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Operation Barbarossa Ever Winnable?


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1 hour ago, danfrodo said:

Earlier someone mentioned Churchill's Greece disaster was actually good.  While it did spur germans to send troops to greece, and possibly delayed Barbarossa, I think we can't really credit Churchill for an absolute disaster of a decision because of a completely unintended side effect.  Another side effect of Greece was that Brits did not have the resources to finish the job in N Africa, leading to another couple years of fighting there when they could've been put to other uses.  The divisions sent to Greece were pulled directly from N Africa, ending offensive operations there. 

In his book 'The Phoney Victory' Peter Hitchens makes a convincing case that Churchill did send troops to Greece and North Africa, while the defence of Malaya/Singapore was neglected. Churchill also did send hundreds of fighters and tanks to the Russians, that could have saved Malaya/Singapore. Don't forget Singapore was an even greater disaster than Greece.

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Never thought of that before, Aragorn, excellent observations.  I know that Churchill is considered a god by many, and he did make some war-changing, war-winning decisions.  But he also made a lot of really stupid, short sighted amateur orders that his generals and advisors strongly opposed, that ended poorly.  Like Greece. 

He pushed hard for Anzio (a good idea if probably resourced) but refused to listen when told that the forces allocated were much too weak to accomplish the mission. And when Anzio got stuck (and was in danger of utter disaster), exactly as predicted, he loudly blamed all the commanders that told him it would probably fail due to lack of adequate resources.

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Am not some sort of Churchill (or Montgomery) fanatic, but it's a bit unfair that we have the luxury of viewing historical events and the ability to 2nd guess and criticize. 

We can discuss that Hitler was incompetent, Mussolini an idiot, Tojo and Hirohito destroyed their own nation.  Stalin was a butcher who made terrible mistakes. 

But, who will get torn down next?  Roosevelt for his incredible naivete?  Patton for his carelessness for his troops' lives?  Eisenhower and Marshall for...?  

If we are going to tear down all the leaders that are considered "great" by history, then who is left?  Who gets any credit for anything?

Edited by Erwin
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2 hours ago, Erwin said:

Am not some sort of Churchill (or Montgomery) fanatic, but it's a bit unfair that we have the luxury of viewing historical events and the ability to 2nd guess and criticize. 

We can discuss that Hitler was incompetent, Mussolini an idiot, Tojo and Hirohito destroyed their own nation.  Stalin was a butcher who made terrible mistakes. 

But, who will get torn down next?  Roosevelt for his incredible naivete?  Patton for his carelessness for his troops' lives?  Eisenhower and Marshall for...?  

If we are going to tear down all the leaders that are considered "great" by history, then who is left?  Who gets any credit for anything?

Perhaps the little men, who had no choice but to do what the 'great' men told them to do.

Roosevelt was surrounded by communist traitors and delivered hundreds of millions into the claws of Stalin's and Mao's butchers without any hesitation. He also made sure the British, who bore the brunt of the fighting in Western Europe, came out of the war completly impoverished, so the US could take over their position as world leader. Roosevelt also missed no opportunity to humiliate Churchill and take as much British gold and assets as he could lay his hands on. Does such a president deserve the title of 'great man'? Couldn't he have done a lot more to leave behind a better world after his death in 1945? I very much think so. A man like Truman would have done a lot better. Same as Chamberlain would have done a lot better than Churchill, despite the bad press the left still gives him. 

I like Patton though. Rude, but honest. But that probably also cost him his life. 

There are so many new and well documented books, written by excellent, honest and respectable (mostly British and American) historians that there's no excuse to hold on to all those old fairy tales about great men anymore. I would be happy to recommend a list of such books, which will convince any objective reader.

It won't convince certain people on this forum though, because it's not the truth they are interested in.

 

 

 

Edited by Aragorn2002
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Hey Erwin, I'm not saying Churchill was an idiot, or trying to tear him down.  I am just trying to balance out the narrative that one sees in endless movies and books that worship Churchill like some kind of god.  I stated that he made some great decisions.  And I stated that he made some really bad decisions. 

I would also say that bankrupting the Brits was not some communist scheme,  but one of clever US financiers who got richer by cleverly demanding financial sacrifices by the Brits.  The commies did other stuff.

