A couple of my favorites from the Pacific Theater: 1) Radar detected the Japanese strike force approaching Pearl Harbor, but the guy in charge said it was a glitch. 2) The Japanese planned to declare war before attacking, but mix-ups in the way coded messages were processed kept the Japanese delegation from delivering the declaration of war until after the attack, and 3) On several occasions Yamamoto made battle plans that stood some chance of success -- only to have Army guys muck around with the details. That had to get pretty frustrating.
You really can't make some of this shit up.
It's like the Nazis escaped from the pages of fiction and invaded reality using a time machine.
EDIT: Turns out Hugo Boss didn't design the uniforms. Still, they were quite stylish.
This is a Euro-centric perspective. The Germans did not do anything different than any of the colonial powers in their own colonies. The difference with the Germans is that they decided to colonize Europe.
In terms of excess mortality, the man-made British famines in India are worse. The genocide of Native Americans by the Spanish, English and French colonists is unparalleled in human history for its duration, brutality and number of casualties. In Africa it is much the same - forget Belgians in the Congo, the British had death camps in Kenya in the 1950s!
If you look at the total number of people killed, hitler's atrocities pale in comparison with those of Stalin and Mao.
Whereas in Nazi Germany it was a much colder clinical decision to systematically remove "undesirable" elements from society. I think it is the systematic element of their terror, rather than the sheer lunatic barbarity of the communist regimes, that makes them so scary.
There were some courageous Germans who chose to defy the Nazis (e.g. the White Rose group http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Rose) but that to me is quite different.
The overwhelming majority of Germans, if they didn't belong to one of the racial or political categories hated by the Nazis, had nothing to fear unless they chose to defy the state. Most didn't.
I still disagree on the main point that to be at risk in nazi germany you had to somehow defy the regime.
Your view seem to be that in nazi germany you could simply comply with the ruling ideology and be fine, but as I said above, you can think of the killings and arrests by the thousands of the SA (which had been key to hitler's seize of power) as a glaring counter example.
Moreover, the gestapo mostly run operations based on delations from common citizens (the origin of the "gestapo=big brother" misconception), it's not hard to imagine how mundane they can be. Unless you have a much better view of humanity than I have :)
As for the count, there are reasons to believe that Hitler was direct cause for WW2 in Europe. That one took quite a bit more people than 6M Jews you seem to imply.
edit: I'll post some sources when I get home
This includes the best available numbers on the people imprisoned and executed for counter-revolutionary (political, kulaks, etc.) crimes from 1921 to 1954 in the entire Soviet Union (includes republics annexed in 1939) from a report ordered by Khruschev (ie - the real numbers, not speculation), as well as an analysis of the commonly published speculative numbers:
http://translate.google.com/translate?js=y&prev=_t&h... (Google English translation)
642,980 executed, 2,369,220 imprisoned, 765,180 internally exiled over a 30-year period. That is 21,433 people receiving capital punishment each year, and 78,974 imprisoned per year. To put it in perspective, 89,000 people were sentenced (up to a maximum term of 5 years) for cannabis possession in the UK in 1998.
If you include the number of excess deaths from the Ukrainian and Kazakh famines of 1932, the direct and excess deaths from the civil war and the civil war famines, there's still no comparison to the Third Reich.
If this is so, your numbers cannot be correct.
And yes, the Holodomor counts too.
tschild's two comments here summarize my thinking: http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=257389#...
The Americans came up with an anti-tank grenade that was really sticky so that it would stay to the tank it was thrown at. Discontinued due to an unfortunate tendency to remain in the thrower's hand.
The Russians (land of Pavlov and all that) came up with the idea of dogs with bombs strapped to their backs that had learned to associate the under side of tanks with food. Great idea, and it might have worked, if the Russian trainers had access to German tanks for the training. Unfortunately when first deployed the dogs proved able to tell Russian tanks apart from German ones, and immediately put the Russians in full retreat.
(I found these in a book of world's worsts that I read many, many years ago.)
There is also info about the Soviet anti-tank dog program at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-tank_dog#Deployment_by_the...
The technology was innovative, but the results were mixed. Almost half the aircrews died, and the main casualties of the resulting floods were forced laborers and POWs.
