halialkers: An image of Joe Stalin in sunglasses with the phrase "Broseph Stalin" on it (Kaartshaahin Heshatani)
Two invasions and one great offensive were launched. In 1812, the bicentennial of which is this day, Napoleon Bonaparte, the hitherto undefeated conqueror of the great bulk of Europe launched his invasion of the Russia of Alexander I. He had spent the previous months studying all the failures of Charles XII in the Great Northern War, and making his most in-depth and complete logistical and otherwise preparations for a campaiign. Indeed, Napoleon never repeated the mistakes of Charles XII. He made completely different ones that culminated in the complete annihilation of his Grande Armee, culminating in the great debacle of the Berezina. Technically Napoleon was never defeated on the battlefield, but as the North Vietnamese said to the American, that was true but it was irrelevant. Curiously Napoleon's invasion began to degenerate after a stiff fight at Smolensk, the first truly big and gruesome battle of the invasion.

In 1941, 3 million Nazis, prepared after a decision made in October of 1940, were to launch what was intended to be the crowning triumph of Nazi arms, the invasion of the Soviet Union of Josef Stalin. Against them were arrayed 2 million Soviet forces with horrendously obsolete equipment, operating on a bad plan, executing the bad plan worse than even it had to be. In the course of this preparation, the Nazis had studied deeply the lessons of 1812, and indeed they did not repeat the mistakes of Napoleon. They made entirely different ones that were just as fatal. This in fact cast a deep dark cloud over the course of Operation Typhoon and the Soviet counteroffensive there. And furthermore, ironically, and bitterly the Soviets caused the Nazi offensive to begin to derail in a prolonged and bloody battle at Smolensk, the first place the Red Army put up a furious, planned defense that lasted for eight weeks (and utterly failed, but in lasting eight weeks this meant it took the Nazis longer to capture Smolensk than it had taken them to knock down the French).

And then in 1944, the Red Army launched Operation Bagration against the hollowed-out form of Army Group Center, still retaining the so-called Belarusian Balcony, where the Red Army had massed a huge, modern mechanized force against a Wehrmacht degrading into a WWI Army and SS fanatics who were a political militia but had all the remaining goodies. The huge offensive began deep in Belarus, around Minsk, at the time that the democracies were breaking out at Falaise. In a short timespan Army Group Center no longer existed, the Red Army was on the Vistula, the Polish Home Army destroyed any pretense of an independent postwar Poland with the Nazis and Soviets both in different ways making this end possible, and the Nazis lost WWII to a point where only the fanatics could disagree with it.

June 22nd is as such generally not the day nor the era to invade Russia. Russia, in fact, has a record of killing empires on this day.
halialkers: Angewomon. An angelic woman with six wings (Amber)
http://www.amazon.com/Path-Victory-Mediterranean-Theater-World/dp/0374205183

^This. It tries really, really hard to lay out a thesis that the sequence of bloody attrition battles in the Mediterranean really does deserve the emphasis accorded to it in traditional histories, attention far overshadowing the degeneration of the Wehrmacht in the bloodsoaked battles in the Axis-Soviet War. It really, really tries. Unfortunately it tries to lay out claims that are directly contradicted by the evidence. Such as the Mediterranean serving as a learning curve.....and then the Allied generals repeat the exact same mistake over and over again. Claiming that the generalship on the Western Front in Northwestern Europe was a higher order than that seen in the Mediterranean.....and ignoring that the Bocage, Aachen, the Huertgen Forest, Metz, the Scheldt.....all overqualify for the kind of foolish headlong attacks it says the generals learned against in the Mediterranean.

I give the writer props for trying to find the rose in the pile of bullshit. I really, really do. Unfortunately for it that rose simply put does not exist in anything like the term it says it does. Sure, it raises the point that much of the fighting here was politically motivated, but given the inelegant attrition war in the Western Front of WWII and two-thirds of the Eastern Front IOTL for much of *that* war I fail to see why or how I am to be convinced that the people repeating most of the same mistakes in 1944-5 somehow learned in 1939-43 what not to do, or why the argument that the Mediterranean was exaggerated in importance is discredited. The book contradicts itself.

