¿Por qué Churchill ordenó la destrucción de las bombas?

¿Por qué Churchill ordenó la destrucción de las bombas?

He leído varias afirmaciones de que Churchill ordenó la destrucción de las máquinas de descifrado de códigos de Bombe, pero realmente no entiendo la motivación. ¿Me lo puedes explicar o dar una referencia?

Si usted, como nación, tiene la capacidad de decodificar las comunicaciones, ¿por qué renunciar a eso? Esto es independiente de si las máquinas Enigma fueron destruidas o no; esa habilidad debería, al menos, disuadir a otros de intentarlo, o al menos dar una ventaja en caso de que alguien hizo intente utilizar comunicaciones cifradas.

Me parece que esto indica un deseo de ser menos amenazante, pero no siento que esto "encaje" en el ... ambiente(?) de la época, y en cualquier caso se basa únicamente en mi propia especulación, en extremo aficionada.


Si usted, como nación, tiene la capacidad de decodificar las comunicaciones, ¿por qué renunciar a eso?

Esta es una suposición falaz y probablemente la fuente de su confusión. Destruir las bombas no significó que los británicos "renunciaran" a sus capacidades de descifrado de códigos, ya que las bombas eran esencialmente ASIC mecánicos, diseñados específicamente para romper el cifrado proporcionado por los sistemas nazis Enigma. Con la derrota de los nazis, simplemente no hubo necesidad de descifrar los mensajes codificados en Enigma a escala industrial, ya que no había nadie transmitiendo tales señales en el rango de estaciones de escucha británicas. Entonces, para casi todos los propósitos prácticos, estos dispositivos se volvieron inútiles con la caída del régimen nazi. Sin embargo, las mentes detrás de esas máquinas todavía estaban disponibles para el gobierno británico y, si era necesario, se les podía pedir que construyeran nuevas bombas o máquinas similares para romper diferentes sistemas de cifrado.

El peligro de mantener estos dispositivos es que revelaron cuán buenos se habían vuelto los británicos para descifrar códigos, que era un secreto que se guardaba muy de cerca. Incluso se ha referido a la bomba como la máquina más importante en la historia de Gran Bretaña, lo que puede ser una exageración, pero ciertamente tuvo un gran impacto en el curso de la guerra. Si los alemanes lo hubieran sabido, indudablemente habrían desplegado contramedidas que los británicos tal vez no hubieran podido penetrar, y la enorme ventaja de la que disfrutaban los británicos se habría perdido. Este pensamiento ciertamente estaba en la mente de Churchill mientras reflexionaba sobre el destino de estos dispositivos: la derrota de los nazis no significó que todos los enemigos y adversarios de Gran Bretaña fueran derrotados, y reveló su increíble capacidad para descifrar códigos a los adversarios (como la URSS). habría sido un gran error estratégico. Era más seguro, y más prudente, destruir las máquinas ahora obsoletas que eran evidencia de su habilidad para descifrar códigos, y reclutar a los genios matemáticos detrás de las bombas para construir nuevas máquinas para descifrar los códigos nuevos o diferentes que serían utilizados por otros. países en el futuro.

esa capacidad debería, al menos, disuadir a otros de intentarlo, o al menos dar una ventaja en caso de que alguien intentara utilizar comunicaciones cifradas.

Bueno, aquí dos cosas. En realidad, es mucho más ventajoso que alguien se comunique en un código que pensar es irrompible, pero puede escucharlo, que tratar de desalentar el cifrado. Si tu adversario cree que puedes descifrar su código, usará un código diferente y / o cambiará el medio por uno que no puedas interceptar (ondas de radio dirigidas, mensajería en persona, etc.), pero si ' Si está seguro de que no puede escuchar, se comunicarán libremente y le permitirán escuchar rompiendo su código "irrompible".

En segundo lugar, los cimientos del criptoanálisis ya estaban establecidos por las mentes de Bletchley Park, y las bombas, específicamente, no ayudarían mucho a avanzar en la ruptura de códigos en lo que fuera el próximo cifrado. La verdadera magia detrás de las máquinas eran las matemáticas y la teoría / técnicas criptoanalíticas que sustentaban las máquinas. Esto es lo que resultó valioso para un uso futuro. Y nuevamente, la mejor manera de mantener esta capacidad en secreto era destruir la evidencia física (las máquinas mismas) y mantener las mentes detrás de ellas trabajando en secreto.


La mayoría de las personas que trabajaron en el descifrado de códigos de Enigma no conocían el nombre real del sistema ni la escala del esfuerzo que se estaba realizando. Eso contribuyó a que el secreto de la ruptura de Enigma se mantuviera hasta la década de 1970.

Así que "parecer menos amenazante" no es un problema. Las pocas naciones que saben, ya saben y tienen mejor criptografía. Nadie más lo sabe. La información estaba realmente bien guardada. Un oficial de submarinos de la USN, John P. Cromwell, se hundió deliberadamente con un submarino que se hundía para evitar ser capturado por los japoneses y posiblemente verse obligado a revelar el secreto.

Los Aliados vendieron máquinas Enigma capturadas a países del tercer mundo después de la Segunda Guerra Mundial, porque se creía que eran seguras. Este es un nivel normal de trucos sucios para este campo. La cantidad de material de los nuevos usuarios de Enigma iba a ser mucho menor que la de Alemania durante la guerra. La mayoría de las bombas no serían necesarias.

Si destruye la mayoría de ellos, o incluso todos si hay un reemplazo mejor, entonces si las filtraciones secretas, tiene una afirmación creíble de que ya no puede leer ese código. También evita los costos de proteger y mantener máquinas grandes, complejas y muy secretas.


Si usted, como nación, tiene la capacidad de decodificar las comunicaciones, ¿por qué renunciar a eso? Esto es independiente de si las máquinas Enigma fueron destruidas o no; esa capacidad debería, al menos, disuadir a otros de intentarlo, o al menos darles una ventaja en caso de que alguien intentara usar comunicaciones cifradas.

El conocimiento de que su cifrado está roto solo conduce a un cifrado más fuerte.

Enigma se rompió porque tenía fallas, tanto en el diseño como en el uso operativo. Pero esos defectos no eran fundamentales y podían corregirse. Si la gente supiera acerca de esos defectos y que podrían convertirse en un ataque práctico, los arreglarían. Si creen que es seguro, se mantendrán en el status quo: es más barato.

Las fallas en Enigma no fueron difíciles de arreglar, pero no puedes arreglar lo que no sabes que está roto. B-Dienst, el servicio de inteligencia alemán, estaba demasiado confiado con la seguridad de Enigma y subestimó en gran medida la capacidad de descifrar códigos de su enemigo. Principalmente juzgaron a los demás basándose en sus propios intentos, y sus intentos fueron laxos porque consideraban que Enigma era inquebrantable.

Se consolaban con la gran cantidad de permutaciones. No concibieron que su enemigo pudiera aprovechar los defectos para reducir las posibles permutaciones, ni desarrollar máquinas para atravesarlos. Desarrollar una máquina especial para descifrar códigos era una idea completamente nueva, anteriormente se había hecho a mano y con astucia, y la existencia de una Bombe enviaría a los criptógrafos a reevaluar sus algoritmos.

De hecho, Enimga fue reparado durante la guerra ... por los Aliados. El Typex británico es básicamente un Enigma mejorado. Estados Unidos tenía el ECM Mark II / SIGABA. Fueron modificados para ser compatibles como la máquina de cifrado combinada. Todas son máquinas de cifrado de rotor contemporáneas a Enigma. Si bien tenían fallas, no eran tan imperfectas como Enigma.


Vemos que esto se ha desarrollado hoy: aunque hay mejores algoritmos disponibles, los algoritmos criptográficos más antiguos se mantienen en servicio incluso cuando se desarrollan ataques teóricos. Se necesita un ataque práctico antes de que sea abandonado en masa. Por ejemplo, SHA-1 se ha estado desmoronando durante años, pero solo en los últimos años finalmente se está eliminando.

De manera similar, la gente se está volviendo más consciente del enorme poder de procesamiento paralelo disponible. Por ejemplo, una docena de GPU pueden dar a un atacante el tipo de potencia de procesamiento paralelo por unos pocos miles de dólares que antes le habría costado millones. Lo que antes hubiera sido un ataque puramente teórico ahora podría ser práctico. El personal de seguridad usa ese conocimiento para reevaluar qué prácticas son seguras y cuáles no.


