The teaching of ignorance: what nation most contributed to the defeat of Germany in WWII?

Summary:  When looking at America’s problems it’s easy to forget that we’re a part of Western civilization, and share many social dynamics with our cousins in other nations. Today we have a powerful example. Posts here have documented our amnesic, our inability to clearly to see our past. Perhaps the French have the same weakness.

“Happily for the busy lunatics who rule over us, we are permanently the United States of Amnesia. We learn nothing because we remember nothing..”

— Gore Vidal, “The State of the Union,” The Nation, September 13, 2004

Amnesia.

Here is a fascinating report “1938-1944 Munich Agreement in the liberation of Paris or the dawn opinion polls in France“, Frederic Dabi (Director), French Institute of Public Opinion (IFOP), February 2012. It’s 8 pages, in French.  You can translate it; a summary appears below, with a shocking graph from the report.

The teaching of ignorance: what nation most contributed to the defeat of Germany in 1945?, from Les-Crises: des images our comprendre, 4 June 2014 — Posted on Redit, posted in the comments by Kevin. Translated by Google.

A survey conducted in May 1945 by IFOP {French Institute of Public Opinion, founded 1938}, the entire French territory now free (and confirming a survey in September 1944 with Parisians) showed that respondents appear to be well aware of the power relations and the role of allies in the war, despite censorship and the difficulty under occupation to access reliable information.

Thus, a clear majority (57%) consider that the USSR is the nation that has most contributed to the defeat of Germany while the United States and England, yet liberating the country, do not collect 20% respectively and 12%. But what is truly astonishing is that this vision of public opinion has reversed very dramatically with time, as shown by two surveys in 1994 and 2004:

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Contribution of US, UK, and USSR in defeating NAZI Germany.
Polls by IFOP

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It would be interesting to compare these numbers with the same poll conducted in America. My guess is that these represent a convergence between American and French public opinion on the preeminent role of America in the war.

For More Information

Posts about amnesia:

  1. Only our amnesia makes reading the newspapers bearable, 30 April 2008
  2. The Trinity of modern war at work in Afghanistan (more evidence that amnesia is a required to be an American geopol expert), 28 November 2009
  3. We have trouble coping with our present because we’ve lost our past, 23 October 2010
  4. The pilgrimage of Martin Luther King: an antidote to our amnesia about America’s history, 14 September 201

Posts about France:

  1. The Rioting in France and the Decline of the State, 8 November 2005
  2. France gives us tips for the Afghanistan War, from their successful role in the American Revolution, 11 March 2010
  3. Which is better? Rioting in France and Greece or snoozing in America?, 28 October 2010

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11 thoughts on “The teaching of ignorance: what nation most contributed to the defeat of Germany in WWII?

  1. Alas! we have not simply forgotten the past, but substituted false memories, leaving us unaware that anything is wrong.

    Not amnesia; hypnosis.

  2. About as much time has passed between the present and WWII as had passed between WWII and the Franco-Prussian War.

    At a certain point, whoever “contributed to the defeat” ( an undefined term ) of Germany in WWII becomes the domain of Alex Trebek.

    And, IMHO, it should be heading in that direction by now. Perhaps this is the real issue?

    1. Duncan,

      I disagree, and believe most geopolitical experts, military historians, and professional military people also would disagree. History is for us like a blackboard for physicists.

      Understanding the events leading to and during modern wars is far more important than “Jeopardy” trivia.

    2. The Peloponnesian War is also interesting.

      As is, indeed, the collapse of Ming Dynasty China.

      But neither commands the emotive, mythical significance of WWII – even if they should.

  3. I would strongly second FM’s remark that “Understanding the events leading to and during modern wars is far more important than “Jeopardy” trivia.”

    Until and unless America’s population knows the causes and outcomes of wars fought in the past, we will continue to embark of endless unwinnable wars in third world countries. A modicum of knowledge of the countless European wars fought and lost in Afghanistan from Alexander the Great’s campaign up to the disastrous British Battle of Marwan would have done much to deter our foolish leaders and ignorant population from embroiling ourselves in an extended war in the region known to historians as “the graveyard of empires.”

  4. In “Life is Beautiful” (1997) by Italian comedian Roberto Benigni, Auschwitz is liberated by U.S. tanks,
    In 1999, the movie got three Academy Awards: Best Actor in a Leading Role,
    Best Music, Original Dramatic Score, Best Foreign Language Film.
    Leading actor-director Benigni, screenwriter Vincenzo Cerami, musician Nicola Piovani, are all engaged in left-wing politics (Partito democratico, the current avatar of Partito comunista italiano).

  5. The US was hopeless in WW2 in Europe. Not in the endless supply of equipment and logistics. Not in the very brave and often very competent people on the front line (on the ground or in the air). US troops and pilots (etc) showed they were the equal to anyone…over and over again. But in the military leadership. Especially Eisenhower.

    After the great victory in Normandy and the clearing of France, 15 days ahead of schedule using the plan and under the leadership (of all forces, UK, Canadian, US, Polish…) of Montgomery, Ike then Ike took over in Sept 1944. Then proceeded to ignore all the basic rules of strategy and logistics and re-enact the US civil war, without actually understanding the US civil war.

    The western allies then stopped…for 6 months, when they should have been, at least, in the Ruhr by Dec 1944.. To be fair to Ike, he could have been the greatest military genius of all time, but it was impossible to be both the Supreme Leader (fundamentally a political role) AND the military leader of all the armies. He should have been told he can be one or the other.

    But it was his playpen and he got a lot of people killed because of that.. I wont list them and offer it as an exercise to the readers (and the FM crew) to note his endless military/logistic screw ups. Though mediocre Bradley and mad (and totally incompetent) Patton must take some share of the blame.

    Bradley I love (not), the disaster at Omaha beach can be directly attributed to his decision not to have any of the ‘funnies’, the specialised tanks the British had developed. Monty had allocated 40% of them to the US..Bradley rejected them.

    The reality was that the British and Canadians faced much tougher opposition in their landings and got through them very quickly with far less losses.

    And the 17pdr Sherman tanks, the only thing we had capable of beating a late model Panzer Mk IV, let alone a Panther or Tiger….Bradley (and Patton) rejected them. Not “American’ enough for them.

    At one point the UK/Canadian/etc forces were holding down 7 Panzer divisions…the US faced ….one. But it still took them months for their, planned before the invasion, break out. Though the US has always crticised the UK (etc) for being ..slow..the reality was that the US forces ran ages behind the plan…the ‘always’ plan, that Monty created..was that they would break out….while the UK(etc) forces shielded them.

    They lost a lot of blood waiting……

    The single greatest contribution the US actually made to the European war was by supplying their great trucks to the USSR. Without those the USSR could have driven Germany from its border, but no further.

    1. Oldskeptic,

      “The US was hopeless in WW2 in Europe. … But in the military leadership. Especially Eisenhower”

      Please provide some citations from experts to support this.

      The examples you’ve given here and elsewhere are absurdly selective. Similar lists of mistakes can be given for the UK, French, and German armies in WW2. All wars are largely a series of operational errors, It provides no basis for comparative analysis. It’s analysis by anecdote done by prejudiced amateur.

      In all your comments on this I don’t recall you citing anybody in support, esp of your often made-up details. This is the same way you argue about climate change. After 30 thousand of such comments, I’ve found it’s a waste of time to bother replying with facts. People who make stuff up reply to facts by making more stuff up.

      I’ll pay attention when you cite someone who understands these matters.

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