HIST 2040 Chapter Notes - Chapter 7: Dnieper, Shared Belief, Erwin Rommel

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10 Aug 2016
Modern Warfare October 27th, 2015
Total World War II: The Second World War – page #138-157:
The Second World War was a war of extremes all the powers that fought it were pushed to
the very depths of physical and moral endurance
No other war in modern times made such demands on the manpower and economic product
of the combatants war was fought by soldiers and civilians; both were its casualties; the 5.5
million who died in the conflict exceeded the number killed in all the other wars of the modern
age together
It was also a war of extraordinary contrasts on the Eastern Front both sides fought with
large tank armies, but at times reverted to fighting on horseback
Biplanes saw service throughout a war that generated the first rockets, the first
intercontinental bombers, and, at its very end, the first nuclear weapons
Hundreds of thousands of women and children died in the front line of the air war in the
bombing of Germany and Japan
Throughout the conflict more civilians were killed than soldiers
The Onset of Total War:
This was the kind of war widely expected in the 1930s after the experience of the Great
War of 1914-1918 it was generally assumed that in an age of mass politics and pass
production of war was waged between whole populations, soldier and civilians alike
The concept of conventional warfare, fought in brief campaigns between rival armed forces,
was replaced by the concept of ‘total war’
Total war was a revolutionary departure from traditional theories of conflict to be able to
wage total war states would have to mobilize all the material, intellectual, and moral energies
of their peoples; by implication the enemy community as a whole its scientists, workers, and
farmers became legitimate objects of war
War preparation in the 1930s was governed everywhere by the imperatives of total war
economic resources were stockpiled; substitute industries were set up to produce essential
raw materials such as oil whose supply might be cut off in war; programmes of civil defense
were initiated to prepare home populations for attack by bomb or gas
When the armed forces began to work out the strategy appropriate for total war their views
were also shaped by the assumption that high levels of economic mobilization and the
maintenance of domestic morale and financial stability were as important as performance on
the battlefield
German forces wanted to avoid the trench stalemate which had slowly eroded German
resources and war-willingness they returned to the idea of the decisive battlefield
engagement, using all the nation’s resources, prepared in advance, for a crushing blow at the
The blow was to be inflicted by a combination of armour and aircraft which would act as the
spearhead of a rapidly deployed infantry mass
In Britain and France, on the other hand, the idea of a defensive war of attrition, which had
eventually produced victory in 1918, was resurrected
When these two differing views of modern warfare were pitted against each other in the
summer of 1940 it was shown in 6 weeks that German choices had been more percipient
Warning had already been given in the first 2 weeks of the war, in September 1939, when the
German army and air force tore Polish forces to shreds in a matter of days the Western
Allies had expected a campaign of 6 months
On 10 May 1940 German forces tried again the gamble that had failed in the Spring
Offensive of 1918 a fist of 10 armored and motorized divisions only 7% of the attacking
force drove rapidly across the Low Countries to deliver an annihilating blow against the
overstretched French and British line
With good battlefield aviation supporting ground forces, and an effective system of radio
communication, the German military made the most of their resources against an enemy
whose cast of mind was defensive and whose communication and organization at the front
proved woefully deficient
The British and French concept of a war attrition and blockade, fought partly by bombing
aircraft, never materialized
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Modern Warfare October 27th, 2015
The two western states lost sight in the 1930s of the most basic element of warfare the
ability to fight effectively on the field of battle itself; both sides possessed comparable
resources but German military leaders emphasized high standards of training and operational
preparation and technical efficiency, the very virtues that brought victory in 1866 over Austria
and in 1870 over France
When France surrendered on 19 June and British forces retreated from Dunkirk back to the
home country, it was assumed that the war was over in July Hitler opened the door to an
agreement with Britain on German terms and Britain refused to treat with Hitler, and returned
for lack of any alternative to the strategy of blockade and bombing adopted in 1939
Mussolini’s Italy declared war on Britain and France on 10 June; a few weeks later Japanese
forces moved into French Indo-China, threatening Britain’s imperial position in the Far East
Britain turned to a form of warfare with which it was much more familiar: small-scale overseas
operations supported by naval power and native imperial forces
The War At Sea:
Until re-entry to continental Europe became possible in force in 1944 Britain ought what was
essentially a naval war, supported increasingly by aircraft
The navy kept open the vital trade routes on which Britain’s economy and home population
depended for survival, and was the instrument which linked together the scattered territories
of the Empire and ferried the resources to defend them
Command of the seas was essential to the conduct of any army operation staged outside the
motherland in 1940, the British navy was second only to the American in size, and quite
dwarfed the naval forces of Germany and Italy
The threat of its use was sufficient to persuade Hitler than an army invasion of the British
Isles in the autumn of 1940 was not yet feasible, even had German air forces been able to
contain the RAF sufficiently to provide air cover for an invasion fleet
From 1940 until the summer of 1943 Britain and Germany fought a contest for control of the
Atlantic German submarines were ordered to strangle British trade and British
reinforcements of the Mediterranean and the Far East
In 1941 submarines sank 1,299 ships; in 1942 1,662, with a total tonnage of almost 8 million
British trade was reduced to less than 1/3 of pre-war volumes
Disaster was voided only by a vigorous programme to expand domestic agricultural output
and a strategy of stockpiling which had begun in the 1930s as a precaution against blockade
in March 1943 the level of attrition experienced by Allied shipping was so high that the
British Admiralty feared the collapse of the Atlantic trade routes and, in effect, of Britain’s war
The tide in the anti-submarine war was turned not by the old instruments of sea warfare but
by the new generation of weapons, radio, radar, and aircraft
Against modern oceangoing submarines, equipped with advanced radio technology and
supplied with intelligence on convoy movements, these methods were ineffective
During 1942 Allied naval forces were supplied with a new generation of radar equipment,
based on centimetric frequencies rather than the conventional 1/7 meters, which allowed
much more successful tracking of submarines great effort was put into breaking German
naval codes so that by 1943 submarine strategy could be followed by radio intelligence
Though most navies in 1939 were still resistant to the idea that air power might transform
naval strategy, the first years of war demonstrated decisively that sea power, like land power,
could only be deployed successfully with adequate air protection
The revolutionary effect of aircraft in sea warfare was demonstrated beyond doubt in the Far
East Japan was one of the few naval powers to recognize the impact of aircraft
It was Japan’s misfortune to be confronted in the Pacific by the United States navy, not
simply because of its sheer size and the economic potential of American dockyards, but
because American seaman had realized sooner than Europeans that aircraft could play a
decisive role in naval combat
The US navy possessed large purpose-built aircraft-carriers and a core marine aviators
American ships also carried radar, and American radio intelligence had access to Japanese
codes; these last advantages were vital in the critical naval battles in the summer of 1942
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