History and What-Really-Happened



What-Really-Happened: What is History?

“All photographs are accurate, but none of them is the truth. . . . The camera lies all the time.” (Richard Avedon, photographer)

Most people’s definition of history is fairly simple. It’s “what-really-happened-in-the-past.” But professional historians know that the reality of history is hardly so unproblematical. As many a policeman will assert who has tried to determine from several eyewitnesses’ reports exactly what happened in an accident, it’s often difficult to piece together different people’s versions of the “truth” and construct one coherent narrative on which everyone agrees. In fact, it’s impossible. The same is true for history which is a very messy business and, like all human enterprises, particularly susceptible to bias, self-righteousness, pride, vanity and, if not outright and intentional perversion of the truth, at least the subconscious obfuscation of some grimmer and grimier reality.

Nor is history something that can be easily defined or restricted. People import too much emotional baggage into the formulation of their histories to leave much room for impartiality. One brief event can take on thousands of different meanings when all sorts of people impose their own variations of the truth upon it. We need look no further than the crucifixion of Jesus to see how many different ways people can treat and interpret a past event. From that alone it should be clear that determining the truth about history, the elusive and illusive “what-really-happened,” is hardly likely to be a smooth or simple exercise.

But because it’s hard to come by doesn’t mean we should give up pursuing historical truth, only that we must approach it with realistic expectations of what history can deliver. If it is a glorious goal, securing a full and uncontradictory picture of what-really-happened-in-the-past is something no one will probably ever achieve. Yet as with so many human endeavors, the struggle itself has great merit and delivers all sorts of rewards, if not the full and unvarnished truth.

In my youth I used to wish I had a time machine, some device I could ride back into history so I could see for myself what-really-happened and clear up all the idiotic controversies about who did what to whom and when and why. These questions seemed like such a pointless waste of time to me back then, when one simple snapshot of what-really-happened could end so many debates once and for all.

Now, after many years of studying history I realize that, even if I could go back in time and see these things for myself, then return to my own age, I still could not necessarily convince the people to whom I brought back my report that what I was telling them was the final word, that my portrait of the past was the answer to “what-really-happened,” or that I was even doing them much of a favor. As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to see that even providing a video recording of some historical event and showing it to people today probably would not resolve many of our debates about the past, either. The tape would just become another point of acrimonious discussion in our on-going quarrels over the nature and meaning of history.

For example, one of the great questions about early Western Civilization is “Was there ever really a Trojan War as the great Greek poet Homer describes?” That is, did some person (possibly named Agamemnon) lead forces to some place (perhaps called Troy) and fight there for many years (maybe even ten)? A person might think that a video of all this would answer these fundamental questions, but the real truth of history is that, even if we could tape-record what-really-happened in that part of the world at that time, it’s more likely that people would only start asking questions, like “What does this tape really show?” or “Isn’t it possible that something’s happening that’s not on this tape, something crucial to our understanding of this event but that can’t be seen on the video?” It might end up a very different Trojan War but there would still be a war over Troy.

And even if a recording provided every essential fact, it would still leave open matters of motivation, such as why these things happened and why later ages did not preserve the full truth. The tape would, no doubt, fan the flames of controversy more than stifling them, and the result would only be more smoke and greater historical asthma. After the circus surrounding the speculations about President Kennedy’s assassination—even when a film of it exists!—who can deny some people’s capacity to question what’s standing right in front of them?
II. The Good News and the Bad News

“There are no hard distinctions between what is real and what is unreal, nor between what is true and what is false. A thing is not necessarily either true or false; it can be both true and false.” (Harold Pinter, playwright)

For historians, this is both good news and bad news. It’s bad—all too bad, really!—that we will probably never fully understand what-really-happened-in-the-past, certainly not in such a way that sensible people will agree about historical reality. Moreover, to kill the debate would not necessarily be a good thing. Dissension is a natural and even beneficial feature of human life, and many would say that compelling people to agree on one vision of anything is tyrannical and just a bad idea. Certainly, imposing a uniform vision of history is a notion notoriously poisonous to democracy and an ingredient found in many a dictatorship. Not that that has stopped people from trying, and all too often with disastrous results. Hitler, for instance, attempted to impose his stilted, one-dimensional vision of the past on the Germans of his day. The Inquisition tried much the same in Medieval Europe, as did the socialists in Russia. Today, creationists and scientists are locked in battle over one aspect of what-really-happened-in-the-past, the origin of humanity.

Such disputes about the past are not altogether bad, I assure you, nor are they at heart even really about history in the sense of “the study of the past.” They concern most often some immediate and imposing present. Most, if not all, conflicts centered on interpretations of the past revolve around what one group of people think other people should think about some past they share.

For instance, different religious elements wish others to see Jesus’ crucifixion in a particular way, because they wish others would worship or respect him in some particular fashion. What they’re actually attempting to do is to persuade people to behave in a certain way and make particular choices in their world. It is not in the end a fight about the past but the present, because to change people’s vision of the present and the future, one must begin by altering their perceptions of the past. This basic and well-tested equation lies at the root of every political election, change of government and social revolution that’s ever happened.

And that’s the good news for historians because it means that history is anything but some remote, esoteric, pointy-headed study of what-really-happened-in-the-past. Instead, it’s a very tricky enterprise involving people’s most deep-seated beliefs and the fundamental basis of their convictions about life. Many, many people have died for their views about how the past does or should affect the world they lived in: Cleopatra, Boethius, Joan of Arc, Thomas à Becket, Martin Luther King Jr., along with every Christian martyr or Palestinian rebel who ever died before their time. Even more have been silenced or shunned for their views about the past: Ovid, Galileo, Darwin, to name but a few. To this list could be added virtually every notable person who has ever lived.

So then, history is anything but an endeavor that should be consigned to some dusty shelf on the top floor of a remote library nobody ever visits. It’s, ironically, the most modern, most relevant, most incendiary discipline there is, to judge by nothing more than the number of car bombings, shootings, incarcerations, genocides and other atrocities committed in the name of warring pasts. When people perceive some wrong has been committed against them, they feel justified in paying back their wrong-doers with equal or greater violence, which is simply their interpretation of history.

So, whether anyone likes it or not—or admits it or not—everyone cares about history because it’s from our understanding of what-really-happened back then that we guide and shape our lives. When the future is little more than a dark tunnel—and the first and foremost lesson history teaches is there’s no guaranteed future!—the only way to drive ourselves forward is by looking in the rearview mirror and guessing the best course to take. And for all our careful plans and fondest hopes, how often we still hit walls and crash and bleed! Thus, misunderstanding history causes mishaps the likes of World War II, and few people do not recognize that in some way. To avoid such accidents, to protect the future, that’s why we fight so bitterly over what-really-happened.
III. The Best Approach to History

“Nothing that has actually happened matters in the slightest.” (Oscar Wilde, playwright)

So then, how should we best approach the pocked and patchy minefield of the past? Something so central, so meaningful to our lives, should be able to be pursued with some degree of certainty, shouldn’t it? Is there any hope of recovering an unblemished and tutelary past that can operate as a reliable guide to the future? If not the full and unbiased truth about history, the exploration of the past must reveal something of value to our lives, yes? Cannot the study of the events leading up to our times contain at least some “historical truth,” even though there is little reasonable chance of actually achieving a complete and undistorted picture of the past? Or should we just throw our hands in the air and sign up for classes in the “hard” sciences where the perception exists there is no debate about facts or interpretations of truth? Ten minutes in any reputable science class will show the fallacy of that common mistaken assumption.

The answer to all these questions is that history, both as the unfolding and as the recording of the past, must proceed—and it will whether or not anyone wishes it to!—and if it cannot proceed under ideal circumstances, then too bad for those who insist on perfection! Given the natural human inclination toward bias, egotism, sloth and sensationalism, we can and must make something of the so-called “facts of history” and the data we’re left with, whatever their condition, something that at least approaches the truth even if it does not accomplish our aim of discovering the whole of what-really-happened.

And, indeed, history is not simply an exercise in futility and despair, because there are some significant pluses working in behalf of those who seek to create an honest record of the past. The fact is, even the biggest historical lies almost always contain some facsimile of truth, in spite of the liars who spawned them. And especially the most egregious perpetrators of such prevarications—those bigots, divas, cheats, and laggards who are responsible for bringing us many of our worst perversions of history—even they rarely exhibit motivations so complex that it’s impossible to shed some light on them somehow. In fact, quite often we can see through their tainted “histories” and easily distinguish what they wish we would believe from what is the more probable reality they’re distorting. Indeed, bad history is quite frequently transparent, and usually the worse it is, the clearer it is. That’s the good news.

“What is history but a fable agreed-upon?” (Napoleon Bonaparte, French general)

The bad news is, history’s most flagrant spin-meisters are hardly the only villains roaming the library. Many good and seemingly reasonable historians blur the past, too, usually under the spell of some blinding self-delusion which makes them press a point they feel must be true, something they think and hope and believe ought to be true. And if the historical data don’t support their point completely, they change the past to what it should have been.

Tacitus, for instance, the greatest historian of early Imperial Rome, was a true blue-blooded Roman who watched his world, as he saw it, crumbling around him. Although he spent his life in one of the finest ages of human history, the so-called Pax Romana (“the Roman peace” lasting from 31 BCE to 180 CE), a period which saw fewer wars, social unrest and economic burdens than the vast majority of times, Tacitus was, at least to judge from his writings, a fairly unhappy fellow. In his mind, the Romans—and especially traditional aristocrats like himself—had sold away their basic human rights, their liberty and free speech, to men who called themselves Emperors (literally, in Latin “commanders”). These emperors, instead of leading the Romans, had for the most part enslaved them, according to Tacitus, in exchange for providing the peace of a sheltered life.

