Heinz Linge worked with Adolf Hitler for a ten-year period from 1935 until the Führer’s death in the Berlin bunker in May 1945. He was one of the last to leave the bunker and was responsible for guarding the door while Hitler killed himself. During his years of service, Linge was responsible for all aspects of Hitler’s household and was constantly by his side.
Here, Linge recounts the daily routine in Hitler’s household: his eating habits, his foibles, his preferences, his sense of humor, and his private life with Eva Braun. After the war Linge said in an interview, “It was easier for him to sign a death warrant for an officer on the front than to swallow bad news about the health of his dog.” Linge also charts the changes in Hitler’s character during their time together and his fading health during the last years of the war. During his last days, Hitler’s right eye began to hurt intensely and Linge was responsible for administering cocaine drops to kill the pain. In a number of instances—such as with the Stauffenberg bomb plot of July 1944—Linge gives an excellent eyewitness account of events. He also gives thumbnail profiles of the prominent members of Hitler’s “court”: Hess, Speer, Bormann and Ribbentrop amongst them.
Though Linge held an SS rank, he claims not to have been a Nazi Party member. His profile of one of history’s worst demons is not blindly uncritical, but it is nonetheless affectionate. The Hitler that emerges is a multi-faceted individual: unpredictable and demanding, but not of an otherwise unpleasant nature.
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Am 1. Juli 1956 übernimmt die Bundeswehr 9.752 Männer aus dem Bundesgrenzschutz in die neuen Streitkräfte. Mit diesem Schritt sollen die ehrgeizigen Aufstellungspläne der neuen deutschen Streitkräfte schneller erreicht werden.
Als am 11. November 1955 die Geburtsstunde der zu diesem Zeitpunkt noch namenlosen Bundeswehr schlägt, erhalten die ersten 101 Freiwilligen ihre Ernennungsurkunden. Sie bilden den Grundstock der Bundeswehr. Gemessen an der Zielvorgabe, in den kommenden Jahren 12 Divisionen des Heeres, eine Luftwaffe und Marine aufbauen zu wollen, ein bescheidener Anfang. Rund 495.000 aktive Soldaten soll die Bundeswehr in den kommenden Jahren rekrutieren, um ihren Beitrag im NATO-Bündnis zu leisten.
Sicherung der Zonengrenze
Bereits seit 1951 existierte der Bundesgrenzschutz (BGS). Unter dem Eindruck des sich zuspitzenden Ost-West-Konfliktes und der Aufstellung paramilitärischer Polizeieinheiten in der DDR, hatten die westlichen Alliierten erlaubt, in Westdeutschland eine dem Bund unterstehende Polizei aufzubauen. Sie sollte zunächst eine Stärke von 10.000 Mann haben, über leichtes militärisches Material verfügen und vor allem die innerdeutsche Zonengrenze sichern. Der Aufwuchs der neuen Polizeieinheit ging schnell. Das Bundesinnenministerium konnte sich die Bewerber praktisch aussuchen. So kamen etwa auf die ersten 452 Offizierstellen beim BGS rund 41.000 Bewerber. Nach dem Volksaufstand vom 17. Juni 1953 in der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik erfolgte eine Verstärkung des Bundesgrenzschutzes auf 20.000 Mann.
Vor dem Hintergrund des Aufbaus der Bundeswehr kommt es innerhalb des BGS zu verbissen geführten Diskussionen darüber, welche Rolle der Bundespolizei nun zufallen soll. So standen im Wesentlichen drei Optionen im Raum. Zum einen die Überlegung, der BGS könne geschlossen in der Bundeswehr aufgehen; zweitens, dass er als „großer“ Grenzschutz auf 100.000 Mann aufwachsen solle oder aber drittens, dass er in seiner derzeitigen Form weiterbestehen solle. Für die Bundeswehrführung um Verteidigungsminister Theodor Blank war eindeutig, dass man das Personal des BGS für den Aufbau der Bundeswehr benötige. Jedoch gab es auch militärische Bedenkenträger. So wies Johann Adolf Graf von Kielmannsegg bereits 1951 darauf hin, dass es innerhalb des BGS wenig Verständnis für Fragen des Inneren Gefüges (später Innere Führung) gäbe. Zudem sei es grundsätzlich schwierig, reguläre Streitkräfte zur Grenzsicherung einzusetzen. So könnte jeder Grenzzwischenfall zu einem schnell eskalierenden kriegerischen Konflikt führen.
