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Who Won the Second World War?


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#1 John Simkin

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Posted 06 November 2006 - 11:56 AM

Interesting article by the historian Norman Davies in yesterday's Sunday Times:

http://www.timesonli...92-2437544.html

“History will be kind to me,” predicted Winston Churchill, “because I intend to write it.” And so it proved. Churchill’s The Second World War, which began to appear in 1948, largely set the agenda for all subsequent presentations of the war years, especially in western countries: Britain stands in the centre of the conflict and her survival paves the way for victory.

As Churchill has it, Britain’s enemies, the axis powers, provide the sole authors of aggression, of criminal conduct and of undefined “evil”. The tide turns at El Alamein. Britain’s principal allies, the US and the USSR, which Churchill brought together in the grand coalition, provide the twin sources of military muscle that hunt down the fascist beast.

In Europe the allies of east and west co-operate, overcome their differences and triumph. The spectacular landings of the western armies in Normandy match the huge “Russian” successes on the eastern front. The Reich is crushed. Freedom and democracy prevail and “Europe is liberated”.

Unfortunately, the truth is more complex. The Russians, for example, are clear that the Red Army played the dominant role in the defeat of the Reich, demoting the Anglo-American war effort to secondary or tertiary importance. What is more, like the Americans, they insist that the “real war” began in 1941, relegating the events of 1939-41 to a mere prelude. For their part the Americans are most conscious of the competing demands of the two theatres of action in Europe and in the Pacific. They also emphasise the importance of the US as “the arsenal of democracy”.

Any attempt to revise established views provokes resistance, although I must admit to being surprised at the vehement opposition I encountered when challenging the Churchillian version. Other historians, such as Richard Overy, Robert Conquest and Anne Applebaum, have been peeling away the layers of myth for the past four decades, but still many people are unwilling to judge events on their own merit for fear of being accused of supporting “the forces of evil”.

Others recoil with incredulity from the notion that our patriotic opinions about 1939-45 may constitute something less than the whole truth. Both the British and the American public have long been told that “we won the war” and D-Day, in particular, has been built up as the decisive moment. The American D-Day Museum has been adopted as the national tribute to the war and Steven Spielberg, the director of Saving Private Ryan and co-producer of Flags of Our Fathers, which is just about to open, seems to have made it a mission to perpetuate Churchill’s myth.

After talking at Cambridge recently about the preponderance of the eastern front and the scale of the Red Army’s triumph, I was accosted by an angry young British historian. “Don’t you realise that we were pinning down 56 German divisions in France alone,” he said. “Without that the Red Army would have been heavily defeated.” What is less acknowledged is that without the Red Army pulverising 150 divisions, the allies would never have landed.

The attack on the Third Reich was a joint effort. But it was not a joint effort of two equal parts. The lion’s share of victory in Europe can be awarded only to Stalin’s forces and it is a fantasy to believe that he was fighting for justice and democracy.

Separating the facts from the myths and the propaganda is not easy. One of the trickiest problems in establishing a credible narrative of the war arises from the misconception that the largest combatant state, the USSR, stayed neutral before the German attack of June 1941. Soviet accounts have always preferred to focus on the so-called Great Fatherland War, and carefully avoids close examination of Stalin’s political and military machinations in the preceding years.

Western commentators have usually followed this line, reluctant to publicise their embarrassment at Hitler’s initial partner becoming the ally of the democratic West.

In reality, in the first 22 months of fighting when the Wehrmacht attacked and occupied eight countries, the Red Army attacked and occupied five. These manifest aggressions make nonsense of any claims of neutrality or of defensive responses to the provocations of others. In November 1939, for example, Stalin’s unprovoked invasion of Finland resulted in a war that lasted for twice as long as any of Hitler’s early campaigns.

Similarly, the Soviet annexation of the Baltic states in 1940 was no mere “strengthening of the defences” or “readjustment of frontiers”. It was a brutal act of depredation that destroyed three sovereign European states, together with a quarter of their population. All these events were facilitated by the Nazi-Soviet pact, which gave Stalin the same licence for banditry in the Soviet sphere that Hitler was exploiting in the German.