That is, in allowing emperors into Rome, Tacitus’ peers, in his opinion, had purchased for themselves a gilded cage where they had locked themselves into a comfortable but restricted lifestyle with fewer personal freedoms than their noble, independent-minded forefathers had. To him, they had thrown away their greatest heritage, their liberty, for a few generations of comfortable living. One need not mention, of course, that the pursuit of those personal freedoms by unscrupulous, greedy aristocrats in the century before the Pax Romana had led to unprecedented waves of carnage and mayhem all around the Mediterranean basin. Indeed, liberty and the pursuit of personal happiness had spelled death for millions in the late Republic, so while the onset of Empire had ended Roman independence, there is little doubt that it also saved countless lives. Cages work two ways: they keep things both in and out.

Tacitus was well aware of this, as his histories show, but his knowledge of the dangers which accompany unbridled liberty didn’t hinder him in the least from sitting at his desk and scrawling out line after line recounting the abominations he saw being perpetrated on his fellow Romans enslaved to an increasingly debauched succession of emperors, most of them in Tacitus’ view incompetent perverts! And much of what he says is true, confirmed by external sources, but the spin he put on events, in particular, his failure to include certain details which did not conform with his pessimistic vision of the times, makes his history less a calm and reasoned account of the early Empire and more a call-to-arms for all liberty-loving Romans. To put it simply—albeit over-simply!—Tacitus, as a historian, is a brilliantly articulate, often quite humorous, trenchantly insightful observer of human nature, but also a crusader and a propagandist, and a bit of a whiner.

And, from such a man so full of genius and wit and contempt, the view of this age is necessarily slanted. For instance, in his Annals of Imperial Rome he scorches Nero with reproach, painting this emperor as one of the most inept leaders imaginable. In doing so, he gives us our picture of the madman who “fiddled while Rome burned.” However, any trained historian can readily see that Tacitus’ depiction of Nero as an insane despot is not an entirely neutral portrait of the emperor and may have less to do with the absolute truth than Tacitus’ political agenda. Thus, Tacitus who is often called—and rightly so!—our single best historical source for early Imperial Rome was also instrumental in leaving behind the picture of debauchery and violence we now have of that impressively glorious age, the early Pax Romana, the very pinnacle of Roman greatness and arguably of all Western Civilization.

B. Procopius

Tacitus hardly stands alone among historians in his failure to be objective or unbiased. All writers of history have a vantage point, something to prove—why else would they be writing?—and some have more than one.

Justinian: Ravenna Mosaic (click to see larger image)Procopius, who lived in the days of the Byzantine emperor Justinian (r. 535-565 CE), was the official historian of the court. Several of the books he wrote which are preserved among the historical records of the Byzantine Empire recount the glories and triumphs of Justinian’s wars and his noble efforts to help his people socially, economically and architecturally. To judge from these alone, Procopius was a fawning sycophant, a propagandist who was paid to praise and justify Justinian’s rule and, by all appearances, earned his salary in fulsome full.

But several centuries after his lifetime, another work by Procopius was unexpectedly discovered. It was called Anecdota, literally in Greek “unpublished,” i.e. the “unofficial” history of Justinian’s reign. We don’t know how or where it came to light, but the reason for its concealment is amply clear. The Anecdota entails a very different approach to the history of the period.

In it, Justinian is portrayed not as a benevolent ruler but a monster, quite literally a demon sent by the Devil to plague the Earth and kill as many people as possible. In one modern edition of the Anecdota, one of the chapters is entitled, “How Justinian killed a billion people.” This other Procopius, by all appearances the polar opposite of the propagandist, supports his assertions of Justinian’s demonic nature by citing that the maids of the palace claim to have seen the Emperor’s decapitated spirit walking about the palace late at night carrying its head in its hands.

Whether this is true or not—and, frankly, it doesn’t seem very likely—there is a greater truth behind the tale. Evidently, the powerful and prideful emperor could at times rub those near him, even his well-paid employees, the wrong way, and these discontented underlings found a way to avenge themselves, through gossip and libel. So, we can see that Procopius could live with a broad dichotomy in his professional life, to say the least. An unkind critic might call it full-blown schizophrenia. Press secretary by day and character assassin by night, Procopius, it appears, was two entirely different historians rolled into one, a single body embracing two personas and widely divergent visions of the world around him.

From this, it seems safe to say that even one individual alone can function as two different historians, incompatible eye-witnesses, and all by himself create dissension about what-really-happened-in-the-past. Thus we must conclude that the only thing we may rule out definitely as a factor in the evaluation of historical sources is the serene dispassion of its authors. History shows all sorts of people are capable of recording a vision of the past—even people with multiple personalities!—everyone except the calm and unconcerned. They don’t write history because they don’t care enough about the past to do it. An indisputable fact of history, perhaps the only one, is that it takes a certain amount of anxiety to put words on a page.
IV. Remembered, Recovered and Invented History

“(History) is the set of questions we in the present ask of the past . . . It is informed by our anxieties, by our failures, by our successes, by our hopes, by our wishes, by all the questions we have.” (Ken Burns, documentary film-maker)

In studying the records of the past, then, one is, in fact, examining propaganda of various sorts, distortions based on someone’s perception of truth but angled so as to make a better case for something than an unorganized compilation of facts might do all by themselves. In other words, all writers have a purpose in writing, or else why write? Histories are no different in that regard from novels—and sometimes in other ways as well, such as in their disdain for reality—but that’s no reason to despair of the truth. There are times we can come very close to seeing what-really-happened-in-the-past, or at least certain historical truths, if we address the data intelligently and in full awareness of the processes that guide the creation of history.

For instance, if confirmation of a certain historical event comes from several different sources whose reports appear not to have influenced one another—these are called external sourcesthat to many historians constitutes compelling evidence about the existence and nature of an event. In other words, if a soldier who fought in a battle, a general who oversaw the battle and a doctor who treated those wounded during the battle all record the same basic facts, then we can feel fairly certain things proceeded along those general lines in the course of the battle. It’s highly unlikely all these people had the same propagandist agenda. This is the sort of thing one must look for in tracking down what-really-happened.

The first thing to do, then, is to learn as much as possible about the data handed down to us as “history.” We must ask about the author—or artist, if the information comes from a work of art—and the time when that information was set down. Next, we have to ask how this information came down to us. Was it distorted, or could it have been distorted, in some way during its transmission from the time it happened to our age? These questions usually end up putting the data into one or more of three general categories: remembered history, recovered history and/or invented history. All of these come with certain advantages and drawbacks.

A. Remembered History

All history is, in one way or another, remembered history which is, at its core, the personal recollection of an individual who witnessed an event. This type of history is based on the recollections of the elderly, the living traditions that constitute the oral history of a culture. On a wider scale, remembered history is also the collective memory of a living society, all the things which that group agrees some part of their community saw and experienced, the way a grandparent tells their grandchildren about a war that took place long before the children were born. When those who did not witness an event for themselves but allow that it must have happened, pass on information about the past, memories become history, remembered history.

The greatest apparent advantage of this sort of recollection is that it comes “from the horse’s mouth”—historians call this type of source “primary evidence,” meaning it relies on eyewitnesses—and its accuracy would thus seem indisputable. Unfortunately, it is not. People tend to remember selectively and to disseminate their memories with even greater selectivity. If, as young man in battle, a grandfather became frightened and ran away, he’s not likely to tell that detail to his grandchildren or, if he does, he will probably reshape the story and make his actions seem justified. In other words, he will distort history to serve his personal interests. So, remembered history is all too often what a person chooses to “remember.”

Besides that, one grandfather’s recollection of an event often contrasts strongly with another’s, because their perspectives were different, or simply because different things catch different people’s eyes. Which grandfather’s version, then, is the real historical truth? Can we even say that one is truer than the other? And when one thinks how many grandparents there are out there all remembering their pasts and all doing it selectively, the process of creating a coherent oral history replicates itself exponentially into a seemingly hopeless pursuit of what-really-happened. So, the major drawback of remembered history, a dauntingly immense task in and of itself, is that, even if we were to collect and assemble all the data, the rememberers on whom remembered history depends, whether they mean to or not, don’t always bestow on us a full and unalloyed truth.

B. Recovered History

“We don’t see things as they are; we see them as we are.” (Anais Nin, diarist)

Recovered History, the next type of historical information, will then seem at first glance a more accurate genus of data. Recovered history encompasses all information about a past that was once known but for some reason that information was lost and forgotten. Later, however, it was reclaimed, usually through a lucky accident or some sort of investigation. Today, the most familiar type of recovered history is that which comes from archaeology and the excavation of historical sites.

But it is not through archaeological work alone that history is recovered. Librarians also find forgotten manuscripts in book collections, another sort of “archaeology.” Indeed, history can be recovered from any artifacts set aside and forgotten. Moreover, if we don’t know the script or language used in a text that has been discovered, a decipherer must assist in recovering the data by decoding it. Thus, there are many places, ways and means to recover history.

Information gathered in this way seems to many less tainted with bias than remembered history, because recovered history is often based on concrete things found by chance or dug up. These data haven’t been passed down through subsequent generations which may have distorted the information even further by omitting details the copiers neglected, found uninteresting or wished to suppress. Instead, it’s usually assumed that archaeological artifacts are historically intact—that is, found just as they were in the past—which means they’re free at least of intermediate human contact. All this makes recovered history appear to reflect historical reality better than remembered history, and in many cases it does.

The actual reality is a bit more complicated, however, because there’s as much room for bias in recovered history as in remembered history. While data recovered are usually not in and of themselves biased, their interpretation very much can be. Indeed, how to place a piece of recovered history in the larger context of a civilization’s progress is often a matter of partisan debate.

Pompeii bodies (click to see larger image)For instance, there is no question that the city buried under several feet of volcanic ash in southern Italy near Naples is the Roman town of Pompeii. We find its name on the walls of the city, along with an impressive record of the decadent and luxurious lifestyle enjoyed by Romans in and around the first century CE. Life was certainly very good for Romans living there back then, until, of course, the nearby volcano Mount Vesuvius erupted violently in 79 CE and exterminated the city along with a good deal of its population. At that point things stopped looking so good.

