World War 2 National Socialism and the Holocaust

Conclusion: Why did the Axis lose the Second World War? :: The Storm of War by Andrew Roberts

Response / Thought Quotes

  • “And some there be which have no memorial, who are perished as though they had never been.”
  • “This war is one of those elemental conflicts which usher in a new millennium and which shake the world.”
  • “I can only say that some of my best friends were Jews”

Thought Questions

  • Why did the Axis lose the Second World War?
  • How did the Allies win the war? How did the Allies keep themselves from losing the war?
  • What role did (greater) Russia play in winning the war?
  • What role did the Russian Empire play in winning the war?
  • What role did the British Empire play in winning the war?
  • Compare and Contrast: the impact of the end of the war on the Russian and the British empires?
  • What strategic mistakes did Germany make?
  • How did racial myths and policy impact German decision making?
  • What strategic mistakes did Japan make?
  • What strategic choices did the Anglo-Americans make that helped win the war?
  • Describe the sacrifice of the peoples of the Russian Empire in winning the war?
  • Explain and Expand: “To what extent was Jodl right?”
  • Explain and Expand: “The reasons why so many outwardly dignified professional officers served the Nazis so efficiently and seemingly enthusiastically were many and complicated.”
  • React and Respond: “The German generals were for the most part corrupt, morally debased, opportunistic and far removed from the unideological knights of chivalry that they liked to portray themselves as.”
  • Provide Examples to support or disprove: “Very often, of course, the policy choices were not clear cut between Hitler on one side and his generals on the other, but were debated between the generals on both sides of the argument with Hitler deciding.”
  • Explain and Expand: “The problem with invading Russia was always going to be as much logistical as military.”
  • Explain and Expand: “The strengths of the three main Allied nations were very different,”
  • Affirm or Refute: Japan lost the war because Germany lost the war
  • Explain and Expand: “It is the central statistic of the Second World War.”
  • React and Respond: “The world was fortunate that it had men of the calibre of Roosevelt and Churchill, and even Stalin, for all his blunders, when it was threatened by Adolf Hitler.”
  • Explain and Expand: “Similarly, there was no real choice for the Americans even after Japan unleashed war on them on 7 December 1941 and then Hitler declared it four days later.”
  • Explain and Expand: “For all the military defeats on the European Continent to both the east and west by 1945, there was one thing that could still have won Hitler a stalemate, or even the war.”
  • Explain and Expand: “The real reason why Hitler lost the Second World War was exactly the same one that caused him to unleash it in the first place: he was a Nazi.”
World War 2 National Socialism and the Holocaust

Chapter 18: The Land of the Setting Sun :: The Storm of War by Andrew Roberts

Note: This unfortunately is a very “thin” chapter. It really should have been three chapters – The end of the Pacific war, the war against the Japanese islands and the Atomic Bombing and surrender. See the further reading below for more information about the end of the Pacific War. Very unfortunately issues surrounding the air war against Japanese cities and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are not explored in any meaningful depth.

Response / Thought Quotes

  • “Armchair strategists can look at the last stages of a campaign and say there’s nothing left but mopping up, but if you’re holding the mop it’s different. The last Jap in the last bunker on the last day can be as fatal to you personally as the biggest battle at the height of the campaign, and you don’t look or think much beyond him – wherever he is.”
  • “As the seconds ticked slowly toward 09.00, our artillery and ships’ guns increased their rate of fire. The rain poured down, and the Japanese took up the challenge from our artillery. They started throwing more shells our way . . . The shells whistled, whined and rumbled overhead, ours bursting out in front of the ridge and the enemy’s exploding in our area and to the rear. The noise increased all along the line. Rain fell in torrents, and the soil became muddy and slippery wherever we hurried around the gun pit to break out and stack our ammo. I looked at my watch. It was 0900. I gulped and prayed for my buddies.”
  • “because our German scientists were better than their German scientists”
  • “We were of a generation to whom Coventry and the London Blitz and Clydebank and Liverpool and Plymouth were more than just names; our country had been hammered mercilessly from the sky, and so had Germany; we had seen the pictures of Belsen and of the frozen horror of the Russian Front; part of our higher education had been dedicated to techniques of killing and destruction; we were not going to lose sleep because the Japanese homeland had taken its turn. If anything, at the time, remembering the kind of war it had been, and the kind of people we, personally, had been up against, we probably felt that justice had been done. But it was of small importance when weighed against the glorious fact that the war was over at last.”