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6 hours ago, danfrodo said:

Earlier someone mentioned Churchill's Greece disaster was actually good.  While it did spur germans to send troops to greece, and possibly delayed Barbarossa, I think we can't really credit Churchill for an absolute disaster of a decision because of a completely unintended side effect.  Another side effect of Greece was that Brits did not have the resources to finish the job in N Africa, leading to another couple years of fighting there when they could've been put to other uses.  The divisions sent to Greece were pulled directly from N Africa, ending offensive operations there. 

Yeah that was me.

I wouldn't argue that Churchill was a great military planner, but he was a great political leader; and he understood the fundamental truth that many military planners fail to, which is that you win wars by taking the fight to the enemy. 'He fights', as the man said.

Churchill's objective in Greece wasn't to secure Greece, but to strike at the Nazis however he could. Securing Greece failed completely; striking at the Nazis simply served to delay their invasion of the USSR by six weeks, at great cost; and it led to an uprising in Yugoslavia.

However those 6 weeks of good weather - in a 1941 campaign of only about 24 weeks, interrupted by mud and freezing weather - made a huge difference.

Similarly with the Italian campaign, with all its many failures and setbacks - it took the fight to the enemy, and hitting your enemy hurts him, which has consequences that may not be foreseen or even observed.

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2 hours ago, Aragorn2002 said:

A man like Truman would have done a lot better. Same as Chamberlain would have done a lot better than Churchill, despite the bad press the left still gives him. 

However, based on their actual performance there seems little reason to suppose they would have done a better job.  They were not inspirational leaders. 

For all his faults, Churchill was the only prominent personality who accurately predicted the future re Hitler for almost 20 years while being simultaneously disparaged and humiliated by most of his colleagues.  Most of us would have given up and gone home to a quiet life.  But, Churchill maintained his position and ended up being the right man to emerge at the right time.  Lord Halifax was Churchill's main rival and he is the one to look at for comparison.

Your comments on what Roosevelt did to GB may be valid.  However, his job as President of the US was to enhance the US, and in that respect he did a great job.  Globalization and the concept that all leaders and nations must somehow be responsible for other nations and peoples has been a disaster for the "little men" that you mentioned. 

Humans have been around for something like 60,000 years and are tribal.  A couple of generations of political correctness and 1984-type thought police will not change things that take hundreds of generations and many thousands of years of evolution/selective breeding to change.  

 

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8 hours ago, Probus said:

We can't see your video clip @Warts 'n' all.  Hopefully it was appropriate for this age group. 

I'm not sure who "we" are. And I have no idea which age group you belong to. But, when the album was released in Limeyland it didn't need a "Parental Advisory" sticker on it. Perhaps mummy has put a lock on your internet account without telling you.

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3 hours ago, Aragorn2002 said:

 He also made sure the British, who bore the brunt of the fighting in Western Europe, came out of the war completly impoverished, so the US could take over their position as world leader.... I very much think so. A man like Truman would have done a lot better. ....  Same as Chamberlain would have done a lot better than Churchill, despite the bad press the left still gives him. 

Us Limeys couldn't have fought the war without Roosevelt's contribution because WW1 coupled with going back on the "Gold Standard" in the early 1920s had left us "impoverished". Without FDR Mad Addy would have pissed all over us.

As for "I very much think so" well you need to think a bit harder don't you son?

In what way would Truman "have done a lot better"? Where's your evidence? 

As for Birmingham Neville, he was a big a plonker as his dad. If it hadn't have been for Attlee and Greenwood defeating his and Halifax's plans to shaft Churchill after Dunkirk, we would have thrown in the towel.

And that is coming from someone who thinks that both Winnie and Frank were a tad right wing. 

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The main issue I take with the criticism regarding Churchill's decision to support the Greeks in their struggle is that they are all purely military criticisms. Churchill wasn't a purely military leader (indeed, constitutionally, he wouldn't be much of one at all in any other circumstance other than total war). 

