World War 2 National Socialism and the Holocaust

Chapter 5: Who Planned To Attack Whom, And How? :: Absolute War: Soviet Russia in the Second World War” by Chris Bellamy

Response / Thought Quotes

  • “showed that the operational-strategic vision of many high-level commanders was far from perfect and required further assiduous and determined efforts to sharpen up the command and control of powerful formations and deep understanding of the character of conventional operations, their organization, planning and subsequent carrying through in practice.”
  • “what is taking place now is that numbers of men are being called up individually, not by classes. These include many but not all those born in second half 1921 who normally would not be called up until next autumn. There are also some individuals I know of age 23 and [previously] uncalled … called up this week. Also some N.C.O. reservists of 32. The whole thing is being done quietly and without publication of any official decree and it is therefore impossible at present to give estimate numbers involved except there seem a good many in Moscow.”
  • “It is completely normal that Staffs work out different variants of operations … They are certainly not always conditioned by the political aims of the Government. In the case of the Soviet General Staff, the matter is not just the fact that they planned for attack. What is dreadful is that these or other optimum variations were tackled too late and amongst too narrow a circle; thus to realise and execute these plans on 22 June was impossible as they were not ready.”
  • “Up till the end of March I was not convinced that Hitler was resolved on mortal war with Russia, nor how near it was. Our intelligence reports revealed in much detail the extensive German troop movements towards and into the Balkan states … But none of these necessarily involved the invasion of Russia and all were readily explainable by German interests and policy … That Germany should at that stage and, before leaving the Balkan scene, open another major war with Russia seemed to me too good to be true … There was no sign of lessening German strength opposite us across the Channel… The manner in which the German troop concentrations in Romania and Bulgaria had been glossed over and apparently accepted by the Soviet government, the evidence we had of large and invaluable supplies being sent to Germany from Russia [see Chapters 3 and 4], … all made it seem more likely that Hitler and Stalin would make a bargain at our expense rather than war upon each other.”

Thought Questions

  • Describe the circumstances surrounding the distrust between Hitler and Stalin prior to Operation Barbarossa and how that impacted planning on each side
  • Describe the evidence for and against the proposition that the Stalin was planning a preemptive attack on Germany
  • What factors were involved in Hitler’s decision to attack to the Soviet Union
  • In what ways did Hitler use misinformation against Stalin prior to the opening of hostilities
  • What information did Stalin possess prior to Operation Barbarossa that indicated an attack was being prepared
  • What were the main concerns Stalin had in relation to Germany prior to the outbreak of hostilities
  • What factors were involved in Stalin’s reaction to external information that Hitler was planning an attack on the Soviet Union
  • How did preconceived beliefs impact about the other impact Hitler and Stalin’s decision making
  • In what ways did National Socialist and Bolshevik ideology respectively impact the events leading up to the opening of hostilities
  • What role did British actions play in Stalin’s reaction to information about German intentions
  • How did British resolve impact Hitler’s choice of timing in attacking the Soviet Union
  • How did the situation in the Balkans impact the timing of Operation Barbarossa
  • Affirm or Refute: “Barbarossa was delayed — almost certainly with disastrous consequences for the Germans — because of the 27 March 1941 coup in Yugoslavia”
  • Affirm or Refute: “And by defeating the mighty French army so fast, the Wehrmacht had proved itself to be even more formidable than anyone had expected.”
  • Who was Sir Stafford Cripps and what significance did he have on events leading up to the German attack on the Soviet Union
  • Describe and explain the circumstances of the Red Army deployments in the period between the end of the Winter War and the opening of Operation Barbarossa
  • Describe Zhukov’s “May 15plan, its origins and purpose
  • Describe and explain the deployment and conditions of Soviet forces in June 1941
  • Explain and Expand: “The author believes that Stalin was getting ready to attack Germany at some point, but inclines to the more traditional view that 1942 would have been the preferred option.”
  • Describe the evolution of German planning for Operation Barbarossa
  • Describe what the author means by the “Hess Enigma”
  • Who was Franz Halder and what role did he play in the planning for Operation Barbarossa

Articles and Resources

Further Reading

 

World War 2 National Socialism and the Holocaust

Chapter 4: Further Soviet Expansion And Cooperation With Germany, November 1939 To June 1941 :: Absolute War: Soviet Russia in the Second World War by Chris Bellamy

Response / Thought Quotes

  • “Our units saturated by technology (especially artillery and transport vehicles), are incapable of maneuver and combat in this theatre: they are burdened and chained down by technology which can only go by road. The troops are frightened by the forest and cannot ski.”
  • “The troops were ill-prepared for operations in forests and for coping with freezing weather and impassable roads … Artillery material was of particular concern. During the freezing weather in Finland, the semiautomatic mechanisms in the guns failed. New types of lubricants had to be developed immediately.”
  • “Today we are too fascinated with manoeuvre wars and we underestimate the struggle to break through defensive fortifications like the Maginot and Siegfried lines and others like them”
  • “Soviet regular troops are now so firmly in occupation of Outer Mongolia that there is no longer any pretense that this area does not come under the direct control of the Trans-Baikal Military district.”
  • “In this respect he was the complete opposite of Stalin, who amazed everyone with his ostensible modesty and total lack of desire to impress. Unlike Hitler, Stalin thought that if his limitless power over millions of his subjects was evident, there was no need to advertise it.”
  • “… to be a historic personality. I also flatter myself with the thought that I will also go down in history. That is why it is natural for two political leaders like us to meet. Please, Mr Molotov, transmit to Mr Stalin my greetings and my proposal that we hold a meeting in the not too-distant future.”
  • “If Britain is defeated,’ said Molotov, who was not renowned for his sense of humour, ‘why are we sitting in a shelter? And whose bombs are falling so close their explosions can be heard even here?”
  • “… everything looks all right in the north. Finland has been very naughty to us, so we moved our border away from Leningrad. The Baltics — these traditional Russian lands — belong to us again. The Belorussians are all living together now, the Ukrainians, together, and the Moldovans, together. Looks all right in the west.”

Thought Questions

  • Describe the background and purge of the Soviet military in the late 1930s
  • Why was Finland a complicating factor in the defense of the Soviet Union?
  • Describe the military importance of the Gulf of Finland
  • Describe the territorial negotiations between Finland and the Soviet Union prior to the Soviet Invasion
  • Describe how the 1939– 40 Soviet- Finnish war, known as the ‘Winter War’ unfolded and concluded
  • What was the ‘Mannerheim Line’?
  • In what ways did the Soviet Finnish Winter War impact Soviet military doctrine and planning?
  • In what ways did the Soviet Finnish war reinforce existing beliefs in Germany?
  • In what ways did the Soviet experience in the Winter War impact Soviet preparations for war with Germany?
  • Compare and Contrast: the occupation of the individual Baltic states
  • Describe The Battle at Khalkin Gol (Nomonhan) and its impact on the Soviet military
  • Compare and Contrast: The interaction of Hitler and Stalin and to their respective military establishments before war
  • Compare and Contrast: the evolution of relationships of Hitler and Stalin to their respective military leaders over the course of 1939-41
  • Describe the location and military significance of Bessarabia and its territorial changes
  • Describe the location and military significance of Bukovina and its territorial changes
  • Describe the location and military significance of Moldova and its territorial changes
  • What evidence is there to Finnish use of chemical weapons during the Winter War?
  • What was the purpose of the NKVD in 1939-40 and how did it participate in military activities and civilian persecution?
  • What was the “Stavka” in 1939-40? What were its strengths and limitations? What was the source of these and how were they acted upon in light on the events of 1939-40?
  • In light of the development of the Red Air force, Explain and Expand: “Stalin seems to have greatly underrated the value of radios”
  • What is the concept of inter-arm cooperation and why / In what ways was it crucial during 1939-40?
  • Explain and Expand: “The Soviet-Finnish war therefore reinforced many ideas that were already around.”
  • What is the concept of “Auftragstaktik”
  • In what ways did modern equipment prove to be a liability as well as an asset in the 1939-40 military activities (both Soviet and German)?
  • Explain and Expand: “One of the key lessons learned was the importance of camouflage”
  • Explain and Expand: “At the politico-strategic level, the key lesson was that you cannot always count on assistance to be received in the invaded country”
  • What was the Soviet (and later German) system of dual command?
  • Why was Stalin relieved by the German occupation of Norway?
  • Compare and Contrast: The geographic position of Odessa and Leningrad
  • How did Germany tempt the Soviet Union with inclusion in the tripartite pact between Germany, Italy and Japan
  • Summarize the misunderstandings that Hitler and Germany and Stalin and the Soviet Union had developed or reinforced by the events of 1939-40
  • What were the key minerals that were provide to Germany by the Soviet Union in 1939-40
  • In what ways did the Soviet Union benefit from the economic relationship with Germany during 1939-40
  • Explain and Expand: “there was now nobody else to get in the way.”

