Labour always hated the Nazis

Written By: - Date published: 9:51 pm, July 9th, 2009 - 47 comments
Categories: history - Tags:

I have to confess some confusion about this study that supposedly shows the First Labour Government was tight with Hitler. They were real, deep-red socialists. To get to power they had to overcome the fascist New Zealand Legion that backed National. Fascism was anathema to socialism – the biggest battles of all time were fought out between soldiers fighting for fascism on one side and communism on the other.

Remember too that the Labour Party of the era was essentially the political arm of the union movement. Hitler’s first act in power was to ban the German unions. It was this crushing of the labour movement, along with his well known contempt for communism, that gave Hitler such appeal among certain elements of the ruling class.

So I doubt the study says what the article claims it says. Sure, there might have been some trade deal that came into effect in 1937 (possibly signed under the National coalition government, Labour only came in at the end of 1935).

The notion that New Zealand wanted peace after the invasion of Poland and was trading with Germany while the war was on is ludicrous.  New Zealand was the first country in the world to declare war on Germany after the invasion. The invasion began on the 1st of September 1939. The UK consulted with its allies the next day (news travelled slower in those days) and it was agreed that war would be declared the day after. As first country after the dateline, we declared war first. Prime Minister Michael Joseph Savage’s speech is famous – he condemns Hitler and Nazism, he declares that “we range ourselves without fear beside Britain. Where she goes, we go; where she stands, we stand”

It is illegal to trade with an enemy nation when a state of war exists. New Zealand seized several German merchant ships. I note that the article specifically fails to mention when trade ceased, that’s because it obviously ceased with the declaration of war but saying that undermines the attack on Labour.

The puerile way that Farrar has tried to use this to attack the First labour government and by extension Labour today shows how truly weak and bereft of ideas the Right is. He can’t talk about the Key Government’s successes so he has to tell lies about Labour’s history.

47 comments on “Labour always hated the Nazis”

  1. outofbed 1

    Yes the the ‘Sewer’ has run out of steam me thinks
    I saw that post and thought WTF
    On a diffierent note just finished watching Back benchers of the 1 July What a tosser Simon Bridges is mind u Cosgrove didn’t cover himself in glory.
    yet again The Green MP’s shone

  2. gingercrush 2

    Seems to me DPF was reading Stuff or was pointed to the Stuff website. Saw an article about Labour. Found it interesting and posted it. Seems very DPF.

    Of course DPF is the devil reincarnated and thus is evil.

    • Wayne 2.1

      It’s called a dogwhistle ginger. That’s what he does. He puts out the red meat, then he sits back and waits for the dogs to come running.

      When people point out what’s happening he says “Oh, I just saw an article and thought I’d put up a post called ‘Labour and Hitler’ that insinuates that Labour is tarnished with appeasement and possible collaboration with fascism. People can read into that what they want.”

      He’s a pro at this game, give him some credit. He knows exactly what he’s doing, though he’d never admit it.

      • And he was prosecuted by the Police for one of his dirty tricks working for the National research unit.
        No conviction resulted, which he ignores when he claims the Police act politically in not prosecuting Labour people

    • Quoth the Raven 2.2

      Ginger – Funny you should accuse those on this site for having a Manichean worldview when it’s exactly that which the post from DPF is demonstrating. As Wayne says it’s a dogwhistle. Labour must be evil in DPF’s mind.

    • Pascal's bookie 2.3

      What I find interesting is that what Spain, Austria, (Vichy) France, Italy, and Poland also have in common is Roman Catholicism.

      Isn’t that interesting?

      Also, and too, it is interesting that a certain poliical philosophy from the early-mid twentieth century gained it’s power through crushing the union movement on the streets, and was backed, in the main, by industrialists, businessmen and conservatives opposed to the threat from the left. Much like the National party in NZ which was formed by those same groups for that same purpose.

      This anti liberal, anti leftist, movement was opposed by liberal academics in the universities, who were called elitist effete traitors who were obvioulsy corrupt, out of touch, and arrogant.