Según algunos comentarios aquí: Ellos no eran todo destruido. Al leer algunos libros sobre los tiempos, hay fuertes indicios de que al menos se retuvo alguna capacidad, tanto Bombas como equipos más avanzados.

Los británicos capturaron muchas máquinas Enigma y también el Lorenz más avanzado (si no me falla la memoria) que también podrían romper. Ambos fueron utilizados / vendidos a aliados, incluidos los rusos, y, por supuesto, monitoreados por los británicos porque somos excelentes para ser taimados.

Una vez más, arrastrando información de los comentarios, muy pocas personas sabían algo sobre estas cosas hasta la década de 1980, por lo que no había ningún teatro en destruirlas. Sospecho que destruyeron cosas en Bletchley y algunos otros lugares simplemente porque fueron solo temporales durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial (o tenían muchas más máquinas de las que necesitaban), y retuvieron o reconstruyeron lo mismo o mejor en ubicaciones más permanentes / adecuadas con personal de seguridad. servicios habituales en lugar del personal de guerra reunido que se estaba disipando de nuevo a la vida normal.

Es cierto que Churchill básicamente prohibió un mayor desarrollo en casa después de la guerra por motivos de seguridad, y entregó mucha investigación y secretos a los EE. UU. Para compensar la enorme deuda de la guerra. IIRC R.V. Jones dice algo como "Él (Churchill) lo entregó todo demasiado barato" y sintió que había puesto al Reino Unido en una gran desventaja. (Guerra más secreta)

Editar para agregar:

Los verdaderos detalles de todo esto han tardado en salir a la luz. Como se mencionó anteriormente, Churchill estaba paranoico con todo el asunto y presionó con fuerza para enterrarlo después de la guerra, incluso en detrimento extremo de más I + D.

Dado que Enigma, Bombe, Colossus, etc., solo se revelaron más de 30 años después, y algunos de los detalles más finos de Bletchley solo han salido en la última década, cualquier cosa que haya tenido alguna utilidad para los servicios de seguridad de la posguerra (EG las cosas de Lorenz) todavía podría estar en secreto. No es difícil imaginar que alguna derivación de ese kit se use hasta bien entrada la guerra fría (BT todavía tenía muchas líneas de télex funcionando hasta bien entrada la década de 1990). Aplique un embargo de más de 30 años sobre eso y es posible que no sepamos la historia completa hasta dentro de una década o dos.

Además, es fácil imaginar que todas las cosas en las que trabajaron los civiles durante la guerra fueron deliberadamente destruidas para que todos se fueran a casa creyendo que estaban todas muertas y enterradas, en lugar de llevarlas a la basura para su uso posterior. En ese momento, los estadounidenses tenían copias del kit y todos compartíamos montañas de inteligencia, etc.


La destrucción de las computadoras de descifrado de códigos de Colossus fue algo más significativo, deduzco que el razonamiento fue que si las máquinas se retuvieran, otros poderes perseguirían dicha tecnología. Gran Bretaña tenía su propia máquina de cifrado typeX, existía cierto temor de que si las máquinas de descifrar se volvían de conocimiento general, otras potencias las desarrollarían y serían capaces de leer las comunicaciones de las máquinas de cifrado codificadas de Gran Bretaña. Si se retuvieran las máquinas de descifrado de códigos, sería mucho más probable que las descubrieran, y si se rompieran, y sus actividades durante la guerra serían más difíciles de descubrir que si hubiera un grupo activo continuo trabajando con las máquinas.

Gran Bretaña con esta decisión y la supresión de todo como secreto oficial y la desintegración de los boffins responsables, tiró a la basura gran parte del trabajo británico en la computación temprana, retrasando la computación británica al menos una década en la que podría haber sido un líder mundial.

Coloso

Máquina TypeX


Otra cosa que pensar. Al final de la guerra, Gran Bretaña se encontraba en una situación económica terrible, una situación que duró algunas décadas (no solo por la guerra, también por las políticas en torno a la moneda). El costo de romper una cosa es mucho menor que el costo de almacenar y asegurar una cosa perpetuamente.


Recuerde que los rápidos desarrollos en las computadoras en general justo después de la Segunda Guerra Mundial hicieron que las máquinas especializadas para descifrar códigos quedaran anticuadas en unos pocos años de todos modos. Mantenerlos almacenados en algún lugar, donde alguien pudiera tropezar con ellos, solo aumentaría innecesariamente la posibilidad de que otras potencias conocieran las capacidades de descifrado de códigos de Inglaterra.


Winston Churchill fue responsable por inacción del trágico hundimiento de Lusitania

El aniversario del hundimiento del gran transatlántico Lusitania a pocas millas de la costa irlandesa, en mayo de 1915, es un momento de triste reflexión para mucha gente aquí.

He estado leyendo un libro que trae a la vida vívidamente el horror de lo que sucedió cuando el barco fue torpedeado y más de 1,000 hombres, mujeres y niños perecieron en las aguas a la vista de Old Head of Kinsale en el condado de Cork.

Lee mas

El libro es "Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania", escrito por el reportero e historiador narrativo del New York Times Erik Larson. Es una pieza extraordinaria de narración y la recomiendo encarecidamente.

Entre las cuestiones controvertidas planteadas en el libro está la posibilidad, incluso la probabilidad, de que Winston Churchill fuera en gran parte responsable del hundimiento, no por ninguna acción suya sino por inacción. Sabía del peligro y había una serie de acciones que debería haber tomado para evitar el desastre, pero deliberadamente no hizo nada. Pero volveremos a eso en un momento.

Cuadro que ilustra el hundimiento del Luisitania.

Primero debo mencionar la extraordinaria habilidad de Larson para darle vida a la historia, un ejemplo es la forma en que describe la fascinación horrorizada de las personas a bordo del barco que realmente vieron acercarse el torpedo.

Un vigía marinero vio primero "un estallido de espuma a unos 500 metros de distancia", luego un rastro que se movía a través del plano del mar tan claro como si hubiera sido dibujado "por una mano invisible".

Eran poco después de las 2 p.m. El sol brillaba, el mar era como un cristal, la costa irlandesa era visible a poco más de 10 millas de distancia y los pasajeros paseaban por la cubierta después del almuerzo.

Algunos de ellos también vieron acercarse el torpedo. Uno notó "una racha de espuma" que se arqueaba a través de la superficie hacia el barco. Otro se inclinó sobre la barandilla para observar lo que sucedería cuando golpeara el costado. Describió el torpedo como "una vista hermosa", cubierto con una fosforescencia plateada mientras aceleraba a través del agua verde.

Una mujer preguntó: "Eso no es un torpedo, ¿verdad?" El hombre que estaba a su lado dijo más tarde: "Estaba demasiado hechizado para responder. Me sentí absolutamente enfermo".

Fue surrealista. El vapor gigante estaba a solo unas millas de Old Head of Kinsale, atravesando las aguas perfectamente tranquilas en una hermosa tarde.

Pero a pesar de la sensación de irrealidad, esto era precisamente lo que todos a bordo habían temido en silencio y sobre lo que habían bromeado con nerviosismo desde que habían salido de Nueva York cinco días antes, el 1 de mayo de 1915, con destino a Liverpool. Lo que siguió fue espantoso, ya que el barco se hundió en solo 18 minutos y murieron 1.198 personas.

Tres años antes, 1.514 personas habían muerto cuando el Titanic chocó contra un iceberg, y esa tragedia ha permanecido en la imaginación del público desde entonces. Sin embargo, el hundimiento del Lusitania se ha olvidado en gran medida. Sin embargo, la historia es tan horrible como la del Titanic.

Y si se está preguntando sobre el título del libro, "Dead Wake", se refiere al rastro visible del torpedo en la superficie formado por burbujas de aire comprimido liberadas por el motor torpedo 10 pies más abajo. Las burbujas tardan varios segundos en llegar a la superficie, por lo que la estela está "muerta" porque cuando se forma, el torpedo está muy por delante.

El hecho de que sepamos el resultado no disminuye el impacto de este libro, que a veces es tan apasionante como un thriller. Larson construye la historia desde varias perspectivas al mismo tiempo, cambiando entre lo que sucede en diferentes lugares en escenas cortas.

