Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Grand Alliance

Holy Cow there is a lot I didn't know about WWII! Of course I guess that is the same with anything, once you start investigating you find out a lot of new things.
The things I found most interesting in this book were the Battle of Britain and what happened with Russia and Germany.
I knew Winston Churchill had a reputation for good insults, but he had some very blunt things to say about how Stalin managed things before the Germans invaded. "Gross mismanagement" was one of the phrases he used.
The two-faced behavior of the Soviets would have been socially crippling but I guess you can't afford to ostracize someone you need to successfully fight a war. Before the Germans invaded they had made treaties with them, dividing up Poland and the Baltic states. They instructed communist groups in Great Britain and America to agitate against the war and ignored all intelligence from Allied sources saying the Germans were going to attack them. Then, once they were attacked, they screamed for a "Second Front Now!" Meaning they wanted Great Britain to invade France immediately to take some of the pressure off them. Which was impossible and Churchill repeatedly sends messages to Stalin telling him why and that they were doing all they could. They even sent on some of the supplies from the United States to Russia, at great risk. But every time they heard from Stalin all he could say was, "Why aren't you invading yet?"
He does point out the horrific things that were happening in Russia, as a mitigating factor. But I think it is a credit to Churchill that he never sent a message back saying, "Where were you when we were being bombed and all our shipping attacked and we were fighting the Germans alone? At least you have allies."
And we learned more about Africa and the back and forth that went on there to preserve some freedom of shipping in the Mediterranean and to keep the Suez Canal free.
And Churchill was really glad when Pearl Harbor happened. Not that all the people and ships were destroyed, but that America was going to enter the war. It says, I went to be at ease, knowing that no matter what happened, or how long it took, we would win the war in the end.

The Grand Alliance. Winston Churchill. Houghton Mifflin. 1950

No comments: