The World War II Discussion Thread.

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  • j_w_pepperj_w_pepper Born on the bayou. I can still hear my old hound dog barkin'.
    Posts: 8,776
    Gerard wrote: »

    Well, that's the TV/movie version, and though it's partly true, it fails to show how Germany under Hitler managed to go from completely corrupt, inefficient, economic chaos to mildly corrupt, rather efficient and economic booming.

    SUre, he did so by cheating/ or just denying the political 'obligation' that was put in the Versailles treaty, but the building of the Autobahn network did boost the economy (and made fast troop movements possible). I know little about their train schedules but I bet the trains were doing better in 1935 then they were in 1929.
    I'm afraid you're rather trivialising those things, apart from the fact that the first Autobahn-like highways were built in the 1910s and the network planned during the Weimar Republic. The Nazis did speed up the building both for military reasons and to claim that they lowered unemployment that way.

    When you are preparing for war and waging it and making the Krupps and Thyssens of this world happy by letting them produce arms without limits, the result is economic growth much larger than in more peaceful times. And much of it was financed by money taken from Jews and other persecuted, expropriated, not to mention murdered persons, as well as later on from occupied territories who also had to supply forced labour for those efforts.

    The top Nazis also filled their pockets while doing so, if you look the the extravaganzas by Hermann Göring and the like. So no, the system was not "mildly" corrupt. And yes, it was "booming", thanks to the efforts to wage war against just about everybody else. And it may have been efficient - but so was Auschwitz. I find your position rather cynical.

  • CommanderRossCommanderRoss The bottom of a pitch lake in Eastern Trinidad, place called La Brea
    Posts: 8,061
    Well if the world was that black and white it would be very nice. But fact is, together with the ignoring of the Versailles treaty, the autobahn and many more infrastructure projects did help the economy in a big way, just like Roosevelt's highways did in the US.

    I can make it even more painful: you're actually telling me the highly incomptetent, inefficient internally devided and corrupt Nazi's managed to occupy most of Europe, parts of Africa and deport and murder all those jews, homosexuals, gypsies, etc. etc.? what does it say about the rest of Europe then, if this were even half true? Talking about cynicism!

    Most of the military transport, btw, was done by rail.

    Anyway, yes, there were many flaws in the Nazi system, but it was far more efficient then the Weimar republic. One of many reasons why the orinary German turned a blind eye to the far darker side of the Nazi's, even before the war (night of the long knives i.e., Kristallnacht, etc.).
  • ThunderfingerThunderfinger Das Boot Hill
    Posts: 45,489
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  • Posts: 19,339
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    I wonder if that's ever happened !!

  • DragonpolDragonpol https://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    Posts: 17,923
    barryt007 wrote: »
    comics-wumo-submarine-517526.jpg

    I wonder if that's ever happened !!

    It did to Thundy. End of his naval career.
  • Posts: 19,339
    Dragonpol wrote: »
    barryt007 wrote: »
    comics-wumo-submarine-517526.jpg

    I wonder if that's ever happened !!

    It did to Thundy. End of his naval career.

    As long as it didn't go up his arse as well .

  • Posts: 19,339
    This Just in,a fascinating read :

    Secret SAS suicide mission to destroy Hitler's nuclear programme revealed after 75 years.

    Seventy-five years ago today a team of 36 hand-picked commandos boarded a flight of Horsa gliders, to assault a mystery target deep in enemy held territory.

    So secretive was their mission they didn’t even know what country they were flying into.

    All they had been told was that their actions might change the course of the war.

    Their mission – codenamed FRESHMAN – was launched on the orders of Winston Churchill who, together with US president Roosevelt, feared that Nazi Germany was two years ahead in the race to build the atom bomb.

    In June 1942 Churchill had risked flying across the Atlantic in a giant Boeing flying-boat, to meet with Roosevelt. The Allies’ fortunes in the war were at their very nadir, but it wasn’t that which most worried the two world leaders.

    Foremost on their minds was the terrifying prospect that Nazi Germany might win the race to build the bomb.

    The Germans had stolen a march on the Allies in the nuclear field. In 1938, German scientists were the first to split the uranium atom; that same year Nazi Germany had annexed much of Czechoslovakia, seizing Europe’s only uranium mine, in the mountainous Joachimsthal region.
    Having invaded Norway in May 1940, Nazi Germany seized the world’s only supply of ‘heavy water’- deuterium oxide – the moderator, or matrix, within which uranium breeds the material for a bomb, in a nuclear reactor.

    The following month Hitler had struck a further blow, as his blitzkrieg forces overran the headquarters of the Belgium company that mined the world’s richest source of uranium, in the Belgium Congo.

    Some 2,000 tonnes of high-purity uranium ore had been shipped by rail to the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute, in Berlin, where the uranverein – Nazi Germany’s uranium club - were busy building an experimental reactor, the uranmaschine .

    Faced with the terrifying proposition of Hitler winning the nuclear race, Churchill and Roosevelt decided on two key priorities: first, they would pool scientific and technical resources in the Manhattan Project, to build an Allied bomb; second, they had to sabotage Hitler’s nuclear programme.

    At only one place did it appear remotely vulnerable: the heavy water plant, situated at Vemork, on the remote and snowbound Hardanger plateau, in central Norway.

