Sunday, July 17, 2016

Most victims of WWII died from the non-action of NEGLECT, not from direct violence

Most of the people who died prematurely because of WWII were not bombed, shot, gassed, hung, beaten or chopped up.

They did not die because of direct actions but through deliberate acts of non-action.

They died through Neglect, but not in its minor sense of mere forgetfulness: rather, powerful people in top positions of authority fully discussed the matter and committed the decision of official Neglect to paper.

These victims died because they were denied an equal share of what were often inadequate total amounts of available food, medical care, housing, fuel, clothing within each regime area.

They died - usually - of the infectious diseases brought on by slow starvation, stress, overcrowded shelters or no shelter at all, and the cold ------ rather than literally 'starving to death'.

In a sense then, they mostly died quietly and quickly offstage, mere small 'noises off', rather than in the more operatic death scene style of a highly visible and a highly prolonged form of total starvation death, of bodies reduced to mere skeletons.

Inadequate food was obviously the key form of neglect - with enough food we simply need less urgent medical care and can often survive, short term, inadequate heated shelters and clothing long enough to set about overcoming these problems.

During WWII, least a few people in every country on earth probably died from diseases brought on by inadequate healthy food : even in Canada, Australia and America.

There, aboriginal peoples in remote places unaffected by increased wartime demands for labour were still getting inadequate healthy food, as they had during the peacetime Depression and now were despite wartime rationing.

Rationing , after all, dealt with the fair pricing and distribution of bought (not donated) food.

We can extend this argument to all the Neutral nations and imperial colonies that weren't directly affected by wartime fighting, merely by the overall global wartime demand for foodstuffs that drove up domestic prices in their country.

If they couldn't benefit from the additional labour demands in that country thrown up by the same shifts in global trade, they suffered to the point that it threatened their life.

A poor pensioner already hungry in Depression era Latin America and an equally already hungry poor small farmer in the British colonies, did even worse when the war came.

Their premature deaths would occur so quietly and slowly that they would only be visible years later when demographers noticed trends in national birth and death figures by decade : perhaps an increase in already high death rates for the very young and very old among the poor.

In most countries, many vulnerable patients within the public long term care system, particularly if they couldn't 'work', often got the traditional and often fatal diseases of severe poverty, such as TB.

They got hit by a triple process of smaller rations, severe overcrowding spreading infectious diseases and highly overworked staff, combined with a moral sense in the custodial and medical community that their lives didn't matter as much in wartime because they were a burden, rather than a help, to the all-out war effort.

They too died quietly offstage and became visible only through postwar demographers' work.

Some of their largest numbers were found among the civilians, supposedly safe behind the Soviet lines during WWII, worked hard with very little food and heat.

Rather more studied, though still far off the radar for most people when they are asked about WWII deaths, were the war's highly public (but often local,short, sharp) 'famines'.

They occurred in Italian and German controlled Greece, in the original German treatment of Soviet POWS, at the German siege of Leningrad, in German-controlled Polish Jewish ghettos, in British Bengal, in German-controlled western Netherlands and in Japanese and French-controlled Vietnam.

We mustn't forget, that based on traditional but cruel rules of war involving sieges, the Allies refused to help those starving in enemy-controlled areas such as in Greece and western Netherlands (as well  as during the little known sieges of the Channel ports in 1944-1945).

These publicly recognized 'famines' killed many millions so they can't be dismissed but neither should their dramatic stories be allowed to overshadow the huge numbers who died quietly (boringly) everywhere and all throughout the war.

Think also of the millions of Jews who were murdered by the Nazis, but only after the Allied and Neutral nations repeatedly refused to accept them as immigrants or refugees.

Our collective refusal not only denied them the physical protection far from Nazi hands but also and perhaps even more importantly, a sense that they were equal fellow human beings whose violent deaths won't go un-revenged by non-Jews.

That too was a crime of Neglect on the part of the non-Nazi world.

In the case of my book's subject, Dr Martin Henry Dawson, he was fighting against perhaps the war's most unknown case of official Neglect, the official Allied decision to deliberately delay (and then limit) the wartime production of natural penicillin, then the ONLY defence against many fatal potentially pandemic diseases.

Today we have a few dozen common active antibiotics and about a hundred more we have discontinued due to relative inefficiency and toxicity more we could bring back into production if we needed to, perhaps to combat microbial resistance.

But during the war, natural Penicillin G was the one and only antibiotic we had --- and starting in the Fall of 1942, the synthetic Sulfa family of anti-bacterials failed to yield any effective new drugs while the existing ones began failing to cure diseases they once did easily.

If another America-started, globe circling, Spanish Flu type of pandemic had happened during this later world war - perhaps growing worldwide from the outbreak of respiratory diseases in America between November 1943 to February 1994, we could have had an additional number of disease deaths that would swamp even WWII's death total from all causes.

Dr Dawson, if known as all, is known for resisting the Allied decision to directly deny limited penicillin supplies to all cases of sub-acute bacterial endocarditis on the grounds that it wasn't a disease of military priority.

 SBE, as it was generally known, as was the hitherto invariably fatal terminal disease that made Rheumatic Fever the most dreaded of all childhood diseases .

The authorities expected - wrongly as it turned out - that SBE patients, even if cured, were expected to be too weak to do war work, let alone fight in the war.

But Dawson saw the almost certain deaths of  SBEs from being denied the only medicine that could cure them merely as a symbol - albeit an important symbol - of the overall secret Allied plan to only devote a tiny amount of Allied war resources to producing wartime penicillin.

Basically, only enough penicillin was to be made to allow lightly wounded Allied combat troops to return quickly to battle, so upper class deferred students won't have to be called up in their place.

No one else in the world would get any, till the war's end.

If this plan had been carried out, it would have still cost millions of lives, before the routine mass production of this unusual and totally new type of biological product could have been ramped up in 1947-1948, even without a new Spanish Flu type of global pandemic to deal with.

The dying Dr Dawson so successfully led the battle to resist this terribly cruel crime of Neglect that the ragtag New Dealer portion of the FDR wartime government began the mass producing natural penicillin and its export to all the world to save lives, forcing all the other reluctant Allied nations to play rapid catchup.

If intention, rather than botched execution, is the true measure of a sin, if not a crime, than this Penicillin denial tale ranks with the German Hunger Plan for some of the most egregious sins of all time ...

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