Any Point to Sealion?

PSP/DS/PC/MAC : WWII turn based grand strategy game

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Redpossum
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Post by Redpossum » Sun Aug 10, 2008 5:40 pm

Happycat that business about Stalin gearing up to invade Western Europe isn't some armchair historian's trendy revisionism. That's based on eyewitness accounts and conclusions drawn by those eyewitnesses.

I can tell you right off the top of my head that Rudel specifically mentions this in his memoirs, and draws the same conclusions.

Now keep in mind that Rudel was flying close air support with a Stuka squadron. This means he was in the air, yes. But unlike the fighter pilots and the level bombers, he was flying low and slow, in an ideal position to observe and report in detail.

Rudel mentions extensive and obvious preparations for offensive warfare in the Russian areas just across the border, and states boldly (did Rudel ever do anything in any other manner?) that Stalin was obviously preparing to invade Western Europe.

I'm sure a historian of your erudition must have read Rudel somewhere along the way, but it's always easy to lose track of one thing in such a body of knowledge.

I'm just curious whether you are overlooking such eye-witness observations and conclusions, or discounting them as biased or inaccurate?

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Post by Redpossum » Sun Aug 10, 2008 5:57 pm

Oh, and about all the criticism, I feel for you. My sincere sympathies, really, You are collecting a generous ration of crap from several quarters, mine included.

Eh, it's controversial stuff, and there are a whole bunch of folks out there all convinced they have a unique insight.

For the record, I like much of what I have heard of the mod, and I've already volunteered to give it a try. Hang in there and just do your thing.

Me, I picked a safer route. I mod Legion Arena, and nobody gave me one word of criticism about my Britannicus mod, except a few comments that it was a bit too easy. Then again, I clearly said it was historical fiction.

The Rise of Carthage mod I am working on now may get me in a bit more hot water. Then again, nah. The ones who really know their history that fanatically never look up from their lead soldiers forums; they're too busy arguing passionately over the correct shield transfer designs to use for some obscure allies in the final army of Demetrius Poliorcetes :) :) :)

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Post by rkr1958 » Sun Aug 10, 2008 8:12 pm

@possum

I'm confused? (That's certainly not unusual). Are you saying that Russia wouldn't have launched an attack on German forces in Poland in 1940 if the UK were about to fall because they were gearing up for an invasion in late 1941 or early 1942? What if the Germans only had one combat division in Warsaw, one combat division in Koenigsberg, and the remainder of their ground and air forces in Britain, France and Germany? Might Stalin be tempted to attack even though Russia might be ill prepared knowing that as soon as Britain fell that the bulk of the Germany armed forces would be directed at him?

This is what the house rule concerning Russian activation covers. It prevents the Germans for complete stripping Poland of all forces except for a couple of garrisons with the 100% knowledge that Russian won't / can't do anything until October 1941. That's a huge and unrealistic advantage. Our house rules that require a Germany DOW on Russia three turns after a capture of a British city negates that. The Russian player isn't force to attack. They may choose to be passive and continue to build up their forces and research but at a higher level (since their activated). However, the German player must consider the threat and defend against even if the Russian player doesn't attack.

