Ww1 And Ww2

Discussion in 'Science & History' started by tuscan, May 1, 2008.

  1. tuscan

    tuscan Registered Member

    I am reading a fascinating book at the moment called THE FORGOTEN VOICES OF THE GREAT WAR
    has anyone read this at all if not it is the stories of men and woman from the first world war.

    War fascinates me mainly WW1 & WW2 but any war really it amazes me
    how people can throw down there lives for the good of there country.

    This made me think would we do it now............

    If you like to discus the wars i would be happy to do so.........

  2. Spackerchip

    Spackerchip Registered Member

    From what prospective was it written? Does it focus on the Allied forces?
    Although harder to find, reading about the Axis is far more interesting. Because its less simple than patriotism.
    WW1 and 2 are such horrible times in history. But essential for us as a species to understand.
  3. Bananas

    Bananas Endangered Species

    I have read that book, it is some moving stuff.

    The book is a compilation of extracts and war stories, it contains mostly allies but does have some axis stories. It is written in the first-person as most of the stories are from an archive of sound recordings and interviews. Some are only half a page long some 1 or 2 pages long. It is not so much a history book of the Great war itself but more of a diary of the people involved..

    I have read many war books and this by far stands out as one of the most heart wrenching. It not only puts you in the mind of the people who experienced the war first-hand but also passes their emotion on in a manner that you appreciate how horrific events were. I have heard some of the sound recordings too and I can not begin to describe how they made me feel.

    I remember one story in the book of a British soldier who served on the western front, he managed to survive full term and was sent home(a very rare event), on his arrival back he was walking in the street when he passed a girl , the girl called him out as a coward (gave him a feather) and that he should be doing his bit and serve. The guy not knowing what to do or say walked down the street and re-enrolled and had to go through it all over again.

    I have always been fascinated by the Great War, what I read of it I see it as the inevitable war that was unavoidable and should of been the war to end all wars, unlike WW2 that was more a war through unfortunate circumstance(depression, ideology and fascism).

    I think it all started when I saw the film "All quiet on the Western front" since then I have tried to read as much as possible and have also visited many of the museums, memorials and cemeteries. I found visiting the Tyne-cot cemetery in Belgium as a life changing experience and probably the most influencial more so than any visit to Jerusalem or Giza. As morbid as it sounds I would recommend a battlefield tour(pilgrimage) to anyone.

    No I dont think we as a society would do it now, obviously there is the technoligical progress that makes it unnecessary. Plus you have the ethical learning curve that we developed through a century of warfare.

    ....but the real reason...

    We are cut from a different cloth than the people in that book. The kids of today have little respect for themselves or their elders let alone their country or their society. They would happily $hit on their own doorstop thinking that its okay as someone else will clean it up. Society has got itself too comfortable, sure social service and a good education is not a bad thing but we have lost that good honest comradeship that comes with hardship. We have lost those brave actions and selfless deeds that were a part of life. It is socialism, political correctness and liberalism gone wrong.

    It is no longer seen to be living as a coward if you dont die a hero.
  4. tuscan

    tuscan Registered Member

    That's fantastic it is so nice to find someone that has read the same book, when i read it i just couldn't put the book down the people felt so real and as you said some of the stories are wrenching.
    I wish all youngsters these days felt the same about it, understanding our past gives us a more knowledgeable future don't you think?
    Last edited: May 4, 2008
  5. Punkster

    Punkster New Member

    yes, history is very relevant for youngsters. We can all learn from past mistakes and strive to avoid making the same mistakes again.
  6. soot

    soot Registered Member

    You're completly ignoring the fact that the armies that fought the First and Second World Wars were, by and large, conscript armies.

    During the First World War the initial recruitment figures for most combatant nations spiked after the comencement of hostilities as a result of patriotisim, pride, and unity. But after a few months of bloodshed nearly 90% of all troops put into the field for some nations had been "drafted" (for other nations the total didn't reach 90% but still represented the overwhelming majority).

    Western society, and its individual members, were no less interested in self-preservation in 1914 or 1940 than are the youth of today.

    The rare exceptions (reference your comment about the kid who reenlisted because he was branded a coward) are also repeated today. Perhaps even moreso because in the case of the only all-volunteer army currently involved, large scale, in a protracted war the United States is currently able to maintain (for the most part) its Congressionally authorized end strength despite her involvment in an ongoing war.