But for historians it was a boon. The eruption of Vesuvius preserved Pompeii better than any other Roman city, which raises an important issue. How representative is Pompeii of Roman life in its day? Does this ritzy beach community present a fair picture of ancient Rome? Pompeii was, in fact, not typical of Roman cities in its day—indeed, no Roman city is exactly typical of Rome, least of all, Rome itself!—no more so, at least, than any actual modern city represents a “standard” community today. An ancient Santa Barbara of sorts, Pompeii was disproportionately inhabited by rich families who summered along its shores under the cool, vine-rich slopes of Vesuvius. These languid aristocrats supported an industry of gaming, theatre, wineries, prostitution and a wide variety of exotic religious cults. From that perspective, Atlantic City might make a better analogy.

The historian’s fundamental duty, then, is to situate this archaeological information within the greater picture of Rome left to us by history. Is Pompeii an aberration, or something typical of its day? To make generalizations about Rome in the first century CE from the information about daily life gathered along with the material evidence found at Pompeii is a difficult enterprise. It all comes down to the specific nature of archaeological data, a situation which is both a blessing and a curse. Recovered history confirms the existence of certain things in certain places at certain moments in the past, but it doesn’t tell us how widespread or even how important those things were in the larger concourse of events. To put it differently, how accurately will the remains of today’s Key West or Sun Valley inform archaeologists in several millennia about typical American life in the twenty-first century?

So, while the data of recovered history are not in debate, their interpretation and historical context all too often are. Frequently, the way the data are read turns out to fit some vision an interpreter wishes to impose on history, and this unfortunately ends up all too often saying more about the interpreter than the interpreted. The record of abuses of archaeological information in the modern world are legion and hardly restricted to archaeologists themselves. All sorts and factions of people sift the very data they seek from recovered history and make of it what they wish.

Pompeii provides an excellent case-study of such abuses, none of which is more egregious than that perpetrated by the author of the nineteenth-century, best-selling romance, The Last Days of Pompeii. He was the benighted Edward Bulwer-Lytton, whose opening line of a different novel, “It was a dark and stormy night, …” has become synonymous with bad writing. Bulwer-Lytton’s reconstruction of life in ancient Pompeii suited his and his moralizing public’s view of history. A sentimental “clanking morality play” filled with evil Roman pagans and good, proto-Protestant Christians, The Last Days of Pompeii features not only the volcanic eruption that both destroyed and preserved the city, but also a slate of characters taken straight from melodrama: maudlin lovers, their evil rivals, even a blind flower girl who feels her way through the city as the ash and cinder of Vesuvius pour over her but dies in the end of a broken heart. The actual remains of the bodies of ancient Romans who were trapped in the explosion and buried in its debris purportedly fueled Bulwer-Lytton’s inspiration for specific characters, even though his romantic cast can hardly be taken to reflect any historical reality.

All in all, there’s no reason this romantic novel qualifies as “history” in any form, and I wouldn’t have mentioned it here except that the historical felony the author committed—he “read” the data recovered from Pompeii broadly, to say the least—is hardly a crime unique to him. Others have interpreted recovered histories broadly, too, and dared to suggest their ideas have some degree of historical merit. In fact, Mr. Bulwer-Lytton and his nineteenth-century readership represent only an extreme example of a danger inherent in all archaeology, and indeed all recovered history, the peril that in interpreting the data one may end up saying far more about oneself than anything or anyone in the past. So, like remembered history, recovered history clearly has its drawbacks, too.

C. Invented History

Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
. . . it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.
(Shakespeare, Macbeth 5.5.19-28)

Invented History is a third type of history. It entails the body of myths, often well-known to be untrue but that exist in the public conscience as “history.” These are the historical fabrications which, though they are essentially lies, enough people wish to believe they are what-really-happened that they have come to have the force of truth. Invented histories satisfy our collective need to see the past in some particular way and, even when directly challenged with hard evidence of their falsehood, people persist in speaking of them as “historical reality.”

How does this happen? The answer is quintessentially human. When confronted with historical data that don’t uphold our convictions about the past and how we feel it should be, we discard them and make up a more workable “history” that does conform to our view of the world. That tale is then widely circulated and, swept along by its popularity, gains the authority of truth through the sheer number of times it’s repeated and written down.

Scores of invented histories fill the records of the past, and no society is or has ever been exempt. For instance, even in the face of a blistering vacuum of fact, many ancient Romans believed their nation was originally founded by the descendants of survivors from Homer’s Troy, itself a notorious fiction. Likewise, quite a few people believed—many still do—there was once a continent called Atlantis. Others think the ancient Hebrews were once enslaved by the Egyptians and forced to build the Pyramids. For none of these myths is there a shred of credible historical evidence, yet modern sources for one reason or another perpetuate them.

There was no Aeneas or Atlantis, and the Pyramids were constructed at least a millennium before the Hebrews existed as a people at all, centuries before even Abraham lived, if he lived and was not an invented history, too. There is, in fact, no corroborating evidence at all for ancient Hebrews as a slave collective in Egypt at any time, but the tales of pyramid-building and the Egyptian Captivity linger on because in our time, an age ruled by questioning and dissent, we seek validation of the Bible’s stalwart truths amongst the tangible remains of ancient Egypt. And when that is not forthcoming, many choose to read biblical myths as history anyway. Their lie betrays their heart, neither of which is evil, but neither of which lives in fact, either.

Modern American civilization is no less saturated with invented history. The brave days of cowboys in the Old West, the “good ole times” when there was religious uniformity and moral behavior, even George Washington and the cherry tree are all invented histories. The last is an anecdote concocted by an early biographer who needed to say something about Washington’s childhood when nothing significant was known. There’s no doubt about it, these tales are made up, “full of sound and fury/Signifying nothing,” as Shakespeare’s Macbeth asserts, but in this case the tales “told by idiots” do signify something.

Invented histories are indeed quite significant. Whether true or not, such stories affect people’s perceptions of their own lives and can constitute a major force in their decision-making processes. While invented histories may not rest in any real way upon the facts of the past, they can affect the course of the future when those who subscribe to them make choices based on the false realities which have been concocted through these fictions. Moreover, when any event in the past, real or not, assumes some sort of moral force and society sees a purpose for carrying the story across time, it is far more likely to survive in the collective memory. Without some clear ethical value, a piece of history can seem pointless and risks extinction because of general public disinterest. Invented histories almost always have that sort of moral force—they’ve been manufactured to have it—and so they tend to persist because they meet a need that the past be significant in the lives of the living.

Invented histories are important in another way as well. They are built upon people’s deepest convictions and in that way provide valuable information, if not about any real past, about whatever current cultural climate perpetuates such a vision of history. It tells us what people in a particular time and place wanted and hoped for and were trying to become. To say invented history is “insignificant” because it’s not explicitly true is to ignore the value of ideals, aspirations and humor. One might even argue there’s no information more relevant about a society than the types of jokes and tales it tells. Lies like these are frequently translucent lids covering greater truths.

So thank goodness, then, we have these three types of history to complement one another, because in comparing remembered and recovered history with its invented counterpart we can see much further and more closely into the realities and the hearts of those who have lived before us. When it’s possible to assemble all three, these types of histories are our best guide, in fact our only guide, to the past—and also the future!
V. Conclusion

“A guy ought to be very careful in making predictions, especially about the future.” (Yogi Berra, baseball manager)

Thus, despite all the pitfalls of studying the past and the hopelessness of ever securing a completely accurate picture of what-really-happened, there’s good reason to suppose that, given access to historical sources and evidence, we can circumscribe, define and delineate the truth of past events. Moreover, we must also remember that the purpose of exploring history is not merely to uncover what-really-happened but to shed light on what is happening, because the study of history is rarely, if ever, an innocent, unprejudiced survey of the past. Rather, it’s used by factions in conflict to influence others’ judgment and affect the present, to chart our course ahead and measure our morality. Seen this way, any history is in the end a crime of sorts, the deliberate misreading of the past to justify the perpetration of some sort of present and future. If so, among the notorious felons who have “committed” history, then, is virtually every renowned individual who ever lived: all kings, popes, moral reformers, every member of al-Qaeda, Saint Augustine, Karl Marx, Charles Darwin, Moses, Buddha, and their like.

But because no observer or interpreter of history is unbiased and, even if one were, no one can record the absolute truth in such an imperfect medium as human language, history is, in sum, a branch of literature, where good writers—that is, ones who are persuasive and convincing—prevail by the force of their will and charisma. And even if we were not dependent on writing and had video tapes of history, it would only change the situation insofar as good editors of film, not text, would be standing at the forefront of history, shaping and reshaping our view of the past by manipulating what was and was not included, scoping out where they believe our focus and interests should lie. All great historians—indeed, most great figures of the past—are fundamentally good story-tellers with some sort of slanted message, and all who listen in are their happy, hapless victims.


10 Examples Proving The US Government is an Expert at Turning Countries into ‘Shitholes’



The outrage over Trump’s crude comments about foreign countries has gone above and beyond outrage attributed to what the U.S. has done in those countries.

by Rachel Blevins

The mainstream media’s outrage over reports that President Trump referred to Haiti and El Salvador as “Sh*thole countries,” has gone above and beyond any outrage attributed to the fact that the United States has let its Central Intelligence Agency have free reign over the governments it overthrows and the countries the U.S. invades.

As a result, the countries that have received more than their share of “freedom” from the U.S. have turned into the very definition of “sh*thole” countries, and have spent years attempting to recover.

Here are the top 10:

1. Iran, 1953

When Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadeq drew criticism for nationalizing the British oil company that was the precursor to BP and challenging the Shah, the CIA launched a coup to overthrow him. The State Department released a trove of documents in June that gave insight into the CIA’s role in the coup d’état.