Es la historia principalmente del cazador y el cazado, el submarino y el transatlántico. Pero también es la historia más amplia del depresivo y enamorado presidente Woodrow Wilson, reacio a entrar en la guerra, y del joven Winston Churchill, Primer Lord del Almirantazgo, decidido a involucrar a Estados Unidos.

Al principio nos encontramos con algunos pasajeros, incluidos tipos glamorosos como el multimillonario Alfred Vanderbilt, el "Rey del champán" George Kessler y el librero de Boston Charles Lauriat, que llevaba la copia (invaluable) de Charles Dickens de "A Christmas Carol".

También a bordo estaba el coleccionista de arte de Dublín, Sir Hugh Lane, con una gran caja de pinturas que se rumoreaba que incluían obras de Rubens, Monet y Rembrandt, que estaban aseguradas por el equivalente a más de $ 90 millones en la actualidad.

En retrospectiva, puede parecer temerario haber estado viajando en ese momento desde que comenzó la Gran Guerra el año anterior en 1914. Pero todos los pasajeros sabían racionalizar el peligro a pesar de un aviso de un periódico estadounidense que había aparecido justo al lado. un anuncio del viaje del Lusitania poco antes de que zarpara el barco.

En el aviso, el gobierno alemán había advertido que las rutas marítimas alrededor de Gran Bretaña eran ahora una zona de guerra y que los barcos eran "susceptibles de ser destruidos". Se sabía que los submarinos alemanes estaban activos en la zona.

Lee mas

Sin embargo, pocos pasajeros a principios de 1915 creían que los alemanes atacarían realmente un barco de pasajeros. Incluso si el Lusitania fuera atacado, era dos veces más rápido que un submarino y podía escapar de cualquier peligro, se dijeron.

También creían que se proporcionaría una escolta de la Royal Navy tan pronto como el Lusitania se acercara a Irlanda. A pesar de todo esto, la charla nerviosa sobre submarinos continuó entre los pasajeros durante todo el viaje.

Larson explica la coincidencia de circunstancias que llevaron al desastre: por qué el Lusitania se retrasó en la salida de Nueva York, por qué navegaba paralelo a la costa irlandesa a menos de la velocidad máxima, cómo llegó accidentalmente al alcance del submarino, cómo se despejó la niebla en el momento crucial, por qué el submarino estaba allí en lugar de donde se suponía que debía estar cerca de Liverpool.

Es muy bueno para describir el complejo funcionamiento del Lusitania impulsado a vapor, uno de los grandes "galgos transatlánticos", y las limitaciones de los primeros submarinos como el U-20 que lo hundió.

Los detalles de los viajes convergentes del Lusitania y el Sub-20 tienen una fascinación horrible porque como lector, aunque sabes lo que se avecina, sigues esperando que de alguna manera se extrañen el uno al otro. El hundimiento y sus secuelas se describen brillantemente utilizando los relatos de los sobrevivientes, el registro del capitán del submarino y los documentos publicados recientemente de las dos investigaciones principales sobre el desastre.

Debido al rápido listado del barco, solo seis de los 23 botes salvavidas se botaron con éxito, muchas personas fueron aplastadas por los escombros y no había ningún barco en el área lo suficientemente cerca como para recoger a las personas en el agua a tiempo. Las pequeñas embarcaciones de vela de Kinsale hicieron todo lo posible pero, en parte debido al día tranquilo, fueron demasiado lentas.

Además de contar una historia convincente, Larson también se ocupa de la sospecha de que, debido a que hubo una segunda explosión poderosa dentro del barco después de que el torpedo explotó, el Lusitania debió llevar explosivos. Se trataba de 170 toneladas de munición de rifle y 1.250 cajas de proyectiles de artillería, así como 50 barriles cada uno de aluminio inflamable y pólvora de bronce, todo lo cual era legal bajo las reglas de neutralidad de los EE. UU. En ese momento.

Puede parecer mucho, pero no fue una cantidad significativa en términos de suministros de guerra. Y ciertamente no proporcionó ninguna justificación retrospectiva para el hundimiento que se cobró la vida de más de 1.000 civiles.

Hombres cavando tumba para los muertos tras el hundimiento del Luisitania, en Cork.

Larson también explica por qué es muy improbable que algo de este material explotara (los proyectiles de artillería estaban menos sus cargas, por ejemplo) y por qué la segunda explosión fue causada por la ignición del polvo de carbón en los vastos búnkeres del barco, entonces casi vacíos, o agua de mar fría golpeando las calderas y tuberías sobrecalentadas.

Pero la parte más interesante del libro es, con mucho, la sección en la que Larson revela el funcionamiento de la habitación secreta 40 en un antiguo edificio del Almirantazgo en el centro de Londres, el centro de una operación encubierta dirigida por Churchill que monitoreaba y decodificaba la radio naval alemana. mensajes. Esto muestra claramente que Churchill y las personas más importantes del Almirantazgo sabían todo sobre el U-20 y aproximadamente dónde estaba y el peligro extremo que representaba para la Lusitania que se acercaba.

Sin embargo, no se hizo nada para proteger el transatlántico y sus pasajeros, a pesar de que la Sala 40 sabía que 23 barcos mercantes británicos habían sido torpedeados alrededor de la costa de Gran Bretaña e Irlanda en los siete días anteriores, tres de ellos por el U-20.

Al mismo tiempo que el Lusitania se acercaba a Irlanda, se utilizaban varios destructores para proteger el orgullo de la armada británica, el acorazado Orion, que acababa de zarpar del puerto. Otros destructores que podrían haber protegido al Lusitania estaban amarrados en puertos británicos e irlandeses.

Dado todo lo que la Sala 20 sabía sobre la actividad submarina en el área en ese momento, el Lusitania debería haberse desviado a la ruta más segura del Canal del Norte (alrededor de la parte superior de Irlanda). También debería haberle proporcionado una escolta naval cuando se acercaba desde el Atlántico.

Ninguno de los dos se hizo y esto parece muy sospechoso, dados los comentarios anteriores hechos por Churchill que implican que se necesitaría un gran desastre para que Estados Unidos entrara en la guerra. El hundimiento del Lusitania, con muchos estadounidenses a bordo, proporcionó tal desastre.

Si el hundimiento del Lusitania fue, como parece, el resultado de la inacción deliberada y calculada de Churchill, seguramente debe figurar entre los mayores pecados de omisión jamás cometidos.

* Publicado originalmente en 2015.

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Su guía para el Coventry Blitz de 1940

Durante la noche del 14 al 15 de noviembre de 1940, varios cientos de bombarderos alemanes devastaron la ciudad industrial de Coventry. La incursión de 11 horas representó un cambio radical en la guerra aérea que marcaría (y estropearía) la forma en que se utilizaron las flotas de bombarderos durante el resto del conflicto. Aquí, el historiador Frederick Taylor explica lo que sucedió y por qué Coventry fue atacado, y si Churchill fue advertido del ataque ...

Esta competición se ha cerrado

Publicado: 29 de octubre de 2020 a las 3:20 pm

¿Por qué se apuntó a Coventry?

Desde principios de septiembre de 1940, Adolf Hitler había dado prioridad a los ataques nocturnos contra Londres, con la esperanza de obligar a los británicos a hacer la paz. En noviembre, sin embargo, a pesar de este bombardeo implacable contra ocho millones de londinenses, Gran Bretaña todavía se mantuvo firme. Hitler decidió ampliar el esfuerzo de bombardeo de Alemania con ataques a gran escala contra las ciudades industriales de Gran Bretaña, especialmente aquellas involucradas en la producción de aviones.

Coventry contaba como una joya en la corona industrial militar del Reino Unido. La inteligencia alemana estaba bien informada sobre las industrias de la ciudad y la infraestructura clave: exactamente en qué lugar de la ciudad se fabricaban los motores aeronáuticos, equipos de radar, vehículos militares y ayudas a la navegación, etc.

Sin embargo, aparte de la industria, había otras razones para el interés de Berlín por el "Corazón de Inglaterra". El llamado "Comité de Inglaterra" de la Luftwaffe, compuesto por funcionarios del Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y académicos especializados, había advertido a los planificadores que Midlands era un bastión del "inglés conservador y obstinado". Si la moral de esas personas pudiera romperse, tal vez el país, después de todo, podría ser bombardeado para que se rindiera.

¿Qué sucedió?

