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    I'm not a historian, so please don't insult me if I make very obvious errors of judgement in my questions.

    1. Why didn't the French learn from the lessons of World War I and extend the Maginot Line through to the Belgian border?

    2. If Britain and France declared war on Germany for invading Poland, why didn't they actually send any military assistance to the Poles (before the Soviets attacked Poland from the east on 17 September)?

    3. Why didn't we act on the Pilecki and Vrba-Wetzler reports and bomb Auschwitz?

    4. Why do students of History GCSE (I, despite taking a great interest in 20th century history, didn't take it for GCSE) learn about the lead up to World War II (rise of Hitler, League of Nations, etc.) and the aftermath (Cold War: Berlin blockade and airlift, Korean War, Hungarian Uprising, Prague Spring etc.) but not World War II itself? There are many obscure fronts and battles I'd love to read about (Levant, Balkans, China)- the current book I'm reading is on the Warsaw Uprising in August 1944.
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    (Original post by flibber)
    I'm not a historian, so please don't insult me if I make very obvious errors of judgement in my questions.

    1. Why didn't the French learn from the lessons of World War I and extend the Maginot Line through to the Belgian border?

    2. If Britain and France declared war on Germany for invading Poland, why didn't they actually send any military assistance to the Poles (before the Soviets attacked Poland from the east on 17 September)?

    3. Why didn't we act on the Pilecki and Vrba-Wetzler reports and bomb Auschwitz?

    4. Why do students of History GCSE (I, despite taking a great interest in 20th century history, didn't take it for GCSE) learn about the lead up to World War II (rise of Hitler, League of Nations, etc.) and the aftermath (Cold War: Berlin blockade and airlift, Korean War, Hungarian Uprising, Prague Spring etc.) but not World War II itself? There are many obscure fronts and battles I'd love to read about (Levant, Balkans, China)- the current book I'm reading is on the Warsaw Uprising in August 1944.
    1) cost
    2) logistics. You're not going to drop troops into a foreign country that can't be reapplied or withdrawn. Let's also remeber that Russia invaded Poland as well.
    3)combination of reasons. Disbelief, no strategic value (more important targets). range of aircraft not getting to target. Concerns of jewish casualties. Inability to take out specific buildings.
    4) asked myself that question myself. The lessons that society should learn however are the reasons for twh rise of the nazis.
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    (Original post by MatureStudent36)
    1) cost
    2) logistics. You're not going to drop troops into a foreign country that can't be reapplied or withdrawn. Let's also remeber that Russia invaded Poland as well.
    3)combination of reasons. Disbelief, no strategic value (more important targets). range of aircraft not getting to target. Concerns of jewish casualties. Inability to take out specific buildings.
    4) asked myself that question myself. The lessons that society should learn however are the reasons for twh rise of the nazis.
    1) Even if it was too expensive to extend the Maginot Line, they could have placed more divisions near the Belgian border.
    2) There were two and a half weeks before the German invasion (1 September) and the Soviet invasion (17 September). Why didn't the RAF launch a single raid against the Luftwaffe in that time?
    3) Although it was not recognized by the USAF at that time, reconnaissance planes took some photos of Auschwitz (although I believe the intention was to take out some factory nearby), and that it would have been detected as a concentration camp had analysts checked closely enough. Surely bombing Auschwitz, even if some Jews inside were killed, if targeted with precision, would be a good way launch the Germans into confusion, especially if done with another offensive action simultaneously?
    4) World War II is still one of the most fun wars to study . We still study the Battle of Hastings in KS3 even though there are no lessons to learn from it.
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    (Original post by flibber)
    1) Even if it was too expensive to extend the Maginot Line, they could have placed more divisions near the Belgian border.
    2) There were two and a half weeks before the German invasion (1 September) and the Soviet invasion (17 September). Why didn't the RAF launch a single raid against the Luftwaffe in that time?
    3) Although it was not recognized by the USAF at that time, reconnaissance planes took some photos of Auschwitz (although I believe the intention was to take out some factory nearby), and that it would have been detected as a concentration camp had analysts checked closely enough. Surely bombing Auschwitz, even if some Jews inside were killed, if targeted with precision, would be a good way launch the Germans into confusion, especially if done with another offensive action simultaneously?
    4) World War II is still one of the most fun wars to study . We still study the Battle of Hastings in KS3 even though there are no lessons to learn from it.
    1) Belgium was always the weak point. As well as the cost, politically it wasn't deemed too good to continue a defensive line long the Belgian border.

