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In this week’s Spectator Books, Sam Leith talks to the military historian Antony Beevor about his latest book, Arnhem: The Battle for the Bridges, 1944.

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TRANSCRIPT

00:00:05hello and welcome spectators books put cost on Sunday this week I'm talking to the distinguished military historian Antony Beevor about his new book on them the battle for the bridges nineteen forty four which also won market garden when sick strategically wrong this was recorded a live event so
00:00:25the order may be slightly different than you used to also with very obvious question if I may I mean sometimes joked that industry history the shortest book you could possibly write would be entitled bloom spray the untold story of I wonder whether in military history market garden the
00:00:47untold story about you know what if you know what how you build find new material in this very very well told tale it say much depends on where you look and away you go and in this particular case I was incredibly lucky with advice from friends and usually
00:01:04it is made mob people make a judgment as the the the the collective name to historians as a mischief with historians or whatever the collective anon I'm but that's not true because I find that %HESITATION you know all the other historians signed there will be incredibly helpful in
00:01:17terms of a vice and your advice of us of one helps them I'm one does need when it comes to walk us through a ticket to the say the union I mean all of the Russian historians were helping each other on an advice on whether west off was
00:01:30because quite often to be moved right between different all cuts in in in Russia but in this particular case actually was my name Rick Atkinson who is no friend and %HESITATION is wonderful American historian funny enough his books and never really sort of taken off has been a
00:01:43huge you know stream times when a surprise no respite news Rick who said and New York listening to me you have got to go to Athens Ohio I'm the Eiffel Athens Ohio United this was actually the Cornelius run a collection of paper I live update is papers and
00:02:02I'm one of the great businesses that walls that %HESITATION Brian when he was researching a bridge too far wallows actually had a superb team of researchers that being helped him on the **** his **** in book and was on his D. day Normandy book and they I will
00:02:21%HESITATION as I say quite outstanding because because the reader's digest he had them in all the countries and said they interviewed everybody with of the they were Polish whether they went out for the they were German British Canadian and American and so forth and he never use most
00:02:37of the material he was dying of cancer the time when you read the book and he never uses the material and all of it was sitting there and basically name is actually used it except for one American historian who just did the American side of a market garden
00:02:51and nothing else and I mean I couldn't believe my luck I was working in practice another huge amount of materials that in the %HESITATION American all customer US army archive set to Carlisle Pennsylvania and a really good stuff up I know seven National Archives in Washington and to
00:03:07begin with I haven't still haven't really taken bricks Erislandy was anyone I'd route look to on line at the catalog that they had my sunrise this was important I went up that we is a tribe called and my digital camera and I took eight thousand photographs in the
00:03:24course of %HESITATION lesson a week fortunately Doug McCabe who's the octopus was a huge help you Love Me to come in at seven in the morning and work until seven the evening but again the damn good dinner afterwards %HESITATION any with Michael it was worth it I think
00:03:37as you can imagine in in %HESITATION half and say hi to the choice of restaurants was not fantastic and the point was the point was that I'm the idea of spending three months in the local Holiday Inn while working for the paper momentarily left it was much better
00:03:52to get it alone get it all on camera Havel references right there in front of you and then digested and absorbed old hat save a little order that was a vast a huge help that would have filled in an enormous amount I guess of the human details what
00:04:06makes your books saves sort of compelling most involving to to the non malicious towards did you research also turn up anything that made you think differently about as it were the top down aspect of the way to combine was conducted yes yes indeed %HESITATION there was one thing
00:04:25in the %HESITATION we haven't ready to sort of get talked about sort of Montgomery in the way that the whole operation came about but the hope operation was basically imposed from top down by Montgomery who wanted this opportunity to get across the Rhine and then he would be
00:04:39top dog and he he said he felt he should be %HESITATION ground forces commander well %HESITATION eyes and I just stayed up in the clouds as sort of president of the board and nothing much will not and in the that I found the six children thing because %HESITATION
00:04:56it's like in the way the other historians of sort of always tended not polished to write about on on as in rather in the is certainly %HESITATION category by that I mean if they knew this hadn't gone wrong then it will be a huge success what became increasingly
