Barbarossa: 65

The Conservative History Blog has this very good post on today’s anniversary of the beginning of Operation Barbarossa. Tory Historian tells us:

Stalin’s own reaction [to the invasion] was interesting. He first broadcast to the people on July 4. My mother, who was a teenager in Moscow at the time, has told me that his appeal to “brothers and sisters” caused panic. Things were far worse, the Russians reasoned, than anyone had told them if the old tyrant saw them as his brothers and sisters.

Anyone interested in the opening campaign, where the Germans inflicted such disastrous initial defeats on the Red Army, should read David Glantz’s excellent book Stumbling Colossus: The Red Army on the Eve of World War. For the history of the entire war, I would suggest When Titans Clashed: How the Red Army Stopped Hitler by David M. Glantz and Jonathan M. House. I think the best site on the Russo-German war of 1941-45 is the incredible Russian Battlefield, especially the section of “soldiers’ memoirs.”

17 thoughts on “Barbarossa: 65”

  1. OT, but if anyone can answer this, it would be you, Lex.

    My grandfather (may he rest in peace) was a communications officer in the air wing of the US Navy in the forward areas in the Pacific during WWII. Is there a good book on the Pacific Theater?

  2. Lex, your link leads to the post about Alan Taylor the Left Historian.

    I am not familiar with the notion that “the EU is a direct and necessary reaction to the evil nationalism of, well, somebody called the Nazis”. Is it really appears as “often” as he says? He really means the European Union, right?
    Interesting, how? I thought EU is more econoical union, not military or ideological. Can you explain?

  3. I would also add Blond Knight of Germany for a depictionn of the air war over there.

    I never met Hartmann, but I did meet Adolf Galland once, talking about the Eastern Front. He had an amusing story about flying half-finished planes against the Russians near the end of the war. There were no instruments left to put in the cockpit, so the panel had open holes. In the middle of a dogfight, a mouse popped out of one of the holes and ran across his leg.

    He also spoke of the difficulty starting engines in the cold. A captured Russian mechanic was asked how the Russkies did it. He lit a pan of motor oil under the engine of an Me-109, and the German mechanics scattered, thinking the engine would catch fire an explode, but the trick worked, and the Germans used it from then on.

  4. andrewdb –

    You might try to find a copy of John Toland’s The Rising Sun: The Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire. It has more from the ‘other sides’ view of events, but particularly helpful in the time before the outbreak of war. I found the lack of understanding of who was actually running the government in Japan, and therefore the misdirection of the American diplomatic efforts, very interesting.

  5. Tatyana, thanks. Link fixed. I think the idea that the EU is a counter-reaction to the Nazis is fairly commonplace. The founders of the EU, Monnet, Gaspari, Adenauer, were consciously trying to create a situation which would make another intra-European war impossible, by embedding the existing European governments in a supra-European government which dissolve national authority and national sentiment. That, anyway, is my understanding of it.

    John, I have never met any of those guys. I did read Hans-Ulrich Rudl’s book Stuka Pilot, which is simply amazing. The fitted out his stuka so he could fly it even though he had a hand and a foot shot off. The scene where he sinks a Russian cruiser with one bomb is astonishing — something like Luke Skywalker blowing up the Death Star.

    Books about the Pacific Theatre. I have read relatively less about that side of the war. Ronald Spector’s Eagle Against the Sun is supposedly one of the best one volume treatments. The John Toland book is also well-regarded.

  6. One book about the origins of the war in the Pacific Theater that I recommend is Nomonhan. The beginnings of the book have a great view of what was going on in the Japanese Government, and the influence of the Kwantung Army on politics back home. The Japanese defeat at the hands of Zhukov influenced their strategy throughout the rest of the war, as well as forming the foundation for Zhukov’s eventual rise to prominence on the Eastern front with Germany.

  7. Oh, I see where the confusion stemmed from: in my mind European Union (EU) and European Community (EC) two completely different babies.

    Latter, established by 6 members for economic benefits in Treaty of Rome soon after the War, with Adenauer and others as cosigners, I consider only slightly more complex than usual 2-and 3-sided diplomatic treaties of economic cooperation. While EU, grown like a cancer since 1993, is realy more of a political state/federation of states, with all aspect of a state, including attempts of establishing a common army, present.

