15 March 2018

Ritterkreuz Award Ceremony of Wilhelm Knetsch at Stalingrad

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Date: Thursday, 15 October 1942
Place: Stalingrad, Soviet Union
Photographer: Unknown

Major Wilhelm Knetsch (Kommandeur Infanterie-Regiment 545 / 389.Infanterie-Division) receives the Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes (Knight’s Cross of the Iron Crosses) from General der Panzertruppe Friedrich Paulus (Oberbefehlshaber 6. Armee). Stalingrad, 15 October 1942. Knetsch already received the radio news about his award from 8 October 1942. During the attack on Stalingrad, Wilhelm Friedrich Karl Knetsch (26 February 1906 - 27 March 1982) was awarded the Deutsches Kreuz in Gold and the Ritterkreuz with a fortnight of each other, and the proud Paulus said that Knetsch was the best battalion commander in his entire army! Because of a severe illness, on 15 November 1942 he left the Stalingrad cauldron.

Source :
"Winter Storm: The Battle for Stalingrad and the Operation to Rescue 6th Army" by Hans Wijers

06 March 2018

Three German Commanders in St.-Lô area

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Date: Sunday, 16 July 1944
Place: Villebaudon, St.-Lô, Normandy, France
Photographer: Unknown

Three senior German commanders in the Battle against Allied troops in St.-Lô area, Normandy, 16 July 1944. From left to right: General der Fallschirmtruppe Eugen Meindl (Kommandierender General II. Fallschirmkorps), SS-Obergruppenführer und General der Waffen-SS Paul Hausser (Oberbefehlshaber 7. Armee), and Generalleutnant Dipl.Ing. Richard Schimpf (Kommandeur 3. Fallschirmjäger-Division). Behind Schimpf is SS-Hauptsturmführer Karl-Heinz Boska (Adjutant Oberbefehlshaber 7. Armee). In this meeting Meindl told his commander, Hausser, that the German defense position at St.-Lô was untenable any longer due to the superiority of the Allied forces on land and in the air. The next day Hausser forwarded this message to his commander, Generalfeldmarschall Erwin Rommel (Oberbefehlshaber Heeresgruppe B). Unknowingly, on the same day Rommel was badly wounded by Allied air strikes and went to the intensive treatment at the hospital! This photo is most likely taken at Villebaudon which is the base of II. Fallschirmkorps.


01 March 2018

Lieutenant Edward Henry “Butch” O’Hare in His Cockpit

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Date: Friday, 10 April 1942
Place: Kaneohe, Hawaii, United States of America
Photographer: Unknown

Lieutenant Edward Henry “Butch” O’Hare seated in the cockpit of his Grumman F4F "Wildcat" fighter, 3 April 1942. The plane is marked with five Japanese flags, representing the five enemy bombers he was credited with shooting down. On 20 February 1942, "Butch" O'Hare became the US Navy's first flying ace when he single-handedly attacked a formation of 9 Japanese heavy bombers approaching his aircraft carrier in Rabaul, and brought down 5. At that time, O'Hare and his wingman were the only U.S. Navy fighters available in the air when a second wave of Japanese bombers were attacking his aircraft carrier Lexington. O'Hare was on board the aircraft carrier USS Lexington, which had been assigned the task of penetrating enemy-held waters north of New Ireland. While still 450 miles from the harbor at Rabaul, at 10:15, the Lexington picked up an unknown aircraft on radar 35 miles from the ship. A six-plane combat patrol was launched, two fighters being directed to investigate the contact. These two planes, under command of Lieutenant Commander John Thach shot down a four-engined Kawanishi H6K4 Type 97 ("Mavis") flying boat about 43 miles out at 11:12. Later two other planes of the combat patrol were sent to another radar contact 35 miles ahead, shooting down a second Mavis at 12:02. A third contact was made 80 miles out, but reversed course and disappeared. At 15:42 a jagged vee signal drew the attention of the Lexington's radar operator. The contact then was lost, but reappeared at 16:25 forty-seven miles west and closing fast. Butch O'Hare, flying F4F Wildcat BuNo 4031 "White F-15", was one of several pilots launched to intercept the incoming 9 Japanese Mitsubishi G4M "Betty" bombers from 2nd Chutai of 4th Kōkūtai; at this time five had already been shot down. At 16:49, the Lexington's radar picked up a second formation of Bettys from 1st Chutai of 4th Kōkūtai only 12 miles out, on the disengaged side of the task force, completely unopposed. The carrier had only two Wildcats left to confront the intruders: Butch and his wingman "Duff" Dufilho. As the Lexington’s only protection, they raced eastward and arrived 1,500 feet above eight attacking Bettys nine miles out at 17:00. Dufilho’s guns were jammed and wouldn’t fire, leaving only O'Hare to protect the carrier. The enemy formation was a V of Vs flying very close together and using their rear-facing guns for mutual protection. O'Hare's Wildcat, armed with four 50-caliber guns, with 450 rounds per gun, had enough ammunition for about 34 seconds of firing. O'Hare's initial maneuver was a high-side diving attack employing accurate deflection shooting. He accurately placed bursts of gunfire into a Betty's right engine and wing fuel tanks; when the stricken craft of Nitō Hikō Heisō Tokiharu Baba (3rd Shotai) on the right side of the formation abruptly lurched to starboard, he ducked to the other side of the V formation and aimed at the enemy bomber of Ittō Hikō Heisō Bin Mori (3rd Shotai) on the extreme left. When he made his third and fourth firing passes, the Japanese planes were close enough to the American ships for them to fire their anti-aircraft guns. The five survivors managed to drop their ordnance, but all ten 250kg bombs missed. O'Hare's hits were so concentrated, the nacelle of a Betty jumped out of its mountings, after O'Hare blew up the leading Shōsa Takuzo Ito's Betty's port engine. O'Hare believed he had shot down five bombers, and damaged a sixth. Lieutenant Commander Thach arrived at the scene with other pilots of the flight, later reporting that at one point he saw three of the enemy bombers falling in flames at the same time. In fact, O'Hare destroyed only three Bettys: Nitō Hikō Heisō Tokiharu Baba's from 3rd Shotai, Ittō Hikō Heisō Susumu Uchiyama's (flying at left wing of the leading V, 1st Shotai) and the leader of the formation, Shōsa Takuzo Ito's. This last (flying on the head of leading V) Betty's left engine was hit at the time it dropped its ordnance. Its pilot Hikō Heisōchō Chuzo Watanabe tried to hit Lexington with his damaged plane. He missed and flew into the water near Lexington at 1712. Another two Bettys were damaged by O'Hare's attacks. Ittō Hikō Heisō Kodji Maeda (2nd Shotai, left wing of V) safely landed at Vunakanau airdrome and Ittō Hikō Heisō Bin Mori was later shot down by LT Noel Gayler ("White F-1", VF-3) when trying to escape 40 miles from Lexington. With his ammunition expended, O'Hare returned to his carrier, and was fired on accidentally but with no effect by a .50-caliber machine gun from the Lexington. O'Hare's fighter had, in fact, been hit by only one bullet during his flight, the single bullet hole in F-15's port wing disabling the airspeed indicator. According to Thach, Butch then approached the gun platform to calmly say to the embarrassed anti-aircraft gunner who had fired at him, "Son, if you don't stop shooting at me when I've got my wheels down, I'm going to have to report you to the gunnery officer." It is calculated that O'Hare had used only sixty rounds of ammunition for each bomber he destroyed; an impressive feat of marksmanship. In the opinion of Admiral Brown and of Captain Frederick C. Sherman, commanding the Lexington, Lieutenant O'Hare's actions may have saved the carrier from serious damage or even loss. By 19:00 all Lexington planes had been recovered except for two F4F-3 Wildcats shot down while attacking enemy bombers; both were lost while making steady, no-deflection runs from astern of their targets. The pilot of one fighter was rescued, the other went down with his aircraft. The Lexington returned after the New Guinea raid to Pearl Harbor for repairs and to have her obsolete 8-inch guns removed, transferring some of her F4F-3 fighter planes to the USS Yorktown (CV-5) including BuNox 4031 "White F-15" that O'Hare had flown during his famous mission. The pilot assigned to fly this aircraft to Yorktown was admonished by O'Hare just before take off to take good care of his plane. Moments later, the fighter unsuccessfully took off, rolling down the deck and into the water; the pilot was recovered, but "White F-15" was lost.

