Published on 27 Aug 2016
It’s time for the Chair of Wisdom again and this week we talk about the German war aims and the war economy.
August 28, 2016
August 20, 2016
War is the great exception, the great legitimizer of murder, the one arena in which ordinary humans routinely become killers. The special prevalence of the killer-ape myth in our time doubtless owes something to the horror and visibility of 20th-century war.
Campaigns of genocide and repressions such as the Nazi Holocaust, Stalin’s engineered famines, the Ankha massacres in Cambodia, and “ethnic cleansing” in Yugoslavia loom even larger in the popular mind than war as support for the myth of man the killer. But they should not; such atrocities are invariably conceived and planned by selected, tiny minorities far fewer than 0.5% of the population.
We have seen that in normal circumstances, human beings are not killers; and, in fact, most have instincts which make it extremely difficult for them to engage in lethal violence. How do we reconcile this with the continuing pattern of human violence in war? And, to restate to one of our original questions, what is belief in the myth of man the killer doing to us?
We shall soon see that the answers to these two questions are intimately related — because there is a crucial commonality between war and genocide, one not shared with the comparatively negligible lethalities of criminals and the individually insane. Both war and genocide depend, critically, on the habit of killing on orders. Pierson observes, tellingly, that atrocities “are generally initiated by overcontrolled personality types in second-in-command positions, not by undercontrolled personality types.” Terrorism, too, depends on the habit of obedience; it is not Osama bin Laden who died in the 9/11 attack but his minions.
This is part of what Hannah Arendt was describing when, after the Nuremberg trials, she penned her unforgettable phrase “the banality of evil”. The instinct that facilitated the atrocities at Belsen-Bergen and Treblinka and Dachau was not a red-handed delight in murder, but rather uncritical submission to the orders of alpha males — even when those orders were for horror and death.
Human beings are social primates with social instincts. One of those instincts is docility, a predisposition to obey the tribe leader and other dominant males. This was originally adaptive; fewer status fights meant more able bodies in the tribe or hunting band. It was especially important that bachelor males, unmarried 15-to-25 year-old men, obey orders even when those orders involved risk and killing. These bachelors were the tribe’s hunters, warriors, scouts, and risk-takers; a band would flourish best if they were both aggressive towards outsiders and amenable to social control.
Over most of human evolutionary history, the multiplier effect of docility was limited by the small size (250 or less, usually much less) of human social units. But when a single alpha male or cooperating group of alpha males could command the aggressive bachelor males of a large city or entire nation, the rules changed. Warfare and genocide became possible.
Actually, neither war nor genocide needs more than a comparative handful of murderers — not much larger a cohort than the half-percent to percent that commits lethal violence in peacetime. Both, however, require the obedience of a large supporting population. Factories must work overtime. Ammunition trucks must be driven where the bullets are needed. People must agree not to see, not to hear, not to notice certain things. Orders must be obeyed.
Eric S. Raymond, “The Myth of Man the Killer”, Armed and Dangerous, 2003-07-15.
August 9, 2016
Published on 8 Aug 2016
The big and decisive naval battle that the Royal Navy had hoped for did not happen during World War 1. But another naval strategy slowly but surely ground the German economy down.
August 5, 2016
Published on 4 Aug 2016
It has been two years since the global escalation that lead to World War 1. Three of the biggest battles in history are fought simultaneously now and there is no end in sight. When asked about the state of the war, the nations are still determined but the German position is still full of grandiose exaggerations.
July 25, 2016
Published on 24 Jul 2016
Indy sits on the Chair of Wisdom and reads out some of the best comments we get every month. This week, we deal with the evolution of German Infantry Tactics.
July 17, 2016
Published on 16 Jul 2016
Indy answers your questions about World War 1 again. In this week’s episode we talk about mission tactics, how to deal with your own barbed wire and what Indy is excited about in Battlefield 1.
