Today the 400th page has been added to the website!!
It has taken much time, work, and devotion to complete this task! This is a celebration of history, photography, honoring the fallen soldat, and the Fatherland of Germany! The road has been enjoyable.
While working on the website, I knew it was over 300 pages deep of photos and information. But once it came close to 400, I decided to mark it with a post here to celebrate. The wonderful thing about it: the website is sooo incomplete yet. Much more to go so on to the 500 page!!
Remember the website is always growing. Currently there are 26,444 images and photos on the website! It will continue so please enjoy the history and photos!
The German government wants to extend six military missions, including in Iraq, Afghanistan and Mali. Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen pushed for more Bundeswehr interventions, but not everyone backs the move.
The German government wants to expand and adapt its foreign military missions in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Mali, Angela Merkel’s Cabinet agreed on Wednesday. The German parliament will have the final say, as it does on all of Germany’s military operations.
Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen, a member of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), told public broadcaster ARD on Wednesday morning that the Bundeswehr needs to redirect its efforts in Iraq after the successful defeat of the Islamic State (IS) militia in the country. The focus would now be supporting Iraq’s reconstruction efforts.
“It’s in our interests that it becomes a stable country over the years,” she said.
Von der Leyen claimed that the Bundeswehr mission to train the Kurdish peshmerga fighters in northern Iraq, which is due to end at the end of April, had been “a great success,” and pushed to expand it. In the future, the Bundeswehr would also maintain a presence in Baghdad and Irbil, where it would advise on building ministries and providing soldiers with medical supplies, the defense minister said.
Germany would also continue to fly reconnaissance missions with its Tornado fighters and keep refuelling planes in Iraq. The total number of troops involved in the Iraq mission would drop to a maximum of 800.
MP questions Germany’s motivation
The Bundestag will now have to vote on the proposed Bundeswehr extensions and expansions. While approval is likely due to support from CDU and Social Democratic (SPD) politicians, the two parties that will make up Germany’s long-awaited government, the measure will not be without dissent.
Alexander Neu, security policy spokesman for the Left party, expressed skepticism about the underlying purpose of Germany’s planned capacity-building mission in Iraq.
“Beneath the cipher of reconstruction and strengthening security forces, of course it’s about the politics of influence,” Neu told DW. “Anyone who builds up security forces of course has a significant influence on the political direction of the country. In Iraq it’s about limiting the influence of Iran on the Iraqi army. That’s the reason behind the German engagement,” he argued.
He also criticized why Germany was involved in Iraq in the first place. “Who expects us to take part? The US? It is completely irrelevant what the US wants,” Neu said. “Germany has its own sovereign interests.” Since December 2015, German Tornados have been flying reconnaissance missions to support the US military operation against Islamic State in both Iraq and Syria, known as Operation Inherent Resolve.
“When it comes to Iraq, one could say that the Iraqi government has made this invitation — but in Syria it is not at all clear that there is a basis under international law, and, of course, the Bundeswehr is operating in Syria with the deployment of Tornados over Syrian territory,” Neu added. “That definitely does not conform to international law.”
His words took aim at Defense Minister von der Leyen’s interview, in which she had underlined the international legal basis as it pertained to Germany’s mission in Iraq. “We have the invitation of the [Iraqi] prime minister, and we are there shoulder to shoulder with the United Nations, the European Union, NATO, and many other countries,” the defense minister said. Syria was not discussed in the interview.
The never-ending Afghanistan mission
Von der Leyen also used Wednesday’s interview to call for an expansion of the Bundeswehr’s mission in Afghanistan, where Germany has contributed to NATO missions for the past 17 years.
Von der Leyen described the Bundeswehr’s contribution to NATO’s two missions (ISAF from 2001 to 2014; Resolute Support since 2015) as a “story of progress on the one side, but of course also setbacks.”
The defense minister argued that the educational opportunities for children, the status of women, health care and infrastructure in Afghanistan had all improved over the years, but that Afghanistan’s own army, now comprising some 350,000 soldiers, was still struggling to keep the country safe. The Afghan military controls around 60 percent of the country, though Taliban fighters still have managed to carry out attacks on government facilities — as well as on the German Embassy in Kabul.
