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alex_wilson
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The Rise of Hitler and the Foundations of Antisemitism - Page 2 Empty Re: The Rise of Hitler and the Foundations of Antisemitism

on Fri 14 Aug 2020, 11:12 pm
Thanks guys for the kind words. To put it into perspective the assassination was closer in time to the end of WW2 than we are now to the original publication of that great metaphysical tome, "Harvey and Lee"

Although time doesn't necessarily move in straight lines( more like a series of interconnected concentric spiders webs, the faintest tremor causing untoward convulsions at the most unlikely inopportune times) and with the understanding that the scenario of the assassination being plotted by a sinister cabal of renegade Nazis is pulp fiction worthy of an Armstrongite, the two events are certainly linked, on a very deep, profound level. Not least because the major players (including the victim himself) had their characters and worldviews formed by the conflict, either in the fiery crucible of combat or second hand through the millions of veterans or the increasingly all pervasive influence of mass media.

Was Nikita Sergeyivich Kruschev not the Member of the Military Soviet for the Stalingrad Front and De facto chief commissar?

The "doves" on both sides of the so-called Iron Curtain were men who understood the reality of warfare. Men who knew firsthand there was nothing particularly glorious about some 19 year old kid holding his bloody entrails in his hands as he cried for his mother. Men who understood the human cost of war. That war is measured in ruined lives, shattered minds and broken bodies; not by little flags fluttering on map tables in plush HQs.

The "hawks" on the other hand were those who'd spent the war 100s ,sometimes 1000s of miles behind the front line, hunched over a desk in the drawing room of some Louis Quinze chateau working out strategic bombing plans.

Men who stood up for their national anthem and who always saluted the flag.

My country right or wrong.

Men like Brezhnev. Who got himself awarded the Hero of the Soviet Union for guarding an abandoned coal-mine in the Donets basin.

With your permission I thought I'd try and break up the remaining narrative into smaller posts. Roughly adhering to the standard Soviet era periodization. 

The Three Periods: 

  • June 41-Nov 42 (before the start of the Stalingrad counteroffensive) 
  • Nov 42-Oct 43  (roughly after the German defeat at Kursk) 
  • Oct 43-May 45 (although I might have to break this period up into separate posts. Just in case Professor Larsen happens to drop in, yes I know some historians date the Third Period from Apr 44, prior to Bagration being launched)

In this post I'll finish the First Period, taking the narrative up to Stalingrad, which might actually require a post of its own.

At the very height of the Moscow counteroffensive, the German troops were left virtually defenceless at times, due to their Panzer engines, artillery and machine guns freezing in the subzero temperatures, while the men stood shivering in foxholes dynamited out of the ice, wearing the padded jackets they'd scavenged from Red Army corpses. 

The Commander in chief of the Army, Walther Von Brautisch (a stiff-necked Prussian of the old school who nevertheless scandalised his arch-conservative brothers in the officer corps by marrying a much younger second wife, who was in Halder's vaguely censorious words, a "200% Nazi") resigned (or was fired, depending on whose memoirs you believe).

The fractious officer corps, for once united in their desire to retreat (by now the Red Army had pushed the Panzer spearheads that had famously reached Khimki in the Moscow suburbs, 15km from the Kremlin, back 100 km, sometimes more, launching a series of suicidal counter attacks that resemble the dark myths of the vodka crazed commander shrieking "attack you motherfuckers!" into the radio and waves of brown coated Ivan's, sometimes rifle-less, sometimes linking arms, charging the German machine guns) hoped for a more dynamic commander. Someone, unlike the pliant fretful Brautisch, capable of standing up to Hitler whose daemonic rages, featuring fists clenched and spittle flying as he lunged towards his unfortunate interlocutor, raving and shrieking, his eyes blazing like coals plucked from the fires of hell. Such rages could unnerve even the most resolute constitution.

Hitler, on the other hand, who always treated the  "old gentlemen" of the General Staff, with their suffocating hypocrisy and stuffy outmoded social mores, with the contempt of the true revolutionary, decided he needed someone with backbone ..with the requisite National Socialist zeal and fanaticism to carry out his unique vision ..someone like .. himself.

Thus the ex-Austrian tramp, already Fuhrer and Reichskanzler, added the position of Commander in chief to his portfolio.

Immediately he fired over 50 generals, replacing them with younger officers more sympathetic to the Nazi ideals.

Thus the once proudly apolitical Wehrmacht "a state within a state", self-styled arbiter of the true fate of Germany, found itself increasingly relegated to the role of hangmen and accomplices to genocide... political soldiers in Nazi jargon.

By the winter of 41/42 it was obvious Barbarossa had failed. The Germans, whose only realistic hope of victory was knocking the Red Army out in one quick lightning campaign, now faced the prospect of a long war of attrition against an opponent with vastly greater resources. Of manpower. Of time( trading time for space was perhaps the archetypal Russian strategy, drawing invaders deep into the vast inhospitable hinterlands). Of military hardware (already Stalin was receiving supplies from his Western Allies via Iran). Whole factories had been disassembled and loaded onto trains, creaking and clunking along the perilous route, threatened by the swarms of marauding bombers that roamed at will, until they reached their destination. Far behind the Ural mountains, where the factories would be rebuilt by the workers who had accompanied them, and who now rebuilt them, sleeping in pits or under the lathes.
Factories could be completely rebuilt and turning out tanks from the vast primitive production lines in as little as 14 days.

Emboldened by the victory in front of Moscow, Stalin now launched a series of poorly conceived counter- offensives (including one at Demyansk, that saw the encircled German army supplied by air until it was relieved. A disastrous foreshadowing of what would happen to the 6th army).

In the blood and mud of the spring thaw the offensives spluttered out, both sides exhausted by months of savage fighting unparalleled in scale and brutality.

Only in Crimea did the fighting continue, Von Manstein, newly appointed commander of the 11th army eventually bombarding the tenacious Soviet defenders into submission ( Sevastopol then as now was a key base on the Black Sea).

To celebrate their victory the Romanians, with the support of Einsatzgruppen D and at the very least the tacit approval of Von Manstein and staff indulged in a bloody pogrom.
 
Murdering over 40000 Jews in a two day orgy of be
bestial sadism. The worst massacre of the Einsatzgruppen operations. Overshadowing Babi Yar and Rumbula.

It was during this time that Hitler and Stalin briefly met in the corridor of psychosis. It was only the massive defeats that brought Stalin back to something resembling equanimity - a place where he would listen to, and indeed accept criticism from his subordinates. The cultured Boris Shaposhnikov, ex-Tsarist colonel would recoil as Zhukov spoke brusquely to the Vzohd( the boss, Stalin's nickname. 

Hitler incidentally was sardonically christened GROFAZ, by his subordinates. An acronym for the Greatest Commander of All Time) addressing him as a subordinate. Stalin accepted it. His infamous breakdown (he withdrew to his dacha for a fortnight at the start of the war, unable to accept the humiliation. "We've fucked up the state Lenin created" was his characteristically pithy rejoinder) and the catastrophic defeats( legend has him meeting with the Bulgarian ambassador at his favourite Georgian restaurant in Moscow, sometime in autumn 41, begging him to intercede with Hitler) had woken him up from his daydreams of omnipotence. It cured his paranoid delusions too it seems, albeit temporarily. Telling Beria to "cut out the shit about conspiracy" when he read one of the countless arrest orders Lavrentii Pavlovich brought for his approval.

The summer of 41 had the opposite affect on Hitler, sending him spiraling off into vertiginous megalomaniac delusions. Believing himself to be the instrument of Providence, he refused any military advice, carrying on with the disastrous strategy that ultimately led to a bunker under the rubble-strewn streets of Berlin 

IllI continue with Stalingrad tomorrow.


Last edited by greg_parker on Sun 23 Aug 2020, 10:41 pm; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : formatting)
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The Rise of Hitler and the Foundations of Antisemitism - Page 2 Empty Re: The Rise of Hitler and the Foundations of Antisemitism

on Sat 15 Aug 2020, 10:54 am
Greg, you've taken the like buttons to another level.  Very Happy

The Rise of Hitler and the Foundations of Antisemitism - Page 2 Bloody10

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The Rise of Hitler and the Foundations of Antisemitism - Page 2 Byp_211
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The Rise of Hitler and the Foundations of Antisemitism - Page 2 Empty Re: The Rise of Hitler and the Foundations of Antisemitism

on Sat 15 Aug 2020, 10:58 am
@greg_parker wrote:
@Mick_Purdy wrote:Can't wait Alex. Riveting material. Love it!
It is great background material for better understanding the decades that followed. 

When Alex says he has been writing from memory, you can believe it. Encyclopedic memory doesn't do justice to describing his recall.
Greg,

whatever the opposite of having an Encyclopedic memory is I'm definitely afflicted with that. Can't remember Jack shit most days.

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The Rise of Hitler and the Foundations of Antisemitism - Page 2 Empty Re: The Rise of Hitler and the Foundations of Antisemitism

on Sat 15 Aug 2020, 11:42 am
@Mick_Purdy wrote:
@greg_parker wrote:
@Mick_Purdy wrote:Can't wait Alex. Riveting material. Love it!
It is great background material for better understanding the decades that followed. 

When Alex says he has been writing from memory, you can believe it. Encyclopedic memory doesn't do justice to describing his recall.
Greg,

whatever the opposite of having an Encyclopedic memory is I'm definitely afflicted with that. Can't remember Jack shit most days.
I am told I had to pause once for a split second to remember my own name.

As always, my ambitions had exceeded my abilities. I had planned on drinking a bottle of vodka followed by a bottle of tequila on top of whatever cheap cask wine I'd been drinking that morning. 

I only got half way through the tequila.

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The Rise of Hitler and the Foundations of Antisemitism - Page 2 Empty Re: The Rise of Hitler and the Foundations of Antisemitism

on Sun 16 Aug 2020, 1:45 am
I'd just finished a long lost on Stalingrad only to loose it!! 
I'm on my phone and clumsy bastard that I am I accidentally hit the ROKC wiki link at the top of the page and lost the whole fucking post 
My apologies but I haven't got time today to rewrite it

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on Wed 19 Aug 2020, 1:09 am
Thank you, Alex. A wonderful morning of sipping coffee, reading and learning you have supplied me. I am indebted.
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on Wed 19 Aug 2020, 8:08 pm
Thanks Jeff and apologies for the delay in posting the next part.
To cut the posts down to more manageable lengths i've decided to split the Stalingrad section into two separate parts. 
Taking us up to February 1943.
Part 1 will concentrate on the Stalingrad campaign itself ( the launch of Operation Blue in June 42 through to Paulus's surrender in the basement of the Unvermag department store, early in the morning of January 31st 1943. Note- some history books/ documentaries still refer to Paulus as Von Paulus . The " Von" in Germany was the noble particulate, meaning Friedrich of Paulus. Paulus however was not an aristocrat, unlike most of his fellow high ranking generals, most belonging to the Prussian military caste. Paulus's wife however, who he last saw in spring 42 before he took command of the 6th army, was the daughter of a Romanian princess. She died in 1949 while he was still in captivity)
Part 2 will discuss the other fronts/ partisan campaign/ the holocaust and the Einsatzgruppen and the political background