    The plan was always to send french and british troops into Belgium. Belgium however was neutral and these troops needed inviting in. The plan as there to send troops in, but they were too slow in implementing it . (Watch the world at war, the battle for France)

    2) the raf weren't really up for it at that point. Post WW1 there was still a desire for appeasement. Nobody ws really wanting to antagonise the Germans as there was still a desire to have a negotiated settlement. Although attacks were made early on.

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battl...ght_%281939%29

    3) you are right that USAAF caught auschwitz on a reconnaissance flight, but ISTR that there was political issues about hitting it. But there's other factors at play. Auschwitz consisted of just under a hundred camps. Only auschwitz birkenau has the gas chambers. Also, auschwitz was at extrem range of bombers. Hers an example of what happens at that range.

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Tidal_Wave

    4) the word you're looking for is I treating. Not fun.

    If you're interested thiugh, try watching these documentaries for starters.

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_World_at_War

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_N...g_from_History

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ausch...al_Solution%27
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    (Original post by flibber)
    I'm not a historian, so please don't insult me if I make very obvious errors of judgement in my questions.

    1. Why didn't the French learn from the lessons of World War I and extend the Maginot Line through to the Belgian border?

    2. If Britain and France declared war on Germany for invading Poland, why didn't they actually send any military assistance to the Poles (before the Soviets attacked Poland from the east on 17 September)?

    3. Why didn't we act on the Pilecki and Vrba-Wetzler reports and bomb Auschwitz?

    4. Why do students of History GCSE (I, despite taking a great interest in 20th century history, didn't take it for GCSE) learn about the lead up to World War II (rise of Hitler, League of Nations, etc.) and the aftermath (Cold War: Berlin blockade and airlift, Korean War, Hungarian Uprising, Prague Spring etc.) but not World War II itself? There are many obscure fronts and battles I'd love to read about (Levant, Balkans, China)- the current book I'm reading is on the Warsaw Uprising in August 1944.
    4. Because the history of WW2 is largely, if not totally military history. The causes and aftermath of things can often be looked at and described in economic, political, social, etc etc etc terms. So there is much more diversity in the aspect of things after and before the war. Although I do agree with you that the war was incredibly interesting and I would have loved to have studied it however that's not the way education works these days.
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    [QUOTE]
    (Original post by flibber)
    I'm not a historian, so please don't insult me if I make very obvious errors of judgement in my questions.

    1. Why didn't the French learn from the lessons of World War I and extend the Maginot Line through to the Belgian border?
    1. France and Belgium did in fact have an agreement to extend the line all the way to the sea. The Belgians reneged on the agreement, declared themselves neutral and refused to build their section.

    Arguably they were learning lessons from WWI by digging in and preparing a defensive line early on. The Germans did just that with their trenches in WWI, but then they also moved on from WWI and developed a whole new type of warfare whilst the French High Command, for the most part, did not.


    2. Just take a look at a map of Northern Europe. Getting troops to Poland would need to be done by sea. There is simply no way they could have sent a fleet and troop ships through the Skagerrak without the German Navy becoming aware of it and making a play. Also, as someone's already said, how do you get them out if you need to retreat? It's a lot further away than Dunkirk.


    3. I am not completely familiar with those reports but I suspect one chief reason for the lack of action was that no one really had any conception of exactly what was happening. They knew Jews were being targeted and these camps were built but no one, even in their worst nightmares, could have imagined the true scale and horror of what was being done there.

    Even if they did I suppose the logic was that the sooner they defeated Germany, the sooner they could put a stop to all that. Also other people were suffering too, without wishing to ignore or trivialise things the Jews were not the only people having a bad time of it and maybe weren't going to be the Allies' top priority. Nowadays we have a tendency to focus on the Holocaust to the exclusion of everything else the Germans were doing, at the time I think people would not have had the same perspective on things.


    4. It's not currently trendy to do military history. The media would have us believe we're all supposed to be weeping about how tragic it (and WWI) was and going into raptures about the Suffragettes or the abolition of slavery instead. Now of course both those things are great, but not really as exciting or fascinating as studying the different theatres of operations in WWII. I agree with you that it's a shame, although in fairness there are a lot of other periods that get very little attention too (Napoleonic Wars, Crusades, Empire, Hundred Years War, Middle Ages in general, etc... and that's just the British history). I suppose you can't study everything and those that are interested will find out on their own.
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    (Original post by flibber)
    2. If Britain and France declared war on Germany for invading Poland, why didn't they actually send any military assistance to the Poles (before the Soviets attacked Poland from the east on 17 September)?
    What most people do not realise is that, on a strategic basis (and partly on a political basis), the Anglo-Polish alliance was a huge mistake. Firstly, if we were to take a stand over German aggression, the Sudetenland Crisis was the natural one, as firstly, it was something over which the Germans were entirely unjustified, and secondly, it was one in which there were established strategic linkages between the Allies and Czechoslovakia, and the Czechs could have held out for a reasonable period of time.