Primary Sources

Articles and Resources

Further Reading

World War 2 National Socialism and the Holocaust

Chapter 4: Decent into Chaos :: The Coming of the Third Reich by Richard J. Evans

Response / Thought Quotes

  • “’For thirty years the army was my pride. For it I lived, upon it I laboured, and now, after four and a half brilliant years of war with unprecedented victories, it was forced to collapse by the stab- in- the- back from the dagger of the revolutionist, at the very moment when peace was within reach!‘”
  • “No enemy has overcome you!”
  • “Moreover, the American President Woodrow Wilson had declared, in his celebrated ‘Fourteen Points’ which he wished the Allied powers to be working for, that every nation should be able to determine its own future, free from interference by others. If this applied to the Poles, the Czechs and the Yugoslavs, then surely it should apply to the Germans as well? But it did not. … The Austrians wanted union; the Germans were prepared to accept union; the principle of national self- determination demanded union. The fact that the Allies forbade union remained a constant source of bitterness in Germany and condemned the new ‘Republic of German- Austria’, as it was known, to two decades of conflict- ridden, crisis- racked existence in which few of its citizens ever came to believe in its legitimacy.”
  • “Versailles was condemned as a dictated peace, unilaterally imposed without the possibility of negotiation. The enthusiasm which so many middle- class Germans had demonstrated for war in 1914 flipped over into burning resentment at the terms of peace four years later.”
  • “On 15 November 1918 I was on the way from the hospital at Bad Nauheim to my garrison at Brandenburg. As I was limping along with the aid of my cane at the Potsdam station in Berlin, a band of uniformed men, sporting red armbands, stopped me, and demanded that I surrender my epaulettes and insignia. I raised my stick in reply; but my rebellion was soon overcome. I was thrown (down?), and only the intervention of a railroad official saved me from my humiliating position. Hate flamed in me against the November criminals from that moment. As soon as my health improved somewhat, I joined forces with the groups devoted to the overthrow of the rebellion. … I shall never forget the scene when a comrade without an arm came into the room and threw himself on his bed crying. The red rabble, which had never heard a bullet whistle, had assaulted him and torn off all his insignia and medals. We screamed with rage. For this kind of Germany we had sacrificed our blood and our health, and braved all the torments of hell and a world of enemies for years.”
  • “The First World War legitimized violence to a degree that not even Bismarck’s wars of unification in 1864-70 had been able to do. Before the war, Germans even of widely differing and bitterly opposed political beliefs had been able to discuss their differences without resorting to violence.”
  • “It was in this atmosphere of national trauma, political extremism, violent conflict and revolutionary upheaval that Nazism was born.”
  • “provided the spur to translate extreme ideas into violent action.”

Thought Questions

  • What were the consequences of defeat for Germany?
  • How did Germans react to the consequences of defeat?
  • In what ways did defeat specifically impact German nationalists and conservatives?
  • In what ways did defeat specifically impact German Social Democrats?
  • In what ways did gender impact the experience of defeat?
  • Explain and Expand: “In November 1918 most Germans expected that, since the war was being brought to an end before the Allies had set foot on German soil, the terms on which the peace would be based would be relatively equitable. … Given the extent of what Germans had expected to gain in the event of victory, it might have been expected that they would have realized what they stood to lose in the event of defeat.”
  • What were the circumstances and terms of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk
  • What were the circumstances and terms of the Armistice of 11 November 1918 which ended the military conflict and how did it impact the eventual treaty
  • What were the circumstances and terms of the Treaty of Versailles and how did it start a political and social conflict
  • What is the “Stab in the back” myth?
  • Explain and Expand: “principal aim was to make the world safe for democracy.”
  • Explain and Expand: “As a far from incidental by- product, Ludendorff also reckoned that if the terms were not so acceptable to the German people, the burden of agreeing to them would thereby be placed on Germany’s democratic politicians rather than on the Kaiser or the army leadership. … The army simply melted away as the Armistice of 11 November was concluded, and the democratic parties were left, as Ludendorff had intended, to negotiate, if negotiate was the word, the terms of the Treaty of Versailles.”
  • In what ways did the union of Germany and German- speaking Austria impact the post war situation?
  • Explain and Expand: “The idea took root in Germany that the whole concept of war crimes, indeed the whole notion of laws of war, was a polemical invention of the victorious Allies based on mendacious propaganda about imaginary atrocities.”
  • What was the purpose of Article 231 in the treaty and how was it interpreted by the German public and misrepresented by German nationalists
  • Explain and Expand: “In many ways, the peace settlement of 1918- 19 was a brave attempt at marrying principle and pragmatism in a dramatically altered world. In other circumstances it might have stood a chance of success. But not in the circumstances of 1919, when almost any peace terms would have been condemned by German nationalists who felt they had been unjustly cheated of victory.”
  • Who were the “Pan- Germans”
  • Who was Wolfgang Kapp?
  • Explain and Expand: “What transformed the extreme nationalist scene was not the war itself, but the experience of defeat, revolution and armed conflict at the war’s end. A powerful role was played here by the myth of the ‘front generation’ of 1914- 18, soldiers bound together in a spirit of comradeship and self- sacrifice in a heroic cause which overcame all political, regional, social and religious differences.”
  • How did the experience of defeat in 1918 shape German nationalism?
  • What role did paramilitary organizations fill for German World War I veterans
  • What role did paramilitary organizations fill for German men who were too young to participate in World War I?
  • Explain and Expand: “Germany failed to make the transition from wartime back to peacetime after 1918. Instead, it remained on a continued war footing; at war with itself, and at war with the rest of the world”
  • What paramilitary organizations identified with particular political parties?
  • How did the existence and activities of paramilitary organizations impact German democracy?
  • Who were Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht
  • In what ways did the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia impact the German revolution in 1918-19
  • Explain and Expand: “These events left a permanent legacy of bitterness and hatred on the political left, made worse by another major outbreak of political violence in the spring of 1920.”
  • Explain and Expand: “shot while trying to escape”
  • Explain and Expand: “Political violence reached fresh heights in 1923, a year marked not only by the bloody suppression of an abortive Communist uprising in Hamburg but also by gun battles between rival political groups in Munich and armed clashes involving French- backed separatists in the Rhineland.”

