Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Documentary Review: World War II in Colour: Episode 10: Closing the Ring

This is a very interesting episode, as the Russian approach Berlin from the East, and the Allies from the West.  The Allies were in trouble due to no good ways to bring in supplies.  The Germans had destroyed all the ports, and mined them heavily.  The Allies hoped to use Antwerp, but it was heavily defended.  They decided to go around, and use supply routes through Normandy, which were small, and required long distance travel.  Montgomery devised Operation Market Garden, also known as "A Bridge Too Far." as an alternative.  This offensive involved going around the heavily fortified Siegfried Line.  It required airborne troops to capture strategic bridges, while a column of tanks would follow up and relieve them.  However the last important bridge across the Rhine was not held.  The British were able to capture one side of the bridge, but by the time the armored reinforcements arrived they had been forced to surrender.  After this failure the capture of Antwerp became vital as the Allies were hampered by lack of supplies.  Canadian troops carried this fight.  It was difficult and took weeks of fighting before the Allies could bring in mine sweepers clear the port.  After getting the supplies through, the weather then hampered resupply.  The Allies dug in for the Winter, but Hitler had other plans.  He wanted to punch through the Allied lines, and retake Antwerp and thus molest the supply lines.  The Allies were caught off guard, which resulted in the Bulge in their line.  However they were eventually able to hold and push back.  This resulted in a great loss of men on material on the part of the germans, and in the end the line was pushed back to where they had begun.  This episode talks about some of the politics involved in a war; sometimes dirty.  Churchill and Stalin had divided the countries as Stalin looked more and more to having a buffer between himself and Germany.  This episode showed that Stalin ordered to have his troops standby in Poland, while the Germans and the Polish Guard fought it out.  Of course the Polish Guard was doomed without larger weapons.  They were killed, and captured.  Stalin's goal was to have Poland for Russia, and the Polish Guard was pro Western.  Many people died needlessly in Poland as a result.
As they moved towards Berlin, both sides saw the Jewish Holocaust, as the Nazis grappled with the "Jewish Problem."  6 million Jews were murdered during the war.

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