Divisions amongst historians

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Divisions amongst historians

Post by DIESEL on Fri Jun 12, 2009 11:44 am

While the overall course and aftermath of the battle is not in dispute, there is evidence of differences between German and allied historians over its effect on Luftwaffe strength. Stephen Bungay reflects the orthodox view:

In the summer of 1940, the RAF dealt the Luftwaffe a body-blow from which, as Theo Osterkamp ruefully observed, it never recovered, and it heralded a feckless decline. Despite its victories in Russia in 1941, it was never again to be as strong, relative to its enemies, as it was in July 1940

Dr Williamson Murray, Professor of Military Theory at the Marine Corps University and Professor at Ohio State University comments:

Although the Germans had suffered the hardest psychological knocks, since it had been their air offensive that had failed, their reaction seems at best represented by Jeschonnek's remark shortly before the invasion of Russia: "At last a proper war!". Before going on to examine the full implications of such a statement, one should note that Jeschonnek and the General Staff paid minimal attention to the attrition that had taken place, not only in the Battle of Britain but in the land campaign that had preceded it. Thus, willfully and confidently, they embarked on a campaign to conquer the largest nation in the world with an air force that quantitatively was virtually the same size as it had been the previous year and that was arguably weaker in terms of crew experience and training. Moreover, industrial production of aircraft had stagnated for the third consectutive year

Professor John Buckley wrote:

The Luftwaffe was afforded just enough time before launching Operation Barbarossa in June 1941 to make good its losses suffered over the British Isles and in France. However the quality of its pilots and aircrew was already declining as the experienced personnel of Spain, Poland, Scandinavia and France had been whittled away by high rates of attrition endured even by victorious air forces. Clearly, the Luftwaffe which prepared for the invasion of the USSR was not the force it had once been
John Foreman wrote:

Certainly the major phase of daylight assault has changed, but the battle was by no means finished. Only the German tactics have changed. The magic date of 'October the thirty-first' is of course, widely accepted, but German historians disagree vehemently; they maintain that the German Luftwaffe continued to attack Britain both night and day until May 1941 - which cannot be denied. [...] It's hard to dispute this logic. The battle ends when the attacker ceases his attacks, or is defeated. This raises another contentious question; if the Royal Air Force 'won' the battle, surely the Luftwaffe were defeated - and again this could not be further from the truth. Within six months the German Air Force had been instrumental in reversing all British gains in North Africa, had aided the Wehrmacht in forcing the British Expeditionary Force out of Greece and Crete and had achieved the most crushing air supremacy in Russia - the latter equalled only by the Israeli Air Force in the Six-Day War of 1967. A 'beaten' air force? Not until May 1945
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