Third Reich trivia

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Dan
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Third Reich trivia

Post by Dan » 22 Jun 2002 14:37

This would have been a great chance to have gotten published in a major magazine. It just goes to show how little so called "experts" really know. Read this:

http://www.theatlantic.com/issues/2002/07/letters.htm

walterkaschner
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Post by walterkaschner » 22 Jun 2002 17:49

Dan, you are so right! That correspondence certainly demonstrates how those who seek to peddle their theories can twist or ignore the facts. I particularly relished Hitchins' reply where he assumes his readers are gifted with such a high degree of clairvoyance as to know that he really meant something other than what he wrote. But even in his reply Hitchins seems unable to get his facts straight. He speaks of the July 3, 1940 British naval attack on the French Fleet as a " simultaneous bombardment of the French at both ends of the Mediterranean" by which I assume he meant the French ships Mers-el-Kébir on the West and those at Alexandria on the East. The fact is, however, that there was no bombardment of the French ships at Alexandria; the French admiral commanding agreed to neutralize his ships by jettisoning their fuel and removing the firing mechanisms from their armament. As you say "It just goes to show you!"

Best Regards, Kaschner

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Scott Smith
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Perfides Albion...

Post by Scott Smith » 22 Jun 2002 18:03

Agree to "neutralize" or else get blown out of the water. An act of war and treachery against a former ally abandoned at Dunkirk and then expected to carry Albion's ball. I think Hitchens is right on.
:)

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Post by walterkaschner » 22 Jun 2002 20:37

Hi Scott,

My only point was that, most charitably viewed, Hitchins failed to get his facts straight (and the abscence of a bombardment of the French ships at Alexandria is no secret, it is quite widely known.) If I were wont to be uncharitable, I might suggest that he consciously exaggerated the occurence to amplify the emotional appeal of his statement, as, unfortunately, other "historians" of his ilk (as well of course as those of other ilks, although IMHO less prevalently) have been known to do.

And, as a matter of fact and as I have pointed out on another thread, the option the British gave the French fleet was not as simple as you stated:

Agree to "neutralize" or else get blown out of the water.


Here is the full text of the proposal delivered to Admiral Gensoul at Mers-el-Kébir (I can't locate that of the one delivered to Admiral Godfroy at Alexandria, but its substance was the same):

Le gouvernement de Sa Majesté m'a donné l'ordre de demander à la flotte française actuellement à Mers-el-Kébir et Oran de se conformer à l'une des attitudes suivantes:

a) - Appareillez avec nous et continuez à combattre pour la victoire contre les Allemands et les Italiens;

b) - Appareillez avec équipages réduits sous notre contrôle vers un port britannique; l'équipage réduit sera rapatrié aussitôt que possible. Si l'une ou l'autre de ses propositions est adoptée par vous, nous restituerons vos navires à la France à la fin de la guerre, ou nous paierons pleine compensation s'ils sont endommagés entre-temps;

c) - Autrement, dans le cas où vous vous sentiriez tenus de stipuler que vos navires ne peuvent être employés contre les Alemands ou contre les Italiens, parce que cela pourrait rompre l'armistice, alors conduisez-les avec équipages réduits vers un port français des Indes occidentales, par example de Martinique, où ils pourront désarmés à notre satisfaction, ou peut-être confiés aux États-Unis et rester en sécurité jusqu'à la fin de la guerre, les équipages étant rapatriés.

Si vous refusez les offres ci-dessus, avec un profond regret je dois vous requérir de saborder vos navires dans un délai de six heures. En définitive, faut de ci que précède, j'ai les ordres du gouvernement de Sa Majesté d'employer telle force qui sera nécessaire pour empêcher vos navires de tomber en des mains allemandes ou italiennes.

