Sunday, June 17, 2018

Hitler with the Bunker Models

From left to right: Generalfeldmarschall Wilhelm Keitel (Chef der Oberkommando der Wehrmacht), Adolf Hitler (Führer und Oberster Befehlshaber der Wehrmacht), Oberst Erich Kahsnitz (Kommandeur Füsilier-Regiment "Großdeutschland" / Panzergrenadier-Division "Großdeutschland), and General der Pioniere Alfred Jacob (General der Pioniere und Festungen im Oberkommando des Heeres). This photo was taken when pioneer general Jacob showed Hitler the latest German fortification and bunker designs, which would later be used on many battle fronts. There is no information when and where this photo was taken, but most likely in June 1943, shortly after Jacob was awarded the Ritterkreuz des Kriegsverdienstkreuz mit Schwertern (June 4, 1943), the medal we saw attached to his neck. Another point of concern is that although Kahsnitz is actually a Regimentskommandeur - who generally serves on the front - but his services is still needed by Hitler at Führerhauptquartier (in September-October 1942 he once became Führerreserve), at least as a notescriber! In this period of time the Germans are busy building strength in order to support the next offensive that will be launched in the Kursk region (Unternehmen Zitadelle). In the upcoming battle Kahsnitz would be fatally injured and lost his life (July 29, 1943). This photograph by Walter Frentz is famous for being the cover of 'Hitler's War' book by the prominent author David Irving.


Monday, May 21, 2018

Some of the First Americans to Attack on D-Day

Some of the first American soldiers to attack the German defenses in Normandy (France), transported in Higgins Boats (LCVPs), approach Omaha Beach near Ruquet, Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer, on 6 June 1944. They were part of E Company of the 16th Infantry Regiment. To the right is another LCVP. The soldiers are protecting their weapons with Pliofilm covers against the wetness. This picture was shot by Chief Photographer’s Mate (CPHOM) Robert F. Sargent of the United States Coast Guard (USCG).

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Monday, April 9, 2018

US Troops Marching in Saint-Lô

United States Army trucks and jeeps drive through the ruins of Saint-Lô, Normandy (France), in July of 1944. A group of American soldiers is walking along the street. The town was almost totally destroyed by 2,000 Allied bombers when they attacked German troops stationed there during Operation Overlord. The Battle of Saint-Lô is one of the three conflicts in the Battle of the Hedgerows (fr), which took place between July 9–24, 1944, just before Operation Cobra. Saint-Lô had fallen to Germany in 1940, and, after the Invasion of Normandy, the Americans targeted the city, as it served as a strategic crossroads. American bombardments caused heavy damage (up to 95% of the city was destroyed) and a high number of casualties, which resulted in the martyr city being called "The Capital of Ruins", popularized in a report by Samuel Beckett. The picture was taken by Reinhard Schultz from PRISMA magazine

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Sunday, April 8, 2018

American Medics Drive Through the Ruins in Normandy

 American military medics drive through the rubble and ruins of an unnamed town somewhere in northwestern France in the summer of 1944. The ruins left behind after warfare speak a language of their own. Even more strikingly, no matter where the conflict has taken place — whether it's in northern Europe or the South Pacific, the Middle East or Central Africa — the vernacular of destruction is often the same: Buildings reduced to rubble and dust. A scarred, tortured landscape seemingly devoid of life, aside from small human forms trying to piece it back together. Twisted, rusting, abandoned vehicles. And always, above it all, the indifferent sky. Frank Scherschel, who shot the photograph, was an award-winning staff photographer for LIFE magazine

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Wednesday, April 4, 2018

British Commonwealth Soldiers with Nazi Flag at Cassino

British and South African soldiers show off a prize, a swastika Nazi flag, after finally conquering Monte Cassino, 18 May 1944. By May 1944 the historic Benedictine Abbey of Monte Cassino had been reduced to rubble. As part of Operation Diadem, the task of capturing it was given to Polish II Corps, but their attack on the night of May 11th/12th failed. The German positions in and around the ruins high on the mountain (atop which the soldiers above are standing on) were simply too strong. Further to the south, however, French troops managed to find a way through the Aurunci Mountains, which the German's believed are impassable, and could now overlook the Liri Valley, through which highway 6 ran to Rome. A second attack on Monte Cassini by the Poles, on May 17th, made some progress, but because of the French advance German troops were already withdrawing from the Gustav Line. The following morning the Polish flag was hoisted over the ruins of the abbey. The capture of Monte Cassino came at a high price. The Allies suffered around 55,000 casualties in the Monte Cassino campaign. German casualty figures are estimated at around 20,000 killed and wounded. Total Allied casualties, spanning the period of the four Cassino battles and the Anzio campaign with the subsequent capture of Rome on 5 June 1944, were over 105,000. This image is in beautiful and original Kodachrome, and was taken by Carl Mydans from LIFE magazine.

