17 May 21
“There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true.
The other is to refuse to believe what is.”
“French tanks performed well. Unfortunately, this battle had become irrelevant, since Guderian was already pushing northwest into France. Caution and hesitation on the part of Flavingy and Brocard, and the simultaneous impetuosity and boldness of Guderian, perfectly encapsulated the difference between French and Germans in 1940!”
Julian Jackson
In August of 1914, German Forces invaded France through Belgium and Luxembourg. French units sent to repel Germans were harshly brushed aside as the onslaught continued.
However, the German juggernaut soon dissipated and bogged-down as it advanced westward into France, leading to four weary years of attrition/exhaustion warfare, ultimately ending in Germany’s defeat at the hands of the Entente (Allies).
German war planners of the era, adhering to the long-outdated “Schlieffen Plan,” were looking for a quick defeat of France, and then immediately moving forces eastward to deal with Russia, whose resistance was seen as likely far more formidable than France’s.
The exact opposite turned-out to be true!
The determined French (and British) progressively stalled Germany’s western offensive, while the top-heavy, ponderous, outdated Russian army was brilliantly outmaneuvered and virtually annihilated at the simultaneous Battle of Tannenberg under the celebrated generalship of German Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg.
Czarist Russia would not recover from this disaster for another year, and soon thereafter dropped-out of the War altogether amid Lenin’s “October Revolution” (1917).
“The Great War” ended in November of 1918, but German war planners (eventually including Hitler) were always convinced that their costly and ignominious defeat by the Entente was not due to their own miscalculation and incompetence. No, they were convinced Germany had been “betrayed” by Jewish bankers and others. Thus, from 1918 foreword, they were making plans (despite signing the Treaty of Versailles in 1919) for a second attempt at the Schlieffen Plan, and this time they would do it right!
German rearmament (first in secret, then openly) began without delay.
War-winning technologies were quickly identified, namely: (1) tanks, (2) submarines, (3) light machineguns, (4)
support aircraft. By the time WWII broke-out, Germany would have advanced versions of all four, in spades!
Meantime, the Allies slept. By the time they “woke up,” it was the 1930s, and Hitler had already amassed a huge and technologically-superior war machine, right under their noses!
Curiously, it was not until 1939, that the term ‘WWI’ was actually coined. From 1918 throughout the “Inter-War Years,” it was always called “The Great War” and “The War to End Wars.” Time Magazine was the first to refer to it as ‘WWI’ in its 12 June 1939 issue, just three months before Hitler’s invasion of Poland, and the start of “WWII!”
This time, it was the inverse of 1914!
This time, France was overrun within six weeks! The swiftness of the lopsided French trouncing surprised even Hitler himself! French and British forces were unceremoniously brushed-aside in utter confusion and disbelief by Guderian and Rommel. Tattered, defeated remnants of the BEF (British Expeditionary Force) were hastily evacuated at Dunkirk.
Conversely, Hitler’s subsequent Russian invasion (Operation Barbarossa, starting in June of 1941), after getting-off to a spectacularly successful start (involving the loss of millions of Russian lives. We’ll never know how many!), ground to a halt and was eventually reversed by a combination of Stalin’s iron will, Georgi Zhukov’s amazing generalship, and the unforgiving Russian winter!
By 1945, Russian troops were at the gates of Berlin!
In warfare, precious little goes “as planned!”
In any event, Germany suffered its second ignominious defeat before the first half of the Twentieth Century was over!
This time, the victorious Allies would subsequently break-up Germany, so the entire sorry episode would not
repeat itself for a third time!
Germany has since been re-united.
Lesson: During the first decade of the Twentieth Century, the winds of war were unmistakably gathering, but few paid any attention, particularly those who should have been!
In the 1930s, the winds of war were gathering once more. This time, nearly everyone among the Allies was aware, but nearly everyone simultaneously refused to even acknowledge, much less honestly confront, what was plainly happening!
Their personal dishonestly and incompetence caused untold suffering and death.
It always does!
“Before a war, ‘military science’ appears to be like any other science, like astronomy. After a war, it seems more like astrology!”
Liddell Hart