Kursk - could the outcome have been different?

Bob Walters

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Industries in cities are valid targets.

Wholesale attack of civilian populations never is. The latter is an atrocious crime with no justification whatsoever - no matter who commits it.

I honestly hope that I misunderstand you, but if you believe that the wohlesale bombing of civilian populations is justified, then I would find that outrageous and disgusting. As would be labelling 'revisionist historian' those opposing such wholesale civilian bombings.

von Marwitz
Indeed, and although civilian casualties seem like they are only collateral damage to many Americans they are the children and families of the people being bombed. It is interesting to note that these same Americans wonder why they hate us. I'll give you a hint -- it is not jealousy.
 

Brian W

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I honestly hope that I misunderstand you, but if you believe that the wohlesale bombing of civilian populations is justified, then I would find that outrageous and disgusting.
Crikey, if you think that opinion is bad, ask what some ASL players think about the continuation of the world's Muslim population and you will hear of hope to kill over a billion people. That's a thousand Hitlers, to paraphrase Team America :)

How's that for thread drift?
 

witchbottles

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Indeed, and although civilian casualties seem like they are only collateral damage to many Americans they are the children and families of the people being bombed. It is interesting to note that these same Americans wonder why they hate us. I'll give you a hint -- it is not jealousy.
Who's "they"?
 

Vinnie

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Why presume that it would take the Japanese any longer than it took Nimitz and his staff to discover the key was the Fleet Train?

At the beginning of the war, they had the shipping capacity and the fleet and air forces to keep it afloat and project it. They simply chose to expand as any empire does (in the bid for quick resources to exploit), rather than methodically conquer to gain a real positional advantage before the American industrial giant could get into full swing to a point of parity (mid 1943 - assuming no shattering defeats at Coral Sea and Midway), and finally supremacy (early 1944). Yamamoto said 6 months- the reality was they had more like 18 months before a parity was reached. The push for a decisive blow in 6 months is what led to Midway and its disaster. A better-planned offensive could have resulted in a longer Pacific War. Still lost, more US casualties, perhaps lengthening the European War if the US felt as they did in mid 1941 that Japan was still the primary threat over Nazi Germany, thereby lengthening the entire war in both theaters. End results the same, I agree. Total casualties, higher from a prolonged and protracted war extending into 1946 or maybe even beyond.
They had the shipping capacity but not the ability to support a campaign at such a great distance from established bases. Although they could conduct naval operations so far, they did not have the transport capability to place a reasonable sized army such a distance.
 

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If the Japanese commit to taking and holding Hawaii, what other part of their plan do they give up? They surely did not have resources sitting around waiting for a plan.

JR
 

Brian W

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If the Japanese commit to taking and holding Hawaii, what other part of their plan do they give up?
The Japanese could have saved the trouble of taking the islands if they had just blown up the oil tank farm and one of three fleet tankers that was at Pearl Harbor on 7 Dec 1941. Doing that alone would have kept the US fleet running convoy duties between the west coast of the US and Hawaii for the next 12 months. No Coral Sea, no Midway, no Guadalcanal. . .
 

Eagle4ty

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Industries in cities are valid targets.

Wholesale attack of civilian populations never is. The latter is an atrocious crime with no justification whatsoever - no matter who commits it.

I honestly hope that I misunderstand you, but if you believe that the wholesale bombing of civilian populations is justified, then I would find that outrageous and disgusting. As would be labelling 'revisionist historian' those opposing such wholesale civilian bombings.

von Marwitz
You may misunderstand me somewhat. I personally do not believe the wholesale of destruction of civilian population centers is a valid tactic based upon basic humanitarian and ethical principles as we see it today. It is the revisionist historian that takes today's views & values and transfers them to a different time and set of circumstances to expound a condemnation or justification of actions taken in the past. However, what I did try to convey, is that that ethical dilemma had been addressed and (at least to a large degree) resolved in a 1940's world war thought processes. You may take the instance of the fire bombing for 3 days of Dresden, a target of minimal military value, at the near end of WW-II in Europe or the destruction of Rotterdam in 1940 or a plethora of other instances to help illustrate my point. The fire bombings of Japanese cities was only incidental as the policy of total war by a non-stop air campaign designed to not only to destroy the ability of a nation state to conduct war, but to diminish their will to resist as well based upon a strategy that had been well developed at the time. That the policy was flawed is truly immaterial given that the decisions were predicated upon beliefs held at the time. The fact that poison gas was not used as a weapon of war by any of the major participants, should be an indication that the use of atomic weapons was seen as little more than the use of a big bomb to accomplish objectives using a tried and true (at the time) program designed to attain a tactical and strategic advantage. The knowledge of the immediate let alone lasting effects of using atomic weapons was little understood, if at all, by the majority of the people in positions of power able to affect implementation of their use, whereas the effects of poison gas as a weapon of war was well known and condemned by all warring nations. I hope this has shed additional light upon my response.
 