      Interesting huh?

      • Tim Ellis 2.3.1

        Interesting question PB. My understanding was that there was a strong catholic element in the labour movement, certainly in Australia and to a lesser extent in New Zealand because of the large Irish community in Australia.

        • Zetetic 2.3.1.1

          Therefore. Unionists are Nazis. Which is why Hitler banned them and had them killed.

        • Pascal's bookie 2.3.1.2

          Wrong way around Tim.

          I wasn’t noting that a majority of Catholics were Fa*scist. That would be stupid and false.

  3. MynameisJack 3

    Hermann Göring, Commander-in-Chief of the Luftwaffe.
    Helen Clark, Commander -in- Chief of the Liarbore Broomstick Force.

    • Lew 3.1

      Who let MNIJ off his chain? He’s crapping all over the internets!

      L

      • Zetetic 3.1.1

        With your help we already had self-rightous bore covered. MNIJ brings back a bit of biff.

        • Tim Ellis 3.1.1.1

          Zetetic,

          Lew makes useful and constructive comments. Why do you have to start flame wars like this?

          You’re a poster, for crying out loud. Behave like one.

  4. Tom Semmens 4

    David Farrar, hyper-sensitive defender against anti-semitism, adopts the tactics of Holocaust denial. Why am I not surprised at this latest demonstration of his arrogant hypocrisy?

    I glanced at the Kiwiblog thread in question and dismissed it without much more than a skim over as it reminded me in tone and style of the sort of stuff one regularly reads in the comments section of Holocaust deniers like Stormfront. But it is illustrative of the constant battle for truth one is engaged in with those whose approach to anything and everything is to only accept that which conforms to a preconceived set of prejudices.

    My mother was a little girl in the 1930’s. Her memory of that time is a simple one. Before the first labour government she remembers the cold, the hunger and the despair of a truly shocking poverty she didn’t even know that bed were meant to have sheets before she was ten. After, she recalls better food, health camps, and slowly improving prosperity. She is a lifelong, tribal Labour voter for the simple reason that as far she is concerned they relieved her from abject poverty. Yet she is getting on now, as are all of those with memories of that time.

    Those with a direct knowledge those who can say firmly and clearly “no, I was there!’ are growing old and passing on. Then, like with the growth of the Holocaust denial industry, we will have to brace ourselves for the those of the Kiwiblog sewer who have no direct knowledge of 1930’s NZ but who will not let that ignorance stop then happily applying an ideological lens of hatred back onto that era to try and distort the truth and blacken the reputations of great men so their mean and narrow agenda is served.

  5. r0b 5

    Yeah well this has to be the silliest beatup ever! If it were all true, what the hell would it matter now? But the case as stated in the Stuff link seems weak indeed.

    New Zealand continued to push for negotiations with H*tler even as Britain declared war.

    Ahh no, New Zealand declared war simultaneously with Britain (first in the world local time).

    And we were cosying up to Germany in 1937, signing a special trade agreement they say.

    As were lots of countries I’m sure. Germany just held the international showpiece of the Berlin Olympics, 1936, lots of countries “cosying up”.

    They stumbled across correspondence between key New Zealand ministers in 1939, pushing for continued negotiations. “I thought, ‘here we are, Poland’s just been conquered, what’s New Zealand doing advocating relations with H*tler? What’s going on?’

    Since when is “letters between NZ ministers” the same as “NZ advocating relations”?

    But after H*tler dishonoured the agreement and invaded Poland, Britain was talking war while New Zealand continued to push for peace negotiations.

    I’ll be interested to see the evidence. If the bits fisked above are the best they have then yah boo sucks to them.

    Dr Watson thinks this might be why the period beforehand has been glossed over by historians. An historical bias towards Labour could also be the reason, he said.

    Uh huh. Sounds so far like someone trying to up their citation count with a bit of controversy. Where’s the beef?

