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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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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Saturday, March 30, 2019

Vizeadmiral Hans-Erich Voss

Hans-Erich Voss (30 October 1897 – 18 November 1969) was a German Vizeadmiral (vice admiral) and one of the final occupants of the Führerbunker during the battle of Berlin in 1945. He was also among the last people to see both Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels alive before they committed suicide. Voss was born in Angermünde, Brandenburg on 30 October 1897. He graduated from the German Naval Academy in 1917. He served on in the Reichsmarine and later in the Kriegsmarine. In 1942, he was commander of the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen, and met Joseph Goebbels, then Reich Propaganda Minister, when Goebbels accompanied a party of journalists on a tour of the ship. As a result of this meeting, Goebbels arranged to have Voss appointed Naval Liaison Officer to Hitler's headquarters in March 1943. Voss was present during the bomb plot against Hitler on 20 July 1944. He was in the conference room at Hitler's Rastenburg Headquarters Wolfsschanze ("Wolf's Lair") as Kriegsmarine representative. Around 12:30 hours as the conference began, plotter Claus von Stauffenberg made an excuse to use a washroom in Wilhelm Keitel's office where he used pliers to crush the end of a pencil detonator inserted into a 1 kilogram (2.2 lb) block of plastic explosive wrapped in brown paper. The detonator, which consisted of a thin copper tube containing acid, took ten minutes to silently eat through wire holding back the firing pin from the percussion cap. The primed bomb was then placed in a briefcase under a table around which Hitler, Voss and more than 20 officers had gathered. Between 12:40 and 12:50 the bomb detonated, destroying the conference room. Although Hitler survived with minor wounds, three officers and a stenographer were fatally injured and died soon afterwards. Voss was also wounded in the bomb blast but he quickly recovered. He became a recipient of the Wound Badge of 20 July 1944. Initially his award class was presented in black but then it was upgraded to silver and finally gold because he was wounded a number of times after the initial award. Voss was the only member of the Wehrmacht to have received all three badges. In his capacity as Kriegsmarine Liaison Officer, Voss accompanied Hitler, Goebbels, and their entourages into the Führerbunker under the Reich Chancellery building in central Berlin in January 1945. In the final months of the Third Reich, Voss became a close confidante of Goebbels and his wife Magda Goebbels. He was aware that Goebbels had decided that they would not leave the bunker, but would kill their children and then themselves once Hitler was dead. Voss was made a Soviet prisoner of war. In August 1951, he was prosecuted by the Soviet authorities on charges that "he held a command post in Hitler's war fleet, that was involved in an aggressive war in breach of international laws and treaties." In February 1952, the Court Martial of the Moscow Military District sentenced him to 25 years' imprisonment. By a decree of the Praesidium of the Supreme Soviet in December 1954, however, he was released and handed over to the German Democratic Republic authorities. Voss died at Berchtesgaden in Bavaria in 1969.

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Sunday, February 17, 2019

Luftwaffe Dispatch Rider with His Motorcycle

Dispatch rider from a Luftwaffe Field Division stands next to his DKW NZ250 krad, and note the early all leather motorcyclist glove. Because the weather is in a hot summer day, he is wearing a standard fliegerbluse uniform for Luftwaffe personnel and not a warm Kradmantel for dispatch rider. A despatch rider (or dispatch) is a military messenger, mounted on horse or motorcycle. Dispatch riders were used by armed forces to deliver urgent orders and messages between headquarters and military units. They had a vital role at a time when telecommunications were limited and insecure. They were also used to deliver carrier pigeons.

