August 6, 2021

History Content for the Future

World War Two Day by Day

On 4 August 1942, the Soviet Western Front under General Georgy Zhukov goes on the offensive against the Rzhev salient. Back on the 31st, two days after the issuing of Order 227, we saw how the Kalinin Front launched its devastating attack on the German fortress of Rzhev from the north. Although very successful on the first day due to the sheer amount of artillery used in the offensive, the advance quickly mired down as heavy rains turned the shell-cratered battlefield into an impassable sea of mud.
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The Kalinin Front's artillery commander recalls: 'Whoever attacked back then in the lowlands and swamps in the vicinity of Rzhev will scarcely ever forget these days. Rain was coming down in torrents, instantly filling the freshly dug entrenchments. Your feet became stuck so firmly in the black, viscous glop that it would trap boots like claws […] The muck was our main adversary.'
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With the Kalinin Front mired down within sight of Rzhev, the Soviets look to Georgy Zhukov to launch his attack from the east. However, the relentless rains delay his plans, and it isn't until today that the guns of the Western Front open up. The barrage blasts through the lines held by the German 161st Infantry Division, posted on the River Derzha, east of Rzhev. Two Soviet armies follow right behind the artillery fire, routing the 161st and gaining 8 kilometers (5 mi) of ground.
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Army Chief of Staff Franz Halder writes of the situation: 'Very heavy penetration on the eastern front of Ninth Army in direction of Zubtsov.' He then adds that armored reinforcements from the 3rd Panzer Army are on the way from the south, but it will take some time for them to arrive. Although the Germans had reserves in this area, all of them have already moved to Rzhev to face the Kalinin Front, showing how desperate the situation there remains despite the stalemate.
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Photo: A German tank stuck in the mud at the front near Rzhev, July 1942.
Source: NAC, 2-921
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#Rzhev #Meatgrinder #Zhukov #Panzer #Tank #Soldier #Wehrmacht #USSR #Soviet #RedArmy #Army #Strategy #Tactics #Artillery #Mud #Attack #Offensive #Front
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On 3 August 1942, Italian motorboats attack two Soviet warships in the Black Sea. Up until recently, Soviet supremacy on this enclosed sea was uncontested, with the Red Fleet possessing one battleship, five cruisers, 17 destroyers, and 44 submarines at the outbreak of war. In comparison, German ally Romania only had four destroyers, three torpedo boats, and a submarine.
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This disparity in strength initially did not bother the Axis much, as the German armed forces were convinced they could simply bypass the area and seize the Soviet ports by land. With the prolonging of the war into 1942, the German attitude toward the Black Sea changed as Sevastopol continued to hold out through a continuous stream of reinforcements by sea. The obvious answer to this Soviet lifeline would be airpower, but with the Luftwaffe units on Crimea lacking numbers and experience against naval targets, a true blockade could never be established.
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The Germans instead began looking toward small surface vessels to help with the sealing of Sevastopol and sent six 'S-Boot' torpedo boats down the Danube, as well as three disassembled coastal submarines, which have yet to be reassembled in Romania. In possibly the first and last time ever during the war, the Germans urged the Italians to come to their assistance, which they dutifully did by sending six 'MAS' motorboats and six midget submarines of their own.
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The Italian units arrived just in time to support the final Axis offensive on Sevastopol, bringing down several freighters and submarines ferrying between the besieged city and the Caucasus. Now, they are tasked with protecting the forces in Crimea and supporting a possible amphibious assault across the Kerch Strait, as ordered by Hitler last month.
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Today, three Italian MAS boats engage the Soviet cruiser Molotov as its bombarding the harbor of Feodosia. MAS 658 manages to hit Molotov's stern with a torpedo stern and inflicts light damage on destroyer Kharkov. Both limp away from the battle, which will leave Molotov out of service for nearly a whole year.
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Photo: A color photo by Horst Grund of an Italian midget submarine crew in Crimea, 1942.
Source: Bundesarchiv N 1603 Bild-289
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On 2 August 1942, Dutch submarine O-23 sinks a Japanese freighter off Malaya, proving that the Dutch are not entirely defeated. Although they lost their homeland to the Germans in the spring of 1940, followed by the East Indies to the Japanese earlier this year, sizeable Dutch forces continue the fight from abroad. One such branch is the Royal Netherlands Navy, which largely avoided capture in 1940 but was badly beaten two years later at the Battle of the Java Sea.
