Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The German Blunder at Dunkirk

The German invasion of Western Europe was militarily stupendous.  they scored a significant success.  First Poland was forced to surrender.  the British and French supported Poland, but only from a distance.  they were not prepared for an offensive campaign.  Hitler wanted to attack France and Britain, but was convinced to wait, and develop a new plan for invasion.  This would include invasion of Holland and Denmark.  Another group would keep the Allies occupied at the Maginot Line, while a third group, with most of the armor would attack to the north.  This group attacked through the forest and hills of Ardennes.  This area was such an unlikely place to attack, it was not well defended.  This group flanked the Allied forces, and cut them off.  They then turned north to confront them directly.  The Allied forces were now surrounded on three sides, and trapped in a pocket around Dunkirk.  The Belgians indicated they were close to surrender.  The British commander called for an evacuation by sea.  The Panzers stopped outside Dunkirk to regroup for the final battle.  However Hitler gave the job of finishing off the British to the Luftwaffe.  Hermann Gohring had requested this honor to prove the might of German air power.  The evacuation rescued hundreds of thousands.  The final blow could not be administered from the air.  The British did suffer heavy losses, but not near as disastrous as it could have been.  Many ships were sunk, including private ships and merchant ships which were pushed into action.  Eventually the rescue was limited to night time action.  The Royal Air Force extracted a toll form the Luftwaffe.  The Allied losses included over 170 aircraft and over 200 ships.  Also 50,000 prisoners.  Total in men killed included almost 70,000 British, and over 300,000 total casualties.  338,000 men were evacuated, including 140,000 non British.
By the numbers, this was  a tremendous German victory.  However the British army lived on to fight another day.  Had Hitler deployed the Panzers, the result would have been even more lopsided.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Native American Art and Artifacts at San Juan Bautista

Intricate basket for fishing or for storage
arrow head
grinding rock mortar and pestle
tule boat

duck decoy
dream catcher (this was in the store rather than the museum

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Documentary: Oklahoma City (2017)

This is a PBS documentary, which covers the theme of how conservative thought lead to the Oklahoma City bombing, or at least it seems like that is the intent of the film.  In this aspect, I think it failed to a degree.  It says the attitude prompted Timothy McVeigh to act, although he was not an actual member of any of the groups, such as paramilitary, or NeoNazi.  It does make a case that he was angry about how things were going.  He had actually been present at WACO.  However casting blame unto those who never even knew McVeigh would be a stretch.
What this documentary does well is tell the stories of those who were victims of the bombing.  these are innocent people, and in many cases children, because the day care in the Alfred P. Murrah building was destroyed by the bomb which McVeigh detonated April 19, 1995.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Documentary: Prelude to War

As Frank Capra looked for a way to make a war related movie about "Why we Fight" he came upon the idea of using Nazi propaganda pieces and turn them around.  The Germans had made many propaganda pieces using speeches by Adolf Hitler.  There were also Benito Mussolini speeches available as well as Emperor Yamamoto.  Capra showed the beginning of the war being 1941 when Japan invaded Manchuria.  He explained how the powers hoped to eventually claim the entire world.  He did this using maps with the flag of different groups overlaid.  With that as the basis for this film, Capra was able to make a fantastic propaganda piece, "Prelude to War" which explained to the American people why we were fighting the war.  The attitude of the American people quickly changed, from avoiding the war, to being fully engaged.
Capra won an Academy Award for this film.  It was used as a training film for new recruits.  It was released in 1942,

Monday, May 8, 2017

Great Blunders of WWII: Death at Stalingrad 9

Stalingrad become Hitler's greatest blunder, after he took more and more control of the military.  the initial drive into Russia went well, but fell short at the gates of Moscow.  Hitler sacked his commander in chief, and took over that roll himself.  The next year, the Hitler offensive headed south, to the oilfields and Stalingrad.  The move south was divided in two group, Group A and Group B.  The initial offensive was to Stalingrad, and then Army Group A to the south.  When the Russians withdrew rather than facing the onslaught, Hitler took even more control.  The effort, with the armor was focused on the move south.  They were able to take the first goals, but the Russians destroyed many of the oilfields in the area.  however, without most of their armor, Hitler ordered a move against Stalingrad.  Without the tanks, progress was slow.  The move south eventually stalled as the supply lines were too long, and they were far away from their air support.
In Stalingrad, the germans defended the city at all costs.  A counterattack finally surrounded the forces there.  However Hitler ordered them to remain, with the goal of their being resupplied from the air.  It was impossible to get adequate supplies.  Hitler put his efforts into a rescue effort to resupply.  However the Russians kept up their offensive against Army Group B.  The relief operation stalled before they could reach them; however the commander thought they could break out and meet the relief operation.  However they followed Hitler's original orders to stay put.  However shortly the Russian efforts took the airfields supplying Stalingrad, and the desperate measure to drop supplies form the air proved inadequate.  What became known as the Stalingrad Pocket was doomed. Almost one hundred thousand were killed.  They finally surrendered, and another almost one hundred thousand were marched into Russia.  Only about five thousand would ever return.
Stalingrad was a major turning point on the Eastern Front.  The Russians would be on the offensive from this point on.