00:05:10clear from all of these interviews with everybody actual levels boasts that it never actually started Chauncey to never ever have been launched and there's even one minute which I never knew about a tool which was when Browning's eight I was actually in Brownings office when general cut the
00:05:28commander of the pretty fast %HESITATION album version marched in and saluted and he said so I have %HESITATION carried out a little planning is who ordered but I must not tell you I think this is going to be a suicide operation running refused to listen and in fact
00:05:42idols take him out that running into then had been approached by General Gail not Gail to come out of the six are born in Normandy I'm is a very good apple clone had acted from home experience or not I'm Gail said this is madness he said the this
00:05:56whole plan is madness you must do something to stop it but Browning I'm afraid largely for question of vanity he beat a very brave officer in the first mobile in the ground it out because he didn't have any album experience on the one the one to deduce that
00:06:10willful was coming to an end was to take his core into battle and say Browning as I say the matinee idol was determined that that nothing was going to stop in the not too great so he did not warn Montgomery but the whole planning which they had what
00:06:24types in Belgium together was actually not gonna work a tool because the outside said this is not on what is one of the remarkable detail with I don't know again if this is new to this book but you have saying that this this idea which seems on the
00:06:37face of it not a great one to send tanks down a road where you call exactly off to either side %HESITATION that all the doc's office is a sort of stick not going to know what date in August off college exams this is one of the questions they
00:06:49fairly automatically reason people off that road it's astonishing it was right it was the standard question in the doctor examine what happens if we have to withdraw to the north being attacked from the side as a no respite on the altar is you do not go up that
00:07:03road or whatever you know you would actually have to branch off to the left if you get a counterattack on them and so forth anyway %HESITATION they will in fact what was a very thing was that off to her ex's briefing this is on the sixteenth this is
00:07:15September the eve of battle tool is offices in leopards Bucko booklet upload as soon as that happened the Dutch major who was the brigade makes us said to his Sucka mamba he said done as far as I remember opinion always used to say that if he was certain
00:07:34it was seventy five cents up in victory he said %HESITATION you could leave the for the remaining twenty five percent chance he said in this particular case the purchase of reversed the proportion and it was absolute truth actually it was less than seventy five percent against I'd reckon
00:07:48it was nearly ninety percent against at the end of the battle of course Montgomery played that %HESITATION because they got old not quite as far as on it was a ninety percent success well %HESITATION %HESITATION am awful tendo who was Eisenhower's deputy said that's Lucy said jumping off
00:08:03a cliff can be a success until the loss foot before you hit the ground that seems to be the I mean it's it's it's a very much mythologized thing is that you have Churchill saying not to invade %HESITATION I think I could said it was not a hundred
00:08:17percent of the success %HESITATION there it was not somebody to rock the boat and he didn't want to rock the boat and although this miss this legend operate failure was sort of rapidly created it cuts who is a good man who is %HESITATION brave man and the rest
00:08:32of it not the experience now born it's true and all the rest of it he did not want to upset that in any way and so I'll live some people squabbling like rats in a set hurts in a sack of one of the phrases I mean horses trying
00:08:46to blame the elbow on the album with lightning on you can you can imagine Burton who is the American commander of US ally double mommy was trying to blame everybody else and so forth %HESITATION occurred was a it was a was an honest and honorable man wasn't trying
00:08:59to blame any of it anybody but he did say now this is this is actually a fascinating that he'd actually warned running beforehand is going to be a disaster and from my point of view of the whole idea of it because of what the reason why I could
00:09:11wet from movement was because the Germans made a ticklish uncharacteristic mistake field marshal modal refused to blow up the bridge and I make and nobody could understand it I mean all of his senior officers were amazed but mutual rested but they couldn't persuade him or move it and
00:09:29I actually met a hundred ms office to be who can say but I mean it's not bridge some biggest suspension bridge in in in Europe %HESITATION over the falls %HESITATION is I've been blown reason no way they could ever have reach those double as the bulls than of
00:09:41a fist reaching first up on in time it was it was a tragedy and I think that %HESITATION when general phrase that sort of set off to it sooner it was a a few it was few tile in the literal sense of the term and it was then
