tv WWII Commanders Trained During the First World War CSPAN February 9, 2019 12:40pm-2:00pm EST
bigger than ourselves. eastern 0 p.m. university of toronto professor treaty mcmillan on the of versailles and impact on world war ii. series of smaller trieds old and new states to grab territory and establish themselves. chu churchill. weekend on american history tv on espn3. >> next on american history tv from historians about the world war ii commanders who world world war i experience shaped them. t was part of a three day conference by the national world war ii museum in new orleans. it about 75 minutes. >> welcome back. i have spoken with a number of i think i can say
consensus is this is a wonderful start.g and great way to i hope you enjoyed your lunch break. we have or next session which at some of biggest names of world war ii and their xperiences during the first world war. on panel we have rob satino. he was our conference objective keynoter on his just released ba book.ed it was his 10th book and we fp. wait for number 11 no pressure. pierre adams.s dr. author of a number of boo books. his next book on d day is due anniversary 5th this spring. and we have a tendency to make call fast friends at the museum and once we are connected ith somebody we like we are prone not to let them go. he is prime example.
at ng been invited to speak the conference he shortly thereafter led within or one of our european tours and i think we have you line up for another. stage you will recognize from this morning is warr ofrow. introduction.ew one of last points before i turn in the if you walk army's command hallways in the there is an exhibit about the history of the u.s. army. a couple of points are that the u.s. army in the civil war were trained in war.an american the leaders that led the war during desert storm and just in panama were trained by vietnam veterans. world war rained by ii veterans. the great leaders of world war
earned their spurs in world war within. -- world war i. we will turn it over to rob, peter. and >> thank you very much, pete. back up on the stage. lways great to speak to the conference. we will have a tremendous few days coming up. the symposi it symposiumage conference together. woodstock.ld war ii t will be the last man and woman standing and we will tack it home and do it again next year. way pete ended the remarks those who fought the those who ained fought the next war and that is true of our german army. like to split these comments into two parts. the impact lk about of world war i on individual
the officer rs and corps, then that is the micro picture. more of macro side to look at the impact of world war on the german -- world going forward. we will start on that microside. blinding flash of the obvious. german commander of world war ii was a junior i.ficer in world war it was not the corporation that fought these wars. people.the same so, a good way it start thinking wi the impact of the wars on them is baseball terms. owe for two. this were two world wars in the same relatively small group of men conducted and lost both of them. look back at world war
i just some of the most famous the nextgerman army in captain z godarian a and later major signals officers. ieutenant irwin rommel was a company commander with the hair in troops and saw raising adventures. that and layer in player in the campaign against romania romania. kleist was a cavalry man of all the rest. and then of course there was a lance corporal in world war 1 a essage runner wounded late in the war and no social standing and limited education and we virtually no past. came home from world war i phobia and compulsion and resentment of
every sort. that he found surprise beingly a countrymen of his and women shared. given the sizeat and scale that germany fought within the fact that it was a multi-front war and you could be an advisor it turks or in a trench in france or wide open spaces of the eastern front. it is very difficult given that diversity to make general the experience of individual german officers. but one thing we can say as a world war i, the fighting a world of enemies, that is why it was a war searedthat world them all like a great flame. war. here is how they viewed it.
thevictory that was thereto grass,i grass,ing early on and inexplicab squandered opportunity in 1914. static ible years of french warfare attrition and blood shed. of 1918, gic offenses which once more demonstrated speuperior superiority. hen the bewildering defeat a few months alelater. july ard this morning on 15 i thought we were going to be marching through paris. uly 18 i knew we had lost the war. that inexplicable bewildering defeat. as they sawthe back it on the very verge of victory. socialists crime by pass s physicals -- and
physicals. and once you get into conspiracy there is the granddaddy of all, the jews. groups were at fault disloyalty at fault for the loss of the first world war. stretchry on of the part of -- treachery on the part of criminals. how they saw it. that memory as arguably and false as that memory might be, that memory is what carried into world war ii. i hope we would know in this oom i consider it is all humanists and historians and sort. scientists of a people are couple of believe being any number of crack in the cock mamie facts -- the rson officer kar corps and this
time they vowed they would fight until the end. not allow weakness on them of front to rob victory they deserved. they would fight on until five in a s after midnight phrase they used in this period in that is what it took. fight on until germany will been destroyed if that is what it took. they did just that in the second world war. no ink it is impossible, matter how many words i would it is on this topic, impossible to understand the worldof the importance of war i for german conduct of orld war ii and in it in that no, sir of fighting until gosh notion of fighting until five past midnight. while that might surprise us, it me that they se believed this having studied them for my life. from those general comments
let's go to the impact on the army as a whole. when i talk about impact of on the german army the period between the this is the guess time when i'm supposed to say that the german army insrefpbted blitzkri blitzkrieg. read books saying that they did that between the wars. blitzkrieg whether meant. found out it meant lightning war. blitz is lightning. a thing calledch blitzkrieg and the germans had in 1920's. that notion that the germans true.t blitzkrieg isn't frankly, it never was.
