Wednesday, August 24, 2016

SS-Brigadeführer Leopold Gutterer

SS-Brigadeführer Leopold Gutterer (25 April 1902 - 27 December 1996) was a State Secretary in Joseph Goebbel's Ministry of Propaganda, or "Staatssekretär im Reichsministerium für Volksaufklärung und Propaganda". After the war he worked anonymously for two years for a Bavarian farmer, before he was discovered and arrested. He was then sentenced as an "activist", the second of four categories of offenders under American denazification codes, to two years of labor and lifelong suspension of his pension. Since the war Gutterer had never returned to Berlin. He also lived as of the early 1990s, surviving even his son, who died in 1990 and had remained completely loyal to his father, settling in the same West German city. This picture was first published in the book "Film und Farbe" (1942). Since this book was produced as a dissertation on color movie and still photo film and presented at a congress in Dresden by the Color Committee of the German Movie Technical Society of the German Association for Photographic Research, the SS had their hand in it. The overseer of the study, the lecture, and the publication of this book was SS General and Staatssekretär Gutterer, and that is why his full-page, full-color portrait in uniform appears at the front of a very scientifically oriented book.

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Book "Resistance of the Heart: Intermarriage and the Rosenstrasse Protest in Nazi Germany" by Nathan Stoltzfus

The State Funeral of Hugo Bruckmann

The state funeral of Hugo Bruckmann (13 October 1863 - 3 September 1941) which was held in Münich, 6 September 1941. Bruckmann and his wife Elsa Bruckmann were among the early and highly influential promoters of Adolf Hitler, and they helped him with gaining access to, and acceptance within, upper-class circles in Münich. Just behind the woman in black veil (sitting third from right) is SS-Brigadeführer Leopold Gutterer (Staatssekretär im Reichsministerium für Volksaufklärung und Propaganda), while the back row behind Gutterer were, from left to right: SS-Brigadeführer Anton Vogler, SS-Obergruppenführer Friedrich "Karl" Freiherr von Eberstein, two unknown Heer generals, SS-Brigadeführer Hans Dauser, SA-Obergruppenführer Ludwig Siebert, SS-Obergruppenführer Karl Fiehler (his head is shown under an outstreched hand behind Gutterer), Reichsstatthalter Franz Xaver Ritter von Epp (wearing brown party uniform), and SA-Obergruppenführer Hans-Georg Hofmann

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Friday, August 19, 2016

Oberstleutnant Wilhelm Walther

The Brandenburg German special forces saw extensive action in Fall Gelb (German invasion of France and the Lower Countries), clearing the way for the Fallschirmjäger before the Battle of Fort Eben-Emael. On 8 May 1940, two nights before the opening of the offensive, the Brandenburgers went into action. Donning the enemies’ uniforms over their own German ones (so they could quickly change in case of capture and be treated as POWs rather than spies and facing execution), small groups began to cross the border into the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. One of the few actions that was successful in the opening days of the campaign was the seizure of the Meuse bridge in the Dutch town of Gennep. An eight-man team, led by Oberleutnant Wilhelm Walther, was given the task of capturing the bridge intact. At 02:00 am on 10 May 1940, Walther’s team, now disguised as Dutch military police escorting German prisoners, made their assault. Two guard posts were destroyed, but three Brandenburgers were wounded and the team was pinned down. Dressed in a Dutch uniform, Walther advanced across the bridge. The confused defenders hesitated, allowing the rest of the team to take them out, seizing the bridge and disabling the detonators. Many more operations like this took place over the course of the campaign. However very few were successful and on another bridge, Brandenburgers were arrested by Dutch troops and shot as spies. For his action at Gennep, Walther received the Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes (Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross) in 4 Juni 1940 as an Oberleutnant and Stoßtruppführer 4.Kompanie / Bau-Lehr-Bataillon z.b.V. 800 "Brandenburg" / Heeresgruppe B. He was the first Brandenburgers to receive the coveted medal!

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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Oberstleutnant Georg Briel of the Afrikakorps

Oberstleutnant Georg Briel (21 August 1907 - 16 May 1980) was born in Ellers, in the Fulda District, and joined the police in 1927 as Polizei-Anwärter (Police Aspirant). He trained at the Polizeischule in Münden and transferred to the Schutzpolizei Kassel in 1929.  By 1934, he was a Polizei-Leutnant (Second Lieutenant of the Police).  He was inducted into the army as an Oberleutnant (First Lieutenant) in 1935 and became adjutant of the Maschinengewehr-Bataillon 2 (motorisiert).  Subsequently he was a company commander in the Heeres-Flak-Bataillon 606.  Promoted to Hauptmann (Captain) in 1938, he assumed command of Battalion in 1941, and became a Major in 1942. In the North African theater, Heeres-Flak-Bataillon 606 became a part of 90.leichte-Afrika-Division, which Rommel liked to use as an antitank unit with the the forward troops. Briel was awarded the Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes (Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross) in 23 July 1942 for shooting up a French breakout attempt at Bir Hacheim. He later commanded the Panzergrenadier-Regiment 200 (formerly Schützen-Regiment 200) in Tunisia, but fell seriously ill and returned to Europe, a short time before the Axis surrendered in North Africa. As an Oberstleutnant (Lieutenant Colonel) in 1945, he commanded Grenadier-Regiment 57 of 79. Volks-Grenadier-Division on the Western Front until he was wounded again in the last weeks of the war.  Briel was in a hospital in Erlangen when Germany surrendered. Apart from the Ritterkreuz, he received the following medals for his military service in World War II: Dienstauszeichnung IV. Klasse (2 October 1936); Eisernes Kreuz II.Klasse (22 September 1939) und I.Klasse (30 August 1940); Deutsches Schutzwall-Ehrenzeichen (20 March 1940); Allgemeines-Sturmabzeichen (15 January 1942); Italian Medaglia commemorativa della campagna italo-tedesca in Africa (19 January 1942); Verwundetenabzeichen in Schwarz (3 February 1942); Italian Medaglia d'Argento al Valore Militare (18 February 1942); Deutsches Kreuz in Gold (20 February 1942); Ärmelband "Afrika" (12 April 1943); and Heeres-Flak-Abzeichen (27 April 1943).

