Tag Archives: Germany

The men of Normandy had faith that what they were doing was right, faith that they fought for all humanity, faith that a just God would grant them mercy on this beachhead or on the next. It was the deep knowledge – and pray God we have not lost it – that there is a profound, moral difference between the use of force for liberation and the use of force for conquest. You were here to liberate, not to conquer, and so you and those others did not doubt your cause. And you were right not to doubt… Ronald Reagan

Photo shows General Eisenhower talking with American paratroopers on the evening of June 5, 1944, as they prepared for the Battle of Normandy. The men are part of Company E, 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment, at the 101st Airborne Division's camp in Greenham Common, England.

Photo shows General Eisenhower talking with American paratroopers on the evening of June 5, 1944, as they prepared for the Battle of Normandy. The men are part of Company E, 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment, at the 101st Airborne Division’s camp in Greenham Common, England.

Normandy crucible : the decisive battle that shaped World War II in Europe  John Prados  New York : NAL Caliber, c 2011  Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. xiii, 320 p., [16] p. of plates : ill., maps ; 24 cm.  Includes bibliographical references (p. 297-307) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

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Assault landing. One of the first waves at Omaha. The Coast Guard caption identifies the unit as Company E, 16th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division.

The Battle of Normandy was the greatest offensive campaign the world had ever seen. Millions of soldiers struggling for the control of Europe were thrust onto the front lines of a massive war unlike any experienced in history. But this greatest of clashes would prove to be the crucible in which the outcome of World War II would be decided.

FIRST WAVE AT OMAHA: THE ORDEAL OF THE BLUE AND GRAY Omaha Beach, D-Day, June 6, 1944 Behind them was a great invasion armada and the powerful sinews of war. But in the first wave of assault troops of the 29th (Blue and Gray) Infantry Division, it was four rifle companies landing on a hostile shore at H-hour, D-Day - 6:30 a.m., on June 6, 1944. The long-awaited liberation of France was underway. After long months in England, National Guardsmen from Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia found themselves in the vanguard of the Allied attack. In those early hours on the fire-swept beach the 116th Infantry Combat Team, the old Stonewall Brigade of Virginia, clawed its way through Les Moulins draw toward its objective, Vierville-sur-Mer. It was during the movement from Les Moulins that the battered but gallant 2d Battalion broke loose from the beach, clambered over the embankment, and a small party, led by the battalion commander, fought its way to a farmhouse which became its first Command Post in France. The 116th suffered monre than 800 casualties this day - a day which will long be remembered as the beginning of the Allies' "Great Crusade" to rekindle the lamp of liberty and freedom on the continent of Europe.

FIRST WAVE AT OMAHA: THE ORDEAL OF THE BLUE AND GRAY
Omaha Beach, D-Day, June 6, 1944 Behind them was a great invasion armada and the powerful sinews of war. But in the first wave of assault troops of the 29th (Blue and Gray) Infantry Division, it was four rifle companies landing on a hostile shore at H-hour, D-Day – 6:30 a.m., on June 6, 1944. The long-awaited liberation of France was underway. After long months in England, National Guardsmen from Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia found themselves in the vanguard of the Allied attack. In those early hours on the fire-swept beach the 116th Infantry Combat Team, the old Stonewall Brigade of Virginia, clawed its way through Les Moulins draw toward its objective, Vierville-sur-Mer. It was during the movement from Les Moulins that the battered but gallant 2d Battalion broke loose from the beach, clambered over the embankment, and a small party, led by the battalion commander, fought its way to a farmhouse which became its first Command Post in France. The 116th suffered monre than 800 casualties this day – a day which will long be remembered as the beginning of the Allies’ “Great Crusade” to rekindle the lamp of liberty and freedom on the continent of Europe.

It began on D-Day. June 6, 1944 – the day that the Allied Forces launched Operation Overlord: the great crusade to free Europe from the iron grip of Nazi Germany. But only when the troops were ashore did the real battle begin.

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Photo taken on D+2, after relief forces reached the Rangers at Point Du Hoc. The American flag had been spread out to stop fire of friendly tanks coming from inland. Some German prisoners are being moved in after capture by the relieving forces.

