Saturday, 7 June 2014

The Mythology of D Day

If you’re at all interested in the history of the Second World War, answer this question: which battle was the single, most important turning point of the war?

If you answered “D-Day”, or “the Normandy Landing”, congratulations: you’ve learned your pseudohistory well.

Why do I say pseudohistory?

I assume that most people reading this will already know something about the Normandy invasion of 6th June 1944, the greatest amphibious assault in history up to that point. And, as Hollywood proved repeatedly by making films like The Longest Day and Saving Private Ryan, the world would be still under the Nazi jackboot if that colossal effort had failed. Only after D Day did the tide turn, the Wehrmacht fall apart, and the Allies roll on Berlin.

As certified by Nobel Peace Prizident and Supreme Warmonger-in-Chief Barack Obama, that was where the “tide was turned in that common struggle for freedom”.[1]

Isn’t that what happened?

Of course not.

The D-Day landings had one significance, and one only: they shortened the war. Even if they hadn’t happened, the Germans would still have been beaten. Why do I say this?

The tide in the war against Nazi Germany had turned long before Normandy. It had broken before Moscow in the hell of the winter of 1941; it had been decisively turned in the alleys of Stalingrad in 1942-3, when General Chuikov and Marshal Rokossovskii, between them, wiped out Field Marshal Paulus’ Sixth Army along with its Italian, Hungarian and Romanian allies. The last vestiges of the Nazi tide had been turned at Kursk in 1943, when the vaunted Waffen SS Panzer divisions had been annihilated by Marshal Zhukov’s T 34 regiments. By 1944, the final German defeat was only a matter of time.

Let me say this once and for all: it was the Red Army which beat Hitler. Not the British, though they played a part, as did Tito’s Yugoslav partisans. Not the “Free French”, and not the US Army or Marine Corps. For all their sacrifices (quite undoubted sacrifices too), they were ancillaries. I repeat: it was the Red Army which beat Hitler.  

Throughout the 1941-5 period, the Soviet Union was Nazi Germany’s primary enemy, and the war on the Eastern Front the overwhelming concern. As Alan Clark noted[2], to the Germans, the war always meant the war in the East. Even after D-Day, the German High Command committed the overwhelming majority of its forces in the East[3]. Till the very end, it was attempting to negotiate an armistice in the West while continuing fighting in the East.

The D-Day landings, huge as they were, involved landing five divisions (130000-156000) of troops against defenders who could be, it has been said, “most charitably described as second-line”[4]. While these troops, and subsequent reinforcements, were fighting their way through the hedgerows of Normandy, something far more important happened on the other side of the continent.

Second question: how many of the readers of this article, who claim to be knowledgeable about the Second World War, have heard of Operation Bagration?

I’m not surprised if you haven’t. Launched on 22nd June 1944 – three years to the day that three million German soldiers had poured across the border to invade the USSR - it was the single most significant military action of 1944, far outstripping D Day, the Ardennes Offensive and the Burma Campaign put together, and it brought the Red Army to the gates of Warsaw. Operation Bagration[5] was the first mass offensive (rather than counteroffensive, as at Moscow, Stalingrad and Kursk) that the Red Army had launched in the war, and it marked a permanent shift in the balance of power in the East. But to the average Western history book, it might as well never have happened.

If Operation Bagration was the largest offensive of 1944, D Day was one that might well have happened earlier. There are excellent reasons to believe that, as Stalin himself thought, the “Second Front” (Normandy) had been delayed until it could be put off no longer[6]. If the Western Allies (or, as the Supreme War Criminal Barack Obama implicitly pretends these days[7], the only Allies) had procrastinated much longer, the USSR would have beaten Germany by itself, and likely laid claim to a much larger share of influence in post-war Europe.

There is some substance to this claim. That the troops required to invade France were available well before D Day is not in dispute; they were available, in fact, over a year earlier. Instead of being used to invade France, though, they were utilised in Operation Torch, the Allied landings in North Africa. Though they did end the war in the Sahara by May 1943, that was always a sideshow in the war. Even if the Germans and their Italian allies had (never a real possibility, given the balance of forces) prevailed in Africa, that would have had no effect on the war as a whole. The Red Army would still have rolled over the Wehrmacht, and Berlin still would have fallen.  