Pykrete, really - a combination of wood and ice. And the idea had merit - see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Habakkuk for lots of interesting details.
What about nukes kept warm by live chickens:
Every think this stuff is cliche BECAUSE of WWII? Or am I just dense?
History is just, all of us, doing things selfishly.
The Soviets knew in advance of the invasion of the USSR but Stalin could not believe that the Germany could do such thing. Not because he trusted Hitler, but because such a decision would be stupid - Hitler himself claimed that war on two fronts was unwinnable for Germany since WWI and because he didn't see an adequate preparation for an invasion - sure you have troops near the border, but they were in no way prepared for Russian roads, Russian winter or the Russian distances. There was no way Germany could defeat the USSR before winter sets in with no planning.
Stalin planned an invasion of Nazi-controlled Europe, before the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union. But the Germans had their invasion a few weeks before the planned. But since the troops and materiel were prepared for an offensive war they could react adequately in the beginning. The Russians had only bombers and a million trained paratroops - this is definitely a preparation for an offensive war.
The Germans couldn't achieve any major objective in the USSR anyway:
* they didn't destroy the Russian industrial capability: Moscow and Leningrad weren't taken and behind them you have the Volga and Ural areas, which produced materiel and provided manpower which let the USSR win the war and conquer for itself half of Europe. Plus even much of the plants that were in Ukraine and Belarus were evacuated of their skilled workers and expensive machinery and new ones quickly were formed deep behind the lines of combat and the ranges of Wehrmacht air power.
* no major resource was lacking in the USSR - certainly not oil, which was one of the critical ones. Germany barely had enough from Romania for its own needs. France, the Balkans, Northern Europe, North Africa were invaded with Soviet provided oil, thanks to the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact.
* they didn't isolate Russia politically - they couldn't convince the Japanese to attack them in the back while Soviets had instant allies - Britain and United States which generously provided even more materials and technology.
And this was exactly because the war was started by a logical, sane author.
Stalin overestimated Hitler, thinking he wouldn't do such a thing. Germany had no realistic way of winning a war against the USSR with those conditions. I am not saying that USSR was unbeatable. Just that the Germans didn't have a feasible plan to do it and it was obvious to Stalin.
If Hitler hadn't been a deranged fool he would have not sent the SS into Czechoslovakia (which turned the initially rejoicing population hostile), and would have immediately drove right for Moscow. Had he done that the Russians would have had no communication lines, which would have made it massively harder for them to organize a resistance.
Hitler in some sense was the best friend the Allied forces had. Every time he made a major military decision (eg "let the English rescue all of their troops at Dunkirk") it turned out to be really stupid. And the conduct of the Russian war shows lots of examples of that.
In particular note that the claim that the Nazis were attacking first to head off a counter-attack is a claim the Germans made during WW II. However there is little evidence for this, and Stalin's instructions to his generals in December of 1940 suggests that the Soviet Union knew it would eventually be invaded, thought it would easily be ready in 4 years, and was trying to put the invasion off for at least 2. When the invasion came in May they were caught unprepared and by surprise.
Books have been written about the "Stalin Personality Cult", his enormous personal power and his perfect control over all matters of state. And you dismiss this with a few cute remarks.
For your remarkable claims, you will have to provide MUCH more evidence. Try this: google Stalin and start reading.
also let me caution you that probably unlike you I have actual experience living in Soviet Union (not under Stalin, fortunately) and getting to know the "evidence" first hand.
But it's not just oversimplification of collective action, the plot was overblown even at the level of purely individual events in individual characters' lives. Arguably the greatest theoretical/experimental crossover physicist of the century takes the occasion of accepting his Nobel Prize to escape with his Jewish wife from Il Duce, and a few years later stands musing over a nuclear chain reaction in a secret project in Chicago? Puhleeze.
Not only that, but the reactor is in the basement of the University's stadium. Whoever wrote that one must've been reading Spider Man!
I guess this is already some consequence of history-rewriting going on in some parts, combined with strange coincidences. But in general, yes, the whole story, especially when told in such few words as the original article, doesn't make a lot of sense.
On a different note: I totally agree on his opinion about Bablyon 5. There are few other series that managed to capture me as much as B5 did. Especially seasons 2 and 3 are brilliant and I would highly recommend everyone with even just a slight liking of Sci-Fi to give at least these two seasons a go.
