Friday, March 18, 2016

Let Them Eat Condoms, Iron Crosses, and Pepper

Just learned this, and explains a lot about just why Germany lost World War II and why the Americans were such formidable opponents.

In the days after D-Day, American forces rushed into the Cotentin Peninsula, desperate to capture the port at Cherbourg. Very quickly, the German garrison at Cherbourg was surrounded and cut off. The Luftwaffe dropped supplies to them, just as the USAAF later did at Bastogne. Guess what the Luftwaffe dropped to the defenders. Come on, guess. Give up? Medals, Iron Crosses, mostly. That's right, don't send them anything useful, give them damned medals. What did the Americans at Bastogne get from the USAAF? WEAPONS, AMMO, FIELD RATIONS, GRENADES. You know, the stuff soldiers actually need.

As formidable as the Germans sometimes were, especially on the defense, this mindset goes a long way in explaining just why Nazi Germany, despite its occasionally amazing technological achievements in rocketry and aircraft design, was so weak an antagonist that they fell just three and a half years after the entry of the USSR and the USA into the fight. Hitler, in Europe, was in a league that he could fight in, that he could dominate and win. But to win again these new, incredibly dangerous opponents, he would have to cast aside empty gestures and the random waste of resources. That he and the Germans could not do. Sure, they had the amazing Me 163 rocket fighter, all 370 of them. They managed to shoot down sixteen Allied bombers, mostly B-17s. Guess how many B-17s were manufactured by the USA during the war. Around 12,700. That's just one bomber, the Americans had several large four-engine bomber types. 15,000 P-51s, just one of many fighter designs built during the war. To overcome such a dedicated, serious opponent would require the kind of maximum effort the Germans weren't able to produce. Iron Crosses to the defenders of Cherbourg. Condoms and pepper to the German army trapped at Stalingrad. When it came time for the USAAF to do the same for the trapped Americans at Bastogne, like I said, they sent lovingly wrapped presents full of ammo, hand grenades, artillery shells, weapons, bazookas, and field rations. And then they let loose some of those fighter-bombers they had built, you know, part of the 15,700 P-47s or a few of the 10,000 P-38s. Patton came up with a few of the 50,000 Sherman tanks the US had built. The Russians in the east unleashed a few of the 80,000 T-34 tanks they had built. Nazi Germany melted away. The Thousand Year Reich lasted twelve years. If you're successful at beating up teenage girls, that doesn't mean you can take Mohammad Ali and Mike Tyson. Know your limitations.