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  #51  
Old 12-27-2018, 02:42 PM
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Um, no. There isn't a single Chinese story because it happened at a time when there was also a Chinese civil war going on...and the weaker side that did the least against the Japanese ended up losing. A real Chinese WWII story would be about the Republic of China and the US alliance with them (though mainly that they pretty much fought alone at the same time they were beleaguered by other factions as well as the Japanese) as well as the perspective of factions like the CCP that fought the Japanese AND the government, but that story won't be told because the CCP doesn't want it to be. There is zero that is similar between the US and Soviet 'story' about WWII and the fragmentary Chinese perspective on the war. Your analogy was just bad and you've made it worse by this post.
I meant the weaker side that did the least ended up winning (i.e. the CCP was able, in the post war world to capitalize on enhanced Soviet support and a very much weaker Republic of China as well as on the overall poor morale of the Chinese people to win the civil war by 1949).
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  #52  
Old 12-27-2018, 03:24 PM
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I know this has been talked about many, but there simply arenít enough movies/video games/books in the west which cover the enormous human scale of the Eastern Front of WW2.
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Iím from Poland originally
You must be a very young Pole, then, or you else you would realize that your premise reflects a particularly narrow and modern American (or at least Western) point of view.

Go watch the sort of films and read the sort of books that were commonly available in Poland and its fellow Eastern Bloc countries from the end of World War II until 1990. You will find no dearth of war stories covering the Eastern Front (and almost none covering the Western Front). In fact, such books and films have continued to be produced since the dissolution of the USSR. Russia produces a lot of them, but even the former Warsaw Pact countries and their successors (yes, including Poland) are continuing to churn them out, albeit with a different political bent. Wikipedia has a list of World War II films since 1990 that you can browse.
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Old 12-27-2018, 05:09 PM
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Iím too young to remember Poland before 1990, however my father who lived in Poland when it was occupied by the ussr has told me that when he tried to study history the books were heavily biased, basically glorifiying the communist party instead of trying to be an accurate history of the war.

I would trust a good western historian over any of the crap books that came out over the east bloc in the period 1945 to 1990.
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Old 12-27-2018, 11:54 PM
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Iím too young to remember Poland before 1990, however my father who lived in Poland when it was occupied by the ussr has told me that when he tried to study history the books were heavily biased, basically glorifiying the communist party instead of trying to be an accurate history of the war.
This is certainly true. However, that doesn't mean that Western portrayals aren't guilty of exactly the same sort of bias and self-glorification at the expense of historical truth. See U-571 for a particularly egregious example.
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Old 12-28-2018, 12:14 AM
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Um, no. There isn't a single Chinese story because it happened at a time when there was also a Chinese civil war going on...and the weaker side that did the least against the Japanese ended up losing. A real Chinese WWII story would be about the Republic of China and the US alliance with them (though mainly that they pretty much fought alone at the same time they were beleaguered by other factions as well as the Japanese) as well as the perspective of factions like the CCP that fought the Japanese AND the government, but that story won't be told because the CCP doesn't want it to be. There is zero that is similar between the US and Soviet 'story' about WWII and the fragmentary Chinese perspective on the war. Your analogy was just bad and you've made it worse by this post.
Another "side" which a lot of people forget about were the collaboraters. Japan set up puppet regimes in China to give the illusion that they were forming an alliance system in Asia rather than just conquering territory.
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Old 12-28-2018, 01:51 AM
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Um, no. There isn't a single Chinese story because it happened at a time when there was also a Chinese civil war going on...and the weaker side that did the least against the Japanese ended up losing. A real Chinese WWII story would be about the Republic of China and the US alliance with them (though mainly that they pretty much fought alone at the same time they were beleaguered by other factions as well as the Japanese) as well as the perspective of factions like the CCP that fought the Japanese AND the government, but that story won't be told because the CCP doesn't want it to be. There is zero that is similar between the US and Soviet 'story' about WWII and the fragmentary Chinese perspective on the war. Your analogy was just bad and you've made it worse by this post.
Hmmm so the story of China in WW2 was a super complicated one featuring millions of people with different viewpoints and can't be completely told by simple "goody vs baddy" Hollywood tropes. So COMPLETELY unlike the story of the rest of the world in WW2 then.