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Among those that escaped German capture in 1940 is submarine O-23. She was hurriedly commissioned into service during those chaotic May days to make a dash for Britain, where she completed her fittings. From there, O-23 went on a dozen largely uneventful patrols before being transferred to Ceylon to join the submarine fleet that fled the Dutch East Indies.
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Now, Lieutenant-Commander Albertus Valkenburg and his crew of O-23 find themselves on their first patrol in the Indian Ocean, and they are immediately provided with targets. On July 27th, O-23 damages a small Japanese merchant in the Strait of Malacca, but she has to withdraw when the deck gun jams and destroyers appear on the scene. Valkenburg is able to save the submarine by diving between the two Japanese destroyers, causing the Japanese hydrophone operators to lose the tail of O-23.
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Two days later, O-23 sights two Japanese heavy cruisers escorted by three destroyers, and she fires a volley of torpedoes toward the big prize. None materialize, and O-23 again has to dive as the destroyers unleash a barrage of depth charges, giving the cruisers time to get away.
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Today, Valkenburg gets a chance to redeem his failures when a vulnerable target presents itself in his periscope: '0840 hours - Sighted a convoy made up of one armed merchant [...] that was acting as escort. This ship was followed by four merchant vessels. Started attack.' Although the first torpedo detonates right after leaving the tube, nearly destroying O-23, the second makes its way to 6,440 ton freighter Zenyo Maru, killing 27 upon impact and sinking the ship not much later.
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Photo: Dutch submariners having tea aboard O-14, January 1942.
Source: IWM, A 7751
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#Submarine #Dutch
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On 1 August 1942, the Japanese install a civilian puppet administration in Burma under the leadership of Prime Minister Ba Maw. During the first half of this year, we saw how the Imperial Japanese Army overran the entire British colony of Burma in a rapid campaign. Many minority groups, most notably the Indians, fled the country for fear of racial violence coming from the Japanese or their Burmese fellow countrymen. The latter group was more receptive toward the invaders, with some seeing them as liberators from British rule.
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Their enthusiasm was reflected in the exponential growth of the Burma Independence Army (BIA). Created under Japanese supervision, the BIA actively fought alongside the Japanese to kick out the British. However, the army quickly spun out of control, and soon, bandits claiming to be a part of the BIA ravaged the lands. The Japanese decided to disband the BIA and reorganize it into the Burma Defense Army, turning it into a regular army aided by Japanese officers.
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Another attempt at extending their control over the conquered lands begins today with the installment of a civilian puppet regime under Prime Minister Ba Maw. During his younger years, Ba Maw had a proper education, studying in Rangoon, receiving a master's degree in Calcutta, obtaining a law degree in Cambridge, and writing a doctoral thesis in Bordeaux. After defending the anti-colonial Burmese independence fighter Saya San in court, he rose to the political stage as an outspoken advocate of self-rule.
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With the outbreak of war, the British put Ba Maw behind bars for sedition, but he was promptly released by the Japanese, who have now found a good use for him. They put him in charge of a civilian government tasked with the day-to-day management of the conquered territory. Although the Japanese have no intention of giving the Burmese independence anytime soon, Ba Maw and his administration start building a new government from scratch, hopeful about what they see as the first step to full independence.
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Photo: Japanese troops in Burma, 1942.
Source: Mainichi Newspaper, Tsushinsha
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#Burma #Myanmar #Rangoon #Yangon #Japan #IJA #Independence #Freedom #Colony
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On 30 July 1942, the Red Army launches an offensive against Rzhev. During the fall and winter, the central part of the front before Moscow saw the bulk of the Eastern Front's fighting in a massive back-and-forth. It resulted in a large German salient toward Rzhev, with sizeable Soviet formations operating in their rear areas.
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However, since then, things have been mostly quiet at Rzhev. The German 9th Army has used the lull in the fighting to establish elaborate defenses in the area. The city of Rzhev, only a dozen kilometers away from the front, has been turned into a fortress, while the surrounding villages act as strongpoints, interconnected with trenches.
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To secure their supply lines, the Germans have in recent weeks mostly cleared the Soviet pockets in their rear in Operations 'Hanover' and 'Seydlitz', and have even begun gathering their forces further south to launch a limited offensive against the Soviet Western Front in Operation 'Wirbelwind', or 'Whirlwind'.
