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Thread: D-Day

  1. #31
    Mike, I generally agree. The Russians were and are big propagandists. They started shaping their story early and there was little push -back.
    When I was kid I heard adults saying the Russians were spinning their story, but no one resented it. All agreed we needed them and
    acknowledged their help in defeating the Natzis.

  2. #32
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    Just a thought I’ve had for years now. I think if more war veterans were to talk about their experiences, we may have a lower rate of PTSD, and we would have a populace more informed about the horrors of war that would be more resistant to the idea of going to war. I know that it wasn’t until I was in my mid-late 20s, and we invaded Afghanistan and Iraq post-9/11, that I realized our forces are mostly kids. I didn’t think anything of it when I was 19, trying to enlist, but those wars, plus a friend who told me some of his experiences commanding a flame track in Vietnam at age 19 (ca. 1972) really opened my eyes.
    Jason

    "Don't get stuck on stupid." --Lt. Gen. Russel Honore


  3. #33
    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Roehl View Post
    Just a thought I’ve had for years now. I think if more war veterans were to talk about their experiences, we may have a lower rate of PTSD, and we would have a populace more informed about the horrors of war that would be more resistant to the idea of going to war.
    Hans Kahr was a young german soldier who survived the Russian front and post war slavery in Russia. He is quoted as saying: "Only those who really experienced the war will want to preserve peace with all their might."
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
    - Sir Edmund Burke

  4. #34
    A nice thought Jason. There are Veteran's Administration counseling and peer group sessions available for veterans to talk and work out their combat experiences. Many of us who saw combat, myself included, are careful to whom we talk about our war experiences. It is hard to get across to someone who hasn't been there the mixture of emotions in what is a total sensory experience. Combat combines sight, hearing, taste, smell, feeling, and a broad spectrum of conflicting emotions all happening instantaneously. Many of us for years worked from the attitude that it was useless to try to explain to someone who hadn't been there, and at the same time it was unnecessary to explain to anyone who had. Talking about it is at best difficult and emotional even 52 years later.
    Dave Anderson
    Chester Toolworks LLC
    Chester, NH

  5. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Henderson View Post
    There's no doubt that American supplies, especially of explosives, fuel, steel and aluminum, were very important to the Soviet victory over Germany. There's also no doubt that it was Soviet Union who did the fighting and dying to obtain that victory. The United States lost about 400,000 soldiers and civilians in WWII - on two fronts: Europe and the Pacific. Less than one half of 1% of our population.

    The Soviet Union lost about 25 million soldiers and civilians in that war - on what we would call today "The Eastern Front". About 13% of their population.

    I wonder what the response of the people in the US would have been if the US lost 13% of our population in that war. The Soviet Union was a dictatorship so they were able to continue the war (and the losses) without a political revolt.

    I'm no fan of the Soviet Union - or of Russia today - but we have to recognize the sacrifices made by them in order to achieve victory over Germany.

    Mike

    [By D-Day, the Soviets had pushed the German army back almost to the German border. The Germans had been retreating for at least a year and after Kursk (1943) the Germans never took the offensive again on the Eastern Front. It was clear by 1944 that the Soviet Union was going to push into Germany.]

    Attachment 459645
    I feel for the people caught up into and destroyed by the conflict, so many of whom had suffered terribly in the lead up to the conflict and those who survived would continue to suffer terribly afterward. The 20th century shows us example after example of the horrors and extent of mans inhumanity to man, done at massive scale.


    There are many reasons why the casualties were exceptionally high for the Soviet’s, one being that Stalin refused to acknowledge Hitler’s breaking of the Molotov-Ribbentrop agreement for weeks as the Wehrmacht pushed into Soviet territory. Further the soviet soldier was poorly equipped and near starvation through the majority of the conflict. Finally civilians were being killed by both regimes. The Soviet’s commonly re-imprisonments their own POW’s sending them off to the gulag because they did not die in battle.

    By contrast it’s my opinion that our military put a very high value on the life of a soldier, the evidence I have of this is that the leadership was heavily critiqued at points of exceptional costs of life. Specifically I’m speaking of some of Island hoping campaign where the leadership was heavily critiqued by the general public at the time, their taking of Peleliu stands out as an example.

