18 November – Today in German History

1916

  • Battle of the Somme Ends. On November 18, 1916, British Commander in Chief Sir Douglas Haig calls a halt to his army’s offensive near the Somme River in northwestern France, ending the epic Battle of the Somme after more than four months of bloody conflict. With the French under heavy siege at Verdun since February, the Somme offensive was Haig’s long-planned attempt to make an Allied breakthrough on the Western Front. After a full week of artillery bombardment, the offensive began in earnest on the morning of July 1, 1916, when soldiers from 11 British divisions emerged from their trenches near the Somme River in northwestern France and advanced toward the German front lines. The initial advance was a disaster, as the six German divisions facing the advancing British mowed them down with their machine guns, killing or wounding some 60,000 men on the first day alone: the single heaviest day of casualties in British military history to that point. The failure of the advance was credited variously to the complete lack of surprise in the timing of the attack, incompetence on the part of Haig and the British command–namely, their failure to conceive that the Germans could build their trenches deep enough to protect their heavy weapons or bring them up so quickly once the artillery barrage had ended, and the inferior preparation of the British artillery, for which the infantry paid a heavy price.

1940

  • Hitler furious over Italy’s debacle in Greece. On November 18, 1940, Adolf Hitler meets with Italian Foreign Minister Galeazzo Ciano over Mussolini’s disastrous invasion of Greece. Mussolini surprised everyone with a move against Greece. His ally Hitler was caught off guard since the Duce had led Hitler to believe he had no such intention. Even Mussolini’s own chief of army staff found out about the invasion only after the fact.

1943

  • Britain’s Royal Air Force bombed Berlin with little success. 440 bombers were used in the raid that resulted in 131 Berliners being killed and nine British bombers were shot down and 53 aircrew members were killed.
0Shares

16 November – Today in German History

1945
  • German scientists are brought to the United States to work on rocket technology. In a move that stirs up some controversy, the United States ships 88 German scientists to America to assist the nation in its production of rocket technology. Most of these men had served under the Nazi regime and critics in the United States questioned the morality of placing them in the service of America. Nevertheless, the U.S. government, desperate to acquire the scientific know-how that had produced the terrifying and destructive V-1 and V-2 rockets for Germany during WWII, and fearful that the Russians were also utilizing captured German scientists for the same end, welcomed the men with open arms.
0Shares

11 November – Today in German History / 11. November – Heute in der deutschen Geschichte

1918 

  • Armistice Day: World War I Ends 

At the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, the Great War ends. At 5 a.m. that morning, Germany, bereft of manpower and supplies and faced with imminent invasion, signed an armistice agreement with the Allies in a railroad car outside Compiégne, France. The First World War left nine million soldiers dead and 21 million wounded, with Germany, Russia, Austria-Hungary, France, and Great Britain each losing nearly a million or more lives. In addition, at least five million civilians died from disease, starvation, or exposure.

0Shares

10 November 1942 Germans End Vichy France

On November 10, 1942, German troops occupy Vichy France, which had previously been free of an Axis military presence.

Since July 1940, upon being invaded and defeated by German forces, the autonomous French state had been split into two regions. One was occupied by German troops, and the other was unoccupied, governed by a more or less puppet regime centered in Vichy, a spa region about 200 miles southeast of Paris, and led by Gen. Philippe Petain, a World War I hero. Publicly, Petain declared that Germany and France had a common goal, “the defeat of England.” Privately, the French general hoped that by playing mediator between the Axis power and his fellow countrymen, he could keep German troops out of Vichy France while surreptitiously aiding the antifascist Resistance movement.

Petain’s compromises became irrelevant within two years. When Allied forces arrived in North Africa to team up with the Free French Forces to beat back the Axis occupiers, and French naval crews emboldened by the Allied initiative scuttled the French fleet off Toulon in southeastern France to keep it from being used by those same Axis powers.  Hitler retaliated. In violation of the 1940 armistice agreement, German troops moved into southeastern-Vichy, France. From that point forward, Petain became virtually useless, and France merely a future gateway for the Allied counteroffensive in Western Europe, namely, D-Day.

0Shares

HSOGMH – Largest Collection of Photos and Images of German History in the World with a focus on World War II.