With Nazi defenders marshaling to stop the invaders, Hitler and his generals schemed to counterattack. Tightly constricted hedgerow country and bitter German resistance held the Allied advance to a crawl. Suddenly the Allies broke through and trapped the Nazi armies. Yet within weeks of this stunning disaster, the Germans smashed the most dangerous Allied offensive yet.

A group of paratroopers in a French village at St. Marcouf, Utah Beach, France. From here they will move on into the continent, accomplishing their assigned objectives. 8 June 1944.

A group of paratroopers in a French village at St. Marcouf, Utah Beach, France. From here they will move on into the continent, accomplishing their assigned objectives. 8 June 1944.

How was this possible? In Normandy Crucible, noted author John Prados offers a penetrating account that reframes the Normandy breakout to answer that question. For the first time he melds intelligence into the combat narrative. Shifting between battle action and command decisions on both sides, Normandy Crucible shows in fascinating detail how this campaign molded the climactic battle for Europe.

Evacuating Wounded Soldiers England, World War II Harrison Standley, 1944 Stretcher bearers of a medical battalion carry a casualty from the hold of an LST to a waiting ambulance which will take them to a nearby field hospital. The LST had just returned from Normandy bringing about 300 ambulatory casualties and about 30 stretcher cases. Seamen from the LST's and soldiers about to embark for France watch with interest. On board the evacuating LST's the cases are cared for by Navy medical personnel, June 1944.

Evacuating Wounded Soldiers England, World War II Harrison Standley, 1944 Stretcher bearers of a medical battalion carry a casualty from the hold of an LST to a waiting ambulance which will take them to a nearby field hospital. The LST had just returned from Normandy bringing about 300 ambulatory casualties and about 30 stretcher cases. Seamen from the LST’s and soldiers about to embark for France watch with interest. On board the evacuating LST’s the cases are cared for by Navy medical personnel, June 1944.

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Comments Off on The men of Normandy had faith that what they were doing was right, faith that they fought for all humanity, faith that a just God would grant them mercy on this beachhead or on the next. It was the deep knowledge – and pray God we have not lost it – that there is a profound, moral difference between the use of force for liberation and the use of force for conquest. You were here to liberate, not to conquer, and so you and those others did not doubt your cause. And you were right not to doubt… Ronald Reagan

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One ship drives east and other drives west by the same winds that blow. It’s the set of the sails and not the gales that determines the way they go… Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Burned Bridge : how East and West Germans made the Iron Curtain Edith Sheffer ; foreword by Peter Schneider New York : Oxford University Press, c 2011 Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. xvii, 357 p. : ill., maps ; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 325-342) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

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The building of the Berlin Wall in 1961 shocked the world. Ever since, the image of this impenetrable barrier between East and West, imposed by communism, has been a central symbol of the Cold War.

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Based on vast research in untapped archival, oral, and private sources, Burned Bridge reveals not the hidden origins of the Iron Curtain, but an example of how the West had to protect itself from the East. Historian Edith Sheffer’s  account focuses on Burned Bridge – the intersection between two sister cities, Sonneberg and Neustadt bei Coburg, Germany’s largest divided population outside Berlin.

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Sheffer demonstrates that as Soviet and American forces occupied each city after the Second World War, townspeople who historically had much in common quickly formed opposing interests and identities. The border walled off irreconcilable realities: the differences of freedom and captivity, rich and poor, peace and bloodshed, and past and present. The differences between the lawlessness of a closed society stifled by regulation – and the crimes committed to circumvent that regulation – and a free society.

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Sheffer describes how smuggling, kidnapping,  and killing in the early postwar years led citizens to demand greater border control on both sides – long before East Germany fortified its 1,393 kilometer border with West Germany turning itself in to another Soviet gulag. It was in fact the American military that built the first barriers at Burned Bridge, which preceded East Germany’s borderland crackdown by many years. Indeed, Sheffer shows that the physical border between East and West was not simply imposed by Cold War superpowers, but was in some part an improvised outgrowth of an anxious postwar society. What seems to be missing is the analytical insight that smuggling – and the acts of lawlessness that it engenders – is a response to both military occupation and a closed society both of which describe East Germany from 1945 until 1989. What is clearly here is an attempt to conflate the protection of the West with the enslavement of the East – something that requires a great deal of equivocation.