Sources :

19 December 2017

Unteroffizier Gerhard Proske from Jagdgeschwader 54 (JG 54)

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Date: Thursday, 1 October 1942
Place: Krasnowardeisk airfield, Kharkov, Ukraine (Soviet Union)
Photographer: Unknown

This picture show one of the pilots who flew in the shadows of the aces. He is Unteroffizier Gerhard Proske of 1.Staffel / Jagdgeschwader 54 (JG 54) near the tail of his Messerschmitt Bf 109 G-2 “Weiße 7”, Werknummer 10411. Note Gruppe and Geschwader emblem under the cockpit. Picture taken on 1 October 1942 on Krasnowardeisk airfield. Until this day Unteroffizier Proske, who had joined I.Gruppe/JG 54 during spring of 1941, accumulated 20 claims. Some of them while flying as Katschmarek (wingman) of Gruppenkommandeur Hauptmann Erich von Selle (2 July 1941 – 14 December 1941) and Hauptmann Franz Eckerle (14 December 1941 – 14 February 1942. KIA). Gerhard Proske was awarded the Eisernes Kreuz I.Klasse and Frontflugspange in Bronze. Also note the fur lined trousers. On 30 January 1944 Feldwebel Gerhard Proske (take-off 08:30 hours with Focke-Wulf Fw 190 A-6 “Gelbe 1”, Werknummer 550899) was shot down by Russian fighters together with newcomer Obergefreiter Helmut Wilhelm (Fw 190 A-5 “Gelbe 2”, Werknummer 304719) during a familiarisation flight over the front area of Vitebsk-Boburisk. He was taken prisoner and return to Germany after the war. He accumulated a total 29 victory claims.

Source :
Luftwaffe im Focus - Edition No.1 2002

17 October 2016

The First Christmas of SS Division "Prinz Eugen"

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Date: Friday, 25 December 1942
Place: Yugoslavia
Photographer: Unknown

The first Christmas of the SS Volunteer Division "Prinz Eugen". Although the SS, being a pagan organisation, was essentially an opponent of Christianity – celebrating Christian holidays was nevertheless allowed within the organisation, because of the deep roots of this religion in Europe (that is, to avoid turning off the potential manpower). In the photo, the Banat ethnic Germans modestly celebrate their first and only peaceful wartime Christmas, before marching off to bloody battles across Yugoslavia. Their faces are already nostalgic and their thoughts directed towards home, to which most of them will never return.

Source :

16 October 2016

German Victory Parade in Belgrade

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Date: Sunday, 13 April 1941
Place: Belgrade, Yugoslavia
Photographer: Kriegsberichter Heinz Fremke from Propaganda-Kompanie (PK) 691

House of the National Assembly in Belgrade – then and now. After nine SS men from the "Reich" Division used the general confusion and formally captured the Yugoslav capital on 12 April 1941, a victory parade of the true conqueror of the city, the 1st Armoured Group, was held on 13 April at noon. In the (old) photo, tanks of the Panzer-Regiment 15 / 11.Panzer-Division "Gespensterdivision" (Ghost Division) parade in front of their commanders: standing in the centre is Generaloberst Ewald von Kleist (commander of the armoured group), to his right is Generalmajor Ludwig Crüwell (divisional commander), and on the left, in black uniform, is Oberstleutnant Gustav-Adolf Riebel (commander of the division's panzer Regiment). The defeat of Belgrade was also celebrated in the "Song of Armoured Group Kleist": "We were the victors of Belgrade; we defeated all resistance, and broke up with a false state!" Crüwell later fought under Rommel and after the war became chairman of the Africa Corps Veterans Association; Riebel was killed in 1942 at Stalingrad – and von Kleist ended his life in Soviet captivity, as a war criminal, in 1954. At the spot from which these three officers once proudly watched their rolling tanks – today stand the civilians, waiting for a bus.

Source :

07 March 2016

Relationship Between Japan and China During World War II

By: Francisco Meza

The animosity between Chinese and Japanese goes all the way back to the Mukden Incident. This September 18, 1931 incident, also labeled Manchurian Incident, was evidently faked by rogue Japanese military personnel. It was merely a pretext for Imperial Japan’s military invasion in 1931 of northeastern China (Manchuria). Within six months, the resourceful Japanese established Manchukuo, its puppet state. Japan’s ruse of war was swiftly exposed to the International community. It resulted in the diplomatic isolation of Japan, as well as, the nation’s exit from the League of Nations in March 1933. 

The Second Chinese-Japanese War
The Marco Polo Incident (July 7, 1937) resulted in a full-scale war between the two nations. Japan scored major victories, initially. China fought Japan with generous assistance from Germany, the US, and the Soviet Union until 1941. After Imperial Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, the war between the Asian giants merged into the greater conflict of WWII. This war, also known as the Pacific War, was the biggest Asian war ever.

This war was the culmination of the decades-long imperialist policy of Japan. Imperial Japan aimed to expand its influence militarily as well as politically to access raw material reserves of neighboring nations. Japan’s policy was essentially aggressive modernized militarism in the Asian-Pacific region. Japanese exploited the region’s labor to fuel its expansionist plans. Consequently, two nations—Japan’s immediate neighbors—suffered immensely. Korea and China suffered terribly in WWII and bore the brunt of Japanese atrocities. 

Japan Runs Into Stiff Resistance at Shanghai
Although Japan won the Battle of Shanghai, it was a long battle and the Chinese fought valiantly for three months. The Japanese army wasn’t expecting this level of resistance. And although the Chinese suffered heavy casualties, they destroyed 51 ships and 85 aircraft belonging to the enemy. This was the first of the 22 engagements in the second China-Japan war and the most bloodiest.

Japanese Soldiers Accused of Genocide
From Shanghai, the Japanese advanced to Nanking. The relationship between Japan and China during WWII hit a low point during the Japanese occupation of Nanking in December 1937. Japanese soldiers are alleged to have massacred 300,000 Chinese people—both military and civil—during a 6-week occupation of this city. Although this figure is under scrutiny, there’s no doubt that the Japanese military was guilty of war crimes of a serious nature at Nanking. This 20th Century genocide is better known as the Rape of Nanking. 

The Chinese Defeat the Japanese at Changsha and Guangxi
In 1939, the Chinese defeated the Japanese at Changsha (October) and Guangxi (November). By this time, the Chinese army was much stronger than it had been at the beginning of the war. The Chinese launched major offensives that resulted in heavy Japanese casualties. At Changsha, the Chinese inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy that exceeded 40,000. At Guangxi, the Chinese managed to kill over 85 percent of the enemy officers. 

The Chinese Fight On With US Aid
The Chinese military resisted the Japanese occupation more fiercely after the US declared war on Japan. From December 1941, the US aid to China increased multi-fold. US pilots airlifted tons of essential material via the dangerous “Hump” route over the Himalayas after the Japanese closed the vital Burma Road. 

