Jump to content
The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Zuber and Mons


phil andrade
 Share

Recommended Posts

Good morning All,

I need to finish my current book before I start Zuber's (but seem to be spending a lot of time "flicking through" it out of immediate curiosity !!!). Yes, there is an absence of photos (I trust the expansive location shots will be validated when I read it fully); yes, he does seem to repeat a lot of the opening chapters of his Ardennes book but not everyone who buys the Mons book will have bought the earlier one, however I can see that he covers in some detail the opening weeks of the conflict (up to Mons) from his particular perspective, which he didn't in the Ardennes book (Sordet's use of his cavalry, Liege etc.)

I am particularly looking forward to this part which I will use to supplement my reading of Delhez' "French Cavalry in the Gaume" and "German Cavalry in the Gaume" (which I hopefully will obtain at Easter), to improve my understanding of the opening weeks of the conflict in the Ardennes (prior to 22 August).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Given these highly damning conclusions by Phil & Tom, I would like to ask both of them if they think that what they see as excuser-of-German-aggression/National Socialist tendencies in Zuber's latest work stems directly from his research into the German regimental histories, thus giving further evidence that the seeds of National Socialism started their malignant growth in either the Wilhelmine or immediate post-WW1 German military, or if they think Zuber already held the views they condemn and took them with him when researching this book? In other words, are there any direct quotes to this effect given by Zuber from the regimental histories he cites as being the "truth", or do Phil & Tom think that Zuber superimposes his own general views around any "evidence" he gives from those histories?

Nope. Nazism finds its origins in pre-war occultism. If anything, the near decimation of the old ultraconservative military among other things, allowed for the emergence of more radical political tendencies. Try to suggest that Wilhelmine Germany was a proto-Nazi state is completely absurd and really appears to be a further attempt to hijack and derail any attempt at a reasoned discussion of this book.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Let's please avoid wandering into the origins of Nazism / pre-war occultism / etc. The thread is about an author's interpretation of Mons.

Ken, with respect, you seem to keep nipping at Salesie's heels in several threads recently. It's pretty obvious you disagree with him, which is fine of course, but can the rest of us please be spared from the ongoing squabble. Thanks.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I had not considered Zuber's political views while reading the book. As I tried to put forward in my earlier post, I saw Zuber as having a novel standpoint from which to analyse certain accepted notions regarding the war. The Schlieffen Plan, Battle of the Frontiers and Mons. I welcomed this and hoped for new insights. I read his Ardennes book and disagreed with many of his conclusions but put it down to straining his evidence to fit his thesis, I thought that he had focussed attention on worthwhile points. He had certainly made available a lot of detail on low level movements. We could at last get below Army Corps level to see the actions of smaller units. The Mons book, I found to be more of the same but his criticism of existing sources seemed to me to chime rather well with the kind of pamphlets that were commonly authored by ex OHL officers in the twenties. I would hesitate to accuse any particular one of those officers of being Nazis or fellow travelers although many were. The Munich putz involved many ex-soldiers. What we do know is that the Nazis seized upon the idea that the German Army had never been defeated to support their attacks on Jews, socialists, trade unionists etc.

I remain adamantly non-curious as to Zuber's political views but I do question whether his next book might not benefit from widening his purview to include other sources. I would not wish the putative Hitler/Nazi connection to be over emphasised. I think his book is a bad book with questionable analysis of his research. I think his methodology is wrong and he is a prime example of a man who has abandoned historiographic best practice. That would still be my position if he turned out to be a founder member of the Simon Wiesenthal Fan club.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ken, with respect, you seem to keep nipping at Salesie's heels in several threads recently. It's pretty obvious you disagree with him, which is fine of course, but can the rest of us please be spared from the ongoing squabble. Thanks.

In all fairness, this is not quite true. If you care to go back to the "German preparedness" thread, you'll notice that he initiated the engagement in post #34, to which I replied, and he replied in #41 in an unsatisfactory manner. Thus I subsequently ignored his posts--which became increasingly convoluted and inflammatory--until #65 in which he made reference to the "blatant oxymoron within your assertion". Clearly an underhanded attempt to provoke since, I believe, "oxymoron" was not correct in the context and what was really intended was to call me a "moron". He subsequently continued to bombard me with abuse until I called it quits. So, no, I haven't been "nipping" at his heels, nor intend to resume anything; I simply found his comment to be absurd. And, for the record, yes I believe occultism was a factor in the rise of the Nazis.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would be cautious about throwing the baby out with the bathwater. FWIIW, I am not too interested in the general conclusions that Zuber makes. As with the Battle of Ardennes, I want to get information about what happened from the German perspectives, particularly from primary sources. Every primary source is flawed in some way. Regimental histories are no exception. But there has been so little material published in English that any improvement on this is helpful. None of the material should be accepted at face value. It must be intersected with material from British and other sources. Zuber does not do this to any degree. That was his choice as an author, and I respect that choice. We have to do the extra work of seeing where the regimental histories (and other German sources) agree and disagree with British accounts. Then a more balanced view of Mons will emerge, IMHO.

