Why did WWII happen ? - Page 10




 
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April 2nd, 2006  
boris116
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Doppleganger
He did consider them enemies of the state but he must have known that the purges would cut the brains out of the Red Army. If he was planning to use it against a major power so soon, wouldn't this be stupidity even for Stalin?
I repeat, he was not considering them as you are. They were enemies, they had to be "weed out"!
You are a normal person(is it true? ), but Stalin was not! So, do not apply your logic to his actions!
Again, what was doing Saddam in March 2003? Killing his best generals, like Bashar, who was telling him the truth about the situation, not what Saddam wanted to believe in.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Doppleganger
If he was waiting for Operation SeaLion, which his advisors must have told him had little chance of ever going ahead never mind succeeding, surely this indicates that Stalin wanted there to be as little risk as possible when committing his armed forces. Attacking when the Germans were not actually fighting makes even less sense as a result does it not?
I repeat, after Hitler has turned to the East, Stalin, basically, had no choice...



Quote:
Originally Posted by Doppleganger
I don't think you can directly compare the Allied invasion of Iraq in 2003 with Operation Barbarossa. He obviously didn't believe his sources but he must have known that there was a German build-up in Eastern Europe nonetheless. It would have been impossible for him not to have known that there was something going on, even if he did ignore all the warnings.
I happened to live for the most of my life right on the Soviet borders with Poland and Romania. And I have read a lot of Soviet war memoirs...
All of those generals, who happened to be in the border areas on 6/22/41 tell the same thing: "We were sleeping in our tents, when the bombs have started to fall..."
One of such places - the old Polish military camp was located half a mile from my home... My summer home("dacha") was built in a shadow of the walls of the WWI fort...
How could these troops stay in tents for almost 2 years after being deployed to these camps?

They, definitely, were not going to dig trenches and build fortifications....

So, either their generals(like the Chief of Staff gen. Zhukov) where a bunch of stupid idiots, or... they were going to attack, not to defend.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Doppleganger
Probably not, but that doesn't mean to say that attacking just because you have to beat your enemy to it was a good idea. In fact it was a terrible idea given the state of the Red Army at the time.
It's what we know now. Saddam, for example, didn't think his army was so hopeless...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Doppleganger
Which begs the question as to why he didn't in 1940 when the Germans were busy elsewhere.
In 1940 Stalin has been busy, too. He had to consolidate his power on the newly acquired territories, for one thing.

BTW, I have heard a funny story from that time, that I would like to share:

I was staying in a hospital in 1981(after some nasty climbing accident) and I have shared the room with 3 other guys. One of them was very old Pole who told us how their little town Skidel (15 miles from Grodno where I lived) had celebrated it's first October revolution anniversary in 1939(just 40 days after their "liberation"):

"They build a tribune for the celebratory demonstration and all the dignitaries were standing there greeting the crowd. Suddenly, the NKVD chief has turned pale and run from the tribune into the crowd...

The reason for the alarm has been a guy, proudly carrying the portrait of Marshall Pilsudski...(the Stalin's mortal enemy)
He has been quietly apprehended by the NKVD guy and brought for an interrogation.
He was very drank and was repeating: "How could I distinguish between them? This one is called Joseph, and another is Joseph, too!"



Quote:
Originally Posted by Doppleganger
Obviously. listen to the warnings from 3 seperate intelligence sources and disperse your army and airforce accordingly. Stalin had plenty of time to do this but took very little action and too late.
He, probably, had his own reasons...
April 2nd, 2006  
redcoat
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ollie Garchy
In response to Redcoat: [This subject is departing from WWII origins. Although important and interesting, the "who dun' it" first issue is also sort of dull].
Its only 'sort of dull' if you are trying to defend German actions in WW2. It kinda gets in the way.