but the germans hardly ever used the term and search never used certainly hat -- never used it in a precise technical way. been western discourse. "time" magazine, life magazine seeking to explain these rapid early in the es war. they talked about this new blitz germans fought. i read enough german literature in the 1920's to know that you do see fleeting around and it means a rapid and decisive victory. the spwaoeurd under -- the all military r establishments. you don't want walk in the it ident's office and say will be long, bloody and go on indefinitely. an upwardly mobile officer asked his opinion you
quickly with it few casualties. i think post recently in is the war tory it in iraq. be short, over briefly. locals would greet american roops as liberators, oil revenue with pay for it. i'm getting warm and fuzzy thinking about it. was the discourse of the time and that didn't play out either. end is everyone wants a short victorious decisive war. of our experience this eekend has pointed out in his book allure of battle and if you have not read it i urge you to immediately. i don't think he is in the room yet. it hasn'tbeen easy -- been easy. you can count on one hand the decisive abid and victories. any of that is taken up by alexander the great.
then it is more and more difficult. even if they did not invent germans clearly did something in the interwar of od and opening years world war ii are all the proof we need. n 1939 and 1940, the german armed forces uncorked a run of was ive victories that quite unusual anden like anything in -- and unlike military n recent memory. they right hand through, over or in their path.my that is the campaign of 1939 the invasion of poland. apath. that is the few weeks later the was overrun. the germans took approximately one million prisoners war in opening campaign. anks, on the ground, air force
flying on top of them. together they seemed irresistible. equally impressive was the invasion of denmark and another in april of 1940. a campaign it protect germany's ore from the high north. two enemy mpaign saw capita copenhagen lo and fall on day one to well tkpwroground tacks by landings.naval that what happened it denmark in on april 9. the entire country overrun in omething like four hours which -- i don't keep records but that must be a world record. faster it w how much could have gone then a slightly norway.ampaign in the germans land around 800
and overrun were of the country. they lies in red, left-hand to oppose the germans the ey land to oppose advance and they were soon re german back under heavy fire and later had to evacuate the country altogether. 1940 the british are arrying out a hasty evacuation under fire. but it is not dunkirk. that is june of 1940. that is a little later. these campaigns were impressive enough, i guess. but even more impressive it seems it me is what happened in may. in some sense it is indescribable. german defensive in west known as case yellow. saying.ar what you are well, the germans should be able to overrun denmark in record time. it is a small nearly
tinyensible country with a army. norway not a military power. germans in case theow they smashed not just but the s and danes cream of the french and british armies. the former, french, and booting the latter off the innocent in an evacuation from the hrlast port still in friendly hands and we in the dounkirk moment. already asked about the history i thought it was well done. even with most of the germans aarmy gone the still took something like two million p.o.w.'s in this campaign. this was the victory that made the world sit up and take notice. led to f.d.r. to
accelerate u.s. defense preparation. crucial moment. set america ii it on the path to involvement and agan u.s. defense preparation topic we can answer questions on if you are interested. on the surface this might seem strange strange. the interwar german army was a force. it was 100,000 men all told with divisions three of which were cavalry. riding on horseback. t had no tanks or aircraft or heavy weapons. these were not choices the germans made. the treatyclauses in tribo forbid that germany from having this army. the in the treaty was abolition of draft. the creation of a small army of
volunteers. for this one were in for a while. enlistment.eriod of 25 for officers. of the highest suicide rates of any army in 1920's because you signed up and you didn't like it and it was 12 years of your life. the allies insisted on long-term prevent the creation of a large trained reserve. so men in a year and rotate out another class comes in. they rotate out and another. forth.nd so things thing you know you have a alf million machine with some -- machine with mill -- men with military training and the alace to prevent that. it was to all appearance as sleepy army. you stayed where you were with almost no hop of proceed -- hope promotion. rommel was a lieutenant and by
the end of the war he is a captain. he is a captain in 1919 and captain in 1925. in 1930ment and 1933.in in trev d remain a captain forever unless things changed with the arrival of hitler and suddenly rm and promotions for all. a sleepy army by appearances. one.rtheless, a busy during the interwar period if he can characterize the german army one way i would say a ceaseless parade of maneuvers. maneuvers. war games. exercises of all sorts. afford to do these and take a whole army into the field every year because of the small size and even in tough economic relative wealth of the
german republic. it became one of the best trained little armies on the planet. the pound for pound comparison. probably didn't get were better than i also carried out -- it also carried out a thorough study of its defeats in world war i. a war, once again to remind us, a war that had opened promising late a series of mobile campaigns had come within an eighth of a victory at the marne and a degenerated into -- and then degenerated into three years of static warfare. that is how they saw it. i don't believe it is an accurate description of world war i. it is how the germans sought world war i. if i learned anything as a graduate student, what happened is nowhere near as important as what people think happened or what people think is happening. we usually blame the deadlock of world war i on machine guns,
barbed wire, poison gas, various kinds of technology. the germans discovered, in the interwar period, the problems ran deeper. loss of mobility. mass infantry armies, so big and unwieldy that they essentially lost their ability to maneuver. when i read world war i operational history, armies slamming into one another and gouging great casualties out of each other's ranks, but not necessarily achieving an advantage. the larger size usually forced the smaller to retreat at some point. the needed to operate in close proximity to railroads because they supplied you. if you are 50 miles away from your railroad, you are going to be in supply trouble. dependence on the telegraph. making it nearly impossible for a commander to conduct a mobile offensive or to control his forces. especially when he was in
contact with the enemy. add it all up. you have world war i. mass infantry armies able to slaughter one another, but unable to triumph. we often say there is a sort of easy phrase to remember, work -- war consists at heart of fire and movement. in world war i, plenty of fire. plenty of fire to go around. but very little of movement. during the interwar era, german armed forces found a solution to this problem. it shattered the deadlock. it was based on highly mobile armored forces, working in close cooperation with air power. if we look back at that map of france, we have german armies invading france through the low countries from the north. we have the french and british
responding by moving north to meet them in belgium. we have a surprise german stratagem from the south of the ardennes forest. this is the mass of the german armored forces, the panzers making their big breakthrough. then driving to the sea and surrounding most of the allied army in northern france and belgium. the british just barely able to get out through dunkirk. tanks and aircraft suddenly seemed to have revolutionized war. the germans didn't invent the tank and didn't bring it to its highest developments in world war i. the british had invented it. as you saw from the talks this morning, it was the allies who were laying on the tanks late in the war, certainly not the germans. it was a great debate all over the world about the role of the tank in the interwar period.
