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Childress

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  1. One might also fault Alexander's grand strategy; young and vigorous, he never thought of providing a successor. His death was unexpected but his style of warfare was risky to the nth, leading cavalry charges himself he was frequently wounded. Improvident? Ultimately, the vacancy at the top allowed his empire to disintegrate into a 40-year period of war and chaos. The power vacuum saw the murders of his mother, wives, and children, and the empire was eventually divided among his generals. Alexander's dynasty, if that was his goal,  never materialized. 

  2. Even if Napoleon had won the battle of Waterloo, he would've lost in the end;. Great Britain, Prussia, Russia, and Austria were gathering to crush him. It was a matter of numbers.

    Nevertheless, aside from grand strategy, he was supreme as a general on the field of battle.

    A clever fellow named Ethan Arsht had the interesting idea of applying baseball sabermetrics to the ranking of prominent generals. His system calculated the total wins added (or subtracted) by the player compared to a replacement-level player. He weighted a general’s numerical advantage or disadvantage compared to their adversary to better isolate the general’s ability as a tactician.

    "Napoleon is so far ahead of the normal distribution curve created by the data for these 6,000-plus generals, it’s not even close. After 43 battles, he has a WAR score of more than 16, which blows the competition away. There can be no question: Napoleon is the greatest tactical general of all time, and the math proves it."

    https://towardsdatascience.com/napoleon-was-the-best-general-ever-and-the-math-proves-it-86efed303eeb

    Ever seen "Moneyball"? This historian determined the 10 best generals in history. Guess who's number 1?

    https://www.wearethemighty.com/mighty-history/best-generals-ranked-by-statistics/

    Caesar was #2.

  3.  

    55 minutes ago, Erwin said:

    Well.... we do not have the same amount of historical data to know much about them other than in the broadest vaguest strokes.  

    We know a great deal about Alexander. Contemporaries wrote accounts of his life.  At his height, Napoleon was a worldwide celebrity; he exuded charisma. I submit that if the little emperor was reanimated more than a few of us fall at his feet, kill for him, and throw ourselves into battle at his nod. His mojo was that powerful.

     

  4. Debate: 

    Napoleon's military career presents a paradox. As a tactician, he was superb, perhaps unequaled, but in the field of strategy, he was prone to making incredibly gross blunders, such as the invasions of Spain and Russia. Doesn't a great commander strive above all to avoid disastrous errors? It's hard to second-guess such generals as Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, or Tamerlane who were never defeated. In the end, Napoleon's conquests proved ephemeral, he would leave the territory of France smaller than it was in 1789. Grand strategy just wasn't his strong suit.

     

  5. Not only did the Nuremberg commission administer IQ tests to the prisoners but also Rorschach tests, ten in all. They were asked to elaborate on what they saw. 

    0*KjaabX577YoNwuSe

    Frank (senior nazi): Those are my darling bears. They’re holding a bottle. Beautiful prima ballerina dancing in white dresses with red light shining from below.
    Rudolf Hess (Deputy Führer): Two men talking about a crime. Blood is on their mind.
    Hermann Göring (Hitler’s #2): [laughs] Those are two dancing figures, very clear, shoulder her and face there, clapping hands. [cuts off the bottom part with hand] Top red is head and hat; the face is partially white.
    https://historyofyesterday.com/the-resu ... a5e442f37c

    One of the psychologists that diagnosed Goering's Rorschach test remarked on his "emptiness of his being" and that when he reported the hat as red, it "indicates an emotional preoccupation with status." Quite a leap. It seems a better take on Goering's personality was offered in the 1970s by Joel Dimsdale (1), an American psychiatrist and  Holocaust researcher: "[Goering] was a chameleon in terms of shaping his behavior based on audience. He could be warm and charming, or brutal," 

    Were the tests worth it? The Rorschach assessments were never presented as evidence at Nuremberg. The tests of Nazi leaders were commingled with contemporary tests for mental patients and members of the clergy, and the experts could not distinguish the results for the Nazis from those of the clergy. Rorschach tests were en vogue at the time but are now little used, essentially a passing fad.

    1- Survivors, Victims, and Perpetrators: Essays on the Nazi Holocaust. 1980

  6. At Nuremberg, the International Military Tribunal was tasked to try the 24 most important players (1) in the 3rd Reich. As the weeks passed, the Tribunal sought convictions, but their members began to speculate on the prisoners' motivations. What drove them? Were the commandants of the death camps psychopaths or simply mentally ill? Or were they just ordinary men who made appalling decisions? Clearly, there was something fundamental that separated them from the rest of humanity.

