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09 February 2016

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YT

RE: "Without justice there's only revenge, which seeds the ground for the next conflict."

Yes, most people have long, enduring memories with re. to wrongs/grievances inflicted upon them.

Those poor cretins in the Middle East particularly so.

I concur with you about the Panglossian beliefs & expectations of the occident west, they never fail to amaze me...

I can't recall whom it was (Walrus?, TTG?) posted 'bout the need for Assad to be Magnanimous even in victory.

What was it Liddell Hart once wrote?,: "to look beyond the war to the subsequent peace." ["in order to hold onto what you have to defend."]

Col. sir, apologies if this post appears twice. Technical glitch, perhaps?

YT

"Irish history is a thing for Irishmen to forget and for Englishmen to remember."

Brigadier-General John Hartman Morgan

Mr. Habakkuk doesn't count: he's Welsh.

Ulenspiegel

I have read the German series "Das Dritte Reich und der Zweite Weltkrieg" that still sets the bar for the German military aspects.

The authors do not find any dramatic impact on morale or production numbers. Quite contrary.

Then you could check good sources on the the Kurk planning, which was not affceted by shrinking production number etc. neither I have found this argument in very serious on-line discussion between experts in this field.

If you read other German sources, like compilation of Gestapo reports on the mood of the population in German cities, then we have the same observation as in UK earlier: people get used to air raids very fast.

And the response of industry to air raids, too, became quite sophisticated, so the damage until 1943 was not significant.

If you then read economic analysis of the issue by German authors, you do not get 800 pages but still very detailled insights, e.g. the air raids were often used as excuse to cover for failures in production management. :-)

Overall, I accept that air raids did slow down the increase of production in some fields, however, this did not affect military planning in 1943 and was very likely not the reason for the rapid detoriation of the situation on the east front in 1944.

And the mayor issue is, when we come back to the issue of strategic bombing, that alternative strategies may have provided a much better result for the invested blood and gold.

BTW: Tooze does not put the focus on the air raids but the general economic weakness of Germany in comparison to her enemies IIRC, i.e. he is talking about inherent strategic contradictions I do not dispute.

Chris Chuba

This was an interesting thread regarding the effectiveness of strategic bombing. I largely agree with Thirdeye. Just a couple of points.
1. In 1943, weren't are unescorted bomber missions largely unsuccessful? I even recall that we had to suspend them at the end of the year due to attrition. Some argue that it diverted the Luftwaffe from the eastern front but that would be only the fighters, not the tactical bombers. So I think some of the stats given are inflated. BTW I want to acknowledge the bravery of our bombing crews for doing this in 1943.

2. In 1944 German industrial production increased. It was when we bombed their synthetic fuel plants that really crippled them, especially in aviation, they didn't have enough to train their pilots adequately and limited their land movement. The big take away here is that it was the bombing of a specific, military target that was the key to success. The thing called 'dress shop bombing' was both unnecessary and ineffective.

I heard a couple of references to the Battle of Kursk, when another open thread comes up I might start a discussion on that. That battle fascinates me.


Ulenspiegel

If you spend a few minutes with searching you would find some more of these photos with different distance between camera lens and figure and therefore slightly different background. It is obvious that the photographer took a series in order to increase the art aspect of the picture.

I can not exclude that the posted photo was digitally modified (the contrast is much better than in other photos of the same series), however, to claim that this is a fake is more than stupid.

There are many photos of Dresden available for which the source is well documented and they all show the same grade of destruction for Dresden.

I have to asume that you are basically clueles how many cities looked at the end of WWII, otherwise you would not lable it as "totally blown out of proportion". Actually, Dresden was not that bad because it was only attacked a few times. Try to get pictures of other cities, you could educate yourself a little bit.

The only thing that was blow out of proportion was the number of victims. However, the minimum number times is still in the 25.000 range for the two days in 1945.

David Habakkuk

SmoothieX12,

'What this has anything to do with Corelli Barnett and strategic and operational realities of the Western Front?'

I nowhere say it did. What I did say was that it had a good deal to do with the fact that this particular windmill has better ways of wasting his time than arguing with you.

Actually – and not really for your benefit, but for that of any other members of this 'committee of correspondence' who are interested in these issues, and also in the history of Western strategies towards the Soviet Union during the Cold War and after – there are significant linkages between the Litvinenko mystery and earlier history.

As I did not comment on these on the thread on Sir Robert Owen's report, it may be worth doing so now, and providing some relevant links.

