It’s no secret (at least to fans of the show) that I am a huge WWII buff. My home office / recording studio is adorned with my collections from the conflict; many of which were obtained from around the world, with a few select prized possessions locked away in shadow boxes and display cases.
I am not exactly sure when my fascination began – perhaps it was as a young boy, sitting in awe of WWII historical footage, assuming naively that the World was in black & white during the 40’s – but I would venture to guess that it stems from my deep love of history and (more specifically) my appreciation for World events that could not have been written better had they been penned by an author of fiction. Rarely in history (or literature for that matter) has there been a more compelling story of ‘Good Vs. Evil’.
Cast of Characters: The Bad Guys
3 Axis Powers with (seemingly) 1 central megalomaniacal figure hell bent on World domination and committing unspeakable atrocities …evil incarnate.
One power is coming off of a devastating defeat in WWI in which the ‘Treaty of Versailles’ bankrupts and humiliates the country, thereby helping to create an environment / the conditions in which a charismatic and impassioned psychopath is able to eventually seize power on the promise of restoring national pride.
In the Pacific, you find an Empire whose people view their Emperor as an infallible, “God on Earth”. An Empire that has never surrendered or lost a war in it’s entire history.
In the Mediterranean, you have an egotistical small little man (literal and figurative) desperate to cement his legacy as one of the great Italian leaders in the vein of Rome’s most legendary.
Cast of Characters: The Good Guys
An emerging World power that – itself – was recovering from a crippling economic depression; led by a pragmatic and politically skilled aristocrat from New York; yet who seemed to empathize with what his fellow citizens were enduring and provided hope through a serious a chats listened to across the country by fireside…unaware that they were about to be thrust into a conflict that would change the country’s trajectory on the World stage forever and in the process mobilize an entire nation to action and employment.
Next, an imperialist island power – whose superior navy was no match for a new lightning war that was being waged by an enemy with overpowering numbers of aircraft – led by a pugnacious ‘bulldog’ who warned of the coming events and who urged his countrymen:
we shall fight on the seas and oceans,
we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air,
we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be,
we shall fight on the beaches,
we shall fight on the landing grounds,
we shall fight in the fields and in the streets,
we shall fight in the hills;
we shall never surrender
And lastly, a massive country primarily comprised of poor farmers and workers, who themselves had recently endured a bloody revolution. What began with the perceived overthrow of a dictatorial Czar and his family, was (over a short time) replaced by a man just as ruthless, coldblooded and ambitious as the one waging war on most of Western Europe.
It was an uneasy alliance, but one of necessity…as I will later explain in great detail…verbally. 😉
Of course I am summarizing and (truth be known) fighting the desire to expound further on some of the more fascinating details and facts that I have gleaned over my many years of studying the subject.
On To The Point
In a lot of my historical WWII-centered discussions on the show, I focus a considerable amount of time and attention on the Western Front (i.e. Normandy, D-Day, France, Battle of Britain, Battle of the Bulge, Holland, Berlin) and how the war has cemented and immeasurably affected our standing in the World today.
However, one of the areas that I always found interesting, yet rarely talked about on the show was the Eastern Front…more specifically Germany’s invasion of Russia and Hitler’s violation of his Non-Aggression Pact with Stalin.
Without going into too much detail – but enough for context – this was due to Churchill’s refusal to surrender and Hitler’s decision to turn his sights away from the ‘obstinate island across the Channel’ and towards one of the main objects of his derision when he was originally gaining power: Communism / Bolshevism. The original plan (and purpose of the Non-Aggression pact with Stalin) was to ensure that Germany did not have to fight wars on both fronts while he conquered the West. It was to keep Russia at bay in the East.
And this is where I am going to let the show take over! Back in August of 2009, I sat down and recorded a 3 Part Series on the Eastern Front during WWII for the program. It was/is a comprehensive discussion of Operation Barbarossa (the invasion of Russia), all the way through Stalingrad and into the fall of Berlin as Stalin regained his footing and began to repel Hitler back into German territory as the Allies closed in from the West. Our story begins with Germany poised to invade Russia…and the start to the deadliest and most costly series of battles in the war, in which horrible atrocities were committed (by both sides) in a manner in which the soldiers to the West had the good fortune of never having to encounter…
Here are the original segments and I hope that you enjoy listening to them as much as I enjoyed recording them:
Part 1: “In Soviet Russia, Boredom Stimulates YOU!”
Part 2: “Hitler Deeply Penetrates Stalin”
Part 3: “Stalin Deeply Penetrates Hitler”
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For more information related to D-Day, visit: June 6, 1944: Remembering D-Day 70 Years Later
Enjoy the show!