    The defendants may have been morally twisted but it appears they were exceptionally intelligent.

    images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRNbBmAtLcr-VyR2ymsmIj4Loo4umzE0XmEEA&usqp=CAU
    Hjalmar Schacht

    With the aid of psychologists, the Tribunal submitted the prisoners to the Wechsler-Bellevue Intelligence Test, one of the premier IQ tests (2). A score above 128 was considered "superior", only 2% of the population scored in that range. The average score of the Germans was 128. The winner was Hjalmar Schacht at 141, Goering scored 138. The dummy on the list was Julius Streicher at 106, still above average according to the test.

    The psychologists gave the scores to the Nazis; they were delighted, it was a diversion from the constant boredom of solitary confinement. The men compared their results with their co-prisoners and argued good-naturedly over bragging rights. Franz von Papen (Score: 134) said that IQ testing was one of the most enjoyable moments of their captivity.

    Is there a lesson in there? One assumes that most great enterprises are- ipso facto- composed of smart and ambitious men (or women) in their higher echelons. But the cleavage between morality and intelligence was rarely so strikingly apparent as in the Nazi state.

    The list:
    http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/f ... dants.html

    (1) It turned out to be 22. Martin Bormann was tried in absentia and Robert Ley committed suicide within a week of the trial’s commencement.
    (2) The Nazis were very familiar with intelligence testing; the government authorized the murder of children with various mental deficiencies.

  7. Grant was 5'8, 2 inches above the average height of the time, and during the war, his weight was a svelte 130lbs. However, he was physically powerful; while working for his father-in-law in Galena neighbors were stunned to watch him toss 100lb burlap bags onto a wagon. Some other interesting factoids:
    *He was not especially studious at West Point and read a lot of novels available to him in the library. It was said of him that he never read a lesson over more than twice and did not actually "study" it. He excelled in mathematics.
    *In the heat of battle, when his staff officers were full of anxiety, Grant calmly smoked his cigar and never lost his composure. His nerves of steel were a wonder to all around him. He could write dispatches while shells burst around him and never flinch. 
    *Grant was very thin during the war, weighing only one hundred and thirty-five pounds. He was a very sparse eater. He abhorred red meat of any kind, and the sight of blood made him ill.
    *He had a superstition of retracing his steps.
    *Grant did not believe in holding formal councils of war. He felt that they "divided a responsibility that would at times prevent a unity of action." He listened to the advice of his staff, and then, upon reflection, made the final decision himself. No one knew of his decision until it was put into effect.
    *Grant was tone deaf and could not recognize any of the light airs of the time; military music was especially annoying to him.
    *During his lifetime General Grant suffered intense migraine headaches which were sometimes reported as bouts of drunkenness.
    *Reticence has long been associated with Ulysses Grant. Although he was an avid listener, in the relaxed company of friends, he could actually be a raconteur.
    https://libguides.css.edu/usgrant/home/upclose

  8. Grant joined the Sons of Temperance, a precursor of Alcoholic Anonymous.

    It seems that back then it was assumed that drunkenness was a male thing. 

    Re: The Civil War.

    Can we agree that the Confederacy was doomed from the start and the only factors that kept it alive for four years were enthusiasm and (at first) superior commanders? And despite Lee's (or Jubal Early's) invasion of the North, interior lines.

  9. I saw Lieut. Grant. He has altered very much: he is a short thick man with a beard reaching halfway down his waist and I fear he drinks too much but don't you say a word on that subject.
    -John Lowe, Grant's West Point classmate during the Mexico campaign.

    The genetic component of alcoholism these days is now considered settled science. Ulysses S. Grant's father was a teetotaler but his grandfather, Noah, was not. His drinking caused him to squander a comfortable estate and leave the youngest children to be adopted by neighbors. Grant's son was arrested by George Custer for chronic drunkenness during the Black Hills expedition in 1874. 

    It was during Grant's outstanding service in the Mexican War, a conflict punctuated by many long periods of inactivity and boredom, that Grant realized that he might have "a problem". After his marriage to Julia, in 1848, he was assigned as an officer at a post near Ontario. At that cold and isolated outpost he resorted to booze, but always self-aware he decided to quit altogether in 1851. He wrote Julia: "I have become convinced that there is no safety from ruin by liquor except by abstaining from it altogether." 