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  #57  
Old 12-28-2018, 12:38 PM
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Hmmm so the story of China in WW2 was a super complicated one featuring millions of people with different viewpoints and can't be completely told by simple "goody vs baddy" Hollywood tropes. So COMPLETELY unlike the story of the rest of the world in WW2 then.
Not sure if you are being deliberately obtuse or you really don't get it so I'll, again, spell it out. In short words. It's unlike the rest of the world because the CCP won't let it be told. Hollywood won't tell it because the CCP won't allow it to be told and Hollywood doesn't want to lose out on that sweet, sweet Chinese audience money...plus, of course, outside of China there isn't a really big market for Chinese perspective WWII movies. The only story that will be told is the CCP version, which is about as realistic and conforming to history as the worst Rambo movies (which are actually better movies from an action and story perspective). I've watched several with my son's partner and his family, and the only thing going for them is the camp hilarity value.

The Soviets had real stories to tell, even if many of their movies were propaganda pieces. The Chinese have real stories to tell too, but sadly the regime that won is not the one that did most of the actual fighting and dying during WWII, so those stories won't be told. Instead what has been made and will undoubtedly be made in the future are pure fantasy with no history at all. This stuff doesn't even rise to Braveheart levels of historical accuracy.

Get it now or do you want to continue with this?
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  #58  
Old 12-28-2018, 12:58 PM
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Not sure if you are being deliberately obtuse or you really don't get it so I'll, again, spell it out. In short words. It's unlike the rest of the world because the CCP won't let it be told. Hollywood won't tell it because the CCP won't allow it to be told and Hollywood doesn't want to lose out on that sweet, sweet Chinese audience money...plus, of course, outside of China there isn't a really big market for Chinese perspective WWII movies. The only story that will be told is the CCP version, which is about as realistic and conforming to history as the worst Rambo movies (which are actually better movies from an action and story perspective). I've watched several with my son's partner and his family, and the only thing going for them is the camp hilarity value.
Got it the Chinese aren't capable of telling their own story in WW2 only us enlighten westerners can do that.
  #59  
Old 12-28-2018, 12:59 PM
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Got it the Chinese aren't capable of telling their own story in WW2 only us enlighten westerners can do that.
Ok, so you don't get it. Nuff said. Thanks for playing.
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  #60  
Old 12-28-2018, 05:25 PM
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Where are the films about Tianenmen Square?
You mean you never saw A Nice Day When Nothing Happened ? It was a very... calming movie.
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  #61  
Old 12-28-2018, 10:39 PM
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The documentary ďThe Unkown WarĒ which came in 1978 covers the entire Soviet participation in WW2. It is available on YouTube. Narrated by Burt Lancaster.

The footage used in the documentary is very valuable, i donít think the footage was seen by anybody in the west before 1978.

I remember when it first came out, my dad was glued to the TV for the entire series.

Of the the Soviet government said the series must be sympathetic to the Soviet cause in the war, but I donít think itís overly biased.
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Old 12-29-2018, 12:12 AM
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Yes it's a good partner to The World at War, which tries (and most historians think succeeds) at describing events from all sides in an unbiased way. However, TWAW struggled a little to get enough interviews with Russians, and that was partly why The unknown war was commissioned.
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Old 12-29-2018, 09:24 AM
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Why not portray the conflict accurately??
Emphasis is not inaccuracy.
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  #64  
Old 12-29-2018, 11:26 AM
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Others have touched on the difference between the subjects covered by history and the subjects covered by pop culture.
I guess I am, to make a further point, a little confused as to why pop culture is required to be balanced. There is nothing wrong with Americans telling American stories, British telling British stories, and Russians telling Russian stories. I caught a clip[ of a Taiwanese movie awhile back showing Republic of China soldiers as heroes in WWII. Well, of course, that's as it should be.

It strikes me as just being normal that Seven Spielberg, and American, would make a WWII movie about Americans in Normandy, and that Christopher Nolan, who is English, wopuld make a movie about the British escaping from Dunkirk, and that Wolfgang Peterson, who is German, would make a movie about a German U-boat crew. Those are the stories that are a part of their national heritage and history. As a Canadian, I am disappointed our country has never produced a truly good movie about the Canadian experience in WWII. It is our job to tell those stories.
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Old 12-29-2018, 04:22 PM
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Iím just saying that the subject matter on the eastern front is much more extensive, but doesnít get covered nearly as much, so people have a warped view of WW2. Very Western-oriented.

When was the last time you heard a major news anchor on CNN talk about the battle of Stalingrad, Leningrad, Moscow, Kursk or the fall of Berlin? Or a million other large battles that happened on the east front?
What do you think they talk about on Russian media?

