Sunday, December 22, 2019

Undergoing Maintenance for the Bf 109 of JG 52

This Messerschmitt Bf 109G-1 "Weisse 10" (Werknummer 19881) of I.Gruppe / Jagdgeschwader 52 (JG 52) is undergoing maintenance by its ground-crew on an airfield at Gostagayewskaya, north-east of Anapa in the southern part of Heeresgruppe Süd (Army Group South), summer of 1943. We can see a Daimler-Benz DB 605 Engine on the open cowling, and also the RLM 77 Hellgrau camouflage pattern

"Luftwaffe at War: Fighters over Russia" by Manfred Griehl

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Fw 190 of I./JG 54 Flying in Russia

Focke-Wulf Fw 190 As of I.Gruppe / Jagdgeschwader 54 (JG 54) flying over the Vyazma-Orel region on the lookout for interesting targets. In 1943 parts of this Geschwader were engaged in protecting the northern sector of occupied Russia against Soviet air raids. Early in 1943 the conversion of the unit to Fw 190s took place at Heiligenbeil in East Prussia. It subsequently saw service in several parts of the Eastern Front.

"Luftwaffe at War: Fighters over Russia" by Manfred Griehl

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

SS-Brigadeführer Alfred-Ingemar Berndt

SS-Brigadeführer Alfred-Ingemar Berndt (born 22 April 1905 in Bromberg (Posen); died 28 March 1945 at Veszprém, Hungary) was a German journalist, writer and close collaborator of National Socialist Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels. Berndt wrote an eyewitness account of the 1940 German invasion of the Low Countries and France, Tanks Break Through!, and is regarded as propagandistic creator of the "Desert Fox" myth attached to the German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel. Although he had been a high-ranking official in the Propaganda Ministry from Hitler's early days in 1933, Berndt was willing to relinquish his comfort zone to then register as a volunteer for the Wehrmacht (German Armed Forces) when World War II broke out, with the rank of ordinary soldier! After Blitzkrieg's success in the West in 1940, Berndt returned to his old job as a writer and journalist. In May 1941 he returned to the front, and this time together with Rommel in Africa. Berndt - who has six fingers on one of his leg (!) - was trusted to be a propaganda reporter as well as filling Rommel's diary. Although shortly afterwards he was called home by Goebbels, Berndt still did not leave Afrikakorps, and went back and forth between Germany and Africa until finally Rommel was expelled from there in 1943. Berndt then continued his work as a propaganda expert, and was trusted to writes about the Battle of Stalingrad, surrender of German troops in Tunisia and the Katyn Massacre. On May 24, 1944, two weeks before the Allies landed in Normandy, he shot dead an American pilot captured by the Germans. His actions clearly violated the laws of war set by the Geneva Conventions, but Berndt was never brought before a military tribunal because he died in combat in Hungary. It turned out he had registered as a war volunteer (again!), and this time was assigned to the Wiking Division as a Waffen-SS officer. Medals and awards he has received: Eisernes Kreuz II.Klasse (May 27, 1940) und I.Klasse (June 6, 1940); Allgemeines-Sturmabzeichen; Verwundetenabzeichen; Medaglia d'Argento al Valore Militare (Italy); and Deutsches Kreuz in Gold (July 17, 1943)

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Friday, November 1, 2019

Unidentified Emblem of IV/KG 54

These pictures show the, until now unidentified, emblem of IV.Gruppe / Kampfgeschwader 54 (KG 54). Pictures have been seen before, remain unidentified. Also the color of the shield was unknown. As usual within other IV. Gruppen, the base color of the shield was blue. The emblem was probably introduced at establishment of the Gruppe on 1 April 1941. These pictures originate from the time the Gruppe was based at Grottaglie between 1 March 1942 and 29 May 1943. The Gruppe trained new arrivals before they joined the other Gruppen. IV./KG 54 also flew patrols and convoy ptotection flights in the Mediterranean.

