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Dunkirk - just seen it

Discussion in 'The Moving Picture' started by CBI, Jul 21, 2017.

  1. That is one of the decisions Hitler made that convinced me how insane he was. He had it all - Continental Europe (and, in time, the UK) if he had just left Russia alone (and not needless declared war on the US). And once he had locked down Continental Europe and the UK, he could have taken the USSR whenever he wanted in a one-front romp.
     
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  2. MikeKardec

    MikeKardec Practically Family

    It's this sort of manic attitude, ego, arrogance, whatever, getting it's claws into both Germany and Japan that fascinates me to no end.

    The Japanese side was much more fatalistic, only (so far as recent reading has led me) having the slightest chance that the rapidly closing window of naval superiority could be exploited and even then it had to be a bluff; basically hit hard and scare the US into acceptance of Japan's hollow dominance. Reading accounts of people on the inside of the Japanese decisions, it just seems like such a slow motion train wreck. Weirdly, I found I had a lot of compassion for some of them.

    With the Nazis it feels like much more like someone just opened the doors of the nut house and the freedom went to their heads! There is also the possibility, which few seem willing to discuss, that the Soviets were planning to jump Hitler when Hitler jumped them. I don't know how I feel about that theory but it would explain why Germany attacked without much of the right gear, when already over extended, and it would explain some of the political fallout in Russia; a possibly brilliant plan to exploit Germany's involvement on other fronts suddenly turned not so brilliant when forces ended up mis-allocated to defend against a dynamic German offensive in other areas. There's lots of missing proof but the human behavior sort of pans out and makes me wonder. I wish I had a clearer picture of the actual dispensation of Soviet forces at the time ... or rather one I could completely trust not to be the Russians manufacturing a story designed to be palatable to the West.
     
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  3. I don't know about your latter theory. Russia was outright embarrassed by their invasion of Finland. They were on the offensive and got stomped left right and sideways by a miniscule but well trained Army. I don't believe Stalin would've dared test the Wehrmacht on his own volition after watching them tear through France and bring England to the brink of surrender. Stalin was an egomaniac but I don't think he was THAT stupid. As history showed, the Germans on defense were a terror to behold! And Stalin would've had the over-extended supply lines and poor communications that later plagued the Nazis, it would've been an absolute disaster.

    Worf
     
  4. MikeKardec

    MikeKardec Practically Family

    I totally agree, but it seems like ONE of them had to be that stupid. I'm just experimenting with equal opportunity stupid.

    I've often heard that the Soviets helped prep Germany for the war, and the communists (though not necessarily the Russian communists) assumed that communism wasn't really going to be a success until they captured a highly industrialized economy like Germany or England. It also seems to me that the late 1930s German army was well equipped for a fencing match. But I look at Russia and I just don't see a fencing match, I see a bad-ass ideology v bad-ass ideology slug fest.

    With the arms producing capacity of Poland and Czechoslovakia about to come on line I go looking for some logical reason, any logical reason, for them not to stall for a few years before I give up and say 'okay, Germany, with some of the most brilliant military minds in the world, minds that because of defeat were unencumbered by conventional thinking, is going to go full-retard and attack Russia because they got high and liked the idea.' But you are right, someone was high, it might as well be them. Stalin was probably more of a realist and the Germans thought the stars were right.
     
  5. Well the problem is the "Stars" WERE right for Germany. They were inches from Moscow! If not for the advent of an early and brutal winter, they STILL might have pulled it off. But the Russians would've never surrendered, they knew by then that surrender meant total annihilation, they'd have pulled back east of the Ural's and the Guerilla War would still be going on today unless the Nazi's got the nuke first which they were closer to getting than we'd like to admit. Cripes if they'd had 20 to 30 more Type VII U-Boats when the war started they'd have starved Britain into submission. But hey, thank the Lord above things turned out the way they did or I'd be dust out the chimney right now.

    Worf
     
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  6. MikeKardec

    MikeKardec Practically Family

    Just talking about this, not responding in a contrary manner; I just wonder what people in Germany thought was going to happen if they "won" in Russia. They didn't intend to treat the Russians better than the Soviets did and the Soviets fought their own people all through the 20s to tamp down their lack of enthusiasm for communism. It just feels to me like an inextricable morass. I don't know if there were enough Germans to police all the territory they hoped to seize and it wasn't like communism, you weren't going to go converting Slavs into Nazis without violating your own principals.

    When the Soviets invaded Afghanistan my Dad said to me: "You just watch, there's nothing Afghans like better than shooting a tax collector from Kabul of of his motorcycle from 500 yards away. If they don't like their own government, they are not going to accept an alternative."