    Grant joined the Sons of Temperance, a precursor of Alcoholic Anonymous. It didn't last; his next military assignment to the Pacific Coast would break his solemn vow. His roommate: "I would hear him once or twice, sometimes more, open the door quietly and walk softly over the floor, so as not to disturb him; then I would hear the clink of the glass and a gurgle." Grant was forced to resign. 

    After his separation from the army, Grant returned to Missouri with Julia and their four children; they led a hardscrabble life. He sold firewood door-to-door and he was often compelled to borrow money from her slave-owning father, a humiliation, and he began again to resort to the bottle. But Grant's father came to his rescue; he proposed that he join his brothers' leather shop in Illinois. There he was able to pay off his debts to Julia's father and during that time it appears he was sober. Nevertheless, Grant felt unfulfilled and following Fort Sumter, he jumped at the chance to become a colonel in the 21st Illinois Volunteers. The rest is history.

    us+grant+colorized+crop.png

    Many historians assert that Grant’s penchant for binge drinking was kept in check by his teetotaler adjutant, Colonel John Rawlins, but rumors that he was intoxicated during and after battles swirled around him for most of the war. These rumors may be exaggerated, however, Grant did suffer occasional relapses although he would go cold turkey during very long periods. But a reporter from the Herald Tribune was stunned to find the General in a state of intoxication during the bloody battle of Shiloh in 1862. Also, there's strong evidence that during the siege of Vicksburg- a tedious, long drawn out affair- he occasionally fell off the wagon. (1) 

    Grant was never a mean or obnoxious drunk but, in the words of the historian, Ron Chernow, liquor reduced him to a “babbling, childlike state", something that unnerved his lieutenants during his rare lapses while prosecuting the war. They also observed that after one glass of liquor, Grant's speech would become slurred and two or three would make him stupid. Their strong reservations about the General reached the unperturbed Lincoln who remarked  “Tell them you’re going to find out what brand he drinks, and then send a case to all your other generals." (2)  

    SUMMARY

    The preponderance of evidence tells us that Grant was an alcoholic, albeit a functioning one. In the 19th century, most people drank far more than today; Americans over the age of 15 consumed on average seven gallons of alcohol — generally whiskey or hard cider — each year. (3) However, at headquarters, officers were expected to hold their liquor. Grant couldn't and he knew it, when the craving came upon him he would imbibe alone,

    Today we understand that alcoholism is a disease. One of the most frustrating factors in dealing with alcoholism is it is almost always accompanied by a phenomenon known as denial—a refusal to admit the truth or reality of the condition. Grant was an exception to that rule, he was fully aware of his devil within thus his successful career may be attributed to pure will.
     
    1- But Grant had a critical asset, his wife, Julia, who with his oldest son were often present at headquarters. With her, he stayed sober.
    2- Another version: “for if it made fighting generals like Grant, I should like to get some of it for distribution.”
    3- (lost link)

  10. Last month, February 6, was the birthday of Eva Braun; it passed unnoticed. The Braun family might have celebrated but their members are extinct; Eva's father died in 1964 and the final member, Gretl, died in 1987. She had named her daughter Eva, in honor of her sister, who was born on the very day of the Nazi capitulation. That Eva committed suicide in 1975 after her boyfriend was killed in a car accident. The star-crossed family leaves one with a sense of futility, all that drama and turbulence gone like a brief summer breeze.

    eva.0.braun

    Eva Braun was born in 1912 into a lower-middle-class Bavarian family and she was educated in Catholic schools. Her grades were mediocre but she excelled in sports; swimming and skiing. In 1929 she was employed as a saleswoman and model in the shop of Heinrich Hoffman, Hitler’s photographer, and in this way met the rising politician. Eva was not initially impressed, she confided to a sister calling him "a gentleman of a certain age [Hitler was 23 years older]  with a funny mustache and carrying a big felt hat.” But Hitler, a constant visitor to the shop, was persistent, showering her effusive compliments. She surrendered. After the controversial death of Geli Raubal, Hitler’s niece, Eva became his mistress, living in his Munich flat and trying acting despite the fierce opposition of her father. In 1936, Hitler decided to move her to the Berghof on the Obersalzberg, concerned about her stability; the year before, suspecting female rivals, she had made a second suicide attempt. There she remained until the Bunker and Götterdämmerung.

