A Critical Look Into "Citizen Soldiers" By Stephen E. Ambrose

2123 words - 9 pages

This book vividly portrays many aspects of our war to rid the world of tyranny in the 1940’s. More specifically, this war known as World War II, possessed soldiers of a different kind. They were not the expertly trained Spartans of ancient times, but instead were average citizens fresh out of high school being drafted into this worldly conflict. The term “ Citizen Soldier” as well as the title of this book, is in itself an oxymoron. As one enters the military, they are no longer citizens of the United States but are assets to its military. Rights as a citizen are lost, and the democratic views once known to a person begin to diminish, but always prevail. This book tells ...view middle of the document...

Eisenhower. (67)After their arrival, the GI’s were thrown into foreign concepts of fighting. This would be the hedgerows of France that were used to hold in cattle for thousands of years. These hedgerows were large, flood gate- like mounds that caused many problems for the Allies. The Germans were on the defensive and with its massive amount of vegetation on the mounds to hide themselves, the Germans had the advantage. Many of the troops ways around this will be discussed later on as the theme of the book. These close quarter battles in the hedgerows continued until the Allies were victorious and already the Germans began to flee.The next section that the reader encounters would be a back and forth battle across all of France towards Belgium/Germany. During this journey, it was very much a struggle for the gain of land. Many times this land would be gained earlier that day and then lost at night. This is where many mental factors took place. “ What exactly am I fighting for?” , “Is this worth dying?” would have been just a few things going through the minds of the soldiers. Overall the GI’s were successful in the battles and soon they reached the Siegfried Line. This “line” was a long strip of heavily fortified land that provided as a border between the countries of France, Belgium, and the Netherlands on one side and Germany on the other.The Allies were met with heavy artillery and countless pillboxes (miniature bunkers) filled with strategically placed machine gunners. The most feared were noted as being the land mines. Many of these were homemade and undetectable by metal detectors and often cost a soldier one of his limbs. Hitler was very fond of concrete as a result of his experience in WWI , thus thousands of fortifications were laid on Germany’s border. Along with these fortifications would be what the soldiers referred to as Dragon’s teeth. These were poured spikes of concrete that disenabled tanks from crossing on to the other side. All in all the Americans fought in cities bordering this line and although through heavy casualties, they were once again victorious.Pushing farther into Germany the Allies began to reach mountains such as the Ardennes and the Eifel. Combat once again became different than taught during training. As the Germans began to be pushed farther and farther back, they realized that their situation was getting worse. Not only had they lost what they wanted to conquer, but they were losing Germany itself. A scared and quitting mindset of the Wehrmacht began to set in and this subject will later be reviewed in the theme of this historical account. The next major objective that faced the Allies was to cross the Rhine River.The Rhine was by far the most difficult of the rivers the GI’s had to cross. Its position in the Alps and the Germans advantage of knowing the terrain caused much to be worried about. The Germans on the other side were disorganized and w...


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