Violence in Warfare.  Mark Edele and Michael Geyers chapter focused on the type of warfare that occurred on the Eastern front in World War II.  They discussed how both of these sides introduced a type of warfare that did not involve “virtue and honor” but rather it involved such ideas as radicalization and barbarization. ((Edele, Mark and Michael Geyer. “States of Exception” in Beyond Totalitarianism. New York: Cambridge University Press. 2009.  345))   These two authors look at how this front evolved from a simple war into an all out struggle for domination.

Radicalization and Barbarization are two terms that really struck me in this chapter.  Radicalization, to these authors meant that the two countries amped up the war by getting either the government or the people more involved in the conflict.  For the Nazis, it was promote the fundamental idea that the opposing side presented a threat to their country and had to be stopped through warfare.   For the Soviet Union, it was to mobilize its population to oppose the threat presented by the Nazis.  This radicalization, as stated by the two authors was the escalation of the war through “hate propaganda, word of mouth, and experience.” ((Edele, Mark and Michael Geyer. “States of Exception” in Beyond Totalitarianism. New York: Cambridge University Press. 2009.  350)) The state would use tools to mobilize its own population to fight more aggressively against the other side.  The authors would argue that as a result of these tools used on the population, the radicalization, or amping up of war would result in Barbarization.   Edele and Geyer believed that Barbarization meant that the opposing side had to be destroyed completely.  In other words, “each side fights until one side is utterly and completely subjugated, incapable of renewing itself on its own devices.”  ((Edele, Mark and Michael Geyer. “States of Exception” in Beyond Totalitarianism. New York: Cambridge University Press. 2009.  350))

The fundamental ideas of radicalization and barbarization to describe the Eastern front made sense to me because of how the Nazis and Hitler had justified invading the Soviet Union and likewise with the Soviet Union mobilizing to defend the homeland.   In the nature of warfare, if one side escalates a conflict, the other side would be in its nature to respond to that escalation.   In the Nazis and Soviet cases, each side believed that they were fighting for something, which in turn would have created more motivation .  For the Nazis, they felt that the Soviet Union was valuable and easily conquerable. They wanted “control of the Russian space and its resources” which they felt would have  “made Germany invulnerable.” ((Edele, Mark and Michael Geyer. “States of Exception” in Beyond Totalitarianism. New York: Cambridge University Press. 2009. 352))  For Germany, this was the radicalization of the war.  On the Soviet side, the radicalization of the war was to defend their homeland from a threat who wanted to stop at nothing to crush the socialist society and capture their resources.   In a sense, the radicalization of two polarizing countries led to a barbarization of a war, a war in which two countries used all means necessary to try and conquer the other.

Do you agree with the authors use of Radicalization and Barbarization?  Do you think there is a relationship between the two based off the interpretations of the authors?  Finally, although I am no fan of the term “inevitability”, do you think the scale of violence used on the eastern front was inevitable considering the polarizing differences between the two sides?

Stalin’s Reply to Churchill

3 Observations

1. Churchill had a similar view to Hitler, believing that one racial group should control all the power.  Instead of believing the Aryans had all the power Churchill believed that English-speaking nations should rule over the world.

2. The world must notice that the Soviet Union has lost more men in German invasions then both the United States and the United Kingdom.

3. The common people are being controlled by Churchill and his party and need to think for themselves.

2 Questions

1. What was the international response to comparing Churchill and Hitler?

2. What was the reaction in England to Stalin’s comments about the “common people”?

1 Thought:

It is interesting to see Stalin alienate both sides of the war.  He goes after Hitler, briefly calling him out for the Nazi racial theory and attacks Churchill.  He has basically left himself with no one to lean on in war.  However Stalin does not come across as worried.  He says that the Soviet Union has lost the most men in the war and yet does not say they will give up.  He gives strength to the Soviet Union in his speech while also taking away both possible allies.


Critical Review of Mazower

The first four chapters of Mark Mazower’s Dark Continent offer readers a look into the European political, economic and social developments of the Interwar Era. Mazower’s main argument is that many factors influenced the political path that Europe followed: meaning that democracy was not an obvious or guaranteed form of government on the continent.

