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alex_wilson
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The Rise of Hitler and the Foundations of Antisemitism - Page 3 Empty Re: The Rise of Hitler and the Foundations of Antisemitism

on Thu 17 Sep 2020, 5:47 am
Apologies for not posting anything recently, I've been working flat out, indeed the special titanium " Roswell '47 " antennae on my favourite tin foil hat, the one I wear when I go up to Bonny bridge for my bi monthly abduction, is starting to wilt...

My microchip is playing up too ... instead of my controller instructing me to buy lots of fertilizer and to conduct round the clock surveillance on the central London flat of a famous British actress( whose actually an alien hybrid assassin) I'm being woken up by reruns of the iconic 60s radio comedy " Round the Horne" being beamed directly into my frontal cortex....

Apologies too for the numerous sloppy errors I've made, and for the needless repetitions that diminish the narrative flow.

Once I've completed this part( the Great Patriotic War) I'll go back and correct the individual posts.

PART 1

        STALINGRAD PART 9

When dawn broke sluggishly across the blood splattered steppes on the 20th November 1942, with the burnt out wrecks still smouldering fitfully, and plumes of oily black smoke curling up through the frozen air, much to the horror  of the fretful Soviet commanders, peering through their binoculars, it  soon became apparent  - the fog was actually thicker than the morning before.

Great impenetrable banks of fog floated serenely through the regiments of tanks ,massed and waiting. Each machine like the flexed muscles of some giant mechanical beast waiting to whir mightly into motion, rising up to go clanking across the frozen steppes, , the individual commanders ,nervously waiting for the order to advance to come crackling through their headsets , and the drivers peering through the hatches, could barely make out the tank in front of them.
What to do?

The offensive was due to commence at 8am, a quick artillery barrage then the armoured formations, with Volsky's 4th Mechanised Corps in the lead, were then to  surge forward, smashing through the feeble Romanian divisions before linking up at Kalach with their comrades from the Don Front.

Poor Volsky.

What must have been going through his mind? No doubt he looked out at the dense fog with bleary sleepless eyes .. having spent the night endlessly replaying his conversation with the Boss in his mind.
Stalin's words booming out like a siren, echoing through the hollow prison corridors ..waking him up in his cramped solitary confinement cell.

Stalin was to call again this morning.

Three times.

But it wouldn't be Volsky who'd hear the familiar reedy slightly comic Georgian accent coming crackling through the receiver 
Not would it be Vatutin, commander of the Southwestern Front...

It would be Yeremenko, Commander of the Stalingrad Front,  for Colonel General Yeremenko was  in overall command.
Or to put it more straightforwardly it was Tovarisch Yeremenkos head in the noose.

Instead of " Roger and out" Soviet military communiqués of the era usually ended with " You will pay with your life for the mission's failure."

Seeing the thickness of the fog, as it came rolling over the half frozen Volga in great choking waves, like all the ghosts of the battlefield had risen as one, Yeremenko took an unprecedented decision. In the circumstances it was a decision many of his trembling subordinates, picturing   themselves being tied to a post ,with 9 cold rifle barrels and 18 even colder eyes glaring at them impassively, deemed to be foolhardy to the point of being downright suicidal.

" He postponed the offensive until 10am

You can almost picture the shaken colonels and majors, the staff officers and the commissars muttering to each other.
In low anguished voices
As they studied the portly Yeremenko leaning on his cane. Dabbing the forehead of his round flabby peasant's face with a handkerchief.
Wheezing and rasping as he waddled slowly across the floorboards of the Front Headquarters. 
" Has the Colonel General gone mad?"
" Maybe his mistress has left him"
" Maybe his heart condition has got worse"

Yeremenko wouldn't budge 
Even after the Boss himself called him from the Kremlin.

On three seperate occasions. Each time his voice getting a little louder, his breathing a little bit heavier ..and the threats a little bit more ominous.

The fog was too thick for offensive operations. Yeremenko remained calm.

Grossman describes the scene.

Stalin putting the phone down softly before leaning back in his seat. Closing his eyes he pictures divisions, no armies,  of emaciated corpses breaking through the permafrost. Clawing their way out of the mass grave pits, the mouldering rags clinging to their skeletal shoulders, their hollow eyes neither vengeful or remorseless.
Merely sorrowful.

In those 2 hours, as Yeremenko held the southern pincer up, on the banks of the faraway Volga.....
On the banks of Volga Mat, flowing past the city that bore his name, a city mostly occupied by the hordes of grey green fascist slugs, Grossman describes Stalin being tormented by the thought of his vanquished enemies.
Seeing them clamber out of their graves, to form up behind the Nazi hordes.

Stalin was not only in the middle of a life and death struggle with the invaders.
He was in the middle of an even grimmer struggle.
With his past.
For facing defeat, if only for those two, uncertain hours, he understood, clearer than ever before perhaps,  that the victor is never condemned.

Victory on the banks of the Volga would surely ensure his final victory, the clumsy Voroshilov eventually dropping the " Sword of Stalingrad" he would be  presented  with at  Potsdam, on behalf of King George VI and the grateful British people.
Victory would transform the bloody tyrant into cuddly Uncle Joe.
The stalwart ally puffing calmly on his pipe 

To his credit Yeremenko held his nerve.
The offensive finally got underway at 10am with a ferocious artillery barrage.

Then the tanks moved forward, the thunderous clatter of hundreds of treads causing the very earth to shake.

After the fog lifted it turned into a sunny morning. A huge round orange sun, with a rim of dancing coronas, as if Saturn had shed her rings, in a clear blue sky.

Displaying their almost preternatural powers of recovery the German divisions in the immediate vicinity, the 29th Panzergrenadier and the 297th infantry divisions , immediately counterattacked, driving into the flanks of Volsky's Corps, causing significant casualties.

However the demoralised Romanian units( who'd spent the night piecing together the previous day's debacle...a whole army wiped out. Half a million vengeful Red Army troops in their rear . Mass executions..whole regiments summarily shot) collapsed and the sheer weight of numbers caused the whole southern flank to buckle.

The STAVKA had expected the two pincers to meet up within 72 hours ...but ahead of schedule, on the morning of the 22nd, a bitterly cold wind blowing in from the steppes, a column of the 5th Tank Army rumbled towards the small wooden bridge at the centre of Kalach.
Seeing the familiar shapes of the T34s ( squat with a low silhouette) coming lumbering out of the frozen gloom the German sentries thought they belonged to the neighbouring German training units, that were equipped with captured Soviet tanks.
They waved them across the bridge, no doubt cursing them as they thought of the samovar bubbling away inside the peasants izba they'd commandeered.

Within a few hours the German sentries were dead, the whole garrison massacred  while the tankists, opening their hatches cautiously , as they heard the squeal of approaching engines, half expecting to see a column of Panzer IVs gliding towards them, would be joined  by their comrades, a reconoissance unit of the 357(?) mechanised regiment. Having driven northeast through the crumbling Romanian front

The two pincers thus snapped shut. Entombing over 250 000 soldiers inside Stalingrad.

As the sky grew lighter, from the spire of the old abandoned church, they could see the outline of the ruined city.
A fiery blur in the far distance.

The actual link up was unrecorded, but it was re enacted a few hours later, the cameras of the propaganda units whirring hungrily to capture this amazing scene.
The conquering soldiers bounding across the icy steppes towards each other. Throwing their fur hats up in triumph.

Comrade embracing comrade.

Grossman provides us with an intimate, lasting snapshot of victory.
One tankist reaching into the pockets of his overalls to produce a quarter litre bottle of vodka.
Another produces a piece of sausage, carefully wrapped up in newspaper
" Your vodka and our sausage!" was the toast that echoed through the remains of Kalach .... the few remaining civilians emerging warily from coal cellars and bunkers, smiling timidly at their liberators.
Perhaps searching through the group's of cheering soldiers for the tell tale blue uniform tabs of the NKVD Special Sections
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alex_wilson
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The Rise of Hitler and the Foundations of Antisemitism - Page 3 Empty Re: The Rise of Hitler and the Foundations of Antisemitism

on Wed 23 Sep 2020, 1:56 am
PART 1

     STALINGRAD PART 10

In his famous 1832 treatise cum philosophical meditation on the nature of conflict " Om  Kreig ( On War)" legendary Napoleonic era Prussian strategist Clausewitz wrote that it was impossible for a field army to be completely encircled.

In the age of cavalry, smoothbore muskets, muzzle loading cannon and huge poorly trained conscript armies( a recent innovation, replacing the era of so called Cabinet War. An era of mercenary armies and limited war aims. An era when wars were usually nothing more than ( often incestuous) dynastic squabbles) his words were indeed true.
But military truths, like most truths, apart from those deeper universal truths, are flexible. Hostage to the whims of humanity and the rate of progress. Often the most treasured fundamental truths of a generation end up being discarded as archaic fatuity ( or worse) by subsequent generations.

The catastrophic  defeat at Sedan, when an entire French army, led by Napoleon III in person ,was surrounded and forced to surrender by numerically interior Prussian army disproved Clausewitzs maxim
Thus by 1870 the truths considered immutable and self evident, barely a generation before were exposed as the antiquated daydreams of a vanished age.

By 1942/1943 tactics and military technology had advanced so far( especially since the advent of  bomber and fighter aircraft , the submachine gun and the tank) the generals and their political masters could dream of wholesale annihilation on a scale beyond the wildest most destructive fantasies of their predecessors. 

Within 25 years the Somme's and Verduns would transmorgify into the Stalingrads, the Dresdens, the Kursks and the Hiroshimas.

News began to reach the beleaguered 6th Army HQ by lunchtime on the 22nd of November. Their worse fears were confirmed. They were surrounded.

Paulus, haggard and emaciated with an uncontrollable nervous tic, sat chain-smoking morosely, his eyes gazing vacantly out the small window of the peasant izba, beyond the wintery grey sky outside, that suddenly seemed almost threateningly low, deep into the clear blue waves of the past. 
The pale, worried faces, the stench of stale tobacco and unwashed uniforms dissolved to be replaced by gloriously distant images.
Of home. Of himself as a young man, tall svelte and immaculately dressed( his brother officers nicknamed him Der Lord for his fastidious appearance)
Of his beloved wife, daughter of an exiled Romanian aristocrat. The beautiful Elisa
She would die in 1949, while he was still in Soviet captivity.

Despite the commanding generals moods that swung from the merely lethargic to fatalistic apathy, the HQ swsng into action, sending  out a flurry of telexes. To the corps and divisional commanders, to ascertain, if possible, the full extent of the unfolding calamity.
To Von Weichs, Commander of Army Group B
To OKH.
And of course to the Fuhrers Hauptquartiers.

To request orders.

The full scope of the disaster quickly became clear.

Apart from the 62nd and 298th infantry divisions ( around Kotelnikovo), they had been " brushed aside" by the sudden breakthrough in the 5th Army sector.
The rest of the 6th army( 3rd, 29th(mot), 44th,60 the( mot), 66th, 71st, 76th, 79th, 94th, 113th, 295th, 297th, 303rd, 371st, 376th, 384th, 389th infantry , 9th Luftwaffe flak and 100th jager and the 14th Panzer divisions) plus the 16th and 24th panzer divisions from Hoths 4th Panzer army. An independent Croatian rifle brigade ( 385th) and the remnants of the 1st and 20th Romanian cavalry divisions were trapped in the kessel

Approximately 250 000 men.
The majority of whom were still embroiled in ferocious hand to hand fighting inside the ruins of Stalingrad itself.
Chuikov had been ordered to hold on, pinning the 6th army like a giant grey green butterfly in a net.

Following their doctrine of " deep battle"( developed back in the mid 30s by Marshal Tuchavesky, widely regarded as the finest strategic brain of his generation. Alas like 3 of the first 5 Marshals of the Soviet Union( with Yegorov and Bluyker), the only survivors were Voroshilov and Budyonny, Stalinist toadies who displayed the full scale of their incompetence in the chaotic early days of June/ July 1941) the ill fated Marshal was swept up in the Army purge, that utterly decimated the higher echelons of the Soviet officer corps. Leaving the survivors supine and pathologically afraid of initiative. Many tragi comedic tales were told of the summer of 41, with Soviet commanders more afraid of their own security forces than they were of the marauding Wehrmacht.
He would be executed in 1937. I've actually seen the notes of his interrogation. All those years later I could still clearly make out the splashes of dried blood) both pincers quickly tightened the noose.
Creating two cohesive mutually supportive lines.
The inward facing line( circumvallation) concentrating on the surrounded troops, whilst the outer line,( contravallation) prepared for any rescuing forces.

The Germans moved swiftly, the supple well oiled cogs of the Wehrmacht whirred instantly into action.
Late on the night of the 22nd, in the HQ of the 11th army( newly transferred from Sevastopol to punish the recalcitrant Leningraders with their giant Krupp howitzers that lobbed 1 ton shells) the teleprinters chattered into action... like the teeth of frozen men.
The commander of the 11th army, the newly promoted Generalfeldmarschall Erich von Manstein( widely viewed as the leading strategist in the Wehrmacht, it was he who conceived the innovative " sicklecut", slicing through the Allied armies and heading for the Channel coast, having sent the vast majority of the panzertruppen through the Ardennes forest, considered impassible by the Allies, that led to the collapse of France in the summer of 1940) was ordered South immediately.
To take control of the newly formed Army Group Don.
Comprising of the remainder of Army Group B and the 6th Panzer division, widely viewed as the Wehrmachts finest.
The 6th, which had been refitting in Poland was at full strength, boasting 150 tanks.

Von Mansteins task was simple.
Breakthrough the Soviet forces, relieve the 6th army and capture the city.

Now comes the most controversial issues of a campaign, that to this day, remains fraught with bitter controversy.

The breakout and the airlift.

