Lot's of different pics of this sign.

Lot's of different pics of this sign.
"I don't make hell for nobody. I'm only the instrument of a laughing providence. Sometimes I don't like it myself, but I couldn't help it if I was born smart."

1st Sgt. Milton Anthony Warden.
"From here to Eternity"

Paul Valery

"You are in love with intelligence, until it frightens you. For your ideas are terrifying and your hearts are faint. Your acts of pity and cruelty are absurd, committed with no calm, as if they were irresistible. Finally, you fear blood more and more. Blood and time."

The Wisdom of the Ages

"When a young man, I read somewhere the following: God the Almighty said, 'All that is too complex is unnecessary, and it is simple that is needed',"

Mikhail Kalashnikov
"Here lies the bravest soldier I've seen since my mirror got grease on it."

Zapp Brannigan

Friday, February 02, 2007

The Day Germany Lost the War


A bit of revisionist history for all the America Firsters and Taxpayer Patriots (my personal perjorative for those rabidly nationalistic folks whose sole contribution to the common good consists of having taxes withheld from their pay...and then complaining about it. Not to fault their "Support the Troops" magnet on the Excursion though, not in the least).
Contrary to what the Madogre and others believe about America's "kicking Germany's ass", it was the Ruskies, sorry. Check the stats: Russian war dead - 20,000,000 (that's six zeroes, guys, 20 million), U.S. - Can't exactly recall, around 750,000 - 900,000). I read somewhere, and I wish I remembered where, that 80% of German Wehrmacht dead were killed in Russia, or at least ground that was included in the USSR, post war.
Anyway, on this date, February 2, 1943, Field Marshall (he'd been promoted two days earlier by the above nut on the left, with the reminder that "...no German Field Marshall has ever surrendered) Friedrich Paulus, commander of the mighty Sixth Army, surrendered the remainder of his forces, 110,000 total, including 24 generals. His Army had been encircled by twenty divisions of Soviet troops since late November and, thanks to the two brilliant Russian generals, January and February, as well as Hitler's monomania, had been reduced to eating sawdust and motor oil. One of Hitler's staff, in protest, had started eating the same caloric input as the Stalingrad troops. After he'd lost twenty pounds (in heated offices primarily, mind you) they told him to start eating and get back to work.
It had been the Sixth that had triumphantly chewed up and spit out France and the Low Countries two years before but then found itself in the middle of a pissing contest between the two most powerful, pathological and egomaniacal members of the Worldwide Silly Mustache Club. The Sixth's ultimate claim to fame ended up being that of the principle pawn in the largest military defeat in history.
At the conclusion, Hitler had lost 400,000 men at Stalingrad in what was, when all was said and done, an ego trip and chicken contest with his Soviet counterpart.
Now, just to be fair, America was there: in the form of boots, rations, Studebaker trucks (still remembered fondly, along with the humble Jeep, by Russians) and tanks, the only part of the Lend-Lease program the Russians were unhappy with. The Sherman was too high-profile to avoid being shot at and had too little track width to avoid sinking into the snow. However, the Soviet T34, the universally acknowledged "Best Tank of the War", had none of these deficiencies. The Soviets were cranking them out at an average rate of 2200 per month and the Stalingrad tractor works, formerly known as the Red October, was sending them out, with fuel and ammo, unpainted into the fight.
The Sherman...sorry. It's only saving grace was that it existed in abundance. The Germans in North Africa called them "Tommy Cookers" after their propensity to burst into flames whenever hit, thus burning the Brits (Tommies...get it?) inside. The ugly side to this joke is that "Tommy Cooker" was the name that those Tommies had used in reference to their, often improvised, trench stoves in the First War.

4 comments:

Stephen Renico said...

Dan,

You're quite right in that the Soviets' sacrifice is often overlooked. While the US may not have kicked as much ass on the European battlefield as the Soviets did, it was making one invaluable contribution long before D-Day: supplies. Without them, the Soviets would have lost.

I read once that we gave 8 million pairs of boots to the Soviets. Just boots, which the Soviets wouldn't otherwise have had. Something as innocuous as boots, if you think about it, can win or lose a war. It's quite fascinating in a geeky kind of way.

We also shipped the Soviets some 50,000 trucks during the war, which they used to haul troops all over the front. Trucks win wars. There were a host of other things coming into the Soviet Union, which their inept economy just couldn't make enough of: medical supplies, canned foot, tents, radios, etc.

A favorite saying in the Army is:
"Amateurs talk about tactics, but professionals study logistics." (Gen. Robert H. Barrow, USMC, 1980)

BTW, I'm not sure if you're familiar with the Battle of Kursk, but I personally think that one was more important than Stalingrad, as it virtually eliminated the bulk of the German tanks on the Eastern Front. My point of view is a tough sell, though, and I've only had a few people agree with me.

Stephen Renico said...

Almost forgot: that quote is also credited to Omar Bradley.

Phil said...

The Soviet economy as hardly 'inept', seeing how it had millions of workers producing thousands of tanks, planes and weapons. It was the Russian industrial boom of the 1920s-30s that saved them from being destryed by Germany's mechanised forces. They were easily outproducing pretty much all other nations by the end of the war, probably with the exception of the US (I don't know exact comparitive figures for this off the top of my head). You can hardly call an economy that outproduced the German Reich 'inept'.

Phil said...

You also have to take into account that at the height of its mobilisation, the USSR had to provide 12,000,000 men under arms with daily supplies in temperatures between -40 and -50 degrees centigrade, no mean feat for any economy.

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