Quote:
Terraine (and others) paints another picture, especially concerning pre-May 1940, operations,
Actually I have only one Terraine book 'The Right Of The Line', a history of the RAF in WW2. In this he makes no mention of any bombing campaign on German land based targets, with the one exception (Hörnum.) pre-May 1940.
If however you could provide me with any info on any German land based targets bombed by the RAF pre-May 1940 I would be most grateful.

Quote:
but I really only want to address one issue. It seems that you do not really have a grasp of the meaning of strategic bombing. I will try. [But first, what strategic raids were launched by the Luftwaffe against Britain prior to May 1940? What German strategic bombing plan? What were the targets?].
I do have a fair grasp of what strategic bombing is, and I will accept that the RAF was the first airforce to engage in strategic bombing in WW2.
However you seem to wish to equate only strategic bombing with terror bombing, while the truth is, terror bombing can be either strategic or tactical.
Terror bombing is the act of bombing civilians in an effort to break their morale.

Until early 1941 the RAF both tactically and strategically sought to minimise civilian casualties, its tactics didn't involve 'terror' bombing.
While the Luftwaffe used the tactic of terror bombing tactically from the first day (Warsaw, later Rotterdam) and strategically from September 1940 (London)


Quote:
For the Germans...well...they never had a strategic bombing policy.
Not a well thought out one, that is true.
But their attacks on Britain in late 40/41 were indeed strategic, but with the Luftwaffe, terror was always an integral part of their bombing policy
Quote:
[By the way, Britain abandoned France during 1940 operations. That is sort of a standard interpretation these days.
Is it ???
One of us must be reading the wrong sort of books then.
While some British actions in may 1940 could be viewed as selfish, the fact that Britain didn't seek peace with Germany in 1940, refutes the statement that we 'abandoned' France.
In fact, the fact that France sought a settlement with Germany without British permission despite treaty agreements, could leave France open to the accusation that they 'abandoned' Britain
Though to be honest, I think that would be as unfair on the French as is the accusation that Britain abandoned France
Quote:
And, why make the bombing of Freiburg into something special. Friendly fire happens. What about the Americans during the Gulf War? What is your point?]
Freiburg is interesting because they were the first German civilians killed in a bombing raid on a German town during WW2 on the 10 May 1940.
I posted this in relation to a reference to British bombing policy pre-May 1940
April 10th, 2006  
Dean
 
 
Boris stated in his post: All of those generals, who happened to be in the border areas on 6/22/41 tell the same thing: "We were sleeping in our tents, when the bombs have started to fall..."One of such places - the old Polish military camp was located half a mile from my home... My summer home("dacha") was built in a shadow of the walls of the WWI fort...How could these troops stay in tents for almost 2 years after being deployed to these camps?
They, definitely, were not going to dig trenches and build fortifications....
So, either their generals(like the Chief of Staff gen. Zhukov) where a bunch of stupid idiots, or... they were going to attack, not to defend. End Quote

Boris, it still does not make sense. Even if the Soviet Army was getting ready for an attack, why would they have had their forces living in tents for two years? The answer is, of course, that they deployed their army into a semblance of a DEFENSIVE or garrison position. However, it has been stated in numerous sources that Stalin refused to allow any actions that could be considered belligerent, right up to the building of defensive structures such as bunkers. The Soviet Army was not in either an offensive or a defensive structure, rather it was in a garrison structure, spread a bit thickly near the border and a bit less thinly everywhere else. (standard European peacetime practice) This does not allow an Army to attack or defend, and thus an army caught in this situation would hhave been slaughtered... as was the Soviet army during Barbarossa.
Zhukov was not an idiot, although he did plan some operations that were spectacular failures. At the time of Barbarossa, Zhukov was not even in the lline of command, having been replaced "by Marshal Boris Shaposhnikov (who was in turn replaced by Aleksandr Vasilevsky in 1942). Ironically, this led to a relative non-accountablity of Zhukov's military role in the huge territorial losses during the German 1941 invasion of the Soviet Union thus ensuring his presence "in the wings" for Stalingrad. The question of how much he might have prevented had he held command earlier is still much discussed." (Wiki)
The men who were in charge or the now-called Eastern Front (the Soviet western borders) were Stalins's yes men, and neither of them ever distinguished themselves with their incredible command of aggressive battlefield tactics until much later in the war. In other words, neither of these men would have, or even could have commanded an attack into Poland against the Germans for 1 main reason. The Soviet Army itself was still being re-built after the purges, and both men knew that they were not ready for such a campaign, and would not be for a very long time.
The plain truth is that the Soviets were not preparing an attack into Poland. Stalin did not believe in the attack in depth tactics that his generals were trying to develop, and the proof is that the first Svoiet attak into the German rear area during WW II was at Stalingrad. All of the other counter-offensives were attempts to push the entire German line back. Useless and costly.
Every single source that I have ever read is clear on these points. Stalin refused to allow his army to prepare for the German attack, and when the attack came, he did nothing for weeks, then began organizing the defense. All documents that showed the error that Stalin had made were destroyed (happened often enough) so today, we often have revisionist authors trying to paint a different picture of what really happened. But, as usual, the facts still do not fit the theory.