Thought Questions

  • Describe the progress of Americans in the Pacific and the recession of the Japanese in the last 18 months of the war
  • Compare and Contrast: Arguments for a “Germany First” policy and arguments for a “Pacific First” policy
  • Explain and Expand: The strategic tensions between the United States Army and Navy over the direction of the war
  • What was the American goal for the Pacific while the fight against Germany was ongoing?
  • How did the war in the Pacific change the nature of future naval warfare
  • What role did air power play in the war for the Pacific? The war for Japan?
  • In what ways were American soldiers drawn into the barbarization of warfare?
  • In what ways did American soldiers resist the barbarization of warfare?
  • Who was William Slim and what role did he play in the liberation of Burma?
  • What was the strategic value of Iwo Jima and Okinawa in American plans?
  • Why did Japan “fight on”? Why did the Japanese people “fight on”?
  • Describe the Tokyo firebombing, the goal of the action and what it achieved
  • Compare and Contrast: The battle of Iwo Jima and the battle of Okinawa
  • Describe the events of August 1945 in the Pacific

Primary Sources

Further Reading

 

 

World War 2 National Socialism and the Holocaust

The Storm Of War By Andrew Roberts – Chapter 16: Western Approaches August 1944– March 1945

World War 2 Eastern Front Troops Advancing

Response / Thought Quotes

  • “When Herr Hitler escaped his bomb on July 20th he described his survival as providential; I think that from a purely military point of view we can all agree with him, for certainly it would be most unfortunate if the Allies were to be deprived, in the closing phases of the struggle, of that form of warlike genius by which Corporal Schickelgruber has so notably contributed to our victory.”
  • “In attempting to explain why the High Command nonetheless kept on fighting so hard on both fronts after Overlord, Max Hastings argues that whether they were SS officers, Prussian aristocrats, career soldiers or mere functionaries, the German generals ‘abandoned coherent thought about the future and merely performed the immediate military functions that were so familiar to them’”
  • “The extent to which the German generals knew about and collaborated in war crimes, particularly on the Eastern Front, was revealed by a massive clandestine operation undertaken by the British Secret Intelligence Service between 1942 and 1945. A section of SIS called MI19 secretly recorded no fewer than 64,427 conversations between captured German generals and other senior officers, all without their knowledge, indeed without their ever suspecting anything.”
  • “‘Of course he knows all about it. Secretly he’s delighted. Of course, people can’t make a row, they would simply be arrested and beaten if they did.’”
  • “‘The things I’ve experienced! In Latvia, near Dvinsk, there were mass executions of Jews carried out by the SS. There were about fifteen SS men and perhaps sixty Latvians, who are known to be the most brutal people in the world. I was lying in bed early one Sunday morning when I kept on hearing two salvoes followed by small arms fire.’”
  • “‘How was it done?’ asked Felbert. ‘They faced the trench and then twenty Latvians came up behind and simply fired once through the back of their heads, and they fell down forwards into the trench like ninepins.’”
  • “‘outside, where people can look on. If you shoot people in the wood or somewhere where no one can see,’ he told the SS, ‘that’s your own affair. But I absolutely forbid another day’s shooting here. We draw our drinking water from deep springs; we’re getting nothing but corpse water there.’”
  • “‘What did they do to the children?’ asked Felbert. Kittel– who, the report states, sounded ‘very excited’– answered: ‘They seized 3- year- old children by the hair, held them up and shot them with a pistol and then threw them in. I saw that for myself. One could watch it.’”
  • “‘In Upper Silesia they simply slaughtered the people systematically. They were gassed in a big hall. There’s the greatest secrecy about all those things.’ Later still he said: ‘I’m going to hold my tongue about what I do know of these things.’”
  • “the gassings are by no means the worst.’ ‘What happened?’ asked Ramcke. ‘To start with people dug their own graves, then the firing squad arrived with tommy- guns and shot them down. Many of them weren’t dead and a layer of earth was shovelled in between. They had packers there who packed the bodies in, because they fell in too soon. The SS did that. I knew an SS leader there quite well”
  • “‘All those cynical remarks! If only I had seen those tommy- gunners, who were relieved every hour because of over- exertion, carry out their task with distaste, but not with nasty remarks like: ‘‘ Here comes a Jewish beauty!’’ I can still see it all in my memory; a pretty woman in a flame- coloured chemise. Talk about keeping the race pure. At Riga enstadt they first slept with them and then shot them to prevent them from talking.’”
  • “The United States are battening on our reserves, accumulated by years of self- denial. I am resisting that: but for an acute emergency we can and should use our reserves . . . Now is the time to say firmly that the US soldier eats five times what ours does. US civilians are eating as never before. We will never be behindhand with them in sacrifices: but let them cut down themselves before presuming to address”
  • “‘The main result must be judged, not by the ground it gains, but by the number of Allied divisions it diverts from the vital sectors of the front.’”
  • “‘You have just got to make up Your mind whose side You’re on. You must come to my assistance, so that I might dispatch the entire German Army as a birthday present to Your Prince of Peace.’”
  • “‘giving warning to Germany not to go on resisting. If [the Germans] carry on resistance past sowing time then [there] will be famine in Germany next winter . . . we take no responsibility for feeding Germany.’”

