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Re: More history (on meaning of Pearl Harbor) [OT]

  • From: Vadim Antonov
  • Date: Sun Sep 16 22:58:26 2001



On Sun, 16 Sep 2001, Dean Robb wrote:

> At 03:09 AM 9/15/2001, Vadim Antonov wrote:
> Most Eastern Front action (although the 15th Air Force was helpful to the 
> Russians with air support and Lend-Lease provided a great deal of Russian 
> logistic vehicles), true.  However, the North African campaign (Operation 
> Torch, et al) and the Italian campaigns were conducted primarily by 
> Americans.  Of course, while the Normandy invasion and advance eastward 
> were multi-national operations, the USA provided the vast majority of 
> materiel, manpower, etc.

Of course, but the scale of any US operation in WWII was at least an order
of magnitude smaller than Eastern front battles.  See casualty figures. 
 
> Stalingrad is widely regarded as the turning point for Germany's *Russian* 
> campaign.

Of course.  But it was that campaign which broke Nazi's back.
 
> >US become involved in the continental WWII to prevent Soviets from
> >occupation of the entire Europe, not to win the war with Germany.  It was
> >already going to be defeated (and it was the Red Army which took Berlin).
> 
> One wonders why Iosef Stalin was then so adamant that the other Allies MUST 
> open a second front in France to sap German resources away from the Eastern 
> Front?  I must point out, too, that GEN Patton was poised to take Berlin 
> well before the Russians arrived - but the political decision was made to 
> allow the Red Army to take the city.

Because he wasn't stupid and preferred to have Allies weakened by
protracted fighting with Nazis while saving Red Army's manpower for
subsequent occupation of the _entire_ Europe.

A lot is made of Staling "begging" for help; this contradicts all his
track record of being ruthlessly merciless, paranoid and always scheming.
Most likely, he simply wanted Allies to be dragged into land war
prematurely to get into much better position later.

WWII wasn't two-sided (Communists and Allies vs Nazi) but rather
three-sided; and Western leaders (I particularly admire Churchill's
ingenuity) played the stalling game quite well.

> I might point out that the Americans (and allies) had been fighting Germans 
> in North Africa and Italy for quite some time  - not "waiting to get in".

So did Soviet Union in Spain. For "waiting to get in" i were saying get
in to the land war in Europe.  I think delaying was a very smart move,
strategically.
 
> Furthermore, to say that Russia was not concerned with Japan is a gross 
> mis-statement.  From 1938-1940 Russia and Japan fought a series of 
> skirmishes and minor battles along the Mongolian border with Manchuria 
> (then the Japanese province of Manchuko, captured from the Chinese).

Yep, but these were exactly what you said - skirmishes.  They had no
geopolitical significance whatsoever - until the time to divide the world
between Communists and the West came.

> The 
> Japanese incursions into Russian territory were troubling enough to Iosef 
> Stalin that he sent Zhukov (THE Zhukov) to stop them.  On Aug 20,1939 he 
> did just that - wiping out the entire Japanese 23d Div of the Kwantung Army 
> at the Battle of Khalkin-Gol in the world's first example of blitzkrieg 
> (learned from the Germans who used it in Poland 33 days later).  After 
> destroying the Japanese forces all the way to the interior Manchurian 
> border, Zhokov then loaded his tanks onto trains for a quick trip 
> east.  Waiting for Zhukov and his armor is why the Russians were two weeks 
> behind the Germans in taking their chunk of Poland.
> Several divisions of men were left on the Mongolian border to ensure the 
> sanctity of the Non-Aggression Pact signed on 16 Sep 1939.

Some military hitoricans (particularly, Suvorov) now insist that Stalin,
until the last moment, didn't believe that Nazis will attack USSR - to the
point of dismissing quite explicit intelligence reports. In any case,
there was no hurry in getting piece under Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.

BTW, Zhukov became THE Zhukov during WWII, not before.  Nearly all
prominent military commanders were killed by Stalin in purges of 37-39,
leaving Red Army with inexpirienced carde of relatively junior commanders.
Zhukov himself was moved into what amounted to honourable retirement after
WWII because he became too popular and could present a threat to Stalin's
rule.

> After the Japanese took Port Arthur in the Russo-Japanese war of 1904, and 
> wiped out the Russian Pacific Fleet, Russia *NEVER* took Japan lightly.  In 
> fact, modern Red China exists because of heavy Russian support to the 
> People's Army in their fight against the Japanese; support intended to keep 
> the Japanese from being a major threat to Russia.  Russia didn't even 
> declare war on the Japanese until 8 Aug 1945 - 2 days AFTER Hiroshima and 
> the day before Nagasaki were A-bombed.

Russia still doesn't have a peace treaty with Japan - because of the Kuril
Islands issue.  The formal declararion of war was made pretty much when
USSR was prepared to overtake Japan -- otherwise it wouldn't make any
sense.

The Red Army was shipped from west to east nearly immediately after
capitulation of Germany - leaving no question about Stalin's intentions.
This i know not from history textbooks, but from my grandfathers, both of
whom were servicemen there.
 
> >Of course, American school textbooks forget those small details and make
> >it look like that US nearly single-handedly defeated fascism.  It didn't.
> 
> My history books included all kinds of small details - like the 15th Air 
> Force flying ground support missions from North Africa and Sicily to assist 
> the Red Army.  Like Lend-Lease which provided Russia with most of it's 
> logistic vehicles and a significant number of tanks - not to mention war 
> materiel.

You know, the only visible American war materiel on Eastern front during
WWII was canned beef (sarcastically called "The Second Front").  Shipping
a _significant_ amount of heavy machinery under lend-lease was rather
impossible, i'm afraid.  The convoys of boats carrying lend-lease goods
were under intensive attacks by Germans; and USSR didn't have sufficient
naval forces to provide adequate protection.

Of course, any help was deeply appreciated.  But it just couldn't make a
significant difference, being only in a single percent range of the Soviet
industry output at the time.

> >To get a sense of what was going on and who was fighting whom see
> >
> >         http://users.erols.com/mwhite28/ww2-loss.htm
> 
> ??  This does nothing to support your contentions...

This gives a sense of scale of battles.  Back then, US military technology
wasn't in any sense special, so the casualties can be taken as a crude
estimate of actual military powers deployed.

> Again, note that Russia didn't declare war on Japan until 8 Aug 1945 - 6 
> days before Japan surrendered.  Although Russia *DID* invade Manchuria 
> after declaring war, the Japanese had already abandoned it.  Furthermore, 
> the Russians had NO naval capacity and no landing craft - were they going 
> to swim to Tokyo from Mongolia?  With the US on the Japanese doorstep?

The Pacific fleet was there, and (unlike US fleets) its supply lines were
short.  They could make many turns in a relatively short time.  Besides,
given the state of Japanese forces by that time the occupation wouldn't
take much.

Kuril islands are still occupied (or belong to, depending on which side
you're listening to) by Russia.  How they could be captured "with no
landing craft" in the first place is left as an excercise in elementary
logic.

Note that i _never_ referred to opinions of any historicans, just made
conclusions from undeniable facts, assuming rational strategies from
commanders.  (Assuming an irrational strategy is a way to explain anything
and is not really productive - but is found in historical books all too
often).

--vadim