Eagle4ty

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As much as anything, the Japanese were so surprised at the results of the attack that they hadn't really thought about follow-through.

http://www.cc.gatech.edu/~tpilsch/INTA4803TP/Articles/Oil Logistics in the Pacific War=Donovan.pdf

JR
Thanks jrv. Wasn't there also one done by him on the logistical implications for the conduct of the initial Barbarossa planning/campaign somewhat along the same lines? It's been so long since I read the article/pam I can't remember the details or the exact author, but do remember the general gist of it. (the author's name does stick in my little pea brain in regards to this for some reason though).
 

Bob Walters

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I don't think transferring todays values to WW2 would make that much of a difference. Attacking civilian populations to punish their government has been a continuing policy of the US. We dropped more bombs on North Korea and Vietnam than we did in WW2 and we have not been anywhere near careful enough in our target choice in the Mid East. Bombing civilians is also not an effective strategy. It certainly did not bring either North Korea or Vietnam to their knees.
 

von Marwitz

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The fire bombings of Japanese cities was only incidental as the policy of total war by a non-stop air campaign designed to not only to destroy the ability of a nation state to conduct war, but to diminish their will to resist as well based upon a strategy that had been well developed at the time. That the policy was flawed is truly immaterial given that the decisions were predicated upon beliefs held at the time.
The theorem of Douhet and others that bombing civilians would break the population's will and that the 'bomber would always get through' originated shortly before WW1 and was elaborated on post WW1/pre WW2. The Germans experimented with it in the Spanish Civil war (Guernica) and were the first to put it prominently to the test vs. London and Coventry, though the theory was also embraced by the British.

The British, being on the receiving end first and thus being able to observe first hand that such bombings appeared not to break the will of the population but rather to increase their determination and resolve, were in the best position to at least question the theorem early in the war. After trying their own hand vs. the Germans, they should have and, in fact, did realize that large scale bombing of civilians would not break the will of the enemy population throughout 1943 at the latest, i.e. that the strategy was a failure.

Nevertheless, they carried on regardless, as did the Americans (as would have the Germans if they had had the capability for that matter). The important point is, however, that the beliefs held before WW2 and during its early years had been proved wrong by mid war and before most wanton destruction on civilians was wreaked. Thus, there was no excuse to carry on without a change of tactics, but this was exactly what happened. On the contrary, tactics on how to destroy cities (not merely their industries) were refined after it had been discovered on how to bring about firestorms in Hamburg. Indiscriminate killing of civilians and the destruction of their livelyhood was precisely the objective despite it was realized at the time that would not bring about the desired effect. Eventually, especially the Americans began to systematically to target the fuel production, refineries, etc. which did more harm to the German war effort that destroying residential areas on a large scale. Yet, when they had destroyed everything of significant strategic value, they kept on destroying (by now mid-size) city after city simply because there was nothing else to keep the bomber fleets busy with.

Yes - the Germans did it first. Yes - the Allies believed that the strategy would work in the early years of WW2. And yes - the Germans would not have acted differently had they had the ability to do so. But after the realization at the time that the policy was flawed at the latest, to carry on and to refine it can only be described with the terms of 'war crime' and 'atrocity' - regardless of who would perpetrate it under these circumstances.

von Marwitz
 
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Eagle4ty

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Indeed, and although civilian casualties seem like they are only collateral damage to many Americans they are the children and families of the people being bombed. It is interesting to note that these same Americans wonder why they hate us. I'll give you a hint -- it is not jealousy.
As opposed to wondering what were the feelings of a populace grieving for lost ones and hearing about the humane treatment the Japanese or even Germans meted out to both enemy combatants & noncombatants alike? I'll give you a hint--it wasn't gratitude! Hopefully we have arrived at a time/place where the travesties inflicted upon each other in the past have become only history for the majority of us. I would sincerely hope that the omissions (or commissions) of the father/grandfather shouldn't be visited upon those of the son/grandson (gender noted only to reinforce the intent).