    You're right, thank God for BIG favors, the last thing we'd have needed was another 10 minutes of WWII!
     
  7. The plan was to enslave some of the Slavs, and exterminate the rest. The Germans considered the Russian people "untermenschen," and the Russian people knew it. They were fighting for their existence as human beings.
     
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  8. Thank you Mike and Worf, great thread!
     
  9. I've read (and doing this from memory) that Hitler had some respect for the British people - what was his plan for England when, as he assumed he would, had conquered it?
     
  10. Indeed. Hitler's two biggest mistakes were ending the Battle of Britain one week too early, and turning on Russia. The BoB thing was just bad luck for him, perhaps (and very good luck indeed for the Brits!), but Russia was such a military mistake - especially after Napoleon had gone down in history doing the same.... It seems though that Hitler had just convinced himself of his own propaganda with the invincible Aryan masterrace by that point that he wasn't rationally analysing his situation. Bringing the US into the European war properly was a big mistake, but it was a result of his having already created the Russian problem, thinking it would mean that the Japanese would hlep him out by opening up a second front for the russians to deal with. Hirohito seems simply to have put pride ahead of any kind of reason. Or perhaps he simply didn't believe the US would drop the bomb?
     
  11. Any black cabbie will tell you that he was going to run Britain as a satellite state of the Greater Germany from Senate House, the beautiful (and then still fairly new) art deco administrative centre of the University of London. Hitler had not wanted to go to war with the Brits - he would have preferred an accomodation. Which isn't entirely unthinkable from pov that the Germans and the Brits had, historically, been allies much more so than the Brits and the French; before the twentieth century it was the French who were the old enemy of the English. A fact often forgotten - or never known - by many an Englishman is that the real agents of victory over Napoleon at Waterloo were not the English at all, but rather the Prussian troops. At the time of the outbreak of WW1, the reigning monarchs of both England and Germany were cosuins (indeed, Kaiser William was Victoria's favourite grandchild, and it was he who held her hand as she lay dying). Hitler seems to have believed that the English, who had enjoyed these long, historical links with Germany, would come to accept his rule (which he would have no problem, he thought, enforcing), and embrace their part as an Aryan people. I imagine Parliament would have been replaced by a ruling high council reporting directly to Naxi high command in Berlin, with the courts system adapted accordingly, and the police reporting to the SS. Military security would be provided by the Wehrmacht; logically, the idea would be that within a generation or so much security personnel would be recruited internally on the basis that there would be a generation of kids born into this status quo, educated and run through the Hitler Youth programme.


    I'm not so sure the English would have embraced dictatorship easily, though I suspect once the dust settled most people would keep their heads down and do what it took to survive rather than actively resisting, especially as the years wore on. The Welsh similarly. The knock-on effect on the other Celtic nations would have been interesting: I can see the Irish Free State (as then was) being even keener to take a very diplomatic line - deValera was many things, but among them he was a skilled politician. I can imagine it would have been difficult to say much against Hitler as the only part of Western Europe not under Nazi rule. The relationship with Irish America would have had intersting implications - would the US stand as a champion for Little Ireland, Lone Democracy in Nazi Europe? Or would a Realpolitik accomdation of Europe under the Nazis be considered expedient? And what of the Irish Question - would more in the formerly Unionist dominated Six Counties be persuaded over to the idea of a 'reunified' Ireland if that was the alternative to dictatorship? (And in Scotland? Similar themes there?). A Fully Nazi controlled Europe would find it fairly easy to invade and overrun a small island like Ireland if they really wanted to put down any rebellion hard, of course - and they'd probably have had far fewer concerns about how they did it too.

    I'm a terrible one for getting sucked into the historial 'what if' game, but this one fascinates me especially. I would love to see some great alternative history fiction on these aspects. Stuff like SSGB is great, but the broader issues are still unexplored.... I would actually love to see more of the BBC's version of that which went out some months ago. The one series covered the full novel, but it left it plenty open for the lead detective chracter to have a lot of other adventures. Maybe he could be reassigned to - or otherwise escape to - the demilitarised zone up north that is referred to, and we could see more of that alternative world.
     
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  12. And I'll bet you'd have seen our old friend Mr. Wallis Simpson brought back to the throne to serve as a puppet king under Nazi control, satifying the all the mossbacks who felt he got a raw deal.

    Everything Hitler did was done thru the lens of his racial theories, and this is what the Monday-morning generals always miss in trying to figure out why he did what he did. His hatred of the Soviets had less to do with the politics of Bolshevism than his belief in their utter racial inferiority -- Napoleon didn't lose because he was dumb to invade Russia in the wintertime, he lost because he wasn't a Nordic superman. Just as Hitler's desire for an accomodation with the British stemmed from his considering at least some them to be Aryan brothers whose natural place was at his side in keeping the scum of the world in line.