Japan Launches Operation Ichi-Go
In 1944, from April to October, Japan renewed its attack and launched a massive campaign named “Operation Ichi-Go.” This operation consisted of three different battles in Guangxi, Henan, and Hunan. Although the Japanese conquered Henan and Changsha, they failed to force the Chinese military to surrender. 

Atomic Attacks Force Japan to Retreat
Following the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombing, Japan surrendered in September 1945. The Allies of WWII had decided at the Cairo Conference (November 1943) to punish the aggression of Imperial Japan by restoring territories the Japanese had annexed during the war. The Japanese were forced to retreat from Formosa, Pescadores, and Manchuria in China. They were also expelled from the Korean Peninsula.

A sense of mistrust existed in the relationship between Japan and China for several years even before the Second World War. The Chinese always felt that the Japanese had brutalized their nation throughout the 1930s. The war started by Japan’s imperialist leaders killed over 20 million Chinese people. Hence, during WWII, there was a total failure of the diplomatic channel and the China-Japan War concluded because of the intervention of the Allies.

The Japanese imperialist designs did not promote good relations with its neighbors, especially China and Korea. Consequently, the two nations were at war even before WWII.

The Atomic Bombing of Nagasaki

By: Francisco Meza

"I realize the tragic significance of the atomic bomb ... It is an awful responsibility which has come to us ... We thank God that it has come to us, instead of to our enemies; and we pray that He may guide us to use it in His ways and for His purposes."
—President Harry S. Truman, August 9, 1945

Nagasaki, a large seaport in southern Japan, was of great wartime importance. This city’s broad-ranging industrial activity included the production of military equipment, ships, ordnance, and other war materials. The city’s four largest companies employed almost 90 percent of the labor force. 

The population of Nagasaki on August 9, 1945—the day of atomic bombing—was approximately 263,000. Fat Man, the atomic bomb set off over Nagasaki, was more powerful than Little Boy, the atomic bomb detonated over Hiroshima. While the blast yield of the Little Boy (Uranium-235 filling) had been about 15 Kilo Tons of TNT, the blast yield of Fat Man (Plutonium filling) was 21 Kilo Tons of TNT.

An Inoperative Fuel Transfer Pump Does Not Affect the Mission
On the morning of August 9, 1945, Fat Man was loaded into the bomb bay of Bockscar, a B-29 Superfortress. Major Charles W. Sweeney was the pilot, and Commander Frederick L. Ashworth was in charge of the bomb. During the pre-flight inspection, it was noticed that one of Bockscar’s reserve tank had an inoperative fuel transfer pump. But not much time remained before the scheduled departure. Replacing the defective fuel pump would take hours and shifting Fat Man was too risky. It would not be possible to use 640 US gallons of fuel, and this fuel would consume more fuel during the long flight. Despite this problem, the pilot elected to continue with the vital mission.

Nagasaki’s Date with Destiny: Dense Clouds and Drifting Smoke Obscure the Planned Target Kokura
Bockscar lifted off at 03:47. The primary target of the Allies had been Kokura. Instructions to drop Fat Man were clear: Sight the target. But dense clouds and drifting smoke obscured the aiming point at Kokura. Sweeney was forced to settle for the secondary target—Nagasaki—after making three bomb runs over Kokura that took 50 minutes. (The maximum time permitted for making bomb runs was only 15 minutes.)
Bockscar was burning precious fuel but more importantly, the aircraft was repeatedly exposed to the heavy air defenses of Yawata, a neighboring town. The pilot turned toward Nagasaki only when there was no break in the dense clouds at Kokura.

Nagasaki was also obscured by cloud. The pilot was ordered to make a radar approach if the target could not be sighted. But the bombardier found a gap in the clouds at the last minute. This hole in the clouds enabled him to visually sight the target. The Fat Man was let go and exploded at 11:02 (Nagasaki time) after a 43-second free fall. The atomic bomb went off at an altitude of about 500 m (1,650 ft). 

Detonation Point Missed by 2 Miles: Deaths Minimized
Due to poor visibility, Fat Man missed the intended detonation point by almost two miles (3 km). The powerful blast was confined to just the Urakami Valley in Nagasaki. The intervening hills safeguarded a major part of the city. Despite this, about 35,000–40,000 people were killed instantaneously. Burn injuries and radiation illnesses killed several thousand in the ensuing weeks. 

The explosion generated intense heat estimated at 7,050° F (3,900° C). The resulting winds were estimated to be around 624 mph (1,005 km/h). American airmen flying several miles from Nagasaki saw the “Mushroom Cloud” of the atomic blast rising 50,000 ft (15,240 m). Fat Man destroyed Nagasaki’s ordnance plant that manufactured torpedoes completely and damaged other industries severely. So, the atomic attack devastated the Japanese war machine’s ability to fight.

Japanese Public Warned to End the War
Even before Fat Man was dropped on Nagasaki, millions of leaflets were airdropped from US aircraft all over Japan. The Japanese public was warned that more atomic weapons that were similar to the one used in Hiroshima would be used repeatedly until the whole nation was wiped off. The Japanese were given only one alternative: End the war immediately. 

Six days after Nagasaki’s date with destiny, Hirohito, the Japanese Emperor blinked. The Japanese war machine had made its intention to fight till the very end absolutely clear. The nation’s top brass wasn’t willing to surrender. Hence, the Allies had planned to drop the third bomb on 19th August 1945. In fact, the allies had planned 12 atomic bombings in case the Japanese did not surrender. So the Fat Man curtailed the Allies’ casualties significantly. If you are ever in Hawaii there are plenty of Pearl Harbor tours that show how the US got into WWII.

Although the atomic bombing of Nagasaki resulted in widespread and instant death, it served a huge purpose. It ended WWII that would have perhaps killed several million more on each side.

03 April 2015

British POW with Luftwaffe Soldiers

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Date: Monday, 18 December 1939
Place: Wilhelmshaven, Niedersachsen, Germany
Photographer: Unknown

On 18 December 1939 German fighters met a formation of 22 Wellington bombers and almost annihilated them. They destroyed 14 bombers; four were very badly damaged, and the remaining four were less badly damaged. One of the destroyed bombers was a Wellington Mk I, N2936, LF-J of 37 RAF Squadron which was shot down into the sea close to the German coast, most probably by Oberstleutnant Carl Schumacher (Geschwaderkommodore Jagdgeschwader 1) at 14:35. The whole crew led by bomber pilot Sergeant Herbert Ruse was rescued by the Germans and taken prisoner. Here we see Ruse escorted by Luftwaffe soldiers. In the background parked a Junkers Ju 52 “Tante” transport aircraft.

Source :
Book "Luftwaffe at War: Luftwaffe Aces of the Western Front" by Robert Michulec

Press Conference after the Air Battle in Wilhelmshaven

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Date: Wednesday, 20 December 1939
Place: Berlin, Germany
Photographer: Unknown

Berlin, 20 December 1939 – a press conference organized by Dr. Otto Dietrich of Goebbels’ Propaganda Ministry on the occasion of a great victory over British bombers achieved by German fighters over the Wilhelmshaven area on 18 December 1939. The German military counted over 50 bombers, and after the fight claimed to have shot down 36. The numbers were exaggerated, but they indicate the scale of the air battle, and of course the Germans naturally wanted to exploit it! The conference was a great success, many foreign journalists arrived to ask questions or to listen to stories told by participants. Seated at the table are pilots who fought in this battle. On the extreme right is Oberleutnant Wolfgang Falck of I.Gruppe / Zerstörergeschwader 76 (ZG 76); third from the right is Oberstleutnant Carl Schumacher, Gruppenkommandeur Jagdgeschwader 1 (JG 1); between Falck and Schumacher is Dr. Otto Dietrich in SS-Gruppenführer uniform; and third from the left is Oberleutnant Johannes Steinhoff of 10.(N)Staffel / III.Gruppe / Jagdgeschwader 26 (JG 26) “Schlageter”. Both Oberleutnants (Falck and Steinhoff) claimed two victories in the battle, while the commander of the whole formation (Schumacher) claimed one.