Dean.
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April 10th, 2006  
Ollie Garchy
 
 
Here is a synopsis of Redcoat's and my own position:

REDCOAT's Theory: The Luftwaffe started or initiated the first strategic bombing campaign during WWII and led directly to British and American retaliatory or strategic bombing. [Consequence: The Germans hold full responsibility].

OLLIE's Theory: German and British bombing policies were unrelated and the matter of instigation was purely propagandistic. [Consequence: Each of the belligerents were responsible for their actions, although they were influenced by those of the other side].

Recoat writes: "Its only 'sort of dull' if you are trying to defend German actions in WW2. It kinda gets in the way".

I am not "trying to defend German actions in WW2". On an academic level, I understand the reasoning behind terror bombing and accept the arguments involved. [They were still war crimes according to conventional thinking. Retaliatory war crimes are also outlawed]. The issue is "dull" because the strategic bombers did not lead directly to Britain's declaration of war or Germany's invasion of Poland. It has little to do with origins.

The attempt to find a culprit is in fact a useless exercise. The operation is quasi-religious/hyper-nationalistic. The question by definition implies that there was an instigator and it divides the world neatly into "us" and "them". In my experience, the two questions of "who started WWII (or any war)" or "who started strategic bombing (or any military campaign)" are therefore loaded ones. The answer is used to demonstrate political or national affiliation. It becomes an affirmation of your own culture or political system. It is blasphemy to understand the actions of the opponent and question your own state. The possibility of a complex interaction of multiple causes on multiple levels is downplayed. "Origins", using the accepted methodology, is just the "blame game". It is for this reason that the "Galloping Gertie" approach to WWI origins is often found unsatisfying. They "done" it. Period.

The Stalin example is an important one. It demonstrates the frighteningly religious nature of the WWII origins debate. Hitler and Stalin attacked Poland in 1939. Fact. London and Paris declared war on Hitler and not on Stalin. Fact. Attacking Poland in general was not the issue. Fact. The GERMANS attacking Poland was the issue. Fact. Stalin's actions in eastern Europe were therefore unrelated to WWII origins. Fact. Why? London and Paris developed the criteria for origins in September 1939. THE ORIGINS DEBATE WAS SETTLED. Stalin was a potential ally and blaming him for the war would not fit the anti-Hitler paradigm. This seems true for many historians today. [It was in fact not at all clear that the Allies would not declare war on Stalin. The argumentation had to first be developed].

"Ya don't think I am right"? Well, look at things this way. For most people, a calm analysis of WWII is impossible. People tend to view any attempt at a calm or balanced portrayal of WWII origins as indicative of a pro-nazi (read pro-German) political affiliation. For many people, it somehow LESSENS Hitler's evil to argue that Stalin was a responsible party. And the lessening of Hitler's evil is the act of a nominal supporter or neo-nazi. (here we go with automatic political affiliation).