The documents revealed that in a March 1953 memorandum to President Eisenhower, Director of Central Intelligence Allen Dulles listed “the elimination of Mossadeq by assassination or otherwise,” as a method of repairing ties with Iran, restoring oil negotiations, and stopping a “Communist takeover.”

After the U.S. overthrew Mossadeq, it guaranteed that Iran’s monarch, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, would become the head of the country.

His oppressive rule led to the Iranian revolution, which resulted in “a brutally repressive regime in Iran, client terrorist groups around the Middle East, savage sectarian violence in Iraq and a nuclear standoff.”

2. Guatemala, 1954

When democratically-elected Guatemalan President Jacobo Arbenz challenged the United Fruit Company, a U.S. corporation, in order to call for laws that would be fair to Guatemalan farmers, the CIA stepped in.

The agency overthrew Arbenz in 1954 and installed a military dictatorship in his place that resulted in a series of bloody U.S.-backed dictators.

It should be noted that Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara was in Guatemala at the time. He reportedly encouraged Cuban dictator Fidel Castro to “go the opposite direction” of Guatemala in order to stay in power, because the country’s free and open society was what “allowed the CIA to penetrate and overthrow Arbenz.”

3. Congo, 1961

When Patrice Lumumba, the first elected prime minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, led a campaign to oust the ruling Belgians from Congo, the U.S. responded by helping to overthrow and assassinate him.

Lumumba’s murder, which has been called the “most important political assassination of the 20th century,” was funded by the U.S and Belgium., employed partners in Congo, and was ultimately carried out by a Belgian execution squad.

As The Guardian reported:

“The assassination took place at a time when the country had fallen under four separate governments: the central government in Kinshasa (then Léopoldville); a rival central government by Lumumba’s followers in Kisangani (then Stanleyville); and the secessionist regimes in the mineral-rich provinces of Katanga and South Kasai.

“Since Lumumba’s physical elimination had removed what the west saw as the major threat to their interests in the Congo, internationally-led efforts were undertaken to restore the authority of the moderate and pro-western regime in Kinshasa over the entire country. These resulted in ending the Lumumbist regime in Kisangani in August 1961, the secession of South Kasai in September 1962, and the Katanga secession in January 1963.”

4. South Vietnam, 1963

When the U.S. didn’t approve of the political influences in Vietnam in the 1950s, it installed Ngo Dinh Diem as leader of the new “South Vietnam.” While he was not liked by the people, he allegedly won 98 percent of the vote.

The U.S. sponsored the overthrow and assassination of Diem in 1963, and then spent the next 10 years at war, fighting for the fictional government it created. The cost was hundreds of billions of dollars, nearly 60,000 American lives and around 2 million Vietnamese.

A portion of the Pentagon Papers claimed that the U.S. is to blame for the deadly coup:

“For the military coup d’etat against Ngo Dinh Diem, the U.S. must accept its full share of responsibility. Beginning in August of 1963 we variously authorized, sanctioned and encouraged the coup efforts of the Vietnamese generals and offered full support for a successor government….

“We maintained clandestine contact with them throughout the planning and execution of the coup and sought to review their operational plans and proposed new government.”

5. Indonesia, 1967

When Indonesian President Sukarno agreed to let the Communist Party have representation in his government, the U.S. responded by funding the murder of all “suspected communists” in 1965. The military became the most powerful establishment in the country, and Sukarno was overthrown in 1967.

Nearly half a million people were killed by military death squads in Indonesia in 1965, on the basis that they were “associated with the Communist Party.”

In July 2016, an international panel of judges concluded that the killings qualified as “crimes against humanity,” and that the U.S., the United Kingdom and Australia were all complicit.

6. Chile, 1973

The U.S. spent nearly $4 million on 15 covert action projects in order to stop Marxist candidate Salvador Allende from winning Chile’s 1964 presidential election, after President Richard Nixon toldthe CIA to “make the economy scream” in Chile to “prevent Allende from coming to power or to unseat him.”

After another $1 million was spent during the 1970 election on spreading propaganda, the U.S. changed tactics, and launched a military coup.

Former National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger is quoted saying:

“I don’t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its own people.”

7. Haiti, 1991

In 1991, Haiti was celebrating the election of its first democratically elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. However, just eight months later, Aristide would be overthrown by a military coup d’état.

While the US government aided Aristide in escaping Haiti and seeking exile in France, Aristide eventually returned to Haiti and was re-elected, only to once again be forced to step down.

In an interview with Democracy Now, the twice deposed president accused the US of ‘kidnapping’ him. As he told Amy Goodman:

No, I didn’t resign. What some people call ‘resignation’ is a ‘new coup d’etat,’ or ‘modern kidnapping.‘”

The coup d’état against Aristide in 2004 wasn’t the first time the US Government involved itself in Haitian politics.

From 1957 to 1986, the US supported the brutal regimes of Francois ‘Papa Doc’ Duvalier and his son Jean-Claude Duvalier. Haitians describe their regimes as a “Reign of Terror.”

As Time reported:

His secret policemen, the Tontons Macoutes (Creole for “bogeymen”), murdered and tortured his opponents, sometimes leaving a victim’s severed head on display in a marketplace as a warning to others. They also collected unofficial taxes and tribute from cowed Haitian businessmen and peasants.

8. Iraq, 2003

The U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003 to overthrow Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, based on the claims that he had weapons of mass destruction and ties to al-Qaeda.

It should be noted that while the CIA initially claimed that there were WMD’s in Iraq, in a final report released in 2005, the head of the Iraq Survey Group said:

“After more than 18 months, the WMD investigation and debriefing of the WMD-related detainees has been exhausted. As matters now stand, the WMD investigation has gone as far as feasible.”

9. Libya, 2011

The opposition forces looking to overthrow Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi received support from then-Secretary of State Clinton. She even pushed President Obama to begin a bombing campaign in the country, in order to oust Gaddafi.

Obama has described U.S. intervention in Libya as the “worst mistake” of his presidency, namely “failing to plan” for the aftermath of Gaddafi’s defeat.

10. Syria, 2013

The Obama Administration announced in 2013 that the U.S. would begin providing weapons, equipment and training to “moderate Syrian rebels” in an effort to “keep the Syrian opposition going against forces aligned with President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.”

While Assad is still in power today, it is no secret that the U.S. has gone out of its way to overthrow him, and as a result, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has estimated that over 480,000 people have been killed, and the war-torn areas of Syria that have experienced involvement from the CIA now resemble exactly what President Trump would describe as a “shithole” country.

Breatharianism: Science Examines People Who Claim Not to Eat & Here’s What They Found



Breathariansim refers to the practice of sustaining oneself without the need for food. This concept is not new; in fact, for thousands of years, various cultures around the world have written of this ability.

In the third book of the Yoga Sutras, for example, approximately twenty-five siddhis are listed as having extraordinary abilities.

This is a common theme throughout Buddhism, and various other spiritual traditions as well. Clairvoyance, psychokinesis, and many more are all special traits attributed to the siddhis, as is the liberation from hunger and thirst.

Though modern day science has seen evidence of extended human capacities like telepathy, remote viewing, and pre-cognition, very little work has gone into examining breatharianism. Some brilliant minds do believe it’s possible, however, including Nikola Tesla.

In 1901, he made the following argument:

“My idea is that the development of life must lead to forms of existence that will be possible without nourishment and which will not be shackled by consequent limitations.

“Why should a living being not be able to obtain all the energy it needs for the performance of its life functions from the environment, instead of through consumption of food, and transforming, by a complicated process, the energy of chemical combinations into life-sustaining energy?” (source)

Liberation from food and hunger does indeed sound unrealistic and, from what we know of modern day biology, impossible.

But the history of science has shown us many times that the impossible can become the possible in an instant. A great example of this is the recent discovery that humans can actually influence their autonomic immune system using the power of the mind.

Let’s take a look at what happened when people who claimed that they don’t eat were examined by science.


The Qigong practice of Bigu, and Qigong practices examined by science have yielded some extraordinary results.

A study published in the American Journal of Chinese Medicine, as seen in the the US National Library of Medicine, demonstrated that a woman with special abilities was and is able to accelerate the germination of specific seeds for the purposes of developing a more robust seed stock.

This is one example of many; you can find the study and read more about it here.

The Catholic Charism of India also involves the claim of living well without eating food. Dean Radin, Chief Scientist at the Institute of Noetic Sciences, explains the concept in his book Supernormal: Science, Yoga, and the Evidence for Extraordinary Psychic Abilities:

“The implication is that the human body can transmute ambient energy into nutrients, and through the practice of cultivating this ability one can live comfortably for as long as one wishes without food, and possibly without drinking water. This is described as a siddhi in the Yoga Sutras as Pada 111.30: liberation from hunger and thirst.

“This flies in the face of a substantial body of medical knowledge, which has established that the human body can last about five days without water, and a few weeks at most without food. Beyond that, you’re dead.

“As a result, despite a host of historical examples of people lasting for years without eating, and sometimes without drinking, most nutritionists and biochemists regard such claims to be ridiculously impossible, and the people who make the claims—currently dozens to hundreds worldwide — to be seriously delusional. Some of those claimants may well be delusional. But all of them?”

Prahlad Jani

Prahlad Jani is a local of Ahmedabad, India, who claims that at the age of 11, the Hindu goddess Amba appeared to him and told him that he would no longer have to eat food.

He has apparently lived in a cave since the 1970s, and claims not to have eaten anything for most of his 81 years (as of 2012).

Jani was tested in 2003 and in 2010 at Ahmedabad’s Sterling Hospital by Dr. Sudhir Shah and his large team of doctors. Dr. Shah is a consultant neurologist who has been practicing for 20 years, as well as a professor and department head of neurology at KM School of PG Medicine and Research.

During the first test, which took place in 2003, Jani was monitored 24/7 by hospital staff and video cameras, where it was confirmed that Jani neither ate nor drank.

