War Robert Patterson. Patton was gravely concerned over the Soviet failure to respect the demarcation lines separating the Soviet and American occupation zones. He was also alarmed by plans in Washington for the immediate partial demobilization of the U.S. Army.
Patton said to Patterson: "Let's keep our boots polished, bayonets sharpened, and present a picture of force and strength to the Red Army. This is the only language they understand and respect."
Patterson replied, "Oh, George, you have been so close to this thing so long, you have lost sight of the big picture."
"I understand the situation. Their (the Soviet) supply system is inadequate to maintain them in a serious action such as I could put to them. They have chickens in the coop and cattle on the hoof -- that's their supply system. They could probably maintain themselves in the type of fighting I could give them for five days. After that it would make no difference how many million men they have, and if you wanted Moscow I could give it to you. They lived on the land coming down. There is insufficient left for them to maintain themselves going back. Let's not give them time to build up their supplies. If we do, then . . . we have had a victory over the Germans and disarmed them, but we have failed in the liberation of Europe; we have lost the war!"
Patton's urgent and prophetic advice went unheeded by Patterson and the other politicians and only served to give warning about Patton's feelings to the alien conspirators behind the scenes in New York, Washington, and Moscow.
The more he saw of the Soviets, the stronger Patton's conviction grew that the proper course of action would be to stifle communism then and there, while the chance existed. Later in May 1945 he attended several meetings and social affairs with top Red Army officers, and he evaluated them carefully. He noted in his diary on May 14:
"I have never seen in any army at any time, including the German Imperial Army of 1912, as severe discipline as exists in the Russian army. The officers, with few exceptions, give the appearance of recently civilized Mongolian bandits."
And Patton's aide, General Hobart Gay, noted in his own journal for May 14: "Everything they (the Russians) did impressed one with the idea of virility and cruelty."
Nevertheless, Patton knew that the Americans could whip the Reds then -- but perhaps not later. On May 18 he noted in his diary:
"In my opinion, the American Army as it now exists could beat the Russians with the greatest of ease, because, while the Russians have good infantry, they are lacking in artillery, air, tanks, and in the knowledge of the use of the combined arms, whereas we excel in all three of these. If it should be necessary to fight the Russians, the sooner we do it the better."
Two days later he repeated his concern when he wrote his wife: "If we have to fight them, now is the time. From now on we will get weaker and they stronger."
Having immediately recognized the Soviet danger and urged a course of action which would have freed all of eastern Europe from the communist yoke with the expenditure of far less American blood than was spilled in Korea and Vietnam and would have obviated both those later wars not to mention World War III -- Patton next came to appreciate the true nature of the people for whom World War II was fought: the Jews.
Most of the Jews swarming over Germany immediately after the war came from Poland and Russia, and Patton found their personal habits shockingly uncivilized.
He was disgusted by their behavior in the camps for Displaced Persons (DP's) which the Americans built for them and even more disgusted by the way they behaved when they were housed in German hospitals and private homes. He observed with horror that "these people do not understand toilets and refuse to use them except as repositories for tin cans, garbage, and refuse . . . They decline, where practicable, to use latrines, preferring to relieve themselves on the floor."
He described in his diary one DP camp,
"where, although room existed, the Jews were crowded together to an appalling extent, and in practically every room there was a pile of garbage in one corner which was also used as a latrine. The Jews were only forced to desist from their nastiness and clean up the mess by the threat of the butt ends of rifles. Of course, I know the expression 'lost tribes of Israel' applied to the tribes which disappeared -- not to the tribe of Judah from which the current sons of bitches are descended. However, it is my personal opinion that this too is a lost tribe -- lost to all decency."
Patton's initial impressions of the Jews were not improved when he attended a Jewish religious service at Eisenhower's insistence. His diary entry for September 17, 1945, reads in part:
"This happened to be the feast of Yom Kippur, so they were all collected in a large, wooden building, which they called a synagogue. It behooved General Eisenhower to make a speech to them. We entered the synagogue, which was packed with the greatest stinking bunch of humanity I have ever seen. When we got about halfway up, the head rabbi, who was dressed in a fur hat similar to that worn by Henry VIII of England and in a surplice heavily embroidered and very filthy, came down and met the General . . . The smell was so terrible that I almost fainted and actually about three hours later lost my lunch as the result of remembering it."
