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George Patton

Date de naissance: 11. novembre 1885
Date de décès: 21. décembre 1945
Autres noms:Georg S. Patton, Джордж Смит Паттон

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George Smith Patton, Jr., né le 11 novembre 1885 à San Marino en Californie et mort le 21 décembre 1945 à Heidelberg en Allemagne, est un général « quatre étoiles » de l'Armée de terre américaine qui a notamment commandé la 7e puis la 3e armée américaine sur le théâtre européen des opérations de la Seconde Guerre mondiale.

Né en 1885 dans une famille aisée ayant une forte tradition militaire, Patton étudie à l'institut militaire de Virginie puis à l'académie militaire de West Point. Il fait partie de l'équipe américaine de pentathlon moderne aux Jeux olympiques de 1912 ; féru d’escrime, il conçoit ensuite un sabre de cavalerie de qualité — modèle 1913 — destiné à l'armée, mais qui s'est avéré peu utilisé par la suite car les méthodes de guerre ont évolué rapidement au cours de la période. En 1916, Patton participe aux combats de l'expédition punitive contre Pancho Villa au Mexique dans l'un des premiers exemples de guerre mécanisée. Il rejoint ensuite le corps blindé de la force expéditionnaire américaine qui participe aux combats sur le front de l'Ouest de la Première Guerre mondiale, après l'entrée en guerre des États-Unis en 1917. Entre les deux guerres mondiales, Patton est l'un des principaux partisans de l'introduction des techniques de la guerre mécanisée dans l'armée américaine et il exerce diverses fonctions administratives militaires sur le territoire américain. Ayant gravi les échelons de la hiérarchie, il est à la tête de la 2e division blindée au moment de l'entrée en guerre des États-Unis fin 1941.

Patton mène les troupes américaines lors de l'opération Torch au Maroc en 1942 et, sous son commandement efficace, le 2e corps d'armée démoralisé recouvre sa cohésion au cours de la campagne de Tunisie. Il commande la 7e armée lors de l'invasion de la Sicile et devance les troupes britanniques de Montgomery en arrivant le premier à Messine. Il est néanmoins impliqué dans une controverse après avoir giflé deux de ses hommes souffrant de stress post-traumatique et est temporairement relevé de son commandement. Comme il est craint de l’ennemi, Patton est utilisé pour une vaste opération de désinformation destinée à tromper les Allemands sur le lieu exact de l'attaque alliée qui doit avoir lieu en Normandie début juin 1944. À l'issue du débarquement, il est réaffecté en juillet à la tête de la 3e armée qui intervient dans la bataille de Normandie et il mène une offensive éclair jusqu'en Lorraine. Il se porte au secours des troupes américaines encerclées à Bastogne durant la bataille des Ardennes et entre en Allemagne au printemps 1945. À la fin de la guerre, il est nommé gouverneur militaire de Bavière avant d'être relevé de ses fonctions et affecté au commandement de la 15e armée stationnée dans l'Allemagne occupée. Il est victime d'un accident de la route alors qu'il est assis à l'arrière de sa berline qui heurte un camion militaire le 9 décembre 1945 : il succombe à ses blessures douze jours plus tard dans l'hôpital de Heidelberg.

Le caractère pittoresque et énergique de Patton ainsi que ses succès militaires ont parfois éclipsé ses déclarations maladroites à la presse. Sa philosophie de commander depuis le front et d'encourager ses hommes avec des discours comportant des grossièretés apparentes — « On ne vous demande pas de mourir pour votre pays, mais que le salaud d'en face meure pour le sien » — a néanmoins entraîné l'apparition de nouvelles méthodes de commandement au sein du corps des officiers de l'Armée américaine. De même, ses tactiques basées sur des offensives rapides et percutantes se sont traduites par le développement de nouvelles doctrines de combat dans le domaine de la guerre mécanisée. Si les opinions des commandants alliés à son sujet étaient souvent mitigées, il était tenu en haute estime par ses adversaires allemands. Le film Patton de 1970 a remporté sept oscars et a contribué à faire de lui un héros populaire américain.