De hecho, una sucesión de incursiones alemanas comparativamente cortas, pero en algunos casos letalmente bruscas, contra Coventry desde finales de agosto en adelante ya había matado a 176 civiles. Pero la escala de la operación planeada para mediados de noviembre, cuyo nombre en código es "Moonlight Sonata" debido a la esperada luna llena, preveía un cambio brutal. La población de la ciudad de aproximadamente un cuarto de millón de personas sufriría un ataque aéreo de duración y concentración sin precedentes, su precisión mejorada por un nuevo y revolucionario sistema de guía conocido como X-Gerät (X-Apparatus). Un patrón de "haces" de radio, transmitido desde estaciones a lo largo de la costa del canal francés, se encontró justo antes y sobre el objetivo. Los dispositivos de seguimiento a bordo de un grupo de élite de aviones exploradores les permitieron seguir los rayos y reconocer dónde se cruzaban, en última instancia, precisamente sobre el punto de puntería planificado previamente. Allí arrojarían bombas, creando incendios y guiando así a la masa de los siguientes bombarderos hacia el objetivo.

Cada aspecto fue calculado para maximizar la destrucción e inspirar terror. La carnicería comenzó alrededor de las 19:00 horas del 14 de noviembre en el centro de la ciudad. Los suministros de gas y electricidad de Coventry, la central telefónica y sus redes de agua y alcantarillado fueron destruidos. Los edificios históricos fueron atacados, incluida la catedral, además de grandes fábricas ubicadas en el centro, como Triumph Works, que estaba al lado de la catedral.

Las oleadas posteriores de bombarderos sembraron una mayor destrucción en el centro, matando e hiriendo a los equipos de reparación y rescate que ahora trabajan allí. Otros aviones se desplegaron hacia los suburbios, apuntando a más fábricas y desarrollos residenciales adyacentes. Un informe de la Luftwaffe recomendó bombas incendiarias para tales áreas, afirmando: "Los efectos en la industria [en Coventry] se verían especialmente amplificados debido al hecho de que la fuerza de trabajo, que vive en las proximidades inmediatas de las fábricas, sufriría junto con ellos".

Y así resultó. Cuando amaneció sobre la ciudad destrozada y aún en llamas, 568 de sus habitantes estaban muertos. Los historiadores locales han registrado los nombres de casi todas las víctimas y dónde perecieron. Familias enteras murieron juntas, a menudo en refugios rudimentarios del vecindario. Cientos de civiles más resultaron gravemente heridos.

¿Cuáles fueron las consecuencias?

La Luftwaffe pudo celebrar y lo hizo sin vergüenza. La palabra "Coventrated" ("conventriert " en alemán) fue acuñado por los propagandistas nazis para celebrar este nuevo nivel de aniquilación.

Sin embargo, aunque la moral en Coventry y en otras partes de Gran Bretaña vaciló, no se quebró. En el extranjero, la redada pronto llegó a ejemplificar la barbarie alemana. Los informes por cable, que incluyen imágenes impactantes de la catedral devastada (aunque con menos frecuencia de las fábricas destruidas) y de cadáveres de civiles depositados en fosas comunes, se extendieron por todo el mundo, especialmente en los Estados Unidos todavía neutrales. Ciertamente, la opinión pública estadounidense, hasta ahora predominantemente aislacionista, a fines de 1940 había cambiado lo suficiente como para que el presidente Roosevelt ganara el apoyo del Congreso para el suministro de aviones y barcos que se necesitaban desesperadamente a Gran Bretaña.

Por lo tanto, desde un punto de vista puramente operativo, Coventry podría considerarse un éxito alemán, pero la batalla de propaganda que siguió resultó en una victoria crucial para el asediado gobierno de Winston Churchill.

Mientras tanto, figuras de alto rango dentro del Ministerio del Aire británico, como el vicemariscal del aire Arthur Harris, un tecnócrata de nariz dura que durante mucho tiempo se había irritado por las restricciones al bombardeo de objetivos civiles por parte de la RAF, podrían argumentar que Coventry liberó a Gran Bretaña para contraatacar con la misma crueldad.

En febrero de 1942, Harris se hizo cargo del Comando de Bombarderos de la RAF. Comenzó a bombardear sistemáticamente ciudades alemanas, con el ataque de la Luftwaffe a Coventry como algo así como un plan, con el tiempo ayudado por una navegación mejorada y tecnología para apuntar bombas, y perseguido con una eficiencia cada vez más apocalíptica. La campaña de tres años vio la casi destrucción de Hamburgo, Kassel, Berlín y otros centros de población alemanes, incluida, más notoriamente, la histórica ciudad de Dresde en 1945.

¿Churchill permitió que bombardearan Coventry?

Después de la guerra, muchos se han visto tentados a hacer especulaciones alejadas de la realidad del martirio de Coventry. ¿Churchill fue advertido del objetivo del ataque por los descifradores de códigos Enigma pero no hizo nada por temor a traicionar su fuente? Improbable. Aunque probablemente se le informó a última hora de la tarde, después de que se identificara el rayo guía de la Luftwaffe, con su punto de intersección sobre Coventry.

No obstante, ¿podría haber "salvado" la ciudad de alguna manera? De hecho, se tomaron contramedidas, incluidos ataques aéreos contra los transmisores X-Gerät, cuyas ubicaciones eran conocidas por los británicos. Las incursiones de represalia planificadas previamente por el Comando de Bombarderos contra Berlín y otras ciudades alemanas también estaban en marcha, incluso cuando la Luftwaffe sembró la destrucción en Coventry. Se ordenó a Fighter Command que entrara en acción. Pero los cazas nocturnos británicos, la mayoría sin radar a bordo, no pudieron encontrar a los bombarderos enemigos, y la artillería antiaérea local también resultó ineficaz.

Entonces, dadas estas debilidades, ¿debería el gobierno haber intentado evacuar Coventry con poca antelación? Difícilmente. Probablemente habría resultado en pánico y caos. Es mejor ordenar a la gente de la ciudad sus refugios y esperanzas.

Sin embargo, una cosa parece clara y de genuina importancia histórica: "Moonlight Sonata" rebotó en Alemania y el pueblo alemán con una venganza.

Frederick Taylor es autor de varios libros sobre la Segunda Guerra Mundial, incluido el bombardeo de Coventry y Dresde. Su último trabajo, 1939: la historia de un pueblo, fue publicado recientemente en rústica por Picador

Coventry es reconocida como una ciudad de paz y reconciliación


Cómo Winston Churchill soportó el bombardeo y enseñó al pueblo de Inglaterra a hacer lo mismo

Durante 57 noches consecutivas en 1940, la Alemania nazi trató de poner de rodillas a Inglaterra. Oleadas de aviones azotaron ciudades con bombas de alto explosivo y artefactos incendiarios como parte de una campaña para romper el espíritu inglés y destruir la capacidad del país para hacer la guerra. Un hombre se mantuvo firme contra el ataque: Winston Churchill.

El nuevo libro del historiador Erik Larson & # 8217 analiza en profundidad a este desafiante primer ministro que casi sin ayuda deseaba que su nación resistiera. Lo espléndido y lo vil: una saga de Churchill, la familia y el desafío durante el bombardeo examina a un líder en crisis & # 8212un desafío de proporciones épicas con el destino de la democracia en juego. Larson, autor del New York Times los más vendidos El diablo en la ciudad blanca y Dead Wake, detalla la audacia de Churchill al enfrentarse solo a la amenaza nazi al instar a sus compatriotas a superar la desesperanza y luchar. Peinó los archivos con una nueva lente para descubrir material fresco sobre cómo Inglaterra & # 8217s & # 8220bulldog & # 8221 sacó a su nación de una derrota inminente para permanecer ensangrentada pero firme como una isla fortaleza de la libertad. En una entrevista con Smithsonian, Larson describe cómo llegó a escribir su nuevo libro y qué sorpresas aprendió sobre el hombre que nos recuerda hoy en qué consiste el verdadero liderazgo.

¿Por qué escribiste este libro? Cualquiera por qué ahora?