We are working from a specific paradigm that moreorless states: "All German actions in WWII were evil". Considering this paradigm, any attempt to EXPLAIN German actions using the documentary record appears politically motivated and even blasphemous. The German pre-emptive strike against Norway is a good example here. I am only attempting to twist the theoretical framework to include a rational decision-making process on the part of the German military.

A point by Williamson Murray:

"Thus, the Germans approached the question of strategic bombing from a more skeptical point of view than did the British. A partial explanation lies in the German experience in Spain. Terror bombing had produced, for the most part, a counterproductive effect. Captain Heye of the Seekriegsleitung made the following report based on conversations with Luftwaffe officers serving in Spain:

'Disregarding the great military success accompanying use of the Luftwaffe for the immediate support of army operations, one gets the impression that our attacks on objects of little military importance, through which in most cases many women and children...were hit, are not a suitable means to break the resistance of the opponent. They seem far more suited to strengthening the resistance....Doubtless the memory of the air attack on Guernica by the [Condor] Legion still today produces an after effect in the population and permits no friendly feelings for Germany in the population of the Basques, who earlier were thoroughly friendly to Germany and in no manner communistic.'" [Williamson Murray, British and German Air Doctrine Between the Wars, Air University Review, March-April 1980].
April 10th, 2006  
Ollie Garchy
 
 
An interesting article concerning strategic bombing doctrine. It underlines the point I have been trying to make: British doctrine called for the killing of civilians prior to 1939. Retaliation was always expected. Nothing more. Nothing less.

[First British instance of city bombing: 5 Sept 1939 RAF planes bomb the German fleet at Wilhelmshaven and Brunsbuttel at the entrance at the Kiel canal. Bombs miss the target and strike city. See opening chapters of Terraine's book. The problem with initial British bombing was that the tactics were terrible and the bombers were shot out of the sky.]

The Early Months, 1939–40

"When the war began there could be little doubt that the British people were all too aware of the potency of aerial weapons. Films such as Things to Come (1936), based on H.G. Wells’ novel, had graphically depicted the results of air raids. The bombing of Guernica (1937), especially as revealed by the newsreels, shocked the British public; and Stanley Baldwin had gloomily predicted that ‘the bomber will always get through’.24 Such an atmosphere stimulated interest in the RAF, and its bomber force in particular. In 1939, the British people expected both to be bombed and to bomb others."

Conclusion

"From late 1940, British bombers set out to smash German cities into submission by killing Germans, destroying their houses and ruining their industries. Harris knew it, Portal knew it and Churchill knew it; the crews probably guessed it but they were, in that rather hackneyed but in this case nonetheless true phrase, only carrying out orders. The only difference was that Harris was prepared to admit it to all and sundry.

The British public was presented with many different interpretations of the aerial war and was fed a diet of truths, half-truths and outright lies. The attitude of the newspapers varied only slightly; a reader of the broadsheets may have consumed slightly less lurid reportage, but the information and stance was remarkably similar to that of the tabloids. Later, this allowed the British people and politicians to claim ignorance as to the true nature of strategic air campaign. The British people were told that Germany was going to be ruined from top to bottom. They knew this was the promise of Bomber Command, and their newspapers and newsreels reminded them of this promise on an almost daily basis. Germany was going to have the guts ripped out of it. They knew this too. But some managed to convince themselves that it was going to be done by bombing factories alone. Most did not manage this trick and silently accepted the implications of the policy, probably even rejoiced in it. Some, a very few, yelled out loud against it.

