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Author Topic: PzLdr History Facts  (Read 7183 times)
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PzLdr
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« on: April 06, 2016, 08:25:49 am »

Operation Punishment: The German Invasion of Yugoslavia and Greece-1941

Benito Mussolini, Fascist dictator of Italy was, by 1941, piqued that his German ally, Adolf Hitler, kept doing things without prior consultation or advanced warning, like invading Poland in September, 1939, or opening his Western offensive in May, 1940.
So, in an effort to get back his own, Mussolini ordered the Italian Army to invade Greece, without consulting Hitler, in the autumn of 1940 [he also ordered the invasion of British Egypt from Libya]. It was a disaster of momentous proportions.

Attacking out of Albania, the Italian Army, attacking with almost no planning or preparation was first stopped in the mountains of western Greece, and then driven back into Albania.

Adolf Hitler was not pleased. HIS plans for the Balkans were political and diplomatic. Their goal was to bring the area into the Axis, or favorably neutral to Germany . His two overarching concerns were to [1] Keep the British away from the Ploesti oilfields of Romania, his principal source of petroleum, and [2] complete his military buildup for Operation BARBAROSSA, the invasion of the Soviet Union.

Mussolini's action [he had no knowledge of BARBAROSSA] threw a wrench into Hitler's plans and the problems snowballed. Hitler had managed to get a pro-German government in Yugoslavia, despite the Yugoslavs' antipathy for Bulgaria, an Axis ally. With Mussolini's invasion of Greece, the British not only intervened in Greece [which helped a scratch German expeditionary force in Libya, the AFRIKA KORPS, by drawing off Commonwealth troops to Greece], but managed to get a coup going in Yugoslavia that put in an anti- German government. Hitler was outraged, and Operation PUNISHMENT was born.


While the name of the operation specifically referred to the Luftwaffe operation to bomb Belgrade into rubble, it also encompassed the re-deployment of German troops from Austria Czechoslavakia and Bulgaria into almost simultaneous attacks on Yugoslavia and eastern Greece. Using Panzer troops, the Germans stormed into central Yugoslavia , then turned north and south. the Croatians in the Yugoslav Army defected. Belgrade was quickly taken, and Yugoslavia was quickly defeated. Using railroad lines for the armor to move on, the Germans quickly moved south, into Greece. The 1st SS Panzer Grenadier Regiment, the LEIBSTANDARTE SS ADOLF HITLER, captured Thermopylae. They soon accepted the surrender of Athens. German airborne troops seized the Isthmus of Corinth. Mainland Greece fell to the Axis forces soon after [Italy got a large piece of Greece. The Commonwealth troops in Greece, along with the Greek Army and government fell back to the island of Crete. Within a month or so, the island would fall to the first airborne invasion in history, Operation MERKUR [Mercury]

Hitler wound up pouring resources and troops into two areas he didn't want, and the AFRIKA KORPS into another to prop up his now dependent ally, and holding them. The operations put wear and tear on troops and equipment earmarked for the toughest sector of what was to become the Eastern Front,  Ukraine. What the Balkans operations didn't do was fatally delay [as some have argued] the invasion of the Soviet Union. Western Russia and Ukraine had an inordinately long and wet Spring in 1941. The Germans had to wait for what passed as roads to dry before the mechanized units could attack. The Balkans operation delayed BARBAROSSA by no more than two weeks when allowance was made for the weather.
« Last Edit: May 07, 2016, 04:35:42 pm by apples » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: April 06, 2016, 02:50:21 pm »

Thank you for posting.
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« Reply #2 on: April 09, 2016, 12:34:42 am »

April 9, 1241: The Battle of Liegnitz

At the Kuriltai of 1234 that proclaimed Uggedai Quan, third son of Chingghis as Qa Quan, or Supreme Quan, one of the new ruler's first edits was to carry out his father's wish, and conquer the lands to the west 'as far as Mongol ponies had trod' to create an Ulus, or appendage for the sons of Chingghis' first son, Jochi, who had predeceased his father. Mongol horses had been as far west as the Crimea and Black Sea during the 'Great Raid of 1223-1224.

The campaign began in earnest in the winter of 1236-1237 when, after crossing some fifteen degrees of latitude, and breaking the Volga Bulgars, and either scattering or incorporating the Cumans or Kipchaks, the Mongols launched a winter assault on central Russia. they had conquered all of it, except Novgorad, by Spring 1238. Novogorad submitted before being sacked [Eisenstein to the contrary].

The Mongol Army then moved into the southern steppe near the Aral Seas  and rested until 1240 when they again rode west, and sacked Kiev, overrunning Ukraine. Russia was now theirs. By December, the Mongols were again on the move. Their primary target was Hungary.

