1941 Germans Advance in USSR

One week after launching a massive invasion of the USSR, German divisions make staggering advances on Leningrad, Moscow, and Kiev.

Despite his signing of the Nazi-Soviet Pact of 1939, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin knew that war with Nazi Germany–the USSR’s natural ideological enemy–was inevitable. In 1941, he received reports that German forces were massing along the USSR’s eastern border. He ordered a partial mobilization, unwisely believing that Nazi leader Adolf Hitler would never open another front until Britain was subdued. Stalin was thus surprised by the invasion that came on June 22, 1941. On that day, 150 German divisions poured across the Soviet Union’s 1,800-mile-long eastern frontier in one of the largest and most powerful military operations in history.

Aided by its far superior air force, the Luftwaffe, the Germans raced across the USSR in three great army groups, inflicting terrible casualties on the Red Army and Soviet civilians. On June 29, the cities of Riga and Ventspils in Latvia fell, 200 Soviet aircraft were shot down, and the encirclement of three Russian armies was nearly complete at Minsk in Belarus. Assisted by their Romanian and Finnish allies, the Germans conquered vast territory in the opening months of the invasion, and by mid-October the great Russian cities of Leningrad and Moscow were under siege.

However, like Napoleon Bonaparte in 1812, Hitler failed to take into account the Russian people’s historic determination in resisting invaders. Although millions of Soviet soldiers and citizens perished in 1941, and to the rest of the world it seemed certain that the USSR would fall, the defiant Red Army and bitter Russian populace were steadily crushing Hitler’s hopes for a quick victory. Stalin had far greater reserves of Red Army divisions than German intelligence had anticipated, and the Soviet government did not collapse from lack of popular support as expected. Confronted with the harsh reality of Nazi occupation, Soviets chose Stalin’s regime as the lesser of two evils and willingly sacrificed themselves in what became known as the “Great Patriotic War.”

The German offensive against Moscow stalled only 20 miles from the Kremlin, Leningrad’s spirit of resistance remained strong, and the Soviet armament industry–transported by train to the safety of the east–carried on, safe from the fighting. Finally, what the Russians call “General Winter” rallied again to their cause, crippling the Germans’ ability to maneuver and thinning the ranks of the divisions ordered to hold their positions until the next summer offensive. The winter of 1941 came early and was the worst in decades, and German troops without winter coats were decimated by the major Soviet counteroffensives that began in December.

In May 1942, the Germans, who had held their line at great cost, launched their summer offensive. They captured the Caucasus and pushed to the city of Stalingrad, where one of the greatest battles of World War II began. In November 1942, a massive Soviet counteroffensive was launched out of the rubble of Stalingrad, and at the end of January 1943 German Field Marshal Friedrich Paulus surrendered his encircled army. It was the turning point in the war, and the Soviets subsequently recaptured all the territory taken by the Germans in their 1942 offensive.

In July 1943, the Germans launched their last major attack, at Kursk; after two months of fierce battle involving thousands of tanks it ended in failure. From thereon, the Red Army steadily pushed the Germans back in a series of Soviet offensives. In January 1944, Leningrad was relieved, and a giant offensive to sweep the USSR clean of its invaders began in May. In January 1945, the Red Army launched its final offensive, driving into Czechoslovakia and Austria and, in late April, Berlin. The German capital was captured on May 2, and five days later Germany surrendered in World War II.

More than 18 million Soviet soldiers and civilians lost their lives in the Great Patriotic War. Germany lost more than three million men as a result of its disastrous invasion of the USSR.

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Yes Germany could pay, but then Poland must return all lost German land from the Third Reich Era including Imperial German Lands prior to World War 1. Such Non-Sense!

Poland’s Jaroslaw Kaczynski renews call for German WWII reparations

by DW

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, head of the ruling party in Poland, has again demanded Berlin pay Warsaw World War Two compensation. His comments come two days after his government watered down a controversial Holocaust law.

In an interview with the state-run Polskie Radio on Friday, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the de facto senior politician in Poland, renewed demands for Germany to pay compensation for Poland’s war time losses incurred by Germany.

“This is a Polish-German issue. It was Germany who invaded Poland, murdering millions of people, destroying material goods and we must be compensated for this,” he said.

Kaczynski has been calling for financial reparations from Germany for more than a decade.

In March two PiS politicians said that Poland should demand reparations worth $850 billion (€780 billion) for destroyed property and people killed.

“For many, many years, there has been a defamation campaign offending Poles, completely altering the sense of World War II,” Kaczynski went on. “Today we have started on a route in the opposite direction and I think this road will be difficult and steep … If we did nothing, we would get nothing.”

The context

Kaczynski’s revival of war reparations demands follows Poland watering down a controversial law criminalizing any comments suggesting some Polish people might have helped Germans during the war.The threat of jail terms has now been removed but the law has faced considerable criticism from the US and Israel.

Kaczynski said on Wednesday that the move was because Israeli authorities had “fully confirmed Poland’s position” on Germany’s responsibility for the Holocaust.