PART 1.   STALINGRAD

In the early spring of 1942 the Nazi Empire was at its very apogee. Paris Vienna and Prague were provincial German cities, stretching from the Atlantic coast up to the frozen wastes of Northern Norway, past the Artic Circle, down to the North African deserts , Hitler was the unquestioned ruler of Europe. A Charlemagne ,while in the Soviet Union the feldgrau rope was wrapped tightly, nooselike round the neck of the Judeo Bolshevik enemy.
Looping round barely 75 km away from Moscow, with Leningrad under siege and the Panzer spearheads in the South poised to advance into the Caucasus, with the breath of Asia and the vast steppes practically in their faces.
In tactical terms the previous year's campaign had been a triumph. The richest, most industrialised parts of the Soviet Union were now under German control, the Red Army had been dealt a series of unprecedented defeats, pushing them back to the gates of Moscow.
But back in Hitler's gloomy HQ, the Wolf's Lair at Rastenburg, deep in the sombre East Prussian forests, many who studied the maps, glancing across the bristling mass of tiny swastika flags understood the problems.
And they were colossal. Insurmountable even in the long term: Germany simply didn't have the resources to fight a long bitter protracted attritional war against the three greatest industrial powers on earth.
Their one hope had been a swift knockout victory in the East forcing the British Empire to the conference table before the full might of the USA could be mobilised. Incredibly Hitler had declared war on the United States. Despite Pearl Harbour ,the residual isolationist sentiment, not to mention the large Italian and German American communities , who couldn't just be swept up and deposited in internment camps, a US declaration of war on Nazi Germany in December 41 was not a foregone conclusion
Barbarossa and the savage Soviet winter counteroffensives had cost German over 1 million casualties. They simply didn't have the manpower and thus the frontline divisions were denied the desperately needed replacements. With no real alternative Goering and Von Ribbentrop were summarily dispatched to Budapest and Bucharest to drum up more" allied" reinforcements ( such was the level of enmity between the supposed allies, over territorial disputes stretching back to the dissolution of the old Habsburg Empire, the troops would have to be seperated as they seemed more interested in fighting each other than the Soviets) Mussolini too was hurriedly summoned to the Prince Bishop's palace at Klessheim , where he was subjected to Hitler's interminable harangues; Il Duce weary and humiliated by the crushing British defeat in Africa ( a ramshackle force comprising of a Royal Tank Regiment, a brigade of British infantry and a couple of Indian regiments had utterly annihilated the cream of the Italian African army, pushing them back into Libya and taking over 100000 prisoners. It was to rescue his hapless ally from this debacle that had caused Hitler to dispatch Rommel and his famed Afrika Korps) soon assented and pledged another full Italian army ( the 8th)
Back at the Wolfs Lair the chief of OKW( Oberkommando Der Wehrmacht) the obsequious Keitel ( his fawning obedience to his master's every whim had led his contemptuous brother generals to christen him Lakeitel.." the nodding donkey") calculated the Wehrmacht would have no less than 57 of these Axis divisions to make up their shortfall in manpower. Some, especially the Romanian and Hungarian conscripts, were little more than cannon fodder ( poorly supplied and led by an antediluvian officer caste on virtual feudal lines) and regarded as practically useless in military terms. While others, particularly the all volunteer Spanish Blue Division, comprised of Falangists and hardened Civil War veterans ,the Division Azul would famously defeat an entire Soviet army corps at Krasny Bor the following spring, and the Western European/ Scandinavian SS volunteers were regarded as almost the equal of a German division.
The Germans frontline Panzer corps were seriously depleted too. Some divisions reduced to a mere handful of serviceable tanks. Incredibly they were denied replacements and even spare parts, having to cannibalise battlefield wrecks and even deploy captured Soviet tanks.
The OKW preferred to activate new divisions and were also engaged in a desperate effort to develop new heavier tanks capable of matching the T34s and KV1s( the Soviet armoured corps still however fielded a large minority of the cumbersome T26s and BT1s) However the Panthers and the Tigers wouldn't be available until the next year, leaving the burden of combat on the squat shoulders of the redoubtable Panzer Mk IV, the reliable warhorse of the Panzertruppen.
When the spring thaw of 1942 set in, revealing the full horror of the winter's fighting, a veritable petrified forest of frozen bodies and twisted machines buried under the forgetful cowl of winter emerging now into the mud and the watery spring sunshine, and the OKH ( Oberkommando des Heer, the Army High Command, in another of those bizarre Hitlerian blunders that so bedeviled the top echelons of the Nazi administration, indeed so damaging was Hitler's influence by 1944 the British SOE cancelled their putative assassination plan, deciding Hitler was more use alive than dead. Better a live buffoon, his mind warped by megalomania, the poisonous drug regime of Morell, his quack doctor and the onset of Parkinson's disease than a dead martyr , the OKH controlled the Eastern Front while the OKW controlled all the other fronts) realised they only had the strength to launch an offensive on one of the three fronts.
After the winter counteroffensives had been stopped the front line had stabilised, stretching down from the outskirts of Leningrad, 75-100km west of Moscow, ( the Rzhev salient jutted out from the German lines to within about 70km of Moscow) down through the Donets basin, the Don River bend along the Easternmost parts of the Ukraine, threatening the Caucasus.( In a reverse of Rzhev, a Soviet salient at Iliumn nearKharkov, cut into the German lines)
Stalin and the STAVKA expected the Germans to strike against Moscow. The Rzhev salient being the ideal springboard. Most German commanders too presumed Moscow would be the target , the greatest concentration of Soviet forces being located there.
Hitler had other ideas.
" If I don't capture the oilfields of Maikop and Grozny I must liquidate this war"
Despite finding the subject of economics acutely boring he was nevertheless acutely aware of the economic aspects of modern warfare.
With the British( and American) control of the sealanes, despite the efforts of his U boats, and the continuing British control of the Middle East, his only oil supply came from the Romanian Ploesti oilfields, if, he reasoned he could grab the oil rich Caucasus that would solve a crucial supply problem while denuding the Soviets of a lifeline. Capture the oilfields, cut off the traffic on the Volga River then push north up to Moscow. In his interminable after dinner monologues ( recorded verbatim by stenographers provided by the ever officious Bormann) we can hear the Fuhrer drift off into fantastical Napoleonic reveries. Von Kleist coming down from the Caucasus to join hands with Rommel beneath the enigmatic timeless gaze of the Sphinx...capture the Suez canal then on to India...in the spring of 1942 anything seemed possible...to the conqueror of Europe, holed up in his concrete reinforced bunker beneath the Wolf's Lair, he could fantasize about climbing up one of those giant beech trees, looking out across the grim carpet of East Prussian forest and behold the entire world ....perhaps the same line from the Baghvad Gita that stirred in Oppenheimer's mind after witnessing the successful test of the atomic bomb stirred in Hitler's as he dreamt of gazing out into the haze of history..
" I have become Death the destroyer of worlds"
To Oppenheimer's ears it was an epitaph.but to Hitler's a glorious clarion call...the brassy roar of trumpets and the thunderous applause of the kettledrums..merging with the rhythmic tramp of hobnailed jackboots marching along the Grand Trunk Road or echoing through the dusty air of Abu Simbel...ever just as they'd marched under the Arc d' Triomphe along the Champs Elysees..with the 6th army, conquerors of Paris in the lead 
The offensive would be launched in the South.
Army Group South ( now commanded by Von Bock) was split into two separate commands.
Army Group A ,commanded by Von List( comprising of the 1st, 17th armies and 1sf Panzer Army, was tasked with the conquest of the Caucasus, Maikop, Grozny and ultimately Baku on the Caspian sea)
Army Group B, commanded by Baron( Freiherr) Von Weichs was to drive across the dusty steppes, cross the Don River then push into the Volga, a potent symbol of Mother Russia as well as being a vital lifeline. Stalingrad at this point was nothing more than a name on the map( the Wehrmacht having encountered several Stalinos already) It's only importance was it's location, straddling the bluffs on the east bank of the Volga ( or Volga Mat( Mother Volga )as it was known)
Originally named Tsaritsyn ( Tartar for Yellow River) and dominated by the huge Tartar burial mound, Mamayev Kurgan, that would enter into legend thanks to the heroic efforts of Rodimtsevs guardsmen and Batyuks indomitable Siberians, Stalingrad ( rechristened to celebrate Stalins victory over the Whites in the Civil War) was a Soviet showcase. A monument to Soviet ingenuity, wide boulevards, neo Classical marble buildings in the Socialist Realist style dominated the modern city centre. Never more than a mile wide the city sprawled along the west bank. Huge worker settlements and massive factories, including the Red October steelworks with it's soon to be famous Grain Elevator, made up most of the city but Stalingrad was regarded as one of the prettiest, most modern cities in the entire Soviet Union.
Perched on the high bluffs, it's marble buildings glittering in the warm August sunshine Stalingrad and the surrounding countryside made quite a positive impression on the conquering Germans 
In letters home and in the diaries captured by the Soviets many write wistfully of returning after the war. Stalingrad was nicknamed " the Akropolis" by the 6th army men, several of whom had served in the Balkan campaign, the city on the Volga , itsi marble buildings shimmering in the distance, the dusty haze rising from the steppe mellowing the dazzling white, reminded them of Athens. The cradle of Western civilization, the civilization they were here on the banks of the Volga, with the vast steppes of Central Asia beyond, lounging on their grey panzers, with the black crosses blazing in the summer sun, to defend.
Before the main operation, codenamed Operation Blue, could begin first the Ilium salient would have to be dealt with. Known as Operation Fridericus I the salient was quickly surrounded and destroyed, however the panzers would stumble upon Soviet forces preparing to counterattack, this led to the Second Battle of Kharkov, an overwhelming German victory.
Operation Blue was launched in July 1942, the vast columns with the Panzer spearheads rumbling ahead, stirring up vast clouds of dust that clung to the dry air, creating an eerie effect, a choking haze, almost like a magicians cloak hovering shroud like above the holy soil of Mother Russia, for the invading hordes to appear from;  t the nimble ferret like Panzer Is and IIs, the lugubrious STUGs clattering along, the command vehicles, bristling hedgehog like with the antennae that crackled with the cracked hoarse voices, the panzergrenadiers hunched in the back of the lorries that lurched and jolted their way across the barren steppes, deafened by the squeal and clatter of the tank treads and the whine of the Stukas and Messerschmitts overhead.
This was perfect tank country. 
Although primarily an infantry army the 6th army ( comprising of 12 and a half divisions, four of which were motorised and a Croatian rifle brigade) led Army Group A. It swept imperiously across the parched steppes, crossing the Don easily then pushing on traversing the so called Don bend and closing in on Stalingrad by mid August.
Despite the notorious order no 227 ( not one step back) that made retreating without authorisation and surrendering into criminal offences, in true Stalinist fashion it would be the families that suffered. Being denied all official help( ration cards, housing provisions etc. In the Soviet system POWs were regarded as criminals and traitors. This order also codified the blocking detachments, heavily armed NKVD regiments positioned behind the front line to dissuade anyone who considered retreating, and the punishment battalions. Units made up of deserters and other " criminals" given the chance by the ever caring  bountiful state to redeem their crimes with their blood) mindful of the huge kesselschacts of the previous year that resulted in millions of hapless Red Army men caught in the merciless steel jaws of the pincers trudging off into captivity the Red Army for the first time staged methodical planned retreats.
Slipping out of the jaws of the pincers before they snapped shut 
However many of these retreats soon deteriorated into chaotic panic stricken route, depressingly familiar.
Desperate clouds of brown uniforms and battered vehicles zig zagging across the dusty dun coloured steppes, buffeted by the ominous feldgrau storm clouds. The 6th army could have taken Stalingrad in August 1942 without firing a shot.
The city lay defenceless. With only the hurriedly recruited militia bands( little more than shambolic untrained groups of factory workers, university students and high school kids, of both sexes, dragged off the factory floor or out their classrooms, handed a rifle or marched off to an anti aircraft gun, Hube, the hardened much celebrated Panzer general wrote with horror of engaging an anti aircraft detachment manned by teenage girls) and the remnants of the 62nd and 64th armies , currently scrambling across the steppe in full retreat to offer any sort of resistance .
For whatever reason Hitler ordered the 6th army to halt and dig in.
They would wait for Hoths 4th Panzer Army before resuming their advance 
Over the protests of all the subordinate commanders ( even the servile Keitel was stirred into raising a timid squeak of protest) the 4th army had been dispatched to the Caucasus to aid the 1st army, only managing to create massive miles long traffic jams that sometimes took weeks to disentangle.
Also Von Richthofen's Luftflotte 4 was ordered to firebomb the city . An expert in terror bombing, some might even say the progenitor, Von Richthofen had been in direct command of the Condor legion detachments that destroyed the city of Guernica. Dropping incendiaries and primitive type of napalm.
IllI end this part hete and begin tomorrow with the opening of the Stalingrad battle

_________________
A fez! A fez! My kingdom for a fez!!
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Bosworth Field 1485

Is that a doppelganger in your pocket or are you just pleased to see me?
Artist, poet, polymath, cancer research prodigies Judyth Vary Baker's  first words to Lee HARVEY Oswald. New Orleans April 1963

For every HARVEY there must be an equal and opposite LEE
Professor Sandy Isaac Newton Laverne Shirley Fonzie Larsen's 
Famous 1st Law of Doppelganging
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alex_wilson
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The Rise of Hitler and the Foundations of Antisemitism - Page 2 Empty Re: The Rise of Hitler and the Foundations of Antisemitism

on Fri 21 Aug 2020, 12:17 am
PART 1.        
             STALINGRAD ( second part)

The battle for the city of Stalingrad itself commenced at the start of September, after the Germans had fought off a suicidal counter attack at Kotluban in the northern outskirts of the city.
Now reinforced by elements of the 4th Panzer army ( 24 divisions plus an independent Croatian rifle brigade, approximately 300000 men) the 6th army had advanced across the steppes, through the villages that clung to the outskirts of the city and were now carefully picking their way through the westernmost suburbs of the city of Stalingrad itself.
Stretching for roughly 8 miles along the high bluffs on the west bank of the Volga  Stalingrad was divided into three main sectors. The Germans began their attack by advancing through the worker's settlements to the south of the city .The mostly wooden buildings had been utterly destroyed by the incendiaries dropped by Von Richthofen's bombers( flying in relays on the night of the 23rd August Luftflotte 4 had managed to surpass the tonnage dropped in the entire London blitz)
The city centre with it's wide boulevards, well tended parks, neo Classical apartment blocks and lavish government buildings contrasted with the factory sector to the north. Dominated by 3 huge factories- the Red October steelworks, the Barricady tractor factory and the Stalingrad Tank factory, the bombing had turned the factory sector into a nightmarish apocalyptic dreamscape. The twisted metal girders reaching up with deformed clawlike hands, the vast factory buildings reduced to shells, the vacant eye like windows staring balefully down upon the tiny grey coloured ants clambering over their remains.
The city was defended by three main armies- the 57th( Tolbulkin) in the South, the remnants of the 64th( Shumilovs) to the north and the main defenders , the 62nd army. By the start of September the 62nd comprised of roughly 90 tanks and 20000 men. Originally commanded by General Lopatin as the situation rapidly deteriorated, with the 6th army threatening the city centre he was quickly replaced.
By a burly broad shouldered lieutenant general with a broad peasants face, a small snub nose, a shock of thick black curls tinged with  silvery wisps of grey, a pugnacious countenance exemplified by his piercing black eyes- Vasily Ivanovich Chuikov was the perfect man for such a seemingly hopeless task.
Possessing a volatile temper, sometimes physically assaulting subordinates who displeased him and known for his imaginative use of profanity Chuikov was also a deep thinker and a genuinely gifted tactician.
Accompanying him was his chief commissar. A sinister figure Kuzma Gurov, small, shifty with narrow shoulders a pot belly and a shaven head, he preferred to lurk in the background, hovering watchfully, carefully noting everything, even the most insignificant detail.
The 62nd army was part of Yeremenkos Stalingrad Front. They had just received a new Chief Political Officer. Stalin choosing to dispatch one of his most trusted hatchetmen when the full implications of the loss of the City of Stalin became clear. A catastrophe in political and military terms. Perhaps even a fatal one, with the Volga River lifeline cut the northern armies reliant on the supplies might wither on the vine, leaving them vulnerable to a huge pincer movement. With Army Group B swinging north.
" Do you understand your task?" Nikita Sergeyivich Khrushchev looked up at Chuikov, through the choking gloom of his command bunker, his eyes red and puffy from sleeplessness and vodka, trying to ignore the ominous thuds, that seemed to be coming closer, like the footsteps of a sleepwalking giant, causing the packed earthen walls of the bunker to shudder
Chuikov calmly studied the pudgy figure before him, wrapped in his leather jacket, the dull flicker of the oil lamps reflecting from his bald head and the large enamel red star worn ostentatiously on his lapel, perhaps recalling the stories hed heard about the famine years, or about the terror, the ever industrious Khrushchev always managing to exceed the quotas set by Moscow, " Didn't this little bastard execute 30000 in one month back in 37?" Vasili Ivanovich thought before answering slowly
" We will defend the city or we will die trying"
By the end of September things were starting to get serious. The 6th army occupied over 70% of the entire city, pushing the beleaguered defenders back to the Volga. Streckers XII corps were fighting ferocious battles in the factory sector, the vast ruined interiors thundering with artillery fire, the high pitched whine of the mortars and the incessant chatter of small arms. Still the remnants of the battered Soviet divisions managed to hold on . Supported by the massed artillery on the Eastern bank and reinforced by night by the ferries that slipped across the oily blackness of Volga Mat at night
Chuikov had coined the phrase " time is blood" and he instructed his soldiers to dig their frontline as close to the Germans as possible.. practically hugging them, thus neutralising their air superiority( keeping so close the bombers were afraid of hitting their own men)
This was the toughest time for the Soviet defenders, denied their operational maneuverability and forced into bitter hand to hand fighting, the German tactics grew increasingly brutal. Sometimes battles were fought for the sake of a single room, a burnt out shell, the peeling wall paper and whatever remnants of domesticity remained, a wrecked dining table, pieces of broken crockery or most poignant of all the singed remains of a child's doll, its button eyes gazing blankly up, seeming like newly excavated ruins of a long vanished civilization. The weapons of choice were grenades, carbines, the Soviet PPSH machine pistols and sharpened shovels 
The Germans called this " Rattenkreig" " rats war" fighting amidst the ruins, and increasingly in the basements and sewers, a terrifying subterranean existence, the drip of stagnant water, the nervous heartbeat, the muffled voices in the next room, straining desperately to pick out a word,.
Despite Stalins bestial regime, it's impersonal cruelty, the collective farms, the overflowing GULaGs, the man made famine, the Red Army men were driven by a real sense of patriotism. By the unwavering certainty that they were fighting for the cause of humanity. Their sense of purpose was further hardened by the civilians that remained, skulking in the ruins of their beautiful city, ekeing out an existence.
The German advance had been so sudden there had been no time to organise an evacuation.
So the citizens of Stalingrad fought and died with their city 
Real life is rarely simple, it rarely conforms to the simple dicotomies so beloved by the ideologues. Hunger proved to be a crueller master than Stalin, the basic urge to survive. Many civilians collaborated with the invaders, for a crust of bread, some young women formed almost hallucinatory links with the young soldiers, the simple human desires more important than the black swastika he wore emblazoned on his chest 
Many Soviet POWs collaborated too, perhaps as many as 15000. The " hiwis", short for hilfswilliger, literally willing helpers is still a taboo topic in Russia.
By Jan 43 it's reckoned, at an conservative estimate, at least 20000 hiwis were serving in combat roles 
Their fate remains unknown. After the surrender they simply vanish. Probably executed long before the grim columns, a dirty grey shuffling coil stretching for miles across the melting snow, formed up and began marching to the prison camps in the frozen north.
Out of the 91000 or so recorded prisoners, no more than 5000 made it back to Germany.
As the nights grew shorter, the sun above the steppes waned, turning a sickly yellow shade and as the winds that blew in from the dun coloured wastes grew colder the Soviet position grew perilous.
At certain points they clung on to a few yards of charred cratered earth, over 90% of the city now was in German hands, the swastika flag having been hoisted above STALINGRAD red square, the Germans too were now perched on top of the Kurgan, with Rodimtsevs 13th guards and Batyuks Siberians dug in deep bunkers at the bottom.
In a speech to the altekampers ( the old fighters of the Nazi party) in a Munich bierkeller to celebrate the anniversary of the failed Beer Hall Putsch( now one of the holy dates of Nazism) Hitler declared, to the loud cheers of his oldest comrades, that Stalingrad was " practically ours" in a gloating, almost jovial tone he announced his intent to take the remainder of the city with specialist combat teams, to avoid " another Verdun"
However looking at the map the situation didn't look quite so secure.
To capture the city itself ( instead of the original aim of simply stopping river traffic on the Volga) the 6th army had left itsi flanks vulnerable.
Flanks defended by inferior " allied" armies. The north side was defended by the 2nd Hungarian Army while the southern flank was defended by the 3rd Romanian and the 8th Italian army.
If the 62nd army could hold on in the city itself the entire 6th army could by surrounded by a double envelopment, with pincers striking from the north and south.
I'm going to leave it there and finish this part tomorrow.
ImI sorry for the length of these posts but I don't want to miss out any important information.