Thought Questions

  • Describe the July 20th bomb plot
  • Explain and Expand: “Yet any thinking German knew that the war was lost from about the time of the destruction of Army Group Centre in the east and the fall of Paris in the west.”
  • Describe the motivation, purpose and objectives of Operation Anvil
  • What was The Combined Services Detailed Interrogation Centre (CSDIC)?
  • Explain and Expand: “The extent to which the German generals knew about and collaborated in war crimes, particularly on the Eastern Front, was revealed by a massive clandestine operation undertaken by the British Secret Intelligence Service between 1942 and 1945. A section of SIS called MI19 secretly recorded no fewer than 64,427 conversations between captured German generals and other senior officers, all without their knowledge, indeed without their ever suspecting anything.”
  • What did German Generals reveal about German war crimes and the Holocaust
  • React and Respond: ‘That’s a political matter, that’s nothing to do with me.’
  • How do the revelations from Trent Park disprove the “Good Wehrmacht, Bad SS” distortion?
  • What was General Patton’s plan for the liberation of France and Germany?
  • What was General Montgomery’s plan for the liberation of France and Germany?
  • What plan did General Eisenhower ultimately decide on?
  • Describe the conditions of American-British burden sharing on military and civilian issues
  • Describe the motivation, purpose and objectives of Operation Market and Operation Garden and how they combined
  • Describe the German disagreements over the Ardennes offensive
  • Describe the Battle of the Ardennes / Bulge 
  • What did the German’s accomplish with the “Battle of the Bulge”?
  • What did the American’s accomplish with the “Battle of the Bulge”?
  • React and Respond: ‘that cocky little limey fart’, ‘foul- mouthed lover of war’
  • React and Respond: ‘The rest is none of my business. The Führer must know what he is doing.’
  • What were the V-1 and V-2 “wonder weapons” and what did they accomplish for the German war effort?
  • What was the British reaction to the V-1 and V-2 “wonder weapons”?
  • What was the German (public, party members and military) reaction to the V-1 and V-2 wonder weapon?

