Embark on a riveting journey through Alex Kershaw’s presentation, exploring World War II leadership, Felix Sparks’ extraordinary role in liberating Dachau, and profound lessons in resilience and decision-making. Gain insights into historical moments, emotional self-control, and transformative impacts. Witness an extraordinary leadership moment in a historic film, inviting reflection on defining moments in true leadership.

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In an illuminating presentation, Alex Kershaw, a distinguished author and honorary Colonel, meticulously examines World War II leadership through the lens of Felix Sparks. Focusing on Sparks’ exceptional leadership, the presentation unveils his combat experiences, emphasizing emotional control and adaptability, epitomized during the pivotal Battle of Anzio, where Sparks led E Company, reducing it to 12 resilient men.

The narrative intensifies as Sparks faces the harsh realities of war, notably in the liberation of Dachau. Task Force Sparks, led by Felix Sparks, takes center stage, illustrating their pivotal role in liberating the concentration camp. Emotional bonds among soldiers, described as deeper than familial ties, become apparent as Sparks navigates unimaginable challenges.

Kershaw skillfully intertwines history and personal narratives, portraying Sparks’ evolution from a determined young soldier to a revered leader, symbolized by his Native American heritage and the thunderbird patch, representing justice and liberation.

As the presentation progresses, Kershaw highlights the intense psychological and physical toll on soldiers. The presentation culminates with Sparks’ significant role in the liberation of Dachau, offering a solemn reminder of Nazi atrocities. Kershaw effectively captures the essence of World War II leadership, fostering a deep appreciation for the resilience, courage, and sacrifices of those who shaped history. The presentation’s cinematic touch, featuring a historic film, further underscores Major General Sparks’ exceptional leadership during this critical period in U.S. history.


[00:00:00] Todd R. Zabelle: Excited to introduce Alex. James and I got to see Alex give a talk in San Francisco and we said Alex is a pretty serious guy. He’s written numerous books. He’s an award winning author. His books have evaded the movies. He’s also honorary Colonel on the 16th Infantry Regiment of the Plain Eyes Infantry Division.

[00:00:25] Todd R. Zabelle: He’s very dynamic speaker and Very, very deep in the topics that he talks about, which is mostly around World War II, especially what the U. S. ‘s role is in that, and his accent will surprise you once you start talking, probably. So with that, Alec, please, from the interview, I’ll take over your time.

[00:00:46] Alex Kershaw: I received an email, and it was at the end that I should talk a little bit about leadership. So I went on Google, I did the A. I., got on Google, and started looking at this. One of the causes of the issue And I’m going to try and give you an example of somebody that was given a matrix every single minute that he was in combat.

[00:01:11] Alex Kershaw: And this gentleman was in combat for over five only days. From the very first day that the Allies began to liberate Europe until the very end. Every day, an infertile matrix. How do I make decisions? Greek decisions, they keep more of them alive than yesterday, and that’s a story actually like Sparta’s. I interviewed him on his death bed at 89 years old.

[00:01:41] Alex Kershaw: I’ve interviewed over 200 World War II veterans, some from the pivotal moments of the most pivotal event in World War II, and he was by far the most interesting, the most accomplished leader I’ve ever met, 89 years old. Angry, outspoken, a huge soul, still had massive spirit. He said to me, My job in World War 2 was pretty simple, and it was really easy to get promoted.

[00:02:18] Alex Kershaw: All you had to do was stay alive. and get the basic job done. But my essential job was to get young Americans killed every single day.

[00:02:32] Alex Kershaw: I’d like to mask fright, and I’m sure that because of this international audience, we have somebody that can understand those words. That means work will set you free. It’s a Nazi lie. A National Socialist lie. Those are the words that would reach you if you were sent to the first and most notorious concentration camp in Nazi Germany.

[00:02:57] Alex Kershaw: Founded less than six weeks after Adolf Hitler came to power, that’s why he keeps the

[00:03:05] Alex Kershaw: Dachau. And here is the young American officer who had the great honor and privilege to liberate the most notorious concentration camp in Nazi Germany in April of 1940. Felix Ox, all on our own, all on, and it is not appreciated to say this, in abject poverty. His father was an unemployed miner. He had four siblings.

[00:03:34] Alex Kershaw: Worked hard. Learned from an early age to be self reliant. Learned from when he could walk that nothing would be given to him. Learned when he was ten years old that if he didn’t get up in the morning and go hunting and shoot something that his family could eat. He and they would start.

