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Review of "The Separation" by Christopher Priest

By TheophileEscargot in Culture
Mon Feb 17, 2003 at 11:52:05 AM EST
Tags: Books (all tags)
Books

"There are no good wars, with the following exceptions: the American Revolution, World War Two and the Star Wars Trilogy." -- Bart Simpson

Few would disagree, but Christopher Priest's radical novel offers intriguing hints that the "appeasers" of Hitler might have had a point after all. This review contains major spoilers.


Genre Background
Alternate histories are stories about what might have happened if history had happened differently. They are popular: the uchronia website lists 2,200 alternate histories. The most popular category is that of alternate outcomes to World War Two, as can be seen from the divergence point list. Two of the better-known books are The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick, and Fatherland by Thomas Harris, though there are many others.

So, I approached this book without much enthusiasm. First, after all the volumes that have been written on the subject, it seemed unlikely that Priest would have found a new angle. Second, with the benefit of hindsight, stories about the Axis powers actually winning the war are just not that plausible. Invasions over the sea are costly and difficult; and Germany and Japan had weaker navies than Britain and America. There are ways to get around these objections: you can posit the Axis powers developing atomic weapons first, for instance; but stories about Japanese invasions of California or German invasions of Britain grow tiresome with repetition.

In spite of this, Priest has managed to find a new approach here. Only a minor part of the book is devoted to the subsequent history of the world. Instead, he focuses on the historical turning-point itself, the separation between this alternate history and the real history. This is not therefore an alternate history in the conventional sense, but a book that crossed genre boundaries. Alternate histories in general are a rare category, in that they are often read by SF readers and mainstream readers equally. People who would refuse to pick up an overtly science-fictional novel are perfectly willing to read books like The Alteration by Kingsley Amis, Making History by Stephen Fry, and the aforementioned Fatherland.

The Story
The story is about identical twin brothers, Joe and Jack Sawyer; athletes who compete in rowing at the 1936 Olympics. Politically aware Joe insists on using the opportunity to smuggle a Jewish friend, Birgit, out of the country. Jack is unconcerned with politics, and is insulted that he was not made privy to the plan.

By 1940, the brothers are estranged. Joe is married to Birgit, Jack is in love with her as well. Joe is a pacifist, a conscientious objector who refuses (legally) to serve in the military. Instead he joins the Red Cross, becoming an ambulance driver in the bombing raids. Jack on the other hand has joined the Royal Air Force: too big for fighters, he becomes a bomber pilot, to his brother's disgust.

The narrative divides at this point. We are told the story from the point of view of each brother, as the separation between the two histories occurs. In our reality, Joe dies; in the book's alternate history, Jack dies. It is the difference made by these characters that separates the two histories. However, in hallucinatory dreams experienced by Joe, he meets his brother and sees a little of history as it might have been.

The structure of the book is impressive, but complicated. Priest tells the two stories out of order, and it can be hard to keep track of what is going on. Furthermore, neither of the narrators is entirely reliable: the brothers change emphasis and appear to be altering little details to present themselves in a better light. The stories combine to provide a kind of fractal vision of the Battle of Britain, with the same events seen from various perspectives.

The key historical event here is the mysterious flight of Hitler's deputy, Rudolf Hess, to Scotland in 1941: a real event that is still poorly understood. Hess claimed to be on a peace mission: the Germans declared that he was insane. Both brothers meet Hess and Winston Churchill, and it is the differences that these minor characters make that changes history.

History
In the alternate history, Joe manages to negotiate with Rudolf Hess, convincing him that peace is possible. Joe also makes an impassioned speech in favour of peace to Churchill, which may have swayed his decision. In our reality, the Germans made several peace overtures in this period, which were rejected by Churchill and the War Cabinet. In the alternate history, Churchill agrees. The Germans are given free reign in Europe, and in turn Germany agrees to leave the British Empire free.

The results of this are not what you might expect.

Priest's thesis is that the British bombing helped keep Hitler in power. This is not unreasonable: people tend to rally behind a leader in times of crisis. In the alternate history, Hitler is removed from power in an internal coup. The Holocaust never happens. Under a real plan from the time of Bismarck, the Jews of Europe are forcibly resettled in Madagascar, to eventually form a Jewish state called Masada. Masada's condition parallels Israel, which is never established in that reality, and has similar conflicts with the indigenous population.

Britain is more successful in the post-war period; suffering less bombing, less loss of life, and without incurring such tremendous levels of debt as in our reality. (In 2006 the war-debt to the US will finally be paid off). The US defeats the Japanese, but is then drawn into a long war. Allying with one faction the US fights a war in China, eventually invading the Soviet Union from the East. The cost of this long war causes economic stagnation and social repression in the US.

Germany invades the Soviet Union with success, setting up colonial cities in the captured Ukraine. The Soviet Union is eventually defeated, after a costly war. Subsequently, the Nazi leadership of Germany collapses. After a "denazification" programme, Germany eventually recovers. By the present day, there is a stable European Union much like our own.

In effect then, this alternate history compares favourably to our own: there is no Holocaust and the Soviet Union is short-lived. In other words, Christopher Priest is suggesting that a peace treaty with Nazi Germany might have been preferable to the war. So, could it be that Bart Simpson was wrong, and World War Two was not a "good" war after all?

The Ethics of War
Britain and France's 1939 declaration of war on Germany is often justified by reference to the Holocaust. However, the Holocaust proper not occur until significantly later: the notorious Wannsee conference was on January 20th 1942 (timeline). With hindsight, it has also been well established that Hitler would have preferred to avoid a war with Britain: Britain's declaration of war was not a simple matter of self-defence. While the peace movement were later vilified as "appeasers" of Hitler, at the time they had strong support.

The US entry into the war is less problematic, since it was Germany that declared war on the US, not the other way around, and German U-boats were attacking US shipping. Unlike Britain or France, the US was essentially acting in self-defence, not attempting to intervene in another country's business.

The remaining moral justification for Britain's declaration of war was attempting to assure the independence of Poland. Ironically, this one reason that seem valid at the time proved to be ineffective with hindsight: the Soviets did not allow Poland to be independent and free either.

So, it remains possible to ask whether Britain and France's declaration of war was ethical. The question can be asked either from a 1939 viewpoint or a modern viewpoint. From a 1939 viewpoint, it depends on the benefits of protecting Poland and checking the German expansion. From a modern viewpoint, it amounts to whether Britain and France did the right thing for the wrong reasons, whether the interruption to the Holocaust was worth the loss of life in the war.

However, in the case of the alternate history presented here, the declaration of war would appear not to be justified in retrospect. The result is no holocaust, no iron curtain, no Soviet occupation of Eastern Europe. Of course, this depends on the convenient assumption that the Nazi administration would eventually have collapsed from within. This is the weakest part of the case, but not unjustifiable: there was internal opposition to Hitler; and the Nazi economy was dependent first on borrowing, then on plunder, neither of which could be indefinitely sustained.

It should be noted that, as a novelist, Christopher Priest is simply presenting a possible alternative, not stating for certain what would have happened. In an interview1 the author has said:

The Separation is a book of ideas, with no particular agenda to pursue, other than my own general anti-war sentiments. The so-called appeasers in the British government in the 1930s were all veterans of the First World War, who had seen the horrors at first hand and who were determined that nothing like that must ever happen again. To me, that's an honourable instinct not a despicable one. Appeasement only became discredited after it failed, after war broke out, after Churchill took over. History is written by the victors, and history is now against appeasement. As a novelist, I don't give a stuff about the historical consensus. I took the pacifist point of view that maybe there was, after all, something to appeasement.
...
For the novel I worked with the idea that a Nazi government was inherently unstable, and that Hitler, without a war against Britain to sustain his position, would have been overthrown.
It should be noted that The Separation took four years to write, so it cannot be seen as a reaction to any current events. The book also concentrates on the conflict between the two brothers, one a warrior, one a pacifist. Nevertheless, its thoughtful discussion of whether war can ever be worthwhile seems timely and thought-provoking.

Themes and Conclusions
One of the recurring themes of the book is that of doubles or doppelgangers, which extends beyond the identical twins who are at the heart of the book. In a disturbing sequence, it turns out that the Winston Churchill who is so astonishingly successful at raising morale is actually just a double, touring the devastation of bombed London while the real Churchill is busy elsewhere. In one of the realities, it turns out that the Rudolf Hess who flew to Britain was actually an imposter.

This links to one of the other themes, that the outcome of the war is not just dependent on social pressures or "great men", but on the actions of ordinary people, who may find themselves in the right place at the right time. The doppelgangers are used to imply that in a way, the "great men" of history are interchangeable.

In spite of this, Priest is clearly fascinated by the character of Winston Churchill. The doubled view of the two brothers is used to explore the many sides of his personality. In the same interview Priest described Churchill as

A political opportunist, a warmonger, a strikebreaker, an empire conservative, a self-publicist, a drunkard and much more. But he was a compassionate man, he was brave, he had a sense of humour, he was ineradicably a brilliant war leader, his speeches can stop you dead in your tracks... and he wrote some of the finest English of the last century.
This book too is thoughtful and many-sided. However, it is a novel of ideas and character, not an action story. The structure is complex to grasp, and I felt not entirely successful at the end. However, these are minor issues: this book has an involving story, original ideas, and is skillfully written. This book could well be Christopher Priest's finest hour.

Notes
Christopher Priest's homepage has a lot of information, including a overview of the book, two extracts (chapter 1 and the more interesting chapter 16), a page of review extracts and a huge bibliography describing his research.

There are several reviews online, from infinity plus, a John Clute review in his thankfully inimitable style, and from Locus.

The book is available from amazon.co.uk, who deliver internationally, but has not been published in the US. Although the trade paperback was reprinted after selling out, there has been no hardback publication, in spite of a non-existent hardback version appearing on the amazon website. The Separation has been shortlisted for the Arthur C. Clarke award.

The novelist Christopher Priest has no apparent connection with a comic-book writer of the same name. There is a short interview online, but the much more detailed interview described below is only available in paper.

Footnote 1
The interview quoted from is in Interzone magazine, ISSN 0264-3596, in issue 183 dated October 2002.
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Poll
Best WW2 alternate history
o Hawthorne Abendson: The Grasshopper Lies Heavy 12%
o Len Deighton : SS-GB 21%
o Stephen Fry : Making History 3%
o Thomas Harris : Fatherland 18%
o Adolf Hitler : Lord of the Swastika 9%
o James P. Hogan : The Proteus Operation 6%
o Christopher Priest : The Separation 6%
o Harry Turtledove : Worldwar 21%

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Related Links
o uchronia
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o Fatherland
o The Alteration
o Making History
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o Christophe r Priest's homepage
o overview of the book
o extracts
o chapter 1
o chapter 16
o review extracts
o bibliograp hy
o infinity plus
o John Clute review
o Locus
o from amazon.co.uk
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Review of "The Separation" by Christopher Priest | 176 comments (166 topical, 10 editorial, 0 hidden)
Revisionist history (4.25 / 8) (#10)
by BadDoggie on Mon Feb 17, 2003 at 08:21:01 AM EST

There is a camp which fervently believes Chamberlain was actually intentionally appeasing Hitler in order to let the Nazis and Soviets kill each other and leave everyone else alone. Nice idea, but there's not a single scrap of paper to show Chamberlain as anything but the weak, naive and ineffectual man he was.

Consider that no WWII would also have meant that blacks and women would probably still have a hard time getting jobs in the U.S. (Stephen Fry notes this in Making History, referenced in the article). There wouldn't have been a space race and we'd probably still not have got to the Moon. Were it not for the Japanese Project FUGO, we might still not really know about the jet stream. Microwave ovens were a technological accident of war technology (hence the original name "Radarange"). And Turing would've been forced to suicide at a much younger age. And and and.

While I'll probably read this book now, I'm always upset that the ramifications of the grandfather paradoxes set up are rarely explored beyond the central thesis, such as "World War averted, Britain out, Germany defeats USSR, US doesn't get a load of rocket scientists, no one has to break codes, U.S. firms never bother to miniaturise and speed up tabulators, etc." which would leave us without rockets and computers.

woof.

"The line between genius and stupidity is very fine indeed, but you're so far away from the line that it doesn't matter." --

Chamberlain (3.33 / 3) (#12)
by hex11a on Mon Feb 17, 2003 at 10:24:46 AM EST

There is another school of thought: Chamberlain's "piece of paper" bought the UK a year in which to get its armed forces ready. In 1938 they had not got enough planes to fight the battle of Britain, and they only just scraped by in 1939-41. The spitfire only came into service in 1938, the Hurricane in 1937. For these to be mass produced the UK needed time, and that's what Chamberlain got.

Hex

[ Parent ]

Yes, but... (5.00 / 3) (#16)
by BadDoggie on Mon Feb 17, 2003 at 11:34:41 AM EST

That piece of paper didn't mean much since Operation Sealion was never going to work and Germany knew it. Air domination was the minimum requirement to consider the action and Goering couldn't give it (thanks to radar and some very tough pilots).

Germany never wanted war with England, knew it couldn't afford it, and had truly expected Britain to stay the hell out of the game. Had Doenitz been given a little more steel and been allowed to use his tactics as he saw fit (rather than following Raeder's and Hitler's ideas for submarine usage), Britain would have been choked into surrender or at least non-aggression before the blitz into France.

I'd like to like Chamberlain, but he, like all the French generals, were so shit-scared of WWI repeating that they couldn't and wouldn't seriously prepare or even consider the worst case, much less taking action against an aggressive power... until it was too late.

Hitler's march into the Rhineland on March 7, 1936 could have easily been stopped. The German standing order was retreat if a single shot was fired by the French in resistance to the action. It never came.

woof.

"The line between genius and stupidity is very fine indeed, but you're so far away from the line that it doesn't matter." -- Parent ]

Get Real (5.00 / 2) (#62)
by pmc on Mon Feb 17, 2003 at 07:02:14 PM EST

Operation Sealion was never going to work and Germany knew it.

Stunning interpretation. Germany spent a fortune building up troops, ship, barges, and machines, and destroyed their air force, in order to indulge in an operation that they knew they could not win. This just so massively fails the credibility test that it isn't even funny.

Germany did not expect operation sealion to fail. They were evil, but they were far from stupid. It came as a great shock when they could not win the Battle of Britain and, given absolute air superiority was a prerequisite, this stopped the plans operation sealion when autumn came. The reasons for this were manifold - partially radar, but mostly to do with better intelligence through Ultra (which was obtained though Bletchley Park's breaking of enigma).

The British forces knew where the German attacks were coming and Dowding (the only person in the RAF who was privy to the intelligence) made sure that his limited forces were always deployed to maximum effectiveness. Indeed, on September 15th 1940 (the last real day of the Battle of Britain) every single British plane was in the air fighting the German attacks because they knew that this was the final push. It is quite likely that without ultra Britain would have lost the Britain, and operation Sealion would have commenced.

There is no doubt that the German tactics could have been better (attacking the coastal airfields rather than London would have made much more sense) but if it hadn't been for the shock victory of "The Few" then I'd probably be writing this in German.

Germany probably didn't want war with Britain, but certainly didn't act in a way that would forstall this happening - sort of like going on an alcoholic binge but not wanting a hangover; once you start on the course of action the end result is pretty unavoidable, even if you don't want it to happen.

I'm not sure about the march into the Rhineland either - it was against the treaty of Versailles, but so was the German draft. France was paralysed by internal politics at the time, Britain was known to see it as really an internal Germany matter, so the risk of intervention wasn't that great, for all it gave Hitler sleepless nights.

But I'd agree Chamberlain was a prat.

[ Parent ]

Stunning interpretation? (4.00 / 1) (#69)
by gsl on Mon Feb 17, 2003 at 08:56:13 PM EST

I can't say I'm an expert on the subject but in all the history books I've read (and can remember), Sealion is protrayed as a bluff. Hitler wanted Britain to capitulate (or at least, make peace) without a fight. When it became clear the threat of invasion wasn't enough to force the British to comply, he went ahead with plans for invasion but if you look at any of the detail, the plans were a joke (which is what Von Rundstedt, who was meant to command the invasion, thought of them too). I think the plan was to invade with something like 3 divisions worth of fighting troops.

And to invade, you've got to cross the North Sea/English Channel and the Royal Navy were still strong. It's not the capital ships that count so much when defending against a seaborne invasion but instead the destroyer flotillas and the RN was far superior in that department (the Germans lost half their already weak destroyer strength during the invasion of Norway). Even with air superiority, the Germans would have had a hard time defending their invasion fleet from attack, especially as the fleet would have to depart at night in order to make a morning landfall.