In addition, there was more reporting coming back to the USA from the Pacific Theater and Western front because that's where Americans were. Don't be provincial.
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Old 12-29-2018, 04:53 PM
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*I think there was only one major battle for Stalingrad/Leningrad.
Leningrad and Stalingrad were completely different towns, now called Petrograd and Volgograd. The latter, where the major battle took place, is further south and east (where I learned there is a single Russian word to describe the period in springtime thaw when roads are impassible). The former is a Baltic seaport that has a very different place in the narrative.
  #67  
Old 12-29-2018, 05:03 PM
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Leningrad and Stalingrad were completely different towns, now called Petrograd and Volgograd.
I think you mean Saint Petersburg, not Petrograd.
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Old 12-29-2018, 09:10 PM
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When was the last time you heard a major news anchor on CNN talk about the battle of Stalingrad, Leningrad, Moscow, Kursk or the fall of Berlin? Or a million other large battles that happened on the east front?
Actually its pretty common, outside of military history circles, to use the term "the bunker" as a metaphor to compare Hitler's bunker during the Battle of Berlin for political situations where someone has become isolated, besieged by perceived hostile forces, and is deluded and surrounded by sycophants.

Stalingrad is also occasionally referenced, though much less so.

And if CNN, or whoever, are talking about WW2 specifically Stalingrad is absolutely going to be discussed. In any non-expert discussion of WW2 Stalingrad is right up there with Pearl Harbor, and D-Day in the "greatest hits of WW2" reel (in the US at least, in the UK El Alamein, Dunkirk, and the Blitz would also be in there). I'd agree that outside Stalingrad (and Battle for Berlin) none of the other Eastern Front battles get a look in, though.

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  #69  
Old 12-29-2018, 10:00 PM
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I just got done reading Poul Anderson's novel The Boat of a Million Years, in which one chapter ("Steel") is about the Battle of Stalingrad just before its turning point, from the gritty point of view of a female Russian soldier running a solo covert mission against the Nazis and incidentally rescuing another injured Russian soldier. Its street-level descriptions of Stalingrad topography like Mamaev Hill and various gorges sent me to Wikipedia and Google Maps' terrain view to learn more.

Also, Al Stewart's song "Roads to Moscow," which I linked above in post 33, is practically a seminar on the Soviet front in WWII, which Stewart prepared for by studying a whole shelf of history books. I think the Soviet war experience has a firm toehold in Anglo/American pop culture. Especially when put into a song, which makes learning easier. Avalon Hill had a Stalingrad game I played once.

Last edited by Johanna; 12-29-2018 at 10:01 PM.
  #70  
Old 12-29-2018, 10:18 PM
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I think you mean Saint Petersburg, not Petrograd.
I'm reminded of a cold-war era joke, in which an elderly Russian woman is asked a series of questions, in one version by Gorbachev:

1. Where were you born?

St. Petersburg

2. Where were you educated?

Petrograd

3. Where do you live now?

Leningrad

4. Given any option, where would you like to live?

St. Petersburg
  #71  
Old 12-29-2018, 11:05 PM
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I'd agree that outside Stalingrad (and Battle for Berlin) none of the other Eastern Front battles get a look in, though.
Which is in some cases due the Soviets long having not talked about them. For example the failed Soviet offensive 'Operation Mars' against the German Rhyzev salient during the time of the Stalingrad battle, but far to the north, was buried by the Soviets, though like any major EF battle huge by any other standard.

The 1978 Soviet documentary was mentioned. Look at the footage, but don't pay a lot of attention to Lancaster's narration. IIRC it includes the contemporary Soviet claim the Katyn Massacre against the Polish officer corps was committed by the Nazis, which the post-Soviet Russians admitted was a lie, it was the Soviets.

Basically though this thread is bizarre to the extent it sets out an expectation that eg. pop culture in China is going to emphasize the American experience in WWII. And any other such mismatch is about as ridiculous. And the idea American pop culture, as disproportionate in global influence as it arguably is, has some special obligation to tell the whole world's story is pretty much as ridiculous.

And it even extends to serious historians. Naturally ones from country X tend to interested more in episodes involving country X. Not exclusively, and they should not include any nationalistic bias or else be bad historians. David Glantz (American historian specializing in the GPW, if you can read him, about as dry as it gets) was mentioned, he's an exception. Bernard Baeza, from France, is an excellent historian of the Japanese air arms and their operations against the Allies in the Pacific War. But more often than not people don't get passionately interested, enough to write books, in parts of WWII that have nothing to do with their countries. And Russian historians are surely more inward looking about WWII than Western. There is no Russian David Glantz.