Primary Sources

Articles and Resources

Further Reading

 

World War 2 National Socialism and the Holocaust

Chapter 3: A Cruel Romance: The Nazi-Soviet Alliance And Soviet Expansion, August To November 1939 – Absolute War: Soviet Russia in the Second World War by Chris Bellamy

Response / Thought Quotes

  • “Until 1933, long-term cooperation between Germany and the Soviet Union was far from unthinkable. Hitler’s accession changed that, but cooperation was still necessary in the short term. Nor, at the time, did it seem so absurd. Politics, like the world, is round. If you go far enough west, you reach the ‘far east’. And, if you travel far to the political ‘left’ or ‘right’, you end up in the same place: some form of totalitarian dictatorship where state security is not only paramount, but actually threatens the very people whose lives, liberties and aspirations the state exists to protect. So it was with National Socialism under Hitler and Soviet communism under Stalin.”
  • “The struggle against the Jewish Bolshevisation of the world demands that we should declare our position towards Soviet Russia. We cannot cast out the devil through Beelzebub… the future goal of our foreign policy ought not to involve an orientation to the East or West; but it ought to be an eastern policy which will have in view the acquisition of such territory as is necessary for our German people. 18 The last sentence encapsulates Hitler’s desire for Lebensraum (living space)”
  • “In all, 3 out of 5 Marshals of the Soviet Union died, 3 out of 5 Army Commanders (komandarm), First Class, all 10 Second Class, 50 out of 57 Corps Commanders (komkor), 154 out of 186 Divisional Commanders (komdiv), 401 out of 456 colonels, plus almost all corps and divisional commissars.”
  • “The Soviet Union’s ruling elite probably, and not unreasonably, thought that the West was willing to let Hitler get away with anything as long as he delivered on the promise, made in Mein Kampf, to eliminate Bolshevism.”
  • “In the face of such consummate diplomacy, on 14 August 1939 Marshal Voroshilov declared that ‘without clear and unambiguous answers to these questions, further negotiations are pointless. The Soviet military delegation cannot recommend that its government participate in an undertaking so clearly doomed to failure.’ Compared with this sorry state of affairs, the proposal which had come from Germany seemed to be a breath of fresh air.”
  • “Either Molotov was playing a cynical game, or he really had little idea what the Red Army was up to, or the Soviets were trying desperately to organize a military response. Reports of the state of the Soviet forces which moved into Poland suggest the latter is probably the case.”
  • “Russian military administration remains much as it used to be. Train timings are chaotic, motor transport is seldom available at the right time and place, petrol supplies break down, and no one has any clear idea at what time anything is going to arrive. In spite of it all something happens … the Red Army was faced with hardly any opposition, so … the defects in administration did not have their full effect, but even so one is left with the impression that the Russian genius for piecemeal improvisation will always carry them through to a strictly limited extent.”
  • “The weakness of leadership and of the administrative machine are evidently still very serious, and combined with the apathy and loss of initiative of the rank and file, must render the army a somewhat amorphous mass which may be capable of taking hard blows but is not capable of delivering them, at any rate when faced with a large scale organised opposition.”

Thought Questions

  • Describe the development of the agreements between Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia regarding spheres of influence generally and the division of Poland specifically
  • What logic was Germany following in developing the Molotov – Ribbentrop Pact
  • What logic was Russia following in developing the Molotov – Ribbentrop Pact
  • What were the seven articles of the Molotov – Ribbentrop Pact?
  • What were the purposes of the secret protocols attached to the pact?
  • In what ways was the protocol exchanging the Lithuania area for a Polish area significant
  • Affirm or Refute: “The biggest and worst war in history had become inevitable when Adolf Hitler became Chancellor of Germany in 1933.”
  • Explain and Expand: “Nor did the leaders who exercised unprecedented power over these self-confident superstates appear so different from one another.”
  • Explain and Expand: “Ribbentrop’s foreign policy goals were more traditionally German”
  • What was The German Condor Legion
  • How did the Spanish Civil War impact informal and formal relations between Russia and Germany
  • Explain and Expand: “For the victors of the First World War, the Soviet Union was potentially a greater threat than a resurgent Germany.”
  • What was the 1938 Munich agreement and how did it impact relations between Russia and the West
  • What international ‘collective security’ arrangements were in place in 1939
  • Describe the post 1938 negotiations between Russia and the western powers
  • Explain and Expand: “was at this meeting that the idea of a non- aggression pact was first raised.”
  • Describe the Soviet 1939 invasion of Poland by Russia
  • Who was Lavrentiy Pavlovich Beria?
  • What was a Russian ‘Operational-Chekist’ group and what role did they perform in Poland
  • What role did prisoner of war slavery have in the destruction of Poland
  • Explain and Expand: “As a result of the observations in Poland and the Baltic States, most foreigners believed that ‘the value of the Red Army for war remains low’.”

Primary Sources

Articles and Resources

Further Reading

World War 2 National Socialism and the Holocaust

Chapter 2: Absolute And Total War :: Absolute War: Soviet Russia in the Second World War by Chris Bellamy

Response / Thought Quotes

  • “‘A world war, and a war of an extension and violence hitherto undreamt of.’ Just over half a century before the outbreak of the Second World War, Friedrich Engels said that no other kind of war was possible for Germany.”
  • “the maximum use of force is in no way incompatible with the simultaneous use of the intellect”
  • “The conditions for absolute and total war had been developed during the 1920s and 1930s, and reached a climax of intensity in early 1941.”
  • “And unfortunately for others, the greatest civilizations of the time are usually also the most efficient killers. We may admire the Romans’ literature, law, logic, logistics and engineering, but their dominance ultimately rested on being a military superpower. Their army operated like a chainsaw and if they did not enslave any surviving prisoners, they often crucified them. In the twentieth century, which should have been a more civilized age, warfare, to borrow Churchill’s phrase about a new dark age, was made even ‘more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science’.”
  • “War is an act of force and there is no logical limit to the application of that force. Each side therefore, compels the opponent to follow suit; a reciprocal action is started which must lead, in theory, to extremes.”
  • “the proportion of the means of resistance that cannot immediately be brought to bear is much higher than might at first be thought. Even when great strength has been expended on the first decision and the balance has been upset, equilibrium can be restored.”
  • “German policy toward Soviet prisoners and civilians in the occupied territories had been formulated even before fighting started in the East. There were three key orders, each of which was the result of complex evolution: the ‘Führer decree’ of 13 May 1941, which limited military jurisdiction in occupied areas, passing responsibility for dealing with criminals and insurgents to the tender mercies of the SS; Guidelines for the Behaviour of the Fighting Forces in Russia, issued on 19 May 1941; and the most notorious document, which grew out of the others and was very much a clarification of one key area, the famous ‘Commissar Order’ (Kommissarbefehl) of 6 June 1941.”
  • “The impending campaign is more than a clash of arms; it also entails a struggle between two ideologies. To conclude this war is not enough, given the vastness of the space, to defeat the enemy forces. The entire territory must be dissolved into states with their own governments … The Jewish-Bolshevik intelligentsia, as the oppressor in the past, must be liquidated.”
  • “prevent arbitrary excess by individual members of the army, so as to be in good time to prevent the degeneration of the troops”
  • “sense of justice must, in certain circumstances, yield to the requirements of war”
  • “Bolshevism is the mortal enemy of the National Socialist German people. Germany’s struggle is aimed against that disruptive ideology and its exponents. The struggle demands ruthless and energetic action against Bolshevik agitators, guerrillas, saboteurs, Jews and the complete liquidation of any active or passive resistance. Extreme reserve and most alert vigilance are called for towards all members of the Red Army — even prisoners — as treacherous methods of fighting are to be expected. The Asiatic soldiers of the Red Army in particular are inscrutable, unpredictable, insidious and unfeeling. After the capture of units the leaders are to be instantly separated from the other ranks.”
  • “… war captivity is neither revenge nor punishment but solely protective custody, the only purpose of which is to prevent the prisoners of war from further participation in the war. This principle was developed in accordance with the view held by all armies that it is contrary to military tradition to kill or injure helpless”
  • “Crushing denunciation of Bolshevism, identified with asocial criminality. Bolshevism is an enormous danger for our future. We must forget the concept of comradeship between soldiers. A Communist is no comrade before or after the battle. This is a war of extermination. If we do not grasp this, we shall still beat the enemy, but 30 years later we shall again have to fight the Communist foe. We do not wage war to preserve the enemy … This need not mean that the troops should get out of hand. Rather, the commanders must give orders which express the common feeling of their men … Commanders must make the sacrifice of overcoming their personal scruples.”
  • “Just as the Soviets were ‘subhuman’ to the Germans, Ehrenburg wrote, ‘we do not regard them as human beings’.46The Germans were ‘wild beasts’, ‘worse than wild beasts’, ‘Aryan beasts’ and ‘starving rats’. A colonel ‘shows his old rat’s yellow fangs’.47 Given the conduct of the Germans, such propaganda obviously worked.”
  • “or killed by the simple Russian winter expedient of pouring cold water over them or throwing them in the sea to freeze to death.”
  • “Red Army commanders were already realizing that such barbarism was counterproductive. Atrocities against prisoners usually increased the enemy’s determination to fight to the death, and prisoners were useful sources of intelligence.”
  • “Horrific brutality by one side was met by horrific brutality on the other. That applied to civilians in occupied territory, as well as to regular troops … The Soviet troops who moved into Germany in 1944 and 1945 were deliberately spurred on to exact revenge.”
  • “‘Have you seen the German reports on what the Soviet troops did when they invaded Germany?’ my German friend asked the guide. ‘I put it to you’, my friend said, ‘that every one of those pictures could be matched with one from eastern Germany later in the war.’‘That may be,’ our guide said. ‘But war is war.’58 If you want to understand war, study this one.”
  • “The Department of Internal Affairs [NKVD] must have its own mobilisation plan, which must take into account the steps necessary to maintain firm order in the national territory during the period when huge masses are torn away from their work in the country and proceed to collection points to flesh out the armies, and the population of the towns doubles to meet the requirements of war industry. The crisis … will be compounded by enemy propaganda, sharpened by the activities of enemies of the existing system, by the hopes which individual national and class groups will have as the ruling class grows weary under the impositions of war. It is essential to think through the measures necessary to maintain order along lines of communications most thoroughly, to take into account all dubious [politically unreliable or disaffected] elements, desertion, enemy intelligence and propaganda, measures for censorship, and so on. And also, if necessary, to substitute special formations made up of reliable elements for military units leaving for the front, or to strengthen the police. Aviation, the radio, the need for an unbroken flow of huge masses of troops to the front, supplying them with munitions, home leave from the active army which was previously unknown [it still was, largely, in the Red Army in 1941–5]. All these factors now merge the front and the rear”
  • “The scale of a future war will be grandiose … in a future war the mobilisation of industry will, first of all, take place in a much shorter time than before and, secondly, in this short time industry will produce much more military hardware than in the past war … The future (gryadushaya) world imperialist war will not only be a mechanised war, during which huge material resources will be used up, but, together with this, it will be a war which will embrace multi-million-strong masses and the majority of the population of the combatant nations. The frontiers between the front and the rear will be erased more and more.”

