Kursk - could the outcome have been different?

Bob Walters

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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.
Only if Olympic was actually necessary. I would have to say genocidal activities and crimes against humanity are less likely to be punished today than right after WW2. Of course, that was for the Axis.
 
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Bob Walters

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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
Yep, that is the story. It is interesting to note that it was also not too long after Churchill became prime minister. Churchill had a fondness for bombing populations.
 
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Vinnie

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Air attacks was also the only way that Britain and the US could bring the war directly to the German and Japanese populations. Certainly for the attacks on Germany, this was a factor. Showing uncle Joe that we were doing something.
 

von Marwitz

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Churchill had a fondness for bombing populations.
As far as I know it was a tactic to retaliate for attacks/'wrongdoings' with aircraft strafing and dropping bombs on villages against the indigenous population in the Empire's colonies. With regard to the small forces on the ground the British had at hand to control vast landmasses with oftentimes hardly any infrastructure that would allow quick reactions on the ground, not to talk about approaching with any possibilty of surprise, this 'aerial policing' was considered the most effective method with the limited resources at hand.

Of course, we have to assert that other colonial powers were not at all squeamish to apply other equally questionable methods from a moral point of view. This shall not serve to relativize what the British and others did nor the deeds themselves, but rather to point out that what was happening was pretty bad right left & center.

von Marwitz
 

witchbottles

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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
night bombing really didn't ove even then, Paul. AM Sir Arthur Harris went on record in 1944 claiming that hits within a 2 mile radius of the aiming point by Bomber Command were "successful missions" (that's a 4 mile circular error of probability.), as he tried to convince the USAAF to switch to area bombing of cities over continuing their precision raids (which still failed in many cases to produce more than 3-5% of bombs on target).
 

Paul M. Weir

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While I understand that area bombing was one of the few ways available to GB to get at Germany in the early years (due to the abysmal accuracy of Bomber Command), from late '43 or '44 accuracy went up and a more discriminate policy could have been implemented. Harris' fetish with bombing civilians may well have degraded the British war effort. Indeed getting Bomber Command to assist with the pre and post Normandy air campaign was like pulling teeth. Area bombing was almost a religion to him.

vonM gave us a useful reminder of British colonial attitude to the "lesser breeds". Churchill definitely promoted the use of gas in Iraq against the 1920 Iraq revolt, though whether it happened is unclear. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alleged_British_use_of_chemical_weapons_in_Mesopotamia_in_1920) For what we can be sure that did happen see https://www.theguardian.com/world/2003/apr/19/iraq.arts .
 

Bob Walters

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Air attacks was also the only way that Britain and the US could bring the war directly to the German and Japanese populations. Certainly for the attacks on Germany, this was a factor. Showing uncle Joe that we were doing something.
I am not saying all bombing is wrong I am saying that indiscriminately incinerating civilians is wrong. The thing is, it is not only wrong it is usually counter effective. Recall also that no Allied personnel were tried for war crimes.
 

Brian W

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Very, very few Germans were either.
 

von Marwitz

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While I understand that area bombing was one of the few ways available to GB to get at Germany in the early years (due to the abysmal accuracy of Bomber Command), from late '43 or '44 accuracy went up and a more discriminate policy could have been implemented. Harris' fetish with bombing civilians may well have degraded the British war effort. Indeed getting Bomber Command to assist with the pre and post Normandy air campaign was like pulling teeth. Area bombing was almost a religion to him.
Indeed.

For me it is inexplicable, how the British queen could honor Harris with the unveiling of a monument in London as late as June 1st, 1992. Long after historians and research had had ample opportunity to and in fact did scrutinize Harris' motives and attitude. An appalling and embarrasing misstep IMHO that caused widespread disconcertment in Germany.

As so often, the actions of the common man seem to be better able to bridge ill feelings of the past: Probably Alan Smith, son of a bomber pilot that participated in the mission vs. Dresden, did more to heal old wounds by forging the new cross for the top of the cupola of the rebuilt Frauenkirche as a sign of friendship and reconciliation than donations provided by the British royal family, albeit the latter gesture was met with respect and recognition.

In the wider context, it is remarkable what the wargame of ASL was able to do in this context on a personal basis. During an ASL-tournament it suddenly struck me that people from most countries that had been bitter adversaries in WW2 sat peacefully across the boards together to playing the war, while - had they just happened to meet at the same distance a few decades earlier - would have fought in that very war and been bent on killing each other.

Paradoxically, a game dealing with the very war that caused so much hate, distrust and suffering now does its small contribution to help heal the wounds that may still remain from the past as do civilized discussions on the topic here. At least, that is how I feel about it.

So - peace to you, ASL-crowd.
Respectfully,

von Marwitz
 
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Philippe D.

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In the wider context, it is remarkable what the wargame of ASL was able to do in this context on a personal basis. During an ASL-tournament it suddenly struck me that people from most countries that had been bitter adversaries in WW2 sat peacefully across the boards together to playing the war, while - had they just happened to meet at the same distance a few decades earlier - would have fought in that very war and been bent on killing each other.

Paradoxically, a game dealing with the very war that caused so much hate, distrust and suffering now does its small contribution to help heal the wounds that may still remain from the past as do civilized discussions on the topic here. At least, that is how I feel about it.
In this regard, at least in Europe, much of the praise should go to the people who, only a few decades after the war, decided to build what is now the EU. (Not to belittle the role played by our favorite wargame, of course)
 
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