_________________
A fez! A fez! My kingdom for a fez!!
The last words of King Richard HARVEY Plantagenet III 
Bosworth Field 1485

Is that a doppelganger in your pocket or are you just pleased to see me?
Artist, poet, polymath, cancer research prodigies Judyth Vary Baker's  first words to Lee HARVEY Oswald. New Orleans April 1963

For every HARVEY there must be an equal and opposite LEE
Professor Sandy Isaac Newton Laverne Shirley Fonzie Larsen's 
Famous 1st Law of Doppelganging
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on Fri 21 Aug 2020, 9:42 am
Than-you Alex. This stuff is fantastic.

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on Sat 22 Aug 2020, 10:57 am
Alex, thank you for this history.

I have copied and pasted all your text thus far into MS Word so I can format it to make is easier (for me) to read. I am old school, I still read books and when you are finished I am going to print it and read it that way. I have dropped in here and there on this thread to get me started. Thank you.
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on Sun 23 Aug 2020, 2:53 am
Thank you gentlemen for your very generous words. It's an absolute pleasure to contribute to the forum and I'm glad you're enjoying my posts.
Let me apologise in advance if I'm not able to post daily anymore. Unfortunately holiday time is over and I have the wild hounds of deadlines snapping at my heels. Hopefully I'll be able to post once every two or three days.
I apologise too for any slight errors I've made ( for example I got my Army Group As mixed up with my Army Group Bs, and I had two 1st Panzer Armies involved in Barbarossa ( no Jimbo don't get any ideas ...Reinhard Gehlen didn't have a secret doppelganger factory under PrinzAlbrechtStrasse churning out doppelganged Panzer Armies full of bullnecked polyglot Hungarians)) Im writing this from memory and as soon as I finish these posts on the Eastern Front I intend to go back and correct any errors.


PART 1

               STALINGRAD ( third part)
By the 27th of September the Germans controlled the worker's settlements entirely, with the Soviets clinging on precariously in the city centre and the northern factory district.
As the thermometers dropped and the breezes whipping in across Mother Volga from the vast expanses of Central Asia started to grow decidedly chilly, the fighting descended into atavistic brutality, echoes of the Teutonic Knights in their crisp white mantles and Alexander Nevskys fur clad berserkers.
Rodimtsevs 13th guards, ferried over the Volga at night was reduced to 320 from 10000 in two days savage fighting outside the train station and around the steep embankments at the bottom of Mamayev Kurgan.
One of the most celebrated episodes was Sgt Yakov Pavlov's defence of a heap of rubble at a crucial intersection near the Volga River ( at certain points the defenders had been pushed back to within yards of the river. " For us there is no land on the other side" was the phrase, half prayer, half zen like mantra, the 62nd armymen repeated to themselves and each other)
Sent with a reinforced platoon to defend what would become known as " Pavlov's House" and after the commander Lieutenant Afansiev was wounded early on, Pavlov took control, fighting off wave after wave of attack, infantry and panzer, for 60 days. Drinking polluted water from the central heating system and eating rotten potatoes it was an epic of tenacity and endurance. " More Germans were killed by Pavlov's men than died in the conquest of Paris" Chuikov liked to boast.
Seemingly hypnotised by the magical almost totemic power of the name " the City of Stalin" and with a growing awareness of the propaganda duel being fought in the world's press over the city, the Allied press portraying the city, and it's defenders in heroic terms , the Germans kept pouring reinforcements into the city. Ignoring the basics of their tactical doctrine. Mobility, flexibility, combined arms..the Panzer divisions out in the steppes were stripped of both men and materials. The panzers being deployed in close quarters street fighting, a role that was the ultimate tactical anathema. 
Conversely the Soviets quickly adapted. Chuikov developing a tactic that involved small combat teams, 5-10 men, armed with grenades, machine pistols and anti tank rifles. In the ruins and the rubble strewn streets these tactics were murderously effective. As was a psychological tactic improvised by the small cadre of emigre German communists sent down by Central Committee. As well as the less effective leaflets, someone had the idea of utilising the loudspeakers the propaganda units of the NKVD possessed , to play the troops Comrade Stalins speeches to inspire them....instead of Stalins reedy, slightly comic Georgian accent, a deep mournful basso profoundo voice emerged, speaking in German the speaker informed the grey clad landsers, cowering in their foxholes or peering out a bomb scarred heap of ruins across the shattered wasteland, " Stalingrad the mass grave of the German Army. Every 90 seconds a German soldier dies in Russia." This was accompanied by the doleful ticking of a clock. The eerie sound sweeping across the muddy cratered  landscape, reverberating out the hollow shells, the pulverised remains creating an unspeakably sinister effect.
Like Death itself was serenading them.
There were also the snipers. Lionised by the newspapers ( each army having its own newspaper) these young men and women were hailed as true Socialist warriors. Battlefield Stakhanovites, their daily kills celebrated in Pravda with its trademark terse leaden prose as if they were praising a factory that had exceeded its production quota. The most famous sniper was of course Vasily Zaitsev, a mild mannered young Siberian. A chief petty officer in the Red Navy when the Germans invaded he volunteered for service and was sent to Stalingrad with a Naval Brigade. An affable soft spoken young man, with a quiff of blonde hair , high cheekbones and sparkling blue eyes that hardened and grew steely when he held a rifle in his hands, his self deprecating good humour made him an ideal subject for the propagandists.
His story quickly became  entwined with a carefully constructed mythology. There was no German Major ( ex Olympic champion) dispatched by Berlin, his actual feats were wildly exaggerated, perhaps to obscure the fact that the real top scoring sniper ( with over 350 confirmed kills compared to Zaitsev 220) ended up joining Vlasovs ROA after being captured in mid spring 43. Known only as Zikan, he was practically expunged from the Soviet records ,as anyone who joined Vlasovs( an ex high flying general captured during Operation Typhoon) ROA, the so called Russian Liberation Army, made up of POWs , anti communists, Baltic or Ukrainian nationalists or simply men desperate for a crust of bread, were considered the ultimate heretics( ex Soviets was the slightly menacing official term found in contemporary Soviet documents)
By October the focus of the fighting had shifted northwards; to the city centre but mainly to the factory district .On the 12th October Paulus launched an offensive, aimed at the vast Grain Elevator, its squat concrete bulk now dominated the ravaged skyline, resembling a nightmarish vision from one of Goya's Black Paintings .A gaunt misshapen giant meditating upon the ruins of the world that lay around him.
Paulus committed two full divisions ( 14th Panzer, 305th infantry), after subjecting the area to a bombardment of unprecedented ferocity.
Survivors speak of a truly hellish vista; tiny blurred blackened shapes, barely human, scurrying around inside a living sea of fire, their features soot blackened and bronzed by flame. Grossman famously recorded the night when a bomb hit the oil tanks, sending a gigantic tongue of fire shooting up into the suffocating pall of smoke that hung over the city, day and night.
Still the Soviets clung on, the 51st corps , defending the factory sector was
utterly decimated, no more than 50 dazed barely human figures emerging from the Grain Elevator itself, having fought off waves of attacks 

By as early as the middle of September it became apparent to both sides that the German flanks were dangerously overstretched. Along the bend of the Don River and on the opposite southern flank they were precariously overextended.
The flanks of Army Group B ( 6th army , elements of the 4th Panzer army) being dragged ever deeper into the fast developing inferno and Army Group A( 1st, 17th armies, Von Kleists 1st Panzer army) driving towards the oilfields of the Caucasus, (in another act of hubris Kleist had dispatched some specialist Austrian jager troops to raise the swastika flag on My Elbrus, an exercise in sheer vanity that squandered precious time and resources) were defended by the 3rd and 4th Romanian armies, the 2nd Hungarian and the 8th Italian.
It became clear to both the STAVKA and the OKH that if the 62nd army could hold on in the city itself there was the chance of surrounding the armies fighting in Stalingrad, perhaps trapping and entombing the entire Southern wing of the Wehrmacht in a giant pincer.
If victory has many father's then defeat is most certainly an orphan. In the post war apologias penned by the surviving generals all of them attempt to portray their almost psychic awareness of the developing catastrophe. Dumping all the blame on the shoulders of Hitler , Goering or Paulus. Men who were either dead or still languishing in distant Soviet captivity and thus unable to defend themselves.( Paulus had become doubly stigmatised, first for being the only German Field Marshal ever to fall into enemy hands. Hitler, who promoted him the day before he surrendered, expected him to draw the appropriate conclusion and fall on his sword. Paulus however had no such illusions, brusquely informing his loyal adjutant Colonel Adam " I have no intention of killing myself for that Austrian corporal" Second for agreeing to sign an anti Nazi statement in captivity. Thus he was a doubly attractive scapegoat to heap the blame for Stalingrad upon)
Certainly the Wehrmacht ( apologies I can't remember if he was chief of staff for the OKW or OKH) Franz Halder resigned in mid September. Furious at Hitler's increasing tendancy to micro manage tactical affairs, all the way down to the battalion level and his failure to recognise the potential  disaster brewing on the Volga 
Halder was replaced by Zietzler, described as a " gelding" and "an nonentity" by his brother officers, Zeitzler , a talented quartermaster, was mesmerised by his proximity to Hitler( and one suspects the centre of power) strove diligently to fulfill his master's every whim. Regardless of the cost. 
Hitler for his part simply pooh poohed the notion that the Slavic untermensch had the skill, tactical awareness and operational dexterity to launch a complicated double envelopment operation.
The first record we have of an offensive aimed at encircling the 6th army being discussed at STAVKA level is a conversation around the middle of September ( probably 14th or 15th) between Stalin, Zhukov( now Deputy Commander and Stalin's De facto No 2 ) and Alexandr Vasilievsky( protege of Shaposhnikov and now chief of staff. Modest, talented Vasilievsky, whos father was a priest, was amazed when Stalin produced a sheaf of receipts from his personal safe, Stalin, the ex seminarian had been quietly sending money to help the elder Vasilievsky, now practically destitute) The conversation took place in Stalins office in the Kremlin, a gloomy oak panelled ex drawing room with a grand piano ( a gift from Spanish comrades. Zhdanov was a particularly skilled pianist, often playing to soothe the Bosses nerves, just as the gangling eccentric Putzi Haefstangl once played to calm the volatile Hitler back in the tempestuous early days in Munich . The programme for these Kremlin musical soirées have long fascinated writers. The thought of Molotov, Beria, Mikoyan and Khrushchev ( the unofficial jester of the court of the Red Tsar) gathering round the piano to serenade the Boss, watching nervously as the clouds of pipe smoke waft up like smoke signals, has long fired the macabre imagination of many writers) 
The walls and the carpets were a curiously antiseptic green colour. 
Zhukov, who could read Stalins moods better than anyone, could tell he was happy by the way he stroked his moustache before lighting his pipe, wrote later that Stalin listened in silence, nodding occasionally after glancing at the map spread on the mahogany desk( rumoured to have belonged to Tsar Nicholas I). After Zhukov finished he dismissed both men, shaking their hands before instructing them to devise a plan.
The plan, or plans that they came up with remains a controversial subject to this day.
Hopefully I'll be able to finish this part tomorrow.

_________________
A fez! A fez! My kingdom for a fez!!
The last words of King Richard HARVEY Plantagenet III 
Bosworth Field 1485

Is that a doppelganger in your pocket or are you just pleased to see me?
Artist, poet, polymath, cancer research prodigies Judyth Vary Baker's  first words to Lee HARVEY Oswald. New Orleans April 1963

For every HARVEY there must be an equal and opposite LEE
Professor Sandy Isaac Newton Laverne Shirley Fonzie Larsen's 
Famous 1st Law of Doppelganging
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on Mon 24 Aug 2020, 9:59 pm
PART 1
      STALINGRAD ( part 3b)
Before I continue with the narrative and discuss the climatic phases of the battle, the Soviet counteroffensive and the agonising demise of the quarter of a million or so Axis troops entombed within the ruins of Stalingrad there's a controversy I have to deal with .
The controversy regarding the Soviet offensive operations. 
Until relatively recently ( a few years after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, when previously unknown, secret archives were discovered and hitherto highly classified files began leaking out. ) the orthodox Stalingrad narrative was set in stone. An epic of heroism and endurance. The battered and mauled 62nd army holding on , despite everything the invaders could hurl at them, their sacrifice " pinning" the 6th army in place , allowing the fresh Soviet armies  formed up in secret on  the East bank of the Volga to come bursting out the milky winter fog, break through the enfeebled Axis armies protecting the flanks and trap an entire German army, surrounding nearly a quarter of a million men, brilliantly inverting the disasters of summer and autumn 41, when the helpless mass of the  Army,  flailing and thrashing in wild uncoordinated rage like some giant slow witted sea creature in a steel mesh, found themselves , time and time again,  being trapped in the ravenous jaws of  meticulously set traps .
There's much to the off quoted truism - that the Soviets simply copied the German tactics, necessity making quick learners out of even the most inept party hacks. With genuinely talented commanders such as Zhukov, Konev, Rokossovski, Sokolovsky and gifted staff officers such as Vasilievsky, not to mention their vastly superior resources and reserves of manpower ( for the Stalingrad offensive alone the STAVKA was able to mobilise 1.2 million fresh troops) if not by the autumn of 43 then definitely by the spring of 44, when they had studied then adapted the basic German " blitzkrieg" tactics they were able to unleash superbly planned and coordinated combined arms offensives that dwarfed the initial Barbarossa offensives.
The Stalingrad campaign was seen as a triumph, THE turning point of the European war and one of those hinges upon which history swung.
Now with over 70 years of hindsight most historians agree if the defeat at Moscow meant the Germans couldn't win, the victory at Stalingrad meant the Soviets couldn't lose 
On both the tactical and strategic levels the initiative shifts to the Soviets 
Despite the desperate last ditch offensive at Kursk that summer, the Soviets never lost it 
From the banks of the Volga, the winds of Asia on their backs the Red Army turned towards Berlin. The pale February sun falling across the bloody ruins, with the thin shuffling columns of prisoners stumbling through the rubble, moving with jerky uncoordinated steps. The victorious Red Armymen watching grimly as the ragged grey shadows pass in silence, one man steps out, a tiny skeletal figure wrapped in filthy brown rags, his boyish face hollow and aged with the echo of the years doomed to remain unlived His wide eyes fix themselves on a guard, a large tousle headed Siberian in a cape, his pilotka cap pulled low over his haggard face
" I Romanian" the boy croaks in broken Russian " I Romanian..fuck Hitler"
His gaunt sparrow like face turns hopefully towards the guard, like a chick waiting expectantly for his mother to return to the next 
A single gunshot rings out . the echo and the hollow reverberation emphasising the eerie silence. For there is a difference between silence and a mere absence of sound.
The boy collapses, a bloody heap of rags, without looking the other prisoners shuffle by.