Letztendlich entscheidet die Bundesregierung im Zweiten Gesetz über den Bundesgrenzschutz, dass der BGS zum Aufbau der Bundeswehr herangezogen werden soll. Jedoch wird entgegen der vorherigen Entwürfe den betroffenen BGS-Beamten eine Wahlmöglichkeit eingeräumt. So kann jeder Angehörige des BGS bis zum 30. Juni 1956 einer Überführung zur Bundeswehr widersprechen. Rund 42 Prozent geben eine entsprechende Erklärung ab. Die übrigen 9.752 werden der Bundeswehr überantwortet. Sie werden mit dem nächst höheren Dienstgrad in die neuen Streitkräften eingestellt und erhalten bessere Aufstiegschancen.
Übernahme von 9.752 Mann in die Bundeswehr
Beim Bundesgrenzschutz See ist die Übertrittsquote besonders hoch. Von den vormals 1.015 BGS-Beamten treten 872 in die Marine der Bundeswehr ein. Dies liegt vor allem daran, dass der Grenzschutz See mit der Übergabe von Material und Personal an die Bundeswehr zum 1. Juli nicht erneut aufgebaut werden soll. Insgesamt bildet das Personal vom BGS letztendlich die Keimzellen von drei Grenadierdivisionen, mehrerer kleinerer Verbände und trägt entscheidend zum Aufbau der Bundesmarine bei. So kommen die ersten Schnellboote der Bundeswehr aus den Beständen des BGS.
Dennoch kann auch die Übernahme der BGS-Beamten in die Bundeswehr nicht die Aufstellungskrise der Bundeswehr verhindern. Die ambitionierten Ziele, die Verteidigungsminister Blank der NATO zugesichert hatte, werden zum Stolperstein. Theodor Blank räumt am 16. Oktober 1956 im Rahmen einer Kabinettsumbildung das Bundesministerium für Verteidigung. Ihm folgt Franz Josef Strauß, der den Aufstellungsplan der Bundeswehr reformiert und damit schnell Fortschritte erzielt.
Translated English Version:
On 1 July 1956, the Bundeswehr takes over 9,752 men from the Federal Border in the new armed forces. With this step, the ambitious plans of the new formation, German forces are to be achieved more quickly.
As on 11 November 1955, the birth of this time still nameless Bundeswehr suggests, get the first 101 volunteers their letters of appointment. They form the foundation of the Bundeswehr. Judging by the target to want to build 12 divisions of the army, a navy and air force in the coming years, a modest beginning. Around 495,000 active soldiers to recruit the army in the coming years in order to make their contribution in the NATO alliance.
Securing the border zone
Already since 1951 existed the Federal Border Police (BGS). Under the impact of the worsening East-West conflict and the formation of paramilitary police units in the East, the Western Allies had allowed to build a the collar Subordinate police in West Germany. You should first have a strength of 10,000 men, equipped with light military material and secure especially the inner-German border zone. The regrowth of the new police unit was fast. The Interior Ministry, applicants could practically pick. So were 41,000 applicants about the first 452 officer posts at the BGS. After the uprising of 17 June 1953 in the German Democratic Republic there was a reinforcement of the border police at 20,000 men.