Source :
Book "Luftwaffe at War: Luftwaffe Aces of the Western Front" by Robert Michulec

04 January 2015

Portrait Photo of Hans-Joachim Marseille

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Date: Sunday, 28 June 1942
Place: Führerhauptquartier Wolfsschanze, Rastenburg, East Prussia, Germany
Photographer: Unknown photographer from Heinrich Hoffmann Firm
Oberleutnant Hans-Joachim Marseille, Staffelkapitän 3.Staffel / I.Gruppe / Jagdgeschwader 27 (JG 27) "Afrika", posed for the studio camera of Heinrich Hoffmann Firm in the day he received the coveted Schwerter zum Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub #12 (Swords for the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves) from Adolf Hitler, 28 June 1942 (Marseille already received the telegram from 18 June 1942). On 3 June he achieved his 75th victory, and on 17 June his 101st victory, which made him the most efficient fighter pilot of the Western Front and brought him the Eichenlaub in 6 June 1942 and Schwertern in 18 June, only a couple of days later! There is no doubt that he is the best German ace at this time. Moreover, he was also the most famous and popular German pilot who achieved enormous successes against the Britsih flyers. Marseille was described by Adolf Galland, the most senior German ace, with these words : "He was the unrivaled virtuoso among the fighter pilots of World War II. His achievements were previously considered impossible."


Jagdtiger Abandoned in Neustadt

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Date: Friday, 23 March 1945
Place: Landauer Strasse, Neustadt an der Weinstrasse, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany
Photographer: Unknown
Panzerjäger Tiger Ausf.B mit 12,8cm PaK 44 L/55 "Jagdtiger"(Sd.Kfz.186) Nr. 331 of schwere Panzerjäger-Abteilung 653 after she was abandoned in Landauer Strasse in Neustadt an der Weinstrasse. The vehicles are shown here being examined by American soldiers from the 10th Armored Division, on 23 March 1945. Leutnant Kasper Geoggler commanded the Jagdtiger No.331, also the third Kampfgruppe from 3.Kompanie / sPzJg.Abt.653. Geoggler had nerves of steel, and was very keen to prove himself. He was awarded the Deutsches Kreuz in Gold (German Cross in Gold) on 10 May 1943 whilst fighting on the Eastern Front. He had already had several kills to his credit with his Jagdtiger. In 22 March 1945, Geoggler had three Jagdtigers including his own placed into a good position north of Neustadt with a commmanding view of the approach roads to the town. From camouflage postions, the three Jagdtigers engaged in U.S. tank column; the first and last vehicles were shot up followed by the rest. The Shermans and M10 tank destroyer returned fire. Two Jagdtigers - Geoggler's and another, No.323 - were hit ten times between them. They withdrew into Neustadt. After the battle, 25 US tanks were claimed destroyed, while none of the Jagdtiger crew suffered any serious injuries! The thick sloping-armor had done its job.


Studio Portrait of Luftwaffe Ace Wilhelm Batz

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Date: Tuesday, 25 July 1944
Place: Führerhauptquartier Wolfsschanze, Rastenburg, East Prussia, Germany
Photographer: Walter Frentz

Sun-tanned Hauptmann Wilhelm "Willi" Batz (21 May 1916 - 11 September 1988) smile for a formal portrait by Walter Frentz after the award ceremony with Adolf Hitler and two other Luftwaffe officers (Major Herbert Lamprecht and Hauptmann der Reserve Heinz Strüning) at Führerhauptquartier Wolfsschanze (Rastenburg) in 25 July 1944. Only five days before (20 July 1944) Batz received the telegram from Oberkommando der Luftwaffe which informed him of the bestowal of Eichenlaub zum Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes (vorschlagnummer 526) for his remarkable achievement as a fighter pilot with 188 confirmed victories. At that time he was a Gruppenkommandeur of III.Gruppe / Jagdgeschwader 52 (JG 52) / VIII.Fliegerkorps / Luftflotte 4. He was operating with such luminaries as Hauptmann Erich “Bubi” Hartmann (352 victories, RK-Br), Oberleutnant Friedrich “Fritz” Obleser (120 victories, RK) and Oberleutnant Walter Wolfrum (137 victories, RK) among the high-scoring pilots of III./JG 52 at that time. In the end of the war, Batz flew 445 combat missions and claimed 237 enemy aircraft shot down. 234 of these victories were achieved over the Eastern Front, including at least 46 Il-2 Sturmoviks, but he did claim three victories, including one four-engine bomber against the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) over the Ploieşti oil fields. He was wounded three times and was shot down four times.  At war’s end he was able to extricate his unit and men from Hungary and Austria back to Germany to surrender to American forces. He was thus able to avoid the prolonged Soviet captivity that befell the personnel of other two JG 52 Gruppen.


24 December 2014

Hermann Göring Wife and Daughter in Nürnberg

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Date: Tuesday, 26 September 1946
Place: Nürnberg, Bayern, Germany
Photographer: Unknown

Edda Göring and her mother, Emmy Göring, receive a handwritten letter from Hermann Göring in his death cell at Nürnberg. An illustration from David Irving book "Nuremberg, the Last Battle". Edda is the only daughter of Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring and Emmy Göring. Before married, Emmy (birth name Emma Johanna Henny Sonnemann) had been an actress. After marrying Göring in 10 April 1935, she became Germany’s first lady, since Hitler had no wife at the time. Emmy Göring was a genuinely gracious woman with a naive charm. Edda was born in 2 June 1938 and grew up in Berlin. This photograph of Edda and Emmy (and Mr. postman!) was taken in Nürnberg on 26 September 1946, during the war crimes trial. Nineteen days later, Hermann Göring took his own life a day before his scheduled execution. At that time Edda was eight years old. After the trial Edda and her mother spent four years in an Allied prison camp. Years later, her mother would say it was the hardest time of their lives. After being released they lived in Münich. Emmy died in 1973. In 1991 Gerald Posner published some quotes from Edda in his book "Hitler’s Children". Edda complained that after the war "the government was terrible. They didn’t even let me keep [my father’s] wartime medals. The Americans stole his special baton." Edda was very much anti-America and probably blamed America in particular for her father’s death. She rejected the overwhelming evidence that her father was involved with the war crimes. In Posner’s book Edda was quoted as saying, "My only memories of him are such loving ones, I cannot see him any other way. I actually expect that most everybody has a favorable opinion of my father, except maybe in America. He was a good father to me."


American Armada at Ulithi Atoll

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Date: Monday, 1 January 1945
Place: Ulithi Atoll, Caroline Islands, Western Pacific Ocean
Photographer: Unknown

Vast array of American warships just offshore of naval base on Mogmog Island in the Ulithi Atoll, part of the Caroline Islands, 1 January 1945. Ulithi Atoll itself are home to the 3rd Fleet in late 1944. The land in the foreground is one of several depot islands surrounding the anchorage. After World War II many battleships were intentionally sunk rather than taken elsewhere to disassemble. These iron bohemoths lie at the bottom of the Atoll and as they rust their iron content leaks into the seawater changing the very chemistry of the nutrient-poor tropical waters. The occupation of Ulithi by US Naval Fleets during the war changed the Islanders’ way of life dramatically. Entire islands were razed to the ground to make room for Allied Troops. Imported food, culture and language changed the traditional ways of these remote islands. After the war a surplus of boats, fuel, and new technologies like spear-guns radically altered the effectiveness of the Islanders’ fishing techniques.