    As for what America would do in such a circumstance, it can be taken as an absolute that Wendell Willkie would not have gotten the Republican presidential nomination in 1940. A Firster would have been pushed thru, maybe even Charles A. Lindbergh Jr. himself, accompanied by loud propaganda drumming about how Hitler was keeping the filthy Reds at bay, and it was every American's duty to support his efforts to Keep Our Boys Out Of War. Philip Roth's "The Plot Against America" offers an interesting "alternate historical fiction" take on how this scenario might have worked out.
     
    Edward likes this.
  13. Quite enjoyed the film. We saw it with friends of ours, ex-pat Brits, and as always it was interesting to get their perspective on it. The lady we were with had spoken to her mother that morning and her mum (in her 90's now) told of seeing the trains packed with BEF troops who had been evacuated.

    Few films captured as well, I believe, the sheer chaos and terror that the nameless soldier on the ground must have felt as this one, and in that respect it was spellbinding. I had read that Nolan wanted to emphasize that- and thus there were no shots of generals planning strategies or Winston Churchill cameos. The Germans remained a faceless enemy- unlike the 1969 Battle of Britain, where the Adolf Galland stand- in character and his Luftwaffe fighter comrades were so likeable that you wanted to take them out for a beer.

    Soldiers in the film stranded on that beach facing enemy artillery and diving Stukas (with the customary Jericho trumpets screaming in full dive, of course) were not allowed the luxury of seeing the human face of their adversaries, and insomuch as we are not either, we share their fear of impending death. One of the British soldier characters is even named Tommy (not certain whether his last name was Atkins or not.. but I wouldn't be surprised)... and that was one more effective method of conveying the universal plight of the common soldier.
     
  14. Warden

    Warden One Too Many

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  15. Windsock8e

    Windsock8e A-List Customer

    397
    I am still trying to organise to see this as my wife also wants to go but babysitters all away on holiday...

    Your remark made me think of something my French grandfather said. He was a sous-lieutenant (2nd lieutenant) heavy artillery spotter in the French Army in May 1940. His guns were 180 or 210 mm naval guns pulled by WW1 tractors which went at about 10 kph. He was in Belgium far ahead due to the range of the guns and was radioing back that he could see a big dust cloud which was the Germans. His superiors didn't believe it, even when he was telling them to fire on some cross roads. Eventually, they had to blow their guns as the Germans were catching up and he was in one of the last trucks across the Meuse before they blew the bridges. It was extremely chaotic as they were frequently strafed and he ended up walking with a few of his men. They managed to maintain some unit cohesion, but only just.

    Throughout, he explained they had next to no information on the wider situation, which was changing almost hourly at times. He was extremely critical of senior officers who he felt were living in a different universe, in denial or outright incompetent and was quietly angry when he talked about the lack of effective leadership. When France capitulated, he and some of his men thought it was a 'ruse de guerre' and waited for orders to rally someplace. After a couple of days, with no orders, they buried their small arms with the intention of recovering them, but that never happened. He said that everything was rumour, rarely accurate and not the big picture so difficult to plan at a tactical level. He never really understood the overall tactical situation until sometime after the war when books started to come out on the May 1940 Blitzkrieg.

    Just thought I would share; he did not talk about the War often (as is the case with all my other relatives who fought or were civilians during the conflict) and this was one of the few times where he opened up. Fortunately, I was able to hear some of their direct accounts from those who survived (including my great grandfather who fought in WW1) before they died. Those who fought were the only ones in my family who never teased me about not having done my French national service (it was being phased out when I would have been eligible). I am sure many others here have ancestors on either side who were involved. I hope that my children will never have to experience this...

    Hopefully, I will manage to see this film on the big screen soon!
     
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  16. Warden

    Warden One Too Many

    I say, that was really interesting, thank you so much for sharing
     
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  17. eugenesque

    eugenesque One of the Regulars

    223
    I think watching the film in IMAX brings about quite a different experience. Apparently the film was shot specifically for IMAX and i felt quite shell shocked after watching it.
     
  18. I saw it the weekend before (getting back to the movie). Mark Rylance (who played Rudolf Abel in "Bridge of Spies") owned that movie. Oddly, Kenneth Branagh has only a cameo role.

    Here's a question for you aviation nerds. Weren't you just a bit skeptical about the apparently-limitless ability of that Spitfire to glide when the pilot ran out of fuel?
     
  19. eugenesque

    eugenesque One of the Regulars

    223
    No aviation specialist but it did got me wondering.
     

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