If you want, you can start at S1, but it's quite slowly building up story, so you might get bored out, but in the context of the whole series, quite many episodes in S1 do make a lot of sense too.
No one disputes that it would have been possible to avoid armed conflict with Nazi Germany. The relevant question is "at what cost?" Given Hitler's ambitions, do you really think that he'd have stopped at the channel?
It is reasonable to suggest that Chamberlain bought some time for Britain to re-arm and that trying to defend the continent was a bad idea. But that's very different from suggesting that sustained peace was a reasonable possibility.
Empires have a tendency to reach their zenith and slowly recede after that. When you have occupying powers like Nazi Germany they're likely to fall apart eventually due to internal strife. The Roman Empire did, so did the Soviet Union, partly.
Had WW2 not happened we might just have had a Cold War with four actors (USA, UK, Germany, Soviet Union) instead of 2. The world might not be too different today, with Germany either toppled from within, or having had their version of the civil rights movement.
Then again they might have tried to take over the entire world. But I think it's somewhat naïve to extrapolate states at their most violent beginnings to how they might have evolved in the future.
If some hypothetical world police would have stopped the USA at its beginnings we might very well read in our history books today that if it wasn't for that, the US would have proceeded to eradicate the rest of the world's indigenous peoples. And that it would still be keeping millions of people as slaves.
In reality the fate of states is more complex than the plans of any one man. Even if he's the Führer.
The Roman Empire didn't "calm down" for hundreds of years. Even the USSR took a couple of decades. And in both cases, they ran into opposition.
If you're going to argue that a legacy-obsessed Hitler would have calmed down within a year or so despite encountering no significant opposition, you need something more than "it could happen".
Also, S1 is the best B5 there is, rise of the psycorps, nightwatch, captain getting kidnapped by creepy intelligence guys to be mindfucked, it's just like WWII!
At the end of S1, events are set in motion (not spoiling anything here, but the end of S1 is super-awesome and constantly sends shivers down my spine when I'm watching it), but it's not quite there yet.
Also, there are many non-story-relevant episodes in S1. But as I said: It's building up background. Just very slowly for first-time watchers.
That's not surprising as that's how TV series worked back then: Most episodes are closed in themselves and there basically is no overall story progression.
IMHO it was B5 that broke with that tradition and nowadays series are just like very, very long movies.
B5 has to be the best mix of great writing and proper execution I have ever seen. Had to have lots to do with Straczynski doing stuff his way.
On this note - what are other similarly well executed series that I'm unaware of, genre is irrelevant?
This article was probably meant as humour, but I can't help but notice that fiction and life are two very different things. Fiction makes sense; life very often does not.
Of course, what qualifies as 'good' is subjective, and to get a little meta, fiction doesn't make sense - we make sense of fiction, just as with life. See also: religion vs. science.
It addresses that particular piece of rewritten history.
Sheer ignorance. Simply read Mein Kampf. The Nazis had an urgent program to conquer the whole world ASAP because of they thought there was too much cross-breeding with "inferior" races. They had to get started right then! The death camps? To rid the world of so-called genetic contamination. It's all spelled out in Hitler's books. (There was a sequel book.)
EDIT: Okay, I get to the end, and the article is all tongue in cheek.
What part of that does not sound like a cartoonishly evil super-villain motivation suitable for a comic book?
"Battalions of stormtroopers dressed in all black, check"
Maybe at the onset at the war, but for the last year or two it was a pathetic lot of teenagers and the elderly after all the desirable soldiers had all been killed, captured or maimed.
That's not fair. They explained it in the backstory - the Germans were short on fuel and needed full access to Caspian hydrocarbon reserves.
No intellectual curiosity was satisfied by the article.
You'll hear people complain that the show X jumped the shark because of the character A or plot device B. Yet a lot of those same people don't question much of what they "know" about World War II. And a lot of those who do question it, just give up and say "Oh, well, it's history. We'll never really know, will we?"
"Evil" is a concept useful for propaganda and little else.
Also, please name a government that hasn't done anything evil. There's none! Governments are dangerous things.
Calling an action "evil" does not explain it or help prevent it - it's usually a way to express revulsion and avoid further thinking.