[00:04:01] Alex Kershaw: Smartest guy in his high school in Miami, Arizona. Wanted to become a lawyer. Loved history. When he was 18 years old, he graduated from his high school and he was the high school I love to talk in. Today, you would have your bright future. But we’re talking about the depression. When I should remind you, in the Midwest, free courses are meant to end on some form of government assistance.

[00:04:31] Alex Kershaw: Roosevelt was indeed a representative. Finally one day he said, you know me, come and eat. Took him down to the rail yard and looked him in the eye and said, You see that rail car over there? That’s where you’re going. I can’t afford to feed you. Goodbye, sir. Two years! How’s America? I have a depression. A hobo army of over a million homes.

[00:05:01] Alex Kershaw: Back and forth for two years, looking for a job, looking for a pedestrian life. Here’s to San Francisco. Walks along Market Street, and there’s a guy you need to fall back. The guy is an army recruiter. Swap for his customs. Nah, I’m not going to join the army. I don’t want to join it. Walks on, 40 50 yards, turns back.

[00:05:27] Alex Kershaw: You know what? I’d like to bet tonight. I’d like to see. I’m tired. Takes a token from the Army recruiter. Goes to Angel Island. Joins the U. S. Army. 1936. In 1936, the U. S. Army was federally limited. And God, there’s 175, 000 men. No more. America never wants to go to war again. They’re limited federally. We’ll start at the most He was given this choice, where do you want to serve?

[00:05:59] Alex Kershaw: He said, you know what, I’ll go to Hawaii. Goes to Hawaii. Serves there for two years, does his job, and he’s resourceful. In the lexicon of good leaders, you have to think ahead. Not just about survival, as well. He thinks ahead. He thinks, how do I get myself to college? How am I going to be a lawyer? And he starts a photography business on the side in Hawaii.

[00:06:26] Alex Kershaw: Taking pictures of GIs NuHolm as postcards for their families. Makes a stash, takes that stash, comes back to the U. S., and puts himself into the University of Abitur. Ms. Rothschild was thinking ahead. He said that when he left San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge was further complete, and when he came back from Hawaii two years later, it was completed.

[00:06:54] Alex Kershaw: And there is a beautiful portrait. I am a romantic, it’s a romantic, and a sentimentalist, and one of the things I’m going to really miss about the greatest generation as they are known to this day, but they were great, is their humility, their grace, their resilience, and their courage, and images like this of young love in a different time.

[00:07:20] Alex Kershaw: That’s Felix Ars of the University of Arizona. 1941. And there’s Mary Sparks, his future wife. They will be married for over 65 years. Those of you who have studied Shakespeare, there are some liners in here that might as well be. So, those of you who have studied Shakespeare, then perhaps, which play this is?

[00:07:43] Alex Kershaw: The Kings of the Scythes in Glasgow, which play? We have a, we have a guest here. Thank you, sir. Isn’t it beautiful? That’s how you wooed. Women that were at 1941, we didn’t go on or Tinder. That lion had not be understood. 1941. There he is in uniform. It’s a beautiful image of them. When they got this, after they got married, Phil Harbor, 1941 to 7 19 41.

[00:08:14] Alex Kershaw: You guys, or I say you guys, I mean the Americans in the s and in fact the entire world. Becomes involved eventually, only one continent on this fragile planet where World War II did not set in place, and that’s Antarctica. But it certainly took, in terms of Americans in the audience, this is the first day after Pearl Harbor that Americans actually started to kill and be killed to liberate Europe.

[00:08:44] Alex Kershaw: And I mean, to defeat Sicily in Europe. This is July 1943. There is one of the finest CEOs, manager of men in crisis that you’ll ever see, George Patton. A superb woman’s clout, out of fault here, out of bully, out of egomania. But the best armament the U. S. military has had in the 20th century, I would argue, on an army level, 250, 000 employees, great.

[00:09:18] Alex Kershaw: And I assume that Giro in Sicily is the day after the Allies had landed. And Sicily to begin to liberate the beautiful continent of Europe from which I come, from the most pernicious and industrially sophisticated evil in human history, and that’s Nazism.