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"Luftwaffe im Focus" magazine - Edition No.1 (2002)

Monday, October 28, 2019

Generalleutnant Ernst Schaumburg

Generalleutnant Ernst Schaumburg was born on 13 November 1880 in Coblenz, and died in Hamburg on 4 October 1947. Schaumburg was that most unusual of creatures-- an OVERdecorated officer who did not WEAR all the items he was entitled too! He served in the army from 20 March 1899 - 31 October 1943, from 1904 to 1910 in the Schutztruppen German Southwest Africa, where, in addition to the 1904-06 campaign medal, he racked up a Red Eagle Order 4th Class with Swords, Crown Order 4th Class, Reuss (Older Line) Honor Cross 3rd Class, and Schwarzburg Honor Cross 3rd Class. During World War I he got 1914 Eisernes Kreuz II.Klasse und I.Klasse, Prussian Hohenzollern House Order, and Pour le Merite on 21 April 1918. Also: Verwundetenabzeichen 1918 in Silber, Saxe-Ernestine House Order-Knight 1st Class, and Hamburg Hanseatic Cross. He was Commandant of Berlin from 1 February 1933 to 31 January 1937, appointed Commander of 225th Infantry Division on 1 September 1939, then was Commandant of Paris from 1 August 1940 to 1 May 1943.

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Sunday, September 8, 2019

Ritterkreuzträger Heinrich Wittmer

Oberst im Generalstab Heinrich Wittmer (28 February 1910 - 27 June 1992) is a Luftwaffe bomber ace who received the Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes on 12 November 1941 as Hauptmann and Gruppenkommandeur III.Gruppe / Kampfgeschwader 55 (KG 55) "Greif". He was awarded the prestigious medal for his success as a bomber pilot in missions against England in 1940 (where his bombers particularly distinguished themselves in an attack on the Westland aircraft factory in Yeovil) and against the Soviet Union in the summer of 1941. He flew a total of 184 combat missions in his entire active military career.

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Thursday, August 29, 2019

Ritterkreuzträger Ernst-Hasse von Langenn-Steinkeller

Oberst Ernst-Hasse von Langenn-Steinkeller (7 December 1916 - 5 September 2004) received the Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes on 9 June 1944 as Rittmeister and Kommandeur Panzer-Aufklärungs-Abteilung 24 / 24.Panzer-Division. Previously, he also got the Deutsches Kreuz in Gold on 25 January 1943 as Kommandeur Kradschützen-Abteilung 4 / 24.Panzer-Division.

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Tuesday, June 18, 2019

German Ration of World War II

On the whole, the regular German Army foot soldier (Landser) received scientifically designed, high-calorie/protein rations. Typically, each soldier carried a daily supply of the so-called Halbieserne or “Iron Ration” that contained one 300-gram tin of meat and one 125- or 150-gram unit of hard bread. The canned meat could be Schmalzfleisch (a pork product), Rinderbraten (roast beef), Truthahnbraten (turkey), or Hahnchenfleisch (chicken). In addition, there was canned Fleischkonserve, its contents generically, and thus ambiguously, labeled “canned meat,” which allowed for a number of interpretations.

Another longstanding staple of the German Army’s menu of portable food items was the Erbswurst, a nourishing soup compressed into a pellet, packaged six to a ration. A pellet was crushed and dropped into a half pint of boiling water. One minute later and the instant soup was ready to eat. Condensed canned tomato soup was also available as a substitute when a field kitchen was not available, soldiers often adding half a can of water and half a can of milk to maximize its flavor. The milk also came condensed in cans.

Elite troops received food “perks” as in the case of Kampfpackung fur Fallschirmjäger or “Combat Rations for Paratroops,” one item consisting of real canned cheese, but these were issued only prior to a combat mission. The special kit also contained two cans of ham chunks, one bar of ersatz high-energy food, and Milchkaffee (powdered milk and instant coffee), as well as Knäckebrot and candy drops.

The SS had their exclusive food rations, the cans treated to a special extreme climate coating and painted in a rust-preventing yellow/brown lacquer. Standard rations for SS units in the field consisted of a four-day supply: about 25 ounces of Graubrot (gray rye bread); 6-10 ounces of Fleisch (canned meat) or Wurst (canned sausage); some five ounces of vegetables; a half ounce of butter, margarine, jam, or hazelnut paste; either real or ersatz coffee; five grams of sugar; and, oddly enough, six cigarettes, despite the SS leadership’s antismoking stance, the rationale being that cigarettes served the troops under combat stress as a “nerve tonic.” There were also other special SS supplements, one example being canned Leberwurst, a quality liver spread.