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Ultimately, the defensive measures gave a public excuse to one of the most horrible prison barriers in history. East and West Germans became part of, and helped perpetuate, the barriers that divided them. From the end of World War II through two decades of reunification, Sheffer traces divisions at Burned Bridge, presenting a stunning portrait of the Cold War – if an inaccurate and incomplete one.

Comments Off on One ship drives east and other drives west by the same winds that blow. It’s the set of the sails and not the gales that determines the way they go… Ella Wheeler Wilcox

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War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength. History is bunk!

As the Second World War drew to a close three politicians with very different agendas gathered to discuss the peace. Churchill, dedicated to preserving the remnants of the British Empire, Roosevelt, dedicated to replacing the old empires with the United Nations and Stalin, dedicated to restoring the Russian Empire into a Soviet one. Of the three only Churchill failed entirely. Roosevelt’s continuation of Wilson’s dream never succeeded at its stated goals but is becoming a nightmare empire of dysfunction in the next century. Stalin’s success was immediate but never complete enough to be lasting and while it still exists, like a death star, it can only destroy – never create. While this book may be a record of the conference – albeit with strong predispositions – it is lacking in its explanations of both cause and effect and fails to show the horror of the consequences of imperialism regardless of its origins or intentions.
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Yalta : the price of peace  S.M. Plokhy  New York : Viking, 2010  Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. xxviii, 451 p., [8] p. of plates : ill., maps ; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 409-430) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

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In February 1945 Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin met at Yalta, a resort town on the Black Sea, as their armies converged on Berlin. Each came with sharply different views of what the world should look like after the war. Over the course of eight fateful days they partitioned Germany, approved the most aggressive aerial bombing campaign in history, redrew the borders of Eastern Europe, and created a new international organization to settle future disputes.

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Two months later, Roosevelt was dead, Stalin was strengthening his grip on Poland, and Churchill was on the cusp of a humiliating electoral defeat.

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For sixty-five years, opinion has been bitterly divided on what they achieved. Did Yalta pave the way to the Cold War? Did an ailing FDR give too much to Stalin? While the accepted verdict on both questions has been, and remains, a resounding YES!, In this book Plokhy draws on newly declassified Soviet documents to sanitize the truth of Yalta and paint an original – if inaccurate – portrait of FDR and Churchill as a wartime leaders.

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And the spies saw a man come forth out of the city, and they said unto him, Shew us, we pray thee, the entrance into the city, and we will shew thee mercy… Judges 1:24

Phantom  Philip Warner  Barnsley : Pen & Sword Military, 2005  Hardcover. Originally published: London : W. Kimber, 1982. 218 p., [8] p. of plates : ill., maps ; 24 cm. Includes index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

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PHANTOM was one of the most secret but most effective of the wartime special regiments. It was formed in 1939 with the mission of finding out exactly where all the Allied forward positions were – a task which required linguistic ability, unlimited tact, and radio expertise.

After Dunkirk its squadrons at first kept an eye on all invasion points, before deploying to Greece, and to the Middle East. An indispensable direct communication link between the forward patrols and command headquarters, it operated in Italy, Sicily, Austria, France, Belgium, Holland and Germany. Phantom was at Dieppe with the Commandos, in France with the SAS, at Arnhem with Airborne and in Germany until the surrender.

PHANTOM members were as varied and colourful as its tasks. Among its member were two Privy Councillors, three life peers, five hereditary peers, the Master of a Cambridge college, three professors, a famous actor-playwright, a film star, a famous sculptor, a Law Lord, a steward of the Jockey Club, a Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police and numerous authors and journalists.

As this fascinating history shows, PHANTOM was so successful in its role of tracking both allied and enemy movements and relaying vital information direct to commanders that it became hugely respected and yet retained its aura of mystery.

Comments Off on And the spies saw a man come forth out of the city, and they said unto him, Shew us, we pray thee, the entrance into the city, and we will shew thee mercy… Judges 1:24

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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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