Articles and Resources

Further Reading

 

World War 2 National Socialism and the Holocaust

The Storm of War by Andrew Roberts – Chapter 17 – Eastern Approaches: August 1943–May 1945

World War 2 Eastern Front Troops Advancing

Response / Thought Quotes

  • “We no longer fought for Hitler, or National Socialism, or for the Third Reich, or even our fiancées or mothers or families trapped in bomb-ravaged towns. We fought from simple fear. We fought for ourselves, so that we didn’t die in holes filled with mud and snow. We fought like rats.”
  • “Human pity was now beside the point.”
  • “The root cause of German defeat was the way her forces were wasted in fruitless efforts, and above all, fruitless resistance at the wrong time and place.”
  • “During the Second World War the German Supreme Command could never decide on a withdrawal when the going was good. It either made up its mind too late, or when a retreat had been forced upon our armies and was already in full swing.”
  • “‘Towards the end of 1943 at the latest it had become unmistakably clear that the war had been lost,’ wrote General Halder. ‘Would it not have been possible even so to beat off the invasion and thus provide the basis for a tolerable peace? Had the ‘‘Fortress Germany’’ no hope of consuming the enemy’s strength on its walls? No! Let us once and for all have done with these fairy tales.’. He was right; having taken on four of the world’s six greatest powers, Germany was doomed.”
  • “‘If you talked for two hours and you thought that finally you had convinced him of something, he began where you started just as if you had never said a word.’”
  • “‘It may well be that the Russian success has been somewhat aided by the strategy of Herr Hitler – of Corporal Hitler. Even military idiots find it difficult not to see some faults in some of his actions . . . Altogether, I think it is much better to let officers rise up in the proper way.’”
  • “A: Hold your position! B: I am finished. A: Reinforcements are moving up. B: To hell with your reinforcement. I am cut off. Your reinforcement won’t find me here any more. A: For the last time, I forbid you to speak openly over the wireless. I would prefer you to shoot your own people than allow the enemy to shoot them. B: Comrade No. 54, perhaps you will grasp the situation when I tell you that I have nobody left I can shoot, apart from my wireless operator.”
  • “Not to trust anybody was very typical of Josef Stalin. All the years of his life did he trust one man only, and that was Adolf Hitler.”
  • “If the war should be lost, then the Volk will also be lost. This fate is unavoidable. It is not necessary to take into consideration the bases the Volk needs for the continuation of its most primitive existence. On the contrary, it is better to destroy these things yourself. After all, the Volk would then have proved the weaker nation, and the future would exclusively belong to the stronger nation of the east. What would remain after this fight would in any event be inferior subjects, since all the good ones would have fallen.”
  • “19 March, entitled ‘Demolitions on Reich Territory’, in which he commanded that ‘All military transport, communication facilities, industrial establishments, and supply depots, as well as anything else of value within Reich territory that could in any way be used by the enemy immediately or within the foreseeable future for the continuation of the war, be destroyed.’”
  • “‘I think the Wagner ideology of Götterdämmerung [Twilight of the Gods] had an influence on Hitler during the last few months,’ Walther Funk told his Nuremberg psychiatrist in May 1946, ‘and everything had to go down in ruins with Hitler himself, as a sort of false Götterdämmerung.’”
  • “Officers were reduced to telephoning numbers taken at random from the Berlin telephone directory, the Soviet advance being plotted by how many times the calls were answered in Russian rather than German.”
  • “The Red Army had long been shooting anyone captured in SS uniform, and those SS men who had discarded it nonetheless could not escape the fact that their blood group was tattooed on their left arms, one inch below the armpit.”
  • “’What is so awful in his having fun with a woman, after such horrors?’ Stalin asked Marshal Tito about the ordinary Russian soldier in April 1945. ‘You have imagined the Red Army to be ideal. And it is not ideal, nor can it be . . . The important thing is that it fights Germans.’”
  • “All sorts of complications ensue as soon as you admit a fair trial. I agree with the Home Secretary that they should be treated as outlaws. We should however seek agreement of our Allies . . . I would take no responsibility for a trial – even though the United States wants to do it. Execute the principal criminals as outlaws – if no Ally wants them.”

