Oliver Stone’s Untrue History: Stalin the Great Hero of WWII
By Matthew Vadum
Editor’s note: The following is the first installment of a series of articles Frontpage will be running in the days ahead in response to Oliver Stone’s neo-Communist documentary series, “The Untold History of the United States,” currently airing Mondays on Showtime. Frontpage will be reviewing each episode of the Stone series, exposing the leftist hateful lies about America and setting the record straight. Below is a review of Part I of Stone’s series.
America is a soulless, unexceptional country that has done more harm than good over the last 70 years, leftist Oliver Stone argues in “World War II,” the first installment of his latest documentary project.
In Stone’s multi-part revisionist assault on modern American history, Untold History of the United States, the Communist-loving movie director argues that the U.S. lost the Second World War to the Soviet Union, our allies at the time. The Soviet Communists may have been harsh and violent, but they saved the world, not America. America was too busy getting rich building weapons of mass destruction to make the world safe for capitalism, or something along those lines, according to Stone.
The 66-year old Oscar winner opens the first episode with a soliloquy summing up his journey from patriot to Howard Zinn wannabe.
When Stone was a young boy learning about U.S. history, America was “the center of the world,” he says in the narration.
“There was a manifest destiny. We were the good guys. Well, I’ve traveled the world now. I continued my education as an infantryman in Vietnam. I’ve made a lot of movies, some of them about history, and I’ve learned a lot more than I once knew. And when I heard from my children what they were learning in school I was perturbed to hear that they were not really getting a more honest view of the world than I did.”
As Americans, “we live much of our lives in a fog –all of us– but I would like my children to have access to something that looks beyond what I call the tyranny of now,” said Stone, pretending to have invented the concept of presentism.
All good propagandists know that the use of scapegoating and simplistic story lines make falsehoods easy for some people to digest, and Stone is one of the best.
Stone does his best to reduce America’s history to utopian socialist pabulum, calling the U.S. government’s development of the atomic bomb the catalyst that turned “the refuge of the Founding Fathers into a militarized state.” It seems reasonable to guess that Stone, like so many other radicals, would have considered America more virtuous if it had refrained from bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki to end the war and instead sacrificed a half million or more American lives (and at at least one million Japanese lives) in a full-scale invasion of Fascist Japan.
Robert Oppenheimer, the American scientist who led the Manhattan Project team that developed the bomb, escapes Stone’s wrath because among leftists good intentions trump worldly deeds even when those intentions lead to catastrophe.
Stone deems Oppenheimer a noble soul because he was a Communist sympathizer. Oppenheimer gave up to 10 percent of his salary to help the priest-murdering Spanish Republicans. Stone notes that even though President Franklin D. Roosevelt banned the shipment of arms to Spain in the years leading up to World War II, “2,800 brave Americans” fought, mostly for the Communists.
Despite his refusal to help Spanish radicals, Roosevelt wasn’t all bad, as Stone sees it. When he sought a third term in office in 1940, FDR had the good sense to put a so-called progressive, Communist sympathizer Henry A. Wallace, on the ticket as vice presidential nominee.
As Secretary of Agriculture during the Great Depression, Wallace habitually interfered with the economy, engaging in social engineering schemes that free market economists say helped to prolong and exacerbate the nation’s agony. But Stone hails Wallace as a visionary for giving subsidies to farmers to not grow crops, giving the urban poor food stamps and school lunches, and launching programs for land use planning and soil conservation.
Untold History covers largely the same ground as Cold War, the epic 24-part series produced by CNN founder Ted Turner in association with BBC News in 1998. That grim extended documentary, narrated by Kenneth Branagh, was legitimately criticized for pushing a false moral equivalence between the United States and the Soviet Union.
At the time Jacob Heilbrunn blasted the series in the New Republic for depicting the decades of tension between the two countries as a “morally unintelligible contest between two equally dangerous superpowers, whose fear of each other constantly threatened to plunge a world full of innocent bystanders into nuclear holocaust.”
But even with its problems, Cold War is celluloid jingoism compared to Stone’s ahistorical Untold History.
“Obsessively, Stalin spoke of the danger to world peace, the need for vigilance against internal enemies,” said Cold War narrator Branagh.
“Conformity was enforced by police terror and by a slavish cult of [Joseph] Stalin’s personality. He became godlike; his icon worshiped everywhere. For those who did not conform there was silence and death behind the barbed wire. The gulag, the secret empire of concentration camps, stretched over 4,000 miles from the Baltic to the Pacific. In the Cold War years the camps continued to devour the lives of millions.”