    I really don’t think current EU does anything remotely effective in preventing Nazism, of German National-Socialism or Islamic Terrorism kind; nor their plentiful “pillars” and commettees are founded for this specific purpose.

  8. The EC and the EU are not that different, Tatyana, as the EC is now part of the EU, being Pillar 1 of that rather curious arrangement. Pillar 1 is all that comes under the Commission, whose legislation, when it eventually makes its way to the member states, cannot be overruled. Pillars 2 and 3 are inter-governmental for the moment and deal with criminal and justice matters and with foreign and security policy.

    Sorry, this is a slight diversion from the posting which is about Barbarossa and the Eastern Front. But the founding fathers of the EU had always intended the EEC to become a political union at some point, though Adenauer may not have thought that was a completely good idea.

  9. But that’s the point, Helen: the founding fathers, as you call them, didn’t found the EU – they founded EC. They were EC-founding fathers. It’s only later that purely economic treaty established for commercial cooperation spread out into a full-fledged ever-interferring state. At the time (1958), nobody in Europe would want to part with their national souverenity commanded instead by increasingly socialistic government in Brussels.

  10. Tatyana, I think it is fair to say that the “founders” of the EC, especially Monnet, were not interested in a limited and mainly economic treaty arrangement. They were quite consciously laying the foundation for what they hoped would become a political union in Europe. They proceeded in small increments, again, by design. As you say, in 1958, people would not have accepted what is in place now. Bit by bit, they got used to the “ever closer union”, and its ever more powerful, interfering and unaccountable government in Brussels.

  11. As to books on the Pacific War, what follows is the books I have on my want list, that I have seen reviewed and have reason to believe are good. It may be of interest.

    Louis Allen, Singapore, 1941-1942
    Christopher A. Bayly, Tim Harper, Forgotten Armies: The Long March Back (2006)
    Eric M. Bergerud, Fire in the Sky: The Air War in the South Pacific
    Eric M. Bergerud, Touched with Fire : The Land War in the South Pacific
    Haruko Taya Cook and Theodore F. Cook, Japan at War: An Oral History
    Edward J. Drea, ed., In the Service of the Emperor: Essays on the Imperial Japanese Army
    Edward J Drea, Nomonhan: Japanese-Soviet Tactical Combat, 1939 (Leavenworth Papers No. 2)
    David C. Evans, ed., The Japanese Navy in World War II in the Words of Former Japanese Naval Officers
    David C. Evans, Mark R. Peattie, Kaigun: Strategy, Tactics and Technology in the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1887-1941
    Brian P. Farrell, The Defence and Fall of Singapore, 1940-1942 (2005)
    Richard B. Frank, Guadalcanal: The Definitive Account of the Landmark Battle
    LTC David M. Glantz, August Storm: The Soviet Strategic Offensive in Manchuria
    LTC David M. Glantz, August Storm: Soviet Tactical and Operational Combat in Manchuria, 1945
    James W. Grace, The Naval Battle of Guadalcanal: Night Action 13 November 1942
    Walter E. Grunden, Secret Weapons And World War II: Japan in the Shadow of Big Science.
    Thomas M. Huber , Japan’s Battle of Okinowa (Leavenworth Papers No. 18)
    Saburo Hayashi, Alvin D. Coox, Kogun: The Japanese Army in the Pacific War
    R.Adm. Edwin T. Layton, USN (Ret.), Capt. Roger Pineau, USNR (Ret.), John Costello, And I Was There: Pearl Harbor and Midway – Breaking the Secrets
    John B. Lundstrom, Black Shoe Carrier Admiral: Frank Jack Fletcher at Coral Seas, Midway & Guadalcanal
    Robert Lyman, Slim, Master of War: Burma and the Birth of Modern Warfare
    Robert James Maddox, Weapons for Victory: The Hiroshima Decision Fifty Years Late
    Bruce F. Meyers, Swift, Silent, and Deadly: Marine Amphibious Reconnaissance in the Pacific, 1942–1945
    Jonathan Parshall and Anthony Tully, Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway,
    Mark R. Peattie, Sunburst: The Rise of the Japanese Naval Air Power, 1909-1941
    Norman Polmar, Thomas B. Allen, Code-Name Downfall: The Secret Plan to Invade Japan and Why Truman Dropped the Bomb.
    Robert Sherrod, Tarawa: The Story of a Battle (1973.)
    Philip Snow., The Fall of Hong Kong: Britain, China, and the Japanese Occupation
    Kazuo Tamayama, John Nunneley, Tales By Japanese Soldiers
    Lt. Col. Paul W. Thompson, et al., How the Jap Army Fights
    Masanobu Tsuji, Japan’s Greatest Victory, Britain’s Worst Defeat
    Donald J. Young, The First 24 Hours of War in the Pacific