view,ook an extremist some thought that tanks could win the war by themselves. on the other side, tanks were not new at all. incorporate them into the infantry like machine guns and mortars and other forms of heavy weapons. the germans took a middle ground. they saw an independent role for the tank but only in the closest cooperation with the other arms. with infantry and artillery. during maneuvers and wargames in this period, they tested a new model division and the result they called the panzer division. built around tanks but including infantry, artillery, engineers and supply units, all of which were mechanized and therefore could keep up with the tanks. one last point to emphasize. the germans also gave serious thought to the problems of command and control. if you are going to have a tank division that could roll 30
-- 40 miles a day, by definition, it was going to be on far-flung missions and it could not be commanded and controlled with the telegraph. you needed something new and flexible. that something was the radio. to me, the tank is powerful and possible in world war ii as the -- because of the way it could be commanded and controlled i -- by radio. the german rules from the start with a radio in every tank. being the germans, they tested it excessively in a series of radio exercises in the open field. radio exercises. let me conclude and pass it on to my friend peter. , in conclusion, the panzer division was the real sign of the interwar period. it's tanks could smash enemy defenses any assault. it's mobile infantry could move up and hold the ground the tanks had seized.
the entire division could reform to pursue the beaten enemy. moreover, it's systems of radio communication gave it a fight's -- gave it the flexibility to do it over and over again. day, week after week. did the germans invent the blitzkrieg? hardly. the panzer was only as good at its communication, and the germans invented the panzer division. technology is one thing. the war is a human activity. the radio put the human and the -- in the panzer division. when and on one last note. the panzer division could win battles. they could win any number of battles. one thing it could not do was to win the war. once again, we see links between the german experience in world war i and world war ii.
thank you very much. [applause] >> i will let you look at the panzer one. [inaudible] >> ladies and gentlemen, i would like to thank the museum for inviting me here. this is my first time here. it's fantastic. it's doubly fantastic because the united kingdom is not it -- not a pleasant place to be at the moment, in terms of weather or politics. >> well we love our politics
here. [laughter] >> this is really what i want to talk about. i'm going to come at it from a slightly different angle. i am down to talk about hail britannia. i must make my apologies to my anglo-saxon empire colleagues from canada or australia or new zealand and south africa and all the rest who fought under the british banner for the greater part of the first world war. i will deal more with the british than any other aspect. what i want to do is have a look at the british in the first world war and how that plays out in the interwar period. i had the great privilege of lecturing at the u.k. defense academy for 20 years. i am institutionalized in that respect. it does mean that i look at military history from a different point of view, to many
other people, because there is an anonymous pressure on us to deliver something to our students who are mostly military officers, not just from the united kingdom but around the world. there is a great pressure to take away something. military history does not offer you a template to go left or right flanking. what it does do though, it reminds you that somewhere, sometime in the past, someone else has been in an equal mess and military history offers you a way to thinking outside the mess. you go away, reassured that no matter how bad it seems, there is a solution. that is what military history does. it is not an exact template. that is the very least of what we hope people will take away. what happens when the wheel comes off? there is enormous pressure. there always has been. when you look at the first world war, can you find something positive?
