Revisionist tendencies and Ambrose Sindrome

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Karl Heidenreich
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Revisionist tendencies and Ambrose Sindrome

Postby Karl Heidenreich » Thu Dec 31, 2009 4:54 pm

After WWII two basic positions regarding the German (and overall Axis) proficiency developed:

1. One instigated by Hollywood to regard the Germans as plain stupid as the TV series Combat or Hogan´s Heroes or also as several high grossing motion pictures showed to the US public.

2. Historians, on their own, began doing the equation German = Excelence as part of their credo. And by 1960 it was recognized that the Germans developed not only some of the best weapon systems but were also tactical superior to their foes, which evidence was how they dealth with numerical superior forces in many instances. German defeats were attributed to two main reasons: numerical inferiority and Hitler.

Hitler was blamed for everything, on one hand, and German officers were left as the best of XX Century. For instance, Rommel or Guderian. Now, many serious historians had done exhaustive research and discovered that the German Officer Corps was at fault in many instances and that they "helped" Hitler to get Germany defeated. Of course you cannot place a proper critic on, let´s say, Rommel because he was the escense of German dignity because of his involvement in the July Plot. He had to be good to kick the British at Tobuk, get defeated at Alamein by inmense superior numerical british forces and then become the "Desert Fox" only to be executed by the nazis. If some German officer deserves to be "a good guy" then it´s Rommel. Or Guderian who standed against Hitler´s wishes more than once. Serious historians, as House and Glantz, had unvelived that some German "Totems" were not so and that the German Officer Corps screwed things more than once. As a matter of fact it became obvious that were the Russians, not the Germans, the first ones to develop Blitzkrieg concepts but Stalin made sure to execute this ruskies officers before the war.

Having said that it is clear that the Germans were not the equal to Excelence (which is hard to me to accept). But then another tendency has emerged, which is dangerous because tends to deviate a truth in service of national pride.

Ambrose, for example, wrote several well researched books on the European campaign 1943-1945 in which, using particular examples, develops a notion that "the German Excelence" was false. Which it is, but not in the degree of what is believed. Other authors, who had done extensive research too, as Cornelius Ryan, had stablised a quite objective parameters in which the virtues and defects of both contenders are taken in consideration. You see that in the Longest Day or in A Bridge Too Far. But Ambrose´s Band of Brothers or D Day had the tendency of giving the US a special aura the equals to Excelence. And it is obvious: after WWII the military fame of the US arms had gone in discredit when they got a draw against technologically inferior Korean and Chinese in the early fifties, then a disastrous defeat against the Vietnamese and some questionable victories against tiny and puny adversaries as in Grenada or Panamá. In 1991 Irak the stain of kicking a substandard army only to left the enemy alive to produce another quagimare in 2003-present helps a lot to undermine the military pride of the US. The debacle of the Irak and Afganistan wars plus the inhability to win against a bunch of camel drivers and capture Osama after almost ten years of pursuit is such a military disgrace that something is required to balance this not so good image. So, it´s necesarry to turn out the last known total victory of the US in a reference frame for high school kids that watch HBO. Can´t let the evil Germans stole the "Excelence" paradigm from the victorious US... at the end the allies won.

In this paradigm then a US GI is to be regarded as a superior infrantry man if compared to a Waffen SS Panzergrenadier that fought for four years in the East against ten or fifteen times his numbers and endured several freezing winters instead of a single "Bastogne" in a front were the Germans never put their crack units, in the first place. Or a German pilot with hundreds of kills was, likely, not that good as a US pilot with five or none kills. Or a Panzer Ace was just "lucky" or the U Boat Arm not that powerfull as pretended by "German delusionists". Or the Sherman tank had to be regarded as a boldly and cunning (and deliberate) move because of the good production ratio the US industry was capable. Of course there are several weapons that were superior: an industry of the size of the US in a country the size of the US with a scientific and engineering population of european profesionals had to produce, by default, outstanding good weapons as their destroyers, fleet submarines, aircraft carriers and planes as the P 51, the Corsair, the Thunderbolt or rifles as the M1, the Norden Bombsight or the B 17. Also the Atom Bomb. Which no body regards to be faulty or flawed, and the general agreement is that those weapons were superior as the US parachutist, US marines or US rangers can be regarded as very good soldiers and, in cases, the best in their respective theaters when compared to some B or C units their enemies were able to deploy.