00:09:54you redeemed if you like by the bravery of the people out %HESITATION to a dinner with that redeemed it'll not but %HESITATION the consequences I say for the Dutch were a terrific what was you know what did this particular book show you about the personal experience of people
00:10:11in this sort of extreme well fighting condition and for the civilian population around them and these poor old doctor Mullis huge amount I mean my god it's made me think very hard indeed I'm actually came from senator from directions I mean shock as well incredible I mean I
00:10:25was very very lucky I would one full %HESITATION parish members such as who is mine translator when I'm from my parish publishers whenever I get over that and she did some fantastic weapon can stay with us and worked on the petition archives in London this tremendous detail less
00:10:40often what one finds quite often is priests and doctors on some of the best in us it's a sign of the best of seven medical personnel some of the best observers and it's that observational human condition I mean ticket women thinks all of that over the years typically
00:10:54improvised hospitals in Quebec being bombarded there were these guys literally the wounded having to lie in bed with a steel helmets on because shows were coming through the windows the gloss the blouse was flying through the head to pull up whenever the firing started to pull the blankets
00:11:10over their heads lying down on the ground many of them were actually killed in that that this these two guys were to be badly wounded I mean it was one officer was thoughtful would you take back to a hospital %HESITATION then would be by German shell and finally
00:11:21I choose one of the few books the British artillery was so accurate within finally winded by British show so I mean is that the disease is the conditions that well according to your should learn so much about also but about toughness which is never predictable in many ways
00:11:35that some of the key V. sees I mean and they know this one extraordinary thing well some useful only shows true album spirit when you describe one so just sitting there in the waiting to be in the hospital with his fingers blown off but he still was able
00:11:48to hold a cigarette between the stumps of couple of the fingers stays on an evil that's real level in spirit on the other hand you see very brave men who come to being careful to pieces completely I mean the bookends I think I mean the whole question of
00:12:01units courage it Sentra is so central I think we will pose the question what what I've done in the seventies notice you still bloody well live whether you would actually hold up on the sound of the second since it as an airborne officer Kate never been in action
00:12:16before he'd been married five days before to a very beautiful young woman %HESITATION United five days before the operation when he arrived he just went to pieces on the show Farrell restaurant I mean some people can Hackett others come out and he went to pieces even there is
00:12:30about as I say partial Richmond often well rested and ways to order list they hit in a threat the baffle hit in a in a selloff in %HESITATION sort of country house on the edge of was to be and eventually the people in the house %HESITATION found they
00:12:45were still left on the twenty sixth of September off to the Braves had withdrawn back over those who could be thrown back across the Rhine they said you got to go you got together because I mean otherwise we're gonna get tropical fish creek unfounded and %HESITATION the son
00:12:59of the family took from the three to the river and said you know you gotta swim across from the you know the British troops on the far side in this one the Rhine bought the also drowned on the way now to what degree did he was a sort
00:13:12of a sub conscious thing of wanting to die to escape the shame of having come to pieces anyway this is extraordinary thing the the medics who had been with the muscle somehow toads his wife because she came and she went to visit the founder of the high schools
00:13:28and the sun then sort of unit took it to where he died no respite in the end up getting married I mean there's so many stories they're saving his stories which are like short stories mean sometimes you just in some two lines I mean it was a %HESITATION
00:13:42a young American power trip up who received a dear John letter from his girlfriend and this it sort of seven raised him that he was volunteering for every dangerous job getting a chore enough in a snap of autumn set off to it in that time and time again
00:13:58the Serbs well these whether it's the observations of the the offices worth I mean of the %HESITATION doctors and the medics or of the the priests but also the old research is I mean I was amazed at how good how observant they were that conversations with the Germans
00:14:16for the SS about sort of you know what you hate the Jews so much why do you hate the Russian so much into things like that I mean this is sort of detail which I promise you just to get you don't get as well and I was a
00:14:26little fun is what I've been no I mean they're awesome throw some very funny things I mean what what what one sees the difference for the nation's I mean they're always certain tree say cliches or certain stereotypes and they will be really I mean the way that the
