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Military History

01 Sep 2010 20:18

Anyone else a fan of military history, specifically WW2 in the European theater? I'm mid-way through a documentary from the BBC, "The Nazi's: A Warning from History" which is quite interesting, and am also reading Albert Speer's "Inside the Third Reich." I thought it was quite surprising to find a reference to six-day bike racing in the book, and never realized that the Nazi's used the Sportpalast velodrome as a backdrop for political speeches.
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01 Sep 2010 20:23

I am a big fan of military history. But due to the lack of time, have little time to devote to it. Although my main interest lies in the ancient battles and conquests, I know more about the second world war and conflicts that happened after that. Although I do need to say that certain things I've seen and read do ensure that you do not want to read more about certain conflicts.
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01 Sep 2010 20:58

joe_papp wrote:Anyone else a fan of military history, specifically WW2 in the European theater? I'm mid-way through a documentary from the BBC, "The Nazi's: A Warning from History" which is quite interesting, and am also reading Albert Speer's "Inside the Third Reich." I thought it was quite surprising to find a reference to six-day bike racing in the book, and never realized that the Nazi's used the Sportpalast velodrome as a backdrop for political speeches.


Yes i am a fan. It is together with recent American history and international relations, what i would call my specialist subject. I will be doing this at uni next year. Easy;)
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01 Sep 2010 21:17

When I was younger, I did a lot of work on Nazism and the Russian Revolution as well, but as time has passed my key interest has gone back in time a bit and now my main areas are things like the Jewish population in Ashkenaz II and outsider groups in Eastern Europe like the Sorbs and the Volga Germans.

An interesting thing about the Nazi rallies and sport (following on from Joe's mentioning the use of the vélodrome) is that the site of the Nuremberg rallies is now used annually as a motor racing circuit (called the Norisring) and the main stands for spectators across the main straight is built out of the main platform of the Zeppelinfeld, one of the main features of the rally grounds, while the Zeppelinfeld itself is used for the main straight, pits and paddock.
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01 Sep 2010 21:28

Yea, I have a degree in history, and love the history of WWII particularly. I love Ambrose's books, and the first two of the Liberation Trilogy by Atkinson (An Army at Dawn, and The Day of Battle, the third is yet published) are fantastic books. Past that, The Third Reich by Burleigh is great too, and many, many more.

We had a fairly spirited discussion on here some time back about whether or not the US entering the war was necessary. I thought there were some really silly suggestions proffered regarding the fact that it was not needed, but still, it was an interesting debate.
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01 Sep 2010 21:31

I think the debate centred, at least from my perspective, not on whether or not the US was right to enter the war, or whether it was necessary for the US to enter the war, but whether the US had the right to propagate myths like that Britons and Europeans would all be speaking German had it not been for them, and that it was their contribution that was decisive.

Though there were some very silly suggestions bandied about by both sides of the debate in the midst of some sensible discussion.
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01 Sep 2010 21:31

Thoughtforfood wrote:We had a fairly spirited discussion on here some time back about whether or not the US entering the war was necessary. I thought there were some really silly suggestions proffered regarding the fact that it was not needed, but still, it was an interesting debate.


Wow, I missed that. What thread was it in?
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01 Sep 2010 21:34

Libertine Seguros wrote:I think the debate centred, at least from my perspective, not on whether or not the US was right to enter the war, or whether it was necessary for the US to enter the war, but whether the US had the right to propagate myths like that Britons and Europeans would all be speaking German had it not been for them, and that it was their contribution that was decisive.


Who knows what would have happened if the US hadn't entered the war. Hitler screwed up on the eastern front so maybe Britain and Russia could have prevailed. Interesting discussion I never thought about before.
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01 Sep 2010 21:36

Libertine Seguros wrote:...An interesting thing about the Nazi rallies and sport (following on from Joe's mentioning the use of the vélodrome) is that the site of the Nuremberg rallies is now used annually as a motor racing circuit (called the Norisring) and the main stands for spectators across the main straight is built out of the main platform of the Zeppelinfeld, one of the main features of the rally grounds, while the Zeppelinfeld itself is used for the main straight, pits and paddock.


