Of Human Folly
Warning. This may be shocking.
I watched the documentary Greatest Events of WWII, on Netflix, with commentary by British, German and American historians.
In early May 1940, the German army quietly amassed ground forces just north of the border with France, in secret preparation for an attack. They had just gone into Belgium and the Netherlands.
Due to the perceived superiority of the French forces, no one expected such an attack.
French reconnaissance spotted the forces being gathered and immediately notified their High Command. But High Command didn’t believe the information.
That’s right. Did not believe the information.
The Germans couldn’t have moved so fast, not after what they had been through — they had to be exhausted. But they had moved fast.
Aside from the supreme daring, the Germans had used another secret weapon. Meth.
That’s right. Labelled Pervitin, Methamphetamine was available over the counter in Germany as a picker upper. And the military gave it to its soldiers to enhance their endurance. They could stay up all night and again the next day.
Thanks to Meth, then, the soldiers who had invaded Belgium and the Netherlands, still had it in them to push on to France, defying the French commanders’ calculations.
The historians commenting on these facts point out that if the information provided to the French command by their reconnaissance had been believed or double checked, then they would have been able to use their air force to bomb the German troops as they sat waiting to reach critical force. But they did not.
Who knows what was distracting the French High Command.
I had always wondered, how come the French, having witnessed their neighbor’s aggressiveness and territorial grabs (Poland, Austria), had not prepared for an eventual invasion. Well, they had.
At the time, France’s combined forces were seen as superior to the Germans. But the French lacked the imagination. And the Meth.
One of the historian commentators goes on to add that had the French believed the information presented to them and attacked the Germans first, the war’s course would have been seriously altered.
But the High command was in denial.
Of Human Folly.
Here’s another one for you.
I read in The Economist, issue of August 8th, an article on CoVid testing. Pool sampling.
A means to accelerate testing by pooling samples. Take the combined samples of 5 people who are not symptomatic and if the test is negative, they are all negative. You move on. If it’s positive, then you test individually to isolate the case. The technique saves time and resources, so we can test more people and better trace and get a handle on the virus.
Is the technique new?
No. In the 1940’s, says the article, Robert Dorfman, an American economist, came up with the idea to test American soldiers for syphilis.
On July 18th 2020, the Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency declaration to start using pool sampling nationally.
Did I say that the technique had been around since the 1940’s?
Eighty years after the invasion of France by the Germans, a virus crossed the oceans to come to our shores.
The American High Command had been told by their reconnaissance that the virus was gathering force.
The High Command didn’t believe it.
The Commander in Chief himself was worried with an impeachment process stemming from the Ukraine affair, and deeply concerned about his chances at reelection.
He didn’t have time to pay attention.
Of Human Folly.
Oscar Valdes is the author of Psychiatrist for A Nation. Available on Amazon.