World War II — D-Day And The Myth Of A U.S. Victory – opinion

D-Day And The Myth Of A U.S. Victory

Moon of Alabama | Russia Insider

Each D-Day anniversary the same question comes up. Who defeated Germany and its allies? The answer is, without any doubt, the Soviet Union.

But after decades of western propaganda the claims that the U.S. defeated the Reich has taken over many minds. Polls show that such propaganda works. More than half of the French people now believe that the U.S. contributed the most to the defeat of Germany.

The U.S. lost 411.000 people due to World war II, Great Britain lost 450,000, Germany some 7 million and the Soviet Union more than 20 million.   

Many people think that the Soviet Union, now “the Russians”, were always the bad guys and that Germany was a loyal ally during that war. That is at least what the verified account of the British Royal Family seems to believe.

The Russian President Vladimir Putin was not invited to the royal reception commemorating the 75th anniversary of D-Day. Instead the Queen shook hands with German Chancellor Merkel. Merkel should have rejected to be there unless Putin would also be invited. The leaders from other Soviet countries, Vladimir Zelensky of the Ukraine and Alexander Lukashenko from Belarus, should also be there.

There is of course some truthiness in saying that a few German divisions took part in D-Day. And a few dozens sub-par German division later joined the fight at the Western front. But at the same time some 200 division of German led forces were engaged in the east.

Two weeks after D-Day the Red Army launched Operation Bagration and attacked the German Army Group Centre lines in the east on a thousand miles long front. Within eight weeks the German led forces were pushed back some 200 miles. Most of the 30 some divisions under Army Group Centre’s command were destroyed. It was that attack that broke the back of the German Wehrmacht. Cynically said – the U.S. led invasion in the west was a mere diversion for the much larger attack in the east.

Ten years ago Anatoly Karlin wrote in The Poisonous Myths of the Eastern Front:

MYTH I: Heroic Americans with their British sidekicks won World War Two, while the Russian campaign was a sideshow.

REALITY: Although Western Lend-Lease and strategic bombing was highly useful, the reality is that the vast majority of German soldiers and airmen fought and died on the Eastern Front throughout the war.

Rüdiger Overmans in Deutsche militärische Verluste im Zweiten Weltkrieg estimates that from the Polish campaign to the end of 1944, 75-80% of all German armed forces personnel died or went missing in action on the Eastern Front up to the end of 1944. According to Krivosheev’s research, throughout the war, the vast majority of German divisions were concentrated against the Soviet Union – in 1942, for instance, there were 240 fighting in the East and 15 in North Africa; in 1943 there were 257 in the East and up to 26 in Italy; and even in 1944 there were more than 200 in the East compared to just 50 understrength and sub-par divisions in the West. From June 1941 to June 1944, 507 German (and 607 German and Allied) divisions and 77,000 fighters were destroyed in the East, compared to 176 divisions and 23,000 fighters in the West. The two pivotal battles, Stalingrad and El Alamein, differed in scale by a factor of about ten.

This is not to disparage the Western Allied soldiers who fought and died to free the world from Nazism. In particular, the seamen who enabled Lend-Lease, at high risk of lethal submarine attack, to transport indispensables like canned food, trucks and aviation fuel to Russia, possibly played a crucial role in preventing its collapse in 1941-42. And the bomber crews massively disrupted Germany’s war potential at the cost of horrid fatality ratios, significantly shortening the war.

Another myth is that it was U.S. forces who led the D-Day invasion:

Andrew Neil @afneil – 11:05 utc – 2 Jun 2019

On 75th anniversary of D-Day, time to debunk Hollywood myth it was largely a US invasion force.

Of 1,213 warships involved, 892 were British/Canadian; only 200 USA.

The Royal Navy was in charge of Operation Neptune.

Of 4,126 landing craft involved, 805 American, 3,261 British.

Two-thirds of the 12,000 aircraft involved in D-Day were RAF/RCAF.