Up until now, the Bundeswehr has kept a maximum of 980 troops in the country, though von der Leyen wants to raise that limit to 1,300.
Mali: the most dangerous mission
Meanwhile, the Bundeswehr is to send an extra 100 soldiers to join the United Nations’ mission in Mali, increasing the German contribution in the western African nation to a maximum of 1,100 officers. The proposal came in a joint letter to the Cabinet from von der Leyen and Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel seen by news agency dpa.
The Bundeswehr has been part of the Mali mission since 2013, when the UN sent troops to help maintain a peace agreement that was set in place after a French military operation against Islamist rebel groups in the north of the country. There are a total of 12,000 UN soldiers in the country, as well as 1,700 UN police officers. Some 100 soldiers have been killed in Mali so far, with hundreds more seriously injured.
Neu argued that the Germany was allowing itself to be dragged into the conflict without properly reflecting on its origins. “These are conflicts that the West also has to take some of the responsibility for,” he said. “The situation in Mali can’t be explained without talking about NATO’s toppling of the regime in Libya. It was only after that the problems in Mali began. For me it doesn’t seem credible to send more troops there without even mentioning the fall of [Libyan dictator Moammar] Gadhafi and drawing the consequences from that.”
Germany also is planning for a year-long extension of the Bundeswehr’s contribution to the UN mission in Darfur, South Sudan, and its contribution to the NATO Sea Guardian mission in the Mediterranean, which is supposed to secure shipping routes.
Germany currently has a total of 3,900 soldiers in active operations around the world.
Can the Bundeswehr manage?
In recent months, the German military has been dogged by stories of equipment shortages and underfunding, leading to a general perception that the Bundeswehr is under-prepared in Europe. Some soldiers have already criticized von der Leyen’s new ambitions.
The Darmstädter Signal, a “critical forum of citizens in uniform” that views itself as a military watchdog organization, said the army would struggle to fulfill the extra commitments. “No, it won’t manage it,” spokesman Florian Kling told broadcaster SWR. “We don’t even have the planes to get our soldiers to the foreign missions. The situation with personnel and equipment is so tight that the Bundeswehr is actually close to collapse.”
Kling also said that expanding the mission in Iraq would make it more dangerous for German soldiers. “Where troops are in movement, they will be in danger of touching mines and being attacked by terrorists,” he said. “It can really only end badly.”
On this day, a British expeditionary force from North Africa lands in Greece.
In October 1940, Mussolini’s army, already occupying Albania, invaded Greece in what proved to be a disastrous military campaign for the Duce’s forces. Mussolini surprised everyone with this move against Greece, but he was not to be upstaged by recent Nazi conquests. According to Hitler, who was stunned by a move that he knew would be a strategic blunder, Mussolini should have concentrated on North Africa by continuing the advance into Egypt. The Italians paid for Mussolini’s hubris, as the Greeks succeeded in pushing the Italian invaders back into Albania after just one week, and the Axis power spent the next three months fighting for its life in a series of defensive battles.
Mussolini’s precipitate maneuver frustrated Hitler because it opened an opportunity for the British to enter Greece and establish an airbase in Athens, putting the Brits within striking distance of valuable oil reserves in Romania, which Hitler relied upon for his war machine. It also meant that Hitler would have to divert forces from North Africa, a high strategic priority, to bail Mussolini out of Greece-and postpone Hitler’s planned invasion of the Soviet Union.
The Brits indeed saw an opening in Greece, and on March 7, 1941, Prime Minister Winston Churchill diverted troops from Egypt and sent 58,000 British and Aussie troops to occupy the Olympus-Vermion line. But the Brits would be blown out of the Pelopponesus Peninsula when Hitler’s forces invaded on the ground and from the air in April. Thousands of British and Australian forces were captured there and on Crete, where German paratroopers landed in May.
Four days after Russia signs a humiliating peace treaty with the Central Powers at Brest-Litovsk, the newly declared independent state of Finland reaches a formal peace settlement with Germany.