The truth that emerged created a far more complicated picture. Yes, Stalingrad was still a great victory, a heroic saga of tenacity and endurance. Undoubtedly too it was one of the turning points of the European war. 
But the offensive itself ( Operation Uranus) was not planned in isolation, as in the conventional narrative pre 1990s. It was only a small part of a much grander plan, conceived by the STAVKA. The goal being not the encirclement of a mere army but the destruction of both Army Groups Centre and South( seperated into Army Groups A and B)
Almost as a footnote official Soviet histories spoke of the " Rzhev/ Sychevka Operation" that was launched 6 days after Uranus on 25th November, going on the almost perfunctory mention one could assume that it was nothing more than a localised , perhaps battalion level operation undertaken in the vicinity of the powerful German 9th army in the Rzhev salient.
There was of course Operation Little Saturn, the Soviet attempt to smash the Hungarian and Italian armies that defended the flank of Army Group A in the Caucasus. This was defeated by Von Mansteins brilliant " backstroke" counteroffensive, he allowed the Soviets to advance, outrunning their supply lines, before hitting them on the " backhand", turning the tables expertly he surrounded the Soviet forces that set out to surround both his command and Army Group A!!( When the sheer scale of the unfolding catastrophe in Stalingrad became clear, a whole German army surrounded and with Hitler characteristically forbidding all talk of retreat " Where a German soldier sets foot he remains!!" Von Manstein was hurriedly summoned from the Leningrad front and given command of a new Army Group, Army Group Don, consisting of the remaining German forces in the area)
What emerged from the recovered documents was no less than FOUR massive interlinking offensives. Christened the " Cosmic Operations" ( due to their interplanetary appellations) Operation Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus were planned by Zhukov and Vasilievsky ( although one detects traces of Stalins megalomaniac braggadocio) to attack, encircle and destroy the two largest German Army Groups.
Operation Mars ( the Rzhev Sychevka Operation) aimed at encircling the powerful 9th Army( commanded by Model) and elements of Von Kluges equally strong 4th army in the Rzhev salient. This was designed as a major offensive ( at the very least equalling the million plus troops deployed for Uranus) such was it's importance ( Army Group Centre  , by far the most powerful of the three Army groups, with it's spearheads barely 100km away from Moscow at some points, was viewed as the most potent threat, a knife poised at the very jugular of Mother Russia, an expertly wielded knife too) that Zhukov left the airless claustrophobic Kremlin vaults to oversee the operation, and the putative commander, KomArmy Maxsim Puckarev( until April 43 when the old Tsarist rank structure ( and the once hated shoulderboards) were reimposed the Red Army had a highly confusing table of ranks, full of the clumsy serio comic acronyms that were their trademark, KomBrig, KomDiv etc, )
Operation Jupiter was perhaps the most ambitious offensive ever conceived by the STAVKA, from their bridgeheads the two main participating fronts( the Western and Kalinin) were to encircle the whole of Army Group Centre.
Due to the failure of Mars this operation never got beyond the planning stage.
Called " Zhukov's Greatest Defeat" Operation Mars quickly descended into a bloody debacle, reminiscent of the poorly conceived counter offensives launched in the wake of the victory outside Moscow 
The Germans were expecting them, for once Gehlens Fremde HeerOst had provided actionable intelligence and with Model, probably the best defensive commander of the entire war, in control, anticipating the Soviets poorly coordinated attacks, the offensive quickly turned into a rout.
The large unwieldy Soviet armoured corps blundering into ambush after ambush. Model keeping his best Panzer divisions( including the SS Das Reich and the famed 116th " windhund" division) as a mobile reserve, deploying them as a fire brigade to nullify the clumsy Soviet attacks. At this stage the German armoured tactics were still light years ahead of the Soviets brutal primitive methods.
Many historians believe Mars and Uranus were complimentary operations, while others believe Uranus was merely a supporting operation and that Mars( and Army Group Centre by extension) was always the main strategic focus. 
They argue that while the Soviets could theoretically survive the loss of Stalingrad, the loss of Moscow on the other hand ( command, transport and industrial hub, not to mention it's inestimable propaganda value as the ancient capital of Muscovy. After Peter built the city that bore his name Moscow and At Petersburg were the twin capitals of the Tsarist Empire, Moscow regaining itsi status as sole capital in 1922) would have been fatal.
Pro Soviet historians maintain that Mars was nothing more than a diversion. The crucial battle being in the South. 
The truth as always probably lies somewhere in between.
The focus shifting Southwards after the dramatic success of Uranus.
The STAVKA expecting to trap and encircle no more than 90000 troops, found themselves with upwards of a quarter of a million. The 6th army at the time was THE premium field army, having spearheaded both the 
capture of France ( it is soldiers of the 6th army we see in the old newsreels, marching in triumph down the Champs Elysees...history not only rhymes but it has a perfect sense of symmetry, a terrible sense of irony too..thus the erstwhile conqueror of the world dies in a poorly ventilated bunker beneath the rubble strewn remains of his Empire, and the man who instilled fear in millions upon millions, dies alone in a puddle of his own urine because people were too afraid to help him)
Operation Saturn was meant to run concurrently, culminating in the trapping of Army Group A in the Caucasus. It was quickly discarded and recast as the less ambitious Operation Little Saturn. Aiming to annihilate the remaining Hungarian and Italian armies defending the flank of Army Group A.
Due to the partial success of Von Mansteins hurriedly launched rescue mission, " Operation Winter Storm", that broke through the outer rings of the Soviet encirclement, getting to within 20/30 km of the freezing troops trapped inside the Stalingrad " kesselschacts" ( cauldron). Now split into two, with a Northern pocket commanded by the ill fated Von Seydlitz ( whose ancestor had been Frederick the Greats famous cavalry commander) centred on a thin stretch of land in the factory district and the main group under Paulus's direct command ( although with Paulus ravaged by dysentry and on the brink of complete nervous collapse, his facial tic is clearly apparent in the footage of his surrender, his chief of staff General Schmidt, widely disliked and mistrusted by his peers, Schmidt, the almost insufferably arrogant scion of rich Hamburg merchants was suspected of being the Fuhrer's mouthpiece , by this time Schmidt was in command, exerting his baleful influence on the increasingly passive and apathetic Paulus. Who would sit for hours on his camp bed , staring vacantly around him, smoking endless cigarettes , glumly assenting to the orders the officious Schmidt would bring him)
This group was centred around the remains of the city centre.
Living a squalid subterranean existence, hunched in dimly lit bunkers, or freezing in the maze of foxholes dug out of the rubble that surrounded them, the soldiers subsisted on between 100-400 grammes of ersatz bread ( made out of sawdust) and rotten horsemeat ( the last horses were slaughtered on Xmas Eve) you can imagine how they felt when they saw the ghostly phosporescent green light of their rescuers flares illuminating the frozen wastes of sky. The sudden almost dreamlike burst of light filling the gaunt starless sky for a brief second, showering down like petals, or the ghosts of the tears that filled their restless dreams at night. Or day .Time, like life itself ceased to have any meaning here.
Remember these shambling phantoms we see, stumbling through the ruins, tearing desperately at the frozen corpse of a horse are the same peoope we saw strutting down the Champs Elysees..the same people who passed by the barn full of burning children..stopping to wipe the sweat from their Aryan brows they smirk and point a dirty finger at the barn, the crackling flames and the choking plumes of black smoke barely drowning the terrified screams 
" I wonder what those Jews are complaining about now ."
His mate chuckles and fastens his belt, the flames reflecting from the buckle that reads" Gott mit UN's"
" God is with us"
" Yes, these Jews certainly like to complain"
Maybe some of these very soldiers volunteered to help their comrades in the Einsatzgruppen.
Bela Tsarvka was on the route of the 6th army..96 Jewish children dragged out a classroom and shot after the divisional chaplain complained about the noise .
But then again maybe there are doctors, artists or even poets amongst these soldiers...with heads echoing with verses condemned to remain unwritten. Recited perhaps by the voices destined to remain young forever...
It's hard to feel pity for these soldiers until you remember that they were just humans .There
There but for the grace of your God are us, born in another place and another time ..

Operation Saturn was eventually downgraded to Operation Little Saturn, partially successful the Soviets( the main Soviet fronts for these operations were- the Don Front, commanded by Rokossovski, who led the attack from the North and the SouthWesSout Front led by Vatutin who came from the South) managed to destroy the Hungarian and Italian armies defending the flank; but due to Von Mansteins brilliantly improvised tactics- with Hoths 4th Panzer army in the vanguard- the bulk of Army Group A managed to escape from the Caucasus.

As usual I ended up being far too loquacious.. my profound apologies! But the material is so important I don't want to leave any details out.I
I'll complete the Stalingrad campaign in my next post before moving on to the campaign's of Spring 43.
Thank you for your patience!

_________________
A fez! A fez! My kingdom for a fez!!
The last words of King Richard HARVEY Plantagenet III 
Bosworth Field 1485

Is that a doppelganger in your pocket or are you just pleased to see me?
Artist, poet, polymath, cancer research prodigies Judyth Vary Baker's  first words to Lee HARVEY Oswald. New Orleans April 1963

For every HARVEY there must be an equal and opposite LEE
Professor Sandy Isaac Newton Laverne Shirley Fonzie Larsen's 
Famous 1st Law of Doppelganging
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on Tue 25 Aug 2020, 9:14 am
Alex, speaking for myself only, please don't mistake the lack of a response as indifference. Go to the other end of the scale.

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Checkmate.

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on Tue 25 Aug 2020, 9:53 pm
Thanks Steely, I'm just glad to be able to contribute something worthwhile. To start giving something back to a forum ive learned a great deal from.
Maybe by discussing the background I could help bring the details of the assassination itself into sharper focus.
History does indeed rhyme; but the key to unraveling it's mysteries is figuring out the meter.
Too many confuse blank verse for iambic pentameter.
Thanks Greg for taking the time to start reformatting my posts.
With your ( and the other moderators) permission I'd like to finish this series of posts on the Great Patriotic War, compile a thorough debunking of the most egregious holocaust denial myths then commence a series of posts chronicling the development of the Cold War.
Tracing it's growth and propitiation in chronological order.  Perhaps on a year by year basis , or by individual posts concentrating on a particular subject " Potsdam Conference", " Berlin Airlift" etc
After my next post I may not be able to post for another couple of days. These posts are far longer and more detailed than I originally envisioned, but considering the readership includes some of the most sophisticated and well informed students of history I didn't want to leave out any details, not simplifying nor banalising the subject.
To paraphrase Lord Gordo " We are NOT the education forum"
I'll leave Gordos illustrious band of warrior poets to cogitate upon the really weighty issues....if Ron Bulman received his hard copies of garrison yet .. the latest low rent tabloid excrement Doug Caddy has scraped off the sole of his loafers .. and of course if HARVEY discussed Marxism with William Timmer..
My meagre contributions can't hope to compete with Professor Larsen's paradigm busting musings...or the fearless Mr Booth's timid squeaks of defiance...
Harvey and Lee is rapidly transforming into the assassination equivalent of a " safe area"..
John Butler pedalling around the swings on his shiny new red tricycle....Fezzo making sandcastles out of the soggy, foul smelling sand( could that be little David Healy reeling away? ) and scribbling furiously before the Lil' Swinga himself comes lumbering through the sandpit chasing the ball the new kid tossed him ..Fezzo starts crying .." COINTELPRO COINTELPRO I'm telling the teacher on you...Miss Baggins!!!"
Miss Baggins is slumped on a nearby park bench, a shocking pink leather mini skirt and black PVC crop top, (revealing wandering slabs of his greasy well oiled blubber that burst out like Donnie Jeffries shrivelled libido that time they held a Star Trek convention at Sanibel Islands only nudist beach) and a pair of calf length red patent leather dominatrix boots the perfect outfit to attract the attention of any doppelganger curious single dad's, whose idea of a rocking night out is sharing a candlelit dinner and a half a packet of counterfeit Nigerian ruhypnol with a large bearded lump caked in make up...
" Hey, stud wanna tell my Harvey's from my Lee's?....sorr s Madame from behind you looked like an old friend of mine..."
Yes, it must be wonderful to be an H and L cultster..

_________________
A fez! A fez! My kingdom for a fez!!
The last words of King Richard HARVEY Plantagenet III 
Bosworth Field 1485

Is that a doppelganger in your pocket or are you just pleased to see me?
Artist, poet, polymath, cancer research prodigies Judyth Vary Baker's  first words to Lee HARVEY Oswald. New Orleans April 1963

For every HARVEY there must be an equal and opposite LEE
Professor Sandy Isaac Newton Laverne Shirley Fonzie Larsen's 
Famous 1st Law of Doppelganging
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on Wed 26 Aug 2020, 12:25 am
PART 1

               STALINGRAD ( part 4)

As October bled into November and as the temperatures began to plummet the German position grew increasingly desperate and untenable
Although they had achieved their initial targets; bringing the Volga under direct fire, stopping all traffic on the river( except for the small launches that continued to defy the blockade, ferrying supplies and reinforcements over at night and bringing the wounded out. Grossman describes the heart-rending scene; lines of stretchers laid out on the icy sand, the wounded lying patiently, gazing up at the sky, at the moon peering out through the veil of smoke that clung stubbornly to the remains of the cityscape, curling round the shattered chimneystacks, peeping mischievously through the  shellholes gauged out of the ruined buildings, while the medical orderlies, mostly high school girls in garbadine army blouses and thick felt boots, flitted and fluttered to and fro, glancing up towards the sky, nervously scouring the smoky blackness for the predatory shapes of the dive bombers) they were in a precarious position. Their flanks exposed and vulnerable, at the very end of a 2000 mile long supply line
And despite the fact they now occupied over 90% of the city, pushing the beleaguered defenders down to the banks of the river itself, where they hung on precariously., amongst the bluffs and the heaps of rubble, they could sense something profound yet imperceptible had changed. 
Napoleon always insisted that fate battles balanced on a single moment, and that all commanders should look for that moment
The balance had shifted . They now became the hunted, the brave young warriors ,who had strutted imperiously from one end of Europe to the other, now resembled a rabble of ragged terrified scarecrows, their scrawny unwashed bodies wrapped in layers of filthy blankets.
They were the prey.
The night itself seemed to gather round them, the sinister bombed out hulks that towered over them seemed alive, in between the crump of distant artillery and , the nerve shredding screech of the Katushyas ( the Soviets primitive but highly effective mobile rocket launcher) and the constant plink and whine of MG42s they listened intently for the muffled tread of footsteps, the dreaded Russians slipping, wraith like through the shadows to cut their throats...
Now and again, usually just before the Soviet night bombers, the antiquated but brutally effective U2 biplanes, paid their nightly visit, their fragile balsa wood wings swishing bat like through the darkness( most of the pilots were women. They called themselves ' the Night Witches"), that terrible voice would boom out
" Stalingrad- the mass grave of the German army"
The Germans kept pouring more and more reinforcements into the city, Stripping the divisions that languished out in the steppes.
Incredibly , even when the Soviet counteroffensive was launched, right up to the middle of December, Army Group A kept advancing, deeper and deeper into the Caucasus.
By the middle of November the German situation had become critical. Denied the natural defensive position of the Don River bend in the North by two Soviet bridgeheads, the entire Northern flank was defended by the poorly armed, poorly motivated and poorly led Romanian armies. Lacking proper anti tank guns ( each battalion was supplied by 2 obsolete horse drawn PAK guns, whose shells would just bounce harmlessly off the sloped armour of the T34s the Romanian 3rd army had 39 understrength platoons stretched out across a 300 mile long front.
In the South the situation was even more precarious. The 2nd Hungarian army was all that stood between the 8th Italian army and Rostov and Voroznezh.
Defending hundreds of miles of frozen steppe, these two weak understrength armies were responsible for the flanks of Army Group B AND Army Group A still engaged deep in the Caucasus.
The only mobile reserve to respond to the imminent Soviet offensive was the XXXXVIII Panzer Corps( roughly equivalent to a full strength Panzer division) and the 22nd Panzer division.
Such was the severity of the situation the Germans resorted to giving the Romanian divisions German radio operators! Hoping to trick the listening Soviets into believing they were in fact facing German divisions.

