Post by timothylane on Sept 25, 2019 12:31:41 GMT -8
The Germans kept expecting Soviet manpower to run out. Maybe it even finally would have if they hadn't started reconquering lost territories in the summer of 1943. But since they had twice as many people as Germany, it's uncertain that even such attrition could have worked once the Allies landed in Europe.
Post by artraveler on Sept 25, 2019 12:34:19 GMT -8
One of the interesting things about Stalin is that he was more faithful in keeping his agreements with his enemies than his allies. Hitler could have continued to receive the massive quantities of supplies from the Soviets throughout the war if he he had not invaded the USSR. Stalin signed a non-aggression pact with Japan that he faithfully kept until the summer of 45. American ships sailing to Soviet ports were never attacked by Japan. Stalin had no reason to invade Germany; reports are that he was stunned when the Germans attacked. On the other hand Stalin was his expected lying self when dealing with Churchill and Roosevelt, every word was nuanced. His son Obama is the same.
Post by timothylane on Sept 25, 2019 12:53:17 GMT -8
Stalin had no desire to attack Germany, and was indeed stunned when Hitler turned on him. On the other hand, he was capable of drawing a hard bargain, and might well have invaded Finland and/or Romania, both sources of important resources for Germany. Hitler didn't like depending on Stalin, and he could never believe he could be trusted.
And besides, where would Germany find its Lebensraum without Russia? And so full of helots to do the labor, too. Never mind that many were ready to help Germany, and in fact many did. Ukrainian partisans were a problem for the Soviet forces in 1941, and continued to be thereafter. In early 1944, some of them killed well-regarded Marshal Vatutin. Baltic partisans liberated some towns from Stalin in 1941 after the invasion began. The Germans made some use of Soviet volunteers, even raising a corps of Cossack cavalry as well as other units. And all that while treating them as Untermenschen. One book on German rule in Russia during the war noted how odd it seemed to Germans that blonde Slavs were Mongol subhumans whereas the Crimea Tartars were valued allies.
Post by artraveler on Sept 25, 2019 12:56:31 GMT -8
The Germans kept expecting Soviet manpower to run out.
The understanding between the big three was that the Soviets would fight the bulk of the land war against the Germans and the Americans and English would take care of the war with Japan. This, I suspect was part of the Germany first strategy. At any rate the US economy would not be able to produce enough landing craft to invade Europe before the summer of 44 at the earliest and Stalin was well aware of it. The invasion of Sicily set Overlord back by 6 months. When Roosevelt and Churchill met at Casablanca in 43 Marshall told Churchill there would be no landings in 43 if resources were committed to Sicily. For reasons passing understanding, Churchill continued to hold to the "soft underbelly" fantasy. Some of the worst fighting in the entire European war was done by the 10th mountain trying to get up Italy.
Post by timothylane on Sept 25, 2019 13:18:51 GMT -8
Allen Brooke (I read Sir Arthur Bryant's books based on Brooke's diaries) wanted to avoid through the Ljubljana Gap. I asked Professor Haywood, who taught History of East-Central Europe, about this, and he didn't think there was any easy route in that era. Think of Cumberland Gap or Khyber Pass; many such gaps are very strong defensive positions. The Allies suffered heavier losses than the Germans in Italy, despite all their advantages and German losses in their offensives at Anzio, until Diadem in May 1944. The Germans never fully recovered from the losses then (partly because of the heavy losses they soon suffered in France and then on the Eastern Front). It would have been worse if Mark Clark hadn't sent VI Corps to Rome by way of the Alban Hills instead of going to Valmontone to cut off the retreat of most of the Germans to the south. (Of course, Diadem might not have worked so well, despite the massive air support, had it not been for General Juin's mountain troops, many of them North African, who ruptured the German line in the Aurunci Mountains.)
How is it that "subhuman" Jews won numerous Iron Cross in WWI but by WW II couldn't even own weapons.
Something like 12,000 Jewish Germans died fighting for the German Empire in WWI. I might have mentioned this before, but I knew an Austrian Jew whose father was a hussar in WWI. My old friend had a photo of his father, standing erect in full military uniform with fancy hat and sword, on a table in his living room. It was a cool picture.
My father used to say that he bet that Hitler wished he had all those exiled German Jews fighting for him as the war went on. We knew a lot of such Jews and they were still Germans to the end.
