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Author Topic: PzLdr History Facts  (Read 41728 times)
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PzLdr
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« Reply #405 on: March 06, 2018, 09:34:18 am »

His NKVD code names were 'ANTENNA', 'ENGINEER' and 'LIBERAL'. A lifelong, dedicated,  Communist, he had been engaged in industrial espionage for the Soviets since the 1930s. He ran a highly effective spy ring, and turned over mounds of useful intelligence to the NKVD, including plans for a radio transmitter the U.S. Army was developing at Ft. Monmouth, New Jersey, where he worked at the time. His name was Julius Rosenberg. He had met his wife, Ethel , who was also a member of the American communist movement when both were still in school. And both of them were lynch pins in one of the Soviets' spy networks that penetrated the Manhattan Project, and betrayed American atomic secrets to the Soviets.

Ethel Rosenberg's brother was David Greenglass. Drafted into the Army, Greenglass was a machinist assigned to Los Alamos, the top secret site where the atomic bomb was being designed and fabricated in the second half of World War II. And the Soviets were anxious to gain that technology. so anxious that Lavrenti Beria, chief of the dreaded NKVD was put in charge of the effort. And with turncoats in both Great Britain, and the United States, he had a great deal of help.

The British atomic research project was called "Tube Alloys". The office secretary was a lovely woman, and a Soviet agent, who wasn't unmasked until well after the war. One of its scientists was a German refugee named Klaus Fuchs. Fuchs, a diehard German scientist was sent by the British to work on the Manhattan Project in the United States, as part of the joint development effort. The undersecretary at Britain's U.S. Embassy, and the British liaison with the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission was one Donald Maclean. Maclean was one of the Cambridge Five,  disaffected members of the ruling class, who became Soviet agents in the early 1930s. The British Intelligence liaison with the FBI, and the CIA was one Harold 'Kim' Philby. Philby was being groomed to take over MI6, Britsh Intelligence. He had been an NKVD agent since at least 1934. Then there were two 'homegrown' members of the apparat, Morris and Ilona Cohen.

In addition to the professionals, there were the volunteers, the most important being physics wunderkind Ted Hall. Hall, a 19 year old prodigy with severe left leaning political beliefs used his fellow lefty, and friend, Saville Sax, to reach out to the Soviets, and arrange for Hall to pass detailed plans for atomic fission, as well as the bomb itself.

But Rosenberg was not part of this effort, and wanting in, he, and Ethel pressured their sister-in-law to persuade David Greenglass to supply information on the components of the bomb Greenglass was helping to fabricate at Los Alamos, using one Hary gold as a courier.

The Soviet penetration of the Manhattan Project was one of the biggest successes of soviet intelligence in the war [Successes that included having either NKVD or GRU agents planted at the Treasury (Harry Dexter White, the Silvermaster Group), the State Department (Alger Hiss and his brother), the FBI (Judith Coplon), the OSS (Duncan Lee), and the White House (Lauchlin Curry, and quite possibly, Henry Wallace).

But all good things come to an end, and the wheels began to fall off the wagon with two events.

The first was the defection of two people, a Soviet file clerk in Canada, and Elizabeth Bentley in Washington, D.C. Bentley had been the courier/assistant/lover of Jacob Golos, who supervised several espionage rings, including Silvermaster's and others. When Golos died, Bentley fell apart, turned herself in to the FBI, and sang like a canary, albeit with a good deal of disbelief when she testified before Congress.

The second event was the cracking of Soviet intelligence codes by the code breakers at Arlington Hall. The Soviets used what was known as a one sheet dycryption pad to transmit information by radio. The same sheet was used to encrypt and decrypt messages sent over the radio, with the same sheet being used by ALL Soviet agents for ONE DAY ONLY. Without the key to the code, it was virtually impenetrable.