The changes that were rocking the continent at this time are clearly explained in the book using comparisons as many similarities were seen in countries across the continent. Mazower’s analysis of the way in which both right and left wing political movements gained traction during this period made especially good use of comparison to illustrate the trends throughout Europe. Through this level of comparison, Mazower displays an in depth understanding of the continent’s complexities. These nuances are presented to readers without becoming entirely overwhelming—a difficult task.

The book illustrates a deep understanding of the period in its use of anecdotes and quotations, but these details are very dense to read. Because so many quotations and examples are used, there is a lot of information to process and comprehend while reading. Moreover, the fluidity of Mazower’s own analysis is continually interrupted. Mazower assumes some level of knowledge on the part of the reader, especially in his explanations of events. He refers to many different political figures of the era, with little or no description of who they were and what they did.

Dark Continent does, however, address all of the major themes of the period with a sense of completion that is difficult to find. The book was published in 1998, and was very well received for the originality of many of its arguments. Since it’s publication, it has become a book that has informed many other historians and the perspectives present in their work. Mazower’s analysis of the political movements of the 1920s and 1930s has been used to explain political evolution in works about the Interwar Period and World War II. Julian Jackson’s France: the Dark Years (2003) addresses many of the same themes that Mazower touches upon.

The book does have some weaknesses that impact how the book should and must be read and received. The lack of bibliography at the end of the book prevents readers from being able to see his sources organized by type. The endnotes do reveal that Mazower relied heavily upon secondary sources, listing a very limited number of primary sources. This does not detract from the level of interpretation and study illustrated in the book; however, this does change the way in which the book needs to be read and studied, because it is not largely based on original research—which is surprising given that he wrote in the late 1990s about the Soviet Union, when Soviet archives had opened up to foreign researchers.

Despite the limited number of weaknesses displayed in the book, Mazower’s Dark Continent is an incredible resource for students and scholars studying inter-war Europe.

France’s fears displayed in the Treaty of Versailles

The Treaty of Versailles was an extremely punitive solution to officially end of WWI. The response of the Triple Entente at the end of the war is not surprising; these countries lost so many soldiers during the war that the true level of pain and suffering is difficult to understand today. France especially blamed Germany for the loss of almost an entire generation, literally and figuratively. The toll of war and the use of new and dangerous technologies ravaged farmland as they became battlefields. It is not surprising that these countries wanted retribution for all of the suffering they had already endured and would continue to endure. The other strong motivation behind the treaty was to ensure that Germany would be unable to start another war. France wanted Germany to pay for all of the suffering it had caused, but also wanted to ensure that she would not be subject to another German attack.

It is surprising, however, that the treaty punished Germany for the Franco-Prussian War. The war was fought and won in 1871—almost half a century before. The bitterness and fear of a German invasion into France pervaded any sense of fairness and justice. The treaty included articles that targeted Prussian actions at the end of the Franco-Prussian War, “The High Contracting Parties, recognizing the moral obligation to redress the wrong done by Germany in 1871 both to the rights of France and to the wishes of the population of Alsace and Lorraine, which were separated from their country in spite of the solemn protest of their representatives at the Assembly of Bordeaux” (Treaty of Versailles, Article 49). France had been invaded two times in less than 50 years by her neighbor to the east. These two wars had traumatized the French and, therefore, they wanted to see “justice” delivered.

It is interesting to note that this fear of German force did not ease in France with all of the Treaty’s stipulations about the size of the German Army. The French had an incredible sense of “puissance” at the end of the war because they had finally defeated their archrival after the humiliation of 1871. This “puissance” did not fully reassure the French and the government quickly worked to further secure the country. The Maginot Line was constructed to prevent another German invasion because, according to French thought, it was inevitable. Mazower points out in Chapter 2 of Dark Continent that this line of defense would prove to be completely ineffective at the start of WWII.

In attempting to protect themselves from the might and ambitions of Germany, the French pushed the international community to accept such a punitive treaty. Many historians have argued, however, that this treaty may have indirectly led to the success of Hitler’s propaganda and his rise to power, leading to France’s next defeat as a result of another German invasion.

