Sunday, August 1, 2021

good morning jeremy


They came prepared for the wrong war.

The internal combustion engine changed war.

The outcome of battles was no longer left solely

to generals in the field.  Modern weapons are

junk metal rusting in open fields without a steady

supply of energy, industrial products and a robust

economy to finance all this exotic hardware.

Military leaders going into 1939 preferred to view

their endeavors in more romantic terms.

A dashing swordsman on horseback would now 

share credit for military success with engineers, 

scientists and accountants in Detroit -

those responsible for creating a mechanized defense.

Stalin agrees to divide Poland with Hitler.

The total capitulation of Britain and France to

Hitler's demands at Munich the year before 

proved to Stalin there was no backbone

in the words of these two democracies.

Russia would have to deal with Germany alone.

Poland was all that separated these two enemies.

It was weak - a mere warm up for German arms.

For the sake of Russian security it would be best

to move Soviet forces and boundaries deep into

Poland itself, west to the banks of the Vistula.  

Poland was of small consequence in the faceoff 

between Moscow and Berlin.

France and Britain's guarantees of security

proved worthless as Poland's allies were

too far removed from the battle.

The effort taken by France to aid Poland with its own

attack into Germany was pure gesture, half-hearted, 

hesitant.  They had not trained for taking the offensive.

In any case, Poland quickly collapsed.  It's government

fleeing to Paris.

"I swear by God this holy oath, that I will render to 

Adolf Hitler, Fuhrer of the German Reich and People,

Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, 

unconditional obedience, and that I am ready,

as a brave soldier, to risk my life at any time 

for this oath."

The Fuhrer sees his troops off

as they march into Poland.

They are on foot and on horseback.  Much was said

about Germany's rapid tank attacks, their armor.

These forces, though, were only the tip of the spear -

representing maybe fifteen percent of the army.

The vast majority of the Wehrmacht, as it was called,

were foot soldiers supplied by horses pulling  

munition wagons.  The Nazis simply didn't provide

for much making of trucks.  So the problem was

not being able to keep up with motorized armor.

It wasn't that big of a problem in the smaller

countries of Poland and France but it would be 

a critical battlefield failure in the vast stretches

of the Soviet Union.  German tanks would sit idle

for a week or more waiting for the infantry to arrive.

Meanwhile Soviet troops were allowed to retreat

to fight another day, once again, down the road.

execution detail

grab a quick smoke before taking care of business

It soon became obvious that shooting civilians in the 

numbers desired would require teams specifically 

tasked for the job full time.  As it turns out no one

survived this assignment six months without first

succumbing to criminal insanity and deemed 

of no further use to society.

What to do next.

Maybe someone set out a suggestion box.


a metal container, motorized

seats four - claustrophobic

swivel mounted gun fires projectile

intended to puncture shell of enemy tank,

the round then exploding inside,

destroying its contents.

Unless, of course, he first does it to you.

You might spend three or more tanks and waste 

half of day trying to take a well defended position

or if you're a German commander you might

call on a Stuka dive-bomber approaching overhead

and have it drop its egg square in the center

of the designated target.  Engagement ended.

Close overhead support was an important advantage

of German Blitzkrieg tactics.  

Poland's defenders were mostly lightly armed infantry.

Their tactics were nineteenth century and the tanks

and planes they used were mostly obsolete.

The core principle of Blitzkrieg is to

concentrate your armor into one very fast and 

lethal punch that breaches the opposing line

and races pell mell towards their enemy's HQ -

destroy it and thereby decapitating your opposition.

Then the action becomes a matter of clean up

with the outcome now certain.

Germany took about three weeks to isolate, surround

and capture all Polish opposition.  Only then did

Russian troops cross the border with Poland.  They 

took up defensive positions along an agreed upon line

separating themselves from their German counterparts.

The nonaggression pact arrived at between Russia

and Germany would hold long enough

for Hitler to tend to France and Britain. 

Stalin would use this time to build his defenses

against the inevitable conflict with Germany.

Warsaw - 1939

a modern, European city

a vibrant culture

commercial hub 

center for government

Warsaw - 1945

Nazi forces ravage Warsaw before abandoning 

the city to the advancing Russian Army.