Some accounts I've read reckon that Hitler had given up on invasion as early as July 1940, assuming he was every serious. By that stage, his attention had turned to the east.

But I'd agree Chamberlain was a prat.

I tend to feel sorry for Chamberlain. He was the wrong man for the times (and probably the job, to be honest). I wouldn't have liked to be in his shoes.

Geoff.
--
NP: Arena - Contagion [Riding The Tide]



[ Parent ]
Nobody was Laughing (4.50 / 2) (#84)
by pmc on Tue Feb 18, 2003 at 05:36:50 AM EST

I think the plan was to invade with something like 3 divisions worth of fighting troops.

That was the plan for the first wave and involved about 60000 troops. More would have been brought over (if possible). As the invasion front would have been small this would probably have sufficed (remember, Germany would have have absolute air superiority). Also the British army had left a huge quantity of their heavy equipment at Dunkirk. The most opportune time for an invasion of Britain was 1940, when the army was weak and the Germans had the momentum.

The channel was probably a much biggest obstacle. There were limited times that you could cross it for a dawn invasion, and it is a trecherous piece of water later in the year, so this limited invasion plans to only a few dates. The Royal Navy was practically absent from the channel due to German bombers, so air superiority and a willingness to gamble with a relatively small force may have given them a foothold. At that point it is all up in the air.

Then the difficulties for the Germans start. Resupply is difficult (as the RN would have be back in the channel in force, damn the risks) and probably would have been limited to air supply (which, when tried later in the war was a complete failure). Getting tanks and heavy artillery over would have been very difficult. I reckon if the Germans had won the Battle of Britain then they would have invaded, they may have landed, but I think they would have been comprehensively defeated and driven back in short order.

The key date seems to be August the 15th, when the invasion plan was basically neutered, although if Goering did manage to neutralise the RAF then the full thing could have been back on. Then it was cancelled on September 17th.

Now, behind this is always the subtext that people prefer to win battles by not fighting them. The Germans undoubtably would have preferred Britain to capitulate or withdraw from the war, and there is no doubt that Sealion was also designed as a psychological tool to drive the British towards this. But it wasn't, I think, only a bluff.

[ Parent ]

I wish I'd written this... (4.00 / 1) (#87)
by BadDoggie on Tue Feb 18, 2003 at 06:51:30 AM EST

See an essay called "Why Operation Sealion Wouldn't Work (http://gateway.alternatehistory.com/essays/Sealion.html), which explains in 4,000 words what I don't have time to write in 8,000.

The essay explains both the political and practical reasons Sealion was doomed, in detail. A very good read.

woof.

"The line between genius and stupidity is very fine indeed, but you're so far away from the line that it doesn't matter." -- Parent ]

It is a good read, but: (none / 0) (#99)
by Alarmist on Tue Feb 18, 2003 at 12:57:31 PM EST

Some of the details are flawed.

Germany had no purpose-built torpedo bombers, true, but the Ju-88 and the He-111 were both able to carry a pair of torpedos each. They were usually launched in unison (to avoid balance problems, since they were carried externally), which would give an attacker two chances to damage his target rather than just one.

Also, while it is true that the German bombers were mostly level bombers (though the Ju-88 was later modified to do some dive bombing work), they were also principally tactical-level planes, designed for close air support. This means flying at low altitudes against ground targets. This would be suicidal, since they'd still have to fly through a hailstorm of what would probably be quite accurate flak from the RN ships, but it also improves their accuracy a bit.

Come to that, a clever (or lucky) crew might have discovered skip bombing, which worked quite well for the U.S. in the Pacific theater. The He-111 would not be capable of such a feat (since it carried its bombs nose-up), but again the Ju-88 would have.

[ Parent ]

An interesting Article. (none / 0) (#100)
by pmc on Tue Feb 18, 2003 at 01:16:14 PM EST

But it would be relatively easy to write another article "Why Operation Barbarossa Wouldn't Work". Yet still the Germans invaded Russia. So being able to say with perfect hindsight that "Operation Such-and-Such" was doomed (even in detail) really tells you nothing about if the operation was a serious consideration.

And I can only repeat - the Germans practically destroyed their airforce trying to get air supremacy over Britain. They did not do this for verisimilitude, but because they were actually trying to get air supremacy. And they only needed air supremacy because they needed it to invade.

[ Parent ]

I disagree (5.00 / 1) (#102)
by BadDoggie on Tue Feb 18, 2003 at 02:01:50 PM EST

The air force was used incorrectly to get supremacy when England refused to accept a Nazi Europe. Had Doenitz been given the 5% of steel production he asked for, he could have ringed Britain, as was his plan, and choked it into submission.

As for Barbarossa, the reasons for it failing are clear:

  1. The western front was still active. The Nazis knew to avoid a two-front war.
  2. The Nazis had to go clean up the mess the Italians made in Greece. Fewer divisions were available and ready, and materiel was lost.
  3. General Winter. An early and extraordinarily harsh winter hit.
  4. The Soviets had seen the motorised tactics used in the Lowlands and in France and came up with a tactic of using multiple lines. Once a line was breeched, the remainder would fall back and reinforce the next line. The Nazis only made it through three of these lines.
  5. Stalin was willing to throw bodies at bullets. Twenty million Soviets died.
Furthermore, Hitler was getting older and was intent on starting up easter operations. He also firmly believed in his super secret new weapons, many of which failed to materialise.

Finally, the Japanese attack on the US, which Germany was forced to support, brought the U.S. into the war full-time. Unlike 1917, where full employment made it hard to move 2M people into materiel production, the 60% unemployment in the U.S. made it easy to move 8M people into factories. Once the U.S. was in, the Axis didn't have a chance. Yamamoto, educated in the U.S., knew this and tried to tell his superiors, who didn't listen.

Be thankful that Doenitz and Yamamoto were ignored.

Back from the tangent, the German air force was destroyed for a few reasons. The British planes were better, had fuel injection, and used 100 octane fuel for about 30% better performance over the Nazi 87-octane stuff. The Spitfire's eight machine guns were better at defending against mixed-armament German planes, and the British came up with the four-finger formation tactic, still used today.

Ninety percent of shot down British pilots landed safely and could fly again, often the same day. Germany just kept losing experienced pilots over the island.

The Nazi tactics shifted in Aug. '40 from drawing up the RAF to attacking cities and manufacturing centres which let the RAF rebuild and recuperate. In June, 1941, there was a diversion of Nazi materiel for the attack on the Soviet Union.

Finally, breaking Ultra gave the U.K. the German plans and order of battle.

The simple fact of -- save for submarines -- having next to no navy and few freighters/carriers made invasion of the U.K. all but impossible. What happened to so much of the German navy? Lost in Norway in 1940.

woof.

"The line between genius and stupidity is very fine indeed, but you're so far away from the line that it doesn't matter." -- Parent ]

A few points (none / 0) (#145)
by pmc on Wed Feb 19, 2003 at 01:29:01 PM EST

Not that it particularly affects your argument, but Doenitz had 5% of the production of steel. He actually wanted 300 U-boats by the start of the war. Your point being that he didn't get what he said he needed to produce a seige of Britain (which was the other German strategy). And it was breaking Enigma that gave the intelligence (the intelligence was called Ultra).

I think you've missed my point about Barbarossa - it's not that it failed, but that if it didn't go ahead future historians would point out the known factors (two front war, huge Russian manpower and resources, a winter campaign in Russia) and say that it was never really a serious plan as it is obvious that it would fail.

The German change of tactics halfway through the Battle of Britain is very odd (not their oddest action of 1940, but close*). If they had concentrated on the airfields then they could have put the RAF in a much more disadvantageous position; from Kent it is 5 minutes to engagement, from Lincolnshire it is 30 minutes. Bombing cities is all very well, but won't actually hinder your opponents war machine by much.

Again, with hindsight we know now that amphibious landings without serious naval backup is practically suicidal, but in those days they were still writing the book. Psychology also plays its part - the Germans were on a roll; France, Holland, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Poland had all fallen, just one more and then they could concentrate on the prize of Russia. An interesting alternative history is that of Britain losing the Battle of Britain, operation sealion commencing, Germany getting beaten back but after enough time so that Barbarossa was postponed for a year. Would Barbarossa have failed with a more clement winter (I've not checked, but it couldn't have been worse)? Germany taking Moscow would have totally altered the course of the war.

Then it gets hard to see what would have happened. Would Britain have used poisoned gas against Germany during the invasion? If so, would the US still have supported Britain? And what would have happened in the near east - would Germany have got the oil it so desperately required?

* The most bizarre decision of 1940 was Germany not attacking and annihilating the British Expeditionary Force and French Army at Dunkirk. They were sitting ducks, with nowhere to run. I've never read a vaguely credible reason for this paralysis, but because of it about 330,000 troops were saved, which did have a major impact on the eventual outcome of the war.

[ Parent ]

Dunkirk (none / 0) (#153)
by ucblockhead on Wed Feb 19, 2003 at 02:59:33 PM EST

The only halfway credible explanation I've read was that the German High Command was so stunned by its own success and the allied collapse that they were afraid that it was a trap, and that a French counterattack might be in the offing.
-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
Get Realer (none / 0) (#157)
by los on Wed Feb 19, 2003 at 05:02:07 PM EST

The Germans did not "spend a fortune building up troops, ships, barges, and machines" for Seelion. The troops were for other purposes. They built very few landing craft -- they mostly just commandeered whatever they could press into service. Germany's effort to build landing craft and other support for Sealion was half-hearted and way too late.

If the Germans had meant business they would have started earlier and been ready. As it was, they finished conquering France and said to themselves "now what?" Hitler frankly didn't care about conquering Britain and just wanted some kind of armistice with them so he could get it on with the Russians.

Given this lack of preparation, most Germans in the know certainly did expect that Seelion would fail -- if it was undertaken at all (which most of them knew wasn't feasible). The Germans simply had nowhere near enough shipping to keep their forces supplied. Logistics gets little play in the Bantam War Books, but it is where ground wars are won and lost.

[ Parent ]

Erm... (none / 0) (#162)
by pmc on Wed Feb 19, 2003 at 06:26:42 PM EST

They built very few landing craft

There is a difference between "building up" and "building". A fairly substantial, not to say crucial, difference.

If the Germans had meant business they would have attacked Britain (at a massive cost) with their airforce in an attempt to get air superiority to support the invasion....hang on..erm...oh.

Logistics gets little play in the Bantam War Books, but it is where ground wars are won and lost.

Did you read my other posts in this thread where I talk about the German problems of resupply after a force lands? It would appear not, as if you had it would have taken very little intelligence to draw the inference that I really do not need patronised about the importance of logistics in warfare.

[ Parent ]

Re: Erm<i> (none / 0) (#165)
by los on Wed Feb 19, 2003 at 07:09:12 PM EST

"They built very few landing craft "

There is a difference between "building up" and "building". A fairly substantial, not to say crucial, difference.

However, the Germans still didn't have enough, and knew that they didn't. If they were serious, they would have built some. The "building up" didn't exactly "cost them a fortune" since coastal traffic in France and the low countries was interdicted by the RN anyway (hence they had lighters to spare).

If the Germans had meant business they would have attacked Britain (at a massive cost) with their airforce in an attempt to get air superiority to support the invasion....hang on..erm...oh

Or maybe they wanted to use the air campaign (and invasion bluff) to force a peace. The cost of the air campaign does nothing to establish your point.

Did you read my other posts in this thread where I talk about the German problems of resupply after a force lands? It would appear not, as if you had it would have taken very little intelligence to draw the inference that I really do not need patronised about the importance of logistics in warfare.

I did read them, and found them unconvincing. You have given no evidence whatsoever that the Germans thought that the logistical problems were soluble.

If the Germans were serious about Seelion, there would be a staff study you can point to, analysing the logistic difficulties and showing the solutions to the problems. So let's see it.

Now it just so happens that there are such studies about Barbarossa (see van Creveld's Supplying War). This study said that it couldn't be done. Of course, this answer was politically incorrect, so the team studying the feasibility of Barbarossa determined that a coup would displace Stalin before the German army reached the end of its supply lines.

[ Parent ]

Yet more (none / 0) (#169)
by pmc on Thu Feb 20, 2003 at 05:38:33 AM EST

The other point you've missed is that the German codes from that time were being read unknown to the Germans. Fuhrer Directive 16 stated "I have decided to begin to prepare for, and if necessary to carry out an invasion of England". This wasn't followed up with directive 17 saying "Just kidding folks - were not going to invade, we're just going to crucify the airforce because Air Marshall Goering beat me at bridge last week."

And, as you bang the drum about logistics, I thought you would have realised that diverting resources from productive work to unproductive work was an expense.

I did read them, and found them unconvincing. You have given no evidence whatsoever that the Germans thought that the logistical problems were soluble.

Sorry - I thought you were suggesting (in an oblique way) that I should read the Bantam Books. It seems you were suggesting that the German Army in 1940 should read the Bantam books. And what did you find unconvincing - that I thought the logistics were probably insoluble. I also think that the German's were unsure but were willing to gamble (Hitler, after all, was a great and successful gambler in warfare).We now have a lot of knowledge about amphibious assaults and supplying bridgeheads that they simply didn't have.

If the Germans were serious about Seelion, there would be a staff study you can point to, analysing the logistic difficulties and showing the solutions to the problems. So let's see it.

Get it straight from the horse's mouth - the diaries of Franz Halder, chief of staff of OKN and planner of operation Sealion. He seemed under no doubt that he was planning a actual military operation, and not a feint.

[ Parent ]

more thoughts on the subject (5.00 / 1) (#24)
by khallow on Mon Feb 17, 2003 at 12:39:10 PM EST

There is another school of thought: Chamberlain's "piece of paper" bought the UK a year in which to get its armed forces ready.

This would be nice except it also bought Germany another year to pump up its armed forces. Remember Germany went from zero (at the begining of 1933) to the most powerful military in continental Europe (invasion of Poland in 1939). Perhaps, the outcome would have been better in 1938 despite England's lack of preparedness.

Having said that, Chamberlain through Churchill did build up Britain's armed forces and entered the Second World War in support of Poland.

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

I think Britain needed the time more (5.00 / 1) (#33)
by squigly on Mon Feb 17, 2003 at 01:41:24 PM EST

Germany presumably already had the infrastructure and inertia to keep building, and their rate of military growth must have been slowing.  Once you have a tank for every soldier, and every citizen in some way supporting a war economy, surely there's little room for further expansion.

Britain was woefully underarmed, even by the time of Dunkirk, but they had a year to ramp up production, and start equiping factories, building planes, and getting some supplies in before the supply lines were cut off.

It also gave enough time to replace Chamberlain with a PM who had the courage to fight a war.

[ Parent ]

Well (5.00 / 2) (#15)
by TheophileEscargot on Mon Feb 17, 2003 at 10:50:14 AM EST

As I said, this book concentrates far more on the separation itself than the consequences of it. It's probably better read as a story of life in WW2 than as a typical "alternate history" novel.
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Support the nascent Mad Open Science movement... when we talk about "hundreds of eyeballs," we really mean it. Lagged2Death
[ Parent ]
Another flaw in this theory (4.00 / 2) (#73)
by Rainy on Mon Feb 17, 2003 at 10:12:17 PM EST

Is that if Germany won quickly in the East (and it came damn close, even with UK and US help), it'd only get stronger. There's lots of resources in USSR, food, oil, iron, plants, land. When two countries clash, it's not terribly likely they'll 'kill each other'. If that were the case, nobody would ever go to war! People start war because they hope for the quick and easy victory, and that's what happens rather often.

It's well known that Stalin was pleading on and on for the western front, even accusing Britain that they want to "fight to the last Russian soldier". Churchill reasonably countered that USSR itself attacked Finland, and Poland, that they never helped France when there *was* a western front, that they never helped Britain when it was standing alone against Hitler, and in fact during that time Russia helped Germany with food and resources.

It's only natural that Churchill did not run, tripping and falling, to the help of Russia, at least not to the point of landing their 30 divisions in France or Norway where they'd be destroyed quickly, anyway. But, it's an interesting question, would he do that if he could? Normandy happened when the war was clearly close to being won, and maybe there was 3/4th in the name of helping Russia and 1/4th in order to stop it from getting too much of Europe after Germany was no more.. We'll never know for sure. Not that we ever know anything for sure, but this is even less certain than most other things.
--
Rainy "Collect all zero" Day
[ Parent ]

Western Front (none / 0) (#141)
by Merk00 on Wed Feb 19, 2003 at 10:31:41 AM EST

Until 1944, it simply wasn't really possible for an Allied landing in force upon the French coast. It took until June 1944 to have enough landing craft to land 6 divisions plus three airborne divisions. And that invasion was with overwhelming air superiority. It simply couldn't have happened any earlier and any attempt to do so would've seen the failure of the invasion.

Churchill actually wanted to help the Russians eventhough he knew an invasion in France wasn't possible. He actually toyed with the idea of sending a British Army to fight on the Eastern Front with the Russians but Stalin shot down the idea.

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"At FIRST we see a world where science and technology are celebrated, where kids think science is cool and dream of becoming science and technology heroes."
- FIRST Mission
[ Parent ]

re: Sending British army to the East (none / 0) (#156)
by Rainy on Wed Feb 19, 2003 at 04:47:39 PM EST

Actually, from what I read in Churchill's WWII book, it was Stalin who asked for either second front or, failing that, to simply send troops to the Eastern front. Churchill replied that #1 is not possible at the moment, and ignored the #2 possibility in his message. I'm not sure why and he does not explain, but I think there were a number of equally important reasons, first, if Eastern front collapsed, England would be defenceless, second, British suspected or plain knew that Red Army holds the front by losing millions and their 30 divisions would disappear without a trace, and third, transporting this many people that far would be very hard and perhaps impossible. British dominance of Mediterranean was very shaky, in Archangelsk convoys it was common to lose 30% of ships to subs and bombers..
--
Rainy "Collect all zero" Day
[ Parent ]
Churchill and the Empire (5.00 / 4) (#11)
by Simon Kinahan on Mon Feb 17, 2003 at 08:38:28 AM EST

I wonder whether Churchill and the other pro-war leaders in the British government realised what they were getting into. In retrospect, getting involved in a prolonged, world-wide war against another major industrial power was exactly the wrong thing to as far as Britain's long term Imperial interests were concerned. After the quagmire of WWI, they can't have had any illusions about what a real war with Germany was going to involve.

There was a considerable faction within the cabinet, even after Churchill took over, that wanted to end the war as quickly as possible, during the "phoney war" period, having made the point about Poland, with some minor concessions from the Germans. It was only Churchill's incredible obstinacy that prevented that. I suspect, in fact, that anyone other than a manic-depressive alcoholic with extraordinary rhetorical skills would not have held out.

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate

I doubt Churchill knew what the price would be (4.50 / 2) (#14)
by TheophileEscargot on Mon Feb 17, 2003 at 10:44:44 AM EST

I suspect he would have avoided war if he had known the the price would be the destruction of the British Empire.

After the quagmire of WWI, they can't have had any illusions about what a real war with Germany was going to involve.
I'm not convinced of that. While they must have thought the ground war would be slower, they had far too much faith in the power of bombers to end the war. The German long-range bombers were inferior to the British I believe. Later on, the Lancaster beat pretty much everything, carrying about 3 times the bomb load of a flying fortess IIRC.

Also I suspect they underrated the German navy, which did far better than it should have on paper.

So, Churchill probably expected to defeat the Germans in the air and at sea, rather than on land.
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[ Parent ]

Air Power (none / 0) (#140)
by Merk00 on Wed Feb 19, 2003 at 10:28:31 AM EST

The reason the German's bombers weren't as successful was that the Germans never built any heavy bombers. This meant they couldn't carry out as long range missions or carry as heavy a bomb load.

The Lancaster bomber carried an average bomb load of 8,000 lbs. The B-17 carried an average bomb load of 6,000 lbs. Not quite a three times difference there. As for the most advanced bomber during the war, that would probably go to the B-29 which was long range, had a pressured cabin, and carried a 12,000 lbs. bomb load on average (this was the plane used to drop the atomic bombs).

The British plan to defeat Germany after Dunkirk was based on air power. The British thought that they could weaken the Germans through enough bombing raids. Then, they hoped that revolts would occur in the occupied territories and civil unrest in Germany proper. The British could then invade fairly easily. It wasn't a particularly likely scenario but it became a lot less necessary when Hitler invaded the Soviet Union.

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"At FIRST we see a world where science and technology are celebrated, where kids think science is cool and dream of becoming science and technology heroes."
- FIRST Mission
[ Parent ]

Bombers (none / 0) (#147)
by TheophileEscargot on Wed Feb 19, 2003 at 02:06:42 PM EST

Hmm... can't track it down, but Freeman Dyson wrote an interesting article about his research into bomber tactics in WW2. His team decided that B17s would have been better off if they ripped out most of the gun turrets and plated over the holes: the extra speed gained would have made more of the difference than the armament. The air force didn't agree, however.

Bomb loads vary according to model and mission, so three times is probably an exaggeration now I think about it. Even so, Boeing's own figures give only a 4,000 lb bomb load for the first B17s, rising to a maximum of 9,600 lb for the last model. This page claims an "operational average" of 12,000 lb for the original Lancaster, with a maximum of 14,000 lb; and eventual modification to 22,000 lb. So you have to make a an unfair comparison to get the "three times" figure.
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Support the nascent Mad Open Science movement... when we talk about "hundreds of eyeballs," we really mean it. Lagged2Death
[ Parent ]

Morale (none / 0) (#152)
by ucblockhead on Wed Feb 19, 2003 at 02:53:58 PM EST

In the end, I suspect that the gun turrets were mainly good for morale.
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This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
Bombing (none / 0) (#154)
by Merk00 on Wed Feb 19, 2003 at 03:02:39 PM EST

I've heard reference to the statement that the B-17 would've been safer without machine guns. I don't believe it was the air force who didn't like the idea but the air crews instead. They very much wanted the ability to shoot back.

It's hard to get an average bomb load because of the question as to what is an "average" mission. I got the 8,000 lbs. number from here but that does state that the number is from 1941. On the same page you linked to, Boeing gives a 9,600 lbs. bomb load for the B-17G so I think it depends model to model.

The comparison really isn't fair in any form because the US bombers were active during the day whereas the British bombers were active during night. Because the US bombers were active during the day, they had to carry more armor and armaments.

------
"At FIRST we see a world where science and technology are celebrated, where kids think science is cool and dream of becoming science and technology heroes."
- FIRST Mission
[ Parent ]

Dyson, just to be picky (none / 0) (#161)
by Eccles on Wed Feb 19, 2003 at 05:31:23 PM EST

Freeman Dyson wrote an interesting article about his research into bomber tactics in WW2. His team decided that B17s [...]

Dyson worked for Operations Research of RAF Bomber Command, and thus would have been discussing Lancasters, not B-17s.

It wasn't just speed, BTW, but also fewer crewmembers, as well as the ability to carry more bombs or to fly at a higher altitude. Indeed, the 22,000 lb capacity you listed was for a stripped Lancaster carrying the thin-case "Grand Slam" bomb intended for breaking through concrete encased U-boat pens.

[ Parent ]
Germany would not take minor concessions (4.00 / 1) (#68)
by Rainy on Mon Feb 17, 2003 at 08:56:10 PM EST

A country that does nothing for 4 years but spend all efforts to build a huge army won't go for peace for peanuts. Weapons grow old. If you spend one hundred billion building them up today, in 20 years they're worth maybe 1/10th that. Hitler had a lot of things he could go for, Russia, Africa, India, everything in between.

There's a good reason why British cabinet gave Churchill full approval and gave him vote of trust in '41 I believe with 464 voices vs 1. Churchill has been saying for that last 5 years that Hitler has to be stopped. Appeasers said there's nothing to be worried about. Then Hitler starts building up army in breach of treaty. Appeasers say he won't use it. Hitler invades Rein(?) region, in breach of treaty. Appeasers say, after all, it's German land. Hitler takes over Austria. Appeasers say, hey, there's lots of Germans there too. Hitler takes Checkoslovakia, Appeasers again say that he will go no further. He divides Poland with Stalin. The British finally wake up, declare war and eventually give Churchill the position of Premier.

All the while, he's been correctly predicting what's going to happen and Appeasers were wrong all the way. In '35 they had no army, and would have been a pushover. In '38 France could still take on him and win, even though they'd suffer serious losses. In '40, we know what happened.
--
Rainy "Collect all zero" Day
[ Parent ]

It is generally believed ... (3.00 / 1) (#85)
by Simon Kinahan on Tue Feb 18, 2003 at 06:11:48 AM EST

... that Hitler did not want a war with Britain. At least not in 1939. Based on that, it seems reasonable to believe that the appeasers were right and Hitler would have made peace before the invasion of France. That's not to say anything about what might have happened later.

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]
They were not "right" (3.00 / 1) (#103)
by Rainy on Tue Feb 18, 2003 at 03:12:17 PM EST

He did not want war with Britain, that's true. Or France. To be more exact, he thought they're weak, powerless democracies that *can not* go to war. He lied so many times by Poland it was obvious even to appeasers that he'd keep chipping off countries and empire holdings as he needed them. Appeasers' mistake was that up to that point they argued that he's really a decent man. Chamberlain said after talking to him (in paraphrase) "he seems severe and aggressive man but I believe we can trust his word". Ultimately that's why they lost power - because of the past mistakes, not present disagreements.
--
Rainy "Collect all zero" Day
[ Parent ]
I don't buy it (4.72 / 11) (#17)
by khallow on Mon Feb 17, 2003 at 11:54:51 AM EST

The results of this are not what you might expect.

Priest's thesis is that the British bombing helped keep Hitler in power. This is not unreasonable: people tend to rally behind a leader in times of crisis. In the alternate history, Hitler is removed from power in an internal coup. The Holocaust never happens. Under a real plan from the time of Bismarck, the Jews of Europe are forcibly resettled in Madagascar, to eventually form a Jewish state called Masada. Masada's condition parallels Israel, which is never established in that reality, and has similar conflicts with the indigenous population.

One only has to look at other 20th century dictators to realize that a coup is easier to attempt than to finish. To give the most extreme example, Pol Pot who as a ruler of Cambodia for four years is thought to have killed an eighth of its citizens over that time. He wasn't removed in an "internal coup", but instead kicked out of power by a foreign invasion from Vietnam in 1979 (I believe). He wasn't captured until 1997, almost twenty years later. Ie, it's real likely that Hitler would never get deposed, because our history indicates that we're real lousy at getting rid of these people.

As far as the Holocaust goes, if one includes POW deaths, executions in the streets, etc., then as much as a third of the victims of Nazi Germany were Jewish. Further, Germany was still at war with Russia. I don't believe that the loss of life would be any less.

So maybe the world would be a nicer place, and maybe it would have degenerated into a decades long war with the occasional fission bomb (my vote for the latter). Christopher Priest's book may be a good read, but I'm not buying the embedded propaganda. In a sense, Priest is undermining his argument by showing that if a unlikely chain of events were to occur, then we could do a little better with peace and love than we are doing now with our violent, militaristic ways.

Stating the obvious since 1969.

Stability of Nazi Germany (4.20 / 5) (#29)
by Simon Kinahan on Mon Feb 17, 2003 at 01:11:10 PM EST

One only has to look at other 20th century dictators to realize that a coup is easier to attempt than to finish.

It depends on the nature of the government being overthrown. A close-knit ideologically-driven party like the Khmer Rouge might be quite hard to overthrow, as would Saddam Hussein, with his multiple layers of secret police all spying on one another.

Nazi Germany wasn't very like either of those, though. The party had no coherent ideology beyond racist nationalist. They were not particularly good an infiltrating opposition groups. Hitler was a terrible administrator, so most actual power lay in the hands of other people, who he encouraged to compete with one another. The attempt to assasinate him - by various senior officials and army officers - failed because they screwed up, not because they were caught.

I reckon its almost certain that if the Nazi regime had survived, it would have had to change dramatically in order to become stable, and that would probably have meant getting rid of Hitler.

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]

stable? (none / 0) (#48)
by khallow on Mon Feb 17, 2003 at 04:36:05 PM EST

Stability isn't a factor here. The Khmer Rouge wasn't stable in any sense of the word. Eventually they'd run out of people. Joseph Stalin wasn't stable yet he died of old age (so the story goes...). Sure Hitler wasn't in the safest job around (unlike actuarians), but the survival rate for dictators isn't so bad.

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

And don't forget Franco (nt) (none / 0) (#109)
by ucblockhead on Tue Feb 18, 2003 at 04:38:42 PM EST


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This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
Oh CRAP! (1.00 / 2) (#32)
by jabber on Mon Feb 17, 2003 at 01:34:50 PM EST

One only has to look at other 20th century dictators to realize that a coup is easier to attempt than to finish.

Someone should tell George W. Bush.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

Absolutely (4.00 / 1) (#108)
by Rainy on Tue Feb 18, 2003 at 04:17:08 PM EST

Coup is not something you can count on. It's like arguing that "hey, why waste lives and try to attack him, maybe he'll suddenly fall ill, have a heart attack, swallow poison and then drown in a well? Let's wait for that to happen."
--
Rainy "Collect all zero" Day
[ Parent ]
"Few would disagree" (3.00 / 2) (#18)
by asjo on Mon Feb 17, 2003 at 12:13:34 PM EST

I'm would venture to guess that the millions who died in those wars wouldn't quite agree that they were "good wars" (which of course is an oxymoron).

  Jeez.

Especially the contractors on the Death Star [nt] (5.00 / 5) (#21)
by TheophileEscargot on Mon Feb 17, 2003 at 12:21:19 PM EST


----
Support the nascent Mad Open Science movement... when we talk about "hundreds of eyeballs," we really mean it. Lagged2Death
[ Parent ]
The problem is... (3.33 / 6) (#19)
by Skywise on Mon Feb 17, 2003 at 12:16:17 PM EST

That most of the US did NOT want to enter WW2 until the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor at the end of 1941.  Many in the US were sympathetic to Hitler's attempts to reconstruct Germany.

So were people everywhere (4.25 / 4) (#26)
by Simon Kinahan on Mon Feb 17, 2003 at 12:46:02 PM EST

You couldn't have thrown a rock in 1930s Britain without hitting someone who would tell you what a wonderful job Hitler, Mussolini and Franco were doing and how we needed someone like that. After beating you up for hitting them with a rock, of course. People were generally quite sympathetic to the Germans, also, because most Brits (unlike the French) recognised that the Versaille treaty was unfair.

The crucual difference between the US and Britain at that time was not really the level of willingness to talk to the Germans. Rather, it was, and remains, around three and half thousand miles of ocean.

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]

I disagree... (4.00 / 1) (#37)
by Skywise on Mon Feb 17, 2003 at 02:12:05 PM EST

The US was more than happy to jump into the fray with China in the early 1900's to secure trade interests, 3000 miles of ocean or not.

My point was that speculation that peace was better by playing "what if" scenarios is about as good as anytime you play a "what if" scenario.

[ Parent ]

China (none / 0) (#138)
by Merk00 on Wed Feb 19, 2003 at 10:18:29 AM EST

The US actually didn't really jump into the fray in China all that much. The US did a superb job of playing the other powers off against one another in order to secure the Open Door Policy. The US couldn't project a force into China at that point in order to stake its claim so it had to rely on playing one against the other.

------
"At FIRST we see a world where science and technology are celebrated, where kids think science is cool and dream of becoming science and technology heroes."
- FIRST Mission
[ Parent ]

Why was that a problem? (3.00 / 2) (#34)
by MickLinux on Mon Feb 17, 2003 at 01:41:44 PM EST

Just so you're aware...  Pearl Harbor really was a betrayal -- but it may not have been a betrayal by the Japanese.  History now seems to show that it was a treasonous betrayal by our own President and Pentagon.

http://www.independent.org/tii/news/001207Stinnett.html
http://www.independent.org/tii/news/020311Cirignano.html

Now, I am not going to say that this is definitely true -- but it is something to think about.  Presidents don't get called "great" unless they win a war or two.  And so many try for the presidency specifically because they want to be considered "great."  It should not be surprising that some of them would begin wars for no other reason.

That said, the American Empire is in the "conquest" stage right now.  After a time, it will enter the "normalize" stage, as people get sick of all the endless war, and authorize a dictator just to stop it.

At that point, US growth will stop, but it will make officially "part of the empire" all those territories that it had conquered.

The third stage is the fall, which has to do with corruption taking out the empire from the inside.    It is typical of those empires which are too comparatively strong to fall to outside enemies directly.  But for those of you who studied Roman history, you knew that.