In my game against Happycat, I had gambled and lost that he wouldn't launch Sea Lion. Instead of keeping a reserve of PPs and deploying the Canadian fighter to the UK I decided to gamble and get a head start on research, naval builds and UK build up in Egypt. I also went after his u-boats to gain control of the sea. Happycat used them as bait to draw the Royal Navy away when he launched Sea Lion. When I realized what was happening they sortied and did cause some damage but couldn't prevent him from landing in force. If I had had a PP reverse I could have built infantry corps and garrisons to better protect London and UK ports. Also if the Royal Navy had been in better position I could have sunk his BB and DD fleet cutting off supply to the German troops when they did land. So as soon Happycat DOW Russia I launched everything I could at him. I railed every quality unit I had west. I had some success but Happycat stabilized his line and is now on the offensive. Last turn was August 21, 1941. Here are the casualties (men; tanks; air; ships), Germany=(2,019,436; 2548; 2158; 250), Italians=(362,592; 416; 650; 0) & Russia=(4,139,592; 5408; 1742; 0). The UK, while having lost most of the British Isles, are still a factor. They have conquered all of Libya. They still hold onto Scapa Flow and Northern Ireland. Currently, they are launch air and naval attacks against the Italian fighter stationed there. They remainder of the axis air (as far as I know) is on the Russian front. This kills me but a UK strategic bomber has been hammering Birmingham and Liverpool. My assessment in terms of who's winning is that Happycat has the upper hand. However, I feel I still have a significant chance. What that chance is I don't know but my gut tells me it's at least 20 to 25%. Now that's FUN and that's a game worth playing out. In the vanilla game it'd be over now. Russia would still be neutral if Germany was ready yet. Germany would have little losses, probably have conquered Egypt and would have a massive ground and air force ready to crush Russia. In addition to being more fun I feel that the former is more historically realistic than the latter.

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Post by Redpossum » Sun Aug 10, 2008 9:06 pm

No, bud, I wasn't even addressing that issue.

I was just responding to the scoffing at the idea that Stalin had plans afoot to invade Western Europe.

I honestly don't feel I have any insight into what Stalin would have done or not done. Iosif Dzugashvili was stark bughouse crazy, a megalomaniac, an utter lunatic. Loopier than Brittney Spears PMS'ing and whacked out on Qaaludes.

Who on earth can say what he would have done? At times he was amazingly naive; thinking he had befooled Hitler is a great example. At other times, he was unbelievably shrewd and cunning. The way he utterly worked Roosevelt at the Yalta conference is a good example here.

I can see why your house rule works the way it does, and it seems totally reasonable to me. If nothing else, Hitler had to suspect that Stalin would have moved, even if Stalin had no intention to.

In the game however, you played too bold. I would have used the time to withdraw and set up defenses. What a gift, to be able to actually salvage all those crappy little garrison units that usually go down like wheat in front of a harvester.

So you have to take the UK back before you can launch Overlord, that wouldn't be so hard if you had a good strong D set up in the USSR. But now you're going to wind up losing most of those units that could have been the basis of your massive defense line. Tsk, tsk, tsk :)

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Post by Happycat » Sun Aug 10, 2008 9:34 pm

possum wrote: Loopier than Brittney Spears PMS'ing and whacked out on Qaaludes.
:lol: :lol: :lol:

OK, now THAT I can agree with
Chance favours the prepared mind.

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Post by Peter Stauffenberg » Sun Aug 10, 2008 11:52 pm

Here is an article showing that Stalin indeed had a plan to attack Germany in July 1941.

http://www.ihr.org/jhr/v19/v19n6p40_Michaels.html

This shows that Stalin regarded the Ribbentrop-Molotov non-aggression pact only as a way to buy time, just as Hitler felt. So the Soviet Union was already gearing up for war. When they would have attacked if Hitler hadn't done it worst is hard to know. Maybe his generals would have convinced him into waiting until 1942 or maybe he would have insisted on moving against Hitler already in 1941.

What is shows is that Russia considered their army to be in better shape than they really were. History proved that they were no match for the Germans in the Summer of 1941 and they would have experienced the same thing if they attacked first and Germany had defended properly.

Since Stalin was capable of actually starting a war with Germany not as well prepared as he should have been then I can't understand people who dismiss the idea of Russia taking advantage of Germany being locked in combat across the Channel in Britain to do something offensive like taking Bucharest and Ploesti or even launching a major assault upon Germany if the German defenses in Poland were poor.