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Monday, April 2, 2018

Captured German Kübelwagen in the Liberation of Paris

Paris, France, 26 August 1944: Car carrying journalists and photographers of YANK magazine give a ride to French partisan and unidentified woman during parade held the day after the liberation of Paris by Allied troops. They are using a captured VW Kübelwagen Typ 82, a light military vehicle designed by Ferdinand Porsche and built by Volkswagen during World War II for use by the German military (both Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS). Based heavily on the Volkswagen Beetle, it was prototyped as the Type 62, but eventually became known internally as the Type 82. Kübelwagen is an abbreviation of Kübelsitzwagen, meaning "bucket-seat car" because all German light military vehicles that had no doors were fitted with bucket seats to prevent passengers from falling out. The first VW test vehicles had no doors and were therefore fitted with bucket seats, so acquiring the name VW Kübelsitzwagen that was later shortened to Kübelwagen. Mercedes, Opel and Tatra also built Kübel(sitz)wagens. The picture was taken by Frank Scherschel from LIFE magazine.

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Monday, March 26, 2018

German Soldier Lay Flowers in the Military Cemetery

German Kriegsberichter (war correspondent) from Kriegsmarine, Horst Grund, honors a fallen comrade on the Soldatenfriedhof (military cemetery) at Gadshikov on the Crimea peninsula/Ukraine in summer of 1942. "And I will show you the field where the Iron Crosses grow..." (quote from the movie 'Cross of Iron'). On 4 July 1942, German troops captured the Russian port of Sevastopol. The Soviet Separate Coastal Army was annihilated, with 118,000 men killed, wounded or captured in the final assault and 200,481 casualties in the siege as a whole for both it and the Soviet Black Sea Fleet. Axis losses in Störfang amounted to 35,866 men, of which 27,412 were German and 8,454 Romanian. With the Soviet forces neutralized, the Axis refocused their attention on the major summer campaign of that year, Case Blue and their advance to the Caucasus oilfields.

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Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Two Luftwaffe Soldiers Wearing Black Glasses

Two Luftwaffe soldiers with the rank of Gefreiter (left) and Obergefreiter (right) posing their smile. They were both wearing black glasses a.k.a. shades. This picture comes from a collection of Akira Takiguchi, a moderator in Based from the text above, it was taken from the album of the 3.7cm Flak crew, even though it is possible the two guy in this picture is not a member of Flaktruppen (which usually wearing red collar tabs).

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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

General der Infanterie Albrecht Schubert

General der Infanterie Albrecht Schubert (23 June 1886 – 26 November 1966) was born in Glatz (modern Kłodzko, Poland, then in German Silesia), in a family of long Silesian ancestry. In 1904 he joined the Prussian Army and initially served with the Magdeburg-based Infanterie-Regiment Prinz Louis Ferdinand von Preußen (2. Magdeburgisches) Nr.27. By the time of the outbreak of World War I he rose to the rank of Leutnant. Promoted to the rank of Hauptmann in 1914, during the war he served with the Grenadier-Regiment Kronprinz (1. Ostpreußisches) Nr.1, 21. Reserve-Infanterie-Brigade, 4. Landwehr-Division, 11. Infanterie-Division and as a staff officer in the 202. Infanterie-Division. After the war he remained within the Reichswehr and served in Stettin in the 2. Division, and then in the 8. (Preußisches) Infanterie-Regiment. Promoted to Major in 1926, to Oberstleutnant in 1931 and to full Oberst in 1933. Three years later he became the commanding officer of the Infanterie-Regiment 12. Following Adolf Hitler's rise to power, Schubert's career was fast-tracked. In April 1936 he was promoted to the rank of Generalmajor and already in March 1938 he became a Generalleutnant. The following month he became the commanding officer of the 44. Infanterie-Division, with which he took part in the initial stages of World War II. During the joint Nazi and Soviet invasion of Poland in 1939 his unit took part in the fights as part of the 14. Armee. After the end of hostilities in October 1939 he was temporarily withdrawn to the personal reserve of the OKH (Oberkommando des Heeres, but was soon reinstated to active service as a provisional commanding officer of the XXIII. Armeekorps, with which he took part in the battle of France of 1940. Shortly before the start of Operation Barbarossa, Schubert was promoted to the rank of General der Infanterie and his corps was relocated to East Prussia. Already in September 1941 he was awarded with the Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes as General der Infanterie and Kommandierender General XXIII. Armeekorps. In May 1942 he temporarily commanded the entire 9. Armee, but was again withdrawn from active service in the summer of that year. It was not until the following year that he was given the command over the Hannover-based XI. Armeekorps. Until the end of World War II he served on various staff positions in Vienna, away from the front. Schubert survived the war and died 26 November 1966 in Bielefeld, Germany. Other medals and decorations he received: Ritterkreuz des Königlich Hausordens von Hohenzollern mit Schwertern; kaiserlich und königlich Militär-Verdienstkreuz I.Klasse mit Kriegsdekoration und Schwertern ; Königlich Bayerischer Militär-Verdienstorden IV.Klasse mit Schwertern; Herzoglich Sachsen-Meiningisches Kreuz für Verdienste im Krieg; Königlich Württembergischer Friedrichs-Orden, Ritterkreuz I.Klasse mit Schwertern; Hamburger Hanseatenkreuz; 1914 Eisernes Kreuz II.Klasse und I.Klasse; Ehrenkreuz für Frontkämpfer 1914/1918; Wehrmacht-Dienstauszeichnungen; 1939 spange zum 1914 Eisernes Kreuz II.Klasse und I.Klasse; Medaille Winterschlacht im Osten 1941/42 (1942); and Deutsches Kreuz in Gold (20 January 1943)