    Weeks before the Special Operations Executive (SOE) – Churchill’s Ministry for Ungentlemanly Warfare – had parachuted a four-man team, codenamed GROUSE, into the region, to keep watch on the massive plant.

    Upon Churchill’s return to Britain, he ordered it be destroyed. There was no time to lose.

    Britain’s nuclear experts – working under the cover name of Tube Alloys - had warned of the seemingly impossible. Britain should prepare for an attack by Nazi Germany using “fission products”; the by-products of a working nuclear reactor engineered into a crude radiation bomb.

    “Precautions should be taken to avoid a surprise attack. This could be done by the regular operation of suitable methods of detection … routine tests should be carried out in large towns … Special precautions to preserve secrecy have to be taken.”

    In short, Britain was preparing for the unthinkable - a nuclear attack on its cities. The SOE and Combined Operations had to act.

    Mountbatten, Chief of Combined Operations, wrote to Churchill, laying out his plans for Freshman. “Thirty-six all ranks of the Airborne Division will be flown in two gliders to destroy the Power Station, electrical plant and stocks of “heavy water” … When they [the Nazis] have 5 tons they will be able to start production of a new form of explosive a thousand times more potent than any in use today ...”

    Churchill replied: “Approved … W.S.C.”
    Freshman involved a pair of wooden-hulled Horsa gliders being town by Halifax bombers the 700-odd miles to their target. On the ground the four men of team Grouse would guide the commandos in, using signal lights and Rebecca-Eureka radio homing beacons.


    The chosen landing ground was the frozen Skoland Marshes on the shores of Lak Mos, eight miles from the Vemork plant. The gliders would carry folding bicycles. Upon landing the raiders would mount up and peddle hell-for-leather, their packs stuffed with enough explosives to decimate the massive, eight story concrete structure, having first fought their way through its fearsome defences.

    Being a glider pilot was one of the most dangerous roles in the entire British military, but this mission was truly off the scale. Combined Operations ran the Freshman plan past Major John ‘Skinner’ Wilson, the outspoken former scoutmaster who ran the SOE’s Scandinavian Section.

    Wilson had sent the Grouse team into Norway, and typically his response to Freshman didn’t pull any punches.

    “Of all countries, Norway is the least suitable for glider operations,” he wrote. “Its landing grounds are few; its mountains thickly clustered, precipitous and angry … The plateau is noted for sudden up-and-down air currents powerful enough to make a bucking bronco of a Horsa glider.”

    “The landing-site would be difficult to identify if clouds obscured the moon … The night landing of a fragile craft in an area known for its fissures and ridges, huge boulders and outcrops of rock would be extremely hazardous.”

    The fact that Operation Freshman got the green light regardless, reflected how desperate the Allies were to strike back at the Nazi’s nuclear programme. Vemork had to be destroyed at all costs.
    Overall command of Freshman fell to Lieutenant Colonel Henneker, of the Royal Engineers Airborne Division. In recruiting a team for the forthcoming raid he faced a seemingly impossible task. He had to ask for volunteers for a mission no details of which he could reveal, not even the target country.


    Henneker - his craggy face hardened by his experiences fighting the Germans, in France - told the men that while they were all ‘keen as mustard’ to see some action, the forthcoming mission was extremely dangerous.

    Its outcome might determine the fortunes of the war. If they failed, the Germans might seize victory within six months. In short, the stakes could not be higher.

    It says much for the calibre of his men that all stepped forward. The oldest at thirty-one was Ernest Bailey, just back from leave in his native Hampshire. The youngest was Gerland Williams, of Doncaster, who’d just celebrated his eighteenth birthday. Then there was Bill Bray, a former truck driver whose wife was due to give birth in three months.

    Wallis Jackson was a well-built twenty-one-year old, with three sisters back in his native Leeds. A natural at handling explosives, Jackson had a surprisingly soft side to his character. He was in the habit of penning letters to his mother, full of affection and hope for the fortunes of the war.


    There was nothing that Jackson could write home about the forthcoming mission. All were forbidden from breathing a word, and in any case he - like his brother warriors - knew nothing.

    An agreed cover story had to be provided, to explain why they would disappear for weeks of punishing commando training. They were to say they were taking part in ‘The Washington Competition’, an endurance contest held against their American sister unit.

    The plan for Freshman gave a sense of the scale of the task. Of the Vemork plant, it stated: ‘This, the world’s largest, is housed in an eight-story building … The building is of ferro concrete, 45 metres high and strengthened internally with ferro concrete beams and supporting pillars.”

    The raiders had to be capable of fighting their way into the plant, and setting the explosives to tear it to ruins. After which they were somehow supposed to escape across 200 miles of snowbound wilderness, to neutral Sweden.

    The specialists at MI9 - the secret wartime escape and evasion agency - didn’t rate their chances. Major de Bruyne, one of MI9’s escape experts, pointed out that fighting a running battle over such an extent of hostile terrain was basically a non-starter.

    He feared none would make it.

    Even so, key Norwegian phrases were taught to the Freshman volunteers, including: ‘Jeg har vert u tog Kopt lit proviant til Mor’ - I’ve just been out buying stores for mother; and ‘Unskyld men jeg ma hurtigst til tannlegern’ - Sorry, but I must get to the dentist as quickly as possible.

    MI9 advised that second phrase was, “to be spoken with stone or cork in mouth”.