Robert

As I said earlier in the thread, Robert, I wholly respect Zuber's right to authorial independence and would defend this right against any attempt at censorship. However, in this thread a direct comparison has been made of Zuber's latest book to National Socialist dogma, and I was simply trying to ascertain if such a reference was made by the reviewer as a result of Zuber making direct quotes from his sources, thus giving a direct WW1 link - or, if direct quotes to this effect were absent, whether or not the reviewer thought the author had superimposed his own views around his declared source material, thus giving a much less tenuous link to the Great War.

I did this because, although I wholly respect authorial independence and would put up a strong defence against any censorship, I have absolutely no respect at all for National Socialist dogma and believe it should be strongly challenged in whatever form it presents itself. In other words, I see strong condemnation of National Socialist dogma, especially when it attempts linkage to WW1, to be far more important than getting a more balanced view of the tactical analysis of the battle of Mons.

Cheers-salesie.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I had not considered Zuber's political views while reading the book. As I tried to put forward in my earlier post, I saw Zuber as having a novel standpoint from which to analyse certain accepted notions regarding the war. The Schlieffen Plan, Battle of the Frontiers and Mons. I welcomed this and hoped for new insights. I read his Ardennes book and disagreed with many of his conclusions but put it down to straining his evidence to fit his thesis, I thought that he had focussed attention on worthwhile points. He had certainly made available a lot of detail on low level movements. We could at last get below Army Corps level to see the actions of smaller units. The Mons book, I found to be more of the same but his criticism of existing sources seemed to me to chime rather well with the kind of pamphlets that were commonly authored by ex OHL officers in the twenties. I would hesitate to accuse any particular one of those officers of being Nazis or fellow travelers although many were. The Munich putz involved many ex-soldiers. What we do know is that the Nazis seized upon the idea that the German Army had never been defeated to support their attacks on Jews, socialists, trade unionists etc.

I remain adamantly non-curious as to Zuber's political views but I do question whether his next book might not benefit from widening his purview to include other sources. I would not wish the putative Hitler/Nazi connection to be over emphasised. I think his book is a bad book with questionable analysis of his research. I think his methodology is wrong and he is a prime example of a man who has abandoned historiographic best practice. That would still be my position if he turned out to be a founder member of the Simon Wiesenthal Fan club.

Thanks for that, Tom.

Given that you made direct comparison with Zuber's work and National Socialism, I was curious as to the basis of your rationale when making such a reference - after all, such malignant ideology did not spring from an empty void back then, nor does it exist in a vacuum to this very day whether sourced from direct research of primary sources (such as regimental histories) or gathered from an author's existing belief-system prior to writing. However, I understand your reluctance to expand on such comparisons.

Cheers-salesie.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

May I just make a pedantic point that regimental histories are secondary rather than primary sources and potentially rather partial ones at that? They may contain first hand accounts which some would describe as primary sources. Others might maintain that a primary source is a verifiable documentary account produced by an eyewitness to the events described and in a published form such an account could not necessarily be verified.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Tell me Ken, have you any opinion on the book?

Release date is April 1, 2010 from what I can gather. But I am reading three of his other books and to put it politely I think you're reactionary conclusions are off-base.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

i) Clearly an underhanded attempt to provoke since, I believe, "oxymoron" was not correct in the context and what was really intended was to call me a "moron".

ii) So, no, I haven't been "nipping" at his heels, nor intend to resume anything;

i) Interesting supposition.

ii) Several people have come to this conclusion. So have I. Please stop.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My conclusions are based on having read the Mons book. Yours would be based on supposition?

Doesn't seem like it to me. But whatever the case, clearly you're now just trying to bait me into an exchange of ad hominems, supposing perhaps because of your inflated number of posts and the earlier reprimand that I received, that eventually it will turn out unfavorably for me.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

i) Interesting supposition.

ii) Several people have come to this conclusion. So have I. Please stop.

You see, again.

Yes, I'll stop then: this discussion has become idiotic at best, and I see no point in participating further anyway.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree completely that a historians political views have a huge bearing on the writer's selection of evidence and their interpretations as a result. I have no quibble at all with your question.

My problems are:

i) the thread sidetracking too much

ii) the legal ramifications of referring to somebody who is unable to defend themselves on this forum as having National Socialist sympathies.