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Monday, February 26, 2018

Ukrainian Volunteers with the Wehrmacht

Operation Barbarossa, summer 1941: In many Ukrainian villages - especially in the District of Galicia assigned to Generalgouvernement - German soldiers were welcomed as liberators from Stalinist oppression. On 14 July 1941, Joseph Stalin called on the people of USSR to engage in partisan warfare, but many Ukrainians preferred to serve as collaborators against their own compatriots.

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Book "The Onslaught: The German Drive to Stalingrad Documented in 150 Unpublished Colour Photographs" by Max Hastings

Sunday, December 10, 2017

German Soldiers Rests in Ukrainian Village

German soldiers from 6. Armee Bivouac in an unknown Ukrainian village - waiting for the order to march - during Unternehmen Blau (Operation Blue), summer 1942. The picture was taken by Hans Eckle, a soldier from 587.Infanterie-Regiment / 320.Infanterie-Division. Unternehmen Blau or Fall Blau (Case Blue) was the German Armed Forces' name for its plan for the 1942 strategic summer offensive in southern Russia between 28 June and 24 November 1942. The operation was a continuation of the previous year's Operation Barbarossa, intended to knock the Soviet Union out of the war, and involved a two-pronged attack against the oil fields of Baku as well as an advance in the direction of Stalingrad along the Volga River, to cover the flanks of the advance towards Baku. For this part of the operation, Army Group South (Heeresgruppe Süd) of the German Army was divided into Army Groups A and B (Heeresgruppe A and B). Army Group A was tasked with crossing the Caucasus mountains to reach the Baku oil fields, while Army Group B protected its flanks along the Volga. Initially, the offensive saw gains, with an advance into the Caucasus capturing large areas of land and several oil fields. The possibility that the Germans would continue to the south and east, and possibly link up with Japanese forces (then advancing in Burma) in India, was of great concern to the Allies. However, the Red Army defeated the Germans at Stalingrad, following Operations Uranus and Little Saturn. This defeat forced the Axis to retreat from the Caucasus. Only the city of Kursk and the Kuban region remained tentatively occupied by Axis troops.

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Thursday, November 9, 2017

Stuka Ace Erhard Jähnert

Erhard Jähnert (17 August 1917 - 23 July 2006) showed an early interest in the aviation by joining the NSFK (Nationalsozialistisches Fliegerkorps) in his youth. In 1936 he joined the Luftwaffe, where he was trained as a pilot. In 1938 he attended the Militärflugzeugschule in Kaufbeuren. Then he was transferred to II.Gruppe / Schlachtgeschwader 122. In 1939 he participated in the invasion of Poland, after retrained on Junkers Ju 87 'Stuka'. In 1940 he then flew over France and England. From December 1940 he moved to the Mediterranean theater of war, where he flew missions against Malta and in North Africa. In the spring of 1943 he was transferred to the Eastern Front, and in here that Jähnert received the Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes on 18 May 1943 as Leutnant and Flugzeugführer in III.Gruppe / Sturzkampfgeschwader 3 (StG 3). He flew over 622 combat sorties with StG 3 and sank three Russian destroyers in a single day! He finally reached the rank of Major on May 1945. According to his own words, he was awarded the Eichenlaub zum Ritterkreuz on 30 April 1945. However, no evidence has been found yet. At the end of the war he was captured by British troops in Flensburg after flying with his unit from Courland Pocket. Jähnert then was released in July 1945. Other medals and decorations he receives: Medaille zur Erinnerung an den 1. Oktober 1938; Flugzeugführerabzeichen; Eisernes Kreuz II.Klasse (20 October 1939); Eisernes Kreuz I.Klasse (2 July 1940); Frontflugspange für Kampfflieger in Silber (4 August 1941); Frontflugspange für Kampfflieger in Gold (25 August 1941); Italian Medaglia d'argento al Valore Militare (6 December 1941); Luftwaffe Ehrenpokale für besondere Leistungen im Luftkrieg (18 March 1942); Deutsches Kreuz in Gold (17 June 1942)

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Thursday, October 26, 2017

Luftwaffe Photo Album in Balkan 1941-1942

Interesting album with color photos from a unit of Flak and Luftwaffe ground unit stationed in the Balkans area. The exact date is unknown, but the year is 1941 and 1942.