Most sources agree that Hitler categorically forebade the 6th army to even consider attempting a breakout.
They were to stay put. Mansteins forces would come to them.
However Von Manstein( he even included a facsimile of the alleged order as an appendix to his post war memoir/ apologia, titled " Lost Victories") a breakout was an integral part of his eventual plan, codenamed Winterstorm.
According to Von Manstein, and his numerous acolytes/ defenders, when the codeword " Thunderclap" was broadcast the 6th army was to breakout, en masse, heading southwest to the nearest German lines.

Survivors of the 6th army( including Hauptmann Winrich Behr, who would be flown out in Jan 43 to the Wolfs Lair in Rastenburg, to plead with Hitler to allow what remained of the 6th army to surrender, and Hauptmann Freiherr Bernd Von Freitag- Loringhoven, flown out because of his serious wounds, Loringhoven , by then a staff officer would be present in the Bunker during the climatic days of April 1945) bitterly dispute this version.
Claiming that a breakout was never seriously considered. Taking the logistics, the lack of mobility, the lack of petrol, the state of the troops and the distances involved it's almost certain that the breakout option was never really seriously considered.
Starved, frostbitten troops crossing over 40 miles of snowbound steppes on foot, with meagre armoured and artillery support....it would have ended in a massacre.
After a battle that had cost them close to 1 million casualties the Soviet forces would hardly be inclined to mercy.

However there are some events, whole divisions burning their supplies, preparing themselves for an imminent order, that hint at some considerable confusion.
Maybe a breakout WAS seriously considered, only to be abandoned when senior commanders released how I'll prepared the rank and file landsers were.

Goering, who was present at Hitler's HQ when the first news of the encirclement arrived, briefly consulted with his senior aide, Jesonneck, before declaring blithely, waving his oversized field marshal's baton for effect ( by this point in the war, the crafty steely Goering, holder of the coveted Blue Max from his days as a WW1 fighter ace, last commander of the Red Baron's famous " Flying Circus" had become a drug addled buffoon. Dressed in the increasingly gaudy uniforms ( designed by himself) , caked in rouge, often with painted fingernails, he spent his time at his palatial hunting lodge Karinhall, playing with his toy trains, dispatching his " agents" to steal artwork and gems to enhance his vast private collection ( that included the Mona Lisa), or cavorting with his menagerie, that included Caesar, a game lion cub. Known as Der Dicke ( the fat one) by now Goering was treated with ill disguised contempt by the senior Nazi leadership, while his Luftwaffe continued it's precarious decline, eventually things got so bad( only two planes, including one piloted by the swashbuckling Pips Priller, to oppose the Normandy landings, his top aides launched a virtual coup, the Fighter Pilots mutiny, that was hushed up thanks only to the swift intervention of the SS) that " my" Luftwaffe could easily supply the surrounded troops via airdrops.
In the spring of 42( 8th(?) Feb- 21st April) in the Demyansk pocket( known to the Soviets as Khorsun) elements of Buschs 16th Army, mostly from HansensH X Corps, HAD successfully been supplied by air. The Luftwaffe managing to drop an average of 300 long tonnes per day until a successful rescue mission could be mounted, using troops from Von Brenckdorffs XI Corps

The situation at Stalingrad however was vastly different.

I'll try to continue the narrative later this week.

Apologies in advance if i've got any of the dates/ division numbers wrong.

_________________
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 3 Empty Re: The Rise of Hitler and the Foundations of Antisemitism

on Sat 26 Sep 2020, 1:35 am
PART 1

      STALINGRAD PART 10 ( b)

Looking back over this thread I realise just how far I've wandered off topic.
Initially I hoped to provide an overview of the Cold War, only to become distracted ( in my defence it is a most worthwhile distraction) by holocaust denial.
To me holocaust denial is the ultimate embodiment of pseudo history; anti history may well be a better phrase. It is a repellent form of historical negationism designed not to further our understanding of the past, but to keep the past obscured , hoping through ignorance  to turn the past, in the most visceral, divisive sense into a battlefield for the soul of the future.

Any belief system, be it political, religious or social, that attempts to distort, censor or deny the past; that attempts to prevent their adherents from accessing knowledge on their own terms and reaching their own conclusions , belongs in the past.
In the cold dark corners of humanities past, when humanity sought succour in such denial.

I ended up embarking on a multi post study of the Great Patriotic War. Trying to add a touch of novelistic detail to the historical reality, not to distort nor diminish but simply in an attempt to enhance what was already there.

Like many assassination books, many studies of the Eastern Front become nothing more than a dry lifeless recitation of facts and statistics....bullet trajectories and casualty figures.
The war was fought by people, real people, with hopes and dreams, by attempting to excavate those people from the mass of divisions, lists of battles and gun calibres, by connecting our dreams to theirs, I think the past is enlivened. Through the steppes , the ruined cities and those other cities full of other ruins- the vast cemetery cities, we can better catch a glimpse of the thin cord that binds their pasts to our futures.
And vice versa

With your permission I'll try to finish this part on Stalingrad in another couple of posts, before moving on to the other fronts . Up to Leningrad, then back down through Byelorussia and the Ukraine.
Culminating in Operation Bagration, launched on 6th June 1944, the same day as the Normandy landings.
Named after a Georgian prince and a Napoleonic era Russian general, who was killed at Borodino, the set piece battle outside Moscow, the bloodiest single day of entire French Revolutionary/ Napoleonic Wars. A tactical stalemate, the French claimed the battlefield while the Russian army remained unbroken, beginning its dramatic retreat East of Moscow.
Bagration was the heaviest defeat and the greatest victory of the entire war.
The Soviets , through " maskirovka" ( literally deception) had tricked the Germans into believing that the main attack would come further south, in the Ukraine. So convinced were they the Germans shifted over 80% of their remaining armoured force to anticipate, and perhaps even pre empt the expected offensive.
Thus the central front of Army Group Centre, still a potent fighting force at this point, was left with less than 100 tanks
The Soviets attacked in Byelorussia...an onslaught comprising of the three most powerful Army Fronts. Tearing a hole through the German front, destroying ( and I literally mean destroying) over 30 divisions in a setpiece of near perfect historical symmetry. Almost exactly 3 years to the day from that distant but still traumatic day when the Nazi hordes swarmed triumphantly over the border...all but annihilating AGC as a viable fighting force they pushed the invaders off Soviet soil, driving them reeling back out of Byelorussia and into Poland ..
Bagration would grind to a halt on the banks of the Vistula.
Outside Warsaw.
Seeing the Red Army poised to enter their city, the Polish Home Army( AK Armii Krajowa loyal to the government in London) decided to rise, launching the Uprising.
Better the Soviets enter a liberated city than a conquered one.
The Soviets encouraged the valiant Poles to rise....then did nothing.
In an act of cynicism , unbelievable even for the Soviets, they lazed on the opposite side, their soldiers even swimming in the river as Warsaw burned, watching stoically as their enemies destroyed one another.
The Soviets considered the patriots of the AK enemies.
Indeed Polish/ Soviet relations, with it's long history of mutual suspicion and bloodshed( stretching back well beyond 1920s war into the Tsarist era with its partitions, when Imperial Russia along with Prussia and the Habsburgs dismembered Poland, wiping it off the map for centuries, back beyond the Polish lancers who led the Grande Armee into Russia, back to the days of the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth, at the time a colossus of Europe. It was Polish forces the first Romanov Tsar Michael  was hiding from, Polish forces too the peasant Ivan Bunin famously led to their deaths in the forest, an incident celebrated by Glinka in his opera " A Life for the Tsar"
In one of the more poignant ironies of history Glinka's opera was Tsar Nikolai the Lasts favourite opera) with the Katyn massacre( Stalins pet executioner Blokhin allegedly killing all 8000 in a series of carefully managed all night shifts) Sikorskis mysterious death, an aircrash in Gibraltar, threatened to fracture the uneasy alliance between West and East
After much persuasion and the personal intervention of Roosevelt himself Stalin grudgingly allowed the British, American, Australian, Polish and South African pilots, flying in relays from bases in Italy, to refuel in Soviet airbases.
The airdrops would have little effect

While the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising had ended with the Dirlewanger and Kaminskii brigades indulging in extended binges of sadistic drunken debauchery that simply staggers the mind( the last days of the Uprising were meticulously photographed . The commander of the " Aktion" Brigadefuhrer Stroophad the photos compiled in an album and had the  album neatly bound titled " The Warsaw Ghetto is no more" it was presented to a grateful Himmler, who no doubt appreciated the captions and the chance to see luminaries such as Rottenfuhrer Blosche, infamous for jabbing his submachine gun into the back of a surrendering 6 year old Jewish boy, in action) the Warsaw Uprising itself ended differently.
Proving the Nazis, even on the brink of defeat could still give the Soviets a run for their money in the cynicism stakes.
With one eye fixed firmly on any post war tribunals, the victorious Nazis, led by SS Obergruppenfuhrer Von Dem Bach Zelewski, a man who had made his name hounding starving Jews through the marshes and forests of the Ukraine and Byelorussia, made a great show of the surrender. Accepting the beleaguered Polish fighters as POWs in accordance with the Geneva Convention.
Von Dem Bach even had the audacity to attempt to engage his opposite number, Bor Kommoroski, in small talk about their pre war equestrian days

But back to Stalingrad 
Before I finished the section, and went back to talking about dates, battles and statistics I wanted to mention a certain German soldier. No, he didn't massacre prisoners or capture a block of burnt out ruins...this particular soldier, Kurt Reuber, was an artist. He would die in obscurity in a Soviet prison camp
And in his cramped dugout, with the dense clammy air causing the pine needles of the tiny Xmas trees the 6th army had been sent to wilt, as if burdened by the sorrows of this awful sinful world,  on the back of an old map he painted a famous picture.
The Stalingrad Madonna.
A charcoal drawing of a cowled woman, her thin sad face looking down at the child she clutches in her arms.
The words " Light, Love and Hope" are written round the side.
That Xmas of 1942, with the German soldiers moving through the rat infested ruins of the beautiful city on the Volga they'd travelled over 2000 miles to destroy, like gaunt poorly coordinated shadows, wrapped in rags and blankets, almost as if rehearsing for a nativity play...the 3 wise Aryans from the West ..
Of course they'd have to make to with just the ox and the ass as Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus had already been dispatched to " special treatment".. the painting caused a sensation.
A constant line of thin stooped men shuffling into the dug out to stare at the simple picture, most just stood silently, the hunger making thought too much of an effort.
Some wept. Some saw echoes of themselves, of their own childhoods.
Of their own children they'd left far away in Germany.
When I first read this story it made me angry 
So I thought defeat has reawoken your humanity has it?
I found the whole idea of humbled conquerors crouching in their bolt holes weeping over a picture...and their own lost innocence, utterly grotesque.
The trembling hands that now wiped the.tears from the  gaunt malnourished faces, cheekbones sticking out like arms locked in a Hitler salute from the sickly yellowish skin were the same hands that swept back the shiny blonde hair from the keen blue eyes as they lounged on the turrets of their tanks ..watching the smoke curling up lazily from the burning buildings, the hands that pulled the triggers, herded terrified women restlessly along to the freshly dug pits , tore the bloody garbadine tunics off the teenage radio operators, flung the naked sparrow like bodies onto flaming pyres..

What of the children they left in mass graves ..

Then I realised idI missed the point. These were just simple men, pawns of history, trying to reach out through that history to reconnect with their own lost humanity.
In their own terrible way they were as much the victims as those whom they left behind.

In their own way many Soviets, the victors, travelled similar paths, forced to the very edge of the abyss they looked in and saw a human being staring out.
The greatest victory of all is not flying a flag over a conquered city but coming through all the hell of conquest and still be able to see a human being staring out of the conquered faces ..

As Grossman says it's not about good and evil, I'm not so sure these concepts even exist.
It's the small humane acts in the face of overwhelming inhumanity.

To me, now, some of the most incredible stories about Stalingrad aren't the huge offensives, the swarms of tanks rumbling across the steppes...
Its the stories of the soldiers on both sides, the civilian too that were still able to be human.
Give a dying man a little comfort, a starving man a crust of bread.
These simple actions make a mockery of the complicated madness that swirled around them

The original Stalingrad Madonna hangs in the Kaiser Wilhelm church in Berlin, one of the most famous citadels of German militarism breached at last 
Copies hang in Kazan Cathedral and Coventry Cathedral.
Forget the subject, even the artist but remember the sentiment.

_________________
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
Posts : 818
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The Rise of Hitler and the Foundations of Antisemitism - Page 3 Empty Re: The Rise of Hitler and the Foundations of Antisemitism

on Sun 18 Oct 2020, 12:31 am
Apologies for the lack of new posts.....
I've been working my tin foil hat off. With a deadline approaching, like a 2nd Dave Ferrie wobbling up the Grassy knoll towards James Files, and the missus's ever changing moods to deal with ( she's more highly strung than the sinews of Clay Bertrand's rack ( the ACME portable Walsingham Wanger 600...." perfect for today's busy elasticated eroticist on the go") the rack he used to stretch the 2nd diminutive 5 foot 2 inch Dave Ferrie so he could kill officer Tippit) I just haven't had the time to spare ..

With Greg's kind permission I'm going to start another thread in this part of the forum ... hopefully early next week. I'll try to finish this thread concurrently with the new one.

I'm not at home right now and in amongst the books I asked to be brought down was my great uncles diary.
He died aged 98 in 2016. I only met him a handful of times but we got on pretty well. 
I was very honoured when I found out he'd left the original diary manuscript ( and other related documents/ letters/ artifacts to me)

He lived a truly fascinating life, in fact his life almost serves as a mirror of the turbulent blood soaked 20th century. 
I was thinking of posting the most historically interesting extracts, with some commentary.
Starting in July 1936 when he and his elder brother decided their family, slipped out of their father's large country villa and hitchhiked to Madrid to volunteer for what would become the Popular Army.