I'm sure that you will particularly understand my concerns on the second point.

You see, again.

Yes, I'll stop then:

Not sure what I'm supposed to "see, again". But thank you for the second comment.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree completely that a historians political views have a huge bearing on the writer's selection of evidence and their interpretations as a result. I have no quibble at all with your question.

My problems are:

i) the thread sidetracking too much

ii) the legal ramifications of referring to somebody who is unable to defend themselves on this forum as having National Socialist sympathies.

I'm sure that you will particularly understand my concerns on the second point.

I think your concerns are somewhat premature, Andrew - however, seeing as I do not have your responsibility for "protecting" the forum, I will bow to your judgement

Cheers-salesie.

Edited by MagicRat
Personal comment removed
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've pruned a few comments here - I trust that those that made them will understand why

Alan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

so see my post 86 ....... this thread has the power to provoke feelings stronger than some people can deal with, and any virtue in the discussion is frequently lost in the din of squabbling.

I suggest those who have wound their necks in keep them that way, and others refrain from sticking their oar in.

Desist, I say.

I shall now heed my own advice.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A five day visit to Verona has kept me out of the fray. I reflected on the book, and decided that Zuber should have "stuck to his knitting" ; his study of German training and tactics is compelling, and has certainly taught me to treat accounts of Mons - that I used to cherish - with great circumspection. It does, in retrospect, seem unlikely that German soldiers would have advanced shoulder to shoulder and allowed themselves to be cut down in thousands, even though some units did get more than a bloody nose. He does also allude to the high regard which the Germans expressed for the effectiveness of British musketry and for the toughness and professionalism of the Old BEF. His work is rather too formulaic - there was a lot in this book that was almost a replica of his Ardennes work. His big transgression, in my opinion, is to stray into the realms of war guilt. I wonder why he did that...it's compromised the work.

Phil

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A five day visit to Verona has kept me out of the fray. I reflected on the book, and decided that Zuber should have "stuck to his knitting" ; his study of German training and tactics is compelling, and has certainly taught me to treat accounts of Mons - that I used to cherish - with great circumspection. It does, in retrospect, seem unlikely that German soldiers would have advanced shoulder to shoulder and allowed themselves to be cut down in thousands, even though some units did get more than a bloody nose. He does also allude to the high regard which the Germans expressed for the effectiveness of British musketry and for the toughness and professionalism of the Old BEF. His work is rather too formulaic - there was a lot in this book that was almost a replica of his Ardennes work. His big transgression, in my opinion, is to stray into the realms of war guilt. I wonder why he did that...it's compromised the work.

Phil

Heya Phil,

Considering the unfortunate exhanges here, I think you might feel yourself lucky to have been away! You make two important points. For the sake of argument, say one good and one bad about Zuber:

1) "It does, in retrospect, seem unlikely that German soldiers would have advanced shoulder to shoulder and allowed themselves to be cut down in thousands..." I honestly believe that a lot of what we think we know about the war does not stand up to scrutiny. A point to the positive to Zuber?

2) "His big transgression, in my opinion, is to stray into the realms of war guilt. I wonder why he did that...it's compromised the work." Your use of the word compromised is interesting, but apt. A definite negative to Zuber's sheet.

I've not read Zuber's book. I know him only from his rather long and sometimes ugly debate on Schlieffen a few years back. I would defer in this to someone I respect as a real expert in the field, who (off-list) comes to roughly the same conclusions as you do on Zuber.

Just one last thing I'd like to throw out. It's unfortunate when threads that are so interesting generate so much heat as well. Very honestly, loud, ugly exchanges spook the game, and it drives people away from participating--people from whom we all might learn a great deal. Chest-beating and point-scoring don't win anything.

Paul

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just one last thing I'd like to throw out. It's unfortunate when threads that are so interesting generate so much heat as well. Very honestly, loud, ugly exchanges spook the game, and it drives people away from participating--people from whom we all might learn a great deal. Chest-beating and point-scoring don't win anything.

Absolutely.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Come on, Lads, enough's enough - I'm feeling suitably chastened, no need to keep harping on, it's beginning to sound like condescension - do you really want an "anoraks only" club?

Cheers-salesie.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 separate queries.

When using the regimental histories, does Zuber give any health warning? Does he warn that they must be used with care, as they were written after the event, but the destruction of primary sources leaves the historian of the German Army in 1914 with no alternative, or does he use them uncritically, as if they were primary sources?

Do British primary sources claim that the Germans attacked in mass formations? Is it possible that the popular account of Mons has conflated Mons and the battles around Ypres in November, such as Langemarck, where many of the German troops had either little or out of date training? By primary sources, I mean reports, war diaries and letters written at the time, not memoirs written after the war.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...