The problem with the vanilla game is that Germany knows Russia won't do anything at all until October 1941. Russia won't even mobilize and move their own forces to better defensive positions. I don't believe for a second that Russia would be that passive knowing that the western front was about to end. If they didn't believe that their forces were ready to fight Germany they would at least withdraw further into Russia to protect against a much earlier German attack than they had hoped.

Stalin believed he would attack Germany before Germany had finished the war in the west. He was surprised when Germany actually attacked in June 1941. He had got intelligence reports about the upcoming offensive, but believed them to be a trap so he would mobilize and thus give Germany a reason to attack.

I don't like games that tie my hands. I like to be in charge of what a major power can do within certain limits. Sealion would in my opinion have been a major wake-up call for Stalin and made him rethink all his future plans.

I would have agreed that a house rule forcing Russia to attack Germany after Sealion would be a stupid one. But mobilizing Russia so they can decide for themselves is not a bad thing in my opinion. Even if the German player knows that he's strong enough in Poland to hold off a Russian attack he may still decide to not go for Sealion because he doesn't like Russia to increase their war production and have a chance to move their weak garrison forces into better positions. E. g. a nightmare scenario for Germany would be if Russia retreated to the Dvina / Dnepr line and formed a double defense line there before Germany could attack.

I think a good strategic WW2 game is a game who gives the player options to try something different. World In Flames allow you to do almost whatever you want, but they use the US entry mechanism to discourage the Axis and also the Allies from doing too weird things.

I don't think a strategic WW2 game would be very good if Sealion would be the norm rather than the odd game. Sealion was a HUGE risk for the Germans and should only happen rarely in strategic WW2 games. If the game is made in such a way that Sealion is THE winning way for the Axis then the game is seriously flawed in my opinion. I think Sealion is too easy to accomplishin vanilla CeaW. One reason is that Germany can use subs to block access to the English channel for a few turns allowing his BB and DD to give supply long enough for his units to capture a port. The subs will also prevent his transports from being attacked by Allied naval units before they can invade. Britain don't have a big airforce in 1940 so getting ashore is not a big deal in the vanilla game. Starting Sealion has little consequence for the Germans. They knock out Britain and can get their units back in time for Yugoslavia, Norway and/or Greece and then Barbarossa (maybe a little later).

So Sealion is only a bonus in the vanilla game. In our mod then Sealion comes at a price. Russia will mobilize earlier and you never know what they will do. So you risk a two-front war before you're ready. That means you assess the benefit of Sealion compared with the risk of losing Romania and not being able to kill all those easy Russian units at the front when Barbarossa starts.

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Post by rkr1958 » Mon Aug 11, 2008 1:05 am

possum wrote:In the game however, you played too bold. I would have used the time to withdraw and set up defenses. What a gift, to be able to actually salvage all those crappy little garrison units that usually go down like wheat in front of a harvester.

So you have to take the UK back before you can launch Overlord, that wouldn't be so hard if you had a good strong D set up in the USSR. But now you're going to wind up losing most of those units that could have been the basis of your massive defense line. Tsk, tsk, tsk :)
Three things I did accomplish by the immediate Russian attacks were that I saved Northern Ireland and Scapa Flow, I was able to take Libya and I've inflicted significant casualties on the Germans. While it may be a 70 to 75% chance that I'll lose I'm still in the game and have a foothold close to Britain.

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Post by ErichVonNeu » Tue Aug 12, 2008 6:56 am

I can only agree that sealion i far too easy in the Vanilla game. This is largely because there is no difference in constructing normal transports or a seaborn invasion task force. In real life there was a huge difference. The allies had to construct ports on the beach heads which was no easy task. I think there should have been a difference between normal transport ships and constructing landing crafts in the game to make it more realistic.

Furthermore, regarding Russian early attacks on germany, I definitely think that Stalin would have reacted to a German attack on Britain at the Latest when a major city falls. I would be surprised if the Russians would not have attacked as soon as Hitler launched Sea Lion (Russian forces ready or not), had he done it IRL.

