British War Effort

My attention has only recently been drawn to the Column Left contribution of Alexander Cockburn ("Brave Little Britain? Not Entirely," July 4) to your paper and I was amazed that you should have given space to such a muddled, ill-informed and inaccurate piece.

Cockburn states: "Before the war the British ruling class was mostly eager to cooperate with Hitler, who was sending Wehrmacht and SS divisions east against the Soviets." A more factually inaccurate or crassly ignorant statement would be hard to make.

The fact is that the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact was signed on May 22, 1939. The Secret Minutes (published in Churchill's "War Memoirs") of the meeting which took place the very next day between Hitler and his chiefs of staff make clear his intention to attack Poland "at the first suitable opportunity"--the event that was to precipitate World War II barely three months later.

Contrary to Cockburn's attempt to distort history by claiming that the Germans' failure to cross the English Channel "was less a result of the supposedly vital Battle of Britain than of Hitler's view that Britain was never really the true enemy," the Secret Minutes state Hitler's view that, following the intended Nazi attack on Poland, "the fight must be primarily against England and France . . . England is therefore our enemy, and the conflict with England will be a life-and-death struggle." Nothing could be more clear. That was why the Battle of Britain proved so vital; indeed it was Hitler's failure to win this most crucial of air battles that prevented the occupation of Britain and guaranteed that Germany would, ultimately, lose the war.

Cockburn's gratuitously offensive remarks about Britain's proud and glorious record of fighting on alone against Nazi Germany for nearly 18 long and bitter months of all-out war, until the United States was torpedoed into the conflict by Japan on Dec. 7, 1941, should be judged in the context of the historical fiction, indeed falsehoods, which he seeks to perpetrate.


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