that is part of what i am doing when i am teaching my classes. as with everybody, there is a hinterland. my family is not particularly grandfather served in the first world war, serving in of attack -- commanding a battalion. he was a reservist. his youngest brother was also a reservist and he survived. they both won military crosses. the younger brother won his first almost immediately on arriving at the front which annoyed my grandfather to no end because he had been on the front for months. conjunction with teaching at the u.k. defense academy, i've also won the uniform and i've
only just hung up my boots after 45 years. there is a sense of fellow feeling of understanding what it is like to be far away from home, juggling with difficult ideas. one of those that is common to all of the armed forces that we will look at over the next few days is the sense of survivor's guilt. at the end of the first world war, what we are really talking about is the story of a generation who survived, and often they were in the minority. everyone who is a senior commander in the second world war and had been a junior officer in the first, comes with a sense of guilt. the guilt of the survivor. why me? my friends were not only good and proficient soldiers, but there is no reason why the shell or bullet clipped him and saved me. there is already a sense of those commanding in the second
world war on trying to avoid something that had happened to their generation to their friends. there is a sense of duty that accompanies that. of whatever nation, and you see it in all of the armed forces. i would like to tip my hat to someone you may recognize. he was a british historian, richard holmes. he taught me my trade. what i learned from him was two things. you don't have to look at the first world war or any particular war. the history of warfare is the history of humankind. humans are the same and warfare -- in warfare, whatever the era. a young man and the american civil war, nevermind the trenches of the first world war is the same kind of individual. they are all motivated by the same hopes and fears and anxieties, whether it is something going wrong at home or whether it is a professional officer, you are anxious about doing well in this battle
because promotion is hopefully just around the corner. that plays out in every single war campaign. the other thing i learned was that you can't hope to understand military history until you walk the ground. you don't come away with a sense of the great war as we in the united kingdom have called it, unless you have been in the trenches and have gone to the marne, unless you have walked in the blueprints of different nations. it is quite interesting to reflect that the great dwight david eisenhower who commanded in the second world war, had not thought in the first world war, does that matter? in a funny sort of way, he had. his great book that comes out in the middle of the 1920's is the guide to the american battlefields of europe. in some ways, he understands the american experience of world war
i, much better than anyone who had fought in it. he has the whole spread of the american experience in more that no one officer who had taken part in it did. in a way, he has a tool to get in to understanding world war i. really what i want to do is have a look at what this poster, which was a recruitment poster in the first world war, how it plays out with different individuals. why would i put up a sunderland flying boat from the second world war? -- sunderland flying poster from the second world war? the story goes like this. i'm assuming, when i start, that you have a familiarity with 1930's mediterranean history, particularly of greece. am i right? the ruler of greece was general mitaxis. a name you may not be familiar
with unless you're familiar with greek brandy. he was a benign ruler of greece. he saw the war clouds coming and he found that the only way to defend greece was with air power. he ordered a sunderland flying boat which was delivered in the greek air force colors. it went up on its inaugural flight. this was the one proving airframe that had delivered, and on the back of that was a substantial order. the general went up and they flew around the mediterranean islands, all of the greek possessions, and halfway in the fight, the general is nodding, thinking, this is what we need in the future. he went up to the flight deck, tapped the pilot on the shoulder and said, do you realize i have got my pilots wings? he was saying, i'm going to fly the plane whether you like it or not. off they went. the second half went well. all was going well until they
came into athens airport. the general looks across and sees the young pilot, sweating profusely. he looks at the pilot and says, what is the matter? the young pilot says, sir, this is a flying boat. you're going to land at an airport that is concrete and tarmac. flying boats and concrete don't mix. had he been on the ground, he would have seen the plane and lan inly arc, the harbor, and all was well. the general turned around to the pilot and said you have handled that well. you could've tried to grab the controls and it could've all ended in tears. calm,d you acted cool and tomorrow.e a colonel well done. you've showed remarkable talent and leadership. with that, he opened the door
and stepped into the harbor. [laughter] dr. adams: i'm not sure what that tells us about leadership, but clearly what is going on up here rather than what you are wearing on your shoulders or your sleeves. my story over the next few minutes is the fact that there were 36,525 days in the 20th century. during world war i, we spent 1687 of them fighting the germans from the beginning of august 1914. those in the second world war clearly have their hinterland and it doesn't matter which nationality we are talking about. i'm going to talk about a couple of brits who lead their armed forces in the second world war, just as their opposite numbers had done in the first world war. the first thing we have to note is they all come from the same generation. if you were born in the 1880's
or 1890's you have become a , professional officer before the first world war. officer,, a volunteer and you survive, -- survived you , are going to play a role in the second world war. the more experience you have, the more senior you will be in world war ii. we have erwin rommel, bernard montgomery, and the general of the second british army. he is remarkably little down. -- little-known. i know you have your own general dempsey, but miles dempsey in world war ii shunned all publicity. not because he was shy or nervous, he just did not like it. that is why montgomery chose him, because we know montgomery did like the limelight. what he wasn't going to do was choose anyone else who could try to wrestle it from him. in some ways, an odd choice. in other ways, exactly the type of choice you would expect
montgomery to make. being an officer, in the first world war, if we're talking that the british empire forces, is not such an easy task. we commissioned, from the beginning of the war, nearly 250,000 young men into the british army. we find the numbers seem to have disappeared here, but what we find is that about one in 10 are wounded. sorry. what we find is that about one in three are wounded. one in 10 are killed. one in 20 are captured. that gives us a grand total. i'm sorry it doesn't play out so well on the slide. >> maybe try to back it up one? maybe we are having buffer
problems. dr. adams: not to worry. what it means is that in that number, almost half, 47% are killed, wounded, or captured. that is 1 in 2 british officers have something that happens to them. often, it is terminal. that sense of survivor's guilt is there with those who survive. there are many in the interwar. -- interwar period, who die from things like poison gas attacks and so on. that is common. a common experience to everything that goes on. can we go on to the next? what is common?