The Mongol Army now numbered around 80,000 to 100,000 men, including 30,000 they left in Russia. Primarily composed of Turks and Kipchaks, it also had a sizable core of Mongol troops, because Uggedai had sent the princes of all the major houses [Uggedid, Chagadtid, Touid, and Jochid on the campaign. the Army was ostensibly commanded by Jochi's oldest son, Batu Quan. His brothers Buri, Baidar and Berke accompanied him. Also present were Mongke [son of Tolui], Guyuk and Kadaan [sons of Uggedai], as well as two sons of Chagatai. The ACTUAL commander of the operation was Subodei Ba'adur, Chingghis' and history's greatest general.

While Hungary was the main objective, Subodei was concerned about securing his flanks and isolating Hungary. Guyuk was sent to ravage the Balkans, while Buri and Kadaan were given two tumen [20,000 men] and sent to take Poland out of play. The stage was set for the battle of Liegnitz.

Upon entering Poland, the Mongols engaged the army of Boleslas the Chaste. They destroyed him. From there they rode to Cracow and razed it. The sack is remembered to this day when, at noon, a fireman blows an incomplete trumpet call, in memory of a trumpeter killed mid-call by a Mongol arrow in 1241. Buri and Kadaan then rode further west, to Liegnitz. To their front was a mixed army of Templars, Livonian knights, local nobles and peasant levies, totaling some 40,000 under the command of Henry the Pious. Reconnaissance also  revealed a second army commanded by Wenceslas ['Good King Wenceslas'] of Bohemia. Already outnumbered two to one, the Mongols sought battle.

They waited for the Europeans to advance. Once the European heavy cavalry opened the distance between the infantry and themselves, the Mongols created some kind of smoke screen using chemicals or firing the grass. they then attacked the European cavalry with an arrow storm from their light cavalry. The compound bows the Mongols used could penetrate the chain mail of the Europeans. Once the Europeans were stooped the Mongol heavy cavalry countercharged and rode them down. The first time the infantry knew something was wrong was when the remnants of their cavalry, pursued by the Mongols rode through the smokescreen. The infantry, along with almost the entire army, including Henry the Pious was killed. The Mongols then rode off to deal with Wenceslas, with 40,000 ears in sacks; and eventually, having neutralized Poland, rode down into Hungary.



April 9, 1865: Robert E. Lee surrenders at Appomattox Court House.

Wilbur Maclean had fled his first home, in 1861. That home was at a place called Bull Run, and Maclean had wound up in the middle of a battle. Seeking to avoid a repetition of that event, he moved to the village of Appomattox Court House. War caught up with him anyway.

By Spring of 1865, the Confederacy in the East was on its last legs. Lee's Army was trapped in the trenches of Petersburg. Sherman was rampaging through the Carolinas. And then, at Five Forks, Sheridan cracked the Confederate line, forcing the Confederate government to flee Richmond, and Lee to retreat to the west, in the hope of hooking up with Gen. Joseph Johnston, facing Sherman. The plan soon fell apart. Lee's Army wound up separating along two lines of march. Sheridan, dogging Lee, pounced. At Sailor's Creek, Custer, commanding the 3d Cavalry Division, led an attack that bagged a third of Lee's Army, including Gen. Richard Ewell, one of Lee's only two Corps commanders [A.P. Hill had died near Petersburg.

Custer then rode along the southern flank of Lee's main force, along with other cavalry units, and got in front of Lee [Custer captured a train with rations for Lee. A Confederate attack by their lead elements against the cavalry was halted when large numbers of Union infantry appeared behind the Union horsemen. A flag of truce followed, and it was agreed that Lee and Grant would meet the next day - at Wilbur Maclean's house. Lee's uniform was immaculate, Grant's was muddy. Lee was reserved. Grant tried to put him at ease. By the time they were down, Grant had given Lee very generous terms for him and his menand Wilbur Maclean had sold the table on which the surrender was signed to Phil Sheridan - who gave the table as a gift, to Libby Custer.



April 9, 1940: The Weser Exercise - The German invasion of Norway and Denmark.

It started over a geographic necessity. The Germans needed Swedish iron ore, and the only ice free port it could be sent through in winter, was Narvik, Norway. It was triggered by a singular event. In 1939, the German pocket battleship, ADMIRAL GRAF SPEE, was commerce raiding in the South Atlantic. She used the freighter ALTMARCK as her supply ship, and as a prison ship for the prisoners she took. GRAF SPEE was sunk in late 1939 when see scuttled at Montevideo, Uruguay. But ALTMARCK, and her prisoners, was moving down the Norwegian coast, in Norway's territorial waters, on her way back to the Reich. She was intercepted by a boarding party from HMS COSSACK, a British destroyer that killed several of the crew, and freed the prisoners. The Norwegians were unable to, or did nothing, to defend the ALTMARCK, or their territorial waters. Hitler took notice.

Hitler was already being pushed to occupy Norway by Grossadmiral Raeder, the commander of the German Navy. He wanted Norway for U-boat bases that would get the German subs beyond a North Sea blockade by the British. Hitler had also been promised help by the leader of the Norwegian Nazis, Vidkun Quisling.

Once planning began, the Germans added Denmark to the list, as both an entity in itself, with very seful airields, and as a bridge to Norway itself.

WESERBUNG was the first combined operation of the Second World War. The German Navy landed troops at five ports in Norway [Oslo, Christianstand, Tromso, Bergen and Narvik. SCHARNHORST and GNIESENAU were used to draw off Royal Navy heavy units. The Luftwaffe few cover for the Navy and Army, and airborne troops were used to seize Norwegian airfields near Oslo, and in southern Norway. But victory wasn't cheap. The British and French had also decided to occupy Narvik and points south. But they brought no tanks, no meaningful artillery, and negligible air. They also had little equipment to move in the snow.

The Allies drove the Germans out of Narvik, and back into the hills behind it. But as the Wehrmacht consolidated Norway and pushed north, the Allies were forced to abandon the town. By early June, partially in response to the attack on France, Belgium and Holland, the Allies abandoned Norway.Hitler's iron was safe, but at heavy cost. Germany lost half her destroyer force at Narvik. She lost one heavy and two light cruisers. When the Germans contemplated the invasion of England later that year, those losses loomed large.

So there you have it. Three for Nine.
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« Reply #3 on: April 09, 2016, 11:58:58 am »

Thank you PzLdr I enjoy these.
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« Reply #4 on: April 10, 2016, 07:45:48 pm »

Three Mongol columns converged on the city of Pest on March 17th, 1241. Guyuk Quan, having razed much of the Balkans, came from the south. Subodei and Batu Quan brought two columns that had crossed the Carpathian mountains, destroying  the Hungarian fortifications in their way, and arrived from the East. The only column missing was the one commanded by Buri Quan and Kadaan Quan that was late coming down from Poland.

The Mongols faced the twin cities of Buda and Pest, which comprised the capitol of the kingdom of Hungary, and the seat of its king, Bela IV, that occupied both banks of the Danube River. They also faced a potential military organization much bigger than their own.

But Bela had some serious problems. He had given refuge to the Cumans/Kipchaks, who had fled from the Mongol onslaught on the steppe and in Russia. To show good faith, many of the horsemen, including their Quan, Khotien, had converted to Catholicism, and become vassals of Bela. But the move did not sit well with many of Bela's nobles. They resented the Cumans, and chafed at the alliance. Things were made worse when Subodei sent an embassy demanding the return of the Cumans to the Mongols, and claiming the Cumans presence in Hungary as the reason for the Mongol invasion.

Additionally, one of Bela's chief vassals, the Duke of Austria, was almost in direct rebellion, and refused his sovereign's demand for aid. But Bela's biggest problem was the disarray of Europe, well known to the Mongols through their agents the Venetians. The Pope and Holy Roman Emperor were in a power struggle, and the Pope refused to acknowledge the Emperor as the Emperor, and excommunicated him. The Emperor's edicts had no force.

And then there were the firebrands, who wanted to attack, immediately. Their first efforts, outside Pest were a disaster. One of their leaders, the Bishop of Ugolin, barely escaped with his life.

then all hell broke loose. Khotien Quan was killed by Hungarian nobles. the Cumans went on a rampage, burning and killing their way through western Hungary, and weakening Bela's position. Deciding to act quickly, Bela led his Army of some 100,000 men out of Pest. The Mongols turned and retreated to the northeast

The retreat lasted three days. By that time, the northern Mongol column had rejoined the army, and the Mongols were at a place on the Sajo River called Mohi. They retreated over a bridge, and through a valley and onto wooded ridges that surrounded the valley on three sides. They left the bridge unguarded. The Hungarians camped on both sides of the bridge. During the night, an escaped prisoner told the Hungarians the Mongols were in the hills, but the Hungarians did nothing.

Batu opened the battle the next morning, not with a cavalry charge, or an arrow storm, but with catapult fire. The Mongols may have used gunpowder. It was only when the valley camp was in shambles, and the Hungarians began retreating across the bridge that Batu's cavalry attacked. The fighting was heavy, and the Hungarians seemed to be holding their own when the were attacked in the flank and rear by Subodei, who had built a second bridge upstream, and crossed at least two Tumen to take the Hungarians by surprise. The Hungarians were quickly encircled and the catapults started again. Then, miraculously, the Hungarians spotted an opening in the Mongol lines. Or so they thought.

First in ones and twos, then in hundreds and thousands they began to flee the battlefield, dropping weapons, shields, helmets, pieces of chain mail in their desire to lighten their load and flee back to Pest. But it was all a stratagem conceived by Subodei. Mongol archers began to ghost the columns, shooting those fleeing like animals on the hunt. Bela escaped [to be pursued down the Adriatic coast by Kadaan and a tuman]. The Bishop of Ugolin did not. Neither did over 70,00 of his compatriots.

