The Best Defense

Gerhard Weinberg’s guided tour of some the persistent myths about World War II

I only recently caught up with Gerhard Weinberg's impressive piece on myths of World War II that ran last summer in the Journal of Military History.

Some really interesting stuff here:

--Yes, the allies had better resources, he concedes. But, he says, we also need to understand that they also were "vastly superior" in using those resources.

--Rommel a hero? Part of his mission in Africa was "to supervise the killing of all Jews in Egypt, Palestine, and elsewhere in the Middle East, under the control and with the participation of the murder commando attached to his headquarters."

--Churchill all wise, Chamberlain a little weasel? A reminder: "The Battle of Britain was won by fighters Chamberlain had insisted on having built."

--The Soviets fought the Germans alone for awhile, and whose fault was that, Joe? By arriving at an agreement with Germany in 1939, Stalin helped "that country drive the Allies off the continent in the north, then the west, and then the south. He never ceased to blame others than himself for the subsequent situation of facing Germany alone on the continent in the east."

--Atomic bombing bad? In discussions of the wisdom of the those bombings of Japan, people tend to forget "the planned Japanese killing of all the prisoners of war they held" in case of an invasion.

--This one struck me as a reach, but provocative nonetheless: Is it time to take "another look" at Chiang Kai-shek, "a leader who managed to hold much of his country together against a better armed foe for so many years"?

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