Didn't know that about the Nuremberg site. Thanks for sharing. I just finished watching this documentary about Speer, "Size Matters", another BBC effort (available in seven parts on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PpN1aKGY5JQ and summarized below). It's creepy to hear some of Speer's off-handed comments about his having "moved-on." That said, I'm glad that the host didn't advocate destroying the remaining buildings or ruins. Though a super-ugly blot on humanity, the Third Reich is still part of the history of man, and to try to deny it by destroying the architectural remnants of the regime would be silly (imo).

Visions Of Space - 2003 - Albert Speer Size Matters part 7/7

Albert Speer was the architect of Hitler's grim vision.

First aired BBC4, 2003; ABC, 2004 In 'Visions of Space', Robert Hughes tackles the work and lives of three remarkable 20th-century architects: Albert Speer, Mies van der Rohe, and Antonio Gaudi - whose work did so much to shape the modern world.
Hughes looks at how each one used space in different ways to express our response, respectively, to the power of religion (Gaudi), the power of the State (Speer), and the power of the corporation (Mies van der Rohe).

Albert Speer: Size Matters
In 1979 Robert Hughes met and interviewed Hitler's architect, Albert Speer, for his landmark series, Shock of the New. Speer died shortly afterwards. Twenty-three years later Hughes discovered the long lost tape of that unique conversation and was inspired to travel back to Germany to examine the legacy of a man who was, for a brief period, the most powerful architect in the world.
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01 Sep 2010 21:38

ChrisE wrote:Who knows what would have happened if the US hadn't entered the war. Hitler screwed up on the eastern front so maybe Britain and Russia could have prevailed. Interesting discussion I never thought about before.


I understand that one has to take everything Speer said/wrote with a grain of salt, because it was essentially self-serving in that he didn't want a death sentence, but if half of what he says is true about Hitler's interference in the mgmt of the war and the in-fighting that paralyzed the Nazi war machine...lol I'm surprised it took the Allies as long as it did to achieve a victory.

I'm interested in everything from the broader strategic themes and the economic and social components of global war, all the way down to the experiences of individual servicemen. I've read quite a few Luftwaffe biographies, and actually collected a few pieces of militaria and Luftwaffe ace autographs. I have three vintage postcards in my desk right now that came from the Third Reich and which were never mailed: a rear view of a FW-190, a shot of an ME-109 stalking a British Spitfire, and the official Knight's Cross portrait of Werner Mölders. They're all authentic, and of no particular monetary value - and so I was able to get them via Ebay for like $4/each only. I thought that was a smashing deal.

I think it would be super-fun to go relic hunting on some Eastern front battlefields. Here's a great site: the third reich in ruins. I get the same sense of excitement poking around industrial ruins like old steel mills. And yes, I have a history degree (modern latin american concentration).
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01 Sep 2010 21:46

The last time I was in Berlin I walked through the Holocaust Memorial - it sounds like it would be rubbish (just a load of concrete blocks), but the ground is graded so you walk in thinking it's quite small and flat, with these blocks at waist height, but before you know it they're towering over you, 20ft tall, and the escape is very distant. Each block represents something like 10,000 dead, which really makes it a pretty effective memorial to the inhumanity of it. The Jewish Museum in Berlin is also an incredible thing - possibly the only building on Earth designed to make you feel really uncomfortable. The Russian Embassy in East Berlin is also a fascinating building, though not so much relevant to the WWII historians among us. There's the new US Embassy being built; apparently they had to compromise on the security plans since the original demands for the size of the building and the security areas around it would have required the Germans to move either the Brandenburger Tor or the Holocaustdenkmal, and unsurprisingly they weren't happy with that idea - I think that's probably either just a bit of a miscalculation that was cheerily rectified or a bit of a fallacy though.