The Mongols then rode back and took Pest. Buda fell to them on Christmas Eve. BY Spring, Mongol units were raiding Wiener Neustadt, and doing reconnaissance of Udine in Italy, and Vienna. Then, they pulled back, never to return, except for some major raids. But those are other stories...
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« Reply #5 on: April 19, 2016, 01:48:10 pm »

Adolf Hitler is born on 20 April 1889 at Braunau an Inn, Austria. His father is a member of the Civil Service of the Austro- Hungarian Empire; a tariff inspector on the border with Bavaria, Germany. Alois Hitler, born Schickelgruber, was of working class stock who had worked his way up through the beauracracy to a senior post in the tax inspectorate. His second wife, Klara, was the mother of several children before Adolf, but all predeceased him. He did have sisters and half-sidters and a borther from his father's first wife.

Contrary to later rumor, Adolf Hitler was nor born Adolf Schickelgruber. His father's was recognized by Johannes Hitler well before Adolf's birth. The family apparently came from the Waldweirtal, near the Czech border, and the family name may have originally been Heidler or Heitler. But by the time of Alois' legitimation, it was Hitler.
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« Reply #6 on: April 21, 2016, 12:32:11 pm »

Thanks for posting.
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« Reply #7 on: April 28, 2016, 06:04:07 pm »

On January 15th, 1945, a heavily armored train left a headquarters near the German - Belgian border. It carried Adolf Hitler, Fuehrer and Reichskanzeller, from the dying embers of Operation HERBSTNEBEL [the Battle of the Bulge] back to Berlin, the Reichs Chancellary, and the Fuehrerbunker below it. Except for one short visit to the nearby Eastern Front, Hitler would never leave Berlin again. Except for one or two visits to the chancellery garden, by March he spent all his time below ground in the Bunker, directing a more and more fantastical war.

The bunker had been built by Albrecht Speer, during the war. It composed a warren of rooms on two levels, was damp, humid and crowded. In addition to Hitler, his mistress, Eva Braun, his secretaries and his vegetarian cook, the bunker staff included Hitler's aides from all the services and various Reichs Ministries, a guard detachment from the 1st SS Panzer Division, medical personnel, and others. In addition, Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's Propaganda Minister, his wife and their six children moved into the bunker. Also present was the ubiquitous 'brown eminence', Martin Bormann.

Hitler's days and nights were much the same. Sleep late, military briefings, involving the movement of phantasm military formations, the issuance of orders, sleep, and more of the same. But by April 20th, things began to change.

April 20th was Hitler's 56th, and last, birthday, and for the last time, the paladins of the Reich gathered to celebrate Hitler's birthday. Goering, Himmler, Goebbels, Bormann, Keitel  and many of the usual suspects were there for a very subdued celebration. Once again, efforts were made to get Hitler to leave the now all but encircled Reichs capital. Once again he refused to leave. But the Paladins did. Goering went south, to Bertchesgarten. Himmler went north, to the SS health clinic. Jodl went to Zossen, the Army's headquarters.

The first blow came from Goering, who when Hitler was cut off by the Russians, radioed asking if he should act on Hitler's decree of 1942 naming him the successor, and 'take over'. Bormann, a deadly enemy used Goering's query to rouse Hitler to fury at Goering's 'treason'. Hitler ordered Goering arrested by the SS, and stripped him of all his officers. He then had a Luftwaffe general, Ritter von Greim, flown into Berlin [he was wounded on the way], and made him the last Commander in Chief of the Luftwaffe. He then had von Greim flown out of Berlin.

Worse was to come. The BBC announced that "Der Treuer Heinrich", the Reichsfuehrer SS, was seeking to negotiate a separate peace with the Western Allies, and that he had also met with Jewish representatives. Hitler's rage at that news was uncontrollable. And it fell on what would be his brother-in-law, Hermann Fegelein, SS Gruppenfuehrer, his SS aide, and husband of Eva Braun's sister, Gretl. When Hitler ordered Fegelein to report to him in the bunker, Fegelein was absent. Hitler sent an SS detail to find him. They did. In an apartment. In civilian clothes. With jewelry, currency, a woman not his wife, and several different sets of identification. He was taken back to the bunker and, despite Braun's pleas, was put up against a wall, and on Hitler's orders, shot.

The last, and most devastating blow came from yet another SS officer, Gruppenfuehrer Felix Steiner, erstwhile commander of the 5th SS Panzer Division, "WIKING" [Viking], and current commander of "Group Steiner", an amalgam of units and subunits that in Hitler's mind constituted a formidable armored fist, but in reality looked like a bad version of Britain's 1940 Home Guard.