But WW II, and its exingencies left the Soviet apparatus in the United States without up to date encryption pads. So, the Soviets began to recycle old ones, with codes already being cracked by the cryptographers at Arlington Hall. The results were startling. The Venona transcripts, as they became known offered a wealth of operational information to be used in counter-intelligence work. And they had a major effect on the Soviet A-bomb espionage effort. Using clues from the decrypted radio messages, the Americans [and MI5] were able to identify the Soviet agenty 'Homer', as Donald Maclean. He was recalled to London, where tipped off by Philby via Guy Burgess, another of the Cambridge five, Maclean escaped [with Burgess] to the Soviet Union [blowing Philby's cover to the extent he was sent home, and 'retired' from MI6, and fleeing to the Soviet Union in the early '60s].

The code breakers and FBI were also able to identify Fuchs ['Rest'], Hall [Mlad], Greenglass, Gold,and eventually Julius Rosenberg, and most of his industrial spy rings.Aside from Hall [the U.S. was so concerned to keep Venona a secret that they opted not to prosecute him and Sax], most of Rosenberg's industrial spies and the Cohens, who all fled, all were prosecuted. The 'stars' were, of course Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.

The Rosenbergs were tried, with co-defendant Martin Sobell, before Judge Irving Kaufman on charges of espionage in wartime [A treason prosecution was out because at the time of the spying, we were not at war with the USSR]. throughout the proceedings, the government offered to spare the Rosenberg's lives if they confessed, and cooperated. They refused. Three witnesses testified against them, David Greenglass, his wife, and the courier, Harry Gold.

When it was over, all three were convicted. Sobell got 30 years. the Rosenbergs, apparently willing to orphan their two sons, got the chair [They were offered commutation in return for cooperation up to the end]. Julius went first, Ethel followed.

A furor over the legitimacy of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg's convictions lasted for years, spearheaded by their two sons. But the declassification of the Venona transcripts, and a post Soviet Union thaw, allowing western, and Russian historians' access to the then NKVD, now KGB files, coupled with the memoirs of Pavel Sudaplev, who headed the penetration effort for the NKVD, proved once and for all that the Rosenbergs were indeed guilty of the crimes for which they had been convicted and executed.
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« Reply #406 on: March 06, 2018, 10:49:25 am »

I say what Bill and Hillary Clinton did was just as bad as what the Rosenbergs did, and they deserve the same punishment.  Where in hell is the DOJ to continue to allow these two to escape justice, and continue to roam our great country spreading their poison?  Where?

I consider the Clinton to be two of the greatest criminals of all time in America.  How many are dead because of these two self serving criminals?

I think we need to put more teeth into the crime of treason, and bring more people to the most servere punishment, and do it quickly after conviction, like the next day.  Perhaps then, we would see less treason in America.  I am certain there is a ton of it that goes undetected.  And in particular, I am certain China is getting just about every secret we have.  No mystery here.
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« Reply #407 on: March 07, 2018, 10:01:57 am »

He did it against the advice of his military advisers. It was an obvious violation of the Versailles Treaty. It was wildly popular with the German public. The Allies [Great Britain and France] did nothing. And the clock to war began ticking on this date in 1936, when the German Army [and SS] crossed a number of Rhine bridges, and re-occupied the Rhineland, acting on orders from Adolf Hitler.

The Rhineland had been demilitarized as part of the Versailles Treaty that ended world War I. While not annexed by any of the Allies [read: France, although the French wanted to], the Rhineland was, for a time, occupied by allied troops [including, initially, American troops] for easy access to Germany proper, to enforce other provisions of the Treaty [read: reparations]. And the Rhineland was to be unoccupied by the German Army, pursuant to the Treaty, after the Allies left.

By 1935, the Treaty itself was being shredded, mostly in secret [re-armament], and more and more in public. The German Army had, since Weimar, evaded provisions of the Treaty banning the Heere from tanks, etc., by a secret agreement with the Soviet Union, where German bases in Russia trained tank crews, and developed some armored prototypes [the Germans also used the front of building heavy agricultural 'tractors' at home]. The Germans also worked on aircraft in the Soviet Union, and on submarines [also banned] in Sweden].

