February 23, 2017

Total War? You Can't Handle Total War

[ Note: Excerpt from a long read on the realities of World War II: Losing the War - by Lee Sandlin]

aafires.jpg

For the Vikings, this was the essence of war: it's a mystery that comes out of nowhere and grows for reasons nobody can control, until it shakes the whole world apart. Njal's saga ends with a vision of war as the underlying horror of the world, always waiting underneath the frail mirage of peace. In a final dream image, spectral women are seen working an occult and horrible loom: "Men's heads were used in place of weights, and men's intestines for the weft and warp; a sword served as the beater, and the shuttle was an arrow. And these were the words the women were chanting:

Blood rains
From the cloudy web
On the broad loom
Of slaughter.
The web of man
Gray as armor
Is being woven.

This is as good a description as is available for the course of World War II from the fall of 1944 on -- after the Allies at last acknowledged that, despite the decisive battles of the previous summer, the Axis was never going to surrender. That was when the Allies changed their strategy. They set out to make an Axis surrender irrelevant.

From that winter into the next spring the civilians of Germany and Japan were helpless before a new Allied campaign of systematic aerial bombardment. The air forces and air defense systems of the Axis were in ruins by then. Allied planes flew where they pleased, day or night -- 500 at a time, then 1,000 at a time, indiscriminately dumping avalanches of bombs on every city and town in Axis territory that had a military installation or a railroad yard or a factory.

2WWdresden.jpg

By the end of the winter most of Germany's industrial base had been bombed repeatedly in saturation attacks; by the end of the following spring Allied firebombing raids had burned more than 60 percent of Japan's urban surface area to the ground.

There was no precedent even in this war for destruction on so ferocious a scale. It was the largest berserker rage in history. The Allies routinely dropped incendiary bombs in such great numbers that they created firestorms in cities throughout the Axis countries. These weren't simply large fires. A true firestorm is a freak event, where a large central core of flame heats up explosively to more than 1,500 degrees, and everything within it goes up by spontaneous combustion -- buildings erupt, the water boils out of rivers and canals, and the asphalt in the pavement ignites. Immense intake vortices spring up around the core and begin sucking in oxygen from the surrounding atmosphere at hurricane speeds. The Allied raids reduced cities in minutes to miles of smoldering debris. Hundreds of thousands of people were killed -- about 20 percent of them children. Tens of thousands suffocated, because in the area around a firestorm there's no oxygen left to breathe....

Dresden-1945-89-Detail-1.jpg

Such was the discipline of the Axis armies that they went on fighting even in the midst of these cataclysms. But the homelands they were defending disintegrated into anarchy and rubble. Tens of millions of Germans and Japanese were driven from the wreckage of their homes to join the hundreds of millions of people already flooding the roads of Europe and Asia. They were seen everywhere, trudging away from smoking villages and along the ruined autobahns, across cratered fields and through burned forests. "DPs," they were called, displaced persons: interminable lines of refugees carrying a few possessions (a bag of tools, a handful of books, a house cat, a crying baby) in an anonymous stream. Amid the chaotic flux of collapsing empires, no one could sort out what side the latest flood of DPs had been on or where they wanted to go now; their movements were as unpredictable as tidal waves. Millions of Japanese came pouring back into the home islands from the dwindling fringes of the "coprosperity sphere," but there was nowhere to house them, with so many millions already on the streets because of the firebombings. In the eastern provinces of Germany a wave of terror and panic spread through the population as the Red Army at last approached. Overnight more than ten million people bolted for the west, abandoning land that had been cultivated and treasured by Germans for more than a thousand years, since before the time of Die Meistersinger, since before an anonymous poet in a royal court had first written down the legends of the Nibelung's ring. Not everyone joined the stampede, but those who stayed to protect their homes learned that their worst fears had been wholly justified. The Red Army murdered more than a million civilians in the eastern provinces of Germany as it marched toward Berlin.