Given the structure of the Bundeswehr it comes within the BGS to dogged discussions about shall be for the role of the federal police now. So were essentially three options in the area. Firstly, the idea of BGS can be closed up in the army; secondly, that he should as a “large” border management grow to 100,000 or, thirdly, that it should continue to exist in its current form. For the Bundeswehr leadership to Defense Minister Theodor Blank was clear that we need the staff of the BGS to build up the Bundeswehr. However, there were also military worriers. So pointed Johann Adolf Count of Kielmannsegg in 1951 indicate that there were within the BGS little understanding of issues of the interior structure (later inside guide). Moreover, it is generally difficult to use regular armed forces to protect the border. So every border incident could lead to a rapidly escalating military conflict.
Ultimately, the federal government decided in the Second Law on the Federal, the BGS is to be used to build up the Bundeswehr. However, contrary to previous drafts concerned BGS given a choice. Thus, each member of the BGS contradict until June 30, 1956 an overpass for Bundeswehr. About 42 percent will make a corresponding statement. The remaining 9,752 are handed over to the Bundeswehr. They are set to the next higher grade in the new armed forces and get better opportunities for advancement.
Acquisition of 9,752 men in the armed forces
When Federal See the transfer rate is particularly high. 872 Of the 1,015 formerly BGS enter the Marine der Bundeswehr. This is mainly because that the border guards lake is not to be re-established with the delivery of materials and personnel to the armed forces on 1 July. Overall, the staff from the BGS ultimately forms the germ cells of three infantry divisions, several smaller organizations and contributes significantly to the construction of the German Navy. So come the first speedboats Bundeswehr from the holdings of the BGS.
Still can not prevent the formation of crisis Bundeswehr also the acquisition of BGS in the Bundeswehr. The ambitious goals that Defense Blank had NATO assurances can be stumbling blocks. Theodor Blank grants on 16 October 1956 at part of a reshuffle, the Federal Ministry of Defence. It is followed by Franz Josef Strauss, who reformed the layout plan of the Armed Forces and thus made progress quickly.
As early as 1941, Allied victory in World War II seemed all but assured. How and why, then, did the Germans prolong the barbaric conflict for three and a half more years?
In The German War, acclaimed historian Nicholas Stargardt draws on an extraordinary range of primary source materials—personal diaries, court records, and military correspondence—to answer this question. He offers an unprecedented portrait of wartime Germany, bringing the hopes and expectations of the German people—from infantrymen and tank commanders on the Eastern front to civilians on the home front—to vivid life. While most historians identify the German defeat at Stalingrad as the moment when the average German citizen turned against the war effort, Stargardt demonstrates that the Wehrmacht in fact retained the staunch support of the patriotic German populace until the bitter end.
Astonishing in its breadth and humanity, The German War is a groundbreaking new interpretation of what drove the Germans to fight—and keep fighting—for a lost cause.
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The fields of Northern France and Belgium still bear many of the scars of last century’s Great War, but they are a faint reminder of battle carnage on the Western Front. After the Armistice, farmers returned to find their fields and villages totally destroyed by four years of trench warfare. Craters mark spots where artillery shells exploded but much of the area is now covered over with grass, hedgerows and forests.
Except for one place.
In 1919, a Belgian farmer called Schier returned to his land on a hill over looking the ancient medieval city of Ypres, and simply left it as it was. Once part of the British front line, it lies there today looking much as it did a hundred years ago: a mess of rusted barbed wire, shell holes full of water, trees shattered by artillery fire and a system of trenches and tunnels filled with mud.
Still privately owned by the Schier family, it is one of the few sites in Flanders where you can experience something of the actual terrain suffered by soldiers during World War I. On British military maps, it was noted as Hill 62, for its elevation in feet above sea level. For the tens of thousands who lived and died here it was known as Sanctuary Wood. To go there now is to experience the horrors of life in the trenches for yourself.
