Victory Disease

In 1942 both Germany and Japan were suffering from serious cases of “victory disease.” Victory disease: “threatens any nation with a history of military prowess and manifests itself in three basic symptoms: arrogance, a sense of complacency and a habit of using established patterns to fight. . .”[1] In Japan Victory disease manifested itself by the thought that the Empire could strike anywhere and do anything and also by the thought that Japan’s victories were the result of Nipponese inherent superiority over the decadent Europeans and Americans.[2]

Germany also caught the victory disease which was reinforced by the nasty racial ideology of the Nazis, led them to invade the Soviet Union while Britain still resisted in the West and in Africa.[3] However by 1942 German, unlike Japan, had two reasons to not be so arrogant: In 1940 they had been turned back by the British Royal Air Force in the Battle of Britain and had barely won a Pyrrhic victory in Crete in May 1941.

While the Battles of Midway and Stalingrad were indeed turning points in the war. There were two others worthy of note and also caused by “Victory Disease”. In the Pacific the Battle of Guadalcanal, stopped the Japanese in the South Pacific and secured the long and vulnerable from America to Australia. [4]    The other was the Allied victory in North Africa; called “Tunisgrad”, a play on words referencing Stalingrad. Loses in the final surrender to the Western allies in North Africa were devastating.   Over two hundred thousand Axis soldiers went into prison camps; including 3 elite Panzer divisions (10th, 15th and 21st) and the Herman Goering Panzer Division as well. [5]

It doesn’t require much imagination to think of what those 200,000 Germans, many of them fine soldiers would have meant to the defense of Sicily or Italy or France; or had they been deployed to the Eastern Front.

1] Timothy Karcher, Understanding the “Victory Disease,” From the Little Bighorn to Mogadishu and Beyond (Leavenworth, KS; CSI Press, 2003), 1.

[2] Gerhard Weinburg, A World At Arms: A Global History of World War II (New York, Cambridge University Press, 2005), 323.

[3] Williamson Murray, “Net Assessment in Nazi Germany in the 1930’s” in Calculations Calculations ed. by Allan R. Millett, Williamson Murray, (New York: The Free Press, 1992) 94-95.

[4] Joseph N. Mueller, Guadalcanal 1942: the marines strike back (Oxford: Osprey Press, 1992), viii.

[5] Samuel W. Mitcham, Jr., Blitzkrieg No Longer: The German Wehrmacht in Battle, 1943, (Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2010), 85.





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