Last edited by Corry El; 12-29-2018 at 11:08 PM.
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Old 12-29-2018, 11:53 PM
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The Cold War played a big role in downplaying and misrepresenting Soviet participation in WW2. The end of WW2 was already an uneasy alliance that pretty much immediately turned into the Cold War. It wasn't too long after that when the Soviets represented an existential threat to the US, which Nazi Germany never did.

It was a time when we were paranoid about secret Soviet infiltrators every which way. About Soviet propoganda and ideology appealing to the whole world, including people here. And so very little would be said that put the Soviets in a positive light. It might even be considered, by the paranoid standards of the time, seditious.

And hence we were happy to downplay Soviet involvement and especially Soviet battle skill. Myths from that era are still strong to this day, that the Soviets were poor fighters, that they only defeated the German super soldiers through massive numbers - the popular belief in most of the West is a Soviet Union that just threw cannon fodder over and over again against Germans who were superior in every way but were just overcome eventually by the barbarian hordes.

That narrative isn't entirely made up - the Red Army of 1941 was certainly massively outfought by the Germans. But very few people in the west who haven't studied the war aren't aware that the Soviets underwent massive changes in leadership, doctrine, and equipment as the war went on. By 1943, the Red Army was generally better at war fighting than the Wermacht. They didn't overwhelm the Germans with numbers - the highest manpower advantage they ever had in the war was 1.6:1 - which is substantial, but not at all fitting the barbarian hordes myth.

A lot of Americans who learn more about WW2 than average tend to go through a Wehraboo phase where everything German is mythologized. Super weapons, super soldiers, super tactics - only to heroically come up short against the unending numbers of poorly trained and lead Soviet soldiers. I'm sure the West German soldiers at the time were happy to play into this myth, and certainly the cold war Americans were happy to downplay the threat posed by our new and powerful adversaries.

But it does a disservice. The ostfront was basically 80-90% of the entire war in Europe, with everything else being a sideshow. Americans seem to believe that we basically invaded Normandy and conquered the Germans at full strength after a few years of bombing, when in reality it was closer to a desperate attempt to free Western Europe before the Soviets decided they might just push on through until they reached the Atlantic. The war was already decided at that point.

Which isn't to say that the American or Commonwealth forces weren't important - American supplies really were crucial to the improvement to the Red Army's ability to wage battle even as early as 1942, and defense against the bombing campaign as well as the Battle of the Atlantic consumed important resources that would otherwise be allocated to the eastern front. But in terms of the actual battles fought during the war in europe, nothing even holds a candle to the gargantuan struggle between the Germans and Soviets.

Last edited by SenorBeef; 12-29-2018 at 11:54 PM.
  #73  
Old 12-30-2018, 02:23 AM
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I guess I am, to make a further point, a little confused as to why pop culture is required to be balanced. There is nothing wrong with Americans telling American stories, British telling British stories, and Russians telling Russian stories. I caught a clip[ of a Taiwanese movie awhile back showing Republic of China soldiers as heroes in WWII. Well, of course, that's as it should be.

It strikes me as just being normal that Seven Spielberg, and American, would make a WWII movie about Americans in Normandy, and that Christopher Nolan, who is English, wopuld make a movie about the British escaping from Dunkirk, and that Wolfgang Peterson, who is German, would make a movie about a German U-boat crew. Those are the stories that are a part of their national heritage and history. As a Canadian, I am disappointed our country has never produced a truly good movie about the Canadian experience in WWII. It is our job to tell those stories.
True of course, but there is an important distinction between giving focus to one aspect of a conflict and implying or outright stating / showing that that was the only important part and the rest was background noise and didn't matter and/or everyone else were simply the bad guys.
A lot of Americans and Brits IME have pretty fundamental misperceptions about WW2 and that's not a good thing. And I would say the same about any country. Misconceptions about real events is something that should be challenged.

Last edited by Mijin; 12-30-2018 at 02:23 AM.
  #74  
Old 12-30-2018, 03:28 AM
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Also, I think the fact that the Germans launched a blatantly aggreesive war with the goal of wiping Slavic people off the face of the earth adds to the sinister nature of the conflict.

They number they are saying is 27 million lives lost, but I think I heard John Keegan, a great British historian once say in excess of 40 million lives lost.

Obviously the number is debatable, its hard to get an accurate number with such a monumental conflict taking place. And historians do find new records.
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Old 12-30-2018, 05:50 AM
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I seem to recall there is another aspect to this. The Americans also held back from entering the war in hopes that the Germans and the Russians would thoroughly beat each other up, so that the ETO would be an easier campaign against a stressed-out Germany, and so that the USSR would be a weakened concern for the US further down the road. Hence, the Americans are inclined to downplay the Russian contribution to the war effort, because the West was trying to use Germany to soften them up.