Esa es una pregunta con muchas cosas que desempacar. Mi esposa y yo vivíamos en Seattle. Tenemos tres hijas mayores que habían volado la cooperativa. Una cosa llevó a la otra y decidimos que nos íbamos a mudar a Manhattan, donde yo siempre había querido vivir. Cuando llegamos a Nueva York, tuve esta epifanía & # 8212 y yo & # 8217 no estoy exagerando. Realmente fue una especie de epifanía sobre cómo debió haber sido la experiencia del 11 de septiembre para los residentes de la ciudad de Nueva York. Even though I watched the whole thing unfold in real-time on CNN and was horrified, when I got to New York I realized this was an order-of-magnitude traumatic event. Not just because everything was live and right in front of your face this was an attack on your home city.

Feeling that very keenly, I started thinking about the German air campaign against London and England. What was that like for them? It turned out to have been 57 consecutive nights of bombings󈠉 consecutive 9/11s, if you will. How does anybody cope with that? Then, of course, there was six more months of raids at intervals and with increasing severity. How does the average person endure that, let alone the head of the country, Winston Churchill, who’s also trying to direct a war? And I started thinking how do you do something like that? What’s the intimate, inside story?

Remember, Churchill—this was one thing that really resonated with me as a father with three daughters—was not just the leader of Great Britain and a London citizen, but he was a father. He had a young daughter who was only 17. His family was spread out throughout London. How do you cope with that anxiety on a daily level? Every night, hundreds of German bombers are flying over with high-explosive bombs.

So why now? I think the timing is good because we all could use a refresher course on what actual leadership is like.

The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz

En The Splendid and the Vile, Erik Larson shows, in cinematic detail, how Churchill taught the British people “the art of being fearless.” Drawing on diaries, original archival documents, and once-secret intelligence reports—some released only recently—Larson provides a new lens on London’s darkest year through the day-to-day experience of Churchill and his family.

Churchill writes in his memoir that he’s ecstatic over the opportunity to lead the country at such a difficult time. Anybody else would be cringing. Where did his confidence come from?

In his personal memoir on the history of the war, he exalts that he became prime minister. The world is going to hell, but he is just thrilled. That’s what really sets him apart from other leaders. Not only was he undaunted, he was actively, aggressively thrilled by the prospect of this war.

Lord Halifax, who was considered by many to be the rightful successor to [prime minister Neville] Chamberlain, didn’t want the job. He had no confidence he could negotiate a war as prime minister. But Churchill had absolute confidence. Where did that come from? No lo sé. I’ve read a lot about his past in doing research and I’ve thought a lot about it. I still don’t have a good answer.

What surprised you the most about Churchill?

A lot of things surprised me. What surprised me the most was simply that Churchill really could be quite funny. He knew how to have fun. One scene in particular will stay with me, even as I go on to other books. One night he was at the prime ministerial country estate, Chequers, wearing this blue one-piece jumpsuit he designed and his silk flaming-red dressing gown, carrying a Mannlicher rifle with a bayonet. He’s doing bayonet drills to the strains of martial music from the gramophone. That’s the kind of guy he was. He was said to be absolutely without vanity.

How did you go about your research for this book?

So much has been done on Churchill. And if you set out to read everything, it would take a decade. My strategy from the beginning was to read the canon of Churchill scholarship to the point where I felt I had a grasp of everything that was going on. Then, rather than spend the next ten years reading additional material, I was going to do what frankly I think I do best: dive into the archives.

I scoured various archives in hopes of finding fresh material using essentially a new lens. How did he go about day to day enduring this onslaught from Germany in that first year as prime minister? From that perspective, I came across a lot of material that was perhaps overlooked by other scholars. That’s how I guided myself throughout the book. I was going to rely on the archives and firsthand documents to the extent that I could to build my own personal Churchill, if you will. And then, once I had accumulated a critical mass of materials, I moved on to start writing the book.

My main source was the National Archives of the U.K. at Kew Gardens, which was fantastic. I probably have 10,000 pages of material from documents. I also used the Library of Congress in the U.S. The manuscript division reading room has the papers of Averell Harriman, who was a special envoy for FDR. It has also the papers of Pamela Churchill, wife the prime minister’s son, Randolph, who later married Harriman. And even more compelling are the papers of Harriman’s personal secretary Robert Meiklejohn, who left a very detailed diary. There is a lot of other material describing the Harriman mission to London, which was all-important in spring of 1941.

Churchill views the wreck of Coventry Cathedral, damaged by German bombs. (Fremantle/Alamy)

Numerous accounts detail how Churchill liked to work in the nude or in the tub. How did that tie into your overall view of Churchill?

He did that a lot. And he was not at all shy about it. There’s a scene that John Colville [private secretary to Churchill] describes in his diary. Churchill was in the bath and numerous important telephone calls were coming in. Churchill would just get out of the bath, take the call, then get back in the bath. It didn’t matter. He did have a complete and utter lack of vanity.

That was one of the aspects of his character that really did help him. He didn’t care. As always, though, with Churchill, you also have to add a caveat. One of the things I discovered was while he had no sense of vanity and didn’t really care what people thought of him, he hated criticism.

What fresh material did you find for the book?

The foremost example is the fact that I was thankfully given permission to read and use Mary Churchill’s diary. I was the second person to be allowed to look at it. I thank Emma Soames, Mary’s daughter, for giving me permission. Mary makes the book because she was Churchill’s youngest daughter at 17 [during the Blitz]. She kept a daily diary that is absolutely charming. She was a smart young woman. She could write well and knew how to tell a story. And she was observant and introspective. There’s also the Meiklejohn diary. A lot of the Harriman stuff is new and fresh. There are materials that I haven’t seen anywhere else.

Another example: Advisors around Churchill were really concerned about how Hitler might be going after the prime minister. Not just in Whitehall, but also at Chequers. It’s kind of surprising to me that the Luftwaffe [the Nazi air force] hadn’t found Chequers and bombed it. Here was this country home with a long drive covered with pale stone. At night, under a full moon, it luminesced like an arrow pointing to the place.

What precautions did Churchill take to stay out of harm’s way during dangerous situations?

He didn’t take many. There are a lot of cases when an air raid was about to occur and Churchill would go to the roof and watch. This was how he was. He was not going to cower in a shelter during a raid. He wanted to see it. By day, he carried on as if there were no nightly air raids. This was part of his style, part of how he encouraged and emboldened the nation. If Churchill’s doing this, if he’s courageous enough, maybe we really don’t have so much to fear.

Churchill would walk through the bombed sections of London following a raid.

He did it often. He would visit a city that had been bombed, and the people would flock to him. There is no question in my mind that these visits were absolutely important to helping Britain weather this period. He was often filmed for newsreels, and it was reported by newspapers and radio. This was leadership by demonstration. He showed the world that he cared and he was fearless.

Did Churchill and the people of Great Britain believe that the bombing would lead to an invasion?

That’s another thing that did surprise me: the extent to which the threat of invasion was seen to be not just inevitable, but imminent. Within days. There was talk of, “Oh, invasion Saturday.” Can you imagine that? It’s one thing to endure 57 nights of bombing, but it’s another to live with the constant anxiety that it is a preamble to invasion.

Churchill was very clear-eyed about the threat from Germany. To him, the only way to really defeat any effort by Hitler to invade England was by increasing fighter strength so the Luftwaffe could never achieve air superiority. Churchill felt that if the Luftwaffe could be staved off, an invasion would be impossible. And I think he was correct in that.

England survives the German bombings. What was the feeling like after the Blitz?

The day after was this amazing quiet. People couldn’t believe it. The weather was good, the nights were clear. What was going on? And day after day, it was quiet. No more bombers over London. That was the end of the first and most important phase of the German air war against Britain. It was the first real victory of the war for England.

When we talk about the Blitz, it’s important to realize the extent to which Churchill counted on America as the vehicle for ultimate victory. He was confident Britain could hold off Germany, but he believed victory would only come with the full-scale participation of the United States. Churchill acknowledged that early on when he met with his son, Randolph, who asked him, “How can you possibly expect to win?” Churchill says, “I shall drag the United States in.” A big part of the story I tell is about also how he went about doing that.

Your book covers that very crucial time in 1940 and 1941. In the epilogue, you jump ahead to July 1945 when the Conservative Party is voted out of office and Churchill is no longer prime minister.

What a shocking reversal! I was so moved when I learned how the family gathered at Chequers for the last time. Mary Churchill was saddened by what was happening. They tried to cheer him up. Nothing worked at first, but then gradually he began to come out of it. And I think at that point he was coming around to accepting this was the reality. But it was hard for him. I think what really hurt him was the idea that suddenly he had no meaningful work to do. That just about crushed him.

