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The Nazi Supercountry Myth

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sanjavalen
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In another thread, on June 4th, Nyronus said:

I will give you that WWII was unavoidable. I have heard sources claim that FDR coaxed the Japanese into attacking so he could have an excuse to enter the war against Germany. While their is some truth to this (we did cut off the Japanese coal and oil supplies prior to Pear Harbor), we would have eventually gotten involved in the war. Wether it was the viciously racist Japanese (see their treatment of prisoners of war and the Rape of Nanking), or Germany, we would have had to have started fighting. Hitler was supposed to have had begun planning a bombing of New York City and an invasion of New England before the war ended. Chances are we would have never toppled Germany like we did had we gotten involved much later. Hitler was beginning to go insane was dying from either syphilis or Parkinson's and chances are someone competent would take his place.

Specifically I want to address this part:

Chances are we would have never toppled Germany like we did had we gotten involved much later. Hitler was beginning to go insane was dying from either syphilis or Parkinson's and chances are someone competent would take his place.

There is a persistant myth in today's schools, a byproduct of American propaganda playing up the threat Nazi Germany posed and an admiration for statism that is very prevalent in academia at large.

In truth Nazi Germany was not any threat at all to the USA. Nazi Germany was not a great power, with invincible soldiers, brilliant generals and unstoppable war machines, crippled by an insane leader. It was, in fact, poor, weak and incompetently lead generally.

There are two persistent myths. One, a dualism that Hitler "lead" Germany out of the depression, and that he was an incompetent meddler and bungler when it came to war. The fact that a leader wise enough to delegate the enormously complex task of getting a country out of a depression and one who obsessively micromanages his underlings is mutually exclusive is, of course, never noted. Second, that Germany had a plethora of good Generals and excellent tanks. This is also untrue.

Hitler, of course, did not lead his country out of the depression. Socialism - of any type, including national - will not and cannot bring prosperity. The constant litany of "Guns, not butter," is a window into the way Hitler financed his war, and how "prosperous" Germany was. Through the seizure of capital, the drafting of young men to work for next to nothing, and the management of the economy, Hitler was able to suck enough value out of the Germany economy to create an army.

The large army lowered, on the face of it, unemployment. It also prevented there being a lot of angry young men with time to think about how horrible the government is, and plot how they could do it better.

There was a problem, though, that necessitated war even if the Nazi party wasn't belligerent on the face of it. Germany could not support such a large army. Millions of men, doing no productive work, could not be fed and sheltered for free. Germany's economy, still very weak, could not long bear the strain of supporting that many soldiers.

Throughout the war, Germany's conquests fed its war machine. Capital, factories, slave labor and even war material (near the beginning of Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union, Germany' motorized contingents were in large part stolen French trucks) were stolen to feed the beast. But Europe was not a rich continent, and each conquest was barely enough to sustain the war machine just enough time to go for another one.

Germany was a poor country. A leech, dashing quickly from carcass to carcass, destined to one day bite off more than it could chew.

The German army itself is, perhaps, one of the most overrated military organizations in the history of the world. The prestigeous list of its military conquests, from Poland (with the help of Soviet Russia) to Norway, to a France that had no stomach for war and was ready to fold at the faintest thought of its capital being a battleground, is not impressive. Despite this list of weak opponents, Germany was barely able to accomplish even these modest tasks.

In his book Supplying War, Martin van Creveld delves into the Wehrmacht's records, revealing a shoddy organization, made to look intimidating more than accomplish great feats of arms. In both the Polish and French campaigns, the German army was saved only by the speedy collapse of resistence. Its logistical apparatus - the lifeline of the army, what fed and clothed and supplied the army with ammunition and fuel - was, at best, a laughing stock. Most of the supplies for the army were carried, not by trucks, speeding to the front to support their blitzkrieg blows, but by carts. Pulled by horses, poorly organized, low on supplies (it was almost impossible to get a replacement part in the German army - as the German factories could not support both new production of vehicles and the manufacturing of replacement parts in any significant amounts,) the armies of Germany were twice on the verge of logistical disaster, stuck out in the open, without fuel for tanks, or ammunition or food for men. Had the French had more determination to fight on, the history of WWII would have been very different.