10 December 2014

Canadian AA Crew with Bofors Gun in Normandy on D-Day

Image size: 1562 x 1600 pixel. 857 KB
Date: Tuesday, 6 June 1944
Place: Bernières-sur-Mer, Juno Beach, Normandy
Photographer: Unknown

Photograph of four soldiers from 3rd Canadian Infantry Division Sergeant Traplin, Bombardier Heldon, Bombardier Blank and Sergent Kennedy with their Swedish-made 40mm/L60 Bofors Anti-Aircraft Gun after shooting down a Luftwaffe aircraft over the beachhead near their emplacement at Bernières-sur-Mer near Juno Beach (Normandy), 6 June 1944. At the time of the photo German Luftwaffe war planes were still active in the area. 30,000 Canadians had been landed, and 340 lost their live in the battles for the beachhead. The person to the rear of the position facing left is using the British-designed Stiffkey Sight, a mechanical computer that moved the gunners sights to account for leading a fast moving target. The Bofors gun in mobile form was commonly towed by either a GMC or Dodge 6x6 truck, and had a total crew of 8 including truck crew to include truck driver, gunner, two loaders, direction setting, elevation setter, radio operator and the gun commander.


06 December 2014

Small Briefing of German Officers Before Stalingrad

Image size: 1600 x 1030 pixel. 384 KB
Date: Sunday, 21 June 1942
Place: Kalmuck Steppe, Northwest Caspian Sea, Soviet Union
Photographer: Unknown

 Small briefing in the Kalmuck/Kalmyk Steppe of a German Army company commander (Kompaniechef) with the rank of Oberleutnant (left) and his platoon commander (Zugführer) with the rank of Leutnant on their drive to Stalingrad, Russia, 21 June 1942. The 6. Armee began its involvement in the Russian Campaign as the spearhead of Heeresgruppe Süd (Army Group South). Shortly after being promoted to Field Marshal, Walther von Reichenau (Oberbefehlshaber 6. Armee) died in an aircraft accident while being transported to a hospital after a heart attack in January 1942. He was succeeded by his former chief of staff, General der Panzertruppe Friedrich Paulus. Paulus led the 6. Armee to a major victory at the Second Battle of Kharkov during the spring of 1942. This victory also sealed the 6. Armee's destiny because it was selected by the OKH for the attack on Stalingrad. On 28 June 1942, Heeresgruppe Süd began Operation Blau; the German Army's summer offensive into southern Russia. The goals of the operation were to secure both the oil fields at Baku, Azerbaijan, and the city of Stalingrad on the river Volga to protect the forces advancing into the Caucasus. After two months, the 6. Armee reached the outskirts of Stalingrad on 23 August 1942. On the same day, over 1,000 aircraft of the Luftwaffe's Luftflotte 4 bombed the city, turning it into a massive inferno. Destroyed in a matter of hours, Stalingrad was now a charnel house; defended by the weak Soviet 62nd Army under the command of General Vasily Chuikov. Despite having the initiative, the 6. Armee failed to obtain a quick victory. The Red Army put up determined resistance, taking the fight to the rubble-clogged city streets. Though having almost complete air superiority over Stalingrad, and with more artillery pieces than the Soviets, progress was reduced to no more than several meters a day. Soviet casualties in the ghastly urban fighting were horrendous, while German casualties were just as appalling. Eventually, by mid November, the 62nd Army had been pushed to the banks of the Volga; holding only three small bridgeheads along the riverfront. However, despite continued fighting, the 6. Armee was unable to eliminate the remaining Soviet troops holding out in Stalingrad.


05 December 2014

SS Division Wiking Award Ceremony for Panzertruppen

Image size: 1600 x 1009 pixel. 350 KB
Date: Friday, 19 May 1944
Place: Kholm, Kholmsky District, Novgorod Oblast, Soviet Union
Photographer: Unknown

The photo is taken on May 19, 1944 at Cholm from an awards ceremony for the SS-Panzer-Regiment 5 of 5. SS-Panzer-Division "Wiking". From left to right: SS-Sturmbannführer Paul Kümmel (Kommandeur I.Abteilung / SS-Panzer-Regiment 5 "Wiking"), SS-Standartenführer Johannes Mühlenkamp (Kommandeur SS-Panzer-Regiment 5 "Wiking"), SS-Obersturmführer Kurt Schumacher (Führer 3.Kompanie / I.Abteilung / SS-Panzer-Regiment 5 "Wiking"), SS-Untersturmführer der Reserve Paul Senghas (Zugführer in 1.Kompanie / I.Abteilung / SS-Panzer-Regiment 5 "Wiking"), and unidentified SS-Oberscharführer (possibly also from I.Abteilung / SS-Panzer-Regiment 5 "Wiking"). The 5.SS-Panzer-Division Wiking´s Panzer Commander Johannes "Hannes" Rudolf Mühlenkamp (1910 – 1986) was promoted SS-Standartenführer on April 20 1944. On August the same year, he was given the command of the division. He always led from the front and commanded Wiking until October 1944. Then, Mühlenkamp was promoted Inspector of Waffen-SS Panzer troops in the SS-Führungshauptamt. Johannes Mühlenkamp held the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves that reflected not only his achievements but also those of his men. To the European volunteers under his command he was a figurehead who was often to be found standing over his panzer, his face covered in dust, leading them into battle.


Benito Mussolini Speaks with Wilhelm Keitel at Feltre Airfield

Image size: 1028 x 1600 pixel. 409 KB
Date: Monday, 19 July 1943
Place: Feltre, Belluno, Veneto, Italy
Photographer: Walter Frentz

Il Duce Benito Mussolini speaking with Generalfeldmarschall Wilhelm Keitel (Chef des Oberkommando der Wehrmacht) at Feltre airfield (Northern Italy) before Keitel leaves for Berlin. The picture was made by Walter Frentz in the evening of 19 July 1943. Only a couple of days later (24 July 1943), the Italian dictator would be defeated in the vote at the Grand Council of Fascism, and the King Victor Emmanuel had him arrested the following day. On 12 September 1943, Mussolini was rescued from prison in the Gran Sasso raid by German special forces led by the daring Otto Skorzeny. In late April 1945, with total defeat looming, Mussolini attempted to escape north, only to be quickly captured and summarily executed near Lake Como by Italian partisans. His body was then taken to Milan where it was hung upside down at a service station for public viewing and to provide confirmation of his demise. In this picture Keitel holding his Interimstab (baton), while in his uniform we can see his Italian Grand Cross of the Military Order of Savoy, awarded to him by King Victor Emmanuel on 24 April 1942, along with Großadmiral Erich Raeder


03 December 2014

Adolf Hitler on his Release from Landsberg Prison

Image size: 1600 x 982 pixel. 550 KB
Date: Saturday, 20 December 1924
Place: Landsberg Prison, Landsberg am Lech, Bavaria, Germany
Photographer: Heinrich Hoffmann

Adolf Hitler, age 35, wearing trench coat posed beside a gray Marcedes-Benz 11/40 (model number RIO 4346) on his release from Landsberg Prison, on December 20, 1924, after serving only nine months. He had been charged and convicted for high treason for attempting to seize power in Germany in the failed Munich Putsch coup the previous year. He spent 264 days behind bars in total. It was in this period that Hitler wrote the book that would become the literary backbone to Nazi ideology: "Mein Kampf", or "My Struggle". It was written with the help of Rudolf Hess, his deputy, who had also been involved in the Putsch and sent to prison. A combination of Hitler’s personal story and political ideology, Mein Kampf set out Hitler’s vision for Germany’s future, including the extermination of the Jewish people. Eventually ran to two volumes. A Landsberg prison official reportedly said Hitler hoped the profits from the tract would enable him “to fulfill his financial obligations and to defray the expenses incurred at the time of his trial”. Eight years later, Hitler would be sworn in as Chancellor of Germany, in 1933.