It could be that my memory or my understanding of the situation is faulty, though.
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Old 12-30-2018, 08:27 AM
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The ostfront was basically 80-90% of the entire war in Europe, with everything else being a sideshow. Americans seem to believe that we basically invaded Normandy and conquered the Germans at full strength after a few years of bombing, when in reality it was closer to a desperate attempt to free Western Europe before the Soviets decided they might just push on through until they reached the Atlantic. The war was already decided at that point.
I no longer remember who, but I read a comment by a military historian that the war in Europe was won by Soviet blood, British bravery, and American steel. It takes a village to quash a tyrant.
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Old 12-30-2018, 01:40 PM
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I wish the ďleadersĒ in power today, who are trying to drum up tensions, would watch every episode of ďThe Unkown WarĒ, from start to finish.

By the end of it I think it will really turn you off to the concept of war. You will have seen so much destruction and death that you will be sick to your stomach. So much misery and death, so many mothers still crying their eyes out years later. An entire country crying.

And no conflict in world history, before or since, has compared to the events in Eastern Europe between 1941 and 1945.
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Old 12-30-2018, 01:53 PM
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In addition to what's already been posted... most people, in watching a WWII movie today, would rather not have to choose between rooting for the soldiers of a Nazi dictatorship and those of a Communist dictatorship.
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Old 12-30-2018, 06:40 PM
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The West simply focuses more on itself than on the East. And the West has long dominated the world media.
If you spend time in China or Russia, you'll notice that Omaha Beach, Dunkirk and Iwo Jima, are not central to media coverage of WWII in those parts of the world.
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Old 12-30-2018, 08:07 PM
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I guess I am, to make a further point, a little confused as to why pop culture is required to be balanced. There is nothing wrong with Americans telling American stories, British telling British stories, and Russians telling Russian stories. I caught a clip[ of a Taiwanese movie awhile back showing Republic of China soldiers as heroes in WWII. Well, of course, that's as it should be.

It strikes me as just being normal that Seven Spielberg, and American, would make a WWII movie about Americans in Normandy, and that Christopher Nolan, who is English, wopuld make a movie about the British escaping from Dunkirk, and that Wolfgang Peterson, who is German, would make a movie about a German U-boat crew. Those are the stories that are a part of their national heritage and history. As a Canadian, I am disappointed our country has never produced a truly good movie about the Canadian experience in WWII. It is our job to tell those stories.
I agree. Pop culture is intended as entertainment not education. It has no obligation to be balanced.
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Old 12-31-2018, 10:21 AM
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I seem to recall there is another aspect to this. The Americans also held back from entering the war in hopes that the Germans and the Russians would thoroughly beat each other up, so that the ETO would be an easier campaign against a stressed-out Germany, and so that the USSR would be a weakened concern for the US further down the road. Hence, the Americans are inclined to downplay the Russian contribution to the war effort, because the West was trying to use Germany to soften them up.

It could be that my memory or my understanding of the situation is faulty, though.
It's horseshit, basically. America 'held back' because the majority of it's people until fairly late in the war were opposed to US intervention. This was due in part because of American isolationism in the post WWI era and probably due as well to the Great Depression that was still ravaging our economy through the 30's. This was seen in poll after poll, though by 40 or early 41 those margins had narrowed quite a bit. And we were creeping towards intervention...in fact, we had already started a covert war with the German navy prior to Pearl Harbor. But we weren't deliberately holding back, certainly not on the assumption that coming in later would make things easier for us.
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Old 12-31-2018, 10:52 AM
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The shred of historical validity to the idea the US 'held back' to let the Soviets soften up the Germans is the common Soviet/Russian belief that the Anglo-Americans could have opened a full second land front prior to 1944, say in 1943, but deliberately didn't do so to let the Soviets bear more of the burden. Noting that the North African and Italy campaigns were minuscule and small diversions of German ground combat power compared to the Eastern Front; the German ground effort in the West post Normandy was significant compared to the East though still smaller.

This Soviet/Russian view though is of questionable validity. It took the time it took to ready a sufficient Allied force for Normandy, and shipping. It might have been done at much greater risk the prior year, but countries look out for their own interests. It's not that reasonable to expect the Anglo-US to have accepted a much higher probability of failure in invading Europe just to help the Soviets. It also ignores the non-negligible effect on Germany's overall war effort of having to fight naval and air wars in the West all along.

