Skip to comments."The War" (by Ken Burns) Part 6 of 7; Airing on PBS @ 7PM Central 10-1-07
Posted on 10/01/2007 5:03:34 PM PDT by VOA
Please see following posts for URL links to the discussion threads
for Parts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 of the series.
(VOA's boilerplate from prior threads)
All commentary regarding personal experience, family tales of WWII,
and critique of how Burns (and PBS) handles topics are welcome.
Hopefully the threads on the seven episodes will serve as
guides when this large documentary becomes required viewing in
Comments on how Burns handled the documenatry (positive,
negative, or neutral) will come in handy when "the younger
generation" sees the series. Especially if Burns takes a
"Smithsonian" tact to some topics...leaving people to wonder
"who the good guys were" during the epic struggle.
Enough with that violin already, willya Ken?
Links to discussion threads on Parts 1, 2, 3 and 4 as well as other useful links.
URL for thread on Part 1
URL for thread on Part 2 (Monday 9-24-07)
URL for thread on Part 3 (Tuesday 9-25-07)
URL for thread on Part 4 of 7; Airing on PBS @ 7PM Central
URL for thread on Part 5 of 7: (Sunday 9-31-07)
URLs for PBS websites:
URL to check listing for local PBS stations:
PBS website for Ken Burns The War
Not near as good as ole “victory at Sea”
The 1970’s WWII documentary series WORLD AT WAR was far superior. Kenny’s glossing over too many important events to make room for the minority cryfest.
“Enough with that violin already”
When I watch NOVA on PBS, during the opening music, I can’t help saying:
“Cue the oboe”.
That same opening theme must have been in use for at least a decade!
“Not near as good as ole victory at Sea”
Good thing NFL films had “Victory At Sea” to guide their choices
of theme music (and not “The War”).
If you can get past the pc crap,I give it two thumbs up.
Thanks for your posts on “The War”. I have not watched 1 minute of it but did read all comments from yesterday’s part 5 thread.
ping raygun (thanks for your pings).
Thanks to all contributors to these threads.
A friend of mine once said “It’s a good thing life is so morose or all those oboe players would be out of work”.
I agree 100%
Rented World at War a couple of years ago and plowed through it in a week or so— as amazing as I remembered watching with my dad back in the early 70’s. Truly the gold standard of WW2 docs.
Also agree with you on the racial elements of Burn’s flick— a little goes a long way. Yeah, it was real, it happened, it’s a shame, but it was incidental (as far as I’m concerned) to the overall drama of the war.
Tonight probably alot of coverage on the ‘Bulge’
Last night Operation Market Garden was covered, a lesser known allied effort that turned into a disaster. Didn’t realize how high the casualty figures were.
It is different and refreshing to see a series about WWII not parroting the ‘official line’ only.
I do think Burns did a decent job on “The Bulge”.
But then fighting for your life and seeing friends die at Christmas
time...that does go well with the downbeat ambience of the show.
Showing the frozen bodies and the burial detail tossing the one body
onto the truck...that should be in any real war documentary.
I’ve been taping the series and watching it when I can. I have to keep reminding myself that, as is stated at the start of each segment, this is a story about four towns during the war rather than the war itself.
“240 days in combat”...and a soldier would probably go insane
I do think of this WWII metric and then wonder about our guys/gals doing
hitches in Iraq/Afghanistan.
Sure, no barrage of German 88s to face...but doing what I see as
the toughest “police work” day in and day out for months...
it would probably drive me crazy, sooner or later.
RE: the painting
All I want to know is how did Eldridge McCarthy sneak into my house
and execute my portrait without my knowledge or permission?
(Just joking, but the painting does at least capture the ambience of
my TV commentary some days!)
Additional commentary on tonight’s episode of “The War”
Goodbye Mr Burns: Ken Burns’ “The War”
Posted on 10/01/2007 5:59:05 PM PDT by american_ranger
I have a relative who served in Iraq. His grandfather served in WWII in one of the invasions and saw many troops die.
The grandfather would not talk of the war and didn’t want to go to museums to relive the experience but when his grandson returned from combat, he sat down and talked about it with his grandson.
Since we are by majority a people of law and taught that killing is bad..and don’t live in a third world country where all life is on the line every minute..it’s no surprise that some would crack.
Thanks for your threads..looking forward to number 7.
Maybe some of the vets on this series are ready to share after this length of time. And that is good, too. I don’t see any shame in saying “I was scared”. Who wouldn’t have been? Why would you want to relive an experience so contrary to our culture? Your Grandfather and the vets (of all wars) I know want protect who they are..and who we are. Very brave and undefeated people.
Yeah, it was good. But two things were not mentioned.
1) Patton wanted to pincer the Nazis, but was over ruled by higher ups who insisted on full frontal assault (and essentially pushing the Nazis back into Germany across the length of the front).
2)One commentary that I recall from a war special about the BoB was from a local that lived in the area. She said that when they returned to their home after the conflict she remembres looking out across the fields early spring/late winter (it was one of the most brutal winters on record) and seen the whole field littered with these dark little circular pools a yard or so in diameter of water several yards apart. She explained that as the snow melted, the water pooled into the foxholes dug by the soldiers and so they became evident in the fields still covered in snow. She said it took her breth away to see the whole field (as far as the eye could see covered with foxholes. She said that it became apparent that they fought for every yard. She said that the foxholes would make their appearance for many years after the war, and then everybody knew spring was just around the corner.