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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Luftwaffe Soldiers Near the Burning Wreck of American P-38 Lightning

German Luftwaffe soldiers near the burning wreck of an American Lockheed P-38 Lightning "ES-J" fighter aircraft that shot down in Tunisia, early 1943. The plane belong to the USAAF's 48th Fighter-Squadron / 14th Fighter Group. This picture was first published in the SIGNAL magazine, May 1943 edition. Operation Torch (the invasion of North West Africa) was the first major Anglo-American operation of the Second World War. It was also the first time the P-38 saw significant action against the Luftwaffe. The only indication of how the P-38 would cope against German fighter aircraft came from a test flight against a captured Fw 190. Two P-38 equipped Fighter Groups – the 1st and 14th – were allocated to Operation Torch, with a third (the 78th) kept in reserve in Britain. They did not play a part in the initial landings on 8 November 1942 – the 14th FG did not go operational in North Africa until 11th November. At first they were based in western Algeria, as part of the Central Task Force that had occupied by Oran, but in the days that followed the Germans built up an impressive presence in Tunisia, and the P-38 groups were moved east, initially to Algiers. The 14th FG was first, moving to the recently captured airbase at Youks-les-Bains, with the first squadron moving on 21 November. This base was close to the Tunisian border, and the P-38s soon found themselves coming up against the increasingly strong Luftwaffe presence in North Africa. Over the next two months the 14th FG carried out a mix of ground attack, bomber escort and air superiority missions. At first they had been involved in supporting the first, unsuccessful, attempt to capture Tunis, which had occupied most of late November 1942. The front line was 150 miles east of Youks, not a problem for the P-38, but there were never enough aircraft. P-38 formations on fighter sweeps over Tunisia were often outnumbered by formations of Bf 109s and Fw 190s. The 14th FG suffered very heavy losses during this period. Between November 1942 and 28 January 1943 the group lost 32 pilots (out of an original complement of 54) and had been reduced to only seven operational aircraft. During its first period of service in North Africa, the 14th FG claimed 62 victories. Even though North Africa had been given the highest possible priority for new P-38s, there simply weren’t enough aircraft being produced in late 1942 to sustain such heavy losses. On 28 January the 14th FG was withdrawn, and replaced by the 82nd Fighter Group, also equipped with the P-38.

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German Cart Crossing a Stream in the Eastern Front

This picture was taken by Kriegsberichter Koltzenburg and showing a horse wagon belong to a German Grenadier company crossing the stream in Russia, summer 1942. It's a nice picture to illustrate the myth about the "invincible" german mechanized forces: no other Army during World War II relied so much on horses than the German one. A regular infantry division had 3,635 horses (!) and 895 wooden field wagons. Approximately 3 MILLION horses and mules served with the German army from 1939 to 1945. This caused ridiculous unsurmountable logistical problems in Russia, and in France in 1944. On the other side, you should remember that only 10% roads in russia was 'normal', so horses were the best to help with stucked vehicles.

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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Erwin Rommel at the Sollum Front

This picture was taken by Fritz Sturm and it shows Generalleutnant Erwin Rommel (Kommandierender General Deutsches Afrikakorps) with his staff in the inspection to the gun positions of I.Abteilung / Artillerie-Regiment 33 (motorisiert) / 15.Panzer-Division near Point 206, about 5 km south of Fort Capuzzo at Solum front, May/June 1941. Behind him facing the camera and holding a pair of binoculars is Major Lucius Günther Schrivenbach (12 September 1911 - 2007), a staff officer of the "Desert Fox" in his campaign in Africa (1941-1943) and in Normandy (1944), followed by the same position for Generalfeldmarschall Gerd von Rundstedt to the end of war. Rommel was loved by the enlisted men under his command and quite detested by his officers as they considered him interfering and that he didn’t trust them to do their actual jobs. As a general though he acted as a captain. Rommel is quite often praised for his tactical abilities. Tactics though (the small scale stuff, what soldiers do in battle) wasn’t supposed to be what a general worried about. Rommel was quite an interfering general. German military officers were trained to think for themselves. Today this is known as Mission Type Tactics. The commander was supposed to give an order which stated the resources available to be used (troops, tanks, etc.) and the objective. It was up to the lower ranked officers to use their own initiative in how to obtain the objective. Erwin Rommel gave orders with specific instructions and expected them to be followed to the letter. He would also drive around the front and give orders to soldiers thus cutting their actual officers off (there’s accounts of him issuing individual targets to anti-tank guns rather than let their own officers decide and almost being killed by the return fire!).

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