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Citations George Patton

„There are three ways that men get what they want; by planning, by working, and by praying.“

—  George S. Patton
Context: There are three ways that men get what they want; by planning, by working, and by praying. Any great military operation takes careful planning, or thinking. Then you must have well-trained troops to carry it out: that's working. But between the plan and the operation there is always an unknown. That unknown spells defeat or victory, success or failure. It is the reaction of the actors to the ordeal when it actually comes. Some people call that getting the breaks; I call it God. God has His part, or margin in everything, That's where prayer comes in. As quoted in "The True Story of The Patton Prayer" by James H. O'Neill in Review of the News (6 October 1971) http://www.pattonhq.com/prayer.html

„The quickest way to get it over with is to go get the bastards who started it. The quicker they are whipped, the quicker we can go home.“

—  George S. Patton
Context: Sure, we want to go home. We want this war over with. The quickest way to get it over with is to go get the bastards who started it. The quicker they are whipped, the quicker we can go home. The shortest way home is through Berlin and Tokyo. And when we get to Berlin, I am personally going to shoot that paper hanging son-of-a-bitch Hitler. Just like I'd shoot a snake!

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„Battle is the most magnificent competition in which a human being can indulge. It brings out all that is best and it removes all that is base.“

—  George S. Patton
Context: Every man is scared in his first battle. If he says he's not, he's a liar. Some men are cowards but they fight the same as the brave men or they get the hell slammed out of them watching men fight who are just as scared as they are. The real hero is the man who fights even though he is scared. Some men get over their fright in a minute under fire. For some, it takes an hour. For some, it takes days. But a real man will never let his fear of death overpower his honor, his sense of duty to his country, and his innate manhood. Battle is the most magnificent competition in which a human being can indulge. It brings out all that is best and it removes all that is base.

„Through the travail of the ages,
Midst the pomp and toil of war,
Have I fought and strove and perished
Countless times upon this star.“

—  George S. Patton
Context: Through the travail of the ages, Midst the pomp and toil of war, Have I fought and strove and perished Countless times upon this star. In the form of many people In all panoplies of time Have I seen the luring vision Of the Victory Maid, sublime.

„My men don't dig foxholes. I don't want them to. Foxholes only slow up an offensive. Keep moving. And don't give the enemy time to dig one either.“

—  George S. Patton
Context: When a man is lying in a shell hole, if he just stays there all day, a German will get to him eventually. The hell with that idea. The hell with taking it. My men don't dig foxholes. I don't want them to. Foxholes only slow up an offensive. Keep moving. And don't give the enemy time to dig one either. We'll win this war, but we'll win it only by fighting and by showing the Germans that we've got more guts than they have; or ever will have. We're not going to just shoot the sons-of-bitches, we're going to rip out their living Goddamned guts and use them to grease the treads of our tanks. We're going to murder those lousy Hun cocksuckers by the bushel-fucking-basket. War is a bloody, killing business. You've got to spill their blood, or they will spill yours. Rip them up the belly. Shoot them in the guts. When shells are hitting all around you and you wipe the dirt off your face and realize that instead of dirt it's the blood and guts of what once was your best friend beside you, you'll know what to do!

„When I want my men to remember something important, to really make it stick, I give it to them double dirty.“

—  George S. Patton
Context: When I want my men to remember something important, to really make it stick, I give it to them double dirty. It may not sound nice to some bunch of little old ladies at an afternoon tea party, but it helps my soldiers to remember. You can't run an army without profanity; and it has to be eloquent profanity. An army without profanity couldn't fight its way out of a piss-soaked paper bag. … As for the types of comments I make, sometimes I just, By God, get carried away with my own eloquence. Remark to his nephew about his copious profanity, quoted in The Unknown Patton (1983) by Charles M. Province, p. 184

„Men, this stuff that some sources sling around about America wanting out of this war, not wanting to fight, is a crock of bullshit. Americans love to fight, traditionally.“

—  George S. Patton
Context: Men, this stuff that some sources sling around about America wanting out of this war, not wanting to fight, is a crock of bullshit. Americans love to fight, traditionally. All real Americans love the sting and clash of battle. You are here today for three reasons. First, because you are here to defend your homes and your loved ones. Second, you are here for your own self respect, because you would not want to be anywhere else. Third, you are here because you are real men and all real men like to fight.

„Every man is scared in his first battle. If he says he's not, he's a liar. Some men are cowards but they fight the same as the brave men or they get the hell slammed out of them watching men fight who are just as scared as they are. The real hero is the man who fights even though he is scared.“

—  George S. Patton
Context: Every man is scared in his first battle. If he says he's not, he's a liar. Some men are cowards but they fight the same as the brave men or they get the hell slammed out of them watching men fight who are just as scared as they are. The real hero is the man who fights even though he is scared. Some men get over their fright in a minute under fire. For some, it takes an hour. For some, it takes days. But a real man will never let his fear of death overpower his honor, his sense of duty to his country, and his innate manhood. Battle is the most magnificent competition in which a human being can indulge. It brings out all that is best and it removes all that is base.