Even after these much-hailed victories, the German army was starving for material. It stole as many French trucks as it could, bringing the number of motorized (ie supplied and transported by trucks, instead of by horse carts and foot,) up to the highest percentage of the war, about 1 out of every 3 divisions being motorized to some degree. The Germany economy, even with shots in the arm from the Polish and French economies, could not support even this modest degree of modernization. Prior to the invasion of the Soviet Union, many divisions were "de-motorized," an admission of the fact that the German economy could not provide enough replacement parts or replacement trucks, or fuel, or many other things necessary to keep that many trucks operational in the field. From that point on the German army was never more than 25% motorized, and often much lower.

Operation Barbarossa showed, finally, that the German army was a paper tiger. Against an army decimated by the loss of competent officers, run by communists who valued heroic last stands over victory, they ground to a halt outside of Moscow. The much-vaunted mud and snow are the only part of the story people hear, but in reality Germany's poor logisitical apparatus is what destroyed it. Far from home, supplying the most massive invasion in history, shortages - even in good conditions - were constant. Entire armies were stopped for short periods of time, to wait for supplies.

When the winter hit, Germany's supply apparatus simply broke down. German trains, already fewer in number than Germany had available to it in WWI (The German economy could not support even a semi-mechanized/motorized army and still support the train industry,) were devasted by the cold. The water pipes outside of the engine froze, and burst - ruining countless trains, until Germany was supplying its effort in Russia with almost entirely trains taken as booty from the Soviets on the long drive. Needless to say, it was inadequete for one last push to Moscow and other important objectives. The Soviets turned the tide - and the rest is history.

The last myth - that of competent generals hampered by Hitler's micromanaging - also is a cover up for the cronyism of all dictatorships. The General Staff - the people who ran the army - was full of incompetents, drunks and utterly irrational people. But even if you take the German officers at their best - even the vaunted, much celebrated Rommel - you find gross incompetence.

Rommel had a terrible track record out in the field. Shunted off to North Africa to try and save the Italians, Rommel was given strict orders not to wander far from his supply bases. There was a very good reason for this - despite being given more motorized units per capita than any other German contingent in the war, there was only so far that Rommel could be supplied. Trucks consume fuel on their way to supplying a far-off contingent, wear and tear causes them to break down - at a rate that could not be replaced by the German economy - and eventually the distances become so far that dependable supply becomes impossible.

Rommel ignored this. Again and again he struck out - and again and again he was defeated, grasping for objectives beyond his reach, low on fuel and ammunition and - more importantly - breaking down precious trucks faster than they could be replaced. The long supply chains, and the nature of desert warfare, also meant that the convoys of trucks were constantly shot up by British raiders. Given the finest (in terms of motorization) group of men in the German Army, Rommel wasted almost all of it on impossible objectives, dismissing the objections of his quartermasters and logistical officers with a verbal wave of the hand - "The army will make great exertions and accomplish its objectives." Despite the fact that no ports within his reach - under even the most rosy circumstances - could support his army, he continued to strike out, contrary to his orders, scoring great victories and then being driven back once he had outrun his supplies.

As you can see, the German army was not a threat to any well run, organized and lead country. The idea that it could even begin to dream of - let alone actually finance - an invasion across the Atlantic is laughable at best. It would collapse on itself, in a war, probably with the Soviet Union, with or without our help. On the bonus side, without our help, the Soviet Union would have likely collapsed as well, sparing us 50 years of war, and decades under the threat of nuclear annihilation.

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Hitler's biggest msitake and the one mistake he made IMO that cost him the war was his treatment of the soviet citizens. If he would have opened the churches back up that Stalin closed down and did a "hearts and minds" strategy on the people of a nation that had endured famine and purges for the last 10 years, then he could have won, in the short term at least.

Edited by DavidOdden
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Hitler's biggest msitake and the one mistake he made IMO that cost him the war was his treatment of the soviet citizens. If he would have opened the churches back up that Stalin closed down and did a "hearts and minds" strategy on the people of a nation that had endured famine and purges for the last 10 years, then he could have won, in the short term at least.