The Game would benefit from a set of rules including a minimum German garrisson on the eastern front to prevent Russian entry in the war, which would have to be increased every year. Perhaps three infantry corps after the fall of Poland, five-six after the fall of France, and so on. US war entry should be immediate after Sea Lion was launched.

Also a diplomacy option like the one in Avalon Hills A3R would have been nice...

What do you guys think?

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Diplomacy model

Post by El_Condoro » Tue Aug 12, 2008 10:35 am

I totally agree that some form of diplomacy is one main area in which I think CEAW could be improved. The historical aspect is fine but now that I've listed them I know exactly when each country will ally, or enter the war. I know I don't have anything to worry about from Russia until 1941 etc. A3R has a really nice Diplomacy model that would be great in a simplified version controlled by the game. I know it's being incorporated in Napoloen at War, so I wonder if a version could be made for CEAW? In the mentime, I really do like this game - simple, fun and difficult against a human opponent (pity, great pity about no PBEM replay function, though - major oversight IMO).

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Post by Peter Stauffenberg » Tue Aug 12, 2008 12:03 pm

It would, of course, be nice with a replay PBEM function, but instead I usually describe in my emails to my opponent the essence of what happened so he knows where to look for changes. So it doesn't really harm the fun of PBEM games that the replay function is missing. You just have to remember to describe with words where the action was and the most important results.

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Post by Happycat » Tue Aug 12, 2008 1:50 pm

Stauffenberg wrote:It would, of course, be nice with a replay PBEM function, but instead I usually describe in my emails to my opponent the essence of what happened so he knows where to look for changes. So it doesn't really harm the fun of PBEM games that the replay function is missing. You just have to remember to describe with words where the action was and the most important results.
Having a narrative from your opponent can be fun. Sometimes Stauffenberg and I make our emails sound more propaganda releases from the various sides propaganda organs. On other occaasions, they are more like reading a news account of the war.

So although a replay would be nice, as Stauffenberg says, the lack thereof does not harm the fun at all. IMHO it enhances it at times :)
Chance favours the prepared mind.

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Post by ErichVonNeu » Tue Aug 12, 2008 2:58 pm

Sounds like great fun! "The glorious German forces have captured the corrupt city of Minsk" etc.... :) I like
"I have become Death, the Destroyer of Worlds."

J. Robert Oppenheimer, Manhattan Project physicist, 16 July 1945

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Post by rkr1958 » Tue Aug 12, 2008 4:36 pm

Happycat wrote:
Stauffenberg wrote:It would, of course, be nice with a replay PBEM function, but instead I usually describe in my emails to my opponent the essence of what happened so he knows where to look for changes. So it doesn't really harm the fun of PBEM games that the replay function is missing. You just have to remember to describe with words where the action was and the most important results.
Having a narrative from your opponent can be fun. Sometimes Stauffenberg and I make our emails sound more propaganda releases from the various sides propaganda organs. On other occaasions, they are more like reading a news account of the war.

