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Thread: Which Theater was the most brutal?

  1. #1
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    Default Which Theater was the most brutal?

    This is a subjective question, but taking all things into consideration ( such as casualties, weather, animosity between the combatants, etc. ), which theater of the war was the worst. For my two cents worth, I'm going to say the Russian Front was probably the harshest. The Nazi's thought the Russians were inferior and harbored no respect for them, which they demonstrated by their treatment of Soviet prisoners and of the civilian populace as well. That in turn led to bitter feelings from the Russian forces who were determined to extract revenge. Not to mention the harsh Russian winters. That being said, I think a close second was the Pacific Theater. I get the impression that the Japanese felt that everyone (American, British, Chinese, Korean, & Commonwealth )was inferior as well. Throw in the heat, the disease, and the Japanese fanaticism, I believe the Pacific war rates right near the top of the list. Maybe there is another place that should be considered. North Africa? The Balkans? Italy? What are everyone's thoughts?

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    Default Re: Which Theater was the most brutal?

    Quote Originally Posted by garm1and View Post
    This is a subjective question, but taking all things into consideration ( such as casualties, weather, animosity between the combatants, etc. ), which theater of the war was the worst. For my two cents worth, I'm going to say the Russian Front was probably the harshest. The Nazi's thought the Russians were inferior and harbored no respect for them, which they demonstrated by their treatment of Soviet prisoners and of the civilian populace as well. That in turn led to bitter feelings from the Russian forces who were determined to extract revenge. Not to mention the harsh Russian winters. That being said, I think a close second was the Pacific Theater. I get the impression that the Japanese felt that everyone (American, British, Chinese, Korean, & Commonwealth )was inferior as well. Throw in the heat, the disease, and the Japanese fanaticism, I believe the Pacific war rates right near the top of the list. Maybe there is another place that should be considered. North Africa? The Balkans? Italy? What are everyone's thoughts?
    I'd suggest that you're probably correct about the Eastern Front if we add in another two factors: duration and scale of conflict.

    The Eastern Front, shifting geographically with the years but still being a contest between Germany and the USSR, lasted from mid 1941 to pretty much the end of the war in May 1945, and was a massive meat grinder for most of that time. No single campaign or theatre outside the Eastern Front comes close to it for the scale and duration of the conflict.

    With the exception of Papua New Guinea which ran from January 1942 until August 1945 but with vastly smaller numbers of combatants on both sides than the Eastern Front and with the main intensity between mid-1942 and the end of 1944, the Pacific land battles were, compared with the Eastern Front, confined to a series of relatively short campaigns on various islands. These campaigns were also, on the local scale, a massive meat grinder but, over the whole of the war, grinding mostly the Japanese. There's no point comparing the critical, massive and sustained naval conflict in the Pacific with the Eastern Front as the USSSR did virtually nothing of significance on the water compared with the Pacific, and for that matter compared with the other Allies in the Atlantic, Mediterranean and everywhere else, including devoting significant naval and merchant resources to supplying the USSR.

    From the main forces, for sheer savagery, pointless brutality and suicidal conduct on and related to the battlefield, I'd rate the Japanese at the top. Various ethno-religious conflicts in Yugoslavia could come a close second, followed by or on par with the Germans and Soviets on the Eastern Front. (Even at the end of the war when the USSR launched its land attacks on Japanese forces in Manchuria, the very, very battle hardened Soviets were surprised and sometimes appalled by the conduct of the Japanese they were fighting.)

    The effect of the Japanese conduct on Allied forces 1941-45 was generally to make them regard the Japanese as primitives unworthy of the restraint supposedly civilised societies impose upon themselves in war, so the Japanese were routinely subjected to harsh and unforgiving battlefield conduct by the Western Allies. This was probably much more widespread in that theatre on both sides than it was on the undeniably savage and brutal Eastern Front.

    If we introduce the treatment, or more accurately the mistreatment, of civilian populations by both sides, I'd say that Japanese were by far the worst everywhere they went from 1933-45, although the Soviets and Germans engaged in savage and brutal mistreatment of civilians as they see-sawed across eastern Europe.

    The Italians in Italy and North Africa were, by comparison with their Axis partners, by far the best behaved, although German conduct on the Western Front was markedly better than on the Eastern Front, no doubt because the Western Allies weren't seen by them with the same contempt and hatred as the eastern untermensch, which was similar to the Japanese contempt and hatred for, primarily, Chinese and Westerners, which permitted both the Germans and Japanese to treat them as sub-humans. Not unlike the reciprocal treatment of the Japanese by the Western Allies, springing from the same opinion of their enemy.

    If we go into the conduct of some minor groups on both sides, such as the Goums on the Allied side, we can find some outstanding acts and customs of savagery and brutality which deprive them of any moral high ground comapared with any Axis forces.
    Last edited by Rising Sun*; 01-28-2015 at 03:32 AM.
    ..
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    Montesquieu

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    Default Re: Which Theater was the most brutal?

    I just read up on the Goums ( I was unaware of them ), they had some ISSUES ! Thanks for the info.

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    Default Re: Which Theater was the most brutal?

    without pinpointing an exact war theatre (how big of an area? of a time span ? of an combat group ?) I think the best method to determine this is to find out the "life expectancy" of the given soldier in the given theatre..
    Then all things are included (battle conditions, but also starvation, pow treatment, malaria, drowning and freezing when in transport, shot from the sky , etc...).

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    Default Re: Which Theater was the most brutal?

    WW2 was brutal on every front; the one front that lacked the expectation of surrender from the enemy was the Pacific. The Japanese soldiers literally fought to the last man and surrender was something of a rarity. The Pacific Theater more often than not gets overlooked in terms of WW2.

    Battle of Iwo Jima
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Iwo_Jima

    Battle of Saipan
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Saipan

    Operation Downfall
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Downfall

    In the end I really feel that the Brutality of War was a common factor to all theatres that spared no one.

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