While I don't doubt that this would have helped the Germans a little I think that your assessment discounts Russian nationalism as a force of its own that would preclude many of them from supporting the Germans no matter what.

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While I don't doubt that this would have helped the Germans a little I think that your assessment discounts Russian nationalism as a force of its own that would preclude many of them from supporting the Germans no matter what.

What about the ethnics in the oil rich Caucasus whom Stalin had a special hate for?

and Remember the collectivization hit the Ukranians the hardest and there is a Russian-Ukranian rivalry to this day.

The biggest strategical eror of the Wermahct IMO was going for Stalingrad rather than Grozny

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What about the ethnics in the oil rich Caucasus whom Stalin had a special hate for?

and Remember the collectivization hit the Ukranians the hardest and there is a Russian-Ukranian rivalry to this day.

The biggest strategical eror of the Wermahct IMO was going for Stalingrad rather than Grozny

The Germans never got that far (to the Caucuses) and largely bypassed the Ukrainians.

Many Ukrainians align themselves very closely with Russians to this day, and it is in fact (according to a friend of mine who spent 5 years in the Ukraine) only a relatively small group of western Ukraine that views itself as closer to the rest of Europe.

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I think you're both missing the point that Germany simply lacked the resources to continue the war and take over all of Russia, and lacked the sound economy necessary to keep itself stable outside of war.

Edited by sanjavalen
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I think you're both missing the point that Germany simply lacked the manpower to continue the war and take over all of Russia, and lacked the sound economy necessary to keep itself stable outside of war.

No I get it. Siegfried Knappe in his book Soldat, does an excellent job of impressing upon the reader just how screwed the Germans were to invade Russia.

I also agree with the assessment of the economy.

I disagree that overall the leadership of the German army was as thin on the ground as you seem to think. Man for man German leadership had the same skills and ability, flaws and incompetence of any of the allies command structures. Not better but certainly not worse.

I would argue that at the outset their commanders were better trained (due to the German army's constant preparations for war since the rise of the Nazi party) and in the end they were worse due to attrition, but that's about it.

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No I get it. Siegfried Knappe in his book Soldat, does an excellent job of impressing upon the reader just how screwed the Germans were to invade Russia.

I also agree with the assessment of the economy.

I disagree that overall the leadership of the German army was as thin on the ground as you seem to think. Man for man German leadership had the same skills and ability, flaws and incompetence of any of the allies command structures. Not better but certainly not worse.

I would argue that at the outset their commanders were better trained (due to the German army's constant preparations for war since the rise of the Nazi party) and in the end they were worse due to attrition, but that's about it.

It was organizationally much worse than any other major power. Their logistical corps was laughable. And even the best leadership had "It'll work out SOMEHOW" mentalities. If other countries also had that, thats on them - my only point was that the German army wasn't lead by these geniuses who were just hampered by Hitler.

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- my only point was that the German army wasn't lead by these geniuses who were just hampered by Hitler.

Some geniuses, some absolute morons too. Overall I agree, Hitler was a hindrance but he wasn't nearly as damaging as attrition and lack of military focus.

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I do agree that Germany had little hope of success in they invaded here (I made note of this in a later post). I also share similar feelings of the credit Hitler gets as both a military commander and a economic savior of Germany.

I am unsure of you assessment of the strength of the Germany military. I am completely unfamiliar with the logistic claims of the one author you cite, although I feel that it would be worth looking into. Your description of Irwin Rommel as a apparently moronic and habitual loser seems to contradict every single description I have ever heard of the man. From what I understand, it was Hitler who order him into a worthless death charge and ordered him out time and again. My understanding is that Rommel asked the Furher if he could retreat, regroup, and strike back at the Allies. Hitler's reply was victory or death, and Rommel followed through to the letter.

I also think you don't understand the power of stupid people in large numbers. I doubt that the Germans were as backwater and moronic as you picture them, but even if they were, it does not lessen the danger they could present. The Soviet Union ruled half of Europe in a time when it couldn't get tractors to run properly. Maybe the U.S.S.R. and Nazi Germany could have destroyed each other given half the chance, and that would be the better outcome. I don't think the stupidity that is Nazism would just fade away as easily as that.

