Blitzkrieg manqué or a new kind of war? Interpreting the Allied Victory in the Normandy campaign

Once more on the liberal-democratic mode of war-fighting and the problems of writing its history, a review essay on the historiography of D-Day.

The successful Allied landings on the beaches of Normandy on 6 June 1944 stand as one of the defining events of mid twentieth-century history. D-Day ranks alongside the Marshall Plan, or the Manhattan project as one of the signal demonstrations of the potency of the Western democracies. The landings were as Churchill remarked to Eisenhower in awe-struck tones, “much the greatest thing we have ever attempted.”[1] For those who honor the sacrifice and courage of the “greatest generation”, the beaches are a site of pilgrimage, the holy ground from which the “Great Crusade” for a new Europe was launched.[2] Not for nothing, the annual commemorations, now including the Germans, have become a fixture in trans-Atlantic diplomacy. But why and how did D-Day succeed? The question has given postwar society no peace. For all the solemnity and the weight of historical meaning loaded on the event, for historians D-Day serves as a Rorschach blot, an open-ended, projective test of underlying assumptions and models of historical explanation. This review essay seeks not to reconcile or synthesize the contending views, but to explore the logic of this perpetuum mobile of interpretation and reinterpretation. Tooze D-Day A New Kind of War

[1]                 The New York Times’s commentary on the 50th anniversary The Terrible and Sacred Shore” is a remarkable period piece:


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