Many of these subtrefuges were known to the Allies [particularly the British], but ignored because by the late '20s - early '30s, many in the allied camp thought the Treaty was unfair to the Germans.

For the Germans themselves, the Treaty was anathema. And Adolf Hitler announced publicly, and often that he would not honor that 'scrap of paper', and he proved a man of his word - publicly. In 1935 Hitler did three things that directly violated the provisions of the versailles Treaty. First, he re-introduced conscription, expanding the German Army beyond the 100,000 man limit provided by the Treaty. Second, he presented to the world, the Luftwaffe, a fully existent air force, also in violation of Versailles. third, and most cleverly, he negotiated a Naval Treaty with the British that made them complicit in his violation of the Naval provisions of the Treaty.

But Hitler wasn't done. A demilitarized Rhineland was a dagger pointed at Germany, allowing western enemies easy access to the German heartland beyond the Rhine. And for Hitler, that was intolerable. So he ordered the German Army to seize the Rhineland.

It was not an order that was popular with the leadership of the German Army, inasmuch as it caught them in the initial stages of expansion, with an army considerably smaller and weaker than its western opponents. But Hitler was banking on British indifference, if not implicit acquiesence, acting as  a brake on the French. The problem was his generals didn't agree with his analysis.

It was a critical moment in the history of the 20th century. The Generals sent the troops [in battalion strengths] into the Rhineland with two sets of orders: one to occupy the Rhineland, and the second to retreat at any show of force by the French or British. Moreover, there began discussions among some of them, sotto voce, about overthrowing the Hitler government.

And then, Hitler was proven right. The French did nothing. The British said nothing. And the German generals began to wonder if this Hitler fellow knew what he was doing. What THEY did was cease their plotting,fall in line, and prepare and hone the instrument that Hilter would unleash on the world in three years. the Wehrmacht.
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« Reply #408 on: March 07, 2018, 10:33:24 am »

In early 1941, the one bright spot in Great Britain's war against the Axis was in North Africa. After an Italian invasion of Egypt, the British had counter-attacked in late 1940, and driven the Italians out of Egypt, and out of eastern Libya, finally halting at the bottleneck of El Agheila, having secured both Tobruk and Benghazi to their rear. Somewhat worn by the tempo of desert war, the British halted to rest, refit, and replace. The Italians were in almost total disorder.

Nor was North Africa the least of Mussolini's problems. Piqued at Hitler's failure to tell him when the Germans were attacking in the West, Mussolini decided to surprise his ally, by launching an invasion of Greece from Italian held Albania, without prior consultation. The result was that the Italian army was stopped cold, and a Greek counterattack drove half way into Albania.

Adolf Hitler's plans for the Balkans [and Greece] were based on diplomacy, with the primary goal being a neutralized area, which protected the Ploesti oil fields, German'y principal source of petroleum. Those plans were shot to hell by Mussolini's actions [and a pro- British coup in Yugoslavia]. But since Hitler was massing troops in the East for BARBAROSSA, he had the means available to rectify the situation, and forestall any British attempt to get a toe hold in the Balkans, and bombers in a position to bomb Ploesti. Operation 'Punishment' [an assault on both Yugoslavia and Greece] was born.

In the real world, the British were in no position to successfully intervene in Greece. the Germans would be able to throw superior numbers of better armed troops [including armored formations] against anything the British could muster, all under superior numbers of German aircraft.

Despite this, and against the  of ALL his military advisers, Churchill insisted that the effort to aid the Greeks be undertaken. Strapped for time, the only British troops deployable to Greece on short notice were those in North Africa. And many of the troops in north Africa were those that were sent, leaving the units facing El Agheila understrength, and with worn out equipment.

And on March 7, 1941, the first British troops arrived in Greece.Within 12 weeks, they were driven out of mainland Greece, and the island of Crete, after onslaughts of aircraft, airborne, panzer and infantry formations. The Balkans [and Greece] were now Axis conquests.