Then there is a case to produce evidence that the US was able to place the "best" in every field. That´s why the Nowaki is so important, because a US BBs never demostrated the weight of their power against a peer in combat or why the Sherman has to be regarded, against all evidence, as a better tank when compared to the Tiger or why the Me 262 performance has to be dimished or the German contribution to the US Space Program ignored.

This Revisionist tendency is dangerous because of instead of producing the appropiate learning of the past mistakes it produces a false sense of unvulnerability. Sooner or later the enemies of the Western Free Societies will learn from their defeats and apply that in order to defeat reason, democracy and free society whilst the US will self centered in their own supposed proficiency and get defeated, which already had occured and it´s happening as I write this.

Bottom line, the Germans, not being the equal to Excelence were tactically great and technologically proficient enough to have won in a one vs one basis. And this is important to recon in order to address the reasons of why things happened the way they did.

Best regards,
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
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Re: Revisionist tendencies and Ambrose Sindrome

Postby lwd » Thu Dec 31, 2009 5:38 pm

Karl Heidenreich wrote:...
Then there is a case to produce evidence that the US was able to place the "best" in every field. That´s why the Nowaki is so important, because a US BBs never demostrated the weight of their power against a peer in combat or why the Sherman has to be regarded, against all evidence, as a better tank when compared to the Tiger or why the Me 262 performance has to be dimished or the German contribution to the US Space Program ignored.

No. And it illustrates another problem that of people dismissing arguments as simply due to nation bias. The Nowaki case is important because it illustrates what US BB ships were technically capable of by the end of the war. By the way Washington pretty clearly demostrated what her "weigth of power" could do to Kirishima like wise the battle line at Surigaua. As for the Sherman being better than the Tiger if you use a strategic rather than a tactical yard sitck rather than being "against all evidence" the preponerence of evidence supports the postition. Like wise the performance of the Me-262 whlie technically impressive due to it's flaws and late appearnce was of little import especiallly considering the allied jets were seen as not necessary well before the end of the war. As for the German contribution to the US Space Program I have yet to see any ignore it but I have seen some blow it out of all porportion.
This Revisionist tendency is dangerous because of instead of producing the appropiate learning of the past mistakes it produces a false sense of unvulnerability. ...

Revisionist historians are only a problem when their material is not supported by history but taken as a matter of faith by those who need to know better. The western militaries clearly learned much from WWII and indeed in later years from the Soviets as well. It's also clear that others have been learning from both the success and failures of them as well.
Bottom line, the Germans, not being the equal to Excelence were tactically great and technologically proficient enough to have won in a one vs one basis. And this is important to recon in order to address the reasons of why things happened the way they did.
...

I'm not sure I even agree with your first proposition. Certainly early war the German's tacticl proficiency can hardly be regarded as anything less than Excelent. Indeed at the small unit level they maintained this until well into the war. Their armored doctrine was also excelent. Where they failed was on the strategic level in general and in specfic areas like logistics, intelligence, and EW. In terms of your favorite comparison a lone Tiger against a lone Sherman had a very good chance of winning. Make that a German armored division vs a US armored division and the odds have swung the other way. If it's late war and both are at average stength and have their typical attachements it's going to be a sone sided as the first case but in the opposite direction. Germany was too concerned for the most part in constructing "wonder weapons" and not enough in producing reliable supportable weapons and the system to support them. That should however take nothign away from their performance at the tactical level. Indeed it makes it even more impressive in some ways.

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Re: Revisionist tendencies and Ambrose Sindrome

Postby Karl Heidenreich » Thu Dec 31, 2009 7:02 pm


"No, Americans don`t know how to fight. After the Korean War, in particular, they have lost the capability to wage large scale war. They are pinning their hopes on the Atom Bomb and air power. But one cannot win a war with that. One needs infantry, and they don`t have much infantry; the infantry they do have is weak. They are fighting little Korea, and already people are weeping in the USA. What will happen if they start a large scale war? Then, perhaps, everyone will weep"


-Joseph Stalin (FDS`s ally) to Zhou En Lai, August 10th, 1952

"The US has a population of 200 million people, but it cannot stand wars."