Good God:

Feb. 17th, 2012 04:17 pm
halialkers: Picard looking left and gesturing with caption "WTF is this shit?" (WTF is this shit)
I learned that Pat Buchanan said that the Treblinka Death Camp was a lie. That it didn't really kill anyone. What the flying fuck? How does a guy like this sound respectable to anyone with the least hint of a backbone in terms of honesty or morality? 
halialkers: (Mazidren)
Having finished two biographies of Soviet Marshal G.K. Zhukov I can say that I kind of like that guy. He was one of the very few men in Stalin's USSR with the courage to stand up to one of the most monstrous dictators in history, and his record of successes meant he embodied the Russian concept that victors are never court-martialed. Like most future Red Army generals Zhukov was from the Sukhomlinovite faction of peasant-innovators and went on to a career in the Red Army. He was by all indications a committed Stalinist just as his major Nazi enemies Model and von Manstein were committed Nazis.

Starting at the Battle of Khalkin Ghol and the Battle of the Yelnya Salient he won victories, and at the Battle of Smolensk he oversaw a strategic victory. He prevented the Germans from doing more than besieging Leningrad, then he delivered in the Battle of Moscow the first halt to Blitzkrieg and the fatal injuries to the Wehrmacht's logistics that killed it for the duration of WWII. Then in the Battle of Stalingrad and the Battle of Rhzev he starts shifting the war to the USSR which he does by again blunting Blitzkrieg, this time successfully encircling a major German force. Then in the Battle of Kursk he oversees a victory in the largest land battle in human history, forever destroying Nazi offensive power and opening the last phase of WWII where the Soviet army was to successively overrun first Ukraine, then Byelorussia, then move with 73 km of Berlin, finally capturing Berlin itself.

He won immense popularity for this and was perhaps the most genuinely popular man in his lifetime in the Soviet Union. The Soviet leaders thus used him when they needed him and ignored him otherwise. I compare him to Belisarius because obviously the whole Third Rome thing makes an ERE analogy appropriate. In terms of his successes, Zhukov may be the greatest general in human history. Wielding first 57,000 men in Mongolia, then 250,000 at the Battle of Moscow, then 1,000,000 at Stalingrad and Kursk, then 2.5 million for the Battle of Berlin.....I rate Zhukov as perhaps the greatest general in human history, on par with none else.

This of course is because nobody else has ever led armies 2.5 million strong in a single operation, and because Zhukov's successes occurred in what for the time being is humanity's last single massive great war.

To emphasize the magnitude of Zhukov's successes in this war, the Battle of the Bulge involved approximately 1 million men on both sides. In the Battle of Stalingrad there were 1.8 million men involved on both sides at the height of the battle. There were approximately 2 million men on both sides in the Battle of Moscow. At the Battle of Kursk over 60 days again approximately 2 million men on both sides. In Operation Bagration there were approximately 3 million men on both sides, the same in the Battle of Berlin. In all cases Zhukov commanded numerically larger forces, and in all cases the Soviet Union won with those forces. A million is a number that's truly incomprehensible, and Zhukov could use thus numbers impossible for the human mind to fathom to win some of the largest battles and greatest victories in human history.

So....yeah. When we're talking wars fought with armies that are around the population of the state of Kansas being used by individual generals to win, that's pretty bloody hard to top.
halialkers: (Mazidren)
It's 981 pages, which is quite formidable in terms of simple quantity of reading. This joint biography of the two men covered Stalin's life from seminary student to radical revolutionary bank-robber aka "Expropriator" to most powerful single man in the USSR to sole, totalitarian despot in the Soviet Union, and covered Hitler's life from failed bum illegal immigrant to soldier and war hero to radical dictator of Germany who steadily removed everyone he disliked. The book presented Stalin as someone whose focus was on a political-economic revolution, and all his acts followed from this. While his ideas were no less fanatically held than Hitler they allowed for a solid core of rationality in them that Hitler's ideas did not. Stalin could and did draw back from things that clearly failed and had the wizardry of turning failure into success, Hitler never knew when or how he could quit.

