Friday, June 6, 2014

D-Day Anniversary Post #3: A Common Misconception About the Invasion

Here is my third and final post on this 70th Anniversary of D-Day.

My first post of the day was a "now and then" photo comparison using the historic pictures and ones I took myself when I visited Normandy in 1994. The other is a photo of a few D-Day related items I possess.

One misconception I think many people, particularly in the west, have is that the opening of the western front with the D-Day invasion of France is THE single event that sealed Hitler's fate.

Yes, D-Day and the ensuing liberation of France and other western European nations by US, British and other Allied nations were a monumental and profoundly important in terms of winning the war. They were vital and without them the war would likely have come out much different - and not necessarily in a good way. But, at the same time they weren't the ONLY thing that cast the Allies on the inevitable path of victory over the Nazi regime.

More specifically, Hitler's ego-maniachle invasion of the Soviet Union, subsequent defeat at Moscow and Stalingrad and steady drubbing by the Red Army were equally important to the outcome of the war.


Well, by1941, Hitler had conquered  all of western Europe and north Africa while also holding the Soviet Union out of the war with a non-aggression pact he signed with Stalin. This would have left Germany free to pour all its military resources into things like conquering the UK, oil rich areas like Iran and expanding its hold in Africa.

But, Hitler decided to break his non-aggression pact with the USSR and invade its territory - believing his armies could not be defeated and he would put down the Russians before turning to the rest of the world. 

Guess what? His armies were not invincible.

Indeed, after initially conceding a lot of territory to the Germans, the Red Army stiffened to defeat them at Stalingrad and turned the tide of the war in the eastern front. At the cost of millions of lives.

So how does this relate to D-Day?

Primarily it is that by diverting the bulk of his forces to the long and costly invasion of Russia instead of fortifying the west, Hitler left France far more susceptible to invasion. Imagine if the German forces deployed in Russia were instead massed in France and Belgium. Wow. D-Day may have been a disaster.

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