These experiences and a great many others firmly convinced Patton that the Jews were an especially unsavory variety of creature and hardly deserving of all the official concern the American government was bestowing on them.
Another September diary entry, following a demand from Washington that more German housing be turned over to Jews, summed up his feelings:
"Evidently the virus started by Morgenthau and Baruch of a Semitic revenge against all Germans is still working. Harrison (a U.S. State Department official) and his associates indicate that they feel German civilians should be removed from houses for the purpose of housing Displaced Persons. There are two errors in this assumption. First, when we remove an individual German we punish an individual German, while the punishment is -- not intended for the individual but for the race. Furthermore, it is against my Anglo-Saxon conscience to remove a person from a house, which is a punishment, without due process of law. In the second place, Harrison and his ilk believe that the Displaced Person is a human being, which he is not, and this applies particularly to the Jews, who are lower than animals."
One of the strongest factors in straightening out General Patton's thinking on the conquered Germans was the behavior of America's controlled news media toward them. At a press conference in Regensburg, Germany, on May 8, 1945, immediately after Germany's surrender, Patton was asked whether he planned to treat captured SS troops differently from other German POW's. His answer was:
"No. SS means no more in Germany than being a Democrat in America -- that is not to be quoted. I mean by that that initially the SS people were special sons of bitches, but as the war progressed they ran out of sons of bitches and then they put anybody in there. Some of the top SS men will be treated as criminals, but there is no reason for trying someone who was drafted into this outfit . . ."
Despite Patton's request that his remark not be quoted, the press eagerly seized on it, and Jews and their front men in America screamed in outrage over Patton's comparison of the SS and the Democratic Party as well as over his announced intention of treating most SS prisoners humanely.
With great reluctance, and only after repeated promptings from Eisenhower, he had thrown German families out of their homes to make room for more than a million Jewish DP's -- part of the famous "six million" who had supposedly been gassed -- but he balked when ordered to begin blowing up German factories, in accord with the infamous Morgenthau Plan to destroy Germany's economic basis forever. In his diary he wrote:
"I doubted the expediency of blowing up factories, because the ends for which the factories are being blown up -- that is, preventing Germany from preparing for war -- can be equally well attained through the destruction of their machinery, while the buildings can be used to house thousands of homeless persons."
Similarly, he expressed his doubts to his military colleagues about the overwhelming emphasis being placed on the persecution of every German who had formerly been a member of the National Socialist party. In a letter to his wife of September 14, 1945, he said:
"I am frankly opposed to this war criminal stuff. It is not cricket and is Semitic. I am also opposed to sending POW's to work as slaves in foreign lands (i.e., the Soviet Union's Gulags), where many will be starved to death."
Despite his disagreement with official policy, Patton followed the rules laid down by Morgenthau and others back in Washington as closely as his conscience would allow, but he tried to moderate the effect, and this brought him into increasing conflict with Eisenhower and the other politically ambitious generals. In another letter to his wife he commented:
"I have been at Frankfurt for a civil government conference. If what we are doing (to the Germans) is 'Liberty, then give me death.' I can't see how Americans can sink so low. It is Semitic, and I am sure of it."
And in his diary he noted:,
"Today we received orders . . . in which we were told to give the Jews special accommodations. If for Jews, why not Catholics, Mormons, etc? . . . We are also turning over to the French several hundred thousand prisoners of war to be used as slave labor in France. It is amusing to recall that we fought the Revolution in defense of the rights of man and the Civil War to abolish slavery and have now gone back on both principles."
His duties as military governor took Patton to all parts of Germany and intimately acquainted him with the German people and their condition. He could not help but compare them with the French, the Italians, the Belgians, and even the British. This comparison gradually forced him to the conclusion that World War II had been fought against the wrong people.
After a visit to ruined Berlin, he wrote his wife on July 21, 1945: "Berlin gave me the blues. We have destroyed what could have been a good race, and we are about to replace them with Mongolian savages. And all Europe will be communist. It's said that for the first week after they took it (Berlin), all women who ran were shot and those who did not were raped. I could have taken it (instead of the Soviets) had I been allowed."