When I was at university in Frankfurt, I spent most of the time in Campus Westend; this is housed in this building: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IG_Farben_Building - it has a pretty interesting history and though it is more Bauhaus than Nazi architecture it was hugely influential on the work of Speer.
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01 Sep 2010 21:55

joe_papp wrote:I understand that one has to take everything Speer said/wrote with a grain of salt, because it was essentially self-serving in that he didn't want a death sentence, but if half of what he says is true about Hitler's interference in the mgmt of the war and the in-fighting that paralyzed the Nazi war machine...lol I'm surprised it took the Allies as long as it did to achieve a victory.

I'm interested in everything from the broader strategic themes and the economic and social components of global war, all the way down to the experiences of individual servicemen. I've read quite a few Luftwaffe biographies, and actually collected a few pieces of militaria and Luftwaffe ace autographs. I have three vintage postcards in my desk right now that came from the Third Reich and which were never mailed: a rear view of a FW-190, a shot of an ME-109 stalking a British Spitfire, and the official Knight's Cross portrait of Werner Mölders. They're all authentic, and of no particular monetary value - and so I was able to get them via Ebay for like $4/each only. I thought that was a smashing deal.

I think it would be super-fun to go relic hunting on some Eastern front battlefields. Here's a great site: the third reich in ruins. I get the same sense of excitement poking around industrial ruins like old steel mills. And yes, I have a history degree (modern latin american concentration).


One thing I forgot is if the US hadn't entered the war, regardless what would've happened in Europe Japan would have had free reign over much of the world. I lean against the allies winning if the US hadn't entered the war....

I always wanted to visit Normandy. I've been thru France many times on business but never made it there. You been there? Call of Duty 2 has me stoked lol.
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01 Sep 2010 22:07

ChrisE wrote:Who knows what would have happened if the US hadn't entered the war. Hitler screwed up on the eastern front so maybe Britain and Russia could have prevailed. Interesting discussion I never thought about before.


For my money, the decisive contribution of the War in Europe was that of Russia. It is feasible that Hitler could have been defeated by Russia alone or with British help, but the US contribution both sped up that process and protected western Europe from either fascist or Soviet control; Britain would have remained independent (Hitler liked the Britons - as the majority were fellow Germanic peoples - and felt that had it not been for Churchill's meddling he could have made peace with them) but likely under the shadow of a mainland superpower. Now, the War in Asia would have been a more interesting proposition, which is harder to speculate on the outcome of; with their mainland holdings in Manchuria (Manchukuo) it is likely that Russia would have taken more interest had the US not been fighting them, but that may have hindered Russia's European program.

Either way, at the end of the day no contribution in the Allied forces was unnecessary or unwanted, and history would likely be different without it.
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01 Sep 2010 22:35

Libertine Seguros wrote:I think the debate centred, at least from my perspective, not on whether or not the US was right to enter the war, or whether it was necessary for the US to enter the war, but whether the US had the right to propagate myths like that Britons and Europeans would all be speaking German had it not been for them, and that it was their contribution that was decisive.

Though there were some very silly suggestions bandied about by both sides of the debate in the midst of some sensible discussion.


As a Pole, this whole - Britain, France, US, Russia vs Germany and Japan outlook on war is extremely insulting.

We lost 20% of our population in that war. A large number of those knew they were going to their death. (you’ve all seen the picture of our men on horses charging at tanks). The men who survived for 3 weeks on 1 weeks worth of food and ammunition in the first battle of the war at Westerplate, against an army 10 times their size. Those who offered protection to Jewish friends, even though the punishment of protecting Jews, was in Poland death and torture of entire family. Those who fought under the red army, even after it was discovered that Stalin had massacred 22 thousands Polish officers for fun at Katyn, and blamed it on the Germans. Forced to acknowledge Stalin as an ally, even as he continued to have fun killing them and their country folk.

When Poland inevitably fell after being attacked in the back by Stalin, our soldiers marched thousands of miles to the Balkans, and got into boats which they then rowed to the UK to continue the fight against National Socialism. There is finally a huge Polish War memorial, about 10km from my house, where the heroes who made this trip and then fought in the skies, are commemorated. Without them Britain could not have been defended.

