3 Days Late on this One, but Better than Never when it come to a great Soldat of the German Reich!
One of the last surviving well-known Tiger commanders, Otto Carius, passed away after a short, but serious illness on 1-24-2015.
Otto Carius was a German panzer ace of WW2, fighting on the Panzer 38t, Tiger and finally the Jagdtiger. It is estimated that during the war, Carius’ crew managed to knock out 150 enemy vehicles and many more soft targets and AT guns.
He survived the fighting and after the war, he opened a pharmacy called Tiger-Apotheke, that exists to this day. He is best known for writing a book of his memories about fighting on the Tiger, called “Tigers in the mud”.
On this day, German Gen. Friedrich von Paulus, commander in chief of the German 6th Army at Stalingrad, urgently requests permission from Adolf Hitler to surrender his position there, but Hitler refuses.
The Battle of Stalingrad began in the summer of 1942, as German forces assaulted the city, a major industrial center and a prized strategic coup. But despite repeated attempts and having pushed the Soviets almost to the Volga River in mid-October and encircling Stalingrad, the 6th Army, under Paulus, and part of the 4th Panzer Army could not break past the adamantine defense of the Soviet 62nd Army.
Diminishing resources, partisan guerilla attacks, and the cruelty of the Russian winter began to take their toll on the Germans. On November 19, the Soviets made their move, launching a counteroffensive that began with a massive artillery bombardment of the German position. The Soviets then assaulted the weakest link in the German force-inexperienced Romanian troops. Sixty-five thousand were ultimately taken prisoner by the Soviets.
The Soviets then made a bold strategic move, encircling the enemy, and launching pincer movements from north and south simultaneously, even as the Germans encircled Stalingrad. The Germans should have withdrawn, but Hitler wouldn’t allow it. He wanted his armies to hold out until they could be reinforced. By the time those fresh troops arrived in December, it was too late. The Soviet position was too strong, and the Germans were exhausted.
By January 24, the Soviets had overrun Paulus’ last airfield. His position was untenable and surrender was the only hope for survival. Hitler wouldn’t hear of it: “The 6th Army will hold its positions to the last man and the last round.” Paulus held out until January 31, when he finally surrendered. Of more than 280,000 men under Paulus’ command, half were already dead or dying, about 35,000 had been evacuated from the front, and the remaining 91,000 were hauled off to Soviet POW camps. Paulus eventually sold out to the Soviets altogether, joining the National Committee for Free Germany and urging German troops to surrender. Testifying at Nuremberg for the Soviets, he was released and spent the rest of his life in East Germany.
Netherlands Refuses to Extradite Kaiser Wilhelm to the Allies
On this day in 1920, the Dutch government refuses demands by the Allies for the extradition of Wilhelm II, the former kaiser of Germany, who has been living in exile in the Netherlands since November 1918.
By early November 1918, things were looking dismal for the Central Powers on all fronts of the Great War. The kaiser was at German army headquarters in the Belgian resort town of Spa when news reached him, in quick succession, of labor unrest in Berlin, a mutiny within the Imperial Navy and what looked like the beginnings of full-fledged revolution in Germany. From every direction, it seemed, came calls for peace, reform and the removal of the kaiser. Wilhelm II was told that the German General Staff would make a unified, orderly march home to Germany when the war ended, but it would not defend him against his internal opponents.
Faced with this lack of support, the kaiser agreed to abdicate his throne on November 9, 1918. Shortly after that, Wilhelm, the last of the powerful Hohenzollern monarchs, traveled from Spa to Holland, never to return to German soil.
In January 1920, Wilhelm headed the list of so-called war criminals put together by the Allies and made public after the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. The Netherlands, under the young, strong-willed Queen Wilhelmina, refused to extradite him for prosecution and Wilhelm remained in Holland, where he settled in the municipality of Doorn. Personal tragedy struck when his son, Joachim, committed suicide later in 1920. Augusta, his wife and the mother of his seven children, died barely a year later. In 1922, Wilhelm remarried and published his memoirs, proclaiming his innocence in the promotion of the Great War.
Unlike Wilhelmina and the rest of the Dutch royal family, Wilhelm turned down Winston Churchhills offer of asylum in Britain in 1940, as Hitler’s armies pushed through Holland, choosing instead to live under German occupation. He died the following yea
The definitive biography of the fearsome and controversial German SS tank commander of “Hitler’s Own” Panzer Division.
by Danny S. Parker
Joachim Peiper, generally referred to at the time and after the war as Jochen Peiper, was a key figure in the German SS and police organization from 1935 to the end of Nazi rule in Germany as well as in postwar trials and connections between former higher SS officers. He had both a professional and a personally close tie to Heinrich Himmler, the head of the German police apparatus. The professional tie was that Himmler’s attention had been drawn to Peiper who was assigned to Himmler’s headquarters as a result. The personal tie was that of the two key secretaries of Himmler, one became Himmler’s mistress and the other Peiper’s wife. The two women were close friends and remained so, and thus Peiper learned about events in headquarters after he left it. In this book, therefore, the reader can obtain a realistic sense of how the top of the German police apparatus operated before and during World War II and also the extent to which Himmler seriously believed some of the weirder notions he acted on like the connection of so-called Aryans to Tibet.
What distinguishes this book is that the author combines an extraordinarily careful search for new sources as well as the existing literature with a general fairness in his judgments about the individuals and events in Peiper’s life. After leaving Himmler’s headquarters, Peiper participates in the fighting on the Eastern Front, in Italy, and in the West. It is in connection with the Battle of the Bulge and the murder of a substantial number of surrendered American soldiers near Malmédy in Belgium that Peiper has come to appear in American literature on the war. He was captured and tried by the Americans in the famous or notorious Dachau trial. Anyone accused of killing lots of Jews and surrendered American soldiers was of great interest to Senator Joseph McCarthy who saw to it that the Dachau cases were redone, and all defendants, including Peiper, got off easy.
The author explains in this very well-written book how Peiper was involved in several later trials and interacted with other former SS officers from his new home. That was a house he purchased in the village of Traves in eastern France. His death there in 1976 remains an open case, but this reviewer finds the author’s explanation that he died while fighting a fire in that house set by local youngsters a most likely one. From the special ceremony when Peiper is sworn into the SS to the arguments over the burial of his charred remains, the book offers a full and thoughtful account of an important figure in the Nazi political and military system.
Charts the most dramatic campaigns of the Luftwaffe and the amazing feats of some of its highest-scoring aces.
by Peter Jacobs
The fighter pilots of Nazi Germany’s Luftwaffe regularly outscored their Allied counterparts and were some of the highest scoring fighter pilots of all time. In the end, the vast effort required by the Luftwaffe to maintain the air war on so many fronts proved too much, and few of the pilots survived—but their courage and ability was beyond question, and the names of many will live on in the annals of air warfare.
Luftwaffe Fighter Aces charts the campaigns fought by this remarkable force—and the exploits of such aces as Erich Hartmann, the highest scoring fighter pilot of all time, Hans-Joachim Marseille, the Star of Africa, Werner Mölders, the first recipient of the Diamonds, and Adolf Galland, perhaps the most famous of all.