    Wilson wasn’t convinced. How were the raiders supposed to cross hundreds of miles of wilderness in the midst of winter, hounded by the enemy? They were sending in a “suicide squad”, he objected, with little prospect of any getting out alive.

    To make matters worse the weather in Norway was proving atrocious that winter. The gliders might take off in perfect conditions in Britain, only to fly into a hellish storm over the target.

    But Freshman went ahead, regardless.

    Dawn on 19 November 1942 proved grey, drizzly and drear at RAF Skitten, in the far north of Scotland. Team Grouse had radioed in a relatively up-beat weather report, so Freshman was ruled a go.


    Shortly before zero hour Colonel Henneker gathered his men for a final briefing. They were commanded by lieutenants Alexander Allen and David Mehtven. Each officer knew that should the other party not make it, he was to lead his own to execute the attack.

    ‘Whatever happens,’ Henneker stressed, ‘someone must arrive at the objective to do the job. Detection is no excuse for halting.’

    His briefing done Henneker wished his men good luck.

    They gathered their kit and weaponry - each carried a Sten - and stepped out into the dusk. They’d been issued with silk ‘escape maps’, which were in fact a ruse. They showed a false route dotted in blue; they were to be scattered around the scene of the attack, in the hope of throwing off their pursuers.

    Two lines of men - fresh-faced; most in their late teens and early twenties - boarded the Horsas. The ground-crew closed the hinged tail-entries of the gliders, and the raiders were boxed into their wooden coffins.

    At 6.45pm the Halifax bombers clawed into the dark and soggy overcast, each with its four radial engines straining to drag the 7,045-kilo deadweight of the glider, on its 360-foot tow-line.

    RAF Skitten’s radio room sent a short message to both SOE and Combined Operations headquarters: Freshman was in the air. Now, the wait.

    The lead Halifax – A for Apple - laboured ever higher, eventually breaking free of the cloud. Tug and glider turned toward the northeast and set a course for Norway.

    Some three hours later A for Apple’s navigator had by skilful dead reckoning brought them to the exact point at which they had planned to cross the Norwegian coast - no small feat of navigation, after traversing hundreds of miles of the North Sea.

    All eyes scoured the ground. It was a truly beautiful night. The moon was bright, the clouds light and fluffy, visibility very good. In fact, these were near-perfect conditions for such a mission.

    Having cleared the first mountain range, A for Apple set a course for Vemork, following a distinctive chain of lakes which should lead directly to the release point. But as the Halifax thundered onwards the mood in the cockpit darkened.

    Smoke fingered up from a spool of electrical wiring. Second later it burned out: their Rebecca homing device had just gone kaput. With only their maps to guide them now the crew of the lead tug - with glider in tow - zigzagged across the hostile skies.

    Below them the dark valleys were mercifully clear of fog. But still the frozen silhouette of Lake Mos - like a squiggly ‘Y’ lying on its side - eluded them. They kept searching, twisting this way and that through the dark heavens.

    To their rear, B for Baker was faring little better: their Eureka had also malfunctioned.

    Finally, A for Apple’s crew got a fix on their position: they were within twenty miles of the landing zone. Seven sets of eyes scoured the Hardanger plateau. But where was the welcome that the ground party had promised?

    In the darkness below not a twinkle of light was to be seen.

    In truth, team Grouse had set the markers exactly as agreed: a set of lights, arranged in an ‘L’ - L-for-London – with their team leader at the apex, flashing a torch into the night sky.


    Team Grouse heard the lead Halifax droning in the heavens. It approached, but passed overhead, apparently having missed them. Their long wait in the snowbound wilderness - and tonight’s labour on the Skoland Marshes – would go unrewarded.

    No gliders came.

    High above them A for Apple had detected no telltale lights. Thin cloud had blown in. Maybe that had obscured them. Either way, the Halifax was forced to turn for home.

    Low on fuel, the pilot steered the most direct course for Scotland. They should be able to tow the glider to within 30 miles of the Scottish coast, at which point they’d ditch in the sea.

    A dense bank of cloud loomed ahead, rising to 12,000 feet. Towing such a heavy load, the Halifax had to go to full take-off revs to climb, which burned up the fuel.

    Gradually, A for Apple - and the Horsa behind her - gained altitude. She topped 10,000 feet. At 11,000 she hit the first clouds. By the time she lumbered out of the cloud-tops at 12,000 she’d been airborne for over four hours.

    In climbing the aircraft had collected ice. It was glistening on the propellers, and spinning off in the moonlight like shards of broken glass.

    More worryingly, the glider - plus its towrope - felt like a dead-weight. The Horsa was icing up too. The tug and its tow were fighting a losing battle. A for Apple went to full throttle, but with a sickening sense of inevitability she started to drift back into the freezing mass.

    Below them lurked jagged-edged peaks, some rearing as high as 6,000 feet. The pair of iced-up aircraft sunk into the clouds. All lights were switched on, as those in the Halifax strained their eyes for any obstructions looming out of the murk.


    At 7,000 feet A for Apple drifted into the thickest cloud. The Halifax hit heavy turbulence and seemed to shudder end-to-end. She careered into a second air-pocket. As she hit a third, bucking like a wild pony, the ice-encrusted rope linking tow to glider snapped in two.