Friday’s comments also come as Berlin-Warsaw relations remain fraught over the EU’s migration policy and EU disquiet over the Polish government’s judicial reforms.

They also coincide with rumors that Kaczynski’s recent illness has led to infighting within the party and the government over who could succeed the 69-year old.

No claims filed

However, the Polish government has said it doesn’t want its demands to affect cooperation within the EU and its relationship with Germany and hasn’t yet filed any official claims.

The German government has meanwhile dismissed previous demands, referring to a Polish renunciation of claims in 1953. German parliamentary legal experts said last year that Warsaw had no right to demand reparations.

Poland’s then Communist government waived its right to German post-war compensation in 1953, but in 2017 several government ministers refuted the validity of the waiver.

World War II started with the German invasion of Poland in 1939 and led to deaths of nearly 6 million Polish citizens by the war’s end in 1945, about half of them Jewish.

Mixed feelings

A survey published this week by Körber-Stiftung said that 76 percent of Germans think Berlin should not pay WWII reparations, while Polish opinion on the issue is split, with 40 percent saying Warsaw should not demand compensation from Germany and 46 in favor.

PiS was backed by 37.9 percent in a recent poll, up 4.5 percentage points from May. The party won the 2015 election with a similar share of the vote, becoming the first party in Poland’s post-communist era not to have to govern in a coalition.

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1948 U.S. Begins Berlin Airlift

On this day in 1948, U.S. and British pilots begin delivering food and supplies by airplane to Berlin after the city is isolated by a Soviet Union blockade.

When World War II ended in 1945, defeated Germany was divided into Soviet, American, British and French zones of occupation. The city of Berlin, though located within the Soviet zone of occupation, was also split into four sectors, with the Allies taking the western part of the city and the Soviets the eastern. In June 1948, Josef Stalin’s government attempted to consolidate control of the city by cutting off all land and sea routes to West Berlin in order to pressure the Allies to evacuate. As a result, beginning on June 24 the western section of Berlin and its 2 million people were deprived of food, heating fuel and other crucial supplies.

Though some in U.S. President Harry S. Truman’s administration called for a direct military response to this aggressive Soviet move, Truman worried such a response would trigger another world war. Instead, he authorized a massive airlift operation under the control of General Lucius D. Clay, the American-appointed military governor of Germany. The first planes took off from England and western Germany on June 26, loaded with food, clothing, water, medicine and fuel.

By July 15, an average of 2,500 tons of supplies was being flown into the city every day. The massive scale of the airlift made it a huge logistical challenge and at times a great risk. With planes landing at Tempelhof Airport every four minutes, round the clock, pilots were being asked to fly two or more round-trip flights every day, in World War II planes that were sometimes in need of repair.

The Soviets lifted the blockade in May 1949, having earned the scorn of the international community for subjecting innocent men, women and children to hardship and starvation. The airlift–called die Luftbrucke or “the air bridge” in German–continued until September 1949, for a total delivery of more than 1.5 million tons of supplies and a total cost of over $224 million. When it ended, the eastern section of Berlin was absorbed into Soviet East Germany, while West Berlin remained a separate territory with its own government and close ties to West Germany. The Berlin Wall, built in 1961, formed a dividing line between East and West Berlin. Its destruction in 1989 presaged the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union and marked the end of an era and the reemergence of Berlin as the capital of a new, unified German nation.

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1941 Germany launches Operation Barbarossa—The Invasion of the Soviet Union

On this day in 1941, over 3 million German troops invade Russia in three parallel offensives, in what is the most powerful invasion force in history. Nineteen panzer divisions, 3,000 tanks, 2,500 aircraft, and 7,000 artillery pieces pour across a thousand-mile front as Hitler goes to war on a second front.

Despite the fact that Germany and Russia had signed a “pact” in 1939, each guaranteeing the other a specific region of influence without interference from the other, suspicion remained high. When the Soviet Union invaded Rumania in 1940, Hitler saw a threat to his Balkan oil supply. He immediately responded by moving two armored and 10 infantry divisions into Poland, posing a counterthreat to Russia. But what began as a defensive move turned into a plan for a German first-strike. Despite warnings from his advisers that Germany could not fight the war on two fronts (as Germany’s experience in World War I proved), Hitler became convinced that England was holding out against German assaults, refusing to surrender, because it had struck a secret deal with Russia. Fearing he would be “strangled” from the East and the West, he created, in December 1940, “Directive No. 21: Case Barbarossa”–the plan to invade and occupy the very nation he had actually asked to join the Axis only a month before!

On June 22, 1941, having postponed the invasion of Russia after Italy’s attack on Greece forced Hitler to bail out his struggling ally in order to keep the Allies from gaining a foothold in the Balkans, three German army groups struck Russia hard by surprise. The Russian army was larger than German intelligence had anticipated, but they were demobilized. Stalin had shrugged off warnings from his own advisers, even Winston Churchill himself, that a German attack was imminent. (Although Hitler had telegraphed his territorial designs on Russia as early as 1925–in his autobiography, Mein Kampf.) By the end of the first day of the invasion, the German air force had destroyed more than 1,000 Soviet aircraft. And despite the toughness of the Russian troops, and the number of tanks and other armaments at their disposal, the Red Army was disorganized, enabling the Germans to penetrate up to 300 miles into Russian territory within the next few days.