Last Edit: Sept 25, 2019 13:51:59 GMT -8 by kungfuzu
Post by timothylane on Sept 25, 2019 14:05:01 GMT -8
I gather that Kaiser Bill was somewhat philosemitic. Recall that Walter Rathenau, a Jew (and a left liberal rather than a Social Democrat), was in charge of Germany's relatively successful effort to supply essential raw materials. (I once read that in the Great War they did well with raw materials and poorly with food, whereas the reverse was true during much of World War II.) And what thanks did he get for it? Being murdered by nationalist thugs (like Matthias Erzberger, a left Catholic, in his case for signing the armistice, which Professor Mork reasonably argued Hindenburg should have had to do).
Stalin had no desire to attack Germany, and was indeed stunned when Hitler turned on him.
According to Kotkin, Stalin held Great Britain, because of its old and extensive empire, to be the greatest enemy of communism. Stalin seemed to be much more skeptical of the U.K. than he was of Nazi Germany.
I believe that, as a Marxist who believed that insane theory, Stalin had a soft spot for Germany. According to Marx and especially Lenin, Germany should naturally go communist once the world economic got bad enough. Thus Germany could be a long-term ally in the remaking of mankind. They just had to get rid of Hitler.
It shouldn't be forgotten that Stalin had an active role in Hitler's gaining power. Stalin ordered the German Communist Party not to cooperate with the Social Democrats in their fight against Hitler. At one point before 1933, had the German Communists allied themselves with the Social Democrats, they could have voted to kept the Nazis out of power in the parliament.
Last Edit: Sept 25, 2019 14:07:46 GMT -8 by kungfuzu
in his case for signing the armistice, which Professor Mork reasonably argued Hindenburg should have had to do).
A number of historians agree that Hindenburg and his military comrades positioned things so that they would not have to sign the armistice, thereby maintaining the fiction that they weren't responsible for surrender. The "stab-in-the-back" meme would likely not have been developed if Hindenburg had been forced to sign.
Last Edit: Sept 25, 2019 14:11:39 GMT -8 by kungfuzu
Post by timothylane on Sept 25, 2019 14:14:51 GMT -8
The stab in the back would probably still have been argued, though it might have been less effective. Most importantly, the High Command wouldn't have been able to argue that they were in fact unbeaten, which was a related but different issue.
Most importantly, the High Command wouldn't have been able to argue that they were in fact unbeaten, which was a related but different issue.
It is more than related. It is the essential ingredient in the "Stab in the Back" meme, for had the military admitted that they had been defeated, there could have been no serious discussion of a betrayal by the so-called "November Criminals." Defeat would have meant there was no reason or rational for any betrayal.
I find it interesting that "Dolchstoss" literally means "dagger stab." The "stab in the back" is used figuratively and has picked up the meaning, "stab in the back."
Last Edit: Sept 25, 2019 14:58:27 GMT -8 by kungfuzu
Post by Brad Nelson on Sept 25, 2019 15:12:40 GMT -8
And considering that Holland M. Smith, the Marine (and overall) commander on Saipan, was known as "Howling Mad" Smith, some of the sparks in the "Ws ar of the Smiths" may have been personal.
Taking the book I’m reading as gospel, the Marines (and Holland) had some legitimate beefs with Ralph Smith.
Let us remember that the one and only point of Saipan was to gain an airstrip. And that airstrip was left unsecured likely far longer than it need have been. Hundreds of Japs were left isolated on the southern tip of the island. And that was fine. They could be mopped up later (which, of course, the Marines had to do). But the army was keeping a thin perimeter. The Army wanted to keep even more men there. But Holland Smith needed the Army to surge into the middle, the Marines being on (I believe) the left and right flanks of the island and driving. He didn’t need glorified guards back at the airfield.
As was pointed out, he could have easily covered a line and handled any infiltration with minimal men if they would have just walked the line up a couple hundred yards where the point would quickly narrow. Later, the Japs made a fairly substantial run on the base and through Smith's "guard" and shot things up pretty good. They were repelled, but damage done.
So, from what I can see, Ralph Smith just lacked basic operation competence. And he didn’t seem all that fired up to do a hell of a lot. And apparently by his own admission he admitted he was a bureaucrat, not a field commander. The Marines were shedding lots of blood and yet you had this Army clown who seemed to have other things on his mind. It was “good riddance” to him finally coming from as high up as King, I think. Certainly it did say that Nimitz readily signed onto dismissing Smith even that would cause friction with the Army.
What you learn about any large operation like this is that any organization is full of clowns. I certainly come with no prejudices, one way or another in this regard. But going by this book, it would seems the Marines were a magnitude of order more professional than the Army personnel on Saipan.