Proportions, however, are crucial. Since 75%-80% of all German losses were inflicted on the eastern front it follows that the efforts of the western allies accounted for only 20%-25%. Furthermore, since the British Army deployed no more than 28 divisions as compared with the American army’s 99, the British contribution to victory must have been in the region of 5%-6%. Britons who imagine that “we won the war” need to think again.

The modest size of the American contingent also calls for reflection. The population of the US was more than twice that of Germany and not far short of the Soviet Union’s. The military potential of the US, as estimated in 1939 in terms of gross national product and industrial production, represented more than 40% of the world’s total. Yet these advantages were never translated into proportionate superiority on the battlefield. The 100 divisions that General George C Marshall and his staff set as their target for mobilisation were overshadowed 2.5:1 by German divisions and 3-4:1 by the Red Army’s divisions.

Of course, crude numbers do not explain everything. The western powers were strong in some departments, notably in naval and air forces, and less strong in others. American industrial output was one of the marvels of the war; and all members of the allied coalition, including the Soviet Union, benefited greatly from it.

Nonetheless, the Third Reich was not brought to its knees by bombers and blockades. Both the German military and the German civilian population proved remarkably resilient. Hitler’s continental fortress had to be reduced inch by inch by soldiers on the ground. And here the Red Army excelled.
So much may be reluctantly conceded by western analysts who can do their sums. Harder to accept is that Soviet military prowess went hand in hand with criminality. The Third Reich was largely defeated not by the forces of liberal democracy, but by the forces of another mass-murdering tyranny. The liberators of Auschwitz were servants of a regime that ran a much larger network of concentration camps of its own.

When Churchill was writing in the late 1940s, he knew perfectly well that Stalin was no angel. Yet the sheer scale and variety of Stalinist crimes was not known. The statistic of 27m Soviet “war losses”, which appeared in the 1960s, concealed the fact that many of them were not Russians and many were victims not of Hitler but of Stalin. It has taken the collapse of the Soviet Union and more than 60 years for this body of certainty to accumulate.

One can argue about the similarities and differences of the Holocaust and the Gulag and it is obviously a mistake to equate the two. On the other hand, it is also a mistake to pretend that Stalinist crimes can somehow be absolved because Stalin was a doughty champion of the anti-Nazi cause.

All of which makes the Churchillian model open to revision. Britain can no longer stand centre stage. The axis powers are joined on the criminal list by the Soviet Union, which also turns out to have been the principal victor. The western allies are not all-conquering heroes but did well to finish in the winners’ enclosure.

The Americans arrived too late and in too few numbers to play the dominant role. The forces of democracy played their part in the defeat of fascism, but were left controlling less than half the continent. In the greater part of Europe one totalitarian tyranny was replaced by another. More often than not, the rhetoric of “freedom” and “liberation” was misplaced.


Europe at War 1939-1945: No Simple Victory by Norman Davies is published by Macmillan, £25

#2 Justin Q. Olmstead

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Posted 06 November 2006 - 06:00 PM

While I am not trying to take away the role of the Soviet Army in defeating Hitler, or the role of the British or American soldiers in doing the same, I don't think that we can discount Hitler's meddeling in the Wehrmacht's business. believe that most military historians agree that Hitler caused every soldier from his Generals on down the line headaches because of his insane orders, to hold a certain line or to attack when regrouping was what was needed. In fact his tactics tend to parallel the French and British tactis of the First World War. Additionally, one can argue that the Nazi decision at Wansee to destroy the Jewish population of Europe cost the Germans additional manpower that could have been used at the front. Along this same line of thought, the brutality with which the military dealt with the civilian population in the east turned many who welcomed the German Army as liberators into enemies that tied up countless supplies behind the front lines. So while the Soviet army did eventually destroy 150 German divisions, we have to remember Hitlers blunders played a rather large part in the Wehrmacht's defeat.

#3 Derek McMillan

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Posted 06 November 2006 - 07:23 PM

I was brought up on the tale of Karl Liebknecht, who stood out as a minority of one in opposing the First World War. Everybody knows he was right *now* - the trick was to be right *then*.

There are no winners in war.

People celebrated the end of the war, they were glad it was over. It was only later that the monarchs, politicians and generals dared to turn the commemoration of war into a glorification of... monarchs, politicians and generals

#4 Sterling Seagrave

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Posted 12 February 2007 - 03:09 PM

I was brought up on the tale of Karl Liebknecht, who stood out as a minority of one in opposing the First World War. Everybody knows he was right *now* - the trick was to be right *then*.