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But just like at Kharkov back in May, the Soviets beat the Germans to the punch. They have made more ambitious plans of their own to clear the northern bank of the Volga, the eastern bank of the Vazuza River, and liberate the towns of Rzhev and Gzhatsk. It will be up to General Ivan Konev's Kalinin Front to deal the first blow in the north before Georgy Zhukov's Western Front joins in from the west.
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Gathered for the operation along the two fronts are nearly half a million men, over 1,700 tanks, and thousands of artillery and rocket artillery pieces. With double the material strength and three times more infantry than the Germans, Konev's forces begin blasting away on a front of only ten kilometers (6 mi).
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When the Soviet infantry hurls itself at the German trenches today amid torrential rains, they find that their artillery barrage has blasted everything and everyone out of their way. By the end of the day, the Soviets have already covered half the distance toward Rzhev, but it is here that their attack quickly mires down, as the tanks are unable to join the infantry through the sea of mud.
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Photo: Ivan Konev inspecting the troops of his Kalinin Front, 4 May 1942.
Source: Unknown.
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#Konev
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On 28 July 1942, General Secretary of the Soviet Union Joseph Stalin issues Order 227. During the past month, we have seen how endless Soviet columns fell back eastward in a retreat-turned-rout. Today, Stalin decides to intervene with an order to be read aloud to all men and women of the Red Army.
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'The enemy [...] penetrates deeper into the Soviet Union, captures new areas, devastates and plunders our cities and villages, rapes, kills and robs the Soviet people. [...] Every commander, every soldier and political officer has to realize that our resources are not infinite. The territory of the Soviet Union is not a wilderness, but people – workers, peasants, intelligentsia, our fathers and mothers, wives, brothers, children.'
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Stalin then goes on to say what economic resources are being given up without a fight and how they strengthen the enemy before concluding that 'it is time to stop the retreat. "Ni shagu nazad!" - Not a single step back! This must henceforth be our slogan.'
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Stalin ends the order with concrete measures to 'introduce the strictest order and strong discipline in our army'. He orders the formation of one to three penal battalions for every front where soldiers 'who have broken discipline due to cowardice or instability, should be sent. These battalions should be put on the more difficult sections of a front, thus giving them an opportunity to redeem their crimes against the Motherland by blood.'
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He then orders the formation of three to five barricade detachments behind every division with the task of executing 'panic-mongers and cowards at site in case of panic and chaotic retreat, thus giving faithful soldiers a chance to do their duty before the Motherland.'
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Although the order is received with much patriotism across the Soviet Union and along the front, time will have to tell whether these draconian measures will instill the iron discipline that Stalin demands from his Red Army.
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Photo: Lieutenant Yeremenko leading an assault - he was killed minutes after the taking of this photograph. Voroshilovgrad, 12 July 1942.
Source: RIA Novosti, #543
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#RedArmy #Soviet #Order227 #SovietUnion #USSR #GreatPatrioticWar #OTD #History #Stalingrad
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On 23 July 1942, the chairman of the Jewish Council in Warsaw, Adam Czerniaków, commits suicide, having failed to save the ghetto from the fate of deportation. The Warsaw Ghetto has been in existence for two years now, with around 400,000 people crammed into a space of only three square kilometers (1.2 square mi). The Jewish Council oversees the day-to-day management of the ghetto, walking the fine line of obeying the Germans and easing the situation for the inhabitants.
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However, the Council's hopes of sitting out the war the best way they can are shattered on the 22nd when the Germans announce the commencement of the Great Action Warsaw. In it, 6,000 people are to be deported for 'resettlement' on a daily basis, and it is up to the Jewish Council to decide who that will be, or rather who won't be.
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Although their actual destination, the newly completed extermination factory of Treblinka, is held a secret, rumors of other death camps and massacres have spread throughout the ghetto. Some in the Council can connect the dots; others refuse to believe anyone would kill a community of nearly half a million.
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Chairman Czerniaków is now in an impossible position. He has long tried to improve the situation in the ghetto, especially for its children, for whom he has set up schools and orphanages. He tries to obtain an exemption for the orphans, but to his horror, they are among the first to be rounded up and deported. The SS instead increases the pressure on him by threatening to shoot his wife if the deportations are impeded in any way.
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Czerniaków can only watch in pain as thousands are forced to the collection point by the Jewish Police, under his authority. Later in the afternoon, he decides that he will not take part in this any longer and determines that there's no alternative but to end his own life. He leaves his wife the following note: 'They are demanding that I kill the children of my people with my own hands. There is nothing for me to do but die.'