    Oh, and if DPF wants to get his panties in a wad over links with H*tler, he can start with his heroes, the Bush family who were deeply in bed with the N*tzis:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2004/sep/25/usa.secondworldwar
    http://www.mathaba.net/0_index.shtml?x=592595
    and so on…

  6. Simon 6

    I did one of James Watson papers, the Fascism one, quite good, I suspect, well I hope that the Journalist has somewhat sensationalised his comments. I suspect even if there was some trade (as part of an earlier agreement) compared to the level between NZ and the UK it would’ve been miniscule.

    In addition one should remember that early on, both Germany and English supplied goods to a third party (neutral nation) which they knew were going to each other, however this was before they were able to satisfy demands internally or from other sources (this was true for WW1 aswell)

    Anyway, secretly, before Chamberlain fell, it was hoped by the BR Gov’t that Germany would backdown in the face of War with BR and FR and (possibly) withdraw from Poland during the Phoney War, they hoped thatHitler could be deposed and either Goering or another moderate German could take over. and negoiate peace before the real war started

    Of course when Hitler invaded FR & the Low Countries, this all changed when Chamberlain finally fell and Churchill took over in …May 1940…

  7. Pascal's bookie 7

    He also might want to take a look at this revealing phrase, who used it, and who it described:

    http://www.google.co.nz/search?hl=en&q=%22prematurely+anti+fascist%22&meta=&aq=f&oq=

    “prematurely anti fascist”

  8. the sprout 8

    I’m inclined to agree with dimpost’s assessment. The monsterfication of Hitler only really caught on once the war was well under way; in the early stages many here and in allied nations thought he ‘wasn’t so bad’, or even admirable. Given that, and the appeasement policies of Chamberlain’s government, not to mention the King’s position on nazism, a position of ongoing dialogue is unremarkable.
    And particularly at that phase.
    Some today would still advocate such a position even for regimes that are beyond the democratic or humanitarian pale. Consider for example the recent arguments over whether Fiji should be ostracized or engaged. The pro-engagement camp’s position would not be considered particualrly remarkable.
    It’s really just another dogwhistle from Farrar (who coincidentally is also of Austrian extraction – can you hear that doggies?), fuelled by an easily excited msm journalist.

  9. So Bored 9

    Who knows what twists the tortured mind of Farrar goes through, the guy is a wally.

    On the academics research I would like to see the evidence BUT it fits in well with more recent reappraisals of “appeasement” and capitalist / imperialist positions prior to and after the outbreak of war. Chamberlain and Halifax both preferred peace for their empire which included NZ to carry on the imperial trade system. Capitalists in the US and UK had huge investments in Germany. They feared communism far more than Hitler, and valued their assetts which were not threatenned by the Nazis. Appeasement was a facade for aiding and abetting the European right against the very real threat of communism.

    Farrar and his cohorts might point the bone at NZs Labour leades of the era, I doubt it has even occured to him that the NZ Labour tradition owed far more to a liberal Christian tradition than Marx. Their leadership were far more aligned to imperial interests than international socialism. I cant imagine that they would have risked hard won political power and their radical social program by falling out of alignment with the imperial leadership of Britain..

  10. William Aspish 10

    What a sad day for NZ politics? Six/Seven months into a new administration and they have already reduced the debate to Godwin’s Law. It smacks so bad of desperation that it should have a large neon sign above it saying “Desperate” – “Will work for food.” Lets not dwell on this but instead let’s talk about how many jobs NACT have created.

  11. Maggie 11

    The Manawatu Standard’s headline is pure Fox News – you can say anything, no matter how extreme, so long as you put a ? on the end.

    Democratic nations doing business with fascists in the 1930s was by no means restricted to a bit of Kiwi wool. Australian PM Bob Menzies earned the nickname “Pig Iron Bob” by flogging off Australian scrap to the Japanese. Some of it came back to Australia in the bodies of dead Ocker soldiers (at least there is no evidence Nazis strangled Kiwi fighting men using woollen garments).

