When France entered World War 2 the number of men available for military service was far fewer that it had been in 1914. Also, the height, weight, and general physical health of enlistees was less than it had been 25 years earlier. The great bloodbath of 1914-18 had taken its toll. The best and brightest had been lost on the battlefields of northern France, and those brave young men did not live to have children.
Germany had also suffered severe losses during the Great War, but its young and growing population bounced back much more quickly. Nevertheless, German leaders also became conscious of adverse effects from the previous conflict. During the Polish campaign of 1939 a number of Wehrmacht generals complained that the quality and performance of their soldiers did not approach the high standards set by their fathers in 1914.
Universal military conscription when allied with the ruthlessness of total war means that the strongest and most capable males are sacrificed in the maelstrom of conflict. In recent years young females are also being recruited for potential slaughter. It is the very opposite of “survival of the fittest.” If Western Civilization experiences another period like the first half of the 20th Century we might all regress to a state of gibbering idiocy.
May the good Lord preserve us from such madness!
2 thoughts on “Survival of the Unfittest”
I saw the same thing during the War in Vietnam. The best and the brightest (frequently pilots) were being rapidly killed but the “dumb” draftee foot soldiers rarely died. No doubt in large part to rapid evacuations and outstanding medical facilities that were available to them but not to pilots that were shot down over North Vietnam.
It’s not just Vietnam but the nature of modern warfare is changing. What was once a battle of massive numbers of peasant soldiers lead by Kings that were safely miles away from the battles has now become battles between a relative few high educated and highly skilled specialist soldiers and airman backed by huge numbers of lesser educated support people in a distant and relatively safe rear area. Think of the US Army Air Corp that was stationed in Britain in WW-II, the highly skilled airmen were a very small fraction of the men in the US AAC but suffered appalling loses, sometimes almost 50% on a single mission. Aircrews stationed in England had some of the highest casualty rates of the war, but on the other hand, they were supported by a much larger number of lesser skilled/educated personnel back in England that, statistically, were among the safest personnel in the entire war.
Joe, The movie “The Americanization of Emily” espouses this viewpoint very clearly. The James Garner character had volunteered for service in the marines, but after Tarawa he decided that he owed it to posterity to protect his hide. He then gets a job on an American admiral’s staff in London, far from the combat zone. There he meets Julie Andrews, war widow and daughter of an English military family that had lost most of its males in countless wars over the centuries. James finally manages to bring Julie around to his point of view.
Speaking of the English, World War I (The Great War), absolutely devastated their aristocratic class, the ones who sent their sons to Cambridge and Oxford and composed the officer corps.