The Third Reich’s antismoking initiatives, part of the general public health campaign that included protocols about alcohol and exposure to workplace contaminants, was prompted by research conducted in 1939 by German scientist Franz H. Muller, who published the world’s first epidemiological, case-control study showing a link between tobacco smoking and lung cancer. The various health programs sought to reduce lost time and expense due to illness, to help produce fit and healthy workers and soldiers and to “preserve the racial health of the Volk.”

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Sunday, June 16, 2019

SS-Gruppenführer Hermann Priess

SS-Gruppenführer und Generalleutnant der Waffen-SS Hermann Priess posed proudly for a color studio picture after he received the Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern #65 on 24 April 1944 as SS-Brigadeführer und Generalmajor der Waffen-SS and commander of the 3. SS-Panzer-Division "Totenkopf".

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Friday, June 14, 2019

Atlantikwall Artillery at Royan

German artillery emplaced in Royan beach fortification, Charte-Martitime, France. The barrel is a French "Canon de 75 mm contre aeronefs " a.k.a. 7.5 cm Flak M.30/33 (f). Hard to say what exact type it is. Large numbers of 75 mm guns were captured by Germany after the French defeat in 1940. Guns in German service were integrated into Atlantic Wall defenses, including in Royan beach.

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Thursday, June 13, 2019

German Field Telephone in World War II

The field telephone is the basic and most frequently used piece of communication equipment on the battlefield. Used from the front line to the highest headquarters, it gave military commanders and unprecedented real time control of operations. Even though the design principles of field telephone equipment were well understood for many years, much of the equipment from before the1930’s was expensively produced on a small scale. The rapid developments in public phone network technology with which the field equipment was required to interface had led to a great complexity of equipment. The new field telephone unit, telephone switchboard and auxiliary equipment were introduced into service in 1933 and subsequent years would become the mainstay of German field communication. They would remain in production with only minor changes until the end of the war; of the FF 33 field telephone originally developed by Siemens in 1933, over 1.6 million examples were made by 24 different manufacturers.

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"German Field Line Communication equipment of WW2" by Funksammler Publications

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Lance Bombardier Jack Grundy with His Wife on Vacation

An Eighth Army Man on Leave, Wirral, Cheshire, 14 April 1944: Lance Bombardier Jack Grundy, of 441 Battery, 128 Field Regiment, Royal Artillery, 50 Division, during his seven days privilege leave with his family. Jack Grundy and his wife Dorothy while on a picnic in the Cheshire countryside. The picture was taken by Lieutenant A.J. Tanner from British War Office official photographer.

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Friday, May 31, 2019

Wehrmacht Dispatch Rider

A Wehrmacht Kradmelder (motorcycle dispatch rider) wearing stahlhelm, goggles, rubbercoat and gas mask cannister. The German military was the largest employers of motorcycles during World War II. On 22 June 22 1941 Germany launched its Operation Barbarossa, the 3-million-man invasion of the Soviet Union. During the campaigns that followed, the military motorcyclist served a variety of functions including chauffeur service for officers, delivering dispatches, even hot meals, as scouting patrols, as point vehicles taking the brunt of battle, sometimes as specially equipped tank destroyers. As with all motorcyclists, there was a kinship among these soldiers who called themselves “kradmelder” (military motorcycle messenger). They rode exposed without the armor plating of the Panzers, without the safety of hundreds of foot soldiers beside them. Moving targets as it were, sniper magnets, and then there were mine fields, artillery fire, and strafing aircraft to contend with.

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Thursday, May 30, 2019

French Wehrmacht Volunteers in a Captured Russian Town

Two soldiers of the 'Legion des volontaires francais' in a conquered town on the Eastern Front, late autumn 1941. Photograph by Artur Grimm. The 'Legion of French Volunteers Against Bolshevism' (French: Légion des volontaires français contre le bolchévisme, or simply Légion des volontaires français, LVF) was a collaborationist militia of Vichy France founded on 8 July 1941. It gathered various collaborationist parties, including Marcel Bucard's Mouvement Franciste, Marcel Déat's National Popular Rally, Jacques Doriot's French Popular Party, Eugène Deloncle's Social Revolutionary Movement, Pierre Clémenti's French National-Collectivist Party, and Pierre Costantini's French League. It had no formal link with the Vichy regime, even though it was recognized as an "association of public usefulness" by Pierre Laval's government in February 1943. Philippe Pétain, head of state of Vichy France, personally disapproved of Frenchmen wearing German uniforms and never went beyond individual and informal words of support to some specific officers. It volunteered to fight against the Soviet Union on the Eastern Front. It was officially known by its German designation, verstärktes Französisches Infanterie-Regiment 638 (the reinforced 638th French Infantry Regiment).


Wednesday, May 29, 2019

German Soldiers Wearing Russian Telogreika/Vatnik

German soldiers wearing captured telogreika. Telogreika (Russian: "body warmer") or vatnik is a Russian kind of warm cotton wool-padded jacket. It was also a part of winter uniform first issued by the Red Army during World War II. Telogreikas continued to be issued until the late 1960s. The telogreika was particularly effective at keeping the wearer warm in the harsh Russian Winter. When worn with valenki and an ushanka a wearer can comfortably remain warm in sub-zero temperatures for long periods. This made it the perfect uniform not just for the Red Army, but for both prisoners and guards of the Gulags. In contrast to the usual shortages in the Red Army, soldiers received regular issues of winter clothing, as their combat effectiveness could be hampered in cold conditions otherwise. The Wehrmacht also regularly made use of captured Red Army winter uniforms, often taking them from the deceased, due to the ineffectiveness of their own winter uniforms.

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Thursday, May 23, 2019

Waffen-SS Commander Sylvester Stadler

 An Austrian, like many of the brave soldiers of the Waffen-SS, Sylvester Stadler (30 December 1910 – 23 August 1995) was born in the Steiermark region. He entered the SS in 1933 before his homeland was annexed into the Reich. In August 1940, SS-Hauptsturmführer Stadler assumed command of SS-Regiment Der Führer. In the summer of 1941, SS-Division Reich was attacking in full force at Jelnja, Minsk, Orscha, Kiev and Smolensk, where Stadler and his company proved themselves. Stadler then participated in the difficult and bloody fighting outside of Moscow, before he was part of the famous defensive action of the regiment at Cholm and Welikje Luki. Together with some of the best divisions on the Eastern Front, SS-Panzergrenadier-Division Das Reich participated in fighting to retake Kharkov in early 1943. For repeated demonstrations of bravery at the head of his battalion and for his outstanding leadership during the Kharkov battles, Stadler was awarded the Ritterkreuz on April 6 1943. A few weeks later SS-Obergruppenführer Paul Hausser informed him that he was being designated the regimental commander of SS-Panzergrenadier-Regiment Der Führer. Stadler could only stammer: Aren´t I too young for that? Hausser replied with a smile: Nonsense, Stadler! Think of the great Napoleon. He wasn´t much older than you… Stadler, of course, proved to be more than up to the job. Promoted SS-Obersturmbannführer on 20 April 1943, Stadler excelled in all of the engagements and battles through his initiative, bravery and loyalty to his men. During the next few months, Stadler led his battalions west of Kharkov and during the offensive against Kursk itself. He received the Eichenlaub for his Ritterkreuz only five months after having been awarded the Ritterkreuz! He was the 17th member of the Waffen-SS to be so honored. The award of at least one, possible two, Tank Destruction Strips also demonstrated the impressive personal commitment to duty far beyond the duty description of a battalion or regimental commander. On 12 December 1943, SS-Obersturmbannführer Stadler became the 35th soldier of the German armed forces to receive the Nahkampfspange in Gold when he hit the threshold of 50 days of close combat.
On 30 January 1944 he was promoted SS-Standartenführer and on 10 July 1944 he was made commander of the elite 9.SS-Panzer-Division Hohenstaufen. At the age of 33, he was one of the youngest officers in the Waffen-SS to hold this rank! At the end of 1944, Stadler´s panzers participated in the Ardennes Offensive. During the offensive, the SS-Oberführer Sylvester Stadler once again demonstrated his sense of military fairness, in which he exchanged wounded U.S. soldiers for captured soldiers of his division. A short while later, Hohenstaufen was dispatched to the 6.SS-Panzer-Armee west of Budapest. When he received order to pull back to the west in the face of the sheer hopelessness of the situation he did not carry out the order. Instead, he launched a risky relief attack on Stuhlweißenburg, which allowed the withdrawal of the German forces encircled there. The first-class frontline SS-officer Sylvester Stadler received the Schwerter to the Ritterkreuz, as the 23rd officer of the Waffen-SS. Shortly afterwards he was promoted SS-Brigadeführer. On 4 May 1945 he negotiated a ceasefire with American forces and received assurances that 9.SS-Panzerdivision Hohenstaufen would go into U.S. captivity. He was released from captivity in 1948 and started a life as a businessman. The family man with two sons died on 23 August 1995 in Augsburg.