What did you learn in writing this book?

Writing about Churchill, dwelling in that world, was really a lovely place for me. It took me out of the present. This may sound like a cliché, but it took me back to a time when leadership really mattered. And truth mattered. And rhetoric mattered.

I love that Churchillians seem to like this book and actually see new things in it. But this book is really for my audience. I’m hoping they are drawn to the story and will sink into this past period as if they were there. I think that’s very important in understanding history.

Churchill was a unifier. He was a man who brought a nation together. As he said, he didn't make people brave, he allowed their courage to come forward. It’s a very interesting distinction. To me, as I say in the book, he taught the nation the art of being fearless. And I do think fearlessness can be a learned art.

About David Kindy

David Kindy is a journalist, freelance writer and book reviewer who lives in Plymouth, Massachusetts. He writes about history, culture and other topics for Aire y espacio, Military History, Segunda Guerra Mundial, Vietnam, Historia de la aviación, Providence Journal and other publications and websites.


Winston Churchill on Germany’s Unforgivable “Crime”

Germany’s most unforgivable crime before the Second World War was her attempt to extricate her economic power from the world’s trading system and to create her own exchange mechanism which would deny world finance its opportunity to profit.

So Germany’s unwillingness to be looted by international bankers was the reason million and millions of Europeans had to perish? The world elite definitely didn’t want the “Goyim” to get any big ideas after seeing Germany’s remarkable recovery under National Socialism.

Decades before, in 1920, Churchill had actually written on the subject of jewish involvement in the looting of Germany after the first World War:

The same phenomenon [i.e., Jewish involvement with left-wing and Communist movements] has been presented in Germany (especially in Bavaria), so far as this madness has been allowed to prey upon the temporary prostration of the German people. Although in all these countries there are many non-Jews every whit as bad as the worst of the Jewish revolutionaries, the part played by the latter in proportion to their numbers is astonishing.

Churchill also acknowledged the role jews played in bringing about the Soviet terror:

There is no need to exaggerate the part played in the creation of Bolshevism and in the actual bringing about of the Russian Revolution, by these international and for the most part atheistical Jews. Ciertamente es muy bueno, probablemente supera a todos los demás. With the notable exception of Lenin, the majority of the leading figures are Jews [Lenin’s paternal grandfather was later found to be a Jew]. Además, la inspiración principal y el poder impulsor proviene de los líderes judíos.

Jewish power was not confined to Germany or the Soviet Union, but could be found all around the world:

Some people like the Jews, and some do not. But no thoughtful man can deny the fact that they are, beyond any question, the most formidable and most remarkable race which has appeared in the world.

At some point Churchill became an instrument of this power. During World War II Churchill’s loyalty was not to the British people, the majority of whom never wanted war with Germany, but to the small tribe of alien elite that has been fomenting wars and reaping the spoils for centuries upon centuries.

Churchill’s atrocities against Germany make him one of the worst villains this world has ever known, along with his comrade Joseph Stalin.

Senator Homer Capeheart made the following speech before the U.S. Senate on Feb. 5, 1946:

Since the end of the war about 3,000,000 people, mostly women and children and overaged men, have been killed in eastern Germany and south-eastern Europe about 15,000,000 people have been deported or had to flee from their homesteads and are on the road. About 25 per cent of these people, over 3,000,000 have perished. About 4,000,000 men and women have been deported to eastern Europe and Russia as slaves. It seems that the elimination of the German population of eastern Europe – at least 15,000,000 people – was planned in accordance with decisions made at Yalta. Churchill had said to Mikolajczyk when the latter protested during the negotiations at Moscow against forcing Poland to incorporate eastern Germany: “Don’t mind the five or more million Germans. Stalin will see to them. You will have no trouble with them: they will cease to exist.”


Churchill's Bomb: A Hidden History of Science, War and Politics by Graham Farmelo – review

"Death stands at attention," wrote Winston Churchill in 1924: in the next war mankind would possess, for the first time, "the tools by which it can unfailingly accomplish its own destruction". Yet when he came to sanction the development of the atomic bomb during the second world war, Churchill displayed none of his characteristic vision and imagination.

His early prescience owed less to science than to science fiction. Although as a boy he liked playing with model trench-diggers and conducting the odd experiment with gunpowder, he was much too expensively educated to be taught anything scientific. Later, when given an elementary explanation of radar, he confessed that it was beyond him. But Churchill did become a fan of HG Wells, regarding him as a "seer" and especially admiring The Time Machine, "one of the books I would like to take with me to Purgatory". Churchill was also fascinated by Wells's military predictions, notably about the role of aircraft and "land ironclads", otherwise known as tanks. These he championed during the first world war, inviting Wells to see prototypes in action.

The two men parted company, though, on the question of whether wars were best run by technocrats. Churchill was profoundly suspicious of experts – he once told his oculist: "I entirely disagree with your diagnosis." He believed that the boundless ignorance of the plain man was a safer guide than the limited understanding of the specialist, above all the military specialist, from whose dominion, he prayed, "good Lord deliver us".

But then even Ernest Rutherford, who achieved fame by splitting the atom in 1917, was fallible in his chosen field. He insisted that the "nucleus is a sink, not a source of energy" and that anyone proposing to find power in the transformation of atoms "was talking moonshine". Still, Rutherford (assisted by his "boys" at the Cavendish laboratory in Cambridge, such as James Chadwick, Ernest Walton and John Cockcroft) had a far more sophisticated grasp of nuclear physics than his Oxford counterpart, Frederick Lindemann. Yet Lindemann was the one expert in whom Churchill did have faith, much to the detriment, Graham Farmelo writes in this dazzling book, of Britain's wartime endeavours to develop the atomic bomb.

"The Prof", as Churchill called Lindemann, was an odd sort of friend for him to have. He was a teetotal, non-smoking vegetarian, resolutely buttoned-up and bowler-hatted. A snob and an antisemite, he pursued vendettas that were savage even by academic standards, once attempting to enforce an obscure statute enjoining celibacy on the canons of Christ Church. He was said to run the Clarendon lab, which admittedly resembled a medieval alchemist's den when he took it over in 1919, like a Prussian dictator. Lindemann was "a genuinely horrible figure", wrote Isaiah Berlin. "He is the only person, I think, whom I have ardently wished to murder."

Nevertheless the Prof appealed to Churchill. He was a staunch anti-appeaser. He was also outstandingly brave: having worked out what caused spin in aeroplanes, he learned to fly in order to prove his theory and during the blitz he was unfazed, reading PG Wodehouse in bed. Churchill admired him as a sorcerer with a slide-rule, who could work out how much champagne he had drunk during his lifetime (only enough to fill half a railway carriage, to his disappointment) and helped with his lucrative articles on subjects such as "Death Rays" and "Are there Men on the Moon?"

Lindemann also had a knack of giving comprehensible (if not flawless) accounts of scientific arcana such as quantum theory. Churchill became intrigued by the subject, noting that the process of radioactivity "constitutes a liberation of energy at the expense of structure", something that suggested "the breakup of empires into independent states". He and the Prof also shared a fondness for new battlefield contraptions, which Churchill called "funnies". Before the war they favoured aerial mines (to the disadvantage of radar) and during it they endorsed the construction of experimental weapons such as the "Great Panjandrum", a devastating rocket-propelled wheel that regularly ran amok.

Farmelo's main charge is that Churchill, as prime minister, relied too exclusively on the Prof for scientific advice, particularly over the crucial matter of the atomic bomb. It's true that Lindemann sanctioned its development in 1941, when Chadwick reported that it could be made in two and a half years. But, overestimating British capacities, he did not press Churchill to accept President Roosevelt's offer of equal collaboration in creating nuclear weaponry. Consequently America went ahead alone, pouring vast resources into the Manhattan Project and freezing Britain out. According to Farmelo, Churchill thus squandered the lead of British scientists and "missed one of the great opportunities of the war". He temporarily recouped Britain's position at the Quebec conference in 1943, persuading Roosevelt to sign an agreement whereby their two countries would co–operate over production of the bomb and have a mutual veto on its use. But after Hiroshima – something Churchill never regretted, even hankering to threaten Russia with something similar at the inception of the cold war – Harry Truman tore up what was essentially a private accord. Britain made its own bomb (a policy Attlee concealed from everyone except Stalin's spies) and the special relationship became so one-sided, Churchill was perturbed to discover in 1951, that the White House was entitled to launch nuclear strikes from US air bases in East Anglia without even consulting Downing Street.

