The defending force usually takes heavy casualties. That can take the form of a rearguard action, holding a defensible location, or simply refusing to give up a position. A last stand is a last-resort tactic that is used if retreat or surrender is impossible or fighting is essential to the success of the cause. The defending force is most likely defeated, but it sometimes survives long enough for reinforcements to arrive that force the retreat of the attackers; it can even occasionally force the enemy away by itself.
At various times in history, last stands have ended with a defeat in the strict immediate military sense, but they have become moral victories by creating a heroic myth, which can be a great political asset to the cause for which the last stand had been fought.
Although the success of D-Day had allowed the Allies to establish a foothold in Europe, the situation on the continent was far from secure. One of the main problems was that supplies could only cross the channel at Normandy and that the further the British and Americans pushed into the interior, the thinner their supply lines became stretched. Meanwhile, across the Rhine, Hitler plotted one dramatic last stand.
Over 50,000 soldiers and civilians died. Most of the dead were German, many of them SS. It was the Nazi forces' desperate last stand. One local witness remembers how the narrow paths leading through the forest were piled high with corpses. It took the local population months to clear the site. Even today, a thousand corpses are found each year in and around Berlin. Many of them are detected in the now silent forests of Halbe.
My years at The Ohio State University were, I realize now, filled with much anger. I suppose every sane black person must be angry, at least for a while. I was in the Sociology Department, a politically liberal department, and talk about improving race relations was common. There were five or six black students, and we clung together like frightened outsiders. I will not speak for my black colleagues, but I was sincerely doubtful of my white professors' understanding of everyday racism. Their lectures were often brilliant, but never complete. Race relations were fodder for theoretical debate; blacks were a "research category." Real blacks, with real ambitions and problems, were problematic. I was suspicious of my white teachers and they reciprocated.
The movie does show a gradual change of heart on the part of Peter (Robert Sean Leonard), a Swing Kid whose musician father has already been packed away by the Nazis, and whose mother (Barbara Hershey) has accepted the new order and has dinner guests like a top Gestapo official (Kenneth Branagh). Peter hangs out with a group of fellow swing fans, trading records and trivia questions. Eventually, like some of the others, he ends up wearing a brown shirt - but he can't stomach the Nazis, and is last seen being trucked away to oblivion, the little brother waving forlornly in the street. 59ce067264