Tag Archives: German

Deep down in his heart the genuine Englishman has a rugged distaste for seeing his country invaded by a foreign army. People were asking themselves by what right these aliens had overrun British soil. An ever-growing feeling of annoyance had begun to lay hold of the nation… P.G. Wodehouse

Voices prophesying war : future wars, 1763-3749  I.F. Clarke  Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 1992  Hardcover. Rev. ed. of: Voices prophesying war, 1763-1984. 1966. x, 268 p. : ill. ; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. [218]-223) and index. Checklist of imaginary wars [in English, French, and German literature], 1763-1990: p. [224]-262. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

In 1918, the American colonists were loyal subjects of the British crown, the British army crushed the Russians at Vienna with a roar of musketry and cavalry charges, the British navy unveiled its secret weapon (fireships), and the British king–after personally leading his men in battle – claimed the title of King of France. Or so went a less-than-accurate prediction from 1763 entitled The Reign of George VI, 1900-1925.  It was the first of a long line of fiction forecasting the shape of wars to come.

In Voices Prophesying War, I.F. Clarke provides a fascinating history of this unusual genre – a strand of fiction that has revealed more about contemporary concerns than the direction of the future. The real surge of fiction about future wars, he writes, took place after the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71. Clarke skillfully evokes the context of fear and political tension that gripped Britain after the German victory as he describes a wave of stories that predicted a foreign conquest of England.

Starting with The Battle of Dorking (an account of a German invasion that was later translated and issued by the Nazis in 1940), forecasts of a future catastrophic war led to an invasion scare and a demand for military reforms. The French, too, fought fictional wars with Germany over Alsace-Lorraine (and occasionally with Britain), taking revenge in print for their humiliating defeat in 1871.

The tense years just before World War I spawned another surge of fiction predicting the next great war, (leading P. G. Wodehouse to publish a hilarious parody, The Swoop! or, How Clarence Saved England, depicting an attack by eight separate enemies on an England so indifferent that the newspapers report the invasion with the cricket scores).

But Clarke shows how the predictions were taken seriously by the public and the military authorities. In 1906, Field Marshal Lord Roberts collaborated on an invasion scare story to promote his campaign for a larger army (and the newspaper that published it had him reroute the invaders, to take them through its strongest markets). Ironically, the most accurate predictions (including a story about unrestricted submarine warfare by Arthur Conan Doyle) were derided as implausible.

Clarke follows the genre though to the present day, looking at how the Cold War shaped speculative war fiction and even science fiction accounts of conflict in the distant future. The end of the Cold War, he notes, has left writers floundering in their search for a believable enemy. No author, he writes, was as remarkably prescient as H.G. Wells, who foresaw atomic bombs as early as 1913. But, as Clarke shows, writers have yet to give up trying to predict the wars to come – offering a window into the fears of the present.

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Archaeology is the only discipline that seeks to study human behavior and thought without having any direct contact with either.

The archaeologist was a spy : Sylvanus G. Morley and the Office of Naval Intelligence  Charles H. Harris III and Louis R. Sadler  Albuquerque : University of New Mexico Press, c 2003  Hardcover. 1st ed. xiv, 450 p. : ill., 1 map ; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 420-431) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

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Sylvanus G. Morley (1883-1948) has been highly regarded for over a century for his archaeological work among the Maya pyramids. As director of the Carnegie Archaeological Program, he supervised the reconstruction of Chichen Itza, one of today’s most visited sites in Central America.

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Harris and Sadler present information showing Morley used his archaeological skills and contacts to covertly spy for the U. S. Office of Naval Intelligence during World War I. His primary charge was to detect and report German activity along the more than 1200 miles of eastern Central American and Mexican coastlines. To aid him in this special “fieldwork,” Morley recruited other archaeologists, assigned them specific territories in which to work, and, together, they maintained a constant vigil.

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The story of the battleship Tirpitz — Bismarck’s sister ship — and the desperate British efforts to destroy it .

Tirpitz : the life and death of Germany’s last super battleship  Niklas Zetterling & Michael Tamelander  Philadelphia ; Newbury : Casemate, 2009  Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. 360 p. : ill., maps ; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz (1849-1930), Secretary of State of the German Imperial Naval Office from 1897-1916.

Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz (1849-1930), Secretary of State of the German Imperial Naval Office from 1897-1916.

After the Royal Navy’s bloody high seas campaign to kill the mighty Bismarck, the Allies were left with an uncomfortable truth — the German behemoth had a twin sister. Slightly larger than her sibling, the Tirpitz was equally capable of destroying any other battleship afloat, as well as wreak havoc on Allied troop and supply convoys. For the next three and a half years the Allies launched a variety of attacks to remove Germany’s last serious surface threat.

