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.

Source :
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.

Source :
"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.

Source :
"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