He was transferred to the North before the siege of Madrid commenced , ending up initially on the Aragonese Front with a " Mixed Brigade"
He fought in many of the major battles of the Civil War - Gandesa, Teruel, Belchite, Brunete eventually rising to major he was 2nd in command of an Aragonese regiment ( comprising of anarchists, communists, the survivors of the recently purged POUM , trade union militiamen and some stragglers from the recently disbanded International Brigades, Poles, Germans and Italians ) leading his troops from the front he crossed the river Ebro at the start of the eponymous battle.

The battle of the River Ebro would turn into a crushing defeat, the Nationalists cutting the Republican zone in two, annihilating their finest field army and opening the route to Catalunya and Barcelona.
He was shot twice, in the lung and in the leg...his brother carrying him over the Pyrenees into France where they ended up at Gurs and then after the German occupation they were transferred with hundreds of their comrades to Mauthausen...

Hopefully I'll have time to start what I think could be an interesting thread early next week...

Perhaps with a preliminary post .. discussing the causes of the Spanish Civil War and the events of the aborted coup ( Las Cuarto Generales of the famous song) that triggered the actual conflict...

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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
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on Sun 18 Oct 2020, 2:08 am
Thanks Alex.

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on Sun 18 Oct 2020, 2:13 am
My pleasure Vinny.

Hopefully I'll get started early next week.

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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 Sun 18 Oct 2020, 10:21 am
Looking forward to the next installment mate. Excellent stuff.

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on Sun 18 Oct 2020, 9:44 pm
Thanks Mick. I really appreciate your generous words

_________________
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 01 Dec 2020, 9:15 pm
May I offer my most sincere apologies for the lack of new posts these past couple of months.

I've just been too busy,

Let me also apologize again for the number of careless errors I made, and the needless repetition, especially in the latter posts 

Foolishly I attempted to post from memory, without checking my facts first or sketching out a rough draft beforehand.

As soon as I have the time I intend to finish this thread.

Also I intend to go back and tidy up each post, correcting any errors and tightening the narrative flow.

With Greg's permission I thought I'd postpone the proposed thread on the Spanish Civil War. 

After watching a couple of ( relatively mainstream) documentaries , and reading one of the less outrageous revisionist histories on the topic, I was fucking appalled at the level of ignorance, the casual disregard for even the most basic historical protocols and the contempt  for accuracy that surrounds the history of the first decade of the 20th century , and the causes of WW1

Some misconceptions and outright falsehoods have more or less been accepted as part of the orthodox narrative of the era 

Gross oversimplification, heavy-handed moral relativism and a seemingly insatiable urge to transform complex figures into one dimensional caricatures being the order of the day.

Arguably the period from the Berlin Conference of 1885 through to the July 1914 Crisis, triggered by the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, that culminated in the Austro Hungarian ultimatum, their mobilisation against Serbia, their resolve galvanised by the so called " Blank Cheque" issued by Berlin is one of THE crucial turning points in history.....understanding these events are fundamental if you want to understand what happened later. The events set in motion the calamitous series of miscalculations  that began the Great War.

The suicide of Europe,  or,  as many historians now accept ( and I concur) , the commencement of the European Civil War of 1914-1945, punctuated by the uneasy 20 year armistice of the inter war years( after reading the final draft of the Versailles Treaty, French Marshal Foch, the Allied Generalissimo whose far sighted albeit aggressive tactics and willingness to subsume the various agendas of the Entente Powers ( and the USA, never a full ally, merely an Associate Power) to the overall strategical aim of defeating the German field army on the battlefield., famously proclaimed " This is not a peace treaty! It is merely an armistice for 20 years")

These pessimistic words were uttered in early September 1919.

This period ( roughly from 1880-1920) is the soil from which all the other noxious weeds that poisoned  the subsequent century blossomed.

To make sense of the end first you must understand the beginning.

In all human history the first half of the 20th century saw the most dramatic upheaval, the most astonishing technological advances , the most unprecedentedly precipitous decline of the greatest empires , matched by the dizzyingly disorientating rise of replacement empires.

 The cost in human life is incalculable. For all that was gained, how much more was lost?

How many Einsteins, Orwell's, how many scientists, artists, posts, statesmen and visionaries were lost in the mud of Flanders, the arid wastes of Manchuria, the frozen steppes of the Soviet Union, the gas chambers of Auschwitz and Treblinka and the prison archipelago that stretched beyond the Artic Circle?

With Greg's permission I'd like to start a new thread ( hopefully within the next fortnight) on the causes of WW1.

This time I'll adhere to a strict narrative structure, tracing the individual threads that intertwined with each other to create the first catastrophic stitches of the apocalyptic tapestry that was the 20th century...

To believe every significant event was the result of a conspiracy is almost as myopic, and every bit as  gross a misreading of history as those who argue that none were.

Our chums in the alternative troofer fraternities will believe any old shit as long as it meshes with their jaundiced Uber paranoid worldview,  more and more the diseased neo Nazi vision of 20th century history is being accepted, simply because it contradicts the " orthodox establishment " view of history...

Like a rune scarred rock hurled into a stagnant pool of water the ripples are widening...

The Germans didn't want war, the Kaiser was a philanthropic, visionary, peace loving if somewhat misguided paladin, set upon by his evil scheming cousins, who, encouraged by the machivellian machinations of wicked Zionists , like Weitzmann and naturally the Rothschilds declared war on the blameless paragon that was Imperial Germany..

After all no self respecting conspiracy is complete without a Rothschild or two. 

Along with the Protocols of the Elders of Zion( a work plagiarized by the Okhrana from the " Dialogue of Montinesque and Machivelli in hell" , a 19th century satirical work) , the Balfour Declaration and the Sykes- Picot Agreement are gleefully brandished by gullible fools, the prototype useful idiots who have, at the very most, a shallow superficial one dimensional view of the political climate of the era.

And absolutely no conception of Great Power maneuverings, with France, Great Britain and a lesser extent Italy, eager to devour the individual vilayets of the soon to be defeated Ottoman Empire.

I've even read some apparently educated observers parrot the revisiinire lie about Imperial Germany wanting to end the slaughter. Unilaterally, in the name of humanity, dropping all their territorial ambitions..

Even the briefest perusal of the Brest Litovsk Treaty , forced ( practically at gunpoint) on the unstable Bolshevik government , makes an utter nonsense of that fatuous claim.

Brest Litovsk makes the much debated Versailles Treaty ( with the war guilt clause that the German Nationalists treated as some sort of an outrage, an unbearable stain on their collective " honour") look like little more than a slap on the wrists 

Indeed the hyperinflation and the various moratoriums, encouraged by Anglo American investors who poured millions upon millions into Weimar Germany, freed Germany from the burden of the reparations.

Versailles was a fragile compromise largely brokered by Woodrow Wilson, who sought to moderate the French hardliners, who demanded revanche...

Hopefully I'll start the new thread in the next fortnight or so...

However I can never hope to compete with Ralph Cinques sweeping, almost Tolstoyan essay.
A brilliant, insightful meditation upon New Imperialism and the Great Power politicking of the era...

His landmark reappraisal of the Boar War is of particular interest to all seriiou historians.

With typical astuteness and with his trademark literary panache( think AJP Taylor wearing Kipling's toupee and corset) Cinque completely renders 120 years of historical research obsolete...

Just as all previous generations took it for granted that it was Jack Ruby and not a wig wearing FBI doppelganger firing blanks who shot poor old Lee HARVEY Oswald, likewise those who laboured under the misconception that the Boer War was a last in a long line of Imperialist struggles between the British and the Dutch descended Boers over mineral rich colonies in South Africa have been exposed as fools, lone boar nuts and COINTELPRO operatives...

In reality the BOAR War was a continuation of the little known Pig War fought between the Austro Hungarians and the Serbs...
And the obscure Bore War that was the anti doppelganger guerillas of the Carpathians rise up against the boredom inflicted upon them by their Ottoman backed Neo Armstrongian overlords...

The ignominy of having to spend 20 years, dressed in only a fez, a thin cotton gown, sandals and shades, learning the 1000 page plus Neo Armstrongian Holy Book off by heart, under the inhumane tutelage of Fezzian Brotherhood, a mysterious priestly sect whose script, a bizarre mixture of incoherent gibberish and dancing emoticons has baffled historians...

Armstrong preserve us all...

_________________
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 02 Dec 2020, 3:11 am
Thanks Alex.

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on Thu 03 Dec 2020, 12:10 am
It's my pleasure Vinny.

To fully understand the assassination I think it's important to place it in it's proper historical context.

The core researchers here have a far more in depth and nuanced knowledge of the assassination itself, but perhaps I can contribute something worthwhile by focusing on the wider historical picture.

There are so many blatant falsehoods swilling around inside the Conspiratocracy sanctioned orthodox research " community"...

Far too many chummy nods and comradely winks to the far right revisionist brigade....

Hopefully I'll get back to this thread in the next couple of weeks, revising it, expunging the errors and tightening the overall narrative.

Starting from the 1880s, the Anglo Egyptian invasion of Sudan and the incorporation of both Egypt and Cyprus into the British Empire, and ending on the 4th August 1914 , I'd like to start a thread dedicated to chronicling the build up to, and the various causes of WW1.

I think it would be advantageous to have a series of threads focusing on the various periods of late 19th century/ early to mid 20th century history

_________________
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 08 Dec 2020, 10:57 pm
I hope Greg and the other core members don't mind me using this thread to plug a Holocaust related research project I've been asked to contribute to.

A couple of friends of mine who run one of THE most comprehensive anti denier sites were asked by one of the world's most famous Holocaust Museums/ Research Foundations to help with a major new project.

The Blu Ray release of the newly restored footage taken by Soviet cameramen, who followed the Red Army from the Volga to Berlin.

Recording in graphic, unflinching detail, the result of the German occupation.

The resultant film, shown at the Nuremberg Trials, contains the original Auschwitz footage.

Another 1 hour plus of hitherto unknown footage was recently discovered in the old NKVD archive( along with Himmler's personal desk diary for 1938 and the first 4 months of 1945)

I've been sent a rough cut of the footage and it's a revelation. Including footage taken at the main Reinhard camps( including interior shots of the " castle" at Chelmno ( Kulmhof), and the remains of Ober Maidan railway station ( Treblinka)
Thanks to my friends very generous recommendations I was given the opportunity, the very great honour, of writing an essay and the small booklet that will accompany the Blu Ray/ DVD release.

I hope you don't think I'm being needlessly cryptic but I've been asked not to mention any names until the release dates etc have been finalised. 

COVID permitting it should be released worldwide in the early summer.

I can't tell you how honoured I am to be asked to contribute to such a monumental project.

The new footage and the newly discovered diaries provide crucial new insights. 

Some of the very top historians have been involved and a major worldwide publicity campaign has been planned.

I'll let you know more details as soon as I can.

_________________
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 13 Jan 2021, 2:19 am
Let me apologise once again for the dearth of posts. 

I haven't forgotten about this thread; however between deadlines, piles of corrections , teetering on my desk like some doppelganged castle , a magnificent Gothic folly, high up amidst the shadows and the misty peaks of the Armstrong Range....

Transylvania's most doppelgangery mountain range...

.... not to mention holidays and highly strung wives and mothers.

I thought I'd try and finish this section on Stalingrad before ( finally) moving on to the huge Soviet offensives, starting with the " Defence in depth/ counteroffensive" that developed from the ruins of Operation Citadel...the German's last desperate gamble to wrestle the initiative, both tactical and strategic, from the iron grip of the  ascendant Red Army.

And ending amidst the ruins of Berlin...

With Sergeants Kantiyra and Yegerov hoisting the Hammer and the Sickle on top of the bombed out skeletal remains of the Reichstag...

As per Josef Vissirianovich's instructions it was raised on the morning of May 1st. Mayday. 

An international holiday celebrating the working man( and woman). For millions of Soviet women contributed to the war effort. Not just in factories and production lines, smiling flirtatiously from beneath their neat pilotka caps , as the drove the trams, collected the fares or directed the traffic.

Soviet women served in the front lines. As nurses , doctors and orderlies..but also in combat roles.
Echoing the mythical Women's Death Battalion, that according to the official Party history of the October Days, stormed the gates of the Winter Palace.

Snipers, pilots( the famed all female Night Witches, flying their dangerously obsolete balsa wood biplanes, to drop bombs on the German front lines, played a crucial role in the victory at Stalingrad) and partisans...most famously Zoya Komsomolskaya, 18 years old and beautiful. Chestnut hair, soulful brown eyes and high Slavic cheekbones..

Perhaps an ancestor of the fabled Amazons, who Homer, Hesiod, Herodotus and countless other ancient writers said came from Scythia.

Her village was overrun by the invading Fascists, in those terrible summer days of 1941, when the vast horizon of Russia; the horizon that stretched beyond eternity itself, a canvas for the ancient gods, the everliving god's that filled nature, the trees, the lakes, the stones on the earth with the breath of life, instead of the everchanging colours, the shadows of the seasons, the grey of the winter melting into the nervous greens of spring...the horizon was choked with death.

Great black plumes of smoke, twisting, billowing ; rising up before settling like a deathly shroud

Whole villages burned, the women and children herded into barns to be set alight, on the orders of the young officers, educated, refined...the flames reflecting in the glasses that allowed them to read the books they held in their laps...

Like all things they yawned massacres get boring after a while...once you've watched one subhuman burn, or fall like a ragged doll into a grave pit, you've seen them all.

As the crackling flames and the screams fill the gentle twilight, the forest alive with sound, the golden sun setting across the silvery tips of the birch forests...this young officer ,perhaps a oberleutnant from Hanover, son of a merchant, settles back on the hard leather seat of his kubelwagen, as the sun sinks deeper there's just enough light for him to continue reading:
His favourite book. Goethe. Faustbuch part one .