    Then, of course, there was IBM without whose card index system the entire German concentration camp industry could not have been established. IBM continued to do business with the Nazis even after the US entered the war.

  12. Pat 12

    Sure we declared war after the invasion of Poland, but we were hardly anywhere near the action to fire a shot in anger. There must have been some hope that the declaration of war by Britain and her allies would have stopped Hitler’s aggression and forced him to the table. No-one would have been looking forward to another European war, and there must have been some real doubt that Britain and her allies could win it (especially after the fall of France).

    But events soon took over and for NZ there was no turning back. And depsite NZ’s best intentions not to repeat the mistakes of the Great War, in 1940 NZ troops found themselves on mainland Greece in another half-cocked Churchill battle plan.

    • So Bored 12.1

      Pat is right that nobody was looking forward to another European war especially giiven that our comparative casualty rate was so high.

      Nobody has mentioned that other major issue the NZ Labour leadership faced. We as a country relied upon being able to supply our products in particular to Europe by the British imperial trade system, backed up by the Royal Navy. Fraser and crew were very aware that there was another empire (Japan) ready to challenge control of the sea lanes and possibly to invade Australia and NZ. There was no gaurantee that Britain could provide for our defense, or that the US would come to our aid.

      Any NZ leadership, left or right during 1939-1941 were out on a limb in a very dangerous world. Rocking the boat was not an option, we neded all the friends we could get.

  13. Tom Semmens 13

    “…Lew makes useful and constructive comments. Why do you have to start flame wars like this?..”

    Because when you’ve just lost the big game and you’ve gathered your players under the goal posts to talk about loyalty and next time, Lew is the mouthy one already on the sideline trying another team’s jersey for size.

    • Pat 13.1

      No Lew is the one saying “You dumb-asses – we’re not going to win next time unless we change the game plan!”

    • Lew 13.2

      Tom said,

      Lew is the mouthy one already on the sideline trying another team’s jersey for size.

      This is the problem – people’s delicate sensibilities. Loyalty is not a strategy. At worst, my-party-right-or-wrong attitudes can impede the development of a meaningful strategy. That’s what I’m afraid of.

      L

    • Tim Ellis 13.3

      Tom, not everybody believes that questioning a party’s policies after it’s been dumped by the electorate is high treason.

      Not everybody believes that the Labour Party has all the solutions for the Left.

      Not everybody believes that blind loyalty to a brand helps that brand to progress.

  14. Maggie 14

    When the Russian winter helped destroy the German Army (many soldiers froze to death despite Kiwi wool) did Hitler telephone asking for his money back?

    Pat, there is certainly evidence that Hitler believed the British declaration of war over Poland was more for show than substance, and that once Poland was defeated the war could be brought to a quick, negotiated end.

    He’d seen how the British capitulated over Czechoslovakia and believed they would also accept the inevitable regarding Poland.

    The appeasement policies of the 1930s might seem insanity in hindsight, but need to be seen in their historical context. The First World War was just 20 years earlier and still very fresh in people’s memories. The desire to try to prevent a repeat is pretty understandable.

    • Pat 14.1

      Agreed. So we shouldn’t condemn the study for looking back dispassionately at this period of our history, or be afraid of what it uncovers.

  15. jarbury 15

    Whilst I have obviously disagreed with DPF’s politics, I have generally found his actual posts to often be quite interesting….

    …. that is until his most recent trip to the USA. I reckon he’s hung out with far too many nutty Republicans, and it’s starting to show.

    Although that could be a good thing in the long run, if he spirals off to hardcore rightwing irrelevancy.

  16. Pat 16

    I think it is healthy to look back on those times and to be realistic about our shortcomings. Crete is a good example. We were one good counter-attack away from securing Maleme airfield on the first night, which may have turned the entire battle in our favour. But the inaction and poor communications can be fairly blamed on the NZ leadership, particularly Freyberg and Hargest.