All this before the 1944 warsaw uprising the single act which most defines my country. Perhaps as much as any act can define any country. The amount of courage and honour displayed is surely up there in history of courage and honour. In the absence of soldiers, who were fighting and dying on all fronts, the Women, elderly and children - as young as 8, single handily took on the German Army and held them off for 63 days. No weapons, no tanks no soldiers. Just children running at tanks with hand made grenades, using the guns they captured to snipe at Germans. Stupid Hitler, should not have announced his plan to raise Warsaw to the ground and kill its inhabitants.
And all this just a fraction of what the people of Poland did in the war. Not to mention those who fought in the East (including the legendary Wojtek – a bear who the polish soldiers adopted who helped carry supplies), in Africa, in the West – at Arenhem, and in Italy, with the 3 attempts on Monte Casino.
And after they returned home, many of the heroes were put in prison or murdered by the soviets, fearful of Polish patriotism and never tired of humiliating the country.,

True men of honour, and women and children of honour too, and so i add to your list of military ww2 history books the book "Question of Honour - the forgotten heroes of World War II"

To be honest, the Us does deserve a lot of credit, though not as much as it gives itself, for its efforts in Europe. The Uk is a similar situation. Chamberlin did wage war on Germany with the promise of protecting Poland, but that protection never really came,. As mentioned before, Poles did play a big part in the battle of Britain. Yet both the UK and US would later sell out Poland at Yalta. It is insulting to see any country listed above ours in this particular war but is the idea of France and USSR as allies over Poland? )(spit out of disgust) France’s contribution to WW2 is minor compared to all other countries. It surrendered in a ridiculously short time, despite having far better resources. And the Red Army. Stalin. He murdered, his allies for fun. By all accounts loved Hitler to the extent of being depressed upon the launch of Operation Barbarossa. Attempted holocausts of his own. No credit should be given to him. He was forced to join the allies after his best friend betrayed him. He had no choice but to change sides. Stalin should not be seen as having been a vital ally, but as the pig which Orwell depicts him as, receiving help from those he has wronged. This parochial view of the war has lasted too long
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01 Sep 2010 22:52

The Hitch wrote:As a Pole, this whole - Britain, France, US, Russia vs Germany and Japan outlook on war is extremely insulting.

We lost 20% of our population in that war. A large number of those knew they were going to their death. (you’ve all seen the picture of our men on horses charging at tanks). The men who survived for 3 weeks on 1 weeks worth of food and ammunition in the first battle of the war at Westerplate, against an army 10 times their size. Those who offered protection to Jewish friends, even though the punishment of protecting Jews, was in Poland death and torture of entire family. Those who fought under the red army, even after it was discovered that Stalin had massacred 22 thousands Polish officers for fun at Katyn, and blamed it on the Germans. Forced to acknowledge Stalin as an ally, even as he continued to have fun killing them and their country folk.

When Poland inevitably fell after being attacked in the back by Stalin, our soldiers marched thousands of miles to the Balkans, and got into boats which they then rowed to the UK to continue the fight against National Socialism. There is finally a huge Polish War memorial, about 10km from my house, where the heroes who made this trip and then fought in the skies, are commemorated. Without them Britain could not have been defended.

All this before the 1944 warsaw uprising the single act which most defines my country. Perhaps as much as any act can define any country. The amount of courage and honour displayed is surely up there in history of courage and honour. In the absence of soldiers, who were fighting and dying on all fronts, the Women, elderly and children - as young as 8, single handily took on the German Army and held them off for 63 days. No weapons, no tanks no soldiers. Just children running at tanks with hand made grenades, using the guns they captured to snipe at Germans. Stupid Hitler, should not have announced his plan to raise Warsaw to the ground and kill its inhabitants.
And all this just a fraction of what the people of Poland did in the war. Not to mention those who fought in the East (including the legendary Wojtek – a bear who the polish soldiers adopted who helped carry supplies), in Africa, in the West – at Arenhem, and in Italy, with the 3 attempts on Monte Casino.
And after they returned home, many of the heroes were put in prison or murdered by the soviets, fearful of Polish patriotism and never tired of humiliating the country.,
True men of honour, and women and children of honour too, and so i add to your list of military ww2 history books the book "Question of Honour - the forgotten heroes of World War II"
To be honest, the Us does deserve a lot of credit, though not as much as it gives itself, for its efforts in Europe. The Uk is a similar situation. Chamberlin did wage war on Germany with the promise of protecting Poland, but that protection never really came,. As mentioned before, Poles did play a big part in the battle of Britain. Yet both the UK and US would later sell out Poland at Yalta. It is insulting to see any country listed above ours in this particular war but is the idea of France and USSR as allies over Poland? )(spit out of disgust) France’s contribution to WW2 is minor compared to all other countries. It surrendered in a ridiculously short time, despite having far better resources. And the Red Army. Stalin. He murdered, his allies for fun. By all accounts loved Hitler to the extent of being depressed upon the launch of Operation Barbarossa. Attempted holocausts of his own. No credit should be given to him. He was forced to join the allies after his best friend betrayed him. He had no choice but to change sides. Stalin should not be seen as having been a vital ally, but as the pig which Orwell depicts him as, receiving help from those he has wronged. This parochial view of the war has lasted too long


Respect.

Speaking of the free forces, the Czech air force pilots portrayed in "Dark Blue World" (Tmavomodrý svet) come across as a pretty heroic and motivated group.
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01 Sep 2010 22:54

Libertine Seguros wrote:For my money, the decisive contribution of the War in Europe was that of Russia. It is feasible that Hitler could have been defeated by Russia alone or with British help, but the US contribution both sped up that process and protected western Europe from either fascist or Soviet control; Britain would have remained independent (Hitler liked the Britons - as the majority were fellow Germanic peoples - and felt that had it not been for Churchill's meddling he could have made peace with them) but likely under the shadow of a mainland superpower. Now, the War in Asia would have been a more interesting proposition, which is harder to speculate on the outcome of; with their mainland holdings in Manchuria (Manchukuo) it is likely that Russia would have taken more interest had the US not been fighting them, but that may have hindered Russia's European program.

Either way, at the end of the day no contribution in the Allied forces was unnecessary or unwanted, and history would likely be different without it.


What should not be ignored is the stupid decision not to do anything before Hitler had built up his army,

It was clear that Hitler was preparing for war and yet the allies did nothinhg. Hitler himself would later say that as late as 1937 “ we had no army worth mentioning, our resistance would have been over in a few days"

As for the Soviets, their contribution is overated, as they fought only in their own lands, and did so because they were forced too. A second world war without them against Hitler was never possible. He says 15 years earlier in Mein Kampf that Germany needs to expand to the East to survive, or as he so delicately puts it " to obtain by the German, sod for the German plow and daily bread for the nation"

Their contribution is i would say overated. Their only contribution was self defence.
It was not the Soviets who helped the allies as much as Hitler who helped the allies by spreading his army and sending soldiers to Russia in the first place.

[SIZE="1"]Once again, i am not belitling the heroism of the peasants who fought, in the face of certain death, with poor weapons and poor organisation against the Nazis. We all know the stories about 1 gun for 2 soldiers and the officer on a speaker telling the soldiers without guns to wait for a comrade to be killed and then pick up his gun. But i am minimising the contribution of the country as a whole, for reasons mentioned above[/SIZE]
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01 Sep 2010 23:00

The Hitch wrote:What should not be ignored is the stupid decision not to do anything before Hitler had built up his army,

It was clear that Hitler was preparing for war and yet the allies did nothinhg. Hitler himself would later say that as late as 1937 “ we had no army worth mentioning, our resistance would have been over in a few days"

As for the Soviets, their contribution is overated, as they fought only in their own lands, and did so because they were forced too. A second world war without them against Hitler was never possible. He says 15 years earlier in Mein Kampf that Germany needs to expand to the East to survive, or as he so delicately puts it " to obtain by the German, sod for the German plow and daily bread for the nation"

Their contribution is i would say overated. Their only contribution was self defence.
It was not the Soviets who helped the allies as much as Hitler who helped the allies by spreading his army and sending soldiers to Russia in the first place.