He also did not show any physiological changes which, according to modern day medicine, should be impossible.

This test took place over a 10 day period. Although it might not seem like a significant amount of time, to go 10 days without food and water and not experience any physiological changes is actually quite astounding.

He was tested again at Sterling Hospital in 2010 from April 22nd to May 6th. This time, he was observed by thirty-five researchers from the Indian Defence Institute of Physiology and Allied Sciences, among other organizations.

This time, Jani was observed to not eat or drink for two weeks. As with the previous test, he exhibited no deleterious effects from this abstention.

This truly is unbelievable, and goes against everything we know about both human physiology and the nutritional requirements of the body.

As one might expect, neither these tests nor their results were published in medical journals.  The studies have also generated a lot of criticism. The main arguments against these tests were, however, quite weak in my opinion.

One argument holds that Jani escaped the scrutiny of the hospital staff and video cameras with the assistance of his disciples, and that he did in fact eat/drink something.

Yet hospital staff maintains this is impossible because he was monitored around the clock, as per the requirements of the study.

Even with these criticisms, the evidence is solid and appears to correspond with a known siddhi.

A statement from a scientific group (which included the Defence Institute of Physiology and Allied Sciences) given to ABC News back in 2012 reads as follows:

“We realized that, if this whole phenomenon really exists in a human being even for 15 days, it would have immense application in unraveling secrets of medical science and its application for human welfare.

“Instead of ignoring this case, we selected to investigate further, in a rational and scientific way. We again make it clear that the purpose of this study was not to prove or disprove a person, but to explore a possibility in science and study a new phenomenon.” (source)

It’s an interesting case, isn’t it?

Michael Werner

Another case comes from a doctor of chemistry named Michael Werner, who is the managing director of a pharmaceutical research institute in Switzerland. This man claims to not have eaten any solid food since January 1st, 2001.

He was studied in a ten-day observational test in October 2004 by the intensive care unit at a hospital in Switzerland, and as with Jani, displayed no significant or dangerous physiological changes. These results have yet to be published, however.

Dean Radin offers an insightful explanation for why these results might not ever be published, and for why not much attention has been given to this phenomenon:

“Perhaps the most curious aspect of the breatharian tests is the in-your-face nature of the claimed phenomenon and yet an almost complete lack of interest from the scientific community.

“If it is possible to live well without eating food, this ought to be easy to demonstrate, and if it held up, the scientific and social consequences would be astounding.”

The fact is, as with many other observed phenomena that science can’t explain, most researchers regard things like this as ridiculous and extremely unlikely, and therefore don’t even take the time to look into them.

They dismiss the claims out of hand rather than approaching them with scientific neutrality and curiosity.

Another reason for this silence could be simple fear; researchers rely on funding from various parties, and they know it will be denied them if the topic seems too ‘out there.’

They also know what kind of criticism they would face from the mainstream scientific community should they go ahead and publish a study on something so esoteric.

Werner learned of breathariansim from an Australian spiritual teacher names Jasmuheen, who teaches how to transition from eating to not eating.

And Jasmuheen has also been the subject of a study, but she began showing signs of stress, high blood pressure, and dehydration after just 48 hours.

As most of you reading this know, this is not something you can just go and try. It can be very dangerous, and there have been multiple reports of deaths occurring as a result of people engaging in this practice.

Clearly, there is much more involved than simply refraining from eating or drinking.

The Science of Fasting

Science is now showing just how beneficial food deprivation can be. Mark Mattson, the current Chief of the Laboratory of Neuroscience at the National Institute on Aging and a Professor of Neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University, gave a great TED talk on fasting in 2014.

This practice has been shown to generate new stem cells, repair DNA, fight cancer, fight both Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, and more.

It’s also interesting to note that all caloric restriction models in animal studies have shown significant health benefits and improvements, including a longer life span.

The United States of America is a Foreign Corporation Controlled From Abroad


This article could shake the foundation of the Western legal system, because it contains proof that the United States is a CRIMINAL corporation controlled by foreign powers. Furthermore, it exposes the fraud of the court system and teaches you how to free humanity.

Please help restore the Republic for the United States of America and freedom throughout the world by reposting this article on the Internet or sharing it to as many people as possible. ~ PL

One of the greatest tricks that the New World Order (NWO) did to enslave the people of the world was to secretly create a corporate version of counties, cities, states, and countries.

By doing this, the leaders of the NWO and their minions were able to trick us to unknowingly agree to be “agents” or “employees” of these corporations through the use of fraudulent contracts (i.e., birth certificate, social security card, driver’s license).

The information in this article is more focused on the USA, because I am more familiar with the so called laws in the USA and the U.S. legal system.

If you do not live in the USA, you should still read this article for the reason that the same legal system that has enslaved Americans is the same legal system that has enslaved most people of the world.

The “laws” in the USA are not really laws; instead, they are acts and statutes of the United States, Incorporated. In other words, they are rules of a corporation.

Like any corporation (i.e., Walmart, Target), you are NOT bound to the rules (acts and statutes) of the United States, Inc. unless you agree to be a citizen (“employee”) of this corporation. The only laws you (the natural living, breathing person) are bound to are the Laws of Nature.

Did You Know the United States is a FOREIGN Corporation?

Before I reveal the three different types of citizenship (citizen-ship or citizen of a ship) of the “United States”, I need to explain to you what the United States is, so that you know it is NOT a country.
When the U.S. government refers to the United States, 99 percent of the time it is referring to the corporation known as the United States, Inc.

Some people claimed that the United States, Inc. was sold in 2013 and is now known as THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, INC. I have not found evidence to back up this claim, so I do not know if it is true. Be aware that the name of this corporation is written in ALL CAPS.

If you know how the legal system works, you should know that when a name is written in all caps, it can change the meaning of that name.

For example, in legal terms “the United States of America” is not the same as “THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA”.

The purpose of this is to trick you to think that they are the same thing. This process also applies to your legal name. The content in block quotation below will explain this process further. It is extracted from my fourth seminar titled Word Magic and the Power of Words.

Related: How The Matrix Works — In The Beginning There Was CODE

“In commerce, when you see a name written in all capital letters, it is a corporate name or a legal name, which is a corporation. The legal name plays a significant role in your life, because it is used by the government to identify the corporate you. Whenever you receive a government document issued to you, 99 percent of the time your legal name on the document is written in all caps. This is why your legal name on your driver’s license, social security card, and birth certificate is written in all caps.

“The process that allows the government to legally claim you as a corporation involves the creation of a fictional you, which is the name written in all CAPITAL LETTERS, and then tricking you to agree to be that artificial person or legal name. This legal name was created shortly after you were born and was recorded on a bond. This bond that represents the date of your birth is known as your birth certificate.

“The birth certificate is actually a certificate of debt slavery which is why it is recorded on a bond. TheLawDictionary.org defines bond as, “a contract by specialty to pay a certain sum of money; being a deed or instrument under seal, by which the maker or obligor promises, and thereto binds himself, his heirs, executors, and administrators, to pay a designated sum of money to another.”

“Your legal name, which is used to identify you (the body of water or liquid), is written in all capital letters because it is a piece of liquidated capital or “cap-it-all.” In other words, it has been securitized and turned into a financial instrument. Hence, the term “liquidated capital.”

“To liquidate something is to sell it off entirely, or sell it to pay off a debt. It is called liquidated capital because you, the person who has been securitized, were born in the womb of your mother, which was mostly made of water (liquid). You are also mostly made of water. Because you are mostly made of liquid and have been securitized, you are considered liquidated capital.

“The purpose of liquidating you is to turn you into “capital money.” The word capital comes from the Latin word capitalis, which means “of the head,” hence “capital, chief, first.” It also comes from another Latin word caput, which translates to English as “head.”

“When you really think about this process, you should know that the process of turning you into capital money or liquidated capital is their way of saying that you have a “bounty on your head.” Your birth certificate is the bond with your all caps legal name written on it, and therefore it is the financial document that has the value of the bounty on your head. This is why your birth certificate is traded on the stock market.”

Related: These 13 Families Rule the World: The Shadow Forces Behind the NWO

By now you should know that the United States is a corporation. If you want proof of this, look at subsections 15 and 15(A) in Title 28 U.S. Code § 3002 and you should see this sentence, ““United States” means— (A) a Federal corporation”.

What most people do not know about the United States, Inc. is that it is a FOREIGN corporation. Anyone who works for this foreign corporation is a foreign agent and is unknowingly or knowingly committing fraud against the American people.

It is no different than what the agents of the British Empire did to the American people back in the 1700s.

To be more specific, the politicians working in Washington D.C. and nearly every politician, judge, attorney, police officer, and government agent working throughout the USA are FOREIGN agents.

Because these government employees are foreign agents, DO NOT VOTE for any of them to represent you in office, including the president. If you do vote for them, you are committing TREASON against the Republic for the United States of America (the 50 union states).

Whether these foreign agents realize it or not, they are conspiring or helping the NWO and the Vatican to enslave the American people.

As Americans, we have lost control of our government over a century ago. This is what happens to a nation when its people become ignorant, take freedom for granted, ignore the actions of politicians, and do not study their history.

The Three Different Forms of the “United States” and the Three Different Types of U.S. Citizenship

According to the book titled You Know Something Is Wrong When….. “An American Affidavit of Probable Cause,” the three different forms of the United States are the Continental United States, the Federal United States, and the Corporate United States.

1. The Continental United States

In the book titled You Know Something Is Wrong When….. “An American Affidavit of Probable Cause,” it says that the Continental United States is “composed of now 50 geographically defined states and their living inhabitants.

Each such state is a sovereign nation with jurisdiction of the air, land, and sea associated with it. Those born within the borders of these states are American State Citizens by birthright, having all the guarantees of The Constitution, and all their Natural Rights intact.” They are also known as American Nationals.