This made Britain a prime target, and no one had a more apocalyptic view of the possible consequences than Churchill. Having described the explosion of the atomic bomb as "the second coming in wrath", he said that the hydrogen bomb was as much of an advance on it as it had been on the bow and arrow. Britain had to have the H-bomb, he believed, to preserve the balance of terror. But Churchill spent much of his last premiership seeking détente with the Soviet Union, a noble but doomed enterprise.

Farmelo, prize-winning biographer of the physicist Paul Dirac, recounts this important story with skill and erudition. But he does make the occasional slip (Labour had no "programme" to dismantle the empire after 1945, quite the contrary) and his essential case is not altogether watertight. As the global colossus, America was bound to take the lead in nuclear development and Churchill, though slow off the mark, played a weak hand well. Ultimately, moreover, he had to adjudicate between the boffins – and he was sometimes startlingly right.

For instance, he sided with RV Jones against Henry Tizard on the question of whether German bombers were being guided by radio directional beams, thus making a vital contribution to the wizard war. And even Lindemann had his plus points: he made jobs in Oxford for Jewish scientists facing Nazi persecution and encouraged Churchill to create his eponymous college in Cambridge to promote British science and engineering. Still, it's the paradoxes and the nuances that make this episode in history, now illuminated as never before, so compelling.


Why did Churchill order the destruction of the bombes? - Historia

Just another sad, but unremarkable tale of a bright kid who squandered his potential and ruined his life by turning to a career in IT.

Since first embarking down this dark path, I've done a little bit of everything, from small businesses to large datacenters, Linux to Windows, networking and security, DBA roles and, in my darkest moments, even some light mainframe operations.

These days it's Microsft products paying the bills, for what difference it makes. Whether it's a multi-domain AD environment with tens of thousands of users, a small cluster of Linux webservers, or a tangled web of network cables, systems are all just complex tools to do complex jobs, perpetually in need of someone to make them perform better and ensure they're always available when someone needs them.

Since being a lawyer seemed too boring, being a doctor seemed too hard, and my idea of a good time usually involves using a powerful computer anyway, I really can't imagine doing anything else.

Dear HopelessN00b Genius of network. it's easy for you to speak. If I could explain my problems in my language probably also an hysteric like you could help me, but in another Language (english) is no easy for me. Anyway thanks, I'll continue to try online. Ps. I make this job from 1998 when you were probably coming out of college. So before to speak. think!


If You're Going Through Hell, Keep Going - Winston Churchill

Seventy-two years ago tomorrow, a chubby, stoop-shouldered, funny faced man with a speech impediment took a new job. The man was 65-years old and until a year earlier was generally considered to be a crackpot and a political has-been. His taking the new job was one of the most momentous events of the entire 20 th Century.

The man was Winston Churchill, and the job was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. On May 10, 1940, the British looked to be finished. They stood alone against the vicious and victorious Nazis.

Two weeks after Churchill came into power, France was knocked out of the war, and 340,000 British troops had to scramble to escape over the beaches at Dunkirk. The Germans had absolute control of all of Europe. It seemed impossible that Britain could survive.

With almost no hope left, the nation turned to Winston Churchill, the one man who had spoken the truth for years, saying nasty things about Adolf Hitler and the Nazis, even though it cost him in terms of political success and personal reputation.

Churchill’s first speech to the British people as PM laid out his program bluntly, “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.” He followed that with another speech shortly thereafter: “. . . we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills we shall never surrender.”

In other words, his plan for success: Complete and total defiance.

“We shall never surrender.” When you have nothing left but defiance, commit to it with everything you have. Like Prince Hal in Shakespeare’s Enrique V, Churchill used language to rouse the fighting spirit he believed was still alive in the British people, saying, “If you're going through hell, keep going.” And the line that summed up his personal career and the spirit that led the British people to victory: “Never, never, never give up.”

Churchill would later describe what he did this way, “It was the nation and the race dwelling all round the globe that had the lion's heart. I had the luck to be called upon to give the roar.”

He was right about the lion’s heart. Within months, the Luftwaffe would duel the Royal Air Force in the Battle of Britain. The RAF was badly outnumbered by its German opponents, but that didn’t stop it from beating the Germans day after day, month after month. Finally the Germans admitted defeat by changing tactics and began the Blitz, the strategic bombing of London and southern England.

Londoners proved Churchill’s lion’s heart remark again, taking care of each other in the tube stations during the air raids while firefighters made sure that St. Paul’s survived the bombing.

As we emerge from the recession of the last few years, it’s good to remember things could be a lot worse. Take a few pointers from Churchill as you try to lead your organization into recovery:

Remember that “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference,” as Churchill said.

No matter what kind of shape your business is in, if your attitude is never, never, never give up, you stand a much better chance of succeeding. The folks you work with will pick up on your sincerity and conviction, and they’ll begin to operate the same way. And it will enable all of you to take the difficult steps necessary.

Be absolutely honest. Has any organization’s leader ever been blunter than Churchill when he told his desperate countrymen that he had nothing to offer them “but blood, toil, tears and sweat”? If Churchill could be that forthright as he faced annihilation, you can be too, no matter what it is you’re facing. So . . . never surrender. If you need to:

  • Declare bankruptcy and reorganize, do it. (GM did this, and it worked. Really worked.)
  • Renegotiate debt and lines of credit — what are you waiting for?
  • Innovate in the making of your products and services — get to it. (Apple's been doing this for years, and look at their stock value.)
  • Be straight with “your people”: shareholders, customers, and employees. (Maybe Rupert Murdoch and News Corp. should try this policy.)

For Churchill and England surrender was not an option, which freed Churchill to do whatever he had to do, including making some brutally harsh decisions. As the Battle for France raged in May 1940, French leaders begged Churchill for British air support. But the RAF’s commanders told Churchill that it was urgent that they conserve their fighters for the anticipated battle in their own skies. Churchill left the French to fend for themselves and held back the fighters, positioning the RAF for its triumph in the Battle of Britain.

Support innovation. Churchill had been one of the early backers of tanks, hoping they could be deployed in World War I to break the awful stalemate of trench warfare. In 1944, he would champion the use of artificial harbors called mulberries — cement-filled ship hulls that could be sunk where needed to create instant harbors for troop deployments and supplies.

But the most innovative and most important thing Churchill supported was radar (the British were the first to deploy effective radar systems). The Brits created a number of radar stations in southern England to use as an early-detection system, and coupled it with a brilliant fighter-command system that allowed the RAF’s air marshals to dispatch fighters where and when they were needed. Radar went a long way to neutralize the Germans’ gigantic superiority in numbers. (The Brits, at Churchill’s urging, shared radar’s secrets with the United States, and the Americans put it to very good use as well.)

Once America entered the war, as Churchill later confessed in his history of World War II, he knew that the Germans would be defeated. But for nineteen months, Churchill had to rally a beaten people against an unstoppable foe. How did he do it? He understood the people he was leading — and he understood what it was they wanted, what it was that the Nazis were trying to destroy. He said, “All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope.” He was able to lead because he knew the people he was leading and never separated himself from them. He was, quite literally, willing to die for them.

Most managers aren’t asked to be that willing. But your commitment should be close to Churchill’s — as close as you can get when the situation is not life-and-death. If you haven’t got that commitment, maybe you should be looking for another line of work.

Just in case you were asleep for a large portion of the 20th Century (or were born very late in it), I’ll catch you up on what happened to Mr. Churchill. After saving his country from the brink of destruction, Churchill was forced out of office by a vote of the British people just before the end of the war in 1945.

Churchill was hurt but showed the classic British stiff upper lip by saying, “History will be kind to me — for I intend to write it.” Write it he did, a six-volume history called La segunda Guerra Mundial, which was the primary reason he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953.

But history was going to be kind to him whether he wrote it or not. The British people returned him to the office of Prime Minister, 1951-1955. Queen Elizabeth offered to create Churchill as Duke of London, but he declined. In 1963, by an act of the U.S. Congress, he was the first living person named Honorary Citizen of the United States.

When Winston Churchill died on January 24, 1965 at the age of 90, the Queen decreed that he should have a state funeral, the first ever in English history for a non-royal. The former has-been and crackpot had journeyed a very long way on the strength of his courage and commitment.