Operation Uranus was planned meticulously. Chuikovs 62nd army was provided with minimal reinforcements, just enough to hold on, while across on the Eastern bank of the Volga two new fronts( fronts being the Soviet equivalent of a German Army Group. In reality Soviet formations were far smaller than their German equivalents. A German regiment was roughly the size of a Soviet division, a division the size of a corps, a corps an army etc . A Soviet front was usually the equivalent of an understrength German army) were formed.
In the north the Don Front commanded by the ever reliable Rokossovski ( then embroiled in a scandalous ménage a trois with a famous Soviet film actress and her spurned beau, Konstantin Simonov, one of the literary hacks who flourished in Stalinist Russia) Comprising of 3 full armies ( the 1st, the 5th and the 21st Tank) the Don Front was to breakout of the Don bridgeheads, smashing down through the weakest point in the front ( 21st(?) Romanian infantry division), heading south east where they were to rendevous with the forward elements of the South West Front at the town of Kalach.
Commanded by Vatutin the South Western Front would attack a day later( 20th November) aiming for the 51st(?) Romanian infantry corps.
The plan was to trap the entire 6th army ( and elements of the 4th Panzer army) in Stalingrad, as we saw the initial plan called for another concurrent offensive, to smash through the rear of the Hungarians and Italians and entombing the entire Army Group A in the Caucasus.
Incredibly the Soviets were able to prepare for their offensive in virtual secrecy. In a mirror image of what happened pre Barbarossa, German intelligence officers refused to listen to the Soviet deserters who informed them of the imminent offensive.
Even far away in Berlin, or in the Berghof , (where the Fuhrer dallied in his mountaintop retreat, the dramatic scenery inspired him to greater heights of monumental self delusion.
His self delusion unfortunately was a sickness that somehow managed to infect an entire nation) they accepted that a Soviet offensive of some sort was more of less inevitable, however no one ( except perhaps Halder, Von Witzleben and a handful of other generals sympathetic to the poorly defined resistance) could bring themselves to accept the seriousness of the situation..
The Volga seemed so far away, and there were other far more pressing affairs in need of their attention, particularly the imminent British and Commonwealth offensive in North Africa, the desert war having seesawed for over a year had now settled down, both sides trapped by the impassible Quattara depression and the Mediterranean sea had dug in either side of an obscure railway station , a drab inhospitable outpost surrounded by sand, sand, more sand and the fantastic shapes rising out of the desert floor, gauged out of the basalt and crumbling sandstone by erosion and the biting winds ...this particular stop was known to the local bedouin as El Alamein..
Also a certain complacency had set in, the war in the East had more or less been in a state of crisis since, well certainly since Moscow, to the gentlemen of the OKH in Berlin, Hitlers cotorie of pliable yes-men and fervent believers and incredibly even most of the field officers on the ground, from Paulus, brooding in his pleasant izba on the outskirts of the city, the incessant thump thump of the Soviet guns and the ear splitting banshee shriek of the incoming Katushyas further fraying his already frazzled nerves, down to the most junior leutnant in the field believed in Hitler and the crackling barely audible voice that spoke in the Fuhrers name from the radio.
Self delusion is the greatest delusion of all, even more so by when magnified by the delusions of an entire state. ItsI impossible for us to grasp the suffocating pall the totalitarian state exerts on the mind and the soul.
Through a mixture of fear, propagandising and subtle persuasion ( unsubtle tactics are the preserve of the unpersuadeable) both mind and soul are deadened into compliance.
You believe the most outrageous lies because you have grown up with the liar. The liar having given you the wonderful opportunities.
They simply believed the imminent Soviet offensive would be like all the others.
Despite their military experience, and all the evidence to the contrary most earnestly believed the voice, half numbed by the hiss and the static.
The remaining half they numbed themselves.

Grossman describes the scene on the Eastern bank with a poetic clarity, using poetry to reach those inner truths, wonderful evocative scenes of young Red Army tankists in their oil stained overalls and padded hats being chased across the moonlit steppes by angry herds of camels.
He vividly describes the steppe itself, an undualating dun coloured ocean, with hidden bluffs and secret islands of dusty sand and thick steppe grass.
Hidden amongst the ravines and the tents of the steppe dwelling nomads, whose Asiatic features hint at their Mongolian ancestors whole divisions of tanks, telephone cables, telegraph links, supply dumps, battalion HQs, a regimental colonel forced to sleep on the earther floor of a windowless shack, a comrade snoring on the bench above him, a piece of pickled tomato stuck to his rough weatherbeaten face, now wreathed in a cherubic grin, that might well have something to do with the empty litre bottle of vodka he still clings onto..
The light of the vast moon pouring in through the doorway ,a greasy soldier's Cape hanging from a rusty nail the only thing between them , the moon and the icy breeze that whistles eerily across the sleeping steppe.
The colonel drifts off to sleep gazing up at the moon, a brilliant silver orb floating in the deep blackness of eternity; he imagines all the places the moon has looked down upon- Megos Alexandros and his companion cavalry, having flung six horses and a silver chariot into the winedark sea to placate Posideon they prepare to cross the Hellespont into Asia, reflecting from the feathered plumes and bronze tipped spears of the Emperor Darius's Immortals, 1000s of them, marching in silence, glittering from the frozen river the night before Prince Nevsky launched his charge, saving Rus' from the white cloaked Teutonic Knights.. from Saladin's tent, Charles XII spurs as he fled from Poltava...
Just as he fell asleep seeing Lenins sharp features glower out the silvery shadow a camel pops his head through the doorway..
This, Grossman tells us is the famous camel who marched all the way from the banks of the Volga River to Berlin 
His drunken owner leading him to a chorus of wild cheers and out of tune accordions" Wait for me . only wait very hard" to take a ceremonial shit on the steps of the bombed out Reichstag...

I've got to go out now so I'll leave it there. Hopefully I'll have time to finish this part off before the end of the week.
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on Wed 26 Aug 2020, 10:27 pm
( I managed to get quite a bit of work done last night so I've got a couple of hours to spare. I'll try to finish the final part on Stalingrad before moving on to a summary of the political developments/the start of the holocaust/ partisan campaign/ spring offensives of 1943, culminating in the Third Battle of Kharkov and Operation Citadel, the last major strategic level German offensive of the war)

PART 1

           STALINGRAD ( part 5)

Operatisya Uran was originally planned for the morning of the 7th November. Due to supply difficulties and the complicated logistics involved, ferrying over 800 tanks, 350000 men and considerable percentage of the 13500 artillery pieces the STAVKA had allotted for the operation proved to be even more difficult than originally conceived, the operation was delayed until the morning of the 14th
Due to the annual freezing of the Volga( over 1mile wide ,the huge ice sheets would shift and grind together, creaking ominously , the groans and scraping sounding like the stirring of tectonic plates or the enraged bellowing of some prehistoric monster. Combined with the shriek and the whine of the Stukas overhead these sounds , emerging out of the frozen night,unnerved even the toughest, least imaginative amongst the 1000s of soldiers ,who sat wrapped tightly in their padded jackets, staring at the burning inferno ahead, in the tiny wooden barges that puffed unsteadily across the inky waters, the ice glinting up at them was sometimes stained red and black with blood and oil, and through the icy gloom they could just about make out the shattered hulks of wrecked ships and the floating carcasses of their comrades) and the continuing air superiority of the Luftwaffe, the VVS with their blunt nosed MiGs appearing only sporadically, the operation was postponed again.
This time to the 17th.
Although the Germans were severely weakened, and were teetering on the precipice of a truly calamitous disaster , the Soviets continued to vastly over rate their skill. Indeed it would have been absolute folly to underestimate them. Within the 400 or so Kms of the prospective battlefield the Germans still had roughly one and a half field armies( the 6th army with 22 divisions was the strongest formation in the entire Wehrmacht)..approx 250000-300000 men, maybe 400 serviceable modern tanks in various states of repair( the Czech built 35(I)s the Romanians and Hungarians were supplied with, and the Fiats and captured French Renault's the Italians fielded were less than useless) not to mention the 600 or so planes( Stukas, Heinkels and Messerschmitts plus the lumbering Junkers Ju 52 supply planes soon to play such a fateful role in the unfolding tragedy) Although the Germans had been denied operational maneuverability and had been severely depleted by the street fighting they  still constituted  a formidable fighting force. If the initial Soviet offensive , all but the most deluded , now considered imminent could be thwarted ,and if a counter stroke could be successfully improvised....well as the 6th army staff officers reassured themselves, over the reassuring clatter of typewriters and teleprinters, in the cramped clammy confines of their impromptu HQ, a one storey wooden peasant izba.... they had extricated themselves from tighter spots than this ....
The Soviets remembering the unprecedented catastrophes of the opening months, many of the senior commanders had personally witnessed the terrifying routs, the bloody chaotic retreats, the fat bemedalled party hacks, red faced, wheezing and reeking of vodka ,waving their pistol in the air screaming at the waves of fleeing women and retreating soldiers ." attack you fuckers"   treated the Germans with a curious mixture of respect and contempt. While studying the commissars lounging in the very best seats, booted feet resting contemptuously on the maps and orders marked " top secret" strewn across the desk in their dank foul smelling bunkers, dug out of the Volga bluffs . They do indeed look the same, the members of the Military Soviet, whose invaluable service assured them a place on the nomenklatura, and a seat in the magic circle. Squat, pot bellied, with shaven heads and paunchy bloodhound cheeks, one shade short of coronary purple, always stuffed into garish ,gold trimmed uniforms , the medals on their chests jangling like wind chimes announcing the approach of an autumn storm... looking round the bunker at the eager young soldiers, fired up and hungry for revenge, haven't most of them families in conquered territory? Don't they know what " German occupation" really means? Maybe , the commander assures himself, trying to ignore the thunderous wail of the Stukas overhead, the familiar soul deadening thump of incoming shells and the hoarse boorish voice of the commissar ." Comrade Malenkov asked for me personally" he slurs, pawing the ashen faced young radio operator .she looks younger than my own daughter, he pauses before returning to his original thought..maybe, just maybe it'll be different this time, not just a case of the big moustache replacing the little one, here on the banks of the Volga we are fighting for freedom. 
Our freedom.
It wasn't for nothing the Soviet propaganda downplayed the Party angle. Stalin himself famously appealing to his " brothers and sisters" rather than his" comrades"
The War was christened the Great Patriotic War, drawing on the age old tradition of defending Mother Russia from the invaders.
Stalin was recast as the heir of Peter and Catherine...


Due to problems with the artillery and continuing air attacks on the supply dumps and jumping off points, on Zhukov's express orders, the Operation was postponed again.
Until 0720( Moscow time) on the morning of the 19th. The code word would be " Siren"
In the North the 21st, 51st armies and the 5th Tank army( with the 4th mechanised Corps in the lead) moved to their starting points. Their orders were clear.
Wait for the 80 minute barrage to lift, bypass the few remaining German formations on the frozen steppe and hit the 4th Romanian army at its weakest point, heading for the town of Kalach.
Starting a day later the southern pincer, led by the 4th Tank army was to head in a North easterly direction, they too were ordered to hit the Romanians at their weakest point and push on towards Kalach.
Both jaws of the pincer were tasked to link up within 100 hours, trapping the Germans in a " Kolt'so" " ring" that would be expertly tightened.
Choking the 90000 odd the STAVKA expected to be trapped inside the ruins of the city.

Early on the morning of the 19th Leutnant Gerhard Stock( winner of the gold medal for the javelin at the 1936 Olympics, tall, lean and angular with a shock of blonde hair under his grey stahlhelm, he looked as if hed stepped out of an SS recruitment poster Appearing on walls all over occupied Europe, from Paris to Oslo, in stark modernist lettering they appealed for locals to join the fight against the Jewish Bolshevik menace) sat beside his radio in the freezing barn the Romanian unit he'd been assigned to had commanders as their command post. Outside the thick icy fog swirled and the lonely tramp of the sentries boots filled the freezing air with a hollow echo.
He knew just how poorly armed and ill prepared the Romanians really were...far worse than even the gloomiest appraisals.
The officers were badly trained barely literate reactionaries who treated their men like animals( unlike the relatively egalitarian Wehrmacht that had one menu for all( excepting generals)) the Romanians had three menus: one for officers , another for NCOs and lastly one for enlisted men. A thin slop purporting to be goulash and a couple of meagre slices of frozen bread, baked from straw. The officers regularly best their men and insisted on having no less than 3 personal servants 
The NCOs were even more brutal, mimicking their officers.
The long suffering soldiers just wanted to go home . Mostly illiterate farmers they had no idea why they were here, deep in the frozen wastes of Russia. Fiercely Catholic and priding themselves on their non Slavic heritage( believing themselves to be the heirs of the Dacians and the Szelekys who fought for centuries against the invading Turks) ever since their independence from the Ottoman Empire in the 1830s Romania had looked West( their king was a Hohenzollern prince) fearing and despising the colossus to the East..Romania joined the Axis primarily to regain the territory lost to the Soviet Union ( Bessarabia, Northern Bukovina, Moldova) but elated by the early victories, culminating in the Romanian led capture of Odessa, the Conducator ( the Romanian equivalent of Fuhrer) Antonescu, a fiery diminutive red haired professional soldier and political freebooter) sensing the prospect of cheap victories( hopefully at the expense of their so called allies, the Hungarians) Antonescu ended up pledging more troops..
" You can always count on Romania in a war with the Slavs" he informed Hitler's envoy.

I'll leave it there, I don't want the posts to be too long.
Hopefully I'll finish this series of posts on Stalingrad over the weekend.
I apologise for the length but I don't want to miss out any important details.
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on Thu 27 Aug 2020, 12:51 am
Thanks a lot, Alex.

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on Fri 28 Aug 2020, 12:21 am
It's my absolute pleasure Vinny. I'm glad you're enjoying my posts. 
I'm trying to be as detailed as possible while trying to retain  the " human aspect"...sometimes by concentrating on numbers and statistics you can ( perhaps inadvertently) loose sight of the very real human tragedy.
Stalin himself famously said " One death is a tragedy , a million deaths are a statistic"
I'm trying to maintain the balance , also please excuse the length of some of these posts. I know from the tone, content and quality of the analysis that all the members here ( and no doubt many of the lurkers too) are highly astute, erudite and sophisticated students of history. I hope to craft a series of posts you'll all appreciate.

I apologise in advance for any mistakes , I'm trying to be as accurate and detailed as possible , but working from memory I may well get a couple of the unit numbers/ designations wrong. After I finish this series on the Eastern Front/ Great Patriotic War I'll go back and recheck my facts, correcting any errors.
Thanks for your patience and your support. As you probably may have guessed this is a subject I care a great deal about. These posts have been an absolute joy to write( if not is an appropriate word to use) and it's an absolute pleasure to share what little knowledge I have with people whom I've grown to admire and respect.