    The Horsa had broken loose and was spinning into the dark storm.

    The heavy glider was thrown about like a toy in a giant’s hands. The grooves in the Horsa’s corrugated metal floor were there to prevent vomit from making it slippery underfoot. But as the Horsa bucked and twisted, so the ashen-faced raiders turned sick with fear.

    In the cockpit, the glider’s pilots, seated side by side, wrestled with all their strength at the controls. To their rear the raiders gripped their fold-down seats for the hellish bare-knuckle ride.

    From all sides the mountain winds cried out in shrieks and howls. The thin wooden fuselage answered, creaking and groaning horribly as it threatened to tear itself to pieces.

    The raiders might be strapped in, but not all their equipment was. It tumbled about, cannoning off the plywood ribs of the hold, and beating out a terrible funeral rhythm.

    As the cloud thickened, so the pilots tried to steer blind for where the ground had to be. At 2,000 feet they tore out of the base of the cloud, and got a glimpse of their surroundings. Snow, rock and ice flashed past the cockpit at a dizzying speed.

    ‘DITCHING STATIONS!’ they cried.

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    The fifteen raiders and their officer just had time to link arms, before the glider ploughed into the mountainside. The glass nosecone crumpled like tinfoil, the pilots being killed instantly.


    As the Horsa careered onwards, gouging itself to pieces on rocks and boulders, so the wings were torn asunder. When the wreck of the aircraft finally came to a halt, the fuselage had been ripped open in several places, a trail of equipment and weaponry being vomited across the frozen mountainside.

    The miracle was that some of the raiders had even survived.

    If anything, B for Baker suffered a blacker fate. Likewise, tug and glider had been forced to turn for home, and into the same freezing cloud mass as had claimed the first glider. In terrible visibility and icing-up, B for Baker had been forced to descend.

    Just as B for Baker had crossed the Norwegian coastline, she had clipped the peak of a hidden obstruction - the 1,700 foot Haestad Mountain. The Halifax smashed herself to fiery ruin on the far side. None of the aircrew survived.

    To their rear the Horsa broke free and swooped across a thickly-wooded valley, before the topmost boughs smashed into the cockpit, killing both pilots instantly.

    The Horsa came to rest with its nose sheared off and its fuselage badly mangled, but the brave actions of the pilots had at least saved the lives of many in the rear. There had been terrible injuries, but most had survived.
    As the wind shook the wreckage, and thick flurries of snow blasted through the Horsa’s shattered entrails, their commander, Lieutenant Allen, wondered where on earth they had come to rest, and what in the name of God he was supposed to do.


    It was the occupiers of Norway who would answer Allen’s question, and that of his fellow officer, at the other crash site. First on the scene were German soldiers, who’d heard reports of crash-landings.

    But under his recently-issued ‘Commando Order’, Hitler had decreed: ‘Henceforth all enemy troops encountered by German troops during so-called commando operations … are to be exterminated to the last man … If such men appear to be about to surrender, no quarter should be given to them ...’

    Unbeknown to them, the Freshman survivors could expect little mercy. All who had survived the crash-landings were captured. Within forty-eight hours they had been subjected to terrible torture – in an effort to force them to talk – after which they were executed to the last man.

    Including aircrew, 41 had died. They had set out with pure hearts and with the bravest of intentions - volunteers all. Through no fault of their own they had been deprived of even the barest chance of hitting their target.
    In short, Freshman had been a gallant and brave – but suicidal - undertaking.


    In London, Major Wilson heard the terrible news and contemplated the worst: the Germans now had to know for sure that the Allies were aware of Vemork’s crucial role in the race for nuclear supremacy, and were determined to destroy it.

    The raiders had even carried maps with the target circled in blue pencil. Defences at Vemork would be tripled, Wilson feared, the enemy’s vigilance redoubled.

    It would take two subsequent SOE operations - codenamed Swallow and Gunnerside, and masterminded by Wilson – to deal a knockout blow to the heavy water plant.

    By February 1943 Nazi Germany’s ability to produce and utilize heavy water was all but at an end, and by war’s end the Allies had thankfully won the race for nuclear supremacy.
  • CommanderRossCommanderRoss The bottom of a pitch lake in Eastern Trinidad, place called La Brea
    Posts: 8,061
    Impressive. I knew about the raids that were succesfull (not in detail, mind you) but I wasn't aware of this first failed attempt. Very, very brave men indeed.
  • Posts: 19,339
    Impressive. I knew about the raids that were succesfull (not in detail, mind you) but I wasn't aware of this first failed attempt. Very, very brave men indeed.

    They were indeed...a horrible way to die though,thanks to Hitlers 'Commando Order' which they weren't aware of.

  • ww2 is pretty simple to summarize though, germany and japan had the allies to their knees but then the soviets got the better of the nazi's and won most pivotal battles since THE Moscow nazi attempt. Then in come the americans in 1943 in Italy and in 1944 in France to repel finally the nazi's off of France's mainland.

    France had capitulated way before and the british were totally helpless of the v-1 and v-2 late in the war, no way britain would have won without Stalin's victory AND the entry of America in the conflict, that would been catastrophic if there wasn't a Pearl Harbor.

    let's not forget Asia was dominated massively by the japanese invaders everywhere and only lost grounds to Douglas MacArthur and his army . The nukes and stalin's intervention in china sealed the deal

    WW2 is by far the most interesting conflict of all time, 70 millions claimed dead!
  • ThunderfingerThunderfinger Das Boot Hill
    Posts: 45,489
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  • Posts: 19,339
    'Bookkeeper of Auschwitz', 96, fit to serve jail term: German court.

