Friday, November 04, 2005

Hitler and "The General"


In the synopsis on the back cover of The General, it says that Hitler distributed the book among his staff. After doing a little bit of research I found that in 1938 he actually took specially bound copies of the book and gave them away as Christmas presents to Nazi military leaders, including Goering and Keital. But why would a British book about the First World War have such a strong influence on Germany's most infamous leader? I think that Hitler thought it gave an accurate description of the mindset of the British people, and more specifically, the British military. C.S. Forester created a character that seems to encapsulate the characteristics of the British general. Curzon is a man who is defined by old, traditional military principles, which he carries with him into a more modern kind of warfare. His intense patriotism, accompanied by his stubbornness to fight by the book are maladaptive when it comes to trench warfare. Even when the amount of men who are dying reach almost catastrophic levels, Curzon makes ignorant remarks like, "You can't make war without casualties" (172). He is a man who follows orders and expects orders to be followed, regardless of the consequences. It is through Curzon that Forester condemns the mistakes of World War One. Hitler probably saw Curzon's mindless adherence to a somewhat prehistoric view on warfare as a weakness of Britain and hoped that they would retain the same mindset when he put his atrocious plans into action. For example, Hitler would have seen that Curzon was unaware that new technology would be useful in fighting wars, so The Furher could have used such information to his advantage. Hitler was obviously a smart man, and knowing one's enemies is essential in times of war, but fortunately the British seemed to have learned from some of their mistakes of The Great War when World War Two rolled around.

2 Comments:

Blogger Dan said...

Candice: is it ignorant to say that you can't make war without having casualties? Name me a war with none.

Friday, November 25, 2005 2:04:00 PM  
Blogger Candice said...

Of course all wars have casualties. In the context of the situation in the story, I think it was an ignorant remark for Curzon to make. He is responding to a young Captain who is talking about how the casualty rates are becoming too high. Curzon had put a stop to the practice of refraining from "inflicting casualties on the other side at moments when retaliation would cause casualties to themselves - ration parties were mutually being spared, and certain dangerous localities received reciprocal consideration" (171). The Captain is responding to the unnecessary wasting of the soldiers’ lives and all that Curzon can say is "You can't fight a war without causalities." Curzon wants to fight by the rules and remain a dutiful general, while following the idea that "the side which does not attack is bound to lose" (173). He simply lines up his men and constantly throws them at the other side in traditional British military fashion, without considering alternative methods. I think that having less casualties on your own side would be a good thing, if you were still effectively able to win the war. Thanks for your comment! I hope that clarifies my remark.

Sunday, November 27, 2005 1:12:00 PM  

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