It was an excellent political decision, and arguably a morally sublime one. The United Kingdom was functionally alone at that point, Western Betrayal sentiments were just beginning to really solidify in Poland and Czechoslovakia, and there had hitherto appeared to be no way to get at the Germans on the continent since being bounced off it in 1940. Intervention in Greece showed that the UK was still very much willing to fight against the odds. Crucially, it demonstrated that it wouldn't further abandon anyone who sought to resist Fascism and Nazism. The decision may have made Wavell despair but it certainly would have been a trumpet blast to occupied Europe, and the Americans, that the British were willing to not only defend themselves on their island, but to seek active decision with the enemy. In short, there were political considerations, very good ones. 

Goodness knows there's a lot to criticise Churchill for, the man was far from a saint. I just don't think most of the grounds for criticism are related to his leadership during WWII. From a top-down perspective he did precisely what was necessary to carry his country through the conflict, and it must be said, quite a few other governments-in-exile. Any further analysis is nitpicking best left to academics with more letters behind their names than myself. 

Edited by Rinaldi
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War and politics, war is foreign policy by different means. Greece is close to Turkey and Turkey was on the Axis side during WW1 and Istanbul is the gateway to the Black Sea. On the other side of the Black Sea is oil and lots of it and it belongs to the Soviet Union. Imagine Turkey on the axis side once again and letting German troops in. The way to the Caucuses is a lot shorter than to Berlin. The Eastern Mediterranean is ignored by war historians, but it was vital. 

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34 minutes ago, chuckdyke said:

War and politics, war is foreign policy by different means. Greece is close to Turkey and Turkey was on the Axis side during WW1 and Istanbul is the gateway to the Black Sea. On the other side of the Black Sea is oil and lots of it and it belongs to the Soviet Union. Imagine Turkey on the axis side once again and letting German troops in. The way to the Caucuses is a lot shorter than to Berlin. The Eastern Mediterranean is ignored by war historians, but it was vital. 

I seem to recall that i've read that Turkey was a logistical nightmare due to its terrain and lack of railroads.

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1 hour ago, Glubokii Boy said:

I seem to recall that i've read that Turkey was a logistical nightmare

The European section is OK and it is the entrance to the Black Sea. That's where Churchill's adventure during WW1 took place. 

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1 hour ago, Benjamin Ritchie-Hook said:

And given that everyone else at the time seemed to be folding like a cheap deck chair,

Who could predict in 1940 that a year later the US and the USSR would fight on the side of the British Commonwealth? Britain and France were the two superpowers after the armistice in 1918 after 1945 they were, has beens. All part and parcel of the implosion of Europe in the 20th century.

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6 hours ago, Benjamin Ritchie-Hook said:

We'd never have won the war if we just sat back in blighty flicking peanuts at the hun - as a man who'd been to war, old Winnie understood this. And given that everyone else at the time seemed to be folding like a cheap deck chair, what else could he have done?

Let Hitler and Stalin get at each other's throat and preferably slaughter each other, re-arm the British (and French) forces both in Europe and Asia and do more to prevent the mass murder of the European jews (and give them their homeland as promised during ww1). 

Edited by Aragorn2002
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23 hours ago, Rinaldi said:

The main issue I take with the criticism regarding Churchill's decision to support the Greeks in their struggle is that they are all purely military criticisms. Churchill wasn't a purely military leader (indeed, constitutionally, he wouldn't be much of one at all in any other circumstance other than total war). 

It was an excellent political decision, and arguably a morally sublime one. The United Kingdom was functionally alone at that point, Western Betrayal sentiments were just beginning to really solidify in Poland and Czechoslovakia, and there had hitherto appeared to be no way to get at the Germans on the continent since being bounced off it in 1940. Intervention in Greece showed that the UK was still very much willing to fight against the odds. Crucially, it demonstrated that it wouldn't further abandon anyone who sought to resist Fascism and Nazism. The decision may have made Wavell despair but it certainly would have been a trumpet blast to occupied Europe, and the Americans, that the British were willing to not only defend themselves on their island, but to seek active decision with the enemy. In short, there were political considerations, very good ones. 

Goodness knows there's a lot to criticise Churchill for, the man was far from a saint. I just don't think most of the grounds for criticism are related to his leadership during WWII. From a top-down perspective he did precisely what was necessary to carry his country through the conflict, and it must be said, quite a few other governments-in-exile. Any further analysis is nitpicking best left to academics with more letters behind their names than myself. 

 

4 hours ago, danfrodo said:

RINALDI, well stated.  That danfrodo guy really just doesn't know what's he's talking about :)

Seriously, I now agree w you on this subject -- I was thinking too small. 