    Goodness is as banal as evil and may exist in the most unlikely people: even Hitler's mistress.
    -Angela Lambert

    At the Berghof Eva acted as a hostess; she was gracious with the constant guests and kind to the help. Although an ardent proponent of German victory, she never joined the Nazi party and no one heard her utter an anti-Semitic word. (1) She shared with Hitler a love of dogs. Eva was a prolific photographer; her folksy home movies at the Berghof have left us rich historical documents. 

    But, the frivolity... Eva spent most of her time exercising, brooding, reading cheap novelettes, watching romantic films, or concerning herself with her own appearance, particularly her weight. She was addicted to fashion and changed her clothes several times a day. Needy, she obsessed over Hitler's attentions or lack thereof; Dr Morell claimed that she asked her to give Hitler drugs to boost his sexual appetite. In her diary, Eva boasted "I am the mistress of the greatest man in Germany and in the world." However, she resented that they rarely appeared in public together and that few Germans even knew of her existence. 

     According to Albert Speer's memoirs, Eva approached Hitler in "high indignation"; Hitler quietly instructed Speer, who was armaments minister at the time, to allow limited availability of women's cosmetics and luxuries rather than instituting an outright ban, Speer later said, "Eva Braun will prove a great disappointment to historians."

    Eva had her other moments of defiance. She was the only person who would dare to declare, “I’m going to bed!” during one of Hitler’s endless nighttime monologues. And she made it clear that she was repelled by his vegetarian diet. "I can't eat that stuff". 

    Was Eva a victim of Hitler's manipulative, Svengali-like wiles? It seems she was carefully selected and groomed by him as a symbol of unthreatening and devoted (and blond) German womanhood. The extent of their sexual life is veiled in mystery. There is no doubt that she would have had led an entirely different, and probably happier, life if the meeting in the photography shop had never happened.

    As the Reich began to crumble in late 1944, she invited her cousin Gertraud Weisker to visit her at the Berghof. Decades later, Weisker recalled that although women in the Third Reich were expected not to wear make-up, drink, or smoke, Braun did all of these things. "She was the unhappiest woman I have ever met," 

    Eva Braun's diary:
    https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/eva-braun-s-diary

    1- There is some controversy over Braun's awareness of the Holocaust

  11. On 2/23/2021 at 2:40 AM, Bulletpoint said:

    Dramatic, but how is this related to general discussion about Combat Mission?

    You're right, not at all. I've posted, from time to time, several essays on the General Discussion forum (there's another?) without kickback; the goal is simply diversion, this is a well educated group here whose nicks are familiar- I'm an owner of CM1. These essays are derived on various history-themed sites where I post. Continue or not? 

  12. I wrote my law dissertation on this case!

    What a coincidence! During the research, I seem to recall that the sailors did- briefly- consider drawing lots. Of course, there we no proof that they did. All in all, it's a fascinating case.

    When the time came to draw straws it was evident that young Richard Parker was close to death. The hard choice was made to kill Parker to eat his flesh. Rescued a few days later, the men did not hide the fact that they had eaten their comrade, thinking they were within the custom. When they reached England, however, they were tried for murder. By not drawing straws they had violated the law.- Ocean Navigator

    The Mignonette puzzle: The English sailors' ordeal lasted from July 5 to July 29, that's not an enormous slice of time. One reads of similar events that lasted over months. They were able to capture and consume a sea turtle, a rather large reptile; they feasted on it for a week. Of course, the absence of water was a critical factor but they did drink the turtle's blood.

    The name Richard Parker has occurred twice in literature. First in an 1838 tale of Edgar Allan Poe that, creepily, prefigured the fate of the Mignonette. Similar to the fate of Mignonette, his sailors consumed the rationed remains of a turtle and drew lots to be the sacrificial victim- Parker lost. At the time Poe was in desperate financial straits and the response to his- hastily written- novel was, for the most part, ill-received. Critics noted nautical inaccuracies but later some credited the novel as an inspiration for Moby Dick.

    In a deliberate twist by author Yann Martel, the hero and a Bengal tiger are set adrift in a lifeboat in his best-selling book The Life of Pi. Martel named the tiger Richard Parker after the unfortunate cabin boy. Martel's 2012 tale resulted in eleven Academy Awards.

