Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Forgotten 500

I am just finishing The Forgotten 500 by Gregory A. Freeman, and while I find it fascinating, it is not earthshaking.

The flyleaf describes it as the "untold story of the men who risked all for the greatest rescue mission of World War II" and it is a remarkable story about the airmen who bailed out over Yugoslavia either before or after bombing raids on Ploesti, the location of most of Hitler's oil refining.

The downed airmen, mostly Americans, were organized by one of the Yugoslavian heroes, Mihailovich, who was unjustly abandoned by the Allies in favor of Tito, the Communist backed by the Soviets. Although the book is principally about the remarkable rescue of the 512 airmen, the back story about why the Allies abandoned Mihailovich and basically handed Yugoslavia to the Communists for decades after the war becomes, in my mind, the real story.

During WWII, the Communists in the OSS (later the CIA) and especially in the British intelligence branch (MI5) shaped policy, interfered with non-Communist goals and acted as traitors throughout. For instance, the OSS was hindered in its actions to organize the rescue, basically taking orders from Moscow to support Tito. Not only did they interfere with the attempts to insert them into the area where the airmen were being protected by the Serbs under Mihailovich, the British attempted to kill them by dropping them into an active battle. Off course and obviously intentional.

We have been schooled to think that Joe McCarthy was just a crackpot, that Vietnam was a mistake since Communism was never a threat nor was the "domino theory" more than a fiction. This episode in history tells us something different, that the Communists inside the OSS/CIA and the US government and the British government were real threats. Great patriots like the agents responsible for the rescue of over 500 airmen from behind enemy lines tell a different story.

Kim Philby was one of the "Cambridge Five," who attained high positions (Philby was head of counter-intelligence for the British government) but worked for Moscow. You need to read the book and other accounts of the damage done by these traitors, but their delivery of Yugoslavia to the Soviets is just detestable.

The Cambridge Five attained high rank due to their privileged background. Their positions in government would be similar to Cabinet positions in the US today. Wonder what would happen if five of the Cabinet officers today were actually working for the Chinese or other foreign governments?

Far fetched? It would seem that we are fed that as history about WWII and the Cold War, but the facts of the Rescue of these 500 and the subsequent martyrdom of Mihailovich says differently.

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