certainly, with the british, it is that they are brought up in a relatively small world. it is designed to promote leadership and serve the wider empire. this is not about going into the armed forces, but everyone would have been brought up in the 19th century on a diet of the deeds of the empire and even branding and marketing was geared toward the glorification of warfare. everything from coffee powder to cigarettes was branded and promoted by military connotations. almost completely disappeared now. the literature that people read was very much designed in the same way. i read "death to the french," by cs forrester and i've never , forgotten it even if it was only from the title. i went to a boarding school where i lived each term and came home for the holidays, which is
where a lot of professional british officers went for the first world war. one of the memoirs of that period was by a certain novelist called neville shoot. of his older brother, who had been killed in 1915. he wrote that he knew he was going to be killed. we knelt praying in the chapels. the little boys in our boarding houses would be kneeling for us. that sense of inevitability of doom just around the corner. when you arrive at the front, you have to cope with that lead in, if you weren't old enough when the war starts. everyone in the u.k. armed
forces, goes to the single officer college. it's a bit like vmi, citadel, west point, all rolled into one. this is where we find montgomery arriving before the first world war. and miles dempsey during the middle of it. if you arrive during the war, these courses get shortened. it happened in the second world war and it happens in the american armed forces as well. the course gets truncated from two years to three months. that makes a big difference , because it means when you arrive at the front, you are learning on the job. move on to the next slide. this is where i think, and it is perhaps an old-fashioned notion, sport and team games really matter. if you're going into the army to command or lead a group of young men, you have to be a team
player. you can't be above and beyond. you have to be a part of it. this is what was inculcated through the british education system. if you were going to fight in world war i, and that was off the radar screen in terms of education until it actually happened, what you were going to do is you are going to police the empire. you are binding together anonymous groups of complete strangers and leading them through. whether it is for british empire or the trenches of world war i. this is what happens to montgomery and dempsey. effectively his number two in the normandy campaign. i have already said that a high number of these individuals are killed or wounded. that is what happens to both of them. they are survivors, but not just unscathed survivors, but both of -- but most people have been untouched.
if you're serving on the front, those further to the rear are less likely to be injured. almost everyone in the combat arms, and the british armed forces in the first world war will come home with a wound of greater or lesser degree. that makes a difference. it also makes a difference that they will be decorated. there are a huge number of decorations showered on the fortunate survivors during the first world war. you come home with some kind of badge of honor. that wounding makes a difference. it is there for the rest of your as to what happens when things go wrong. it's not something you put away in a drawer and forget about it. it is a personal reminder of what happened if things go wrong. if you are in the position of making decisions, how those decisions can go horribly wrong. can we move onto the next slide
as well? thank you. what happens when you're going over the top? it's not just montgomery and rommel, it's everyone that comes to prominence in the second world war. harold alexander is the counterpoint in the mediterranean. a captain on the western front, commanding a battalion. again, this is all about leadership of quite substantial numbers of men, being showered on the very young. they are all in their 20's. early 20's. your commanding a battalion aged 22, aged 23. peacetime, your age for doing that would be in your 40's. in the first world war and it happens again and world war ii, that age comes right down. natural leaders bubble up to the surface.
they get so much responsibility so early. in 1914-1918, battalions of 1000 men. it is a heavy responsibility for someone who three or four years earlier would be at school. we are not just talking about harold alexander, were talking brooks, chiefalan of the imperial staff, the senior military advisor to winston churchill during rote or -- during world war ii. , alexandertilleryman is an infantryman. he's a staff officer who designs what we now know as the creeping barrage, a moving forward progression of artillery, shrapnel fire that is designed to pulverize your opponent with
your infantry moving in behind. in 1917.s into play it's for that that he winces decorations. he is not there wielding a bayonet at the front, but his innovation and his staff work in terms of artillery preparation is worth many of those bayonets. it is people like bernard freberg. he is associated with new zealand in the first world war and the second world war at the battle of monte cassino. he wins the supreme accolade of the victoria cross. he got three distinguished service orders in the first world war. as an extremely young man. he is 19 when he appears on the western front. he's a brigadier general three years later. this is where if you like the
process of natural selection, it is at work. what can we say about our commanders in the first world war? they are extremely young. none of them expected what happened. none of them had been mentally prepared. the military training they get and the atmosphere in which they are brought up to expect to lead in the wider concepts of the empire, certainly does them proud. they all receive a degree of staff training, because the army grows so large, responsibility comes for them all extremely early. they have to grapple with a lot of new technologies. we've mentioned earlier. machine guns. 1914, you only have a few machine guns. have a huge number of machine guns that are now firing indirectly like artillery. you have machine gun barrages. all of that has to be incorporated into the brain of
your first world war officer. in a way he didn't expect. machine guns weren't there other than a new device on a tripod you would hardly ever use. next slide? there we are. we have to grapple with gas. not just the mechanics of how to deal with it and proof your soldiers against its worst of facts, but then to get them proactively fighting in gas masks. that was just not conceived at all before the first world war. the british had been training, playing with the idea of gas warfare, but because we could not find the method of delivering it, we abandon the attempt. when the germans use it, we accuse them of being ghastly
how inhumane they could be, even though we had tried to do it ourselves. it is the prodigious use of artillery. we fired 100,000 rounds before 1902. between august and december 1914, we fire 100,000 rounds. in the week preceding the first battle of the somme, we fire one million rounds. in the second battle of combray, in a 24 hour period, we fire one million rounds again. the army grows enormously. to absorb huge quantities of artillery. all logistics implications of where the shells will come from, where you are going to place her -- your guns, how you incorporate that, and that is how allen brook lands, on integrating all these assets.