Exactly 129 years and one day before Operation Barbarossa, another “dictator” foreign to the country he controlled, invaded Russia–making it all the way to the capital. But despite this early success, Napoleon would be escorted back to France–by Russian troops.

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Update 6-2-2018 : New Pictures Added to the Website

New Pictures have been added to the Website:

• Italian Front – Italienisch Vorderseite
• Destruction of Germany During and After the War
• Orders of Battle – Panzer Divisions
• Orders of Battle – Gebirgsjäger – Mountain Troops plus Ski Division – Skijäger-Division
• Afrika Korps / Africa Corps
• Panzers
• Panzer IV
• Marder 1, 2, & 3
• Messerschmitt Bf 109
• Messerschmitt Me 262
• Fieseler Fi 156 – Storch – Stork
• Heavy Cruiser Admiral Scheer – Schwerer Kreuzer Admiral Scheer
• U-Boats of the Kriegsmarine
• Luftwaffe Pilots & Airmen – H thru M
• Luftwaffe Pilots & Airmen – N thru S
• Other Museums, Artifacts, and Vehicles A thru L
• Other Museums, Artifacts, and Vehicles M thru Z
• War Medals and Decorations – Imperial Era & Weimar Republic
• Historic Figures of the German Empire
• Luftstreitkräfte Flugzeuge – Imperial German Air Force Airplanes
• National People’s Army – Nationale Volksarmee – NVA
• Berlin
• Leopard 2 – Main Battle Tank
• Luftwaffe – After WW2
• Fuhrer Adolf Hitler
• SS General Josef “Sepp” Dietrich
• Hitlerjugend – Hitler Youth
• SA – Sturmabteilung
• Third Reich War Industry

New Pages have been added to the Website:

• East German Warsaw Pact Planes
• Luftwaffe Helicopters – From the Cold War to Present
• Death of Adolf Hitler
• Chinese-German Cooperation 1911-1941
• German Resistance to Nazism
• Battle of the Atlantik

Enjoy!

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1940 British and Allied troops continue the evacuation of France, as Churchill reassures his countrymen

On this day in 1940, British troops evacuate France in Operation Ariel, an exodus almost on the order of Dunkirk. Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill offers words of encouragement in a broadcast to the nation: “Whatever has happened in France… [w]e shall defend our island home, and with the British Empire we shall fight on unconquerable until the curse of Hitler is lifted.”

With two-thirds of France now occupied by German troops, those British and Allied troops that had not participated in Operation Dynamo, the evacuation of Dunkirk, were shipped home. From Cherbourg and St. Malo, from Brest and Nantes, Brits, Poles, and Canadian troops were rescued from occupied territory by boats sent from Britain. While these men were not under the immediate threat of assault, as at Dunkirk, they were by no means safe, as 5,000 soldiers and French civilians learned once on board the ocean liner Lancastria, which had picked them up at St. Nazaire. Germans bombers sunk the liner; 3,000 passengers drowned.

Churchill ordered that news of the Lancastria not be broadcast in Britain, fearing the effect it would have on public morale, since everyone was already on heightened alert, fearing an imminent invasion from the Germans now that only a channel separated them. The British public would eventually find out—but not for another six weeks—when the news finally broke in the United States. They would also enjoy a breather of another kind: Hitler had no immediate plans for an invasion of the British isle, “being well aware of the difficulties involved in such an operation,” reported the German High Command.

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1940 Germans enter Paris

On this day in 1940, Parisians awaken to the sound of a German-accented voice announcing via loudspeakers that a curfew was being imposed for 8 p.m. that evening-as German troops enter and occupy Paris.

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill had tried for days to convince the French government to hang on, not to sue for peace, that America would enter the war and come to its aid. French premier Paul Reynaud telegrammed President Franklin Roosevelt, asking for just such aid-a declaration of war, and if not that, any and all help possible. Roosevelt replied that the United States was prepared to send material aid—and was willing to have that promise published—but Secretary of State Cordell Hull opposed such a publication, knowing that Hitler, as well as the Allies, would take such a public declaration of help as but a prelude to a formal declaration of war. While the material aid would be forthcoming, no such commitment would be made formal and public.

By the time German tanks rolled into Paris, 2 million Parisians had already fled, with good reason. In short order, the German Gestapo went to work: arrests, interrogations, and spying were the order of the day, as a gigantic swastika flew beneath the Arc de Triomphe.

While Parisians who remained trapped in their capital despaired, French men and women in the west cheered-as Canadian troops rolled through their region, offering hope for a free France yet.

The United States did not remain completely idle, though. On this day, President Roosevelt froze the American assets of the Axis powers, Germany and Italy.

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