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    A former Nazi SS guard known as the "Bookkeeper of Auschwitz", now 96, is fit to serve his four-year prison sentence, a German court ruled Wednesday.

    Oskar Groening was found guilty in July 2015 of being an accessory to the murders of 300,000 people at the Nazi death camp.

    But he filed an appeal for the sentence to be suspended.

    "Based on expert opinion, the superior regional court finds that the convicted individual is fit to serve out the term despite his advanced age", said the court in Celle in northern Germany.

    Incarcerating Groening would not violate his fundamental rights, it said, arguing that "appropriate precautionary measures" could be taken to meet any special needs arising from his old age.

    Groening has been living at home despite his conviction, and given his age, it has until now been unclear if he would actually be jailed.

    Making the case for his imprisonment, German prosecutors have said that a court doctor has determined that Groening is able to serve his sentence, on condition he is given appropriate nursing and medical care while in detention.

    Groening worked as an accountant at Auschwitz, sorting and counting the money taken from those killed or used as slave labour, and shipping it back to his Nazi superiors in Berlin.

    More than one million European Jews died between 1940 and 1945 at Auschwitz before it was liberated by Soviet forces.


  • CommanderRossCommanderRoss The bottom of a pitch lake in Eastern Trinidad, place called La Brea
    Posts: 8,061
    Le Chiffre, but then far worse.
  • edited December 2017 Posts: 19,339
    Interesting article here :

    Adolf Hitler's Neighbor Was a Jewish Boy. Now He's Telling His Story.

    Edgar Feuchtwanger was 5 years old when Adolf Hitler looked at him for the first time.

    It was 1929. The child peered out of his window in Munich and watched the future chancellor of Germany step out of a black automobile. Hitler glanced up and made eye contact with the boy. That was when the boy's nanny, Rosie, slammed the window shut and made him go to bed.

    Some time later, Feuchtwanger was taking a walk with Rosie in his neighborhood when the same man emerged from a building and entered a vehicle. "He looked at me quite benevolently, because he had no clue who I was," says Feuchtwanger. "People in the street shouted immediately, 'Heil Hitler!' But he didn't salute back. He just lifted his hat a little bit. And then he got into the car."

    Every kid grows up with a mean neighbor. For Feuchtwanger, that neighbor would eventually be responsible for the systematic genocide of six million Jews. And Feuchtwanger’s prominent literary family was Jewish.

    In 1929, Hitler was on the rise, his power growing; he took up residence at Prinzregentenplatz 16, in a luxurious nine-room apartment visible from the boy’s childhood window. “I knew he wasn’t a good thing,” Feuchtwanger says, speaking via Skype in his German-British accent. His parents were politically engaged; they read the papers and paid close attention to their neighbor’s virulent anti-semitism. “What nobody knew was that he was going to turn the whole world upside down.”

    The boy is now 93—and likely one of the last surviving humans to have lived in close proximity to Hitler and encountered him regularly in the flesh. Feuchtwanger eventually became a writer and historian, teaching for three decades at the University of Southampton in England. Much of his academic research has focused on European empires of the 19th century, but his latest book, Hitler, My Neighbor: Memories of a Jewish Childhood, 1929-1939, is more personal. It chronicles his 10 years of living alongside a man who would become the modern definition of evil.

    Composed of diaristic vignettes, Hitler, My Neighbor offers a singular portrait of 1930s Germany, unique both for its intimate glimpses of Hitler in semi-private moments and for its point of view. The narrative unfolds from a child’s perspective but benefits from an adult historian’s attention to detail.

    The book begins with countryside picnics, childhood fantasies—an idyllic pre-war Germany. By the early 1930s, Feuchtwanger had come to fear the man with the dark mustache. He listened to his elders discuss the prospect of Hitler's rise in worried tones. His father considered Hitler “disturbed, bitter, paranoid, violent and—most of all—dangerous.” His uncle, the novelist and playwright Lion Feuchtwanger, insisted the Nazi party could never win. Every day he worried that Hitler would discover that his family was Jewish. “He presumably could see my apartment,” says Feuchtwanger, who watched as Nazi associates came and went, and as protesters and Nazis clashed violently in the street.

    In 1933, Hitler became chancellor and things changed quickly. The Nazis occupied one third of the seats in the Reichstag. The Nuremberg Laws went into effect: Feuchtwanger's parents were stripped of their rights, his father lost his publishing job and at school he was fed Nazi propaganda as though it were arithmetic. Eventually his beloved Rosie was gone; Nazi laws forbade Jews from employing nannies with “German blood.” Soon he was encountering signs reading “No dogs or Jews.”

    In 1938, Feuchtwanger’s father was arrested and imprisoned at Dachau. The family’s possessions were seized. Miraculously, he survived and was freed that December. The younger Feuchtwanger, then 14, traveled alone to England by train the following year. His parents secured the immigration paperwork and soon followed, beginning a new life together far away from Hitler.

