It began on April Fool's Day, 1945, which was also Easter Sunday. It lasted eighty-four days. In that time the United States lost its commander in chief, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and at the site of the battle itself, lost its most beloved war correspondent, Ernie Pyle. In that time Germany was finally defeated, but when GIs on the island heard the news, they snorted in contempt - "So what?" For these men were fighting for their own lives against a tenacious Japanese force whose goal was to "bleed all over" the Americans and thus drown them in Japanese blood.
To achieve final victory over Japan, Okinawa had to be seized; it would be a catapult for the planned invasion of Japan itself. And so the U.S. Marines and Army attacked Okinawa with 540,000 men and 1,600 seagoing ships, eclipsing even D-Day in troops, tonnage, and firepower. But Japanese troops were hunkered down in a honeycomb of caves and terrain that the U.S. Tenth Army commander, Lieutenant General Simon Bolivar Buckner, called the most formidable fixed position in the history of warfare. And General Buckner asked his men to employ "corkscrew and blowtorch" - explosives and flame - to conquer the island. What he didn't need to ask for was individual heroism. For the last battle of World War II was full of acts of valor that went far beyond the call of duty. At the end, American casualties totaled almost 50,000. But the Japanese were left with 100,000 dead. And Nippon's navy was crushed, 7,800 of its planes lost, many in the last frenzied kamikaze attacks of the war.
Among German crimes of the Second World War, the Nazi massacre of 642 men, women, and children at Oradour-sur-Glane on June 10, 1944, is one of the most notorious. On that Saturday afternoon, four days after the Allied landings in Normandy, SS troops encircled the town in the rolling farm country of the Limousin. Soldiers marched the men to nearby barns, lined them up, and shot them. They then locked the women and children in the church, shot them, and set the building and the rest of the town on fire. Residents who had been away for the day returned to a blackened scene of horror, carnage, and devastation.In 1946 the French State expropriated and preserved the entire ruins of Oradour. The forty acres of crumbling houses, farms and shops became France's village martyr, set up as a monument to French suffering under the German occupation. Today, the village is a tourist destination, complete with maps and guidebooks. In this first full-scale study of the destruction of Oradour and its remembrance over the half century since the war, Sarah Farmer investigates the prominence of the massacre in French understanding of the national experience under German domination. Through interviews with survivors and village officials, as well as extensive archival research, she pieces together a fascinating history of both a shattering event and its memorial afterlife. Complemented by haunting photographs of the site, Farmer's eloquent dissection of France's national memory addresses the personal and private ways in which, through remembrance, people try to come to terms with enormous loss. Martyred Village will have implications for the study of the history and sociology of memory, testimonies about remembrances of war and the Holocaust, and postmodern concerns with the presentation of the past.
Furnishes a blow-by-blow account, based on new research, of the greatest naval battle in the history of warfare, a 1944 battle that almost became a disaster for the U.S. Navy, and a sign of impending doom for the Japanese Navy.
This revisionist history convincingly argues that the Regia Marina Italiana (the Royal Italian Navy) has been neglected and maligned in assessments of its contributions to the Axis effort in World War II. After all, Italy was the major Axis player in the Mediterranean, and it was the Italian navy and air force, with only sporadic help from their German ally, that stymied the British navy and air force for most of the thirty-nine months that Italy was a belligerent. It was the Royal Italian Navy that provided the many convoys that kept the Axis war effort in Africa alive by repeatedly braving attack by aircraft, submarine, and surface vessels. If doomed by its own technical weaknesses and Ultra (the top-secret British decoding device), the Italian navy still fought a tenacious and gallant war; and if it did not win that war, it avoided defeat for thirty-nine, long, frustrating months.
Challenging previous accounts, Geoffrey Megargee shatters the myth that German generals would have prevailed in World War II if only Hitler had not meddled in their affairs. Indeed, Megargee argues, the German high command was much more flawed than many have suspected or acknowledged. Inside Hitler's High Command reveals that while Hitler was the central figure in many military decisions, his generals were equal partners in Germany's catastrophic defeat.Megargee exposes the structure, processes, and personalities that governed the Third Reich's military decision making and shows how Germany's presumed battlefield superiority was undermined by poor strategic and operational planning at the highest levels. His study tracks the evolution of German military leadership under the Nazis from 1933 to 1945 and expands our understanding of the balance of power within the high command, the role of personalities in its organizational development, and the influence of German military intellectuals on its structure and function. He also shows how the organization of the high command was plagued by ambition, stubbornness, political intrigue, and overworked staff officers. And his a week in the life chapter puts the high command under a magnifying glass to reveal its inner workings during the fierce fighting on the Russian Front in December 1941. Megargee also offers new insights into the high command crises of 1938 and shows how German general staff made fatal mistakes in their planning for Operation Barbarossa in 1941. Their arrogant dismissal of the Soviet military's ability to defend its homeland and virtual disregard for the extensive intelligence and sound logistics that undergird successful large-scale military campaigns ultimately came back to haunt them. In the final assessment, observes Megargee, the generals' strategic ideas were no better than Hitler's and often worse. Heinz Guderian, Franz Halder, and the rest were as guilty of self-deception as their Fuhrer, believing that innate German superiority and strength of will were enough to overcome nearly any obstacle. Inside Hitler's High Command exposes these surprising flaws and illuminates the process of strategy and decision making in the Third Reich.