Thought Questions

  • Explain and Expand: “His vision would apply to Soviet Russia, as well as to Germany, and the 1941–5 war on the eastern front was its extreme fulfilment.”
  • What does the author intend by the phrase “absolute war”
  • Who was Carl von Clausewitz and how were his doctrines illustrated on the Eastern Front?
  • Explain and Expand: “Conflict dynamics are therefore a reciprocal process”
  • Explain and Expand: “And, finally, effort in war comprises two interrelated and inseparable factors: the means at your disposal and the strength of your will.”
  • What was Article IV of the Hague Convention of 1907 and how did the various combatants relate to it
  • What moral and materials obligations does a nation agree to under Article IV
  • What were the pragmatic reasons for Stalin and Hitler to disregard the laws of war relating to prisoners
  • Why did Stalin and Hitler have little interest in the welfare of the soldiers being held prisoner by the other
  • What factors impacted the treatment of prisoners on the Eastern Front
  • Compare and Contrast: Prisoner treatment on the Eastern Front and the Western / North African Front (including black colonial troops).
  • Explain and Expand: “The scale, extent and awesome logistical problems of the war on the eastern front compounded this indifference.”
  • Describe how the political nature of the war became an “Absolute War”
  • What is Clausewitz’s ‘Trinity’ and how is it reflected in the Eastern Front
  • How does Clausewitz’s ‘Trinity’ reflect on the Western Front
  • React and Respond: “the best-known Jewish intellectual, Leon Trotsky (who was not a Bolshevik)”
  • Side question: If Trotsky was not a Bolshevik (a supporter, but not a believer), how would the substitution of Menshevik leadership he (supposedly) sought have impacted the Soviet ability to conduct an “Absolute War” – in other words, how would a theoretical Trotskyite Soviet Government compare of the actual Stalinist government in the conduct of “Absolute War” (for the purpose of this question, assume Trotsky himself actually believed in “Trotskyism”)
  • What is distinct about Bolshevism and how does it relate to other forms / branches of European Communism
  • Affirm or Refute: Bolshevism is Leninism
  • Why did Hitler and Nazi Germany use the term “Bolshevism” consistently as opposed to other possible labels?
  • What connections did Nazi Germany seek to attach to “Bolshevism”?
  • Explain and Expand: “The Führer decree of 13 May 1941 was passed on to the army by its commander-in-chief, Walther von Brauchitsch”
  • Explain and Expand: “The idea that depriving Soviet people of their leaders would render them incapable of organized action and the emphasis on eliminating the Soviet ‘boss class’ recur throughout German instructions.”
  • Explain and Expand: Guidelines for the Behaviour of the Fighting Forces in Russia
  • Explain and Expand: Guidelines on the Treatment of Political Commissars
  • What role did Brauchitsch fill in the Third Reich and what were his responsibilities during Operation Barbarossa
  • In what ways did Brauchitsch implement the “Commissar” order
  • What were the Einsatzgruppen?
  • Explain and Expand: “However, when the German advance slowed, the Army High Command (OKH) supported initiatives to get the Commissar Order cancelled, because, they said, it was counterproductive.”
  • Who was Fedor von Bock? Who was Wilhelm Canaris and how did they react to the Commissar Order?
  • Who was Wilhelm Keitel and how did he relate to the Commissar Order
  • Who was Franz Halder and how did he relate to the Commissar Order
  • What was “OKW” and “OKH” and how did they relate?
  • Explain and Expand: “The Germans captured a number of documents which showed that the Red Army command was trying to stop the killing of prisoners, which, of course, confirms that it was happening.”
  • What was the NKVD
  • Compare and Contrast: NKVD and the SS
  • Compare and Contrast: NKVD and the SD
  • Compare and Contrast: The Checka, The O/GPU and the NKVD
  • Briefly describe the GULag Concentration Camp System and the role it filled in Soviet Industrialization
  • Compare and Contrast: the goals and purpose of the KL and GULag concentration camp systems
  • Compare and Contrast: the goals and purpose of the GULag system and the Nazi Death Camp system.
  • What is the significance of “My hand didn’t tremble. It was a joy for me … The Germans didn’t ask us to spare them and I was angry … I fulfilled my task. And I went back into the office and had a drink.”
  • Explain and Expand: ” Soviet preparations to avoid a repeat of Russia’s fate in the First World War — preparations for total, modern, industrialized war — began in 1924–5”
  • React and Respond: “In a conflict of first-class opponents, the decision cannot be won by one blow. War will take the character of a long and fierce conflict… Expressed in the language of strategy, this means a change from the strategy of lightning blows to a strategy of exhaustion. Thus the bond between the front and rear in our days must become much more close, direct and decisive. The life and work of the front at any given moment are determined by the work and condition of the rear.”
  • Explain and Expand: “Just as Engels had predicted a war of unprecedented scope and violence”
  • Explain and Expand: “With no immediate threat of war — apart from a brief scare in 1927 — they could afford to play it long. … But in the vast spaces of the Soviet Union, German forces could exercise unobserved by the signatories of Versailles.”
  • Briefly describe the process of forced industrialization in the Soviet Union and how the overall European situation after World War I impacted its development?
  • Explain and Expand: Chemical Warfare and Absolute War in the context of the Eastern Front (no one has ever really answered this, but an attempt is needed)

Primary Sources

Articles and Resources

Further Reading

World War 2 National Socialism and the Holocaust

Chapter 3: The Spirit Of 1914 :: The Coming of the Third Reich by Richard J. Evans

Response / Thought Quotes

  • “If only we belonged to the German Empire!”
  • “Religion’s all the same, it’s race that is to blame”
  • “‘Germandom’, ‘Slavdom’, ‘Anglo-Saxondom’ or ‘Jewdom’”
  • “Other races were outbreeding the Germans and threatening to ‘flood’ them; or, like the French, they were declining and therefore exerting a corrupting influence through their decadence.”
  • “Baptism, of course, made no difference to the fact that someone was a Jew in Gebsattel’s eyes; anyone with more than a quarter of ‘Jewish blood’ in his or her veins was to be treated as a Jew and not a German.”
  • “In the eyes of the right, Communism and Social Democracy amounted to two sides of the same coin, and the one seemed no less a threat than the other.”
  • “Sacrifice, privation, death, on a huge scale, left Germans of all political hues bitterly searching for the reason why.”