who else have we got? we have the whole business of a logistics and the internal combustion engine. the growing of the transport fleet. 1940, horse bound in within three years we are reliant on the internal combustion engine. most world war officers who survive are those who are rested away from the front. here you have bernard montgomery. you can see him sitting front left next to his brigadier commander. he is his principal advisor. he is the xo, a brigade major in the british army. he learns the business of putting together a tax -- attacks. but if we track him, what does he do?
he is then a staff officer of the division. he goes to a staff school on the western front for a few weeks. then his a staff officer of a corps. then, he is finally the chief staff officer, a divisional commander of a division by 1918 as a lieutenant colonel. some of you may be familiar with this little poem. we saw the picture of the author earlier. good morning, good morning, the general said, when we met him last week on the way to the line. the soldiers, he smiled at, most of them are dead. the cursing of his staff aren't confident swine. is a cheery old card, granted -- grunted harry to jack as they slogged up to arras with rifle and pack. but he did for them both by his plan of attack. it is well known, but the general they are referring to, was general reginald penny.
his staff officer was bernard montgomery. when cursing his staff for incompetent swine. people don't often make the connection, because the image that bernard montgomery gave about himself was a muddy booted infantrymen throughout the first world war. his career spanned from august to december 1914 when he is wounded. the rest of the war, he spends as a staff officer. the actual truth of the matter is going back to where i started with survivor's guilt, to survive, you have to be away from the front. if you spend your entire first world war at the front, the odds will catch up with you and the likelihood is you will be killed. after being rested in the first world war, you'll be higher staff sooner or later.
the same is true for erwin rommel. the last year of the first rapport, is a staff officer for the entire year. he hates it. it is the way these guys are able to fight the second world war. it is a key to survival even though they don't recognize their fortune. it means that they have an understanding of how to put the nuts and bolts together when it comes to world war ii. that is general penny. here we have a british infantry platoon or part of it through the end of the first world war. it is remarkably similar to the picture jeff has on the front of his book. the helmets of the same. the officers are indistinct wishful -- the officer is indistinguishable here. can you see which one he is? he is holding his little officers came next to the guy with the lowest machine gun. an officer in 1918 is not wandering around with a symbol asking for snipers to hit him.
he is as like the men as possible. the chances were that he was one of the men when the war started, because 50% of the platoon commanders by 1918 have come up through the ranks. unthinkable in the british army. i will finish where i started, with politics. if i may. here is winston churchill conferring with his brother, jack. we forget he has a brother. in the closing months of world war i, when the french city of lille is liberated, and he is being reappointed to government office, his secretary state of -- he is secretary state of war and he is coming to inspect the liberation parade of lille. by chance, the 47th london division is parading through. their chief of staff is none other than montgomery.
here he is. there you have montgomery, mustached, with center shell -- winston churchill standing behind him. they haven't met. here they are, captured in a freeze-frame moment. they wouldn't really ever converse until 1940 under different circumstances. one final thought. it goes back to politics. i have just left england, really. a prime minister with extraordinary dress sense. there is too much leather there for my liking. i did send her a note about this and i haven't had a response. i wonder why. i did say, prime minister, don't wear too much leather because leather in politics always ends in tears, as well you know. thank you very much. [laughter] [applause]
>> we are going to have jeff rejoin us on stage. we will start in the front row to your right. if you can stand? >> you said that the radio panzer division had the ability to win battles, but not the ability to win a war. could you expand on that? >> maybe i was indulging in military shorthand. i think a new weapons system is always going to be of limited utility. it will be able to dominate a particular battle space and the -- in the way that the panzer division was able to do. a handful, were what the germans needed for all of those victories in the first two years of the war. they drove into the balkans in the spring of 1941. operation barbarossa, the
opening four months in the summer and early fall of 1941. 10 panzer divisions at the start and doubling to 20. a relatively small number of total german divisions in the field. to win a war, you need more than any one particular piece of technology. you need a strategy, rational leadership, ends that are harmonize with your means. while the germans were able to do well in the former, that is, they had wonderful weapons and they thought tactically and operationally skillfully. they were always pursuing in world war ii, a ridiculous strategy of global domination, empire building in eurasia, the transfer of whole populations of racism on a scale that is never been seen before. it was a vision for total domination of the globe, which led to total resistance. from virtually all productive powers of the globe. that is what i mean.
by definition, innovations on the battlefield are only going to take you as far as her -- your strategy will permit you to go. >> in the center? >> thank you. so much of what we talk about with this topic on learning to lead is all so european centric, with the 20th century and the first decade of between first century and all the lessons we have learned from world war i to world war ii. you talk about how leaders from each previous conflict learn from others. where we're at today, where the world is not revolving around europe nearly as much, are those lessons that were learned on the european theater relevant anymore to what we have to deal with today? if not, why? and if so, what are those lessons that we need to have our leaders learned? >> how many hours a week to we have to answer that question?