PART 1

         STALINGRAD ( part 6)

Late on the evening of the 17th November.....( as the searchlights above Moscow swept across the frozen cityscape, their beams moving with smooth almost balletic grace, tiny pinpricks  dancing lightly across the fast descending blackness, just as the blushing prima ballerinas once danced before their benefactors; the grand dukes and the Tsareviches who studied the contours of their supple limbs through the golden lorgnettes or diamond encrusted opera glasses. Illuminating the ancient onion domes, the grim porticos of the Kremlin fortress and the stark majesty of that newer fortress , The House on the Embankment...before once more scouring the frozen night for intruders...the Muscovites below, hurrying through the darkness, gripping their meagre rations , staring up up at the sky, nervously scanning the darkness for any prowling aircraft, straining desperately to hear the low droning hum of approaching engines, or the distinctive hollow boom of the anti aircraft guns. Despite the the official broadcasts, waking every morning to the stentorian voice of Levitan booming through the freezing early morning fog from the loudspeakers, informing them , in his perfectly modulated velvety bass,of the successful defensive operations conducted in the far away Caucasus, or the heroic defiance of their brothers and sisters who still held out on the banks of the holy Mother Volga..they knew that out there ,through the darkness, the German spearheads were barely 100 miles away... ) Vasilievsky was hurrying along the corridors of the Kremlin, a tiny figure  dwarfed by the archways and the gold embossed Grecian collonades, his footsteps ricocheting like pistol shots .
He had been summoned by the Boss personally, not by his factotum Proskrebyshev, (with his misshapen simian features, who sat at his desk outside the huge double doorway, mahogany inlaid with green velvet panels, the same colour as the doors and the carpets, that led to the Boss's office.
A Tolkeinesque gatekeeper. A fairytale grotesque, a face born to leer downf from Baba Yagas chicken legged hut)
Always a bad sign 
Despite his terrifying presence ( Proskrebyshev was inordinately vain. Proud of his ugliness and jealousy protective of his role as Stalin's gargoyle) he was actually quite a gentle soul. Passionately devoted to his young wife and daughter. He wept profusely as he fell to his knees and clung to the tops of the Boss's soft felt Georgian boots as he begged for her life .
" We can always find you another wife" Stalin chuckled, brushing his sobbing secretary aside
His wife was shot .A spy they said. For the British, or maybe the Japanese. The NKVD were nothing if not adaptable and eternally malleable when it came to accusations.
It wasn't so much the accusation itself, simply the fact that it was made.
In Stalin's Russia everyone was guilty..." How much does the Soviet Union weigh?" He had shrieked at a cowering interrogator who had been summoned from the basements of the Lubyanka for not managing to beat a confession out of a particularly recalcitrant prisoner...who clung to outmoded bourgeoisie notions of innocent until proven guilty... That weight was the difference between the innocent and the guilty..
Proskrebyshevs young daughter vanished into the " orphanages" specially maintained by the state organs to deal with the children of enemies of the people ..
Kaganovichs brother ( a Jew shot for conspiring with the Nazis) Mikoyans teenage sons, the entire family of his first wife Kato Svanidze, including his own daughter in law ( wife of the unfortunate Yakov. A kind gentle man who died in a German POW camp. He was persecuted by his father for the simple crime of being a Djugashvilli not a Stalin.." See, you couldn't even shoot straight!" Stalin sneered at his traumatized son after his failed suicide attempt..His last words to his second wife, who apparently shot herself after an argument at dinner. Stalin, half drunk, had flicked a lit cigarette contemptuously at his non smoking wife Nadezha, who stormed out followed by her best friend Polina Molotova.  Later, as she lay in her coffin, the bullet hole plugged by wax by the trembling hands of a Kremlin mortician... imagine being told you had to deal with the corpse of Stalin's wife!...were " She left me as an enemy") and perhaps most famously Polina Molotova, saved from death by Stalins own demise...
Stalin punished his closest collaborators for witnessing his own weakness, his own humanity.
" This creature softened my stony heart" he said as he looked down upon the body of his first wife Kato Svanidze, a beautiful dressmaker who ran a fashionable shop in Tiflis( Tiblisi) with her sisters catering to the wife's of the Tsarist officials...after she died what remained of Josef Vissaronovich Djugashvilli died with her..leaving only Stalin, a bitter stunted misanthrope who punished the rest of humanity for his own failings.
Quite simply the great STALIN, couldn't bring himself to accept Josef Vissaronovich Djugashvillis humanity. And his all too human failings.

" The old man really likes it when we call him a genius" Khrushchev commented ruefully to a young Yugoslav comrade after a notorious Kremlin banquet ( Often resembling a barbarian rout, like the Vandal chieftains draped uncomfortably in their consular gowns sitting down in the Emperor's palace to dine off golden plates with the stony faced patricians) The feasts , followed by the obligatory film( westerns were a particular favourite of Stalin's, often providing a political commentary, scolding Gary Cooper or John Wayne for being lackeys of the exploiting classes) often lasted until dawn, Stalin fully expected the banqueters to be at their desks first thing in the morning, while he slept undisturbed until midday on the couch ( he rarely if ever slept in a bed) in the study of his famous dacha out at Kuntsevo.
Such a lifestyle led to the gaunt, pallid unhealthy complections christened " the Kremlin complection"
Isaac Deutscher, arguably the most insightful student of the Soviet dictator believed that he strove to submerge Josef Vissaronovich Djugashvilli, with all his weaknesses, his pockmarked face, his limp( caused by a childhood accident, he was run over by a phaeton back in Gori), the uneven arms, his comic Georgian accent, that made him sound like an unsophisticated bumpkin to his more urbane intellectual comrades from St Petersburg and Moscow, his lack of intellectual gravitas ( his Short Course was less a theoretical treatise on the fundamentals of Marxism Leninism than a study in the mechanics of mass terror. ) etc etc behind the Olympian visage of the omnipotent STALIN
Killing all those who came close enough to see the join, or astute enough to understand the fundamental dicotomies.

Stalin had addressed Vasilievsky coldly, almost brusquely. Usually he liked to maintain an air of bluff joviality, what he understood to be camaraderie perhaps, when addressing his closest collaborators.

I beg your indulgence, I didn't realise the time. I have an appointment later this afternoon. If I don't manage to finish this part later today or tomorrow I'll definitely try to finish this part over the weekend.
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The Rise of Hitler and the Foundations of Antisemitism - Page 2 Empty Re: The Rise of Hitler and the Foundations of Antisemitism

on Sat 29 Aug 2020, 1:00 am
Sorry for getting a little bit sidetracked yesterday... Stalin's such a fascinating character, a mass of contradictions . Trying to make sense of his early years helps to shed some light on the character he became. An Eastern potentate masquerading as a European Marxist revolutionary.

  The only surviving son  of Beso ( nicknamed Crazy Beso) a once affluent young shoemaker ( owning his own business and employing as many as 10 apprentices) turned violent town drunk and vivacious, high spirited and apparently flirtatious Ekaterina " Keke", a freckle faced chestnut haired beauty who was fiercely ambitious for her beloved only son.
Her deepest wish was for her beloved SoSo to join the priesthood. The Georgian Orthodox Church , with it's elaborate ritual and black clad raven like priests who seemed to exist in a cloud of incense, were seen by many of the locals as stooges( and accomplices) of the hated Tsarist authorities.
Not so Keke. Even after Soso had ascended to power, the subject of a hysterically murderous Cult of Personality, she still sighed wistfully, lamenting the lost past 
And just try imagining the past that existed in the old woman's mind-blowing A world where Father Djugashvilli existed instead of Joseph Stalin.
Born in 1878, in Gori, a provincial backwater in the relatively recently acquired Tsarist viceroyalty/ fiefdom of Georgia ( a young Tolstoy wrote of his experiences fighting the proud ferociously independent Caucasian chieftains , such as Imam Shamil), with it's balmy climate, rugged mountainous beauty, the wine seeped sensuality of the culture( epitomised by the national epic Rustavelis " the Knight in the Panther Skin", a chivalric romance set in the Golden Age of the Georgian Empire in the 13th century, personified by their greatest king Queen Tamara) and it's clannish hyper masculine culture of swaggering machismo and glorified vendettas, it resembled a Mediterranean country, having little in common with their new Overlords from the distant frozen North 
Despite his efforts to erase his Georgian roots and embrace greater Russian chauvinism, Stalin remained until his dying day, Josef Vissaronovich Djugashvilli.
Thanks to the influence of his mother's " benefactors" , including a local priest ( many biographers believed to be Stalin's biological father. Despite much salacious myth making it now seems pretty certain that the man known to history as Joseph Stalin was indeed the son of an impoverished alcoholic ex shoemaker) the young Ioseb was accepted by the local seminary.
There he began reading prohibited authors such as Victor Hugo and of course Karl Marx, soon considering himself a Marxist .After his expulsion ( much to his pious mother's horror) he worked briefly at a local Observatory before beginning his career as a professional revolutionary. Stirring up strikes in the Nobel and Rothschild owned factories in nearby Baku. 
The discovery of oil had turned the Caucasus into a " Wild West" like environment of boom towns , with rampant lawlessness, where massive fortunes could be quickly accumulated.
Stalin's revolutionary activity is poorly documented . He was probably involved in several underground newspapers/ printing presses and most definitely involved in what were euphemistically called " expropriations" in revolutionary circles.
Bank robberies and other heists .... including the famous one in Tiflis in 1902(?) when Stalin ( then known as Soso, the Georgian diminutive of Josef, or Ioseb, or Koba, his self bestowed nickname. Koba being the hero of the Parricide, a novel popular amongst revolutionaries) and the semi legendary Kamo ( Simon Ter Pertossian (?) an Armenian with severe mental problems) robbed stage coaches in broad daylight in the centre of Tifliss busiest square, netting the equivalent of 200000 rubles, a fortune at the time
Known to Lenin( then still plain Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov) as " my wonderful Georgian" Soso met Lenin in London in 1903 at the famous conference that saw the Russian Social Democratic party split into two factions.. the Bolsheviks ( majority) led by Lenin and the Mensheviks.
Also, who viewed Ulyanov in quasi mystic terms" mountain eagle of our party" was mightily disappointed by his idol's unprepossessing appearance and lack of charisma. Koba later faded from Lenins view, writing later to his sister "very urgent is Stalin Josef D?"
Despite the virtual propaganda industry that sprang up trying to mould Stalin into Lenin's greatest disciple..they were never close. In John Reeds words Stalin was a " grey blur" during the revolutionary days of October 1917. Viewed with a mixture of suspicion and derision by his urbane intellectual comrades. Incredible as it may seem Stalin( and perhaps Bubnov) were the closest things to " workers" in Lenin's original Politburo.
The overwhelming majority being from educated middle class. A few, including Lenin himself and the first chief of the Cheka, Felix Dzerzhinsky, were heriditary noblemen.
This rankled with Stalin and was a major contributory factor to his crushing inferiority complex. Desperate to be regarded as a theorist he employed a tutor for 2 years, who tried stoically and with little success to school him on the intricacies of Marx's economic theories.
Apparently the man who would become " the world pontiff of Communism" was distinctly unimpressed
" Does anyone read this shit?" he supposedly grumbled
The tutor , needless to say, paid a heavy price for failure to inspire his student.
Disappearing into the Lubyanka cellars in 1937
Many speculate that Trotsky's seemingly effortless brilliance, as a writer, theoretician, orator and soldier( he was the founder of the Red Army, with the help of his handpicked Tsarist " advisors"( ex officers whose relatives were often held hostage) he moulded the rabble of street brawlers, deserters and worker's militias into a viable fighting force) was the root cause of Stalin's murderous vendetta against him. Trotsky's peacock brilliance, strutting vanity and charisma magnified his own grey mediocrity. Trotsky's however was no political, neither were his supporters , thus Stalin( appointed General Secretary in 1922) used his immense bureaucratic power and patronage to destroy enemy after enemy.
Stalin in a very profound sense WAS the true embodiment of the Party. His triumph was the triumph of the backroom apparatchiks, the drab faceless bureaucrats who wielded such god like power in the Soviet system.
Even if Lenin didn't know it Stalin was his greatest and truest disciple.
Trotsky's incredible naivete was displayed when he agreed to allow Stalin to take control of Lenins medical regime( a series of strokes having left him all but incapacitated. Unable to speak, except for the two phrases his wife Krupskaya taught him. '" vot vot" hear hear and " Congress" the communists thus politicised illness, just as they had politicised sleep..and death itself.
Stalin's main task was to isolate the increasingly frail and passive Lenin from outsiders( ie his own perceived enemies) His position allowed him to intercept Lenin's famous Testament. That denounced Stalin ( for " certain personal characteristics")
Trotsky's too failed to cut short a trip to attend Lenins funeral.


Although he was elected to the Central Committee, Soso drifted around the fringes, being exiled to Siberia by the Tsarist authorities, only to escape and by recaptured.
Siberian exile was light years away from the Stalinist GULAgs , indeed camps like Solovetski and Vortuka make the Tsarist exiles seem idyllic. Little more than a slap on the wrist by a paternalistic and essentially well meaning state.
Indeed many of the revolutionaries viewed exile as an extended reading holiday, with the chance to do a spot of fishing and marvel at the untamed natural beauty of the Siberian landscape..a patchwork of vast forests and tundra interspersed with the small rugged settlements( log cabins protected by stockade fences from the elements and the local inhabitants- wolf's and bears. The small indigenous populations preferring to keep to themselves until the NKVD arrived to civilise them ) carved out by sturdy frontier folk.
Stalin was exiled on no less than five(?) occasions, fathering an illegitimate son with a 13 year old local during one of his state funded excursions north.
During one escape he made it to St Petersburg, where he was hidden by a family , stalwarts and well regarded in the twilight netherworld of underground revolutionaries.. the Alliluyevs. The brooding young revolutionary, on the run from the minions of the oppressive Tsarist autocracy( and the young Stalin, with his swarthy Caucasian looks and tousled mane of hair was undoubtedly viewed as something of a romantic figure, imbued with underground revolutionary chic) caught the eye of the youngest daughter, Nadya 
When Stalin returned in 1917 the then teenage Nadya first of all became his secretary, accompanying him on many dangerous missions, clanking through the endless Russian steppes, the sky seeming to merge with the earth, on one of the armoured trains that were synonymous with the Russian Civil War, then his wife.
The middle aged widower marrying his young secretary who had reached the ripe old age of 17.
She was a dedicated revolutionary, spurning luxury to live a Spartan life in their surprisingly cramped poorly furnished quarters in the Kremlin palace.
She bore him two children. A son, the doomed Vasily. Major general by 5, alcoholic by 16, raised by his fathers toadies, including Vlasik, his chief bodyguard. Imagine Uday Hussein as the son not of a regional despot but arguably the most powerful man in the world. After his father's death he was shuttled from solitary confinement cell to ( briefly) the managers office of a provincial swimming pool ( one of the most mind boggling images of a mind boggling regime) before dying, burnt out and remorseful ,in obscurity.
Their daughter Svetlana needs no introduction.
Stalin's early years are even more fascinating, and revelatory, than his years in the political spotlight.
They were( and still are) seeped in controversy. Especially his earliest years in Georgia. Indeed Beria ( himself a Caucasian, a Mingrelian, with an equally murky past. The only survivor of a mass execution during the brief, Menshevik led , seperatist Republic, crushed by Trotsky's Red Guards in 1921, he was long suspected of being a Tsarist/ White/ Menshevik double or even triple agent) first came to Stalin's attention by writing the " official" history of this period " On the history of the Bolshevik organisation in Transcaucasia" rivals the Warren Report in terms of duplicity. Not so much a whitewash but an utter rewrite, dragging the modest  self effacing Kobafrom the chorus line into the spotlight.
It is perhaps no coincidence that Stalins old comrades were wiped out to a man ( and a woman) during the Great Terror.
Including Nestor Lakoba  who was tasked with looking after Stalin's elderly mother 
Adopting her trademark nun like cowl, the still persipacious Keke was ensconced in the old Viceregal palace, living in one room, transformed into a nunnish cell, in the servants quarters.
Stalin visited her once
His mother remarking ruefully that she still wished he'd become a priest
" What is it you do exactly?" The old woman asked, after commenting he turned out so well because of her regular beatings...
" Do you remember the Tsar?" her son retorted, his yellow eyes, so often described as " tigerish" twinkling
" Well I'm like him"

After Lakoba was shot, Stalin apparently having left his aged mother in the care of a Zinovievite British spy another of her son's lieutenants was tasked to look after her, indeed this particular lieutenant represented the absent son at the old woman's funeral...
Lavrentii Pavlovich Beria 

Crazy Beso had died years before, the last time he saw his son was when he staggered up to the gates of the seminary, shrieking incoherently, cursing his son before begging him for a ruble to buy wine.
The only surviving photo of Beso is on his headstone. The likeness is striking.