The learned doctor who hungered not just for knowledge but for experience, sells his soul to Mephistopheles.

The lord of the flies...

A country should be measured by it's savagery as well as by it's genius.

Both should be weighed in the scales...a pound of feathers weighs just the same as a pound of hate...

Zoya joined the partisans, volunteering to torch the stables belonging to the village headman, a notorious collaborator, appointed by the invaders.
Zoya was caught...as the rope was fastened round her neck she cried out..her sweet youthful voice, that should have been whispering softly into her sweetheart's ear:
" Cheer up comrades, they can't hang all 170 million of us!! Stalin will avenge us"

Zoya and the photographs of her dead body, saintly repose, one frozen breast bared...a symbol of her violated sisters...a potent symbol of the violated soil of Russia.

As with all propaganda the truth maybe somewhat more prosaic...

After a sombre Christmas passed, the 6th Army celebrated the birth of Christ by slaughtering their remaining horses ...

And as the temperatures plunged even deeper, the slate grey skies above the smouldering ruins glittering icily , the Soviets tightened the noose..

The only lifeline was the sky. The lumbering Junkers 52 supply planes, the smaller nimbler Heinkel bombers.. flying in from bases round Kharkov, and even further afield... bringing in the desperately needed supplies; food, medical supplies, reinforcements but most of all ammunition.

Flying in to the bombed out, cratered airfields: Gumrak, Pitomnik, Tazi

Flying out the wounded, or as it got deeper into January, " essential personnel"

One of the " essential personnel" , flown out on the 20th, just a couple of days before the Soviets overran the airfields, was a young Panzer captain... Hauptmann Winrich Behr, holder of the Ritterkreuz.

Hitler, who famously despised the " gentlemen" of the General Staff, stiff-necked reactionaries with their striped trousers, who peer contemptuously through their monocles at the party rough necks... the gangsters and thugs of the SS ...he did however empathize with the field grade officers, the men in the front lines...

Playing to his vanity and his treasured self perception of himself as a " frontsoldaten" Paulus had sent Behr to plead with Hitler...

As the commander his first priority was his men...their lives...

He implored Behr, a conservative nationalist, who like most young officers of his generation had initially supported the Nazis. Beg Hitler to allow us to surrender.

Like most Behr had a rude awakening...

It was only after he had witnessed the " New Order" in action...a rabble of drunken thugs, Ersatz polizeibattalion 306, with the support of Einsatzkommando 10A, massacring over 3000 Jews and " communists" that he understands the true nature of the regime he had 
sworn an oath to serve. Watching horrorstruck as the officer, a shaven headed bullnecked ex schoolteacher from Leipzig, an SS Obersturmfuhrer , took bets with his Latvian underlings...laughing as the Soviet machine pistols rattled..

" We'll have the swine killed by sunset"

Hitler listened, Behr, standing to attention, in the conference room at Rastenburg, deep in the melancholy East Prussian forest, the conference room that Von Stauffenberg's bomb would tear apart in 18 months time, spoke uninterrupted for nearly 2 hours.

All the time Bormann stood, fat paunchy, a sinister mole like creature who relished burrowing in the darkest subterranean sewers of the Nazi regime.

A small plump figure, with thin brown hair a bulbous nose, a ruddy complection and cruel unforgiving blue eyes, Bormann scowled all the way through.
Hovering in the shadows.

Behr was shocked by the Fuhrer's appearance, the deathly grey pallor, the cold glassy vacant fish eyes, he seemed to have physically shrunk...the only interruption was when a towering SS Captain wearing white gloves came marching in, valet like, with a silver tray... about a dozen brightly coloured pills were lined up....
The Fuhrer grabbed them, wolfing them down, before slurping noisily from the elegant cut crystal glass, embossed with a tiny gilt eagle cluctching a swastika in his talons...

These were the pills prescribed by the quack Morell, a patent anti gas medication, of his own design...with an assortment of far deadlier chasers...

I'll finish this section 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 Wed 13 Jan 2021, 9:57 am
Noice! Thanks Alex.

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on Wed 13 Jan 2021, 8:57 pm
Thanks Mick 

Hopefully I'll be able to add a new post every day this week...

It would be somehow appropriate if I finished the thread on January 31st...78 years after the final surrender at Stalingrad...

The most striking image of that day is Paulus, his wide frightened eyes sunken into his hollow face, peering out timidly from beneath the shiny visor of his garish Wehrmacht general's cap...

Stumbling out of the black VIS limousine, wrapped up in his huge fur collared coat, with his freshly added GeneralFeldMarshalls epaulettes glinting in the watery afternoon sunshine.

That one single act gives you a telling insight into the German mentality...

Sitting in the dark claustrophobic basement of the Unvermag department store, with the packed earth walls trembling , the Soviets were firing at pointblank range..... sitting amidst the bloody carnage, your army surrounded and doomed to a deeply uncertain fate at the hands of an enemy whose country you've turned into one vast charnel house...

In the middle of the chaos, the desperate clatter of the teleprinters, the sullen booms and the maddening shrieks of the huge Soviet howitzers and the occasional pistol shot , as yet another officer chooses to enter Valhalla on his own terms ...someone ( probably Schmidt) gave the order that the correct badges of rank be added to the newly promoted GeneralFeldMarshalls coat.

However the arabesque, the kriegspel and the epaulettes on his tunic were still those of a Generaloberst ( commonly but wrongly translated as Colonel General)

Paulus was led into the headquarters of General Shumilov...

_________________
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
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on Thu 14 Jan 2021, 1:57 am
PART 11

STALINGRAD - THE END

Alone amongst the oddballs , outcasts and psychopaths who made up the Fuhrer's inner circle Goering stood apart. The rest were like some wild fantasy of a Praetorian Guard...dreamt up by Caligula, Nero or Commodus...There was Himmler, the mild mannered ex chicken farmer turned pioneer of deskbound genocide ; a shy timid little runt with unsettlingly vague grey eyes, obsessed with the occult, fantasizing about leading Germany back to an idealised neo pagan past. Believing "his" SS to be the " sons of light" he dreamt of leading a spiritual revival, a Teutonic awakening, summoning the ancestral gods- Wotan and Thor, with himself presiding, some sort of shamanic intermediary at Wewelsburg Castle.

Sitting at his desk at PrinzAlbrectStrasse, one minute he could be reading a dispatch from Sturmbannfuhrer Lange, one of the loutish intellectuals his deputy, Heydrich, assiduously cultivated, announcing that 20000 " objects" had been sent to " special treatment". 
The very next document could be a report from one of his crank " racial experts" from the chillingly titled " Race and Resettlement Office" or even the Anernehbe, The Reichsfuhrer SSs pet project... outlining the results of their latest " discoveries" Himmler was convinced he was the reincarnation of Henry the Fowler, a powerful 10th century warlord.

Then there was Rosenberg, the party " philosopher" a dull humourless mediocrity of Baltic German stock. It was his " magnum opus" " The Foundations of the 20th Century"( a conscious echo of Stewart Houston Chamberlain's " the Foundations of the 19th century"), second only to Mein Kampf in the unreadable department; turgid, plodding , a confused mish mash of psuedo science , " racial hygenics" and fatuous rabble rousing, that provided the historical and philosophical rationale for the Final Solution.

Hess( before his flight to Britain), deputy Fuhrer , whose dedication to Hitler was absolute. Rhapsodising like a starstruck teenage girl about " this genius grazing on the stars" his loyalty to his Fuhrer was only matched by his gullibility and partiality for the most hare brained schemes imaginable.

Bormann, deeply sinister, possessing a simian pure cunning and talent for survival. A convicted murderer and fanatical anti Semite Bormann cared only about power. Acquiring it and wielding it. From deep in the subterraneous catacombs of the Nazi party.
As Party secretary and ultimately the Fuhrer's secretary and right hand man, this scheming amoral cynic controlled the levers of power. Power in Nazi Germany was Hitler. Hitler was the law and Bormann, with guile and subtlety, by making himself indispensable, ended up controlling Hitler as he disappeared into the fantasy world he had created for himself. His body ravaged( by late 43/early 44 the early stages of Parkinson's disease were already apparent) and his mind further deformed and distorted by Morell's poisonous drug regime.. the Fuhrer sank further into the twilit netherworld he'd fashioned for himself, a breathlessly vertiginous  domain.... veering between ecstasy and apocalyptic rages, brooding in apathetic silence or launching into the rambling monologues his inner retinue came to dread, slumped on a chair, eyes glazed and unfocused ,speaking in a hoarse staccato rasp, gesticulating wildly Hitler would mumble on for  hours, disjointed, chaotic, leaping from subject to subject....his grandoise architectural vision for " Germania", his hatred for Jews, Soviet tank production statistics, the benefits of a vegetarian diet, nostalgic anecdotes from the " Kampfzeit"...then he would leap to his feet, eyes blazing, body trembling, spittle flying from his mouth as he denounced the traitorous generals...

More and more he came to resemble a fairy tale ogre... living in his grim fortress in the gloomy East Prussian forest, surrounded by a whole regiment of his SS bodyguards...led by Gruppenfuhrer Rattenhuber.... another of those ghoulish figures...

Closest of all perhaps was Goebbels, the swarthy club footed dwarfish Rhinelander....Dr Goebbels, who had studied at Hiedelberg and most of the other ancient seats of learning, earning his PhD for a thesis on a minor romantic playwright ...with his glib tongue, nimble wit and genius for propaganda.

In the end Goebbels would be his loyalist acolyte, sacrificing himself, his wife Magda( first lady of the Third Reich) and his six young children on the funeral pyre of his Fuhrer's immortal memory.

It would be Goebbels who convinced Major Remer of the GrossDeutschland battalion that Hitler was still alive, that it was in fact Fromm and his cohorts back at the Bendlerstrasse who were the real traitors. Thus condemning the July 20th plot to failure.

It would be Goebbels the shambling phantasm,who spent the last days of his earthbound existence either slumped in his darkened study gazing at Grafs famous portrait of Frederick the Great, or shrieking convulsively at his remaining minions; berating them for their treachery...shaking, half deaf, stooped and dragging his leg, it would be Goebbels Hitler would anoit as his successor, to the Reich that still covered vast swathes of Central Europe, but in reality was crumbling under the sustained audible hammerblows of the 205mm Soviet howitzers, blasting great chunks out of Berlin's tottering carcass.

Fittingly perhaps Goebbels had commenced his Nazi party career as Gaulieter of Berlin; dispatched by Hitler to clean out the degenerate Babylon on the Spree...a nest of Jewish inspired vice and a communist stronghold.
With his first mentors, the ill fated Strasser brothers, the young idealistic Goebbels genuinely believed in the Socialism of the National Socialist Party .. flirting with the heretical thought of allying the NSDAP with the Communists against the Reaktion, the old guard. Just as Hitler was beginning to be taken seriously by the big industrialists, as a viable alternative to the sclerotic backward looking conservatives...who dreamt only of raising the vanished Atlantis of the Hohenzollern Empire.

After being summoned to Munich Goebbels returned north as the Fuhrer's most loyal and humble servant. All his unclean thoughts thoroughly purged...

Goebbels was a complicated individual...highly intelligent but highly insecure and prone to volatile outbursts..

He dreamt of being a writer... penning two plays...one, autobiographical piece called " Michael" a roman a clef providing telling insights into the psyche of a frustrated young man. The other , if you can believe it was a " verse drama" about Jesus Christ called the Lonesome Guest.

Neither were produced, until the writer was the Minister of Propaganda and Public Enlightenment...and even then they enjoyed a brief, almost furtive run. Goebbels also had submission after submission rejected by the Frankfurter Zeitung, and the other great liberal dailies . 
Nurturing his frustration he drifted rightward...convinced like so many deluded souls before and since that the Jews were responsible for all the ills of the world. 
His club foot too added to his deep resentments, having denied him the opportunity of fighting for Germany, thus excluding him from the experience that bonded the " frontline generation" together. The brave loyal German soldiers, undefeated in the field, betrayed by a traitorous clique of jews and socialists. 

This " stab in the back" myth became a shibboleth on the nationalist right ,  the actual expression was coined by none other than Erich Ludendorff.. ex Quartermaster General Erich Ludendorff, with Hindenburg, his nominal superior  had practically governed Germany. 

It was an absolute lie. A figleaf for the right-wingers to use to protect the modesty and honour of their beloved Army and Kaiser. Absolving them from having to face the shattering reality...Germany had been defeated

. It was Ludendorff himselfwho had abrogated responsibility, desperate to save the " honour" of the Kaiser and his Army, he passed the poisoned chalice of defeat to the representatives of the Reichstag.

On that terrible grey autumn day at Supreme Headquarters at Spa.
Hindenburg brusquely informing a stunned Kaiser that he could no longer count on the loyalty of the Army.

Desperate to save whatever could be saved from the wreckage; the Fatherland was in chaos, the British naval blockade resulting in virtual starvation, the Navy Mutinies at Kiel,  turning on their officers and refusing  to go on a Deathride...to be blasted to a fiery Valhalla by the massive guns of the British High Seas Fleet...In a desperate attempt to prevent Revolution the Army thrust power into the hands of the Reichstag, the Social Democrats, led by a modest saddlemaker Ebert...

It was they who had to face the victorious allies in the famous wagon lit, in the Compeigne Forest...

It was they who came to be known as The November Criminals, the traitors who sold out the heroic Army. It was a shabby trick, childishly transparent, but it worked. Proving, as if such proof was necessary that people will believe what they want to believe. 

The actual phrase itself  came up during a discussion at dinner with British Major General Maurice. The lugubrious Ludendorff was trying to find the right words...

After several minutes, and several attempts at attempting to find the proper words to express his sentiments, wholly spurious and deceitful as they were...Ludendorff knew full well the German Army had been defeated on the battlefield...
He should know...since he commanded the entire army as was responsible for drawing up the plans. With Groener and Von Seeckt his able deputies...

After no less than five offensives , starting with Operation Michael, in the spring of 1918, aiming to smash the British and French Armies( the latter,unbeknowst to the Germans , whose intelligence apparatus failed to pick up the vaguest tremor of the convulsions that affected almost half the French Army, still recovering from the Mutinies of the previous year, triggered by the murderously futile Nivelle Offensive) before the Americans could arrive in force. Transferring over 50 divisions from the Eastern Front the Germans shot their last bolt, employing new tactics and weapons..flamethrowers, elite stormtrooper detachments armed with MG18 machine pistols, Col Bruckmullers revolutionary artillery tactics.....the Allied front buckled, especially Byngs inexperienced British 5th Army, but they held on....just.

Starting with the Second Battle of the Marne, fought over the storied battlefields of 1916, the Somme, where over 17000 British and Commonwealth soldiers died in one day, on the 1st July, most were slaughtered in an hour, as the artillery barrage lifted and the whistles blew, Kitchener's New Army walked into battle...quite literally walked, as the generals felt they weren't trained well enough to deal with anything more complicated...the Allies pushed the Germans back .as if to emphasise the terrible futility of it all the first death of the war and the last death were only seperate by a few yards.
Millions of deaths and over 4 years later they ended up almost exactly where they had started..

Anyway it didn't matter, they said ,  back in the summersof 1916 ..theartillerychaps have been busy bees... firing over a million shells at the Bosche... most of the units involved were the Pals battalions...factories, offices, football teams, whole villages were encouraged to enlist together. Thus whole communities were wiped out. The heartbreakingly poignant fate of the Oldham and Manchester Pals....the latter decimated trying to capture the heavily fortified Hawthorne redoubt...over 3000 men obeyed the whistle blasts, climbing up the parapet, over the top , the defining image of the Great War...usuall u Death is occluded from mortal eyes, the borderline invisible and intangible...the unseen threshold upon which humanities greatest mystery balances....in those muddy rat infested trenches, reeking of death and shit, the borderline was
was clear...just a mound of earth topped with twists of barbed wire.......climb up the ladder, your knees shaking, your bladder bursting from the bromide laced tea you and your chums have had poured down you...a trench full of wanking Tommies ain't much use to anyone.....out of 3000 less than 50 crawled back through the mud , barely an hour later, the morning sun warming your shoulders and glittering from the metal patch on your back, to help tell the corpses apart, you wouldn't want to spend eternity in a pitfull of lousy Jocks.....The artillery barrage was a bit of a cock up, apart from the did shells rather  unsportingly the Bosche had dug themselves networks of concrete reinforced bunkers, sunk deep into the soft chalky soil, so after the barrage lifted they simply crawled out and aimed the barrels of their Maxim's at the lines of khaki figures advancing, the sun glinting from the tin helmets added a touch of poignant beauty to those few seconds...on that soft July morning, over 100 years ago...

In two years so much had changed, with Lloyd George now in power( Haig, inveterate political schemer had been communicating regularly with Asquith, actively undermining his nominal superior, French, while blatantly canvassing for the top job.
French had once been Haig's brigade major, their relationship had been further complicated ( some might say compromised) when Haig ( scion of the Haig family whisky makers) lent the impecunious French a considerable sum of money.

Lloyd George despised and distrusted Haig, he had been both sickened and enraged by his seemingly casual profligacy with lifes...his performance at Passchendaele , over 750000 casualties for minimal gains( including the Canadian national epic at Vimy Ridge) appalled him.

Lloyd George encouraged the commander of the 4th Army, Sir Henry Rawlinson's plans. Rawlinson favoured combined arms tactics...synchronising the infantry, the tank corps and most importantly the artillery and the newly minted RAF.
Utilising spotter planes, bomber support and creeping barrages, Rawlinson, assisted by his highly efficient corps commanders, including Sir John Monash, head of the ANZAC Corps, arguably the most complete fighting unit of the entire war, and supported by Foch, Allied Generallisimo, and Pershing, who had resisted his American Army being deployed piecemeal( their somewhat misguided tactics, reminiscent of the Entente tactics circa 1914/15 would lead to the massacre at Meuse Argonne) would be the one best equipped to learn the sanguinary lessons of 1914/15/16 and 1917...refining the tactics to integrate the new technologies... especially the tanks...by 1918 both light and heavy tanks had been developed, tactics evolved to cater for both... the heavy tanks, armed with quarter pounder field guns, lumbered across the battlefield like some metallic colossus... the light tanks, the whippets, small,sleek and agile performed recoinnaissance duties...or surprise hit and run attacks... terrorising the rear echelons of the Germans, who were increasingly demoralised and inclined to surrender . Whole battalions, even regiments at a time.
In one much celebrated incident, the light tank " Musical Box" went one a buccaneering rampage, clanking drunkenly round the headquarters of a Westphalian division for over 10 hours...

It would be Rawlinson, with the ANZACs, Canadian Corps and several veteran Highland regiments ( les dames d'enfer) as the tip of the spear, who was the main driving force behind the series of offensives in late autumn of 1918, known collectively as the Hundred Days...

Ludendorff knew full well the Germans had been defeated, not only that their erstwhile allies in the Central Powers; Austria Hungary, Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire had all been thoroughly defeated, indeed the two decrepit centuries old multi ethnic empires, who had lurched sonambulistically into the war, had collapsed, an Austrian Republic having been quickly declared, along with declarations of Czech and South Slav independence...the Hungarians however spiralled into bloody civil war...Bela Kuns communist Republic was crushed by proto fascistic forces led by Admiral Horty...who acted as " Regent", presumably for Kaiser Karl, then his son Crown Prince Otto...

Yet he persisted in the delusion...never the most articulate speaker Ludendorff now stumbled awkwardly,  " we were betrayed...by those grubby little politicians..Jews" he fumed, pausing to gauge the his hosts reaction...

" You mean to say that you were stabbed in the back General?" Maurice exclaimed, perhaps tiring of the gruff prevarications of his guest... newly returned to Germany ( Ludendorff , fearing the wrath of the revolutionaries had donned fakewhiskers and tinted glasses and fled to Sweden, waiting until order had been restored and having apparently received certain assurances that he wouldn't be hauled before a court) the ex Quartermaster General and defacto military dictator of Germany ( the Kaiser having long been reduced to a purely ceremonial role, twirling his baton, strutting about like some vainglorious middle-aged peacock, displaying his staggering array of uniforms, awarding medals and giving stirring speeches. As avowed monarchists both Ludendorff and Hindenburg kept up the charade in public, deferring to the Kaiser. Privately they pitied the poor old Kaiser,   a deeply flawed character, tormented by a panopoly of crushing insecurities, his withered left arm particularly bothering him) had moved with his wife to Munich. A hotbed of right-wing agitators , plotting against the hated Weimer Republic.

Ludendorff of course would soon be embroiled in the almost cartoonish Beer Hall Putsch....
Marching arm and arm with the ex corporal Hitler, past the FeldHerrenHalle, one of the sacred shines of German militarism.

Amongst the military caste Hitler was universally derided as " that Bohemian corporal"
Hindenburg allegedly having coined the expression..

Amongst this collection of cranks and oddballs, individuals who you would expect to find clinging to the very edge of the precipice, that somehow, due to the convulsions that wracked the tectonic plates,  tearing at the very foundations of  centuries of established order...centuries of repression, now came bursting free spewing them out of the bowels in a volcanic torrent of hatred, the culmination of socio political forces they barely comprehended, much less understood, only one of them came from a traditional background.

The son of a General, a Colonial official who had once governed German Southwest Africa; scene of the Herrero Genocide.

Herman Wilhelm Goering.
Holder of the coveted Blue Max, or Pour le Merite, The German Empire's highest award for gallantry. Fighter ace, with 15 "kills" and something of a swashbuckling hero.
The last commander of the famed Flying Circus , founded by his friend " the Red Baron"
Goering moved to Sweden, working for Lufthansa, and after falling in love with Baroness Karin, one of Swedens great beauties, he moved back to Munich, ostensibly to study economics.
It was in Munich he first met Adolf Hitler, then the semi comic leader of the tiny NSDAP and trainee demagogue...

It was through Goering that the young Hitler, then viewed with a mixture of horror and contempt by the upper classes, habitués of the political salons and the twilit demi monde that blossomed in the wake of the war...live for today was the motto...would be introduced to a more sophisticated world, a refined, exclusive social elite ....it must have been an eye-opening experience for the ex vagrant...used to the grimy hostels and seedy flophouses of backstreet Vienna...
A surprise too for the elegant matrons and suave debonair gentlemen...examining this grubby specimen perched uncomfortably on the sofa...his nerves, presuming he was nervous, vanished as soon as he began talking...restrained at first, after all as the worldly Goering chortled the drawing rooms of the rich are hardly the same as the smoky backrooms of the bierkellers...full of drunken thugs....but as is so often the case it is what should divide us that ends up uniting us...soon the exquisite young frauleins and the languid sophisticates, the heirs of some of Munich's, and indeed Germany's largest fortunes, well preserved fraus, draped in gold and furs and balding ruddy complected bankers and industrialists, sipping their cognac or loosening their cummerbunds...or dabbing their foreheads...listened as the young fellow, whatwashisnameagain? began casting the curious spell, unleashing the hypnotic magnatism that befuddled an entire nation into thinking he was their saviour...Hitler was a curiously German phenomenon, to the rest of humanity, barring those afflicted with the same abhorations...it was obvious that this was nothing more than a tawdry charlatan and a ranting madman, who attempted to make the lowest vices seem like saintly virtues while making common decency appear somehow malignant.

That first night Putzi Haefstangl, the Harvard educated scion of a celebrated family that included a Union General who lost a leg at the First Bull Run and the vastly wealthy Frau Bechstein became devoted followers of the young firebrand.
Through Bechstein Hitler would meet Houston Stewart Chamberlain, renegade Englishman and adopted Prussian, awarded the Iron Cross by the Kaiser for his book...celebrated as one of the founding gospels of Nazism. Chamberlain, by now sick old and decrepit, demoralised by Germany's defeat was also captivated by Hitler ..displaying a frightening clairvoyance he annoited the Hitler, this was 1920 when Hitler was virtually unknown, an obscure back street demagogue , as the saviour of Germany.
Chamberlain who had married Wagner's widow Cosima would introduce Hitler to the Bayreuth circle, centred on Wagner's daughter Winifred...

Howeverfew had  time for an unkempt rowdy, with his loutish confreres, his appalling manners and gutteral lower Bavarian accent ( like Stalin, who possessed an equally thick glottoral Georgian brogue) this accent was something of a comic stereotype, the uncivilised bumpkin...

One of the most strangest, most inexplicable events in the strange, inexplicable career of Adolf Hitler occured before he was born..

When his restlessly peripatetic grandfather Alois, who spent most of his long live wandering around the villages and towns of the lower Wuppertal..

For some obscure reason he showed up in Braunau , his birthplace, to legitimise the son hedh had with a local serving girl.

Thus Alois Shickelgruber became Alois Hitler and in turn his son became Adolf Hitler...

Many have speculated if those thunderously hypnotic roars, with their almost Wagnerian intensity... thousands upon thousands of raucous shrieks and raised arms acclaiming their Fuhrer...

Would they have had quite the same magnetic resonance if it was Heil Shickelgruber  rather than Heil Hitler?

I apologise for getting sidetracked...I meant to describe the last month at Stalingrad, using Goering, who by then was a drug addled buffoon, swaggering about caked in rouge, wearing ever more elaborate and absurd costumes, and his reckless boast that his Luftwaffe could supply the doomed 6th Army as an entrée point...

IllI finish the narrative either tomorrow or Saturday...


Last edited by alex_wilson on Thu 14 Jan 2021, 5:09 am; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : Cory Hughes made me do it...Adolf Hitler was actually cousin of the owner of the Winterland Ice Rink, Ladybird Johnson's secret lovechild, Raul and the ventriloquist dummy Thane Eugene Caesar had up his ass when he shot RFK)

_________________
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 3 Empty Re: The Rise of Hitler and the Foundations of Antisemitism

on Fri 15 Jan 2021, 2:40 am
After yesterday's impromptu detour I'll ( hopefully) finish this part of the planned narrative, describing the last couple of weeks of the Battle of Stalingrad. 

Until relatively recently ( late 90s) Stalingrad was almost universally regarded as THE turning point of the Second World War...the elation of seeing a whole German Army, and not just any old German Army ,but the Sixth Army, an elite formation, the strongest field army in the entire Wehrmacht; the conquerors of Paris, Athens, Kiev, trudging off into captivity sent frissons of joy... a delirium ofhopefulness, to illuminate the wretched darkness of submission...a sensation  described by one French resistant, as " psychic shockwaves"....

From the fjords of the frozen North, to the bocage of occupied France, through the unquiet heart of imprisoned Europe over the violated steppes of Russia( even in the thousands of camps- from the relatively civilised Oflag POW camps, where captured Allied officers were held and the Geneva conventions were recognised, to the much  grimmer compounds where the millions of Soviet prisoners had been herded, even in the dank crowded barracks of the arbeitslager and the vernichstunglagers- the news spread...it seemed like some impossible fairy tale..Baba yaga and her chicken legged hut seemed realer than this wonderful news ..a ragged old rabbi from Berdichev wept, clinging to the skeletal arm of a hollow eyed commissar from Omsk.." can this really be true?"...even the "dokyodaghas" with their feverish eyes who fought like dogs, down on all fours ,for the rancid potato peelings or the skin of a rotten turnip...humans who had abandoned all trace of humanity( the " New Man" Grossman wrote, the logical product of the soulless factory like degradations of both the fascist and the communist regimes...for a veteran of Stalingrad, for an eyewitness to Treblinka these were not just empty words. Grossman had both the courage and the insight to realise the similarities between both regimes, and that they were built on the bones of freedom) paid attention to the news, a brief flicker perhaps...a fleeting snapshot of long ago... their wife's smile, little Olenka stretching out her pudgy arms.."Papa".. before they go back to scrabbling in the mud...)