The Last Witness

Friday, September 6th, 2013; the second day of the Jewish new year called Rosh Hashannah. Today marks a day of new beginnings, and an end to the past. Today, Hitler’s bodyguard Rochus Misch, the last surviving witness of Hitler’s suicide, has died. I am Jewish, and my Grandpa Larry’s whole family was brutally murdered in Auchwitz during the “Final Solution.” For me, Mr. Misch’s passing brings a mixture of feelings. Of course I do not rejoice in the death of a human being; if I did so I am no better than Hitler himself. At the same time, I cannot help but feel a sense of closure for my family members that I never got to meet.

Now, Rochus Misch claims that he had no idea that 6 million Jews were being slaughtered  or worked to their deaths. To me, that is a completely absurd concept. There is no way that he being Hitler’s bodyguard never overheard a conversation or had any idea of what was really going on in Germany. He said that he was constantly by Hitler’s side; eating with him, living with him, protecting him. Misch obviously knew what Hitler’s agenda was, and the fact that Misch was never held accountable for any actions whatsoever dumbfounds me. He was never tried for crimes against humanity, even though in my opinion him simply protecting Hitler should be a crime in itself. Instead, Misch spent nine years in a prisoner of war camp in the Soviet Union (Rising).

All of my personal feelings aside, Rochus Misch’s life directly relates to Mark Mazower’s historical writing Dark Continent. In Chapter 1 of Dark Continent, Mazower speaks of Communism and Facism in the 1930s. When Misch was 20 years old, he said he joined the SS  because he saw it as a “counterweight to the threat of the left.” This exact point was made in Mazower’s writings. Misch was so anti-communism that he joined a Fascist group. Speaking about his decision to join the SS, Misch said “It (joining the SS) was anti-communist, against Stalin — to protect Europe.” He noted that thousands of other Western Europeans served in the Waffen SS. “I signed up in the war against Bolshevism, not for Adolf Hitler.”

Shanah Tovah ooh Metukah. Have a happy and sweet new year. The last witness to Hitler’s suicide is now gone. Never forget.

Bibliography: RISING, DAVID. “Hitler Bodyguard Rochus Misch Dies at 96.” Associated Press, 6 Sept. 2013. Web. 06 Sept. 2013.

Equipment in the 506th

Originally, I planned to do this project on the history of Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th PIR, 101st ABN Division because of my friendship with one of the veterans of that unit. As I started to research, I realized that with the time constraints of school and the physical limitations on getting to various archives around the country, this project would either come out lacking or it would skip resources crucial to understanding that unit. So I decided to take a step back and analyze the equipment these soldiers in a specific campaign. Since Normandy is the most famous of the Second World War, I chose to do that in particular with the limitation of the 506th PIR.

As I started this research project, I thought that for the most part, the paratroopers would be infantry upgraded to an elite fighting unit with some specialized jump gear and additional firepower. With AHEC right next door, this question has plenty of secondary sources and more than a lifetime’s supply of primary sources. While I have run into the problem of too much information, I believe I have limited my issues by maintaining my focus to a few questions in the veteran’s surveys and targeting the right research areas. However, as I have found out, the paratrooper is not an upgraded infantryman, rather he is a specialized commando, if you will. This revelation has required me to look up these custom modifications and gear, in order to understand why they modified their gear and wore it in the ways they did. As a whole, this change in thought has lead to a more complete picture with my photo survey and the comparison to the “issued” equipment that I am focusing on as part of my project.

101st Airborne in Normandy

After seeing the Germans in Belgium and Crete, the Americans were quick to develop their own airborne forces. By the time of Normandy, June of 1944, there were two whole divisions trained in this special art. One of them, the 101st, was brand new to combat. Prior to combat, they had access to new technology and equipment that changed how they fought in combat. My research proposal is in regards to this equipment and how it changed during the Normandy campaign. Using AHEC and my own personal collection of primary and secondary sources, I am going to attempt to explain the average soldier was geared and his thoughts on the equipment he had as part of the evolution in airborne doctrine.