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What were you taught about American involvement in the ww2 european front?


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#1 Fiz

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Posted 31 January 2009 - 11:10 PM

I went to south meck and took AP US and European history classes, but the version of history I learned in high school and the one i learned in college and studying abroad were vastly different, specifically with regard to the american involvement in europe during ww2.

From what I remember of 11th grade, Americans declared war, something something something Africa, DDAY, BATTLE OF THE BULGE, HOLOCAUST, VE DAY!

We never really learned about the campaigns in North Africa, we never really learned about the role of the Russians, operation Barbarossa, Stalingrad, the Partisans, that german expansion had been pretty much halted before the landing in normandy, that normandy barely succeeded, mainly because Hitler believed the Allies were going to land somewhere else, or that Germany had pretty much run out of fuel by 1943 and spent the last two years or so just bleeding to death.

but the people my age I talked to learned a completely different version, and not one that exalted their own country's virtues. My british friends knew that England wasn't going to be able to launch a land invasion, though they probably could have held out until the war ground to a halt, since the Nazis weren't really getting anywhere with their nuclear bomb tests (by the time germany surrendered, they were about as far in their research as americans had been on december 3rd, 1941). The french people I met knew that eventually atleast france north of like Lyon would have become liberated, but they had no illusions about staging an invasion of Germany. What almost all of them had learned was that Germany was defeated by the Russians mostly with material help from the Americans, as well as the Partisans destroying supply lines in eastern europe.

I understand that to a degree civics classes are meant to teach national pride and thinks like that, but it seems to be a fairly huge discrepancy. and since it was an AP class I took it's safe to assume that all the other classes had a similar curriculum (standardized tests, etc)

did you guys have similar experiences?

#2 Htar

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Posted 31 January 2009 - 11:17 PM

So we had nothing to do with the outcome of WW2 according to the french and russians? Whatever helps them sleep. Russia got lucky the winter came and hampered the Germans. The Germans were crushing them. France is embarrassed that they bent over like a $2 hooker and took it long and hard form the Germans.

I'm perfectly content leaving Europe and letting them fend for themselves.

#3 Fiz

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Posted 31 January 2009 - 11:25 PM

So we had nothing to do with the outcome of WW2 according to the french and russians?

how in the world did you read what I wrote and come away with this?

Russia got lucky the winter came and hampered the Germans.

lucky? they were lucky winter came? what the hell?

The Germans were crushing them.

the axis lost 1.5 million troops at stalingrad. after that germany had been stopped.

France is embarrassed that they bent over like a $2 hooker and took it long and hard form the Germans.

70 percent of the men in france were killed/wounded in ww1. I don't think many americans understand how the french simply did not want to fight another war, or the horrors of trench warfare in france.

#4 bubbadawg

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Posted 31 January 2009 - 11:57 PM

I went to South Meck I think the similarities end there

#5 Davidson Deac II

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Posted 01 February 2009 - 12:01 AM

I don't know about school. It was a long time ago, and I don't think they spent that much time on WWII anyway.

What I know about the war is that the US was the primary combatant in the Pacific with almost all responsibility for operations in that theater. The Eastern Front of the European theater was a meatgrinder that ate up most of the German army. Without the Russians chewing up so much German men and resources, there is no way that Normandy could happen.

On the other hand, its doubtful that the Russians could have won without the American and British contributions. For one, the threat from Britian and the US kept nearly 2 million troops tied down in Italy and France that could have been put to good use on the Russian front. And the US and British air campaign against Germany had significant effects on German Industry. It didn't have as much of an effect as some of our Air Corps leaders theorized, since German war production went up almost every year. But it definitely impeded their production. And it forced the Luftwaffe to redploy valuable assets away from the front to the homeland. All those anti aircraft guns and fighters could have made a significant impact on the Eastern Front.

And most important were US supplies to Russia. The US supplied many weapons to the Russians, but most importantly, they supplied trucks and locomotives, allowing the Russian factories to concentrate on making tanks and weapons (and the Russians made some excellent tanks).

The Russians would have had a hard time beating the Germans without the American contribution. And the Western Nations would not have beaten the Germans without the Russian contribution. And the US played the primary role in beating Japan.

And Normandy didn't barely succeed. It easily succeeded, at least in the early stages (first 24 hours). The British and Canadians moved inland rather easilty, while the Americans moved in from Utah easily. Omaha was a different story, but even there, the americans had established a decent beachhead by the close of the day. Hitler might have moved those panzer divisions to Normandy, but they wouldn't have gotten there for a day or two, and they would have been subjected to fierce air attacks on the way. And when they got close to the beachhead, they would have come under fire from heavy naval guns. Hitler reacting more quickly would have made the situation at Normandy more difficult, but I think in that case, then the Allies would have barely won due to complete control of the air and sea.

BTW, I just finished reading a book call Shattered Sword, the untold story of the Battle of Midway. Excellent book that attempts to tell the battle from the Japanese side.

Edited by Davidson Deac II, 01 February 2009 - 12:13 AM.


#6 Fiz

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Posted 01 February 2009 - 12:05 AM

funny story the germans told mussolini "for the love of god don't do anything don't attack" and of course italy did as soon as they could before they had a proper army and germany had to continually bail them out.

#7 bredy087

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Posted 01 February 2009 - 01:22 AM

The landings in Normandy were thought to have had many more casualties by high command than they actually did. German Panzer divisions were moved south due to fake intelligence the Allies created to throw them off. The Allies dumped dead sailors off the coast of spain, spainish then delivered the fake reports to ze germans. Ive read about ww2since I could read, and most of the things I learned in school corolate with books I have read.

