The February issue of Military History Matters, the British military history magazine, is now on sale.

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In this issue:

ON THE COVER:
Willing Executioners

Front cover of Military History Matters 113, the February 2020 issue.

Historian Christopher Browning labelled members of Reserve Police Battalion 101 ‘ordinary men’. Neither of the SS or the Wehrmacht, they were mostly unskilled workers. So what drove them to murder 38,000 unarmed men, women, and children in Poland at the height of the war? In our special this time, MHM Editor Neil Faulkner reflects on Browning’s research to uncover some answers. And Taylor Downing reviews the debate about whether the Holocaust could have been stopped.

From doomed to victorious: the Battle of Fleurus

David Norris on how one victory saved the French Revolution.

Old weapons, new tricks: the return of the ram

Michael Laramie on the ancient weapon that delivered a victory for the Confederates.

Sideshow: Sister Janet Wells

The ‘Florence Nightingale’ of the Zulu War.

1917 reviewed

Taylor Downing watches the new Sam Mendes epic, while Neil Faulkner examines how soldiers fought – and killed – in the trenches of World War I.

Also in this issue:

Seema Syeda’s last War Reporters, Behind the Image, War Culture, Book Reviews, Museum Review, Back to the Drawing Board, Listings, and more.

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From the editor

MHM editor Neil Faulkner
MHM editor Neil Faulkner

Our special this issue marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp by Soviet forces in January 1945.

We ask two disturbing questions. First, who was responsible? We base our answer on Christopher Browning’s seminal work Ordinary Men, an academic study that seems to show that a majority of ‘ordinary men’ are capable of mass murder.

Second, why was the camp never bombed? Most of the killing was done late in the war, by which time Allied leaders knew what was happening in the camp, and Allied forces had air superiority over Occupied Europe. Many who perished might have survived if the railway lines and gas chambers had been bombed. Why was it not done?

Also this issue, we have articles on two military innovations – balloons and rams. The Battle of Fleurus in June 1794 – a decisive one for the French Revolution – saw the first use of an observation balloon, and the Battle of Plum Point Bend in May 1862 the reintroduction of the naval ram.

We also mark the release of Sam Mendes’ First World War blockbuster 1917 with the first of a two-part analysis of trench warfare, and conclude with a Sideshow feature reporting on the ‘Florence Nightingale’ of the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879.


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