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Wednesday, May 22, 2019

British Air Chief Marshal Sir J.M. Robb

Air Chief Marshal Sir James Milne Robb, GCB, KBE, DSO, DFC, AFC (26 January 1895 – 18 December 1968) was a senior Royal Air Force commander. After early service in the First World War with the Northumberland Fusiliers, Robb joined the Royal Flying Corps and became a flying ace credited with seven aerial victories. He was granted a permanent commission in the Royal Air Force in 1919 and commanded No. 30 Squadron RAF in the Iraqi revolt against the British. In 1939, Robb travelled to Canada to help establish the Empire Air Training Scheme, a massive training program that provided the Royal Air Force with trained aircrew from Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Southern Rhodesia. He commanded No. 2 Group RAF of RAF Bomber Command and No. 15 Group RAF of RAF Coastal Command. Robb became Deputy Chief of Combined Operations under Lord Louis Mountbatten in 1942. During Operation Torch he was air advisor to the Supreme Allied Commander, Lieutenant General Dwight Eisenhower and in February 1943, Eisenhower appointed him Deputy Commander of the Northwest African Air Forces. When Eisenhower became Supreme Allied Commander in Europe in January 1944, he brought Robb to his Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force as Deputy Chief of Staff (Air). Robb became Commander-in-Chief of Fighter Command in 1945 and learned to fly the Gloster Meteor, the RAF's first operational jet aircraft. He became Vice-Chief of the Air Staff in 1947, and then Commander in Chief of the Western Union's air forces in 1948. In 1951 he became Inspector General of the RAF.

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Monday, May 20, 2019

SS-Totenkopf Commander Theodor Eicke

SS-Obergruppenführer und General der Waffen-SS Theodor Eicke participated in World War I as a paymaster. He later joined the "Zollgrenzschutz":, which were engaged in the defense of Germany’s eastern borders against Polish attacks following the Great War. Subsequent to this service with the latter formations, Eicke joined the "Schützpolizei" and later a "Detective Bureau".

Eicke had joined the "Polizei" in 1927 and soon thereafter came into contact with the Allgemeine-SS. He became a member and, compared to his fellow officers, was promoted quickly. Together with his comrades in the Allgemeine-SS, as well as with the police, NCOs and enlisted men discharged from the Reichswehr, he set up "Hilfspolizei" squads (auxiliary police units formed in early 1933). These were organized to combat Hitler’s opponents and also to guard them after they had been arrested. Once the new government had obtained power, Eicke formed so-called "SS-Hundertschaften", from which the later "Totenkopfverbände" ("T.-Sturmbanne" and "T.-Standarten") evolved. These men guarded the Oranienburg Concentration Camp near Berlin, as well as the camp at Dachau, north of München. The prisoners in these camps … communists, social-democrats, members of the "Reichsbanner", as well as other opponents of Hitler … were often subjected to brutal treatment.

It should be noted that when Eicke took over the command of all concentration camp personnel, as well as all SS-Totenkopfverbände, he attempted to train these men along army lines, or at least in a manner similar to the training received by the SS-Verfügungstruppe units. When the Reichswehr refused to issue Eicke’s men with light infantry weapons, in contrast to the SS-Verfügungstruppe, Eicke procured such weapons on his own, drawing upon the caches of arms hidden by SA-troopers. Eicke also played a role in the crushing of the "Röhm Putsch", and, as a result of laws passed after 30 June 1934, his units officially became part of the SS under the supreme command of Himmler. Up until that time, they had been directly subordinated to the supreme command of the SA.

At any rate, by 1938/39, Eicke’s troops had all received some basic military training and had been issued with light infantry weapons such as rifles, carbines, pistols, WWI machine-guns, and some mortars. When the Second World War broke out, Eicke formed a division from the Totenkopf units, reinforced by reserves from the Allgemeine-SS, Army reservists and the police. The Division was partially motorized, had been constituted at Dachau (the Waffen-SS training base), and had undergone full military training at Obermünsingen, Württemberg, during the winter of 1939/40.

