Readers in Council,
The Japan Times,
5-4, Shibaura 4-chome,
Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-0023
I entirely agree with Russian sentiments quoted in the Japan Times Saturday, June 7, 2014 story “To Russians, D-Day matters little, as Red Army won war.” It’s what I was taught in high school history class in Canada in the 1970s, that the Red Army broke the back of the Nazis at Stalingrad between August 1942 and February 1943. It was a losing battle from then on, meaning that the Battle of Stalingrad, not the invasion of Normandy, was the real turning point in the war. It’s pretty obvious. The Russians begged the Western Allies for a second front to ease their suffering, but in the end the Normandy Invasion of June 1944 was a great show late in the game. As a Canadian maybe I should not be challenging the actions and sacrifices of our men in the battle against the Nazis. But I am well aware of the publicity machine that has always hyped Operation Overlord. What I really mean to question is the portrayal of it by the media, the politicians and the school teachers. It makes for great movies. In truth, the Red Army defeated the Germans more by their brute endurance than their skill, although they had plenty of skill by the end of the war. It took that long for the Russian command structure to recover from the damage deliberately inflicted by Stalin during his 1930s purges of the military. But once they were properly organized and supplied they could easily have driven all the way into France, in time. Britain’s Mr. Churchill and America’s Mr. Truman wouldn’t have been happy about that, but looking at Europe from the Russian perspective it is really just a medium-sized peninsula, and I’m sure they could have done it.
Operation Overlord is often called the largest amphibious assault in history. But I think the American invasion of Okinawa in April 1945, Operation Iceberg, surpassed it. We remember D-Day differently because the Okinawa assault is still too terrible for most people to stomach.