World War Wednesdays: How High Were the Stakes?
We've all heard the phrase, "If we hadn't won the war, we'd all be speaking German". It is usually said to emphasize the contributions of our veterans in the great effort to halt Nazi Germany's conquer of foreign territory. Never once have I ever doubted the significance of our veterans in this effort, but one really cannot help but wonder if this was in fact a real possibility had their efforts been unsuccessful. I've decided to compile the absolutely true, proven with documentary evidence plans that the Axis powers had for North America during the Second World War (and exclude any conspiracy theory, "what if" history) in the hopes that we can gain a better understanding of just how high the stakes really were when it came to defending our home territory.
|Hitler and his generals planning strategy|
First off, I'd like to discuss the big myth: did Hitler really want to convert North Americans into a satellite population of his sea of blonde-haired, blue-eyed followers? Were we really destined to learn German and change our way of life if he conquered our country? What is essential to remember when considering this issue is that the essence of Hitler's plans when he began conquering territory and thus beginning the war was his desire to control Eastern Europe and Eurasia. His focus was on conquering the territory in the east, exterminating its existing populations, and using the land to resettle German people in order to repopulate the German race. This is evident in the way that Hitler insisted that forces be focussed on the Eastern Front against the Soviet Union for the majority of the war (to his detriment). Thus, western Europe did not even rank high on his scale of importance, much less North America. In typical Hitler fashion, he still made sure that his opinion was known on both Canada and America. He certainly had stronger feelings about America and actually held the American society in contempt, stating that the United States (which he consistently referred to as the "American Union") was "half Judaized, and the other half Negrified". While he had no love for America, there was never an actual plan to act on that, and geography played a major role in the fact that no plans for a German invasion of America were ever evident to have existed. However, there were naval expansions reportedly for targeting the Western hemisphere, as well as long-range bombers that were designed to reach American cities. Another interesting fact is that Hitler believed the North American aboriginals to be Aryans, and Nazi propagandists even went so far as to declare that Germany would return expropriated land to the native tribes.
In regards to Canada, Hitler had even less of an interest than with the United States. In general, he associated the two countries as being one continent of America, though our natural resources were recognized. While none of these things are favorable to North America, there does not appear to be any reason to believe that Hitler had any plans for the U.S. or Canada.
However, this does not mean that nobody had plans for this massive continent. It seems that most people associate the threat of the Second World War to be related to Germany, when Japan was the nation with actual plans for destruction. In the same way that Allied propaganda always portrayed the Japanese enemy as apelike, inhuman, and with poor eyesight, Japan believed themselves racially superior to the incapable Whites.
Geography again played a major role in how this was to be carried out, and the Japanese developed innovative methods to cause destruction in North America. One strategy that was developed was the harnessing of air currents to send paper balloons equipped with incendiary material which would be caught in North American forests to burn down the continent's natural resources. Experts estimate it took between 30 and 60 hours for a balloon bomb to reach North America's West Coast.
The first balloon was launched on November 3, 1944. Between then and April 1945, experts estimate about 1,000 of them reached North America; 284 are documented as sighted or found, many as fragments. Records uncovered in Japan after the war indicate that about 9,000 were launched. While the balloons failed to achieve their intended purpose of massive destruction, they did have one lethal consequence: on May 5, 1945, five children and local pastor Archie Mitchell's pregnant wife Elsie were killed as they played with the large paper balloon they'd spotted during a Sunday outing in the woods near Bly, Oregon—the only enemy-inflicted casualties on the U.S. mainland in the whole of World War II.
The Canadian War Museum has an interesting display on these balloons, should you ever find yourself there.
In conclusion, I take it as an extremely fortunate thing that Hitler never got the chance to make plans for North America. None of this information discounts the efforts made by Canadian veterans during the war, but instead demonstrates that they were so significant that we never truly had to fear an invasion here at home. These stories are just a fraction of the crazy and mind-boggling things which came of the Second World War.
Thanks for reading,