On 6th February 1943, Eicke was on an inspection flight in a Fiessler-Storch when his plane was shot down by the Soviets and crashed behind their lines. Several attempts were made by reinforced assault squads to recover the remains of their commander. They finally succeeded, after losing several men. Eicke was given an elaborate funeral at one of the cemeteries of the Division near Orelka, Russia. In a manner reminiscent of the funeral rites performed by the ancient Germans upon the death of their tribesmen or kings, Theodor Eicke, or "Papa Eicke", as his troops called him, was laid to rest.

Later, when German forces had withdraw, officers from the divisional staff, together with a few selected men, exhumed Eicke’s corpse and brought it back by truck to Kiev. His remains were not to fall into enemy hands! Officials from the legal section of the military authorities investigated this incident and the officers responsible are said to have been reprimanded.

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Saturday, May 18, 2019

Bio of General der Artillerie Walter Warlimont

General der Artillerie Walter Warlimont, the son of a publisher, was born in Osnabrück, Germany, on 3 October 1894. An artillery cadet, he was commissioned into the German Kaiserliche Armee in June 1914. During the First World War he fought on the Western Front as a battery officer. He was promoted several times and progressed to become an brigade adjutant and battery commander. After the war Warlimont was active in the right-wing Freikorps group. He remained in the army and in 1922 was selected for general staff training. This included spending time in England (1926) and the United States (1929). Promoted to Major, Warlimont sent to Spain in September 1936 where he worked as a military adviser to General Francisco Franco during the early stages of the Spanish Civil War. Warlimont returned to Nazi Germany in 1937 where he was given command of the Artillerie-Regiment 26 at Düsseldorf. In September 1938 Warlimont became head of Home Defence. The following year he worked under Alfred Jodl as deputy head of the operations office in Berlin. In this role he attended Hitler's military conferences and drafted most of Germany's major operational plans and directives. Warlimont was seriously injured by the bomb placed by Claus von Stauffenberg on 20th July 1944. After the war Warlimont was sentenced to life imprisonment for war crimes. However he was released in 1957. His book 'Inside Hitler's Headquarters, 1939-45' was published in 1964. Walter Warlimont died at Kreuth in Upper Bavaria on 9 October 1976.

"Fuhrerhauptquartier Wolfschanze 1940-1945" by Walter Frentz

Friday, May 17, 2019

Hitler's Adjutant Otto Günsche

SS-Hauptsturmführer Otto Günsche was born on 24 September 1917 in Jena. He was an early volunteer in the “Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler”, joining the regiment in 1934 at the age of 17. By 1936 he was serving in the Führer’s personal escort commando in which he would stay until the war started. He would then participate in all of the military campaigns of the “LSSAH” until 1942 when he was sent to a war time officer’s training class at the SS-Junkerschule “Tölz”. After becoming an SS-Untersturmführer, Günsche was posted to Adolf Hitler’s personal adjutant staff in January 1943, taking over the position of an adjutant who had fallen ill. He held that position for a few weeks before he was reassigned to the “Liebstandarte” and returned to front line service. After receiving, among other decorations, the Iron Cross, Ist Class, thus proving his “military” capabilities and courage, he returned to the Führer’s personal staff in February 1944. He would now remain Hitler’s personal adjutant until the end of the war. Günsche became probably most noted for having to cremate the bodies of Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun during the battle of Berlin. The now SS-Hauptsturmführer Günsche was captured by the Soviets in early May 1945 while trying to breakout of Berlin. He became a “prime” captive of the Reds and spent a number of years in the NKVD/KGB Lubiyanka Prison in Moscow undergoing numerous rounds of torture and interrogation. In 1956 he was released from Soviet captivity and turned over to the tender mercies of the East German communists who promptly jailed him again. After much effort and some diplomacy, he was finally allowed to immigrate to West Germany. Despite his horrible travails, Günsche was able to build a successful new life for himself. He remained active in Waffen-SS veteran’s affairs and due to his unique position as an “eyewitness to history” was constantly sought after by historians and history buffs, whom he graciously accomodated for the rest of his life. Otto Günsche passed away on 2 October 2003 at around 90 years of age.