any of my partners want to tackle that one? >> you can look at 1914 and there are several different interpretations from the first world war. the french take away is the maginot line. the germans take away a completely different idea of blitzkrieg. they are both interpretations of -- same war, seen through different prisms, different hopes, aspirations and ideas. where are we today? the accusation is you always end up fighting the last war. the game is always changing. when you are looking for is the bigger wheels of history. -- what you are looking for is the bigger wheels of history. you're trying to anticipate what moves are being made. today, we have it right and that -- in that our officers, whether
they are senior and junior, have a much better education than they ever had before. they have a global understanding of some of the pressures in the world. they can anticipate for themselves where the pressure points are. we are focused not just on china but on russia. we are focused on cyber as well as remotely piloted vehicles. all of these have a role to play and i think the best thing we can do is equip our next generation of leaders with our widest spread of understanding of these future pressures. that was denied to our predecessors and other generations. >> i was telling margaret mcmillan earlier that the wall street journal asked me to write a piece for the armistice day that would talk about the consequences of world war i. i wrote 2000 words on that and they said, margaret mcmillan already did this in 2014 when
she wrote about the outbreak of the war and the whole war itself. they said there was a piece in your 2000 words where you talk about colonel fuller. core --n the royal tank sitting on the somme battlefield, and he is watching the german progress and the collapse of the british fifth army and he says, what if the germans had had tanks? if there had been infantry walking along, getting fatigued and falling behind, what if they had armored spearheads that could go and they had motorized infantry following them? fuller becomes this big advocate of mechanized warfare. oddly, the british don't take him up on it. the french don't take him up on it. the germans take him up on it. they adopt the fuller view that armored warfare permits you to
give the enemy a chance to shoot them through the brain. you can disable the enemy without physically destroying them. it is a more economical version of warfare. fuller was an early adopter of yoga. he was a great humanitarian. this idea spreads throughout the german military. what i say in the piece i eventually wrote, was this idea of shock and all, of winning without fighting, of defeating the enemy's eyes and making the enemy collapsed because of stuff outside of physical violence. from the last stages of world war i, transmitted to the germans at the end of world war i by fuller. you -- >> you mentioned fuller. i would mention another person who spoke about the dislocation of the enemy using wrestling, getting him off balance and tossing him. relatively little bloodshed.
you do not have to kill every shoulder -- soldier, but what is new is actually very old. there's nothing new under the sun. the best way to understand what is happening in the pacific rim today, where the future of warfare might be in the next decade or centuries is to have a pretty good grounding in closets . war is an act of violence to compel your enemy to do your will. because it is a act of violence, it is unpredictable. if you have ever been in a bar in new orleans, any number of things can happen. lastly, it is the domain of chance. it is impossible, one of the bullets start flying to predict where you will wind up. it seems to me that where there is always a new myth that we can win a war cheaply and without fighting and whether it is blitzkrieg which was a false slogan of the day, or shock and awe, which is the latest false
slogan, you can get back to basics and understand this is always a violent act. it should always be your last resort, rather than your there first. is an old saying from the days of absolute monarchy. it is the final argument. you don't lead with it. when nothing else works, you go to war. >> gentleman in the back center. >> two questions. one, how many of the senior german leadership at the beginning of world war ii were anti-semitic? as that strictly hitler-induced phenomenon that filtered on down through the ranks? why did the germans
not use more internal combustion ,ngines to pull their artillery cook wagons, et cetera, rather than horseflesh in world war ii? in reverseake them order, the easy answer is that butgermans had some trucks, if they only had a fully mechanized supply service, they simply cannot produce that many. the german productive capacity and a --p to mechanize the entire division. it was impossible. your first question is an interesting one. i like the way you phrased it. were german generals anti-semitic or did it filtered down from hitler? the notion that hitlerian
ideology had to filter down to the officers, might be a misperception of what was happening at the time. most german generals, given their background, their social class, the traditions of their officer caste were anti-semitic. it was part and parcel of the upper-class worldview of the late 19th century. as peter said, you were born in 1890. this is the cohort that bled in world war ii. there has been some very good work done on the mentalities of the german officer. i've touched on it in my own books. there's been some good work done within germany as well. the notion now i think is that there was an identity. hiller was not filtering down things that they did not think, he was saying things out loud that they had thought but had perhaps never heard articulated in such a forceful manner.
we do need to make distinctions. one person thinks -- speaks of annihilation is him -- in -- andonism anti-semitism of the hitlerian sort. that was probably not shared probably among the officers. as the not these came to power and may the discourse more permissible, it became much more widespread. i would like to part ways on the idea of the trickling down from hitler event. >> no one can hear the question. i will bring the microphone to you. gentleman to your right. >> i would like to know, during the 1920's, did any of the american presidents, harding, coolidge, or hoover, show any interest in what was happening in germany with the 100,000 men force? >> i can speak from the german side.
jeff, maybe you can say something about the american side? america was extremely interested in the stabilization of germany in the 1920's. you had the 1923 hyper inflation event. 1920'sthe ending of the you have the collapse of the global economy and the great depression. there were attempts to get german inflation under control. you had the dawes plan. which was the plan of i think he was one of the chairman of the chicago banks. at the end of the 1920's, there was another attempt at stabilized germany by setting forth a more realistic payment schedule for the reparations. that was the young plan. named from an international commission chaired by an american banker. the point is, there was a great deal of interest on the economic side. certainly, the allies as a whole were very concerned with what they knew was some form of covert german rearmament.