So although a replay would be nice, as Stauffenberg says, the lack thereof does not harm the fun at all. IMHO it enhances it at times :)
Happycat has this tendency to give me both valuable information and credible disinformation in his emails describing his turn. In one game I played he kept hinting about launching Sea Lion and I beefed up defenses in the UK and kept the Royal Navy close by. Then when he didn't launch Sea Lion he hinted about starting Barbarossa early and I hustled building and deploying infantry at the expense of research labs and saving for leaders. He attacked the Balkans instead. In our current game (as you well know) he hinted about Sea Lion and actually carried it off. When he first starting hinting about it I ignored it and instead focused on beefing up the Royal Navy, research and building up the defenses in the Med. When I realized he was serious about it and that I ws woefully unprepared for it I had two BBs in route to the Med that I immediately recalled to Britian. I had the bulk of the Royal Navy between the West coast of Britain and Ireland. Still I wasn't fully convinced of Sea Lion. He attacked a convoy just of Ireland's West Coast with all his u-boats I knew of (three) and within range of the bulk of the Royal Navy. I couldn't resist and sortied and did significant damage. However, he used his u-boats as bait and launched Sea Lion that turn. I tried to get back and attack his transports but he used his depleted u-boats to block access to the channel and shield his BB and DD supporting (i.e., providing supply for) the invasion. I was able to inflict significant damage on 4 of his 10 invasion transports in the initial wave. That wasn't enough, he got ashore and crushed my meager and ill prepared defense. Over several turns the battle raged on land and at sea. At sea, he lost a u-boat and his BB. His DD and another u-boat were seriously damage. I lost a DD and CV. When it became apparent that I couldn't stop him I withdrew to save the remainder of the Royal Navy and all of the RAF. The Russians attack in Poland and this saved Northern Ireland and Scapa Flow from the Germans. This also allowed me to capture Libya unopposed except for the garrisons initially deployed there.

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Post by Redpossum » Tue Aug 12, 2008 6:20 pm

Exciting stuff! I love the blend of report and dezhinformatsiya, that's just howlingly funny, and sounds exactly like something I would do :)

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Post by Happycat » Tue Aug 12, 2008 6:20 pm

Uh oh. RKR1958 has "outed" me. Yes, I must admit that at times, a little disinformation can be helpful. I find that when I play the Axis side I get into character, and become quite the little fibber, just like a certain Propaganda Minister. :twisted:

I never misrepresent what went on in the turn just finished when providing my narrative, but sometimes I just can't resist hinting at what my next move might be. The trick, of course, is to tell the truth often enough that your opponent then does not know what to believe, and what not to believe.

It's an art, really :wink:

Really it's all RKR1958's fault---he insists upon fighting with skill and energy, which then forces me to resort to these little tricks. :)
Chance favours the prepared mind.

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Post by rkr1958 » Tue Aug 12, 2008 7:41 pm

Happycat wrote:Really it's all RKR1958's fault---he insists upon fighting with skill and energy, which then forces me to resort to these little tricks. :)
Skill! I'm by far the third best player among Happycat, Staffenberg and myself. And I do mean by far! I've learned so much playing them both. This learning has been through great advice, a lot of which I've captured in the strategy and tips document, and through being stung more times than I can count in the games we've been playing.

In terms of the emails associated with the PBEM games it's fun to get in character. Like Happycat, I try to accurately and concisely recap the critical events that happen during my turn (e.g., Finland joined the war, German u-boats attacked the northern convoy, etc.) and some element of information/disinformation (e.g., still thinking about Sea Lion). I also enjoy the "intelligence" and disinformation part. The key is that we always are truthful and accurate characterizing the key events of ones turn. However, for future turns/plans anything goes.

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Post by vypuero » Wed Aug 13, 2008 12:46 am

Hopefully I didn't give the impression I was scoffing at the possibility of a Russian invasion - I was not - just did not think the rule was necessary as it was stated. Then again you guys made a lot of changes. I rather like the idea of requiring garrisons of some kind, but really most of the house rules just end up being a pain and as the game stands it is fine - stuff like that I kind of think would be best for a future version.

and yes I very much wanted diplomacy I even had a very good system I invented for it - but it was not to be

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Post by rkr1958 » Wed Aug 13, 2008 1:33 am

vypuero wrote:Hopefully I didn't give the impression I was scoffing at the possibility of a Russian invasion - I was not - just did not think the rule was necessary as it was stated. Then again you guys made a lot of changes. I rather like the idea of requiring garrisons of some kind, but really most of the house rules just end up being a pain and as the game stands it is fine - stuff like that I kind of think would be best for a future version.

and yes I very much wanted diplomacy I even had a very good system I invented for it - but it was not to be
I have quite a collection of Avalon Hill war games and most are WWII. Third Reich, Squad Leader, Cross of Iron, Crescendo of Doom, Panzer Leader, Panzer Blitz, Fortress Europa, The Russian Campain, War at Sea, Victory in the Pacific, France 1940, Hitler's War, 1776, Guns of August, Richthofen's War and Arab-Israel War. It's been 20+ years since I've played any of them. I keep them for sentimental and historical reasons. Some of these games have fairly simple rules and others almost require a law degree or a masters in logic to understand.