This conviction, that the politicians had used him and the U.S. Army for a criminal purpose, grew in the following weeks. During a dinner with French General Alphonse Juin in August, Patton was surprised to find the Frenchman in agreement with him. His diary entry for August 18 quotes Gen. Juin: "It is indeed unfortunate, mon General, that the English and the Americans have destroyed in Europe the only sound country -- and I do not mean France. Therefore, the road is now open for the advent of Russian communism."
Later diary entries and letters to his wife reiterate this same conclusion. On August 31 he wrote: "Actually, the Germans are the only decent people left in Europe. it's a choice between them and the Russians. I prefer the Germans." And on September 2: "What we are doing is to destroy the only semi-modern state in Europe, so that Russia can swallow the whole."
By this time the Morgenthauists and media monopolists had decided that Patton was incorrigible and must be discredited. So they began a non-stop hounding of him in the press, a la Watergate, accusing him of being "soft on Nazis" and continually recalling an incident in which he had slapped a shirker two years previously, during the Sicily campaign. A New York newspaper printed the completely false claim that when Patton had slapped the soldier who was Jewish, he had called him a "yellow-bellied Jew."
Then, in a press conference on September 22, reporters hatched a scheme to needle Patton into losing his temper and making statements which could be used against him. The scheme worked. The press interpreted one of Patton's answers to their insistent questions as to why he was not pressing the Nazi-hunt hard enough as: "The Nazi thing is just like a Democrat-Republican fight." The New York Times headlined this quote, and other papers all across America picked it up.
The unmistakable hatred which had been directed at him during this press conference finally opened Patton's eyes fully as to what was afoot. In his diary that night lie wrote:
"There is a very apparent Semitic influence in the press. They are trying to do two things: first, implement communism, and second, see that all businessmen of German ancestry and non-Jewish antecedents are thrown out of their jobs. "They have utterly lost the Anglo-Saxon conception of justice and feel that a man can be kicked out because somebody else says he is a Nazi. They were evidently quite shocked when I told them I would kick nobody out without the successful proof of guilt before a court of law . . . "Another point which the press harped on was the fact that we were doing too much for the Germans to the detriment of the DP's, most of whom are Jews. I could not give the answer to that one, because the answer is that, in my opinion and that of most nonpolitical officers, it is vitally necessary for us to build Germany up now as a buffer state against Russia. In fact, I am afraid we have waited too long."
And in a letter of the same date to his wife: "I will probably be in the headlines before you get this, as the press is trying to quote me as being more interested in restoring order in Germany than in catching Nazis. I can't tell them the truth that unless we restore Germany we will insure that communism takes America."
Eisenhower responded immediately to the press outcry against Patton and made the decision to relieve him of his duties as military governor and "kick him upstairs" as the commander of the Fifteenth Army. In a letter to his wife on September 29, Patton indicated that he was, in a way, not unhappy with his new assignment, because "I would like it much better than being a sort of executioner to the best race in Europe."
On October 22 he wrote a long letter to Maj. Gen. James G. Harbord, who was back in the States. In the letter Patton bitterly condemned the Morgenthau policy; Eisenhower's pusillanimous behavior in the face of Jewish demands; the strong pro-Soviet bias in the press; and the politicization, corruption, degradation, and demoralization of the U.S. Army which these things were causing.
He saw the demoralization of the Army as a deliberate goal of America's enemies:
"I have been just as furious as you at the compilation of lies which the communist and Semitic elements of our government have leveled against me and practically every other commander. In my opinion it is a deliberate attempt to alienate the soldier vote from the commanders, because the communists know that soldiers are not communistic, and they fear what eleven million votes (of veterans) would do."
In his letter to Harbord, Patton also revealed his own plans to fight those who were destroying the morale and integrity of the Army and endangering America's future by not opposing the growing Soviet might:
"It is my present thought . . . that when I finish this job, which will be around the first of the year, I shall resign, not retire, because if I retire I will still have a gag in my mouth . . . I should not start a limited counterattack, which would be contrary to my military theories, but should wait until I can start an all- out offensive . . . ."