Learn from the Egyptians: they saw every one of their gods killing them. When you make a false god your idol, it starts to kill you. Doesn't matter i
[ Parent ]

Didn't read your links, but it's probably true (none / 0) (#64)
by fenix down on Mon Feb 17, 2003 at 07:05:02 PM EST

Not a revelation really.  Even at the time, a lot of people got the sense that something fishy was going on there, if not directly than in making Perl an incredibly sexy target for spooky yellow people whom declaring war on puts us at war with the white people FDR couldn't get any support to fight.  But hey, how many presidents haven't paraded vulnerable troops in front of potential enemies in hopes of provoking war?

Your imperial stereotype has some problems.  Why would people create a dictator to stop war?  The dictator gains power via the nationalistic furvor that succesful conquest brings.  Not by making the people hate him.  Hitler gets elected, triumphs over depression, Checheslovakia and ethnic people, gains an aura of power, developing a alpha wolf/authoritative father relationship between him and his people, giving him the chance to declare himself dictator without too much opposition.  Same with Ceasar and probably other people that too few movies have been made about for me to recall the names of.

[ Parent ]

I think it's slightly more remote than that (none / 0) (#80)
by MickLinux on Tue Feb 18, 2003 at 01:22:17 AM EST

It's not that people say "oh, if we have a dictator, we'll stop having all this war."  Rather, it's a slightly more natural (holistic?) process than that.  

Short Version:  It's more like war is undesirable for most people, but the people don't have power in that issue.  But it makes the situation of war unstable.  Unstable situations change, and result in stable situations.  The next likely stable situation is a dictator, and in an act of divine justice (literary tool to note: Nemesis) focuses the war right on the chief executive (who is the one who wants the war).  

Long version:

The war results in civil unrest, which in turn results in a further hamstringing of the popular legislative branch, but an increase in strength to the ethnic groups [for us, that would be the lobbies; for Constantinople, it would be the Greens and the Reds].  That invests power in the groups that are focused primarily on the executive, and makes the executive spot at once more desirable, and more risky for the leaders of the ethnic groups.

Meanwhile, the war also results in a loss of morality, which means more little evil people, which in turn keeps the judicial branch busy fighting them, so that it can't counter the executive either.

So with most of the government shutting down  the work gets left to the executive.  So he waxes in power, but wanes in strength.

It just makes things very ripe for a dictator -- but he can't ever be safe at home.  [Consider how many Roman emperors, straight up until Charlemagne, were ever safe at home].  

So the war inherently must stop, and in the end the people who didn't want all that war get their way.  

Moral:  there are certain historical sources of power: power of the people, power of the charismatic leader, power of money, power of the ethnic group, power of wise counsel.  Ignore them to your country's sorrow.

Learn from the Egyptians: they saw every one of their gods killing them. When you make a false god your idol, it starts to kill you. Doesn't matter i
[ Parent ]

Well my point was... (none / 0) (#97)
by Skywise on Tue Feb 18, 2003 at 12:14:03 PM EST

If Germany had made peace with Europe before the Pearl Harbor bombing, than Europe would've leveraged against the US to stop its embargo on Japan.  Thus denying Roosevelt the leverage to go to war, or might've stopped/delayed Japan from going the bombing route to begin with.

[ Parent ]
Not Really (none / 0) (#137)
by Merk00 on Wed Feb 19, 2003 at 10:16:51 AM EST

As long as Japan kept on expanding southwards, which they very much intended to do, there would be the problem of the Philipines. The Philipines were right in the middle of Japanese expansion and the Japanese had to take them in order to expand further south. It would've been very hard for the Japanese to do much else besides attacking the US.

------
"At FIRST we see a world where science and technology are celebrated, where kids think science is cool and dream of becoming science and technology heroes."
- FIRST Mission
[ Parent ]

pukey pukey (3.00 / 10) (#20)
by turmeric on Mon Feb 17, 2003 at 12:19:01 PM EST

please quit perpetuating the myth that anti-war people supported hitler. the truth is that henry ford, charles linbergh, texaco, general motors, and many other US companies supported fascism financially and philosophically, not to mention anti-semitism, all thru the 1930s. swiss bankers didnt stop, they supported it all thru the war, still holding some confiscated jewish money to this day. not to mention the eugenicists in the US and UK and CAnada who loved nazi racial theory. why dont you mention these 'anti-war' people?

the nazi state was a totalitarian police state long before the war, people were murdered all the time merely for having political viewpoints or for being jewish. who is to say that it would not have ended up like Maoist china or Stalinist russia, with 20 million + people killed in slave labor camps? in fact germany loved slave labor and used it quite a lot and likely THIS is what would have become of the 'lovely' german state.

anyways its lovely to play 'what if' in imagination land, if that is where you keep things. but since you are using real lies and real interpretations of events and are living in a world where pro-war people are saying anti-war people are equivalent to 'hitler appeasers', you have thrown yourself out of imagination land and into the realm where your bullshit has very real consequences on people's minds and the way they think about the present situation and what they do about it.

your idiotic portrayal of 'peace' overtures by the nazis are blatantly stupid. they didnt want peace any more than any of the other european colonialist nations wanted peace. they wanted 'lebensraum' for their race, just like every other european imperialist nation, france, belgium, spain, UK, america, etc.

so much for a 'new' approach.

Since you're here: was Britain right or wrong... (5.00 / 2) (#22)
by TheophileEscargot on Mon Feb 17, 2003 at 12:28:45 PM EST

...to declare war on Germany in 1939?

(I'll leave it to someone else to dismantle your other trolling)
----
Support the nascent Mad Open Science movement... when we talk about "hundreds of eyeballs," we really mean it. Lagged2Death
[ Parent ]

was henry ford right or wrong (3.00 / 2) (#27)
by turmeric on Mon Feb 17, 2003 at 12:50:15 PM EST

to profit off of his anti semitic fascism supporting bullshit? you are asking me whether person a was right to punch person b in the middle of a fight, and im trying to talk about who started it in the first place.

[ Parent ]
Heh, quit trying to dodge the question [nt] (3.00 / 2) (#30)
by TheophileEscargot on Mon Feb 17, 2003 at 01:31:51 PM EST


----
Support the nascent Mad Open Science movement... when we talk about "hundreds of eyeballs," we really mean it. Lagged2Death
[ Parent ]
Why this question is important (5.00 / 1) (#58)
by TheophileEscargot on Mon Feb 17, 2003 at 06:50:12 PM EST

Maybe I should have clarified it at the time, in case it's not obvious.

For someone who is (or purports to be) a pacifist or anti-war in general, Britain's declaration of war in 1939 presents a problem, since this was not a war of self-defence. There are two intellectually honest answers.

  1. Suggest, as this book does, that this may not have been a "good war" after all, that the declaration of war was not ethical. This answer is honest but unpopular.
  2. Agree that in some cases, a war of intervention is justified, but in other cases it isn't: the suffering averted isn't great enough. This is more popular, but has the problem that it can make the arguer look cold-hearted and calculating, rather than cuddly and idealistic.
Or, of course, you can try to duck the question entirely and blather on about something irrelevant instead...
----
Support the nascent Mad Open Science movement... when we talk about "hundreds of eyeballs," we really mean it. Lagged2Death
[ Parent ]
My answer (none / 0) (#82)
by transport on Tue Feb 18, 2003 at 03:34:48 AM EST

I think to answer the question, one has to remember the role played by alliances, especially at that time. In contrast to NATO, which apparently contains too many different countries to act coherently, traditional alliances were formed between two countries to fight a common enemy. The greatest exception to this is of course the way Europe divided during the Napoleonic wars, but my understandig is that this happened as a consequence of pre-existing two-nation alliances. While my memory is hazy, I do believe that Britain and Poland had such an alliance.
So if I may be allowed to re-phrase the question (and make it much more relevant): Are alliances ethical?
- You know you're going to be called on it one day to enter into something which you'd rather not be involved in...
- The multitude of times when politicians have wormed their way out of seemingly unbreakable alliances weakens the entire concept.
 
I think that Britain was not wrong to declare war. As many of these "alternative reality" stories show, it might have turned out much worse. But my view comes more from a reluctance to damn historical persons/acts than from any logical reasoning, which right now seems to lead to the opposite conclusion.

[ Parent ]
another important question (none / 0) (#91)
by turmeric on Tue Feb 18, 2003 at 09:30:46 AM EST

if you were locked in a room and someone was going to shoot your daughter or your son, and you had to choose one, which would you choose?

answer: if you sit around worrying about shit like this all day, you are going to be neglecting other important matters that would be one thousand times more relevant to saving human lives. but by ignoring these other more important matters, you are , in fact, HURTING HUMAN LIFE, and that IS IMMORAL.

let me put it this way, fi you lived in the south during the civil rights movement and there was a boycott going on.... would you participate in the boycott or would you sit around all day asking yourself what you would do if you were flying in a space ship and you only had enough fuel to reach one person you had to rescue.

idiots like you are why those people stampeded in chicago: who cares about 'real' danger, like exits being blocked and not stampedeing, oh my god we have to worry about terrorism! who cares 38,000 people die every year in car crashes, we dont need public transportation, we need to stop terrorism! who cares about all the Drunks killing people and beating their wife and having fetal-alcohol-syndrome babies, we have to stop mairjuana!

thank you nancy reagan for your analysis of world history, now go wipe the dribble off your husbands slobbering mouth.

[ Parent ]

Heh, quit trying to dodge the question [2] (none / 0) (#93)
by TheophileEscargot on Tue Feb 18, 2003 at 10:52:09 AM EST

I need hardly say that the question is important precisely because it is not hypothetical; but a real, historical example.

It's a pretty threadbare philosophy that can't even address what was the most important issue for the previous generation...
----
Support the nascent Mad Open Science movement... when we talk about "hundreds of eyeballs," we really mean it. Lagged2Death
[ Parent ]

Eugenics does not equal Nazi racism! (1.66 / 3) (#35)
by Souhait on Mon Feb 17, 2003 at 02:01:01 PM EST

You live as much in a fantasy world as anyone else.  This book (and others like it) offer thoughts as to alternate possibilities.  Obviously these alternate possibilities are not as realistic as reality.  No shit.  They do offer insight and food for thought as to the nature of the course of history and how we can affect it.

Anyhow, eugenics has nothing to do with Nazi Racial Theory (as you so eloquently put it).  Ideally it promises the ability to direct the evolution of mankind in an attempt to better ourselves and become more intelligent and capable.  It may or may not be feasible in present-day society, but there sure as hell is no reason to compare eugenics with a group of people that condoned the slaughter of millions of bright, capable people.

[ Parent ]

You're mighty proud of that... (2.00 / 4) (#36)
by cr8dle2grave on Mon Feb 17, 2003 at 02:09:14 PM EST

Henry Ford factoid, aren't you? You trot it right out into center stage at every mention the Nazis or WWII.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
History Channel (1.00 / 1) (#57)
by needless on Mon Feb 17, 2003 at 06:48:13 PM EST

I think he just watches the history channel all day and then regugitates it to sound informed.

[ Parent ]
Pot, meet kettle... (none / 0) (#132)
by RiotNrrd on Wed Feb 19, 2003 at 07:19:52 AM EST

You say:

your idiotic portrayal of 'peace' overtures by the nazis are blatantly stupid. they didnt want peace any more than any of the other european colonialist nations wanted peace. they wanted 'lebensraum' for their race, just like every other european imperialist nation, france, belgium, spain, UK, america, etc.

Might I just point out that your criticism would seem a whole lot more honest with Iraq added to that list in place of UK and America? Saddam does not want peace, and the marchers demanding "peace in our time" (hah!) are working to further his quite different goals.

Your blinkered aggression does you and your cause no credit.


-- There is a rational explanation for everything. Unfortunately there is also an irrational one.
[ Parent ]

Oops... (5.00 / 3) (#23)
by Count Zero on Mon Feb 17, 2003 at 12:36:35 PM EST

Robert Harris wrote "Fatherland". Thomas Harris wrote "Silence of the Lambs".


Thanks... EDITOR! (none / 0) (#25)
by TheophileEscargot on Mon Feb 17, 2003 at 12:39:11 PM EST

If there's an editor watching, can you change the "Thomas" to "Robert".

I always get those two mixed up.
----
Support the nascent Mad Open Science movement... when we talk about "hundreds of eyeballs," we really mean it. Lagged2Death
[ Parent ]

It's a good thing (3.50 / 8) (#28)
by medham on Mon Feb 17, 2003 at 12:58:00 PM EST

We didn't have to rely on computer geeks in WWII, is all I can say.

I fear for the future.

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.

Your quip has a point (4.00 / 1) (#31)
by jabber on Mon Feb 17, 2003 at 01:31:55 PM EST

Seeing as computer science and computing technology was greatly driven forward by WWII (What with von Neuman and Turing and all) I'd like to know if the alternate reality side of this book entails any significant technological differences between that alternative and reality.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

Could you be more wrong? (4.00 / 1) (#38)
by skyknight on Mon Feb 17, 2003 at 02:13:58 PM EST

I was under the impression that the idea of the modern computer was to a large degree born during WWII, out of the need to crack Enigma and other codes. It's not implausible that breaking the German and Japanese codes gave the allied powers the crucial, razor thin edge they needed to win the war. Thus it is not unreasonable to say that we did in fact rely on "computer geeks" such as Alan Turing during WWII.

Incidentally, if you want to read a really fun fiction book that mingles fact with fabrication from this time period, read Neal Stephenson's incomparable "augmented history" Cryptonomicon.



It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
Necronomicon (3.33 / 3) (#39)
by Gothmolly on Mon Feb 17, 2003 at 02:14:14 PM EST

Actually we did. Hackelheber, Waterhouse and Turing all played a pretty big part in the war. The Enigma Machine, anyone?

[ Parent ]
Now we're talking (4.20 / 5) (#40)
by medham on Mon Feb 17, 2003 at 02:16:11 PM EST

I'm all for utilizing the power of the Old Ones in any upcoming wars, but it's clear than an army of computer geeks is going to get their asses handed to them by even third-rate bullies.

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

Three well known facts: (5.00 / 3) (#41)
by it certainly is on Mon Feb 17, 2003 at 02:58:15 PM EST

  • All computer geeks are fat and weak men. There are no strong, thin or female computer geeks.
  • Computer geeks have special magic that prevents an army-enforced diet and training regime from improving their physique, as would happen with all other human beings.
  • There are no other fat and weak men in the entire world except for computer geeks.


kur0shin.org -- it certainly is

Godwin's law [...] is impossible to violate except with an infinitely long thread that doesn't mention nazis.
[ Parent ]

Oh (4.42 / 7) (#43)
by medham on Mon Feb 17, 2003 at 03:12:55 PM EST

I never said anything about fat in particular. Spot on with the weak, though, and you can't forget the paranoid visions of power (that's why they like the space-elf stories so much).

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

U.S. Government encouraging terrorism? (1.30 / 23) (#42)
by ToughLove on Mon Feb 17, 2003 at 03:07:08 PM EST

Who profits from the shutting down of OIL in Venezuela? Who profits from the "threat of war" in the middle east? Does anyone think that this uncertaincey might be profiting the "oil companies" and their shareholders? So it's not without understanding why the Saudi's would be so helpful, including their support by sending 9 of the 15 highjackers to New York.

Politics and the art of theivery and deception, turns my stomach.

Doesn't anybody find it the least bit concerning that we aren't going after the country who has sent out the majority of the highjackers on 9/11?, ie.. the saudi's.

With the patriot act allready pre-written, ready to be introduced, it makes one wonder if the events of 9/11 wasn't a planned event by others within the "evil empire", not al quaida

.

When public opinion is failing in the US, bin laden releases a tape to help bolster the "US cause". We never will get bin laden, as our government doesn't want him. When will the US government "come clean" about what really happened on 9/11? I read somewhere on freenet that the towers were wired and that the "jet fuel" claim, was not possible to bring down the towers.



here is the freenet article (2.33 / 3) (#44)
by ToughLove on Mon Feb 17, 2003 at 03:17:37 PM EST

The link to the article, is quite informative

Doesn't one wonder why the plane flew directly into the floor of the SEC?