In Title 8 U.S. Code § 1101 subsection (b)(iii)(M)(38), it says “The term “United States”, except as otherwise specifically herein provided, when used in a geographical sense, means the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands of the United States, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.”

Be aware that the information in Title 8 U.S. Code § 1101 subsection (b)(iii)(M)(38), uses the lowercase “c” in the term “continental United States”.

In the book titled You Know Something Is Wrong When….. “An American Affidavit of Probable Cause,” it uses the uppercase “C” in the term “Continental United States”. When it comes to the legal system, a word spelled with a lowercase or an uppercase letter at the beginning of it can significantly change the meaning of that word. For this reason, both of the sources may be referring to two different “United States”.

In Title 8 CFR 215.1 subsection (f), it says “The term continental United States means the District of Columbia and the several States, except Alaska and Hawaii.” This sentence has the lowercase “c” in the term “continental United States”, so it is referring to the District of Columbia, also known as Washington D.C.

What you need to know about Washington D.C. is that it is a foreign city-state run by the Congress as an oligarchy. Washington D.C. was founded by a powerful masonic secret society called the Colombians. Hence the term “District of Columbia“.

2. The Federal United States

The Federal United States is made up of 50 “Federal States” plus seven physical states, which are often thought of as federal territories, making a total of 57 Federal States. The 50 Federal States are fictitious entities because they exist only in our minds and on paper.

The 57 Federal States are inhabited by United States Citizens and all the people born in Guam, Puerto Rico, and other Insular States, plus military employees, federal civilian, African Americans, political asylum seekers, and welfare recipients.

The Federal United States is a Democracy operating under the international Jurisdiction of the Sea (Admiralty Law). Be aware that the Democracy (the Federal United States) is not the same as the original USA, which is known as the Republic for the United States of America.

United States Citizens are statutory citizens and therefore they are artificial persons (corporations) that have no rights, only privileges. Because of these things, United States Citizens are bound to the international Jurisdiction of the Sea.

3. The Corporate United States

The Corporate United States (UNITED STATES, INC.) is composed of 185,000 corporations and roughly 390 million corporate U.S. CITIZENS. It is composed of “legal fiction entities”, including but not limited to C corps, S corps, LLC’s, non-profits, foundations, and trusts.

The Corporate United States operates similar to any corporation and is one of the largest corporations in the world. It is bigger than Walmart, Target, and McDonald’s combined!

One important thing you need to know about the term “legal fiction entities” is that it means artificial persons. An artificial person is also a corporation, as stated in Black’s Law Dictionary 6th edition.

In other words, U.S. CITIZENS are artificial persons or fictitious entities that only exist on paper. All these corporations (i.e., STATES, U.S. CITIZENS) are under the Jurisdiction of the Sea, which is based on Admiralty Law.

Proof that the USA is Controlled by Corporations

The United States is a foreign corporation pretending to represent the country known as the Continental United States or The United States of America (Major), which is a republic and not a democracy. To make matters worse, every county, city, and state has a corporate version of itself. For example, the STATE OF WEST VIRGINIA is not the same as West Virginia State.

The PDF file below shows evidence that the STATE OF WEST VIRGINIA is a corporation. Be aware that this is not only limited to West Virginia. All the 50 states have a corporate version of themselves. This also applies to the cities and counties.

To find evidence that your U.S. state is a corporation, visit this website and do a search using these words “state of [your state here]”. If you want more specific information, you may need to order a company credit report from a credit report site, such as dnb.com.

If you are having trouble viewing the PDF file below, visit this link.

The video below shows more evidence that the USA is controlled by corporations. I recommend watching the whole video. If you do not have time to watch the whole video, scroll to the 42 minute mark of the video and watch it to the 52 minute mark.

Do you realize now that the USA is controlled by corporations? Have you ever wondered why the United States has a president and a vice president? Under corporate law, every corporation is required to have a president and a vice president.

The current president (Obama) of the United States is not the president of a country, but is the president of a corporation (United States, Inc.). As a result, he does not need to be born in the USA to be eligible to be president. All the U.S. presidents since George Washington were also presidents of the corporate “United States.”

Proof that Nearly All United States Politicians are Traitors to the American People

The content in block quotation is an excerpt from my second seminar on Natural Law. It contains information that gives us some clue as to why nearly all United States politicians are traitors.

Nearly all politicians in the USA are TREASONISTS, because they swore an oath to a privately owned foreign corporation known as the UNITED STATES INCORPORATED. Washington D.C. or the District of Columbia is also a privately owned foreign corporation. Washington D.C. is NOT part of the USA, just like Vatican City is not part of Italy.

To find the evidence that nearly all politicians in the USA are treasonists, you need to be aware of Title 8 U.S. Code § 1481.

Under Title 8 U.S. Code § 1481:

“(a) A person who is a national of the United States whether by birth or naturalization, shall lose his nationality by voluntarily performing any of the following acts with the intention of relinquishing United States nationality—

(2) taking an oath or making an affirmation or other formal declaration of allegiance to a foreign state or a political subdivision thereof, after having attained the age of eighteen years;

(4)(A) accepting, serving in, or performing the duties of any office, post, or employment under the government of a foreign state or a political subdivision thereof, after attaining the age of eighteen years if he has or acquires the nationality of such foreign state;”

In simple terms, once an oath of office is taken by an American citizen, his citizenship is relinquished and thus he becomes a foreign agent. This happens because he swore an oath to the foreign UNITED STATES INCORPORATED and the foreign organization that controls it.

The Four Largest CRIMINAL Corporations in the World

1. The Vatican

The Vatican is the religious center for the New World Order (NWO). Every church in the USA is directly or indirectly controlled by the Vatican, especially Roman Catholic Churches. All churches in the USA are incorporated and therefore they belong to the U.S. federal government. The idea that there is a separation of church and state is a big fat lie!

The Vatican also controls the Crown of England, the Crown Temple, and the court system in the USA. This is why when you go to court, there is always an agent that represents the Crown and a judge wearing a black robe. The black robe uniform is the symbol representing a Jesuit priest.

Nearly every church in the USA and the world has been infiltrated by the Jesuits and the Knights Templar, which is why churches have crosses on their walls and roofs.

The cross is the main symbol of the Knights Templar and it has been used by certain secret societies long before the existence of Christianity. In other words, the cross is not really a symbol of Christianity. For strong evidence of these claims, download or view my third seminar and study the information in it.

These secret criminal organizations are the same organizations that the American people in the 1700s fought against to win their independence.

The Vatican is in the middle of all this corruption, which is why all roads tend to lead to Rome, home of the Vatican. This criminal corporation is committing crime against humanity in the name of “religion.”


2. The United Nations

The United Nations is a very powerful organization of the NWO and has more authority than the United States. This corporation provides trade, treaty, and negotiation services for its members, and has its own private army.

The main hidden agenda of the United Nations is to unite all nations under a fascist one-world government controlled by the banking elites of Europe and Israel.

The name Israel or Is-Ra-El represents the ancient gods Isis, Ra, and El. The United Nations is committing crimes against humanity through unlawful wars in the name of “peacekeeping”.

3. The United States

The United States is a corporation located in Washington D.C., also known as the District of Columbia. Washington D.C. is the military center for the NWO. The United States, Inc. has thousands of franchisees and contractors. One of its major contractors is the military industrial complex.

The United States, Inc. is committing crime against humanity by unlawfully going to war with other countries in the name of “freedom” and “democracy.” What it is actually doing is spreading its franchise throughout the world, similar to Walmart and McDonald’s.

4. The Inner City of London (Westminster)

The inner City of London is the financial center for the NWO. This city-state operates legal and banking services. The banks in the City of London is headed by the Bank of England, which is controlled by the House of Rothschild, an elite Illuminati banking family.

Most money collected from the American taxpayers is sent to the banks in the City of London and then is distributed to other banks affiliated with the NWO.

The inner City of London is committing crime against humanity by engineering economic crises and wars, and funding terrorist groups (i.e., ISIS, Al-Qaeda) throughout the world.

It is important to know that many of the people working for these four criminal corporations are good people. The problem is that most of them have no idea that these corporations are fronts for the New World Order, a secret organization composed of certain secret societies.

Related: The Top of the Pyramid: The Rothschilds, the Vatican and the British Crown Rule World

What Can You Do to Free Humanity?

One of the first steps to free humanity is to educate people about the New World Order and the legal system. When people are educated with the right knowledge, it increases their awareness and expands their consciousness.

These things are very important for achieving freedom. A simple way to educate people about the NWO and the legal system is to share this article to as many people as possible.

Take actions to support the brave souls who are exposing the NWO and the legal system. The Team of Hudok, Stalnaker, and Deegan is a great place to start. Dean CliffordKurt Kallenbach, and Santos Bonacci are three other brave souls who are doing an excellent job of exposing the NWO and the legal system.

Download or view my second seminar and study the information in it. My second seminar explains what Natural Law is and teaches you about your natural rights. Knowing what your natural rights are is essential for spiritual freedom.

My second seminar also exposes the secrets of the legal system and shows you how to defend your rights.

The video below does an excellent job of exposing the fraud of the legal system and the criminal activities of the United States, Inc. A must watch for anyone who wants to learn how to restore humanity’s freedom.

Kurt Kallenbach: Season of Treason II – America’s Cancer

Continue reading: Related: These 13 Families Rule the World: The Shadow Forces Behind the NWO

Why Men With Dark Intentions Destroyed the Library of Alexandria


Ancient civilizations are a fascinating topic, and it’s clear we have so much to learn from them when it comes to our way of life, our health, our technology, science, nature, consciousness, and the nature of reality itself.

Be it information in the form of written text, or advanced ancient structures like the Kailasa temple, one of 32 cave temples and monasteries located within the Ellora Caves in India, their knowledge — how they acquired it and how they constructed their masterpieces — remains a complete mystery.

