70 Years Ago, in Nazi Germany

Seventy years ago today, 200 + Allied airmen tried to break out of a German prison camp. Only 3 made it home. 77 made it out, and seventy were recaptured. But the shocking thing, then and now, is that 50 were murdered by the Gestapo.

While it is by no means a documentary, they made a little move about it.

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I can’t speak for you but, tonight in my house, a toast of Scotch will be drunk to those 50 brave men.

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Balance of Power

Europe - Satellite image - PlanetObserver

Europe – Satellite image – PlanetObserver (Photo credit: PlanetObserver)

With the destruction of the Soviet Union, for most purposes, the stationing of United States forces in Europe became unnecessary. It is reasonable to have some based there as a contingency, and it is also desirable that the US help maintain Europe as a nuclear free zone (if you exclude Russia, France, and the United Kingdom). I would say they are diverse enough to take care of it, with merely some warnings from time to time.

The thing is with the end of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact, we are no longer dealing with “the rompin’, stompin’, Red Army” where every soldier was a ten foot superman. Russia is a regional power, perhaps a bit stronger than Germany or France, but not as powerful as the United Kingdom, although it does have more nuclear devices, which is why we need to remain engaged.

But much of our problem is that all of Europe has been on the dole for better than half a century. They have had the luxury of having America defend them, without cost to them. Most of their militaries have become parade units not much more useful in a war than the UCLA marching band. And so they’ve had the freedom to support the unproductive and jeer the Americans.

In addition, because of the willful nonsense of the green policies, Europe has become almost completely dependant on Gazprom, the corrupt Russian cartel for their gas and oil.

In my opinion, our major interest in Europe at this point, becomes rather similar to the UK’s in the nineteenth century, make sure nobody take over the whole fool continent, with the additional proviso that nobody gets to use nukes. That doesn’t require a standing American Army in Europe, and we have other needs in defense, so it’s time to come home. Germany will have to feed the Germans.

As for Europe and energy, they need to find some common sense, tsunamis are very unlikely in Germany, and so Fukushima type disasters are as well. Nuclear energy is very clean, and since the plants are built, make more sense than coal plants that aren’t.

It should be a no-brainer for the United States to drill and frack our way, to energy dominance. It’s very obviously in our interest. Near as I can tell, Russia needs oil at about $90/ barrel, if we develop as rapidly as we can, we should be able to force the price well below that.

Who is America’s other persistent opposition? Yeah, Islamic fanatics, some state supported, some not. What do they all have in common? Yep, they’re supported by oil money, so we can expect some subsidence in their activity if we cut their funding by using American oil, and if we’re making money selling oil, we’ll have more good jobs, reducing welfare, Europe will be better off, reducing our subsidies to them. and our opponents will be hurt.

Tell me again why we’re not drilling for oil on public land?

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Walküre

English: Flossenbürg concentration camp: court...

English: Flossenbürg concentration camp: courtyard of Arrestblock (jail block), site of numerous executions in 1944/45 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Today 69 years ago a group of very brave ,and unlucky men tried to change the course of history. That is the background of Operation Walküre (Valkyrie). In truth, the plan comes off as having elements of (very black) slapstick comedy about it. That doesn’t change the fact that these men (mostly but a few women as well) gave their lives to try to remove Hitler. You are free to believe they did this in the name of the honor of the German soldier, or to get an easier peace, or to save Germany from the Russians, or a half-dozen other reasons, or all of them, I don’t think it matters.

 

They tried and they failed, and then they died, horribly for the most part.

 

 

Who were they, that were implicated? Most were, and are anonymous, and innocent, most likely since at least 7000 people were arrested and nearly 5000 executed.

 

Here are some you may have heard of:

 

 

I found this list here, on Wikipedia., and there are many, many, more.

 

But the thing that really struck me in reading over the list is this. Two other things died in the furious aftermath of the plot.

 

This was the end of the old Prussian/German Great General Staff. One can argue about its efficacy as a war fighting construct but one thing is beyond doubt, it carried the institutional honor of the German Army going back to at least the Napoleonic War.

