There is another historical view of Zhukov:
- He wasn't the military genius he portrayed himself to be and actually stole the credit for the achievements of other officers. For example he supposedly saved Stalingrad yet was nowhere near it, he came to Halkin Gol when the battle was beginning and didn't credit the staff chief for the excellent planning and so forth.
- He was a Stalin yes-man, and in stark contrast to his autobiography, there is no proof he ever challenged him on any decision. This is what Stalin liked, he needed talented commanders, but also people who will follow his orders to the letter.
- His handling of the Red Army in the summer of 1941 while he was Chief of Staff, was absolutely disastrous. He lost millions of men in ill planned counter attacks. Stalin kept him around because he followed orders (see above).
- Besides being a yes-man, by all unofficial accounts he was a brute and enjoyed humiliating his soldiers and officers. He was often in fights even with other marshals.
- He didn't care much about his soldiers lives, this is why Stalin sent him to capture Berlin as soon as possible.
- He wasn't demoted because of paranoia (he probably wouldn't be alive). He was actually demoted because he allowed his troops to pillage Eastern Germany for months, and took a huge share of the booty. Not that Stalin was particularly humanitarian, but this meant that discipline had become nonexistent.
- Far from being apolitical and not involved in intrigue, he actually participated in a coup against Malenkov and Beria. He almost became the leader of the Soviet Union, however was cleverly outmaneuvered by Khrushchev who put him in retirement.
- His mythos began during the time of Brezhnev, when he needed to rewrite the history of WWII to suit his ends. His autobiography was certainly not written by him, as are its subsequent 15 editions which hilariously contradict each other often. His daughter supposedly finds forgotten pages that just happen to complement the evolving views of Kremlin for over 40 years.
Useful corollary would be to stop taking any self-celebration so naively. It is not like his autobiography was the only one where a person celebrates himselfs and ads himself a credit.
Who is on the other side of the controversy?
If we want heroes then it should be the poor guys who have to go to battle for no payoff and often loss of life or limb.
Historically, casualties in war were far higher than they've been lately, so successful military leaders USUALLY were lauded for their ability to not bring home friendly troops in bodybags repeatedly. Now, I'm not even sure we've seen them accomplish that. With a few exceptions they are mostly energetic, charismatic, yes-men who deliver mediocre results.
Having worked in a 3-star headquarters....flag officers are definitely cut from a different cloth, personality-wise, even compared to many of the Colonels I've worked for directly under them.
>>>If we want heroes then it should be the poor guys who have to go to battle for no payoff and often loss of life or limb.
It's not like we ignore them, almost all medals for valor are awarded to junior ranks (enlisted guys and a few junior officers). As a rough estimate, look at the living Medal of Honor recipients from Iraq & Afghanistan. The only exception in recent memory is maybe the field-grade Marine officer who organized the defense of Camp Bastion, and he was given a much lower medal (still, a Silver Star is very impressive).
"Wanted to liberalize the system" my ass.
Now, Kruschev and the rest of the politburo certainly didn't want to be led by Beria -- they knew Beria was a monster and would eat them alive, so Beria had to go. Of course, if Kruschev had meant to be an uber monster himself once in power, Beria would still have had to go. There's no two ways about it: monsters have to take the competition down.
Beria had less than four months in power, so it's hard to judge how it would have gone from there had he stayed in power as long as Kruschev.
All I know is they were all monsters. Stalin had seen to it that they so be -- they all had to have skin in the game to protect Stalin.
Why do American scholars have to justify the bombings each time? "President Truman ordered nuclear bombs dropped on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki." would have been sufficient. It feels like newspeak in 1984.
My understanding is that the nuclear bombs were approximately as destructive as the fire-bombing technique. (Commonly used in the war) If we fire bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, just as many lives would be lost but we would never talk about it.
The difference is that fire bombing required many more planes and many more bombs, thus increasing American military risk. Enemy civilian casualties would be similar.
The alternative would have been Operation Downfall, a conventional invasion expected to cause up to 10M casualties and involve chemical weapons.
For scale, the atomic bombings killed ~200K Japanese while the Japanese occupation of China alone killed 20M
The savagery of the Imperial Japanese forces is well documented, as is their willingness to fight until death. It is difficult to imagine what the resistance involved in invading Japan would have been like.
The atomic bombings without doubt saved hundreds of thousands of lives on both sides. Further, since WWII, nuclear weapons have been a greater force for peace than anything in history. Let's hope that status quo continues...
> the United States… is now riven by toxic political discord and stands at the brink of social collapse
both cases unnecessary, off-topic, and detract from an otherwise good article
Or should it read "Truman authorised nuclear bombs dropped", there is a fair difference in meaning.
Plus the five stars.
As the saying goes, you can always tell a Yorkshireman... but you can't tell him much. ;)
We live with this slight propaganda that the USA was the responsible to liberate Europe, but in fact, USA showed up here at the end of the war when the Russians had already inflicted a major defeat on the German army, and it was the sacrifice of Russian men at Stalingrad (together with any material help the British could afford to spare to that front), that ultimately won the war for the Allies, not D-day.
Trying to reduce the war down to any one side is, IMHO, wrong and suspect.
I don’t blame the western allies for the strategy but the soviets don’t get adequate credit for the privation they suffered.
this old trope? the soviets were horrible monsters.
they killed jews (many pogroms). during peacetime they killed at least as many people as the nazis did.
the great trick that the soviets managed is to make us belief they were on the right side of history, when in reality they were on the worst side, every single time.
one of the greatest mistakes of WW2 was the US support of the USSR. they should have left the two madmen to kill eachother. the world would have been a much better place. what did we get in return? USSR dominating half of Europe, murdering, scheming, destroying the social fabric of the continent for half a century.