But that wasn't the limit of the damage [nor Churchill's folly]. Back in North Africa, within some 3 weeks of the British troop withdrawal, a German force, sent to help the Italians defend the remainder of Libya, erupted out of El Agheila in an offensive that cleared Libya [except for Tobruk] of Commonwealth forces in less than a month. That German formation, allied with Italian motorized formations,  was the DUETSCHES AFRIKA KORPS, commanded by MG Erwin Rommel. And a British war that might have ended in early 1941, continued.

In late 1941, the Germans and Italians were again driven back to El Agheila. And AGAIN, Winston Churchill stripped the front of veteran troops, to send to Singapore. where they surrendered to the Japanese. And once again, sensing weakness, Rommel counterattacked, and again drove the British out of Libya. but this time he took Tobruk, and drove into Egypt itself. It wasn't until 1943 that Libya finally fell to the British, two years after it might have, but for Churchill's interference.
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« Reply #409 on: March 08, 2018, 10:39:29 am »

She began life as the U.S.S. MERRIMACK, a 40 gun frigate in the U.S. Navy. Berthed in the Gosford Navy Yard, in Norfolk, Virginia, she was sunk by U.S. troops when the base was overrun by Confederate forces. Raised by the Rebels, Merrimack was converted into an iron clad warship by the Confederate Navy, and christened as the C.S.S VIRGINIA, although she has come down to us in history more commonly known by her original name.

Covered in some 30 tons of iron plate, and framed with 2" oak, VIRGINIA had not only banks of cannon on both sides, but bow and stern guns as well. Leaving her lair on March 8th, 1862, she sailed to Hampton roads, and into history.

The U.S. naval squadron blockading the James River knew she was coming. But they were powerless to stop her. She engaged U.S.S CUMBERLAND, exchanging fire with her, and then ramming her and sinking her. She then sank U.S.S CONGRESS, when during the exchange of fire, CONGRESS' magazines exploded, sinking the ship. VIRGINIA's final victim was U.S.S. MINNESOTA, which VIRGINIA ran aground. Further damage and casualties were prevented by Mother Nature. due to sand bars, tidal flows, etc., VIRGINIA was forced to withdraw. But it was well understood she would return the next day to finish what she had started.

VIRGINIA did return next day. But she didn't finish what she started. Because when she arrived at Hampton roads, a squat, iron clad Union vessel awaited her. Described as a "cheese box on a raft", U.S.S. MONITOR was the brainchild, and creation of John Erickkson. Sitting low in the water, MONITOR eschewed banks of side mounted cannon, which harkened back to the Age of Sail, and relied on a fully traversible armored turret mounting two naval cannon.

The two ships sparred with each other, but while neither suffered extensive damage, MONITOR proved far more maneuverable - and deadly. Her turret allowed her to fire at VIRGINIA from any location within her range, without having to change the direction, and lay of the entire ship on a different line to fire her guns. When the shooting ended, VIRGINIA withdrew, and MONITOR held "the field".

VIRGINIA never sallied forth again. As the Union forces moved up the Penisula, in McClellan's 1862 campaign, she was again scuttled, this time for good.

But VIRGINIA was greater than the sum of her parts. In one day, March 8, 1862, and in one engagement, she proclaimed the demise of wooden warships for all the world to see.   
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« Reply #410 on: March 11, 2018, 09:48:30 am »

It eventually killed 20 million people, including well over half a million Americans. It is popularly known as 'The Spanish Flu', but it began, in fact, in the heartland of the United States, at Fort Riley Kansas.

The first victims showing signs of the disease that would sweep the world were U.S. soldiers, being trained for deployment to Europe in World War  I. That first day, over a hundred showed up for sick call at Fort Riley. Soon, others, with the same symptoms, appeared at other other bases, and other places in America.

It was Americans who carried the flu to Europe, at first decimating Allied troops and populations, then spreading across No Man's Land to affect the Germans, and from there to travel eastward, and southward to infect much of the world. And then, in a cruel irony, the influenza returned to the United States with the returning American troops after the Armistice, starting off another round of infection, and death.