 

The other thing that died was the old Prussian/German aristocracy, just look at the number of names in that list with the aristocratic von in their names. That prefix in most accounts goes back to returning knights of the Order of St. John Hospitaller who conquered a goodly part of Prussia and Poland to find a place to settle down. We’ve talked before about how the Nazis and the Soviets between them wiped out the Polish nobility, so there was little left.

 

It would be a fair assessment, I think, to say that World Wars I and II killed of all of the traditional leadership in Europe, with the sole exception of what was left in Britain. France pretty much killed theirs off in the terror. Maybe that’s part of the reason for Europe’s lack of leadership anymore. They haven’t figured out how yet.

 

It might also be a fair assessment that we Americans are in truth the last representatives of the ‘Old Europe’ because we managed to avoid some of the killing fields that so wounded Europe.

 

 

Immigration, American Style

English: Photo of the Agenda schoolhouse in no...

English: Photo of the Agenda schoolhouse in northern Price County, Wisconsin. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jess’s co-author posted this a few days ago, and it struck me that the Brits are traversing virgin ground here, and it is a chance for us to repay our cousins a bit since we know a good deal about immigration. Chalcedon wrote this:

It is important to call things by their proper names if we are to understand them. In England, as in most European countries, we have a problem because of immigration; but if that is where it started, it is not where it ends.

We have several million people living in this country whose parents were not born here. Forget the usual story, Britain is a country of immigrants. It isn’t. With small exceptions, from the Norman Conquest until recently it was without any substantial wave of immigrants, although not emigrants. The Huguenots of the seventeenth century were French Protestants whose culture was familiar, and easily adapted to and were absorbed into, our society. The Irish immigrants of the nineteenth century were more trouble, but like the Jews later on were concentrated in particular places; indeed the latter, because of their willingness to integrate, were, after a generation, no real problem for the host community.

In short, immigration has been sporadic and small scale. Since the 1950s in this country it has been on a larger scale and continuous; under the last Government it increased in pace. Large parts of some of our cities now resemble Pakistan, and nearly half the population of our capital city is not of native origin. It is hard to point to a parallel in modern times in England.

Continue reading Islam: a problem? | All Along the Watchtower.

I responded with this:

I think this is very true. We, of course, are a nation of immigrants, and we had the same problems, even with Christians it took roughly 2 generations to integrate, my family who came in the 1880-90s spoke Norwegian until World War I, especially the older generation, and it was the language in church, although not school, and as near as I can tell schools from the one-room school house to the university were the method of integration.

We quite often castigate the way Islamic immigrants treat our women but, I suspect our grandparents would look at the ways of young women today and be just as horrified, they certainly were in the 20s.

I also think a lot of the problem, here anyway, is the economy, you don’t have so much time to get radicalized if you’re busy trying to make a living. In some ways our failure proof systems work against assimilation because we’re not forcing people to work.

I’ll quit here before an answer becomes a post of it’s own.

That’s true of my family, and in addition it’s true for all the families I’ve lived among, especially the German ones that came over after the Civil War, where I grew up they had been Prussians and where I live now they were Bohemians with a scattering of Swedes. For us all it’s much the same story, we came here, settled with our own kind and carried on in freedom. We continued to worship in our vernacular tongues (this would be obviously different for Catholic immigrants), but as the kids walked off to those one-room schoolhouses they began to learn English and they taught the old folks as well, sort of, anyway.

The speaking of German went away in the idiocy of the Wilson Administration during World War I, when all things Germanic were seen as seditious, even though all thinking people knew better, our people were here to make their lives better, not bring the quarrels of old world to new fields (with a possible exception for the Irish).

“Would you like more Liberty Cabbage with that Hot Dog?”

But remember this also, until sometime early in the last century, there were no passports, green cards, none of that stuff. If you could afford passage, you could come to America, and stay, unless you were obviously mad, or had leukemia or something along that line. But the thing is, you could come, and you could succeed beyond your wildest dreams, or you could fail and starve- America didn’t really care, it was all up to you, you were not going to get on the dole-because there was no dole for anyone. Work or starve. Actually the old Americanism is Root Hog, or Die” and like most things in America it is plain and understandable.