After this impromptu detour I'll return to the main narrative over the weekend.

_________________
A fez! A fez! My kingdom for a fez!!
The last words of King Richard HARVEY Plantagenet III 
Bosworth Field 1485

Is that a doppelganger in your pocket or are you just pleased to see me?
Artist, poet, polymath, cancer research prodigies Judyth Vary Baker's  first words to Lee HARVEY Oswald. New Orleans April 1963

For every HARVEY there must be an equal and opposite LEE
Professor Sandy Isaac Newton Laverne Shirley Fonzie Larsen's 
Famous 1st Law of Doppelganging
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The Rise of Hitler and the Foundations of Antisemitism - Page 2 Empty Re: The Rise of Hitler and the Foundations of Antisemitism

on Sun 30 Aug 2020, 12:34 am
I'll continue the narrative where I left off ...with Vasilievsky being ushered into Stalin's presence.
In his autobiography ( written in the late 50s/early 60s, after his ( involuntary) withdrawal from frontline politics( without doubt THE leading commander of the war, his ability to handle large formations was unparalleled,as was his tactical nous. Adopting the German offensive tactics and fusing them to the existing Red Army doctrines) Zhukov wrote profusely, and candidly, about his close working relationship with Stalin. Perhaps coming to know him, and his moods better than anyone. The key to understanding his moods he maintained  was his pipe... if he began an interview with it unlit it was a bad omen. If it lay on his desk it was even worse..he was in a foul mood, but it he merely chewed the stem his mood was more pensive than potentially volcanic. If he was in a good mood he would puff contentedly, smiling laconically at the waiting interviewee, be they a nervous NKVD colonel or Comrade Molotov, still technically the Foreign Minister, but already slipping down the Kremlin pecking order. By the late war Zhdanov, Beria and his sinister protégé Abumakov ( chief of SMERSH, the acronym meaning Death to Spies) and the hardworking, relatively apolitical and uncontroversial Leningrad party chief Kuznetsov were Stalin's favoured deputies. In many Kremlin watchers eyes Zhdanov cemented his place as successor in chief when his son Yuri married the wayward Svetlana. The teenage Svetlana having angered her prudish father by beginning a passionate affair with celebrated auteur Roman Karmen( who would famously film the dramatic climax of Den Bien Phu in the first Indochina war)
At the time he was in his mid 40s and was notorious for his lecherous ways, a famed lothario and avowed sensualist Karmen was infamous amongst the Moscow demi monde for his philandering, which probably made him even more attractive..he was also Jewish. Stalin, despite the fact his daughter in law and granddaughter who he doted on were Jewish, nursed a lifelong aversion to Jews. Not Hitlerian biological racism rather the old style anti semitism of his Georgian homeland. As he grew older and his mind began ossifying,wandering more, back through the glorious present to the maze of the past with all it's slights and disappointments, his latent anti semitism grew. Finding a new outlet in Anti Zionism( merely puppets of the American Jewish Imperialists.) Despite being the first foreign leader to recognise the State of Israel as the 40s slipped warily into the 50s , under the shadow of the mushroom cloud ( the Soviet Union having exploded their first atom bomb in 1949) the Old Man became even more stubborn, dyspeptic and downright hateful. Starting a campaign that aimed to weed out and destroy " rootless cosmopolitanism" code word for the Jews... several hysterical Pravda editorials followed( familiar opening salvos to anyone attuned to the mechanics of Stalinism)..then came the utterly surreal Doctor's Plot( nearly all of the Kremlin specialists ( mostly Jews) were arrested, accused of planning to murder, by medical means, the entire Politburo. Zhdanov, whod died in 1946, was apparently their first victim. The doctors still languished in the Lubyanka in March 1953, thus Stalin was denied proper medical care. The night of his death remains perhaps the most grotesque political farce/ comedy, a chilling example of the absolute power of the totalitarian state. The unconscious urine soaked body of the Boss ,lying in his underwear on the floor of his study ,still exerted an hypnotic effect on them all, from Kremlin guard to Beria to his son Vasily, who turned up intoxicated, shrieking and sobbing about the nefarious forces that murdered his father... As if the dessicated old man lying there, a withered husk of pickled hatred, who could do no more than claw the air piteously and mutter " Dzhh" over and over would leap up and berate them. Have them executed for having the sheer temerity to trespass into his private quarters...Stalin is immortal, the living embodiment of the state ...how dare they mistake the sick old man sprawled before them, clinging desperately onto life, for surely only one who has denied life to untold millions can know the true value of life, of a single breath, with the mighty Comrade Stalin..
The very man whose armies had torn the sword of Damocles from those who wielded it over the head of European Jewry, died planning to lift the sword with his own hands.
When he died the camps were already built. A whole new terror planned, a glimpse of what that terror meant was the fate of Solomon Mikhoels. Venerated Shakespearean actor( he'd performed King Lear for the Boss at the Kremlin theatre no less than 13 times) and proud Jew, along with Grossman and Ilya Ehrenburg he'd been the main spokesman for the Jewish Anti Fascist Committee 
Picked up by a truckload of Abumakovs goons, the elderly Mikhoels had been beaten to death in the back of the truck...his dead body dumped in the snow filled gutter outside a Minsk theatre...

When Stalin found out about Svetlana and Karmen he flew into a terrifying rage ..
The young girl , used to being pampered and getting her own way, shocked by his visceral reaction tearfully blurted out
" But I love him"
" Love...love..love" Stalin roared, his yellow eyes glittering with sheer contempt, for his daughter... for the whole human race...
" Here we are fighting for our life's and what have you been doing? Out fucking"
The marriage between the headstrong Svetlana and the personable, if somewhat bland Yuri Zhdanov was hastily arranged 
It didn't last.
Nor did his father. Worn out by his wartime exertions ( and perhaps with the pressure of being widely viewed as the heir apparent) he died of a heart attack in 1946.
Zhukov , dismissed by Stalin, who was jealous of his massive popularity, mumbling darkly about Bonapartism at a Kremlin banquet, ended up in charge of the Odessa Military District.
Brought back into the fold after Stalin's death , he rose to Minister of Defence under Khrushchev, a reward for his support during the anti Beria coup, Zhukov famously led the troops who arrested the deposed secret police chief in person, before loosing out in the bitter internecine squabbles that followed.

Zhukov wrote that he knew when the Boss was in a really good mood; he'd smooth his moustache with the stem of a lit pipe..

The night of the 17th November ,when Vasilievsky had been tersely summoned from the General Staff building by Stalin, the pipe lay unlit on the desk.

PART 1

            STALINGRAD (part 6 continued)

Alongside the pipe a dispatch lay on his desk.
Sent that morning by Volsky, commander of the 4th Mechanised Corps, who were scheduled to play a decisive role in the coming offensive.
Leading the southern pincer.
Apparently Stalin read out the letter, verbatim, in a solemn whisper, carefully avoiding Vasilievskys searching gaze.
Volsky wrote in no uncertain terms. Begging Stalin to postpone or preferably cancel the proposed offensive.
In blunt language he described, vividly and unsparingly, the appalling state of the troops.
Young conscripts, callow teenagers who'd never before left their home villages. Most turned up, painfully thin and pathetically afraid . Children, still wearing their fathers ill fitting hand me downs. Most were illiterate, some dangerously so. The farmhands and shepherds  from Central Asia unused to handling modern equipment could be a real menace. Bloodcurdling tales of kids attaching live grenades to broom handles...
Most had no proper winter uniforms, some didn't have rifles, and those who did have them were barely trained. There just wasn't time . 
In unflinching detail he described the irresponsible officers, drunken louts who didn't give a damn about their young charges. Preferring to cavort with the flighty young nurses and radio operators.
 Soviet battlefield intelligence was negligible, due to the incompetence of the front line intel officers his HQ had absolutely no idea about the enemy . Numerical strength, equipment, morale ..force dispersement...where the strong points were situated 
Not only that the Luftwaffe seemed to have complete aerial superiority, turning up at will to strafe and bomb the training camps, ammo dumps and jumping off points.


Finishing the dispatch Stalin, without comment and without asking Vasilievsky for his opinion,laid it back on the desk and picked up one of the 3 phones that sat on his desk.
The one that connected him to the main Red Army switchboard.
He asked to be put through to Comrade Volsky commander of the 4th Mechanised Corps..
Within 10 minutes Volsky had reversed his damning appraisal of his troops, and promised Comrade His men would fulfill all their objectives.

Placing the phone down Stalin looked up at the puzzled Chief of the General Staff, he'd heard all about the Boss's subtle tricks and mind games and as he stood there in the Boss's office, the dim light sending eerie half formed shadows scuttling across the sombre oak panelled study... hadn't this been a nursery or some Tsarinas boudoir? His mind sometimes wandered, at the most inopportune times too, he glanced away, over his shoulder, trying to avoid answering Stalins questioning look, half expecting a troop of burly NKVD guards to come bursting in .. brandishing machine pistols
" Your pistol and your documents if you please citizen Vasilievsky...you are under arrest for counter revolutionary sabotage"

Instead of being hauled off to the Lubyanka dungeons Stalin simply smiled rather curtly at him;
" Have you not got an offensive to plan Comrade Vasilievsky?"
" Yes Comrade Stalin I do" came the somewhat bemused reply.

Leutnant Gerhard Stock, assigned to the headquarters of the IVth Romanian Corps sat by his radio in the barn outside Kletskya, he didn't know it at the time but the barn, and the farmhouse where the Romanian officers still slept was directly in the path of the Soviet troops,  now busy calibrating  their sights, checking their engines, oiling their guns, or having a quick swig of vodka, purely medicinal of course .a few short miles away... .. the mooing of the cattle and the cursing of  HQ guards, shivering in their brown summer uniforms unnerved him as he tried to contact 6th army HQ , now in a log hut in the outskirts of Golubinsky, a tiny hamlet about 10 km outside Stalingrad itself.
Stock had been on the radio all night...he was absolutely certain an offensive was imminent. A major offensive. Stock had studied the maps. He knew how precarious the situation really was. And he had no illusions about his allies His impromptu inspections had terrified him. The IVth Romanian Corps was in no condition to resist a major Soviet offensive...and even if they had they had nothing to resist the Soviets with.
2 outdated PAK anti tank guns per battalion, that were useless anyway...WW1 vintage machine guns.. captured French rifles and as for the few tanks they had .. the Czech built 35 ( I)s would simply be target practice for the T34s. He'd pleaded for a few 88s, a battalion, even a platoon of Panzer IVs ...but a friend of his on the staff of General Veiel, commander of the XXXXVIII Panzer Corps, the only mobile reserve the Germans possessed wised him up  to the perilous state of his own Corps, an entire Panzer Corps with fewer serviceable modern tanks than an average division has none to spare...
As he repeated his warning it was clear the  voice on the other end was unimpressed, asking the usual perfunctory, idiotic questions in a lugubrious drawl...
Still Stock persisted...there had been a steady stream of deserters...the offensive was due to start , he looked up at the good solid German clock, hanging precariously from a wooden beam, in barely an hour ..
0720 local time...
Deserters the voice replied , even through the whine and crackle of the static the tone of bored indifference was obvious...deserters were always saying something...
Stock continued undaunted...that maybe true, there have been a few false alarms
Just a few the voice retorted sarcastically..
Stock winced but persevered...we can hear their engines from here, green flares have been popping all over the place... like a Nuremberg Rally...remember the Cathedral of Light? What an unforgettable sight!! A living wall of light!! What a night! What a feeling!! Anything seemed possible!! For an instant the young leutnant drifted off into the welcoming embrace of the past ..once more he was the bright young idealist, standing proudly to attention, one face amongst millions gazing up at his Fuhrer...he couldn't get accept that young man and the old man, dirty, frozen, unwashed sitting in a frozen barn deep in Russia was the same man
And the words he heard then are the words he heard now ..terrible hateful lies..

Wait a moment the voice snapped ..after 5 or so minutes of hiss and static the unmistakable icy sneer of General der Infanterie Arthur Schmidt, Pauluss Chief of Staff, and De facto commander of the 6th army, crackled across the airwaves... informing Stock in no uncertain terms that he was mistaken. He had all the latest intelligence reports before him, not only that he'd spoken personally with the Fuhrer ... there was no offensive imminent. There couldn't be an offensive. The Red Army was exhausted, the Fuhrer was waiting for Stalin to call any day..to surrender...do you understand leutnant? There can be no offensive. You must be mistaken..
And all steps are being taken to ensure the security of the army.
It's those damn Romanians, Schmidt barked, you're getting jittery Stock.
The radio fell silent.

Exactly 1 hour later, at 0720 hours, local time ( 0520 Berlin time) a local Luftwaffe listening post picked up a signal, sent to all the Soviet units in the vicinity of the River Don, on the northern flank of the Axis forces..
The signal was the codeword " Siren"
On receipt of the codeword the 3500 guns and mortars the Soviets had accumulated opened fire 
Thousands of fiery red flames scarring the night..
The thunderous volleys shook the rubble strewn streets...waking up the German soldiers dozing fitfully in their cramped airless bunker ..

The barrage would last for 80 minutes..
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The Rise of Hitler and the Foundations of Antisemitism - Page 2 Empty Re: The Rise of Hitler and the Foundations of Antisemitism

on Mon 31 Aug 2020, 2:16 am
Apologies if my past couple of posts have wandered off topic.
From now I'll try to keep focused on the main narrative threads:
The Great Patriotic War/ a comprehensive debunking of the most widespread and egregious holocaust denier myths/ a background history of the Cold War to try and provide context for the forums main topic.

PART 1

           STALINGRAD ( part 7)

There was a particularly thick fog that morning that added to the chaotic nightmarish feel... the Soviet shells and rockets coming shrieking out of the freezing gloom.
Stock and other eyewitnesses describe a truly apocalyptic scene.. Picasso's Guernica brought to life.
The neighing of terrified horses, the hoarse frantic shouts, explosions, severed limbs cartwheeling out of the foggy murk, bleary eyed officers barking ridiculous orders in half slurred voices as they struggle to pull on their boots, the petrified conscripts running around blessing themselves and reciting the prayers their mother's had taught them in high cracked schoolboyish voices .
Remember the vast majority of the poorly clad soldiers were conscripts. They had no idea what in the name of the Holy Mother they were doing there ..on the banks of the Volga, 1000s of miles from their neat little farmsteads.
Like the Soviet troops, out their in the foggy morning, preparing to advance, they were the perennial victims of war.
The little men, dragged from their hearths to fulfill the crazed fantasies of their leaders.