     

     

  13. A minor mystery remains with the three English sailors. Why not lie? Why not simply tell the authorities that they tossed the dead Parker over the starboard side intact and uneaten? With endless time on their hands, they could easily concoct a convincing scenario; there was, of course, no evidence. The men would clasp hands and make a solemn oath never to reveal to the truth.
    Would it work? Probably, but some inhibiting factors:
    1- The sailors never expected prosecution having trusted- wrongly- in the 'custom of the sea'.
    2- The strict, Victorian morality of the era
    3- Their evident religious faith.

  14. The three English sailors were not alone in resorting to cannibalism by necessity. The Donner Party indulged as well.

    As their supplies dwindled, the Donner emigrants stranded at Truckee Lake resorted to eating increasingly grotesque meals. They slaughtered their pack animals, cooked their dogs, gnawed on leftover bones and even boiled the animal hide roofs of their cabins into a foul paste. Several people died from malnutrition, but the rest managed to subsist on morsels of boiled leather and tree bark until rescue parties arrived in February and March 1847. Not all of the settlers were strong enough to escape, however, and those left behind were forced to cannibalize the frozen corpses of their comrades while waiting for further help. All told, roughly half of the Donner Party’s survivors eventually resorted to eating human flesh.
    -History.com

    And more recently, in 1972, the plane crash of the Uruguayan rugby team. A survivor: '‘I will never forget that first incision’. ;)
    https://www.nationalgeographic.com/news ... gbooktalk/

    However, in both cases, they reserved their victims for the already dead unlike the crew of the Mignonette.

  15. In 1844, an Australian lawyer hired four Englishmen to sail his aging yacht, the Mignonette, back to his home in Sydney. That contract would inadvertently secure the fates of four men: Thomas Dudley, Edwin Stephens, Edmund Brooks, and Richard Parker. Dudley was the captain and an experienced seaman. Parker, the cabin boy, was an orphan of seventeen.

    The four sailed the yacht around the Cape of Good Hope without a hitch until, following a night storm, a rogue wave compromised the upper deck (the lee bulwark). Dudley instantly realized the 52-foot cruiser was doomed. Frantic, he and his crew were able to grab a few navigational instruments along with two tins of turnips, but no freshwater. They lowered the rickety lifeboat and escaped. Within five minutes the Mignonette disappeared under the waves. 

    It was July 5.

    They were 700 miles away from the nearest land (Saint Helena). On the first night, the crew had to fight off a shark using the oars. The days passed and Dudley carefully allotted the turnips among the men, realizing water would pose a problem. Meanwhile, they grew increasingly feeble. But they caught a piece of luck; Brooks was able to drag a sea turtle onto the lifeboat and the crew feasted on the reptile for several days, drinking its blood and consuming the bones. But by July 17 starvation returned, the turnips were long gone. Thirst was becoming acute; they were unable to catch rainwater and the men resorted to drinking their own urine. Their gaze began to linger on the semi-comatose (1) form of Parker, the cabin boy.

    Dudley reluctantly proposed making Parker their sacrificial lamb;  he pointed out that both he and Stephens had wives and families, while the Parker boy was an orphan with no connections. His idea caused bitter controversy among the men but by July 21, starved and dehydrated, they gave in. After saying a prayer, Dudley cut open Parker's jugular vein; as with the sea turtle, they sucked his blood and devoured his flesh. Eight days later the crew hailed a passing ship and were rescued.

    THE TRIAL

    I can assure you I shall never forget the sight of my two unfortunate companions over that ghastly meal. We all was like mad wolfs who should get the most, and for men—fathers of children—to commit such a deed, we could not have our right reason.
    -Thomas Dudley

    200px-Sir_William_Harcourt.jpg
    Sir William Harcourt

    In Victorian England, their legal case became a cause célèbre. On arrival in Falmouth, the crew made their dispositions, believing the events were protected by the venerable custom of the sea'; a  rare proceeding in which men draw lots to decide who gets sacrificed for food so that his mates might survive. (2) It was not to be; the magistrates refused to dismiss the charges and the formidable prosecutor, Sir William Harcourt, took the case. However, public opinion- a relatively new phenomenon- was turning against the courts believing the charges were excessive, if not inhumane; the survivors’ tale had elicited the people's sympathy. The trial was re-adjourned.

    But Harcourt was revolted by the public's sentiment and became even more intent on a conviction.  Ultimately, the two principals, Dudley and Stephens, were convicted of murder, though they were not the first seamen to resort to cannibalism. Eventually, all three defendants would be jailed for six months, given the era, a slap on the wrist.