The old cowboy song put it this way

Sometimes it’s dreadful stormy and sometimes it’s pretty clear

You may work a month and you might work a year

But you can make a winning if you’ll come alive and try

For the whole world over, boys, it’s root hog or die.

And that is how the latin phrase works. What latin phrase? This one

E Pluribus Unum

Presidents in Berlin

For fifty years next week, American Presidents have been making speeches in Berlin. Fifty years ago next week there was this:

Ich bin ein Berliner spoken to 450,000 Germans from an open stage

Twenty-six years ago last week there was this

Tear Down this Wall spoken to 45,000 Germans from an open stage

And yesterday there was this

Blah, Blah, Blah, read from the teleprompter by some bureaucrat hiding behind bulletproof glass to 4,500 Germans in a city with free access from all of Europe.

Makes me so proud

 

The Mighty Endeavor

General Eisenhower speaks with members of the ...

General Eisenhower speaks with members of the 101st Airborne Division on the evening of 5 June 1944 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Prologue:

69 years ago, night before last a Royal Air Force Group Captain delivered a weather briefing to an obscure American general. The general had an operation planned and the weather was very iffy. But, that general, who was a staff major in 1940 said, “OK, let’s go”

And so after planning and deception efforts reaching back to before Pearl Harbor, an operation was launched. It would invade France’s Normandy peninsula. It’s name was OVERLORD.

It was a huge risk, and there was no ‘Plan B’. If it failed, obviously that general’s career would end, his name was Eisenhower, by the way, so would his boss’s General Marshall, and probably his boss Franklin Roosevelt, for this was 1944, and it was an election year. The Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, and government, of the United Kingdom would fall.

But the real damage was none of these, these were individual men, and their fate, while important, was not critical. What was critical was that Central and Western Europe would become the prize of the war between Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia. This was the very last chance for freedom in and of the west.

And so, in one of history’s momentous decisions GEN Eisenhower said, “OK, let’s go”.

For planning purposes, everything had been planned to happen so many days before or after the day of execution, which up till that time had always been called “D-Day“. It never would be again. Because it was a singular operation, unlike anything seen before, and never seen again.

Prelude

Starting at about 0200 on Tuesday, the sixth of June, 1944, forever afterward known as D-Day, the United States 82d Airborne Division, and the 101st Airborne Division, the British 6th Airborne Division, the Canadian 1st Parachute Battalion, and other attached units parachuted into Normandy, more than 13,000 paratroopers. carried by 925 C-47 aircraft. The drops were badly scattered by winds and flak but eventually the units were able to consolidate and achieve their objectives. They also demonstrated how disruptive “little groups of paratroopers” can be to an enemy. They were joined later in the day by another 4000 glider-borne troops.

Shortly after 0630 the American 2d Ranger Battalion landed at Pointe de Hoc to begin their epic, and costly battle to take the bluffs, which held 6 German 155 mm guns.

The Main Event

U.S. Army troops wade ashore on Omaha Beach on the morning of 6 June 1944, although planned for the morning of 5 June, but delayed one day due to weather in France.

Gold, Sword, Juno, Omaha, and Utah, are now names which will live for ever in the iconography of freemen, but on 6 June 1944 the were merely code names, for the five beaches. At early dawn Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsey, gave the order to launch the invasion, I like to think that he actually used the traditional naval command, “Land the Landing Party”. If so, what a landing party: From the United States: 1st Infantry Division, 4th Infantry Division, 29th Infantry Division. From the British Army: 3rd British Infantry Division,  50th British Infantry Division. From the Canadian Army the  3rd Canadian Infantry Division. They were supported by 12,000 aircraft under Air Marshall Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory, coming from the 8th United States Air Force, the 9th United States Air Force and the Royal Air Force’s 2d Tactical Air Force. The invasion fleet consisted of over 6,300 vessel ranging from battleships like the USS Texas to LCVPs that could land a squad of infantry.

It was a very near run event, as the current was high, the water was choppy, and the Germans had been reinforced. 12 Medals of Honor were won this day, including one by Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., (awarded posthumously) as well as a Victoria Cross. But the lodgment was secured and 11 months later Nazi Germany surrendered.

They went into battle with a prayer from America led by the President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

My fellow Americans: Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far.