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'Siegrunen 80' by Richard Landwehr

Indian Legion Training

Possibly this is the only color photo that shows member of the Legion Freies Indien (Free Indian Legion) of the Wehrmacht! This photo is came from the French "Historia" magazine (Hors série n° 21 Les SS Vol 2 : L'Enfer Organisé) that published in 1971, and shows two member of the Indian Legion who were practicing the operating of artillery weapon. From the turban on their head, we know that they are Sikhs. We can also clearly see the shield on their arms, which shows a Bengal tiger against the background of the Indian national flag.

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Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Spectators at the 9th Reichsparteitag in Nuremberg

The 9th Reichsparteitag event was held in Nuremberg from 6-13 September 1937. The three people on the left standing on the podium were, from left to right: Adolf Hitler (Führer und Reichskanzler), Reichsarbeitsführer Konstantin Hierl, and Reichsleiter Wilhelm Frick. Sitting the front row, from left to right: unknown, Reichsleiter Martin Bormann, Reichsleiter Dr. Robert Ley (wearing the honorary uniform of RAD-Ehrenoberstarbeitsführer), Reichsminister Dr. Joseph Goebbels (only his breeches is visible), Reichsleiter Franz-Xaver Schwarz, Reichsleiter Alfred Rosenberg, SS-Obergruppenführer Walter Buch, SA-Stabschef Viktor Lutze, Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler, Reichsleiter Max Amann, and SS-Obergruppenführer Philipp Bouhler (half-visible). The two people sitting in the second row at right are, from left to right: Gauleiter Karl Röver and Gauleiter Dr.rer.pol. Alfred Meyer. Five people who were seated in the second row in the middle, from left to right: Gauleiter Franz Schwede-Coburg, Gauleiter Josef Bürckel (looking towards Hitler), Gauleiter Martin Mutschmann, Gauleiter Adolf Wagner, and Gauleiter Hinrich Lohse (looking through binoculars). We can also see SS-Brigadeführer Christian Weber (fat moustached man in black SS uniform, standing seventh from the right behind the Polizei officer); SS-Oberführer Alfred Berndt (standing in black SS uniform in the center, next to the Luftwaffe officer). Last but not least: the SA officer sitting directly above Gauleiter Meyer is SA-Gruppenführer Otto Schramme. This picture was shot by Hugo Jaeger.

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Monday, May 13, 2019

General der Nachrichtentruppe Erich Fellgiebel

General der Nachrichtentruppe Erich Fellgiebel (4 October 1886 - 4 September 1944) began his military career in September 1905 as a cadet in a signal battalion. After the First World War, he was transferred to Berlin as a General Staff officer. In 1938 he became head of the army signal corps and head of armed forces communications in Armed Forces High Command. His former superior Colonel-General Ludwig Beck and Beck's successor Colonel-General Franz Halder brought Fellgiebel into contact with the military resistance circles. He was a key figure in the preparations for Operation "Valkyrie." Adolf Hitler did not fully trust Fellgiebel; Hitler considered him too independent-minded, but Hitler needed Fellgiebel's expertise. Fellgiebel was one of the first to understand that the German military should adopt and use the Enigma encryption machine. As head of Hitler's signal services, Fellgiebel knew every military secret, including Wernher von Braun's rocketry work at the Peenemünde Army Research Center. On July 20, 1944, Fellgiebel was in the "Wolf's Lair," Hitler's headquarters in East Prussia, where he attempted to cut off all communications with this center of power. Yet once it was clear that Hitler had survived the assassination attempt, Fellgiebel was forced to countermand previous orders and reestablish communications. Fellgiebel's most famous act that day was his telephone report to his co-conspirator General Fritz Thiele at the Bendlerblock, after he was informed that Hitler was still alive: "Etwas Furchtbares ist passiert! Der Führer lebt!" ("Something awful has happened! The Führer lives!"). Fellgiebel was arrested immediately at Wolf's Lair and tortured for three weeks, but did not reveal any names of his co-conspirators. He was charged before the Volksgerichtshof ("People's Court"). On 10 August 1944, he was found guilty by Roland Freisler and sentenced to death. He was executed on 4 September 1944 at Plötzensee Prison in Berlin.

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Thursday, May 9, 2019

Panzer IV Maintenance in the Snow

A Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf.F1, wearing it's standard grey paint scheme, is getting help with a broken track on the right side. Rust of the chains in the rubbing part and brown in the internal ones. Extra chains completely oxidized. Wear of the tractor wheel, the teeth show only a worn part, rust in them for the time elapsed due to the stopping of the vehicle. Rusty crampons on the side of the turret. Wear and rust on the inside of the wheel rims. Case of the black cannon. Shovels in natural colors. Balkenkreuz without the internal black color. Pink paper and numbers. Soldiers with green-gray coats and pelisse caps and black boots.The picture was taken during the Battle of Moscow in the end 1941.