The news spread ..ringing cross those haunted lands like church bells of the soul... celebrating the impossible...

The German Army was NOT invincible...

Even now, after careful reappraisal, when it's generally accepted that the failure of Operation Typhoon was the point of no return for the Nazi regime( a German failure rather than a Soviet victory) outside Moscow( and just how close that failure was is a sobering thought..... barely 15km with the 4 huge German battlegroups attacking from three directions at once...a mixture of overconfidence,reckless planning and the plunging thermometer..." Only he who looked out across that frozen wasteland" Heinz Guderian, whose 2nd Panzer Army had led the charge, along the old Moscow Smolensk Highway.. following in the fateful footsteps Bonaparte's Grande Armee had hewn out of the frozen ice, wrote later...." can fully understand what happened"
....how close they came to succeeding is one of those imponderables historians have long speculated about ... certainly if Moscow had fallen , at the very least the war would have dragged on, perhaps degenerating, and think about the depths of that degeneration ..into a nightmarish guerilla struggle in the East...with the Western Allies settling down into an uncomfortable Cold War like situation with the Reich... the Iron Curtain having been pulled down , perhaps along the banks of the Rhine, or perhaps along the English Channel coast...)... the battle, and all it's come to represent still casts its mournful shadow across humanity. It represents something profound, a brief moment when all of humanity seemed United against a common foe. Martin Amis writes, and I agree, despite the bestial nature of Stalin's regime...the tyranny, the homicidal incompetence...despite the subsequent Cold War when our erstwhile allies were demonised as the seducers and subverters of Western capitalist " democracy" and our erstwhile enemies, even mass murderers, fanatics and enablers of genocide were embraced and welcomed into the fold as stalwart defenders of freedom.. despite and perhaps because of the murky legacy you instinctively know what side you are on...

There's something uniquely abhorrent about the Nazi regime, the horror perhaps of industrialised genocide existing side by side with a gemultkich sense of propriety....the well clipped hedges and neat lawns of suburban Munich, or the sober respectability of a Berlin apartment block seems unsettlingly familiar to Western eyes....far more so than the desolate steppes and proletariat squalour we imagine Stalinist Russia to be...

Weimer Germany was by far the most open, outwardly tolerant, liberal society on earth in 1932...yet within a decade the cattletrucks were clanking east , from Frankfurt, Düsseldorf, Berlin, Warsaw ..to Malkinia and Oscweicem...an anonymous railway junction the occupying Germans had rechristened Auschwitz...

Undoubtedly Stalingrad was one of the hinges on which 20th century swung...

If not the beginning of the end then most certainly the end of the beginning...

For the first time since Operation Barbarossa was launched, back in the summer of '41, the Red Army was facing West..

And in the West the American colossus was loosening those mighty limbs...

STALINGRAD PART 11 (B)

After carefully evaluating the rapidly deteriorating situation of the Sixth Army, and prompted by the Reichsmarshalls typically grandiose boast( the citizens of Berlin never forgot his fatuous declaration...waving his oversized marshals baton " if the English ever bomb Berlin you can call me Meier!!"..he was called Meier, and much more besides by the increasingly beleaguered citizenry as the cowered in the air raid shelters...day and night ...as the RAF and Spaatz's USAAF took it in turns.... the Americans, especially after the Typhoons and Mustangs were developed, providing fighter escorts for the fleets of heavy bombers, their slowness and lack of manueverability had made them sitting ducks for the Me109s and later the experimental jet fighters, attacked by daylight, while the RAF, with their Blenheim and Wellington nightfighters , came over at night, dodging the spotlights that scoured the sky, sweeping with almost balletic grace through the choking haze, the anti aircraft fire, the tracer bullets zipping by like swarms of angry fireflies... the pilots found the high pitched static of the radio waves particularly unnerving...the FooFighters too...described as pulsating balls of green light.. vaguely luminous and definitely under some sort of intelligent command, they would buzz the bombers, following them, almost playfully, coyly, like some blushing coquette ..darting off into the darkness before her promise was fulfilled...) waving his vulgar outsized jewel encrusted baton( the phallic connotations are unmistakable) with weary aplomb, Goering, who threw such promises out like an overexciteable spinster throws confetti at a wedding, promised his Fuhrer that his Luftwaffe could keep the entombed Army supplied via a temporary air bridge( such an operation had precedent, the Demyansk pocket, although only half of an Army corps had to be supplied, not an overstrength field army)

Did Hitler believe him? Probably not but on this occasion their fantasies just happened to collide.
Ever since the Battle of Britain, slowly but inextricably Goering's grip on reality began slipping...what use is a defeated airforce to the bloated narcissist who craves only the heady buzz of victory? 
The Fat One looked elsewhere to satisfy his cravings ( morphine, he had been addicted since the early 20s, ironically he first used the drug to ease the pain of the thigh wound he received after the failed Beer Hall Putsch...he sank into indigent, indulgent apathy , playing with his toys and his jewels, or adding to his art collection...sending the mysterious intriguingly named Herr Bunges to plunder the great collections of Europe)....after a careful, characteristically methodical evaluation of the situation the experts at the Wehrmacht's Quartermaster department, under the fastidious General Wagner, who refused to deal with the coarse lout Himmler had sent to discuss certain " special tasks" prior to the launching of Barbarossa, decided the Sixth Army would require 700 tons of supplies per day...

Roughly translated that meant 350 Junkers 52s flying in relays...

The Luftwaffe managed to deliver a daily average of 85 tons*
Managing 262 tons on the 19tb December...

It was an impossible situation. The Sixth Army were starving...front line personnel were reduced to 400 grammes of ersatz bread per day , after Christmas there were no more horses left to slaughter.

A black market of sorts flourished amidst the ruins, the twisted bombed out hulks that emerged from the pall of noxious black smoke that settled , like a second skin,over the ravaged cityscape... ..down in the sewers, the maze of tunnels that had been excavated ,emaciated shadows came and went, " like ghosts rehearsing for eternity" one anonymous diarist wrote... Humanity has an imperishable aptitude for survival, for adapting, even here, and try to imagine yourselves there, skulking in those dingy caves, the dull heat from the pipes cause the lice that cling to your filthy hide to stir... launderettes of sorts sprang up, run bywizened old babas more often than not clutching a squalling orphan to their withered breast..." Brot" " Pan" " Wasser" " Tabachok" " kamaraden"...a lingua Franca sprang up too....

Family heirlooms, watches passed down through the generations, items looted from corpses that lay scattered around...even today , almost 80 years later scratch the earth of Volgograd and before long some human remains will surface...a yellowing bone, fragment of a skull ..rusted bullets more plentiful than seeds blown by the wind...were exchanged for a mouldy slice of stale bread ..mother's offered their lank emaciated indifferent daughters...a barter system sprang up..

If food was scarce then ammunition and most of all fuel was even scarcer...

Schmidt himself demanded to sign all fuel requests personally. By  now the defacto commander ,as Paulus had more or less collapsed into fatalism and apathy.. incredibly the Sixth Army was his first field command.
Until then he'd been a gifted, if unimaginative staff officer. Woven into into the fabric of this great calamity  is an unmistakable thread of perfidy,illusion...as if the great trickster god himself...Pan, Loki, Papa Legba, Mephistopheles...wielded the needle, creating a thin seam of irony, to mock the sanguinary folly of humanity, their resolve to leave even the simplest lessons unlearned...to repeat the same old mistakes over and over... until only the sacrifice is remembered..an anaesthetic  to ensure they'll always be a need to say " Never Again"....

.for  it was none other than Paulus himself who drafted the outline for Operation Barbarossa...

Tatinskyia ( Tazi to the Germans) was the largest of the airbases...on the morning of Christmas Eve, buried under a thick icy fog over 100 irreplaceable Junkers 52 sat idling, waiting to be loaded with the pathetic cargo of dazed mutilated men, and those officials... usually squat porcine snouted party hacks, the pot bellies stuffed under their gaudily decorated brown tunics filled the combat troops( the frontschwein" as they sardonically christened themselves) with utter contempt...these were the very men, with their little piggy eyes flushed with cognac who always extorted the troops to " fight to the last bullet ..how glorious it was to die in combat...resist the Judeo Bolshevik untermensch etc etc etc" of course they were always the first to scarper...as fast as their fat little legs could carry them...huffing and puffing until they reached safety .....the scenes witnessed there are beyond my power to describe..rows upon rows of seriously wounded men, their faces shot off or their guts hanging out...since mid December there had been no proper medical supplies...there was barely any morphine left...so these men lay there..untended on stretchers..in sub zero conditions... sometimes half buried in the drifting snow...
But they were the lucky ones... there were literally piles of frozen corpses scattered around..some wounded men had crawled there...freezin f to death in the night...their stiff body with icicles dangling obscenely , like some grotesque ice sculptures..

To make it that far you had to have a certificate signed by a doctor, testifying to the fact that purveyor was actually wounded .
Self inflicted sounds were , as you can imagine, commonplace...a toe, half gangrenous with frost bite wasn't much of a sacrifice to make...

The penalty for such " frivolous wounding" ( in the words of that great pillar of jurisprudence Roland Freisler, one of the 13 Judases who betrayed humanity at Wannsee, he further desecrated common humanity by presiding over the Volksgericht.." the People's Court"...Freisler ,who manages to make Vyshinsky or even his direct Soviet counterpart, the bulletheaded Ulrich, perhaps the most repulsive example of how totalitarianism can totally distort humanity ( picture a cross between a waxworks, a hothouse and a sepulchral vault ..with the individual specimens...Beria, Himmler, Heydrich, Yezhov, Dekanozov ( who installed a personal torture chamber in the basement of the Soviet embassy in Berlin), Globocnik, chief administrator of Operation Reinhardt) resemble some fearless champion of human rights, was killed in March 1945 when an American bomb practically landed on his head) was death..

On that morning of that particular Christmas Eve, as the exhausted mechanics and Luftwaffe orderlies tried to go about their normal routine... refuelling the planes, unloading the precious cargo...over the moans, the curses and the manic shrieks, over the other more reassuring sounds, the clanging and the revving and the low purr of engines... the well oiled engine of the Junkers 52 apparently sounded like a well fed Tom cat...over these sounds they heard another...a wild undulating roar...then the clatter of horses hoofs... bursting out the milky white fog, stained with oily streaks the way a river is clouded red with blood came hordes of cavalrymen... yelling 'Urrah and waving their sabres, cutting and slashing at anything that moved...then came the all too familiar clatter and squeal of tank tracks... crashing through the hastily built barricades, with twirls of electrified fences clinging to their stout frames..like swarms of angry Christmas trees..or like Birnham Wood come again...

Alas it was not the brave Macduff avenging the death of good King Duncan..but I suspect that if the three weird sisters happened to be in the vicinity..( and whose to say they weren't? For the foggy morning was certainly foul and filthy enough for them)... they would most definitely have enjoyed the spectacle...
Of the swashbuckling Badanov's 24th Tank Corps, with cavalry support from an independent Cossack detachment, piratical freebooters who hated the Germans with all the fury of a spurned beau...fiery belches of flame erupting from the muzzles of the 75mm cannon of the ubiquitous T34s.. the snugly snowsuited infantrymen leaping off the icy girders, explosions tearing at the foggy gloom with lithe fingers, first the fuel dumps, now the freshly refuelled planes themselves ..squat and ungainly, the Ju52s were as helpless as Dodos on the frozen runway or crouching inthe makeshift hangers, the Soviet troops, many battlehardened veterans, who'd witnessed the invaders handiwork up close...charred soot blackened timber framed full of scorched remains, heaps of corpses strewn carelessly about ..without mercy they fell on the startled Germans, as Badanov himself, a full blooded Cossack, trotting around calmly like a bandit chieftain in his chokha coat with its bandoliers and his curved Circassian sabre ..grinning wolfishly , 

In a ferocious hit and run attack, perhaps inspired by what the nascent SAS were up to in the North African deserts at this time, Badanov's men destroyed 72 utterly irreplaceable Junkers...

If you'll forgive me I'll have to stop there . I'll finish this part off tomorrow.
Please excuse the frequent excursions, some of the details are just too important and illustrative to leave out...
* You'll have to excuse me if I got any statistics wrong... perhaps unwisely I'm endeavouring to write from memory...

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on Sat 16 Jan 2021, 3:41 am
STALINGRAD PART 11 C

The last act of the tortured epic of Stalingrad commenced on the 20th of December.

With the launch of the much anticipated Operation Winter Storm.

A last desperate attempt to free the quarter of a million or so men of the Sixth Army trapped within the ever tightening noose.

Von Manstein , who had arrived surrounded by vulgar pomp and gaudy theatrics, swaggering regally down the steps of his private train( the property of the ex King of Romania) dressed in the crisp white dress tunic of a GeneralFeldMarshall, with his Ritterkreuz mit schwerten und eichenlaub and his other decorations, including several exotic Balkan gongs ,glinting with faux majesty in the pale winter sun, he saluted his staff gave a brusque speech and promptly about turned , vanishing back into the well heated opulence of the royal sitting room.

Von Manstein was undoubtedly the most gifted strategist the Wehrmacht possessed. 
And he knew it.
His egotistical outbursts and prima donna tantrums were already notorious. Among his brother officers, in the highest echelons of the Wehrmacht, he was viewed with a certain amount of trepidation, suspicion even.
His vast talents were weighed against his less admirable qualities.