the germans had reopened a tank school in the soviet union. they opened up a flying school in the soviet union as well. in league with another pariah power of the day, the soviet union. there was an anti-israel control commission, which was looking at german factories, they say they are making baby buggies, but when you put it together it's mortar. there was that, but in terms of the doctrine and what the germans were doing, i've never read many american reports. there were u.s. military attaches at the schools, and they said the germans were always working to perfect the battlefield. the don't think to understand that war happens on a greater plain than the battlefield. it is national mobilization, the
economy, so there is interest, but it is exactly the way you phrased it, i would say, no. >> i was just thinking about the last chapter of my book where i talk about the postwar period. you see in the beginning when , america declares war in 1917, senator harding says i'm voting for this only in american interests. i don't care what political system other countries adopt. the interwar republicans are not interested in changing fascism or changing nazism. as long as the trains run on time. i talk in the conclusion about the 10th anniversary of the armistice. coolidge gives a speech in which he says, it all worked out in the end, america was the indispensable nation, we were the only power that had reserve power left that could win the
war even though we got in late , and unprepared. this was a time when the american army was struggling. and a british conservative politican wrote an editorial saying, reserve power, that's a funny way to put it. theyre dying in europe so could maintain their reserve power. there was idea that you could let things run down, and if you let europeans take care of it themselves, and if a crisis emerged you build up and go back , over there again. after world war ii, we decided we were not going to do that again. yet, here we are again, doing it again in 2018. >> in the back, right corner. >>doctor, you talked about how the americans helped to win world war i for the allies.
my question is, was that a good thing? for the world and for civilization? >> let's get down to it. now we are getting to the real questions. >> there was a great debate in america about it. it really seemed -- you had on the right, you had teddy roosevelt who had been pushing from the very beginning to get into the war. talking about the barbarity of the germans and the need to defeat the germans on moral grounds. even democrats who were averse to the war, looking at economic factors, were saying that germany was the coming power in the world. they were going to be our principal competitor in the world. they were trying to carve out markets in the western hemisphere. they were colonizing brazil. they were angling at the panama canal and caribbean islands.
then of course, the threat from japan was paramount. we felt that the japanese were trying to expand in the pacific. expand their influence in china. they were trying to forge relationships with mexico and some central american republics to get close to the panama canal. the united states, there was a feeling that we needed to be more globally engaged in order , to punch at our proper weight class, given our economic power and our population and everything else. was it a good thing? neil ferguson argues, what was the worst case? the germans would have won the first world war and we would've had the eu 60 years earlier. and yet, there was nothing soft and fuzzy about the german empire and their austro-hungarian ally. that is a bit glib there were
, real issues here. chiefly, the united states saw germany as their chief rival. they saw britain as waning and germany as growing. they wanted to arrest the german growth. >> we have one final question. to your far right please. >> the interwar years, we see so many american commanders who fought in world war i and world war ii. what was the motivation for them to stay in the army in those interwar years? you are seeing people staying at the ranks of captain for up to 15 years. you're are seeing a booming american economy. did these officers, did they say we will get another war because of what they saw? what was their motivation? did we lose a lot of, and no we
-- we know who stayed, but did we lose other good officers who decided to go to civilian life instead? >> is a great question. i can't really say. we know that there were a lot of world war i alumni that we can name. in the introduction of my book, i talk about all these great officers. the only two big-name generals from world war two that don't appear in world war i are omar bradley and ike. everybody else, they are all there. they stay on in the interwar period. there was an institutional responsibility. famously, pershing says we will have to fight this war all over again in 20 years. marshall photius says the same thing in 1918.
i don't think they had this sense, i just think it was their career. >> gentlemen, thank you very much. [applause] >> this sunday, on american history tv, the treaty of versailles, the moving of an important historical building and voter suppression in the 1960's. at 4:00 p.m. eastern on reel america, the film, we will never turn back, about the violence and intimidation civil rights leaders and black farmers experience over registering to vote. are afraid to go to liberty and register our votes, they are afraid of being killed. >> killed by state representatives.
white state representatives. 6:00, on american artifacts, we will tour the oldest synagogue in washington, d.c., was moved 800 feet to be incorporated in a capital jewish museum. >> this was the second congregation in washington but the first to be built from the ground up with a brand-new building. they put this up and dedicated it on june ninth. president ulysses grant attended the dedication. >> and at 8:00 on the presidency, a look back at the joint session of congress speech by president george h w bush. >> one thing is so striking about the way the founding fathers looked at america. they didn't talk about themselves, they talked about posterity. they talked about the future. must think in terms bigger than ourselves.
>> and at 9:00, the university of toronto professor on the what you had breaking out with a series of small wars in the state struggled to grab territory from their neighbors and established themselves on the map. as churchill said, the war of the pygmies is starting. >> this weekend on american history tv on c-span3. next on american history tv, analysts discuss the impact of television on race and politics in the 1990's. topics include the 1992 presidential election, bill clinton and his relations with the african-american community, and the 1999 seattle wto protests. this 90 minute organization was part of the american historical association's annual