-Mao Zedong to Pham Van Dong, November 17th, 1968

Vietnam
Laos
Cambodia
Nicaragua
Iran
Gulf War 1991
Irak War 2003 present
Afganistan War 2001 present

It`s evident that WWII victory didn`t help the US to understand the nature of modern warfare and how to win it.
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
Sir Winston Churchill

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Re: Revisionist tendencies and Ambrose Sindrome

Postby Karl Heidenreich » Thu Dec 31, 2009 7:11 pm


"In reading works by the burgeois writers on World War II, I have frequently noticed their inclination to play down the Red Army victory in the summer of 1943. They try to instill in their readers the idea that the Kursk Battle was just an ordinary, insignificant episode in the war; to these ends they either barely mention it or just skip it. Very rarely have I come across such books any real assesment of the Nazi plan of revenge for the summer of 1943 as an adventurous or a bankrupt end to the strategy of the fascist generals. But, as the saying has it, deeds speak louder than words. I would mention just one elementary fact: at the height of the Kursk Battle our Allies landed in Sicily and, on 17 August, crossed over into Italy. Could they have possibly done so with even half the forces against them that we had to contend with in the summer of 1943? I think not."


-Marshall A.M. Vasilesky

Vasilesky stood before German forces that no American or British commander ever faced. I agree with his "elementary fact". Central and Voroznezh fronts alone contained more than 1,3 million men, more than the overall total the allies had in western europe in 1944-1945.
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Re: Revisionist tendencies and Ambrose Sindrome

Postby Karl Heidenreich » Thu Dec 31, 2009 7:14 pm


"there exist many good men who honestly believe that one may, by the aid of modern science, sit in the confort and ease in his office chair, and with little blocks of wood to represent men, or even with figures and algebraic symbols, master the great game of war..."



- William Tecumseh Sherman
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
Sir Winston Churchill

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Re: Revisionist tendencies and Ambrose Sindrome

Postby Karl Heidenreich » Thu Dec 31, 2009 7:24 pm

"In the closing days of the war my North Vietnamese Army counterpart crowed, "This just goes to prove you can`t stamp out a revolutionary idea with force,"
"That`s nonsense and you know it, " I replied. "In the thirteenth century Genghis Khan did a pretty good job of stamping out a revolutionary idea with force when the Moslems in Central Asia declared the jihad against him. He killed seventeen million people and turned the area into a howling desert for the next seven hundreds years.
"And you`d be hard pressed to find anyone in southern France today able to recite the Albigensian Code. When that heresy was put down in A.D. 1250 the military commander asked the bishop, "How do you tell the herectics from the true believers?" the terrible answer was, "Kill them all! GOd will know his own."
"You know, with our nuclear weapons, we had the capability many times over to wipe North Vietnam from the face of the map.
"We knew that" he said. "We also knew you`d never do it.
When it came to anything less than a nuclear war itself, our vaunted nuclear deterrent force had one critical flaw: it did not dether."


- Colonel Harry G. Summers, On strategy II: A critical analysis of the Gulf War.
Last edited by Karl Heidenreich on Thu Dec 31, 2009 7:30 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Revisionist tendencies and Ambrose Sindrome

Postby Karl Heidenreich » Thu Dec 31, 2009 7:28 pm

The quotes I have wrote here, in this thread, had the goal of trying to explain why is so important for the US war historians to come up with the Ambrose`s Syndrome of trying to prove how military proficient the US was in WWII. Because if it`s not, then there is nothing left but just defeats and misjudgements.

That`s why Major Bong HAS to be better than Hartmann, or the Sherman better than the Tiger or South Dakota better than Bismarck. In absence of Osama`s corpse or a clear victory against the taliban then you have to endure "Inglorious Bastards" in the cinema, returning to the good old days of the Hogan`s Heroes.
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Re: Revisionist tendencies and Ambrose Sindrome

Postby lwd » Thu Dec 31, 2009 8:31 pm

Karl Heidenreich wrote:The quotes I have wrote here, in this thread, had the goal of trying to explain why is so important for the US war historians to come up with the Ambrose`s Syndrome of trying to prove how military proficient the US was in WWII.