But not all of Navy came off well. Interestingly, the book describes a lot of untoward radio chatter of the planes coming back from their raid on the Combined Fleet after that fleet was fleeing west after the Turkey Shoot. A lot of American flyers were lost and/or had ditched in the water. And there was a lot of actually crying (literal crying) coming over the radio. A lot of people were a bit shocked by this, things having gone so well and been done so professionally up to this point. Pure battle fatigue was considered a likely culprit.
Dozens, if not in the low hundreds, of America flyers were unaccounted for. Mitscher asked for permission to take the fleet back through the path the flyers had came to find who they could. Spruance readily gave permission. This was, at the time, considered an extraordinary act and endeared the flyers to the Navy command for the duration. This was a clear signal that the pilots were not considered expendable.
Mitscher also had a surprise for the flyers as they straggled home, low on fuel, and navigating at night, often in planes that had been shot up a bit and with many of the flyers suffering wounds. But Mitscher didn’t want to let on to his pilots beforehand what he was going to do lest it take away from the sharpness of the effort they put into navigation. They would need all the careful skill they had to make it home.
But when the flyers came near to home, many thought they had navigated badly and had stumbled onto a hostile Japanese city on a nearby island. The entire Pacific was lit up like city at night. Mitscher had turned every conceivable light on. The cruisers and destroyers even were aiming some of their search lights down to illuminate the water to make ditching easier. There were so many flares and other things bursting in the sky, it looked like a 4th of July celebration.
It obviously did finally occur to the flyers that they were home. And there were, unfortunately, quite a few deadly accidents in trying to land so many planes that were low on fuel being piloted by exhausted airmen. And it was a case of land where you could. Each carrier was instructed to land the planes regardless of where they actually belonged.
Back-biting in the services definitely goes with the territory. There was all kinds of fault-finding of Spruance after Midway. We was definitely vindicated regarding one malicious bit of fault-finding that said he should not have retired east at one point but should have pressed forward so he could attack the Japs in the morning. Captured documents show he would have run smack dab into the Japanese battleships and stuff. Not good.
And after the Battle of the Philippines, the fault-finding continued. They said Spruance should have gotten all the carriers. The author (either his own opinion or paraphrasing Spruance) noted that without planes and pilots, those carriers we as good as at the bottom of the sea.
Last Edit: Sept 25, 2019 15:19:20 GMT -8 by Brad Nelson
Post by timothylane on Sept 25, 2019 16:03:23 GMT -8
Mitscher's decision to light up his carriers was risky, since it made them inviting targets for any nearby submarines -- and the US had lost as many carriers to Japanese submarines as to Japanese bombers. It would have been useful also for any Japanese bomber pilots who happened to show up then, but it was a safe bet none would.
After the main action at Midway, Yamamoto pushed his battleships east hoping to catch up with the US fleet and reverse the defeat (though even if he had succeeded it would still have been unaffordable for him with 4 carriers lost). Spruance suspected as much, which is why he also headed eastward. One might note that Spruance was cautious at the Philippine Sea because the Japanese airplane (and especially aircrew) losses rendered their carriers virtually useless for a long time to come. At Leyte Gulf Halsey left Kinkaid exposed to Kurita's main fleet going after those useless carriers. Fortunately, Kurita blatantly failed in his task.
I mentioned Powell's The Soldier in a previous posting. This features a similar Army-Marine dispute in an island invasion. The protagonist finds the Army division commander ready with excuses, particularly noting how much better personnel the Marines have. He decides the guy is looking for an alibi and cashiers him, taking over himself. He then decides to take an approach that makes use of the Army's talent, carefully avoiding contact with the Marine commander until he succeeds. (He leads an isolated force to advance and then force the Japanese to attack them, and discusses Grant's initial separation from communication with Halleck during the Vicksburg campaign with the communications officer left behind. The officer sends messages about what Halleck is doing.)
Post by Brad Nelson on Sept 25, 2019 16:16:33 GMT -8
I might have mentioned that I said that several times to different Japanese while I lived in Tokyo.
Great minds think alike, Mr. Kung.
More importantly, the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki probably saved 5-10 million Japanese lives.
It’s a terrible numbers game to play, but something in that range is very likely true.
That reminds me of an interesting section in this book. The military leader in Saipan, General Yoshitsugu Saito, saw the writing on the wall. He (or someone else there….Chūichi Nagumo?) ordered (I forget the Japanese word for it) a basically symbolic suicide attack by everyone left. Both Saito and Nagumo committed ritual suicide before this was to happen.