July 15, 2016
Published on 14 Jul 2016
The stalemate of the Somme continues as the uncoordinated British attacks only gain little ground. This war of attrition was costly for the defending Germans too though. German Chief of Staff Erich von Falkenhayn demanded that every meter lost should be recovered immediately. The same stalemate continued at the Battle of Verdun where the Germans attacked with poison gas this week 100 years ago.
July 12, 2016
Published on 11 Jul 2016
The full text of the Zimmerman Telegram: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zimmerm…
Mexico was mainly focussing on internal struggles and the Mexican Revolution during World War 1. But Germany’s stance against the USA actually brought the country into the international spotlight. After the decoding of the Zimmerman Telegram, sent by the Germans to Mexico, was decoded it was clear that Germany wanted to bring Mexico into the war – against the United States.
July 3, 2016
Published on 2 Jul 2016
Indy sits in the chair of wisdom again to answer your questions about World War 1. This time we talk about the German Schutztruppe, the Marines and the sound of artillery shells.
June 30, 2016
The Last Day of June 1934
The morning is humming, it’s a quarter past nine
I should be working down in the vines
Yeah, but I’m lying here with a good friend of mine
Watching the sun in her hair
I pick the grapes from the hills to the sea
The fields of France are a home to me
Ah, but today lying here is such a good place to be
I can’t go anywhere
And as we slip in and out of embrace
Like some old and familiar place
Reflecting all of my dreams in her face like before
On the last day of June 1934
Just out of Cambridge in a narrow country lane
A bottle-green Bentley in the driving rain
Slips and skids round a corner, then pulls straight again
Heads up the drive to the door
The lights of the party shine over the fields
Where lovers and dancers watch catherine wheels
And argue realities digging their heels
In a world that’s finished with war
And a lost wind of summer blows into the streets
Past the tramps in the alleyways, the rich in silk sheets
Europe lies sleeping,
you feel her heartbeats through the floor
On the last day of June 19…
On the night that Ernst Roehm died voices rang out
In the rolling Bavarian hills
And swept through the cities and danced in the gutters
Grown strong like the joining of wills
Oh echoed away like a roar in the distance
In moonlight carved out of steel
Singing “All the lonely, so long and so long
You don’t know me how long, how I long
You can’t hold me, I’m strong now I’m strong
Stronger than your law”
I sit here now by the banks of the Rhine
Dipping my feet in the cold stream of time
And I know I’m a dreamer, I know I’m out of line
With the people I see everywhere
The couples pass by me, they’re looking so good
Their arms round each other, they head for the woods
They don’t care who Ernst Roehm was, no reason they should
Just a shadow that hangs in the air
But I thought I saw him cross over the hill
With a whole ghostly army of men at his heel
And struck in the moment it seemed to be real like before
On the last day of June 1934
June 24, 2016
Published on 23 Jun 2016
100 weeks of war. 100 weeks and not decisive breakthrough in sight. British Commander Douglas Haig is looking for the final showdown on the Western Front. He wants to relieve the French fighting in Verdun and break through the German lines once and for all. Up in the sky, the first German Flying Ace, Max Immelmann, dies in a plane crash and on the Eastern Front, the Brusilov Offensive is still steamrolling the Austrian defences.
June 16, 2016
So how can an otherwise functional intellect close itself to all this irrefutable evidence and claim that the Holocaust was either a hoax or nowhere near as large in scope as claimed?
The answer, of course, lies in the nearly unlimited human capacity for self-deception. We are really, really good at both rationalizing our own preferences, and “explaining away” evidence that points to something we don’t want to be true. Denying Auschwitz is a piece of cake for someone with conviction when you consider that people can deny, on the spot, the reality of things that happen right then and there. That’s how you can have 9/11 truthers. That’s how you can have people claiming that the Charlie Hebdo attacks were a false flag operation perpetrated by a sinister race of “magical Jews” who can shape-shift. That’s why it doesn’t even matter if police officers wear body cameras — because you can videotape the most justified shooting of an armed perpetrator, and there will still be people who will watch the video and claim that the police officer executed someone in cold blood for no reason.