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Adding to the original post, one has to bear in mind that the conquests of Nazi Germany were all poor countries which were crippled by the Great Depression and hampered by a stark Pacifism. Not only that, but most of Europe had suffered greatly from the devastation wrought by the First World War - something they hadn't even recovered from when the Depression hit. And many of the countries under their domain had joined up via coup and not military conquest. Great Britain, one of their few formidable enemies, was nearly as economically depressed as the continent and was fighting a 16+ front war. And they also trounced Germany in the Battle of Britain despite being very much unprepared.

Really, to say that they had conquered Europe - put in the historical context of the time - wasn't saying much at all. Indeed the supposed strength of the Nazis is largely mythological in nature.

Edited by Inspector
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Adding to this, one has to bear in mind that the conquests of Nazi Germany were all poor countries which were crippled by the Great Depression and hampered by a stark Pacifism.

I'd say the "pacifism" was the biggest problem. While the Germans spent ten years building a war machine the French and English (and Americans) did nothing. This meant they had to ramp up during a war, which cost innumerable lives. Pacifists are killers.

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I'd say the "pacifism" was the biggest problem. While the Germans spent ten years building a war machine the French and English (and Americans) did nothing. This meant they had to ramp up during a war, which cost innumerable lives. Pacifists are killers.

Yes and no. Pacifists don't intend to kill anyone. If anything, they think they promote a beneficial non-killing policy. In fact, pacifists are obstacles to proper defense. Let me make an analogy. Say a genetic or disease condition inhibits the formation of antibodies. This condition, per se, does not kill, but if a pathogen is introduced this condition will prevent the body from defending against the pathogen and lead to damage or death. It is the pathogen that is more directly the killer. In a world without pathogens, an antibody inhibiting condition would not be harmful. Likewise, in a world without aggressors, pacifists, as such, would not be harmful. But this is not the world we live in. We live in a world populated by aggressors and pathogens, so anything that interferes with defense is harmful.

If pacifists actively interfere with proper defense actions or preparations, they should be dealt with sternly, as they are bad news for the body politic. Think of pacifism as a social disease analogous to AIDS. AIDS disables the production of antibodies and thereby disables the body's immune reaction against pathogens. Pacifism disables the society from dealing with enemies. Bad news all the way around.

This raises some interesting questions. In world in which our nation faces potential and actual violence from without, should the propagation of pacifist ideas be prohibited? Surely pacifist acts such as blockading military basis or shipments must be dealt with strenuously (prevented and punished), but what about spreading pacifist and defeatist ideas. I am very uncomfortable with the idea of limiting freedom of speech (however obnoxious), but in a wartime or warlike situation we are talking about real dangerous consequences. I lived during a time when it was said "a slip of the lip can sink a ship". I must admit to being of two minds on the issue and I will have to chew on the question until I can come to a definitive resolution. It is quite troubling.

ruveyn

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Pacifists = AIDS.

Anyway...

I am unsure of you assessment of the strength of the Germany military. I am completely unfamiliar with the logistic claims of the one author you cite, although I feel that it would be worth looking into. Your description of Irwin Rommel as a apparently moronic and habitual loser seems to contradict every single description I have ever heard of the man. From what I understand, it was Hitler who order him into a worthless death charge and ordered him out time and again. My understanding is that Rommel asked the Furher if he could retreat, regroup, and strike back at the Allies. Hitler's reply was victory or death, and Rommel followed through to the letter.

I suggest you read up on his actions before the US came into the picture. He repeatedly ignored orders from the General Staff and Hitler was busy with Barbarossa.

I also think you don't understand the power of stupid people in large numbers. I doubt that the Germans were as backwater and moronic as you picture them, but even if they were, it does not lessen the danger they could present. The Soviet Union ruled half of Europe in a time when it couldn't get tractors to run properly. Maybe the U.S.S.R. and Nazi Germany could have destroyed each other given half the chance, and that would be the better outcome. I don't think the stupidity that is Nazism would just fade away as easily as that.

1) They had fewer stupid people than the US had smart people

2) Unless they built a bridge across the atlantic made of stupid people, they didn't have the capital, resources or economy stability to engage in a protracted fight with the USA.