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Photo: A boy begging in the Warsaw Ghetto, 19 September 1941.
Source: Yad Vashem, 15710
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#Warsaw #Ghetto #Orphan #Child #Begging #Treblinka #Holocaust #Shoa #Czerniakow #Warszawa #Poland #Polska #War
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On 21 July 1942, Japanese forces establish new beachheads on the northern coast of New Guinea for an overland advance toward Port Moresby. The Japanese already landed at Lae back in March to build an airfield for operations against Port Moresby, but they haven't made any overland offensives through the rugged terrain since then. They tried to seize Port Moresby by sea back in April, but a naval clash in the Coral Sea foiled those plans.
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With the loss of the carrier fleet at Midway, the Japanese odds for a second attempt by sea have not improved, meaning that it has to be a land offensive or no offensive at all. However, they are uncertain whether it's even possible. Vague accounts by a British explorer describe a road through the Kokoda plateau and across the Owen Stanley mountain range, but aerial reconnaissance could only spot parts of it. Road or not, it is their best bet at grabbing Port Moresby, so the Japanese go through with the plan.
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Opposing them are the Australians and the local Papuan population. A sizeable Australian force has been assembled at Port Moresby already, as commander Douglas MacArthur desires to seize the initiative in the South Pacific. His eyes are on New Guinea as well, hoping to establish new airfields north of the Owen Stanley Range to attack Lae and eventually Rabaul. Codenamed Operation 'Providence', an Australian battalion begins its trek northward to join up with the militias of the Papuan Infantry Battalion.
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That battalion has yet to arrive when, today, the Japanese invasion fleet gathers off Gona and Buna and begins shelling the beach while the hopelessly outnumbered Papuans avoid confrontation. During the evening, some 3,000 Japanese forces disembark to establish a beachhead and move land inward. Their job will be to clear the way for the main force that is yet to come by finding the best route to Kokoda and conducting repairs where necessary, all to facilitate a smooth offensive toward Port Moresby.
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Photo: Australian soldiers looking at the scenery toward Kokoda, October 1942.
Source: AWM, 026834
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#Kokoda #Papua #NewGuinea #Anzac #Australia #Japan #Jungle #Trail #Track #Kokoda #Soldier #Military
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On 20 July 1942, the Jews of the Nieswiez ghetto rise up against the occupation forces in an armed revolt. The town of Nieswiez, located on the eastern border of what was up until 1939 called Poland, was overwhelmed by German forces during the opening days of Operation Barbarossa.
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Its inhabitants became acquainted with the war of annihilation when security troops rounded up the Jewish population in October 1941. Some 600 essential workers were selected and then sent to the improvised ghetto, while 4,000 were marched off to the woods and executed en masse. With the majority of their friends and family murdered, the 600 survivors went to work for the Germans. They faced exhaustion, starvation, and daily humiliation, but they were alive.
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However, as summer comes around, so do the rumors of renewed violence in the region. Stories of massacres throughout the area begin to circulate, until on July 17th, the ghetto learns of killings at neighboring Horodzei. The Jews of Nieswiez realize that it can only be a matter of days until it is their turn. One inhabitant of the ghetto, Shalom Cholawski speaks to the community at the synagogue:
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'Fellow Jews! We are isolated and cut off from the Jewish world, from the world at large. It may be that not a word of our plight has been heard. It may be that we are the last of the ghettos and the last of the Jews. We must fight for our lives! We shall defend the ghetto, the place of suffering. We will fight as would the last remaining Jews on the soil of their homeland. We will prepare, now, to strike.'
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When German forces and local auxiliaries close in today, a firefight breaks out between the Germans and the Jews, armed with smuggled guns and improvised weapons. While some hold off the Germans, others set alight their homes to add to the chaos and head for the barbed wire fence. Those that make it through flee to the forests to join up with the partisans and other refugees, but many more are killed in the attempt.
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Photo: A German machine gunner during anti-partisan operations, August 1942.
Source: NAC, 2-1931
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#Ghetto #Jewish #Jew #Shoa #Holocaust #Soldier #Machinegun #Revolt #Nieswiez #Poland #Polska #Uprising #Resistance
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On 19 July 1942, Commander of the German U-boat fleet, Admiral Karl Dönitz, pulls his last boats away from the United States east coast, bringing an end to the 'American Shooting Season'. Operation Drumbeat started soon after the American entry into the war and brought devastation to shipping along the east coast. At first, it was just the large Type IX U-boats that could operate in these distant waters, but with the arrival of 'milk cow' resupply ships, the smaller, more maneuverable Type VII U-boats began patrolling there as well.