    1-Possibly induced by drinking seawater
    2-However, that proceeding was contingent on the victim's death. Before the deed, Parker was still technically alive, as the honest seamen admitted. Hence, the murder charge.

    THE TWILIGHT ZONE?

    images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQaVpUybnbtpWvtbf-zPvOiMe0nJqDqU9jVXg&usqp=CAU

    An extremely strange coincidence, the tale of Richard Parker has a literary connection. Years before The Mignonette ever set sail, Edgar Allan Poe wrote an 1838 short-story where a character, by the name of Richard Parker, is eaten by fellow stranded sailors after hunger sets in.

  16. In the early 20th century German science was in full ebullition, notably in physics. The most famous among the gifted was, of course, Albert Einstein but other men were also collecting Nobels, notably among them Max Planck and Werner Heisenberg. These two altered our conception of the physical world and both would be inextricably tied to the 3rd Reich- with different outcomes.

    MAX PLANCK (1858-1947)

    In 1900, Planck shook the scientific world with his bold hypothesis that radiant energy (i.e., light waves) is not emitted in a continuous flow, but rather consists of small chunks, which he called quanta. At first most physicists regarded the hypothesis as a convenient mathematical fiction, but it turned out that Planck’s concept could be applied to various phenomena. Later both Einstein and Niels Bohr used it, the first to explain the photoelectric effect and the second was used in the theory of atomic structure. Planck had discovered quantum mechanics and was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1913.

    1200px-Max_Planck_1933.jpg

    Planck never again reached such ethereal heights. Nevertheless, he continued to contribute at a high level to various branches of optics, thermodynamics, and other fields. He presided over several scientific societies and in his later years, devoted more and more of his writings to philosophical, aesthetic, and religious questions. Among younger scientists Planck exerted a moral force; his fairness, integrity, and wisdom were beyond question. 

    Planck was already over 80 when WW2 broke out in 1939 and five years later his Berlin home was destroyed by Allied bombers. He was never a Nazi supporter- just the opposite- nor was his youngest son, Erwin, who became implicated in the 20 July Plot on Hitler’s life. He was arrested and his father sent Hitler a (recently discovered) anguished letter:

    My Führer!
    I am most deeply shaken by the message that my son Erwin has been sentenced to death by the People’s Court.
    The acknowledgment for my achievements in service of our fatherland, which you, my Führer, have expressed towards me in repeated and most honoring way, makes me confident that you will lend your ear to an imploring 87-year old.
    As the gratitude of the German people for my life’s work, which has become an everlasting intellectual wealth of Germany, I am pleading for my son’s life.
    Max Planck

    But the Reich Chancellery remained silent and in January 1945 Erwin’s death sentence was carried out by the Gestapo. It appears he was hanged ‘cattle-style’, a slow-motion torture, the victim raised off blocks by piano wire tightened around the neck. The merciless act destroyed Planck’s will to live; he died in 1947 at age 89. A fellow physicist commented that his end came to him ‘as a redemption’.

    WERNER HEISENBERG (1901-1976)

    An expert is someone who knows some of the worst mistakes that can be made in his subject, and how to avoid them.
    -Heisenberg

    Werner Heisenberg was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1933 for his role in the further refinements of quantum mechanics, the fundamental branch of physics that Planck pioneered. Heisenberg conceived the ‘uncertainty principle’ that ensures that the future behavior of that system can never be completely predicted. This was a profound change; Einstein would never accept it saying ‘God does not play dice with the universe’. However, most modern scientists have felt it necessary to adapt; practical applications such as microscopes, lasers, and transistors followed. More sinister, given Heisenberg’s later career,  it also had applications in nuclear physics and atomic energy.

    werner-heisenberg-1.jpg?w=214&h=294

    In his early years, Heisenberg was something of an idealist, joining the youth group similar to the Boy  Scouts called the Pathfinders. ‘I never thought that I could interest myself in politics,’ he wrote to a Pathfinder friend in 1923, ‘because it seemed to me to be a pure money business.’

    The same year that Heisenberg was awarded a Nobel Prize also saw the rise to power of the Nazi party. The result was that many academics and professors, deemed unreliable by ‘race’ or political concerns, were expelled from their positions. However, many German scientists, including Heisenberg, resolved to work within the system trusting that ‘Aryan physics’ would be a transitory phenomenon. And Heisenberg was a patriot; prior to the war, he declined generous offers from several American universities.