Two-thirds of the troops landed on the beaches were British/Canadian.

Eisenhower was supreme commander, but all his most senior officers in charge of land, sea and air were British

When Germany attacked the Soviet Union in June 1941 the U.S. was ambivalent about what to do. Both countries were seen as enemies. The well know Senator Harry Truman expressed the U.S. position quite succinctly:

“If we see that Germany is winning, we ought to help Russia; and if Russia is winning, we ought to help Germany, and that way let them kill as many as possible.”

Since they were attacked by the Germans in 1941 the Soviets had pressed their allies to open a western front against Germany. In 1943, after the defeat of the Germans in Stalingrad and the failure of their counter attack in the Battle of Kursk, it became obvious that the Soviets would defeat the Nazi forces. At the Tehran conference in November 1943 Stalin pressed Roosevelt and Churchill again to finally open a western front. Knowing that the Soviets would win over Germany they agreed to launch their invasion in May 1944.

The U.S. dominated western Europe ever since and quite successfully indoctrinated it with its false version of history.

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  • Clyde Duncan  On 06/08/2019 at 10:10 am

    This was already posted on this blog September 2018 … Here is a reminder!

    “Thank You Canada” – Robert Meadows (Circuit Court Judge, Florida) wrote:

    Here is one American’s take on the growing trade war with the US and Canada.

    “Have you ever stopped to consider how lucky we Americans are to have the neighbors we have? Look around the globe at who some folks have been stuck with sharing a border for over half-a-century:

    North Korea / South Korea
    West Germany / East Germany
    Greece / Turkey
    Iran / Iraq
    Israel / Palestine
    India / Pakistan
    China / Russia

    We’ve got Canada! Canada. About as inoffensive a neighbor as you could ever hope for. In spite of all our boasts of “American exceptionalism” and chants of “America first”, they just smile, do their thing and go about their business.


    Comment by Mark Eisenman:

    While I totally agree with the tone and spirit of this piece. I spotted some glaring errors and omissions below.

    Can you spot them?

    “They’re with us in NATO, they fought alongside us in World War I, World War II, Korea, the Gulf War, the Bosnian War, Afghanistan, the Kosovo War and came to our defense after 9/11. There was that one time when Canada took a pass on one of our wars: Vietnam. Turned out to be a good call.”

    The author makes it sound like CANADA joined the USA in fighting these 2 World Wars.

    The Reality is the Opposite:

    But Britain and Canada did thank the USA for jumping in there eventually.

    4th August 1914 Canada enters WW1
    April 6, 1917, U.S.A. joined its allies.

    10th September 1939 Canada entered WW2
    December 7, 1941, [after Pearl Harbour] USA joined its allies.

    and this:

    Canada took a pass on VIETNAM AND IRAQ … BOTH instances a ‘Good Call’

  • Rosaliene Bacchus  On 06/08/2019 at 2:19 pm

    When you’re the superpower, you get to control the narrative and rewrite history.

  • Clyde Duncan  On 06/09/2019 at 1:53 am

    Battle of Britain’s History: How The Myth of WWII Shaped Brexit


    For proponents of Brexit, World War II has come to frame the narrative about why Britain must leave the European Union – and why anything less is unacceptable.

    Why does the war loom so large in the debate?

    Simon Montlake Staff writer | Christian Science Monitor

    To even the most casual fan of World War II movies, the propeller-driven Spitfire and Hurricane aircraft are instantly familiar.

    Today these two planes rest on a verdant lawn in front of a red-brick chapel that commemorates the pilots and crew that flew in the Battle of Britain and other air campaigns, including those that never came back – 454 Allied airmen in the Battle of Britain alone. The modest chapel is bracketed by a new building, the Biggin Hill Memorial Museum, that speaks to an abiding national interest, even obsession, in that time.