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    Reading Hitler, My Neighbor today, it is difficult not to think about the emboldened presence of hate groups and neo-Nazi ideologies in Donald Trump’s America. The specter of demagoguery on the rise in Germany will remind some American readers of 2015 and 2016, including Feuchtwanger’s elders scoffing at Hitler’s chances of rising to power. (“But that’s impossible!” Feuchtwanger remembers his uncle saying of the Nazis coming to power. “The country’s far too republican to vote for them.”) These eerie parallels were unintended; the memoir was written well before Trump’s election.

    Feuchtwanger does not believe that white supremacists will have the same power here that the Nazis did in Germany. He seems to regard them as fringe groups, whose influence exists outside the government. Then again, like his uncle, he didn’t expect the recent election to play out the way it did. “Trump completely puzzles me. Why on earth was he elected or selected as a Republican candidate? One doesn't really know what his plans are, whether he has any plans or whether he has any rationale.”

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    He was more disturbed by the xenophobic sentiments stirred up by the Brexit vote in England, where he still lives today. “Immigrants are blamed a lot here for everything,” he says. “I didn't like that vote at all, not at all.”

    Feuchtwanger says he is now finished with writing, but he continues to travel and actively speak about his experiences. Eighty-eight years after becoming Hitler’s neighbor, he is glad to have experienced what he did. He is a historian by profession, and he has seen extraordinary history. “I am in a way a witness, aren't I?” he muses. “In me, there’s somebody who has this firsthand knowledge of the whole damn thing. I’m quite proud of that. I survived.”

    If he, and his book, were to accomplish one thing, it would be to encourage vigilance: “You cannot be too careful about prejudice and anti-Semitism,” he says. “It’s always lurking.”
  • 41faCy0AIyL.jpg
    Case Red: The Collapse of France by Robert Forczyk
    Meticulously researched, revisionist history at its best.

    Not for the casual military history enthusiast, American historian Forczyk's latest work is a deep dive into aspects of the 1940 campaign in the West that have been almost universally ignored in accounts of the conflict ever since. As he has convincingly done with the Eastern Front in his previous works, Forczyk demolishes a catalogue of myths that have surrounded the fall of France in WWII. Notably:

    The Maginot Line was NOT a "white elephant". It did its job; the chain of fortresses was properly integrated into French defense strategy, and was, in that respect, actually cost-effective. The truly pointless drain on French military spending, producing next to ZERO value for the money, was the French Navy... The construction of numerous battleships, cruisers, etc., and a hugely expensive North African naval base in the 1930s cost far more than the Maginot Line to build, and contributed next to NOTHING to France's defense against Germany.

    The French Army had excellent weapons. French arms production began ramping up in a major way after Hitler came to power, producing exactly the weapons needed to defeat the panzers: the Hotchkiss 47mm anti-tank gun and the Char B-1 heavy tank -- the best weapons of their kind in the world in 1940. Re-equipment and motorization of the French Army was underway when the hammer fell. (The German success of 1940 would have been impossible in 1941.) The biggest French failures: The French Air Force did not ramp up/expand in tandem with the army and was poorly led; the most damaging blunders in terms of force structure/equipment in the French armed forces were the aforementioned expenditure on a near-useless battle fleet, the army's failure to motorize its engineering units (key bridges were not blown up because horse-drawn engineer battalions could not reach them in time), and a lack of radios at both the lower & higher HQ level.

    No shortage of capable French officers; French troop morale was good prior to Dunkirk. Yes, leadership at the top was not up to snuff, dithering at critical moments. But France had its share of dynamic, experienced officers chomping at the bit to get at the Germans. French troops fought well and hard in numerous engagements.
    It was more or less (bad) luck and circumstance that some of the most mediocre units in the French army (second and third-class "Reserve B" divisions), badly led, were stationed at what turned out to be the most critical point: Sedan.

    British leadership and forces were no better than the French, and often worse. The French generals should have no claim to infamy over the Brits... Lord Gort dithered and screwed up every bit as badly as Gamelin & Weygand. BEF performance was generally poor. The TA (Territorial Army) units the U.K. sent to France were every bit as bad as the worst of the French "Reserve B" divisions.

    Churchill's refusal to base more RAF fighters -- especially Spitfires & Hurricanes -- in France may have doomed the whole enterprise. Allied commanders were left almost completely in the dark about German movements because RAF & French reconnaissance planes simply could not get through... Without capable fighter escorts to protect them, they were slaughtered by the Luftwaffe. French Supreme HQ begged -- begged -- for Spitfires and Hurricanes to protect the recon planes. The Brits snubbed them, causing deep friction in the coalition.

    British behavior negatively impacted French morale. Half the BEF had to be given French weapons -- most importantly the excellent anti-tank guns -- because their equipment sucked. British TA units arrived in France lacking even basic equipment and only partially trained. (Barely fit for rear-area guard duty.) The highhandedness & arrogance shown by many British officers rubbed the French the wrong way and did nothing to engender close cooperation. (General Alan Brooke, while being evacuated from Dunkirk, boorishly wrote in his diary that the French army was nothing more than a "useless rabble"... at the very moment that 40,000 French soldiers were fighting and dying in order for the BEF to escape.)