In my experience even the combatants let the past become the past. My uncle, a POW of the Japanese for 3+ years, finally came to terms with his feelings to the point of welcoming a Japanese National into his family. One of my best friends and army buddy, a kid in Schweinfurt during the war with his father fighting on the eastern front, often stated we really hated you guys then and would raise our hands in the air every time we heard an allied plane overhead--we weren't waving! However, even his mom who had lived through the worst of it became one of our closest family friends. People realized that was war and to continue to hate served no real purpose in life. Forget? No; Forgive? Possibly; Let it become the past? Most assuredly. I'll give you a hint-- it's the only way we'll survive and progress as humans. JMHO
 

Bob Walters

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The theorem of Douhet and others that bombing civilians would break the population's will and theat the 'bomber would always get through' originated shortly before WW1 and was elaborated on post WW1/pre WW2. The Germans experimented with it in the Spanish Civil war (Guernica) and were the first to put it prominently to the test vs. London and Coventry, though the theory was also embraced by the British.

The British, being on the receiving end first and thus being able to observe first hand that such bombings appeared not to break the will of the population but rather to increase their determination and resolve, were in the best position to at least question the theorem early in the war. After trying their own hand vs. the Germans, they should have and, in fact, did realize that large scale bombing of civilians would not break the will of the enemy population throughout 1943 at the latest, i.e. that the strategy was a failure.

von Marwitz
There is some debate on that as a case can be made that the British switch to indiscriminate civilian bombing so as to provoke just that response in the Germans. This then relieved the pressure on the coast radar and the airfields. It is most curious that it was done when the British were down to their last few Spitfires. We tend to view the Allies as saints and they were definitely not saints.
 

von Marwitz

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In my experience even the combatants let the past become the past. My uncle, a POW of the Japanese for 3+ years, finally came to terms with his feelings to the point of welcoming a Japanese National into his family. One of my best friends and army buddy, a kid in Schweinfurt during the war with his father fighting on the eastern front, often stated we really hated you guys then and would raise our hands in the air every time we heard an allied plane overhead--we weren't waving! However, even his mom who had lived through the worst of it became one of our closest family friends. People realized that was war and to continue to hate served no real purpose in life. Forget? No; Forgive? Possibly; Let it become the past? Most assuredly. I'll give you a hint-- it's the only way we'll survive and progress as humans. JMHO
I wholeheartedly agree with this.

I believe, though, that all sides admitting wrongdoings (as well as acknowledging commendable acts for that matter) and to take responsibility for them will be the best way to clear that path.

von Marwitz
 

von Marwitz

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There is some debate on that as a case can be made that the British switch to indiscriminate civilian bombing so as to provoke just that response in the Germans. This then relieved the pressure on the coast radar and the airfields. It is most curious that it was done when the British were down to their last few Spitfires.
I would rate this as a rather daring theory and am not convinced by it.

von Marwitz
 

witchbottles

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As opposed to wondering what were the feelings of a populace grieving for lost ones and hearing about the humane treatment the Japanese or even Germans meted out to both enemy combatants & noncombatants alike? I'll give you a hint--it wasn't gratitude! Hopefully we have arrived at a time/place where the travesties inflicted upon each other in the past have become only history for the majority of us. ...
Sadly - genocidal activities and fanatical murderous behaviors plague humankind even today. Worse, just as in the past, the overwhelming majority of the perpetrators go unpunished for their crimes against humanity.

I am quite sure that the Japanese civilians at Suicide Point on Saipan also felt something well differentiated from "gratitude" to the liberating American ground forces.

The ethical arguments for using the A-bombs were built around projections of total losses on both sides from Downfall and Olympic. In that respect, the several thousand lost at Hiroshima and Nagasaki certainly add up to far less than the projections - so yes, an argument can be made their use was in fact, more humane than allowing the war to go on.
 

Paul M. Weir

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There is some debate on that as a case can be made that the British switch to indiscriminate civilian bombing so as to provoke just that response in the Germans. This then relieved the pressure on the coast radar and the airfields. It is most curious that it was done when the British were down to their last few Spitfires. We tend to view the Allies as saints and they were definitely not saints.
As an Irishman I have a extremely bitter and jaundiced view of English government policy over the last 800 years, but that was not the case. You can read elsewhere about early war British bombing policy but to illustrate, most '39 and early '40 bombing was limited to leaflet dropping and attacks on the likes of Wilhelmshaven naval base.

What happened is that one of many night German raids against The Port Of London on 24th Aug. went astray and attacked central London and the British attacked Berlin in retaliation. While Hitler might have been somewhat close to the point of switching the air offensive from the RAF to industrial and deeper military targets, the attacks on Berlin got his goat. A case of "Well, that escalated quickly!". We must not forget that early night bombing was almost useless, something like less than a third of the bombs hit within five miles of the target. Yes, really that bad and except for some quickly spoofed early German radio navigation efforts, it did not improve until '43.

A useful overview is https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strategic_bombing_during_World_War_II
 
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