The old medieval cloth manufacturing city of Ypres in Belgium looms large in the British psyche due to the amount of casualties suffered here. In the early stages of the war, Germany raced to the sea in an attempt to defeat France by attacking through Belgium. This strategy, known as the Schlieffen plan, drawn up years before the war started, would avoid the heavy French fortifications further south and seize Paris in a sweeping attack from the side. British made their stand to block Germany at Ypres. In a salient (a bit of battlefield in enemy territory) jutting out from the city both sides dug in trenches and for four years inflicted some of the bloodiest fighting of the Great War upon each other, in the now familiar pattern of minimal gains for massive casualties.
The road leading to the British front lines from Ypres is today marked by one of the most somber of all war memorials, the Menin Gate. A colossal archway on a scale of the main concourse at Grand Central Station in New York, it is covered in the names of nearly 60,000 soldiers of the British Empire who died here. Standing underneath it, the names stretching beyond what the eye can see, it is unfailingly moving. However, these are just the names of those who died with no known grave. They were simply swallowed up and disappeared in the fields surrounding Ypres. Every night at 8 p.m. a memorial service is held for the missing. No wonder British writer Siegfried Sassoon wrote of the memorial—”Here was the world’s worst wound.”
The identifiable dead are buried in countless cemeteries located in the Ypres Salient. Almost every copse and country lane features a meticulously tended graveyard, maintained by the Commonwealth Graves Commission. The largest, Tyne Cot, located on a ridge east of Ypres holds nearly 12,000 burials; Sanctuary Wood, a few miles to the south, has just over 600. Each head stone is immaculate, with the grass as neatly trimmed as a vicarage lawn, with memorial books present to help visiting relatives find a particular tombstone amongst the hundreds of thousands.
But while the government-funded commission diligently tend their memorials, the privately-owned Sanctuary Wood is something of an anomaly. Entering the farm house through a cafe, the building was turned into a museum in 1919, and is filled with the rusted artifacts Shier found on his property. Rifles encrusted with mud, German steel helmets riddled with bullet holes, and a collection of period stereoscope photographs of the battlefield. Walking through the farmhouse into the back garden, past rolls of barbed wire and an alarming stockpile of German artillery shells, a wooden sign post indicates the way to the “British Front Line.”
Climbing down into the ruins of the trenches, it is perhaps the only place left to physically understand the daily horrors of life on the Western Front. The flat lowlands of Flanders were particularly susceptible to flooding. The summer of 1917 saw some of the heaviest rainfalls recorded, and the Salient turned into a lethal quagmire of glutinous mud, constantly churned up by incessant shellfire. I visited Sanctuary Wood in the height of a dry summer and still the trenches were swamped with mud and rain. A hundred years later the wood still looked desolate, a nightmarish lunar landscape of craters, shattered tree stumps and barbed wire.
Working at London’s Imperial War Museum, historians Nigel Steel and Peter Hart started in the 1980s to collect firsthand accounts from those who lived and fought at Ypres.
“It was a nightmare,” wrote Private William Collins of the Royal Army Medial Corps, “all you had was a couple of duckboards…..and either side of it was about ten feet of mud. If you fell off it would take a traction engine to pull you out.”
Sanctuary Wood was given its peaceful sounding name in the early days of the war, when the heavy woodland provided perfect cover for respite from German guns, and a place to treat the wounded. Within months though, the constant artillery bombardments turned the wood into a devastated nightmarish landscape. “Ironic to be called by such a peaceful name! – Can a wood be so called when that entire region is….desolate with huge holes, naked and burned, and reduced to shreds,” wrote Phillipe Bieler, a Canadian soldier who recorded his experiences of the front in his memoir Onward Dear Boys.
Others had similar experiences. Private Alfred Warsop of the 1st Battalion Sherwood Foresters, wrote:
“I was sitting in a trench, soaked to the skin. I had to change position as the side of the trench was slowly sinking being only made of wet mud… The conditions were abysmal enough without the ever present dangers of shellfire, trench raiding parties, poison gas attacks and raking machine guns….There was a flash in the sky. I realized with a shock that I had been badly hit. My right arm jumped up on its own and flopped down. It felt as if my left arm and part of my chest had been blown clear away.”