The Spanish Flu was the closest the modern world has gotten to the Black Death of the Middle Ages. And we still don't know where it came from, how it developed or why. We do know mankind suffered a death toll unequaled by the combat deaths of the First World War.
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« Reply #411 on: March 12, 2018, 09:52:18 am »

1864: THE RED RIVER COCKUP [CAMPAIGN] BEGINS:

One of Lincoln's great problems in the civil War was getting and keeping various politicians 'onside' with his Administration and war aims. One of his solutions, and one of his worst, was to appoint them to high rank, in many cases General rank, in the Union Army. A few proved to be exceptionally able, like John Logan, and MG Meagher of the Irish Brigade. But most proved to be incompetent, like McClerland and Ben Butler. and then there was Nathaniel Banks.

Banks had taken Port Hudson, after Grant took Vicksburg. But his capture of the place was so bungled, it should have stood as a warning to Lincoln to send him on his way [Banks was a Massachusetts man, a state behind the war effort], especially since Banks had botched a previous command in the Shenandoah Valley. But he didn't. And then he doubled down by allowing Banks to command the army contingent in a combined arms offensive up the Red River which ran through western Louisiana and Texas. The naval contingent was commanded by Admiral David Porter, who had worked so well with Grant the year before.

Porter performed his part of the operation with skill and elan. Within a week, he had taken Alexandria, La. But Banks, with his army of 20,000 + men was moving far more slowly, arriving there two weeks after Porter. And as Banks moved toward Shreveport, he moved away from the river - and the protection and support of Porter's 20 ship flotilla's guns.

The result was catastrophic. Banks was attacked by a rebel army led by Richard Taylor, son of former President Zachary Taylor. Banks was routed, although when Taylor attacked again the next day, Banks' men held.

But it was all too much for Banks. Having surrendered the initiative to Taylor [and letting Taylor live in his head], Banks opted for retreat and full withdrawal.

That created a problem for Porter. with the Red River running low, it appeared his flotilla, soon to be at Taylor's mercy, was stuck, unable to move downstream because of the low waters. But an army engineer came to the rescue. By building a series of temporary dams, he allowed the water to rise behind the flotilla,which, when released, floated the flotilla to deeper water, and escape.

The entire campaign took a month, and accomplished nothing, except tie up Union resources more profitably employed elsewhere. The South held the Red river for the rest of the war. and Banks? He was relieved of command, but went on to participate in the south's Reconstruction.


1903: THE HIGHLANDERS TAKE THE FIELD:

By the early 20th century, the only professional major league in baseball, the National League, got competition, an upstart called the American League. And anxious to compete, that League offered teams inducements to join up.

One that did was the Baltimore Orioles [no relation to the current Orioles, who used to be the St. Louis Browns]. Moving to New York in 1903, the team was re-christened the New York Highlanders. And to say they were initially a failure is to be charitable. While some of their players were good, as a team they were not. And on top of that, they were competing in the same metropolitan area as the New York giants, and the Brooklyn Trolley Dodgers [later shotened to Dodgers].

Still, the highlanders had their fans. But the fans obstinately refused to refer to their team as 'Highlanders'. They called them "Yankees". And Yankees they became, and remained. And then two things happened that changed their fortune forever. One of their owners, Col. Jacob Rupert bought out his partners. and in 1920, he bought George Herman "Babe" Ruth, a pitching, outfielding, HITTING phenom from the Boston Red Sox of Harry Frazee. And the Yannkees never looked back.

The New York Yankees are the most successful sports franchise in America. Ever. they hold more World championships than any other sports franchise. The Baseball Hall of Fame is filled with their players. and it all started on this date in 1903, after a trip up from Baltimore.


1938: HITLER ANNEXES AUSTRIA - THE ANSCHLUSS

See "PzLdr History Facts", page 10
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« Reply #412 on: March 13, 2018, 09:35:17 am »

The French strategy was simple. air drop troops [mostly Foreign Legionnaires], into a remote valley, fortify it, build an air strip to resupply it, and let your elusive enemy come to you. What they forgot was the old saw, "Be careful what you wish for".