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The Germans, for their part, had learned not to pit their super battleships against the strength of the entire Home Fleet outside the range of protecting aircraft. Thus they kept Tirpitz hidden within fjords along the Norwegian coast, like a Damocles Sword hanging over the Allies’ maritime jugular, forcing the British to assume the offensive. This strategy paid dividends in July 1942 when the Tirpitz merely stirred from its berth, compelling the Royal Navy to abandon a Murmansk-bound convoy called PQ-17 in order to confront the leviathan. The convoy was then ripped apart by the Luftwaffe and U-boats, while the Tirpitz returned to its fjord.

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In 1943, the British launched a flotilla of midget submarines against the Tirpitz, losing all six of the subs while only lightly damaging the battleship. Aircraft attacked repeatedly, from carriers and both British and Soviet bases, suffering losses — including an escort carrier — while proving unable to completely knock out the mighty warship.

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Trying an indirect approach, the British launched one of the war’s most daring commando raids — at St. Nazaire — in order to knock out the last drydock in Europe capable of servicing the Tirpitz. Of over 600 commandos and sailors in the raid, more than half were lost during an all-night battle that succeeded, at least, in knocking out the drydock. It was not until November 1944 that the Tirpitz finally succumbed to British aircraft armed with 10,000-lb Tallboy bombs, the ship capsizing at last with the loss of 1,000 sailors.

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In this book military historians Niklas Zetterling and Michael Tamelander, authors of Bismarck: The Final Days of Germany’s Greatest Battleship, illuminate the strategic implications and dramatic battles surrounding the Tirpitz, a ship that may have had greater influence on the course of World War II than her more famous sister.

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Gemeinschaft für ein sozialistisches Leben

In a story that is replete with irony the daughter of one of the richest families in Essen was saved from the Holocaust by a Jewish socialist organization. Even more astounding is her own account that she travelled across Germany in trains with Gestapo officers and looked very German and brazenly replied, if they asked what she was doing,  that she couldn’t tell them because she was under direct command from the Führer, Adolf Hitler.

A past in hiding : memory and survival in Nazi Germany  Mark Roseman  New York : Metropolitan Books, 2001  Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. xiii, 491 p. : ill. ; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. [467]-475) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

At the outbreak of WWII, Marianne Strauss, the sheltered daughter of well-to-do German Jews, was an ordinary girl, concerned with studies, friends, and romance. Almost overnight she was transformed into a woman of spirit and defiance, a fighter who, when the Gestapo came for her family, seized the moment and went underground. On the run for two years, Marianne traveled across Nazi Germany without papers, aided by a remarkable resistance organization, previously unknown and unsung.

Drawing on an astonishing cache of documents as well as interviews on three continents, historian Mark Roseman reconstructs Marianne’s odyssey and reveals aspects of life in the Third Reich long hidden from view. As Roseman excavates the past, he also puts forward a new and sympathetic interpretation of the troubling discrepancies between fact and recollection that so often cloud survivors’ accounts.

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The enemy holds every trump card, covering all areas with long-range air patrols and using location methods against which we still have no warning…The enemy knows all our secrets and we know none of his… Admiral Karl Doenitz

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The Luftwaffe and the war at sea, 1939-1945 : as seen by officers of the Kriegsmarine and Luftwaffe  edited by David C. Isby  London : Chatham ; Mechanicsburg, PA : Stackpole Books, 2005  Hardcover. Grossadmiral Karl Doenitz, Kontreadmiral Gerhard Wagner, General der Flieger Ulrich O.E. Kessler, Vizeadmiral Eberhard Weichold, Oberst i.G. Walter Gaul, Kapitan zur See Hans-Jurgen Reinecke, Korvetten Kapitan Otto Mejer, Kapitanleutnant Hans-Diedrich Freiherr von Tiesenhausen. 288 p. : ill., maps ; 24 cm.  Includes bibliographical references (p. 286-288). Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

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The Luftwaffe and the War at Sea provides an unrivaled look at struggle for control of the sea in the European theatre from the point of view of the German offices – Kriegsmarine and Luftwaffe – that fought it. The contributing authors were involved in all aspects of German attempts to control the seas, from the use of Ju-87 Stuka dive-bombers in the invasion of Norway to the missions of FW-200 Kondors in cooperation with the U-boat campaign against Britain’s Atlantic lifelines.

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These reports were either written as secret reports during the war for the benefit of the Oberkommando der Luftwaffe – the Air Force General Staff – or were written immediately after the war when most of the German High Command were prisoners of war or working for the US military. While they lacked the full story of the Allied efforts against them, these reports had the immediacy of either being prepared in wartime or soon afterwards.

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The book also benefits from having been written specifically for an audience well-versed in naval and aviation affairs: Luftwaffe generals or the US military. The detail contained is unique and allows the reader a fresh perspective on these famous campaigns.

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