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

Source :,_Panzer_IV_auf_dem_Weg_zum_Angriff.jpg

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.

Source :

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.

Source :

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

Source :