    The most lasting controversy that swirls around Heisenberg was the German nuclear program, such as it was. The outbreak of war in 1939, he was drafted into Germany's secret effort to perfect an atomic bomb and Heisenberg soon became the scientific head. He worked hard on the atomic project with a relatively small team but was pessimistic from the start. Heisenberg told Nazi officials it would take wartime Germany too long to learn how to make the needed quantities of the key bomb material, uranium 235 (he was wrong on that, German stocks were sufficient). He added, that US had devoted ten thousand times more resources to the project than Germany. 

    In the final days of the war, an Allied counterintelligence unit discovered the last intact nuclear facility in Haigerloch, Germany. The prize: a nuclear laboratory complete with a test reactor and Heisenberg's office with his copious notes. American agents dredged ****-stained documents from a watertight drum the German scientists had sunk in a cesspool;  these made clear that the Germans were far from developing a workable bomb. Did the noble Heisenberg stall the operation deliberately, a gift to humanity?

     Not so fast.  

    Following the war, ten German nuclear scientists were interned at Farms Hill in England, Heisenberg prominent among them. Their conversations were bugged:

    Diebner: I wonder whether there are microphones installed here?
    Heisenberg: Microphones installed? (laughing) Oh no, they're not as cute as all that. They know the real Gestapo methods; they're a bit old fashioned in that respect. 

     The scientists were stunned that the Americans had successfully detonated an atomic bomb at Hiroshima. Some of the scientists indicated that they were glad that they had not been able to build a nuclear bomb for Adolf Hitler, while others more sympathetic to the Nazi party were dismayed at having failed. The tapes revealed that Heisenberg was clearly dismayed by the failure of the operation.

    Heisenberg’s later life was busy and rewarding, welcomed on the lecture circuit in both Germany and Britain. He took a principled stand against the Federal Republic’s arming itself with nukes. He died in 1975, leaving his eight children. (Planck had six)

  17. In the early 20th century German science was in full ebullition, notably in physics. The most famous among the gifted was, of course, Albert Einstein but other men were also collecting Nobels, notably among them Max Planck and Werner Heisenberg. These two altered our conception of the physical world and both would be inextricably tied to the 3rd Reich- with different outcomes.

    MAX PLANCK (1858-1947)

    In 1900, Planck shook the scientific world with his bold hypothesis that radiant energy (i.e., light waves) is not emitted in a continuous flow, but rather consists of small chunks, which he called quanta. At first most physicists regarded the hypothesis as a convenient mathematical fiction, but it turned out that Planck’s concept could be applied to various phenomena. Later both Einstein and Niels Bohr used it, the first to explain the photoelectric effect and the second was used in the theory of atomic structure. Planck had discovered quantum mechanics and was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1913.

    1200px-Max_Planck_1933.jpg

    Planck never again reached such ethereal heights. Nevertheless, he continued to contribute at a high level to various branches of optics, thermodynamics, and other fields. He presided over several scientific societies and in his later years, devoted more and more of his writings to philosophical, aesthetic, and religious questions. Among younger scientists Planck exerted a moral force; his fairness, integrity, and wisdom were beyond question. 

    Planck was already over 80 when WW2 broke out in 1939 and five years later his Berlin home was destroyed by Allied bombers. He was never a Nazi supporter- just the opposite- nor was his youngest son, Erwin, who became implicated in the 20 July Plot on Hitler’s life. He was arrested and his father sent Hitler a (recently discovered) anguished letter:

    My Führer!
    I am most deeply shaken by the message that my son Erwin has been sentenced to death by the People’s Court.
    The acknowledgment for my achievements in service of our fatherland, which you, my Führer, have expressed towards me in repeated and most honoring way, makes me confident that you will lend your ear to an imploring 87-year old.
    As the gratitude of the German people for my life’s work, which has become an everlasting intellectual wealth of Germany, I am pleading for my son’s life.
    Max Planck

    But the Reich Chancellery remained silent and in January 1945 Erwin’s death sentence was carried out by the Gestapo. It appears he was hanged ‘cattle-style’, a slow-motion torture, the victim raised off blocks by piano wire tightened around the neck. The merciless act destroyed Planck’s will to live; he died in 1947 at age 89. A fellow physicist commented that his end came to him ‘as a redemption’.