The biggest single difference between the two is that Stalin was a deliberate, effective calculator where Hitler was an impulsive gambler. This is one reason why Stalin successively established far more total control over the Soviet Union than Hitler ever achieved over his empire. The simple reason being that Stalin had the wit, will, and endurance to sift through the more monotonous and tedious sides of political power, Hitler never did at any point. Stalin's calculation meant that he was much more cautious as a rule than Hitler was, yet at the same time Hitler's successes with his own, very audacious gambles encouraged the hubris inherent in Hitler's concept of Hitler where Stalin had the will and the power to move slower but when he got somewhere he almost never left that somewhere.

Thus by the time the two led history's largest war against each other, Hitler and Stalin both made major fuck-ups during the war, but Hitler's were impulsive gambles, Stalin's the result of deliberate, careful calculations that proved to be very, very bad calculations. They, however, were still calculations made with logical movement from point A to point B. Both dictators, however, were very flexible in the means used to achieve their ends, yet again Hitler was far more the gambler and willing to bet big, Stalin was never that kind of man. This betting nature to Hitler's offensives, however, was one reason why relative to Barbarossa and Case Blue the Soviet offensives had permanent results, even when as in the Battle of Smolensk they were overall failures, where the German ones achieved narrowly dramatic mile-wide-but-inch-deep results that doomed the Nazi Empire. With Stalin's greater tendencies to calculation and to giving much more thorough attention to enduring power structures, Hitler's two-year chaotic empire that was a mixture of satrapies and neo-feudal rivalries between overmighty subjects was replaced by an Eastern Bloc that endured for decades and survived twice deep challenges to the system with a great degree of success and collapsed not by violence but by mostly-peaceful movements.

Hitler's dictatorship, the one of anarchic-despotism and focused on war would last all of twelve years and the last four absorbed in the war with the Stalinist one were the coup de grace to his movement. At the same time the Fuhrer was to successfully for a time secure Germany's hegemony in Europe. Stalin's dictatorship, the one that had enabled him to go from most powerful single man in the Soviet leadership to only man in the Soviet Union wielding true political and military power, was the one that both amassed the more directly tyrannical power of the two (the Nazi state in several cases was surprisingly weak, though this absolutely never applied to cases like the Holocaust or rearmament in pursuit of a general European war which was the long-term goal of the movement) was also the one that destroyed the other dictatorship and wound up with the largest Russian Empire in world history.

For those on my LJ my main computer at home has had issues so my Internet access as a whole will be more sporadic. I apologize for inconvenience.
halialkers: (Default)
In the summer of 1944, the Soviet Stavka had agreed with the democracies' armies to launch simultaneous offensives. As the democracies captured Rome and launched Overlord, the Soviets knocked Finland out of the war in the first of a sequence of staggered offensives. On 22 June 1944, 2 million Soviets under the command of Georgi Zhukov, wielding a modern mechanized army vastly superior to its Nazi counterpart in mobility, firepower, and overall leadership began Operation Bagration. The Soviets used the 1st Baltic, and the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Byelorussian Fronts, and these fronts from a starting line at Minsk in June of 1944 by 19 August had reached the Vistula. In the process the largest intact remaining core of German military power and all the rest of Soviet territory were cleared in a relatively short span of time, and the Soviets were to halt outside Warsaw and let Bar-Komorowski's deluded efforts to hold onto the 1921 frontiers destroy itself, to enable the Lublin Government by default to form the core of Warsaw Pact Poland.