Also, the USSR ruled half of Europe because the US gave them billions in aid, free of charge, and helped to defeat Nazi Germany. Not because they had an abundance of stupid people.

Edited by sanjavalen
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1) They had fewer stupid people than the US had smart people

2) Unless they built a bridge across the atlantic made of stupid people, they didn't have the capital, resources or economy stability to engage in a protracted fight with the USA.

Also, the USSR ruled half of Europe because the US gave them billions in aid, free of charge, and helped to defeat Nazi Germany. Not because they had an abundance of stupid people.

I hope your being just as sarcastic as I was. ;)

I will say that everything said seems perfectly reasonable and certainly not improbable by any standard. I shall have to look into the matter further...

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Van Creveld's book on logistics is not the last word on this subject. I would suggest Richard Overy's "Why the Allies Won", which looks fairly comprehensively at all of the factors involved in the Allied victory. Overy's point, echoed by many historians, is that the Allied victory was not the foregone conclusion it is presented to be. Yes, the Germans were not the super-efficient nation that they are often presented as being: quite the opposite in fact, especially in terms of the economic side of things. It is also true that their military skills were not as high as is sometimes made out: strategic level thinking in Germany was very poor compared to that in the US and UK, both during and before the war and they paid a heavy price for it. That said, every study of the military effectiveness of the German (ground) soldier compared to those of all the Allied nations has found that man-for-man, the Germans were more effective at the tactical level.

It is also worth noting that full industrial mobilization in both the US and the UK took time. Until Churchill became Prime Minister, Britain waged a very half-hearted war and during that time the Germans won a strategic position that was extremely strong. Hard fighting by Britain and errors by the Germans meant that Germany was unable to exploit that position, but it was by no means some pre-determined outcome that they would do so. Germany had an extremely advanced industrial economy and very capable scientists and engineers, and by 1941, the resources of conquered Europe on which to feast. Once Speer started to rationalize German industrial activity during the war, its output increased dramatically. Germany had been the principal industrial power in Europe since the later half of the 19th century. The factors that made it so didn't vanish completely just because the Nazis took power. This is also true with respect to its military power.

When the full context is considered, it is wrong to dismiss Germany as doomed to failure or to somehow not really a threat just because Objectivist theory holds that dictatorships are both immoral and impractical. Although generally true in the long run, it represents an enormous simplification of a much more complex phenomenon. Russia, for example, whether communist or czarist, had considerable continuity in its political and cultural traditions and those traditions uniquely handicapped it throughout its history. In fact, for most of its history, its military and great power status was vastly over-rated. That was not, however, equally true of Germany. Acknowledging all of this doesn't mean viewing statist governments as somehow efficient or practical or "super". They aren't. They may, however, be sufficiently less inefficient as to present a major challenge to freer states. Free, rational, and rapidly industrializing Britain took 22 years to defeat highly irrational revolutionary and then Napoleonic France. Athens was defeated by Sparta. The Mongols failed to conquer Europe only because the great Horde turned back on the death of the Khan. The highly commercial republic of Holland, after freeing itself from Spanish rule, was ultimately defeated by monarchical (and then religious fundamentalist Cromwellian) England. The course of history is not pre-ordained by the nominal philosophical principles of each side. The latter are not irrelevant, but their application and effect is not automatic either.

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In truth Nazi Germany was not any threat at all to the USA. Nazi Germany was not a great power, with invincible soldiers, brilliant generals and unstoppable war machines, crippled by an insane leader. It was, in fact, poor, weak and incompetently lead generally.

War is a form of competition. Victory is the only standard of success in war and it is achieved by defeating the enemy, not by meeting arbritrary a priori standards of wealth, strength and good leadership. Given the string of early Nazi successes in Europe, the Blitz, the U-boat campaign, the diplomacy and coordination with Japan, it would not be rational for any American in 1941 to conclude the Nazi Germany was "no threat" to the U.S.

Hindsight is not a practical form of wisdom because you never have it when you need it. I have no problem with Hitler being portrayed in the history books as a threat because that is how he was perceived at the time, in context.