    The REAL disaster of 1940 was the performance of the Belgians. Belgian political and military leadership was utterly pathetic. French & Brit forces moved into Belgium (the "Dyle Plan") to find defenses unmanned; the Belgian army in general displayed a shockingly feckless attitude to defending their own country. Belgian incompetence severely impacted everything the French and British were trying to do -- more so probably than any other factor.

  • CommanderRossCommanderRoss The bottom of a pitch lake in Eastern Trinidad, place called La Brea
    Posts: 8,061
    Cool, interesting book! It's a pity he didn't include the Dutch defences as well (the attack was after all simultaniously). It would be interesting to see what a more neutral historian thought of what went right/ wrong.
  • edited December 2017 Posts: 617
    Forczyk gives higher marks to the Dutch in comparison to Belgium. Similarly handicapped by obsolete weapons, and with a much smaller army than Belgium, they nevertheless put up a stiff fight... if only for a few days. The psychological shock of the bombing of Rotterdam (and the potential for repeat performances by the Luftwaffe) was simply too much for the Dutch leadership. (It should be remembered that, unlike Belgium, the Netherlands was neutral in WWI and had not seen major conflict since Napoleon's day.)

    In contrast, once the German attack was underway, French troops arrived in Belgium to find outposts, blocking positions and fortifications unmanned by the Belgian army. Supplies and materials sent by the French -- on request -- to the then-still neutral Belgians during the "Phony War", weeks & months before (such as barbed wire, mines, concrete mix, etc.), were discovered stockpiled and in storage, untouched and unused.
  • CommanderRossCommanderRoss The bottom of a pitch lake in Eastern Trinidad, place called La Brea
    Posts: 8,061
    Wow, didn't know that.
    As in any war the Dutch had their heros and losers too (especially the commander who shot the planes'fuel tanks so his pilots couldn't fly to England when the Dutch surrendered) and yes those sort of actions were related to not knowing anymore what a war entails. But it isn't completely fair: the Dutch last war was after all in the Dutch East Indies, 'pacifying' Atceh in 1904. Still, credit is due for the soldiers fighting at the Grebbeberg and Afsluitdijk defences. And the defenders of Den Haag and Rotterdam.
  • ThunderfingerThunderfinger Das Boot Hill
    Posts: 45,489
    1Gem1n7.jpg
  • Posts: 7,653
    Wow, didn't know that.
    As in any war the Dutch had their heros and losers too (especially the commander who shot the planes'fuel tanks so his pilots couldn't fly to England when the Dutch surrendered) and yes those sort of actions were related to not knowing anymore what a war entails. But it isn't completely fair: the Dutch last war was after all in the Dutch East Indies, 'pacifying' Atceh in 1904. Still, credit is due for the soldiers fighting at the Grebbeberg and Afsluitdijk defences. And the defenders of Den Haag and Rotterdam.

    You do know that the Dutch army did stop the German paratroop invasion in such a way that the Germans needed to bomb Rotterdam as the invasion was on the point of failing and the land war was faltering as well. The Dutch army with its outdated and sometimes non-existent military hardware on bikes often were do guerrilla stuff the Germans were not quite ready to face. It wasn't until later in Crete that the German High command dared to used the German Paratrooper force again. This time with considerable more succes.
    The German were prepared to fight an organised Dutch army which did not exist as such.
  • DragonpolDragonpol https://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    Posts: 17,923
    1Gem1n7.jpg

    Was the Pope a Catholic?
  • Posts: 7,653
    Dragonpol wrote: »
    1Gem1n7.jpg

    Was the Pope a Catholic?

    Do bears shit in the woods?
  • CommanderRossCommanderRoss The bottom of a pitch lake in Eastern Trinidad, place called La Brea
    Posts: 8,061
    SaintMark wrote: »
    Dragonpol wrote: »
    1Gem1n7.jpg

    Was the Pope a Catholic?

    Do bears shit in the woods?

    Polar bears?
    SaintMark wrote: »
    Wow, didn't know that.
    As in any war the Dutch had their heros and losers too (especially the commander who shot the planes'fuel tanks so his pilots couldn't fly to England when the Dutch surrendered) and yes those sort of actions were related to not knowing anymore what a war entails. But it isn't completely fair: the Dutch last war was after all in the Dutch East Indies, 'pacifying' Atceh in 1904. Still, credit is due for the soldiers fighting at the Grebbeberg and Afsluitdijk defences. And the defenders of Den Haag and Rotterdam.

    You do know that the Dutch army did stop the German paratroop invasion in such a way that the Germans needed to bomb Rotterdam as the invasion was on the point of failing and the land war was faltering as well. The Dutch army with its outdated and sometimes non-existent military hardware on bikes often were do guerrilla stuff the Germans were not quite ready to face. It wasn't until later in Crete that the German High command dared to used the German Paratrooper force again. This time with considerable more succes.
    The German were prepared to fight an organised Dutch army which did not exist as such.

    Well I'm aware of the official history of our country, yes. In which on a sideline is always said that the Belgians were fighting for 8, so three more days. I wasn't aware though thir armee was shambles.

    I'm also not quite convinced this 'Lou de Jong' version is correct, as Mr. De Jong by now is famed for the heroic 'we were all good' version instead of the factual version where most of the Dutch kept their heads down or even heplt the occupying forces. There were more Dutch joining the SS then in the resistance. I can tell you that if the Nazi's had won the Dutch would've played a 'glamourous role' for their version of history.