    You're also failing, or at least your assessement is failing, to take into account the fact that both WWI and WWII were wars of national survival (and consequently in many ways individual survival).

    It's a lot easier to generate support for a war when it is literally a war for national and individual survival vs. generating support for an expeditionary and elective war abroad.

    There are other criticisims that can be made of your comment but those are the easiest to explain and the most pertinent.

    Kids of today aren't so much cut from a different cloth, as the circumstances under which they're being cut are completly different.

    If the world is ever faced with a conflict on the scale of a WWI or WWII again I wouldn't be surprised to see Western nations generating WWI or WWII sized armies (10 to 20 million men) primarially on the basis of volunteerism and suplemented by conscription as opposed to the other way around.

    Why? Because the kids of today have more to fight for.

    Kids may be spoiled, insolent, and "politically correct" but they also know where their bread is buttered.

    Let the armies of a reconstituted U.S.S.R. roll through the Fulda Gap tomorrow and I think you'd see the kids of Germany, France, and the Benelux nations lining up at the army recruiters in droves.
    A couple of other book recomendations:

    The Civil War Years: A Day-by-Day Chronicle of the Life of a Nation, by Robert E. Denney.

    This book is generally a U.S. Civil War version of The Forgotten Voices of the Great War (which I haven't read - I'm basing my comparison on Bananas' explanation).

    It takes newspaper articles, personal letters and journal entries, official doccuments and accounts, etc... and weaves them into a day-by-day account of the Civil War as it pertained to those involved. Very dry but very informative.

    If you're interested in first-hand accounts of conflict you might enjoy it.


    Cataclysm: The First World War as Political Tragedy, by David Stevenson.

    This book was recently recomended to me as an "alternate history" of WWI. "Alternate" in the sense that it is history written in light of documents that have just recently been made availablle to academia by various European governments.

    I've only gotten through about a quarter of the book (I'm currently researching an article on the post-WWII American occupation of Germany from May of '45 through the summer of '47 so I haven't had much time to read anything for "pleasure") but from what I've read of the book it brings to light some interesting facts and figures that have been missing from WWI scholarship.

    Anyway, I picked up a used copy on Amazon for $2.69. Not bad for a 500 page hardcover. With shipping I think I paid a grand total of something just under $6.00. Definately worth the money if this is something you're interested in.
    Last edited: May 5, 2008
  7. Bananas

    Bananas Endangered Species

    I was mainly refering to the two powers of Western Europe and had taken conscription into account.

    The UK did not conscript until 1916 and as soon as it did 16,000 men filed for exemption, imagine that figure now, it would easily be six figures maybe closing on seven.

    The French who conscripted from before the war conscripted 85% of the elligible men and then released a quarter of million of them as they had no labour left. Those who went off to the front gained a reputation for deserting. Consequently both France and Britain relied heavily on their Empires; Senagalease and Indian troops bulked up the numbers.

    Canada did not conscript until 1917. Australia conscripted slightly earlier both when the numbers signing up dried up through a small surplus of men remaining and through the horror stories trickling home that was going against the recruitment propoganda.

    The US once it had joined had little choice but conscript as it barely had an army, a descision made that came with some objection but then people realised that they fight or go bust(remember those war bonds) and that if they fought they would be a real American instead of a descendant (Irish,German,English,French). Conscription for the US was a form of nationalization as unlike the British and the French that was what it lacked at the time, there were very few Americans. The US also had to be quick in mobilizing as it had to a certain extent had its wool pulled over its eyes and only realized the full extent of the human cost of the war and how close the entente was to collapsing after it had entered.

    I based my assumption on this;

    If you look at the make-up of any army it mainly draws its rank from the working classes, look at the demographics of todays society compared with that of 1914 and the working class is a lot lot smaller. This is the different cloth I was speaking of. It is also no coincidence that all the best boxers come from poor working class areas. We now live in a society where if we fall in the street we sue the Government, if they were ordering us to get shot at, it would be unlikely anybody would listen and if they did they would sue. Those luxuries that we are fighting for are all taken for granted anyhow.