Read more

The Storm of War by Andrew Roberts :: Chapter 15: Norman Conquest

Response / Thought Quotes

  • “‘What’s your most valuable possession?’ General Montgomery asked a soldier just before D-Day. ‘My rifle, sir,’ came the reply. ‘No, it isn’t,’ Monty replied; ‘it’s your life, and I’m going to save it for you.’”
  • “The danger in the East remains, but a greater threatens to the West – the Anglo-Saxon landings. In the East, in the worst scenario, the vast size of the territory allows a loss of ground even on the large scale without delivering us a mortal blow. But it is different in the West!…It is there that the enemy has to attack, there – if we are not deceived – that the decisive landing battles will be fought.”
  • ‘The free men of the world are marching together to victory! I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory! Good luck! And let us beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.’”
  • “‘I am very uneasy about the whole operation. At the best it will fall so very very short of the expectation of the bulk of the people, namely all those who know nothing of its difficulties. At the worst it may well be the most ghastly disaster of the whole war. I wish to God it were safely over.’” 
  • ‘Do you realize that by the time you wake up in the morning, 20,000 men may have been killed?’ 
  • “‘The scene in the Channel was quite amazing,’ recalled Lieutenant-Commander Cromwell Lloyd-Davies of HMS Glasgow. ‘It was almost like Piccadilly Circus – there were so many ships there and it was incredible to us that all this could be going on without the Germans knowing anything about it. But we never saw a German aircraft the whole time.’”
  • “‘exchanging reminiscences, taking pleasure in the many fine days and weeks we have had together’, recorded Goebbels; ‘the mood is like the good old times’” 
  • “Ramps are dropped along the boat line and the men jump off in water anywhere from waist deep to higher than a man’s head. This is the signal awaited by the Germans atop the bluff. Already pounded by mortars, the floundering line is instantly swept by crossing machine gun fire from both ends of the beach . . . The first men out . . . are ripped apart before they can make five yards. Even the lightly wounded die by drowning, doomed by the water-logging of their overloaded packs . . . Already the sea runs red . . . A few move safely through the bullet swarm to the beach, then find they cannot hold there. They return to the water to use it for body cover. Faces turned upwards, so that their nostrils are out of the water, they creep towards the land at the same rate as the tide. This is how most of the survivors make it . . . Within seven minutes after the ramps drop, Able Company is inert and leaderless. ” 

Thought Questions

  • Compare and Contrast the leadership attitude towards military casualties in the Anglo-American, Russian and Axis nations
  • Why were the British haunted by Gallipoli? Why was this especially true for Churchill?
  • Describe the major allied military leaders at Normandy
  • Describe Operation Torch
  • Describe Operation Neptune
  • Describe Operation Overlord 
  • Compare and Contrast the leadership and character of General Eisenhower with Field Marshall Montgomery and Charles de Gaulle 
  • React and Respond: ‘All warfare is based on deception.’ to Normandy particularly and to World War II generally
  • What was the German Abwehr and what role did they play in the Normandy invasion?
  • How did Allied disinformation and psychological warfare impact Normandy? 
  • What were Mulberry Harbours and how did they function at Normandy?
  • Describe the logistics and infrastructure that was used for the Normandy invasion
  • Describe the gear and equipment of infantry landing in Normandy?
  • What role did gliders and airborne forces play in the Normandy invasion?
  • Compare and Contrast French civilians / irregulars with the French military in the liberation of France
  • What role did the United States Coast Guard fill in the Normandy invasion?
  • How did the French resistance assist in the Normandy invasion and how did the Allies communicate with them?
  • Describe the role Charles de Gaulle played in the liberation of Paris and France 
  • Why did Charles de Gaulle lead a “victory” parade in Paris?
  • React and Respond: “‘You think I am interested in England winning the war,’ he once told Spears. ‘I am not. I am only interested in French victory.’ When Spears made the logical remark: ‘They are the same,’ de Gaulle replied: ‘Not at all; not at all in my view.’ To a Canadian officer who just before D-Day had asked him whether he could join the Free French, but declared himself pro-British, de Gaulle shouted: ‘I detest the English and the Americans, you understand, I detest the English and the Americans. Get out!’” 
  • How did meteorology play a role in the Normandy invasion?
  • Describe the Normandy invasion force, how it was structured and its leaders
  • What was Operation Bolero?
  • Describe the role Allied and German air power played in the Normandy invasion
  • Describe the Airspeed Horsa Towed Glider Transport and the role it played in Normandy 
  • In what ways did the Battle of the Atlantic impact the Normandy invasion?
  • What were E-Boats, U-Boats and S-Boats?
  • What was Hitler doing the morning of the Normandy invasion?
  • What were “Hobart’s funnies”? 
  • React and Respond: “‘I came home from shopping on 9 June 1944 to find my husband and my son hanging from the balcony of our house,’ recalled a woman from the town. ‘They were just two of a hundred men seized at random and killed in cold blood by the SS. The children and wives were forced to watch while they strung them up to the lamp-posts and balconies outside their own homes. What is there for me to say?’”
  • Who was Claus von Stauffenberg and what what the July 20th plot?
  • In what ways did the July 20th plot contribute to the Nazi belief in a “stab in the back” myth?
  • Describe the V-1 “Flying Bomb” and V-2 “Flying Rocket” 
  • React and Respond: “Better communications – and indeed better personal relations – might have led to a greater victory at the Gap even than the one gained by Montgomery, Bradley and Patton between 13 and 19 August.”