  12. Books on the Pacific War I’ve read are in bold. The rest are ones gathering dust on my book shelves, awaiting a day that may never come. By “read” I mean cover-to-cover. I’ve picked at all of them. I suppose I must have read some other ones I got from the library or no longer own. And I don’t include general histories that include sections on the Pacific War, or essays on the Pacific War.

    Anonymous USGPO, Fighting on Guadalcanal
    Christopher A. Bayly and Tim Harper, Forgotten Armies: The Fall of British Asia, 1941-1945
    Clay Blair, Silent Victory: The U.S. Submarine War Against Japan
    James Bradley, Flags of Our Fathers
    Thomas B. Buell, Master of Sea Power: A Biography of Admiral Ernest J. King
    Burke Davis, Marine! The Life of Chesty Puller
    David Day, The Great Betrayal: Britain, Australia and the Onset of the Pacific War, 1939-42
    Paul S. Dull, A Battle History of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1941-1945
    Robert B. Frank, Downfall: The End of the Japanese Empire
    Hal Gold, Unit 731 Testimony
    Thomas E. Griffith, Jr. MacArthur’s Airman: General George C. Kenney and the War in the Southeast Pacific
    Tameichi Hara, Japanese Destroyer Captain
    Meiron and Susie Harries, Soldiers of the Sun: The Rise and Fall of the Japanese Imperial Army
    Samuel Hynes, Flights of Passage: Reflections of a World War II Aviator
    Akira Iriye, Power and Culture: The Japanese American War, 1941-1945
    Saburo Ienaga, The Pacific War, 1931-1945: A Critical Perspective on Japan’s Role in World War II
    D. Clayton James, The Years of MacArthur, 1941-1945
    Ronald Lewin, The American Magic: Codes, Ciphers and the Defeat of Japanj
    William Manchester, Goodbye Darkness: A Memoir of the Pacific War
    Samuel Eliot Morison, The Two Ocean War: A Short History of the Unites States Navy in the Second World War
    Hiroo Onada, No Surrender: My Thirty-Year War
    E.B Potter, Nimitz
    Gordon W. Prange, Miracle at Midway
    Eugene B. Sledge, With the Old Breed at Peleliu and Okinowa
    John Toland, The Rising Sun: The Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire, 1936-1945
    Barbara Tuchman, Stillwell and the American Experience in China, 1911-1945
    Jacob Vander Meulen, Building the B-29
    Roberta Wohlstetter, Pearl Harbor: Warning and Decision

    (My five year old helped me make the list. I sat in a chair with the laptop and said, “bring me that one, no the white one with red letters, two over from that one … Now, hold it so I can read the cover … Good, now put it back … Rightside up, please!”, etc.)

  13. Dan, those Bergerud books are on my radar. No less a personage than Steven den Beste himself recommended them.

  14. Lex, you will devour the Bergerud books very quickly. I actually read the entire 15 volume Morrison set last year. You can get it cheap at Amazon for $150 brand new. If you are a PTO person like myself it is also required reading. Not as riveting or detailed as Bergerud, but the two attack things differently.

    Bergerud in Touched with Fire will paint for you an extremely detailed picture of what misery it must have been just to exist on those islands, much less with people trying to shoot you and/or blow you up. In Fire in the Sky methods of combat with the planes available in the PTO as well as the use of bases and their importance are discussed. IMHO I enjoyed Touched with Fire a bit more, but as I said both are essential.

    Morrisons detailed restructuring of the naval battles and amphibious landings of the US Navy are intersting reading for anyone interested in WW2 naval history. Most interesting to me are the many maps with drawings of where each ship was at what time. That way you can understand better on your own what the different ship captains may have been thinking at different times.

    I don’t mean to ramble, but lastly a plug for The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors by James Hornfischer, a tale of the heroic actions of our DD’s and DE’s off of Samar. Riveting.

  15. I knew this crowd was the right place for that question.

    Thanks, I’m off to the Amazon used lists.

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