Hitler had sent Field Marshal Keitel, Chief of OKW, to order Steiner to attack to the southeast, while Army General Walter Wenck's  12th Army attacked to the northeast to crush the Russian encirclement and relieve Berlin [Wenck only fought close enough to offer an avenue of escape to the remnants of the German 9th Army and whatever civilians they could]. Steiner categorically refused the order, and when Keitel reported that refusal to Hitler, Hitler finally admitted publically, in front of a group of people, that the war was lost.

Events followed swiftly. On the 28th, a local official was rounded up, and with Goebbels and Bormann as witnesses, Hitler married his long suffering mistress, Eva Braun. On the 29th, Hitler had the same cyanide capsules Himmler had previously given out tested on his dog, Blondi. He also had all her pups killed. On the 30th, after dictating his Political Testament and Will, Hitler and Braun  retired to his sitting room, with his SS orderly, Otto Gunsche guarding the door. Braun killed herself with cyanide. Hitler, a cyanide capsule in his mouth, shot himself in the head. The bodies were then removed, carried up to the Chancellary grden, doused with gasoline, and set afire [Hitler was determined not have his corpse despoiled, like Mussolini's had been.

Goebbels and his wife followed their Fuehrer into death by suicide, after murdering their six children. Bormann was killed trying to escape Berlin [his body wasn't found until the '70s. Many of the bunker inmates fell captives to the Russians. the last Army Chief of Staff, Krebs, killed himself in the Bunker. Himmler committed suicide when he was captured on May 18th. Goering committed suicide at Nurenburg. Keitel and Jodl were hanged as war crimianls. But for Adolf Hitler, it all ended on April the 30th, 1945.
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« Reply #8 on: April 29, 2016, 03:29:36 pm »

Love reading these Pldzr!
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« Reply #9 on: April 30, 2016, 02:16:32 am »

PzLdr, as an expert in German military history, do you think it is possible Martin Bormann was a Soviet spy?

Book Review: Hitler?s Traitor: Martin Bormann and the Defeat of the Reich (by Louis Kilzer) : WW2
http://www.historynet.com/book-review-hitlers-traitor-martin-bormann-and-the-defeat-of-the-reich-by-louis-kilzer-ww2.htm

Before anyone dismiss such an idea as fanciful, I recommend they research the life and activities of Richard Sorge in xenophobic WW2 Japan. Sorge's remarkable achievements in penetrating Japanese military secrets changed the course of the war and the course of history.

Then, too, there was the Soviet infiltration into the Roosevelt administration and the distinct possibility Roosevelt's close advisor Harry Hopkins was a deep cover Soviet agent. American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation's Character review: http://www.amazon.com/American-Betrayal-Assault-Nations-Character/dp/0312630786

Soviet espionage activities during WWII were awe inspiring in effectiveness and depth. Thus I do not find the possibility Bormann was part of such a network fantasy.
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« Reply #10 on: April 30, 2016, 04:24:30 am »

Sorge is an interesting story.  Almost certainly, he would have been shot by Stalin had he returned to the USSR.

Stalin murdered tens of millions of Russians, routinely purging anyone that was anyone.  He feared everyone.  Ditch diggers were safe, and anything above that was at risk.

It was not unusual for Stalin to determine 5,000 people to be executed in a night.  That was his recreation, planning the murder of his fellow countrymen.

If you want to read a truly shocking book, read Gulag by a woman named Applebaum.  Based on her writing, I suspect the real number of people murdered by Lenin and Stalin was at or over 100 million Russians.
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« Reply #11 on: April 30, 2016, 09:31:44 am »

PzLdr, as an expert in German military history, do you think it is possible Martin Bormann was a Soviet spy?

Book Review: Hitler?s Traitor: Martin Bormann and the Defeat of the Reich (by Louis Kilzer) : WW2
http://www.historynet.com/book-review-hitlers-traitor-martin-bormann-and-the-defeat-of-the-reich-by-louis-kilzer-ww2.htm

Before anyone dismiss such an idea as fanciful, I recommend they research the life and activities of Richard Sorge in xenophobic WW2 Japan. Sorge's remarkable achievements in penetrating Japanese military secrets changed the course of the war and the course of history.

Then, too, there was the Soviet infiltration into the Roosevelt administration and the distinct possibility Roosevelt's close advisor Harry Hopkins was a deep cover Soviet agent. American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation's Character review: http://www.amazon.com/American-Betrayal-Assault-Nations-Character/dp/0312630786

Soviet espionage activities during WWII were awe inspiring in effectiveness and depth. Thus I do not find the possibility Bormann was part of such a network fantasy.

I don't think so. Bormann was part of a Fehme murder in the 20s [an accomplice was Rudolf Hoess, the future Commandant of Auschwitz-Birkenau], so Bormann was involved in extremely right-wing politics extremely early. And even if he had the motive where was the opportunity. The Gestapo broke the KPD by 1935-36. Who would Bormann have been recruited by? Plus there's the cottage industry of "Famous Nazis who were Soviet Spies". They've even made the claim for 'Gestapo' Mueller.