By 1942, the war was very obviously one of national survival. Nazi forces were rampant on the Atlantic. They were preparing to swallow even more chunks of the Soviet Union. They were driving towards the Suez Canal and had pushed their ships through the English Channel under the eyes of the impotent British. In the Far East, Japan had taken Hong Kong, Singapore had fallen, Mandalay was abandoned, Darwin was bombed. It was not a moment for delicate stomachs. Britain needed to win, or else, in Churchill’s words, it ‘would slip into the abyss of a new dark age’ and in that moment of supreme national emergency a force was created which would unleash a terrifying level of violence against the enemy. In the postwar years the British retreated from the animal they had unleashed in themselves and made scapegoats of Harris and his men. This was a fudge, for if there is blame all are guilty."

http://ics.leeds.ac.uk/papers/pmt/ex...3/connerly.pdf
April 10th, 2006  
Ollie Garchy
 
 
WHY FRENCH DEFEAT? ABANDONED?

The explanations for defeat include the following:

(1) FRENCH DECADENCE: France caved in for reasons similar to that of the Roman empire. This hypothesis is hard to pin down. How can an historian actually determine that a society was "decadent"? Or why "decadence" led to defeat? What methodology do you use? What quantitative or qualitative factors underline decadence? (see Marc Bloch, Strange Defeat)

(2) THE COSTS OF WWI: This is the argument that my teachers often used. The hypothesis avoids the fact that France had a "mighty fine army" and instead looks at the development of "defeatism" and "pacifism" in the 1920s and 1930s. The general lack of willpower and use of "pacifism" to explain weakness is in my opinion a poor attempt at demonstrating French innocence and the lack of responsibility for the outbreak of war in 1939. (see most historical accounts)

(3) THE OUTDATED FRENCH MILITARY DOCTRINE: The historical community was shocked to discover after the war that the French ground forces actually outnumbered their German opponents. Besides killing the "German rearmament myth", the quantitative evidence forced historians to scramble for an answer to a hardcore question: how can a numerically and technologically superior force fighting a defensive war largely on inner lines actually lose? Some historians blamed the French defeat on retention of WWI doctrines, the Maginot line (also used for 1 & 2), a defensive mentality, etc. Many texts analysing WWI French doctrine lament the "cult of the offensive" and argue that the offensive was not the best option for France during the early years of the war. The defensive is in any case normally considered the more cost-effective way of waging war. Why is the defensive considered so wrong in 1939?

(4) MORE COOPERATIVE ALLIES: The lack of British and French military cooperation led to the formulation of two strategies based on the same premise of a long war. The French military hoped to hold off a German attack and subject the enemy to a war of attrition. The British military hoped to avoid a repetition of WWI by avoiding significant ground force operations and hitting German military-industrial production instead. This strategy, instead of being criticized, represented a smaller version of the alliance structure that actually did defeat Nazi-Germany. That is, the Wehrmacht was mauled in eastern Europe while the western Allies hurled millions of bombs against the civilian German population. The British strategy, however, depended on France surviving over the longer term. I therefore find it difficult to explain why (1) the British ground forces were simply pulled out and (2) RAF operations were so dogged by outside political pressures. [For the coordination problems see William Keylor, article in The French Defeat of 1940: Reassessments or Julian Jackson, The Fall of France (2004)]

The French People certainly felt abandoned:

FRENCH POPULAR ATTITUDES: "The R.A.F. attacks upon the aerodromes in the occupied region are used as evidence that the British, who have already deserted their Ally, are now making direct onslaughts on the Frenchman's home". [Article in The Times of London (17 August 1940) quoted in "France in Defeat, 1940," EyeWitness to History, www.eyewitnesstohistory.com (2006)].

The British government was not as "pro-war" as typically thought:

LONDON AS DEFEATIST: Julian Jackson points out certain irregularities in opinions at the highest levels of British government. London was far from united concerning the war against Nazi-Germany. Optimism was certainly not in the air (sorry for the airpower pun). Many members of both Chamberlain's and Churchill's cabinet simply did not hold much stock in French fighting capabilites even though French military output had surpassed that of Germany in early 1940. This crisis is important because the British longterm strategy against Germany depended on allies to supply the sufficient ground forces for a direct clash. Their own overblown estimates of German rearmament had therefore taken a frightening toll on decision-making. The pessimists in London even started "exploring the possibility of peace" during May 1940 prior to French defeat (p.20 Julian Jackson, The Fall of France (2004)].
April 10th, 2006  
Ollie Garchy
 
 
The Defeat of France (1940): A Chronology of Abandonment

[The abandonment was political in nature. NOT really military. The abandonment had to do with the half-hearted measures adopted to defend continental Europe from a significant change in the balance of power and the "Churchill factor". In some ways, it is possible to argue that Chamberlain accepted German continental control, while Churchill fought bitterly against any manifestation of German power. Both policies were extreme and worked against each other].