US Rangers Aboard their Landing Craft Before Normandy Invasion

Image size: 1600 x 1091 pixel. 563 KB
Date: Saturday, 3 June 1944
Place: Weymouth Harbour, Dorset, England
Photographer: Unknown

U.S. Rangers from E Company, Fifth Ranger Battalion, aboard their landing craft on Weymouth Harbor, Dorset (England), waiting for the signal to sail to the coast of Normandy, 3 June 1944. In the foreground, they are, clockwise from far left, First Sergeant Sandy Martin, Technician Fifth Grade Joseph Markovich, Corporal John Loshiavo and Private First Class Frank Lockwood, with their Bazooka, Garand rifle, 60-mm mortar and Lucky Strikes. Before they boarded their vessel, these Rangers — four of perhaps 160,000 soldiers who would cross the English Channel — were penned up, away from public view, in camps policed by British officers in machine-gun towers. As they waited for their signal, soldiers of Operation Overlord hurled Army knives at playing cards nailed onto trees, played softball and, ducking into an entertainment tent, watched “Girl Crazy,” starring Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland. But their nerves were strained; sometimes they fought one another with fists. They knew the lethal odds that faced them on the Normandy beaches. Then Martin, Markovich, Loshiavo and Lockwood were in their landing craft. One soldier insisted that these boats were designed to induce “a sense of physical discomfort, seasickness and physical degradation” so that the men would “land in such an angry condition as to bring destruction, devastation and death upon any person or thing in sight or hearing.” About 2,500 Americans were killed in the D-Day effort to make the world safe for freedom. One of them was Sandy Martin, who lies buried in the American cemetery on the bluff that looks down on Omaha Beach


02 December 2014

Adolf Hitler Laughing at a Vacation in Harz Mountains

Image size: 1600 x 1323 pixel. 733 KB
Date: 17-21 July 1935
Place: Harz mountains, Germany
Photographer: Heinrich Hoffmann

Original postcard caption "Eine lustige Erholungsstunde während der Fahrt" (A funny recreation hour in motion). Adolf Hitler (Führer und Reichskanzler) sitting on a bench and laughing while listening to a humorous accordeon plays performed by Arthur Kannenberg, Hitler's chief butler (Küchenchef). This picture was taken by Hitler personal photographer, Heinrich Hoffmann, during a trip to the Harz mountains (Northern Germany), 17-21 July 1935. The man sitting with Hitler (and also laughing with him) is Adolf Wagner (Gauleiter München-Oberbayern). The Führer was said to be particularly fond of a couple jokes and told the best ones over and over. One joke that Hitler liked to tell was at the expense of his pompous Luftwaffe chief Hermann Göring, a man forever designing himself new uniforms and giving himself new orders and decorations. “One day,“ Hitler used to say, “Mrs. Göring came into the bedchamber and found her husband waving his Field Marshall‘s baton over his underwear. 'Hermann, darling, what are you doing?‘ she enquired. Göring answered, 'I am promoting my underpants to overpants!'"


26 November 2014

Raising the American Flag on Iwo Jima

Image size: 1600 x 1223 pixel. 392 KB
Date: Friday, 23 February 1945
Place: Mount Suribachi, Iwo Jima, Bonin Islands, Japan
Photographer: Joe Rosenthal

U.S. Marines of the 28th Regiment of the Fifth Division raise the American flag atop Mount Suribachi, Iwo Jima, on Feb. 23, 1945. Joe Rosenthal, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his immortal image of six World War II servicemen raising an American flag over battle-scarred Iwo Jima. On orders from Colonel Chandler Johnson—passed on by Captain Dave Severance—Sergeant Michael Strank, Corporal Harlon H. Block, Private First Class Franklin R. Sousley, and Private First Class Ira H. Hayes (all four from the Second Platoon, Easy Company) spent the morning after the first flag raising laying a telephone wire to the top of Mt. Suribachi. Severance also dispatched Private First Class Rene A. Gagnon, a runner, to the command post for fresh SCR-300 walkie-talkie batteries. Meanwhile, Lieutenant Albert Theodore Tuttle had found a larger (96-by-56 inch) flag in nearby Tank Landing Ship USS LST-779. He made his way back to the command post and gave it to Johnson. Johnson, in turn, gave it to Rene Gagnon, with orders to take it up to Lt. Schrier on Mt. Suribachi and raise it. The official Marine Corps history of the event is that Lt. Tuttle received the flag from Navy Ensign Alan Wood of USS LST-779, who in turn had received the flag from a supply depot in Pearl Harbor. However, the Coast Guard Historian's Office recognizes the claims made by former U.S. Coast Guardsman Quartermaster Robert Resnick, who served aboard the USS Duval County (USS LST-758) at Iwo Jima. "Before he died in November 2004, Resnick said Gagnon came aboard LST-758 the morning of February 23 looking for a flag. Resnick said he grabbed one from a bunting box and asked permission from commanding officer Lt. Felix Molenda to donate it. Resnick kept quiet about his participation until 2001." The flag itself was sewn by Mabel Sauvageau, a worker at the "flag loft" of the Mare Island Naval Shipyard. Although former Easy Company commander, Capt. Severance, had confirmed that the second larger flag was in fact provided by Alan Wood, former Second Battalion adjutant, Lt. G. Greeley Wells, who was officially in charge of the battalion's flags including the two American flags flown on Mount Suribachi, stated in the New York Times in 1991: that Lt. Col. Johnson ordered him (Wells) to get the second flag, that he (Wells) sent Marine runner Rene Gagnon to the ships on shore for the flag, and that Gagnon returned with a flag and gave it to him (Wells), and that Gagnon took this flag up Mt. Suribachi with a message for Schrier to raise it and send the other flag down. Wells stated that he received the first flag back from Gagnon and secured it at the Marine headquarters command post. Wells also stated, he had handed the first flag to Lt. Schrier to take up Mouint Suribachi. The Marines reached the top of the mountain around noon, where Gagnon joined them. Despite the large numbers of Japanese troops in the immediate vicinity, the 40-man patrol made it to the top of the mountain without being fired on once, as the Japanese were under bombardment at the time. Rosenthal, along with Marine photographers Bob Campbell and Bill Genaust (who was killed in action after the flag-raising), were climbing Suribachi at this time. On the way up, the trio met Lowery, who photographed the first flag-raising. They considered turning around, but Lowery told them that the summit was an excellent vantage point from which to take photographs. Rosenthal's trio reached the summit as the Marines were attaching the flag to an old Japanese water pipe. Rosenthal put his Speed Graphic camera on the ground (set to 1/400th of a second shutter speed, with the f-stop between 8 and 16) so he could pile rocks to stand on for a better vantage point. In doing so, he nearly missed the shot. Along with Navy Pharmacist's Mate Second Class John H. Bradley, the five Marines began raising the U.S. flag. Realizing he was about to miss it, Rosenthal quickly swung his camera up and snapped the photograph without using the viewfinder. Ten years after the flag-raising, Rosenthal wrote: "Out of the corner of my eye, I had seen the men start the flag up. I swung my camera and shot the scene. That is how the picture was taken, and when you take a picture like that, you don't come away saying you got a great shot. You don't know." Bill Genaust, who was standing almost shoulder-to-shoulder with Rosenthal about thirty yards away, was shooting motion-picture film during the second flag-raising. His film captures the second event at an almost-identical angle to Rosenthal's famous shot. Of the six men pictured – Michael Strank, Rene Gagnon, Ira Hayes, Franklin Sousley, John Bradley, and Harlon Block – only three (Bradley, Gagnon, and Hayes) survived the battle. Strank was killed on March 1, six days after the flag-raising, when a shell, likely fired from an offshore American destroyer, tore his heart out; Block was also killed on March 1, by a mortar, a few hours after Strank was killed; Sousley was shot and killed by a sniper on March 21, a few days before the island was declared secure.