??? Well they don't but it's not even clear to me what you mean. Indeed some just prove that others don't understand the US.
Because if it`s not, then there is nothing left but just defeats and misjudgements.

In case you didn't notice we were on the winning side in world war 2
That`s why Major Bong HAS to be better than Hartmann,

??? Who has even brought that proposition forward? This is another classic stawman.
or the Sherman better than the Tiger or South Dakota better than Bismarck.

The facts stand for themselves in these cases.
In absence of Osama`s corpse or a clear victory against the taliban then you have to endure "Inglorious Bastards" in the cinema, returning to the good old days of the Hogan`s Heroes.


You are waxing incoherent.

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Re: Revisionist tendencies and Ambrose Sindrome

Postby Karl Heidenreich » Fri Jan 01, 2010 12:13 am

lwd:

In case you didn't notice we were on the winning side in world war 2


I noticed that the US produced a diversion in Normandy in order to distract the Germans from the main front, which was in the East. At the final analysis that was what the US intervention was, after all, a diversion to let the russians win the war and conquer half of Europe.

??? Who has even brought that proposition forward? This is another classic stawman.


You and your american superiorists have come forward with that notion when trying to dismiss the amount of victories the German aces were capable of doing. At the end all arguments tend to give the Americans an edge which simply does not exist.


The facts stand for themselves in these cases.


Indeed: five Shermans (Ronsons) in order to nail a single Tiger as in Viller Bocage and some many other scenarios; or Bismarck havng to sunk by the complete British Atlantic Fleet whilst the South Dak cannot even hit a barn in front of her and then had to runaway to be humilliated by the other crews of the USN. Those are facts, nor your gratituous rethoric that proves that the, even without fighting, the US BBs were superior.

You are waxing incoherent.


No, the US strategy is the one incoherent. Don`t you see Fox News or CNN: the US have won nothing since those wars started. In any case, the only incoherent argument is yours, at the end.
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Re: Revisionist tendencies and Ambrose Sindrome

Postby mkenny » Fri Jan 01, 2010 12:45 am

Karl Heidenreich wrote:I noticed that the US produced a diversion in Normandy in order to distract the Germans from the main front, which was in the East.

So much of a distraction that the Germans sent more tanks to The West in June 1944 than they had in the East. I wonder why they did that?

Karl Heidenreich wrote:five Shermans (Ronsons) in order to nail a single Tiger as in Viller Bocage and some many other scenarios

Complete and utter fabrication. To start with the were only 5 Shermans lost that day and so were 6 Tigers Can you please name me the other 'scenario's where it happened?

Karl Heidenreich wrote:Bismarck havng to sunk by the complete British Atlantic Fleet


More like the pride of the German Fleet being sunk the first time it dared put to sea. A lesson so shocking her sister spent the war hiding in Fiords rather than trying the same

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Re: Revisionist tendencies and Ambrose Sindrome

Postby yellowtail3 » Sun Jan 03, 2010 10:02 pm

Karl Heidenreich wrote:Revisionist tendencies and Ambrose Sindrome

Sindrome???
1. One instigated by Hollywood to regard the Germans as plain stupid as the TV series Combat or Hogan´s Heroes or also as several high grossing motion pictures showed to the US public.

I remember Hogan's Heroes - it was a comedy. Combat wasn't, but it was fun to watch when I was 10 years old. Lots of guys with guns running around - what's not to like?
Hitler was blamed for everything, on one hand,

Hmmm... kind of like the blame Lutjens 'sindrome' - I've seen that somewhere recently... some guy obsessed with an out-sized legend...
Having said that it is clear that the Germans were not the equal to Excelence (which is hard to me to accept).

hard to accept, is it? I'm curious to know why... ?
In this paradigm then a US GI is to be regarded as a superior infrantry man if compared to a Waffen SS Panzergrenadier that fought for four years in the East against ten or fifteen times his numbers and endured several freezing winters

...and the murdering nazi bastards deserved every one of those winters
"German delusionists".