The German army itself is, perhaps, one of the most overrated military organizations in the history of the world. The prestigeous list of its military conquests, from Poland (with the help of Soviet Russia) to Norway, to a France that had no stomach for war and was ready to fold at the faintest thought of its capital being a battleground, is not impressive. Despite this list of weak opponents, Germany was barely able to accomplish even these modest tasks.

The General Staff knew the army was not prepared for the war Hitler wanted. They wanted to wait until 1944-1945 to start. It is utterly amazing what the Wehrmacht accomplished on an ad hoc basis being so ill equipped and unprepared for the crises Hitler foisted upon it. It is scary to think about what could have happened had Hitler been slightly less mad.

In his book Supplying War, Martin van Creveld delves into the Wehrmacht's records, revealing a shoddy organization, made to look intimidating more than accomplish great feats of arms. In both the Polish and French campaigns, the German army was saved only by the speedy collapse of resistence. .

That was the whole point of the Blitzkrieg. In the section on the etymology of the word Blitzkrieg Wikipedia says "it was already used in the military Journal Deutsche Wehr in 1935, in the context of an article on how states with insufficient food and raw materials supply can win a war." The difference in perspective is adequately explained by the fact van Creveld is merely an academic military historian, not a soldier committed to do the best he can with what he has.

Its logistical apparatus - the lifeline of the army, what fed and clothed and supplied the army with ammunition and fuel - was, at best, a laughing stock. Most of the supplies for the army were carried, not by trucks, speeding to the front to support their blitzkrieg blows, but by carts. Pulled by horses, poorly organized, low on supplies (it was almost impossible to get a replacement part in the German army - as the German factories could not support both new production of vehicles and the manufacturing of replacement parts in any significant amounts,) the armies of Germany were twice on the verge of logistical disaster, stuck out in the open, without fuel for tanks, or ammunition or food for men. Had the French had more determination to fight on, the history of WWII would have been very different.

From the French perspective, determination would have been useless as the Germans were roving the the countryside seemingly at will, concentrating to attack at times and places of their choosing. Whatever logistical problems the Germans must have had, the French were in an impossible situation.

Operation Barbarossa showed, finally, that the German army was a paper tiger. Against an army decimated by the loss of competent officers, run by communists who valued heroic last stands over victory, they ground to a halt outside of Moscow. The much-vaunted mud and snow are the only part of the story people hear, but in reality Germany's poor logisitical apparatus is what destroyed it. Far from home, supplying the most massive invasion in history, shortages - even in good conditions - were constant. Entire armies were stopped for short periods of time, to wait for supplies.

This is an absurdly self-refuting misuse of the term 'paper tiger'. Paper tigers don't fight at all, much less battle their way across Russia to the gates of Moscow.

The last myth - that of competent generals hampered by Hitler's micromanaging - also is a cover up for the cronyism of all dictatorships. The General Staff - the people who ran the army - was full of incompetents, drunks and utterly irrational people. But even if you take the German officers at their best - even the vaunted, much celebrated Rommel - you find gross incompetence.

This is a patent lie. You might try expanding your library beyond the single book of van Creveld before daring to pronounce such absurd judgements. Hitler's Generals is a collection of 26 biographies of generals and colonel-generals who served under Hitler (there were 53 total). Not one was a drunkard, none were incompetent. Hitler inherited his set of generals from the old German General Staff which was continuous with the Prussian General Staff.

In a broader sense, the Prussian General Staff represented a unique military fraternity. Though other European powers eventually created their own General Staffs, the Prussian General Staff was distinguished by the formal selection of its officers by intelligence and proven merit rather than patronage or wealth, and the exhaustive and rigorously structured training which staff officers undertook. This training was designed not only to weed out the less motivated or able candidates, but also to produce a body of professional military experts with common methods and outlook, and an almost monastic dedication to their profession.

Evil men are not always weak, stupid, incompetent, utterly irrational, drunk, dress in black and are ugly to boot. Deal with reality, not with fairy tales.

Rommel had a terrible track record out in the field. Shunted off to North Africa to try and save the Italians, Rommel was given strict orders not to wander far from his supply bases. There was a very good reason for this - despite being given more motorized units per capita than any other German contingent in the war, there was only so far that Rommel could be supplied. Trucks consume fuel on their way to supplying a far-off contingent, wear and tear causes them to break down - at a rate that could not be replaced by the German economy - and eventually the distances become so far that dependable supply becomes impossible.

