Thursday, August 8, 2013

A German Discussion That Occasionally Comes Up

After you've spent some time in Germany, you tend to notice that the topic of the US bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki come up frequently on state-run TV.  It's generally always a condemnation of US military strategy, and US citizens who sit in the room....usually end up as targets of this chatter.  Germans for the most....have declined the opportunity to read up on World War II, and generally accept whatever is put onto state-run TV.

So my general advice to most Americans who fall into this pit, and having some German dump heavily upon them to use the following questions in a thoughtful manner.

Start by asking your German associate what Operation Downfall, Operation Olympic, and Operation Coronet were?  Operation Downfall was the overall plan of invading Japan by October of 1945, with the other two plans as pieces and parts of Downfall.

Germans often fail to realize that a massive amount of planning is taken into account for military operations....where logistics, manpower, and strategy are laid out in careful fashion.  No one runs a war like they did in the 1600s.

The American invasion of Japan?  It was to be a massive episode.  Historians will generally agree....it would have made Normandy Beach look more like a beach party, than the largest amphibious invasion in world history.

Forty-two aircraft carriers and twenty-four battleships were to be part of this invasion effort.

The general expectation as they invaded?  The emperor probably did want a surrender pact, but there were already Japanese military personnel prepared to ensure he did not conduct any surrender.  Based on the Japanese efforts in the final months of 1944....no one expected any part of Japan to simply give up.  Troops would have used civilians....men, women and children....as part of the defense effort.

So now you ask your German associate how many American troops would have been expected to die in this one-to-three year effort?  The general number is a minimum of 100,000 US troops, and on the Japanese side....an absolute minimum of 200,000 troops.  Civilians?  Historians who view the record go from 100,000 to a million.

Then you come to this sharply worded question to your German associate....where would the extra troops and aircraft come from to support such a massive invasion?  Well....after you had landed at Normandy Beach and fought all way past the Rhein River.....you tended to believe that your contract with the Army was fulfilled and you could leave the war.  In this case....every single Army member and aircraft....would have been moved to the Pacific theater, and your dream of getting home in 1945, or 1946....was gone.

It was a hefty price for a guy to pay.....surviving all the way to the Rhein River, and now told to invade Japan, and engage in what would eventually become a guerrilla war.....with a million possible casualties.

Would your German associate be so bold to suggest that this was the better outcome?  Still dead civilians....more dead G I's.....and a war that stretches possibly into 1947?  And what Japan emerges from this extended war....with massive starvation....cities damaged beyond repair...a national population base that is probably half of what existed in 1940?

A German will come quickly back to say you've made up facts, and this doesn't equate to what they see on state-run TV.  And your response?  Well....you can suggest the Brothers Grimm would have a great romp if they were around today and running German state-run TV.

At that point, your discussion and argument with the German has come to an end.  You probably ought to finish up your drink and say adios while your associate simmers for a while.

The general problem here, is that Germans rely greatly upon state-run TV for their knowledge base, and reading outside of their normal 'likes'....just isn't a German habit.  So you are stuck with arguments with limited facts and marginal understanding.  You'd be better off to discuss the 1954 World Cup games and how things developed for the Germans.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was a few days old when the first A-bomb was dropped. My father had orders to report to San Diego to participate in the invasion of Japan. When my mother heard the announcement that the A-bomb had been dropped, she felt like her prayers had been answered. She never changed her mind. Had Germany developed the bomb first, we know they would have used it. The US has nothing to apologize for in opting to end the war quickly.