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Wehrmacht Generals and Spanish Volunteers

From left to right: Generalleutnant Agustín Muñoz Grandes (Kommandeur 250. Infanterie-Division [spanien]), Generaloberst Friedrich Fromm (Chef der Heeresrüstung und Befehlshaber des Ersatzheeres), Gauleiter Fritz Wächtler (NSDAP-Gauleiter der Bayerischen Ostmark), and Dr.phil. Friedrich von Cochenhausen (Kommandierenden General des Stellvertretenden XIII. Armeekorps in Nürnberg und Befehlshaber vom Wehrkreis XIII). The picture was taken in the summer of 1941.

Generaloberst Friedrich Fromm

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Saturday, October 7, 2017

German Generals of the Polar Front

From left to right: unidentified Gebirgsjäger officer, General der Infanterie Karl Weisenberger (Kommandierender General XXXVI. Gebirgskorps), Generalleutnant Hermann Tittel (Kommandeur 169. Infanterie-Division), and Generalmajor Anton Dostler (Kommandeur 163. Infanterie-Division). The picture was taken in 1942, when Generaloberst Eduard Dietl (Oberbefehlshaber 20. Gebirgsarmee) visiting troops in the polar region of war (Finland/Norway).

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Eduard Dietl Visiting Troops

 From left to right: Generaloberst Eduard Dietl (Oberbefehlshaber 20. Gebirgsarmee) and Generalleutnant Hermann Tittel (Kommandeur 169. Infanterie-Division). The picture was taken in 1942, when general Dietl visiting troops in the polar region of war (Finland/Norway).

Hermann Tittel and Eduard Dietl

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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Finnish Victory Ceremony in Vyborg

31 August 1941: Finnish forces held a victory ceremony in Viipuri/Vyborg Main Square before the statue of Torkel Knutsson, after the recapture of the city in Karelian Isthmus from the Soviet occupation. The Russian control of the Karelian Isthmus near lake Ladoga was crumbling after the defeat of the two Soviet divisions. On 29 August 1941, Vyborg was captured by Finnish troops.

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German Soldiers Visited Versailles Palace

The original "selfie" : Happy German soldiers visited the Versailles Palace in 1940, shortly after the fall of France and the German-French ceasefire of 22 June 1940. It didn't take long before they were sent to the Eastern Front to get ready for the upcoming offensive against Russia. Notice the guy in the second row to the left with a bugle of some sort!

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Monday, September 25, 2017

Generalleutnant Eberhard Rodt

Generalleutnant Eberhard Rodt (4 December 1895 - 14 December 1979) was a native of Münich. He joined the Bavarian 2. Ulanen-Regiment "König" in Ansbach as a war volunteer in 1914 and was commissioned the following year. He served in the Reichsheer and later commanded I.Abteilung / Kavallerie-Regiment 18 (1936-1939), Kavallerie-Regiment 7 (1939), Aufklärungs-Abteilung 25 (1939-1940), Schützen-Regiment 66 (1942), and 22. Panzer-Division (1942-1943). Sent to Italy to recuperate with the remnants of his staff, Rodt was promoted to Generalmajor on 1 March 1943. Despite the fact that he had basically failed as a panzer division commander in Russia, Rodt was charged with forming the 15. Panzergrenadier-Division in Sicily out of the survivors of the 15. Panzer-Division of the Afrikakorps plus assorted miscellaneous units. He was thus, in effect, given a second chance professionally! Rodt took full advantage of this opportunity by performing brilliantly as a divisional commander in Sicily, Italy, and on the Western Front, and fully justified the confidence of his superiors had in him (despite his previous failure in the East). He was promoted to Generalleutnant on 1 March 1944 and led the 15. Panzergrenadier-Division till the end of the war in 1945.

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Book "Panzer Legions: A Guide to the German Army Tank Divisions of World War II and Their Commanders" by Samuel W. Mitcham Jr.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Kriegsberichter Gerhard Garms and the Crew of U-404

