“Making Real Strides”

“Making Real Strides” (late 1944)
by AW Mackenzie (1895-1972)
11 x 15 in., ink on board
Coppola Collection

Mackenzie was a student of Van Dearing Perrine and attended the Art Students League about 1915. He started as a freelance cartoonist in 1941 and in May 1945, he attended the first United Nations Conference on International Organizations in San Francisco as a political cartoonist for the New York Post newspaper. His cartoons appeared daily on theeditorial pages of the New York Post, Newsday and inthe New York Daily.

A notation about “Bagration” on the back puts this into context.

Because we write our own histories, particularly of wars, the D-Day Invasion is embraced by the West as the beginning of the end of WW2. Operation Overlord (starting June 6, 1944, and going into August) was the codename for the Battle of Normany, which began with Operation Neptune, the “D-Day” Normany landings.

What is missing from that story is the coordination with the Russians, who were taking on a parallel and coordinated attack on the Eastern Front at exactly the same time.

In Operation Bagration (June 23, 1944), the Russians set out to retake Byelorussia (now Belarus), and in the process, destroy the Army Group Center (the name for the coordinated Nazi efforts in the East). The scale of the operation, in the words of some contemporary historians, makes D-Day “look like a skirmish.”

The Wehrmacht had 58 divisions in the west, of which only 11 were deployed against the D-Day landings. At the same time, however, the Germans deployed 228 divisions in the east. Thus, the Germans had almost four times as many troops facing the Soviets. And they had less than 1/20 of that number in Normandy. That alone is an indication of where their priorities lay.

At no time after June 6, 1944, did the German high command contemplate transferring forces from the east to the west to counter the Normandy landings. The battle has been described as the triumph of the Soviet theory, as their front commanders left their adversaries completely confused about the main axis of attack until it was too late.’

As Eisenhower broke though at Normany and liberated Paris and then Brussels, Nazi Germany finally needed to be fighting a two-front war in northern Europe. It is no coincidence that on July 20, 1944, dissident officers tried to assassinate the Hitler (for the movie version of this story, see Operation Valkyrie) in a bid to make peace before Germany was ruined.

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