Rommel ignored this. Again and again he struck out - and again and again he was defeated, grasping for objectives beyond his reach, low on fuel and ammunition and - more importantly - breaking down precious trucks faster than they could be replaced. The long supply chains, and the nature of desert warfare, also meant that the convoys of trucks were constantly shot up by British raiders. Given the finest (in terms of motorization) group of men in the German Army, Rommel wasted almost all of it on impossible objectives, dismissing the objections of his quartermasters and logistical officers with a verbal wave of the hand - "The army will make great exertions and accomplish its objectives." Despite the fact that no ports within his reach - under even the most rosy circumstances - could support his army, he continued to strike out, contrary to his orders, scoring great victories and then being driven back once he had outrun his supplies.

If you had ever been in the military you would know that taking iniatiative is regarded as a good thing, rewarded with praise and promotion when it leads to success. Although not ultimately successful, he came close enough to justify the attempt. Rommel turned north Africa into major theater of war consuming the attention and war material of the British empire for two years, itself no small achievement. Rommel did very well.

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Germany was a poor country. A leech, dashing quickly from carcass to carcass, destined to one day bite off more than it could chew.

Germany was not always a poor country. It -became- a poor country. Prior to the Great War Germany worked its way to scientific and technological leadership. Fritz Haber helped to solve the problem of growing enough food by developing an artificial means of making fertilizer from the nitrogen in the atmosphere. Germany became a prosperous and potent industrial nation which outstripped England in efficiency and production. Germany became numero uno in physics and chemistry. It developed the artificial dye industry by processing its abundant coal reserves. Germany became a leader in producing medicines and combating infectious diseases (sulpha drugs, for example).

After the the Great War the terms of the Versailles treaty reduced Germany to penury and then came the Depression which was a double whammy.

Where Germany went off the rails was in following the fascists who sacrificed Germany on the altar of the gods of Race and War. Had the Germans been willing to swallow the unjust terms of the Versailles treaty they would have worked their way back to prosperity (what can be done once, can sometimes be done twice). The Germans deluded themselves into believing they had not been defeated in the Great War. Rather they had been -betrayed- by sinister forces (read for that, Jews and Communists). This "stabbed in the back" delusion had very grim consequences.

In a saner and better world Germany should have become one the constructively leading nations of the world. In the period between the end of the Great War and the rise of the Nazis, German universities were still among the leading institutions in science and mathematics. If one wanted to learn the latest and greatest in physics, he did not go to Harvard or even MIT. He sent to Goettingen (that is where Robert Oppenheimer got his degree) or Tuebungen. The greatest mathematician in the world at that time was David Hilbert, a German. In spite of the Prussian aspects (dueling scars and heel clicking) Germany was a top-notch country. Then they went to hell in a hand basket.

Hitler's vicious antisemitism (and that of his buddies) lead the Germans to scoop the brains out of Germany. Britain and the U.S. inherited a brilliant intellectual legacy from Germany because of this insane policy. Germany committed intellectual suicide. They also took a good part of the world with them.

As to Germany's military prowess, for a brief period they became the leading air power of the world. In 1935 they had better planes than the English. In military doctrine, it was the Germans who figured out how to use the tank most effectively. The French had better tanks, but the Germans knew better how to use them. England's militarily standing was crippled by their own damnable arrogance and creeping pacifism. The French deluded themselves into believing the Maginot Line would protect them.

For a while German forces outfought the Allies. Recall the debacle at Dunkirk. In North Africa, Rommel savaged the American forces at the Kasserene Pass. It took several years for the Allies to catch up with the Germans and surpass them, which finally happened. Had the war ended quickly Germany might have come out on top, but the maniac, Hitler, insisted on going East. That was his undoing militarily. Germany had the stuff for a quick win against ill prepared opponents. They lacked depth and stamina for a long war. The longer they fought, the worse it became for them.

ruveyn

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This essay was addressing the myth that the Nazis were a respectable superpower, not the core causes of why they were poor (that could be an essay in and of itself.) But thanks for pointing that out for anyone who might have been confused, ruveyn.

