BBC History Magazine’s “Great Misconceptions of WWII”

Living History

I recently picked up a copy of the May 2013 issue of BBC’s History Magazine. One of the articles is “The Great Misconceptions of World War Two.” In it, leading historians “debunk nine widely held assumptions.” Has anyone seen the article? If so, any thoughts?

The misconceptions are:

1. There was a single, decisive reason for Allied victory. Max Hastings writes that “almost all major events have multiple causes and consequences.”

2. Germany boasted a highly mechanized fighting force. James Holland writes that the “Not only were the Germans under-equipped, the equipment that they did have was hopelessly over-engineered.”

3. D-Day was bound to succeed. Anthony Beevor states we suffer from hindsight. Even with Allied air superiority, the Germans were able to defend themselves and furthermore, airpower played a small role in D-Day because the bombing to suppress shore batteries and defences was a failure. He also writes that Op Fortitude Deception was enormously helpful.

4. The Axis could have won the war. Joe Maiolo writes that war is more than just battles. “Both world wars were decided by the balance of industrial resources and manpower.”

5. Everyone was ‘in it together.’ Juliet Gardiner says that not everyone on the British homefront put forth equal effort or endured the same level of sacrifice and suffering,

6. The word ‘Russia’ can be used as shorthand for ‘Soviet Union.” Roger Moorhouse’s point is that the two were never the same thing and that the worst fighting in the East was not in ‘Russia’ but rather the Ukraine and Byelorussia.

7. Britain’s economy was hugely efficient. Norman Stone says the reality was wide-spread labour trouble and that taxes nullified wage raises and increases in standards of living.

8. Churchill was never in favour of appeasement. Laurence Rees writes that Churchill appeased Stalin by agreeing to let the Soviet Union take eastern Poland and to shift Germany’s eastern border westward; causing one of the largest demographic shifts in European history.

9. Britain stood alone in 1940. Andrew Roberts writes that is important to remember the contributions and losses of the rest of the British empire; notably Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and India (whose volunteer army was the largest volunteer force in the history of mankind).

Oddly, the magazine stopped at nine. Any suggestions for a tenth misconception?



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