You must have freenet to read the article link



[ Parent ]
non paranoid web surfers... (none / 0) (#111)
by stud9920 on Tue Feb 18, 2003 at 05:18:12 PM EST

... can go to http://serendipity.magnet.ch/wtc.html

Linux Zealot fan fiction. Post yours !
[ Parent ]
Zeroed for total irrelevance... (4.00 / 4) (#45)
by cr8dle2grave on Mon Feb 17, 2003 at 03:28:22 PM EST

...you and your tinfoil hat belong in one of the many other stories on the frontpage that actaully have something to with US politics and Iraq/terror...etc

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
The best you can do is call my hat tinfoil? (2.00 / 4) (#55)
by ToughLove on Mon Feb 17, 2003 at 06:15:32 PM EST

Don't you find it ironic that we spend all our government resources investigating how the space shuttle columbia crashed and killed under ten people, yet GW thought that investigating the collapse of the twin towers that killed around 3000 people, would "take away resources" needed for the "war on terrorism"?

Since when has our government been worried about "resources", LOL, they can investigate why cows get warts, but they can't investigate the largest act of terrorism on American soil?



[ Parent ]
Misapplied analogy (5.00 / 3) (#74)
by cafeman on Mon Feb 17, 2003 at 10:25:16 PM EST

Firstly, it's not ironic. It's contradictory. If you're going to rant and be a conspiracist, at least get your language right. You and Alanis. Secondly, studying an act of terrorism has nothing in common whatsoever to studying "warts on cows". One involves a totally uncontrolled environment where agents can't even be accurately determined, the other a controlled experiment where all factors can be adjusted for. There's a reason we find it easier to study one over the other. "We" don't spend government resources, and contrary to your post, it's not my government. We don't all live in the US here. You could also argue that the entire cost of the war (the whole 0.5% equivalent of US GDP) is exactly that - money being spent to determine the source of terrorism. Finally, your post is offtopic. Write an article if you really care. If it gets voted down, guess what - either everyone else doesn't care, or your writing sucks.

--------------------
"No Silicon heaven? But where would all the calculators go?"


[ Parent ]
thanks for the info (1.00 / 1) (#95)
by ToughLove on Tue Feb 18, 2003 at 11:09:16 AM EST

You are right, it is contridictory, not ironic. There are many things contridictory about 911. You'll need a freenet node up in order to read about it.

As for being off topic, since 911 the precursor to this "war" we are desperately are seeking, my point is, if you've read this article you'll see the many unanswered question and contridictory reports about 911.

I'm not 100% convinced that this was an inside job {i'm only 96.9% convinced}, but based on the US reaction to 911{readily stripping Americans of their civil rights without first showing that it was having them that enabled 911}, it does appear very much that the "enemy is within". Perhaps you are right as far as being off topic, but since 911 has alot to do with our current "war plans", I thought it might be relevent to this war discussion; If history repeats itself, then perhaps Hitler's burning of the Reichstag in Germany could be equated to what happened on American soil on 911.



[ Parent ]
The reaction is a poor measure (none / 0) (#113)
by ucntcme on Tue Feb 18, 2003 at 05:49:08 PM EST

The reaction you comment on is standard and has nothing to do with internal or external. The government always cracks down and starts taking away freedoms, under the ignorant and incorrect assumption that freedom only works when there is no threat.

[ Parent ]
I have now read ... (none / 0) (#173)
by ChuckVA on Fri Feb 21, 2003 at 02:08:06 PM EST

... enough of the article you linked to for the author of the article to have completely discredited himself on any topic he may choose to discuss in the future, as far as I'm concerned.

I got the same basic impression reading this article that an AI researcher would get from watching Short Circuit, or my friend the nuclear engineer from K-19. Sure, it all sounds fine to the ignorant masses. However, a random lightning strike isn't going to imbue a military computer with a self-aware personality, nor is there any potential for nuclear warheads to be detonated by a meltdown occurring in a boat's reactor.

I'm not going to waste time in addressing specific points of the author's ignorance in a post. However, don't take my word for it -- learn at least a little bit of basic knowledge about materials and structures before you believe this guy's fairy tales. Maybe if you don't have time you should get Johnny Five to learn structural engineering for you and address the author's points himself. ;)

If there were sufficient interest, I'd consider writing up an article to submit refuting this crackpot's points on the structural collapse point-by-point, from the point of view of a real structural engineer. However, I suspect most folks have sense enough to realize that the author doesn't know enough about his topic to prove his points, and simply ignore him to move on to something more sensible.

Chuck

[ Parent ]

Fiction is fiction (4.60 / 5) (#46)
by mveloso on Mon Feb 17, 2003 at 04:21:40 PM EST

The USSR attacked Europe (Red Storm Rising), one of the USSR boomers defected (Hunt for Red October), and a CIA agent does actual work (the Jack Ryan saga).

While fiction is exciting because of the what-ifs it can generate, it's probably irresponsible to extrapolate (or backtrack) from that. There is just as much basis for saying "Hitler and the US found a common enemy in the USSR and decided to ally to deliver a combined blow against Communism" as "Germany's invasion of the USSR was successful, and they established colonies in the Ukraine."

And who can really tell what Hess was doing?

I haven't read the book, but... (4.42 / 7) (#47)
by Spork on Mon Feb 17, 2003 at 04:24:12 PM EST

There is one serious and inexplicable omission in the book (or the review). From the way you make it sound, the great nastiness of WW2 would have been avoided if Britain and France refused to fight. That's complete bullshit. I'm sorry, but Britain and France made absolutely pissant contributions to the war effort.

It has become convenient to forget that 85% of the German ground troops were killed by Stalin's Red Army, and if the other 15% were left alive on the western front, they wouldn't have lasted long. The Soviet Union basically had the resources to win WW2 on its own. Compared to their contribution, Britain and France were basically spectators. (I know this sounds harsh because they suffered many casualties, but let's face it: their losses were miniscule compared to the Soviet Union.)

What was important about the Western front and D-Day is that it insured the Red Army would only de-nazify half of Europe rather than all of it. It would be interesting to write an "alternate history" book in which the "Communist Bloc" went all the way to the Atlantic. The USA sure would have felt isolated, and if they resisted the Soviet mega-empire, they may very well have received a nuclear spanking in WW3. Remember that the German scientists who built our missiles would not have been working for us if Soviet troops had caught them first.

Not quite (5.00 / 2) (#53)
by TheophileEscargot on Mon Feb 17, 2003 at 05:18:12 PM EST

In fact, the disastrously badly-organized Russian economy depended very heavily on US aid, delivered by British naval convoys. Even the Red Army's famous felt boots were made to spec in the USA and delivered by the Royal Navy.

Also I think you're overlooking the fact that in the alternate reality, the Soviet Union was fighting the USA as well as Germany.
----
Support the nascent Mad Open Science movement... when we talk about "hundreds of eyeballs," we really mean it. Lagged2Death
[ Parent ]

No, not really (5.00 / 4) (#67)
by Rainy on Mon Feb 17, 2003 at 08:40:22 PM EST

I think almost everyone will agree USSR did not have resources to win single-handedly. And here's why..:

1. Ukraine and much of the more industrialized area of USSR was taken. This means little grain, few new tanks, cars and planes. Wars in stone age were won with sticks and stones, this was 1941.

2. Germany had to spend a lot of resources trying to stop English and American sea routes with u-boats. They had what, 700 of them by 1942?

3. Germany lost the better part of its air fleet in the raids over England. As much as Germans were superior in air over Russia during the first part of the war, they'd absolutely own it if not for that loss.

4. Small but significant stuff: loss of the best part of Paratrooper forces over Crete, huge losses of resources to British fleet trying to transport it over Mediterranean for Rommel, the need to keep Europe occupied to prevent possible British invasion.

5. German armies stopped just short of Moscow. There was a famous Stalin order "Do not take one step back." He knew quite well that Moscow is the transportation knot in the center of Russia and losing it would be strategically equivalent to losing half the remaining army in one blow.

6. Russia back then was a totalitarian socialism, which means there was a lot of heavy plants but very little production of food, good clothes, cars, rubber. The other two allies had all that, and tanks, and planes; Russia had a lot of people who had no choice of saying 'Noble defence is fine and all, but there are so many things I still want to do in life - I want to take up crafts, for example'. Mainly, Russian tanks and especially planes sucked in the hardest, decisive first year of this war.. They may have had more of them on paper than what Allies gave them, but Imperialistic stuff worked, dammit.

It's hard to write all of this, especially since I'm Russian myself, but truth is often bitter. Guess we shouldn't have let this paranoid nitwit rule us. The British hate Chamberlain 'cause he missed Hitler, but Stalin also missed him and he also had full control of the country, was decidedly not a pacifist, did not have La Manche between them, lost some 20 or 40 million people, covered up the exact number, and killed another 10 out of paranoia - he was a first-rate bozo.
--
Rainy "Collect all zero" Day
[ Parent ]

Above two comments miss spork's point (3.00 / 1) (#76)
by DrSbaitso on Mon Feb 17, 2003 at 11:56:35 PM EST

Sure, the US and the UK et al were important to making sure that the Soviets kept fighting through Stalingrad. No one who has done any cursory reading of some decent WW2 history books would disagree with that statement. However, by June 1944 the Russians were pretty much unstoppable. Even as fortified as the northern coast of France was, Germany had twice as many divisions getting pushed back on the eastern front, and had lost millions of soldiers there already.

One thing to consider, however, is that the Russians wanted us to invade. Stalin plead with the other Grand Alliance members from Tehran on to open a second front, and continued to do so until we finally invaded. Still, that would be an interesting thing to consider: what would have happened had the US and UK sat waiting in England while the Red Army made its way through Germany, and where it finally would have stopped.

Aeroflot Airlines: You Have Made the Right Choice!
---Advertising slogan for the only airline in the USSR
[ Parent ]

Stalin plead (4.60 / 5) (#81)
by gibichung on Tue Feb 18, 2003 at 01:37:53 AM EST

Because, despite the fact that the USSR was winning the war, it was being bled white. They had proven that the Germans could be beaten, but the cost was extreme. The Germans were also aware of their vulernability, and German production was only now increased to "total war." Consider the Soviet losses:

1941: 3.137.673
1942: 3.258.216
1943: 2.312.429

1943 saw Western Allied actions in North Africa and Italy, and corresponding victories on the Eastern Front. In the second half of 1943 the Germans took a beating, but their retreats were orderly and their formations mostly remained intact. Consider the total German losses (including Western Front / North Africa):

1941: 356.528
1942: 566.947
1943: 789.752

1944-45 were a different story. D-Day coincided with the Russian offensive that destroyed the German "Army Group Center" and the losses to the Germans were catostrophic, despite their mobilization:

German 1944: 1.756.256 (total)
German 1945: 1.287.540 (total)

Soviet 1944: 1.763.891
Soviet 1945: 800.817

The Soviets had proven that they could advance against the Germans without Western assistance. But the costs were terrible, and the Germans clearly had the advantage in a war of attrition as a great portion of their resources were untapped. Only after the Western Allies opened a second front was the USSR able to sustain its offensives long enough to seriously damage the German Army.

Sources: The World War II Factbook.

Panzerkeil, German Weapon Production and Panzerkeil, German AFV Production.

-----
"No man is above the law and no man is below it; nor do we ask any man's permission when we require him to obey it." -- Theodore Roosevelt
[ Parent ]

hmm (5.00 / 1) (#124)
by DrSbaitso on Wed Feb 19, 2003 at 12:00:54 AM EST

numbers are alright, but the german army was reeling by june 1944. IIRC they were being driven back through the ukraine. their counterattack at kursk (which the russians learned of via the cambridge spy ring that had access to ultra) failed in the largest tank battle ever and they got their asses handed to them. seems like this would have continued even if the allies continued to just bomb the shit out of the germans rather than actually invading. *shrug*

Aeroflot Airlines: You Have Made the Right Choice!
---Advertising slogan for the only airline in the USSR
[ Parent ]
Kursk (5.00 / 1) (#125)
by gibichung on Wed Feb 19, 2003 at 03:04:01 AM EST

Was a German offensive, not a Russian one. German losses in materiel were high (3000 AFVs), but manpower losses were minimal (100,000 killed or wounded: compare to 250,000 Russian dead and 600,000 wounded); it wasn't a disaster. The German reinforcements which may or may not have sustained the offensive were sent to Italy to counter Western Allied landings instead.

To understand the 1943 numbers, you must remember that its two largest German disasters really aren't representative of the year. At least 300,000 of those men were lost in Stalingrad during the first months of 1943 (as a result of 1942's strategy), and at least 200,000 more on the Western Front (North Africa + Italy). Subtracting Kursk, that's a little more than 200,000 total losses (killed and captured) during the last ten months of the year to Russian offensives.

-----
"No man is above the law and no man is below it; nor do we ask any man's permission when we require him to obey it." -- Theodore Roosevelt
[ Parent ]

reread my comment (none / 0) (#177)
by DrSbaitso on Mon Feb 24, 2003 at 07:15:57 PM EST

despite poor usage of pronouns, "their" referred to the Germans. Thanks :)

Aeroflot Airlines: You Have Made the Right Choice!
---Advertising slogan for the only airline in the USSR
[ Parent ]
Nice reply! (none / 0) (#175)
by Spork on Sun Feb 23, 2003 at 07:01:13 PM EST

It's great to see we have some WW2 geeks here on K5. I'm definitely out of my league. Thank you for making me realize my earlier point was terribly overstated, even if not wrong in principle. The part about how the Soviets could have won the war on their own was flamebait brought on by the fashionable selective vision (from which the reviewed book apparently suffers) in which the incredible contributions and sacrifice of the Soviets passes without mention. I hate that sort of revisionary history.

Now I'm waiting for someone to write a "history" of the American Revolutionary War where the French are conveniently written out. (Actually, this has probably been done already.)

[ Parent ]

He had a few points (none / 0) (#107)
by Rainy on Tue Feb 18, 2003 at 04:14:27 PM EST

I agree that, as he says, WWII nastiness would not be avoided if UK and France stayed out. I only disagree that "UK and US made pissant contributions." That was also his point, wasn't it? :P
--
Rainy "Collect all zero" Day
[ Parent ]
Disagree with the thesis..... (5.00 / 6) (#49)
by hughk on Mon Feb 17, 2003 at 04:39:28 PM EST

I have read a number of Priests books, and have found his work to be interesting and provocative.

However, it would take a long stretch of the imagination to see Hitler being indefinitely appeased becasue England's policy for almost three hundred years has been to block any single dominant power emerging in Europe. Some wags, suggest that this is why Britain is in the EU (to break it). Seriously, the Foreign Office has a sense of history (almost too much of it). Prime-ministers may come or go, but the British civil service is much more powerful in relative terms than the equivalent organisation in the US because the British civil service is independent of the politicians. This means that their ways of thinking tend to persist.

Germany was not really seen as much of an enemy despite the first world war. Many persons were sympathetic to the Germans and felt more than a little guilt about the treaty of Versailles. However, once Hitler had shown his ambitions towards Poland, Britain didn't really have a choice. The Sudentenland was one thing, but a country with which Britain has a treaty was another.

Britain did not enter the war because of the Jews, and was largely naware of the "Final Solution" until the camps were liberated. Some persons knew, but this was regarded as a 'distraction' to the process of destroying Germany's fighting ability. The Germans policy towards the Jews and the others that they regarded as subhuman rail-roaded them into the mentaility for a "Final Solution". The Germans didn't just want to be rid of these "subhumans", they wanted them unable to reproduce. To give them a homeland is thus unforseeable. Personally, with the Nazis unhindered, I would see something more like Harris' Fatherland where after sending the Jews "East", they would dissappear. Eventually the camps would dissappear too and it would just be a questionmark.

One interesting and relevant point is that GWB is an admirer of Churchill and possibly has desires to emulate him.

Its not a joke, it is the actual policy. (5.00 / 5) (#50)
by Phillip Asheo on Mon Feb 17, 2003 at 04:47:02 PM EST

Some wags, suggest that this is why Britain is in the EU (to break it).

This is the only explaination for the UK's membership of the EU that makes any political sense at all.

It is a tactic that may still backfire on the UK, as the EU enlarges to include most of Eastern Europe and possibly a large portion of the ex-USSR, the amount influence the UK has will diminish.

I suspect at some point, the UK will be forced to withdraw from the EU, and will probably join NAAFTA, returning to the role of Airstrip One, as the US's permanent aircraft carrier off the coast of continental Europe.

--
"Never say what you can grunt. Never grunt what you can wink. Never wink what you can nod, never nod what you can shrug, and don't shrug when it ain't necessary"
-Earl Long
[ Parent ]

that's why (5.00 / 5) (#51)
by nobbystyles on Mon Feb 17, 2003 at 04:51:28 PM EST

De Gaulle always said 'Non' to [UK membership. He thought that they'd always go with the yanks all the time and he was right...