Primary Sources

Articles, References and Resources

Further Reading

 

The Storm of War by Andrew Roberts :: Chapter 14: The Cruel Reality

Response / Thought Quotes

  • “The RAF carried out precision attacks on area targets, while the USAAF carried out area attacks on precision targets.”
  • “They sowed the wind and now they are going to reap the whirlwind. There are a lot of people who say that bombing can never win a war. Well, my answer to that is that it has never been tried yet, and we shall see.”
  • “I regret indeed occasions on which I have been crotchety and impatient. I was the closest to the urgencies of my command, and, frankly, borne down by the frightful inhumanities of war.”
  • “In 1942 fewer than half of all heavy-bomber crews survived the thirty sorties required of their first tour of duty, and only one in five of those made it through their second. By 1943 the odds had shortened yet further: only one in six survived the first tour, and one in forty a second.” 
  • “The report from your police commissioner is a stinking lie! I tell you as the Reichsmarschall that the figures cited are simply too high. How can you dare report such fantasies to the Führer!’ He insisted that the number of incendiary bombs reported was ‘many times too high. All wrong!”
  • “Hamburg had put the fear of God in me,’ admitted Speer, who predicted to Hitler that ‘a series of attacks of this sort, extended to six more major cities, would bring Germany’s armaments production to a total halt”
  • “most serious consequences both for the civilian population and for armaments production. This attack definitely shatters the illusions that many have had about the continuation of air operations by the enemy. Unfortunately we shot down very few planes–twelve, all told . . . It is a real catastrophe . . . It is believed that new quarters must be found for about 150,000 to 200,000.I don’t know at this time of writing how we are going to solve that problem. ” 
  • “‘I officially assert that the American fighter planes did not reach Aachen.’ Galland’s reply was simply: ‘Orders are orders, sir!'” 
  • “the Germans had themselves designated it ‘a military defensive area’.”
  • “It seems to me that the moment has come when the question of bombing German cities simply for the sake of increasing the terror, though under other pretexts, should be reviewed. Otherwise we shall come into control of an utterly ruined land. We shall not, for instance, be able to get housing materials out of Germany for our own needs because some temporary provisions would have to be made for the Germans themselves. The destruction of Dresden remains a serious query against the conduct of Allied bombing . . . I feel the need for more precise concentration upon military objectives . . . rather than on mere acts of terror and wanton destruction, however impressive. ” 

