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History Questions Not Worth Their Own Thread VIII

Discussion in 'World History' started by Flying Pig, Jan 22, 2017.

  1. Dachs

    Dachs Hero of the Soviet Union

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    Yes.

    German defenses on the Calvados coast consisted primarily of "static" divisions, units which lacked prime movers, trucks, or even horses to allow for the transportation of heavy equipment. They were poorly supplied and poorly manned, and to all intents and purposes were expected to die in place. LXXXIV Armeekorps was responsible for the area of the five Allied beachheads and mustered a single non-static unit, the 352. Infanterie-Division. As can be inferred from the high number, even that unit was not particularly high quality. The 352nd had been raised the previous year from Eastern European volunteers and the conscription class of 1944 (!), with a small leavening of convalescent soldiers to improve its quality. Like all German infantry divisions by this point in the war, it consisted of six infantry battalions (rather than the standard nine in Western units) and its organic firepower was limited.

    One of the infantry regiments of the 352nd, IR 916, was responsible for the most serious Allied scare of the day on 6 June 1944; it manned the defenses at Omaha Beach and gave the Americans a bloody surprise in the morning. It was, however, quickly burned out. The Germans spent the morning shooting, but they couldn't maneuver or actually attack the Americans on the beach, so once the Americans managed to get organized, they pushed the Germans off the bluffs and away from the sea.

    The only other Allied difficulty on the day came in the evening, when the vaunted German armored counterattack materialized. 21. Panzer-Division was based in Normandy and moved up toward the coast during the day to try to get in position to throw the Allies back into the sea. However, heavy air attacks and poor command-and-control made the eventual attack force rather smaller than a full division. Still, the Germans managed to assemble about two-thirds of a division for the counterattack. They ran straight into a battalion of the King's Shropshire Light Infantry on Periers Ridge. 2/KSLI's Sherman Fireflies knocked out six Panzers for no British loss and broke up the counterattack. Further west, one battalion of panzer grenadiers hit the seam between the British and Canadians at Sword and Juno Beaches respectively, and actually reached the sea, but to little point: there was no real Allied flank to hit, tanks don't do well on beaches, and the vast Allied fleet was ready to paste the Germans with high-caliber gunfire. I/92 PzG withdrew as night fell, ending any chance of danger to the Allied landings.

    None of the other German units put up much of a fight. All of them were outnumbered, and badly. They were hit with overwhelming force from air, sea, and land. Like @Traitorfish says, many of them were from Eastern Europe, or they were too young or old to fight. They were poorly equipped and basically left to die. And, importantly, they didn't see themselves as fighting the same sort of war-to-the-knife as was raging in the east and southeast of Europe. It's completely unsurprising that so many of them surrendered.
     
  2. Lexicus

    Lexicus Warlord

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    In addition to all the stuff Dachs said, bear in mind the attack was a complete tactical surprise as the Germans believed the real invasion would come at Pas-de-Calais and the Allies actually engaged in a ridiculously extensive counterintelligence/deception campaign to feed this false belief. This was so successful that even when the landings in Normandy actually took place the German high command (not just Hitler, though of course most of the surviving German officers claimed that it was all Hitler's fault) believed that the attack was a feint and the 'real' landing would come at Calais. Many of the German officers in northern France had also left their commands to go to the war games at Rennes, and so spent the morning of the 6th travelling back to their units, many having received word of the invasion while on the way to Rennes.

    Yet another point, adding to what Dachs said in the final paragraph, is that by 1944 the Reich was falling apart enough that many German troops (and particularly foreign "volunteers" and conscripts) believed they would be better off (fed more, safer, more likely to get to see a doctor, etc.) in a Western POW camp than in their own army!

    I always figured that even if the Germans had successfully gotten their poop together and thrown something like an armored corps at the Allied beachhead before the 6th was over, the fleet would have broken up the attack almost as soon as it got going. Putting tanks on the beaches would have been an invitation for them to get smashed at, basically, point-blank range with naval artillery.

    Reliable sources report that as the first shells of the Allied bombardment began falling on Omaha beach, Major Werner Pluskat of the German 352nd Infantry Division shouted "so much for the tolerant left!"
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2019
  3. Dachs

    Dachs Hero of the Soviet Union

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    Eh, the value of the Calais deception operation - and most other Allied deception operations - is probably overstated. The Germans placed the largest and best-equipped formations and the best defenses in the Pas de Calais department because it was the shortest plausible route toward the Reich. It was a high-risk, high-reward avenue of approach, the sort of place that they themselves would've attacked were they in the Allied shoes. Sure, the phantom First US Army Group fed this preexisting delusion, but did little else. And the Germans kept 15. Armee there even after the Normandy invasion because the threat of a second Allied landing was actually quite realistic - after all, the Allies did mount a second landing, Operation DRAGOON, in southern France. The decision arguably ended up working out for the Germans - 15. Armee did not really take part in the futile struggle for the Norman bocage country, and was not bled of vast quantities of men and equipment. Instead, it escaped the jaws of the Allied encirclement, retreated to the Low Countries, and forced the British into a long, slow, bloody fight in the autumn.