[00:09:45] Alex Kershaw: The last time that Felix saw Mary, she was so pregnant, and this was in Austin before he came over to Europe with the 45th Infantry Division as the captain. Last time his story is why she was so pregnant that he had to move his arms around like this on the harbor notes in Boston before he left. And so when he was in Sicily as an executive officer in a company, E company, E company 157th 45th Infant Division, where he was in Sicily, she sent this photograph to him so that he could see his newborn son.

[00:10:23] Alex Kershaw: There would be three long years before he actually held that child in his arms.

[00:10:33] Alex Kershaw: November 1942, Allies landed in Latakia. Sicily, July 1943, second amphibious invasion. Salerno, southern Italy, September 1943, November 3. Fourth time that U. S. troops, 3rd Division, and the 45th Division were involved. Amphibious invasion, was at end zero. In January of 1944. Look at the images, or rather look at the faces in this image.

[00:11:07] Alex Kershaw: When I go into high schools, I ask them, do you know anything about World War II and hardly anybody puts their hand up. And then I say, look at this guy here. I don’t patronize him by saying kid, but that is a kid. Average age of an American killed in World War II was 22. Average age of replacements coming in this Eiffel here is 18 to 19.

[00:11:32] Alex Kershaw: You graduate high school, basic training. You’re on a ship, out on a landing craft, and then you’re walking into combat. The guy at the front gear could be literally 18. Their average lifespan in combat on the line was about three months. Only one way home. Either you got a million dollar wound, or you’re in a coffin.

[00:11:56] Alex Kershaw: And the million dollar wound means that you can’t fight off. You’ve lost a leg, an arm, your testicles, you can’t fight on, you can’t be put back into the beam right.

[00:12:11] Alex Kershaw: So we talk about leadership and decisions. Those are made on other sides, obviously, and if you get it wrong as the leader in combat, that’s what happens. A lot of people get killed. Those are dead servants, and they are at a place called The Caves at Anzio, about an hour south of Rome. In mid February 1944, during the Battle of Anzio, which lasted about three months, Sparx, as E Company commander, went into combat with 200 young Americans, 200 beating hearts, human beings, under his command.

[00:12:53] Alex Kershaw: During the Battle of the Caves, the Germans surrounded his company, E Company, and over two weeks, he fought from the cities of Miami Lade Caves. These are Germans that have been killed by a machine gun, whom it based on top of the case that I interviewed 12 years ago. After two weeks, the company had been reduced to just 12 men.

[00:13:16] Alex Kershaw: 24 year old company commander, 200 men a few weeks ago, now he’s down to 12. He’s given a command, you will try to break out from the German encirclement and get back to your lines. Sparks tries to do exactly that. He gets back to. Allied lines. There is only one of two men from the company that he commanded who will survive.

[00:13:48] Alex Kershaw: So when we talk about leadership, I came across this example of something that we’re supposed to do when you’re in the trenches, when you’re managing crisis, when it feels like you’re a ninja on your own, whatever that might be. One of the things that’s really important is emotional control. It’s a safe car.

[00:14:12] Alex Kershaw: It’s not the free hell. Now I asked him, so I’d like to ask you, how would you cope with being 24 years old? I mean, the commander of 200 men that did everything you asked them to do. It is split second. In combat, you don’t have time to discuss a single thing. You do what you’re told. You perform like an automaton.

[00:14:39] Alex Kershaw: You are a robot. Hopefully you’ve been really well trained. This is from Maine. I was still able to be a 24 year old. I’d have lost being tired.

[00:14:56] Alex Kershaw: How do you manage to reach and then carry? It is still an awful long way from Berlin. There’s sparks on the right here. I can only sign one photograph of him from that period, March of 1944. Still be right there. This is a little image of the reality of leadership in war. I would ask you to think about being the 3rd Infantry Division Commander, 53 year old Lucifer Crescott.

[00:15:31] Alex Kershaw: A great name for the Admirals on that leadership, in the Admirals leadership. He was the commander of the 3rd Infantry Division, and the 3rd Infantry Division, on the 26th of May, 1944. set a record, and that was 932 men from that one division were killed in one day to break out of the German encirclement at Anzio, a battle that most people have never heard.

[00:15:59] Alex Kershaw: 932 men, in one day, lost from the division to break out of the encirclement. The largest number killed from any one unit in World War II. Courage. Spartacus here, on the far left, over here, the photograph actually shows him with a slow view, his primary smile, and this is July 1944. He’s been in three amphibious invasions, he’s now been either in combat or near combat over 350 days.

