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Thread: The Official World War II Thread

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    Many books, little time Flattop's Avatar
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    Default The Official World War II Thread

    As there is an Official Civil War Thread, I thought I would start one for WWII.

    The first question for the thread might be who gets the blame for the war. The seemingly obvious answer would be Hitler, but could the allies have prevented a war?
    Last edited by Flattop; 05-27-2011 at 11:41 AM.
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    Not Banned Tim's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flattop View Post
    As there is an Official Civil War Thread, I thought I would start one for WWII.

    The first question for the thread might be who gets the blame for the war. The obvious answer would be Hitler, but could the allies have prevented a war?
    I would point out that, like your friend suggested, an attempt to pin down fault on a single element appearing in the years before the war started without considering decades or even hundreds of years of context is probably not fit for an intelligent or in-depth discussion about the topic. Blaming Hitler is easy and obvious. But what led them to that point? What happened in the 1700s and 1800s and pre-1930s to cause someone like Hitler to get power in the first place? What caused the allocation and alignment of land throughout Europe and the political configurations that caused one nation to support or lay down for Germany and another nation to oppose it? What events and decisions in Asia led to the nearly unchecked power of the Japanese in the 50 years prior to 1941?

    I'm more fascinated with the context and configurations in the time before the war than with the actual stats of battles or the movements of troops. I'd love to read or participate in a discussion that focuses on the former more than the latter.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flattop View Post
    As there is an Official Civil War Thread, I thought I would start one for WWII.

    The first question for the thread might be who gets the blame for the war. The obvious answer would be Hitler, but could the allies have prevented a war?
    I think identifying the causes is more interesting (and potentially useful) than identifying the blame. Also, were the responses to the various events and actions the appropriate ones?

    The subject that endlessly fascinates me about WWII is the apparent embrace, by the peoples of Japan and Germany (especially Germany) of militarism and fascism, and the use of such evil means to advance their causes. These were highly educated cultures of long standing and deep traditions. I'm not interested in judging but in understanding the phenomenon.
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    I would say that lingering French bloodlust over the terrible terms of the Franco-Prussian War led them to impose harsh penalties at Versailles that helped nurture bitter Teutonic fruit during the Depression.

    But, there are hundreds of thousands of causes, all important.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flattop View Post
    As there is an Official Civil War Thread, I thought I would start one for WWII.

    The first question for the thread might be who gets the blame for the war. The obvious answer would be Hitler, but could the allies have prevented a war?
    I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure it was the South and their slave-holding ways.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Clark Addison View Post
    I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure it was the South and their slave-holding ways.
    I hope the Cubs do poorly this year.
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    Many books, little time Flattop's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tim View Post
    I would point out that, like your friend suggested, an attempt to pin down fault on a single element appearing in the years before the war started without considering decades or even hundreds of years of context is probably not fit for an intelligent or in-depth discussion about the topic. Blaming Hitler is easy and obvious. But what led them to that point? What happened in the 1700s and 1800s and pre-1930s to cause someone like Hitler to get power in the first place? What caused the allocation and alignment of land throughout Europe and the political configurations that caused one nation to support or lay down for Germany and another nation to oppose it?
    I have edited the original to say "The seemingly obvious answer would be Hitler. . . ." For while I said obvious, did not necessarily mean it was the correct answer.

    The historian A. J. P. Taylor wrote in his book The Origins of the Second World War that there was a major difference in how the First and Second World Wars are treated. With WWI, the primary focus is on the origins of the war, and very little space, comparatively, is given to the fighting that followed. The opposite is the case with WWII as most historians accept Hitler's guilt and give the most space to the fighting.

    Taylor argued that the origins of WWII are much more complex than is generally accepted. Things may have changed some since Taylor wrote his book in 1961, but the majority of space is still given to the campaigns and battles than to the origin of the war.