[ Parent ]
"will probably join NAAFTA" (5.00 / 2) (#59)
by holdfast on Mon Feb 17, 2003 at 06:53:59 PM EST

We have a load of politicians and other weirdos who would absolutely love this to happen. I don't think ordinary people would fancy it if they knew all the things we would have to loose to "join the Union".
And I wouldn't fancy having my democratic votes counted by machine. I see that as one of the biggest weaknesses in your electoral system. See what happened last time...


"Holy war is an oxymoron."
Lazarus Long
[ Parent ]
There's your mistake right there ! (5.00 / 2) (#65)
by Phillip Asheo on Mon Feb 17, 2003 at 07:05:38 PM EST

I don't think ordinary people would fancy it if they knew all the things we would have to loose to "join the Union".

You seem to be under the impression that "ordinary people" have a say in this matter. It is simply not the case. Deals like this are done at the highest levels, a level that transcends party politics. Some more extreme people would call it a conspiracy!

Ask yourself why no mainstream party has come out against Euro membership ? It cannot be that membership of the Euro is a popular election platform, so there must be another reason. What is it ?

--
"Never say what you can grunt. Never grunt what you can wink. Never wink what you can nod, never nod what you can shrug, and don't shrug when it ain't necessary"
-Earl Long
[ Parent ]

Staring you in the face. (5.00 / 1) (#86)
by it certainly is on Tue Feb 18, 2003 at 06:15:40 AM EST

Ask yourself why no mainstream party has come out against Euro membership?

No mainstream party can really afford to fully associate themselves with the racist bigot Middle-Englander platform. They leave that to unelectable nutters like the UKIP.

kur0shin.org -- it certainly is

Godwin's law [...] is impossible to violate except with an infinitely long thread that doesn't mention nazis.
[ Parent ]

Ah, the old guilt by association ploy. Good one! (5.00 / 1) (#105)
by Phillip Asheo on Tue Feb 18, 2003 at 03:22:47 PM EST

But everyone will see straight through it. Not everyone who doesn't want to be ruled from Brussels by unelected corrupt bureaucrats is a fascist or a "little Englander".

I think we can do better than the lowest common denomentator federated socialist fascism of the EU.

I look forward to the day when the UK finally does what it should have done from day one, and joins the USA. Imagine the benefits to all partys. The UK economy would get a massive boost, and the USAians would get their own Royal Family! The trolling potential against the French would be enormous, unlimited! We could line up all kinds of heavy military equipment at Dover as a 'deterrent'.

--
"Never say what you can grunt. Never grunt what you can wink. Never wink what you can nod, never nod what you can shrug, and don't shrug when it ain't necessary"
-Earl Long
[ Parent ]

Clue: nationalism + militarism = fascism (none / 0) (#110)
by it certainly is on Tue Feb 18, 2003 at 04:51:47 PM EST

I'd never support the UK becoming Airstrip One. It'd be time either to drop the Union façade and enter Scotland into the EU.

The reason I don't support the 51st State is simple. I hate the USA. Passionately. The only parts of the USA that are any good are the parts with a Europe or UK fetish, such as Boston. I don't support dragging the average IQ level down by 50 points or having a warmongering cowboy idiot as a leader. There are already enough gun murders in the UK without giving the gun fetishists unlimited access to their lethal toys.

If the UK really must make a North American pact, please let it be Canada. Not only do they actually have civilised society, they've also grown up enough to realise you need proper government services like universal healthcare and a welfare state, instead of this Wild West cowboy "free market" bollocks. That's nothing more than a license for the rich to rob the poor.

kur0shin.org -- it certainly is

Godwin's law [...] is impossible to violate except with an infinitely long thread that doesn't mention nazis.
[ Parent ]

The rich don't need a license to rob the poor... (none / 0) (#112)
by Phillip Asheo on Tue Feb 18, 2003 at 05:46:19 PM EST

That's big government's raison d'être.

But I hope I don't need to give you a lesson in political fundamentals, after all you were as I recall a frequent visitor to adequacy.org. Your overt racism apalls me.

--
"Never say what you can grunt. Never grunt what you can wink. Never wink what you can nod, never nod what you can shrug, and don't shrug when it ain't necessary"
-Earl Long
[ Parent ]

Racist? (none / 0) (#116)
by it certainly is on Tue Feb 18, 2003 at 07:14:39 PM EST

I'm not a racist, I just don't like those yank bastards.

I'm actually in support of illegal immigrants! The majority of illegal immigrants in the UK are Australasian, and do a damn fine jobs running our pubs and restaurants. More power to them, I say.

kur0shin.org -- it certainly is

Godwin's law [...] is impossible to violate except with an infinitely long thread that doesn't mention nazis.
[ Parent ]

RE: "will probably join NAAFTA" (none / 0) (#117)
by ember on Tue Feb 18, 2003 at 07:42:16 PM EST

Joining NAFTA is not the same as becoming a state.

In Canada we still do votes with a pencil, hand counted, and get results faster than the Americans do! (Our election was weeks after the US one, and we almost found out our results first!)

[ Parent ]

population differences (none / 0) (#120)
by Delirium on Tue Feb 18, 2003 at 10:37:27 PM EST

Of course, all of Canada combined has fewer people than California alone (~31m vs. ~35m), and about 1/10 of the number the US has.

[ Parent ]
EU is too big for one country! (5.00 / 2) (#96)
by khallow on Tue Feb 18, 2003 at 12:00:36 PM EST

It is a tactic that may still backfire on the UK, as the EU enlarges to include most of Eastern Europe and possibly a large portion of the ex-USSR, the amount influence the UK has will diminish.

I've also read that some think the enlargement of the EU will destroy it as well (usually with the prerequisite, melodramatic handwringing). Maybe the UK recruited some help?

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

The biggest alternative history (3.50 / 4) (#52)
by nobbystyles on Mon Feb 17, 2003 at 05:02:15 PM EST

What if is if Britain stayed out of WW1?  

France would have been defeated by the Germans as the tiny BEF's intervention at Mons was crucial in allowing the French time to regroup for the battle of Marne. Plus the Uk in the first world war was analogous to the US's role in second in providing the finances and industrial supplies

The Gerans would have imposed a peace similar to that of 1870 and possibly created a German dominated EU. No Hitler and probably no Russian revolution.

Britain would have stayed the predominant financial power for posdsibly 50 years after as it would not have had to liquidate its vast overseas holdings.

Oh, please (4.00 / 1) (#66)
by dj28 on Mon Feb 17, 2003 at 07:26:08 PM EST

The British Empire was beginning to crumble not because of a lack of military cohesiveness, but because of social revolution. You could argue that British blood was going to be spilled in futile efforts whether in WW1 or keeping the Empire together. Both of which would have led to the demise of the Empire anyways.

[ Parent ]
Hess (3.00 / 1) (#54)
by breaker99 on Mon Feb 17, 2003 at 06:00:25 PM EST

The key historical event here is the mysterious flight of Hitler's deputy, Rudolf Hess, to Scotland in 1941: a real event that is still poorly understood.

I thought there were 2 possible explanations to this:

  • Hess had just given Eva Braun the clap
  • Hess had been told there was a party going on in Scotland. When arrested, he handed over his coat, a bottle of cheap Liebfraumilch and asked where all the girls were...


  • the Wannsee Conference (5.00 / 12) (#56)
    by adequate nathan on Mon Feb 17, 2003 at 06:44:20 PM EST

    The Holocaust did not begin with the Wannsee Conference. The Einsatzgruppen had been operating on the Eastern Front for more than a year before that. The brain-paralysing killings at Babi Yar took place in September 1941.

    The Wannsee Conference is important because it marks the explicit enlistment of the German Civil Service into the work of the Holocaust. Before the Conference, special SS detachments performed exterminations by a variety of methods, mostly by machine-gunning. After it, the resources of the state were turned towards the construction of the extermination camp system, for the purposes of:

  • looting the wealth of the Jews
  • making it impossible to prove the scale of exterminations or to trace the fate of individual Jews
  • exterminating Jews heretofore resident in the midst of populations that would not tolerate massacres in their backyards (viz. the French, the Dutch, the Germans,)
  • greatly increasing the scope and scale of exterminations.

    Source: Eichmann in Jerusalem. Paraphrased; all errors mine not Hannah Arendt's.

    Nathan
    "For me -- ugghhh, arrgghh."
    -Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, in Frank magazine, Jan. 20th 2003

    Join the petition: Rusty! Make dumped stories & discussion public!

  • Still after September 1939 though (none / 0) (#60)
    by TheophileEscargot on Mon Feb 17, 2003 at 06:56:28 PM EST

    I linked to the timeline because it's possible to date the Holocaust from a number of different dates. But even so, Britain could not have been aware of mass exterminations when war was declared on September 3rd 1939.
    ----
    Support the nascent Mad Open Science movement... when we talk about "hundreds of eyeballs," we really mean it. Lagged2Death
    [ Parent ]
    boggle (none / 0) (#61)
    by adequate nathan on Mon Feb 17, 2003 at 06:58:31 PM EST

    It's possible to date the Holocaust from a number of different dates.

    I don't see how.

    Nathan
    "For me -- ugghhh, arrgghh."
    -Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, in Frank magazine, Jan. 20th 2003

    Join the petition: Rusty! Make dumped stories & discussion public!
    [ Parent ]

    You could argue... (4.00 / 1) (#63)
    by TheophileEscargot on Mon Feb 17, 2003 at 07:04:30 PM EST

    ...that it began with the construction of the first concentration camps in the early 1930's, or with Kristallnacht in 1939, or with the Wannsee conference in 1942 (which seems to be the most common).

    There are a number of points you could choose to mark the beginning, but there was no mass extermination programme going on in 1939.
    ----
    Support the nascent Mad Open Science movement... when we talk about "hundreds of eyeballs," we really mean it. Lagged2Death
    [ Parent ]

    Or with the T4 pogram, (none / 0) (#71)
    by johnny on Mon Feb 17, 2003 at 09:22:24 PM EST

    Which began much earlier.

    yr frn,
    jrs
    Get your free download of prizewinning novels Acts of the Apostles and Cheap Complex Devices.
    [ Parent ]
    OT: Acts of the Apostles (none / 0) (#118)
    by CodeWright on Tue Feb 18, 2003 at 07:46:48 PM EST

    WOW! I haven't read such a good book in ages! Not finished yet, but stayed up til 2am reading last night even though I had an important design meeting at 8am this morning. :P :)

    From the message conveyed thus far in the book, I suspect that you might just as well have preferred that I missed the design meeting altogether (I'm a research engineer for DoD robotic combat vehicle AI).

    --
    "Humanity's combination of reckless stupidity and disrespect for the mistakes of others is, I think, what makes us great." --Parent ]
    you are missing the point (4.00 / 1) (#75)
    by adequate nathan on Mon Feb 17, 2003 at 10:28:38 PM EST

    I am not contesting your article. I am clearing up a point of misinformation.

    From my perspective, it's quite clear that the Holocaust began with the first mass killings of Jews. The Einsatzgruppen activity in Soviet territory seems therefore the best date for the Holocaust per se.

    Nathan
    "For me -- ugghhh, arrgghh."
    -Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, in Frank magazine, Jan. 20th 2003

    Join the petition: Rusty! Make dumped stories & discussion public!
    [ Parent ]

    Best estimate, IMHO (4.00 / 1) (#83)
    by ti dave on Tue Feb 18, 2003 at 03:48:22 AM EST

    November 9th, 1938.
    There's an extremely well-written justification for that date at this page.

    Endorsed by the American Taliban Association
    [ Parent ]

    nightly trains out of Berlin (none / 0) (#122)
    by mami on Tue Feb 18, 2003 at 11:29:02 PM EST

    were witnessed by elderly co-workers of mine, I had in 1975 in Berlin. As far as I remember they said they started in 1939. It was not clear to the general population apparently where theses camps were and what they actually did to Jews in those camps. Most people believed it to be forced labor camps.

    I was under the impression that the "Holocaust" was an expression that relates to the "Final Solution", i.e. to the order to use the gas chambers for the extermination of Jews. I think the orders from Himmler to construct "better gas chambers" was given in 1941 and the term "Final Solution" was first publicly and officially used in the "Wannsee Conference".

    The first mass killings with gas started in late 1942 in Birkenau, May 1943 in Auschwitz.

    So I guess what started when is dependent on how you define the word Holocaust. In the German usage of words, I think the word "Final Solution" is reserved to meaning the "solution to erase the Jewish race with gas in the gas chambers". Correct me if I am wrong. The meaning of Holocaust might be broader, if I understand the linked paper correctly.

    [ Parent ]

    Broader, I think. (none / 0) (#127)
    by ti dave on Wed Feb 19, 2003 at 05:28:40 AM EST

    If one accepts the meaning of Holocaust as the massive destruction of humans by other humans, with accompanying destruction of that culture, then I think it's safe to say that Kristallnacht qualifies as the beginning of the Jewish Holocaust.
    Particularly as is was State-sanctioned, though not necessarily led or directed by the State.

    Endorsed by the American Taliban Association
    [ Parent ]

    most probably even earlier (none / 0) (#131)
    by mami on Wed Feb 19, 2003 at 07:05:28 AM EST

    if you look at it with the eyes of human rights lawyer.

    [ Parent ]
    <shudder> (none / 0) (#150)
    by ti dave on Wed Feb 19, 2003 at 02:43:14 PM EST

    Let's not get the lawyers involved, please.

    Endorsed by the American Taliban Association
    [ Parent ]

    I agree. (2.00 / 1) (#90)
    by it certainly is on Tue Feb 18, 2003 at 07:44:16 AM EST

    After all, we all know "the Holocaust" is a myth and didn't really occur. Therefore it doesn't have a date.

    kur0shin.org -- it certainly is

    Godwin's law [...] is impossible to violate except with an infinitely long thread that doesn't mention nazis.
    [ Parent ]

    Why Appeasers are universally disliked (4.92 / 13) (#70)
    by Rainy on Mon Feb 17, 2003 at 09:22:14 PM EST

    I mean the WWII Appeasers, of course. The reason is not that we suspect they were wrong about making a treaty after France fell, the reason is that they were wrong all the while during the 5 years leading to that point.

    First off, i.e. '33, Germany has no army to speak of and France has a very large one. Under the treaty of Versailles, Germany has no army over 500k, less than needed to even adequately protect its borders (against a large army like Frances'.)

    In ~'36 Hitler starts building up a large army, in breach of treaty. Appeasers say he won't use it.

    In that year or the next one he invades Rein regions (?), Appeasers say after all it's German land. This also happens in breach of treaty.

    Then he takes Austria. Appeasers believe him when he says that's the last of his territory aquisitions in Europe.

    He thereafter takes Checkoslovakia, which has a very powerful Arms plant Skoda, and I think large oil ? deposits. Reason? Checks were persecuting local Germans. (guess Norwegians and French and Polish and Russians had the same favorite past-time as well). Appeasers, though they have an agreement with Checks to help them, weasel out, hoping that Hitler will stop now, as he readily assures them.

    Appeasers finally were convinced that Hitler means business when he divided Poland with the Soviets. Chamberlain himself and Appeasers in France declared war, not because they were forced to but because they finally saw they were wrong.

    How's this for alternative history: if Germany was attacked when it first broke the treaty, it would most likely give up right there and depose Hitler. It simply had nothing to fight with. It had next to no air forces, almost no tanks, while alone had something like 80 divisions. In the unlikely case that Germany would try to defend, France would lose maybe 50 or 100 thousand people.

    In regard to what you say about Poland.. its significance was that it made apparent that all previous attacks were made in bad faith. In Checkoslovakia some small-witted people may have believed that he's giving them the true reason, but in Poland it was obvious that all of these, Austria, Checkoslovakia, Poland were single steps of his far fetched plan to conquer Europe and take British and French possessions. It's like the last drop that fills the cup, it does not have to be bigger than any other drop, but it *adds* to all of them and makes the cup overflow.

