This really has to be the most ridiculous article posted on the wearswar blog.
The main premise of his article is that the western Allies deliberately allowed the Soviets to take Berlin as some sort of support for the USSR. Mr Wear implies some conspiracy throughout the war to allow the Soviets to capture and hold vast swathes of eastern Europe and half of Germany. The aim of this rebuttal is to show how the logic and sources used by Mr Wear and his friends make no historical sense and are based in the main on insight and false conclusions based on the cherry picking of historical sources.
So let us begin…
The United States and its Western Allies made a reasonable effort to end World War II as soon as possible.
I’m sure they did, but the Germans and Japanese made that task as difficult as possible.
The Allied leaders intentionally allowed the Soviet Union to take over Berlin and Eastern Europe.
The Soviets took over eastern Europe because they arrived there first. There was nothing the Allies could do, or even wanted to do that would have stopped them. The only area of concern in 1944 for the Allies was the situation in Greece where communists were threatening to take over the country. The British sent in troops to stop this occurring; not the sort of action that would have been carried out if the British and Americans had desired Soviet control of every country they came to. More on Berlin later.
Stalin wanted his troops to reach as far into Europe as possible to enable the Soviet Union to control more of Europe after the war was over.
Quite probably true. His main aim though was the defeat of Germany. As was the aim of the Western Allies.
Soviet hegemony could not be dislodged unless Roosevelt wanted to take on the Soviet Union after fighting Germany.
No doubt…but then there was no intention at the end of a brutal war to continue the conflict beyond what was necessary. We are talking about the real world here and not some computer war game. By 1945, everyone was tired of war. Moreover, the war did not end with the capture of Berlin. The Japanese were still fighting in the Pacific.
The United States could have easily prevented the Soviet Union from marching so far west into Europe.
…and now we start with the hindsight. No…the United States (and Britain and Canada and France……) could not have prevented the Soviet Union from marching so far west.
After defeating Germany in North Africa, the Americans and British went into Sicily and then Italy. Churchill favored an advance up the Italian or Balkan peninsulas into central Europe. Such a march would be quicker in reaching Berlin, but Roosevelt and Stalin opposed this strategy at the Tehran Conference in November 1943. In general sessions at Tehran with Churchill present, Roosevelt opposed strengthening the Italian campaign. Instead, Roosevelt wanted troops in Italy to go to France for the larger cross-Channel attack planned for 1944
The distance between Solerno and Berlin is approx 800 km longer than between Caen and Berlin. Not only that, but Italy is ideal defensive country. The area is not ideal tank country. There is no evidence at all that Italy would have fallen any quicker had more troops been available. The Normandy invasion also meant the liberation of France, Belgium and Holland as well as being ideal tank country. Moreover, air support from the UK was also readily available. As it was, the invasion of the French riviera after D Day was rapid as the Germans were simply overstretched.
Gen. Mark Clark, the American commander in Italy, later commented on Roosevelt’s decision:
“The weakening of the campaign in Italy in order to invade Southern France, instead of pushing on into the Balkans, was one of the outstanding mistakes of the war….Stalin knew exactly what he wanted…and the thing he wanted most was to keep us out of the Balkans.”
The irony of this comment is not lost on anyone with a knowledge of the history of the Allied campaign in Italy. Mark Clark had the chance to cut off the whole German army in Italy and virtually bring an end to the war there. The breakout from the Anzio pocket together with the breaking of the German defensive line around Monte Casino allowed the Allies to cut off the German retreat, The key town was Valmonte which blocked the German means of retreat. The US army was about to take the town when Clark ordered Truscott to turn the axis of his attack and to head for Rome. The US military were dumbfounded. Here was a chance to completely wipe out the German 10th Army. So why did Clark change the plan to destroy the German army in Italy? Why…to reach Rome before the British. His own vanity wanted him in Rome first for the cameras. The result was the escape of the German army to the north, and more bitter fighting in Italy until May 1945.
The Allied military leaders also intentionally prevented Gen. George Patton from quickly defeating Germany in Western Europe.
Oh dear. That was NOT the case. Patton was an excellent combat general but he was not God. Patton could not defeat Germany all by himself.
In August 1944, Patton’s Third Army was presented with an opportunity to encircle the Germans at Falaise, France. However, Gens. Omar Bradley and Dwight Eisenhower ordered Patton to stop at Argentan and not complete the encirclement of the Germans, which most historians agree Patton could have done.