Hitler's fatal miscalculation

measured in the currency of death

Clearly Hitler was a victim of his own advice.  He placed his faith

in this Lightning warfare.  Wars won quickly.  Hitler counted on it.

This revolutionary use of motorized armor brought speedy

resolution in both Poland and, surprisingly, France.

Germany was now master of its own destiny.  

To the east, Russia - wheat fields of Ukraine, industry,

mineral resources all about and oil fields near Iran.

Hitler saw another quick war that would enable him

to solve German problems using Russia's wealth.

His mind was set.

 He was in.  All or nothing.




©  Tom Taylor


Sunday, July 25, 2021

good morning justin



Nine new nations emerged from the crumbling

empires of Europe following the First World War.  

Among them Poland, Czechoslovakia and Austria 

nations of ethnic diversity, including a notable 

share of German speaking people amidst the population.

 Germany needed additional land to become

a truly great nation - one able to access valuable

resources necessary to wage modern war

without fearing a strangling blockade from its

powerful adversary - Britain.

 1921 1 May       Germany defaults on reparations payments.

1928                   German output equals production prior to WW 1

1932                  German industrial production half that of 1928

                                                     Wall Street crash ruined capital lending.

                                                     Unemployment quadruples to 5.6 million

1933                      Hitler comes to power.

                     1935                     Germany announces military conscription

                                                          Army ceiling rises from 7 to 36 divisions

                    1936 March           Germany marches army into Rhineland

                    1937                      Germany builds 5,600 aircraft

                                                          France builds 700 aircraft 

                    1937 26 April        Germany bombs Basque town of Guernica

                                                         Germany, Italy and the Soviet Union used 

                                                          Spanish Civil War as opportunity to test 

                                                          their latest weapons systems. 


1938 29 September    Munich settlement

                                                                Czechs forced to surrender Sudetenland

                                                                Germany promises no new demands 

1939 23 August          Germany and Russia agree to split Poland 

 1939 1 September     Germany invades Poland

1939 3 September      Britain, France declare war on Germany 

                    1941 December        Hitler declares war on US

                                                              Guarantees overwhelming military strength

                                                              would now be brought against him                                                             



No one appreciated the nightmare France lived

with having Germany as its neighbor.  Paris 

was the Sheriff facing Hitler's hired guns alone...

the democratic nations, Britain and USA,

not wanting any part of this high noon showdown.

1919 June        Treaty of Versailles

                                                    Draconian measures to protect France.

                                          Hopes that League of Nations keeps peace.

                                          France exhausted by war - inferior to Germany

                                          in manpower and economic resources.

                                          France looks for allies in the face of the German


1920                  French alliance with Belgium.

1921                  French alliance with Poland

                                                      - member of Little Entente of Slavic nations 

1924                  France forms alliance with Czechoslovakia.

                                                     Nothing offered them real protection 

                                          from Germany. 

1934                  French economy begins collapse

                                                     Foreign trade plummets by two thirds.

1936                  France raises wages, limits work week

                          to 40 hours

                                                    Franc devalued - France dependent on

                                          Anglo-American financial support

1939                  France and Britain make military alliance

                                Both nations declare their intent to protect


1939 3 Sept.    Britain and France declare war on Germany.        

                    1940 10 May    German armor attacks France through Ardennes 


1940 14 June    German troops enter Paris. 





 Britain was overextended, no longer capable

of protecting its European maritime lifelines

while also defending its colonial interests from 

Japan's ambitions in the Far East.


Britain's drop in share of global commerce meant leaner military.

   year               commerce share                 

  1913                14.14%

  1929                10.75%

                  1937                   9.8% 

1935 June     Anglo-German naval agreement

                      Britain attempts covering weakness with


                      Deal releases ships for duty in Far East. 