As it was Soviet intelligence did a bang-up job with outfits such as the Red Orchestra, based largely in Goering's Air Ministry, and Belgium, 'Lucy', running out of Switzerland, and the Sorge Ring in Tokyo. their common feature was that most of them were run externally to Germany. So the questions then arise [1] How did Bormann get his info out, and [2] Why have the KGB files never revealed memos of such significant intelligence.

Still, anything is possible. But I've often wondered why no one has looked at the SA leadership that survived the Night of the Long Knives. During the war, some were of use in the Foreign Office and various Ministries, including thos in foreign countries. they would have had access to worthwhile intelligence in those posts. And the SA was always referred to as "Beefsteak Nazis" - Brown on the outside, Red on the inside.

Hope that helps. 
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« Reply #12 on: April 30, 2016, 04:19:34 pm »

Thank you. Interesting information. Only 3 further observations.

(1)
Quote
Why have the KGB files never revealed memos of such significant intelligence
. Partly because they have yet to be thoroughly vetted, the Venona revelations being only a fraction of what is available. Secondly, the documents refer to foreign agents by their code names and sometimes it is difficult, if not impossible (so far), to tie them to actual individuals.

(2) Bormann being involved in early Fascist violence may actually be evidence of his dual role. To begin with as a Communist such brutality would mean little or nothing. Then, too, why should his early involvement be seen as exculpatory? Frankfurter brought  his Harvard boys into the Roosevelt administration right after the election of '32. Many, if not most, were already committed Marxist like Hiss. From those early days they metastasized throughout the government and would have retired fat, happy, and honored if not for Chambers and Bentley.

(3) It is well known the Nazis and the Communists traded personnel readily. Bormann may have been given the assignment to monitor Nazi activities in case they actually achieved anything, or were seen as a group with a potential for violence which would help create anarchy in the streets of Germany, a condition Communists always strive for (and which helps explain the BLM and SJW movements in our own country today).

None of this means Bormann was a Party member, nor does it explain the greatest obstruction to the idea he might have been:
Quote
How did Bormann get his info out
. OTOH, it is quite possible Bormann didn't engage in direct espionage, but rather was a critical Agent of Influence, much like Diana West thinks Hopkins was with Roosevelt (who probably didn't need much persuading).

It is interesting for me, at least, to speculate on these matters, mostly because I am so in awe of Soviet espionage before, during, and after WWII. Someday, God willing, the truth of it all.
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« Reply #13 on: May 05, 2016, 10:11:25 am »

 On May 1st, 1945, Germany had a new Fuehrer. But it wasn't any of the 'usual suspects'. Goering was under arrest, on Hitler's orders. Goebbels, the new Reichs Chancellor, had committed suicide. Bormannn, the new head of the Nazi Party, was missing in Berlin [He was, in fact, dead]. Himmler had been stripped of all his offices by Hitler before the latter's own suicide, and a Gauleiter [and former lover of Magda Goebbels] , Karl Hanke, was penciled in as Himmler's replacement as Reichsfuehrer SS. But Himmler was at Flensburg, near the Danish border with the rump government of the Third Reich, and Germany's new Fuehrer, Grand Admiral Karl Doenitz.

Doenitz had been appointed Fuehrer by Hitler himself, shortly before he died. While not a rabid Nazi, Doenitz was sufficiently fanatical to meet Hitler's minimum standard for the job, and was more admired by Hitler than the now disgraced Goering, or any of the remaining military commanders. Flensburg was the seat of government because there was a naval academy there, and a sufficient number of sailors to protect Doenitz from, say, the large number of SS troops accompanying Himmler.

Doenitz faced two realistic tasks: getting as many Germans, troops and civilians away from the Russians rampaging to the East, and buying enough time to do so. But he also knew the jig was up.

Doenitz' schedule was sped up by several events, however. When the Allies met at the Elbe, Germany was cut in half. Doenitz lost what fleeting control he had over southern Germany. Second, the 21st Army Group was driving on Flensburg and the port cities of the North Sea. And the Russians were approaching from the East.

The first shoe to fall occurred on May 6th, when Admiral Friedburg approached Field Marshal Montgomery in an attempt to surrender. Monty turned him out, opting to accept the surrender of the troops in front of him. He also reiterated that unconditional surrender was what was required of the Doenitz government, for ALL German armed forces, and that Eisenhower was the man to see.

Thus is was that on May 7th, Generaloberst Alfred Jodl, Operations off icer of the OKW appeared, with other German officers in a red schoolhouse in Rheims. At the table was Gen. "Beedle" Smith, Eisenhower's Deputy, Air Marshal Tedder, and representatives of the USSR, France and other Allied nations. After some hemming and hawing, Jodl signed the instrument of surrender, to be effective, the next day, May 8th. Jodl was then taken to Eisenhower, where Jodl was made to state he understood the terms, and then left. Eisenhower then signaled at at 0242, SHAEF's mission was accomplished.

