Wednesday, April 24, 2019

SS-Obergruppenführer Felix Steiner

Felix Steiner – not only the most important single influence behind the development of the dynamic tactical theories adopted by Waffen-SS, but one of the most innovative field commanders of World War II. He believed in the creation of highly mobile, well trained, elite troops, both physically and mentally, to fight within the battlegroup and emphasized teamwork rather than mindless obedience on the field of battle. Felix Steiner created a capable formation from disparate elements, and he commanded the Wiking Division competently through the many battles in the east from 1941 until his promotion to command the III. (Germanic) SS-Panzerkorps in April 1943. Felix Steiner was promoted to SS-Obergruppenführer und General der Waffen-SS on July 1 1943. After the surrender, he was incarcerated until 1948. Felix Steiner faced charges at the Nürnberg Trials, but they were all dropped and he was released. He dedicated the last decades of his life to writing his memoirs and several books about the World War II. Felix Steiner died on May 12 1966. Award among others: Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords

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Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Otto Skorzeny being Interrogated after Surrender

SS-Obersturmbannführer Otto Skorzeny being interrogated by U.S. officers on May 1945. Skorzeny was interned for two years before being tried as a war criminal at the Dachau trials in 1947 for allegedly violating the laws of war during the Battle of the Bulge. He and nine officers of the Panzerbrigade 150 were tried before a U.S. Military Tribunal in Dachau on 18 August 1947. They faced charges of improper use of U.S. military insignia, theft of U.S. uniforms, and theft of Red Cross parcels from U.S. POWs. The trial lasted over three weeks. The charge of stealing Red Cross parcels was dropped for lack of evidence. Skorzeny admitted to ordering his men to wear U.S. uniforms; but his defence argued that, as long as enemy uniforms were discarded before combat started, such a tactic was a legitimate ruse de guerre. On the final day of the trial, 9 September, F. F. E. Yeo-Thomas, a former British SOE agent, testified that he and his operatives wore German uniforms behind enemy lines; the Tribunal acquitted the ten defendants. The Tribunal drew a distinction between using enemy uniforms during combat and for other purposes including deception and were unable to prove that Skorzeny had given any orders to actually fight in U.S. uniforms.

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Monday, April 22, 2019

SS-Obersturmbannführer Otto Skorzeny

SS-Obersturmbannführer Otto Skorzeny (12 June 1908 - 5 July 1975) was an extraordinary military man who specialized in guerrilla warfare and commando-style raids during World War II. He mounted numerous operations with varying degrees of success that involved either the rescue, kidnapping, assassination, or defense of numerous wartime leaders in Europe. As a result, he became Hitler’s favorite commando and dubbed “the most dangerous man in Europe” by the Allies. Skorzeny certainly looked the part. He was an imposing figure at 6’ 4” that sported a deep scar on his left cheek from a fencing duel. Though loyal to Hitler and a staunch Austrian Nazi, Skorzeny would ultimately turn on his former compatriots and become a hitman for Israel at the end of the war.

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Sunday, April 14, 2019

German Tank Crew Loading Shells

German tank crews from Panzer-Regiment 15 / 11.Panzer-Division "Gespenster Division" loading shells in their tank, a Panzerkampfwagen III. Presumably in the district of Moscow, winter of 1941/1942. Weapons and vehicles require special lubricants to operate at low temperatures. Mines are unreliable in winter, owing to deep snow that may cushion the fuse or form an ice bridge over the detonator. During World War II, the Wehrmacht lacked necessary supplies, such as weapons and winter uniforms, due to the many delays in the German army's movements. At the same time, Hitler's plans for Operation Barbarossa actually miscarried before the onset of severe winter weather: he was so confident of a quick victory that he did not prepare for even the possibility of winter warfare in Russia. In fact his eastern army suffered more than 734,000 casualties (about 23% of its average strength of 3,200,000) during the first five months of the invasion before the winter started. On 27 November 1941, Eduard Wagner, the Quartermaster General of the German Army, reported that "We are at the end of our resources in both personnel and material. We are about to be confronted with the dangers of deep winter." Also of note is the fact that the unusually early winter of 1941 cut short the rasputitsa season, improving logistics in early November, with the weather still being only mildly cold.

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