It’s because when you are invested in an ideology, you have to make reality subordinate to that ideology. And when the physical evidence points to the possibility that your ideology doesn’t match reality, then you have to deny that reality, or face the possibility that you ideology is wrong. It’s much easier to dismiss historical records or claim that a video was doctored than to examine your beliefs and concede that everything you believe is wrong.
But reality doesn’t go away when you deny it. Those buildings and crematoriums at Auschwitz still stand, and every time someone denies what they were used for, they deny the humanity of all the people who died there. And just as importantly, they deny the human ability to commit such atrocities, which in turn paves the way for a repeat of those atrocities. To borrow my friend Kathy’s words, there’s a world of difference between “Never Again” and “It can’t happen here.”
Because if a society of civilized, educated people, the nation of Goethe and Schiller and Beethoven, can build and staff a place like Auschwitz and systematically murder millions of people in just a few years — if orderly, fastidious Germans can go from bookkeeping to putting on a uniform and herding women and children into gas chambers at gunpoint because they perceive the approval of society and enjoy the power they are given — then it can happen anywhere, at any time.
Marko Kloos, “on the holocaust and self-deception”, the munchkin wrangler, 2015-01-28.
June 3, 2016
Published on 2 Jun 2016
The Battle of Jutland or the Skagerrakschlacht was arguably the biggest naval battle in history and a turning point of World War 1 as the German High Seas Fleet failed to break through the Royal Navy’s blockade of the North Sea. The set trap of U-Boats fails to spring and even though more British ships were lost in the battle, it was a tactical defeat for the Germans.
May 31, 2016
Published on 30 May 2016
The German Stormtroops or Sturmbattalions were elite infantry soldiers hand picked to overcome enemy trenches. These men were the creme de la creme of the German Army consisting of Jäger, Pioneer and Mountain troops at first and later on specifically trained in infiltration tactics. They brought changes in the chain of command with them and were the predecessor of modern warfare as we know it.
May 30, 2016
Published on 19 Apr 2016
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The armies and technology of World War II required a vast supply of resources. A close look at Germany and Japan shows how the need to secure those resources played a significent role in determining strategy throughout the war.
The armies of World War II needed a vast supply and variety of resources. The Allies had many of those resources on their side, but the Axis powers did not. Germany imported many of its resources from countries it would soon be fighting, and needed their war strategy to account for the acquisition of those resources. The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact signed with the USSR set up a trade agreement to bring them oil from Russia for a while, in addition to establishing temporary non-aggression with the Soviets. When the war began in earnest, Germany targeted Norway with its supply of aluminum and iron as well as its access to the even more resource-rich Sweden. Conquering France also gave them access to rich farmland to feed the troops. But even though they had gained control of the oil fields in Romania, it wasn’t enough to power their war machine. Many Nazi generals wanted to target North Africa for this, but Hitler had his sights set on the Soviet Union and wound up squandering much of Germany’s reserves in a fruitless effort there. Meanwhile, Japan’s entrance into the war had cost them their primary trading partner: the United States. The Japanese army wanted to pursue the Northern Expansion Doctrine (Hokushin-Ron) and push through China into Siberia, wounding the USSR in the process. They attempted this strategy, but the Soviets met them in Mongolia and pushed them back in the Battle of Khalkhin Gol. So they turned to the Southern Expansion Doctrine (Nanshin-Ron) advocated by the navy, and began to sweep up islands in the Pacific. They planned to strip the European colonial powers of their holdings, and they succeeded in capturing 90% of the world’s rubber production. But the US responded by synthesizing rubber, and built an industry so large that even today, more rubber is synthesized than harvested. If World War I was the first industrial war, marked by mass production and industrial capacity, then World War II was the first scientific war, marked by advancements like synthesis, radar, and jet engines.