    In Herman Wouk's novel The Winds of War, there is a scene where one character says he is reading Mein Kampf to better understand the war that had just broken out. Another character then argues that if he truly wants to understand Germany and the war, he should read several different historians and philosophers which he then lists.

    Many Americans find it difficult to understand how the German people could give so much power to an individual they find almost comical. To the Germans, Hitler had the fingertip touch, but Americans have a tough time seeing the appeal. Certainly there are significant differences between American and German culture and to understand how Hitler came to power, we need to think more like Germans of the first half the 20th century than as Americans of the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

    The origins of the Third Reich and the Second World War are indeed complex. But I think it is safe to say that Hitler understood German culture and had the skills to use certain aspects of that culture to achieve his ends.
    Last edited by Flattop; 05-27-2011 at 12:01 PM.
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    As for the Allies, the disarmament terms of the Versailles Treaty should have preserved the peace if strictly enforced against Germany until at least 1934. As it was, in 1935 France alone could have invaded and reoccupied Germany almost without serious fighting. In 1936 there should still have been no doubt of France's overwhelmingly superior strength.

    In 1938, with the knowledge of their weakness, the German high command did their utmost to restrain Hitler from his invading Austria and Czechoslovakia. In the year after the appeasement at Munich, the German Army, though still weaker in trained reserves than the French Army, approached its full efficiency. Thus Britain and France passed on the best chances to stop Hitler only to accept more difficult circumstances in 1939 over the question of Poland.

    Following 1936, Hitler grew stronger, and the Allies comparatively weaker, with every passing year. Germany could not have fought a war before 1938, and yet the Allies allowed Hitler to abrogate the Versailles and Locarno treaties by rearming. Hitler took a huge gamble in occupying the demilitarized Rhineland, and if the Allies had responded with even the threat of force, Hitler would have had to withdraw his forces. Had this happened, anti-Nazi groups in Germany may have been able to overthrow the Hitler government.

    In 1938, when Hitler menaced Czechoslovakia, Germany could ill afford to fight the Czechs in the east and France and Britain in the west. The Czech's had a quality army with excellent defensive terrain, and Hitler was not as strong as he would be a year later when he invaded Poland, a country with a weaker army and no defensible terrain. But by giving Hitler what he said he wanted in order to avoid war, the allies instead made a greater war inevitable.

    In the end, Hitler is responsible for his aggressions which led to war, IMO. As inadvisable as the heavy reparations might have been, along with the war guilt clause and the dictated peace of Versailles, none of these things justified anything Hitler did. But Hitler might have been stopped short of global, catastrophic war if the Allies had strictly enforced the disarmament terms of the Versailles Treaty or, failing that, had responded to Hitler's early violations -- or even Mussolini's invasion of Ethiopia -- with even just a credible threat of force.
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    I don't recall who said this around that time, but I have always enjoyed it: The British take their weekends in the country, and Hilter takes his countries on the weekends.
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    The question and discussion thus far seem to completely ignore the role of Japan in the "world" war.

    Just looking at a map - isn't it true that Japan was much more aggressive than Germany in their plans for adding to their empire? Certainly before Hitler began his two front war.

    I see Japan and Germany has coming from two very different backgrounds, as far as what they wanted and didn't have, when it comes to why the war began.

    What would've happened had Germany stayed put (either due to Hitler being stopped politically or by force). Would Japan have gone ahead with their plans? Would they have been more aggressive or less? Would they have attacked the US or backed down on their empire building efforts in Asia?

    I know that no one can know these things, but I often find myself intrigued by the what if's.

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    Quote Originally Posted by wuapinmon View Post
    I hope the Cubs do poorly this year.
    Too late! They already have!

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    I think Japan would not have been checked by anyone so long as they did not threaten any colonial possessions.

    Hong Kong, Singapore and India by the British

    Vietnam by the French

    Phillipines and Hawaii by US.