    Poland simply wasn't. The Germans actually had some justification to reclaim the Corridor and Danzig, but thanks for their past transgressions and the Nazi rape of Prague, international sympathy had vanished. The Allies knew they finally had to make a stand, but chose their ground poorly.

    The Anglo-Polish Alliance was purely political. The British Chiefs of Staff were not consulted on what support the British could offer Poland in the event of a German attack, and there was none that could be offered. Churchill himself was glad to see the Government was finally getting a spine, but was actually horrified at the guarantee given to Poland. Chamberlain and many others in mid-1939 actually thought an attack on Poland was considerably less likely than a German provocation on Romania or Hungary. They miscalculated.
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    (Original post by flibber)
    4. Why do students of History GCSE (I, despite taking a great interest in 20th century history, didn't take it for GCSE) learn about the lead up to World War II (rise of Hitler, League of Nations, etc.) and the aftermath (Cold War: Berlin blockade and airlift, Korean War, Hungarian Uprising, Prague Spring etc.) but not World War II itself? There are many obscure fronts and battles I'd love to read about (Levant, Balkans, China)- the current book I'm reading is on the Warsaw Uprising in August 1944.
    I took the AQA History course, and we did about Britain in WWII for the Controlled Assessment. WWII is too big a topic to study. So, part of it is included in the specification.
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    (Original post by flibber)
    I'm not a historian, so please don't insult me if I make very obvious errors of judgement in my questions.

    1. Why didn't the French learn from the lessons of World War I and extend the Maginot Line through to the Belgian border?

    2. If Britain and France declared war on Germany for invading Poland, why didn't they actually send any military assistance to the Poles (before the Soviets attacked Poland from the east on 17 September)?

    3. Why didn't we act on the Pilecki and Vrba-Wetzler reports and bomb Auschwitz?

    4. Why do students of History GCSE (I, despite taking a great interest in 20th century history, didn't take it for GCSE) learn about the lead up to World War II (rise of Hitler, League of Nations, etc.) and the aftermath (Cold War: Berlin blockade and airlift, Korean War, Hungarian Uprising, Prague Spring etc.) but not World War II itself? There are many obscure fronts and battles I'd love to read about (Levant, Balkans, China)- the current book I'm reading is on the Warsaw Uprising in August 1944.
    1) Firstly the french thought that the main invasion would of been incapable of passing through the Ardennes. Never mind the new (not so) modern tanks. Also there were some quite major fortifications in Belgium itself and the French Belgium border just incase the Germans attempted to do what they had in WW1. However the Germans had pretty much done full mock practices and knew the fortifications inside out and no-one expected that they would of been knocked out so fast.

    Also the Maginot line actually did it's objective, forcing the germans to force their way though a more unfavourable route (which was still rather heavily defended). Also the Allies knew from the onset of war they would require the low countries (that includes Belgium) and had around 3 army groups in place to seize it. However it was equally as important for the Germans, especially if their invasion of France failed. The allied counter-attack faltered and many allied divisions who counter-attacked where rather badly mauled or wiped out and mostly routed. This actually resulted in Dunkirk that isn't that far west of the Belgium border. The original Dunkirk Pocket was actually around 50% in France, 40% in Belgium and 10% in Holland.

    2) Cost, Distance and not really wanting to be at war with russia/soviet union. Their main plan was to force the Germans to re-route all forces to the western front once they had started pushing into Germany (which never happened). They also hadn't expected Poland to collapse so fast and the soviet's to ally with the Germans.

    3) Until 1943, all the allies knew was they were some kind of camps and the death toll. Ethnicity requirements, sexuality, political allegiances where only theories into who was was sent there.

    By 1944 the allies knew, but at the same time the full death toll was not known, the estimates were much lower than reality. You then also had the argument that bombing activities were better served against military targets which later on would save more lives. Also you had many who felt bombing was too inaccurate and would risk killing more prisoners than they would save. You do see a few commando type bombing raids to save prisoners, but only from POW camps (usually to get information out).