Meanwhile the crimes the Axis had so long fought to conceal were coming to light. Every day brought news of some large-scale atrocity or revealed years of bottomless despair -- even now, historians examining newly discovered archives are finding evidence that the Axis occupation was much worse than had been previously imagined. When the three-year siege of Leningrad was at last broken, it was learned that more than a million people had died of starvation; they'd killed their house pets for food, and before the end there were pervasive rumors of cannibalism. The collapse of the Japanese empire revealed famine throughout China; more than ten million people in provinces once controlled by the Japanese were dying or dead. And in April 1945 the line of German defenses finally shrank back far enough that the death camps were discovered by Allied troops. "A crime beyond the imagination of man," the first news reports called it. People who thought they'd been permanently numbed to horror found they were wrong.

But by then the Holocaust seemed almost lost in the universal destruction. The deaths are still being counted. In the decades after the war it was believed that between 15 million and 20 million people had died in the war, but historians now believe the real number was at least three times higher, and some recent estimates (based on studies of newly declassified archives in Russia and China) put the total at close to 75 million. The extent of the material damage was incalculable. The civilian economies of Europe and Asia were a shambles. Most industries not related to war production had been shut down or destroyed outright. Basic commodities were unobtainable, even on the black market. Roads and bridges throughout two continents had been blown up, ports had been wrecked, and commercial shipping had stopped. The submarine war had sent rivers of oil into the ocean -- a torrent that made the great postwar spills look like irrelevant trickles; oil from torpedoed tankers was washing up on beaches all over the world. Nobody knew enough to care about environmental damage in those days; what mattered to them was that their essential fuel source had become as rare as gold. The unavailability of fuel was what finally broke the last German armies still fighting in the field. The Japanese government, its supply of oil cut off, had ordered civilians to dig up every pine tree on the home islands so that a synthetic oil could be distilled from the roots (it didn't work).

Food too was desperately scarce -- not only because the armies had commandeered so much of the supply, but because the war had ruined agricultural production in much of the world. There had been rationing for years on all sides. "Hitler butter" was what the Germans had called their foul-smelling margarine substitute, the only kind available; the British had learned to expect the promising-looking morsels of beef in their stew to have the unique, disgustingly sweet taste of horse meat. But even these delicacies vanished in the war's final fury. Hundreds of millions of acres of farmland were left fallow or destroyed by the movement of the combat zones. Countless herds died of starvation, were slaughtered by troops for food, or were killed by the universal, indiscriminate shelling. With no safe transport, thousands of tons of fresh fruits and vegetables were left unharvested or rotted in the warehouses of blockaded ports. The standard food ration in Japan fell far below the subsistence level, and in Europe fresh meat and fruit, when they could be had at all, were found only in the black markets -- which were officially discouraged but universally tolerated because they helped stave off the growing threat of famine.

Even in America, which had been the least damaged of any combatant nation, the final year of the war at last eroded the basic textures of life. Rationing, after that giddy summer of expectancy was over, was reimposed more stringently than before. The black market dried up, and beef was scarce for the first time since the war began. There was a serious shortage of heating oil by the end of the year, in the middle of the coldest winter in a decade. Blackouts were still in effect on both coasts, and to conserve fuel the government ordered brownouts in midwestern cities -- all businesses were to close at dusk. For the first time since the war began the lights of Chicago, like those of all the major cities of the Northern Hemisphere, went dark.

6032cd4b38ecfba626ca990eb8f07ceb.jpg

[ Note: Excerpt from a long read on the realities of World War II: Losing the War - by Lee Sandlin]

Posted by gerardvanderleun at February 23, 2017 11:13 AM
Bookmark and Share

Comments:

HOME

"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

I'd have a couple of nits to pick about Sandlin's analysis, but won't. They would be nits, after all.

