BBC History Magazine's "Great Misconceptions of WWII"

Discussion in 'Historiography' started by MLW, May 27, 2013.

  1. MLW

    MLW Senior Member

    I recently picked up a copy of the May 2013 issue of BBC's History Magazine. One of the articles is "The Great Misconceptions of World War Two." In it, leading historians "debunk nine widely held assumptions." Has anyone seen the article? If so, any thoughts?

    The misconceptions are:

    1. There was a single, decisive reason for Allied victory. Max Hastings writes that "almost all major events have multiple causes and consequences."

    2. Germany boasted a highly mechanized fighting force. James Holland writes that the "Not only were the Germans under-equipped, the equipment that they did have was hopelessly over-engineered."

    3. D-Day was bound to succeed. Anthony Beevor states we suffer from hindsight. Even with Allied air superiority, the Germans were able to defend themselves and furthermore, airpower played a small role in D-Day because the bombing to suppress shore batteries and defences was a failure. He also writes that Op Fortitude Deception was enormously helpful.

    4. The Axis could have won the war. Joe Maiolo writes that war is more than just battles. "Both world wars were decided by the balance of industrial resources and manpower."

    5. Everyone was 'in it together.' Juliet Gardiner says that not everyone on the British homefront put forth equal effort or endured the same level of sacrifice and suffering,

    6. The word 'Russia' can be used as shorthand for 'Soviet Union." Roger Moorhouse's point is that the two were never the same thing and that the worst fighting in the East was not in 'Russia' but rather the Ukraine and Byelorussia.

    7. Britain's economy was hugely efficient. Norman Stone says the reality was wide-spread labour trouble and that taxes nullified wage raises and increases in standards of living.

    8. Churchill was never in favour of appeasement. Laurence Rees writes that Churchill appeased Stalin by agreeing to let the Soviet Union take eastern Poland and to shift Germany's eastern border westward; causing one of the largest demographic shifts in European history.

    9. Britain stood alone in 1940. Andrew Roberts writes that is important to remember the contributions and losses of the rest of the British empire; notably Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and India (whose volunteer army was the largest volunteer force in the history of mankind).

    Oddly, the magazine stopped at nine. Any suggestions for a tenth misconception?

  2. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    10. Historians know all the answers. Ron Goldstein
    ritsonvaljos and 4jonboy like this.
  3. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Disagree as # 10 - should be that Historians THINK they know all the we frequently learn of their copying habits - recent nit picking on rail warrants - 17th Battalion of the 21st Lancers et al - and fictions of "all the crew were killed "

  4. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer Pearl Harbor Myth Buster

    Monocausality is one of my pet peeves.

    Eisenhower wrote a note before the invasion started, saying it had failed and he took full responsibility for that.

    On the other hand "Mother Russia" was a quite common meme in the Soviet propaganda effort.
  5. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer Pearl Harbor Myth Buster

    #10: The war started in 1939.
  6. MLW

    MLW Senior Member

    "Eisenhower wrote a note before the invasion started, saying it had failed and he took full responsibility for that." That was mentioned in the article. I was surprised that Anthony Beevor downplayed the roles of Allied air superiority.
  7. ritsonvaljos

    ritsonvaljos Senior Member

    Especially with the benefit of hindsight, mathematical modelling, computers, mobile phones and conspiracies (real or imagined)?
  8. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    How many horses did they use throughout the war ?
    I know I started a thread on it years ago.
  9. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

  10. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    During the Gothic Line battles - the enemy had little fuel and thus near the Rimini Airfield he had an 88mm hiding in a large culvert - and on a message from the paras in San Martino - a mix of horses and Oxen would

    pull this 88mm out of the culvert - he would fire a few shots while the Animal team was hitched to the rear - and pulled him back to his culvert - knocked out five Churchills inside five minutes - the Artillery failed to find him - the Navy tried with

    two destroyers and the DAF sent in a flight of Spitfires - who strafed us first before we sorted them out and they then claimed is was safe to start our little "skirmish" - we did and lost Five Tanks .....and quite a few casualties....BUT the DAF did

    send a case of Scotch to the Officers Mess an apology..... !....didn't help the casualties though...


  11. Gerard

    Gerard Seelow/Prora

    The Weather in the Soviet Union stopped the German Army in winter 1941.
  12. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Very Senior Member

    On the other hand "Mother Russia" was a quite common meme in the Soviet propaganda effort.

    ..and the Soviets and their diplomatic representative in London would have been jumping up and down during the war if the British press, for one, had reported the fighting in the Ukriane and Byelorussia as in any way separate from the rest of the USSR! :)

    To be fair.....on this aspect, it should be remembered that in 1939 and 1940....and chunks of 1941...that the only bits of the Heer their enemies SAW was the highly-mechanized bits scything through them, chasing them to the Channel or across the Steppe faster than they could run in front of them, chopping them up and parcelling them up into little bits for the follow-on forces to scoop up...

    By which point - tired, hungry, out of ammunition and certainly out of inspiration and ideas...I'm sure the LAST thing they were worrying about was whether the landsers taking them prisoner and rifling through their belongings had arrived on Shanks' Mare....or a REAL mare!

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