THE PARTISANS OF EUROPE: In the Second World War by Kenneth Macksey

THE PARTISANS OF EUROPE: In the Second World War

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Not a comprehensive study of anti-Nazi resistance, but an odd polemic intended both to weigh the actual military accomplishments of the partisans and to indict them as precursors of latter-day terrorism and lawlessness. While giving full due to Tito's harrowing struggle and unmatched success, Macksey views the French and Italian WW II underground fighters as a bunch of squabbling politicos fueled by ""the witless enthusiasm of youth."" The role of the Allies is rendered with an intricate combination of mock-naivete and astuteness. Macksey disclaims any political intrigues on the part of the Americans but, with a frank admixture of his own anti-Communism, indicates the British motives for holding back aid to certain resistance groups, and--as part of his proof that partisan warfare leaves a bitter aftertaste--cites recriminations by the Dutch that Britain actually sabotaged major operations. Macksey may be right to contend that the only great sabotage success of the war was the elimination of the Germans' heavy water plant in Norway. He also has grounds for saying that the Paris uprising (he suggests it was called by the Gaullists to preempt the Communists) took an unnecessary toll. But the book's general stance is questionable, particularly when one recalls that, in France, for example, the bulk of the partisans were men fleeing forced work for Hitler's war machine. Their escape from conscription aided the defeat of the Nazis. Having conceded Tito's major contribution to setting back the German control, Macksey is on firmer ground when he explores why other partisan forces were not as effective; at other times he expostulates about how ""partisans and ideals are uneasy bedfellows."" Then he seems not merely a defender of ""civilized"" conventional warfare but a morally tone-deaf debater Macksey is the author of Tank Warfare (1972) and The Anatomy of a Battle (1974).

Pub Date: June 1st, 1975
Publisher: Stein & Day