Humor Magazine

Lest We Forget - Who Exactly Won the War!

By Davidduff

I haven't read Inferno: The World at War 1939-1945 by Max Hastings.  Not because I think it will be anything other than interesting but I am, so to speak, WWII worn out!  Also, I am uneasily aware that in my tottering pile of waiting-to-be-read books there are at least two or three on the subject.  However, I did read a review of the book in The American Spectator by Mr. G. Tracy Mehan, III.  (I am always amused by the idiosyncratic habit of some Americans in placing a numeral after their name and I wonder why they do it.)  Anyway, Mr. Mehan the Third, draws our attention to one great truth concerning WWII which Hastings makes much of and which is seldom referred to in British or American histories; that is, the mind-boggling difference in scale between the Eastern and Western fronts.

The most significant theme emphasized throughout Max Hastings' compelling history is the overwhelming nature of the savage war on the Eastern Front, which dwarfed Allied military efforts in Italy and France. So vast was the spilling of Soviet and German blood and treasure that Hastings makes this unequivocal judgment in the concluding chapter of the book:

The Soviet Union revealed an industrial and military capability that would have enabled it to complete the destruction of Hitler's war machine even had the Western Allies never landed in Italy or France, though their interventions hastened the end. There is a powerful argument that only a warlord as bereft of scruples or compassion as Stalin, presiding over a society in which ruthlessness was even more institutionalized than in Germany, could have destroyed Nazism. Stalin proved a supremely effective tyrant, as Hitler was not

In the course of his review he also draws attention to the writings of Benjamin Swchwartz, the Literary Editor of  The Atlantic:

Citing the British historian Norman Davies, Schwarz observed that, for four years, more than 400 Red Army and German divisions fought over a front of 1,000 miles. "At its most intense, the war in the West was fought between 15 Allied and 15 Wehrmacht divisions, [my emphasis]" wrote Schwarz. "Eighty-five percent of the German military dead fell there; in July 1943, in the decisive battle of the war, the Soviets permanently broke the Wehrmacht's capacity for large-scale attack at Kursk, 'the one name,' Davies properly asserts, 'which all historians of the Second World War should remember.'"

Schwarz continues: "So…the most odious criminal regime in Europe's history was defeated by an even more murderous regime, if numbers are the yardstick -- which significantly tarnishes any notion of the 'Good War.'" He concludes his essay with a quote from historian Geoffrey Roberts, who ventures to say that "Stalin…saved the world for democracy." [My emphasis]

The bitter and bloody irony of that final sentence cannot be over-stated.

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog