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Operation Overlord
World War II Snapshot

Operation Overlord
  • Treaty of Versailles (by )
  • Prelude to World War Ii (by )
  • The Art of War (by )
  • On War (by )
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On June 6th, 1944, Operation Overlord commenced. It was the D-day to eclipse all other D-days, the World War II operation on a strategically unnamed day that marked the largest seaborne invasion in history. 

It’s also called known as the Invasion of Normandy. The landing on the shore followed directly after aerial and naval bombardment, and ultimately succeeded in unloading 24,000 Canadian, British, and American troops after midnight of the first night. All in all, Allied troops sent nearly 200,000 troops in some 7,000 ships and 3,000 aircraft to storm the beaches. Well-defended German positions had already been dug in, and it took rest of the month for them to take back the beach. This marked the beginning of the the Allies’ series of operations to retake the Western Front and advance into Germany.

The war would continue for another year, with Germany surrendering on May 7, 1945, and Japan surrendering on September 2, 1945. A 6-year struggle altogether, many people note that it is somewhat misleading to designate both WWI and WWII as separate wars, seeing as the the latter owes its existence to the first. The rise of fascism and people’s readiness to accept such radical ideas came as a direct response to economic struggles, political instability, and the unresolved bitterness Germans had for the terms of the Treaty of Versailles.
Famous journalist, military historian, strategist, and Captain of WWI, B. H. Liddell suggested that both wars might have been avoided—or at least prevented from turning into the horrendous meat-grinder of modern warfare that it was—if the popular theories of Carl von Clausewitz’s On War had been interpreted differently. In a forward to Sun Tzu’s timeless The Art of War, Liddell said, “Civilization might have been spared much of the damage suffered in the world wars of this century if the influence of Clausewitz’s monumental tomes On War, which molded European military thought in the era preceding the First World War, had been blended with and balanced by a knowledge of Sun Tzu's exposition on The Art of War.”

On War is one of the most important historical texts on military strategy. It was written in the context of the Napoleonic wars between 1816 and 1830. Though it was an unfinished work at the time of publication in 1832, it quickly became (and still remains) one of the most influential books on strategic thinking. Many critics other than Liddell also see Clausewitz’s work as a proposal for “total war,” the concept of an absolute war with aims to “render the enemy helpless,” seeing it as the correlating philosophy that grounded the brutality of both World Wars. 

Liddell subscribed to the mindset of the balanced warfare of Sun Tzu, as opposed to the absolute, extremist approach of Clausewitz. “He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight,” reads one of the more famous aphorisms in The Art of War. Another reads, “Know the enemy and know yourself; in a hundred battles you will never be in peril.” The strategies within tend to focus on balance of character rather than ways to dominate and suppress enemies, which is one reason the text has become relevant in all areas of competition, and, in particular, in business.

Discussions on the many different causes of war and Clausewitz’ contributions continue. This more than anything else, shows what a powerful work it is. For further reading on the motivations of the World Wars, read Gaetano Salvemini’s Prelude to World War II.

By Thad Higa


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