    4) No idea, but to hazard a guess it's mostly for political reasons. Also learning about battles, figures, dates etc during the war is pretty much a memory game. To actually analyse such information is pretty much above most people until university level. Most people at GCSE would simply look at most battles and campaign using losses, which is fairly unreliable at painting the full picture. It's simply easier to teach about the pre and post war mechanics and politics.

    You still have professors and historians arguing about not only battles, their events and figures, but also the effect of different countries industrial and economic situation, internal politics etc etc etc. Trying to discuss the german decision concerning the Big Cats is above most people's heads, and that's a rather small and precise aspect.
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    (Original post by gladders)
    What most people do not realise is that, on a strategic basis (and partly on a political basis), the Anglo-Polish alliance was a huge mistake. Firstly, if we were to take a stand over German aggression, the Sudetenland Crisis was the natural one, as firstly, it was something over which the Germans were entirely unjustified, and secondly, it was one in which there were established strategic linkages between the Allies and Czechoslovakia, and the Czechs could have held out for a reasonable period of time.
    We were in no better position to assist the Czechs than we were to assist the Poles.

    Any support had to come through Poland, Hungary or Romania. We couldn't have supplied through Gdynia. Hungary had its own territorial claims on Czechoslovakia and indeed went to war with the Slovak Protectorate in 1939 (when Hitler ought to have, but didn't, support Slovakia against Hungary). Romania was full of coups, counter-coups and assassinations in 1938.

    Apart from the Nordic states, Czechoslovakia was the only European democracy east of Switzerland in 1938 which was why it was worth saving and why it was impossible to save.
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    (Original post by DanB1991)

    4) No idea, but to hazard a guess it's mostly for political reasons. Also learning about battles, figures, dates etc during the war is pretty much a memory game. To actually analyse such information is pretty much above most people until university level. Most people at GCSE would simply look at most battles and campaign using losses, which is fairly unreliable at painting the full picture. It's simply easier to teach about the pre and post war mechanics and politics.

    You still have professors and historians arguing about not only battles, their events and figures, but also the effect of different countries industrial and economic situation, internal politics etc etc etc. Trying to discuss the german decision concerning the Big Cats is above most people's heads, and that's a rather small and precise aspect.
    Military history is generally the history of logistics not tactics.

    Until about 1900 the educated public had an instinctive knowledge of travel and provisioning in a world before mechanical transport and mechanised agriculture and food production. School boys could study the campaigns of Caesar and those of Napoleon and understand what they were about.

    That has been lost and the general public has never really had any understanding of the logistics of mechanised warfare.

    You can see that with the Auschwitz question. What precisely did we know and when did we know it? What was the reconnaissance capability at that range? What was our bombing capability in that location? What fighter cover was available? How much damage could we inflict with what degree of accuracy on what targets? If we had done that what would have been the impact on the enemy and on the prisoners?

    Only a specialist has the knowledge to answer these questions and so we turn the question into a political, rather than a military, one. Why did we fail to make the political decision to bomb Auschwitz?
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    (Original post by nulli tertius)
    Military history is generally the history of logistics not tactics.

    Until about 1900 the educated public had an instinctive knowledge of travel and provisioning in a world before mechanical transport and mechanised agriculture and food production. School boys could study the campaigns of Caesar and those of Napoleon and understand what they were about.

    That has been lost and the general public has never really had any understanding of the logistics of mechanised warfare.

    You can see that with the Auschwitz question. What precisely did we know and when did we know it? What was the reconnaissance capability at that range? What was our bombing capability in that location? What fighter cover was available? How much damage could we inflict with what degree of accuracy on what targets? If we had done that what would have been the impact on the enemy and on the prisoners?

    Only a specialist has the knowledge to answer these questions and so we turn the question into a political, rather than a military, one. Why did we fail to make the political decision to bomb Auschwitz?
    It's a mixture of logistics and tactics. Napoleon even though he took Moscow, failed due to logistics. He lost Waterloo due to his tactics and strategy.

    Logistic's are very important, more important than most give them credit for, but it is part of tactics. If your tactics stretch your supply line you're going to struggle, alternatively over focusing on securing your logistics can sometimes result in being outmanoeuvred. All logistics really is in reality is the behind the scenes elements that are used to make an operation possible.

    I'm not too sure what you trying to highlight seeing both logistics and tactics are directly intertwined. Tactics and Strategy is the action, logistics is what makes it happen.