[00:16:38] Alex Kershaw: His train, his troops will all be his fourth amphibious invasion, and by now he’s been promoted. As he said. All you’ve got to do in World War II to rise up the chain of command to get to the top of the Ishimon is stay alive and get this job done. Earlier on someone said something about leadership in greater South, leadership is to, when you decide about all these things, it actually goes to the people right up front, the front line, and show them that you’re there.

[00:17:13] Alex Kershaw: That’s crucial. Certainly in the war. And get them to see that you care, and then they’ll honor you. And that’s exactly what Sparth did in World War II. He told me, just before he died, six months before he died, that the thing that he was most proud of in his life, and this guy became a very successful off beater.

[00:17:35] Alex Kershaw: This guy was a commander general of the Colorado National Guard. He was an exceptional human being, an outlier. So the ping machine proudest, the single ping machine most proud of, was leading 200 men in combat. He said, you get wiser than that. You don’t know their name. You don’t know the wise names. You don’t know what they like for breakfast.

[00:18:00] Alex Kershaw: You can’t pick the weak ones and encourage. You don’t know, so how could you lead? Because when the chips are down, they need to trust you and they need to know who they are. You need to take the football player who’s a bit of a bruise, and you need to put him at the back of the pursuing vassal of the scouting patrol.

[00:18:20] Alex Kershaw: So that guy can basically kick the ass of anybody that even looks like they’re in the terroir in the tree. You need to manage each individual so they all get up in the morning and they will advance and fight and chip, or at the very least they will not stop others from doing so by creating problems.

[00:18:42] Alex Kershaw: Because the mission is simple. You get up, every day, you move to the enemy, and you chill. As quickly and effectively as you possibly can.

[00:18:56] Alex Kershaw: Fourth Antibes Evasion. 15th of August, 1944. Six weeks after D Day in Normandy. This is a beautiful photograph. It’s a truly beautiful photograph, because it shows the new world. The new world coming back to one of the most beautiful places in the old world. But some of these kids are well versed in Italian, and some of these kids have parents who were as well, Wolfgang.

[00:19:24] Alex Kershaw: They’re coming back from the US, coming back, coming back to Europe from the US, and they’re chasing the Germans to Provence. This is one of the most beautiful places you can go on the planet, I believe, I was there since recent, small town, first recent Provence, washing, bathing, being washed and bathed.

[00:19:45] Alex Kershaw: This young man here probably reading a letter from his parents or his god. Who knows, maybe, perhaps, unprimarily.

[00:19:55] Alex Kershaw: I’m going to speed up here. Don’t worry, we’re halfway through. Two things to notice about this photograph. In terms of being adaptable and depression as a leader, that pistol says it all. Or rather, it doesn’t say anything at all because it was useless. Standard issue Colt 45 given to American officers in World War II.

[00:20:18] Alex Kershaw: I’ll describe it as a peace shooter. When he was at the front, they didn’t come from the front, because that’s the only place you could be to be effective with your weapon. Even Patton, who was in the jeep at the front, was often possible. If he got jumped by Germans, the pistol would barely take out one or two, if he was lucky.

[00:20:38] Alex Kershaw: Useless. He should. So the southern branch is mainly found in the shotgun, and they sawed the end of it. And then they needed sparks as a great hint, from when he was a kid. And then he hanged on the stuff of those hawks. It is a panestone lead here, from you, over here, and I have a shotgun, I can see how most of you, and pepper most of you, reports.

[00:21:04] Alex Kershaw: You know not what drop. Shotgun sparks. Under the grip on the pistol, is a photograph of Mary, his wife. And below that pistol, is one of the most important symbols of any liberator’s parrot in World War II. It’s a thunderbird. The 45th Infinite Division patch is the formula. Over 1500 Native Americans are, math is the largest any US commission in World War ii.

[00:21:32] Alex Kershaw: So imagine the potency, the symbolism of being a Native American, as is American as you can get, carrying a patch of the fund, which means to Minister of Americans, do things. If you are evil, the barrier of our perhaps will deliver justice. If you are the oppressed, if you are enslaved, the bearer of our patch will set you free.

[00:22:00] Alex Kershaw: 25th Infantry Division Patch. Moving on towards Germany now. Sir Breich. This is Breich as well. I couldn’t find it. No one’s heard of it. It’s on the border in Germany. January 1945. The smoke in the distance is from Auschwitz. We used anything we could. My we, I’m talking about our forces in World War 2. We used any weapon.

