Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Further Musings on the Irony and Surrealism in War

For those of you who follow my blog you are, of course, familiar with my occasional digressions into one of Man's most faithful and ubiquitous companions; namely, War. And today I mulled over some of the more sublime examples of human asymmetry in Conflict:
When Berlin was stormed by the Russian armies in the final month of World War II, with Stalin allowing a few days of rape and pillage as an act of revenge for the Nazi's destruction of over 7000 towns and looting of perhaps some 7oo museums in Mother Russia, Russian troops exacted, perhaps, the greatest act of looting in modern times by removing countless items in hundreds of trucks; what becomes rather surreal is that most of those trucks were made in the good old U.S.A. as part of the enormous amount of materiel that the Americans had sent Russia, mostly by way of Murmansk in the north, in order to aid the Russians in their struggle for survival, and ultimate victory.
There is at least one report of the following incident in the fighting in the West: German troops ceased their fighting to watch a group of American troops play baseball.
I also thought of some "what ifs?" -
The ME 262 was the first operational jet plane in World War II, and it was German. It appeared so late in the war that it was not a viable factor. What if the ME 262 had been produced a year or so earlier? How, if at all, would that have altered our bombing campaign against Germany? At that time, we had essentially total control over Goering's Lufwaffe in most sectors, and were destroying most of Germany's large cities. Would the 262 have altered that equation, at least for a period, which would have considerably lengthened the agony of that war? The American had no jet plane in World War II.
Tank for tank, the American Sherman was no match for the German Panther. Even though the Panther was beset by mechanical issues, it was one of the most fearsome weapons in the German army. In addition, the German had developed essentially one of the the most singular artillery pieces in all of that war; namely, the Krupp 88 - millimeter, which possessed significant destructive power over the allied tanks. It is, of course, the ultimate reality of production which won the war. The American could produce at such an enormous level that Hitler's hordes were simply overwhelmed by the amount of ordnance produced, in spite of the reality that some German weaponry was superior to anything that the opposition possessed.
And even though the V-2 was a terror weapon, rather than one of military value in the larger view of the war, it did inflict a different kind of punishment, and the German had it first - what if Hitler had produced it in significant numbers a few years earlier - what difference would the nature of the conflict had taken?
All I am sure of is that I am thankful for the miracle of American industry, which kept Britain alive at a critical time early in the war, and, most important of all, made it possible for Russia to hold the Nazi at bay, then turn near disaster to ultimate victory despite some 27,000,000 having died.
Just musing... Please do forgive.

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