    Take the UK as an example its present armed forces are stretched to its limit at the moment(its size is about 100,000), 10% of that army are commonwealth troops (SoAfrica, Fiji, Jamaica etc...+Nepal), of the remainding 90% the larger per population country are Welsh and Scottish both countries being poorer than England and also having a larger working class per population. Once you look at England the trend follows, there are fewer recruits from the South(rich) than the North(poor). In general this is true for nearly all western countries. The US army has a large hispanic make-up per population as another example.

    The UK and the rest of Western Europe rely heavily on Eastern Europe, North Africa and the Middle-east for its labour force, and this labour force is traditionaly where the soldiers come from, its diminishing and the new labour force has little patriotism.

    So why not recruit/conscript from the middle classes? what happened to patriotism?
    Well we are much more liberal, conscription is a totalitarian action and would be near impossible to implement in the present day. People would oppose conscription more than they would oppose the war itself.

    In Europe, if a large scale war were to break out and an army were to be raised of 15-20 million its ranks would be mainly made up of Eastern Europeans and it would probably be commanded by Western Europeans.


    More books:

    Anything by Max Hastings ; Warriors & Armegeddon 1945 both very good.
  8. pro2A

    pro2A Hell, It's about time!

    It's human nature to be territorial. Animal species are the same way, watch lions and tigers in the wild fight off other lions and tigers who venture too close. Humans are animals, therefore we are territorial and will fight for our territory. Animals also form "clans" and "packs", same thing with humans, but they are called nations.
  9. tuscan

    tuscan Registered Member

    Wow! i like where this small discussion is going some good claims and counter claims.

    Thanks also for the recommendations i will buy these book have no fear of that........

    Let me draw your attention to some interesting facts from what i understand and of cause
    you can correct me if i am wrong on this, about 30% of the people that fought in WW1
    never shot to kill.

    Churchill after Gallipoli became a Lieutenant at the front line in charge of a small force there.

    interesting don't you think?

    Questions ?

    1) Could Hitler have been a great leader?

    2) Did Poland/France loose because there people didnt help there army when at war with Germany (Unlike the U.S / British / Russian people?)
    Last edited: May 6, 2008
  10. Bananas

    Bananas Endangered Species

    Im going to go out on a limb here and say he was a great leader. I dont agree with many of his policies but as a leader he was pretty formidable. His actions were in general for his peoples best interest only most of the results were often not. His big weakness as a leader was that he was blinded by hysterical fanatisism. On paper some of ideologies do make sense, when put to practice though they have many flaws.

    As a Leader of the people he was good, he could rally the troops so to say. As a person in charge of a countries well-being he was attrotious.

    Had the war taken a different direction and a Europe(inc USSR) under Hitler emerged, his ideology had been implicated, and the dust had settled. I really dont know what kind of leader he would of been, I guess very paranoid, maybe something along the lines of Stalin, where progression is by means of oppression. Its something I dont like to think of.

    Is this still ww2?
    In my opinion I would not like to think so, Poland and France were not prepared for an invasion. Poland relied heavily on its secret service, who with Britain were spying on Germany and thoughout the 1930s already were decoding the ellusive Enigma and were suspect of what was happening, as the war approached the Germans added an extra encryption real to the machine and communications were lost. It was during this loss of transmission that the German forces prepared for the invasion, as soon as it was realized what was happening it was to late. As Polish forces retreated and dug in to hold back the German advance they were subsequently attacked at the rear by the Soviets. They retreated/disbanded to Romania, and Poland was lost in little over 1 month.

    France was rush attacked; the Blitzgreig made it impossible to fight back, it was not just France defending France, Britain already had troops there. How do you fight a moving army? When they defended an area the Germans just went around them and attacked the weak spots. The Allied forces were on the backfoot. The main fighting force was then seperated from the rest and had to evacuate via Dunkirk. If things were not tough enough Italy decided to join in and opened a new border to be defended. Everything was happening so fast and the whole experince was new to them that they had no strategy to do anything but fall back.

    I whink it makes it more difficult to fight for your countries army when your country is occupied. Your primary concern is survival rather than fight back. Both countries had large partisan groups collaborating against the occupiers but these allthough do cause disruption are no match for an organised army.

    Had Poland been a little better prepared and not suffered Soviet attack it would of been more successfulin its defence.
    Had France been aware of the blitzgreig strategy it could of defended itself had it not committed its majority force to protect its North-East border with the low countries and subsequently get themselves seperated from the defence of its own country.

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