[00:22:28] Alex Kershaw: Any device that we could develop quickly enough, or that would be instantaneously effective to destroy the enemy in World War II. Since Bosch was a low piece, I’m not a technician, I’m not a scientist, you can correct me, but I was told that a piece of phosphorus the size of my fingernail here would burn a human being in a couple of seconds.

[00:22:48] Alex Kershaw: Imagine a shell full of phosphorus is burning a civilian village at this peak. You’re looking in black, I don’t know what I’m talking about. I probably don’t, but anyway, let’s carry on. That just explodes. The reason why I’m showing this photograph is because it demonstrates the desire, the passion with which we pursued the end goal, which was that there’d be no Nazi Germany.

[00:23:15] Alex Kershaw: Sparks would be brought to Germany. The order would be given. Pull out the sheets. Level like mankits, either you surrender or we level, we’ll tell. We’re not messing you up. The late General Markham Forty Five, as his fatality ready commander, get out as 800 men under his command, not 200, 800 men under his command.

[00:23:38] Alex Kershaw: The SS, the wealthy SS, that’s the shitstock. These are the elites of Hitler’s killers. SS also were the mass murderers that killed in the summer of 1944. Chief of Human Beings to Jewish Hebrew beings to Hungary, every single tech, the greatest, most effective mass slaughter of human beings, committed by other human beings of this world.

[00:24:02] Alex Kershaw: Different branches of the SS, from the Woffman SS, other troops, the Royal Troops, and the Silver and Iron Spartacus Battalion, the MHM 945, A Company of Tars, and over a week, one night after the other, they degrade at position, ramming for about a mile along the bridge line. Each night, attack a different part of the world, create maximum psychological terror.

[00:24:29] Alex Kershaw: After a week, only two of them, only two men from the town survived. In Addisville, 200 men lost, and now four times as many. They tend to re find it. Sparks did his best to try and rescue some of his men. It was thought that he should have received a letter of honour. It was a comedy attempt. Grabs four or five guys off the ground, they’re wounded.

[00:25:00] Alex Kershaw: Then pull them back to his allies. But, the point is, that he’s lost two hundred and zero, and now he’s lost four times that bit. Again, how do you carry it? How do you continue with that sense of fear, and that grief? Here we have a photograph of love.

[00:25:25] Alex Kershaw: Great leaders in combat care dearly about the men who die for them. The reason why we were able to endure, why young people could endure the unimaginable, is because of the grip that you see there, between a young Thunderbird, A baby guy and his buddy, gripping, holding on to life. But their reality was limited to just the four or five people around, their squad.

[00:25:55] Alex Kershaw: And the love they showed to each other was so profound. Veterans I’ve interviewed have said that they loved the guys living in oxholes more than they did their own wives. That bond was extraordinary. And it was the bond between those men, who were less, I think it was, the corporate job done. April 29th, 1945.

[00:26:21] Alex Kershaw: I began with that image of my tribe. This is on the outskirts of Dachau. I’m too close to the camp. Over 30, 000 human beings are in this camp. I’ll try not to take what Mackie pulled back. Over 50 nationalities. Nazism at a great amount of this end. My boy. Over 2, 500 Catholic priests. This is ICON. They are the spearhead of a battalion, a task force, that Sparks have lead, called Task Force Sparks.

[00:26:59] Alex Kershaw: They had a very important job. And Baxter Sparks said, I actually got promoted for the best job we could possibly have. If you were to be insulted, we’ll vote it, because it’s my job. The task force commander, you go, the soldier, and hunt down adult bit. If they’re out, we’ll be fine. And Slaad said, if I found it, if I found it, I would take him back.

[00:27:27] Alex Kershaw: I would slit his throat, Slaad, I would as well. So he’s received an order at eight o’clock in the morning, I think that’s what it’s called, to diverse his castles away from his objective to a place called Dagr. He had no idea where he was. What’s Dagr? Maybe it’s a prisoner of war. He’s positioned because he is a believer.

[00:27:54] Alex Kershaw: He’s positioned maybe 40 yards behind these guys here. All into both of the front. Because that’s when you come out back. That’s when you give an order. That’s simple. Quick. And immediate. That’s when you can make the most of this. And these are the Seahatch Pops. These. Passers.