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Transport and tanker losses continued to mount as the U.S. Navy had no adequate reply to the U-boat menace. Despite repeated British advice for implementing a convoy system, Commander-in-Chief Admiral Ernest King refused, convinced that convoys would only make for easier targets with his shortage of escort vessels and aircraft. The loss of tankers was especially crushing, causing immediate fuel shortages and rationing along the east coast.
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That began to change in the second half of April when the Americans finally organized themselves into convoys. Warships and aircraft began to make a difference, and U-boats started moving more and more south to hunt in the Caribbean waters, where anti-submarine measures are still lacking behind.
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Today, Dönitz calls his last U-boats away from the east coast and to the North Atlantic to operate against the transoceanic convoys. It means that we will likely see a new peak in large confrontations between convoys and wolf packs, as was the case during the previous phase of the Battle of the Atlantic. With his decision, the most successful period for the U-boat fleet so far comes to an end. In the past six months, the Germans have sunk 3,040,089 gross register tonnage of Allied shipping, equal to 23 merchant ships for every U-boat.
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For the Americans, the past months have been an outright disaster. Besides the material losses, thousands of merchant mariners have fallen victim to sinkings, making it a deadlier job than any other in the actual military.
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Photo: A U-boat returns from patrol, St. Nazaire, 16 June 1942.
Source: Bundesarchiv Bild 101II-MW-6434-33
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#Uboot #DasBoot #Uboat #Merchant
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On 18 July 1942, the Battle of El Alamein enters a lull where both sides lick their wounds. Yesterday, we saw how Indian and British troops fought off a German attack at Ruweisat Ridge, while the Australians suffered heavy losses in an offensive against Miteiriya Ridge.
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A lull in the fighting ensues, providing especially the Axis with some much-needed breathing space. Within days, the odds have decidedly swung against Erwin Rommel and his men. He writes to his wife on the 17th: 'Things are going downright badly for me at the moment [...]. The enemy is using his superiority, especially in infantry, to destroy the Italian formations one by one, and the German formations are much too weak to stand alone. It's enough to make one weep.'
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Italian Commander-in-Chief Ugo Cavallero promises him reinforcements and his best efforts to improve the dire supply situation that same afternoon, but Rommel remains skeptical, writing today: 'Militarily, this is the most difficult period I've ever been through. There is help in sight, of course, but whether we will live to see it is a question. You know what an incurable optimist I am. But there are situations where everything is dark.'
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While the man with the tidiest tent has trouble on his mind, so do the men in the field. The lull in the continuous fighting is a welcome change for sure, but the other enemy, the environment, is not about to give them a break. The scorching July heat continues to wear down on the men in the trenches while the flies that feast on the dead harass the living unabated. Water and food are scarce for both sides, but the lack of relief is an especially big frustration among the Axis.
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Some Italian soldiers have been at the front since the very beginning of the war, with only sporadic periods of leave at divisional entertainment centers on the coast or Benghazi. Homesickness is widespread, and with the only legitimate reason for repatriation being marriage, some instruct their relatives to find them a bride just to escape the horrors of the African Front.
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Photo: Italian soldiers stock up on water, Egypt, summer 1942.
Source: ACS, 46739
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#Italia #Italy #Guerra #Africa #Desert #Soldier #Alamein
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On 16 July 1942, the Final Solution comes to France with a massive roundup of Jews in Paris. Jews in both occupied France and unoccupied Vichy France have been subject to antisemitic legislation since the country’s capitulation. Deportations to concentration camps have so far been mostly limited to male Jewish refugees from abroad, but today, the scope increases.
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Like the Netherlands, France will now be included in the systematic extermination of the perceived Jewish race. During the previous days, all preparations have been made by the German authorities in cooperation with the French authorities. In the negotiations, the two parties decided on a two-day delay to avoid provoking demonstrations on Bastille Day. Although the Germans wish to include French Jews in these first deportations, the Vichy government is reluctant to agree to this, instead opting for ramped-up deportation of foreign Jews, including women and children.
