Facts You Didn’t Know About Bernard Montgomery

One of the most influential Allied generals during the Second World War was Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery. But how much do you know about him? This short video shares some interesting facts about Montgomery.

Make sure to listen to my Second World War podcast.


Nietzsche’s Influence on Hitler and Nazism

It is common to hear that Adolf Hitler was influenced by Friedrich Nietzsche and that Nazism was inspired by his philosophy. But how true is this?

It is true that Hitler gave Mussolini a set of the works of Nietzsche for his birthday. It is also true that Hitler’s speeches and Nazi propaganda were peppered with catchphrase from Nietzsche. But how deep was the influence?

Walter Kaufmann provides an excellent introduction to Nietzsche in his Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist. I highly recommend it.

NietzscheIn his chapter on “The Master Race” Kaufmann shares some quotes that might surprise those who assume a close connection between Nazism and Nietzsche. For example, Nietzsche considered the Polish people one of the most gifted races and that Slavs in general were greater than Germans. Nietzsche also believed in race mixture and argued that Germany would benefit from mixing with other races.

People may not also be aware that Nietzsche had favourable opinions toward the Jews, a remarkable position in 19th century Germany. He much preferred Jews to Christians and the Old Testament to the New Testament. Nietzsche was very critical of antisemitism and spoke against his sister and brother-in-law who joined an antisemitic community.

Much of what would make Nietzsche attractive to the Nazis was the control that his sister had on his later publications as she attempted to impose her own antisemitic agenda on his writings.

I would suggest that Hitler and the Nazis used a shallow reading of Nietzsche, banking on the fact that most people either won’t read his books are at least won’t understand them. Words, phrases and concepts were taken and used apart from other opinions of Nietzsche that contradicted the Nazi agenda.

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The Winter War: The Soviet Union vs Finland

Many people are not aware that some of the earliest battles in the Second World War were between the Soviet Union and Finland. The USSR attacked Finland and expected a quick victory. They were disappointed as Finland was able to provide a significant defence against the invaders. This was called the Winter War.

Make sure to listen to my Second World War Podcast.


Now We Are Masters of Our Fate

One of the greatest accomplishments of Winston Churchill during the Second World War was the nourishing of the relationship between the United Kingdom and the United States. Below is a video of Churchill’s speech titled “Now We Are Masters of Our Fate” that was given in the United States. You can find the text of the speech here.

Please check out my Second World War Podcast.


SWWP 8 – The Munich Agreement

The German invasion of Czechoslovakia was a turning point in Hitler’s acts of aggression. This was the necessary step to transition from annexing fellow Germans in Austria to invading the non-German Poland, thus starting the Second World War.

The Munich Agreement was Britain and France’s sellout of Czechoslovakia in attempt to prevent war. It failed miserably.

I would encourage you to also go to the blog post, Peace in Our Time?

You can find more episodes here.

My recommended audiobook for this episode is The Munich Agreement of 1938: The History of the Peace Pact that Failed to Prevent World War II.

“My good friends,” the mustached, bony man with thick eyebrows and large, strong teeth somewhat reminiscent of those of a horse, shouted to the crowds from the second-floor window of his house at 10 Downing Street, “[T]his is the second time in our history, that there has come back to Downing Street from Germany peace with honor. I believe it is peace for our time.”

The man addressing the crowd, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, had just returned from the heart of Nazi Germany following negotiations with Adolf Hitler, and the crowd gathered outside the English leader’s house on September 30, 1938 greeted these ringing words with grateful cheers. The piece of paper Chamberlain flourished exultantly seemed to offer permanent amity and goodwill between democratic Britain and totalitarian Germany. In it, Britain agreed to allow Hitler’s Third Reich to absorb the Sudeten regions of Czechoslovakia without interference from either England or France, and since high percentages of ethnic Germans – often more than 50% locally – inhabited these regions, Hitler’s demand for this territory seemed somewhat reasonable to Chamberlain and his supporters.

With Germany resurgent and rearmed after the disasters inflicted on it by the Treaty of Versailles following World War I, the pact – known as the Munich Agreement – held out hope of a quick end to German ambitions and the return of stable, normal international relations across Europe. Of course, the Munich agreement is now notorious because its promise proved barren within a very short period of time. Chamberlain’s actions either failed to avert, or actually hastened, the very cataclysm he wished to avoid at all costs.