If you look at my post on the report, and the discussions that followed, you will see that a figure who writes under the name 'Viktor Suvorov' – of whom you may perhaps be aware – had a role of some moment in the 'information operations' in which Litvinenko was involved.

(See http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2016/01/david-hakkuk-on-sir-robert-owens-inquiry.html .)

In some quite extensive comments on a couple of threads last year, I dealt at some length on issues raised by the 'Icebreaker' study published by 'Suvorov' back in the Eighties.

And perhaps ironically, on 2 November 2006 – the day after Litvinenko was supposedly poisoned – I went into the relevant issues in some detail, in response to a post on the 'Washington Ex-Realist Blog' then run by Nicholas Gvosdev which reported on a 'National Interest' roundtable entitled 'Misappropriating Munich.'

(See http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2015/08/httpobservercom201508can-the-united-states-stop-a-war-with-russia.html ; http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2015/08/lest-we-forget.html ; http://washingtonrealist.blogspot.co.uk/2006/11/misappropriating-munich.html .)

The point that discussion brought out was the complex way in which readings of what happened at Munich, and the following months – and critically, the Nazi-Soviet Pact – echo on in complex ways.

Essentially, 'Suvorov' – as also Robert C. Tucker, a far more substantial figure – have restated a version of an interpretation of Stalin's policy common among the supporters of 'appeasement'. So questions are raised as to whether that interpretation – which was I think held by MI6 at the time – is still influential in that organisation.

It may also be of some interest that the 'information operations' in which Litvinenko, Scaramella, and 'Suvorov' collaborated drew on the – seriously misleading – reading of Soviet Cold War contingency planning for war given in the 2005 study 'A Cardboard Castle' edited by Vojtech Mastny and Malcolm Byrne. Both of these were then at the National Security Archive.

(See https://www2.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB154/ .)

For an – isolated – occasion when this dependence surfaces publicly, see a comment on the blog of Senator Paolo Guzzanti, who headed the so-called 'Mitrokhin Commission', from December 2007.

(See http://www.paologuzzanti.it/?p=561 .)

A critical point about the 'Cardboard Castle' study was that it represented an attempt to gloss over the extent to which the interpretations of Soviet contingency planning for war which grew out of the key NSC 68 paper of April 1950 turned out to be simply wrong. As these have been central to the shaping of 'neoconservative' views alike of the post-Soviet space and the Middle East, this is a matter of some moment.

Fortunately, in 2009 the National Security Archive published the declassified 1995 study by produced by BDM Corporation for the Pentagon, whose authors, unlike Mastny and Byrne, had some grasp of military technicalities. This study made amply clear that the earlier study had simply misinterpreted critical evidence.

(See http://nsarchive.gwu.edu/nukevault/ebb285/index.htm .)

Despite this, however, it seems reasonably clear that 'neoconservative' interpretations of the Cold War, and specifically of the evolution of Soviet military strategy, continue to be predominant as in large sections of the British élite, as of the American.

As so often, actual histories are much more complex than one looked. So, for instance, it is sometimes inadequately realised that NSC 68 was, among other things, a polemic against the 'Douhetist' enthusiasms then prevalent in Strategic Air Command.

Its authors were impelled by both prudential, and moral, objections to, as it were, nuclear versions of the conceptions of Arthur Harris. And in some respects, its analysis of the implications of the coming of a bipolar nuclear world was extremely acute.

It is however also material that Nitze, who masterminded it, had clearly never understood Kennan's conception of Soviet policy – which was actually rooted in the view expressed by Tucker, who was a colleague of his first at the American Moscow Embassy and later at Princeton.

Misconceptions about the past are liable to have a baleful influence on policies in the present. This is however, liable to be true on all sides. It is necessary to be able to change one's mind in the light of new evidence, however painful the process may commonly be.

SmoothieX12

It's not been widely acknowledged, but German ground forces in the north of France were stronger in 1944 than in 1943.
----------------------------------------------------

Most importantly, not until Glantz and House, and, in general, Office Of Slavic Military Studies, started to break into the main stream historiography, that Russian views, many of which do hold water, started to be circulated widely. In his famous "Why Soviet Union Thinks That It Can Fight And Win A Nuclear War" in 1977, even Richard Pipes makes a reference to Soviet High Command not being impressed with Strategic Bombing Campaign, he, of course adds immediately that it was by no means out of humanitarian reasoning. But at least he did acknowledge it. While Sledgehammer's failure (or, rather, sabotage by British) could be explained both on purely operational merit and GB not willing to be the core of the invading force, the failure of Roundup strategic discussion in July of 1942, which, instead forced Torch on Allies, indeed, could have been, as Ike noted in his diary "the darkest day in history". The most obnoxious argument in favor of abandoning Roundup, in my mind, became the reasoning of Casserine Pass "disaster", which, supposedly, have shown that US Army needed more time to train. Each time I read this reasoning--I cringe.