    If they stayed out of those countries I believe the world would have turned a blind eye to what they were doing in Manchuria.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Clark Addison View Post
    Too late! They already have!
    I get the feeling that 2024 will be the Cubs year!
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    NSFW

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    Taken today





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    [QUOTE=Moliere;599192]Taken today






    I see you visited St. Mere Eglise - When my brother and I went to Normandy a couple of years ago we stayed in a B&B about 1/2 mile from that church. It is really sobering to visit the beaches and the cemeteries.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Borderline Divine View Post
    I think Japan would not have been checked by anyone so long as they did not threaten any colonial possessions.

    Hong Kong, Singapore and India by the British

    Vietnam by the French

    Phillipines and Hawaii by US.

    If they stayed out of those countries I believe the world would have turned a blind eye to what they were doing in Manchuria.
    I'm not to sure about that - the US gov't had a fairly active China lobby and by the late '30s was getting really concerned about Japanese expansion in China - that is what the embargos were about, that and their treatment of Nanking. The war might not have happened a quickly and it did, but I think it would have come eventually.
    Last edited by happyone; 05-29-2011 at 08:56 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Borderline Divine View Post
    I think Japan would not have been checked by anyone so long as they did not threaten any colonial possessions.

    Hong Kong, Singapore and India by the British

    Vietnam by the French

    Phillipines and Hawaii by US.

    If they stayed out of those countries I believe the world would have turned a blind eye to what they were doing in Manchuria.
    Many assumptions there, including that the USA and others would have ceded control of shipping lanes to a warlike Japan. And that's just for starters.
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    Many books, little time Flattop's Avatar
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    I'm a bit late with this, but. . . .

    As long as Japan's war was confined to China, the most the U.S., England or anyone else would have done is enforce embargoes. Without the fall of France to Germany, Japan would not have occupied French Indochina. Without a major war going on in Europe between Germany, England and Russia, Japan would never have been so bold as to attack British, Dutch and American possessions.
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    "Unconditional Surrender" Grant -- The FDR Version

    http://flattopshistorywarpolitics.yu...he-FDR-Version
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flattop View Post
    I'm a bit late with this, but. . . .

    As long as Japan's war was confined to China, the most the U.S., England or anyone else would have done is enforce embargoes. Without the fall of France to Germany, Japan would not have occupied French Indochina. Without a major war going on in Europe between Germany, England and Russia, Japan would never have been so bold as to attack British, Dutch and American possessions.
    Which is what I meant to say, you just said it much better. And I'm not clear on what LA means re: shipping lanes. Why would Japan block shipping lanes of non-belligerents? Particularly if that meant they would remain non-belligerents?

    Pre-Pearl Harbor, anti-war sentiment in the US was huge. FDR couldn't even get us into the European conflict, let alone interest Americans in fighting Japan all over the South Pacific.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Borderline Divine View Post
    Which is what I meant to say, you just said it much better. And I'm not clear on what LA means re: shipping lanes. Why would Japan block shipping lanes of non-belligerents? Particularly if that meant they would remain non-belligerents?

    Pre-Pearl Harbor, anti-war sentiment in the US was huge. FDR couldn't even get us into the European conflict, let alone interest Americans in fighting Japan all over the South Pacific.
    Sure, there was anti-war sentiment.

    But isn't it also true that there were volunteers who were signing up to fight prior to the US officially entering the war? Perhaps not enlisted soldiers, but at least pilots were.

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    Receiver of Memory LA Ute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Borderline Divine View Post
    I think Japan would not have been checked by anyone so long as they did not threaten any colonial possessions.

    Hong Kong, Singapore and India by the British

    Vietnam by the French

    Phillipines and Hawaii by US.

    If they stayed out of those countries I believe the world would have turned a blind eye to what they were doing in Manchuria.
    I don't know what you are trying to say here. Is it that powerless China was being oppressed and the only reason the military powers of the era got involved on China's behalf was because those powers' interests were threatened? If so, I don't see what's new about that in world history. It's not glorious but it's been going on for a long time. In the end the USA did the right thing in WWII and paid a terrible price to do so. Do you disagree?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eddie View Post
    Sure, there was anti-war sentiment.