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Top 10 World War II Movies

My interest in the Second World War began by watching old war movies. That conflict was one that brought out the best and worst of people and there are plenty of stories to tell.

Some attempts to tell these stories have been better than others. Here is an interesting list of movies related to World War Two. I’m not sure my top ten list would be exactly the same but they got some right. What would you include?

If you are interested in the Second World War, check out my Second World War podcast.


The Rise of Imperial Japan

Although the Allies focused on defeating Germany first in the Second World War, the conflict with Japan was not just a side theatre. Japan was a major threat to Britain, United States and especially the countries in east Asia and Australia. But how did Japan get to this point? This short video gives a helpful summary.

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The Hitler Bomb Plot

In the July of 1944, there was an assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler. A bomb was meant to kill Hitler, but by an amazing twist of events, Hitler survived the blast. This was the basis for the movie Valkyrie.

In this short documentary, you will see film footage of Hitler shortly after the attempt, including his injured arm.

Make sure to check out my Second World War Podcast.


Surviving D-Day

Five years into World War II, the future of Europe hangs in the balance, as 34,000 US soldiers embark on a mission to launch the biggest attack ever from sea. This fascinating documentary, interviews the soldiers who fought at Omaha, recalling their experiences as they approached the shore line under intense cross fire. Using CGI graphics to recreate and illustrate what happened on D Day, the programme also explores the weaponry used in the first wave of the invasion.Omaha Beach is the code name for one of the five sectors of the Allied invasion of German-occupied France in the Normandy landings on 6 June 1944, during World War II. The beach is located on the coast of Normandy, France, facing the English Channel, and is 5 miles (8 km) long, from east of Sainte-Honorine-des-Pertes to west of Vierville-sur-Mer on the right bank of the Douve River estuary. Landings here were necessary in order to link up the British landings to the east at Gold Beach with the American landing to the west at Utah Beach, thus providing a continuous lodgement on the Normandy coast of the Bay of the Seine. Taking Omaha was to be the responsibility of United States Army troops, with sea transport and naval artillery support provided by the U.S. Navy
and elements of the British Royal Navy.

Checkout my Second World War Podcast.


Operation Barbarossa

An Old BBC Documentary of Nazi Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union on June 22nd 1941. This documentary shows the events and implementation that lead up to the greatest land battle in world history to date.

Check out my Second World War Podcast.


SWW7 – The Rape Of Austria

Although the Second World War really begins with the invasion of Poland, Germany’s expansion began earlier with the annexation of Austria. This event, which Churchill described as “the rape of Austria,” was the first real glimpse of what Hitler intended for Europe. This episode looks at how this annexation took place and what it meant.

The recommended audiobook for this episode is:

The History of the Second World War, Volume 1 – The Gathering Storm by Winston Churchill

In the Second World War, every bond between man and man was to perish. Crimes were committed by the Hitler regime that find no equal in scale and wickedness with any that have darkened the human record.

It was a simple policy to keep Germany disarmed after the struggle of the First World War and the Victors adequately armed in vigilance. But errors were soon made. The tragedy of America’s failure to enter the League of Nations; the weakness and lack of resolution of the democracies to confront the growing strength, reach, and ambition of the fascist dictators in Germany, Italy, and Japan; the economic turmoil that allowed these events to spark and build.

In this first volume it is all too easy to see and understand how this immense tragedy could have been avoided, how the malice of the wicked was reinforced by the weakness of the virtuous. We shall hear how the counsels of prudence and restraint became the prime agents of mortal danger in this Gathering Storm. The overview is read by Winston S Churchill, MP, and the volume narrated by Michael Jayston.

You can get this audiobook for FREE with a FREE trial of AUDIBLE.


