Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Evanston: losing Earth; studying war; another CANNERY ROW quote; team

        I was sailing almost continuously in the 1980s and out of the country and away from news. A very good way to live.  I learned a great deal from the article about what a few foresaw and what might have happened. 
        The article is only the first of two parts and is so long that in this age of nanosecond attention spans when National Geographic must be reduced to Nat Geo and atrial fibrillation to A Fib I doubt it will be much read, which probably doesn’t matter because it is already too late.


        I have been studying war.  I have always read about war.  I had to check to see if I had included one of my own conclusions about war on the wit/wisdom page.  I have.
        My recent reading and viewing was the result of unrelated sources.  BookBub offered D DAY SEEN THROUGH GERMAN EYES.  Tim saw and recommended an inflight movie, JOURNEY’S END.  I have been watching a series, The Pacific War in Color, on the Smithsonian Channel. And one thing led to another, including my watching online documentaries about D Day and the Battle of Kursk.  
        D DAY THROUGH GERMAN EYES is a series of interviews conducted in 1954 on the tenth anniversary of the landing by Dieter Eckhertz, a journalist and grandfather of the man who finally got them published.
        The interviews are human and interesting in many ways, among them the universal amazement of the German troops at the colossal force sent against them.  A literal wall of ships appeared that dawn off the beaches of Normandy.  Thousands of airplanes overhead.  Tanks and vehicles beyond belief.  Many of the Germans were surprised there were no horses.  Even in 1944 horses were used by them for supply transport.  The Allies were completely mechanized.  I don’t know that I have ever before fully appreciated the logistics behind the D Day landing.
        I read D DAY THROUGH GERMAN EYES in one day and then, because it was a commercial success that resulted in D DAY THROUGH GERMAN EYES BOOK TWO, I bought it and read it the next day.
        One of the former soldiers interviewed in the second book was a weapons expert who was involved in developing an explosive vapor based on kerosene, coal dust and aluminum particles.  The vapor was sent in several shells to an area and then when it had coalesced ignited by another shell.
        It was used against the Russians in the Crimea and against the uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto and might have been used against the Allies in Normandy.
        In the interview the weapons expert notes that a prototype version of the weapon was used in a controlled test on the Eastern front and “that any Russians who were either in the target area or in a radius of several hundred meters were killed outright.”
        “Do you mean prisoners were there, under the blast.”
        “I said it was a controlled test.  Let’s move on.”

        JOURNEY’S END is based on a play and suffers as most such movies do by too much dialogue.  A British unit on the front line in France in 1918 is about to be obliterated by the last gasp, and almost successful, German offensive of the war.
        It is a good movie with some very well shot battle scenes.  I rented it from iTunes.

        To return to D Day, Americans tend to think it was the decisive battle in defeating Nazi Germany, but in fact the Soviet Union had already done that at Stalingrad and Kursk, the latter, which took place in July and August 1943, was the greatest tank battle ever and one from which Germany never recovered.    
        After Kursk, German forces in the east only retreated.  D Day was about a redistribution of casualties and the United States and Great Britain not wanting the Soviet Union to occupy all of Europe.  There was no reason for their armies to stop at Berlin unless we had troops on the ground facing them.


        From CANNERY ROW, published in 1945, a year before Donald Trump was even born.
        “It has always seemed strange to me,” said Doc.  “The things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling are the concomitants of failure in our system.  And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest are the traits of success. “


        I recently saw a piece about a deservedly famous French sailor, no doubt produced by his PR person(s) that repeatedly referred to what ‘“Blank and his team’ are doing or going to do.
        I thought I would try it on for size.
        “Webb Chiles and his team.”
        Nah.  It doesn’t ring true.