By 1954, the French had been engaged in assymetrical warfare with the Viet Mihn [the nationalist movement for independence in Vietnam, led by a suspicious number of communists] for almost a decade. And the French, while having success against mainline units in set battles, especially in the North, and especially when the Viet Minh moved prematurely, were not doing well in the overall scheme of things. The insurgents largely controlled the countryside. Their attacks were growing larger, and more sophisticated [they wiped out a French armored column on Bernard Fall's "Street Without Joy"]. And there seemed no end in sight.

So the new commander, Gen. Henry Navarre decided that if he couldn't get to the enemy, he'd bring the enemy to him. So in early 1954, he selected the valley of Dien Bien Phu, near the Laotian border to do just that.

Navarre reasoned that by using his air supremacy, and airborne troops, he could create a situation where the Viet Minh, when they reached him, would find an entrenched French force, reinforced and resupplied by air, in  a superior position, with superior firepower, and better troops [a large number of the Legionnaires were former Waffen SS, recruited from French POW camps]. The Viet Minh's problems would be exacerbated by being forced to attack far from their own supply depots, in an area with no roads.

But Viet Minh commander, Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap, saw an opportunity, because if his forces were in the middle of nowhere, so would be the French. And if he could neutralize the French air power, and firepower, he'd have them in a sack.

And Navarre handed Giap one crucial advantage. The French position, in a valley, was largely surrounded by tall hills and mountains - and were unoccupied by the French. and however held the high ground, dominated the French fortifications [akin to dorchester Heights being the key to boston in 1775].

And if Navarre handed Giap one advantage, MaoTze Tung handed Giap another, large numbers of American 105mm cannons, seized from the Nationalists when they were driven out of china, as well as ammo, AAA guns, and other equipment.

Giap prepared his battlefield before there was any actual fighting. Using the large number of porters avaialable to him, giap carved roads through the jungle, and up the mountains. Human muscle power moved the aertillery up the mountains, and into positions overlooking the valley. AAA guns were emplaced where they could cover the airfield, and its approach routes. It was at that point, that Giap brought in some 40,000  Viet Minh troops to surround Bien Bien Phu. And THEN he attacked.

The battle lasted until May, and pretty much proceeded as Giap had foreseen. The French almost immediately lost the use of the airfield. Anything coming in would now be by air drop only [and more paratroopers were dropped in]. The 105s blasted the French non-stop. And the Viet Minh infantry began overrunning the French 'forts' and outposts, which had been sited without consideration of mutual support.

By early May, it was over. Some 15,000 French troops were killed or captured. The debacle so impacted French morale at home, that France , in a manner of speaking, quit fighting, and agreed to Vietnamese independence at Geneva the same year as the battle [ after President Eisenhower's refusal to commit U.S. air assets, forces, and  nuclear weapons to the struggle.

Dien Bien Phu is one of the pivotal battles of the 20th century. It ended French colonial rule in southeast Asia, and paved the way for eventual U.S. involvement in Vietnam, and an almost 20 year war. It eventually led to a united, Communist Vietnam, and 'wars of national liberation' in Africa, South America,the Middle East, and southwest Asia. We are still feeling its' affects today. 
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« Reply #413 on: March 13, 2018, 12:43:23 pm »

I say what Bill and Hillary Clinton did was just as bad as what the Rosenbergs did, and they deserve the same punishment.  Where in hell is the DOJ to continue to allow these two to escape justice, and continue to roam our great country spreading their poison?  Where?

I consider the Clinton to be two of the greatest criminals of all time in America.  How many are dead because of these two self serving criminals?

I think we need to put more teeth into the crime of treason, and bring more people to the most servere punishment, and do it quickly after conviction, like the next day.  Perhaps then, we would see less treason in America.  I am certain there is a ton of it that goes undetected.  And in particular, I am certain China is getting just about every secret we have.  No mystery here.