The strongest condemnation Stone can offer of Stalin, one of the world’s most prolific mass murderers, is that he was “a brutal dictator.”
In fact Stone praises Stalin as a pragmatic hero, who, by fighting Adolph Hitler’s merciless war machine, saved not only his homeland but the whole world.
According to Stone, for years before the war began, Stalin had implored the countries of the West to take on Hitler. Stone seems to imply that America could not be counted on to defeat the Third Reich because its people didn’t care much for Jews. The U.S. and its allies did little to help German Jews from 1938 onward as Nazi persecution intensified, Stone says, granting admission to precious few Jewish refugees. Of course the Allies –including the USSR– destroyed the Nazi war machine, but Stone doesn’t point this out.
In early 1939, when Hitler took over what remained of Czechoslovakia, violating his pledge not to advance beyond the Sudetenland, Stalin became a hero in Stone’s eyes:
“Stalin recognized the truth. His country was facing its most deadly enemy alone. He needed to buy time and fearing a German-Polish alliance to attack the USSR he shocked the West when he signed a nonaggression pact with Hitler dividing Eastern Europe between them. Stalin’s primary concern was the security of his own nation. In fact the Soviet dictator had proposed the same alliance with Britain and France but neither would accept Stalin’s demand to place Soviet troops on Polish soil as a way of blocking the Germans.”
American politicians didn’t appreciate the sacrifice Stalin was making for world peace, Stone suggests. After Hitler double-crossed Stalin and initiated Operation Barbarossa, Germany’s ferocious invasion of the USSR, “there were still many in the West who, frankly, were glad to see the Soviet Union finally on her knees.”
Stone offers then-Sen. Harry Truman, as an example of such supposed shortsightedness. An actor’s voice repeats Truman’s words spoken on the floor of the Senate in 1941: “If we see that Germany is winning then we ought to help Russia, and if Russia is winning we ought to help Germany and that way let them kill as many as possible.”
America and its allies were only minor players in the Second World War, Stone pontificates.
In the “pivotal years” of the conflict, “the Soviets were regularly battling more than 200 German divisions. In contrast the Americans and the British fighting in the Mediterranean rarely confronted more than 10 German divisions. Germany lost over 6 million men fighting the Soviets and approximately 1 million fighting on the Western front.”
We’ve all been brainwashed into believing that America and the allied powers triumphed in the war, Stone says, referring to “the myth [that] lives on that the United States won.”
“Serious historians agree that it was the Soviet Union, that its entire society,” including Stalin, “who through sheer desperation and incredibly stoic heroism forged the great narrative of World War II: the defeat of the monster German war machine.”
Like the schoolchild whose dog ate his homework, Stone fails to name those supposed giants of historiography who accuse the USSR’s allies of failing to pull their own weight and riding Stalin’s coat-tails to victory in 1945.
Because more Soviet soldiers died (around 8 million) than American soldiers (around 400,000) in the war, according to Stone the Soviets have a stronger moral claim to victory. He ignores the fact that many Red Army soldiers perished helping to extricate the USSR from Stalin’s cynical, short-lived nonaggression pact with Hitler.
Stone also appears to discount the American contribution to the liberation of Western Europe before, during, and after the D-Day invasion of 1944. Using his own bizarre calculus, Stone gives the “win” to the USSR simply because more of its often ill-equipped soldiers died.
Throughout his professional life the Hollywood leftist has always been a gifted fabulist.
The Fidel Castro-worshiping, anti-American icon-smasher, has crafted movies that seduce audiences, selling them on far-fetched conspiracy theories.
Stone pulled the wool over a generation of Americans, convincing them that Lee Harvey Oswald had little if anything to do with the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Gallup polls suggest that Stone’s 1991 movie, JFK, a crazy quilt of revisionist conjecture, helped to bolster public belief in alternate theories of the assassination. Stone argues in the movie that the U.S. intelligence community worked with the mob and disgruntled Bay of Pigs survivors to murder the then-leader of the free world so American companies could reap colossal war profits — or something.
The wily Stone lied to us about Kennedy’s death, downplaying the obvious starring role played by Oswald, a dedicated Marxist-Leninist who previously defected to the USSR at the height of the Cold War.
Why stop lying now?
Related articles on Stone’s series:
1. Daniel Greenfield’s review of “The Bomb,” the third episode of the series.
2. Bruce Thornton’s introduction to this Frontpage series.