Yes, that was well said, and you're so gracious Danfrodo - such a rarity on any forum :)

 

12 minutes ago, Artkin said:

I do wonder what would've happened had Germany not redirected its resources to Greece and friends. 

Maybe Barbarossa would have had that extra uumpf? It would have definitely saved a few weeks. 

Yeah, the Schlieffen Plan was undone by falling just a little behind schedule; and the evacuation at Dunkirk hinged upon a German pause of mere days.

Hypotheticals are inherently incalculable, but six weeks seems like a long time in operational terms to me.

 

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On 8/12/2021 at 2:28 AM, Benjamin Ritchie-Hook said:

We'd never have won the war if we just sat back in blighty flicking peanuts at the hun - as a man who'd been to war, old Winnie understood this. And given that everyone else at the time seemed to be folding like a cheap deck chair, what else could he have done?

Old Winnie for sure didn't flick peanuts at 'the Hun', but incredible loads of high-explosive bombs combined with firebombs on in the end completly defenceless German civilian targets, like Berlin, Hamburg, Dresden and even smal towns like Pforzheim. Or as a reviewer of the book ' Among the Dead Cities', by A.C. Grayling puts it; 

"The bombing was horrific in its effects, so far beyond anything we can really imagine it that comes over as a kind of zombie apocalypse scenario. Red-hot scenery, hurricanes of fire, falling masonry, corpses burned to shrivelled black puppets, body parts like grilled kebabs in the ashes, cellars filled with asphyxiated bodies: this is the stuff of nightmares, but it was the actual fate of hundreds of thousands of ordinary people in Germany and Japan.
All this was deliberately inflicted by warlords who conceived it to be their duty to civilisation. In particular, Marshall of the Royal Air Force Arthur “Bomber” Harris applied himself to the stern task with unholy relish and pushed hard for the strategy of systematically reducing to rubble all the inner cities he could reach in Germany, at night, with hundreds of bomber aircraft dropping big high-explosive bombs and huge numbers of small firebombs onto each target, dragging civilian men, women and children out of their beds and reducing their warm bodies to cinders, night after night, for years, until he had run out of targets to incinerate."

That's behaviour I would have expected from a fanatical lunatic like Hitler or Stalin, not from the war lord of Britain.

Also as a side-note, the reinforcements/forces for the Greek operation could have prevented the disaster of Singapore/Malaya. If the intervention in Greece was 'good publicity', then the unfortunate, miserable fate of Arthur Percival and his 130 000 men, who went into slave labour and ill-treatment in Japanese captivity nullified that.

Edited by Aragorn2002
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6 hours ago, Aragorn2002 said:

Old Winnie for sure didn't flick peanuts at 'the Hun', but incredible loads of high-explosive bombs combined with firebombs on in the end completly defenceless German civilian targets, like Berlin, Hamburg, Dresden and even smal towns like Pforzheim. Or as a reviewer of the book ' Among the Dead Cities', by A.C. Grayling puts it; 

"The bombing was horrific in its effects, so far beyond anything we can really imagine it that comes over as a kind of zombie apocalypse scenario. Red-hot scenery, hurricanes of fire, falling masonry, corpses burned to shrivelled black puppets, body parts like grilled kebabs in the ashes, cellars filled with asphyxiated bodies: this is the stuff of nightmares, but it was the actual fate of hundreds of thousands of ordinary people in Germany and Japan.
All this was deliberately inflicted by warlords who conceived it to be their duty to civilisation. In particular, Marshall of the Royal Air Force Arthur “Bomber” Harris applied himself to the stern task with unholy relish and pushed hard for the strategy of systematically reducing to rubble all the inner cities he could reach in Germany, at night, with hundreds of bomber aircraft dropping big high-explosive bombs and huge numbers of small firebombs onto each target, dragging civilian men, women and children out of their beds and reducing their warm bodies to cinders, night after night, for years, until he had run out of targets to incinerate."

They deserved it.

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If Germany or Japan had the same capability, do you think they would have hesitated to do the same to us for a moment?

What was the Nazi nuclear effort about?  And what were the V1 and V2 efforts about?  All that was missing was the quantity of missiles.

Edited by Erwin
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