The preserved trenches at Sanctuary Wood, however, have been controversial. As a privately owned property, the old British front line isn’t protected by the watchful eye of the Commonwealth Grave Commission. All over Northern France and Belgium, farmers and construction workers still regularly find remnants of the Great War, everything from unexploded artillery shells to rusted live hand grenades. The so-called Iron Harvest in 2013 alone unearthed over 160 tons of deadly artifacts. In fact there were so many recovered shells that the Belgian government created a daily pick up service where farmers could leave their deadly discoveries by the side of the road to be picked up, and safely delivered to a specialist bomb disposal service in Poelkapelle. Since the end of the war, over 260 people have been killed by disturbing unexploded bombs around Ypres alone, most recently in 2014 when two construction workers accidentally detonated a 100-year-old shell.
It’s also commonplace for farmers and construction workers to unearth more gruesome finds. One such was on an industrial site in the village of Boezinge, just outside Ypres, where work was being done on the Ypres-Izer canal. Here in 1992 a section of the British front line was discovered, along with the remains of 155 soldiers. When such a discovery is made the Commonwealth Graves Commission is called in to see if the remains can be identified. A team of archaeologists known as “The Diggers” then go to work to unearth and preserve the site. The continual discovery of remnants from the war are treated with archaeological respect for the site and for those who died there.
Apart from official stewardship, then, Sanctuary Woods’ caretakers have turned what is essentially a memorial site into a living museum. At some point, the Shier family re-enforced the trench walls with now rusting corrugated iron to stop them collapsing. Looking at primary sources, the majority of trenches would have been revetted with wooden planks and lined with sandbags. But this kind of work highlights the argument about the historic site’s care: Is the family desecrating a battlefield or preserving it? As one World War I battlefield touring guide puts it, “The natural desire to be allowed to walk freely amongst historical remains such as these trenches is one side of the argument, the possibility that they will be damaged in so doing is another.”
But what Sanctuary Wood does is to enable the visitor with a visceral first-person experience of what it was like to descend into the earth, to slog through mud-filled trenches and avoid being ensnared on rusted barbed wire. In the early 1980s part of Sanctuary Wood collapsed to reveal an undiscovered system of tunnels. Built by the Royal Engineers, it is possible today to walk inside. Such is the rudimentary nature of the living museum that there are no flashlights provided: You enter at your own risk. By the pale light of my phone, I entered the narrow claustrophobic tunnels. Only 4 feet high, and filled with mud, water in some places, rising to uneven dry earth floors, the feeling of finding your way deep underground is claustrophobic in the extreme. These tunnels would have provided protective communication passages between the trenches. For the miners tunneling towards the Germans, dozens of feet below, the suffocating terror must have been imaginable.
For war poet Wilfried Owen the demoralizing effects of trench life under fire left men;
“Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge.”
While the officially sanctioned Menin Gate and countless surrounding cemeteries and war memorials poignantly speak to the vast loss of life at Ypres, visiting the preserved ruins of the old British front line at Sanctuary Wood is to descend first hand into the wretched misery of trench life on the Western Front. Where soldiers rapidly became, as Siegfried Sassoon described in his 1917 poem Dreamers, “citizens of death’s grey land.”
In the vast literature about World War I there has never been a naval atlas that depicts graphically the complexities of the war at sea, and puts in context the huge significance of the naval contribution to the defeat of Germany.
With more than 125 beautifully designed maps and charts, The Great War At Sea is the only atlas to present all of World War I’s great sea battles as well as the smaller operations, convoys, skirmishes, and sinkings. The atlas looks at the many scarcely covered, historically significant events at sea which impacted the land war. This book gives a new and exciting presentation to things such as, the impact of the United States Navy in Europe, operations in the Baltic and northern Russia, and Japanese naval contributions in the Middle East.
HSOGMH – Largest Collection of Photos and Images of German History in the World with a focus on World War II.