00:14:40bridge had to check through everything I mean another glider at one point that somebody does it is called is your journey strictly necessary yes and it was outside when it back tracks with the Germans couldn't understand you know what this is me they could not understand the reasons
00:14:56him because it was a lovely now the wonderful one arm when I mean some would like to put private sector with very tough guys indeed the rule sergeants and they unlike the American led to parts we talked to fight as infantry assumes they learned anyway he being capped
00:15:11and there was this German soldier I'm on the day off to its and this is on the up twenty six September the day off to whose party of the rifle and anyway he has a little mirror and his pocket and they will go to them bids by then
00:15:23and it would take you feel the need to take out the mirror and looks insults that Matt is and must be on set tell Mister Johnson town tonight just simply did not know what to do with these people say you got you got detail like that which is
00:15:39which is fantastic but you also got the detail as I say about combat shock combat exhaustion I'm show shock will rest it's remarkable how many of and just as you talk about the glut is laid out in the paratroopers got that even in that first the first US
00:15:54open the dropping of US patrons you've got a number of people deliberately sabotaging their and shoots you actually launching television because of the fundamental %HESITATION actually shooting themselves killed themselves not just in that first is hopefully we've met the enemy and that's when I knew get cases of
00:16:10Germans just shooting themselves in the paratroopers lined because that that's so shocked and %HESITATION that they haven't they've hadn't deceived you boys have had no experience of will need some you know what to do and they own traumatized and one's going to understand it in terms of trauma
00:16:26%HESITATION in that in those circumstances I mean sometimes raise a genuine elementary school from towards the end of course it rises dramatically towards the end when after nine days of no sleep election a sleep tool no food and the shortage of water three guys there guys while getting
00:16:40crazy I mean sometimes in much of get charging out saying rule gonna die will gonna die because they gunned down to me today %HESITATION there are others who sort of you know strip themselves naked and think that ripped an engine driver and get walking around the ward of
00:16:52the hospital whatever at night until they have to be restrained and I'm put back I mean you know there were numerous cases seven on the German side too surprising they will interesting to the pros have very very few it was I remember off to the D. day book
00:17:05of this thing of five German outside British and American psychiatrists wondering why the Germans have much lower level all baffle shock of trauma and they reckoned %HESITATION because in fact they don't suffer from old more under the British one Bhavan's normative and the British had on the German
00:17:21bombardment and %HESITATION or the Americans and the conclusion they came to was actually it was preparation beforehand I eat the the Germans had been cycle to be prepared for it since nineteen thirty three and the British were essentially any markings for centuries of civil anon is %HESITATION says
00:17:38too much of a disposal site who will oppose it always had a pretty tough I mean in the sense that they have already fourteen thirty nine many of them in fourteen forty in the French campaign and also it was again a question of attitude a British attitude towards
00:17:51the war was one of a golf you know we'll have to see this through traps you know %HESITATION and %HESITATION basically making them the best of a bad joke not too was that's got this whole damn thing over as quickly as we can to get home the page
00:18:05one was a formal sort of burning spiritual flame of fire of patriotism because they knew that they were fighting for the life as an independent nation with the polls in this book the duggars commander who is desperate to be deployed back to help with the will was our
00:18:21uprising and also allowed to date proposed record in that he's hoping to be in as it were the tip of the spirit is Nelson is an often is not and then finally at the end of it he gets the blame for the whole thing well not blades I
00:18:33think he's more less of a cues golf trying to avoid combat which is absolutely I I'm is total selamba I think baseman Montgomery I'm running behave pulling in a moment frankly I'm certain it's a very very powerful thing in and I can promise you I mean that as
00:18:48far as I'm concerned %HESITATION you know the British government basically should give up provide a retrospective apology for the treatment of Illinois if it is still very much alive thing alive thing that and I'm frankly I have little sympathy with them on that particular on that particular school
00:19:02but you you do see quite a lot of these different sort of moms have a generalized of course ever I mean you know you get you get you have good Germans who have %HESITATION %HESITATION you know Germans who basically they want to kill them in a fight and
00:19:14then of course you get the indoctrinated SS Panzergrenadier small respite who interesting and this isn't something I never expected in the archives again was sort of you know confessing their in Syria I mean only that you give the sort of SS to soft of saying well actually we