LeaNder

"So, for instance, it is sometimes inadequately realised that NSC 68 was, among other things, a polemic against the 'Douhetist' enthusiasms then prevalent in Strategic Air Command."

I may have checked this before, but forget it by now:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giulio_Douhet

What this reminds me of that NATO expansionism and diverse travels and contacts in this context surfaced a long time before Ukraine swallowed up most of our attention.

Thanks David, for the reminder. But this needs time, thus I have to save the link. I got an idea, how they may support your argument. That's no doubt an interesting aspect. ;)

Personally, never mind "the elites" arrogance at the time, I wouldn't want to reduce the British interest to its colonial empire, not least since that leaves out a rather easy to understand revenge scenario post the German extortion tool: The Battle of Britain.

LeaNder

That looks like way to easy dot-connecting to me, Croesus. I am not aware of any kids. Or family that emigrated.

If I choose a random search machine specifically for telephone numbers it brings up 59 different Peter Wehners. ...

I am aware of a Jewish couple from Cologne, both academics, whose last destination when they left was Moscow. Since it is an art project that only lists people that died they apparently had no chance to contact friends and relatives after the war. As academics they may have had a lesser chance to survive,then the son of a shoemaker.

http://www.stolpersteine.eu/en/home/

Thirdeye

The 1943 bombing would have been successful if it was sustainable and if it as effectively targeted. The nighttime bombing was a low return enterprise for the resources dedicated to it. It could do some damage, but significant harm to Germany's war production with area bombing required a sustained effort that was beyond the scale of the air power that was available in 1943. The daytime bombing was able to do some damage to production, but once Germany started opposing it with fighters the losses became unsustainable. The end result was that Messerschmitts kept coming out of Regensburg and ball bearings kept coming out of Schweinfurt with barely a hiccup. The daytime bombing was also not carried out on the scale that it was in 1944-45 and the later campaign was more effectively targeted. The Germans definitely missed their fighters on the eastern front.

turcopolier

Thirdeye

When I was a new major I heard a USAF four star (ho-- something was his name) say that the Normandy invasion was unnecessary, because the German would have surrendered because of strategic bombing without it. The Joint audience laughed. pl

Ulenspiegel

"In 1944 German industrial production increased. It was when we bombed their synthetic fuel plants that really crippled them, especially in aviation, they didn't have enough to train their pilots adequately and limited their land movement. The big take away here is that it was the bombing of a specific, military target that was the key to success. "

The issue was not fuel. That is an argument that was made after the war. Internal investigations by Galland in 1944 pointed to different reasons for the declining quality of fighter German pilots: The number of front line fighters (planes) in training units was insufficient. When new German pilots in 1944 flew their first sorties they had only a few hours in the real fighters, their enemies 4-6 times more.
(It was like having driving lessons in a VW Golf diesel car, then you sit in a Formula 1 car and you have to drive against guys who spent much more tim in this car, if you lose you are executed.)

Until 1943 the front line fighter units could compensate for this issue, which had persisted in the German training units since 1939, by additional training, this was not longer possible in 1944.

Chris Chuba

"The most obnoxious argument in favor of abandoning Roundup, in my mind, became the reasoning of Casserine Pass "disaster", which, supposedly, have shown that US Army needed more time to train. Each time I read this reasoning--I cringe."

Why does this make you cringe Smoothie? Think about it. The threat of invasion forced the Germans to dedicate at least 20% of their land forces for defense in the west, perhaps even up to 25%. If we landed in western Europe too early and got wiped out then the Germans would be able to immediately transfer a larger number of ground troops to the eastern front. Was it even important for us to land at Normandy or was that an irresponsible risk? A mere 8,000 good quality troops at Omaha were able to ties us down for a day and inflict casualties. If the Germans had better placement of their infantry maybe our invasion would have been a failure and the only way to permanently protect Western Europe would be to garrison it with at least 300,000+ good combat troops.

In this one case, I actually think the Russians whine a bit too much. Yes, we didn't land in Europe until June 1944 but the threat of invasion drew off both combat troops and Panzer divisions.

The Casserine Pass revealed quite a few things, not so much troop training but about our organization and equipment. Our 1942 Bazooka was worthless and we realized just how badl our 75mm gun on the Sherman really was.