Tht was not the end of the matter, however. Josef Stalin was incensed that the surrender was not made to his troops [The Russian general at Eisenhower's HQ was later shot], and demanded that the Germans surrender to him. So, Field Marshal Wilhelm  Keitel, Chief of OKW, appeared before Marshal Georgi Zhukov, Air Marshal Tedder, and others, and replicated the surrender, to be effective on May 9th.

And that is why the end of the war in Europe is celebrated on two different days.
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« Reply #14 on: May 07, 2016, 08:26:28 am »

It's official title was a rather pedestrian FALL GELB [Case Yellow]. But in the German Army, it was known by the more colorful title of "Sichellschnitt", the "Scythe Cut", and in six weeks, it led to the surrender of the Netherlands and Belgium,  and Britain being driven off the European mainland [except for raids] for four years. More importantly, it destroyed the French Army and prostrated the French government, leading to Marshal Petain and Vichy. And it owed its success to four things; the brilliance of  single German general, the intuitive military skills of Adolf Hitler, a bad winter, and fog.

On October 5th, 1939, Adolf Hitler presided over a victory parade in Warsaw, Poland. He then ordered an immediate military invasion of France. that order met with strenuous objections from the German military. Bomb and artillery ordnance reserves stood at 50% or lower. the "Light" divisions the Germans had used in company with the Panzer divisions had proved unwieldy and unworkable. German troops, especially the infantry had underperformed in the generals' eyes [this led to a furious row with the Fuehrer]. But Hitler was insistent.

He was also startled when the General Staff rolled out their invasion plan. Germany would attack with three Army Groups: 'B', under General Fedor von Bock would face Holland and Belgium. 'A', under General Karl Gerd von Rundstedt, would face the Belgian Ardennes and the northern mot part of France itself. 'C', under General Ritter von Leeb would face the Maginot Line, and cover France down to the Swiss border.

The main effort, with some 7 or 8 Panzer Divisions [the Light divisions were converted to Panzers, making ample use of Czech made armor] would be under Army Group 'B', into Belgium and Holland. In other words, an expanded replay of World War I's Schlieffen Plan. Army Groups 'A' and 'C' were to tie down the French, but limit themselves to local action. Hitler was not pleased. Aside from a lack of originality, Holland and Belgium were not considered prime tank country, comprising a fairly small area, crisscrossed with rivers, canals, and a lot of marshy ground. Yet the Army High Command was looking to send some 70% of their armor that way. Plus, Hitler reasoned [correctly], the British and French would probably expect such a plan, and build their own plans to deal with it.

Luckily, for the Germans, the winter of 1939-1940 was the worst in 50 years. So the operation kept getting postponed to the point where Hitler finally agreed to wait for Spring. But the briefings went on. At one, with the Operations officer from his own military headquarters, Oberkommando des Wehrmacht [OKW], General Alfred Jodl, Hitler pointed to the area of the Belgian Ardennes when Jodl's pointer got there, and asked about attacking there. Jodl put him off by repeating the accepted axiom that the Ardennes was impassable to tanks, and the matter was dropped.

The Chief of Staff of Army Group 'A', General Erich von Manstein was also intrigued by the Ardennes. But he went further. He consulted the Doyen of the Panzer arm, General Heinz Guderian, about the feasibility of attacking with large armored formations through the area. Guderain, after study said it could be done. And at that point, Manstein developed his own plan for invading the West, the 'Scythe Cut'.

Manstein shifted the Schwerpunkt [along with 7 of Germany's ten Panzer divisions]  from Army Group 'B' to his own Army Group. He proposed using Army Group 'B' as a matador's cape, to draw the French and British into Belgium, while Army Group 'A' broke through the Ardennes, crossed the Meuse between Sedan and Dinant, and moved behind the Allies to the Channel coast, trapping them. Needless to say, his plan was initially rejected by OKH, and when Manstein refused to quiet down, it was decided to transfer him to a third echelon Infantry Corps for the attack.

Enter the fog. In January, 1940, a German Army liaison officer with a full set of the original plans [against orders], inadvertently crash landed in Belgium in heavy fog. the Belgians captured the officer [repatriated, and if I recall correctly, shot] and the plans [kept, and shared with France and Britain]. That capture led to the recasting of the war plans for both sides. Belgium, clinging to its neutrality like a barnacle to a piling, agreed to open their western border to Allied troops, WHEN THE GERMANS CROSSED the Belgian border. France and Britain then planned to move up to the Dyle River in Belgium. It would shorten their line, and allow a nexus with the Belgians and Dutch. To effect the move, however, the French had to move their only reserve army, the 7th to the area of the Belgian and Dutch borders. The 7th Army, France's only reserve, had been positioned behind Sedan.