    It’s very likely that our leadership did such an excellent job in planning operation overlord partially because of their responsibility to the public. Such responsibility did not realistically exist in the Soviet Union, under Nazi leadership or as far as I’m aware in the Japanese military, publicly airing a grievance with the leadership of those regimes typically lead one to a work camp or to the gallows.

    The incredible human costs produced by the conflict on the eastern front and all involved are at least partially due to a lack of accountability in the leadership which was often fixated on ideology above all else.
    Last edited by Brian Holcombe; 06-15-2021 at 12:59 PM.
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  6. #36
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    The German military leadership did not spend the lives of their soldiers freely. The German army was very professional, extremely well led, and the soldiers were disciplined, committed and professional. Most historians rate the German army and soldier as the best in the world during WWII. The fact that the German army did not collapse on the Eastern Front during the retreat is indicative of how professional they were.

    But the conditions on the Eastern Front, especially in the winter, were horrible for both sides. I haven't studied the Soviet Union's side of the war that well, but I believe they were well led and committed. It was their country that was invaded and they understood what waited for them if they failed.

    After D-Day, Montgomery was given guidance by British leaders to preserve lives in the British army. England lost a generation of men in WWI and that affected their economy after that war. In WWII, men with certain educations were not allowed on the front lines. The leaders knew they would be needed after the war.

    Mike
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  7. #37
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    I do certainly agree that they were professional and disciplined, with regard to their consideration of the lives lost, that depends on what year of the war you’re referring to as it’s not the same from start to finish. You’re correct with respect the earlier years of the war but in my opinion incorrect in the later years. The last portion of Stalingrad is the pivot point, when the Red army pushed back with a two pronged attack and surrounded the Sixth Army. It’s my understanding that Hitler over road the advice of the generals and the results were that the sixth army was captured and basically destroyed.

    Similarly Hitler had wanted Rommel to fight to the death in North Africa. Rommel disregarded those orders.

    The later part of the war, once the Wehrmacht started to pull back was incredibly costly, Hitler intervened more often and became more erratic in his decision making. It’s my understanding that most of the military leadership had wanted to form terms with the western powers prior to the D-day invasion and the war, Hitler however pushed forward with ideological goals in spite of the fact that the writing was on the wall post Stalingrad.

    So for the later part of the war when Hitler was putting out ‘die in place’ orders, it’s a pretty hard argument to make that they were not being especially wasteful unless you want to make the argument that Hitler was especially wasteful but the Wehrmacht was less so, which I think an argument could be made for that based on how many disregarded those orders.
    Last edited by Brian Holcombe; 06-15-2021 at 7:16 PM.
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  8. #38
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    The Red army was terribly led in the earlier years of the war and well led in
    the later part of the war. Itís my understanding that Stalin took the opposite approach of Hitler and moved toward putting leadership in place that was not as ideologically driven, and more qualified on merit as he became more hands off. Hitler started off with good generals and replaced the majority of them with yes-men.
    Bumbling forward into the unknown.

  9. #39
    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Holcombe View Post
    The Red army was terribly led in the earlier years of the war and well led in
    the later part of the war. It’s my understanding that Stalin took the opposite approach of Hitler and moved toward putting leadership in place that was not as ideologically driven, and more qualified on merit as he became more hands off. Hitler started off with good generals and replaced the majority of them with yes-men.
    It's my understanding that the Red Army started off so poorly led because Stalin had purged many key officers in the 1930s. Have you read anything different Brian?
    Last edited by Frederick Skelly; 06-15-2021 at 7:32 PM.
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
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  10. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frederick Skelly View Post
    It's my understanding that the Red Army started off so poorly led because Stalin had purged many key officers in the 1930s. Have you read anything different Brian?
    That is my understanding as well, Fred. Stalin seemed to wise up as the war progressed and may have even realized that purging the quality out of the ranks for ideologues was a poor choice.
    Last edited by Brian Holcombe; 06-15-2021 at 7:52 PM.
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  11. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Holcombe View Post
    I do certainly agree that they were professional and disciplined, with regard to their consideration of the lives lost, that depends on what year of the war you’re referring to as it’s not the same from start to finish. You’re correct with respect the earlier years of the war but in my opinion incorrect in the later years. The last portion of Stalingrad is the pivot point, when the Red army pushed back with a two pronged attack and surrounded the Sixth Army. It’s my understanding that Hitler over road the advice of the generals and the results were that the sixth army was captured and basically destroyed.