But why would the (Western) Allies want to postpone the Second Front as long as possible? The answer to that lies in the fact, as Alan Clark said[2], the Western Allies would have preferred to see a stalemate in the East, with the Germans and Russians beating each other to pieces. As a matter of fact, the Western Allies had expected a swift collapse of the Soviet Union in 1941; William Shirer claims that Pentagon officials had “confidentially informed reporters” in September 1941 that “the collapse of the USSR was a matter of weeks.”[8] And even as late as 1945, both US General Patton[9] and British Prime Minister/ Supreme War Criminal Winston Churchill[10,11] were plotting a war against the USSR as soon as the German war was concluded – in alliance with the defeated Germans, if need be.

There is another reason why D Day is celebrated in Western historical mythology, of course – the pernicious American tendency to rewrite history to put the US in the driver’s seat, each time, every time. It’s just part of the charming thing called American Exceptionalism.

It doesn’t change the real history, though. And it doesn’t change the fact that the descendants of the men who fought the Nazis are fighting the Nazis again, in Ukraine[12].

Only, this time, the erstwhile Western Allies are openly on the Nazi side.


[2] Alan Clark, Suicide Of The Empires


[8] William Shirer, The Rise And Fall Of The Third Reich


  1. I love how you smash these heroic myths, Bill!

  2. I read this several times. I had not heard of Operation Bagration, but I had been taught, by an American WW2 vet and student of history, that the fall of the Third Reich occurred with the betrayal of Stalin by Hitler and the invasion of Russia. The USA was highly reluctant to come to England's aid until the bombing of Pearl Harbor (wonder who cooked that up, eh?). But even without PH, the US would have entered the fray. The Russians were more than holding their own, (through terrible trials), and the Americans went to war to protect Capitalism in Europe. Or so I was told.

    Wonderful post, you could write more about WW2 and I would read it.

    1. The US was all but openly engaged in the war by mid-1941. American warships were escorting British convoys in the Atlantic, the US industry was busy producing munitions for the British, and it certainly wasn't Washington's fault that Hitler couldn't be provoked into declaring war. Pearl Harbour was a back door into the war and was cynically provoked by pushing the Japanese into a corner where they could either abandon the oilfields of Indonesia and their gains in China, and thus retreat to the home islands - or go to war. Since the US had broken the Imperial Japanese codes, they knew the Japanese would go to war. They just underestimated the force of the Japanese blow.

  3. Bill, excellent post. I had not heard of Operation Bagration before this. For that alone, thank you very much my friend.
    Yes, Russia/the Soviet Union was the main cause of the defeat of Nazis. That is a fact I have known for many years now. Kursk was the largest tank battle ever. The Normandy landings were a side show and yes, the allies did expect Russia and Germany to destroy each other, then they'd just waltz in and take over the left overs and rule all. Capitalism is like that, greed is THE motivation, even in the mid 1940's as it is today.
    Great post. There is much about WW2 that has never really been made known to the people of the US of A. The reason, it would detract from the myth of "American exceptionalism". The very idea(pipe dream actually) of America being some sort of "indispensable" nation is a very, very sick, sad joke and NOT a funny one at all. Those Marines who were used as shock troops by the want to be dictator MacArthur in the Pacific were sacrificed to capitalism, no doubt about it. So many of those islands could have been by passed, cut off from reinforcements and resupply and did not need to be invaded. I am convinced the invasions were just to add to the "greatness" of old Dougie and his wish to be dictator as he had basically been in the Philippines before WW2. A good book on him is, I believe, titled "American Caesar".
    Of course, I believe that WW2 was not a war that needed to be fought and was only because the vile, messianic "saint" Woodrow got the US into WW1. America is only "exceptional" in that the supposed "leadership" of this country sold out to the super rich capitalists and get into wars they have no business in at all, oh, but what obscene profits they reap from the vile wars they love so much. Notice, it is always the working class and poor kids who fight and die in those wars, not the children of the very rich, they are way too "valuable" for such dirty work.
    I'll stop now as the more I write, the more my anger rises and my language will deteriorate into long strings of swearing like a Marine, having been one, well, you get the idea.
    Thanks again for this post Bill. Great history lesson. Will "we" learn from it? I wonder.

  4. Thanks, Bill, for this terrific post and history lesson. We love your 'de-mythifying' posts. We learn so much from them.

  5. . . another myth well and truly busted! Well done, Bill, for such a lucid explanation - J and I are well aware how the war was won and by whom but your careful analysis has cleared many old cobwebs.

  6. I would respectfully suggest that any battle that shortened the war is to be celebrated. Some are more cinematic than others, true. History is written by the victors with the biggest audience.

  7. well if you ask me,i think that the battle of kursk was the most important,after the thrashing at stalingrad,the nazis still had a lot of juice left that was totally drained in the battle of kursk.


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