A rare color image showing Kriegsberichter Oberleutnant Gerhard Garms (right) in U-404's conning tower, speaking with a member of the crew. From the spring to autumn of 1942 Oberleutnant Garms was a photo and film correspondent attached to the U-boat flotillas based on the Atlantic coast of France. There he took countless still photos and movies of submarines leaving and returning to port, which have appeared often in the post-war literature. Garms also went along on at least two operational U-boat sorties. His first operation was the eighth patrol by U-552 under Kapitänleutnant Erich Topp, during which the submarine operated off the American coast. It was on this patrol that Garms filmed the brightly-lit skyline of an American city. Footage shot during this operation, which lasted from 7 March until 27 April 1942, appear in "Der Deutsche Wochenschau" Nr.599, which was shown in theaters in Germany and occupied Europe. In August 1942 Garms boarded Kapitänleutnant Otto von Bülow's U-404 for his second patrol. Garms' father had established Nordmark-Film in Kiel in 1920 and had taught him the film trade from the ground up. For this assignment Garms came up with something special. A mount for his Askania Z camera was built to his specifications in the workshops in St. Nazaire and mounted on the port side of the U-404's conning tower. Tests showed that the camera was capable of functioning to depths of 60 meters in the pressure capsule. Garms wanted to film the submarine diving and carrying out underwater maneuvers, and he succeeded. The Askania Z was a sophisticated 35-mm camera which the Askania AG had been producing in Berlin since 1929. This type of camera was used, for example, to shoot the UFA film "Blauer Engel" (Blue Angel) with Marlene Dietrich in 1929-30. The weight of the camera without lens was 25 kilograms. Garms films are familiar with all U-boat enthusiasts, the newsreel images showing the conning tower of a U-boat nearing the surface, finally emerging and then plowing through the Atlantic. Other impressive footage shows waves breaking the conning tower in heavy seas.

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"U-Boot Im Focus" magazine, edition nr.6 - 2010

U-34 Emblem During Hard Winter of 1940-41

Many training boats could look back on an interesting operational life and their activities were in no way restricted to the Baltic Sea. This photo shows a well-known Type VII A boat of 24. U-Flottille in the Baltic during the hard winter of 1940-41. It is U-34, wearing the emblem consisting of an elephant stepping the head of Winston Churchill, England's First Sea Lord. Beneath it is the training boat emblem. Exactly when the elephant emblem was introduced is not clear, for the boat is believed to have worn the "Raben Huckebein" (Raven Huckebein) emblem during its seven operational patrols. U-34 was lost on 5 August 1943, when it sank after collision with the submarine tender "Lech" off Memel.

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"U-Boot Im Focus" magazine, edition nr.6 - 2010

Type II Training Boats in the Baltic

Many training boats could look back on an interesting operational life and their activities were in no way restricted to the Baltic Sea. Our color photo illustrate several such boats. Photo above shows Type II boats approaching and tying up at the 21. U-Flottille's base in Pillau. The submarine in the foreground is U-62. Under Oberleutnant zur See Hans-Bernhard Michalowski, the Type II C sank two ships during fire patrols in the period 1 February - 30 September 1940, including the British destroyer HMS Grafton. The latter vessel was taking part in "Operation Dynamo", the evacuation of Allied troops from Dunkirk. During the night of 29 May 1940, while attempting to rescue survivors from HMS Wakeful, which had been sunk by the German motor torpedo boat S-30 a short time before, the destroyer was torpedoed by U-62 and sank. In October 1940 U-62 became a training vessel. Note the rescue buoy on the afterdeck and the training emblem on the conning tower. Approaching in the background is U-61, another Type II C. U-61 completed eleven patrols between October 1939 and October 1940, including nine under Oberleutnant zur See Jürgen Oesten. He sank five ships with a combined tonnage of 19,668 GRT. Kapitänleutnant Wolf-Harro Stiebler subsequently replaced Oesten as commander of U-61. Stiebler, who later commanded the "Milchkuh" (Milk Cow) U-461, completed two more patrols. After its days of frontline service were over, U-61 also joined the 21. U-Flottille in the Baltic. Note the emblem of Crew 37 b on the conning tower: to date none of U-61's commanders has been linked to that crew.

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"U-Boot Im Focus" magazine, edition nr.6 - 2010

Monday, January 9, 2017

U-403 in Zoppoter Woche in Danzig

After the successes of the early war years and the extensive propaganda coverage given by the radio and newspapers, public interest in the U-boat service and its men was tremendous. The National-Socialist regime used this interest and the enthusiasm of German youth to attract volunteers. Whenever possible, the U-Bootwaffe made itself accessible, so that young men in particular could see it up close. Successful crews visited their sponsor cities, and U-boat captains spoke at schools and addressed members of the Jungvolk and Hitlerjugend in addition. The Kriegsmarine took every opportunitiy to put its submarines on public display. Zoppoter Woche (Zoppot Week) in the summer of 1941 was one such opportunity. Situated on Danzig Bay not far from Danzig, Zoppot was a beach and spa resort. Zoppoter Woche, held every year in mid to late July, was a major sporting event with regattas, horse races and swim competitions. For the whole week the city's spa promenade was crammed with visitors. One attraction was the pier, which extended more than 500 meters into Danzig Bay, offering visitors a wonderful view of the shore promenade and the large Grand Hotel. Hitler had recently spent a week there during the opening phase of the campaign in Poland (1939). It was precisely there, during Zoppoter Woche in July 1941, that U-403 tied up to attract the attention of visitors.