    While many German officers were away from their posts on the morning of 6 June, this probably didn't end up mattering all that much, either. German military doctrine was, after all, based on the independence of the subordinate commander, Selbständigkeit der Unterführer. Dollmann, Marcks, and the others might not have been physically on the battlefield, but their staffs were capable of working out what they needed to do. All of the decisions that could actually affect the beaches on 6 June were taken regardless of the presence or absence of the individual general officers responsible for given formations. All of the units that could plausibly have affected the outcome on D-Day did take part in the fighting in some way. The biggest limitations on German action were not the commanders but rather the fact that there were just so few of them and just so many of the Allies. German armored counterattacks failed to materialize not because Hitler slept in but because Allied air support, especially the feared Jabos, kept the Germans from moving very far in daylight. The Americans were not swept into the sea at Omaha Beach because the Germans simply didn't have any maneuver formations to do that job.
    American firepower repeatedly smashed German armored counterattacks on the beaches in the Mediterranean. The Hermann-Göring-Panzer-Division at Gela and XIV Panzer-Korps at Salerno both collapsed due to US Navy gunfire. The Americans and the British were ready to do the same thing in Normandy. Normandy was a much less even contest than the Italian battles, with a lot more ships and a lot fewer Germans; they would've gotten pasted.

    The Germans, of course, didn't have a Panzer-Korps to hit the beaches on 6 June. They had to spread out their armor across France to account for the various possible Allied avenues of attack, and there wasn't enough of it in the first place. That left them too little to smash the invasion the day it came. And Allied airpower meant that the Germans would build up for a later counterattack much more slowly than the American and Commonwealth forces would - in sharp contrast to Italy, where the Germans were able to mass large armored counterattack forces before the Allies could effectively build up their beachheads at Salerno and Anzio.
     
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  4. Imaus

    Imaus Chieftain

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    Well, when most people talk about the Panzers, they mean about using the Panzers in the Bocage and just mop up Paratroopers and keep the Allies on the beach and kept in that death trap.

    The key then becomes air superiority, rather than the Germans driving their tanks for the ships to shoot willy-nilly.
     
  5. Dachs

    Dachs Hero of the Soviet Union

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    A battle of attrition in the bocage would automatically be a loser for the Germans, though. There was no possibility of them winning such a struggle with fewer men, fewer tanks, and, yeah, no air superiority. The whole idea was to "throw the Allies back into the sea". They had to crush the Allied landings entirely to win. It was what Hitler and OKW fantasized about...and it had basically no chance of actually happening.
     
  6. r16

    r16 not deity

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    seems my subscricption to this thread has died . Just a thing to keep it on , Hitler was extremely adamant about Allied battleships and their fire power ; ı have been kinda hated for an early claim on how the Me 163 would have formed an early German suicide plane for the landings in France for the big ships and those smaller ones or the troops on the ground would have been delayed by the Me 262 ; not much of an idiotic approach , considering his standarts for the period .
     
  7. Chukchi Husky

    Chukchi Husky Lone Wolf

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    Why did it take so long for the Kingdoms of England and Scotland to become united after King James became king of both kingdoms?
     
  8. Traitorfish

    Traitorfish The Tighnahulish Kid

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    The majority of the Scottish aristocracy were opposed to union with England, believing that they would be overpowered by a much larger and wealthier neighbour. They preferred to be a big fish in a small pond, essentially. Even when the Act of Union did eventually come into force, it was with a lot of caveats defending the traditional privileges of the Scottish nobility and guarantee of equal access to public and military office. In part this meant access to England's empire and opportunities it represented, which were far more expansive in 1707 than in 1603.

    The merchant and artisan classes were also wary of opening up Scottish markets to English trade, fearing direct competition with England's larger and more advanced economy. Not quite a modern trade scare, manufacturing not being nearly what it is today, but the loss of traditional import and export monopolies, or alternatively the imposition of tariffs and taxes that favoured English merchants. This was never really addressed by the Act of Union, which was deeply unpopular at the tine, but Scottish merchants did gradually come to understand that the benefits of access to English markets and especially to colonial markets outweighed the costs of competition; most famously, Scottish merchants came to dominated the trade in American tobacco, most of which was imported into Glasgow and then re-exported to England or the Continent. This didn't shift didn't really complete until after the Act of Union, which was so controversial as to provoke riots in Edinburgh and Glasgow, but it was far enough along to make opposition manageable.