Anyway that can be debated. But the idea the US should have automatically declared war on Germany the minute the Germans attacked Russia in June 1941, only 6 months before the US actually did formally go to war with Germany anyway, is ridiculous.

US 'holding off' entering the war is more of a Brit/Commonwealth 'pop history at the pub' kind of trope, because at least in that case there's 2 yrs to talk about not 6 months as v. the USSR's entry against the Germans. Or, why didn't the USSR declare war on Germany in Sep 1939...because they were in league with the Germans to carve up Poland at that time.

Last edited by Corry El; 12-31-2018 at 10:53 AM.
  #83  
Old 12-31-2018, 11:43 AM
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US 'holding off' entering the war is more of a Brit/Commonwealth 'pop history at the pub' kind of trope, because at least in that case there's 2 yrs to talk about not 6 months as v. the USSR's entry against the Germans. Or, why didn't the USSR declare war on Germany in Sep 1939...because they were in league with the Germans to carve up Poland at that time.
Why didn't Britain enter the war when Japan invaded China? Were they holding back so China and Japan could weaken each other?

I'm not seriously saying Britain had any obligation to defend China. But I get annoyed by the opinion some Britons have that they alone entered the war at the proper moment and everyone else was "late".
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Old 12-31-2018, 04:11 PM
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True of course, but there is an important distinction between giving focus to one aspect of a conflict and implying or outright stating / showing that that was the only important part and the rest was background noise...
I am sure that is true but can think of no serious examples of it. People are interested in the stories of their cultures and nations (when it interests them at all.)

This "why, oh why don't people acknowledge what the Soviet did in WWII" thing is an old song, and a standard one suing by people who want to imply they're smarter about World War II than other people. It's long past being boring, and as has already been pointed out, those quick to point out that more fighting was done at Stalingrad than Tobruk usually cannot name a single pitched battle in the Second Sino-Japanese War, or relate a single fact about India's war experience.
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  #85  
Old 12-31-2018, 05:36 PM
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If you spend time in China or Russia, you'll notice that Omaha Beach, Dunkirk and Iwo Jima, are not central to media coverage of WWII in those parts of the world.
Netflix has a series 'Tanks' that shows the Free French arriving in Normandy in Allied landing craft, wearing American uniforms and driving American tanks. And the war on the Western Front seemingly ends there. Needless to say it was a French production.
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Old 12-31-2018, 06:09 PM
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Netflix has a series 'Tanks' that shows the Free French arriving in Normandy in Allied landing craft, wearing American uniforms and driving American tanks. And the war on the Western Front seemingly ends there. Needless to say it was a French production.
I think that one shows a pretty natural level of focus on the warriors of the country it was made in, maybe less than usual even overall. But as usual shows like that are mainly good for the footage itself, at least it there's any that's original, and not as much for the narration.

The 2nd French Armored Division M4A2 medium tanks are disembarking USS LST-517. There are also well known photos of that, taken at the Normandy beaches August 2.
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Old 12-31-2018, 08:25 PM
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I no longer remember who, but I read a comment by a military historian that the war in Europe was won by Soviet blood, British bravery, and American steel.
586,628.

That's the number given for WWII American military casualties in the European theater.

"Soviet blood, British bravery and American steel" makes for a catchy phrase though.

On a more serious note: it's foolish to say that the eastern front in WWII hasn't figured in American popular culture, seeing that anyone who grew up watching "Hogan's Heroes" knows it was a really bad thing for Germans to be sent to the Russian front.
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Old 12-31-2018, 10:00 PM
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586,628.

That's the number given for WWII American military casualties in the European theater.

"Soviet blood, British bravery and American steel" makes for a catchy phrase though.
I certainly have no desire to diminish the sacrifices and bravery of the Americans who fought in WWII. The number of 586,628, it should be noted, is casualties, which includes both dead and wounded. The first line (the 'Total' line) in the same chart notes that there were a total of 592,170 Americans who lost their lives in all theaters of World War II.

By most estimates, the total number of Soviet dead, which includes both military and civilian deaths, is at least 20 million and perhaps as many as 27 million.
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Old 12-31-2018, 10:13 PM
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I am sure that is true but can think of no serious examples of it. People are interested in the stories of their cultures and nations (when it interests them at all.)

This "why, oh why don't people acknowledge what the Soviet did in WWII" thing is an old song, and a standard one suing by people who want to imply they're smarter about World War II than other people. It's long past being boring, and as has already been pointed out, those quick to point out that more fighting was done at Stalingrad than Tobruk usually cannot name a single pitched battle in the Second Sino-Japanese War, or relate a single fact about India's war experience.
Upthread I mentioned TV tropes and here's a link. Plenty of examples of what I'm talking about there.