U-403 (The Type VIIC boat) had been commissioned a short time earlier on 25 June 1941. Attached to the 5. U-Flottille and commanded by Kapitänleutnant Heinz-Ehlert Clausen, the boat had just completed UAK-Abnahme (UAK Acceptance Trials) on 8 July 1941. It was subsequently sent to the shipyard in Danzig for remaining work, including the fitting of a conning tower wind deflector. The color photo reproduced here provide an excellent view of the ship's emblem. It is the Wappen (Coat of Arms) of the boat's sponsor city, Halle an der Saale, with stylized representations of the sun, moon and stars. The emblem had been present on both sides of the conning tower since the boat's commissioning in Danzig-Neufahrwasser. The emblem was painted on metal shields which were then affixed to the conning tower. The crew also wore the emblem as a cap badge. In October 1941, U-403 added its own emblem. Then in the spring of 1942 Halle's Wappen was deleted on both sides of the tower, leaving just the ship's emblem. By the end of October, U-403 had completed its training phase at the AGRU-Front, as well as armament and tactical training. Much to the captain's displeasure, the boat was retained as a training vessel with the 27. U-Flottille in the Baltic. It was used to train U-boat commander trainees in Pillau and Memel. Not until 23 February 1942 did U-403 move from Kiel to Helgoland, from where it carried out its first operational sortie on 1 March 1942. Kapitänleutnant Clausen tied up his boat in Narvik 19 days later. By the spring of 1943 U-403 had completed five more patrols from Norway. On 1 July 1942 it was attached to the recently established 11. U-Flottille in Bergen. On 1 March 1943 the boat was attached to the 9. U-Flottille in Brest. One day later U-403 arrived at the Atlantic Coast base from Trondheim. Under Kapitänleutnant Clausen the boat made another patrol in April-May 1943. Despite the heavy U-boat losses in May 1943, Clausen brought his boat safely back to Brest. There followed a change of command, possibly because Clausen had not been particularly successful, sinking just two enemy ships totaling12,946 GRT in seven patrols. Under its new commander Kapitänleutnant Karl-Franz Heine, U-403 sailed from Brest on its 8th patrol on 13 July 1943. The last message from the boat was received 10 days later, when it reported it was under air attack at position 46 N 10 W. No further message was received, and the Befehlshaber der Unterseeboote (BdU) concluded that U-403 had been sunk by air attack on 23 July. On 27 August 1943, therefore, the boat was listed as "x" (probably sunk), and on 18 May 1944 as "xx" (lost). In fact U-403 had survived the attack. The absence of any further radio messages suggests that its radios were damaged in the attack. The boat was sunk, but not until four weeks later on 18 August 1943 near the Westafrican coast, after an attack by a French-flown Wellington of Nr. 344 Squadron. There were no survivors from the crew of 50. The new commander had brought the crew no luck.

The commander of U-403, Kapitänleutnant Heinz-Ehlert Clausen, photographed on the pier of Danzig Bay during Zoppoter Woche (Zoppot Week) in July 1941. His submarine is in the right background. That same day Clausen used his own camera to shoot the two color photos of U-403 reproduced here. Kapitänleutnant Clausen (born in 12 July 1909) survived the war and died in 24 March 1987. His only war patrols was with U-403 (7 patrols and 191 days at sea), with two ships sunk and total tonnage 12,946 GRT. The medals and decorations received by Clausen: Eisernes Kreuz II.Klasse (26 May 1940) und I.Klasse (4 October 1942); Kriegsabzeichen für Minensuch-, U-Boot-Jagd- und Sicherungsverbände (23 October 1941); U-Boots-Kriegsabzeichen (26 February 1942); and Kriegsverdienstkreuz II.Klasse mit Schwertern (1 September 1944)

Source :
 "U-Boot Im Focus" magazine, edition nr.5 - 2009

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

UAK Acceptance Trials of U-595

Even though the photos shown here are not of extraordinary quality, they are still extremely rare color images of the German submarine arm. The photos were taken in November 1941 or January/February 1942 aboard the U-595 in the Baltic Sea. Built by Blohm & Voss in Hamburg, the Type VII C U-boat was commissioned by Oberleutnant zur See Jürgen Quat-Faslem on 6 November 1941. From Hamburg, the boat sailed down the Elbe and the Kaiser-Wilhelm Canal into the Baltic Sea. The route down the Elbe and through the Kaiser-Wilhelm Canal was not without danger, and the boat several times took aboard pilots to assist with navigation. Waiting for U-595 in Kiel was approximately 14 days of UAK acceptance trials. There were test crash dives and compensation of the gyro compass. Another important stage was monitoring of the boat's sound profile by the UAG-Schall in Sonderburg, Denmark. Underwater microphones captured the sounds made by the U-boat at various speeds. The object was to minimize them in order to make the boat less easy to detect when it entered service.