The Soviet victory in Bagration was the grandest example of combined-arms warfare in the entirety of the war, and the moment at which the war for the Germans was irretrievably lost. After Bagration the Germans were unable to achieve even a stalemate.
halialkers: (Josef Stalin)
So much death today its anniversary remembered is never oversoon.

Today, June 22nd, 1941 3 million Axis armies consisting of Germans, Romanians, Hungarians, Bulgarians, Italians, and Finns all invaded the Soviet Union to fight an equal number of Soviet troops, 3 million, caught right in the middle of a military overhaul. World War II, already begun in Asia and restarted with a vengeance in Africa now erupted into the largest war ever. The confrontation of Fascism with Soviet Communism led ultimately to both how and why World War II lasted as long as it did and took the form it did. Hitler attacks in the mid-1930s and the Soviets destroy him with what was both the most technologically and tactically advanced army with the best resources of the day. He attacked in 1942 the new improved Soviet Army would have blunted his offensive and then thrown him back far earlier, with a fraction of the death toll and devastation that greeted the OTL USSR.

Instead June 22nd 1941 was the right combination of hitting a stronger enemy at its weakest and due to so many cries of wolf beforehand also strategic surprise at that very moment.

Three years later, another World War II June 22nd, a newer, retooled Soviet Army was at war against the Germans. The Germans remained to the dying days of the war the horde obsessed with elan and cran and eschewing the mass-production processes that both US free enterprise and also Soviet central planning both became superior to the Nazi model in their own ways. The Germans now lacked mobility, significant depth in reserve after the expensive victories and catastrophic defeats of 1941-1943 and were facing a highly motorized Soviet military that was for the first time able to combine all aspects of war into a revival of pre-war Deep Penetration Doctrine.

And then the Soviet juggernaut slammed into Army Group Center, saved from this fate in an irony of ironies in December 1941 only by previous Soviet offensives being over-ambitious and under-commanded and German military power was destroyed. The war from then on out was the combination of the Allies, the USSR, UK, and USA to crush the Germans in a giant nutcracker move.

Remember, remember the 22nd of June, so much death today its anniversary is never oversoon.

halialkers: (Default)
When I was still in high school and didn't have much else to do in my senior year, I checked a copy of Mein Kampf out and read it. First, even allowing for translation, the original language must have been the German version of Engrish. Taking it from Adolf Hitler's mastery of German, one would not have expected this to be the magnum opus of the leader of a large First-World country, one would have seen it instead as the type of literature one encounters among the various extremist movements today, overlong, meandering in a lot of points, and with a lot of grotesque metaphors even for the time (and not surprisingly der Fuhrer was a big porn connoisseur).

The idea seemed like a mirror version of What Is To Be Done, namely a view of the group to be killed in bloody red slaughter (pun half-intended) as various peoples Hitler didn't like, as opposed to parasitical imperialistic big business. The idea of the Ubermensch was to create by means of pre-Watson and Crick science a group of people who would be superior and establish a New Fascist Man. This, naturally, in the vein of Manifest Destiny, meant that the inferior Slavs would fade away and a German state would expand on a house of Slavic corpses. Oh, and let's not forget that in Hitlerland the Jews are all-powerful people out of a Dan Brown novel as opposed to the traditional whipping boy of Eurochristian culture. Half the book is his autobiography, in which he comes across as a self-adulating large ham like his predecessor the Kaiser (who said when told he had a small cold "No, no, it must be a big cold. Everything about me must be big.') , and a ham who hated the society he was born in but also hated Vienna, his one experience with big cities. The second half was this large-scale vision of his version of the Nazi Party, which didn't become final until the Night of the Long Knives. Even taking into account that for a few years Hitler ran a fairly large European Empire, I would rank this book and its author as a 3.5 on a 10-point scale.

halialkers: (Default)
My take on what would happen if the Atomic Bomb didn't go off for whatever reason it did IOTL (likely a delayed start to the Manhattan Project):

First, Operation Starvation would have seen an increasingly desperate situation in Japan. Allied POWs might become scapegoats here as the IJA raises them as the reason for desperate straits. Either way, Japanese are already dying like flies before the invasion goes in. This leads to an increasing number of volunteers for Kamikaze and Bakka Bombs, because Hell, they're already starving why not take Allied forces with them?