    I don't mean to attack the idea of Pacifism itself. But, appeasers were essentially not Pacifists. They wanted to keep independence and keep their empires intact, while not protecting them. I think a true Pacifist is someone who says, I value peace more than material possessions and so if you wish to fight to take this from me, I'll just as well give it to you. Appeasers were quite plainly wrong: they said Hitler will take a little and then stop, and that his army is not all that strong. One other reason Poland broke the war out was that it made it obvious that German army *can* take over Europe. Polish army was considered quite decent, but it fell in weeks. For the first time ever, a huge army used combined massive tank forces with huge bomber forces to virtually erase an army of a large size in a couple of weeks. Appeasers were dead wrong, all the things they said will not happen, happened; all the other things they predicted never materialized.
    --
    Rainy "Collect all zero" Day

    despite spelling, good comment ;) (5.00 / 1) (#77)
    by DrSbaitso on Tue Feb 18, 2003 at 12:04:00 AM EST

    When Germany remilitarized the Rheinland, completed the Anschluss with Austria, and invaded the Suedetenland, it held its collective breath. France's army was still much larger and could have easily swept through Germany and toppled Hitler's government. If they had started early enough, the losses would have been much less than even you suggested. Oh well :(

    Aeroflot Airlines: You Have Made the Right Choice!
    ---Advertising slogan for the only airline in the USSR
    [ Parent ]
    good spelling, good comment :P (none / 0) (#78)
    by Rainy on Tue Feb 18, 2003 at 12:35:08 AM EST

    You're absolutely right. It was very hard for Hitler to convince his generals to abandon fear and charge ahead. They were looking at the number of their divisions and the number of french divisions. He was looking at who's at the helm there. Appeasers played right in Hitler's hand: he could tell his opposition - see, I was right; they are weak and scared. At the same time appeasers sabotaged Hitler's opposition, as their fear was ungrounded and in the end of the day they looked like stupid cowards and he - a brave visionary. If France as much as declared war on paper, he'd likely be overthrown with no loss of life at all.
    --
    Rainy "Collect all zero" Day
    [ Parent ]
    A quick comment (4.00 / 1) (#101)
    by rustball on Tue Feb 18, 2003 at 01:47:29 PM EST

    You call the pre-WWII French appeasers for allowing Hitler to break the Treaty of Versaille time and time again. This analysis is only partly accurate.

    The French did fear Hitler and strongly believed in the implementation of the treaty. However, their economy and indeed their entire country had been devastated by war and so was relunctant to occupy Germany (to enforce the treaty) without British support. The British had economic problems of their own and were not ready for any sort of military involvement. Their reply was that they would not commit any forces without American support. The Americans were dealing with the depression and were heavily isolationist at the time, and so wanted nothing of it.

    In short, it isn't so much appeasement by the French as it is inaction based on economic and international realities at the time. I would argue that the British were, at best, overly optimistic, and not appeasers.

    [ Parent ]

    That made little sense for them (none / 0) (#104)
    by Rainy on Tue Feb 18, 2003 at 03:19:13 PM EST

    France had a huge standing army, well armed. Germany had nothing. Britain would have to first raise a large army, then transport it, remember how much it did send to France in the first year after Poland? Something to the tune of 100 thousand. France already had, if I remember right, about 10 times that. On top of this, consider that France is the first to take the German blow and Britain is protected by water. So.. this is a poor excuse because you don't go to war when your economy is in top shape - you go to war when you really need to. If France realized how big the threat was, they'd of course invade Germany back then.
    --
    Rainy "Collect all zero" Day
    [ Parent ]
    hindsight and all that (none / 0) (#143)
    by ckaminski on Wed Feb 19, 2003 at 10:54:56 AM EST

    Knowing now what we didn't know then, yes, America probably would have smashed into Germany with Britain and France, and we wouldn't be having this conversation.  Fact is, we didn't know, we had good ideas about what could happen, but everybody was hoping for the best.  Unfortunately, things didn't turn out that way.

    Notice any parallels to current events?  Germany broke a treaty, was ignored, became evil world power that needed to be smacked down.  Iraq broke a ceasefire agreement, and needs to be smacked down, but the world wants to ignore that little bit...

    Someone learned his lesson in History class.  
    Arguably, it's not GWB, I'm not sure he's ever been in a school other than as a photo-op. :-)

    -Chris

    [ Parent ]

    re: hindsight (none / 0) (#155)
    by Rainy on Wed Feb 19, 2003 at 04:38:40 PM EST

    I'm not saying France should have known what will happen. Not at all. My point was that it should not have formed its policy in tune with Britain. France was the one who'd suffer first and foremost.

    As far as current situation goes.. You can find any number of episodes from history that'd seem to advise our actions this way or the other, but making the right decisions isn't about finding examples from history but figuring out which applies the most, and to what extent, and in what ways current situation is different.
    --
    Rainy "Collect all zero" Day
    [ Parent ]

    Re: British & American control of the seas (5.00 / 2) (#72)
    by Rainy on Mon Feb 17, 2003 at 09:53:52 PM EST

    It was not as certain as you'd think. After Perl Harbor Japan had 10 Linkor ships vs. American 2 in Pacific. In Atlantica British forces were spread very thin to protect convoys. Germany could theoretically taken over French fleet. Germany was spending maybe 9/10th of its resources on Eastern front, what if it was won and it threw all resources at building up fleet, planes and u-boats? Even as it were, Britain suffered huge losses of ships to u-boats. Germany did not need to defeat all British fleet to make convoys ineffective: with only a few large powerful ships at large in the ocean, Britain would need *each* convoy to be protected with forces that could take on a group that Germany could throw anywhere. Without convoys, British metropoly would be 10 times weaker. British people, starved and scared, could in theory sue for peace and give their fleet to Hitler in return for mercy. Then America would stand alone against combined European fleet, of which only the British part was significantly larger than its own, even before Perl Harbor.
    --
    Rainy "Collect all zero" Day
    Resources and Logistics (none / 0) (#89)
    by Afty on Tue Feb 18, 2003 at 07:42:02 AM EST

    Germany was spending maybe 9/10th of its resources on Eastern front

    I believe the figure was around 70%-80% at its' peak. Germany still maintained a strong presence in France, and had to split its' armour between the eastern front and the north african front which with open rolling deserts was at least from a tactical point of view well suited to armoured warfare.

    The eastern front was the whole reasons the Germans lost the war - stupidity on Hitlers part. If they had remained at peace with Russia for considerably longer they could have easily controlled the strategic assets of North Africa and Middle East and been in a position to role into (admittedly massive) China in support of the Japanese advance from the opposite side.

    I do like your extrapolation of events to include the British Fleet as part of an agreed surrender which would seem credible.

    [ Parent ]
    True, but.. (none / 0) (#106)
    by Rainy on Tue Feb 18, 2003 at 03:33:13 PM EST

    Eastern front was not as bad a mistake as it may seem - Stalin was expecting invasion by '42 and he was building up forces accordingly. Hitler got to dominate Europe by doing crazy things that his generals thought suicidal, like Rheinland militarization, Austria, Checkoslovakia, even Poland. Each and every time he was right and they were wrong. They warned him about the East but he was almost right precisely because Stalin also thought that would be too early for him to invade, still having England undefeated. He may have won if he didn't lose best pilots and planes over London, if he didn't go to Africa, if Japan did not attack US (Hitler was surprised and shaken when he heard). If he did not attack Ukraine but went straight for Moscow with all his might. If he took over French fleet, invaded Spain and took Gibraltar. Let's not be too hard on him for this, he did many brilliant, brave decisions. More than anyone else back then.

    The British fleet thing is not my idea - Churchill used it to pressure the US. Not directly but he in essence said: "Look, you know I won't do it and current cabinet won't do it and you think you're safe back there and even if we fall the fleet will come to your harbours. But that is not certain. If cabinet changes, who knows what will happen. So you better help us, and quickly."
    --
    Rainy "Collect all zero" Day
    [ Parent ]

    Spain? (none / 0) (#176)
    by dariorf on Mon Feb 24, 2003 at 10:58:39 AM EST

    If he took over French fleet, invaded Spain and took Gibraltar.

    Hitler didn't need to take over Spain, as it was friendly to Germany. Another matter is why Spain didn't participate actively in the wwii (hint: it just had finished a civil war).

    As a matter of fact, many of the defeated party in the Spanish civil war, scaped to France and fought against the occupation of the nazis

    [ Parent ]
    Unlikely to surrender. (5.00 / 1) (#142)
    by ckaminski on Wed Feb 19, 2003 at 10:35:49 AM EST

    I would imagine the Royal Navy would have "defected" to the U.S. rather than let the Germans get their hands on the Naval power of the British.  The British would have to have known that only the U.S. was going to come to their aid at that point, so why not help them out.  And what are the Germans going to do?  Stop them?  
    This presumes however that at this point the British still had a Navy.

    Thank the fates that Germany attacked Russia.  I cannot imagine having to have retaken Britain from Iceland or Greenland.  Normandy was made relatively easy because they only had to go 26 miles.  Imagine landing 20,000+ troops in an amphibious marine landing over a 200-600 mile stretch through hostile waters.  


    [ Parent ]

    Re: defecting Navy (none / 0) (#168)
    by Rainy on Thu Feb 20, 2003 at 04:48:30 AM EST

    Germany would, of course, offer some nice benefits if fleet joined them, just like they offered to keep France relatively free for their fleet staying in harbours. British government would likely go to Canada with all the fleet, but you never know. After all, the fleet is loyal to the government insofar as it represents the population, and if government skips island leaving most population vulnerable to anything angered Nazis wish to do..

    I don't know, maybe Allies, losing Britain, would not try to retake it at all. It'd be easier to perhaps land somewhere in Europe, or maybe Asia, and go from there to defeat main German forces. If Germans fortified the island really well..
    --
    Rainy "Collect all zero" Day
    [ Parent ]

    People think Hilter was bad... (none / 0) (#178)
    by DavidTC on Wed Feb 26, 2003 at 01:16:30 PM EST

    ...but, in retrospect, it's a damn good thing Germany ended up with a completely insane leader.

    I mean, what if Hitler had been assassinated, only to be replaced with a sane person, who decided to continue the war-making? Scrap the treaty with Japan, just deport the Jews forcibly instead of killing them, don't attact the USSR, possibly don't attact Britian until you have north Africa...

    It's quite possibly we could have ended up with three superpowers, the USA, the USSR, and the German Empire, stretching over most of west Europe except England (And possibly eventually even take England), almost all the way to the USSR to the east, and all of north Africa, and then they could have taken the middle east, which would be the real base of power.

    Instead Germany acted completely randomly and often very stupidly, taking on three of the most powerful armies in the world at the same time, due to Hilter rampant complete insanity.

    Imagine the cold war with three players.

    -David T. C.
    Yes, my email address is real.
    [ Parent ]

    Sea power (none / 0) (#129)
    by squigly on Wed Feb 19, 2003 at 05:43:55 AM EST

    Germany could theoretically taken over French fleet

    So what actually happened to the French Fleet?  Presumably it would have made sense to have leased it to the Royal Navy or something.  

    British people, starved and scared, could in theory sue for peace and give their fleet to Hitler in return for mercy

    For that matter, how much food did Britain need to import?  Would an adjustment of the farming infrastructure have allowed them to outlast a siege indefinitely?  

    [ Parent ]

    What actually happened to the French Fleet (3.66 / 3) (#130)
    by TheophileEscargot on Wed Feb 19, 2003 at 06:25:13 AM EST

    Most of it was sunk by the British at Mers-El-Kebir, with the death of 1,147 French sailors. It was fairly notorious at the time.
    ----
    Support the nascent Mad Open Science movement... when we talk about "hundreds of eyeballs," we really mean it. Lagged2Death
    [ Parent ]
    Correct (none / 0) (#133)
    by Quila on Wed Feb 19, 2003 at 07:44:11 AM EST

    Add that after Pearl Harbor and Coral Sea, the U.S. fleet was screwed.  The Japanese would have pushed East and owned the Pacific.  Then they would have been in a good position to help Germany in the Atlantic.

    Of course, the incredible combination of luck, military intelligence, skill and bravery on the part of the U.S. fleet at Midway changed all that.

    [ Parent ]

    Experience (none / 0) (#151)
    by ucblockhead on Wed Feb 19, 2003 at 02:50:16 PM EST

    It is doubtful that Germany, a nation with very little naval experience, could have stood toe-to-toe to a nation like the United States, with a long naval tradition and a much larger shipbuilding capacity.

    And as others have noted, it is unlikely that the Germans would have gained the British navy. Most British captains would have sailed straight for New York on a British Government surrender.
    -----------------------
    This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
    [ Parent ]

    Re: experience (none / 0) (#158)
    by Rainy on Wed Feb 19, 2003 at 05:17:01 PM EST

    Umm, Britain owned the seas while France, Germany, Italy, US and Japan were thought to have 2nd tier navies. Italy and Japan were already on German side. If Germany added French and British fleet.. US would really be in trouble. Ship building takes time.. it would perhaps take US 6-8 years to catch up with all these combined navies, but I doubt they'd be standing in harbours all the while.

    France also did not like Germans but admiral Darlan(?) decided to keep the fleet in harbours. Most people in England probably expected that since France put up so little resistance, the least it could do is send their fleet to help, but French perhaps thought that since they put up 2 or 3 million army against Germans and England only sent ~200k troops, sending fleet and having Germany retaliate against defenceless population is not the brightest idea.

    If Hitler had the potential to destroy Britian and they'd see it, they could use fleet as a bargaining point. Why would they give their life for US if US did not enter the war on their side?
    --
    Rainy "Collect all zero" Day
    [ Parent ]

    British fleet (none / 0) (#164)
    by ucblockhead on Wed Feb 19, 2003 at 06:40:16 PM EST

    There's little chance that the Germans would catch the British fleet and none that British officers would fight for the Germans.

    Why would a British ship captain, at sea, run home to the Nazis?
    -----------------------
    This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
    [ Parent ]

    Because.. (none / 0) (#167)
    by Rainy on Thu Feb 20, 2003 at 04:35:05 AM EST

    His commander in chief would tell him so. People fight for their country. If their country tells them: lose your life if you must, but save us; he will often do just that. If, however, his country tells him: save us - give fleet up to Germany, or we'll die; he will do so.

    Ultimately, they're not driven by their hate for Germany, but by their love for Britain. Their hate only arises from Germany's attack on Britain. If it becomes obvious that Germany can invade and defeat Britain, unless fleet is given up, I think most captains would go with their commander's policy.

    It's just like Admiral Darlan's decision in France - he was given a hard choice of betraying his ally or allowing complete Nazi invasion (Germany left much of France independent under Vichy government, one of the conditions being that fleet remains in harbours.)
    --
    Rainy "Collect all zero" Day
    [ Parent ]

    wow! (3.66 / 3) (#79)
    by Michael Moser on Tue Feb 18, 2003 at 12:58:22 AM EST

    > novel offers intriguing hints that the "appeasers" of Hitler might have had a point after all

    Is that in line with the consensus here against war with Iraq?

    That reminds me of an old (real) Soviet Union joke, saying that
    'the SU is the only country with an unpredictable past'
    The joke was a comment on why each party congress was rewriting (ah, 'reinterpreting') history.

    > Politically aware Joe insists on using the opportunity to smuggle a Jewish friend, Birgit, out of the country

    Immigration was not restricted until WWii (september 39)

    > However, the Holocaust proper not occur until significantly later: the notorious Wannsee
    > conference was on January 20th 1942

    Oh, you forgot to mention the shooting of over a million Jews in occupied Russia. That was 1941.

    >Germany invades the Soviet Union with success, setting up colonial cities in the captured Ukraine

    Yes, we don't like the Russians/Ukranians ;-)

    >The remaining moral justification for Britain's declaration of war was attempting to assure the independence of Poland

    ?????!#@

    Nobody could have guessed that France is next ?
    Nobody could have guessed that Poland is next after Muenchen?

    Are you dumb???


    Immi/Emi - gration (none / 0) (#88)
    by Afty on Tue Feb 18, 2003 at 07:36:42 AM EST

    > Politically aware Joe insists on using the opportunity to smuggle a Jewish friend, Birgit, out of the country

    Immigration was not restricted until WWii (september 39)

    I don't know enough to debate any of your other statements, but I do know there were millions of jews who tried to leave germany in the late 1930s, but did not, and tragically died in the holocaust. I don't know for sure about German emigration policy (I believe it was quite positive : they wanted the jews gone), but many countries were highly hostile to Jewish immigration en-masse which was happening from around 1936 to 1939.

    Immensely sadly, the jews had nowhere to go long before the war, before the intentioned start of the holocaust - even those who foresaw what was coming. Restrictive immigration policies were to blame, and when we look back now, the humanitarian thing to have done would have been to allow considerably more immigration... but we can draw parallels to todays situations. In the UK there is a groundswell of support for hard-line immigration policy despite the fact that our own government is telling us there are "bad men" in the world, killing and starving their own people.