And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer:

Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our Nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.

Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.

They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.

They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest-until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men’s souls will be shaken with the violences of war.

For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and good will among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.

Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.

And for us at home — fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas — whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them–help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.

Many people have urged that I call the Nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.

Give us strength, too — strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces.

And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.

And, O Lord, give us Faith. Give us Faith in Thee; Faith in our sons; Faith in each other; Faith in our united crusade. Let not the keenness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.

With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogancies. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister Nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.

Thy will be done, Almighty God.

Amen.*

This is not meant to be a history of the operation, that would take several bookshelves and has been done, my purpose here is to commemorate these men and show how their achievement has altered history.

Aftermath

Most of you know the rough outlines of the story, the British stalled trying to take Caen. In fairness, the British could not afford to take casualties, remember they had lost almost an entire generation merely 26 years earlier. The Americans attacked into the bocage country of Normandy, which the American Army, as always designed for movement, found very difficult. The best explanation may well be that of “an irresistible force meeting an immovable object”.  Eventually, the force triumphed and 3d United States Army debouched onto the plains of France, stopping only when they ran out of gas in the approaches to Germany. As we have said, 11 months later, Nazi Germany surrendered.

Historical Consequences

But the invasion was a gamble, what would have happened if it failed? Undoubtedly, the Americans would have transferred whatever forces were left to the Mediterranean to be part of Operation Dragoon which landed in the south of France 2 weeks later. This could never have been a war winner though, the best it could have done is tied down some German forces from moving to the Eastern Front. So, the war in Europe would have ended with the Red Army conquering Germany, and who’s not to say they wouldn’t have come on through France as well. Simple prudence would seem to demand it, while the American emphasis would have been transferred to the war against Imperial Japan. The result is Europe from Portugal to the Urals, and from Lappland to Italy dominated by Moscow. But the Invasion succeeded due to the Valor of the English speaking peoples. There is a Churchill quote taken from his speech to the House of Commons on 18 May 1940 that comes to mind.

We shall never surrender and even if, which I do not for the moment believe, this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, will carry on the struggle until in God’s good time the New World with all its power and might, sets forth to the liberation and rescue of the Old.

On Tuesday, 06 June 1944, the Americans and the Canadians, supported by the conquered people of Europe, in concert with the British Army, and guarded primarily by the British Fleet, made that promise good.

But it doesn’t end there either, for without this successful invasion, the Soviets would have controlled all of Europe, and probably still would. Would Britain have survived, for that matter would North America? It’s not for us to know, neither is it a sure thing.

But certainly, the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact would not have fallen as soon as 1990, thus making Europe from Portugal to the Urals and the North Pole to Sicily free.

As he often did, President Reagan said it better than anyone, when addressing those American Rangers we spoke of earlier, at the 40th anniversary of D-Day he said.

…The Rangers looked up and saw the enemy soldiers — at the edge of the cliffs shooting down at them with machine guns and throwing grenades. And the American Rangers began to climb. They shot rope ladders over the face of these cliffs and began to pull themselves up. When one Ranger fell, another would take his place. When one rope was cut, a Ranger would grab another and begin his climb again. They climbed, shot back, and held their footing. Soon, one by one, the Rangers pulled themselves over the top, and in seizing the firm land at the top of these cliffs, they began to seize back the continent of Europe. Two hundred and twenty-five came here. After two days of fighting, only 90 could still bear arms.

Behind me is a memorial that symbolizes the Ranger daggers that were thrust into the top of these cliffs. And before me are the men who put them there.

These are the boys of Pointe de Hoc.

These are the men who took the cliffs.

These are the champions who helped free a continent.

These are the heroes who helped end a war.

Gentlemen, I look at you and I think of the words of Stephen Spender’s poem. You are men who in your “lives fought for life…and left the vivid air signed with your honor….

This was the spirit that animated the entire force that conquered fascism, In the words of another great general, “They came, They saw, and They conquered”.

And so the lighted torch of freedom was maintained for another generation.

But the struggle continues.

* I note, in passing, without comment, that President Obama opposed, and opposes, this prayer being placed on the World War II Monument in Washington D.C.

 

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