I don’t know what to say about all the negative sentiment about the series though. Sure there’s a lot of PC nuance there, but I can get passed that. Were there incompetent officers? Certainly and without a doubt. Did the allies engage in some attrocities. Without a doubt.
WWII was as brutal as it was savage. The one poignant commentary made was that it was anticipated that soldiers couldn’t remain on the line for longer than 256 days before going mad. The chances were that the soldier had a higher risk of being dead than going mad. My question is: what do madmen do?
Here’s another poignant fact: the casualty raids for B-25 Liberator raids was 4%. That equates to a 36.7% chance of completing the tour. Standing in line and look to the guy to the right and to the left and neither would be coming home. Catch-22 stems from the psychological ramifications that set in due to the stress of such environment. Any rational and sane person would be positively freaked out of their mind ever more so as time went on until the soldier cracked (and it didn’t bother them any more). Then they were unfit for duty.
The series talks about these guys having nightmares for 50 years afterwards. The one pilot had to land the plane with his left hand because his right hand wouldn’t work any more. To this day he still periodically has troubles with a non-functioning right hand on occassion.
I can’t even conceive of one week of combat like that shown, let alone 8.5 months of non-stop combat 24/7.
I think tonight’s show will deal heavily with the Nazi Concentration Camps the US soldiers liberated.
I agree. They called the general who put all those Japanese Americans in camps in California a hard core racist. We had no clue what was going to happen. Why is that always brought up? ...were they lined up and shot as happened to prisoners in some Japanese prison camps? Sad thing is, this is what they teach about WWII in school along with how disastrous it was for America to drop the atomic bombs. They are not told how many American lives would be lost if Japan had to be invaded by U.S. ground forces.
Last night, one navy or marine pilot said that in the officers club on Iwo Jima a large bra was framed above the bar with a notice below it stating, “Remember Pearl Heffelman”....(last name not correct)..laughed out loud at that one!
A lot of people seem to be missing that point. It's not a history of the war--that ground has been gone over again and again--it's the story of how Americans experienced the war, at home and overseas.
Well, he was. The treatment of Italians on the west coast was pretty bad, too. Somehow the US managed to do just fine without treating east coast Italians (a much larger population much closer to Italy) or Hawaiian Japanese (a much larger population much closer to Japan) in the same way.
Burns has done a decent job of showing we sent human beings off to
fight the war...they were not a band of always-hyper-moral bullet-proof
And for that I do tip the hat to Burns. He does seem to follow my
take on what “heroes” are: fallible humans that do/endure things
almost beyond belief.
Even when they have “feet of clay”.
That is true. It also shows that draftees won the war in Europe [probably same in Pacific] because, after Africa and Italy, the regular army troops were pretty much gone. It also shows that a fighting Army can be created in a pretty short time front line led by what was termed 90 day wonders and battlefield commissions. Lessons in how to win wars and train an Army useful today.
I hope there is an unintended consequence from this, that Americans put Iraq in perspective and realize just how few casualties we've lost in comparison to our casualties in the "good war" and how much went wrong in the most successful war we've fought.
Only the Nazis? What about the rest of the German Army?
The "broad front" strategy wasn't the best, tactically, but in hindsight I don't see how Ike could have played it any other way, politically. The Brits never would have stood for giving Patton the priority over them. And Churchill wanted the Brits on the left and given a priority to take out the rocket launch sites in the Low Countries, which would eventually position them in the best tank country, the North German Plain, but with slow as molasses Monty in charge.
Where I get angry about the broad front is Hurtgen Forest, where we spilled so much blood for no tactical reason. It was the classic kind of place the Pacific commanders just bypassed.
It is fun to speculate if instead of Market Garden, Patton had gotten the priority and launched a drive around the east side of the Ardennes and Rhine to threaten to cut the Germans in the Low Countries off.
“I hope there is an unintended consequence from this, that Americans put
Iraq in perspective and realize just how few casualties we’ve lost
in comparison to our casualties in the “good war” and how much went
wrong in the most successful war we’ve fought.”
I certainly agree with that.
And, as I commented above in post 16, that WWII metric of men only being
able to take 240 days on the line
(before mental breakdown became a near-certainty)
becomes interesting when in the present-day, we have guys/gals
heading out on some of the most tense “police duty”, some for 12-15 month hitches.
Sure, I suspect the commanders try to spread the risks around the
troops as much as possible. And the risk is IEDs, sniper bullets and
ambushes, not waves of Panzers, 88 mm shells and amphetamine-jazzed
but 12 months of wondering “is this my day” sure is a test of intestinal fortitude.
And there’s the REAL Courage factor that hits me (as a naive civilian).
How on world do the US personnel do a tour in Iraq/Afghanistan,
come home, visit the family...
AND THEN pack up and go back on a transport jet and do it again?
Especially as they may have seen more than a couple of buddies
do the ultimate sacrifice on the previous tour.
That’s some intestinal fortitude.
I don’t know if I’d be able to do that.
I think Rummy was very good on the GWOT, but one place I fault him is thinking we could fight this long war and not expand the Army. The cycle of deployments is too much and is too stressful on soldiers and their families, especially when you consider how young many of them are. My wife and I were apart for a year and a half after we had 10 years under our belts and that was very stressful.