00:19:27were we read really sketch it lets me to know what we were doing and all the rest of the time we would just sit a little boys at that particular stage is not something you normally in her I haven't come across that in other in other Akai said
00:19:38you don't think German archives and so forth village for most of the German behavior post war was a note up high schools are then off to the beaten by a British and they sort of took their revenge on the dot yes was I mean how much was that
00:19:52candidly admitted to in the German archives this very differently drama because as you might imagine %HESITATION on that particular school because basically that's from much more sort of like the civil administration I mean you can get it but you get it I mean I got it from many
00:20:06from the John all because because it's the in the Signal correspondence %HESITATION between models headquarters and the others about blowing up the harbors at Amsterdam stopping the rails %HESITATION and all the rest of it and then later in other sources how they treated I mean the way they
00:20:22looted on and I'm basically everybody was moved out so that they could look the place to Kingdom Come and Michael they did I mean it was a total total written by the time they'd they'd finished say yes it was appalling treatment %HESITATION in that particular way and %HESITATION
00:20:37he even if he even him level shocked to %HESITATION the way that sort of you know they've been behaving in in on them and that they knew because of the point point was that to an order of the circle commandos was basically taking the stuff for the German
00:20:50Reich %HESITATION were actually closer I'm putting up themselves I mean it was quickly shameless and I knew it and then the black market in a restaurant I mean it was %HESITATION or the corruption that you might imagine from a regime like that and came to the full you
00:21:03said this Polish apology is still alive issue how much do you think now at this distance we can see this this story clearly I mean you've you've done a lot to peel away the kind of myth of the heroic failure but I mean do you think still there's
00:21:19a way to go before it we're able to see the second World War Claire particular dissing of combat trauma I mean the which is still I mean obviously it's it's a new book you're discussing it but it's obviously more more more we're getting a sense of quite how
00:21:34serious it is and I think yes I mean in fact let's face it in in comparison first well boy that %HESITATION improved no end you might set mobile and was Max's some very good work done by American psychiatrist particular member one cool fun back in %HESITATION in Normandy
00:21:48and so forth but it still it was still in shall we say in its infancy as a %HESITATION %HESITATION as as a discipline that particular stage under the walls if you like such a moribund minded attitudes towards it than they had been before you know it wasn't just
00:22:04question because this and shuffle dorm or whatever it might be %HESITATION as it happened quite often the first viable but %HESITATION yes way we are learning more but I think we'll say when it's we're talking about safe ride the parochial attitude to his store of the nationalist you
00:22:16district I do think things have come a long way actually in recent years I'm from two things one because of the mixture Ian %HESITATION history faculties in universities I mean funny enough it started ready with German academics coming here which was wonderful spotted because the German system was
00:22:34so poorly in the sense that he wanted to get on in the German academic system you ready sort of needed to Casey up to the big man on the subject %HESITATION I'm become sort of his protege will and use it wasn't always his and then many of them
00:22:48and seven of the sort of the bride from the best %HESITATION then started moving to British %HESITATION universities American and Canadian universities and so forth and even Australian and all the rest of it and that's been a fost improvements that you start to get this internationalization I will
00:23:03not looking at the second World War in quite the same for a cool way that we did in the past I mean I remember so do you know who I am conference in Australia where we had to you know we had Japanese and %HESITATION as well as all
00:23:15the American British and Australian and then soon afterwards was one in Hawaii where they actually got Japanese and Chinese together now they went keno sitting in the same room necessarily or very close to each other but it was it was a step forward and I think it is
00:23:28vital that out these international conferences %HESITATION continue as much as possible even in sort of you know still times and say fools because I think they've done so much to reduce this sort of %HESITATION %HESITATION way is it in the possum for so long we tend to look
00:23:42at things mentality for our in national %HESITATION experience in national view point unfiltered view it from other sites I'm afraid that's us time up but this may be the thank you very much indeed and I hope you will all go read on them evangelize about your friends but
00:24:00without telling them anything that's actually any turning colors multiply

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