With all of our modern day technology, knowledge, and wisdom, there is still no way to accomplish some of the feats of civilizations past, feats that required an extremely advanced understanding of mathematics, physics, and more.

There is evidence that many ancient achievements required an extremely advanced form of technology as well, and many examples to prove these assertions.

Another fascinating point to make is the fact that many groundbreaking discoveries within the realm of quantum mechanics, as well as neuroscience, closely resemble the teachings of several ancient civilizations and native American populations.

This is why today, there are conferences held every single year between academics and spiritual leaders, like Tibetan monks, to discuss how they relate, and books like Blackfoot Physics continue to be published.

Sometimes it seems we are re-learning much of the knowledge kept by the ancient world.

This is exactly why the burning of the library of Alexandria was such a tragedy. It was one of the greatest libraries in human history, holding a vast archive of manuscripts and books from all over the ancient world, and what our ancients would have themselves considered ancient.

It was built after the famous Alexander the Great conquered Egypt and acquired knowledge from all parts of the globe. From East to West, the teachings of multiple civilizations throughout human history up to that time could be found in the great library.

The books contained in this library touched upon every subject that concerns humanity, from health, science, and astronomy to geology, philosophy, mysticism, magic, knowledge of the spiritual world, and much more.

Manly P. Hall describes it as follows in The Secret Teachings of All Ages:

“Prior to the Christian Era seven hundred thousand of the most valuable books, written upon parchment, papyrus, vellum, and was, and also tablets of stone terra cotta, and wood, were gathered from all parts of the ancient world and housed in Alexandria, in buildings specially prepared for the purpose. This magnificent repository of knowledge was destroyed by a series of three fires.”

It was burned down in approximately A.D. 389  by Caesar, from the order of Theodosius I. Also known as Theodosius the Great, he was a Roman Emperor from AD 379 to AD 395, ruling over both the Eastern and the Western halves of the Roman Empire.

Libraries as such were well known to multiple ancient civilizations in Egypt, Mesopotamia, Asia Minor, Syria, and Greece, who were very impressed by Oriental knowledge.

There is literary evidence of Greek individuals visiting Egypt specifically to acquire knowledge: e.g., HerodotusPlato (particularly in Phaedrus and Timaeus), Theophrastus, and Eudoxus of Cnidus (as detailed by Diogenes Laërtius in the 3rd century CE).

According toe H.P. Blavatsky in Isis Unveiled:

“They (the Rabbis of Palestime and the wise men) say that not all the rolls and manuscripts, reported in history to have been burned by Caesar, by the Christian mob, in 389, by the Arab General Amuru, perished as it is commonly believed; and the story they tell is the following.:

“At the time of the contest for the throne, in 51 B.C., between Cleopatra and her brother Dionysius Ptolemy, the Bruckion, which contained over seven hundred thousand rolls all bound in wood and fire-proof parchment, was undergoing repairs and a great portion of the original manuscripts, considered among the most previous, and which were not duplicated, were stored away in the home of one of the librarians.

“Several hours passed between the burning of the fleet, set on fire by Ceasar’s order, and the moment when the first buildings situated near the harbor caught fire in their turn; and *** the librarians, aided by several hundred slaves attached to the museum, succeeded in saving the most previous of the rolls.”

Manly P. Hall writes that the books that were saved were actually buried in Egypt and in India, and until they are discovered, “the modern world must remain in ignorance concerning many great philosophical and mystical truths. The ancient world more clearly understood these missing links – the continuity of the pagan Mysteries in Christianity.”

These pagan mysteries, Hall writes, are the heart of mysticism, which actually represents true Christianity. This makes sense; any civilization, you would assume, would seek out the knowledge and wisdom of those prior. It’s one of many paths to truth, or at least new discoveries that help one in their contemplation of truth.

Hall states:

“There are persistent rumors that Jesus visited and studied in both Greece and India, and that a coin struck in His honor in India during the first century has been discovered. Early Christian records are known to exist in Tibet, and the Monks of a Buddhist monastery in Ceylon still preserve a record which indicates that Jesus sojourned with them and became conversant with their philosophy.

“Although early christianity shows every evidence of Oriental influence, this is a subject the modern church declines to discuss. If it’s ever established beyond question that Jesus was an initiate of the pagan Greek or Asiatic Mysteries, the effect on the more conservative members of the Christian faith is likely to be cataclysmic.”

Information like this, among other topics like life on other planets and sacred and magical (considered mythical by many) information about shamanism, magic, and sorcery, predate modern Christianity.

Different sects of Christianity, after the ancient Romans created their own version, now condemn these teachings even though they were embedded within the original doctrines.

This is one of many reasons the aristocracy of ancient Rome ordered the library destroyed, because it would ruin the foundations of what they were creating — a new religion for man to follow, one whose doctrine contradicted the one prior.

This type of religion was forced upon people, and those who did not follow were subject to death and exile. Anybody who questioned these new doctrines received harsh penalties throughout the ages, especially as time progressed and the expansion of civilization, from that point, moved forward.

“The early Christians used every means possible to conceal the pagan origin of their symbols, doctrines, and rituals. They either destroyed the sacred books of other peoples among whom they settled, or made them inaccessible to students of comparative philosophy, apparently believing that in this way they could stamp out all record of the pre-christian origin of their doctrines. In some cases the writings of various ancient authors were tampered with, passages of a compromising nature being removed or foreign material interpolated.”

Conquering the World

Before the creation of a certain type of Christianity by ancient Rome, truth seemed to be more apparent, but darkness seemed to have permeated the world of light even prior.

Atlantis is a great example, as Plato, among other ancient scholars, told us that the eventual demise of this civilization was brought forth by ego-driven desires that soon developed among them, when the Atlantean kings were “lured” from “the pathway of wisdom and virtue.”

“Filled with false ambition, the rulers of Atlantis determined to conquer the gods into his holy habitation and addressed them. Here Plato’s narrative comes to an abrupt end, for the Critias was never finished.”

“A technologically sophisticated but morally bankrupt evil empire – Atlantis – attempts world domination by force. The only thing standing it its way is a relatively small group of spiritually pure, morally principled and incorruptible people – the ancient Athenians.

“Overcoming overwhelming odds… the Athenians are able to defeat their far more powerful adversary simply through the force of their spirit. Sound familiar? Plato’s Atlantean dialogues are essentially an ancient greek version of ‘Star Wars.’” – Ken Feder, professor of archaeology, taken from his book Frauds, Myths and Mysteries: Science and Pseudoscience in Archaeology

The sacred teachings and artifacts in Atlantis were perverted and used for selfishness by some. These teachings made their way into Egypt, and eventually into ancient Greece, until the Roman Empire dominated the world, burned the library where many of these teachings were probably held, and disseminated their own version of knowledge and truth across the land.

Do some of these books lie within the libraries of the Vatican today? If much of the mythical stories we’ve heard and read about are real, they would indeed bring down the modern day understanding of religion and spirituality that’s been spread by the families of ancient Rome.

Are we looking at a cover-up of knowledge regarding “what is,” and have we been deceived?

The burning of Alexandria’s library was one tragic event involving the destruction of ancient knowledge, similar to the mass Native North American genocide that saw even more knowledge of humanity lost, stolen, and hidden.

This is why examining ancient sources of truth, or whatever is left of it, is always interesting, because it’s hard to receive something that’s been created and used as the backbone of deception — modern day religion.

Note: The Library of Alexandria was said to be burning for 6 months….



Laser Scans Reveal Maya ‘Megalopolis’ Below Guatemalan Jungle


A vast, interconnected network of ancient cities was home to millions more people than previously thought.

In what’s being hailed as a “major breakthrough” in Maya archaeology, researchers have identified the ruins of more than 60,000 houses, palaces, elevated highways, and other human-made features that have been hidden for centuries under the jungles of northern Guatemala.

Using a revolutionary technology known as LiDAR (short for “Light Detection And Ranging”), scholars digitally removed the tree canopy from aerial images of the now-unpopulated landscape, revealing the ruins of a sprawling pre-Columbian civilization that was far more complex and interconnected than most Maya specialists had supposed.

“The LiDAR images make it clear that this entire region was a settlement system whose scale and population density had been grossly underestimated,” said Thomas Garrison, an Ithaca College archaeologist and National Geographic Explorer who specializes in using digital technology for archaeological research.

Garrison is part of a consortium of researchers who are participating in the project, which was spearheaded by the PACUNAM Foundation, a Guatemalan nonprofit that fosters scientific research, sustainable development, and cultural heritage preservation.

The project mapped more than 800 square miles (2,100 square kilometers) of the Maya Biosphere Reserve in the Petén region of Guatemala, producing the largest LiDAR data set ever obtained for archaeological research.

The results suggest that Central America supported an advanced civilization that was, at its peak some 1,200 years ago, more comparable to sophisticated cultures such as ancient Greece or China than to the scattered and sparsely populated city states that ground-based research had long suggested.

In addition to hundreds of previously unknown structures, the LiDAR images show raised highways connecting urban centers and quarries.

Complex irrigation and terracing systems supported intensive agriculture capable of feeding masses of workers who dramatically reshaped the landscape.

The ancient Maya never used the wheel or beasts of burden, yet “this was a civilization that was literally moving mountains,” said Marcello Canuto, a Tulane University archaeologist and National Geographic Explorer who participated in the project.

“We’ve had this western conceit that complex civilizations can’t flourish in the tropics, that the tropics are where civilizations go to die,” said Canuto, who conducts archaeological research at a Guatemalan site known as La Corona.

“But with the new LiDAR-based evidence from Central America and [Cambodia’s] Angkor Wat, we now have to consider that complex societies may have formed in the tropics and made their way outward from there.”

Surprising Insights

“LiDAR is revolutionizing archaeology the way the Hubble Space Telescope revolutionized astronomy,” said Francisco Estrada-Belli, a Tulane University archaeologist and National Geographic Explorer.