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Saturday, February 16, 2019

Pałac Prezydencki (Presidential Palace) in Warsaw

Pałac Prezydencki (Presidential Palace) in Warsaw, 1940. It is the elegant classicist latest version of a building that has stood on the Krakowskie Przedmieście site since 1643. Over the years, it has been rebuilt and remodeled many times. For its first 175 years, the palace was the private property of several aristocratic families. In 1791 it hosted the authors and advocates of the Constitution of May 3, 1791. It was in 1818 that the palace began its ongoing career as a governmental structure, when it became the seat of the Viceroy of the Polish (Congress) Kingdom under Russian occupation (Namiestnik of the Kingdom of Poland). Following Poland's resurrection after World War I, in 1918, the building was taken over by the newly reconstituted Polish authorities and became the seat of the Council of Ministers. During World War II, it served the country's German occupiers as a Deutsches Haus and survived intact the 1944 Warsaw Uprising. After the war, it resumed its function as seat of the Polish Council of Ministers. This picture depict Warsaw some time after the invasion in 1939, while the buildings in the background are heavily damaged the streets have been cleared and life appears to be continuing as normal. It is part of the photo series that was taken by the German photographer Robert Bothner during the Second World War, and depict Smolensk, Warsaw and Ghent under occupation by Nazi Germany. As time goes on it seems there are more and more sets of original colour photographs turning up, and while the quality on some is not brilliant, they truly help the Second World War come alive. It were scanned from Afgacolor slides. Unfortunately the photographs are undated.

Source :,_Warsaw

Plac Bankowy (Bank Square) in central Warsaw

Plac Bankowy (Bank Square) in central Warsaw. It is one of the city's principal squares. Located downtown, adjacent to the Saxon Garden and Warsaw Arsenal, it is also a principal public-transport hub, with bus and streetcar stops and a Warsaw Metro station. This picture depict Warsaw some time after the invasion in 1939, while the buildings in the background are heavily damaged the streets have been cleared and life appears to be continuing as normal. It is part of the photo series that was taken by the German photographer Robert Bothner during the Second World War, and depict Smolensk, Warsaw and Ghent under occupation by Nazi Germany. As time goes on it seems there are more and more sets of original colour photographs turning up, and while the quality on some is not brilliant, they truly help the Second World War come alive. It were scanned from Afgacolor slides. Unfortunately the photographs are undated.

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Friday, February 15, 2019

German Sentry in the Freezing Russian Winter

German infantry soldier as in winter outfit performing his duty as a sentry in the freezing cold of Russian winter, 1941/42. He is wearing sheepskin coat, warm enough for his demanding job. But this is a unique case which happened very rarely, and the photo was made specifically for the German public, which was extremely surprised why the majority of their soldiers were not ready for winter.

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Thursday, February 14, 2019

Wehrmacht Funeral on the Eastern Front

After the first major German losses in the Eastern Front in 1941, divisional cemeteries were set up behind the front lines. Here the dead were brought for burial, with the Divisionskommandeur and other officers attending to pay their respects. A total of 2.7 million German soldiers died on the Eastern Front, and 1.4 million German civilians were killed. These numbers are dwarfed by the 11.4 million missing and killed Soviet soldiers, including 3.5 million prisoners of war who died in captivity. Soviet civilian losses were even higher at 15.2 million. One can justifiably describe the German-Soviet war as the bloodiest war in history!

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"The Onslaught: The German Drive to Stalingrad Documented in 150 Unpublished Colour Photographs" by Max Hastings

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Harry Crerar and Tommy Burns in Italy

Two of the Canadian Army’s prominent intellectuals from the inter-war years, from left to right: Lieutenant-Colonel (later General) H.D.G. Crerar and Lieutenant-Colonel (later Lieutenant-General) E.L. M. Burns, pictured here in Italy, 1944. "Tommy" Burns was one of those rare individuals who rose to command a corps in wartime. He had gained valuable combat experience during the First World War, and he had been decorated for gallantry in the field. He had a proven intellect and was constantly looking forward, advocating development and changes, and providing specific doctrine to implement those changes. He was able to debate his recommendations and views with the best military thinkers of the time, and he was able hold his ground while doing so. He was properly schooled in military staff work, having progressed with distinction though various British and Indian staff schools and colleges. His peacetime rise through the ranks and his key staff appointments provided the experience necessary to support a commander’s intent with the necessary orders and instructions. What he lacked was the somewhat intangible training to command at a high level: the necessary command presence to engender the confidence of his superiors and subordinates when he was given a golden opportunity. Burns was also not afforded an opportunity to command a brigade or a division in combat, prior to having command of a corps in battle thrust upon him. He was also in the unfortunate position of being the pawn in a political battle whereby his superior, Lieutenant- General Leese, did not want another corps headquarters, especially one that was a division short in establishment.