And no, I don't think it is simply a matter of people only knowing what their country did; it's often a misconception of what happened e.g. the Friends quote of "You'd be speaking German if it wasn't for us" is a common sentiment.
And there is nothing snobbish about trying to correct a misconception.
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Old 12-31-2018, 11:48 PM
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I certainly have no desire to diminish the sacrifices and bravery of the Americans who fought in WWII. The number of 586,628, it should be noted, is casualties, which includes both dead and wounded. The first line (the 'Total' line) in the same chart notes that there were a total of 592,170 Americans who lost their lives in all theaters of World War II.

By most estimates, the total number of Soviet dead, which includes both military and civilian deaths, is at least 20 million and perhaps as many as 27 million.
But Soviet military casualties could have been far less had Stalin cared about such things. He was not elected nor subject to pressures faced by Churchill nor FDR. Soviet soldiers got no furlough nor leave. How many Soviet lives could have been saved had the Soviets simply encircled Berlin and waited for the inevitable surrender?
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Old 01-01-2019, 12:12 AM
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But Soviet military casualties could have been far less had Stalin cared about such things. He was not elected nor subject to pressures faced by Churchill nor FDR. Soviet soldiers got no furlough nor leave. How many Soviet lives could have been saved had the Soviets simply encircled Berlin and waited for the inevitable surrender?
Um, the Soviets had already suffered unbelievable casualties long before they reached Berlin. The Battle of Stalingrad in 1942-1943 resulted in over a million Soviet casualties. The Siege of Leningrad from 1941-1944 resulted in over 3 million Soviet casualties.

Now, it is undoubtedly true that lives would have been saved had the Red Army not attacked Berlin. But the additional Soviet casualties caused by this action pale in comparison to earlier encounters.
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Old 01-01-2019, 12:22 AM
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Um, the Soviets had already suffered unbelievable casualties long before they reached Berlin. The Battle of Stalingrad in 1942-1943 resulted in over a million Soviet casualties. The Siege of Leningrad from 1941-1944 resulted in over 3 million Soviet casualties.

Now, it is undoubtedly true that lives would have been saved had the Red Army not attacked Berlin. But the additional Soviet casualties caused by this action pale in comparison to earlier encounters.
Soviet soldiers were seen as expendable because there was no one and no pressure to minimize casualties. A million Soviet soldiers were executed by NKVD. The war in the east could have been fought much more carefully and smarter with far fewer casualties.
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Old 01-01-2019, 12:29 AM
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586,628.

That's the number given for WWII American military casualties in the European theater.

"Soviet blood, British bravery and American steel" makes for a catchy phrase though.

On a more serious note: it's foolish to say that the eastern front in WWII hasn't figured in American popular culture, seeing that anyone who grew up watching "Hogan's Heroes" knows it was a really bad thing for Germans to be sent to the Russian front.

That 500,000 is less than 1/40th the Soviet toll.

That being said, some Russians bandy about their high death toll almost like it's something to be proud of.
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Old 01-01-2019, 10:06 AM
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That 500,000 is less than 1/40th the Soviet toll.

That being said, some Russians bandy about their high death toll almost like it's something to be proud of.
There's also a paradox between the claim that the Soviets didn't outnumber the Germans by that much, or the Red Army was better by mid war, and the quasi-pride in these gigantic casualty numbers.

In fact there's a tendency to look at times, and ways of looking at the numbers, that understate Soviet numerical superiority and thus German *tactical* superiority. The Soviet-German comparison was a lot more favorable to the Soviets on operational and strategic level later in the war, stuff like concentrating the Soviet forces at the most advantageous positions, and figuring out German intentions and weaknesses, like at Kursk for example. But on a tactical level the Germans were often still distinctly superior in various areas of warfare (armor, artillery, fighter combat etc) even in 1944. That's a large part of the explanation for the apparent paradox. It *was* often hoards of not that well coordinated or tactically skillful Soviet infantry and armor getting chewed up by, but eventually overwhelming, heavily outnumbered German forces in particular critical areas, even pretty late in the war.

The way of victory the Soviets learned depended on throwing highly superior combat power (not just manpower numbers but large margins of tank and artillery numerical superiority) at key German positions but tactically straight up the middle as quickly and relentless as possible, because that's how they could win, that's what worked. To also minimize casualties the Soviets would had really had to gain parity with German ones in maneuver and that never really happened, or not till very late.