    (This theme of empire and imperialism binding the Scots to the English holds very true through the following three centuries, and it's no coincidence that the union does not seem likely to outlast the union by more than a half-century.)

    There's also a religious aspect, because the English retained a Catholic-style hierarchy of bishops and arch-bishops, which the Scots had replaced in the bloody religious conflicts of seventeenth century with a Presbyterian system, in which the church was governed by the General Assembly, a sort of religious parliament comprised of ministers. Scottish Protestantism also acquired an aggressively Calvinist theology, while the English Church remained a "broad church" encompassing different theological viewpoints. Many Scots feared that union with England would lead to the re-imposition of a religious hierarchy on the country, and the Stuart monarchs didn't really help matters by doing just that; the proximate trigger of the English Civil War was a financial crisis caused by Charles I's attempt to do so by military force. The Act of Union was concluded when it did in part because the deposition of the Catholic James II lead to the political dominance in England of a more stridently Protestant faction, who were able to successfully convince the Scots of the sincerity of English guarantees that they would adopt a policy of strict non-interference in Scottish religion affairs.

    Finally, there's also a sense in which the Scots regarded themselves as distinct political community, and resented the prospect of subjugation to what they saw as a foreign power, especially one with which they had fought many bloody wars, even while nominally under the same monarch. There was simply a lot of cultural and emotional inertia to overcome, and a certain reading of the political trajectory of Scotland over the last few decades might suggest that this was never fully resolved so much as it was repressed.
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2019
  9. caketastydelish

    caketastydelish 49ers 2019

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    Serious question (even though it sounds stupid and like a joke)

    Does the "goth" high school subculture have anything to do with the goths/barbarians of antiquity? Did the 20th/21st century goths get their name inspired by their ancient counterparts? If not, where did it come from and how did it come about?
     
  10. Owen Glyndwr

    Owen Glyndwr La Femme Moderne

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    No. It's a reference to Gothic music from the 1980s, which is itself a reference to Gothic literature (vampires, Frankenstein, Wuthering Heights, etc.).

    Etymologically they're related, obviously, in that the term "Gothic" does come from the Goths, but it's rather a reference to a "German" style of medieval castle and cathedral building (the ruins of which serve as the setting for most English Gothic stories), not anything to do with the historical people.
     
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  11. caketastydelish

    caketastydelish 49ers 2019

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    Does "gothic literature" have anything to do with the goths of antiquity though?
     
  12. Owen Glyndwr

    Owen Glyndwr La Femme Moderne

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    Not really. In English, the term "Gothic" used to be a catch-all term for German people, and Gothic architecture (that of, e.g. Notre Dame) came to be associated with the Germans, and, thus, was referred to as "Gothic architecture." That is what the Gothic in "Gothic literature" is referring to.
     
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  13. caketastydelish

    caketastydelish 49ers 2019

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    In that case, the only way the ancient Goths could plausibly have anything to do with it is if they resided in the geographical region of modern-day Germany, and from my google search, they didn't.
     
  14. Dachs

    Dachs Hero of the Soviet Union

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    well THAT'S a minefield
     
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  15. innonimatu

    innonimatu Warlord

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    Funny how one keeps noticing nationalism predating the modern age.
     
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  16. Imaus

    Imaus Chieftain

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    How did you come to that particular conclusion? The Goths were a people of the migration era. Jeromes traces them back to lower Scandinavia, they hopped over to Poland, some went to Crimea, others went to Dacia and Thrace and then to Italy, Spain, France, North Africa. They were a Germanic people, specifically, East Germanic. They got equated to 'Goths' by the English Proto-Romantics and Renaissance men trying to trace their selves to the past; sort of like Sarmatism in Poland.

    Hell, most 'Germans' didn't reside in 'Germany', most of them were in Belgium and West Germany while East Germany was always more fluvious; and there was repopulation of the era throughout the ages, up to and including a sort of 'justification' for the Imperial and Fascist Reichs. People move around, and the Germans were some of the most prolific in this regard because apparently the Baltic/Scandinavian era really sucked.
     
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  17. caketastydelish

    caketastydelish 49ers 2019

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    But did Europe at that time also have preps and jocks?
     
  18. Imaus

    Imaus Chieftain

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    Romans for Preps and Huns for Jocks.
     
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  19. Ajidica

    Ajidica High Quality Person

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    Jordanes.
    To add, a bunch of "Goths" also stayed in "Poland" and eventually merged with the later Slav migrations.
     
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  20. Traitorfish

    Traitorfish The Tighnahulish Kid

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    I don't think that the seventeenth century is generally regarded as part of the pre-modern era, at not least in the literate cities of Northern Europe.

    No, no, it's the Vandals who went to North Africa.
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2019
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