I was thumbing through Michael Korda’s brilliant book about the Battle of Britain titled “With Wings Like Eagles” the other day when I came across a startling passage that described Reichsmarshal Herman Goring, Hitler’s right hand man who was in charge of the German Luftwaffe.
In the summer of 1940, when German forces had swept victoriously through Western Europe, Britain which was still holding out was the last obstacle to Hitler’s winning World War Two right then and there.
Hitler’s only course was to invade and occupy the British Isles but to do that successfully the Luftwaffe first had to gain air superiority over Britain’s Royal Air Force (RAF).
Air Chief Marshall Hugh Dowding was the man who led the RAF’s Fighter Command which would have to prevent the Luftwaffe from succeeding.
Dowding knew that his smaller force could not actually turn back the mighty Luftwaffe but he designed a strategy that would keep the RAF strong enough to deny the Germans the air superiority they needed at least until the fall when the English Channel weather would make invasion impossible.
However, clearly with their much larger force the Germans appeared to have the power to checkmate Dowding and overpower the RAF.
But they failed.
Here is that startling passage written by Michael Korda in 2009 which explains why, among many factors, the blame for the Luftwaffe’s failure rests primarily with its leader, Herman Goring:
“Of course the most important culprit was Goring, whose self-indulgence, short attention span, arrogance, overconfidence, and failure to institute (or respect) a disciplined and well-organized chain of command, rather than ruling the Luftwaffe by a combination of cronyism and a calculated policy of divide and conquer, doomed the air attack against Britain from the start.”
Why that is a perfect description of Donald J Trump and the frightening thing is Trump in his attack on reason, American Values and Institutions if unchecked is dooming the America we know, that “Shining City on a Hill” that Ronald Reagan described as:
“… a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here.”
That is an America the World used to respect.
Perhaps we should be grateful that Trump is like the Herman Goring Korda describes or the damage he has done so far might be far worse.
On the other hand, if left unchecked the damage Trump could do in the future might be catastrophic.
That is why we must never stop working to end and reverse Trumpism.
We must never become complacent or accepting of this man’s warped leadership and vulgar conduct.
We must strongly oppose his efforts to tear down the safeguards around our democracy – the Courts, the Law Enforcement agencies, the Constitutional rights of all Americans no matter from what direction his attack comes.
Above all, we must work to increase the majority which votes against Trumpism in federal elections this fall and in two years and in local elections whenever held.
Like the Battle of Britain the Battle of America can also be won.
And what of the men who led the desperate air battle in 1940.
Any casual student of World War Two knows the name Herman Goring. Comparatively few ever heard of Dowding.
But history tells what happened in the end.
There is a statue to Hugh Dowding at Clements Danes Church in London whose inscription reads in part:
“His wise and prudent judgement and leadership helped to ensure victory against overwhelming odds and thus prevented the loss of the Battle of Britain and probably the whole war. To him, the people of Britain and of the Free World owe largely the way of life and the liberties they enjoy today.”
As for Herman Goring, he committed suicide while on trial at Nuremberg for the war crimes with which he was charged. His body was cremated and his ashes were scattered into the Wenzbach/Conwentzbach, a small stream in Munich.