    In August 1940, as Nazi Luftwaffe bombardments intensified over England, Winston Churchill singled out these airmen for praise. “Undaunted by odds, unwearied in their constant challenge and mortal danger, they are turning the tide of the World War,” he told Parliament. “Never before in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”

    Inside the museum, a retired police officer peers into a cabinet of medals, maps, and crockery. “This is why a lot of people VOTED TO COME AWAY,” explains Robin, who didn’t want his surname used. “We would like to stand alone again. We’ve always been an island nation.”

    THAT VOTE, of course, was the 2016 referendum that set the United Kingdom on its troubled Brexit path. Last week European leaders granted the U.K. a TWO-MONTH EXTENSION on leaving the EU, but Parliament remains deadlocked over the terms of departure, or even if Brexit should happen at all. Members of Parliament are due to vote again on Brexit on Friday, the same day that the U.K. was supposed to leave.

    From books to films to TV series, WWII looms large in modern Britain. For some Brits, the war is still living memory, or has been passed down to aging baby boomers like Robin, who were more likely to vote “LEAVE”.

    BUT THE MYTH-MAKING THAT CONNECTS THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN TO BREXIT HAS A PARTICULAR STRAIN. In this narrative, Britain is forever battling alone, bereft of allies, against a dominant continental European power. And anyone who settles for less than victory is an appeaser on par with those of the 1930s, before Churchill led the nation to its “finest hour”.

    “It’s a sense of Britain as a plucky little island that stands up against the overwhelming might of Nazi Germany,” says Lucy Noakes, a social and cultural historian at the University of Essex. “That codifies for us something about what it means to be British, about British character.”

    In reality, says David Edgerton, a historian at King’s College London, BRITAIN WAS NEVER REALLY ALONE, even in the Battle of Britain, given its vast empire and support from the United States.

    “People want to remember the war, and especially the early years of the war, as a time when the nation stood alone without an empire or without allies. Nobody at the time would have believed this,” he says.

    ‘A Really Attractive Myth’

    In the hands of pro-Brexit politicians, myths of wartime derring-do fueled the 2016 referendum, which turned on ideas of sovereignty and EU overreach, as well as immigration and jobs. One of their campaign buses blared the soundtrack of “Dambusters,” a 1955 war movie.

    One month before the vote, Boris Johnson, a Churchill devotee and amateur historian who fronted the “LEAVE” campaign, made the parallels explicit.

    Unifying Europe under one authority has always been anathema to freedom lovers, declared Mr. Johnson, a Conservative lawmaker. “Napoleon, Hitler, various people tried this out, and it ends tragically.

    The EU is an attempt to do this by different methods,” he told the Telegraph. He added: “This is a chance for the British people to be the heroes of Europe and to act as a voice of moderation and common sense, and to stop something getting, in my view, out of control.”

    That the EU grew out of postwar cooperation by European powers to prevent a repeat of World War II did not stop this narrative taking root. Brexiters point out that the U.K. had joined an ECONOMIC COMMUNITY, not a union.

    It also draws on the MYTH of BRITAIN STANDING ALONE, notes Mr. Edgerton.

    “Britain never beat Germany on its own and never beat Napoleon on its own. It had European allies involved in both cases,” he says.

    Other conflicts hold a prominent place in U.K. culture, particularly World War I, which functions as a metaphor of futility and suffering.

    By contrast, the mass slaughter of WWII, WITH THE EXCEPTION OF THE HOLOCAUST, has long been swept aside by stories of unflappable Brits who face down the Nazis.

    “It’s a really attractive myth. It’s romantic and very singular and everyone can understand it. Who wouldn’t want to be part of that?” says Dr. Noakes, co-author of “British Cultural Memory and the Second World War.”

    The MYTH-MAKING began before the war was over: In 1943, The First Battle of Britain commemoration was held. That year the Royal Air Force opened St. George’s memorial chapel – three conjoined prefab huts – at Biggin Hill.

    In 1946 the huts burned down and were replaced by a brick structure. One of its stained-glass windows shows St. George, patron saint of England, standing atop a vanquished dragon as RAF fighters take on German bombers overhead.

    Different Views of the War

    Postwar British filmmakers burnished this heroic imagery, says Petra Rau, a lecturer in literature, drama, and creative writing at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England. For veterans, movies like “Dambusters” allowed them to show their sons what they had achieved. “The war is a very nostalgic and consoling narrative because of its simplicity,” she says.

    For other European countries, a consoling story is more elusive, given their occupation by and collaboration with Nazi Germany, says Ms. Rau, a German-born scholar of cultural representations of war and fascism. “World War II is simply not that easy…. It’s not a glorious memory,” she says.

    This cultural memory informs how continental Europe sees the EU – not as a German plot but as a fresh start – and why British nationalists and newspapers reflexively revert to jingoism, says Mr. Edgerton. “In many countries the war is recognized as a disaster and a cause of immense suffering. In Britain’s case it’s seen as a uniquely powerful moment of national success.”

    Since the referendum, the use of WWII rhetoric and imagery has grown more shrill, as the sunny promise of Brexit has come undone. Faced with the prospect of Britain crashing out without a deal, politicians have invoked the “Blitz spirit” as a reason not to fear shortages of food and medicine and even spoken fondly of postwar rationing and other privations.

    “It’s part of the mythology. We have a stiff upper lip and will get through it,” says Ms. Rau.

    Brexiters have also assailed the beleaguered prime minister for failing to muster Churchillian resolve. In December, Mervyn Davies, the former governor of the Bank of England, compared Ms. May’s deal to the appeasement of the Nazis.

    A Generation Moving On From The War?

    Built with $7 million of mostly public money, Biggin Hill has drawn criticism for spoiling the views of the memorial chapel and garden. Museum officials say income from paying visitors will help to maintain the chapel after the Ministry of Defense cut off funding.

    Mike Giles was among a dozen or so visitors, mostly retirees, that day. He describes himself as a war history enthusiast. But he’s not in favor of Brexit and takes a more positive view of the EU. “We’ve been free of war since 1945,” he says.

    One of the displays undercuts the Brexiters’ go-it-alone narrative. It is a globe with points of light for all the airmen who served at Biggin Hill, from New Zealand to India and Jamaica to South Africa – a reminder of the vast empire that Britain once ruled.

    Displays like that speak to a younger generation for whom WWII is not “the war” and Germany is another European country, NOT “the enemy”.

    At the Imperial War Museum in London, two $40 million galleries about WWII and the Holocaust are due to open in 2021. Dr. Noakes is an adviser on the WWII gallery and hopes it can broaden the scope of the war and its legacy.

    Museum visitors had large gaps in their understanding of the conflict and had stereotypical ideas based on film and TV, according to a 2015 survey.

    “The museum is really keen on educating rather than myth-making,” says Dr. Noakes.

    But it may be too late for Brexit, she sighs. “We shouldn’t let them have that history. We should’ve done a better job of educating people more broadly.”

  • Ian Wishart  On 06/14/2019 at 10:19 am

    Anyone who reads history knows that the Soviet Union played by far the major part in the defeat of Germany – and suffered the most.. The British royal family were wheeled out for the D-Day commemorative event, and had no say in who was invited. I agree that Putin should have been there, whether we love him or not. Had Stalin listened to British, and his own, intelligence he would have been better prepared for the German invasion. But dictators throughout history have ignored news they do not wish to hear – shoot the messenger and all that.

  • wally n  On 06/14/2019 at 11:49 am

    Hard to imagine young people of today care about History. One glaring example, in the US a poll showed, over forty percent support Socialism. I think that really smart people are cherry picking and force feeding this younger generation.
    As one who actually had to line up for rice, sugar, cooking oil, and then turned away empty handed, I know for sure, they have not done their research.

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