Sunday, January 28, 2007

WWII Homework..

If'n you're interested, my homework this week:

The Battle Of Britain was the first full scale air battle fought in modern war. Germany needed to gain air superiority over Britain before it could begin moving naval and ground troops in for attack. The battle was fought between the Royal Air Force and the German Luftwaffe between 10 July and 31 October. The Germans needed to destroy the RAF fighter forces. The goal for the RAF was to stop the bombers before they got to their targets, and to shoot down as many German aircraft as possible.

The Germans nearly won the fight - in late August, they were attacking the command airfields around London, and nearly wiped out the backbone of the RAF. However, for some reason, the Germans decided to switch targets, allowing the RAF to recover.

Beyond the significance in the face of the war, this battle was the first that used a combined command and control network blending fighter aircraft, radar and ground defenses into one unified force to stop the German attack. Before this, air defense had been an ad-hoc effort done by each station as the bombers passed over.

Propaganda is communication used to promote your ideals, or denigrate the ideals of another. It preys primarily on emotion, rather than reason, using inflammatory words, images, sounds and ideas. Propaganda can be used for good purposes - to instill a spirit of success and freedom, as in these posters:

Or to encourage greater production for a cause;

Or for less positive purposes:

For a full discussion of the techniques of Propaganda, refer to this website:

The Allies were not the only ones using propaganda - Hitler based his entire rule on "the big lie" - as he noted in Mein Kampf: "The greatness of the lie is always a certain factor in being believed; at the bottom of their hearts, the great masses of a people are more likely to be misled than to be consciously and deliberately bad, and in the primitive simplicity of their minds, they are more easily victimized by a large than by a small lie.... Some part of even the boldest lie is sure to stick." (Hitler, 1924)

You can further read his views on war propaganda from Mein Kampf at this website:

The single largest factor leading to the evacuation at Dunkirk was the surrender of Belgium on May 28, 1940. King Leopold III decided to end the fighting on Belgian territory. This freed up German forces to concentrate on the British Expeditionary Force. Because of this greater threat than anticiapted, the British Government decided to evacuate on May 28. Prior to this, the German Army had driven the French and British Expeditionary force back, but there was still hope. The Belgian army kept open the line of retreat to the sea for the French and British forces. When Leopold surrendered, he exposed a 30 mile wide hole for the Germans to exploit. Evacuation was the only option. The evacuation was covered under 'Operation Dynamo', where anyone with a boat was urged to help. Any description I put would pale beside the words of Churchill:

"[...]the Royal Navy, with the willing help of countless merchant seamen, strained every nerve to embark the British and Allied troops; 220 light warships and 650 other vessels were engaged. They had to operate upon the difficult coast, often in adverse weather, under an almost ceaseless hail of bombs and an increasing concentration of artillery fire. Nor were the seas, as I have said, themselves free from mines and torpedoes. It was in conditions such as these that our men carried on, with little or no rest, for days and nights on end, making trip after trip across the dangerous waters, bringing with them always men whom they had rescued. The numbers they have brought back are the measure of their devotion and their courage. The hospital ships, which brought off many thousands of British and French wounded, being so plainly marked were a special target for Nazi bombs; but the men and women on board them never faltered in their duty." (Churchill, 1940),9171,764003-2,00.html,9171,763997,00.html

The Maginot Line was built in order to allow a smaller force to take the offensive against the Germans. Originally conceived of by the French Minister of War, Andre Maginot, the purpose of the line was to provide a shrot-term defensive line against German attack, while a French counter attack cut off the German supply lines. The French wanted to envelop the German right flank by striking through Belgium from their own left. To do this, they had to hold the front line at Vosges with mobile units, comprising only a small part of the total force. This would give them enough men to make the counter attack. The Maginot Line was built to help in that defense - to hold the Germans back briefly while a massive counter attack took place through Belgium. However, when the Germans did attack, the French did not counter attack and only offered passive resistance (MacArthur, 1964). The Maginot Line was not designed to withstand the onslaught of the entire German army without any pressure elsewhere. Without the counterattack, the line failed.

MacArthur, Douglas. (1964). Reminiscences (p 107). New York, New York: Fawcette.
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