His narcissism, his thirst for power, his fixation with the trappings of power,an attribute the canny Hitler exploited mercilessly. Playing on his vanity( and his venality, Von Manstein was one of those who received  a monthly " gratuity" ( upwards of 5000 Reichsmarks, a not inconsiderable sum) from the infamous secret Konto bank account, administered by none other than Bormann)
Despite his later anguished denials and despite the frenzied revisionism of his many acolytes Von Manstein , both actively and passively, co operated with the New Order in the East. Issuing orders calling for " harsh measures" and providing logistical support for the Einsatzgruppen. Remember the worst massacre of the whole Eastern Front, the two day bacchanalia of bestial savagery unleashed by the victorious Romanians after the fall of Sevastopol, took place under his direct authority, as C in C of the 11th Army.

In purely military terms Von Manstein was not a particularly gifted defensive commander. Hitler commenting astutely that he was the best general in the world with fresh troops.

The troops he had at his disposal: the grandly named Army Group Don were anything but fresh.

Army Group Don comprised of Kircheners LVII Korps( 23rd Panzer , or what remained of it. Gutted after weeks of savage hand to hand street fighting, the division had barely 30 tanks and roughly 6000 men, less than half it's strength. Apart from the 23rd the knlo other formations were the remnants of two Romanian cavalry divisions and an independent artillery brigade)

They were supported by units of the redoubtable Hoth's 4th Panzer Army, but his army was scattered across the frozen steppes; a considerable proportion were trapped in the Kessel, while the majority of his remaining panzers were guarding the vulnerable flanks of Army Group A.
Remember Army Group A ( 2 infantry and 1 Panzer Army were still embroiled in bitter combat , deep in the Caucasus. With only Hoth's panzers, two substrength Italian infantry divisions, with negligible artillery and armoured support to defend their 450 mile + flank from the predations of the Eight Soviet Armies soon to be hurled against them. A truly calamitous situation. 
)

However Von Manstein did have one almost full strength division, the fearsome 6th Panzer Division. A formidable outfit, 12000 battlehardened veterans , two Panzer regiments, near to their full complement of 120/50 machines, mostly Panzer IVs and IIIs ..opposing them ,  as always the bulky inelegant T34s and the ponderous KV1s,, although German reports speak of encountering some British supplied Matilda tanks. Designed primarily for infantry support, with its heavy armour the Matilda was the only Lend Lease tank to see service, the remainder, deemed inferior by the Soviets were used to equip training battalions. The poor opinions the Soviet tankists formed of the American and British tanks( Shermans, Grants, Valentines, Churchills etc) was more than borne out by the Normandy battles, and in subsequent combat . The German heavy and medium tanks, the Panthers and its famous feline brethren , the Tigers and the monstrous King Tiger, with its 108mm gun and infra red sights, would utterly dominate the Allied tanks, only the modified Sherman Fireflies, that put a British quarter pounder gun on a Sherman chassis, was any match for the German tanks. It was down to lack of numbers and most of all lack of fuel, combined with an overwhelming numerical superiority that ensured eventual Allied dominance)

Commanded by Austrian Generaloberst Erhard Raus ( who wrote a much read treatise on Soviet armoured tactics for his American captors) the 6th Panzer was Von Manstein's key asset in the upcoming offensive.

An offensive that Von Manstein insisted included a planned breakout. According to his version on the issuance of the code word " Thunderclap" the Sixth Army was to break out, heading North West to meet up with his force striking down from Kotelnikovo, or Southwest, to rendezvous with his spearheads, pushing up from the Chir bridgehead.

The encircled Army , freezing  in their dugouts, blasted out of the icy steppes, had spent the past few nights mesmerised by the phantasmagoric green light of the flares fired by Von Manstein's men.... weaving impossible fantasies from the luminous trails, that ignited the frozen depths with an almost hallucinatory wonder...

But the 100 or so miles( from the very top of the Chir bridgehead it was less than 40) could just as well have been light years...the flares skidding through the icy wastes of sky could have been supernovae, , or the spiralling majesty of a newly born nebula, viewed through a telescope ....

The space between the two forces, was impossible to measure in mere distance.
Those empty steppes, a wilderness of snow and nothingness , seperate the would be conquerors of the Sixth Army from their past and their future...it was the soldiers minute magnified and set in ice.


They were in no condition to think about breaking out. Shivering in their foxholes, counting the hours until the feldwebel comes with their meagre rations ..

Winter Storm blew itself out in three days...

Romanenkos 5th Tank Army, the wide tracks of the T34s allowed them to churn through the snow with relative ease, overran the Chir bridgehead, annihilating in two days and nights of brutal fighting.

The northern force, attacking towards Kotelnikovo, was initially more successful, officers on the staff of Streckers XII Korps could see the flashes of the tanks and the self propelled artillery through their binoculars, but after the third night they faded away...pushed back by the 4th Guards Army, one of the strongest formations in the entire Stalingrad Front.

Then Little Saturn was launched, aiming for Rostov on the Don, driving into the weakened and over extended flanks of Army Group Don while simultaneously entombing Army Group A in the Caucasus.
A potential disaster that would dwarf the disaster that now was reaching itsi inevitable bloody crescendo...

Much to the surprise of the Germans, who viewed their " allies" with contempt bordering on derision, the 2 Italian infantry divisions, Cessena and Ravenna fought valiantly, fending off wave after wave of attacks. Eventually the Soviets resorted to their primitive frontal assaults, bludgeoning the defenders into submission by sheer weight of numbers....the brown coated ivans ( the attack was led by one of the infamous punishment battalions..." criminals" given the chance to purge their crimes with their blood... snug white camouflaged jerkins were not wasted on such expendable units) charging in relentless waves, corpses piling up in front of the Italian trenches..

One Italian colonel, who briefly crossed paths with Paulus, Von Daniels, Adam, Von Seidlitz and several other senior prisoners in Suzdal camp 160, compared the attack to millions of ants, unthinkingly scampering towards the cornered elephant...millions die only for millions more to appear...

Von Manstein called the offensive off on the 23rd December...

The Sixth Armies fate was sealed. Its principal duty now was to hold on: to pin as many Soviet Armies as possible ( and 11 were circling the stricken army warily. Although Soviet Armies were far smaller than their German counterparts. Many of the Soviet Armies fielded no more than 15-20000 men. The equivalent of a full strength German division)

Their duty was to sacrifice themselves, to permit their comrades in Army Group A to escape from the Caucasus.

Understanding this the Soviets decided to offer surrender terms after further tightening the noose , pushing the Germans back towards the ruined city, where Chuikov's 62nd Army was starting to emerge from the deep ravines and bluffs, advancing from through the worker's settlement in the south of the city; by now nothing more than a petrified forest of burnt out timber shells, and heaps of tangled girders .
They came from the north too, through the factory district, or what remained of it, with the giant Tartar burial mound,, Mamayev Kurgan, that changed hands 14 times on one day, back in October, when the German victory seemed imminent, brooding over the shattered bombed out moonscape.

Less than 3 months before Stalingrad was a showcase city.

Beautiful wide boulevards, white marble buildings, Socialist Realism translated into the classical idiom...
The Grecian collonades and  the cool geometric precision of the Party Headquarters, overlooking Red Square..
The Party was the past and the future..

As if to emphasise this, in the middle of a carefully tended junction there was a bright marble statue, perhaps not aesthetically pleasing, no one would ever mistake it for a Phidias, or even a Rodin...but its crudity only added to its appeal. This wasn't the art of the cultured elite...it was simple hearty proletariat art ..

Children, wearing their Young Pioneers scarves, dancing joyfully in a circle, their plump healthy features a testament, not to the sculptor's chisel but to Comrade Stalin's wise benevolence...

It was Stalin every child had to thank for their wonderful childhood...

In another of those cynically ironic twists, the signature of trickster god once again revealed, this statue would be one of the handful of objects ( buildings included) to remain standing..

A wordless statement...

The Stalingrad Front, now further reinforced, 14 armies , over 1 million men, thousands of tanks and artillery pieces strong, with a supporting air army( Stalingrad was the real start of the VVSs renaissance, although never as potent, in both tactical and strategic terms, as the RAF , USAAF or indeed the pre42 Luftwaffe, the Red Airforce would gradually build up an almost complete superiority, with the snub nosed MiGs becoming almost as familiar as the sturdy T34s) was poised for the kill. 

Operation Kolt''so..the Ring

Still unaware of the scope of the victory( they reckoned on 100000 at the very most, having no idea of the scale nor indeed the magnitude of their imminent victory.... between a quarter of a million and 270000 men trapped ) the plannedoffensive was simple and brutish. Perhaps the surrender terms were just a ploy. Is there any doubt as to what the Soviet forces intended? Spurred on by their poets as well as their leaders...Alexei Surkovs bloodcurdling ode " I Hate"..." Do not count the miles only the Germans you have killed" Grizzled teenage veterans who had staggered through ruined city after ruined city? Through smouldering village after smouldering village? The burnt claw like hands rising out of the piles of blackened corpses pointing accusingly.. From riflemen to gold bedecked Marshals the aim was simple-

Hammer the fascist pigdogs into submission.

Alongside the fascist pigdogs, Austrian, Italian, Hungarian, Romanian and Croatian were a still unknown number of Hiwis...hilfswillige, willing helpers. Ex Soviet POWs who agreed to collaborate simply to escape the brutalized prison compounds. ( Footage survives of drunken guards flinging chunks of mouldy bread into crowds of starving prisoners)

Soviet POWs , apart from the Jews, were the very lowest of the low according to Nazi " racial science"

Much fatuous psuedo scientific gibberish was written, the SS even dedicating a whole issue of Das Schwartz Korps to depicting the subhuman Asiatic bolsheviks

Count Ciano, Italian foreign minister and son in law of Il Duce( who eventually had him executed, despite, or some allege because of the appeals of his scheming voluptuous daughter Edda) who famously described Goering's arrival in Rome with unsparing detail, capturing the gluttonous showy depravity of the Nazi Diadochi.." he wore a fur coat similar to what an automobile driver wore in 1903 and what a high class prostitute wears to the Opera " 

Cianos Diaries are compelling reading; genuinely witty, insightful, darkly funny and profoundly moving, the last entry ,written in a cramped dungeon, just hours before his execution is one of the most beautiful, cathartic pieces of prose ever written. Stark, unflinching, written with the honesty of a man who had supped deeply from the fountain of vanity, dallied in the gardens of the worldly and the powerful... it's one of the greatest of all ironies; THE greatest perhaps , that it takes the clarity of impending death to understand much of what we call living is nothing but folly.

In another entry Ciano describes Goering's gorging himself at a banquet, in between mouthfuls, laughing his strange high pitched laugh, that on this particular occasion sent mouthfuls of half chewed food flying into the face of a gloomy long faced Cardinal, he revealed his fellow guests with graphic stories of cannibalism

" The wretches have eaten their boots now they're busy eating themselves"

Thankfully, for the sake of the eminent churchman's digestion, he failed to outline the so called " Hunger Plan" concocted by those benevolent philanthropists at the SS Office of Economics.

They calculated that upwards of 30 million would die.

Ciano's diaries were smuggled out of Italy...hidden under his ex wife's silk bloomers...

There's a wonderful metaphor there...

On the morning of the 7th January 1943, bright and blustery, with flecks of snow blowing in an icy wind, three emissaries were dispatched from the Soviet lines( authorised by Marshal Rokossovsky and Colonel General Voronov, Chief of Artillery)
Major Smyslov, Captain Dyatlenko ( one of the few German speakers) and an unnamed warrant officer, with a battered 3 note trumpet and an oversized fur cap, its dangling earflaps and his morose features reminded the young captain of a bad tempered childhood pet...a dog that bit everyone

In a carefully sealed oilskin package they had incredibly generous surrender terms...

Your position is hopeless! The document read, you are starving and surrounded. Why prolong the agony? Save your life's 
If they surrendered in 24 hours, according to the carefully worded document, written in perfect German, in sutterlin script no less, and you will be allowed to keep all medals and badges of rank, you will receive " normal" rations and medical attention and after the war you will be repatriated.

Considering the circumstances this was an incredibly generous offer...

Would they have acceded to and kept the terms?
Or was it a subtle ruse? Designed to appeal to desperate men?
The Soviets were well aware of the developments in the Caucasus...if the 6th Army surrendered approximately 1 million troops would be freed up, to be deployed instantly to trap the lumbering colossus stumbling out of the Caucasus...

Waving a piece of white rag from a stick, the major later admitted his only knowledge of such negotiations and the accompanying protocols came from hazy memories of watching a play about Field Marshall Kutuzov, they approached a German bunker, the trumpeter blowing a wary string of notes...they floated tunelessly over the frozen wasteland... they watched nervously until a steel helmeted head popped up, scowling at them momentarily before disappearing again...

I'll have to leave it there for this afternoon...


Last edited by alex_wilson on Sat 16 Jan 2021, 5:17 am; edited 1 time in total

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A fez! A fez! My kingdom for a fez!!
The last words of King Richard HARVEY Plantagenet III 
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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
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on Sat 16 Jan 2021, 3:48 am
Thanks Alex.

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on Sat 16 Jan 2021, 5:21 am
My pleasure Vinny.
Hopefully iI'l be able to finish this thread, there's a couple of others i'd like to start..

_________________
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 Sun 17 Jan 2021, 12:49 am
STALINGRAD PART 11 D

In his post war memoirs Captain Dyatlenko describes what happened next:
An officer( Dyatlenko takes great pleasure in providing lurid details, describing the sinister totenkopf on the sleeve of his black tunic,  however there were no SS personnel in Stalingrad neither Waffen SS formations nor security detachments, the latter were provided by the Wehrmacht Geheim Feld Polizei, secret field police and the " chain hounds"( due to their distinctive metal collar) of the regular provosts and military police. He could have course been referring to an officer from the Panzerwaffen, who wore skulls on the collars of their black overalls) beckoned them forward, all 3 stumbling around on the icy slush, causing a great deal of sniggering and sarcastic remarks , for a small crowd had quickly formed; bedraggled scarecrows wrapped in blankets and oversized Russian greatcoats mainly, pale haggard unshaven faces and wide goggle eyes staring at the smartly dressed envoys.