Or IOW the 'unknown story' of the Eastern Front wasn't just the Germans sucker punching the Red Army in 1941 then the RA being superior the rest of the war, but somehow suffering astronomically higher material losses, particularly, as well as human casualties than the Germans. The answer to that apparent paradox is that the Germans remained tactically superior, but the Soviets became good at amplifying their overall material superiority to overwhelming levels at the most critical points. But they suffered frightful casualties steamrollering the heavily outnumbered German formations. That continued even to the Berlin campaign.
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Old 01-01-2019, 10:38 AM
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I think you're explaining the strategic and tactical layers without touching the operational layers. Operational planning and capabilities are where the Soviets were better than the Germans by 1943. Particularly in constantly keeping the Germans off balance and surprised by extensive and excellent use of deception in their actual operational aims. Bagration was as well played and free flowing as any of the early German offensives and by that point the German army had become much more operationally rigid, especially with "stand and die" type orders.

I'm having trouble finding a source, but IIRC the USSR population pre-war was less than double the German population, and the Soviets lost the bulk of their (existing) army in 1941 as well as millions of military aged men killed or captured. There simply weren't enough people at that point for Russia to swarm the Germans with massive numbers at that point. As I said, 1.6:1 was the greatest disparity along the front, with most of the time being somewhat less. But the Russians used their numbers well to concentrate forces at key points and basically keep the Germans reeling from late 1942 onwards. Kursk was certainly not a triumph of German operational planning, but I guess you can make the case that the full on Russian asskicking didn't occur until after that.

Last edited by SenorBeef; 01-01-2019 at 10:39 AM.
  #96  
Old 01-01-2019, 11:54 AM
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"Soviet blood, British bravery and American steel" makes for a catchy phrase though.
If you say so.

I won't say the Soviets were acting out of any altruistic feelings for the west; they were fighting for their lives. And tactics had a large effect on the numbers, but even if they were halved, 419,000 vs. 14-million is but a drop in the bucket.
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Old 01-01-2019, 12:00 PM
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A million Soviet soldiers were executed by NKVD.
I find no evidence to corroborate this statement, and I actually find it hard to believe. I've found documentation that states that up to 3 million Soviet POW soldiers died at the hands of the Germans, through starvation or execution, but nothing that backs up your statement.

Can you provide a cite, please?

Last edited by Railer13; 01-01-2019 at 12:01 PM.
  #98  
Old 01-01-2019, 12:26 PM
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I think you're explaining the strategic and tactical layers without touching the operational layers. Operational planning and capabilities are where the Soviets were better than the Germans by 1943. Particularly in constantly keeping the Germans off balance and surprised by extensive and excellent use of deception in their actual operational aims. Bagration was as well played and free flowing as any of the early German offensives and by that point the German army had become much more operationally rigid, especially with "stand and die" type orders.
I said

"In fact there's a tendency to look at times, and ways of looking at the numbers, that understate Soviet numerical superiority and thus German *tactical* superiority. The Soviet-German comparison was a lot more favorable to the Soviets on operational and strategic level later in the war,"

I see operational in there.
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Old 01-01-2019, 12:53 PM
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I find no evidence to corroborate this statement, and I actually find it hard to believe. I've found documentation that states that up to 3 million Soviet POW soldiers died at the hands of the Germans, through starvation or execution, but nothing that backs up your statement.

Can you provide a cite, please?
Mikhaelov lists 994,300 dead killed because of conviction of military offenses.
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Old 01-01-2019, 12:54 PM
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I think you're explaining the strategic and tactical layers without touching the operational layers. Operational planning and capabilities are where the Soviets were better than the Germans by 1943. Particularly in constantly keeping the Germans off balance and surprised by extensive and excellent use of deception in their actual operational aims. Bagration was as well played and free flowing as any of the early German offensives and by that point the German army had become much more operationally rigid, especially with "stand and die" type orders.

I'm having trouble finding a source, but IIRC the USSR population pre-war was less than double the German population, and the Soviets lost the bulk of their (existing) army in 1941 as well as millions of military aged men killed or captured. There simply weren't enough people at that point for Russia to swarm the Germans with massive numbers at that point. As I said, 1.6:1 was the greatest disparity along the front, with most of the time being somewhat less. But the Russians used their numbers well to concentrate forces at key points and basically keep the Germans reeling from late 1942 onwards. Kursk was certainly not a triumph of German operational planning, but I guess you can make the case that the full on Russian asskicking didn't occur until after that.
Because the Soviets had access to Ultra intelligence.
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