Calling specific people "evil" again does not explain their actions or give insights how to make them not-evil or prevent others from becoming like them. In fact, all such explanations and insights are usually strongly rejected by those who'd rather express the strongest possible revulsion for them.
Finally, calling groups of people "evil" is almost always a method to dehumanize them and justify killing them, while suspending critical thought in those you want to do the killing.
True, but it isn't always about dividing things... Sometimes there's just no other word to describe certain actions or groups of people. Mentioned elsewhere in the thread were the atrocities of Hitler, Stalin, Mao -- what is one to say about those? "Oh, it's just a matter of perspective?" I think not.
Okay, let me put it this way: What government hasn't done something that would cause revulsion in a bystander? None!
If you'll protest, why? And why you don't protest againist all the governments that do this all evil things?
Many things are relative, but not all. Making it seem relative is just comfy, but comfort is less important than truth.
I'll agree that every country in WWII wasn't innocent, that Jews right now are overplaying the Holocaust card, that many countries politis, unfortunately including mine, makes victims of itself, which is indignifing and stupid thing to do. But telling me Holocaust wasn't evil makes me think you wouldn't mean it repeating, and that makes me hate you a little :) (ok, I really don't believe you wouldn't mean - I think you just play the devil advocate there).
That's definitely not okay.
If you'll protest, why? And why you don't protest against all the governments that do this all evil things?
Hell, I only have 112 useful waking hours a week. If I tried to protest over every egregious thing perpetrated by a government, that would be a full time occupation. Heck, just keeping track of those things would be.
But telling me Holocaust wasn't evil makes me think you wouldn't mean it repeating, and that makes me hate you a little
AHEM! If you read the parent comments, you'll find that I am advocating the applicability of the term evil!
Your comment is so full of putting words into other's mouths, grasping for straws, and unwarranted leaps, I don't know where to begin.
I've interpreted your statement that all countries did sth wrong as statement that Nazi Germany, USSR were no worse than other countries, and their deeds were nothing more evil than deeds of other countries.
Should have deleted my comment, but that way it will remind me to read whole thread before replying.
Non-government organizations of similar size are just as good at perpetrating evil, when they get the chance. Fortunately, few private companies are allowed to participate in wars.
However, for what separates the totalitarian regimes of the 20th century from today's situations is the degree to which the unimaginable suffering of individuals was known about and dictated by those in power rather than being a tragic side-effect of other misguided policies.
"Evil" is a concept useful for propaganda and little else.
Seeing WWII completely in terms of how valiant US soldiers defeated the evil Nazis is a great way to avoid noticing tendencies in the US that the Nazis would feel right at home with.
It's not about ehtics being relative
It's easy to become so consumed with something that you throw the baby out with the bathwater, which you did above in claiming that evil had little use apart from propaganda.
That's false. Evil is an idea that stands on its own, and is important in our thinking.
Evil is a very useful way to understand fiction because the "reality" it exists in is made-up and fits the description. In the real world evil is much more ambiguous, and is mostly a tool for helping convince people that one side is awful and the other must therefore be right. The fact that people are wired to react that way makes it very useful for propaganda.
The important thing is we should never forget the dead and forget Europe's folly of WW1 and WW2. Its our generation's responsibility to work together in Europe so it doesn't happen again.
I'm witnessing the rise of fascism around me as I write this, it comes in the guise of 'freedom', just like last time. So it is already happening again, indeed, while the last who fought to put down the previous monstrosity are still alive.
We'll see where it leads, I'm not so pessimistic as to think that it will be as bad as last time but there is a small chance that in the next elections the Netherlands will have it's first ultra-right wing nationalist regime.
People really do forget, and while I'm all for poking fun at stuff it would be good if the lessons of history stayed learned.
It is Africa, and as much as it sucks for the people there, it has always been so and will properly be so long after we are gone.
And no, there is nothing special about Africans, but a lot that is "special" about Africa. The rampant disease. The widespread corruption. The poverty resulting from those. The political boundaries that are a remnant of European map making rather than any sort of internal logic. These have contributed to generations of misery, and there is no immediate prospect of this changing.
The best thing for Africa imho currently would be a big fence around it, and a label on the gate reading "Do not open before year 3000 AD. Sincerely, the people of 2000 AD."