    [ Parent ]
    Re: (none / 0) (#119)
    by Michael Moser on Tue Feb 18, 2003 at 10:33:10 PM EST

    Yes, but it was not a problem of geting out, it was a problem of being accepted into another country.

    [ Parent ]
    and it was a problem of money (none / 0) (#121)
    by mami on Tue Feb 18, 2003 at 10:51:05 PM EST

    not all the Jews could afford to bribe all the people who needed to be bribed to get accepted into other countries.

    My mother recalls, going to a school in an affluent residential area in Berlin, with over sixty percent of the kids being Jewish, that 1/4 of them "disappeared" directly after Hitler came to power. Those were the upper middle class Jews. The poorer ones had a much more difficult time to get out on time. The longer they waited the more of their property was "legally" taken away from them.

    [ Parent ]

    France should help us understand ... (1.00 / 2) (#92)
    by expro on Tue Feb 18, 2003 at 09:41:54 AM EST

    Perhaps this is somewhat OT, as I try to apply the theories to the present situation.

    On the one hand, Bush is moving much too aggressively and preemtively without adequate consideration of how to lead and show strength without being the aggressor at home and abroad.

    On the other hand, perhaps France could become more credible and help us understand just how wrong all such intervention by the US is by changing their official language to German.



    Old drum (nt) (1.00 / 1) (#94)
    by Ranieri on Tue Feb 18, 2003 at 11:00:30 AM EST


    --
    Taste cold steel, feeble cannon restraint rope!
    [ Parent ]
    An old drum, maybe... (none / 0) (#114)
    by smithmc on Tue Feb 18, 2003 at 06:09:06 PM EST

    ...but are you suggesting that the French don't owe their current existence as a sovereign nation, at least in part, to the big bad brutish US?

    (And, of course, the US in turn owes its existence, at least in part, to military aid from France. But that was a long time ago, and we've more than repaid the favor.)

    [ Parent ]

    Irrelevant (none / 0) (#126)
    by Thwk on Wed Feb 19, 2003 at 04:16:27 AM EST

    Wheter or not France owes their current existence to the US is completely irrelevant to the current crisis. Those events have no relevance to this.

    The people of France can be grateful for the aid they got from the US during WW2 without therefore being forced to act like puppets for the US several almost 60 years later.



    [ Parent ]
    So what are you suggesting? (none / 0) (#128)
    by squigly on Wed Feb 19, 2003 at 05:30:22 AM EST

    That France should change their language to US English?

    France simply feels that the responses that would have worked in the second world war will not work in this situation.  

    [ Parent ]

    There is more to the U.S. entry in WW2 (4.00 / 3) (#98)
    by miguel on Tue Feb 18, 2003 at 12:14:40 PM EST

    Germany declaring war on the US was not such a simple matter as Hitler just decided one day that he just didn't like the US and declared war on us. Hilter really did not want the United States involved, and the american people had no interest back then to get invovled into a conflict only involving Europe. In fact, FDR repeatadly said to the american people that he would not send american troops to die in Europe. He also promised Churchill that he would aid England in fighting Germany.

    However, if FDR declared war against Germany, the american people would be outraged, and he could have very well faced impeachment. He needed somehow to force Germany either to declare war or attack the United States. However, Germany wasn't about to do either, for the obvious reason that it would have been suicide.

    It wasn't necessary for Germany to do so, it turned out. They had signed a defense treaty with the Japanese. And conveniently Pearl Harbor happened. And its been recently discovered that FDR not only knew that Pearl Harbor was going to happen, he engineered it. And so the american people cry out to declare war on japan, which in turn forces Germany to declare war on the US. Hook, line and sinker.

    I want you to be free

    Pearl Harbor (none / 0) (#135)
    by Merk00 on Wed Feb 19, 2003 at 09:38:30 AM EST

    First of all, I'd like to point out that FDR couldn't have declared war on Germany or any other country. It's up to Congress to issue a Declaration of War.

    The idea that the US had foreknowledge of the Pearl Harbor attacks is silly. The simple idea that the Japanese could launch a devastating attack on Pearl Harbor seemed impossible to the US on December 6, 1941. An attack on the Philipines was much more likely and was somewhat expected. Even assuming that the US knew about the attack, wouldn't it have made more sense to catch the Japanese in a trap? Wouldn't that have inflamed opinion just as much?

    ------
    "At FIRST we see a world where science and technology are celebrated, where kids think science is cool and dream of becoming science and technology heroes."
    - FIRST Mission
    [ Parent ]

    I don't think so. (none / 0) (#139)
    by ckaminski on Wed Feb 19, 2003 at 10:20:01 AM EST

    It would have been similar to what we're seeing today with Iraq. We KNOW they have the weapons. Until we're actually attacked with them, 90% of America will waffle, because they don't want their sons and daughters dying simply because Iraq MIGHT use said weapons. If we had caught the Japanese attacking us, and beat them off, we may have taken the notion that "we are obviously invincible here", and let our guard down for something nastier. We wouldn't have had the drive to pummel the Japanese all the way back to japan, and destroy every vessel that floated. We'd have been a little too prideful in our strength. Why take the chance? If I were FDR at the time, I probably would have made the same decisions. Openly provoke the Japanese, maybe not. Do you think if we had shot down the airplanes crashing into the WTC that we'd be in Afghanistan now? Or rather, do you *KNOW*? It's one thing to think. It's another to know. If FDR knew that Pearl Harbor was going to get attacked, and the Japanese were going to declare war (the fact that the attack happened before the arrival of the declaration was just icing on the cake - possible OSS conspiracy there?) was going to do what a diplomatic solution or a trap would not. Guarantee a declaration of war from the citizenry and Congress. If he did know, the only viable option for him would be to approach the Japanese and settle the matter diplomatically and say hey now. Worse than that, it would give the Japanese clues that we could read every message they were sending, which would arguably have been worse than the losses incurred at Pearl Harbor. But what do I know. I'm a bicentennial baby... -Chris

    [ Parent ]
    In a word - Bunk (none / 0) (#146)
    by CENGEL3 on Wed Feb 19, 2003 at 01:48:32 PM EST

    1)The U.S. was desperately unprepaired to fight a war in 1941. We had a tiny number of trained regular divisions. Worse we were desperately short of equipment, particulay munitions.

    2) FDR wanted to fight Germany not Japan. There was absolutely no reason to be sure that Germany would declare war if Japan attacked. More importantly, due to the nature of Japans attack there was a HUGE amount of pressure for persuing a "Japan First" policy. This was exactly the opposite of what FDR wanted to achieve. It would have been far easier and more condusive to FDR's policy to have engineered an incident between U.S. merchant shipping and German U-boats... for which there was plenty of opportunity.

    3) Much has been made of the carriers not being present when Pearl Harbor was attacked. With hindsight this might seem terribly convenient. However, remember in 1941 carrier warfare was an unproven experiment to the U.S. Navy. FDR, an old school navy man would have saved the Battleships over the carriers any day.... had he foreknowledge of an attack.

    4) The Philipines and particulary Guam would have been much better defended had we 11 months foreknowledge of the attack. As it was, we got our arses handed to us because we weren't properly prepaired. Those are NOT the actions of a man who would want to see Japan neutralized as an offensive threat quickly so he could persue a "Germany First" agenda.

    5) Thousands of communiques were intercepted every day. Alot of these involve contingecy planning (which modern millitarys do a ton of) and alot are simulated traffic designed specificly to confuse the enemy. Millitarys do this even when they are fairly certain that thier radio traffic isn't being intercepted. It is not surprising that a communique detailing plans to attack Pearl Harbor didn't get special notice.

    6) As it happens Yamamato did not recieve his orders via radio. They were delivered in person. The fleet did not know where they were going until well after they sailed and they maintained radio silence throughout the voyage.

    [ Parent ]

    Stinnett's Book (none / 0) (#163)
    by pengroot on Wed Feb 19, 2003 at 06:35:46 PM EST

    Have you actually read Stinnett's book, or at least the web synopsis? The book is very thoroughly researched (largely from primary sources) and incredibly convincing.

    I was always very skeptical of the "Roosevelt knew" theory myself, and only reluctantly read the book. I'm convinced now.

    BTW Stinnett says very little about the carriers, and makes very few inferences. Mostly he relies on what documents he was able to obtain through FOIA requests, and on interviews he conducted with cryptographers and radio intercept operators who were working in the Pacific at the time.

    If the man has a political agenda he keeps it awfully well hidden. He even sounds sympathetic to the idea that the US needed to enter WWII in some way (he served in the USN in the Pacific in WWII).

    This book is what historical research should always be - top quality.

    [ Parent ]

    Is a coup ethical? (4.00 / 2) (#115)
    by Wasteland on Tue Feb 18, 2003 at 06:24:56 PM EST

    Interesting review. Do you think the author would favor assasination as an alternative to war? in the case of the alternate history presented here, the declaration of war would appear not to be justified in retrospect However, in the story Hitler is removed by a coup. So is a coup justified? Would Britain have been in the right to back a coup, or even orchestrate one? If so, is this really a pacifist point of view?

    I don't know, but isn't that book a bit appalling? (2.00 / 2) (#123)
    by mami on Tue Feb 18, 2003 at 11:38:49 PM EST

    at least reading this review I wouldn't waste my time to read it. It's speculating fiction about a painful issue. I just don't get, why one would try to write for four years about such speculations, as if it would help anybody to learn more from history that way.

    Ok, I never read fiction, which apparently is the best proof in this day and age that I never could be a geek. Lucky me. :-)

    Appeasement doesn't work (3.80 / 5) (#134)
    by Quila on Wed Feb 19, 2003 at 08:05:26 AM EST

    Let's see, from 1935 onward Hitler started violating treaties.  From then until the time Churchill was appointed Prime Minister, he invaded:
    • Austria
    • Czechoslovakia
    • Poland
    • Denmark
    • Norway
    • France
    • Belgium
    • Luxembourg
    • Netherlands

    Churchill was supposed to just let that go?  Britain would have been next.  If we could invade Normandy from the Isles, then Germany could invade Britain from France.

    How? (1.00 / 1) (#149)
    by bobpence on Wed Feb 19, 2003 at 02:18:13 PM EST

    Why, he would need some sort of flying machine to go over the English Channel, perhaps to drop some sort of explosive devices on London. Or he would need some sort of stealth boat, perhaps going under the water, to attack ports and shipping. Or some sort of rocket with a long range to deliver explosives.
    "Interesting. No wait, the other thing: tedious." - Bender
    [ Parent ]
    ROTFL! (nt) (none / 0) (#166)
    by Quila on Thu Feb 20, 2003 at 04:07:28 AM EST



    [ Parent ]
    Re: The ethics of War (1.50 / 2) (#144)
    by ToughLove on Wed Feb 19, 2003 at 12:14:38 PM EST

    I find it outragiousley humorous that Turkey want's "United STates Protection", in the form of over 30 Billion dollars, LOL..

    Give me some "Protection" !:-) What does this "war" tell you, when Sodom is "such a threat to his neighbors", that you have to bribe Iraq's bordering country Turkey for use of their country's resources in fighting Sodom?



    We are living in the alternative reality (1.66 / 3) (#148)
    by bobpence on Wed Feb 19, 2003 at 02:12:53 PM EST

    We let a brutle tyrant - to whose ascent we and many other nations contributed - stay in power. His regime is just as unstable as Hitler's for much the same reasons. The Kurds rose up. The Shiites rose up. They were killed by the tens of thousands. He still rules. Appeasement does not work. Good men doing nothing does not work.

    You can't disarm someone who doesn't want to be disarmed except by force, certainly not by sending in inspectors who are surrounded Iraqi minders. No, sending in guys with blue helmets is not going to work either - "Mirage" is the proper term - because there would be no guarantee they'll be there next month, but their presence guarantees that Saddam's regime would be. And if Saddam wants to harm his people despite the peacekeepers - can you say Srebrenica?

    Two million have returned to Afghanistan. Not because it has a great economy with terrific democratic institutions, but because it is fundamentally free and they want to be there to help their fellow Afghanis to build that economy and those institutions. Hopefully Iraqi exiles and their brethren will soon have the same opportunity.
    "Interesting. No wait, the other thing: tedious." - Bender

    Ludicrous Assumptions (none / 0) (#159)
    by los on Wed Feb 19, 2003 at 05:28:20 PM EST

    Priest's thesis is that the British bombing helped keep Hitler in power. This is not unreasonable: people tend to rally behind a leader in times of crisis.

    How was the Battle of Britain a time of crisis for the German people?

    I've got a different thesis: people tend to rally behind leaders that give them a meteoric 6-year rise to dominance. Especially if this involves a nearly bloodless total victory over a rival power. Especially if said power won their last war, inflicting a humilating and impoverishing peace treaty on the people in question.

    In the alternate history, Hitler is removed from power in an internal coup.

    If Hitler had made peace after the fall of France, he would have been amazingly popular. It's an amazing assertion that he would be unpopular to the point of being pushed out of power. Mind-boggling.

    A number of dissenters considered a coup in 1938 -- these were army officers who knew that the German army simply was in no condition to take out the Czechs. After the fall of France, these people would have been behind Hitler all the way.

    Germany invades the Soviet Union with success, setting up colonial cities in the captured Ukraine. The Soviet Union is eventually defeated, after a costly war. Subsequently, the Nazi leadership of Germany collapses.

    So why does Germany attack Russia? This was largely Hitler's personal pet project.

    Not so ludicrous (none / 0) (#170)
    by Simon Kinahan on Thu Feb 20, 2003 at 05:23:41 PM EST

    How was the Battle of Britain a time of crisis for the German people?

    It wasn't. The British bombing of Germany, to which TheophileEscargot referred, was.

    If Hitler had made peace after the fall of France, he would have been amazingly popular. It's an amazing assertion that he would be unpopular to the point of being pushed out of power. Mind-boggling.

    Personal popularity isn't all there is to it. The Nazi regime had serious internal conflicts. Hitler was a lousy administrator. He gave very broad and overlapping briefs to his lieutenants, and positively encouraged them to compete with one another. Even without losing the war (because of which there was a nearly-successful attempt to kill Hitler in 1944), some crisis would have come along that kicked the regime hard enough to change it dramatically. You just can't run a modern state as a collection of personal feifdoms for very long. If nothing else, Hitler's death would have sparked a succession crisis that the regime would not have survived.

    Simon

    If you disagree, post, don't moderate
    [ Parent ]

    I still think so (none / 0) (#171)
    by los on Thu Feb 20, 2003 at 07:51:00 PM EST

    "How was the Battle of Britain a time of crisis for the German people?"

    It wasn't. The British bombing of Germany, to which TheophileEscargot referred, was.

    Maybe that's what he meant -- it's still not clear to me.

    But anyway, the British bombing of Germany was certainly not a crisis for the German people in that time frame.

    Personal popularity isn't all there is to it. The Nazi regime had serious internal conflicts. Hitler was a lousy administrator. He gave very broad and overlapping briefs to his lieutenants, and positively encouraged them to compete with one another.

    Given enough time, this is certainly a possibility. But I just can't imagine a hugely popular Hitler biding his time and *not* going to war with the USSR. So it makes no sense that Hitler's successors rather than Hitler himself go to war in the east.

    [ Parent ]

    anal-retentive (none / 0) (#172)
    by Stomil on Fri Feb 21, 2003 at 05:52:48 AM EST

    ..about the poll: it was Abendsen, not Abendson.

    And what about Bart's other 2 'good wars'??? (5.00 / 1) (#174)
    by Alhazred on Sat Feb 22, 2003 at 07:54:37 AM EST

    The same questions could be asked about the American Revolution, that supposedly glorious war to end oppression.

    The observation which is seldom made is that neither Britain, nor Canada, New Zealand, India, Australia, or for that matter the vast majority of the rest of the former British Empire is any less free than the USA is. So exactly what did all the death and destruction of that wwar gain us?

    War is immoral, period. All war, all of the time. Nobody can predict the future good consequences of a war, but the present bad consequences are always manifest and concrete. Thus even by a utilitarian standard wars cannot be defended. They certainly have no justification on the basis of any other standard.

    All I can say about the current world situation is that it seperating out those with moral integrity from the pack.
    That is not dead which may eternal lie And with strange aeons death itself may die.

    Review of "The Separation" by Christopher Priest | 176 comments (166 topical, 10 editorial, 0 hidden)
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