In our CEaW mod, the house rules we play under are far far simpler and easy to remember than any of these games. My estimate is that the CEaW game engine takes care of 98% of the rules (meaning you don't have to). The other 2% (i.e., house rules) is on you to follow. This 2% adds a richness to an already great.

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Post by Happycat » Wed Aug 13, 2008 2:41 am

possum wrote:Happycat that business about Stalin gearing up to invade Western Europe isn't some armchair historian's trendy revisionism. That's based on eyewitness accounts and conclusions drawn by those eyewitnesses.

I can tell you right off the top of my head that Rudel specifically mentions this in his memoirs, and draws the same conclusions.

Now keep in mind that Rudel was flying close air support with a Stuka squadron. This means he was in the air, yes. But unlike the fighter pilots and the level bombers, he was flying low and slow, in an ideal position to observe and report in detail.

Rudel mentions extensive and obvious preparations for offensive warfare in the Russian areas just across the border, and states boldly (did Rudel ever do anything in any other manner?) that Stalin was obviously preparing to invade Western Europe.

I'm sure a historian of your erudition must have read Rudel somewhere along the way, but it's always easy to lose track of one thing in such a body of knowledge.

I'm just curious whether you are overlooking such eye-witness observations and conclusions, or discounting them as biased or inaccurate?
I have been busy, so am a bit slow in responding to your post (five PBEM games plus a beta test going on right now).

Not only did I read Rudel's biography, I have it somewhere in my collection of books. It was as I recall a ponderous read, because I thought that he was a bit full of himself.

I don't remember his specific comment about Russian preparations in 1941, but in thinking about it now, I suppose that I would discount it because the man was an ardent Nazi supporter. It would have been party policy to justify Barbarossa by saying that it was to pre-empt an imminent Russian attack. Rudel continued spouting Nazi nonsense after the war, both while in South America and later in Germany. So it would probably have been a given that whatever he had to say about Barbarossa in his memoir would have repeated the official party line from 1941.

That is largely an educated guess, I have not read much commentary ABOUT Rudel, other than his own fatuous and self-serving comments. The man was a great pilot (to survive as a Stuka pilot is in itself a testimonial to greatness). His politics sucked.

I would agree that Stalin would have sooner or later attacked Germany if Hitler hadn't beaten him to the punch. But I still do not think it is likely he would have done it so early as spring of 1941, and probably not in October of 1941.

With stuff like this, it is always difficult to be sure. Stalin didn't exactly confide very much with his associates, and so all of the opinions we read are just that---opinions. In "Kruschev Remembers", I recall Kruschev taking some credit himself for supposedly dissuading Stalin from breaking the treaty with Germany. This seems disingenuous for two reasons: In 1941 Kruschev would have been unlikely to have had that much influence with Stalin (I think he was party boss for the Ukraine by then, but so what? Stalin trusted Georgians more, and I use the term "trust" most advisedly). The second reason is that I still have trouble with the idea of Stalin being that stupid and delusional---surely he of all people would know that the Red Army was still recovering from the purges of 1937-38, and could not conduct an offensive war against Germany in 1941.

Having said all that, who the hell really knows what was in that monster's mind? :)
Chance favours the prepared mind.

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Post by Redpossum » Wed Aug 13, 2008 5:20 pm

Happycat wrote: I have been busy, so am a bit slow in responding to your post (five PBEM games plus a beta test going on right now).