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„It is rather interesting how you get used to death.“

—  George S. Patton
Context: It is rather interesting how you get used to death. I have had to go to inspect the troops in which case you run a very good chance — or I should say a reasonable chance — of being bombed or shot at from the air, and shelled or shot at from the ground. I had the same experience every day which is for the first half-hour the palms of my hands sweat and I feel depressed. Then, if one hits near you, it seems to break the spell and you don't notice them anymore. Going back in the evening over the same ground and at a time when the shelling and bombing are usually heavier, you become so used to it you never think about it. Letter to Frederick Ayers (5 May 1943), published in The Patton Papers 1940-1945 (1996) edited by Martin Blumenson, p. 243

„There is no proof nor yet any denial. We were, We are, and we will be.“

—  George S. Patton
Context: I wonder if I could have been here before as I drive up the Roman road the Theater seems familiar — perhaps I headed a legion up that same white road... I passed a chateau in ruins which I possibly helped escalade in the middle ages. There is no proof nor yet any denial. We were, We are, and we will be. Indicating some of his speculations about reincarnation, in a letter to his mother from Chamlieu, France during World War I (20 November 1917)

„So forever in the future,
Shall I battle as of yore,
Dying to be born a fighter,
But to die again, once more.“

—  George S. Patton
Context: So as through a glass, and darkly The age long strife I see Where I fought in many guises, Many names, but always me. And I see not in my blindness What the objects were I wrought, But as God rules o'er our bickerings It was through His will I fought. So forever in the future, Shall I battle as of yore, Dying to be born a fighter, But to die again, once more.

„So as through a glass, and darkly
The age long strife I see
Where I fought in many guises,
Many names, but always me.“

—  George S. Patton
Context: So as through a glass, and darkly The age long strife I see Where I fought in many guises, Many names, but always me. And I see not in my blindness What the objects were I wrought, But as God rules o'er our bickerings It was through His will I fought. So forever in the future, Shall I battle as of yore, Dying to be born a fighter, But to die again, once more.

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„Pushing means fewer casualties. I want you all to remember that.“

—  George S. Patton
Context: From time to time there will be some complaints that we are pushing our people too hard. I don't give a good Goddamn about such complaints. I believe in the old and sound rule that an ounce of sweat will save a gallon of blood. The harder we push, the more Germans we will kill. The more Germans we kill, the fewer of our men will be killed. Pushing means fewer casualties. I want you all to remember that.

„I have the utmost confidence that through your efforts we will eventually beat the hell out of those bastards — "You name them; I'll shoot them!"“

—  George S. Patton
Context: Of all the many talks I had in Washington, none gave me such pleasure as that with you. There were two reasons for this. In the first place, you are about my oldest friend. In the second place, your self-assurance and to me, at least, demonstrated ability, give me a great feeling of confidence about the future … and I have the utmost confidence that through your efforts we will eventually beat the hell out of those bastards — "You name them; I'll shoot them!" Letter to Dwight D. Eisenhower (1942); to this Eisenhower replied: "I don't have the slightest trouble naming the hellions I'd like to have you shoot; my problem is to figure out some way of getting you to the place you can do it." as quoted in Eisenhower : A Soldier's Life (2003) by Carlo D'Este, p. 301

„Of all the many talks I had in Washington, none gave me such pleasure as that with you.“

—  George S. Patton
Context: Of all the many talks I had in Washington, none gave me such pleasure as that with you. There were two reasons for this. In the first place, you are about my oldest friend. In the second place, your self-assurance and to me, at least, demonstrated ability, give me a great feeling of confidence about the future … and I have the utmost confidence that through your efforts we will eventually beat the hell out of those bastards — "You name them; I'll shoot them!" Letter to Dwight D. Eisenhower (1942); to this Eisenhower replied: "I don't have the slightest trouble naming the hellions I'd like to have you shoot; my problem is to figure out some way of getting you to the place you can do it." as quoted in Eisenhower : A Soldier's Life (2003) by Carlo D'Este, p. 301

„Now in war we are confronted with conditions which are strange
If we accept them we will never win.“

—  George S. Patton
Context: Now in war we are confronted with conditions which are strange If we accept them we will never win. Since being realistic, as in mundane combats fistic We will get a bloody nose and that's a sin. Stanza 1 of "Absolute War" a poem composed by Patton in July 1944, during Operation Cobra as quoted in The Patton Papers 1940-1945 (1996) edited by Martin Blumenson p. 492

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