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

Monday, February 11, 2019

Discarded Artillery Shell in Smolensk

A view of the town of Smolensk in Russia. A pile of discarded wicker artillery shell packing cases and ammunition boxes. Based on their three-tone camouflage, the boxes are either pre-war dated or constructed after February 1943. As these were likely used during the invasion, I would lean towards the former. This photograph is part of the series that was taken by the German photographer Robert Bothner during the Second World War, and depict Smolensk, Warsaw and Ghent under occupation by Nazi Germany. As time goes on it seems there are more and more sets of original colour photographs turning up, and while the quality on some is not brilliant, they truly help the Second World War come alive. It were scanned from Afgacolor slides. Unfortunately the photographs are undated, but the Smolensk series look likely to have been taken in 1941, as the damage to the city is still fresh, and there are discarded ammunition boxes in one of the photographs.

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Sunday, February 10, 2019

German Soldier with His Horse in the Winter of 1941/42

German Wehrmacht soldier with his horse on the Eastern Front, winter of 1941/42. The winter of 1941 produced the greatest crisis. Horse losses in Army Group Centre had reached about 1000 per day. The standard German infantry division (1939 pattern) required anything from 4077 to 6033 horses to move. However, German divisions rarely had more than 150 horses in reserve. Moreover, German veterinary hospitals, which could handle from 500 (divisional veterinary company) to 550 (army hospital) horses, were swamped, often having to treat 2-3000 horses at one time. Yet the Wehrmacht survived. Replacements and captured horses were sent to veterinary collecting stations for medical examination. Horses no longer fit for military service but able to work were evacuated and later sold to farmers. Those too weak to be evacuated were slaughtered for meat. Measures like these enabled the army to endure, even though the Germans lost a total of 180,000 horses during the winter of 1941 alone!

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Friday, February 8, 2019

German Soldier with Captured Soviet Rifle

German soldier with captured SVT-40 Soviet rifle. It is well known that the SVT-40 was a prized war trophy amongst the German troops, especially when on the Russian front. The SVT was so popular that the German ordnance and logistic cs manufactured slings and leather goods to support the rifle in the field! They liked them because they were light and - in well trained hands - effective. Plus, the invader grabbed just about anything they could get their hands on (with the glaring exception of French small arms). The Germans were using captured equipment a lot, for they couldn't produce enough to arm all their military and paramilitary units, as well as equipping some of their allies. They used anything, from tanks or artillery to guns to rifles and submachine guns.

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SS-Kriegsberichter Franz Roth

SS-Untersturmführer and SS-Kriegsberichter Franz Seraphicus Roth (5 April 1911 – 17 March 1943) was an Austrian photographer who worked as a free-lance photo reporter at the US-American Associated Press. His military career began before the war, when he - as an Austrian journalist working for a German newspaper - covered the Italian conquest of Abyssinia and the Spanish Civil War. Roth joined the SS soon after the Anschluss, and became an SS-Kriegsberichter (SS war-correspondent). At that time he also worked for the Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda and as a photo editor for the American news agency Associated Press (The Associated Press photo department entered a formal cooperation with the Nazi regime in the 1930s and worked under the auspices of the German Ministry of Propaganda). Roth joined the Kriegsberichterstatter-Zug of the Leibstandarte SS under SS-Sturmbannführer Kurt Meyer in 1940, and covered the division in Greece (April 1941) and the first year in the Soviet Union (when this photo was taken, summer of 1941), through rebuilding in the west during the second half of 1942, and finally in the fighting around Kharkov in early 1943. He was awarded the Eisernes Kreuz II.Klasse in 1941 and promoted to SS-Untersturmführer in September 1942. Franz Roth died on 17 March 1943, after he was seriously wounded during the Third Battle of Kharkov. He was covering Kurt Meyer's reconaissance battlegroup (Kampfgruppe “Meyer”) at the time. Meyer mentioned Roth’s death in his memoirs ‘Grenadiere’. Roth left more than 120 rolls of film that give historians and history lovers a precious account of the war. The album contains more than 600 photographs from contact sheets kept by the U.S. National Archives in Washington D.C. Franz Roth was buried at Heldenfriedhof Askold's Grave on the right bank of the Dnieper River in Kiev in Ukraine, and posthumously awarded the Eisernes Kreuz I.Klasse on 25 March 1943. His images can be found in a variety of European World War II propaganda publications and in American newspapers.