Prior to 10 May: The British, French and German governments discussed various ways to "bury the hatchet" and terminate an unwanted war. Military operations, considering that "world war" had supposedly broken out, were surpisingly smallscale.

10 May: Germans started offensive operations. London's and Paris' political policy backfired. The western Allies, who declared war, sat on their butts and wasted the perfect opportunity for a major spoiling offensive to save the Poles, gain the initiative, and cripple German production by at least placing artillery within range of the Ruhr. Throughout this period, BEF preparations for military operations were utterly inadequate. BEF: 10 Inf. divs, a tank brigade and 500 aircraft. [The Polish military contribution dwarfed that of the BEF. That the RAF was largely held back by the politicians was a clear sign of the times].

10 May: Chamberlain resigned and Churchill became PM. The changing of the guard led to a monumental change in British military policy. (see next few posts in a few days) The anti-German and anti-French fanatic (and relic of the 19th Century) took control of policy.

14 May: The Germans employed their revolutionary command & control concepts to send outnumbered and technologically inferior panzer columns through Sedan and towards the coast. Manstein's "sickle" cut the superior Allied forces in two.

15 May: The official start of the British strategic bombing offensive. One day after Sedan, the British ordered the employment of bombers against industrial or morale (retaliatory) targets in Germany. A total concentration on the panzer columns and supply depots might have been more appropriate. The strategic bombing decision is evidence that tactical concerns were rejected and that Britain now embarked on a longterm policy of industrial/societal attrition.

21 May: The overstretched and exposed German armour columns reached the coast and encircled the BEF. Rommel's men had repelled a significant Allied counterattack at Arras. The German high command still however entertained signicant worries of an impending collapse such as at the Marne in 1914. While only speculation, a continuation of "Arras-style" operations would have actually "Marned" or "Moscowed" the German military. The composition of the German military and low level of rearmament actually meant significant problems related to the taking of casualties. The Wehrmacht could not successfully absorb significant combat losses and support an offensive.

22 May: The British Military & Government decided to retreat via Dunkirk. [Again counterfactual: The British could have moved troops INTO the pocket to strengthen defensive capabilities and hold the German troops in place. The Dunkirk region was totally unsuitable for armoured operations. The Germans would have been forced to throw in their infantry at extremely high cost. The holding action would have permitted French reorganization and a major operation against the flank of the panzer advance.]


4 June: Germans took Dunkirk. 338,911 Allied soldiers were able to flee. The British left 2,472 artillery pieces and 63,879 vehicles behind. Churchill celebrated a victory instead. What followed was a catastrophe. Even though German losses were significant, the coming neutralization of France meant that Britain could not defeat Germany without the United States or Soviet Union. Only the British 51st Division and elements of the 1st Armoured Division remained in France as a token commitment.

4 June: Churchill: "We shall fight on the beaches". Churchill was not referring to the beaches of France. France, not yet defeated, was obviously abandoned by the political leadership.

5 June: The Wehrmacht renewed operations in the direction of Paris. The death coup that followed was only possible because of British departure and a comprehensive collapse of French fighting spirit. German losses were still high.

14 June: Paris capitulated.

22 June: Fall of France. The BEF lost a mere 68,000 men.

3 July: British Navy fired on the French fleet at Mers-el-Kebir. The act, one that gave the derogatory term "Perfidious Albion" new meaning, is normally considered an attack of war. (ie. Pearl Harbor). British apologists argued that it was a strategic decision. Well, the sinking of the French fleet was followed by 4 years of strategic bombing and the killing of more than 50,000 civilians by Bomber Command. [It is amazing how British "strategic decisions" are always justified. By the way, the Armistice stated that the French fleet would continue to fly under the French flag.]
April 10th, 2006  
Doppleganger
 
 
A good, well-reasoned argument Ollie, and one with which I agree. IMO it's not supportable by body of evidence nor by reasoned debate that Allied strategic bombing policy was initiated as a result of what the Luftwaffe did first. That doesn't make much sense to me and indeed, even appears childish. It was an obvious outcome of the development of bomber aircraft that the notion to use such aircraft to bomb industrial and political targets would arise. That the Luftwaffe "did it first" is irrelevant.

As a Briton I have no problem in looking into the darker side of British policy during WW2. By that I mean the fact that we are not the totally good, upstanding nation that we are led to believe. No nation is. Although we did not decide to exterminate a race of people like the Nazis did we were quite prepared to do what was necessary to defend our own interests. We did abandon France to its fate. As Albert Lebrun, the President of France until July 10, 1940, said in 1945; "From the moment when one of the two countries which signed a convention like that of March 28 [1940] retains part of its forces for its own defence, instead of risking it in the common battle - as the British Empire did - it can always keep a paper to recall us to the obligations written on it. But it no longer has the moral authority to say: I will not release you from your obligations." I think we were guilty of selling out the French in the same way we had sold out the Poles, although the facts of each case are quite different.

Looking at the facts it is clear that we made a half-hearted attempt to defend France and then abandoned them to their fate. There were several opportunities where a strong Allied thrust could have spelt disaster for the German panzers, as exposed as they were becoming the further they advanced into France. Part of successful warfare is firstly recognising opportunities and secondly seizing them. Lastly is having the courage to execute them and although in many ways we showed courage and determination in spades, sadly not much of this was evident in our contribution to the land war in 1939-40.
April 11th, 2006  
Ollie Garchy
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Doppleganger
As a Briton I have no problem in looking into the darker side of British policy during WW2. By that I mean the fact that we are not the totally good, upstanding nation that we are led to believe. No nation is. Although we did not decide to exterminate a race of people like the Nazis did we were quite prepared to do what was necessary to defend our own interests. We did abandon France to its fate. As Albert Lebrun, the President of France until July 10, 1940, said in 1945; "From the moment when one of the two countries which signed a convention like that of March 28 [1940] retains part of its forces for its own defence, instead of risking it in the common battle - as the British Empire did - it can always keep a paper to recall us to the obligations written on it. But it no longer has the moral authority to say: I will not release you from your obligations." I think we were guilty of selling out the French in the same way we had sold out the Poles, although the facts of each case are quite different.

Looking at the facts it is clear that we made a half-hearted attempt to defend France and then abandoned them to their fate. There were several opportunities where a strong Allied thrust could have spelt disaster for the German panzers, as exposed as they were becoming the further they advanced into France. Part of successful warfare is firstly recognising opportunities and secondly seizing them. Lastly is having the courage to execute them and although in many ways we showed courage and determination in spades, sadly not much of this was evident in our contribution to the land war in 1939-40.
Hey Doppleganger,

A couple of thoughts:

(1) I personally would not call any British policy "dark". More like realistic. Maybe I am just too "dark" or jaded by human history. I read an article recently that "uncovered" a "dark truth": the British military used Gestapo-style torture chambers in WWII to force confessions. My initial reaction was: "so what". I guess that I simply do not like the "fairytale" line of interpretation that lists German atrocities without putting anything in perspective. Older Germans (the guys who went through the war) generally have a much different perspective than the post-1945 generations. In a recent television depiction of Dresden, an old dude commented on the fire-bombing of German cities in 1945. He shrugged his shoulders and stated "it was war". That was all he had to say. The younger generations here in Germany actually argue that it was the moral thing to do. Killing German civilians, that is. I personally have a tough time with moral justifications, etc. It was war. Period. I do despise the "we had no choice" or "they started it" type of arguments, however. [Now comes the hard part..."War is the continuation of politics by other means"....oh oh. Maybe we should get rid of the conditions that lead to war or at least think about them.]