There are no winners in war.

People celebrated the end of the war, they were glad it was over. It was only later that the monarchs, politicians and generals dared to turn the commemoration of war into a glorification of... monarchs, politicians and generals



Indeed, there are no winners in war, but many winners in history books -- depending on who writes them, who funds the writer, and who publishes it. Each country has its triumphalist historians, for reasons that must be obvious. Unfortunately, they have a largely captive audience, because few people are in a position to read histories in other languages, and many journalists are notoriously reluctant to do any serious homework. As illustrated recently by The New York Times in the case of Judith Miller and other staff members (both reporters and editors) no journal is completely above corruption. With the NYT it was absolutely stellar corruption.

I once found myself responsible for editing the text of a history of the China-Burma-India campaign in WW2, and was astonished to see that the author (a well-known American journalist) had only included the American role, leaving out entirely the role of the UK and Commonwealth forces -- even Slim, Wingate, and others were absent. Browsing over the official US military histories, I was similarly astonished that they downplayed to the point of irrelevance the role of the UK and Commonwealth in any part of the Burma campaign.

Which brings me to question how America can justify its frequent claim to being "the world's only superpower". I assume this is based on the saying: "You can tell the men from the boys by the cost of their toys." In reference tothe military-industrial-political complex. Looking back only to 1945, one must recall that the US did not win in Korea, or in Vietnam, Cambodia, or Laos (Laos ???), or in Angola, or in any Central American conflict except when a political figure was assassinated or overthrown by a coup as in Guatemala or Nicaragua (where the man overthrown is now back in power), Panama was not a war but a kidnapping with excessive collateral damage in the slum areas, and in Grenada there were only a handful of "enemy". Having been in Mogadishu, which I can attest is much smaller than Perpignan, the US was not victorious. Or has it been, notoriously, in Afghanistan or Iraq.

That being the case, by what is victory measured? Why, by one's success at lying. Or, conversely, by the gullibility of one's audience.

Sterling Seagrave

#5 John Dolva

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Posted 04 May 2007 - 08:23 PM

Who won WWII? Well, as far as the heaviest losses and greatest contribution the USSR stands tall above all others.

On the other hand German and Japanese industrial infrastructure was decimated. So retooling was a step ahead of the allies.

With relatively new machinery and technology one could say that in the long run the 'winners' were Germany and Japan as modern economic powerhouses.

If the cold war arms race had not consumed Soviet resources that block of countries could very well also show a result of the sacrifice and victory.

The US basically sat back, along with other nations, and made huge amounts of capital by 1. supplying food to a starving Britain
2. Get rid of obsolete shipping in exchange for a number of military bases. 3. (Bush et al) Selling fuel and steel and other minerals to the Axis forces that were then used to kill their own soldiers, as well as the eastern 'allies'.

Axis Forces


,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,Country Pop. Killed/Mising Wounded Total(Military) Civilian (deaths)

Germany..............78m...........3.5 million.....4.6 million.......8.1 million......2million
Italy....................44m.............330,000.............?.....................?...............70,000
Japan ................72m...............1.75 million.......?....................?...............350,000
Rumania..............20m..............500,000........300,000..........800,000...
...400,000
Bulgaria................6m...............10,000...............?....................?..............50,000
Hungary..............10m...............120,000.........250,000.........370,000..
....200,000
Finland................4m................100,000...........45,000.........145,00
0.......4,000




Allied Forces (in order of entry into the war)

......................Country Pop. Killed/Missing Wounded Total(Military) Civilian (deaths)