All of that is orthogonal to the fact that over a third of the people who died in WW2 were Soviets, and many people do not realize it, which is the point the grandparent comment was making.
According to whom?
We certainly learned the human burden the Soviets bore, including their less-than-Western regard for life, as a part of the war in my public school.
Perhaps if they hadn't raped, pillaged, and plundered their way through Europe they would've seen a bit more celebration from their erstwhile allies.
Makes you wonder why Americans did get that celebration then:
"In 1945, after the end of the war in Europe, Le Havre was filled with American servicemen awaiting return to the States. A Le Havre citizen wrote to the mayor that the people of Le Havre were "attacked, robbed, run over both on the street and in our houses" and "This is a regime of terror, imposed by bandits in uniform." A coffeehouse owner from Le Havre testified "We expected friends who would not make us ashamed of our defeat. Instead, there came only incomprehension, arrogance, incredibly bad manners and the swagger of conquerors." Such behavior also was common in Cherbourg. One resident stated that "With the Germans, the men had to camouflage themselves—but with the Americans, we had to hide the women."" 
I wonder if it had anything to do, with the much better implemented propaganda machine, USA had in Western Europe after WWII.
Stalin and Zhukov both actively condoned the rape of women and the atrocities in East Prussia included the rape and crucifixion of women and elderly children and the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff which was equivalent to 5+ Titanics
It was a different order of magnitude of brutality on both sides
Considering how the Nazis treated the Slavic peoples they conquered and that the Russians got to see all that on their tour of eastern Europe prior to arriving in Germany I think it's a miracle that the soviet army didn't get even.
Exactly. Just look at how many times Allied victory in WWII in Europe is reduced to D-Day. It's highly wrong and suspicious.
This part really struck me hard because my tools are all mint, despite being bought years ago:
> For me, the knife’s most compelling quality is that it clearly saw hard use, most probably by Zhukov himself: some of the blades are stained; a slot that once contained a toothpick is empty; and a couple of tools appear to be broken off, including what was once a small pair of scissors.
With a stock set of tools that is almost the same today on every multitool knife, including a toothpick which a marshal of course needs direly on a knife. And with handle finish that was ubiquitously used on kitchen utensils.
(A fork is a rarity today, though.)
I wonder when the pen knife changed from being a simple folding blade to the multitooled wonder we have today?
Also does it say something about generals and the military that the two missing/broken tools are the scissors and tooth pick?
Apparently they have a longer history than I would have thought
"The Swiss Army Knife was not the first multi-use pocket knife. In 1851 in "Moby Dick" (chapter 107), Melville references the "Sheffield contrivances, assuming the exterior - though a little swelled - of a common pocket knife; but containing, not only blades of various sizes, but also screw-drivers, cork-screws, tweezers, awls, pens, rulers, nail-filers, countersinkers.""
The toothpick gets lost in the first months with these knives. Anyway, a bit weird to pick your teeth with the same stick for years.
The scissors might actually be the most useful thing on the knife, or at least on a par with the blades, depending on the owner. Scissors aren't used just for cutting when you aren't hauling around a toolbox. But they have a moving part with a rather feeble connection.
Not so much. Sounds to me that, if you consider your family american, by your description they sound more like "european immigrants with the paperwork done".
the USA has seen a incredible rise on so many fronts: quality of life, removal of segregation, rights of gays, right of blacks, rights of women, emergence of computing, emergence of startups, and so, so many more.
to say that the US is on the brink of collapse shows the author doesn't really understand the situation, or is simply pushing a narrative.
According to other narratives by historians, the main cause of the Japanese surrender was the Russians entering the Pacific war.
Is worth remembering that not everyone buys into the idea that nukes are ultimate weapons that definitively ended the second world war. There are actually a variety of views on the subject, which from a game theory perspective creates dangerous instabilities within the doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction.
>According to other narratives by historians, the main cause of the Japanese surrender was the Russians entering the Pacific war.
Both - USSR entering the war and the nuclear bombs caused the Japanese surrender. It would have happened soon even without the bombs anyway. The main role the bombs played is to avoid USSR actually invading Japan territory. Ultimately that saved Japan from the Korea and Germany fate.
"The invasion of the second largest Japanese island of Hokkaido, originally planned by the Soviets to be part of the territory taken, was held off due to apprehension of the US' new position as an atomic power."
I checked the citations for that part of the article and they do not back up that claim. They are talking about what territory the USSR will get and which surrendering troops will become Soviet POWs. There is no discussion of "well, we better hold off because the 'mericans are just gonna glass 'em all for us".
Furthermore, the Americans had a shovel ready invasion plan with a start date in November. The soviets didn't have a real plan yet. It's not like they called off an invasion because we started lobbing nukes.
Anyone who says that showing the USSR what we were capable of was more than just a side benefit understand the Pacific campaign. If we didn't nuke them we were going to firebomb them. It was basically common knowledge that these people were dedicated enough to follow their cause to the death. What was learned on Iwo Jima and confirmed on Okinawa was that they were going to make us fight for every inch. In lieu of that it's hard to justify not using every available means to kill them dead enough that they surrender without invasion or soften them up prior to invasion. Imagine the scandal has Truman just decided "this whole atom bomb thing is barbaric, we're going to invade them and/or let the soviets burn half a million lives invading them".
It's hard to prove exactly, but Stalin's entrance into the war is almost certainly the precipitator for it's quick end without an invasion. For the Japanese, partial occupation by Red Army troops was a much worse prospect than occupation by American troops. For the U.S., giving Stalin a say in Japan was utterly unnecessary and very much undesirable at that point (as opposed to much earlier in the war). The A-bombs wouldn't have moved the Japanese military or emperor very much: they weren't more devastating that fire bombing already had been, and there weren't any notable cities left to devastate in Japan.