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25 November 2014

German Motorcycle Immobilized by Russian Mud

Image size: 1600 x 922 pixel. 352 KB
Date: Monday, 1 September 1941
Place: Soviet Union
Photographer: Unknown

Two Kradmelder ("Despatch Rider") struggle with their Bayerische Motoren Werke Aktiengesellschaft (Bavarian Motor Works Incorporated, or BMW) R75 motorcycle with sidecar during the Rasputitsa (Russian for "time without roads") in Fall 1941. Their Mantels (Rubberized Coats) are better protection against the mud then the average Landser (soldier) but they are still covered in it. As the Germans attempted to conquer Moscow before the snow fell, massive rains turned the dry steppe into a quagmire. Wilhelm Pruller (1916- ), a Sergeant in the 9th Panzer Division, wrote in his diary in July 1941, "We spent the night in the open. We made ourselves dugouts and covered them with sailcloth. After midnight it began to rain, and we couldn't stand it much longer in these holes. Wet and shivering with the cold, we waited for morning...When I see even at this time of how our vehicles, after it's rained a little, can barely make the grade, I just can't imagine how it will be in autumn when the rainy period really sets in...Yesterday it began to rain, and it hasn't stopped yet. It's enough to make you desperate." On August 4, 1941, a German Corporal wrote home, "The roads here are incredibly bad. At times of rainy weather hardly passable; fatiguing for man and horse. In general, you cannot get through any more with a motorcycle or auto." The BMW R75, of which 18,000 were made from 1941 to 1944, was one of the few vehicles that might make it out of a sticky bog, but the cloying mud went on for miles, and the mud stopped engines from running and exhausted horses and men. Germans and Russians alike were covered in mud until the winter freeze allowed movement again in November; soon after that, heavy snows set in. Some of the Red Army units had anti-freeze and winter uniforms, but the Germans did not. The ability to maneuver in Winter weather would give the Red Army's offensive an advantage. Two Kradmelder ("Despatch Rider") struggle with their Bayerische Motoren Werke Aktiengesellschaft (Bavarian Motor Works Incorporated, or BMW) R75 motorcycle with sidecar during the Rasputitsa (Russian for "time without roads") in Fall 1941. Their Mantels (Rubberized Coats) are better protection against the mud then the average Landser (soldier) but they are still covered in it. As the Germans attempted to conquer Moscow before the snow fell, massive rains turned the dry steppe into a quagmire. Wilhelm Pruller (1916- ), a Sergeant in the 9th Panzer Division, wrote in his diary in July 1941, "We spent the night in the open. We made ourselves dugouts and covered them with sailcloth. After midnight it began to rain, and we couldn't stand it much longer in these holes. Wet and shivering with the cold, we waited for morning...When I see even at this time of how our vehicles, after it's rained a little, can barely make the grade, I just can't imagine how it will be in autumn when the rainy period really sets in...Yesterday it began to rain, and it hasn't stopped yet. It's enough to make you desperate." On August 4, 1941, a German Corporal wrote home, "The roads here are incredibly bad. At times of rainy weather hardly passable; fatiguing for man and horse. In general, you cannot get through any more with a motorcycle or auto." The BMW R75, of which 18,000 were made from 1941 to 1944, was one of the few vehicles that might make it out of a sticky bog, but the cloying mud went on for miles, and the mud stopped engines from running and exhausted horses and men. Germans and Russians alike were covered in mud until the winter freeze allowed movement again in November; soon after that, heavy snows set in. Some of the Red Army units had anti-freeze and winter uniforms, but the Germans did not. The ability to maneuver in Winter weather would give the Red Army's offensive an advantage.


20 November 2014

German Soldiers Move into Burning Russian Villages

 Image size: 1600 x 995 pixel. 534 KB
Date: Thursday, 26 June 1941
Place: Soviet Union
Photographer: Unknown

German Schnelltruppen (Fast Troops) disembark from Hanomag Mittlere Schutzenpanzerwagen Ausf D (Medium Armored Cars Model D) SdKfz 251/10 (background) and 251/1 half tracks to attack a Russian village during the opening days of Operation Barbarossa, 26 June 1941. The 251/1, mounting three MG34 machine guns, was the standard armored personnel carrier for the soldiers to keep pace with the armored columns. The Schnelltruppen, later designated Panzergrenadiers in 1943, were trained to fight mounted in their vehicles or dismounted as regular infantry. The 251/10 mounted a 37mm (1.46 inch) Pak 36 cannon for light anti-tank and infantry artillery support. Each Schnelltruppe Zug (Platoon) would have three 251/1s and one 251/10. Each 251/1 could carry ten soldiers and two drivers. In combat, the 251s would be kept in reserve for mobile operations. When ordered to attack, the drivers would seek maximum tactical cover from hills and foliage to approach the target. When the point of disembarkation was reached, the commander would shout "Abspringen!" (Bale Out!) and the ten soldiers would take two MG34 machine guns and form a Schutzenkette (firing line) with the guns at the center with the squad leader or on the flanks. 16,000 Hanomag SdKfz 251s were built between 1939 and 1945; many were used in other roles, such as anti-aircraft, rocket platforms, or searchlights. While the 251 was a flexible platform, all these other uses distracted from the troop carrying role. Only one-third of Panzergrenadiers were carried into combat.


19 November 2014

Adolf Hitler Inspecting Gustav

Image size: 1600 x 1233 pixel. 601 KB
Date: Sunday, 4 April 1943
Place: Reichswerke Hermann Göring, Linz, Germany
Photographer: Walter Frentz

This picture was taken by Walter Frentz in 4 April 1943 at Reichswerke Hermann Göring, Linz (Germany), when Hitler visited the Eisenbahngeschütz 80 cm Kanone Schwerer Gustav. FLTR: Generalleutnant Walter Buhle (Chef vom Heeresstab im Oberkommando der Wehrmacht), Ingenieur Erich Müller (Wehrwirtschaftsführer), Generalfeldmarschall Wilhelm Keitel (Chef des Oberkommando der Wehrmacht), Reichsleiter Martin Bormann (Stabsleiter im Amt des Stellvertreters des Führers), Adolf Hitler (Führer und Reichskanzler), Prof.Dr.-Ing.Albert Speer (Reichsminister für Rüstung und Kriegsproduktion), and SS-Gruppenführer Julius Schaub (not visible in this picture, Chefadjutant des Führers Adolf Hitler). Schwerer Gustav (Heavy Gustaf or Great Gustaf) was the name of a German 80 cm K (E) railway gun. It was developed in the late 1930s by Krupp as siege artillery for the explicit purpose of destroying the main forts of the French Maginot Line, the strongest fortifications then in existence. The fully assembled gun weighed nearly 1,350 tonnes, and could fire shells weighing seven tonnes to a range of 47 kilometres (29 mi). The gun was designed in preparation for the Battle of France, but was not ready for action when the battle began, and in any case the Wehrmacht's Blitzkrieg offensive through Belgium rapidly outflanked and isolated the Maginot Line's World War I-era static defenses, forcing them to surrender uneventfully and making their destruction unnecessary. Gustav was later employed in the Soviet Union at the siege of Sevastopol during Operation Barbarossa, where among other things, it destroyed a munitions depot buried in the bedrock under a bay. The gun was moved to Leningrad, and may have been intended to be used in the Warsaw Uprising like other German heavy siege pieces, but the rebellion was crushed before it could be prepared to fire. Gustav was destroyed near the end of the war in 1945 to avoid capture by the Red Army. It was the largest-calibre rifled weapon ever used in combat, the heaviest mobile artillery piece ever built in terms of overall weight, and fired the heaviest shells of any artillery piece. It is only surpassed in calibre by the British Mallet's Mortar and the American Little David mortar (both 36 inch; 914 mm).


