By Philip Shawcross
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Extra info for English for Aircraft: 2
Most modern military historians would lean more towards the Terraine interpretation than to that of Laffin, although the majority of the public are probably still of the opposite view. What was revisionist history of the first war has now almost become orthodoxy. The interpretation of the Second World War, too, has been subject to revision. With almost unlimited funding, an army of researchers and, unusually, permission from the prime minister, Clement Attlee, to trawl government papers without restriction, Winston Churchill produced the first British version of the war to appear on the shelves.
As the German army was initially welcomed as liberators by many Soviet citizens who had no love for Stalin or communism, it made no military sense to antagonize them. The treating of Russians as sub-humans and the shooting out of hand of political commissars and anyone suspected of political affiliations or, later, partisan activity turned those who might have been sympathetic to Germany, or at least quiescent, into terrorists and tied down large numbers of German troops protecting their lines of communication – troops that would have been far more usefully employed in fighting the Red Army.
Its tanks were obsolete and its aircraft rapidly becoming so. The army was mainly deployed along the Mexican border or in the Philippines, and, while the USA did have a sizeable navy, the Depression had ensured that the 1916 Fleet, the threat of which had frightened the British into signing the Washington treaty, was never built. Even Germany, where more thought, energy and money had gone into the armed forces than anywhere else, was unprepared for a long war. Ever since the days of little Brandenburg, German soldiers and statesmen had striven to avoid a war on two fronts.