At the same time the Soviet August Storm Operation starts rolling up Imperial Japanese forces in Mainland Asia, the result in terms of the first wave of Downfall is a bloody Anzio-on-the-Kanto. Japanese resistance is so fanatical that Allied casualties are already atrocious. For bonus shits and giggles we'll say a few OTL people of signficance die in the battle and thus certain aspects of post-war culture will be very different. The Soviets begin to gather fleets for a land invasion of Hokkaido, which takes a bit more time because this POD doesn't change the basic inadequacy of the Soviet groundwater fleet.

The American invasion steadily pushes inland, meeting fierce invasion, and purple hearts are given out by the dozen. Use of biological warfare happens, and then the first atomic bombing (because the Bomb is only delayed by a few months, not never happening) precedes US landings followed by still more atomic bombings in preparation of a US landing. The battle continues and the Soviet occupation of Hokkaido sees some revenges exacted for how the battles prior to the beginning of the War in Europe were fought, by Marshal Zhukov.

By the end of the Battle, the Ainu are completely extinct as a people between Japanese repression and scapegoating and Soviet brutality. The Japanese themselves are reduced to a tiny proportion of what they once were, and the liberal use of atomic bombings has left entire parts of the country as future death traps. Good chunks of the USA are suffering the result of biological warfare, while in the future radiation poisoning is going to have a dramatic effect on American lives. The Soviet Union occupies Hokkaido and this is the world at the end of World War II at the beginning of 1947.

The butterfly effects that are obvious are: 1) Less swift and easy victory for Israel and possibly no Israel at all due to a greater World War II and less eyes on the Soviets. Massive butterflies, including a larger number of Christians in Palestine and very likely more Jews in the Arabic-speaking countries.

2) Japan as we know it is not a US ally. Presuming the ROC still goes down to defeat (which given Sovietist views of Maoists is not entirely likely), possible locations of Nationalists on the islands of Japan are quite possible indeed.

3) The Mushroom cloud lingers much heavier in US national consciousness due to the rate of radiation poisoning in American soldiers (which was actually the plan, at the time of the design of nuclear weapons none of the lingering effects of fission bombs were known).

4) A very different Cold War. The Soviets might well have a part of Tokyo, which gives the West its own Berlin to squeeze the balls of the Soviets like Berlin squeezed the balls of the West. The possiblity of no PRC has radically different effects on the shape of de-colonization, without a single great leading movement as such. Alt-McCarthyism will take a very different form.

5) Korea is a single nation, under a Soviet stooge, who may or may not be Kim Il-Sung.

6) World War II lasting longer would itself change the post-war landscape to a degree, the 1948 elections that saw men like Nixon, JFK, and LBJ get elected will, if those men survive Downfall, not see them elected as soon as OTL.

7) Post-War politics will also differ as the potential fate of Japanese in Hawaii and the Mainland USA might have some impact on Post-War Japanese demographics, which if even a smaller number exit would see Native Hawaiians as a greater voice in Hawaiian affairs.

8) A radically different popular culture Post-War. Imagine, for just a brief moment, popular culture without the influence of anime, Godzilla (who has been influential to a degree), the influence of manga and other Japanese ideas.

9) I likely would not be here, but my aunt would still be living as she was born in World War II itself, which would be the minor and more personal effect. Effectively my father is never born if my grandfather dies in Operation Downfall, and if he is born, it's later, which has likely an impact of its own. I likely owe my very existence to Fat Man and Little Boy.

And last but not least..10) Japanese culture and Nihonjin are extinct. While Japanese would still be spoken, it would likely not receive the official sanction of the government, it would be at the most benevolent scenario like Bai in the PRC, and at the least benevolent like Breton in France.

