Sunday, January 01, 2006

Interesting World War II details coming out.

History: Churchill wasn't too fond of Gandhi and his World War II protesting and the Brits said no way to segregation.

Gandhi was held for two years at the Aga Khan's Palace in Pune, western India, from August 1942 after slamming India's involvement in the war and calling for civil disobedience. India's viceroy, Lord (Victor) Linlithgow, sent ministers a telegram stating he was "strongly in favour of letting (Gandhi) starve to death". if he went on hunger strike. However, officials in London worried that the backlash would be too powerful. Lord (Edward) Halifax, the ambassador to the United States and a former viceroy of India and foreign secretary, told cabinet the day after Gandhi's August 9 arrest in Bombay: "Whatever the disadvantages of letting him out, his death in detention would be worse." Ministers decided in January 1943 that although they could not be seen to cave in to a hunger strike, they would free him on compassionate grounds were he likely to die. Sir Stafford Cripps, minister for aircraft production -- who the previous year had failed to reach an agreement with Gandhi that would secure Indian loyalty to the war effort -- said: "He is such a semi-religious figure that his death in our hands would be a great blow and embarrassment to us." However, Churchill, annoyed by the prospect of Gandhi claiming a moral victory, said: "I wd (would) keep him there and let him do as he likes," according to the notes. "But if you are going to let him out because he strikes, then let him out now." Churchill also demanded that any action on Gandhi should be portrayed as a victory for the authorities. "Cab(inet) feel v (very) strongly on principle of release because of strike. "Wd prefer to release as act of grace because det(ained) 6 (months) and we've beaten him."
I never knew the IRA was willing to work with the Nazis of all people.
Historians had believed that Ireland's prime minister at the time, Eamon de Valera, was the only government leader to convey official condolences to Eduard Hempel, director of the German diplomatic corps in Ireland. De Valera's gesture — unique among leaders of neutral nations in the final weeks of World War II — was criticized worldwide. The presidential protocol record for 1938-1957, made public this week within a trove of previously secret government documents, shed new light on one of the most embarrassing chapters in the history of independent Ireland — its decision to maintain cordial relations with the Nazis even after news of the Holocaust emerged. The new document confirmed that President Douglas Hyde visited Hempel on May 3, 1945, a day after Ireland received reports of Hitler's death. The newly released document says Hyde — who died in 1949 — says the president did not send an official letter of condolence to German government headquarters because "the capital of Germany, Berlin, was under siege and no successor had been appointed." The Republic of Ireland, then called Eire, remained neutral throughout World War II. Tens of thousands of Irishmen volunteered to serve in British military units, but many others rooted for Germany against their old imperial master Britain. The outlawed Irish Republican Army built contacts with the Nazis in an ultimately fruitless effort to receive weapons and money for insurrection in neighboring Northern Ireland, a British territory. De Valera's government brutally suppressed the IRA but also rebuffed requests to allow Jews fleeing Nazi persecution to receive asylum in Ireland. De Valera also refused to allow Britain or the United States to use strategic Irish ports for protecting Atlantic convoys from attacks by German U-boat submarines, a policy that cost thousands of Allied seamen's lives. In his May 1945 victory speech, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill condemned de Valera's neutrality. Churchill said Britain had considered laying "a violent hand" on neutral Ireland to seize its ports, but avoided this thanks to the crucial support of Northern Ireland, which remained part of the United Kingdom when the island was partitioned in 1921.
Brits said no to segregation.
British World War II troops were told to show respect for the U.S. Army's racial segregation practices, according to government documents published Sunday. Other documents released for the first time show that British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was determined to have Adolf Hitler executed if captured, and that he favored letting India's Mohandas Gandhi die if he went on a hunger strike while interned during the war. The guidelines about U.S. soldiers were issued following agonized debate within Churchill's Cabinet over how to deal with American rules. Black British troops — most from colonial outposts — shared facilities with their white counterparts, but white American soldiers ate and slept separately from their black comrades. The Cabinet meeting records showed British officials were eager to avoid clashes in protocol between the Allied forces. However, they were also unwilling to cause friction among British troops by segregating their own barracks and canteens. In October 1942, Churchill told the Cabinet that the views of the United States must be considered. "Nothing to stand between U.S. offr (officer) and his troops: we mustn't interfere," notes of the meeting record him saying. Home Secretary Herbert Morrison agreed, but added: "What I won't have is B(ritish) police enforcing their rules for them." Secretary of State for War Sir James Grigg insisted that "we won't discriminate in our canteens."

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