[/u]

My (very rough) translation:

His Majesty's Government has ordered me to request the French fleet presently at Mers-el-Kébir and Oran to make one of the following choices:

a) - Sail with us and continue to fight for victory over the Germans and Italians;

b) - Sail with reduced crews and under our control to a British port; the reduced crews will be repatriated as soon as possible. If one or the other of these proposals is adopted by you, we will restore your ships to France at the war's end, or we will pay you full compensation if they are damaged in the interval;

c) - Otherwise, in case you feel obliged to stipulate that your ships can not be employed against the Germans or the Italians because that could break the Armistice, then take them with reduced crews to a French port in the West Indies, Martinique for example, where they can be disarmed to our satisfaction, or perhaps entrusted to the United States to remain in security until the war's end, their crews being repatriated.

If you refuse the above offers, I must with profound regret oblige you to scuttle your ships within a delay of six hours. Finally, failing any of the above, I have orders from His Majesty's Government to use whatever force will be necessary to prevent your ships from falling into the hands of the Germans or the Italians.


At Mers-el-Kébir Admiral Gensoul temporized and about 3 hours after the British ultimatum had expired the British admiral signaled him "A moins qu'une de mes propositions ne soit acceptée, á 17 h. 30 je suis forcé de couler vos batiments" ("If one of my proposals is not accepted I will be obliged at 5:30 PM British time to sink your ships.") About 30 minutes later the British opened fire.

At Alexandria the result was different. The French Admiral Gofroy made a counterproposal which the British admiral accepted: the French warships jettisoned their fuel, removed the firing mechanism from their armament and were left unharmed.

Was the British action justified? As I have also indicated on another thread, there is still considerable disagreement on the point, both among the British and the French. But the "morality" issue which you raise does not, at least in my readings, seem to be a serious issue in either country except in the virulent Anglophobes and Hitler-apologists. Great Britain was no longer, de facto or de jure, an "ally" of Vichy France. France broke her treaty with England when she made a separate armistice with Germany, which she had solemly pledged not to do - and in the process refused to even consult with the British or to advise them of the terms of the Armistice. As to your notion that the British "abandoned" the French at Dunkirk, their position there was of course unsustainable, their withdrawal was fully supported by the French Government and many French troops went with them.

Finally Scott, I find it exceeding strange that in your view German excesses taken in the name of necessity seem to be always excusable, while British excesses taken in the same name (but usually with much less brutality) never are.

Nonetheless I enjoy your posts.

Kind regards, Kaschner

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Scott Smith
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GUNBOAT DIPLOMACY...

Post by Scott Smith » 23 Jun 2002 10:07

walterkaschner wrote:Scott, I find it exceeding strange that in your view German excesses taken in the name of necessity seem to be always excusable, while British excesses taken in the same name (but usually with much less brutality) never are.

That's because I think the pendulum has swung too far the other way and needs a serious corrective.

As far as France no longer being an ally because of the Armistice, that is true but France was a sovereign nation able to make or break alliances, and there was no alliance with Germany, nor even a peace treaty so long as the war continued.

To use force against France's navy was a cynical act-of-war for a cause that by then consisted of little more than imperial pride. Fortunate for the King's men that the United States was willing to underwrite the British bulwark and would not let its adventures fail.

I can't imagine any American admiral responding to such an ultimatum equivalent to scuttling the fleet without a fight. Damn the torpedoes...
:)

"l’agression anglaise" du 3 juillet 1940...

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Post by LAH » 23 Jun 2002 12:41

You might not think like this if it was your country being bombed by the germans,

And i don't recall many complaints when the US kills inocent civilians in bombing raids on Iraq, Libyia etc.......

My country was doing what was necessary to defend its selfe, we were standing alone in the face of overwhelming odds.

And WE DID NOT ABANDON THE FRENCH we had little choice, stay and die or retreat and fight, what would you have done, now I remember your contry was doing nothing.

And as for the US's help, We paid a heavy price for it. remember lend lease, you guys didn't give us the help for nothing.

And as for excesses, 100,000 dead at hiroshima, was the bomb really necessary?

Japan would of had little option to surrender with its army trapped abroad.

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LAH

Post by Scott Smith » 23 Jun 2002 14:24

LAH, take it easy! I'm more of a critic of American stupidity than I am the British. And I am not uncritical of the Germans either.
:)

Best Regards,
Scott

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