This photo was probably shot during crash dive tests in the Baltic Sea. Taken from U-595, it shows a second U-boat bearing the white UAK emblem on the conning tower, sailing into Kiel Fiord. The white UAK emblem was only applied, on both sides of the conning tower, during the testing phase. Following UAK acceptance on 11 December 1941, U-595 went to the Agru-Front (Hela) in the deep waters of Danzig Bay for further training. This lasted from 12 to 22 December. Then, on 23 December, the boat joined the 8. Unterseebootsflottille (8th Submarine Flotilla) in Königsberg. With this flotilla, which in February 1942 moved to Danzig, U-595 underwent deep-diving tests, measured mile runs to determine maximum speed, depth charge exercises, damage repair, day and night torpedo firing, and anti-aircraft and deck gun training. The training, which continued until 31 July 1942, also included a number of tactical training exercises. In the end there was a final noise monitoring session at Rönne off Bornholm,

This photo was taken in January/February 1942 in one of the training bases in Danzig Bay and shows Obersteuermann Georg Schwarz in front of U-595's conning tower. On it may be seen the boat's large "Frosch" (Frog) emblem which was designed and painted by 1. Wachtoffizier (First Watch Officer) Leutnant zur See Friedrich Kaiser while it was with the Agru-Front. On 14 November 1942, U-595 was bombed off Oran in the Mediterranean and was subsequently run aground and blown up by its crew. Two members of the crew were killed in the bombing attack, the rest were taken prisoner.

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"U-Boot Im Focus" magazine, edition nr.4 - 2008

Monday, December 5, 2016

Four Luftwaffe Aces after Award ceremony

Four top fighter aces from Luftwaffe posing together after the small awards ceremony with Adolf Hitler at Führerhauptquartier Wolfsschanze (Wolf's lair) in Rastenburg/East Prussia, 22 September 1943. From left to right: Hauptmann Heinrich Prinz zu Sayn-Wittgenstein (receiving Eichenlaub #290 zum Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes as Gruppenkommandeur I.Gruppe / Nachtjagdgeschwader 100, after 54 night victories. Award date: 31 August 1943), Major Hartmann Grasser (receiving Eichenlaub #288 zum Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes as Gruppenkommandeur II.Gruppe / Jagdgeschwader 51 "Mölders", after 103 day victories. Award date: 31 August 1943), Hauptmann Walter Nowotny (receiving both the Eichenlaub #293 and Schwerter #37 zum Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes as Gruppenkommandeur I.Gruppe / Jagdgeschwader 54 "Grünherz", after 189 and 218 day victories. Award date: 4 September 1943 and 22 September 1943, all respectively), and Hauptmann Günther Rall (receiving Schwerter #34 zum Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub as Gruppenkommandeur III.Gruppe / Jagdgeschwader 52, after 200 day victories. Award date: 12 September 1943). The picture was taken by Walter Frentz

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Monday, November 21, 2016

German Panzers One Day Before Barbarossa

German Panzer IVs Ausf.F1 on the way to the Eastern Front, 21 June 1941. They're wearing Dunkelgrau Nr.46 camo paint. The Germans had begun massing troops near the Soviet border even before the campaign in the Balkans had finished. By the third week of February 1941, 680,000 German soldiers were gathered in assembly areas on the Romanian-Soviet border. In preparation for the attack, Hitler moved more than 3.2 million German and about 500,000 Axis soldiers to the Soviet border, launched many aerial surveillance missions over Soviet territory, and stockpiled war materiel in the East. Although the Soviet High Command was alarmed by this, Stalin's belief that the Third Reich was unlikely to attack only two years after signing the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact resulted in a slow Soviet preparation. This fact aside, the Soviets did not entirely overlook the threat of their German neighbor as well before the German invasion, Marshal Semyon Timoshenko referred to the Germans as the Soviet Union's "most important and strongest enemy" and as early as July 1940, Red Army Army Chief of Staff, Boris Shaposhnikov, produced a preliminary three-pronged plan of attack for what German invasion might look like, remarkably similar to the actual attack. Since April 1941, the Germans had begun setting up Operation Haifisch and Operation Harpune to substantiate their claims that Britain was the real target. The Germans deployed one independent regiment, one separate motorized training brigade and 153 divisions for Barbarossa, which included 104 infantry, 19 panzer and 15 motorized infantry divisions in three army groups, nine security divisions to operate in conquered territories, four divisions in Finland and two divisions as reserve under the direct control of OKH. These were equipped with about 3,350 tanks, 7,200 artillery pieces, 2,770 aircraft (that amounted to 65 percent of the Luftwaffe), about 600,000 motor vehicles and 625,000–700,000 horses. Finland slated 14 divisions for the invasion, and Romania offered 13 divisions and eight brigades over the course of Barbarossa. The entire Axis forces, 3.8 million personnel, deployed across a front extending from the Arctic Ocean southward to the Black Sea. The picture was taken by Kriegsberichter Horst Grund

