Posts Tagged ‘Napoleon’

WW2 Controversies

|   7 September 2011

Why fight in Italy?

Florence – liberated in the summer of 1944

We’ve just added to the site for subscribers a video about the war in Italy.

I’ve always felt strongly about this campaign because my father-in-law fought in it. And the more I learn about this history the harder I find it to justify the sacrifice made by our soldiers. The fundamental problem the Allies faced in Italy had to do with the realities of geography. As Napoleon said, ‘Italy is like a boot. You have to enter it from the top.’ Read the rest of this entry

WW2 Relevance

|   19 April 2011

Panic in France

View from the fields around Bulson down to the valley of the Meuse.

I’ve just returned from a recce trip to the area around Sedan and the Ardennes in eastern France and southwestern Belgium. I was retracing, as much as I could, the route that German Army Group A used in May 1940. And I was struck, once again, at just how risky the German operation was – and how Hitler staked everything on Army Group A making a successful dash towards the French coast and trapping Allied forces north of them.

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WW2 Anniversary

|   12 October 2010

Invading Russia – the “sensible” option.

The Untersberg – mountain of myth

70 years ago, Adolf Hitler stood on the terrace of his house, the Berghof, above Berchtesgaden in southern Germany, and contemplated this view. The massive Untersberg, directly in front of him, was the mountain in which legend said that the Emperor Charlemagne slept, ready one day to rise again.

And in 1940, Hitler believed that a decision he had just reached would make him greater than Charlemagne, the man who created the German monarchy, greater indeed than any German who had ever lived. Because Hitler – and Hitler alone – had decided that Germany should invade the Soviet Union. With hindsight it seems to have been a catastrophic decision – one that led directly to Germany’s defeat. But that was not how most people saw it at the time. In fact, most German Generals thought that the decision to invade France in May 1940 had been much more risky – and that had brought victory in six weeks.

How much resistance could the Red Army – weakened by Stalin’s purges in the 1930s and broken by failures during the Winter war against Finland a few months before – actually put up? Well, most informed opinion agreed with General Jodl of the German High Command who said the Soviet Union would be ‘proved to be a pig’s bladder; prick it and it will burst.’

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