#8 JoCoLoco

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Posted 01 February 2009 - 01:27 AM

Everything I learned about WW2 I had read before they taught it in school, always been a history buff. The Russkies contributed a great deal, as evidenced by the fact that they incurred the highest death toll of any Allied Forces nation. However, their effectiveness offensively before our arrival was nil, roughly half of their foot soldiers were armed with pikes. We entered the European theatre at the perfect time for us, when the Germans were gassed from pounding on Britain and freezing to death in Russia.

#9 cookinwithgas

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Posted 01 February 2009 - 02:44 AM

Heres the deal. Russia was BY FAR the most involved Allied force, they lost around 6 TO 10 MILLION soldiers (we did not lose quite half a million on both fronts). At the beginning of Barbarossa, the Russians were throwing human wave attacks to try and slow the Germans down, while they moved their factories to the Urals. By the time they started beating back the Germans from the outskirts of Moscow until Stalingrad was decided, it was a stalemate. From then on the Russians had an overwheling advantage in numbers and equipment that was about comparable to the Germans.

Russia desperately wanted other fronts open to help them out, this is why (along with Roosevelts perceived need to get the American Army into the fight at the earliest possible time) that Africa was invaded. This resulted in Hitler moving many important air and ground units to assist Italy, which proved to be very important to the Russian Front. The threat, followed by the deed, of invading Europe provided a lot more assistance to the Russians.

The UK and US bombing of Germany also diverted much needed aircraft and flak crews from the Russian front, although in the final analysis stategic bombing was probably not worth the costs involved in men and equipment (against Japan with the B-29 was another matter).

More important to the war effort was the supplies we provided to the Allied forces. Russia started getting US built planes and trucks, which helped them out a lot. Some of these came by a dangerous convoy route, some via Iran.

Japan was doomed from the start because of our manufacturing capability. Beating Germany was the critical task, and it was indeed the Russians who bled them to death.

Invading France from the sea involved logistic and supply solutions that the Russians probably could not conceive of doing in 1944. America definitely did more than its part, seeing as it was an ocean away from the fight, but other than the Battle of the Bulge and some really dicey days right after the invasion, the Nazis just fought a harrassing retreat action. Many of the troops in France were conscripts from Poland and other Eatern European nations, mixed with a few of Germanys best troop, and especially tank, divisions.

Of course to Htar, this means that France Hates America. I suggest a trip to the Normandy area - the people there have always been happy to see my friends and I as we make our way around the various historical sites.

#10 Davidson Deac II

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Posted 01 February 2009 - 08:09 AM

I don't think High School history classes should spent that much time on World War I/II anyway. They should just hit the basic highlights. If the students then want to study the subject more, they can go to college, or buy/borrow some of the thousands of books on the subject.

#11 Squirrel

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Posted 01 February 2009 - 08:43 AM

Hitler shouldnt have attacked Russia. If he would left them alone Germany might not have lost.

#12 Davidson Deac II

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Posted 01 February 2009 - 08:49 AM

Hitler shouldnt have attacked Russia. If he would left them alone Germany might not have lost.



Germany would have won, and France would likely still be under Nazi rule, or some semblance of the Nazi party.

But Hitler was going to take on the Russians at some point in time. Stalin knew it, but he hoped the Germans would wait until he could finish rebuilding the Russian military that he had gutted during the purges of the 30's. Germany actually hit Russia about a year or two before Stalin thought or hoped they would.

Germany should have finished off Britain before attacking Russia, but doing so would have been tough. They would have had to ramp up their ship building industry in order to launch an invasion of England, and it would have taken them about two years to do so. But tripling U boat production might have forced the English to surrender. Churchill said that the only thing he really feared during the entire war was the Uboat threat.

#13 Delhommey

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Posted 01 February 2009 - 09:40 AM

Some Japanese students still learn that they were liberating Asia from the rule of the Western colonial oppressors, and European children learn plenty of madness themselves.

Personally if a person isn't readily able to produce multiple primary documents (preferably in the footnotes), they're writing historical fiction. I'd say 90% of History textbooks throughout the word are garbage and the other 10% are bs jingoism fit only to burn for warmth.

Also any teacher or History professor who tries to bring any nationalism or politics into his/her lecture should be dutifully ignored (after you ask what will be on the test, of course).

#14 Kevin Greene

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Posted 01 February 2009 - 11:38 AM

Germany should have finished off Britain before attacking Russia, but doing so would have been tough. They would have had to ramp up their ship building industry in order to launch an invasion of England, and it would have taken them about two years to do so. But tripling U boat production might have forced the English to surrender. Churchill said that the only thing he really feared during the entire war was the Uboat threat.


Goehring promised Hitler the Luftwaffe could take Britian, another reason they didn't invade and ultimately contributed to Nazi defeat. Another bad Hitler decision switching the Luftwaffe from military to civilian targets. The Blitz took its toll, but did not defeat the Brits.

#15 mmmbeans

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Posted 01 February 2009 - 12:38 PM

Goehring promised Hitler the Luftwaffe could take Britian, another reason they didn't invade and ultimately contributed to Nazi defeat. Another bad Hitler decision switching the Luftwaffe from military to civilian targets. The Blitz took its toll, but did not defeat the Brits.


The battle of Dunkirk was a huge mistake as well.


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