the use of quotes usually means something - are you quoting someone, here? Or just referring to your own premise? Fill me in...
Then there is a case to produce evidence that the US was able to place the "best" in every field. That´s why the Nowaki is so important, because a US BBs never demostrated the weight of their power against a peer in combat

Nowaki - Japanese destroyer, right? Important? How so?
or why the Sherman has to be regarded, against all evidence, as a better tank when compared to the Tiger

While I don't know a great deal about tanks, I've never regarded a Sherman as better than a Tiger - it's a lot smaller tank, isn't it? I suppose it probably got better gas mileage. It was probably more reliable, and easier to ship. And I'll bet they were cheaper to build. Perhaps better in some regards, I suppose.
Bottom line, the Germans, not being the equal to Excelence were tactically great and technologically proficient enough to have won in a one vs one basis.
Sometimes.
Shift Colors... underway.

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Re: Revisionist tendencies and Ambrose Sindrome

Postby RF » Mon Jan 04, 2010 10:05 am

The propositions posed in Karl's initial post are far too simplistic. And it has led again to the usual ding dong oversimplified rhetoric over my tank is better than your tank and even the ridiculous suggestion that the Americans landed in Normandy so that the Russians could win the war and conquer half of Europe.

Hardly a proposition for intelligent debate.....
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

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Re: Revisionist tendencies and Ambrose Sindrome

Postby alecsandros » Mon Jan 04, 2010 9:16 pm

@RF
Nevertheless, it might be a good occasion to discuss about the attitude towards World War 2 in general, and towards the Reich's achievements in particular.

H. Revisionism has gone far enough - up to denying the Holocaust alltogether- and my opinion is that, without sufficient academic overview, in 20-30 years everybody (e.g. the general public) will see History as an illusion, and consequently dismiss/forget all of Her lessons..

In particular, regarding the German army's performance, pretty much everything had been (or tried to) be revised: from German state-of-the-art technology (that the Russians under Stalin claimed to have been created by their own engineers) to various units and arms operational acheivements, and tactical or strategic significance (the push towards Moscow was an easy fight, because of the Russian army's lack of training and leadership, the Battle of Britain proved Luftwaffe to be inferior to the RAF, the GErman aces were not realy 'aces', because they were so much favored by various circumstances... etc).

I think that, beyond the political considerations, the German forces performed very well under the given historical constraints, and that, despite the huge economic drawback, they had their chances at winning the war. As Lwd wrote in another topic, their fighting prowess is very hard to dismiss at tactical and operational levels, but it was auxiliary to a somewhat faulty (over-extended in fact) strategic plan.

All the best,
Alex

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Re: Revisionist tendencies and Ambrose Sindrome

Postby mkenny » Mon Jan 04, 2010 9:37 pm

alecsandros wrote: from German state-of-the-art technology ([i]that the Russians under Stalin claimed to have been created by their own engineers)


The Russians had nothing to learn as regards tank technology. Their own medium and heavy tanks in 1941 completely outclassed the German types. Throughout the war they were able to up-gun and improvise on a scale thet shamed the German 'limited Edition' uber-panzers. No other nation got as much bang-for-a-buck than the Soviets.

Byron Angel

Re: Revisionist tendencies and Ambrose Sindrome

Postby Byron Angel » Mon Jan 04, 2010 10:23 pm

mkenny wrote:
alecsandros wrote: from German state-of-the-art technology ([i]that the Russians under Stalin claimed to have been created by their own engineers)


The Russians had nothing to learn as regards tank technology. Their own medium and heavy tanks in 1941 completely outclassed the German types. Throughout the war they were able to up-gun and improvise on a scale thet shamed the German 'limited Edition' uber-panzers. No other nation got as much bang-for-a-buck than the Soviets.



..... The Russians certainly had fine, even brilliant, talents in tank design in 1941. The versy successful and battle-proven T34 series is a testament to that. But "nothing to learn" is a bit of a stretch IMO. I'd point out the following areas where they were behind -

> gun sights & optics.

> TC observation cupolas and hatches.

> radio communications.

> turret crew layout (sub-optimal 2-man turrets).

> engine/transmission reliability.


Byron


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