“We’ll need 100 years to go through all [the data] and really understand what we’re seeing.”

Already, though, the survey has yielded surprising insights into settlement patterns, inter-urban connectivity, and militarization in the Maya Lowlands.

At its peak in the Maya classic period (approximately A.D. 250–900), the civilization covered an area about twice the size of medieval England, but it was far more densely populated.

“Most people had been comfortable with population estimates of around 5 million,” said Estrada-Belli, who directs a multi-disciplinary archaeological project at Holmul, Guatemala.

“With this new data it’s no longer unreasonable to think that there were 10 to 15 million people there — including many living in low-lying, swampy areas that many of us had thought uninhabitable.”

Virtually all the Mayan cities were connected by causeways wide enough to suggest that they were heavily trafficked and used for trade and other forms of regional interaction.

These highways were elevated to allow easy passage even during rainy seasons.

In a part of the world where there is usually too much or too little precipitation, the flow of water was meticulously planned and controlled via canals, dikes, and reservoirs.

Laser scans revealed more than 60,000 previously unknown Maya structures that were part of a vast network of cities, fortifications, farms, and highways. 
Courtesy Wild Blue Media/ National Geographic

Among the most surprising findings was the ubiquity of defensive walls, ramparts, terraces, and fortresses.

“Warfare wasn’t only happening toward the end of the civilization,” said Garrison.

“It was large-scale and systematic, and it endured over many years.”

The survey also revealed thousands of pits dug by modern-day looters.

“Many of these new sites are only new to us; they are not new to looters,” said Marianne Hernandez, president of the PACUNAM Foundation.

Environmental degradation is another concern. Guatemala is losing more than 10 percent of its forests annually, and habitat loss has accelerated along its border with Mexico as trespassers burn and clear land for agriculture and human settlement.

“By identifying these sites and helping to understand who these ancient people were, we hope to raise awareness of the value of protecting these places,” Hernandez said.

The survey is the first phase of the PACUNAM LiDAR Initiative, a three-year project that will eventually map more than 5,000 square miles (14,000 square kilometers) of Guatemala’s lowlands, part of a pre-Columbian settlement system that extended north to the Gulf of Mexico.

“The ambition and the impact of this project is just incredible,” said Kathryn Reese-Taylor, a University of Calgary archaeologist and Maya specialist who was not associated with the PACUNAM survey.

“After decades of combing through the forests, no archaeologists had stumbled across these sites. More importantly, we never had the big picture that this data set gives us. It really pulls back the veil and helps us see the civilization as the ancient Maya saw it.”

Source: News.NationalGeographic.com

How Britain Tricked a German Battleship into Sinking Itself

The Admiral Graf Spee

Just before he put the gun to his head and pulled the trigger, the German officer penned a final note.

“For a captain with a sense of honor, it goes without saying that his personal fate cannot be separated from that of his ship,” wrote Hans Langsdorff on December 19, 1939, in a hotel room in Buenos Aires. Langsdorff finished his letter to the Nazi ambassador to Argentina, lay down on a German battle flag, and shot himself.

Langsdorff had been the commander of the Admiral Graf Spee, which had been prowling the South Atlantic the week before, and now was resting on the bottom of the harbor at Montevideo, Uruguay. Many a captain has chosen to atone for the loss of his ship by going down with it. Langsdorff had suicide with a pistol two days after he had ordered his ship to be scuttled.

“I can now only prove by my death that the fighting services of the Third Reich are ready to die for the honor of the flag,” he wrote.

But what had led Langsdorff to kill himself? Why meet death in a hotel room instead of at sea? Therein lays one of the most remarkable sea battles of all time: how the Royal Navy bluffed a German battleship into sinking itself.

Of course, the Graf Spee had been born into deception. It was built in the early 1930s, when Hitler pretended to honor the Treaty of Versailles, which limited Germany to warships less than 10,000 tons. With the Graf Spee weighing in at 16,000 tons, the Germans initially gave it the innocuous name of “panzerschiff” (armored ship).

The British had a more ominous—and more accurate—name for the Graf Spee and her sisters Deutschland and Admiral Scheer: “pocket battleships.” Though a third the size of a true battlewagon like the Bismarck, the Deutschland-class ships packed battleship-class eleven-inch guns, rather than the eight-inch guns of a heavy cruiser. The first all-diesel warships, their combination of speed, long range and heavy armament made them ideal raiders to hunt merchant vessels.

When war broke in September 1939, the Graf Spee was dispatched south in search of easy prey in the South Atlantic and Indian Ocean, a vast area made for the long-legged pocket battleship. The Graf Spee‘s career was short but productive, accounting for nine ships totaling 50,000 tons.

Yet the noose was closing as Allied task forces scoured the oceans for the elusive German raider, whose location was marked by the distress calls transmitted by its victims. One of those task forces consisted of the British heavy cruiser HMS Exeter and the light cruisers HMS Achilles and HMS Ajax, all under the command of Commodore Henry Harwood.

HMS Exeter

Based on a message from the Graf Spee‘s last victim, the merchant ship Doric Star which was sunk off South Africa, Harwood shrewdly guessed the raider would sail west toward the River Plate estuary between Argentina and Uruguay. At 06:10 on December 13, 1939, Harwood’s force sighted smoke on the horizon, which turned out to be the Graf Spee. Lindemann had also spotted the British cruisers, but judged them to be destroyers guarding a convoy. Here there would easy pickings for a battleship, he thought until it was too late.

HSM Achilles

The Battle of the River Plate was a battle that should never have happened. The British cruisers with their eight- and six-inch guns steamed at full speed toward a battleship whose eleven-inch guns outranged them, like a boxer with longer arms than his opponent. Yet the Graf Spee also had a glass jaw. With no Axis ports in the South Atlantic, there was no place to seek refuge or repair: if the ship was damaged, it would have to sail 8,000 miles, past the Allied naval blockade of Germany, to reach a German port. In fact, the Graf Speehad been instructed not to engage heavy enemy warships.

HMS Ajax

Nonetheless, in the best naval tradition, Langsdorff ordered full speed and sailed toward the British. Perhaps he had no choice. With his ship and its engines badly in need of maintenance after months at sea, he couldn’t count on escaping the cruisers, which would shadow him while they called in reinforcements.

It was three sharks versus a killer whale in a maelstrom of shell splashes, gun smoke and twisting ships. As with hunting packs, the British ships attacked from different directions to force the Graf Spee to split its fire. When the Graf Spee concentrated on the Exeter, the Achilles and Ajax would close and unleash a salvo to draw the battleship off their sister (both the German and British ships launched torpedoes, none of which hit)

Nonetheless, within the first thirty minutes of the fight, the British were losing. The Exeter had been badly damaged, the heavy cruiser losing two eight-inch gun turrets and with its bridge smashed. The Achilles and Ajax were also hit. With its bigger guns and a speed almost as fast as the cruisers, the German battleship might have finished off its opponents and continued its voyage.

Damaged Exeter

But as so often in battle, the enemy sees a less rosy picture. The battleship had taken a hit from an eight-inch shell that damaged its fuel system so badly that it only had sixteen hours of endurance. Making it back to Germany was impossible, and Lindemann well knew that more Allied warships were on their way. With no Axis ports in the South Atlantic, the only refuge lie in a neutral harbor. The Graf Speelimped toward Montevideo, Uruguay, shadowed by the battered but still feisty British task force.
Yet when the German battleship sailed into the estuary of the River Plate at Montevideo, Lindemann realized that instead of refuge, he had boxed himself into a trap. Under the Hague Convention, a belligerent’s warships were only allowed to remain in a port belonging to a neutral nation for twenty-four hours. And he could see the British warships waiting outside the harbor.

And now came subterfuges worthy of a spy novel. International law also stipulated that before a belligerent’s warship could leave a neutral port, it had to wait at least twenty-four hours after an enemy merchant ship had left that port (thus giving the prospective victim time to get clear). So, Britain and France arranged for their merchant ships to leave Montevideo at intervals to keep the Graf Spee from sailing, while Harwood’s ships made smoke outside the three-mile limit of Uruguayan waters to give the impression of a larger force. With a skill in deception that they would frequently display during World War II, the British spread rumors that an aircraft carrier and battlecruiser were waiting outside the port. In truth, those ships would take several days to arrive from Gibraltar: the only reinforcements the British actually received was the dilapidated old heavy cruiser Cumberland. Even now, with Harwood’s force low on ammunition, the Graf Spee might have been able to escape to neutral but Nazi-sympathizing Argentina.

Yet Lindemann was crushed by contradictory pressures that would have strained any captain. The pro-British Uruguayan government had ordered him to leave or be interned. Berlin ordered that the battleship should not be interned. Seeing no point in sacrificing his crew in what he believed would be a suicidal battle against a superior British force, on December 17, 1939, Lindemann ordered the Graf Spee to be scuttled. Uruguayan authorities allowed the captain and crew to proceed to Buenos Aires, where they discovered the Argentinean press had labeled them cowards and the government intended to intern rather than repatriate them to Germany. Two days later, Lindemann shot himself.

The loss of the Graf Spee was a blow to the prestige of Hitler’s small but expensive navy, for which even the loss of a single heavy warship was significant. Within six months, the Bismarck would join the Graf Spee on the Atlantic sea bed. Within eight months, HMS Exeter would be sunk by the Japanese at the Battle of the Java Sea.

In the Battle of the River Plate, psychology counted as much—and perhaps more—than firepower. The British cruisers had taken a beating, but the Royal Navy’s proud tradition of aggressiveness in the face of daunting odds had paid off yet again. Regardless of who had the bigger guns, in the end, the Germans thought themselves beaten—and the British did not.

And the Graf Spee? She still rests at the bottom of Montevideo harbor. Last year, the Uruguayan government announced it would auction off an artifact recovered from the vessel: a bronze eagle gripping a swastika in its claws. It will be a tawdry ending for an epic battle and a tragic fate.