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Saturday, November 5, 2016

Gebirgsjäger-Regiment 136 in Norway 1942

A group of German Gebirgsjäger (Mountain Troop) from III.Bataillon / Gebirgsjäger-Regiment 136 / 2.Gebirgs-Division pose for a photograph in Norway, summer of 1942. The picture was taken by Hugo Krause, one of the member of the battalion. GJR136 was raised on 1 August 1938 from the Tyrol Jäger-Regiment of the Austrian Army in Innsbruck. The III. Bataillon was raised in Landeck, the II. Bataillon didn't exist. The Regiment was put under the 2. Gebirgs-Division. The II.Bataillon / Gebirgsjäger-Regiment 140 was then put under GJR136 as its II. Bataillon and renamed it to II.Bataillon / Gebirgsjäger-Regiment 136 on 1 April 1940. The training unit was the I. Bataillon of the Gebirgsjäger-Ersatz-Regiment 136, the later then renamed as Reserve-Gebirgsjäger-Regiment 136. The 2. Gebirgs-Division itself saw action in Poland in September 1939, followed by Norway from early 1940 until December 1941. Only elements of GJR136 were involved in the Norwegian campaign, noticeably about two company's worth were parachute trained and jumped (one company each), on the airfield of Bardufoss and the town of Tromsø, just after the Norwegian capitulation in June 1940. These still classified as operational jumps and those involved received the parachute badge. From the summer of 1940 until June 1941 the regiment, along with the rest of Gebirgskorps Norwegen, were on garrison duties in Northern Norway. The entire Corps crossed the Finnish\Norwegian border on the 22 june 1941 and a week later crossed into the Soviet union with the aim of reaching Murmansk. That never happened, and by the autumn of 1941 both sides settled down to three years of static warfare about 30-40km short of Murmansk. On the 7 October 1944 the Soviets launched a massive assault against what was now called the XIX. Gebirgskorps made up of the 2. and 6. Gebirgs-Division plus some smaller units. This offensive pushed the Germans into Norway over a period of three weeks until both sides broke contact 100 miles or so inside Norway. The 2. Gebirgs-Division was then withdrawn to the continent where it fought out the remainder of the war. The Gebirgsjäger-Regiment 136 was a part of 2. Gebirgs-Division throughout the war. The Regiment had one Ritterkreuzträger (Knight's Cross holder): Hauptmann Otto Stampfer, who won the award on 23 July 1942, while serving in the III. Bataillon of the GJR136. In addition to Stampfer's Ritterkreuz, the regiment had eight Deutsches Kreuz in Gold holders and one Ehrenblattspange holder.

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Thursday, November 3, 2016

Resettlement of Bessarabian Germans

After the Red Army occupied the Bessarabia region, an agreement was reached between the Third Reich and the Soviet Union (then friends), on the resettlement of the local Germans into the Reich. Serbia, at that time also still friends with Germany, helped out and formed a temporary shelter for the refugees. In the photo, the chairman of the Swabian-German Cultural Union, Dr. Sepp Janko, delivers a speech to his fellow nationals in a refugee camp near Zemun, Yugoslavia, autumn 1940. Behind him are the typical Nazi pagan symbols: the Wolfsangel (freedom) and the Man rune (life), and a shovel (labour) between them. Standing in front are the local ethnic Germans, and their boys in uniforms and with instruments in style of the Hitler Youth. Upon their arrival in the Reich, the refugees will be subjected to the political control, employed mainly as hard labourers, and the able-bodied men will be recruited and sent to war. Two years later, Janko and his men too will put on the uniforms of the German Army, and set off to war – against their former Yugoslav hosts.

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German Camo Nets in Africa

German Afrikakorps soldiers under camouflage net in African Campaign, Northern Africa, 1942. Like other militaries, the Wehrmacht understood that concealing war machines or HQ in either defensive or offensive manoeuvres would increase the likelihood to survived in the encounter. In addition to camouflage painted on to the machines itself, they would also use foliage (branches from bushes and trees, grass or hay from fields, river-side reeds, even stacks of wood) to cover the machines, usually from the front to make it even harder to spot and differintiate from its surroundings. They would also, on occassion, use camouflage tarps and canvases, as well as camouflage netting to further conceal the machines from being spotted. As the war became more defensive for the Germans, the frequency of war machines being camouflaged in this way, waiting in ambush for the enemy, also increasingly common. Retreating units would often cut out foliage and leave it along the roads to help other retreating units conceal their vehicles as they fell back and to make setting up the next ambush that much faster. There were also ocassions where crews would apply a thin layer of mud or snow to the vehicle to help camouflage it with its surroundings. The picture was taken by Reinhard Schultz

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