    But isn't it also true that there were volunteers who were signing up to fight prior to the US officially entering the war? Perhaps not enlisted soldiers, but at least pilots were.
    True, and in both theatres of the war. This was also true in WW1 as young Americans signed up to fight Germany as private citizens. Also true of the Spanish Civil War.

    But there was zero political will prior to Pearl Harbor on either side of the aisle. Just finished re-reading "A Traitor To His Class" about FDR and am pretty confident in my case here although others are welcome to disagree.
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    Quote Originally Posted by LA Ute View Post
    I don't know what you are trying to say here. Is it that powerless China was being oppressed and the only reason the military powers of the era got involved on China's behalf was because those powers' interests were threatened? If so, I don't see what's new about that in world history. It's not glorious but it's been going on for a long time. In the end the USA did the right thing in WWII and paid a terrible price to do so. Do you disagree?
    Yes that is what I mean. While there was indignation about Japan's naked invasion of a prostrate China - particularly after the rape of Nanking - in my opinion none of the major powers would have overtly done a thing to check Japan militarily. The only possible exception to that may have been Russia if she felt her southern flank threatened, but the motherland had her hands rather full on the western front.

    And no, nothing new here at all. The Allies only came to the defense of China because the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

    Of course I agree that the US did the right thing in WW2. But just like every other country since the dawn of time we did it out of pure self interest. And I see nothing wrong with that.
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    Many books, little time Flattop's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eddie View Post
    Sure, there was anti-war sentiment.

    But isn't it also true that there were volunteers who were signing up to fight prior to the US officially entering the war? Perhaps not enlisted soldiers, but at least pilots were.
    There were relatively small handfuls of volunteers, and many of the pilots were U.S. military officers who resigned their commissions to join the Eagle Squadrons in Britain or the American Volunteer Group in China.

    Meanwhile, German U-boat attacks on American destroyers in the Atlantic did not draw America into the war.
    Last edited by Flattop; 06-08-2011 at 12:30 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Borderline Divine View Post
    I think Japan would not have been checked by anyone so long as they did not threaten any colonial possessions.

    Hong Kong, Singapore and India by the British

    Vietnam by the French

    Phillipines and Hawaii by US.

    If they stayed out of those countries I believe the world would have turned a blind eye to what they were doing in Manchuria.
    I don't think Japan would have stopped at China no matter what was happening in Europe. The Army had the bit in its teeth and they were bound and determined to set up the Great Asia Co Prosperity Sphere. From what I understand they wanted Malayasia's oil and rubber resources to have a secure supplies of those critical resources and not to be dependant on anyone else.
    Last edited by happyone; 06-09-2011 at 06:42 AM.

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    My family and I are headed to Corregidor on Monday. We are going to try to squeeze in a tour on Bataan Tuesday. I'm really looking forward to seeing this piece of WWII history.
    Last edited by CJF; 06-09-2011 at 06:46 AM.

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    Many books, little time Flattop's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by happyone View Post
    I don't think Japan would have stopped at China no matter what was happening in Europe. The Army had the bit in its teeth and they were bound and determined to set up the Great Asia Co Prosperity Sphere. From what I understand they wanted Malayasia's oil and rubber resources to have a secure supplies of those critical resources and not to be dependant on anyone else.
    Japan didn't start looking south until the fall of France. Up to the point the Army seemed to be more interested in fighting Russia in Mongolia.

    Additionally, without a war in Europe, I do not believe that the Navy could have been persuaded to go to war against Britain and the United States.
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    Many books, little time Flattop's Avatar
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    Barbarossa Month.

    Tomorrow marks the 70th anniversary of Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union. Link:

    http://flattopshistorywarpolitics.yu...ster/1/?page=1
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    Col. Klink: "I didn't mean you sir, you're not clever."

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