As the Germnan generals wargamed Manstein's plan, they grew reluctantly, then increasingly receptive to it. If that wasn't enough, Manstein, and other newly promoted commanders were invited to lunch with Hitler at the Chancellary. Hitler's Army aide, Schmundt, arranged for a private meeting for Manstein with Hitler. the result was the adoption of Manstein's planas Case Yellow.

Bock, with three Panzer Divisions, and the Leibstandatre SS 'Adof Hitler' would invade Holland and Belgium. The Luftwaffe's 7th Fallschirmjaeger [Airborne]  Division would jump into Holland seizing bridges for the 9th Panzer. Airborne engineers, using shaped charges [for the first time in modern warfare], would land by gliders on the roof of the 'impregnable' Belgian fortress of Eben Emael. 80 men were expected to neutralize the 2,500 man garrison, and the fortress, the linchpin of the defenses of Liege. At the same time, with Panzergruppe von Kleist [Ewald von Kleist] leading, Army Group 'A' would advance into, and through, the Belgian Ardennes, emerging at the Meuse River. The traffic columns, covered by the Luftwaffe were 100 miles long.

And how did the two sides line up? Counting the Belgians and the Dutch, the Allies had more divisions and troops than the Germans. They also had more [and in many cases] better tanks. The Germans had the advantage in aircraft, and anti-tank guns [although the 37mm gun was almost useless. What the Germans DID have over the Allies was battled tested troops, superior doctrine and leadership, close air support, and a superior tank to tank, and intra-tank communications system.

At dawn on May 10th, 1940, the Luftwaffe attacked all the Allied airfields in eastern France. At the same time the German Army attacked Belgium and Holland - and began moving the seven Panzer divisions through the Ardennes, followed by mobile infantry, and infantry.

As soon as the Germans began their attack, French and British units moved into Belgium to take up position on the Dyle River. They didn't seem to notice that aside from reconnaissance flights, the Luftwaffe left them alone. By the 13th they were engaged. And then the roof fell in.

The Germans arrived on the Meuse on the evening of May 12th. that night, near Dinant, a newly minted Panzer Division commander named Erwin Rommel found a weir, and took his division across the river. Further south, at Sedan, after a terrific bombing by von Richtofen's VIIIth Fliegerkorps, Guderian's XIXth Panzer Corps forced the river. Corap's French 9th Army disintegrated. With no reserves, the Germans had an almost unimpeded route to the Channel, and the Allies' encirclement.

The next six days saw the Panzer commanders doing battle with their higher headquarters [they wanted the armor to slow down until infantry could arrive and cover the flanks], and intermittent attempts by the Allies to cut the corridor. Two attempts by the French were beaten off to the south. But on the 21st, a more serious attack developed to the north, undertaken by the British. They attacked the 7th Panzer [Rommel] south of Amiens. Their Matilda II tanks were almost impervious to the German tank guns and anti-tank guns. Arriving on the scene, Rommel took command of a battery of 88 mm anti-aircraft guns, and using them in the anti-tank role, broke the British attack [This may have been the first time 88s,the most famous artillery piece of WW II, were used as anti tank guns ( although I've read, in one source that Ritter von Thoma did it in Spain). Rommel would do it repeatedly again - with a vengeance].

The attack sent a shockwave through the German High Command, and the Panzers were halted for 24 hours. That delay cost the Germans one Channel port. Dunkirk. And the BEF and thousands of French troops escaped, sans equipment, escaped because of it. In that sense Case Yellow failed.

But as the Germans regrouped for the second phase of the invasion, FALL ROTE [Case Red], along the Seine and Aisne Rivers, they now outnumbered the Allies facing them. After initially tough resistance, Rommel again led the way, and broke through the western end of the Allied line. Guderian crossed behind the German Army and attacked further east , coming down BEHIND the Maginot Line, while Army Group 'C' made some attacks to it's front.

On May 18th, the German Army paraded through Paris, an open city. By the 20th, the 2d SS, DAS REICH was on the Spanish border, Petain had replaced the French government, and France had requested an Armistice. That armistice was signed in a railway car at the forest of Compegnie. It was the same location, and the same railway car where German had signed the armistice ending WWI. Hitler, and Germany's triumph was complete.

And yet, Yellow's success bore seeds of doom for the Reich. Hitler, as well as his generals lost sight of the fact that Yellow worked because they attacked a reasonably finite, geographically speaking, area of developed roads and rail. Even then, the non-motorized  infantry had trouble keeping up with the mechanized forces [the German Army was over 90% horse dependent for transport, artillery movement, etc., and almost all the infantry was 'leg']. Those conditions would not be present when, a year to the day after the French surrender, Hitler launched BARBAROSSA, the invasion of the Soviet Union. And the Germans would pay dearly for that oversight. Still, IMHO, Case Yellow was the second greatest military campaign in history.
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You can get more with a smile, a handshake and a gun than you can with a smile and a handshake - Al Capone
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