SmoothieX12

The Casserine Pass revealed quite a few things, not so much troop training but about our organization and equipment. Our 1942 Bazooka was worthless and we realized just how badl our 75mm gun on the Sherman really was.
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Yet, Shermans manged to fight even at Kursk, after all, same Kursk was fought mostly by T-34s with 76-mm guns. Moreover, large resources were allocated to fight in Italy, which had very little real strategic meaning in the overall picture of the European struggle.

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In this one case, I actually think the Russians whine a bit too much. Yes, we didn't land in Europe until June 1944 but the threat of invasion drew off both combat troops and Panzer divisions.
-------------------------------------------------------------

Yes, it is known fact that Sicily (Husky) happened during Kursk battle and it played some role in Hitler abandoning Zitadelle, but, as Glantz and House state, still the battle "reached a crescendo" precisely in that time. So, if Russians "whined a bit too much", the Tehran Conference somehow missed it. In fact, Tehran was largely precipitated by Kursk.

Thirdeye

Diepppe, Tobruk, or even El Alamein could have been the same fodder for the Roundup argument that Casserine Pass was. But for some reason they weren't.

Thirdeye

The T-34's 76-mm gun fired at a much higher velocity than the Sherman's 75-mm gun. American tank doctrine at the time the Sherman was developed left engagement of enemy tanks to tank destroyers with a more powerful gun than on the Shermans.

I suspect that there was some major buyer's remorse over the Italian campaign by the time the Tehran Conference rolled around. Churchill had envisioned a drive through Italy and northern Yugoslavia into the rear of the Axis forces facing the Soviets, projecting British power into eastern Europe. Instead, the Anglo-American forces were stalled at the Gustav Line and the Rapido, and the Soviet Army was rolling through the Ukraine. With that situation, one major strategic objective of the Italian campaign - pre-empting expansion of Soviet influence in eastern Europe - was negated. Right up to the last days of the ETO, Churchill was looking for ways to overcome that situation. Ironically, the strategy designed to pre-empt Soviet influence left the Soviets in a stronger position than they would have been had the alternative strategy been successfully adopted in 1943.

Chris Chuba

Regarding Russian whining, I am referring to post war criticism of U.S. efforts. In general, I believe that the Russians have a good understanding of WW2 as compared to Americans. I cannot back this assertion up with facts, just by a lifetime of watching U.S. made documentaries and comparing them to the few Russian made ones I have seen. I also have read numerous message board commentaries by Americans vs. a handful of Russians.

The Russian criticism seems to be that we sat on our hands and didn't get into the fight until 1944 when the outcome of the war was pretty much determined. My point is that the threat of U.S. invasion was pinning down German troops in Western Europe as early as 1942 and certainly by 1943.

At Kursk, I don't think there were any up gunned 76mm Sherman's as we only started making them in 1944 and we only produced a total of 10,000 of them. I don't know how many Shermans had at Kursk but it must have been a very small number. At Kursk, they made due with what they had. The majority of their tanks were the first model T34 which by then was outclassed by the German armor being fielded in that battle. To make things worse, about 30% of their tanks were T70's with the 45mm gun. The Sherman's 76mm gun was actually very good and was comparable to the T34/85 which was a significant improvement on the original T34 but was not introduced until 1944. At Kursk the Russians had a huge concentration of artillery, field guns, land mines, and tactical bombers with new mini-PTAB bomblets and they needed all of it; heck of a battle. Personally, I think the landing at Sicily had very little to do with their victory.

Chris Chuba

Amir, thanks for the links.
I don't trust the first one because it has some of the 'London Observatory' catch phrases, barrel bombs and bakeries. This may sound terrible but if I hear 'bakery' bombing I just discount the story. I mean how is a guy in a helicopter or Jet going to be able to consistently be able to spot and hit a bakery.

Now regarding your second link, much more interesting. I like how they break down the deaths by demographic category and seems a bit more plausible. If 77k civilians have died and 57k were men, I wonder how many of those men may have actually been armed rebels. I do wonder what the circumstances were regarding 'executions', especially since they claim that 127 children died in this manner as well as 14k men. I suppose that some of these deaths in opposition areas were perpetuated by non-govt entities like ISIS and other rebels.

YT

I thank you for your Foresight...

William R. Cumming

When did the P-51 become fully operational in Western Europe in WWII?

Am I correct that the Norden Bombsight in studies of effects of strategic bombing post WWII was concluded as largely inaccurate for a number of reasons?

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