    I've alway been more interested in the version where you accept that both sides think they're on the right side of history. With that perspective it's a lot easier to understand why people do what they do. I wrote (and published) my thesis on the Fascist (NSB) mayor of Haarlem, who thought he was doing the right thing. (http://www.lulu.com/shop/le-dinger/slaaplekker-haarlem/hardcover/product-2279300.html)

    In that way you can also see where the 'good side' went wrong, and perhaps learn from it for the future.

    i.e. the Soviets went from beeing the evil to beeing allies (first partly occupying Poland in the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, then beeing invaded and ending up fighting the Nazis) to beeing the evil ones again after the war. Somehow we think we 'won' the cold war, but if you ask me it looks more like we lost, only a couple of decades later hen the Soviets did. Still we see Russia as the imminent danger and European politicians fear the Russians will invade Europe. Is that a real threat or do they need this thread to bolster their power?

  • Posts: 19,339
    Nazi Torture Doctor's 'Jewish Skeleton Collection' at Center of University Probe.

    BBIJTGC.img?h=402&w=728&m=6&q=60&o=f&l=f

    One of France’s top universities is now investigating whether remains from the mutilated victims of one of Nazi Germany’s most infamous physicians are somewhere on campus, France 24 reported.

    The probe began as a documentary about the Holocaust, Hippocrates in Hell, was broadcast in France over the weekend, raising questions over whether the remains of 86 Jews, tortured and killed by August Hirt, may still be in the anatomy collection of the University of Strasbourg.

    The Nazi anatomy professor used the premises of the Anatomical Institute of Reich University in Strasbourg to carry out medical experiments on the bodies of Jewish victims who had been gassed in the Natzweiler-Struthof concentration camp.

    Hirt’s "Jewish skeleton collection" was part of his attempt to prove the Nazi party's racial ideology, which held that Jewish people were an inferior race.

    Hirt's torturous “medical experiments” were akin to the work of other war criminals of the regime, such as Josef Mengele and Carl Clauberg, who were handed control of Auschwitz’s prisoners.

    All of Hirt’s victims were supposed to be buried after Strasbourg was liberated in 1944, but the university still has 20 boxes bearing the Nazi doctor’s name.


    Following the documentary's claims, the university has contacted independent experts to investigate whether the remains of Holocaust victims are still somewhere on its premises.

    The documentary, which followed some of the same lines of research that Cymes’s book of the same name also focused on, discusses myriad ways in which the regime’s doctors used concentration camp prisoners for political and military gain.

    Experiments involved testing the human body's ability to withstand mustard gas, extreme cold and oxygen deprivation.


    Cymes, whose Polish-born grandparents perished in Auschwitz, said he will continue his enquiries. "The subject is very personal for me and even though it is psychologically hard maybe I will continue digging for other films," he said.
  • DaltonCraig007DaltonCraig007 They say, "Evil prevails when good men fail to act." What they ought to say is, "Evil prevails."
    edited February 2018 Posts: 15,696
    Not exactly WW2 related, but about the Cold War: As of 2 days ago, more time has passed since the Berlin Wall fell than the duration it was up. 10,315 days between August 13th, 1961 and November 9th, 1989 vs 10,316 days between November 9th, 1989 and February 6th, 2018.
  • CommanderRossCommanderRoss The bottom of a pitch lake in Eastern Trinidad, place called La Brea
    Posts: 8,061
    Christ I miss the cold war! Well, not really as I wouldn't have met my significantly better half....

    But that is indeed a milestone.

    For those who speak German:

    https://www.berlin-mauer.de/videos/walter-ulbricht-zum-mauerbau-530/

    Ulbricht: "Nobody has the intention of building a wall"
  • DragonpolDragonpol https://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    edited February 2018 Posts: 17,923
    Not exactly WW2 related, but about the Cold War: As of 2 days ago, more time has passed since the Berlin Wall fell than the duration it was up. 10,315 days between August 13th, 1961 and November 9th, 1989 vs 10,316 days between November 9th, 1989 and February 6th, 2018.

    Wow, that's interesting. Hard to believe too! Time waits for no man.
  • CommanderRossCommanderRoss The bottom of a pitch lake in Eastern Trinidad, place called La Brea
    Posts: 8,061
    Some interesting part of a documentary about Jane Seymour and her mother's experiences in the war:


    an the full documentary:

  • Posts: 19,339
    Has anyone got any personal theories re the L8 airship,which,in 1942,was investigating an oil slick and the crew literally 'disappeared' never to be seen again ?

    The airship kept going until it finally crashed in a town centre,where,upon investigation they found a briefcase still there with important secret war documents,and everything exactly as it should be.
    The doors were open.

    Fascinating stuff but bloody frustrating.
  • Creasy47Creasy47 In Cuba with Natalya.Moderator
    Posts: 40,670
    barryt007 wrote: »
    Has anyone got any personal theories re the L8 airship,which,in 1942,was investigating an oil slick and the crew literally 'disappeared' never to be seen again ?

    The airship kept going until it finally crashed in a town centre,where,upon investigation they found a briefcase still there with important secret war documents,and everything exactly as it should be.
    The doors were open.

    Fascinating stuff but bloody frustrating.

    No, but you just got me reading into it and you're right, it's damn fascinating. I love a good mystery like this.
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