[00:28:18] Alex Kershaw: My right of them popping warning. The first thing they came across were a series of boxcars. Which are known today as the Death Trap. Two thousand dead human beings. Spock said that it was the only time in the war, and this is, we think, his five hundred first day in World War II. Only time in the war where he lost control, where his command broke down, where his leadership skills buttoned.

[00:28:48] Alex Kershaw: And that’s because the scenes they saw, as he called many people, were beyond his imagination. How could human beings do this to others? 2, 000 dead people on that train that’s come from Bougainville, two weeks without water, without food, almost all of them died. The thing that set Spivak’s fathers off, and I won’t say triggered, because that’s too low, but the thing that made him collapse at his knees as vomit, was the sight of a dead body, not dissimilar to that in front of him.

[00:29:23] Alex Kershaw: And he looks at the head, and he realizes that what happened was after two weeks of hell, someone had the strength to crawl up to him, an SS guard walked over him, and stamped on that survivor’s head. He drops to his knees, he vomits, he cries, and the man he is leaning around him also cry, squeal, in shock.

[00:29:50] Alex Kershaw: And slowly that mix, that volatile mix of emotions. Of disbelief turns to rage.

[00:30:00] Alex Kershaw: And I sit inside one of those boxcars, and I go to schools and I say, what is that a picture of? They try and tell me, and I say, that’s a picture of racism. So I looked into a boxcar, very similar to that, except that there was a 15 year old girl on top of the pile of bodies, and she had her eyes out, red hair.

[00:30:24] Alex Kershaw: And he said later on, I looked into her eyes, I’ll never forget how she looked back at me. And it’s as if she was saying to me, what took you so long? Why did you have to fight in Sicily? Why did you have to fight? I’d up the mounds and the spine with. Why did it take four ambushes? Why didn’t you get there sooner?

[00:30:48] Alex Kershaw: Because then I’d be alive. And what’s forgotten about the liberation of Europe from that most sophisticated of evils is that every day the liberators were held up, more people died. There were millions of Europeans counting on others to erupt. That’s a, a kennel in the middle of Kayser Dachau. Here’s a black guy with a concentration camp, but the concentration camp was within a larger complex.

[00:31:25] Alex Kershaw: So when the SS, in their great boredom, and they wanted to play, and they wanted to have an instant rebatz, a little bit of fun, they would take inmates, particularly recalcitrant inmates. It could be Social Democrats, it could be Communists, not many Jews. The Jews were at the death camps, not the labor camps.

[00:31:48] Alex Kershaw: And they would tie them to a cross. And then they would give a reverse command. And one of the humming 22 dogs in Dachau would rip off, if they were male, their testicles. Sparks is given a tour by an inmate of various places like this within Dachau. And when the Thunderbirds, under his command, discovered what happened in this camp, they went and they shot every single one of those humming 22 dogs.

[00:32:19] Alex Kershaw: Except for one who wouldn’t die, literally a devil dog, and so if under the, the decent thing pull out a knife and slit him down straight.

[00:32:33] Alex Kershaw: There are thousands and thousands of dead corpses lie everywhere throughout Dakar, turning blue in the crisp spring sun. However, the Dakar complex was an infirmary, and unbelievably in that infirmary there were SS men. Not concentration either, camp guards. They weren’t done, they’d fled. But these men that you see here have been rounded up from the infirmary and they are veterans of the Ischgen Front, Waffen SS.

[00:33:08] Alex Kershaw: The Thunderbirds walk into the infirmary and they see these blonde eyed, sort of blonde haired, blue eyed young Aryans lying on their crisp white sheets, windows open. Stench of death, how they, they ram them up and then they put them here. So this is an image of the most notorious American war crime in the European Theater in World War ii.

[00:33:40] Alex Kershaw: One thing to note about this photograph is that it’s a coard, but there’s no coal in the Coard because SS have used every last one or back. To try and burn the evidence. That’s why he doesn’t get a call. Second thing to note about Boyd Rath are the three Nazis. The three uber racists going into the SS who are standing against the wall.

[00:34:09] Alex Kershaw: At this, these are proud Germans. These are proud racists. And they’re not going to jump into the dirt pretending to be dead. They’re going to stand there and teddy up like Trunos. Shoot me standing there. Sparks is left his men. Naughty. Those that were found in the infirmary. And when Sparks is outside the courtyard, actually in the building not far away, beyond the wall, one of his officers, one of his junior officers, gives the command.

