The History Channel’s Mendacious Propaganda

Charles Burris

I finally found time to view the History Channel’s multipart series, The World Wars, which aired last week and I was absolutely appalled.

Perhaps the less said about this egregious travesty of historical falsehoods and distortions of facts the better.

It is simply neocon agit-prop featuring “the usual suspects” (Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell, McCain, McChrystal, Panetta, etc.) from the unconstitutional, preemptive wars of aggression in Afghanistan and Iraq as “expert commentators” and their court historian Amen corner echo chamber. This is not objective history but advocacy for the unrestrained warfare state in which these war criminals were key participants characterized by their attempts to portray a historical continuity from WWI to WWII to the failed wars in which they presided over.

Such a continuity exists but not the one they sought to convey.

This disaster suffers from many of the same flaws in the earlier History Channel production, The Men Who Built America.

The programs were characterized by cartoonish docudrama recreations and clichéd observation by the spurious commentators discussed above. Recognizable faces from failed neocon wars under Bush and Obama do not ensure authoritative historical observations of the First and Second World Wars.

Episode one’s introductory treatments of Hitler in the trenches, Churchill and the bloody fiasco at Gallipoli, and Patton and Pancho Villa, were fairly well done. My grandfather was in the Army with General Pershing going in pursuit of Villa and later in France with Pershing in the Argonne Forest campaign in 1918.

Yet within the first 30 minutes of this first episode there is one of the most profound distortions of actual historical truth I have seen, making the film absolutely useless in a classroom setting.

It is the manufactured account of Stalin and the Russian Revolution. There were two Russian Revolutions in 1917. The first in February was led by disgruntled workers, soldiers and deserters back from the front, and housewives angry at the food situation in the cities because of the war. Lenin was still in exile in Switzerland. The Bolsheviks played almost no role in this people’s uprising.

This Revolution forced the Czar to abdicate and be placed under arrest. A Provisional Government led by Menshevik Social Democrat Alexander Kerensky was established. Russia remained in the war.

Lenin and his Bolshevik entourage arrived in the famous sealed train at the Finland Station in Petrograd in April. He denounced the February Revolution as “bourgeois,” and called for opposition to Kerensky’s Provisional Government. (Kerensky had been a student of Lenin’s father in Simbirsk.) Stalin, who had returned from exile in Siberia in mid-March and had taken control of the Bolshevik newspaper Pravda, had been campaigning for support for the Provisional Government. Lenin soon issued his famous April Theses, calling for Land (for the peasants, Bread (for the starving masses), and Peace (an end to Russian participation in WWI).

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