I will add one thing, though: Britain, and especially it chief of Bomber Command, Arthur Harris, were soundly criticized after the war for thinking that bombing German cities would wreck the morale of the German population. After all, Germany's bombing of Britain in 1939-1940 did not weaken British resolve.

However, the Hamburg firestorm changed things. British bombers did not set out to create the firestorm, that was an accident mainly of weather. But the firestorm was devastating. Survivors reported finding bodies of all ages without a mark on them who had not suffocated or fallen victim to carbon monoxide. They had simply been baked to death.

According to high officials of the Nazi party after the war, especially its chief of production Albert Speer, in the aftermath of the bombing, Hamburg was ruined as a war-production center. Speer said that the survivors' were completely shattered, utterly broken of spirit and will to continue. Most wanted to move away from Hamburg as soon as possible.

Speer said, and other Reich officials agreed, that only six more such raids on German cities would have ended the war. But the British never assessed that and in any case did not have the capability for such a sustained campaign.

I strongly urge reading Among The Dead Cities: The History and Moral Legacy of the WWII Bombing of Civilians in Germany and Japan by A. C. Grayling.

Posted by: Donald Sensing at February 23, 2017 1:16 PM

I would also invite reading my essay, War and the reshaping of societies.

Posted by: Donald Sensing at February 23, 2017 3:21 PM

Yes. This is what the West does to its own, when it has a disagreement. Without the use of nuclear energy, at least until the very end.

The enemy (and we all know who that is) knows not their peril. We do this to ourselves over a disagreement; what will we do when the very essence of Western civilisation is at peril?

I think that any conference with Islamic murderers (and all of them are murderers, or at least sympathisers) ought to use wall-sized murals as a backdrop. Of Coventry, Dresden, Hamburg, Berlin and some of the better pictures of the London Blitz - maybe the famous picture of St. Paul's silhouetted against the flames. And of Tokyo, and finally the big two.

Remind the enemy of the truth. When Muslims riot, buildings burn. When Westerners riot, cities burn.

Cookie for the reference:

In my rear view mirror the sun is going down
Sinking behind bridges in the road
And I think of all the good things
That we have left undone
And I suffer premonitions
Confirm suspicions
Of the holocaust to come.

The wire that holds the cork
That keeps the anger in
Gives way
And suddenly it's day again.
The sun is in the east
Even though the day is done.
Two suns in the sunset
Hmm
Could be the human race is run.

Like the moment when the brakes lock
And you slide towards the big truck
"Oh no!"
"Daddy, Daddy!"
You stretch the frozen moments with your fear.
And you'll never hear their voices
And you'll never see their faces
You have no recourse to the law anymore.

And as the windshield melts
My tears evaporate
Leaving only charcoal to defend.
Finally I understand the feelings of the few.
Ashes and diamonds
Foe and friend
We were all equal in the end.

Posted by: Fletcher Christian at February 23, 2017 4:16 PM

9/8 time

Posted by: ghostsniper at February 23, 2017 6:17 PM

What the blm crowd needs to remember: When blacks riot, cities burn. When whites riot, continents burn.

Posted by: Bradoplata at February 23, 2017 7:45 PM

Yes, the effects of war IS devastating upon all.
Yes, it would be of rational thought to believe
the muslum hoard would respond to the graphic pictures which you would post...
but here's the rub:
Those folks are NOT rational...Period.
Your desired affect would work on anyone else...
for the most part. But I seriously doubt it would
even raise an eyebrow of their people, other than
inspire them into believing that they could bring about the pictured results ... upon us.
Their culture only bows when they're completely
subjugated...or better yet, destroyed.

Posted by: Paraclete at February 24, 2017 3:59 AM

"A Desert Called Glass"

An engaging little story from:

http://newrebeluniv.wordpress.com/


They were all gathered in one place. The Hajj was the perfect time to have a strategy and coordination meeting. The blessings of Allah and his prophet were on them all. They had just sat down to a meal of traditional rice and lamb and were going to save the business talk for later. They had time. Their sources told them that their enemies were on the run and had unilaterally given up and gone home. The hated Americans had no stomach for a fight and abandoned Iraq, Afghanistan, and the rest of the Islamic world. Even the filthy Jews seemed to have pulled back their spies and allies to their own territory. This was the perfect time to go on the offensive. The entire Western world would learn submission.