18 November 2014

Adolf Hitler Inspecting Dora

Image size: 1600 x 1133 pixel. 387 KB
Date: Friday, 19 March 1943
Place: Rügenwalde, Pomerania, Germany
Photographer: Walter Frentz

On 18-19 March 1943 Hitler visited the town of Rügenwalde/Pomerania (Germany) to see the 80 cm. Eisenbahngeschütz "Dora", the largest gun in the world. While Hitler was there the gun fired two granates. This picture was taken in 19 March 1943 by Walter Frentz and shows, from left to right: General der Artillerie Alfred Jodl (Chef Wehrmacht-Führungsamt), SS-Oberführer Prof. Dr.-Ing. e.h. mult. Ferdinand Porsche (Vorsitzender der Panzerkommission), Generaloberst Heinz Guderian (Generalinspekteur der Panzertruppen), Generalleutnant Walter Buhle (Chef vom Heeresstab im Oberkommando der Wehrmacht), Adolf Hitler (Führer und Reichskanzler), Generalfeldmarschall Wilhelm Keitel (Chef des Oberkommando der Wehrmacht), Hauptdienstleiter Dipl.-Ing. Karl-Otto Saur (Staatssekretär im Reichsministerium für Rüstung und Kriegsproduktion), and SS-Gruppenführer Julius Schaub (Chefadjutant des Führers Adolf Hitler). Dora was the second giant railway gun to be produced by Germany. It was deployed briefly against Stalingrad, where the gun arrived at its emplacement 15 kilometers (9.3 mi) to the west of the city sometime in mid-August 1942. It was ready to fire on 13 September. It was quickly withdrawn when Soviet encirclement threatened. When the Germans began their long retreat they took Dora with them. Dora was broken up before the end of the war, being discovered in the west by American troops some time after the discovery of Schwerer Gustav.


17 November 2014

Muslim Members of Handschar Division at Prayer during their Training in Germany

Image size: 1600 x 1086 pixel. 301 KB
Date: Tuesday, 9 November 1943
Place: Neuhammer, Silesia, Germany
Photographer: SS-Kriegsberichter Falkowski

Muslim soldiers from 13. SS-Freiwilligen-Bosnien-Herzegowina-Gebirgs-Division (Kroatien) at their morning prayer during Eid al Fitr celebration in Truppenübungsplatz (Training Ground) Neuhammer, 9 November 1943. The prayer was led by SS-Sturmbannführer Abdulah Muhasilović, the official Imam of the division, while behind him are two muslim officers from Handschar. Muhasilović would be replaced by SS-Obersturmführer Halim Malkoč in 21 October 1944 after led a mutiny at Cerna). The Division itself had at least nine Bosnian Muslim officers, the highest ranking of whom was SS-Obersturmbannführer Husejin Biščević Beg, who had been a Muslim officer in the Austro-Hungarian Army when Bosnia was under occupation. The romantic notions that Himmler had about the Bosnian Muslims were probably significant in the division’s genesis. He was personally fascinated by the Islamic faith and believed that Islam created fearless soldiers. He envisioned the creation of a Bosnian SS division constituted solely of Bosnian Muslims in a manner similar to the Bosnian divisions of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire. Many of these soldiers came from Bosnia, and it was a conscious decision to fight the Communist Partisans and the nationalist Chetniks. The Nazis tried to cater to the Muslim religious needs of their recruits, but the soldiers themselves cared more about protecting their homeland (as promised by the Nazis), than anything else the SS and Himmler told them about racial equality/superiority to the inferior Jews. Riots and desertions were commonplace among the soldiers, often to the Communist Partisans led by Josip Broz Tito, who promised the soldiers amnesty if they joined the Partisans. The soldiers were only interested in protecting their homeland in Bosnia, so any incursions into Croatia or Serbia to help the Nazi allies or war effort there met with consternation among the soldiers, and even more desertions.

Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1977-137-20

16 November 2014

Panzer 38(t) and Panzer II on the Move

Image size: 1600 x 1170 pixel. 302 KB
Date: Saturday, 1 June 1940
Place: France
Photographer: Unknown

Panzerkampfwagen 38(t) (SdKfz 140), extreme left, and Panzerkampfwagen II (SdKfz 121) climbing a grade, right, on the move. This is a rare color shot, which may be staged for the German war photographer. Please note that these two tanks have a clean rear deck and the helmets hanging over the side and rear of the Panzer II! It was taken in 1-10 June 1940 during the breakout of 7. Panzer-Division (Generalmajor Erwin Rommel) out of a valley near the Somme river. Originally the picture was published in the book "Entscheidende Stunden", a German propaganda book printed in 1941. When the Germans annexed the whole of Czechoslovakia, they took over management of the Skoda arms works. Skoda had developed the 38(t), which the Czechs called the LT-38, in 1935 and the first orders, for export, were placed in 1938. The Germans took over the production run, substituting the 38(t) for their PzKpfw III in the Panzer Divisions. It was armed with two 7.92mm machine guns and a 37mm main gun. At the time of the Invasion of France in 1940 Czech tanks made up a quarter of the Germans' panzer forces. The small turret didn't allow the tank to be upgraded, and production of the 38(t) ceased in 1942. the chassis was adapted into a number of successful self-propelled guns and tank destroyers. In combat, the Panzer II units would scout for the Panzer III and 38(t) units, identifying targets, troop strength and weak points for the heavier tanks to exploit. The Panzer II could not stand up to the Soviet heavy tanks and losses were high. Many crews fitted their vehicles with additional armor in the field.


Sepp Dietrich Receiving Brillanten from Hitler

Image size: 1600 x 1065 pixel. 462 KB
Date: Thursday, 10 August 1944
Place: Führerhauptquartier Wolfsschanze, Rastenburg, Ostpreußen/East Prussia (Germany)
Photographer: Unknown photographer from Heinrich Hoffmann firm

Presentation of the Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub, Schwerter und Brillanten #16 (Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oakleaves, Swords and Diamonds) to SS-Oberstgruppenführer und Panzer-Generaloberst der Waffen-SS Josef "Sepp" Dietrich (Oberbefehlshaber 5. Panzerarmee) by Adolf Hitler (Führer und Reichskanzler). Dietrich already received the formal confirmation from 6 August 1944, and he got this highest bravery medal Germany could ever give for his performances at the Battle of Normandy as Kommandierender General I. SS-Panzerkorps. This picture was taken by one of the photographer from Heinrich Hoffmann firm in 10 August 1944 at Führerhauptquartier Wolfsschanze (Rastenburg). In the background are SS-Gruppenführer und Generalleutnant der Waffen-SS Hermann Fegelein (blocked, Verbindungsoffizier der Waffen-SS zum Führerhauptquartier) and SS-Hauptsturmführer Otto Günsche (Persönlicher Adjutant Adolf Hitler).

Book "Fotos aus dem Führerhauptquartier" from Hermann Historica München