1937 May     Neville Chamberlain becomes Prime Minister

                                              Appeasement policy response to vulnerability:

                                              Britain's precarious economic, strategic outlook

  1937      German military spending three times that of Britain

  1938      Anthony Eden resigns as Foreign Minister over

                                        Chamberlain's German policy 


1938 Sept.  "Peace in our time" declared following Munich

                 Western Czechoslovakia surrendered to Germany 


                                 Britain's defense expenditures as percent of GNP:

  year                percent GNP________

1937                5.5%

1938                8.5%

1939               12.5%

1939       British Treasury:  no money for financing long war 

                    1939 March   Britain, France guarantee Poland's security 

1939 3 Sept.   War with Germany declared by Britain, France 





Russia was Hitler's target all along.  Barbarossa -

the plan to invade and conquer the Soviet Union

in the few short months prior to winter was fantasy.

Wargaming the idea resulted in repeated failure.

No one dare tell the Fuhrer his actions would bring

catastrophic defeat to Germany.

  Treaties following First World War leave Russia diminished

            Countries carved from Russian territory:

                        Finland, Baltic states and Poland - taking industry with them

                        Population falls 40 million to a total of 132 million in 1921

1917 - 1921        Russia suffers social and political chaos

1921     Lenin introduces New Economic Policy

                                    Gives up on trying to "communize" the peasantry.

1926     Agriculture returns to prewar levels

                     1928     Industrial output returns to prewar levels 

                                     War and revolution cost Russia thirteen years

                                     economic growth.

                    1933   Famine results from Stalin's rush to industrialize Russia.

                           Percent of farmers in population drops to 50% in 1940

                           from 70% in 1928.

                           25% of Russian GNP goes to industrialization, 

                           then education, science and defense.

                            Number of graduating engineers:

                            1928              47,000

                            1941            289,000

            Russian national income:

                                    1928        24.4 billion rubles

                                    1937        96.3 billion rubles 

                                    Russia's industrial output surpasses: 

                                    Britain, France, Japan and Italy


                                         Poor per acre agriculture yields

                                         Road system remains primitive

                                         Many industries rely on foreign expertise  

                                         Excessive emphasis on quantity and 

                                 "gigantism" of manufacturing process 

                                          - difficult to make product adjustments 

           1933       Manchurian crisis and Hitler's rise to power

           1935       Soviet army rises from 600,000 to 1.3 million men

                           Chief weakness remains poor training 

          1938        Soviet economy reoriented to producing armaments  

                          Meanwhile Stalin's political purges of the military

                           leaves the Red Army decapitated:

                            Generals        90% purged / shot or imprisoned

                            Colonels        80% purged

        1938        Munich settlement reveals to Stalin:

                        Hitler's ambitions are directed east towards Russia

                        France and Britain are not reliable partners against 


1939 August    Russia signs nonaggression pact with Germany

                                        Agrees to split Poland between them

                                        Stalin buys Russia time to build up military

        1939 Sept.    Soviet troops invade Poland

         1941 April    Japan signs neutrality treaty with Soviet Union

                                  Stalin free to focus on the German threat to his west 

        1941 June   Hitler launches invasion of Russia   

                                 Third Reich not properly equipped to fight this war.                        




Mussolini hoped to compete with great nations

on the cheap.  Three fourths of Italians lived as

peasants on small farms - hardly the kind of

revenue stream you looked to for financing

a modern air force, armored divisions and 

aircraft carriers for your navy.  

             Italy - weak in political power:  semi-developed nation with 

             Mussolini, its fascist leader, having great nation ambitions.

        1937    Italy conquers the African nation of Abyssinia

                    League of Nations reveals its impotence in global affairs

        1938    country relies on small scale agriculture

                    50% of family income goes to purchasing food 

                    Tariffs protect inefficient producers

        1939 Jan.   British PM Chamberlain travels to Rome in attempt

                           to dissuade Mussolini's drift into Hitler's camp

        1939        Bank of Italy reserves drop to near nothing

                        Nation unable to buy tools necessary to modernize 

                        Italy's air force and army

                        Army - inefficient, no initiative, stultifying career choice

                                    unable to recruit talented, ambitious males 

                       Il Duce - Mussolini:


                            inability to think effectively

                            congenital liar 

        1940 Sept.    Tripartite Pact signed between Japan, Germany, Italy

                            Alliance with Italy proves to be a net liability for Germany 




©  Tom Taylor