***

On the border between India and Pakistan, a different conversation is taking place. A junior captain in the Indian Strategic Rocket forces has an uncontrollable smile on his face. “REALLY? You would not be shitting on me like this?” His commander confirms, “it is an order, from the top. We will be eliminating our nuclear stockpile as part of our new treaty with America and the Russians. A Global peace initiative.” The Indian captain smiles broadly. Good cheer spreads to the other officers in the room and he sat at his control console and began to enter the instructions.

***
35,000 feet over the Islamic Republic of Iran, an obsolete Russian Airplane was lumbering along on a direct path to Tehran International Airport. The pilot was hand chosen. He had lost his only son when Islamic terrorists stormed the child’s school years earlier. He didn’t really care about the orders he had. Something about global peace initiative to reduce nuclear stockpiles. But he was really happy to be delivering this particular cargo.

***
Mecca – Coffee was being served and greasy hands were being cleaned on shirt fronts. Servants were carrying away the remains of the feast.

Then it all changed in a blink.

The people inside did not even have time for their minds to register confusion about what was happening to them.

And then they were gone.

***

35,000 feet over Mecca. A US B-2 bomber turned gently onto a new heading. LTC Brown muttered into the coms, “one down, three to go”. He noticed large bright flares in the distant horizon at two other points.  He calmly mutters, “Get Some” and looks back at his checklist.

***
India — The captain hit the launch button, firing his entire battery of nuclear tipped missiles into Pakistan. He remembered the faces of his cousins who had been butchered in a market bombing a few years earlier. He muttered, “Burn in Hell” as he watched the rockets leave their launchers.

***
Not all the bombs hit at the same time. Some Islamic nations had more time than others to contemplate what was befalling them. But it didn’t matter. The results were the same. The 1000 largest Islamic population centers in the world had all just been obliterated. Other targets had been destroyed using conventional weapons when they bordered on “friendly” areas.  60 percent of the Islamic population of the world had been instantly incinerated.  Half of the survivors would die in the following days due to exposure, disease, fallout, and starvation.  No international organizations were organizing humanitarian relief efforts to come save them.   The effect was dramatic and permanent. Most of the world had expended most of their nuclear arsenals and their stockpiles of evil cluster bombs and determined to live in peace with each other henceforth. The world lived happily ever after.

Posted by: Fuel Filter at February 24, 2017 4:43 AM

Very interesting scenario,Fuel Filter. The Ayatollahs in Tehran envision such a fate for all of Christendom,now that they are flush with cash from our former POTUS. On a somewhat related note,the World Wide Witches have declared they will cast a group hex on President Trump,beginning tonite,and continuing every Friday of a waning moon,until he's driven from office. Batshittery is truly Global.

Posted by: Nori at February 24, 2017 6:30 AM

Put more simply, the Axis started it, we finished it.

Posted by: J Cass at February 24, 2017 6:40 AM

And the muslims started it, hopefully we'll turn them to glass.

Posted by: tim at February 24, 2017 10:12 AM

I'm looking forward to the second Crusade. Perhaps it will start in Salem and expand from there. Kill two birds with one stone, so to speak.

Posted by: Smarty Jones at February 24, 2017 11:13 AM

If the Americans had used the same techniques for one week at the start of the war in Vietnam, the war in Vietnam would have been over in a week. Don't fight if you don't have to, but fight to win if you do.

Posted by: Pops at February 24, 2017 11:26 AM

I come for peace but Hell rides on my shoulder. For your sake do not release the Dogs of War.

Posted by: Mississippi Rebel at February 24, 2017 7:31 PM