(2) Do you think that Europe could ever fight another major regional conflict like WWI or WWII? Has this issue been discussed in another thread? Some French friends of mine think that Germany will once again attempt to dominate Europe militarily. I tried to explain to them that their own bias concerning the origins of WWI and WWII was the primary factor behind their question. I just dryly told them: "Only if France wants one". They of course got mad and held closely to their bias and national myths.

What is Germany? Who in Germany wants war? Is Germany even capable of fighting a war? These French people were content with the kind of argumentation that helped destroy Europe in the first place: Germany reunified. Germany has industrial power (now that's a laugh). This power will lead to war. The traditional French perspective, and I am shocked by this, seems to reduce everything to a theoretical geopolitical calculation. It makes the mere possession of "power" the prime variable for an aggressive foreign policy. Ie. country "x" is dangerous because it seems to have "power". Now, that is crude and dangerous.

[On that note, I think it is high time for a British-German quasi-alliance. A better Europe should be led by the guys who pay for the damn thing, anyway. A British-Dutch-German axis around which Europe revolves. I say: "No more highways to nowhere in Portugal". I say: "No more French agricultural subsidies". I say: "A better energy policy that is not built on French nuclear technology". I say...well, you get the point...A better Europe is one with less French involvement. Does any of this have anything to do with WWII origins. No. I even (sort of) like France and some of the people who live there].
April 12th, 2006  
boris116
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dean


Boris, it still does not make sense. Even if the Soviet Army was getting ready for an attack, why would they have had their forces living in tents for two years? The answer is, of course, that they deployed their army into a semblance of a DEFENSIVE or garrison position. However, it has been stated in numerous sources that Stalin refused to allow any actions that could be considered belligerent, right up to the building of defensive structures such as bunkers. The Soviet Army was not in either an offensive or a defensive structure, rather it was in a garrison structure, spread a bit thickly near the border and a bit less thinly everywhere else. (standard European peacetime practice) This does not allow an Army to attack or defend, and thus an army caught in this situation would hhave been slaughtered... as was the Soviet army during Barbarossa.
Zhukov was not an idiot, although he did plan some operations that were spectacular failures. At the time of Barbarossa, Zhukov was not even in the lline of command, having been replaced "by Marshal Boris Shaposhnikov (who was in turn replaced by Aleksandr Vasilevsky in 1942).
Dean, you have almost convinced me

However, nothing is as simple as it looks.
Zhukov was not in the line of command, as you've said. He was nonetheless the Chief of Staff from January to July 1941 and should have been responsible for this strange disposition of troops neither in defensive nor offensive position. He had to plan for their readiness. However, he was not held responsible by Stalin, who was ordering people to be killed for much lesser failures. Suvorov believes that this has happened because Zhukov has been told to do what he has done.

Another interesting moment is how the Soviet forces on the Southern flank has responded to the war's beginning... They were against weak Rumanian army, so they were not subjected to the decimation during the first hours of hostilities. Their commanders have opened their sealed orders and started to implement them. What did they do? The have invaded Rumania!
One can only speculate what were the orders that have been destroyed by the commanders in other places...

I just want to remind you about total secrecy and paranoia of these years. I am not so old to remember, but what I remember - only in the 70-s the Soviet veterans of the Korean war have been allowed to talk about it. My brother-in-law had participated and was wounded in one of the incidents with the Chinese in the 70-s.
He had told his family about his experience only in 2002 here in the States!!!

Stalin in 1941 was in a bind. He has refused to be a full-blown German ally, he has known about the German build-up.
I have never believed that he was so blind and deaf not to see it coming...But he was behaving like lamb...