Not only did I read Rudel's biography, I have it somewhere in my collection of books. It was as I recall a ponderous read, because I thought that he was a bit full of himself.

I don't remember his specific comment about Russian preparations in 1941, but in thinking about it now, I suppose that I would discount it because the man was an ardent Nazi supporter. It would have been party policy to justify Barbarossa by saying that it was to pre-empt an imminent Russian attack. Rudel continued spouting Nazi nonsense after the war, both while in South America and later in Germany. So it would probably have been a given that whatever he had to say about Barbarossa in his memoir would have repeated the official party line from 1941.

That is largely an educated guess, I have not read much commentary ABOUT Rudel, other than his own fatuous and self-serving comments. The man was a great pilot (to survive as a Stuka pilot is in itself a testimonial to greatness). His politics sucked.

I would agree that Stalin would have sooner or later attacked Germany if Hitler hadn't beaten him to the punch. But I still do not think it is likely he would have done it so early as spring of 1941, and probably not in October of 1941.

With stuff like this, it is always difficult to be sure. Stalin didn't exactly confide very much with his associates, and so all of the opinions we read are just that---opinions. In "Kruschev Remembers", I recall Kruschev taking some credit himself for supposedly dissuading Stalin from breaking the treaty with Germany. This seems disingenuous for two reasons: In 1941 Kruschev would have been unlikely to have had that much influence with Stalin (I think he was party boss for the Ukraine by then, but so what? Stalin trusted Georgians more, and I use the term "trust" most advisedly). The second reason is that I still have trouble with the idea of Stalin being that stupid and delusional---surely he of all people would know that the Red Army was still recovering from the purges of 1937-38, and could not conduct an offensive war against Germany in 1941.

Having said all that, who the hell really knows what was in that monster's mind? :)
A ponderous read? Fatuous and self-serving? My, my, my, we do have somewhat different opinions of the man, don't we? I personally found his memoirs exciting and highly inspirational. His motto of "He is only lost who gives himself up for lost" is one to live by, in my not-so-humble opinion.

And Happycat, discounting an eyewitness's account of historical events, just because you disagree with the man's politics, is a slippery slope. You start down that road, and it leads to the camp where people hold the words of the Founding Fathers to be empty of all wisdom because they were slave owners. And where do we go with that principle? Ancient Greece and Rome were societies in which slavery was an integral part of the social structure. So shall we discard all their philosophy, all poetry, pythagorean theorem and the rest of the foundations of mathematics and science, all the poetry and art of the ancients, the very foundations of military science, shall we cast all this out upon the rubbish heap because these men were, oh most horrid of evils, slave owners, or at least members of a slave-owning society?

Yes, yes, yes, this is reductio ad absurdum, of course. But you see the point here, I'm sure. Fact is fact and opinion is opinion. When you say "I will disregard this man's eyewitness account of events because I find his politics abhorrent", you are stepping out of the role of historian and into a darker, more arrogant role as political re-interpreter of reality. Doubt a man's word because of apparent factual conflict, certainly. Doubt a man's word because you can prove he deliberately falsified the record in something else, yes. But for politics?

And Rudel actually explained about surviving the war. He said that no fighter was able to shoot him down as long as he saw them coming, because the Stuka was just too manueverable; he could manuever out of their arc of fire too quickly. He also said that they could have shot him down if they were willing to slow way down and come down low after him, but that since speed and altitude are life to a fighter pilot, that was just never going to happen. I suppose that is the mark of a truly great pilot, to analyse the relative strengths and weaknesses, and use the strength of his own plane against the weakness of the enemy. But me, I'm a groundhog :)


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One more word about Rudel. Von Luck mentions him in his memoirs. Near the end, Von Luck is serving with 21st Panzer near Berlin, and mentions that they received air support in the course of this engagement from Rudel and planes of his final squadron. This brief mention is on page 244 of the Dell paperback, or you can just find Rudel in the index at the back of the book.

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