Thought Questions

  • How did the Habsburg monarchy had restructured itself in the mid 19th century?
  • Compare and Contrast: The approaches to German expansion taken by different German nationalists
  • What was the Linz Programme of 1879?
  • Explain and Expand: “Its constant harping upon the supposedly evil influence of the Jews made it easier for a cynical communal politician”
  • Explain and Expand: “Schönerer never enjoyed this kind of popular support. But where Lueger’s antisemitism, though influential, was essentially opportunistic—‘ I decide who’s a Yid’, he once famously said, when criticized for dining with influential Jews in Vienna – Schönerer’s was visceral and unyielding. He proclaimed antisemitism, indeed, ‘the greatest achievement of the century’.”
  • Compare and Contrast: Antisemitism and anti-Catholicism in German nationalism
  • Explain and Expand: “Antisemitism in Austria was far from being a separate phenomenon from its German counterpart.”
  • In what ways did the lapsing of the Anti-Socialist Law impact German domestic politics
  • Explain and Expand: “Carl Peters was a classic colonial adventurer of the late nineteenth century, whose exploits quickly became the stuff of legend. … Peters’s fertile imagination and restless spirit led him to found a variety of organizations, including a Society for German Colonization in 1884, which merged with a like-minded group in 1887 to form the German Colonial Society.”
  • Explain and Expand: “The most significant, perhaps, was the Navy League, founded in 1898 with money from the arms manufacturer Krupp”
  • In what ways did gender impact the German nationalists
  • Explain and Expand: “Many of these agitators had achieved their status by working hard to get a university degree then moving up slowly through the ranks of the less fashionable parts of the civil service. Here, too, a degree of social anxiety was an important driving force. Identification, perhaps over-identification, with the German nation gave all the leading figures in the nationalist associations, whatever their background, a sense of pride and belonging, and an object for commitment and mobilization.”
  • Explain and Expand: “Alongside the specific aims that each organization followed, and irrespective of the frequent internal rows which plagued them, the nationalist associations generally agreed that Bismarck’s work of building the German nation was woefully incomplete and urgently needed to be pushed to its conclusion.”
  • Explain and Expand: “However, at the same time as they harboured these almost limitless ambitions for German world domination, the Pan-German League and the other nationalist associations also sounded a strong note of alarm, even despondency, about Germany’s current state and future prospects.”
  • What was the significance of the relationship between German nationalists and German monarchists
  • Explain and Expand: “Like other European nations, Germany went into the First World War in an optimistic mood, fully expecting to win, most probably in a relatively short space of time.”
  • Explain and Expand: “In all the major combatant nations, there was a change of leadership in the middle years of the war, reflecting a perceived need for greater energy and ruthlessness in mobilizing the nation and its resources.”
  • What was the significance of: “Ludendorff ordered a systematic economic exploitation of the areas of France, Belgium and East- Central Europe occupied by German troops. The occupied countries’ memory of this was to cost the Germans dearly at the end of the war.”
  • Explain and Expand: “So the Bolsheviks formed a Communist International (‘Comintern’) to propagate their version of revolution in the rest of the world.”
  • In what ways was 1916 a pivotal year for Germany and Russia?
  • Explain and Expand: “It would be difficult to exaggerate the fear and terror that these events spread amongst many parts of the population in Western and Central Europe.”
  • Explain and Expand: “The legacy of the German past was a burdensome one in many respects.”
  • In what ways were “The problems bequeathed to the German political system by Bismarck and his successors were made infinitely worse by the effects of the war”
  • Affirm or Refute: “Without the war, Nazism would not have emerged as a serious political force, nor would so many Germans have sought so desperately for an authoritarian alternative to the civilian politics that seemed so signally to have failed Germany in its hour of need.”

Articles and Resources

 

World War 2 National Socialism and the Holocaust

Chapter 1: Flight Of The Rabid Wolf: The Long-Term Impact Of The War In The East :: Absolute War: Soviet Russia in the Second World War by Chris Bellamy

Response / Thought Quotes

  • “This book is the story of that war. The greatest, most costly and most brutal war on land in human history. It was fought between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany for 1,418 days, from 22 June 1941 to 9 May 1945, on a front from the Arctic Circle to the Caucasus, from the Barents Sea to the Black Sea, up to 3,200 kilometres long.”
  • “Without British and US dominance at sea, the strategic air campaign and the war in the Pacific, it is very possible that the Soviet Union would have been defeated in 1942 or that, at the very least, the war in the East would have gone on much longer.”
  • “The failure of Barbarossa, which became apparent during 1942, created the conditions for the initiative to pass to the Allies at the end of 1942.13 For that reason, this book pays particular attention to that period and especially to 1942.”
  • “The advance of their Armies from Stalingrad to the Dniester river, with vanguards reaching out towards the Pruth, a distance of 900 miles [1,440 km], accomplished in a single year, constitutes the greatest cause of Hitler’s undoing. Since I spoke to you last not only have the Hun invaders been driven from the lands they had ravaged, but the guts of the German army have been largely torn out by Russian valour and generalship. The people of all the Russias have been fortunate in finding in their supreme ordeal of agony a warrior leader, Marshal Stalin, whose authority enabled him to combine and control the movements of armies numbered by many millions upon a front of nearly 2,000 miles.”
  • “In 1942, the British government had been planning for action ‘in the event of a Russian collapse’. By April 1944 the Foreign Office assessed, rightly, that the Soviet Union would emerge from the war ‘as the strongest land power in the world and one of the three strongest air powers’.”
  • “one Paris night will replace them”
  • “The occupied area contained two-fifths of the grain and four-fifths of the sugar beet produced in the USSR, plus about a quarter of the nation’s farm animals, tractors and combine harvesters. In occupied areas of the Soviet Union the invaders and defenders, between them, destroyed 1,710 towns, 70,000 villages, 32,000 industrial plants and 65,000 kilometres of railway track.40 In the Russian republic alone 23,000 schools were razed to the ground.”
  • “Sixty years on, the demographic, environmental and political impact of the Second World War has largely been absorbed in the West, and in the Pacific. … Yet Russia, while a major power in the world order, remains somewhat isolated. And whereas people in western countries properly acknowledge the tragic experience of the Second World War, as it slips from living memory they have moved on.”

Thought Questions

  • Explain and Expand: “But now Hitler’s delusions were compounded by a perverted and superstitious logic. With so many Aryans being killed on the eastern front, extermination of the Jews and other ‘undesirables’ had to be stepped up to balance the books.”
  • Compare and Contrast: National Socialist Germany and Stalinist Russia with the statement – “However repressive the indigenous regime, whether under the Tsar or the red star, the majority of the people (though far from all) rallied to it, preferring home-grown despotism to anything imposed from abroad.”
  • What was the significance behind Time’s 1943 Man of the Year
  • Explain and Expand: “In the second sentence he alluded to the unwholesome but undeniable fact that only the authority wielded by the Soviet dictator and his security apparatus could coordinate a war effort on this scale in such a country.”
  • Compare and Contrast: The Russian Great Patriotic War and the American Civil War
  • What are some of the areas Soviet historians neglected about the Second World War?
  • Explain and Expand: “Its security measures were far from unjustified, or merely paranoid.”
  • Describe the demographic impact of the Great Patriotic War on the Soviet Union and modern Russia
  • Describe the economic impact of the Great Patriotic War on the Soviet Union