    Defeating the German army in battle in 1940 would have been one hell of an acheivement, and we came very close. But despite the Germans suffering far greater casualties, it was us who were retreating over the mountains 3 days later.

  17. 1: Here’s a newspaper contemporary to the trade deal that suggests pretty clearly the deal was not “signed under the National coalition government”.

    2: Nobody’s arguing that “the First Labour Government was tight with Hitler.” Not Watson, not Crawford, not Farrar. Reading comprehension lessons are in order for anyone suggesting that argument’s being made.

    3: Get your story straight about David Farrar. He’s either a simpleton, or he is a Machiavellian genius who routinely engages in pointlessly elliptic “dogwhistling”. He certainly can’t be both those things, which is what everyone here seems to imagine. I happen to believe he is neither.

  18. roger nome 18

    DPF knows better – he has read Chris Trotter’s “No left Turn”, and knows that the National government was lead by a proto-fascist in the 30s, who was militantly anti-union (just as the Nazis were.

    The Labour Party at the time, was basically the “union party”. The Nazis were notorious for their smashing of the Labour movement in Germany. How a sane person could try to twist history to argue that Labour was pro-Nazi beggars belief.

    • burt 18.1

      <history_rewrite>Yes of course roger, the National Socialist party was completely against the unions from the start.</history_rewrite>

      • Zetetic 18.1.1

        burt. who fought the Nazis in the streets in the 1920s? the unions. first thing hitler banned – unions

        Don’t assume just because they took the word that they took the ideology.

        captcha: assumptions

  19. Brian Barry 19

    It is deeply chilling that some people Do NOT see the potential link between NZ Labour (and more so Greens) and Nazism.

    • Lew 19.1

      I find it more frightening that some people are so lacking in perspective that they can conflate the two.

      L

      • MynameisJack 19.1.1

        Take a chill pill Lew.You poor frightened wee pet!

        • Lew 19.1.1.1

          See now, MNIJ, it would have been much classier if you’d taken faux umbrage at my suggestion that you be chained back up (over at the bog, where you couldn’t crap all over the internets) as proof-positive that I was a jack-booted Nazi … but, oh well. Can’t have everything.

          L

          • Zetetic 19.1.1.1.1

            Take back my snide remark to you from the morning Lew. This MNIJ is a dick. Just saw the stuff he wrote we had to delete.

            • Lew 19.1.1.1.1.1

              Cheers Z. He’s an equal-opportunity hater. You should see ‘im over at the bog. Like robinsod on P, but without the turn of phrase … or the coherent ideology.

              L

            • Zetetic 19.1.1.1.1.2

              I may play it tough but hopefully I can admit when I get it wrong

    • Maggie 19.2

      Some people here need a history lesson.

      The Nazi Party arose by taking over a tiny left-wing group, the German Workers Party in the early 1920s. The GWP was formed by a locksmith named Anton Drexler. Hitler suggested bringing the word “socialist” into the party’s title because he believed it would attract the support of the working class. The Encyclopedia Brittanica describes the move as “a demagogic gambit”.

      Hitler soon came to recognise that to obtain power he would need the support of the Army and the business elite and rapidly abandoned any socialist policies. Upon taking power he banned independent trade unions and replaced them with patsy state-run organisations.

      When Hitler forced the Enabling Act through the Reichstag after the Parliamentary building was destroyed by fire (blamed on the Communists but almost certainly done by the Nazis) the only Party in Parliament to oppose giving him total power was the Socialist Party. Many of the socialist deputies paid for this action with their lives.

      Hitler initially gained the Chancellorship as head of a coalition government (the Nazis were the most popular party in the Reichstag, but never gained enough seats to govern on their own). His coalition partners were right-wing parties who saw him as a bulwark against Communism and believed they could control him.

  20. roger nome 20

    BB – your post is senseless. You haven’t even bothered to make an argument.

  21. Brian Barry 21

    Garden Gnome, it is a self evident link. Self evident to those who choose to do the work.

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