Man, millions of Soviet troops were cannon fodder. To say that their contribution is over-rated is a bit much. It would be fair to say that at the time the Soviet foreign policy was not expansionist like Hitler's, and that their posture was strictly defensive. Surely, the number of Germans killed fighting the Soviet army in Russia and elsewhere had a hugely detrimental effect on the German Army.
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01 Sep 2010 23:01

To be honest, the UK/French claims to protect Poland were probably never with the intention of defending Poland, just with the intent of starting war with Hitler so he'd hopefully stop. Actual defence of Poland in 1939 by Britain and France was pretty token - though they would claim that the onset of war had come before they'd completed rearmament.

Some of the saddest stories of the war are in Poland - the Catholic resistance movements that saved many Jews and Romany from the camps and continued to fight the Germans all the way to 1945, only for Stalin to set up his own resistance movements late in the day, and execute members of the other resistance movements for refusing to join them. And what of the Polish population of the Polish city of Lwów (now L'viv in Ukraine), basically picked up and dumped in Wrocław (at the time a mostly German city in Silesia, which belonged to Germany until 1945 despite the province having a mostly Polish population outside of the cities) so that Russians could take their home?

On the other hand, most of Poland's contribution to the war effort came as resistance - yet you are willing to dismiss France's contribution because of their early surrender. La Résistance are one of the most enduring images of the war, and were vital in the war effort for the Western Allies. This is not to dismiss either - both contributions were vital - it was La Résistance that helped many in Germany to freedom via Spain and America, just as many in Poland, Hungary (Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat awarding many Jews in Hungary Swedish citizenship in order to allow them to live free and reach freedom, is particularly noteworthy here) and Czechoslovakia did in their part of Europe. The formal contribution of France to the war is fairly insignificant - but then so is Poland's. Their contribution to the war effort under occupation in the form of resistance movements, however, is spectacular.

You also omitted one of Poland's greatest contributions to the war effort - it was Polish fighters that captured the coding machine that allowed the Enigma Code to be cracked (by a British/Polish collaborative effort by most sources, but by Americans according to the appallingly inaccurate movie U-571, which neglected to mention that the US hadn't even entered the war at that point), which enabled the Allies to discover and counter many Axis plans.
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01 Sep 2010 23:08

The Hitch wrote:What should not be ignored is the stupid decision not to do anything before Hitler had built up his army,

It was clear that Hitler was preparing for war and yet the allies did nothinhg. Hitler himself would later say that as late as 1937 “ we had no army worth mentioning, our resistance would have been over in a few days"


You do know that Britain and France had undergone an extensive disarming project in the 1920s and early 1930s, partially because of a lack of resources and partially because of not wanting to imagine a war on the scale of WWI could ever break out again; as a result, when the Germans started rearming, both the Britons and the French needed to rearm themselves; this was the main reason for the appeasement project of Neville Chamberlain; he wanted to buy his country time to rearm to a strength where the Allies could overrun the Germans, because you don't want to enter a fight until you know you can win it. It is perhaps the case that Chamberlain underestimated the Germans' strength or overestimated how long the rearmament programs would take, but the Allies needed to undergo an extensive rearming program before the war themselves. And because of the destruction of the German economy in 1929, and the turmoil that followed, the Allies were actually not too negatively disposed towards Hitler early on - he gave stability to German government, which made them easier to deal with. Plus, his first aggressive moves were to march into the demilitarised Rheinland - part of Germany - and to reach Anschluss with Austria - both moves that may have been worrying but not too much for the Allies - after all, it was basically Germany marching around its own backyard and joining other Germans (at least outwardly it seemed that the Austrians willingly entered this unification process). It was only really with the threats to non-German nations (Czechoslovakia, Poland) that the Allies started to take note.
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01 Sep 2010 23:09

Thanks. You beat me to the point.
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