Thought Questions

  • What was the British Bomber Command and Fighter Command? 
  • Who was Sir Arthur Harris? 
  • Compare and Contrast the different philosophies and practices of the RAF and USAAF
  • What roles did the USAAF 8th Air Force, 12th Air Force and 15th Air Force play in the defeat of Germany?
  • How did the air offensive demoralize the German war industry? 
  • What were the principle targets of the air war against Germany?
  • Compare and Contrast the Allied Bombing of Germany with the German bombing of Warsaw, Belgrade, and Rotterdam? 
  • What role did railroad infrastructure play in the Allied bombing campaign? 
  • In what ways did the western bombing campaign impact the Russian front? 
  • Describe the casualty figures for the RAF and USAAF
  • Describe Operation Pointblank and the objectives it was designed to achieve?
  • What was the significance of the Trident Conference in Washington?
  • Describe the impact the Allied Bombing Campaign had on the rate of increase in military production as opposed to lessening actual German armaments production
  • Describe Operation Gomorrah and its impact on the German war effort and morale
  • What role did the defeat of Italy play in the bombing campaign against Germany?
  • What was the purpose of the attack on Dresden and how did it impact the Soviet war effort?
  • Why did the Germans declare Dresden ‘a military defensive area’?
  • Describe the experience of Victor Klemperer in the air raid on Dresden
  • Describe the experience of Kurt Vonnegut Jr in the air raid on Dresden
  • In what ways was the Combined Bomber Offensive was justified?
  • In what ways was the Combined Bomber Offensive was unjustified?
  • If the Western Allies had refrained from conducting the Combined Bomber Offensive, what would the impact have been on the German war effort? 

Articles and Resources

Further Reading

 

The Storm of War by Andrew Roberts :: Chapter 13: A Salient Reversal

Response / Thought Quotes

  • “We have severely underestimated the Russians, the extent of the country and the treachery of the climate. This is the revenge of reality.”
  • “‘He was arrogant and intolerant at times, and something of a martinet,’ wrote the British field marshal Michael Carver, ‘but he was highly intelligent, with a clear, quick brain. Beneath a cold, reserved exterior, he was an emotional man, who kept his feelings under strict control . . . He was respected for the speed and sharpness with which he analysed the essentials of a problem, for the brevity and clarity of his orders, and for the calm, cool calculation by which he arrived at his decisions.’”
  • “His left hand trembled, his back was bent, his gaze was fixed, his eyes protruded but had lost their former lustre, his cheeks were flecked with red. He was more excitable, easily lost his composure and was prone to angry outbursts and ill-considered decisions.” 
  • “That was the plan the Stavka adopted, and it was substantially what was to happen” 
  • “Independence Day for America and the beginning of the end for Germany” 

Thought Questions

  • Describe the events between the surrender at Stalingrad and the start of the battles around Kursk 
  • What was the strategic disposition of forces for the Russians and Germans after the battles of Kharkov?
  • Describe the battles around the Kursk salient in terms of phases during July and August 1943 
  • Describe the relevant geography and topography of the battlefields around Kursk, both before and after the battles.
  • Describe the goals and execution of Operation Citadel 
  • Describe the goals and execution of Operation Kutuzov 
  • Who were the primary field commanders of the battles of Kharkov?
  • In military terms, what is a “Salient”? 
  • What is the significance of the quote: “That was the plan the Stavka adopted, and it was substantially what was to happen” and how is it related to the quote below?
  • What is the significance of the quote: “Independence Day for America and the beginning of the end for Germany” and how is it connected to the quote referenced above?
  • Describe the events around the German capture of Kursk in 1941 
  • Describe the events around the “Salient Reversal”
  • Who were the primary field commanders of the battles around Kursk?
  • How do the events around the battles of Kharkov and Kursk disprove the myth of Erich von Manstein as a “good” Nazi fellow traveler? 
  • What was siege of Sevastopol and describe Erich von Manstein’s treatment of civilians and prisoners after the defeat of Sevastopol? 
  • What was Operation Zitadelle? Why did it fail? 
  • What was the OKH (Oberkommando des Heeres) and OKW (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht) and how did they function together and separately? 
  • What was the Stavka and how did it function?
  • What was the general balance of power and disposition of forces between the Russians and Germans in the battles around the Kursk salient?
  • What were the international implications of the German defeat in the battles around Kursk?
  • Compare and Contrast how Russian and German commanders, officers and rank and file participated in war crimes. 
  • How do the actions of Germans and Russians compare to the generally accepted military morality and codes of conduct of their generation? (not the “legal” conventions, but the actual state of affairs in war zones) 
  • Compare and Contrast the military conduct of Russians and Germans with their peers in World War I (pre-revolutionary)
  • Compare and Contrast the military conduct of Russians and Germans with the general conduct of the British and French military towards colonial peoples during wartime
  • Compare and Contrast the military conduct of Russians and Germans with the general conduct of United States forces during Native American wars 
  • In what ways does the end of the battles around Kursk begin the period of the Red Army terror? (There is always a terror when Stalin around) 
  • Remember: Ro-kos-sov-sky :: Rokos Sovsky :: Rokossovsky (I don’t think you could find more Russian sounding names than Konstantin Konstantinovich Rokossovsky and Nikolay Fyodorovich Vatutin unless their was a Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky somewhere)