Further Reading

World War 2 National Socialism and the Holocaust

Chapter 2: Gospels of Hate :: The Coming of the Third Reich by Richard J. Evans

Response / Thought Quotes

  • “Christian hostility to the Jews provided a crucial launch- pad for modern antisemitism, not least because it often harboured a strong element of racial prejudice itself and was subsumed into racial antisemitism in a variety of ways.”
  • “Searching for a scapegoat for their economic difficulties in the 1870s, lower- middle- class demagogues and scribblers turned to the Jews, not as a religious but a racial minority, and began to advocate not the total assimilation of Jews into German society, but their total exclusion from it.”
  • “‘There must be no question here of parading religious prejudices when it is a question of race and when the difference lies in the “blood”’. Borrowing from the fashionable theories of the French racist Count Joseph Arthur de Gobineau, Marr contrasted Jews not with Christians but with Germans, insisting that the two were distinct races.”
  • “What the 1880s and early 1890s were essentially witnessing, in addition to this domestication of antisemitism, was the assembling, on the fringes of political and intellectual life, of many of the ingredients that would later go into the potent and eclectic ideological brew of National Socialism.”
  • “General Friedrich von Bernhardi famously put it in a book published in 1912, was a ‘biological necessity’: ‘Without war, inferior or decaying races would easily choke the growth of healthy budding elements, and a universal decadence would follow.’”
  • “The self- satisfaction of so many educated and middle- class Germans at the achievement of nationhood in the 1870s was giving way to a variety of dissatisfactions born of a feeling that Germany’s spiritual and political development had come to a halt and needed pushing forward again. These were expressed forcefully by the sociologist Max Weber’s inaugural lecture, in which he dubbed the unification of 1871 a ‘youthful prank’ of the German nation. The most influential prophet of such views was the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, who railed in powerful, punchy prose against the ethical conservatism of his day. In many ways he was a comparable figure to Wagner, whom he hugely admired for much of his life.”
  • “Nietzsche was a vigorous opponent of antisemitism, he was deeply critical of the vulgar worship of power and success which had resulted (in his view) from the unification of Germany by military force in 1871, and his most famous concepts, such as the ‘will to power’ and the ‘superman’ were intended by him to apply only to the sphere of thought and ideas, not to politics or action.”

Thought Questions

  • In what ways do the stories of agitators such as Hermann Ahlwardt illustrate the uses of antisemitism in Germany?
  • Explain and Expand: “Germany’s Jewish community at this time was a highly acculturated, successful group distinguished from other Germans mainly by its religion. … The 600,000 or so practicing Jews who lived in the German Empire were a tiny religious minority in an overwhelmingly Christian society, constituting around 1 per cent of the population as a whole.”
  • Describe the economic connection between the United States and Germany
  • Explain and Expand: “His success testified to the appeal of such demagogy to rural voters, and indeed other antisemites such as the Hessian librarian Otto Böckel succeeded in getting elected as well, not least by offering the peasants concrete measures such as co- operative organizations in order to get over their economic difficulties.”
  • Compare and Contrast: Those who viewed Jews primarily as a religious minority and those that viewed Jews as a racial minority
  • Explain and Expand: “boldly elevating his personal experience into a general rule of world history”
  • Explain and Expand: “Nevertheless, their decline and fall was to some extent deceptive.”
  • Who was Wilhelm Richard Wagner and how did he influence antisemitism in Germany?
  • Who was British-born Germanophile Houston Stewart Chamberlain and What was the significance of “The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century”
  • What is the meaning of “Lebensraum”?
  • Explain and Expand: “Alarmed by the growth of Germany’s burgeoning cities, they sought the restoration of a rural ideal”
  • Describe concepts of “Social Darwinism”, “racial hygiene” and “negative selection”
  • Explain and Expand: “Writers such as Ernst Bertram, Alfred Bäumler and Hans Günther reduced Nietzsche to a prophet of power, and his concept of the superman to a plea for the coming of a great German leader unfettered by moral constraints or Christian theology.”
  • Compare and Contrast: “Writers such as Ernst Bertram, Alfred Bäumler and Hans Günther reduced Nietzsche to a prophet of power, and his concept of the superman to a plea for the coming of a great German leader unfettered by moral constraints or Christian theology” and “Christian hostility to the Jews provided a crucial launch- pad for modern antisemitism, not least because it often harboured a strong element of racial prejudice itself and was subsumed into racial antisemitism in a variety of ways.”

Primary Sources

Articles and Resources

 

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? 

Articles and Resources

Further Reading

 

The Storm of War by Andrew Roberts :: Chapter 11: The Waves of Air and Sea

Thought Questions

  • What does the author mean to connect with the title “The Waves of Air and Sea”?
  • What were the Enigma codes and what was their significance? 
  • What role did Poland play in developing Allied technical intelligence?
  • Who was Alan Turning and how did he impact the course of World War II? 
  • How did Britain recognize the contribution Alan Turning made to the war effort in the post war years? How does this compare with events in prewar Germany? 
  • Describe the battle of the Atlantic
  • Describe the evolution of the convoy system? 
  • What role did Ireland play in The battle of the Atlantic?
  • Who were Karl Dönitz and Erich Raeder and how did they impact the Battle of the Atlantic?

Response / Thought Quotes

  • “Yet salvation was at hand. At 22.00 hours on Friday, 30 October 1942, U-559 was forced to the surface after no fewer than 288 depth-charges were dropped on her by four British destroyers in the eastern Mediterranean. Her captain opened her stopcocks to scuttle the vessel and the entire crew abandoned ship, but Lieutenant Francis Fasson, Able Seaman Colin Grazier and a sixteen-year-old Naafi assistant Tommy Brown (who had lied about his age to join the Navy) from HMS Petard stripped off their clothes and swam over to it. Getting into the captain’s cabin, they used a machine gun to break into a locked cabinet and retrieve the codebooks and documents.”
  • “In June 1944, just in time for the Normandy landings, Turing’s greatest invention of all, the Colossus II, came on stream. The world’s first digital electronic computer, it was able to decode Fish as well as Enigma messages in real time, and also decrypted the correspondence between OKW and the Commander-in-Chief West. As one who worked on Colossus, Donald Michie, has recalled: ‘At the end of hostilities 9 new-design Colossi were operational and 63 million characters of high-grade German messages had been decrypted.’ Turing’s reputation for eccentricity seemed confirmed by his practices of bicycling around wearing a gas mask, and chaining his coffee mug to a radiator, but one of those who worked at Bletchley, WAAF Sergeant Gwen Watkins, later explained that ‘If you had a china mug and it was ‘‘borrowed’’, you could replace it only by an enamel one, which made tea taste horrid. And cycling to work in your gas mask, if you had hay fever, was a good idea.’ Eccentric or not, Turing’s contribution to victory was enormous, making his obe a paltry reward and his cyanide-by-apple suicide in 1954 correspondingly tragic.” 
  • “No longer did Germany see the Atlantic as a potential means of strangling Britain; now it was somewhere to hold off the coming invasion of north-west Europe.”

Articles and Resources

 

The Storm of War by Andrew Roberts :: Chapter 10: The Motherland Overwhelms The Fatherland

Thought Questions

  • What was the Plan and Goal of Operation Blau?
  • How did the Battle of Stalingrad fit into the objectives of Operation Blau?
  • How did the Battle of Stalingrad unfold? 
  • What was Operation Jubilee, why was it launched and what did it accomplish?
  • How did the German Wehrmacht participate in the Holocaust during Operation Blau?
  • What were the Factory Battles of Stalingrad?
  • How did the Luftwaffe impact the Battle of Stalingrad? 
  • What role did Snipers play in the Battle of Stalingrad?
  • What was the NKVD and what role did it play in the Battle of Stalingrad?
  • Who was Franz Halder? What role did he play in the Holocaust? 
  • What was the OKH and OKW and what roles did they play in World War II?
  • How were women involved in the Battle of Stalingrad?
  • What were Operation Uranus and Operation Saturn and how did they intend to compliment each other? 
  • How did the Nazi leadership and German public react to the defeat at Stalingrad?
  • Who was Vasily Grossman? 

Response / Thought Quotes

  • “On 23 July, Halder confided to his (fortunately well-hidden) war diary, about how the Führer, when faced with his realism, explodes in a fit of insane rage and hurls the gravest reproaches against the General Staff. This chronic tendency to underrate enemy capabilities is gradually assuming grotesque proportions and develops into a positive danger … This so-called leadership is characterized by a pathological reacting to the impressions of the moment and a total lack of any understanding of the command machinery and its possibilities.”
  • “The general paid tribute to the activities of the Red Army outside the city, which drew off considerable German forces, writing that ‘They held Paulus back by the ears.’ As for the Wehrmacht: ‘Some inexplicable force drove the enemy to keep on attacking. It seemed as though Hitler was prepared to destroy the whole of Germany for the sake of this one city.’”
  • “On Christmas Day the Germans were finally expelled from the Tractor Factory, and an ingenious method was used to get them out of the main office building of the Red October Factory, when a storming group of Lieutenant-General V. P. Sokolov’s division carried a 122mm howitzer into the factory piece by piece, which they then reassembled inside the walls. After a few rounds at point-blank range, ‘the German garrison in the factory ceased to exist.’”