Battle of Stalingrad

The Battle of Stalingrad (23 August 1942 – 2 February 1943)was a major battle of World War II in which Nazi Germany and its allies fought the Soviet Union for control of the city of Stalingrad (now Volgograd) in the south-western Soviet Union. Marked by constant close quarters combat and disregard for military and civilian casualties, it is amongst the bloodiest battles in the history of warfare. The heavy losses inflicted on the Wehrmacht make it arguably the most strategically decisive battle of the whole war. It was a turning point in the European theatre of World War II–the German forces never regained the initiative in the East and withdrew a vast military force from the West to reinforce their losses.

The German offensive to capture Stalingrad began in late summer 1942 using the 6th Army and elements of the 4th Panzer Army. The attack was supported by intensive Luftwaffe bombing that reduced much of the city to rubble. The fighting degenerated into building-to-building fighting, and both sides poured reinforcements into the city. By mid-November 1942, the Germans had pushed the Soviet defenders back at great cost into narrow zones generally along the west bank of the Volga River.

On 19 November 1942, the Red Army launched Operation Uranus, a two-pronged attack targeting the weaker Romanian and Hungarian forces protecting the German 6th Army’s flanks. The Axis forces on the flanks were overrun and the 6th Army was cut off and surrounded in the Stalingrad area. Adolf Hitler ordered that the army stay in Stalingrad and make no attempt to break out; instead, attempts were made to supply the army by air and to break the encirclement from the outside. Heavy fighting continued for another two months. By the beginning of February 1943, the Axis forces in Stalingrad had exhausted their ammunition and food. The remaining elements of the 6th Army surrendered. The battle lasted five months, one week, and three days. (taken from the YouTube description)

Second World War


D-Day: Juno Beach

Everyone knows that the United States and Great Britain invaded France at Normandy on D-Day. What people are less familiar with is that Canada also had it’s own beach. It could be argued that the Canadians at Juno Beach were the most successful of all the landings.

You can learn more about this battle in this documentary.

Second World War


Peace in Our Time?

Neville Chamberlain, Prime Minister of Britain, truly desired peace for Europe. He believed that Adolf Hitler could be negotiated and that Hitler’s stated intentions were sincere.

The situation was Germany’s plan to send troops into Czechoslovakia. Instead of warning Hitler to keep out, he agreed for Hitler to take part of Czechoslovakia and leave the rest.

This video is painful to watch as we observe the optimism of Chamberlain and the crowd, knowing that it was destined to fail.

Second World War


SWWP 6 – The Spanish Civil War

Between the First World War and the Second World War, there was another conflict that greatly impacted Europe. This was the Spanish Civil War. Although technically this was just a civil war between the Republicans and Nationalists, unofficially many of the nations that participated in the Second World War, were involved in the Spanish Civil War, at least unofficially. Hitler especially took advantage of this opportunity to perfect the strategies that he would use in the Second World War. You can find more episodes here.

My recommendation for an audio book is Hell and Good Company: The Spanish Civil War and the World It Made by Richard Rhodes. From the Pulitzer Prize-winning and best-selling author of The Making of the Atomic Bomb, the remarkable story of the Spanish Civil War through the eyes of the reporters, writers, artists, doctors, and nurses who witnessed it. Get this audiobook for free with a free trial of Audible through this LINK. Doing so helps support this podcast.


Battle of Midway Analysis

The video included in this post has two different historical contexts of interest. On one hand, it is a documentary about the Battle of Midway in 1942 during the Second World War. On the other hand, it is training film from 1950 and it reflects that context. You may find the video quite interesting for both reasons.

Second World War


Pope Pius XII Blesses the US Troops After Liberation of Rome

Here is some vintage footage of Pope Pius XII blessing US troops after they liberated Rome. Pope Pius XI is a controversial figure but this event needs to be taken into account.

Second World War


SWWP 5 – Interview With Travis Dow On The German Context

When it comes to history, context is everything. Thankfully, we are blessed with great historical resources, including the German background. In this episode, I talk to Travis Dow, the host of the History of Germany podcast (and many more). We discuss some of what was happening in Germany between the wars, including attitudes toward communism and Judaism (make sure to listen to his EPISODE on antisemitism). I’m always amazed at how much knowledge Travis has over such a wide span of German history. You can find more episodes here.

I would encourage you to check out Travis at his WEBSITE and start listening to his podcast.

