Joe Biden’s Weird Version of Goebbels’ Big Lie

At his press conference on July 8, Joe Biden offered a rather bizarre interpretation of history, in which he likened Ted Cruz and his challenge to some electoral votes to Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels and the “Big Lie.” Biden illustrated his point by referring to the Allied bombing of Dresden in February 1945 in which, he said, “250 or 2,500 people” were killed. And yet Joseph Goebbels inflated the number to 25,000, even 250,000, thus perpetrating “The Big Lie.” Biden added, “like Goebbels and the Great Lie. You keep repeating the lie, repeating the lie.”

As an historian I am flummoxed at Biden’s illustration of Dresden as a Big Lie. In fact, the best estimate is that 28,000 people died in the bombing of Dresden. In a bizarre way, however, Joe Biden has accurately linked the Allied bombing campaign of Germany to the Big Lie of Nazi propaganda. Except the Nazi Big Lie was not about Dresden. Rather it was about the British and American bombing of Hamburg in 1943. From July 24 through August 2, 1943, the Allied air forces, mainly the RAF, unleashed a series of massive bomber raids against Hamburg involving as many as 700+ planes at a time. 

Hamburg, one of Germany’s greatest industrial centers, was struck in a way no previous city had been. The raids were especially devastating, inflicting an estimated 34,000 to 38,000 dead. The raid of 27 July 1943 alone, in which atmospheric conditions created a firestorm, killed more than 18,000 Hamburg residents. The Allied attack on Hamburg destroyed or damaged more than 60% of the housing in the city and wrecked more than half the factories, a serious blow to German industrial production. The Hamburg raids came as a gigantic shock to the Nazi leadership and Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels admitted to his diary that Germany was losing the war.  

The Big Lie about Hamburg was the official position of the Nazi government put through the German news media: Hamburg had been bombed but casualties were not heavy, damage was not severe, and the city was carrying on. Indeed, it sounded plausible at first.  Up to summer 1943, Germany was coping well with RAF bombing raids. The German civil defense system was well-organized and able to quickly repair infrastructure, put damaged factories back into operation, and efficiently feed and rehouse civilians made homeless.

But in Hamburg the German government and military were simply overwhelmed.  More than half the city’s inhabitants lost their housing and possessions, and the streets were choked with the dead. A million civilians were immediately evacuated from Hamburg, broken into groups and dispatched from suburban train stations to towns all across Germany so that no single area would be overwhelmed by the mass of refugees who needed food and housing. Thousands of concentration camp prisoners (unable to communicate the horrors they saw) were brought into Hamburg to collect and bury the tens of thousands of dead in mass graves and to clear streets of rubble. The destruction was so severe that Hamburg never recovered during the war.

The shell-shocked survivors of the Hamburg bombing were warned by the Gestapo not to speak of what they had experienced—or else. Every effort was made by the Nazis to insist that Hamburg was still a functioning city. In 1943 Germans who listened to the news from British radio (which provided accurate accounts of the scale of casualties and damage of the Hamburg raids) could be arrested and even executed.  Hamburg survivors who told their new neighbors about the devastation they witnessed invited arrest by the Gestapo. Every effort was made to keep the truth of Hamburg from the German public.

Yet survivors still talked. One cannot go through such a horrific experience and keep silent. A million witnesses saw the inability of the Reich government to prevent a major city from becoming a literal Hell. The stories all rang true, and the common people of Germany believed the survivors. Only diehard Nazis believed the official German government line after Hamburg and increasing numbers of Germans turned to listening to forbidden British radio rather than the state propaganda. German civilian morale plummeted when people realized that if the Allies could totally devastate one of Germany’s greatest cities in a few days, then the war was truly lost. 

The big lie failed.  Still, the Gestapo made sure that Germans carried on the war effort to the end.

It’s interesting to watch the Democrats constantly making historical analogies to Naziism because, at every attempt, they display their astounding ignorance of history.  From the historical context, a Big Lie is a demand by political leaders that the public believe something highly improbable.  This belief is repeated by a government-controlled media and its public acceptance is coerced by government agencies and a co-opted judicial system. Ted Cruz and a handful of minority senators and congressmen publicly contesting corrupt and illegal actions of state and local governments does not fit the historical definition of the Big Lie. For Biden’s charge to work we must accept, as an article of faith, that election fraud is virtually nonexistent, that one-party Democrat machine cities in the swing states are devoted to serving the public, and that the humble and devoted leaders and civil servants of these cities would never, ever break the law for political and personal gain.

The Big Lie of 2020 is that it was a clean and honest election. Like the Big Lie of Hamburg raids, the Big Lie will fail. Like Hamburg in 1943, there are simply too many witnesses. There are the videos of election observers being blocked in several cities and videos in Atlanta of observers sent away, and in their absence election workers piling ballots into the counting machines. There is sworn testimony from hundreds of election workers detailing illegal actions. There is hard documentary evidence of the dead voting by mail, or of (supposedly) living voters receiving and returning their ballots by the postal service within a day. There are thousands of Georgia voters who illegally provided post office box numbers as their place of residence. There is the analysis of highly respected IT experts and statisticians who have spotted statistically implausible vote spikes, unusual local turnout, and voting patterns not seen in previous elections. The evidence presented at state legislative hearings (I watched some on One America News) is thorough, well-documented and plausible.

Joe Biden is beginning his presidency with one of the biggest lies in the history of American politics. On top of the “honest election” lie, he will have to maintain lies about his family’s Chinese and Ukrainian business connections, as well as his involvement in illegal deep state surveillance of political opponents. With so many lies, we’ll have an interesting time seeing the Democrats defending Biden over the next four years. Still, the historical pattern is consistent. Even the most coercive states cannot maintain the Big Lie.

Photo credit: YouTube screengrab

James S. Corum PhD is a military historian, author and co-author of 14 books, and is a retired lieutenant colonel in the US Army Reserve.