    Similarly Hitler had wanted Rommel to fight to the death in North Africa. Rommel disregarded those orders.

    The later part of the war, once the Wehrmacht started to pull back was incredibly costly, Hitler intervened more often and became more erratic in his decision making. It’s my understanding that most of the military leadership had wanted to form terms with the western powers prior to the D-day invasion and the war, Hitler however pushed forward with ideological goals in spite of the fact that the writing was on the wall post Stalingrad.

    So for the later part of the war when Hitler was putting out ‘die in place’ orders, it’s a pretty hard argument to make that they were not being especially wasteful unless you want to make the argument that Hitler was especially wasteful but the Wehrmacht was less so, which I think an argument could be made for that based on how many disregarded those orders.
    I don't disagree with you at all. Hitler gave those "die in place" orders but the military leadership often disregarded them. Stalingrad was a disaster ordered by Hitler. The Army could have broken out but Hitler wouldn't allow them. If I remember the numbers, about 70,000 German soldiers went into captivity but only about 6,000 lived to be repatriated to Germany after the war, and that was a good many years after the end of the war.

    I also agree that Stalin allowed his military leaders to make the decisions, as opposed to Hitler who tried to run the war.

    Mike
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  12. #42
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    I love the Hardcore History podcasts on WWI (I think it's 12 hours long?). He also does a 'short' podcast on one of the Russian cities during WWII. I should go back for a listen.

    Anyway, a big take away is that in both wars America was safely overseas making lots of money off of the war before they finally joined. I don't dismiss any involvement from our side, but I also push back on American exceptionalism. We have to admit to ourselves that we suffered much less than Europe and Asia (and N. Africa). We made money, we fought over 'there', and then we came back home to an untouched paradise (and became a world power overnight). The true combatants of both wars lived in Europe and had cities burned to the ground, entire generations decimated (esp males) and wrecked economies.

    Both wars are such sad events in history. Impossible to put the loss into words. The silver lining being that since then war has been much less costly to human life.

  13. #43
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    Not sure why we would have suffered in such a fashion, we weren’t one of the original belligerents in either war and both Hitler and Japan pulled us into WWII. While I hold the military’s action in very high regard in both wars, Wilson had clear political motive and helped to make the absolute mess that was the Versailles treaty. FDR may have had similar motives but was at least a bit more tactful about his approach in the lead up to war.

    One could argue that Zimmermann attempting to pull Mexico into war with the US was enough (inspite of Wilson’s grandstanding at every point of possible diplomacy) but Japan actually attacking us was much more solid a footing for asking the public to send their sons into battle.
    Last edited by Brian Holcombe; 06-16-2021 at 10:00 PM.
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  14. #44
    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Holcombe View Post
    Not sure why we would have suffered in such a fashion, we weren’t one of the original belligerents in either war and both Hitler and Japan pulled us into WWII..
    +1........
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
    - Sir Edmund Burke

  15. #45
    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Holcombe View Post
    Not sure why we would have suffered in such a fashion, we werenít one of the original belligerents in either war and both Hitler and Japan pulled us into WWII. While I hold the militaryís action in very high regard in both wars, Wilson had clear political motive and helped to make the absolute mess that was the Versailles treaty. FDR may have had similar motives but was at least a bit more tactful about his approach in the lead up to war.

    One could argue that Zimmermann attempting to pull Mexico into war with the US was enough (inspite of Wilsonís grandstanding at every point of possible diplomacy) but Japan actually attacking us was much more solid a footing for asking the public to send their sons into battle.
    Your point about Wilson is very obscure. He was in bed with the Germans to the point of directing the State Department to allow them to pass messages through our embassy in Berlin. The Zimmerman telegram was sent by our own embassy to the German embassy in Washington, and then on to their embassy in Mexico. The British intercepted it, and had a long debate about whether the disclosure that they were spying on our communications was worth turning it over to us.

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