[00:34:48] Alex Kershaw: Open fire. Kill them all. And that’s exactly what these young men have done. So we talk about moments of attentions when you wage a campaign to succeed at anything. What do you do with a 19 year old here? Has lost his best ion couple from weeks ago that’s surrounded by death and is told to open fire.

[00:35:13] Alex Kershaw: He’s spraying Themba. There are at least 12 Germans there, dead, at least two dozen wounded. All the others on the ground are pretending to be dead. The question is, where’s sars? Where’s the leader? Where’s the CO of this Aroc? And he was again, Howard. He’s in a building just like this, but he said, after the war, this is not accurate.

[00:35:43] Alex Kershaw: Because the building I went into, the bodies were there from the floor to the roof. You couldn’t put a single extra human being in. He goes firing, disposal shots, M1 rifles, the machine gun, and he runs back into the hole. This is fired on the 31st with the help of the English. I’m trying to achieve something that is the most important achievement, I believe, in U.

[00:36:14] Alex Kershaw: S. history. Much more important than kicking us out in over two hundred years. Now I’d like you to think about, and I’m going to end this and don’t worry, I’d like you to think about these themes about leadership, decision making under stress, being at the front, loving others, showing that we care about the sponsor do it.

[00:36:40] Alex Kershaw: Crisis. Think. Resilience. Not feeling sorry for yourself. Allow me to think about that. And go back into your careers so far. Because you guys have had great careers. Go back into your careers and think about the darkest moment, the hardest moment. The time when you felt most all in need. And think about the decisions you’re most proud of.

[00:37:07] Alex Kershaw: I’m going to say to you I could take that moment, that memory, and I could show it to you what it would look like. What it would look like, that. This is an image taken from a motion picture film, picture cam. The signal call guy with a film camera, actually in the cold. And the film sparks as he runs back into the courtyard.

[00:37:35] Alex Kershaw: And David, these images, I’m going to show you, are stills from that film. This, to me, is the extraordinary moment of leadership. It’s the greatest I’ve ever seen. My father told me, this is going to need a guy. This is leadership. This is integrity. This is emotional self control. Number seven on my short list of qualities that needs help to be an effective leader.

[00:38:04] Alex Kershaw: Regulate your emotions. This is the ultimate in regulation. Because that’s the arts. All in all, sporting art. The pre shooter, with a pitch to help a woman who knows. The woman who knows to stay out of line of shot. On the dot. And he calls out the 45. And he fires it. And look at what he does. Bang. Bang. Bang.

[00:38:30] Alex Kershaw: Bang. Four shots. And mid spot. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Another four. And mid spot. Spot. Stop.

[00:38:44] Alex Kershaw: What would you do? He’s lost 200 men to the Germans at Anzio. A couple months ago, 800 to the SS and those are the guys that have just been shot by us.

[00:38:59] Alex Kershaw: He shouts, stop. And that’s what every good officer should do. And I have given this talk at Westport, at the Air Force Academy, who invited me there to talk to cadets to show that there is a point at which you have to stop. When you have, you can’t achieve it where you can’t just allow death to continue all the time.

[00:39:27] Alex Kershaw: He said I was sick of killing. I was sick of being the best. I had not up all the way the cakes of back up to end up just like them. I was not going to be at peace Stop. It’s the rapkin to do. What a great leader won’t do. Emotional.

[00:39:55] Alex Kershaw: And that’s the result. That’s the result of sacrifice. Those are the profits from leadership. As a liberator in World War II. You’ve got to give countless people another life. You, these are the liberators who come back. But there’s 30, 000. Well, I’ll stress again, 50 mercenaries.

[00:40:19] Alex Kershaw: That’s what happens when you allow natural forces to take their course, only you don’t lead. And you don’t have respect for those you bully, as the inmate about to do, if you imagine, to a concentration. This is the journey. Very few people left to learn said who made it. 16 million in uniform from the US.

[00:40:44] Alex Kershaw: I’m not going to be too pro ess, but it’s what they think is right in the US. Sixteen million Serbian uniform, 130, 000, less than 130, 000 breathing as I speak today. They’re dying of 130 every day. Soon our generation will be memorable. This is a remarkable achievement. This is the greatest achievement, I believe, in U.

[00:41:11] Alex Kershaw: S. history. And I like it. Lodacope, Sicily, Italy, Southern France, right to the heart. A dance in the bath. The journey of the 157th Infantry Regiment, the Vélix en Front. Over two and a half thousand men. They came out of his, in his regiment, while he was in Ligue 1.