My recommendation for this episode is William Shirer’s Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. Since its publication in 1960, William L. Shirer’s monumental study of Hitler’s German empire has been widely acclaimed as the definitive record of the 20th century’s blackest hours. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich offers an unparalleled and thrillingly told examination of how Adolf Hitler nearly succeeded in conquering the world. With millions of copies in print around the globe, it has attained the status of a vital and enduring classic.

To download your free audiobook today go to AUDIBLETRIAL.COM/HOPESREASON for your free audiobook.


SWWP 3 – Setting The Stage: The Allies

Last time we looked at the countries that made up the Axis powers. This time we look at the Allies. The Allies are much more than just Britain, United States and the Soviet Union, even if they are considered “the Big Three.”

Understanding the position these countries were in at the start of the war prepares us for what comes next. These countries, many of which had almost nothing in common, were coming together to fight their common enemies. You can find more episodes here.

I mention the China History podcast in this episode. You can find it HERE.


SWWP 2 – Setting the Stage: The Axis Powers

In this episode, we begin to set the stage by looking at the Axis powers. What was happening in German, Italy and Japan at the time and who were their leaders? You may be surprised by how much these nations had in common and yet were different. Did you know that these nations were not on the same side in the First World War? Did you know that other countries beyond these three were part of the Axis? Find out these things in more in this episode. You can find other episodes here.

A recommend resource is Travis Dow’s HISTORY OF GERMANY PODCAST.


SWWP 1 – Introduction to the Podcast

In this first episode, I share a little about myself and the direction of this podcast. In the episode, I mention the podcast by Ray Harris, Jr. You can find the History of WWII Podcast HERE. You should really check it out, it is quite good. However, I intend for my podcast to be somewhat different, reflecting my personality and interests.

I hope that you will journey with me as we look at the Second World War and all of the events surrounding it. You can find all the episodes of this podcast here.


Hacksaw Ridge – Review

Hacksaw RidgeI finally had the opportunity to watch a movie that I had long wanted to see: Hacksaw Ridge. I must confess that I’m generally a fan of war movies, especially those set during World War Two. However, it was difficult to “enjoy” this movie in that context.

That is not to say that I didn’t like the movie. I thought the story was very powerful, the acting impressive and the movie to be one of the best that I have seen in a long time. I would also say that it is an anti-war film, or at least one that puts the spotlight on the horrors of war.

Hacksaw Ridge is the true story of Desmond Doss, a Seventh Day Adventist and pacifist who enlists in the military to be a medic. Doss is happy to participate in the rigours of basic training but refuses to even train with a weapon. This brings him into conflict with his officers.

Ultimately, Doss makes it to combat, participating in the battles at Okinawa, specifically at Hacksaw Ridge. Mel Gibson does not use this as a showcase for military glory but as a means of highlighting the gruesome violence of war. I recently rewatched Saving Private Ryan and it does not begin to compare to Hacksaw Ridge when it comes to graphic battle scenes.

Although I am a Christian, I am not a Seventh Day Adventist. Nor am I a pacifist. But this movie is a moving portrayal of a man with convictions who refuses to back down, even in the face of tremendous pressure. Andrew Garfield does a great job of portraying Doss as a man who on the surface seems simple but is in truth one who has reflected on what he values and is willing to sacrifice comfort for the sake of integrity.

Hugo Weaving does an amazing job as Desmond’s father. Without spoiling anything for those who have not seen the movie, he is a complex man, deeply scarred by his experience in the First World War and is a flawed husband and father. Yet, he is more than that. He is able to choose to rise above his weakness.

I don’t normally like Vince Vaughn as an actor, perhaps because of the movies that he is in. But he does a great job as the sergeant who is in charge of the basic training and who accompanies Doss into combat. He brings some humour that does not disrupt the rest of the story, but rather deepens the relationships among the marines.

If you have not seen Hacksaw Ridge yet, I highly recommend it. It is a powerful story of faith, strength and integrity.

Second World War


The Gathering Storm – Review

Gathering StormA number of years ago, I picked up Their Finest Hour, which was the second volume of Winston Churchill’s series on the Second World War. I read it and enjoyed it. More recently, I found copies of the rest of the series and just finished reading the first volume, The Gathering Storm.

