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Military History - Feb/Mar 2009 - Letters from Readers

Originally published by Military History magazine. Published Online: November 26, 2008 
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'Let's get the facts straight: Hitler was Germany's national leader; he had the support of the German public'

German People, not Wehrmacht, Made Hitler
Williamson Murray's article "The Making of Hitler's Army" (Nov/Dec) appears to make the Wehrmacht responsible for Adolf Hitler's rise to power. Let's get the facts straight: Hitler was Germany's national leader; he had the support of the German public. He was also the commander in chief of the armed forces. Not only did he deliver many of the promises he had made, he converted, via a self-created national emergency, his reign into a totalitarian dictatorship.

Whether or not General Werner von Blomberg's change of the military oath from loyalty to the Reich to that of the Führer made any difference is questionable. The German people had made their Führer the leader of the Fatherland. It made any opposition to Hitler high treason. This became a particularly wrenching dilemma for those serving officers of Prussian nobility steeped in 200 years of tradition of loyal service to the Fatherland.

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Gerhardt B. Thamm
Fernandina Beach, Fla.

No Sun-tzu?
Concerning the "Top 10 War Books of All Time" [Nov/Dec] and why Sun-tzu's Art of War is not even mentioned…

Words cannot describe my sense of astonishment. Could it be the contributors you chose were too Eurocentric? As John Keegan, one of whose works is included on your list, so aptly put it, Sun Tzu drew on "concepts recognised [sic] to be profoundly anti-Clausewitzian by 20th century strategists." Is the book too subtle? [According to Sun-tzu:] "The victories of those that excelled in warfare were not marked by fame for wisdom or courageous achievement." Perhaps this writer is too harsh and mistakes the meaning of the word "book." [Ulysses] Grant's monotonous tome hardly holds a candle to the mere 13 chapters of The Art of War. Since when is being succinct a liability?

Joseph P. Mouille
San Leandro, Calif.

Merchants of War
I immensely enjoyed your recent article on German commerce raiders ["Merchants of Menace," by Stephan Wilkinson, Sept/Oct]. I was particularly interested in Count Felix von Luckner and Seeadler ("sea eagle").

Seeadler was a three-masted clipper ship taken over by a British prize crew and was sailing under the Union Jack as Pass of Balmaha. The Germans captured her in 1916 and rebuilt her for use as a commerce raider. Two 500hp engines were added, along with elevators and living quarters for "guests" from the ships she destroyed. Armament was two cleverly concealed cannon, probably 150mm or 88mm. Most of the crew spoke fluent Norwegian. One small man dressed as von Luckner's wife. He went by the name of "Josephine." I imagine he endured a lot of ribbing.

Von Luckner sailed from Germany on Dec. 21, 1916, and escaped the British blockade. He sailed around Cape Horn and on into the Pacific, taking prizes along the way, totaling 14 ships. On Aug. 2, 1917, Seeadler had stopped in the Society Islands, when a tsunami hit before the ship could clear anchorage—a total loss. So ended the old ship. For a detailed account of von Luckner, read Count Luckner: The Sea Devil (1927), by Lowell Thomas with collaboration from the count himself.

Dr. W. Eliott White
Charlotte, N.C.

Hit the Beach!
Evidently the Marines ["Hit the Beach!" by Colonel Joseph H. Alexander, Sept/Oct] weren't too prepared for the [September 1950] Inchon landing. When General [Douglas] MacArthur called for landing craft, he found out the Navy did not have enough LSTs [landing ships, tank]; they had all been turned over to other countries or scrapped. The Japanese had received many [following World War II] to recover their troops from the bypassed islands. The Marines had to use what they could find on hand. The Inchon landings were made using LSTs with Japanese crews.

Bernard E. Case
LST 972
U.S. Navy & U.S. Army (Ret.)
Cadillac, Mich.

Valiant Women
As we honor veterans, Maj. Gen. [David T.] Zabecki's article ["The Limping Lady Spy," Valor, Sept/Oct] on Virginia Hall was especially appropriate for Military History.

Zabecki may be unaware that four women were awarded the Distinguished Service Cross in World War I: Jane Jeffery, a nurse with the American Red Cross, as well as three members of the Army Nurse Corps—Beatrice MacDonald, Helen Grace McClellend and Isabelle Stambaugh.

Thomas P. Jones
U.S. Army (Ret.)
Indianapolis, Ind.

In addition to Hall, another woman received the Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism during World War II, and like Hall she served with the Office of Strategic Services. Her name was Jeannette Guyot, and she was a lieutenant in the French army. According to her citation:

She parachuted into enemy-occupied France as a mem-ber of the Pathfinder mission, charged with finding parachuting fields, reception committees, safe houses and local informants….As the principal liaison of the mission, she traveled widely over Northern France…[and] undertook the most dangerous assignments, such as reporting on Gestapo activities and verifying reports of the arrest and execution of any agents.

Charles P. McDowell
Reva, Va.

Don't Know Beans
While it may be theoretically possible to shoot beans out of a LeMat revolver ["J.E.B. Stuart's Buckshot Beans," by Elwood H. Smith, Sept/Oct], there are several errors that cannot be ignored. The main thing, besides being on the wrong side of Stuart's famous plumed hat, only a pimp or a Vegas showgirl would wear a red plume. Stuart's plume was black. His holster is backward, but thankfully at least on the correct side, but his sword has no scabbard! Last of all, the poor fellow holding the pot of beans has only one stripe on his chevron, and it is upside down. Unless he is in the Marine Corps or sewed it on in the dark, this is not indicative of any rank in the Confederate army.

Other than this, the horse is pretty good, and the Yankee is perfect. I like the way he is assuming the "position of the Union soldier" during and after most encounters in the western theater. Enjoyed the magazine. Keep up the good work.

David Gass
Villa Rica, Ga.

Correction
In his Nov/Dec article "What We Learned from the Battle of Carillon," Thomas Fleming wrote that George III supported James Abercrombie's generalship. George II was the supportive monarch. The author and editors regret the error.



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