But they later got a message from Tokyo (or at least a higher authority) not to do so. It was a plea to not waste lives, that if they would serve their Emperor, they would make the best use of what they could do. It was a call to guerrilla action. I’m not much forward in the book from here so I’m assuming some made the suicide gesture and others didn’t.
Wiki lists 5000 suicides amongst the Japaese military on Saipan plus many Japanese civilians.
In the end, almost the entire garrison of troops on the island — at least 29,000 — died. For the Americans, the victory was the most costly to date in the Pacific War: out of 71,000 who landed, 2,949 were killed and 10,464 wounded. Future Hollywood actor Lee Marvin was among the many Americans wounded. He was serving with "I" Company, 24th Marine Regiment, when he was hit by shrapnel in the buttocks by Japanese mortar fire during the assault on Mount Tapochau. He was awarded the Purple Heart and was given a medical discharge with the rank of private first class in 1945.
There are a lot of Hollywood assholes out there. Lee Marvin should forever deserve a pass.
As for Americans, having had to fight their way across a number Pacific Islands in vicious bloody campaigns, the American Marines and Army would display little patience with any Japanese who got in their way.
Let’s just say that from what I’ve read in this book, they didn’t take a lot of prisoners.
Given the American experience in the 3 year Island Hopping Campaign I said American troops would have little inclination to try and get the Japanese farmers to give up. Instead they would likely just mow them down and move on.
This has to be very close to the truth.
Last Edit: Sept 25, 2019 16:19:21 GMT -8 by Brad Nelson
Post by artraveler on Sept 25, 2019 16:22:51 GMT -8
There is a basic philosophical difference between Marines and Army. Marines are trained to be a fast moving strike force capable of intense combat for a short time. On the other hand, Army units are trained to maneuver as part of an army. A Marine regiment in WWII carried everything it needed for an invasion by sea to take and hold a beach head and then turn it over to the Army. Marine TOE is still roughly the same except it encompasses a MEU which can be regiment size or a simple battalion. Army deploys divisions. The best description is that the Marines win battles, the Army wins wars. The conflict is when one is asked to do what the other does better.
Post by timothylane on Sept 25, 2019 16:52:16 GMT -8
The Japanese Army preferred not to commit direct suicide, but to launch an attack that might always do some damage. At Tarawa, they might have succeeded with an attack the first night, when the Marines barely held a beachhead -- but their commander had been one of the casualties. By the time someone organized such an attack a few nights later, it was too late to do anything more than lead to heavy casualties.
Even earlier, at Attu, the Japanese were reduced to the equivalent of a battalion, surrounded by a division. So they infiltrated through the US lines to attack the hill on which the US artillery was parked. They got there and attacked, but a US engineer battalion halted them. In some cases (probably including Saipan), the final attack was basically a suicide attack. They knew they would die, but they might always take some Americans with them.
There were always a few prisoners, especially from non-Japanese troops. As the war continued there tended to be more prisoners, but never very many. (POWs were easy to interrogate. Since no good Japanese soldier would ever let himself be captured, they weren't trained how to behave if that happened. Of course, there was always the problem of finding interrogators who knew Japanese, though many of the troops knew English to some degree.)
Toland mentions some across-the-lines byplay in some campaign. The Americans were calling out "Tojo eats shit" to the Japanese, who countered with "Babe Ruth eats shit." Mocking FDR might backfire. One tale has a soldier who wanted to kill some Japs being advised to call out "To hell with Hiroito" so that the enraged Japanese would charge and be easily cut down by automatic weapon fire. Instead, one Jap came running by yelling "To hell with Roosevelt." And he wasn't about to shoot a fellow Republican.
Post by Brad Nelson on Sept 25, 2019 18:05:06 GMT -8
Mitscher's decision to light up his carriers was risky, since it made them inviting targets for any nearby submarines
That’s certainly true. And they did continue to get some raids from Guam. But, as I noted, there are reports that Jap pilots were astonished that American fighters and flak were immediately on them. Radar eliminated the threat from Guam (at least they would have warning and could turn the lights off).
One would assume that the destroyers were doing triple duty in search of subs at this time.
Post by Brad Nelson on Sept 25, 2019 18:08:53 GMT -8
The best description is that the Marines win battles, the Army wins wars.