Note: This post was adapted from an earlier blog.

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The destruction of Warsaw: the Nazi plan to obliterate a city

On the 1st of September 2019, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier of Germany took to the podium in Warsaw’s Piłsudski Square at an event to mark the eightieth anniversary of the Nazi invasion of Poland.

'In no other square in Europe do I find it more difficult to speak, and to address you in my native language of German,' Steinmeier told the assembled crowds. 'I ask for forgiveness for Germany’s historical guilt and I recognise our enduring responsibility.'

But why did the president find it so difficult to say those words in that particular square? Because seventy-five years before, the Nazis set about wiping Warsaw off the face of the earth.

The planned destruction of Warsaw had been on the cards before German tanks and troops rolled over the border into Poland at the start of September 1939. Three months before the invasion, a plan to replace the Polish capital with a small German town had caught the eye of Adolf Hitler. This was the ‘Pabst Plan’, named after its creator, Friedrich Pabst. The plan presumed the city would be cleared of its inhabitants and razed to the ground during and after a war between Poland and Germany. In its place, a small town of 130,000 German inhabitants would be built on the right bank of the River Vistula. To service the town, a slave labour camp would be built on the left bank housing 80,000 Polish prisoners. Rifling through the Pabst Plan, Hitler liked what he saw.

The next five years of occupation would be a truly brutal affair.

Eight days after Germany invaded Poland, the bombing of Warsaw commenced. The assault culminated in what was then the biggest air raid the world had ever seen on the 25th of September 1939. On that terrifying day, the city was pummelled by 560 tonnes of high explosives, 72 tonnes of incendiaries and heavy artillery fire. By the end of what would become known as the Siege of Warsaw, approximately 18,000 civilians had lost their lives, 40% of the city’s buildings had been damaged and a further 10% had been completely destroyed. Worse - much, much worse - was to follow.

The Wehrmacht entered the city of Warsaw on the 1st of October. The next five years of occupation would be a truly brutal affair. The first to feel the full force of Nazi cruelty were the Jews. The city was home to around 270,000 Jews before the war. That number had swelled as both Polish and Jewish refugees flooded into the heavily defended city as the Nazis advanced towards the capital.

After Warsaw fell, most of the city’s Jews were rounded up and crammed into a vast ghetto – the largest of the war – situated immediately to the northeast of the city’s ancient Old and New Towns. The Warsaw Ghetto was a walled-off, disease-infested slum area where death was a daily occurrence. The ghetto’s inhabitants were subjected to regular roundups lined up and marched off to transportation trains heading for extermination centres such as Auschwitz and Treblinka. Eventually, a resistance movement arose aiming to stop these mass deportations, leading to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of January 1943 that saw Jewish resistance fighters valiantly holding off the Nazis for four months before the uprising was crushed in April. After the Nazis regained control of the ghetto, all remaining Jews were either shot or rounded up and deported to concentration camps. The ghetto was then razed to the ground, with hardly a building left standing across over one square mile of the city centre.

'When we crush the uprising, Warsaw will get what it deserves – complete annihilation.'

Elsewhere in the city, the Nazis operated a policy of collective responsibility, which meant any act of resistance was punished by the deaths of not only those who had been involved but of the innocent as well. This meant that by 1944, many thousands of the city’s inhabitants had been murdered. This led to the Warsaw Uprising which began on the 1st of August 1944 – a last desperate act of resistance against a brutal regime that would eventually be crushed sixty-three days later. By 1944, 60% of the city’s population, some 800,000 people, had been killed. The rest, 250,000 people, were deported from the city after the uprising. Many would end their days in concentration camps.

'When we crush the uprising, Warsaw will get what it deserves – complete annihilation.' These were the words of Hans Frank, the head of the German government in Poland. Hitler and Himmler agreed, and Warsaw’s fate was sealed.

Nothing was to be spared. Engineers armed with flamethrowers and high explosives were dispatched all over the city, supervised, astonishingly, by German architectural experts and historians. Street by street, these demolition teams methodically burned and dynamited everything in their paths. Special attention was given to the city’s most important historical buildings, as well as to the National Archives and the city’s libraries and monuments.

The Royal Castle, a 16th Century baroque pile that stood at the entrance to the city’s ancient Old Town had already been badly damaged and looted after the invasion of 1939. On the 4th of September 1944, the castle’s walls were dynamited, leaving nothing but a huge pile of rubble.
In October, the Nazis turned their attention to Warsaw’s rich artistic and written heritage. Thousands upon thousands of priceless manuscripts, books, pamphlets, drawings and prints were deliberately destroyed – an irreplaceable loss. The libraries and museums that housed these treasures were themselves then razed to the ground.

In November, St. John’s Cathedral - already badly damaged during the Warsaw Uprising - was dynamited into dust. St. John’s was one of many of the city’s exquisite ecclesiastical buildings that the Nazis destroyed. Other notable examples were the 16th Century Gothic Church of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the 17th Century Polish Mannerist Jesuit Church. The twin-towered Holy Cross Church’s baroque facade had already been blasted to smithereens by Goliath tracked mines in September. The Germans would destroy the rest of the church in January 1945.

By the time the Nazis abandoned the city in January 1945, about 85% of Warsaw had been completely destroyed.


The evolution of mutual assured destruction (MAD)

Commencing with U.S. Pres. John F. Kennedy’s administration, greater emphasis was placed on a doctrine of all-purpose flexibility, including a larger conventional ground force as well as counterinsurgency forces to deal with “brushfire wars” such as the one in Vietnam. In the ensuing atomic era, SAC yielded in delivery importance to guided missiles fired either from permanent silos or from nuclear submarines. All three of these systems—manned bombers, land-based ballistic missiles, and nuclear missile-armed submarines—would comprise the so-called nuclear triad of U.S. defense capability. The rationale for maintaining so many nuclear weapons with such varied delivery systems was to ensure that the United States could carry out a second strike against any preemptive nuclear attack. Although the U.S. employed civil defense techniques such as those spelled out in the “ duck and cover” campaign, strategic planners understood that these measures would be effectively worthless in the face of an actual nuclear attack. The arms race between the U.S. and the Soviet Union continued.

The Cuban missile crisis (October 1962) brought the world to the brink of nuclear holocaust, and U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara responded with a dramatic shift in U.S. nuclear doctrine. McNamara had previously promoted a counterforce or “no cities” strategy that targeted Soviet military units and installations. Under this paradigm, it was believed that a nuclear conflict of limited scope could be fought and won without it escalating to a full nuclear exchange. This strategy relied on both superpowers abiding by such a limitation, however, and neither believed that the other would do so. In 1965 McNamara instead proposed a countervalue doctrine that expressly targeted Soviet cities. McNamara stated that this doctrine of “assured destruction” could be achieved with as few as 400 high-yield nuclear weapons targeting Soviet population centres these would be “sufficient to destroy over one-third of [the Soviet] population and one-half of [Soviet] industry.” McNamara proposed that the guarantee of mutual annihilation would serve as an effective deterrent to both parties and that the goal of maintaining destructive parity should guide U.S. defense decisions. McNamara based this tenuous equilibrium on the “assured-destruction capability” of the U.S. arsenal.

The term “mutual assured destruction,” along with the derisive acronym “MAD,” was not actually coined by McNamara but by an opponent of the doctrine. Military analyst Donald Brennan argued that attempting to preserve an indefinite stalemate did little to secure U.S. defense interests in the long term and that the reality of U.S. and Soviet planning reflected continued efforts by each superpower to gain a clear nuclear advantage over the other. Brennan personally advocated on behalf of an antiballistic missile defense system that would neutralize Soviet warheads before they could detonate. Such an obvious break with the status quo would thoroughly undermine the Soviets’ “assured-destruction capability” and would likely trigger a new arms race. Nevertheless, Brennan’s plan would find supporters in the U.S. government, the most prominent of whom was U.S. Pres. Ronald Reagan. Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative, proposed in 1983, would become the centrepiece of disarmament negotiations throughout the 1980s, despite the fact that the technology behind the program was far from proven. The Soviets did indeed attempt to pursue their own antiballistic missile defense system for a time, but shrinking military budgets and, finally, the collapse of the Soviet Union spelled the end of the superpower model that had enabled the mutual assured destruction doctrine.

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica This article was most recently revised and updated by Michael Ray, Editor.


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