Why we do not speak German

by Captain Walker

Categories: Humanities

In this post I will focus on why I do not speak German – and most in the West continues to speak English. It is about history – and tough if you have have a dog to bathe, plants to water and Instagram to check on. Did I say you have to read this now? I did NOT! For the avoidance of arbitrary social-media-type inference, I have nothing against Germans or Germany! Chrysssst – one has to be so careful these days!

Context

Growing up in a former British Colony in the West Indies after 1960 meant that I was not exposed to the horrors of World War 2 (WW2). That does not mean I’m ‘from Jamaica or Barbados‘ FFS! In my schooling we were taught West Indian history which did not focus on WW2. After all, the West Indies was some 5000 miles away from events that took place mainly across Europe.  My arrival in the UK in the 1990 did not afford me time to think about WW2. I was too busy studying and fighting for ‘survival’, in what appeared at the time to be a very difficult period of adjustment that took some 15 years.

Back then up to around year 2000, the internet was in its infancy. One could not like today, jump on the net and find tons of text and video to digest. So really it was only in the decade after 2013, that I could understand the contexts of World Wars from numerous documentaries and online materials.

Over the last 2 years I’ve come to appreciate how the English I speak (my only language), could have been German in an alternate future – if certain key events and influences in WW2 had not happened. I realise that the language I speak – even my very existence is not something I should take for granted. 53 million people died ‘for me’ to be here.

So, today I list and expand on those that I have picked up. I require no prompts about what I may have missed, thank you very much!

WW2 events that thwarted Germany’s advance

I will not be unpacking every event here as this is not a PhD thesis, you may be delighted to know.

The Second World War, a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, was marked by several pivotal events that significantly influenced its course and prevented Germany from achieving world domination. Here are some key events, presented chronologically:

1. Battle of Britain (July-October 1940)

The Battle of Britain was a crucial turning point. Following the fall of France, Hitler aimed to invade Britain (Operation Sea Lion). The Royal Air Force (RAF) successfully resisted the Luftwaffe in a protracted air battle. The failure of the Luftwaffe to gain air superiority led to the indefinite postponement of the invasion plan, safeguarding Britain from occupation and serving as a significant morale booster for the Allies.

2. Operation Barbarossa (June 1941)

Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the Soviet Union, marked a critical turning point. Initially, the Germans made rapid advances, but the sheer size of the Soviet Union, the brutal winter, and the resilience of the Red Army halted their progress. This two-front war drained German resources and manpower, significantly weakening their offensive capabilities.

3. Attack on Pearl Harbour (December 1941)

Germany’s ally, Japan, attacked the American naval base at Pearl Harbour, leading the United States to declare war on Japan. Subsequently, Germany declared war on the United States. This brought the industrial and military might of the U.S. fully into the war, bolstering Allied resources and significantly shifting the balance of power.

4. Battle of Stalingrad (August 1942-February 1943)

The Battle of Stalingrad was a decisive Soviet victory. It marked the end of Germany’s advances into Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union and began the long, strategic retreat of the German army. It was a major psychological blow to the Nazis and is often considered the turning point of the war in Europe.

5. D-Day, Normandy Invasion (June 1944)

The Allied invasion of Normandy, codenamed Operation Overlord, was the largest seaborne invasion in history and marked the beginning of the end for Nazi Germany. This successful invasion established a significant Allied presence in Western Europe, leading to the liberation of occupied territories and ultimately to the defeat of Germany.

6. Battle of the Bulge (December 1944-January 1945)

Hitler’s last major offensive in the Ardennes region was initially successful but ultimately repelled by the Allies. This defeat depleted German resources and hastened the Allied advance into Germany.

Each of the above events, through a combination of military strategy, resource allocation, and the involvement of key nations, significantly altered the trajectory of the war, preventing the Axis powers, particularly Nazi Germany, from achieving their goal of world domination. The complexity of these events and their interplay highlight the multifaceted nature of the war and the various factors that contributed to the eventual Allied victory.

Influential persons

The following is a list I created of those with the key influences. It is not exhaustive, nor complete!

Name Role Contribution
Winston Churchill Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Provided inspirational leadership and strategic alliances, significantly bolstering British morale and resistance.
Franklin D. Roosevelt President of the United States Mobilized American industrial and military resources, crucially supporting Britain and entering the war post-Pearl Harbour.
Joseph Stalin Leader of the Soviet Union Directed the USSR’s war efforts against Germany, especially during Operation Barbarossa and subsequent Eastern Front battles.
Dwight D. Eisenhower Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in Europe Oversaw major operations in Europe, including the D-Day invasion, playing a key role in the liberation of Western Europe.
Bernard Law Montgomery Senior British Army Officer Commanded the British Eighth Army in North Africa and the Allied ground forces during the Normandy invasion, influencing key engagements.
Georgy Zhukov Marshal of the Soviet Union Led critical battles such as Stalingrad and Kursk, playing a significant role in Soviet victories on the Eastern Front.
Alan Turing and Bletchley Park Codebreakers Mathematicians and Cryptanalysts Broke German Enigma codes, providing vital intelligence (Ultra) that was instrumental in several Allied victories. This influence was estimated to shorten the war by 2 to 4 years.
Charles de Gaulle Leader of the Free French Forces Led the Free French Forces and the French Resistance, contributing to the mobilisation of French opposition and the liberation of France from German occupation.

Summary

The narrative of World War II, a conflict that dramatically reshaped global dynamics, was marked by a series of pivotal moments and key figures whose actions played a crucial role in preventing German conquest and determining the outcome of the war. This exploration began with an overview of significant events such as the Battle of Britain, Operation Barbarossa, the attack on Pearl Harbour, the Battle of Stalingrad, D-Day, and the Battle of the Bulge. Each of these turning points significantly influenced the war’s trajectory and stymied Nazi Germany’s ambitions.

My exploration expanded to include other notable personalities such as Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Joseph Stalin, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and others. These figures were pivotal in shaping the Allied strategy and leading their nations through the war’s challenges. The narrative also touched on the role of Erwin Rommel, a skilled military leader whose indirect influence stemmed from his dissent within the Nazi regime.

Central to this narrative was the role of Alan Turing, whose ground-breaking work in developing the Bombe machine at Bletchley Park was instrumental in deciphering the Enigma codes. Turing is the only non-political and non-military figure in the list above. His contributions to cryptography had far-reaching impacts on several Allied victories and were believed to have shortened the duration of the war significantly by 2 to 4 years, according to most expert estimates. In effect Turing’s work saved countless thousands or millions of lives. WW2 saw the deaths of some 53 million people.

In conclusion, this narrative underscored the multifaceted nature of the war, where strategic decisions, military prowess, and innovative technological advancements converged to shape the course of history. The significance of each individual’s contributions, whether on the front lines, in political offices, or behind the scenes in intelligence work, was highlighted in the orchestration of the downfall of one of history’s most formidable military machines.


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