And they don’t get a vacation. Guam was next up, and it would be another Marine group that would take that on. But the Marines who fought on Saipan were scheduled (I think) for the one after that. And then there was one after that. And one after that. And another and another. Boom. Atom bomb.
timothylane: I think it's clear KFZ had a happy birthday, or at least a happy meal (but not a Happy Meal). I hope so, anyway. No doubt it helps that he isn't stuck in a nursing home for the rest of his life.
Jul 25, 2019 21:25:52 GMT -8
Brad Nelson: Yes, Happy Birthday, Mr. Kung. I had forgotten yours was so close to mine. What day was it?
Jul 26, 2019 9:03:45 GMT -8
kungfuzu: Thanks to all for your birthday wishes. Yes, I did have a very happy meal. Not only did I have that wonderful steak and Brunello, but my wife also served up a lobster bisque. I generally eat well, but it is very rare for me to have such a fabulous repast.
Jul 26, 2019 9:41:08 GMT -8
kungfuzu: My birth date, July 25th, is of course a very important day in history. For example, one of the world-changing things to have taken place on this date was.........(crickets chirping) oh yeah, Bleriot was the first to fly across the English Channel
Jul 26, 2019 9:43:58 GMT -8
timothylane: Well, that's more than I can think of for December 12, my birth date. Some people are luckier, and even have some appopriate event -- such as Barack Obama being born on the anniversary of the Borden murders in Fall River, MA.
Jul 26, 2019 10:28:32 GMT -8
timothylane: Lobster bisque --- I've probably had that somewhere. But I'll go for New England clam chowder first. It's my favorite soup. I'll also take shrimp over lobster (or crab), though I like them all (and plenty of mollusks as well).
Jul 26, 2019 10:30:06 GMT -8
lynda: Just in case I'm offline on December 12th, Happy Birthday Timothy! I hope you get shrimp, and clam chowder.
Jul 26, 2019 11:17:29 GMT -8
timothylane: Thank you. I've never had clam chowder here (not even that tomato-based Manhattan version, which I had once), but they have on rare occasion had some sort of shrimp (I think theoretically shrimp scampi). You take what you can get.
Jul 26, 2019 11:58:05 GMT -8
kungfuzu: Tonight at 8:00pm ET, METv is broadcasting "Forbidden Planet" during it's Saturday night "Svengoolee" segment.
Jul 27, 2019 10:17:44 GMT -8
timothylane: They also have the Star Trek episode "Errand of Mercy" (war with the Klingons over Organia) at 10 p.m. And some interesting Three Stooges pie fights at 6 p.m., including the "Sword of Damocles" sequence.
Jul 27, 2019 10:45:10 GMT -8
Brad Nelson: I've got the Blu-ray version of Forbidden Planet. It might be time to ogle Anne Francis again. I have monsters in my ID. What can I say?
Jul 27, 2019 20:19:35 GMT -8
davegs: I've been in IT for over 40 years - and have been cobbling together systems for family and friends for years. It's not quite 'steam-punk' - but can seem rather close sometimes. Now its about weeding out what's been accumulated over the years.
Jul 30, 2019 6:08:39 GMT -8
Brad Nelson: I love the idea of a steam-punk Rube-Goldbergesque computer made of just stuff sitting around. That's something you can do with a PC that you really can't do with a Mac.
Jul 30, 2019 7:51:49 GMT -8
Brad Nelson: There used to be a PC repair place down the hall from me. I got a good view of how this guy could take parts and make a PC. He made me a couple from spare parts...parts that weren't up to spec but technically still worked.
Aug 1, 2019 9:07:57 GMT -8
kungfuzu: To continue my ongoing history lesson on the low regard in which actors have been held throughout history, I just read that actors could not become citizens in the Byzantine Empire. Apparently, the word actor was used as a synonym for prostitute.
Aug 1, 2019 10:41:31 GMT -8
kungfuzu: MeTV is showing John Wayne in "Chisum" at the moment. They just had "Rio Lobo." I don't know if this is a John Wayne binge, but if it is, I'll be happy.
Nov 13, 2019 14:49:32 GMT -8
kungfuzu: Sorry, it is not MeTV, but the Movies Channel which is showing "Chisum."
Nov 13, 2019 15:05:21 GMT -8
timothylane: I was wondering. MeTV doesn't show movies, though it does show plenty of western TV shows (except on Sundays). I've seen Chisum, about the Lincoln County War. I don't know if I have the Movies Channel, or if so where it is.
Nov 16, 2019 16:45:52 GMT -8