Stodghill Says So

An opinionated posting on a variety of subjects by a former newspaper reporter and columnist whose daily column was named best in Indiana by UPI. The Blog title is that used in his high school sports predictions for the Muncie Evening Press.

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Location: Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, United States

At the age of 18 I was a 4th Infantry Division rifleman in the invasion of Normandy, then later was called back for the Korean War. Put in a couple of years as a Pinkerton detective. Much of my life was spent as a newspaper reporter, sports writer and daily columnist. Published three books on high school sports in Ohio and Indiana. I write mystery fiction for Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and others. Three books, Normandy 1944 - A Young Rifleman's War, The Hoosier Hot Shots, and From Devout Catholic to Communist Agitator are now available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other booksellers. So are four collections of short mysteries: Jack Eddy Stories Volumes 1 and 2, Midland Murders, and The Rough Old Stuff From Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine.

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

How Do You Defeat an Insurgency?

Defeating an insurgency is easy. All you have to do is send an invading army back to where it came from.
Otherwise? Forget it. Ask the Germans. No one has been forced to deal with insurgencies, vast numbers of them at the same time, like the Germans had to from the spring of 1940 through the first four months of 1945. It was difficult to find a country in Europe where insurgents could not be found. Or let's say where they existed because finding them wasn't always easy.
Let's see, they had them in France, Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg, Norway, Denmark, Yugoslavia, Greece, Poland, Russia - well that's enough for now and it was more than enough to keep the German SS occupied.
Those SS boys really knew how to react when insurgents killed a German, blew up a bridge or did anything else on the Verboten list. Round up a bunch of people - just anyone at all - and line them up against a wall or hang them from a lamppost. In the little Belgian town where I was stationed after the war they had come around one night and hauled 22 people out of bed including the mayor, the Red Cross director, a doctor or two and a group of bewildered citizens. Took them to a nearby woods and gunned them down.
After the Normandy invasion two SS divisions in the south of France began moving north to the battlefields. They were harrassed every step of the way. Frenchmen by the hundreds were shot or hanged but other insurgents ( they were called the Resistance or Freedom Fighters) took their place and went right on causing trouble.
On June 10 the columns of Normandy-bound Germans were in the vicinity of the village of Oradour-sur-Glane. Insurgents in the area were active on an otherwise quiet Saturday when the residents of the village and several hundred refugees were relaxing at home or outside cafes. Children from the vicinity were in town for medical examinations and it was tobacco ration day so people from nearby farms had also come to Oradour.
Suddenly a company of Das Reich, the 2nd SS Panzer Division, roared into town. When the SS troopers left a few hours later only a handful of civilians, those who had managed to hide, were alive. School age children were taken away for a "picnic" that ended with them standing in front of machine guns. The men were herded into barns and shot dead. Women with infants and toddlers were taken to the church. The doors were locked and the building set afire. Machine guns were set up to finish off anyone trying to escape the flames by leaping from windows.
About 650 civilians died that day in Oradour. Did it stop the insurgency? Not for a minute. It ended only when the last German was out of France and it was the same in all those other countries.
Is there a lesson to be learned from what happened during those years? Probably. Perhaps a number of them. The first might be that when someone mentions the possibility of an insurgency never say, "Bring it on."


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