I enjoyed this book both as someone interested in military history and as someone involved in leadership. This first volume deals with the situation that was left over from the First World War. Decisions were being made both in Germany and in England that would affect what would happen in the 1930s.

While Hitler began his rearmament secretly, he soon discovered that everyone else had lost their taste for war. The rest of the European nations had lost so much in the first war that they would do anything avoid a second one. This gave Hitler a free reign.

There were numerous times that the allies could have put a stop to Hitler, as his military resources were not quite ready to take on England and France. But taking the route of appeasement, the allies allowed Hitler to rearm and to expand its borders.

Hitler was able to take Austria and Czechoslovakia without almost any opposition. The line that England and France finally agreed on was Poland and Hitler crossed that line as well.

In this book, Churchill gives a behind the scenes account of these early years of the war, including the eventual German invasion of Norway. Many people are unaware of what was taking place in Scandinavia, including the Soviet invasion of Finland. That invasion put England in a difficult spot as they wanted to supports the Finns against the Soviets but also wanted the Soviets an ally against the Germans.

I have no presumptions about this being an impartial history. Churchill was a very opinionated man and had much at stake. Still, it is a fascinating read for anyone interested in military history or politics. There are important leadership lessons found throughout The Gathering Storm. I look forward to reading the third volume.

Second World War


Their Finest Hour

I am a bit of an armchair historian when it comes to the Second World War. For as long as I can remember, I have read everything I could get my hands on that was related to the war. Some time back, I picked up a used copy (a first edition actually) of Winston Churchill’s Their Finest Hour. To be honest, I let it sit on my shelf for quite a while.

Their Finest HourI finally had the opportunity to read it and I was soon kicking myself that I had waited so long. This book is profitable for two different (although often overlapping) audiences.

The first is that of people interested in military history. I thought of myself as someone fairly well-informed about the Second World War but I regularly found myself learning something new. Churchill brings a much different perspective when it comes to the war.  It is sort of the inside story.

The second is that of people interested in leadership. Love him or hate him, Churchill was a leader who was thrust into extraordinary circumstances. Some of his decisions still cause controversy today. But Churchill writes in such a way that the challenge seems immediate, even though we know how the story ends. I kept finding myself asking what I would do. I would recommend every leader read this.

Their Finest Hour was an enjoyable read and I look forward to reading the other books in the series.


Juno Beach – Review

Juno BeachD-Day was the invasion of Normandy by the American and British, right? Actually the Canadians were there as well, not just to reinforce the British but to land on their own beach. The landing at Juno Beach was one of the great battles of World War Two.

It has always been one of my pet peeves that the Canadian landing is either completely unknown or is left as a minor footnote to the battles of the “real” armies. The truth is that the Canadian soldiers were (and are) extremely respected by the Allies and feared by the Germans.

I recently finished reading Mark Zuehlke’s Juno Beach: Canada’s D-Day Victory. I really enjoy Zuehlke’s writing, having first encountering him with his Gothic Line. What I appreciate is that his research is not focused solely on official military records but also rely heavily on accounts of regimental diaries and interviews with those who survived the battle.

Readers of this book will be impressed with the preparation and planning that went into the D-Day invasion. The reader is also put into the landing craft, feeling a sense of the anxiety of what would happen when the doors opened. The book tells us what went wrong and the things that went unexpectedly right.

You will see that the Canadian forces were a power to reckon with. In fact, it was the Canadians that made it the furthest of all the troops that landed at Normandy. As a Canadian and as one in the Canadian Forces, I felt extremely proud of those who served and sacrificed sixty years ago. Even if you are not Canadian, you will enjoy this book as an example of superb military history.

Second World War


The Rat Patrol

One of the things that I love to do is connect with Justus with something from my childhood. Tonight we cuddled on the couch in my office and watched the old television show The Rat Patrol. Someone told me the full episodes were on Youtube and so we watched the first episode tonight. I loved watching it as a child and enjoyed it just as much tonight. Justus seemed to enjoy it as well.

Two pieces of trivia:

The German commander is the same actor as the one who plays Victor on Young and the Restless.

The show advertises as “in colour” and yet I could never figure out why it was not in colour for me. It was because we only had a black and white television set.