China ...............450m..........1.3 million.......1.8 million........3.1 million ,,,,,,,,9 million
Poland................35m............130,000............200,000.........330,000.
...,,,,,,,.2.5million
U.K....................48m............400,000.............300,000........700,000
....,,,,,,,..60,000
France................42m.............250,000............350,000.........600,000
...,,,,,,,.270,000
Australia..............7m.............30,000...............40,000..........70,00
0 --
India..................360m............36,000...............64,000.........100,0
00 --
New Zealand.......2m..............10,000..............20,000...........30,000 --
So. Africa...........10m...............9,000..............14,000...........23,000 --
Canada...............11m.............42,000..............50,000...........92,000 --
Denmark.............4m................2,000.................?.....................?.........,,,,,,,,.1,000
Norway...............3m..............10,000.................?.....................?.......,,,,,,,,...6,000
Belgium...............8m..............12,000..............16,000...........28,00
0....,,,,,,,.100,000
Holland................9m.............14,000................7,000............21,
000....,,,,,,,,.250,000
Greece.................7m..............90,000.................?....................?........,,,,,,,..400,000
Yugoslavia..........15m............320,000.................?....................?.........,,,,,,,.1.3million
U.S.S.R..............194m..........9 million............18 million.......27 million.,,,,,,,.19 million
U.S.A.................129m...........300,000...............300,000.........600,000 --





"U.S.S.R.: Invaded by Germany in June 1941, the Soviet Union fought a lone, heroic struggle on the European mainland against Nazi Germany and her allies from that date until (After the USSR victory in Leningrad.) the opening of the Second Front in the D-Day invasion in June 1944. She suffered by far the greatest casualties of any country on either side.

By 1943, in the wake of the climactic victory at Stalingrad, the Red Army drove the Germans out of Russia in a series of giant offensives that ended with the capture of Berlin in May 1945. It may fairly be said that in "bleeding the German army white" the Soviet Union made the greatest contribution to the defeat of Nazi Germany."

Edited by John Dolva, 04 May 2007 - 08:25 PM.


#6 John Dolva

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Posted 20 December 2007 - 05:59 PM

National Socialist German Workers Party.
Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei = Nazi Party. Fiscisti in Italy, Falangista in Spain, the grey, silver, black, brown shirts, mindless Lumpen storm troopers that terrorised the good people into submission while Goebblers propaganda machinery aided and abetted by western interests, kept the people in the dark about the full extent of the attrocities carried out.

A Party misnomer in the tradition of Goebblerism. Typical Fascist propaganda that seeks to attract the Worker by promising control of the nasty Capitalists (in this case the Rich Jews, nasty money grubbers all, let's have a pogrom!!!) and promises the Capitalist Industrial finaciers that backed Hitler : Krupp, Ford etc (Ford: Publisher in the USofA of the fictitious "Protocols of the Elders of Zion", leading America First'er, anti semite) to control the worker, and enslave the communist, the good,bad and ugly a la the Nazis.

Then threw 18 times the armed forces against the CCCP, the Bolchevics, his true (and his Financial backers) enemy, than against the western 'allies', after the Go North Faction in Japan had been soundly beaten in the east by the Bolshevics. 35 + million Soviet casualties compared to 600,000 USofA who only entered the European (D-Day) war after the long meat grinding in Leningrad and Stalingrad ended with Soviet victory and the inexorable drive to Berlin started (ie. : the CCCP had defeated the NAZIs).

After completing this they turned their eyes to the east again where Truman tricked them into holding off a couple of weeks, meanwhile, while surrender feelers from Japan went out, "Big Boy" was completed and Hiroshima and Nagasaki needlessly became a laboratory for the effects of nuclear weapons on people and the Soviets learnt that they had a new very dangerous enemy in their supposed allies.

The Rosenbergs, and the like, are true heroes of the people, not traitors at all.

The NAZI Financiers continue today as major industrialists. The German Communists were wiped out, the Jews dispossessed and in turn created room for the 'true' German aryan workers.

Japans and West Germany's decimated industries retooled and became the economic powerhouses they are today. The USofA embraced the NAZI scientists enthusiastically, and the advanced ICBM delivery developments adopted. Plus a Repubican voter base imported by Nixon. Then the industriousness of the CCCP, unveiled the satellite, manned space flight et.c.. And Communism is Bad. Goebbler would gave smiled in his grave.

(Oh yes, that's right, under Hitler, the trains ran on time.)

Disgusting.

Edited by John Dolva, 20 December 2007 - 06:10 PM.


#7 Charles Drago

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Posted 20 December 2007 - 06:57 PM

John,

The short answer to your question:

I.G. Farben, Mitsubishi, Boeing, General Motors, NASA, CIA, and for all I know, Spacely Sprockets.

See Smedley Butler.

Charles




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