Friday, June 5, 2009

War in Perspective

On their way to destroy Nazi Germany, the Allies killed a lot of innocent French civilians who happened to be in the wrong places. How many? I always thought the number exceeded 12,000.
It did indeed. By a factor of five and then some.
Mr Beevor moves on to even more delicate ground when he explores the disregard
of the allies for the property and lives of French civilians. In the Normandy
campaign the Americans and British sought to minimise their casualties by
bombing places to smithereens before their soldiers went in. Asked how it felt
under the bombardment, one elderly survivor in the town of Caen replied:
“Imagine a rat sewn up inside a football during an international match.” As a
consequence of this tactic, 70,000 French civilians were killed by allied action
in the war, more than the number of British killed by German bombing.
WWII really was the most just of all wars. But it wasn't any less a war, for all that.


Anonymous said...

here is Max Hastings review/praise of Beevor's book
Hastings whom I trust since I've heard him twice via the Pritzker Military Library Podcast cites 20.000 out of Beevor's book and puts it into context - I do not doubt that the Economist's 70.000 have their own justification, but the way they write it one assumes at first glance, that those 70.000 are owed just to D-Day. I perceive this raising and lumping together of casualty numbers as a trend in journalism which may be intended to do justice to the victims but still it makes me feel uneasy and suspect what I call horror porn.
PS: Getting caught up as a civilian in a war zone is terrible - I spent the first three years of my life in Nuremberg while it was bombed - what I call my bunker syndrome plus the task of getting by with highly damaged parents is not to be wishd on any child but for me it is nothing compared to all the goodies I would have missed had I not grown up in a de facto American colony.

Anonymous said...

here is Anthony Beevor in a half hour interview from Thursday - which means the audio will be available for download at the BBC for just another 3 or so days

Morey Altman said...

Check out the stats for the battle of Okinawa.