[00:41:40] Alex Kershaw: And there are the warriors. These are the men that he met. These are the guys that would have died for him. And many did. Only one of them, like here, a guy called Guy Pasteur. He’s a machine gunner and a water man, literally tarred and water, from the beaches of Sicily in July 1943 all the way to Dakar.

[00:42:04] Alex Kershaw: Only one of this amazing group of guys. Photographs taken by my best friend 12 years ago, only one left alive. Those are guys that got the job done. Those are the guys that if you were a commuter, you joined them at the front. They knew that you had given your life for that. And then keep you all up their lives.

[00:42:26] Alex Kershaw: Really, that’s an image of an amazing tea. A very productive, well led, extremely efficient, loyal, fantastic tea. So, I have finally come to an end, but I’d like to leave you with this. And this is going to be 80 coin notes. I’m kind of joking, but I’m really. The seven things that I We’re supposed to bear in mind that you can laugh and smile, effective communication, getting out of the thought zone, do that, do this, or you’re dead, that’s effective communication.

[00:43:12] Alex Kershaw: Talented people influence lots of other people, we are talented people of all ages. Long term thinking, get out of the seat, and if unlikely so, absolutely. Motivation, absolutely. You didn’t, if you weren’t motivated, you’d be for nothing. That’s what that generation learnt. They would give them nothing, they would give them less than nothing.

[00:43:36] Alex Kershaw: Confidence. To lead men towards death, and women today, you have to be subtly confident, but not a bullshitter. Because you can’t show meekness. I came to fear in your eyes, I came to doubt. You don’t. Game over. Why would they trust you for a second with their life, if you are not confident about the outcome?

[00:43:59] Alex Kershaw: Or at least you’re going to tell them, trust me, I’ll do my best. I know, you know, that you’re probably going to die. But while you’re alive, I’m going to give everything I’ve got to do my best to make decisions before they keep you up.

[00:44:18] Alex Kershaw: People orientation. This is the governing you can find on Beardwell Foot. Leadership. You have to be able to get on with people. You have to speak. You have to have a heart. Because I know that you will cry when you die. That you care about. And emotional stability. Last point, but I’ve gone on way too long.

[00:44:41] Alex Kershaw: I was interviewing a veteran who was in the Normandy campaign, and he said to me that I was a first lieutenant. I was 20 years old. My company commander came over to me and my men and said, here’s the deal. This is the deal. You guys are already dead. Quit worrying about tomorrow and whether you’re going to make it.

[00:45:07] Alex Kershaw: Statistically, the likelihood, as you know, is that you’re going to be dead. So forget it all, and get the job done right now, and do it right, because the most important job on this planet. That’s a different definition of leadership, a different definition of what it takes to win a campaign. I wish you all the very, very best.

[00:45:33] Alex Kershaw: I hope that I have said a few things that might remind you. Resilience, courage, leadership, and what a wonderful job you are clearly all doing. Some could be dismayed to that. I’m giving them.

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Alex Kershaw

Resident Historian, Friends of the National WWII Memorial

Alex Kershaw

Resident Historian, Friends of the National WWII Memorial

Alex Kershaw is the author of numerous books on World War II, including the New York Times best-sellers The Bedford BoysThe Longest Winter, Avenue of Spies, and his latest book Against All Odds, the untold story of four of the most decorated soldiers of World War II.

His 2012 book, The Liberator: One World War II Soldier’s 500-Day Odyssey from the Beaches of Sicily to the Gates of Dachau, was made into a drama series aired by Netflix in 2020.

Kershaw’s book, The First Wave: The D-Day Warriors Who Led the Way to Victory in World War II, published in 2019, was a national best-seller.

A graduate of University College, Oxford, England, Kershaw’s journalism has appeared in many magazines and newspapers since 1990, and he has also worked as a screenwriter and in television, penning an award-winning 2004 documentary on Bobby Kennedy.

He is an honorary colonel in the 116th Infantry Regiment of the 29th Infantry Division.

Since 2012, Kershaw has led many battlefield tours of Europe and he will be leading tours for the Friends of the National World War II Memorial to Italy in October 2023 and to London, Normandy, and Paris in 2024. Kershaw serves as Resident Historian of the Friends of the National World War II Memorial.