Some issues:

As to Germany's military prowess, for a brief period they became the leading air power of the world. In 1935 they had better planes than the English.

By 1940 they did not. Also: leading air power, by what standard? Their air force, though impressive, lacked the kind of industrial base to sustain it through a war of any duration.

In military doctrine, it was the Germans who figured out how to use the tank most effectively. The French had better tanks, but the Germans knew better how to use them.

Granted. It should be noted that in the French offensive a great deal of German tanks were Mark I and IIs, which really were training vehicles more than tanks.

For a while German forces outfought the Allies. Recall the debacle at Dunkirk.

I believe I've pointed out why the list of Germany's successes is deceptive as far as its own military prowess goes.

Had the war ended quickly Germany might have come out on top, but the maniac, Hitler, insisted on going East.

He did not really have a choice. Well, he did, but the other choice would have seen him dead too. A National Socialist country can't stay still for long periods of time; its gigantic war machine must be fed by new conquests (literally fed, as I pointed out in the essay.) Disbanding most of the army just puts a lot of unruly, now unemployed youths on the streets who know how to fight. National Socialism creates conditions that make it necessary to have war in order for leaders to preserve their own lives for a little longer.

In fact I find it quite astounding, that entire last paragraph. Did you read my essay?

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Yes and no. Pacifists don't intend to kill anyone.

We don't know that, ruveyn. We can't really determine people's motives for pacifism without more evidence, but from what I've observed of modern pacifists, they are big on pacifism when it comes to us putting down our arms and submitting, but they never condemn actual evil regimes and they virtually always love the bad guys. For this reason, I believe that they are not truly pacifists, but anti-capitalist and anti-American, and so they want to weaken us. I can’t speak with certainty about pacifists prior to WWII.

I like your immune system analogy, because that's exactly the analogy I use for postmodernists. I've argued that the only reason we’re having problem with Muslims today, is because postmodernists have brought it on us, by rolling out the red carpet to all second rate cultures that are alleged to have a gripe with we “murderous imperialists.“ Postmodernists are the main problem, because they weaken our immune system and open us up to disease, and unlike AIDs, they are doing it by conscious choice. That makes them evil.

Muslims are the first and biggest example of a "culture" or "religion" to take advantage of this appeasement by America hating leftists. Others are sure to follow. These university professors and other such intellectuals are serious about their hatred of America.

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  • 4 weeks later...

let's distinguish between pacifists during a time of war, and isolationists which are the real peace-seekers on the long term.

the first ones are traitors to some extent, during WWII Tokyo Rose, was jailed for broadcasting her pro-jap poems "Orphans of the Pacific".

Isolationists on the other hand will defend in case of attack, and invade a foreign land to destroy the enemy, but then never get involved in foreign matters again. Israel is a good example, she defended and rightously gained territory, but doesnt initiate hostilities very often (or ever as far as I know). America on the other hand, crossed the line by intervenining in most of the decolonized world to prevent them, sometimes succesfully sometimes not, from turninig communist. In the case of Korea it gained a market and an ally on the short term, in the case of Vietnam it gained just a market about 25 yerars later when capitalism wes proved neccesary for communism to survive.

Back on topic, allow me to make this assumption:

National Socialism, and Japanese Fascism, were the first of the Nativist movements that spread throughout the world along with decolonization.

Note that Germany, like Italy, had entered the era of nations less than a century before when NS was adopted. It had missed out on the feat of colonization, and lost what little it had during WWI. Japan, and its "ally" Siam, were the only independent countries in Asia, since China was subject to foreign manipulation.

Consider that the Belgian, Dutch and French empires were roughly the same size as the whole British Commonwealth, and consider that these three countries were toppled in less than a year They had built huge expeditionary empires but could not defend their homelands from an inner European aggressor.

WWII was the shifting of power from Europe to Russia and America. Nazi germany, in essence a suicide sect, facilitated this process, in a similar manner that Napoleon facilitated Britain's rise 130 years earlier.

These are observations, I don't have an answer yet to whether America could and should have stayed an isolationist country during the XX century.

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