For someone who has served in the military, returning home after serving a tour—or multiple tours—overseas is a much anticipated event. Anticipation grows as the date of departure approaches. Usually, laying low is key to avoiding anything that might tarnish or delay one’s exit.
With this in mind, knowing how U.S. Army General George S. Patton died makes his death all the more tragic. Considered the most formidable commander of World War II, Patton’s final days were spent as a quadriplegic in a bleak room at the 130th Station Hospital in Heidelberg, Germany. He died there in his sleep from congestive heart failure and pulmonary edema on Dec. 21, 1945.
Twelve days earlier, on Dec. 9, 1945, Patton and two other soldiers were traveling through Mannheim (he was on his way to a pheasant hunting expedition south of Mannheim) when a two-ton army truck swerved across the road and hit their Cadillac limousine. Patton’s head hit the glass partition separating the front seats from the back, where he was seated. In a tragic instant, his neck was broken, rendering him paralyzed from the neck down.
An artist’s rendering of the automobile crash that paralyzed Patton. “Silence Patton” (The Nexus Project)
Patton was scheduled to return to the United States (from his post-war desk job post in Germany) the very next day, Dec. 10, 1945. He planned to tell the truth about questionable (and downright bad) decisions that had been made by many of the higher-ups—including Generals Dwight D. Eisenhower and Omar Bradley—during the war. Further, he was going to argue that the United States had been naive in partnering with the Russians.
In director Robert Orlando’s 2018 documentary, “Silence Patton” (available to watch on Epoch Cinema), we look at the days leading up to Patton’s mysterious death and learn what a liability he was considered by people in positions of immense power.
Nicknamed “Old Blood and Guts,” Patton was a strategic genius whose risky yet calculated military tactics led American troops to victory after victory throughout Europe during World War II. However, he was also considered to be a loose cannon when it came to expressing what he was thinking. This no-holds-barred approach to telling what he considered the truth never sat well with the Allied senior command, nor with politicians in Washington.
Through a wide array of recorded quotes, fascinating interviews with historians, and archival footage, Orlando takes us back in time and navigates the sea of controversy surrounding Patton, including what may have led to his suspicious death—which could have been an assassination. Award-winning investigative journalist Robert K. Wilcox posits a similar theory in his popular book “Target Patton: The Plot to Assassinate General George S. Patton.”
General Patton (L) in Messina, Italy, during World War II, in “Silence Patton.” (The Nexus Project)
This is a very objective film. It doesn’t idolize Patton but presents him as a preternaturally gifted, yet flawed military leader. In some cases, Patton’s personality traits, such as his abrasive communication style, held him back from securing the orders he needed from his superiors to execute his various strategies.
Eisenhower, the Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in Europe during World War II, acknowledged Patton’s formidable military capabilities. However, he also viewed Patton as a diplomatic liability.
During the post-war period, as the Eisenhower administration dealt with—some would say “cozied up to”—brutal Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. Patton saw through Stalin’s phony overtures of peaceful collaboration with the West. He warned that joining forces with Soviet communists would result in death, destruction, and hardship across Europe and pose a major threat to future American sovereignty.
There were those in the Roosevelt administration who were “outright Soviet spies, strong Soviet sympathizers, dupes, soft on communism.” “Silence Patton” (The Nexus Project)
However, Eisenhower largely ignored Patton. As a result, after the American political apparatus signed its Faustian deal with Stalin, the Russians swept through much of Europe (including Germany), looting, murdering, raping, and razing all along the way. The world watched as communism spread like a virulent red stain, racking up casualties in the tens of millions and dwarfing Adolf Hitler’s ethnic cleansing efforts.
Thus, the European lands that were recently liberated were tragically subjugated to the Soviet Union’s unmerciful rule, even though Patton had argued to put a stop to Soviet expansion before its blood-soaked spread began.
This well-researched and cogently laid-out documentary contains highly informative interviews and some great wartime footage. Patton’s trajectory somewhat reminds me of what former American President Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II faced in their lifetimes (as I covered in another one of director Robert Orlando’s informative documentaries, titled “The Divine Plan”).
These great men cared deeply for their countries. They were staunch patriots who stood up against the evils of communism. While both Reagan and John Paul survived their respective assassination attempts, “Silence Patton” theorizes that Patton’s demise may not have exactly been an accident. It’s available to watch on Epoch Cinema.
Director: Robert Orlando Running Time: 1 hour, 25 minutes MPAA Rating: Not Rated Release Date: Apr. 3, 2018 Rated: 4 stars out of 5
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.
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