Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Andrei The WW2 Historical perspective challenge - Answers

The anwers for yesterdays challenge (as I see them) are below the fold

What was interesting but not entirely surprising was the universal misidentification of Jean de Lattre de Tassigny as being Charles de Gaulle. They are pictured together on the left.

A mistake no Frenchman would make I'd posit.

The other interesting thing was the placement of Lake Ladoga in Finland rather than Russia. The Northern part of the lake is encompassed by Ladoga Karelia, a then disputed region of Karelia which was held by the Finns from 1920 to 1940 and again contested from 1941 to 1944 during the Continuation War after which it was ceded to the Soviet Union. Today it is included in the Republic of Karelia, a constituent part of the Russian Federation.

Does this answer represent a cold war reading of age old European tribal and ethnic politics, I wonder?

When it comes down to it the Finns found themselves fighting on the side of the Axis, not because of any ideological agreement with the Nazis but because of an ongoing border dispute that had existed since Finland gained its independence from Russia - and in their historical accounts it is not called World War 2 but is written as three separate but related conflicts

The post was always about how we might perceive history through a national lens when it comes down to it.

James Stephenson - scored 12

Grantavius Kennarius - scored 14 and is the winner of the challenge

Homepaddock - scored 2 plus a bonus for attempting it

Couldn't really give PM a score but an interesting response never the less, that made some very salient points.

Question 1: Can you name these allied commanders above?

From left to right: Bernard Montgomery (Great Britain), Dwight D. Eisenhower (US), Georgy Zhukov (Soviet Union) and Jean de Lattre de Tassigny (France)

Question 2: Where was the Battle of Kasserine Pass fought? Name two notable features about it?

Tunisa in February 1943. It was the first battle in which the American Army encountered German forces and they were soundly beaten. In the long run this defeat may have been a good thing since it lead to a review of command structures and better co-ordination of forces between the British and Americans, heads rolled and General Patton was placed in command of II Corps with the explicit charge of bringing them up to fighting fitness. The rest is history.

Question 3: Where was the Battle of Khalkhin Gol fought and when? Who were the combatants? Extra point for explaining the significance of this battle to the Second World War.

Mongolia in 1939, Soviet troops with some Mongolian troops against Japan.
Before War broke out in Europe the biggest threat the Soviet Union faced was from the Japanese who were empire building in the Far East. The Japanese had two schools of thought as to where to strike next - into Siberia or South into SE Asia and the Pacific. The proponants of the former option were probing the Siberian Border from 1938 . In 1939 preparatory to a potential strike into Siberia they began attacks on the Mongolian Border.

A mere month before war broke out in Europe the Japanese assembled an Army in an attempt to drive the Soviets from the Mongolian Border. The Japanese suffered as major defeat as a result and lost an army. The shock from this led them to pursue the SE Asian/Pacific option and to sign a non aggression pact with the Soviet Union.

Thus the Soviets didn't fight a two front war and after Japan engaged with the Americans were then able to take forces from Siberia trained and equipped for winter fighting and to use them against the Germans to great effect.

Question 4: Can you name the two American Generals to the left, both of who held the exalted rank of five star general though one of them not until after the war.

Left: Douglas McCarthur Right: Omar Bradley

Question 5: Which Nation's troops fought the German Army during the Battle of the Scheldt? Who was their commander?

This was primarily a Canadian Battle fought under the command of the Canadian Lieutenant General Guy Simmons with attached British, Polish,Belgian and Dutch units.

It resulted from the failure of British forces to secure the Scheldt estuary after capturing Antwerp - an ommision quickly spotted by Gerd von Rundstedt who realized that he could deny the Allies the use of Antwerp's port facilities by occupying the Scheldt and that the Allies had major logistical problems because they didn't have operational port facilities on the Continent at that time.

The clearing of the Scheldt came at great cost to the Canadians but opened the port Antwerp for use and resolved many of the Allies logistical difficulties. Important to Canadians and highly significant in the ultimate defeat of Germany but virtually unknown eleswhere.

Question 6: Where is Lake Ladoga and what significancant role did it play during the years 1941-1944?

Lake Ladoga's importance was the "Road of Life" cynically called "the Road of Death" by those who used it. It was a road created across the frozen surface of the lake and used to bring supplies into Leningrad during the blockade and to evacuate civilians along with art works and vital manufacturing equipment.

Over one million people, mostly women and children, were evacuated from the city in this manner (1.5 million died during the blockade). The Soviets even laid railway tracks across the ice to ensure the city held and survived. Large numbers of German troops were diverted from other theatres to maintain the seige which lasted 29 months.

3 comment(s):

Psycho Milt said...

Sorry, I should have actually written the answers in the comment. I got a lower score than I expected because I also saw the hat and assumed de Gaulle without bothering to look any closer.

James Stephenson said...

Ha, now I look at that photo, it's obviously not De Gaulle. It's amazing how often you see what you expect to see (or as motorcyclists know, don't see what you're not looking for) even though De G would have been in a photo with Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin.

I remembered reading about Ladoga on an interminable train ride from Rovaniemi to Helsinki, so possibly a bias in the source, or just a faulty association in my memory.

Grantavius Kennarius said...

Bloody hell- of course it isn't De Gaulle! And here I was so damn proud of knowing Zhukov's full name. I'm pretty sure that that photograph is from the German surrender; as James says of course de Gaulle would be with the political leaders.

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