Yes they are the biggest criminals of all time.
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« Reply #414 on: March 13, 2018, 08:57:19 pm »

More information I did not know...thank you for posting.
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« Reply #415 on: March 14, 2018, 09:14:30 am »

One of the fastest warships afloat, I.M.S DRESDEN, a light cruiser, first came to fame off South America's west coast, when as part of Admiral Maximilian von Spee's Far East Squadron [which, ironically, had previously detached DRESDEN's sister ship I.M.S EMDEN to commerce raid in the Pacific (and for whom the title quote was made by Winston Churchill)], she participated in the annihilation of a British squadron under Admiral Craddock at Coronel.

She next came into the news when Spee's squadron was intercepted near the Falkland Islands by a British squadron which included two battlecruisers, and sunk in its entirety - with the exception of DRESDEN, which escaped through a combination of foul weather and superior speed.

DRESDEN spent the period between Spee's destruction in 1914, and March, 1915 commerce raiding. She took a number of cargo ships off the southern part of Chile. and despite their best efforts, the British couldn't catch her, until she laid up in Cumberland Bay, in an archipelago of islands off Chile's coast.

Dresden was in Cumberland Bay effecting repairs after almost constant operations and sailing since before she joined Spee's squadron. But it was there the British found her. And after a brief, desultory exchange of fire, DRESDEN ran up the white flag. But she had no intent of surrendering. While a German officer negotiated a truce, DRESDEN scuttled herself - to the cheers of not only her crew, but the crews of the two British warships standing by. 

In the brief period between the beginning of World War I, and her sinking on March 13, 1915, DRESDEN had sailed over 20,000 miles, participated in two of the major sea battles of World War I, and disrupted seaborne trade off South America. But by March 14, 1915, she was gone, except in accounts of naval history, and the hearts and memories of naval devotees forever.
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« Reply #416 on: March 14, 2018, 10:18:03 am »

It had been taken by the Germans in Fall, 1941. They lost it in spring, 1942. They retook it later in 1942, but lost it again during the aftermath of the Stalingrad debacle. 'It' was the city of Kharkov, and in 1943, it became the notice to the world that the Waffen SS had matured into one of the deadliest fighting forces on the planet.

Kharkov had been the site, in its previous loss to the Soviets, of a scene unthinkable in Adolf Hitler's mind. As the Soviets closed on the city, he ordered its Waffen SS garrison, and their commander, SS LTG Paul 'Papa' Hausser to fight to the last bullet, hold unto death, all the usual fuehrer rants. And the motto of the Waffen SS, as of the entire SS was "Meine Ehre Heisst Treue" ['My Honor Is Loyalty'].

So it came as a surprise to Hitler, when Hausser disobeyed his order, abandoned the city, and saved his men [possibly due to the fact that Hausser had joined the SS after retiring as an Army General, and knew his way around a battlefield]. Hitler was outraged, Hausser's troops, not so much. Enter Erich von Manstein.

Manstein, Germany's greatest strategic mind, was put in charge of salvaging the wreckage of OPERATION BLAU ['BLUE'], the German summer offensive of 1942 that had failed against the oil fields of the Caucasus, and been crushed in the rubble of Stalingrad. He had three problems. first, he had t try to relieve the Sixth Army at Stalingrad. Second he had to shield the Rostov area from Soviet troops advancing past Stalingrad to the southwest aiming to take Rostov, and cut off the German troops retreating toward Rostov from the Caucasus [Kleist's Army]. And third, he had to funnel Kleist's troops through Rostov and deploy them facing the advancing Russians to the northeast. It was akin to taking an expert diamond cutter, and making him a juggler.

But Manstein pulled most of it off. He held the Rostov corridor, and allowed the bulk of Kleist's forces to pull through it [some crossed the Kerch Peninsula and Straits into Crimea]. His relief force got within striking distance of Stalingrad, but insufficient troop strength, increasing Soviet pressure and presence, and Paulus' refusal to move toward the relievers, doomed that effort. It did, however, allow Manstein to face an enemy with sizable numbers of troops he would otherwise have to contemplate in his planning, tied down elsewhere [Stalingrad].