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Early in the morning today, several thousand Parisian policemen go from door to door to arrest the registered Jewish refugees. While some of the policemen are sympathetic to the families they're apprehending, even giving advance warnings of their arrival to give them a chance of escape, many others are more zealous in performing their duty. All in all, some 14,000 people are rounded up and marched off to the 'Vélodrome d'Hiver', a bicycling stadium, for confinement.
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The conditions there are abysmal. For several days, the thousands of arrested families will be kept in the overcrowded stadium with only a handful of toilets and little to no food or water. The stench in the sealed stadium is unbearable, while the sound of screams and cries reverberates all around. So desperate is the situation that some resort to suicide by jumping off the indoor balcony; perhaps a more merciful end than the one that awaits the others.
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Over the following days, they will be transported to concentration camps around Paris, such as Drancy, before heading to Auschwitz, with the gas chamber as their final destination.
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Photo: Two Jewish women wearing the yellow star, Paris, June 1942.
Source: Bundesarchiv Bild 183-N0619-506
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#Paris #Jewish #VeldHiv #France
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On 14 July 1942, the systematic deportation of Dutch Jews to the east begins. Antisemitic legislation appeared only gradually in the occupied Netherlands but was immediately highly effective at identifying people of Jewish ancestry through the elaborate Dutch records and the civil administration that was largely kept intact.
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At first, the Dutch showed solidarity with their Jewish fellow countrymen in the February Strike of 1941, protesting the implementation of antisemitic laws. By now, however, all organized opposition has been largely suppressed. As everywhere else in Europe, the Jews have been socially isolated in ghettos, barred from public life, and labeled with yellow stars.
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It has all led up to today, the start of the Final Solution to the Jewish Question in the Netherlands, as openly propagandized in the German-controlled newspapers. Under the ruse of 'labor in the east', 4,000 people have been called up to report for transportation. Their first stop will be the former refugee camp of Westerbork, turned into a relatively comfortable transit camp to deceive the prisoners of their fate at Auschwitz.
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While we know what awaits them there, the unlucky recipients can only guess. Some comply and report for transportation; others wish to escape but have nowhere to go, while some go into hiding. Only a fraction of the 4,000 shows up, leading the German security police to increase the pressure. They randomly arrest 700 people in the streets of the ghetto and threaten to deport them if the called-upon do not report for 'labor'. As more people show up for transport, the hostages are released, for now.
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Among those who manage to go into hiding is 13-year old Anne Frank. Her older sister Margot has also received a letter announcing her imminent transportation, but her father Otto has prepared a hiding spot. The Frank family moves into the secret annex of Otto's office, where Anne will document their life in hiding in a diary she got for her birthday just last month.
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Photo: Deportation of Jews, Amsterdam, 1943.
Source: Yad Vashem, 53698
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#Deportation #Jewish #Jew #Hebrew #Holocaust #Shoa #Shoah #Amsterdam #Netherlands #Nederland #WO2 #Deportatie #AnneFrank
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On 12 July 1942, German forces capture Soviet General Andrey Vlasov. During the past months, his isolated 2nd Shock Army has been left for dead in the swamps of the Volkhov. Requests to break out to friendly lines were repeatedly denied by Joseph Stalin, who kept hopes that Leningrad could be relieved.
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When Vlasov finally receives permission to withdraw, his once-mighty shock army has already been reduced to a starving, disillusioned and disorganized mess, unable to defend nor attack. He orders his men to disperse and find their way to friendly lines in small groups on June 24th. Few succeed, and Vlasov himself is finally captured today, hiding in a small hut in the village of Tukhovetchi.
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Born into a peasant family, Vlasov was drafted into the Red Army during the Civil War, where he quickly proved himself as a capable soldier. He quickly rose through the ranks and eventually got to command a division in 1938 before being sent to China as an advisor, avoiding the Great Purge.
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In this war, Vlasov quickly distinguished himself as a competent commander in the battles of Kiev and Moscow, after which he personally met with Stalin and was entrusted with a key position on the Volkhov Front. Although he is allowed to escape the pocket by plane and later has a partisan party looking to save him, he develops a hatred for the Soviet regime, which he feels has betrayed him and his men.
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His captors immediately send him to the headquarters of German army commandant Georg Lindemann, where he gets a courteous reception. He will soon be sent to the high-ranking prisoner camp at Vinnytsia, Ukraine, where he will get in contact with other captured officers and lay the foundations of a collaborationist 'Russian Liberation Army'.