Articles and Resources

Further Reading

 

The Storm of War by Andrew Roberts :: Chapter 12: Up the Wasp-Waist Peninsula

Response / Thought Quotes

  • “‘The fight against the partisans must be carried out with all means at our disposal and with utmost severity. I will protect any commander who exceeds our usual restraint in the choice of methods . . . Wherever there is evidence of a considerable number of partisan groups a proportion of the male population of the area will be arrested, and in the event of an act of violence being committed these men will be shot.’”
  • ‘Shells were flashing in the water,’ recalled an American journalist, Jack Belden, ‘flames were yellowing the sky, and bullets were slapping into the boat. They snapped over our heads, rattled against the boat sides like hail and beat at the ramp door . . . The boat shuddered and the ramp creaked open . . . I stepped down . . . At last I was on the continent of Europe.’ 
  • “We picked our way through fields ripped by mortars and shells and the still bodies of doughboys [GIs] who fell in the bloody, savage fighting . . . [in] this gray little town overlooking the valley approaches to Cassino. The soldiers call it Death Valley because death was on the rampage . . . as they stormed this enemy fortress ringed by fortifications, dug into terraced slopes commanding the Liri valley.”
  • “that goats would find difficult to negotiate”
  • ‘The bombing had the opposite effect of what was intended. Now we would occupy the abbey without scruple, especially as ruins are better for defense than intact buildings . . . Now Germany had a mighty, commanding strong point, which paid for itself in the subsequent fighting.’ 
  • “We do not want Germans or Americans, Let us weep in peace.”
  • “an American private later recalled, ‘I could see a pair of fleshy white buttocks wobbling in the opposite direction and I shouted ‘‘Halt!’’ as loud as I could. The man stopped, raised his hands and walked towards us . . . His thin legs were shivering below a great pot belly. It was my first encounter with the Master Race.’”

Thought Questions

  • Describe the importance of Operation Husky and the relation to the Italian campaign?
  • What was the significance of the Quadrant Conference in Quebec during August 1943?
  • Who was Fridolin von Senger und Etterlin and what was his responsibility during the Italian campaign?
  • What responsibility did Fridolin von Senger und Etterlin have for the war crimes committed against the Italians by retreating German forces? 
  • How is the myth of the “good” Nazi applied to Fridolin von Senger und Etterlin and what evidence is there to disproved the myth?
  • Who was General Sir Harold Alexander and what was his role in the Italian campaign?
  • Who was General Mark W. Clark and what was his role in the Italian campaign?
  • Describe the Salerno operation / landings?
  • How was Mussolini overthrown? How did Germany react to the overthrow?
  • Who was Albert Kesselring what what role did he play in the Italian campaign?
  • Describe the role Canadian forces played in the Italian campaign
  • What was the significance of the Teheran Conference? How did it impact post war Germany?
  • What was the race to Rome? How did it foreshadow the Russian race to Berlin
  • Describe the four battles of Monte Cassino
  • What was the role of Pius XII in the Second World War and why was it highly controversial?
  • Describe the amphibious attacks at Anzio and Nettuno and the reasoning behind them
  • What was Operation Fischfang and Operation Diadem?
  • In what ways was the Catholic Church involved with the Holocaust? How were Catholics victims of the Holocaust? How were Catholics collaborators in the Holocaust? 

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