Yet again, we have here a poor understanding of the battle for the Falaise pocket. Patton’s army was not the only army involved in the encirclement. The British were advancing from the north. Moreover, Bradley was of the opinion that the US 90th Division was not strong enough to hold the gap against strong German forces desperate to break out of the pocket:
Although Patton might have spun a line across the narrow neck, I doubted his ability to hold it. Nineteen German divisions were now stampeding to escape the trap. Meanwhile, with four divisions George was already blocking three principal escape routes through Alencon, Sees and Argentan. Had he stretched that line to include Falaise, he would have extended his roadblock a distance of 40 miles (64 km). The enemy could not only have broken through, but he might have trampled Patton’s position in the onrush. I much preferred a solid shoulder at Argentan to the possibility of a broken neck at Falaise.
As a result, probably 100,000 or more German soldiers escaped to later fight U.S. troops in December 1944 in the last-ditch counterattack known as the Battle of the Bulge
That would be around 40,000 escapees. What Mr Wear misses out is the 450,000 German soldiers lost in the Falaise Pocket (captured and killed). Moreover, The Germans left behind masses of equipment.
Patton wrote in his diary concerning the halt that prevented the encirclement of Germans at Falaise
“This halt [was] a great mistake. [Bradley’s] motto seems to be, ‘In case of doubt, halt.’ I wish I were supreme commander.”
Patton was an excellent battlefield commander but also had an ego as big as Mt Everest. This “I can win the war all by myself” attitude was to be replicated until the end of the war, as we shall see.
Maj. Gen. Richard Rohmer, who was a Canadian fighter pilot at the time, wrote that if the gap had closed it “could have brought the surrender of the Third Reich
Not really. Those that escaped the pocket were relatively small in number compared to those who never made it out of the pocket. Mr Rohmer seems a tad ignorant of German capabilities.
However, on August 31, the Third Army’s gasoline allotment was suddenly cut by 140,000 gallons per day. This was a huge chunk of the 350,000 to 400,000 gallons per day the Third Army had been consuming. Patton’s advance was halted even though the way ahead was open and largely undefended by the German army in retreat.
This is because Patton and other commanders were at the very limit of their fuel supplies. At the time when Patton had to stop his advance, fuel and other supplies were still being shipped in from Normandy. Antwerp was not, at this time yet open for supply. The fuel supply was cut, not because of any conspiracy to halt Patton from charging into Germany!
Siegfried Westphal, Gen. von Rundstedt’s chief of staff, later described the condition of the German army on the day Patton was stopped: “The overall situation in the West [for the Germans] was serious in the extreme. The Allies could have punched through at any point with ease.”
Indeed. It is just a pity that fuel supplies were hampered due to over extended supply lines.
Patton had to pull back his Third Army in the east and begin another full scale attack on the southern flank of the German forces. Patton’s troops arrived in a matter of days and were the crucial factor in pushing the German bulge back into Germany.
Patton did not pull BACK from the east. He simply shifted the eastern advance of his army to a northerly direction and so attack the Bulge from the south. It was a brilliant military operation and succeeded in relieving the embattled US paratroopers at Bastogne.
Patton was enthused after the Battle of the Bulge and wanted to quickly take his Third Army into the heart of Germany.
A ludicrous notion. Patton’s Third Army was ordered to take southern Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia after crossing the Rhine. The honour of taking central Germany fell to the US First and Ninth Divisions. The north was taken by the British.
The Western Allies were still in a position to easily capture Berlin.
If Mr Wear believes that capturing Berlin would have been “easy” then he is surely deluded. The Soviets lost 1 million men in the Battle for Berlin. It could be assumed that the Germans might not have fought as readily against the British and Americans, but with Hitler still alive that cannot be taken for granted. At this stage of the war, and with the Soviets only 30 miles from Berlin, the Americans decided to allow the Soviets the honour of taking the German capital. After all, it was the Soviets that had taken the brunt of German forces since 1941. Berlin was quite possibly their reward.
I wonder how [they] will speak today when they know that for the first time in centuries we have opened Central and Western Europe to the forces of Genghis Khan. I wonder how they feel now that they know there will be no peace in our times and that Americans, some not yet born, will have to fight the Russians tomorrow, or ten, fifteen or twenty years from tomorrow. We have spent the last months since the Battle of the Bulge and the crossing of the Rhine stalling; waiting for Montgomery to get ready to attack in the North; occupying useless real estate and killing a few lousy Huns when we should have been in Berlin and Prague. And this Third Army could have been. Today we should be telling the Russians to go to hell instead of hearing them tell us to pull back. We should be telling them if they didn’t like it to go to hell and invite them to fight. We’ve defeated one aggressor against mankind and established a second far worse, more evil and more dedicated than the first.
Thank goodness Patton was not in power. The man was a great general…but a lousy politician. Invite them to fight? Seriously?