    WERNER HEISENBERG (1901-1976)

    An expert is someone who knows some of the worst mistakes that can be made in his subject, and how to avoid them.
    -Heisenberg

    Werner Heisenberg was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1933 for his role in the further refinements of quantum mechanics, the fundamental branch of physics that Planck pioneered. Heisenberg conceived the ‘uncertainty principle’ that ensures that the future behavior of that system can never be completely predicted. This was a profound change; Einstein would never accept it saying ‘God does not play dice with the universe’. However, most modern scientists have felt it necessary to adapt; practical applications such as microscopes, lasers, and transistors followed. More sinister, given Heisenberg’s later career,  it also had applications in nuclear physics and atomic energy.

    werner-heisenberg-1.jpg?w=214&h=294

    In his early years, Heisenberg was something of an idealist, joining the youth group similar to the Boy  Scouts called the Pathfinders. ‘I never thought that I could interest myself in politics,’ he wrote to a Pathfinder friend in 1923, ‘because it seemed to me to be a pure money business.’

    The same year that Heisenberg was awarded a Nobel Prize also saw the rise to power of the Nazi party. The result was that many academics and professors, deemed unreliable by ‘race’ or political concerns, were expelled from their positions. However, many German scientists, including Heisenberg, resolved to work within the system trusting that ‘Aryan physics’ would be a transitory phenomenon. And Heisenberg was a patriot; prior to the war, he declined generous offers from several American universities.

    The most lasting controversy that swirls around Heisenberg was the German nuclear program, such as it was. The outbreak of war in 1939, he was drafted into Germany's secret effort to perfect an atomic bomb and Heisenberg soon became the scientific head. He worked hard on the atomic project with a relatively small team but was pessimistic from the start. Heisenberg told Nazi officials it would take wartime Germany too long to learn how to make the needed quantities of the key bomb material, uranium 235 (he was wrong on that, German stocks were sufficient). He added, that US had devoted ten thousand times more resources to the project than Germany. 

    In the final days of the war, an Allied counterintelligence unit discovered the last intact nuclear facility in Haigerloch, Germany. The prize: a nuclear laboratory complete with a test reactor and Heisenberg's office with his copious notes. American agents dredged ****-stained documents from a watertight drum the German scientists had sunk in a cesspool;  these made clear that the Germans were far from developing a workable bomb. Did the noble Heisenberg stall the operation deliberately, a gift to humanity?

     Not so fast.  

    Following the war, ten German nuclear scientists were interned at Farms Hill in England, Heisenberg prominent among them. Their conversations were bugged:

    Diebner: I wonder whether there are microphones installed here?
    Heisenberg: Microphones installed? (laughing) Oh no, they're not as cute as all that. They know the real Gestapo methods; they're a bit old fashioned in that respect. 

     The scientists were stunned that the Americans had successfully detonated an atomic bomb at Hiroshima. Some of the scientists indicated that they were glad that they had not been able to build a nuclear bomb for Adolf Hitler, while others more sympathetic to the Nazi party were dismayed at having failed. The tapes revealed that Heisenberg was clearly dismayed by the failure of the operation.

    Heisenberg’s later life was busy and rewarding, welcomed on the lecture circuit in both Germany and Britain. He took a principled stand against the Federal Republic’s arming itself with nukes. He died in 1975, leaving his eight children. (Planck had six)

  18. ...he was going to lose anyway.

    Yes. With a quarter-million Germans and Russians- and more to follow- closing in the writing was on the wall. In retrospect, Napoleon's  (arguable) near-miss at Waterloo was the very best outcome for his legend. He can bid adieu to his weeping grognards while French historians sharpen their pens concocting their 'might-have-been' scenarios. 
    If only....

  19. Napoleon fought more than 70 battles, winning all but only seven, mostly at the end.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_ ... ular%20War.

    First-hand descriptions of Napoleon by his contemporaries:
    https://www.napoleon-series.org/researc ... ption.html

    An excerpt:
    He dictated while walking to and fro in his cabinet. When he grew angry he would use violent imprecations, which were suppressed in writing and which had, at least, the advantage of giving the writer time to catch up with him. He never repeated anything that he had once said, even if it had not been heard; and this was very hard on the poor secretary, for Bonaparte remembered accurately what he had said and detected every omission. . . . He always derived amusement from causing anyone uneasiness and distress. His great general principle, which he applied to everything, both great and small, was that there could be no zeal where there was no disquietude. . . .

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