At exactly 0840, 80 minutes after the barrage began it lifted, and in the distance, through the clouds of black smoke, with a frosty winter sun peering through the clearing fog,; Stock recalls the vivid colours, the bright reds and oranges , livid streaks slashed through the oppressive greyness, the survivors of the bombardment could hear the dull rumble of engines.
The first waves, 5th Tank Army, 329th mechanised regiment of the Soviet 4th Tank Corps were heading right for Stock..he was assigned to the headquarters of the IVth Romanian Corps, stationed in the " northern shoulder" of the 6th army ( near to what would become the infamous Marinovka nose, the German lines eventually forming the shape of a crushed skull)
Despite the fog the Soviet barrage had been effective, the forward artillery posts having already zeroed on their targets. However the effectiveness of the carpet bombing, combined with the frozen, rutted terrain caused a problem for the advancing T34s with their wide tracks.

Imagine the sight coming out of the fog, that still lingered, ghostly swirls and thick grey plumes stained by the choking smoke.... The T34s, seemingly 100s of them, squealing and clattering, it's low silhouette and sloping armour making them a tough target for the few remaining gunners, dragging out their antiquated PAK guns, or shouldering the few pilfered Soviet PTS54 anti tank rifles..the t come lumbering closer, firing erratically ( the Soviet tankists still struggling with the fire and move tactics their German counterparts had perfected) the infantrymen clinging to their sides, in their padded jackets and felt boots, now leapt off screaming " ' Urrah"

The Romanians fought bravely at first, managing to fend off two attacks 
But without artillery support ( the Soviet gunners having silenced the closest German guns with carefully targeted counter battery fire) plus the lack of armour and reinforcements it was only a matter of time.

The Soviets meticulously adhered to the plan: attack only the weaker Romanian units, bypass the few remaining German formations, they would be dealt with later.
The initial breakthrough was made by the 4tb Guards Corps, augmented by the Cossacks of the 3rd Guards Cavalry Corps  Weaving in and out of the T34s and the cumbersome KV1 heavy tanks, the horsemen, sabres twirling launched themselves at the remaining front line troops, hunched amongst the wreckage and the still burning remains of their barracks.
The IInd Romanian Corps were the first to collapse, this triggered a general rout that soon spread to the neighbouring IVth Corps, Stock and a handful of other German officers having patched together a scratch battle group of sorts.
The sight of the Cossacks, waving their sabres, like Pugachev reborn coming hurtling towards them, not from the front but from their flanks caused panic 

Once panic starts it's impossible to stop, transforming a disciplined body of men into a frightened rabble in the blink of an eye.

Soon 3 full Romanian divisions, the remnants of both IInd and IVth Corps were in full retreat, streaming across the open steppe, stumbling across the frozen earth. Any stragglers were cut down mercilessly by the pursuing Cossacks. These were Ukrainian Cossacks who'd seen first hand what German occupation meant. 
They had little sympathy for the terrified young Romanian peasant boys who fell to their knees, hands outstretched beseechingly, prayerfully..
" I Romanian, no kill, fuck Hitler"
These pathetic words would soon become a familiar refrain.
Soon the Croatians, the Italians, even the Austrians of the famous 44th Infantry Division, the heirs of the Hapsburg Hoch und Deutschmeister Division would be using it, to distance themselves from the hated Germans 
To the Soviet mindset it made little difference 
After all hadn't there been Poles, Italians, Portuguese, Spaniards and yes, Austrians too, whole divisions of them, with Napoleon's Grande Armee?
Invaders are invaders..

By noon news had filtered through to the 6th army HQ. Their reaction was timid and overtly cautious. Paulus, by now veering between the apathetic and the downright fatalistic, just sat morosely on the edge of his camp bed....even the usually decisive Schmidt appeared strangely subdued and diffident. 
By then it was far too late to avert the long rumoured disaster that was now commencing ( later in captivity Paulus would comment, with the maudlin self pitying , melodramatic style that was his trademark, that he felt the wings of the angel of history flutter through the damp claustrophobic smoke filled gloom of that simple R ussian peasant hut that morning) but prompt action could perhaps have limited the scale of the immediate debacle at least.
Instead of ordering the 16th and the 24th Panzer divisions( both relatively fresh and close to their full complement of men and equipment) to about turn, both having been recently deployed to Stalingrad, they chose instead to send the XXXXVIII Panzer Corps, by then reduced to less than 100 serviceable tanks.
Just before darkness fell across the steppe the forward elements of the 22nd Panzer blundered into the flank of the still advancing 5th Tank army,. 
With the battered remnants of the Romanian 11th Armoured division, it had discovered limping across the steppe, having temporarily evaded the rampaging Soviets, a haphazard counter offensive was launched.
As night fell the burning hulks of the Panzer IIIs and the smaller Czech built 35s, could be seen for miles away.
Blazing like bonfires, or hurriedly built beacons( like the ones constructed on the coast of England centuries before, to warn if any marauding Spanish galleons had been glimpsed in the Channel)
Both Romanian and German lay side by side, sharing their first night of eternity on a frozen Russian steppe.
The counteroffensive, little more than a suicidal charge , had been quickly and severely dealt with.
Both divisions loosing a combined total of 40 tanks.. nearly halving the German reserve.

As darkness fell and the surviving Soviet tankists ( or as Grossman put it " Those who were alive were still alive") clambered out of their sleek, wide tracked T34s or bulky inelegant KV1s and began getting down to the serious business of lighting their fires, the driver clanking the pots, the gunner getting out the ingredients for buckwheat kashka, rummaging through his greasy overalls for a piece of sausage... while the commander, a stocky red haired ex schoolmaster from Omsk, pulls back his padded cap before lighting the fat homemade cigarette( rough makhorka tobacco rolled in yesterday's edition of Red Star) Leaning against his tank, he inhales deeply, scratching his head he surveys his surroundings, the burnt out hulks silhouetted against the blackness of the night, the flames of a nearby tank, a Panzer III, you can tell by the squat front armour, reflects in his eyes, still unnaturally bright with vodka and adrenaline.
After sending a procession of smokerings off out into the night, watching them loop through one another with geometric precision, he smiles a fatherly smile and pulling a quarter litre bottle out from beneath his black overalls with a magicians flourish, he lowers himself down... beaming at the small fire crackling merrily and the familiar smells wafting up from the dented old tin pots..
" We did some good work today, eh comrades?"

Taking the cigarette out his mouth he swings his arm round, pointing the glowing tip at the wrecked hulks , their outlines, barely visible through the icy gloom resembling the shadows of some long extinct prehistoric beasts, beasts who roamed across the steppe once upon a time, just like the tanks
" We really gave the Fritzes a pounding"

Over by the next fire the commander, a small with pugnacious Siberian with high cheekbones is raising a glass, so to are his comrades..
The other commander takes a long drag of his cigarette, rolling his eyes in well rehearsed contempt as he hears the toast
" Za Stalinska...For Stalin"

The words drift off out into the darkness

That day the Soviet armies tore a 30-40 mile wide hole in the northern flank, capturing 27000 Romanian prisoners and destroying the IInd and IVth Romanian Corps.
The second attack, led by the 51st and the 57th armies was due to commence tomorrow morning at 0800.
According to plan the two pincers were to snap shut, within 100 hours, rendevous point , the town of Kalach.

Encircling what the STAVKA believed was part of the 6th army, comprising of 90000 men.
In reality they would trap the entire 6th army, elements of the 4th Panzer army and an independent Croatian rifle brigade
Between 250000-300000 men
Excluding the hiwis. The hilfswilliger, the willing helpers, the starving ex Red Army men who were trapped in y no man's land inside a no man's land.

_________________
A fez! A fez! My kingdom for a fez!!
The last words of King Richard HARVEY Plantagenet III 
Bosworth Field 1485

Is that a doppelganger in your pocket or are you just pleased to see me?
Artist, poet, polymath, cancer research prodigies Judyth Vary Baker's  first words to Lee HARVEY Oswald. New Orleans April 1963

For every HARVEY there must be an equal and opposite LEE
Professor Sandy Isaac Newton Laverne Shirley Fonzie Larsen's 
Famous 1st Law of Doppelganging
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alex_wilson
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The Rise of Hitler and the Foundations of Antisemitism - Page 2 Empty Re: The Rise of Hitler and the Foundations of Antisemitism

on Wed 02 Sep 2020, 1:11 am
PART 1

       STALINGRAD ( part Cool


The second part of the Soviet counteroffensive was due to be launched at 0800 on the morning of the 20th
Led by the 51st and the 57th armies of Vatutins Southwestern Front ( under the overall command of Yeremenkos Stalingrad Front, a command that also included the 62nd and 64th armies..still clinging on bitterly in the ruins of the city itself. At some points they hung on to a few hundred yards of churned, charred, blood splattered mud, the first snows of winter covering them with a joyous cowl, like Mother Russia herself was breathing new life upon her embattled children. And for the desperate Soviet defenders the winter was welcomed as a long anticipated ally... General Winter ) led by the 4th Tank and 13th Mechanised Corps were to strike northwest, aiming for the much weakened Romanian 4th Army.

Unaware both the 297th German infantry division and, more worryingly the 29th Panzergrenadier division, had been newly deployed in this sector. Thanks to 4th Panzer army commander Hoth.
The 29th Panzergrenadier division was almost at full strength. 
A full strength Panzer grenadier division boasted 1 regiment of Panzers( 40-60 machines,. In reality only the elite formations, the SS divisions, Grossdeutschland or the Hermann Goering came anywhere near this . The average division possessing anything between 60 and 20 panzers) 
A regular Panzer division had 2 regiments.
Plus a contingent ( usually more than a battalion) of self propelled artillery.
Their infantry was motorised( trucks and AFVs by later war) 
To a large extent the line infantry divisions had much in common with their WW1 counterparts, relying on horses while slogging along on foot behind the Panzer spearheads.
They had to do a lot of the hard unglamorous fighting, neutralising strong points, taking towns, villages and sometimes cities. Bitter, merciless hand to hand fighting. The casualties were staggering. Whole units practically decimated in a matter of days, hours even.
In military terminology this was force multiplication..the Soviets minimising the Germans main advantages( speed, skilled deployment, flexible command structure, training) and turning it against them.
Forcing them into gruelling streetfighting, ferociously contesting every yard of soil.
Soviet infantry tactics, based on strong defense and rapid fluid counterattack, was perfectly suited for these conditions. The Soviet equipment, primitive as it was compared to its German equivalents, was mass produced and thus easily replaceable.
Even on the battlefield.
The  PPSH machine pistol and the T34S being the prime examples.
German equipment was highly specialised but prone to technical flaws, deep in Russia it was impossible to get spares.

The basic Soviet infantry unit, 5-10 man squad, lightly armed with machine pistols, grenades, the sturdy Nagant rifles and knives was perfectly suited for street fighting.
They deployed their few tanks sparingly; relying on the artillery massed on the Eastern bank for support.
Indeed the artillery spotters were the No1 target for the German snipers.
The Germans still relied on relatively large units, as late as November they were still deploying battalion sized units, supported by panzers and mortars when they attacked.
Also they flew in specialist combat teams that quickly proved ill suited to the terrain and the savage hand to hand fighting.
This was war at it's most basic. 
The ruins of the giant factories or elegant marble apartment blocks could just as easily have been gloomy caves, the black crosses and red stars on the ragged tunics rough animal skins, the rifle butts and sharpened shovels crudely fashioned stone clubs and the faded propaganda posters, dirty blood splattered strips flickering in the grim unnatural light of the flares and the fires could so easily have been the simple bison shaped scrawls, the first expression of humankinds dawning awareness...

The fighting in Stalingrad was humanity at its rawest, the elegantly worked masks used to disguise our latent savagery behind the well mannered hypocrisy some call civilization, lay in the mud along side the headless torso of the 17 year old kid who once dreamt of setting the world alive with his poetry, the bleeding hunks of flesh that had once been a postman from Bremen, husband and father, one son another on the way ...

War brings out the worst in us as the poet's and artists bring out the best...often using war as their mirror.
The unflinching atavistic reflection of who we are and who we could become.
At Stalingrad we became.
But yet in that becoming one of the most inhuman creatures who ever wore a human mask was stopped..
In the name of another monster...
In the battle of moustaches the big moustache won.

And reading through the letters and the diaries it really was that simple.
Ideologies distilled down to the size of the leaders respective moustaches.
As terrifyingly juvenile as much of the ideological conflicts were.
And still are.

For a shallow idea can appear deep when measured by a shallow mind.

I've been working flat out all day, with your permission I'll finish this section ( part 8b) tomorrow morning when I'm more focused

_________________
A fez! A fez! My kingdom for a fez!!
The last words of King Richard HARVEY Plantagenet III 
Bosworth Field 1485

Is that a doppelganger in your pocket or are you just pleased to see me?
Artist, poet, polymath, cancer research prodigies Judyth Vary Baker's  first words to Lee HARVEY Oswald. New Orleans April 1963

For every HARVEY there must be an equal and opposite LEE
Professor Sandy Isaac Newton Laverne Shirley Fonzie Larsen's 
Famous 1st Law of Doppelganging
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Vinny
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The Rise of Hitler and the Foundations of Antisemitism - Page 2 Empty Re: The Rise of Hitler and the Foundations of Antisemitism

on Wed 02 Sep 2020, 2:44 am
Once again thank you very much for the wonderful information, Alex.

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alex_wilson
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The Rise of Hitler and the Foundations of Antisemitism - Page 2 Empty Re: The Rise of Hitler and the Foundations of Antisemitism

on Thu 03 Sep 2020, 1:39 am
It's my pleasure Vinny.
Hopefully I'll have time to finish this part tomorrow

_________________
A fez! A fez! My kingdom for a fez!!
The last words of King Richard HARVEY Plantagenet III 
Bosworth Field 1485

Is that a doppelganger in your pocket or are you just pleased to see me?
Artist, poet, polymath, cancer research prodigies Judyth Vary Baker's  first words to Lee HARVEY Oswald. New Orleans April 1963

For every HARVEY there must be an equal and opposite LEE
Professor Sandy Isaac Newton Laverne Shirley Fonzie Larsen's 
Famous 1st Law of Doppelganging
avatar
alex_wilson
Posts : 818
Join date : 2019-04-10

The Rise of Hitler and the Foundations of Antisemitism - Page 2 Empty Re: The Rise of Hitler and the Foundations of Antisemitism

on Fri 11 Sep 2020, 1:13 am
I apologise for the lack of new posts.
I've been working my tin foil hat off trying not to fall too far behind my deadline.

Hopefully ( my puny bookish Hungarian doppelganger permitting. Hes been sent by the Agency to a " Team Bonding Week" in an abandoned NATO bunker outside Cleethorpes.

Apparently he will be taught to find a better balance between his work and family doppelganging.

Hey fake moms have feelings too...) I'll  have time over the weekend to catch up with a few posts

_________________
A fez! A fez! My kingdom for a fez!!
The last words of King Richard HARVEY Plantagenet III 
Bosworth Field 1485

Is that a doppelganger in your pocket or are you just pleased to see me?
Artist, poet, polymath, cancer research prodigies Judyth Vary Baker's  first words to Lee HARVEY Oswald. New Orleans April 1963

For every HARVEY there must be an equal and opposite LEE
Professor Sandy Isaac Newton Laverne Shirley Fonzie Larsen's 
Famous 1st Law of Doppelganging
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The Rise of Hitler and the Foundations of Antisemitism - Page 2 Empty Re: The Rise of Hitler and the Foundations of Antisemitism

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