I'm still in Human Smoke land, and expect I will remain here for some time. I am making slow progress because I stop to take notes every three pages, something I had not expected and something a rarely do when reading non-fiction. Not only is Baker's book a fascinating and terribly incriminating document that shines the light on so much of the chaos and miscommunication that led to the war and continued on well into it, but without even trying, it offers up so many parallels to our lives today that I'm stunned at nearly every passage. We see the same hubris in our own leaders now as then. The same hob-knobbing with leaders of foreign countries that we fully intend to war with and the same selling of arms to countries who may likely use them on us one day.
I came across this passage last night and it strikes me as a perfect example of the ridiculousness and impartiality of media reporting then and how remarkable it is that so little has changed:
"A British pilot saw the moon reflected in the lakes of blacked-out Berlin and knew that he had found his target: the Potsdam railroad station. It was the night of September 10, 1940. "Typical of present R.A. F. bombing operations, last night's raid was made by a force of bombers which delivered the attack with great precision," said an English communique. "One fire was particularly large and several smaller ones were seen." The BBC propaganda team took up the news, beaming it at Germany.
But the bombs had missed---the Potsdam railroad station was undamaged. What was damaged was the Riechstag building, the Bradanberg Gate, St. Hedwig's Catholic Hospital, a Jewish hospital, the Charite hospital, and the Berlin Academy of Art---although the room of Hitler's models wasn't harmed. A bomb splinter made a hole in the double window of the American embassy and plunged into the wall in the office of one of the foreign secretaries; several incendiary bombs burned in the garden. Five civilians were killed, according to the official German communique. Afternoon headlines in Berlin were: "Reichstag Bombarded! Berlin Hospitals, Hotels, Residential Districts and Monuments Attacked According to Plan -- Bombs Also on Bradengurg Gate." Also: "Mad Attacks on National Symbols."
It would be comical if the results of this silliness weren't so horrifying:
"Now that our Reichstag building has been bombed, there is no reason why we should not bomb the British Parliament out of existence, said an anonymous source close to Hermann Goering to a reporter for the Associated Press. "I wouldn't give one farthing for the Houses of Parliament."