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Thursday, February 7, 2019

Gebirgsjäger Postcard

This is a nice original period 'Gebirgsjäger' (German Mountain Troops) Propaganda Postcard, and it was published by the 'Kunstverlag E.A. Schwerdtfeger & Co. AG.' from Berlin. The postcard measures approximately 15 x 10,5 cm. Gebirgsjägers wore essentially the same core uniform as regular infantry with some exceptions—mountain boots (Bergstiefel), the short-brimmed mountain cap (Bergmütze), and a reversible Windbluse (anorak) are the most visible differences. In addition to the core field gear (canteens, mess kits, etc.), Gebirgsjäger sometimes carried climbing equipment, skis and snow shoes. Weaponry included the K98 Mauser rifle, MP40 submachine gun, MG34 and MG42 machine guns, like their regular army counterparts. A shorter-barrelled K98, called the Gewehr 33/40 was also issued, more suited for carrying into the mountains. The infantry regiments were also supported by anti-tank guns, mortars and howitzers from the division. A typical division numbered about 15,000 men, 1,400 vehicles and up to 6,000 pack animals, ranging from horses of varying breeds to camels. 

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A View of the Town of Kamianiec in Belarus

A view of the town of Kamianiec in Belarus. The round tower in the background is the Bielaya Vieža (Tower of Kamianiec). The white towers in the background belong to the Orthodox church of St. Simyaon. This photograph is part of the series that was taken by the German photographer Robert Bothner during the Second World War, and depict Smolensk, Warsaw and Ghent under occupation by Nazi Germany. As time goes on it seems there are more and more sets of original colour photographs turning up, and while the quality on some is not brilliant, they truly help the Second World War come alive. It were scanned from Afgacolor slides. Unfortunately the photographs are undated, but the Smolensk series look likely to have been taken in 1941, as the damage to the city is still fresh, and there are discarded ammunition boxes in one of the photographs.

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Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Fallschirmjäger Wearing Early Pattern Jump Smock

German Fallschirmjäger (Paratroopers) at Crete with graugrun knochensack, summer of 1941. The Fallschirmjäger, like all paratroopers from all countries in World War II, had special clothing and equipment that the standard Infantry did not have. The knochensack (jump smock or bone sack) was one of these unique pieces of clothing that only the German Paratroopers of WW2 had. This pictures shows the early green pattern of Fallschirmschützenbluse M1940, intended to be worn over the standard uniform and personal equipment when descending by parachute. The generous amount of pockets and zipper openings made it possible for the man to gain access to his equipment, and if worn at the time of the jump, a side-arm, as in German practice personal weapons were carried in drop-containers. Other variations of jump smocks were those earlier ones of the Army Fallschirmjäger-Infanterie-Bataillon (later incorporated into the Luftwaffe), a light green shorter collarless garment distinguished by having two parallel zips from throat to thigh; a green step-in smock similar to this example; a full front-opening smock with no 'legs'; and one that featured a fitted pistol holster made of fabric attached to rear right. Late-war examples also appeared in tan 'water' pattern camouflage material. Physical description for Fallschirmschützenbluse M40: Single-breasted step-in mid-thigh length jump oversmock made of splinter pattern printed gabardine. The smock has a zipper fitted to the front and is concealed with a fly front, has two deep hip pockets and two diagonal pockets to the upper chest with two deep vertical access slits, one at either side of the low hip, closed by zips with black leather tags. All are fly fronted as is the main vertical closure that has six additional pressure studs. Fitted to the right of the lower front fly is an additional short concealed secondary zip with leather tag that permits the wearer to urinate without removing the garment. The cuffs are closed by a metal studs and have short elasticated inner wind resistant shrouds of brown cotton material. There are a pair of metal pressure studs fitted to the outer legs of the garment, allowing the legs to be adjusted to fit the legs tighter when parachuting. There are large open apertures underneath the arms, with below, a series of six air vent holes. Triple vertical holes are seen at either side of the waist for fitting metal belt equipment support hooks. A machine-embroidered Luftwaffe eagle and swastika insignia in white on dark grey is sewn to the right upper chest.

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