    For example the Strategy for the Germans to rely on heavier more efficient vehicles due to fairly consciously being unable to match USSR and US production was made logistically possible due to restructuring of German industry and increased input into AFV's. They failed however due to logistical failing due to A) Manpower shortages and B) Supply lines including fuel being attacked by the air. This in turn was a result of Strategy, that being the Germans failing to secure enough fuel and underestimating both soviet and allied air capabilities rather early on and also failing to capitalise on the raw resources they captured from in ukraine. In effect it's a strategy, affecting logistics that in turn affected another strategy, they're all interwoven.

    Concerning mechanized logistics, not really much had changed since the mid 1800's, the Germans for example still mostly used horse drawn vehicles, especially during their invasion of France and Russia. During Caesar's time you mostly lived of the land, during Napoleon this was mostly the same, albeit Napoleon did create the first 'train' specialist units to supply the rest of his army, although he still relied living off the land in Spain and Russia which ultimately failed him. By the mid 1800's supply trains were starting to resemble their modern form.

    Ultimately, simply teaching the political aspect at schools reduces it IMO to idealism. You get droves of students who criticise past military actions, failing to realise both the strategic, tactical and logistical situation. For example teaching people the political reason why we failed to bomb Auschwitz is pretty pointless seeing it in reality was not really a political issue or decision.
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    (Original post by DanB1991)
    It's a mixture of logistics and tactics. Napoleon even though he took Moscow, failed due to logistics. He lost Waterloo due to his tactics and strategy.

    Logistic's are very important, more important than most give them credit for, but it is part of tactics. If your tactics stretch your supply line you're going to struggle, alternatively over focusing on securing your logistics can sometimes result in being outmanoeuvred. All logistics really is in reality is the behind the scenes elements that are used to make an operation possible.

    I'm not too sure what you trying to highlight seeing both logistics and tactics are directly intertwined. Tactics and Strategy is the action, logistics is what makes it happen.

    For example the Strategy for the Germans to rely on heavier more efficient vehicles due to fairly consciously being unable to match USSR and US production was made logistically possible due to restructuring of German industry and increased input into AFV's. They failed however due to logistical failing due to A) Manpower shortages and B) Supply lines including fuel being attacked by the air. This in turn was a result of Strategy, that being the Germans failing to secure enough fuel and underestimating both soviet and allied air capabilities rather early on and also failing to capitalise on the raw resources they captured from in ukraine. In effect it's a strategy, affecting logistics that in turn affected another strategy, they're all interwoven.

    Concerning mechanized logistics, not really much had changed since the mid 1800's, the Germans for example still mostly used horse drawn vehicles, especially during their invasion of France and Russia. During Caesar's time you mostly lived of the land, during Napoleon this was mostly the same, albeit Napoleon did create the first 'train' specialist units to supply the rest of his army, although he still relied living off the land in Spain and Russia which ultimately failed him. By the mid 1800's supply trains were starting to resemble their modern form.

    Ultimately, simply teaching the political aspect at schools reduces it IMO to idealism. You get droves of students who criticise past military actions, failing to realise both the strategic, tactical and logistical situation. For example teaching people the political reason why we failed to bomb Auschwitz is pretty pointless seeing it in reality was not really a political issue or decision.
    The two points I am making:

    Military history is not generally the history of good and bad decisions but about defining the range of options from which those decisions are made.

    The changes in society over the last century or so separate the general public from things which previous generations would know instinctively such as how far can men regularly walk on a day or much fodder does a troop of horse need?


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    (Original post by flibber)
    We still study the Battle of Hastings in KS3 even though there are no lessons to learn from it.
    Well....

    Don't overs stretch your armies and always have a reserve protecting isolated rears when fighting some where else. Plus if we didn't learn about the Norman invasion we'd lack an understanding of why this Germanic language is littered with words of Latin origin.
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    (Original post by TheHistorian19)
    4. Because the history of WW2 is largely, if not totally military history. The causes and aftermath of things can often be looked at and described in economic, political, social, etc etc etc terms. So there is much more diversity in the aspect of things after and before the war. Although I do agree with you that the war was incredibly interesting and I would have loved to have studied it however that's not the way education works these days.
    Being a GCSE student, I can confirm that I learnt about both the Cold War (1943-1991) and about Germany (1918-1939), including the aspects leading up to WW2. There are separate examinations on each of these. It all depends on what course the school chooses to teach.

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