Primary Sources

Articles

Maps

 

The Storm of War by Andrew Roberts :: Chapter 9: Midnight in the Devil’s Gardens

Thought Questions

  • What were the “Devil’s Gardens”?
  • Who was Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery and what was his role in the North Africa campaign?
  • Who was Erwin Rommel and what was his role in the North African campaign?
  • Describe the geography around El Alamein (remember Ala-me-in) 
  • What were the events that led up to the First Battle of El Alamein?
  • Describe the First Battle of El Alamein and the situation of the Axis and Allies at the conclusion
  • Describe the preparations on the British and German sides for the Second Battle of El Alamein
  • Describe how the Second Battle of El Alamein and the consequences for the North African campaign
  • How did the campaign in North Africa impact the Middle Eastern theater? 
  • What role did logistics and communications play in the North African campaign?
  • Describe Operation Torch?
  • How did the German’s attempt to respond to their defeats in North Africa? 
  • Describe the Allied defeat at the Kasserine Pass

Response / Thought Quotes

  • “Fortunately for our fame as soldiers, our enemy is worthy of us. The German is a war-trained veteran – confident, brave and ruthless. We are brave. We are better equipped, better fed, and in the place of his blood-glutted Woten, we have with us the God of our Fathers, Known of Old . . . If we die killing, well and good, but if we fight hard enough, viciously enough, we will kill and live. Live to return to our family and our girl as conquering heroes – men of Mars.”

Primary Sources

Maps

Articles

 

The Storm of War by Andrew Roberts :: Chapter 8: Five Minutes at Midway

Thought Questions 

  • Describe the Japanese motives and rationale for the attack on Midway
  • Describe the Japanese plans for the attack on Midway 
  • Describe the situation of the United States before the battle of Midway
  • Describe the unfolding American defense of Midway 
  • How did the battle of Midway unfold from the Japanese perspective and why does the author mention “Five Minutes” in the chapter title?
  • What were the new Japanese and American positions / circumstances in the Pacific and how did they change as a result of the battle of Midway?
  • Who was General Tôjô Hideki and how does he come to prominence around the time of Midway?
  • What evidence does the author provide that would refute the historical distortion of United States military operations being the moral equivalent of the Japanese military operations?
  • Describe what happened to the SS Tjisalak
  • Describe the Kachanaburi death camp on the River Kwai
  • Describe the activities of Unit 731
  • Describe the ordeal of Korean ‘comfort’ women
  • Describe the Bataan Death March
  • What was the role of American Liberty Ships in the war and what happened to the Liberty ship Richard Hovey and Liberty ship Jean Nicolet?

Thought / Response Quotes

  • “‘If anyone imagines that England would let India go without staking her last drop of blood, it is only a sorry sign of absolute failure to learn from the World War, and of total misapprehension and ignorance on the score of Anglo-Saxon determination.’ About this he was right, and yet only three years later the British did indeed withdraw from India without fighting for it” (Italics mine)
  • “What happened to the SS Tjisalak was fairly normal practice, according to the evidence given at the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal”

Articles 

Primary Sources

Further Reading

 

The Storm of War by Andrew Roberts :: Chapter 7: The Everlasting Shame of Mankind

Thought Questions 

  • What is the meaning of “lebensunwertes leben” and how is it related to the Holocaust?
  • How did the German Jewish Ghettos form? 
  • What was Operation / Order 14f13 and how did it get its name? 
  • Who were the Einsatzgruppen and what was their role in the Holocaust? 
  • In what ways did the Wehrmacht cooperate with the SS led genocide actions and also independently participate in Holocaust genocides? 
  • What process and reasoning took place in the Nazi hierarchy transforming the “shooting” phase (or Shoah by Bullets) of the Holocaust into the “gassing” phase (or Shoah by Gas) of the Holocaust?
  • What were some of the common experiences of victims undergoing the Shoah by Gas? 
  • What were some of the common attitudes and experiences of perpetrators and collaborators implementing the Shoah by Gas? 
  • Who were the Prisoner Sonderkommandos and how did they experience the Holocaust? 
  • What was the Wannsee Protocol and how did it effect the Holocaust?
  • What was the concept of Lebensraum and how was it related to Generalplan-Ost?
  • What was the general intention of Nazis plans for Christians after the Jewish Genocide?
  • Describe the “evacuation” genocide of the Warsaw Ghetto
  • What knowledge of the Holocaust did the Western Allies possess and when and how did they learn the information? 
  • What knowledge of the extermination camps did the Western Allies possess and when and how did they learn the information?
  • What were the options the Western Allies had as they gained knowledge of the Holocaust and what process did the Allies go through in discovering and responding to the Holocaust?
  • Consider the quote from Elie Wiesel in relation to the process the Western Allies experienced in discovering the Holocaust (Stalin knew about and approved the Holocaust as his actions in 1939 from comments during the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact adjustment negotiations and later at Warsaw demonstrate)

Thought / Response Quotes

  • “In the course of my life I have very often been a prophet, and have usually been ridiculed for it. Today I will once more be a prophet; if the international Jewish financiers in and outside Europe should succeed in plunging the nations once more into a world war, then the result will not be the Bolshevization of the earth, and thus the victory of Jewry, but the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe!”
  • “The world war is here, the extermination of the Jews must be the necessary consequence.” 
  • “it would occasionally be arranged for the victims to lie down along the trench so that they could be pushed in easily afterwards. For the later operations, the victims had to lie face down inside the trench and were then shot in the side of the head. During the shootings at Bialystok, Novgorod and Baranowice, the corpses were well covered over, more or less, with sand and chalk before the next batch was brought up. In the later shooting operations, this was only rarely done so that the next batch of victims always had to lie down on the corpses of those who had just been killed before. But even in those cases where the corpses had been covered with sand and chalk, the next victims often saw them, because body parts would frequently be jutting out of the thin layer of sand or earth.”
  • “a glorious page in our history that has never been written and cannot be written” 
  • “Auschwitz defies perceptions and imaginations, it submits only to memory. Between the dead and the rest of us there exists an abyss that no talent can comprehend.” 
  • “The Holocaust could not have been carried out without the willing co-operation of scientists, statisticians, demographers and social scientists supporting this ‘radical experiment in social engineering’, all operating in an utter moral vacuum.”

Maps

Articles 

Notes

  • A clear introduction to the Nazi T4 program, Action 14f13, Fort Seven and the connection to the use of gas vans and the Chełmno extermination camp, see Chełmno and the Holocaust: The History of Hitler’s First Death Camp by Patrick Montague.
  • Individuals with the intent to deny or distort the Holocaust will often bring up Soviet Gas Vans. There is very little verifiable information about Soviet Gas Vans. Historians know they existed, They were probably converted bread vans/trucks. The Soviets (specifically Nikolai Yezhov) did have knowledge of gassing experiments at Nevada State Prison in 1924. but the use of gas for executions in the United States was public knowledge. The Nazis were aware of NKVD killing methods. IG Farben was aware of the use of gas for executions in the United States. Every chemist and chemical company in the world was aware of this fact. There is no comparison between the use of gas for executions in the United States (however cruel) and the genocides of Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia that employed gas to kill. Judicial executions in a nation ruled by normal laws (however offensive) is entirely different from Genocide. Anyone equating them is distorting or attempting to justify the Holocaust. 
  • There is no evidence that the gas vans used in Nazi Germany were Soviet gas vans. There is no evidence that the Soviets “staged” their own gas vans to create hostility to Germany after the war. They never attempted this and no physical remains of the gas vans exists. We have testimony of collaborators and Sonderkommandos prisoners. If the Soviets had “staged” the gas vans, they would have preserved the “evidence”. Further there was no need for the Soviets to invent genocides or create hostility to Germany. The Nazis left abundant evidence and no Russian could have been more hostile to Germany. Individuals claiming the gas vans are propaganda are denying or minimizing the Holocaust. 