Manstein [with Hitler strangely quiescent and agreeable] now planned on an active defense, using trading space for time, and sharp counterattacks to stabilize the front. Re-enter Paul Hausser.

Hausser's SS career had been intertwined with the Waffen SS since he joined. It was Hausser who had created and overseen the first SS Junkerschulen [SS Officers' Schools for Waffen SS officers]. It was Hausser who had commanded the first Waffen SS formation, the SS Verfungstruppen, which later evolved [with Hausser still in command] into the 2nd SS Panzer Division "DAS REICH". And it was Hausser who in 1943 now commanded the SS Panzer Corps, consisting of the three newly minted, equipped and trained SS Panzer Divisions, LEIBSTANDARTE ADOLF HITLER, DAS REICH and TOTENKOPF.. And it was that Panzer Corps that Manstein was going to use as a hammer against the soviets. and the opportunity came, interestingly enough, at Kharkov.

Manstein caught the Russians driving west southwest from the Kharkov area, and encouraged them to drive further with a fighting withdrawal. And when the moment was right, he sent in Hausser. The SS first cut off the advancing Soviets, and drove them into other German armored units. They then turned, and hit Kharkov from both flanks and the front. The city fighting was brutal [in part because some of the Soviet units were NKVD]. But by March 14th, the city was again German. And the vicotry was Waffen SS.

The Waffen SS showed in the campaign leading up to, and during the battle for, and in, Kharkov, they had come of age.  No more stupid frontal attacks against odds and defenses. They now demonstrated a clear mastery of mobile tactics and maneuver, the use of coordinated firepower, and sophisticated infantry tactics. Coupled with their fanaticism, their willingness to deal death and accept it, they now became one of the most lethal, and justly feared and hated military formations to march across history.
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PzLdr
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« Reply #417 on: March 14, 2018, 11:51:17 pm »

See "PzLdr History Facts" Archive, page 10.
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« Reply #418 on: March 17, 2018, 07:15:17 am »

See "PzLdr History Facts" archive, page 10
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« Reply #419 on: March 20, 2018, 12:57:57 pm »

One of the fastest warships afloat, I.M.S DRESDEN, a light cruiser, first came to fame off South America's west coast, when as part of Admiral Maximilian von Spee's Far East Squadron [which, ironically, had previously detached DRESDEN's sister ship I.M.S EMDEN to commerce raid in the Pacific (and for whom the title quote was made by Winston Churchill)], she participated in the annihilation of a British squadron under Admiral Craddock at Coronel.

She next came into the news when Spee's squadron was intercepted near the Falkland Islands by a British squadron which included two battlecruisers, and sunk in its entirety - with the exception of DRESDEN, which escaped through a combination of foul weather and superior speed.

DRESDEN spent the period between Spee's destruction in 1914, and March, 1915 commerce raiding. She took a number of cargo ships off the southern part of Chile. and despite their best efforts, the British couldn't catch her, until she laid up in Cumberland Bay, in an archipelago of islands off Chile's coast.

Dresden was in Cumberland Bay effecting repairs after almost constant operations and sailing since before she joined Spee's squadron. But it was there the British found her. And after a brief, desultory exchange of fire, DRESDEN ran up the white flag. But she had no intent of surrendering. While a German officer negotiated a truce, DRESDEN scuttled herself - to the cheers of not only her crew, but the crews of the two British warships standing by. 

In the brief period between the beginning of World War I, and her sinking on March 13, 1915, DRESDEN had sailed over 20,000 miles, participated in two of the major sea battles of World War I, and disrupted seaborne trade off South America. But by March 14, 1915, she was gone, except in accounts of naval history, and the hearts and memories of naval devotees forever.

Wow 20,000 miles. Quite a history for a ship.
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