So...yeah. Happy thoughts, eh?
halialkers: (Default)
This one deals with religion, if you want to create a flamewar of atheist v. Christian, this is not the place to do so and any such comment threads will be frozen when they start.

Now....forward to the post:

I think one of the forgotten goods of history has been the actions of the Pope John XXIII during the Shoah. Pius XII was and is a bit controversial, but John XXIII should be one of the Righteous Among the nations.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_John_XXIII

He was one of those who saved the honor of the Church.

Others who deserve mention are:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dietrich_Bonhoeffer

^This man was one of the leaders of the German resistance to the Nazis.

Then there's ol' Pius XII himself:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Pius_XII#The_Holocaust

He hid Jews in the monasteries of the Church, saving them from Nazi evil.

And last but not least is the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rescue_of_the_Danish_Jews where Denmark deliberately defied the Nazis and saved most of its Jewish population.

Even in the midst of darkness and evil, there was light. And the light was good.
halialkers: (Default)
To the military forces of the United States and Australia who beginning on this day handed the first defeat in many, many a year to the forces of the Empire of Greater Japan.

To the victory:Under a cut because these are damn big images: )

And a great thanks to the generation that triumphed over Tojo, Mussolini, and Hitler.

halialkers: (Default)
These guys:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_Guard

and these guys:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ustasche

are often forgotten when the World War II fascist movements are considered.

Now, Nazis were evil bastards, yes. But these guys gave the hardened SS forces nightmares. Now remember, this is the SS the kind of people who delighted in blowing people's brains out from behind. Who would herd Jews into gas chambers and rip their fillings out of their mouths. Who made massacre a hobby.

And these gave them nightmares.

These are the Fascist Khmer Rouges, and they're often forgotten. And this is my first of the Forgotten Evils series.
halialkers: (Default)
In the 1940s, when Adolf Hitler was in the process of killing the Jews, it was known about and publicized at the time. People would not believe it, because white men were more decent than that. Hitler was killing Jews, Gypsies, and Russians at an alarmingly quick rate in 3 years, and nobody could bring themselves to stop it, or to care about it one way or the other. The Nazis turned entire towns into smoldering ruins and charnel houses, and the democracies and dictatorships alike did nothing to stop it. The Nazis slaughtered millions, industrializing death the way so much else had been, and nobody raised a voice to complain about it. The Allies knew of the camps, knew of what was in them. Nothing was done until Hitler's empire was crumbling. One of the things that I'm proudest of that the Allies did was that American forces arrived at Dachau and saw those vermin dumping the corpses of the Jews, saw it, and slaughtered every last one of the viri that had been corrupting their own souls that way.

Similarly, Japan invaded China in 1931, and fought a war with it for 14 years. It performed biological warfare experiments, intending to create bubonic plague bombs. It engaged in suicide war tactics against the US Army. The IJA killed hundreds of thousands in single incidents, acting like their European barbarian counterparts, reducing ancient cities to graveyards. Japan ruled its empire with equal barbarism to the Nazis, both treating their contemporaries like subhuman beasts, which is what Chinese, Koreans, Acehnese, Javanese, and so many others were to Japan, and Russians, Jews, Gypsies, Poles, Byelorussians, and Ruthenians were to the Germans. The Army intended a last hurrah of Japan that would have meant the death of an entire culture, all in their fanaticism and fire.

And Italy, the ones that are mocked as incompetents? People forget that Benito Mussolini invaded Ethiopia, fighting people armed with oxhide shields and spears with poison gas and tanks, dealing immense death to the Amhara and the Oromo. The Italians also acted with brutality in their North African colonies, and the Mussolini regime was the most tyrannical in Italy since the days of Augustus Commodus.

That was the Axis Powers. Remember that, the next time you call someone a Nazi. Remember that the Axis were not a meaningless term, they were a very real coalition of genocidal expansionist nations that would have left all Earth in ruins had they won.

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