Primary Sources

 

The Storm of War by Andrew Roberts :: Chapter 6: Tokyo Typhoon

Thought Questions 

  • Who were Lieutenant William Outerbridge and Privates Joseph Lockard and George Elliott?
  • What was the Japanese rationale behind the attack on Pearl Harbor? 
  • What was Hitler’s rationale for declaring war on the United States? 
  • Why did the United States place economic sanctions on Japan and what effect did this have on their ability to wage war?
  • What was the “Southern Resources Area” and the “Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere”?
  • Who were Admiral Husband Kimmel and Lieutenant-General Walter C. Short and how were they negligent in their duties at Pearl Harbor and how were they used as scapegoats? 
  • What “reasoning” and “evidence” exists that Franklin Roosevelt knew about the planned attack on Pearl Harbor? What is the evidence that debunks this theory? 
  • What was Hitler’s “Second Book”, when was it written and how did it reveal Hitler’s attitudes towards the United States? (Please note: The “translations” of the “Second Book” you find on the internet are almost all fraudulent and for most its not worth the time to find a real version)
  • Why did the Nazis refer to the United States as a “Jewified nation”? 
  • What role did Japanese Nationals living in United States (including territories) play in the attack on Pearl Harbor? 
  • What role did Japanese Americans living in the United States (including territories) play in the attack on Pearl Harbor? 
  • What was Executive Order 9066? 
  • How did Executive Order 9066 violate the Constitutional Rights of American citizens? 

Notes

  • Attempting to justify or minimize the Japanese American Relocation and Internment is ignorant and offensive. This act was a repudiation of the values our nation aspires to. 
  • Someone can explain why something happened, including the aggravating and mitigating factors, without justifying what they are explaining: Explanations are different from Excuses.
  • Comparing the Japanese relocation and internment to Nazi Concentration Camps is ignorant and offensive. The next chapter will make this very clear. 

Thought / Response Quotes

  • “Across the sea, corpses in the water, Across the mountain, corpses heaped upon the field, I shall die only for the Emperor, I shall never look back.”
  • “Despite the example of over ten years’ campaigning in China, Japan was not taken seriously enough by American policy-makers. It did not help that many senior politicians and soldiers genuinely believed that the slanted eyes of Japanese pilots meant they could not undertake long flights; as one historian has put it, ‘American leaders, harboring all sorts of racist stereotypes about the Japanese, did not think that they were capable of such a feat’ as the bombing of Pearl Harbor, which was 3,400 miles from the Japanese homeland.”
  • “… if the Japanese had succeeded totally at Pearl Harbor they might indeed have bought enough time to consolidate the Southern Resources Area” 
  • “‘A military man can scarcely pride himself on having ‘‘smitten a sleeping enemy’’; it is more a matter of shame, simply, for the one smitten. I would rather you made your appraisal after seeing what the enemy does, since it is certain that, angered and outraged, he will soon launch a determined counterattack…’” 
  • “‘The entry of the United States into the war is of no consequence at all for Germany,’ Hitler had told Molotov in Berlin on 12 November 1940, ‘the United States will not be a threat to us in decades – not in 1945 but at the earliest in 1970 or 1980.’ It was one of the greatest miscalculations of history.”
  • “‘I know them; I know their country. A country devoid of culture, devoid of music – above all, a country without soldiers, a people who will never be able to decide the war from the air. When has a Jewified nation like that ever become a race of fighters and flying aces?’” 
  • “‘The English feel about us [Americans] just the way we feel about a prosperous [racial slur referring to African Americans].’”
  • “No American will think it wrong of me if I proclaim that to have the United States at our side was to me the greatest joy. I could not foretell the course of events. I do not pretend to have measured accurately the martial might of Japan, but now at this very moment I knew the United States was in the war, up to the neck and in to the death. So we had won after all! . . . Hitler’s fate was sealed. Mussolini’s fate was sealed. As for the Japanese, they would be ground to powder.” 

Articles 

Maps

Primary Sources

 

The Storm of War by Andrew Roberts :: Chapter 5: Kicking in the Door

Notes

  • Because of the roles of ethnic groups within the Soviet Union played in the war, some people refer to Russia or Russian Empire instead of the Soviet Union. The “Soviet Union” is entirely a horrible fiction enforced on the people of the Russian Empire under the Bolshevik rule and projected to the world.
  • OKW stands for Oberkommando der Wehrmacht The overall military command of German Armed forces land, sea and air.
  • OKH stands for Oberkommando der Heeres The command of the land forces (Heer)
  • German Army = Heer, Navy = Kriegsmarine, and the Air Force = Luftwaffe
  • The OKW oversaw the western and Mediterranean theaters, the eastern front was directly under the control of the OKH.

Thought Questions 

  • What was Hitler’s rationale for the invasion of the Russia (Soviet Union)
  • How did geography effect the plan of Operation Barbarossa? 
  • What was the “plan” of Operation Barbarossa? 
  • What was the condition of the Russian Empire when Germany invaded? 
  • How was Stalin warned about German aggression and what was his reaction? 
  • How did the initial phases of Operation Barbarossa unfold? 
  • What were the major elements of Hitler’s Directive 21? 
  • What was the “Commissar Order”? 
  • How was the conflict between Germany and Russia a racial struggle? 
  • What is the concept of “lebensraum” and how did Hitler compare it to British colonialism and American western expansion? 

Primary Sources

The Storm of War by Andrew Roberts :: Chapter 4: Contesting the Littoral

Thought Questions 

  • What did Churchill mean when he said “After Alamein we never had a defeat”?
  • Why was the North African and Mediterranean theaters important to the allies and to the axis?
  • What role did Mussolini play in the North African and Mediterranean theaters?
  • How did the battle for North Africa unfold? 
  • What were the events leading up to the invasion of Yugoslavia and the destruction of Belgrade? 
  • Explain the context and meaning of this quote from Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean Fleet, Sir Andrew Browne Cunningham:
  • “It has always been the duty of the Navy to take the Army overseas to battle and, if the Army fail, to bring them back again. If we now break with that tradition, ever afterwards when soldiers go overseas they will tend to look over their shoulders instead of relying on the Navy. You have said, General, that it will take three years to build a new fleet. I will tell you that it will take three hundred years to build a new tradition. If, gentlemen, you now order the Army in Crete to surrender, the Fleet will still go there to bring off the Marines.”
  • How was the German involvement in the North African and Mediterranean theaters a strategic necessity and a strategic mistake? 
  • What happened and why was the meeting at Placentia Bay between Churchill and Roosevelt important? 
  • How did the August 1941 Placentia Bay meeting commit the United States to active participation in World War II? 
  • How were the modern nations of Syria, Iran and Iraq involved in World War II and how was this involvement connected to the end of the Ottoman Empire and World War I?

 

The Storm of the War by Andrew Roberts :: Chapter 3: Last Hope Island

Thought Questions

  • What was Hitler’s opinion of the British Empire at the beginning of the war?
  • What was Operation Sea Lion and what was its purpose? What was the Black Book?
  • When the author says Hitler had a “love hate” relationship with Britain, what does he mean? 
  • What were the Einsatzgruppen and how would they have been deployed to Britain?
  • What was the “Battle of Britain” and “the Blitz”, what were the objectives and progress?
  • What were the main aircraft involved in the Battle of Britain and what were their strengths and weaknesses in this situation?
  • What were the main factors in the British victory in the Battle of Britain? 
  • In what ways did Britain and Germany misunderstand each other in terms of motivation and morale? 
  • What changes in British society needed to be made at the beginning of the war and how may this be related to Churchill’s defeat at the end of the war? 
  • What role did the Swiss play in the Holocaust and what excuses did they give for refusing Jewish refugees protection?
  • How did Swedish and Swiss neutrality effect the German war effort? What circumstances limited their actions?
  • How was Ireland’s reaction to the war different from Sweden and Switzerland and how did their neutrality effect the Allied war effort?

 

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