Though Finland—a former Swedish duchy ceded to Russian control in 1809, when Russia’s Czar Alexander I attacked and occupied it—did not participate directly in the First World War, Russian troops were garrisoned in the country from the beginning of the conflict. For Finland, the war provided the ultimate opportunity for an emerging nation: independence.
In 1917, with Russia struggling on the battlefield against Germany and in the throes of internal revolution, Finland saw its chance. On November 15, 1917, a newly elected Finnish parliament announced it was assuming all powers formerly held by the Czar-Grand Duke—Nicholas II, who had abdicated the previous March. On December 6, barely a month after Vladimir Lenin’s Bolsheviks seized power in Petrograd (later St. Petersburg), the parliament voted to make Finland an independent republic.
Almost immediately, however, conflict broke out within the nascent nation between the radical socialists—supporters of the Bolsheviks in Russia—and non-socialists. With government forces working to disarm and expel the remaining Russian troops stationed in Finland, the radical socialist Red Guard rebelled in late January 1918, terrorizing and killing civilians in their attempt to spark a Bolshevik-style revolution. The clash between the Reds and the Whites, as Finnish government troops were known, ended in victory by the government, due in part to the assistance of German troops sent by the kaiser to southern Finland.
On March 3, 1918, the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was concluded, depriving Lenin’s new Soviet state of no less than 1 million square miles of territory that had been part of imperial Russia, including Finland, which was recognized in the treaty by both Russia and the Central Powers as an independent republic. As stated in the treaty, Finlandwill immediately be cleared of Russian troops and the Russian Red Guard, and the Finnish ports of the Russian fleet and of the Russian naval forces.Russia is to put an end to all agitation or propaganda against the Government or the public institutions of Finland. Four days later, the Finnish government signed a separate treaty with Germany, confirming its independence but also solidifying a close relationship and promising German support for Finland to help the new state preserve order.
That close relationship was confirmed the following October, when conservative forces in Finland decided to establish monarchal rule in the country, giving the throne to Frederick, a German prince. One month later, however, when the war ended in the defeat of the Central Powers, it no longer seemed a viable choice: Germany itself was no longer a monarchy, Kaiser Wilhelm having abdicated on November 9, and it was certain that the victorious Allies would not look kindly upon a German prince on the Finnish throne. Frederick abdicated on December 14. The Treaty of Versailles, signed in June 1919, recognized Finland’s hard-won independence; that July, the Finnish parliament adopted a new republican constitution and Kaarlo J. Stahlberg, a liberal, was elected as the country’s first president.
Nazi leader Adolf Hitler violates the Treaty of Versailles and the Locarno Pact by sending German military forces into the Rhineland, a demilitarized zone along the Rhine River in western Germany.
The Treaty of Versailles, signed in July 1919–eight months after the guns fell silent in World War I–called for stiff war reparation payments and other punishing peace terms for defeated Germany. Having been forced to sign the treaty, the German delegation to the peace conference indicated its attitude by breaking the ceremonial pen. As dictated by the Treaty of Versailles, Germany’s military forces were reduced to insignificance and the Rhineland was to be demilitarized.
In 1925, at the conclusion of a European peace conference held in Switzerland, the Locarno Pact was signed, reaffirming the national boundaries decided by the Treaty of Versailles and approving the German entry into the League of Nations. The so-called “spirit of Locarno” symbolized hopes for an era of European peace and goodwill, and by 1930 German Foreign Minister Gustav Stresemann had negotiated the removal of the last Allied troops in the demilitarized Rhineland.
However, just four years later, Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party seized full power in Germany, promising vengeance against the Allied nations that had forced the Treaty of Versailles on the German people. In 1935, Hitler unilaterally canceled the military clauses of the treaty and in March 1936 denounced the Locarno Pact and began remilitarizing of the Rhineland. Two years later, Nazi Germany burst out of its territories, absorbing Austria and portions of Czechoslovakia. In 1939, Hitler invaded Poland, leading to the outbreak of World War II in Europe.
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