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Russian Tank Crew Surrender to SS Soldier

The crew of a Russian T-34 tank stuck in the mud surrendered to an NCO from SS-Panzergrenadier-Division "Wiking" during the 1943 battle in the Eastern Front. Although it suffered heavy losses in the Battle of Kursk, the Wiking Division achieved an excellent reputation, even earning the grudging respect of the Soviets in several battle reports for its pugnacious fighting spirit (Soviet commanders were always concerned to learn that their troops were facing the soldier of the Wiking Division). In October 1943 the division was reformed yet again, and emerged as a fully fledged panzer division. The significance of this should not be under estimated. Considering the disdain shown for many of the foreign volunteer units by their German masters, the fact that a predominantly 'foreign' division should be accorded panzer division status and equipped with the latest tanks was a tribute to the regard in which it was held. The 'Wikinger' were fast attaining an elite status to equal the best of the original Waffen-SS divisions. This picture was first published in SIGNAL magazine, October 1943 edition.

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Das III Reich Sondersheft №12 "SS Verfugungstruppe und Waffen SS 1939-1945" (1974)

Monday, May 6, 2019

German Prisoners from Normandy

Some of the 1,096 German prisoners of war who have arrived on HM Landing Ship Tank (LST-165) at Gosport, Hampshire, June 1944. This is the first transport with prisoners from the Allied invasion of Normandy. They will be interrogated and distributed to various camps according to their classification. Man with the blanket under arm is wearing the ribbon of Medaille "Winterschlacht im Osten 1941/42" (Ostmedaille) in his uniform. Probably counting himself as a lucky survivor of the war. The picture was taken by Reinhard Schultz

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Sunday, May 5, 2019

General John Crocker in France 1944

Lieutenant General John Crocker, Commander of 1st Corps, in France, August 1944. Sir John Tredinnick Crocker, GCB, KBE, DSO, MC (4 January 1896 - 9 March 1963) was not much of a talker and he was a lousy self-promoter because of it. Yet he was one of the most important British soldiers of the Second World War, commanding a corps in North Africa and subsequently being assigned “the most ambitious, the most difficult and the most important task” of any Allied corps commander during Operation Overlord. His influence was not limited to the period of the war either. He was intimately involved with the development of British armoured forces during the 1920s and 1930s, and after the war he oversaw the production of the doctrine and training publications that would guide the British Army for much of the Cold War. He also served as Commander-in-Chief Middle East Land Forces, and he finished his career as Adjutant-General to the Forces. Field Marshal Montgomery would have preferred it if Crocker had retired as Chief of the Imperial General Staff (CIGS), but in 1949 Prime Minister Clement Atlee chose Sir William Slim for the post instead. By almost any standard, Crocker had a very successful army career. So, how did someone so quiet achieve so much? Crocker’s influence, and his rise in the British Army, rested squarely on a foundation of technical competence and unimpeachable integrity. These were also the qualities that underpinned his method of command. A keenly intelligent man, Crocker found himself in high demand whenever there were problems to be solved, whether they concerned testing the abilities of tanks, building an armoured formation, or sequencing an amphibious assault. He had excelled at staff college and at just about everything else he had tackled during the interwar period, so it is no wonder that he attracted the attention of people like Alan Brooke and Percy Hobart. They trusted him, and not just for his technical ability. His Great War record had shown him to be completely composed under fire, and his reputation for being straight with everyone, whether they wanted to hear what he had to say or not, had earned him the nickname “Honest John.” In 1935, Hobart wrote that Crocker was “trusted by me and by all ranks of the Tank Brigade ... his patience, tact and integrity have won him affection.” There was also an understated determination about Crocker. During tough times like the battles for Caen, he could grit his teeth and drive on to his objectives, even when the fighting was tough and the casualty count high. That steely resolve faded for a while when he suffered the agonizing loss of his only son, Wilfrid, in October 1944, but his skills and his quiet nobility never left him.

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"Corps Commanders: Five British and Canadian Generals at War, 1939-45" by Douglas E. Delaney

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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