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Thousands of 'Hilfswilliger', or auxiliary volunteers, are already serving in the Wehrmacht in security and support roles, ready to form a unified army against bolshevism. However, it remains to be seen if the Nazi regime will trust Vlasov and his Russian staff to lead their own army.
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Photo: Andrey Vlasov during a speech, 1942-5.
Source: NAC, 2-1982
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#Vlasov #ROA #РОА #AndreyVlasov #Soviet #USSR #SovietUnion #General #RedArmy #Wehrmacht
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On 11 July 1942, Adolf Hitler issues Directive No. 43, outlining a German landing in the Caucasus from the Crimea. Back on the 4th, we saw how the Germans and Romanians completed the conquest of Crimea with the capture of Sevastopol, bringing the deadly campaign to an end.
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Since then, the battle-weary survivors of the German 11th Army have been granted leave to enjoy the vast amounts of captured Crimean wine on the beaches of Yalta as fresh recruits trickle in to bring the divisions up to strength. The Romanians are given the dirty job of mopping up partisan resistance cells, while Einsatzgruppe D moves into Sevastopol to eliminate the enemies of national socialism.
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Today, the 11th Army receives new orders from Hitler himself to prepare for a new campaign. In Führer Directive No. 43, Hitler orders preparations to commence for Operation 'Blücher': an amphibious offensive across the Kerch Strait. The 11th Army is to land on the opposite end of the strait using the ships already in the Black Sea and chartered vessels from Romania and Bulgaria. After landing, the units involved are to expand their beachhead and seize the main Soviet naval base of Novorossiysk.
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Hitler also mentions the option of using airborne troops. One of the 11th Army's divisions, the 22nd, was originally an air landing division that took part in the Battle for The Hague back in 1940. In the following campaigns, the division acted as a regular infantry division, but now plans are on the table to convert it back to its original form.
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Another way in which Hitler mentions the use of airborne units is as a commando force to seize and hold the Maykop oil installations on the foothills of the Caucasus. It is to be expected that, when the 11th Army moves east in the next phase of the operation, the Soviets will attempt to sabotage the oil facilities. Hitler, therefore, includes Operation 'Schamil' in which an airborne unit is to prevent that from happening and secure the desperately needed oil for the Reich.
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Photo: German soldiers washing their horses, Crimea, 1942.
Source: Bundesarchiv N 1603 Bild-112
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#Crimea #Caucasus #Soldiers #Leave #Wehrmacht #Soldat #Horse #Beach #Army #FallBlau #Water
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On 7 July 1942, the merchant ships of convoy PQ 17 are categorically slaughtered by German U-boats and aircraft. The convoy left Iceland for Archangel, northern Russia, back on the 27th, carrying much-needed supplies for the Red Army. A force of cruisers, destroyers, and other small warships provide close cover, while the Home Fleet acts as a distant cover to steam to the convoy's help should the Kriegsmarine move to intercept or break into the Atlantic.
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On July 1st, German aircraft from Norway spot the convoy, and U-boat start shadowing the convoy but make no attempt at piercing the convoy's escort screen. That job lies with the capital ships of the Kriegsmarine anchored in the Norwegian fjords, who wait for the convoy to slip into the Barents Sea and out of the Home Fleet's protection zone.
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When reports reach the Admiralty that the Kriegsmarine has lifted its anchor, it has to make a tough call. Push through with the convoy, and it will be obliterated by the German capital fleet; turn it around to seek safety with the Home Fleet, and the close escorts will run out of fuel; scatter the convoy to deprive the Kriegsmarine of a concentrated target, and it will be vulnerable to U-boat and air attacks.
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The Admiralty eventually decides on the last alternative: scatter. However, unbeknownst to them, the overcautious German capital ships quickly abandon their plan when they realize that their sortie has alerted the British. So while the threat posed by the surface fleet to the convoy has now passed, the isolated merchants are now extremely vulnerable to U-boat and aerial attacks without their escorts. It turns out to be a disastrous decision.
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Over the next long and bright Arctic days, the merchant ships are picked off one by one, until by today, the few survivors out of an original number of 35 gather off Novaya Zemlya to make the final dash together. Again, U-boats are waiting for them, and the losses continue to mount. Tune in to our YouTube channel this Saturday to see how their perilous voyage ends.
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Photo: A German U-boat in the Arctic, July 1942.
Source: IWM, HU 40267
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