Prior to their mission they were hurried off to the chief tailor of the entire Stalingrad Front, a tiny bespectacled Kazakh, he studied their mud splattered tunics before declaring in a musical purr , " I'll dress them up like bridegrooms!!"

The three nervous bridegrooms were led by an amiable major , who prattled away in fluent Russian, sighing apologetically as he wrapped bandages round their eyes to act as makeshift blindfolds.

Symslov, an NKVD major chosen for his almost eidetic memory, quickly scanned the cramped front line bunker, noting the exhausted poorly clad troops, the lack of ammo and the almost oppressive air of fatalistic apathy that mingled with the familiar stench of cheap makhorka tobacco...

After being led down a succession of passageways, Dyatlenko was sure they were being led underground, they found themselves in the strangely disorientating confines of a semi ruined peasant izba....half the thatched roof was missing and the earthen floors were piled with rubbish; shell casings, empty ammunition boxes, newspapers, cigarette ends, pieces of discarded uniforms...
But the familiar sights- the stove, the rough wooden table, the carved bunks liked up above the stove brought childhood memories flooding back...seeing these grim faced fascists lounging about, desecrating one of the symbols of Mother Russia with the casual insolence made the men feel both disoriented then furious...

There were four officers, senior officers by the looks of them ..probably staff officers from the headquarters of Heitzs nearby  VIII Korps..

After nearly five minutes, the observant Smyslov spotting lines of bedraggled troops marching past, probably at battalion strength ,weary dishevelled troops seemingly retreating, long straggling lines heading towards the ruins of the city ..

Perhaps ,Smyslov thought, who'd spent much of the battle on the relatively safety of the East bank, interrogating prisoners and latterly deserters, who were pathetically eager to talk, they were planning on making a last desperate stand ..Thermopylae on the Volga, or Gotterdammerung...

Finally a lean bad tempered colonel appeared, after addressing his subordinates  in a gruff offhand manner, he turned to face his Soviet guests, standing smartly to attention; the oilskin package lay on the table, beside a battered tin cup, the burned out stub of a candle and an ashtray that had obviously been pillaged by desperate smokers.

In a bellicose bark, speaking what Dyatlenko later described as " adequate Russian" , he dismissed them, refusing even to look at the package.
Surrender was out of the question he informed them before turning away curtly, without even the most perfunctory of salutes he marched out.
Leaving the flustered major to apologise , sounding like a long suffering relative soothing the feathers a particularly belligerent relation, perhaps a boorish cousin of a drunken uncle had ruffled...

The three emissaries were blindfolded again and hustled quickly away... the captain gripping the oilskin package to his beautifully laundered chest.

After  being ushered into Rokossovsky's presence, the famous marshal, resplendent in his new uniform, complete with diamond encrusted marshal's star, that was worn round the neck, making characters such as the shaven headed loutish Konev and even the lantern jowelled Zhukov appear like overpampered lapdogs, smiling indulgently and shrugging with mock comic resignation as Smyslov described what happened.

They were then subjected to a thorough interrogation cum debriefing by a lanky esthetic looking major from the dreaded Special Section...his sad doleful face reminding the captain of the icons that used to cover his devout grandmother's wall...

Then they were delivered back to the grinning tailor, fresh from a fitting with the rotund Yeremenko..
" The lieutenant general wants to look his best for the cameras ..and" the ebullient Kazakh raised his eyebrows and clasped his thin fingers prayerfully " for him" he added with a rapturous little sigh before quickly removing their uniforms....the wedding alas was as short as it was unconsummated.

Exactly 24 hours later Operation Kolt'so was unleashed..

Thousands of guns; Katushyas, field guns, the short barrelled self propelled cannon, the mighty howitzers and the gigantic railway guns, all opened up at once, they werelined up , practically side by side on the East bank...they opened fire at once...like Posideon the earth shaker himself had appeared out the silvery grey Volga, the whole world seemed to tremble, almost tilting off balance... A ferociously awe inspiring sight..

Imagine if you were an infantryman, crouching in your trench, perhaps one of Rodimitsevs guardsmen, who fought off 13 attacks in one night, Panzer and infantry, holding onto a few yards of blasted rubble, or " Stalingrad Railway station", when the sun rose that late autumn morning, a fiery orange blur in a thin parchment sky, barely visible through the choking waves of smoke, oily black smoke, light wispy grey smoke, thick white puffs that drift upwards....looking round you see your comrades, blood streaked soot blackened young faces...300 of you left alive out of the 10000 or so that leapt out the barge, the sinking up to your knees in the Volga, a baptism of sorts...charging through the twilight towards the Fritzes, hidden behind the walls, the barrels of their machine guns, the murderous MG32s glinting in the soft twilight...

Imagine how you would feel; the elation tempered with regret, the unquenchable thirst for revenge...Grossman interviewed the survivors of the division after the battle ..over 90% had lost friends or relatives, sometimes their entire families. Wiped out, expunged, their villages torched...erased from the face of the earth ..the only echo of their very existence the memories they clung to fiercely.

Imagine the sense of glorious exultation, heightened by the knowledge that the whole world was watching...Stalingrad became a symbol of hope. Of deliverance..

Seven Soviet Armies were hurled at the encircled Kessel. 

Pressing in on all sides .It was worst for the troops trapped out in the steppe, with only the trenches or bunkers dynamited out of the earth for cover...the natural undulations..the ravines and the gullies were buried under the snow.
The villages that cling to the suburbs of Stalingrad were usually the HQs of the divisions and korps...the staffs of 22 divisions had been trapped inside the Kessel.

Gumrak quickly fell followed by Pitomnik and Tazi, the latter never having recovered from Badanov's raid...the remaining  infastructure was dragged 10km to Salsk where a makeshift aerodrome, of sorts, operated briefly..

The last remaining airfield, the Stalingradskya Flight school was overrun on the night of January 27th

The day before that the remaining Kessel, now centred on the city itself, was split into two pockets, roughly north and south of the Mamayev Kurgan.

The northern pocket, centred around the Marinovska " nose" and the ruins of the factory district contained the remnants of Heitz's VIII Korps and Strecker's XIIth...

Still in radio contact with Von Manstein, the Fuhrer assumed personal command, relaying his orders via the indignant Field Marshal , who fumed about being reduced to a mere delivery boy...

Especially ironic when you consider the defence offered by Von Manstein and his fellow top ranking officers at Nuremberg , that they were nothing more than meek post office boys, relaying the orders of their beloved Fuhrer..

Hitler , by now far far away on the wings of drug enhanced megalomaniac delusion rambled on ...calling the unfolding human tragedy " the heroic drama of German history"

Paulus himself, now hunkered down in his last HQ, a dingy cellar under the Unvermag department store on Stalingrad Red Square, commanded the southern pocket ..his strongest remaining formations coming from the XIV, IV, LI, XI Korps.

Hitler bombarded both pockets with orders; ranging from the fantastical to the purely incoherent.

Guderian, who had been dismissed the previous winter for insubordination, but who was returning to favour, indeed the one of the results of the post Stalingrad fallout/ bloodletting, was his appointment to the newly created office of " Inspector General of Panzertruppen" with a wide ranging brief, watching the bloody debacle unfold from his East Prussian estate later wrote:
" Hitler stopped acting like a responsible warlord( feldherr) and started acting like a political fanatic"
Some would argue he simply dropped the pretence.

He demanded fanatical sacrifice, his orders were full of bloodcurdlingly apocalyptic imagery..a precursor of his eventual Wagnerian demise...below the burning ruins of Berlin ..

Hitler had often exulted in the prospect of Gotterdammerung...if he failed he would drag the world down with him..

The last flight out of Stalingrad was probably a Freisler Stoch, heading for Hoth's nearby forward HQ, escaping the Kessel on the night of the 25th..

On the morning of the 27th, with whole regiments starting to surrender en masses, staggering out of their claustrophobic boltholes with their arms raised, almost blinded by the bright winter sun and the glare of the snow...another message, this time relayed en clair, over the radio...a proclamation from Yeremenko, demanding surrender. No mention of the previous terms ..

Paulus sent the request via teleprinters to the Wolfs Lair; a small command post, with radio and teleprinters had been hurriedly constructed in the cellar, a piece of dishevelled rag, hanging limply provided the Generaloberst with a little privacy. He spent most of his time, hunched on his camp bed, chainsmoking... the facial tic causing his hollow cheeks to jerk and twitch.

He was a haunted man. Of all the captured generals he was the only one who looked as if he'd suffered, the only one too who had fully comprehended the magnitude of the disaster. Apart from maybe Von Seydlitz, although his awakening perhaps came during his captivity.

The rest of the generals, none of them incidentally looked like they'd missed many meals, glowering through their monocles, complained about their luggage or else chatted amiably enough with their captors( including Dyatlenko, now a major, who served as an interpreter for Paulus and Schmidt. It was Schmidt who had ordered the colonel to refuse the offer of surrender, Dyatlenko didn't let on he was one of the spurned envoys)

Hitler flew into a tantrum...cursing his generals for their cowardice and lack of honour. Keitel , a scion of the military caste, Field Marshal, nodded meekly and turned to Jodl to draft the appropriate reply.

Soon the answer came clattering back: No surrender.

Paulus, tried explaining the situation, he had over 18000 wounded lying in nightmarish underground grottoes, Dantesque subterranean cities of the damned...Paulus had just seen Dr Renoldi, Chief Medical officer, a devout Catholic and gentleman of the old school, the diminutive dapper Renoldi, his grey hair still immaculate, struggled to find the words to describe what was going on... stuttering meekly, he only managed to mumble a few disjointed biblical metaphors...

There was no medicine, no bandages ..nothing.  Seriously wounded men lay in filthy heaps, the air heavy with the sweet pungent smell of death, and the wild high pitched shrieks of delirium...fever ravaged men, yellow with jaundice, typhoid, knee high in bloody faeces... Wandering around raving incoherently, one particularly infamous " hospital" in the factory district was nothing more than a darkened storage room...ghostly shapes, barely human, huge bloated rats nibbling at the bloody entrails of semi conscious men...

The doctor began weeping softly...

Receiving no response on the morning of the 28th the Soviets recommenced the offensive..

That afternoon the 6th army was split into 3 pockets...

Strecker's beleaguered XIIth Korps was cut off in the factory district, holding on to a tiny sliver of bombed out moonscape centred on the twisted wreckage of the Red October...
The centre, defending the ruins of the Government quarter , VIIIth and LIst Korps.
While the southern pocket comprised of the remains of the XIVth and IVth Korps.

The southern pocket was the first to collapse, jubilant Red Armymen picking their way through the charred wasteland, watching with glee as the ragged grey lines began forming up and shuffling off...
It was only now the true scale of the victory began dawning on the Soviets...

A few hours after Goering's bombastic funeral oration had crackled over the airwaves a platoon of Red Army men, led by a nervous flaxen haired junior lieutenant brandishing his captured Walther PPK , followed by his squad of Tommy gunners( the Red Army slang for the PPSH machine pistols)  headed for the ruins of the famous department store...they'd just fought their way across the ruins of Red Square, there had been some resistance; sporadic, desultory gunfire, however nothing resembling the savage house to house, room to room fighting of the autumn. Pitched, battalion strength brawls, sharpened shovels, bayonets, daggers and rifle butts flashing,  were once fought over buildings, landings, even rooms. Now most of the Fritzes were surrendering, sullen faced, resentfully  ; still there were some fanatics, mostly the younger ones, brainwashed by their experiences in the Hitlerjugend...they approached the ruined shell warily, peering up the lieutenant saw only the sombre grey sky gazing back through the skeletal ruins. One of his men nudged him, swinging round he was met by a sly grin.." Look comrade starshi leutnant" he pointed the nozzle of his gun at a charred poster, still legible...as much the echoes of a lost civilisation it seemed as a decapitated Greek marble, or an Anglo Saxon horde.." Customer and assistant!" the sign implored " be polite to each other". The lieutenant gave a wry smile and beckoned his men, pointing his pistol at a stairwell yawning ahead  ..bracing himself and almost without realising it he mumbled a couple of lines of a prayer his sainted mother had taught him, before she disappeared into the night of 1937.. moving forward slowly, aware of their creaking bootsteps , they began descending , taking each step at a time until they reached the bottom of the  staircase, gagging at the noxious fug that now hit them...

Through the dingy haze they slowly made out a blur of faces...wide startled eyes...

A medium sized man in a gold braided green grey tunic stepped forward possessively, like a village headman, the troopers thought...

" Hande hoch...voiyna kaput" the lieutenant growled in the curious pidgin dialect...

The man, bristled indignantly, glaring at the lieutenant as if he'd just committed an unforgivable breach of etiquette..

It was Schmidt...

Just a few hours before finally accepting the inevitable , Hitler had showered promotions and medals on the doomed Sixth Army..

Paulus was made a Field Marshal.. Schmidt himself received the oakleaves to his Knights Cross but received no promotion, nor did Oberst Adam, Paulus's loyal adjutant who hovered warily in the background as the Soviets began poking around, someone finally lifting the thin cotton rag that hid the new GeneralFeldMarshalls not so lavish quarters, a campbed and a battered oil lamp sitting on his neatly stacked suitcases.

" No German Field Marshal has ever surrendered" Hitler commented laconically

Paulus understood the symbolism, famously retorting " I refuse to commit suicide for that Austrian corporal!"

The cellar now rang with a similar phrase, as a bemused Russian tried to remove a pair of scissors, once they'd realised the prize they'd just netted they didn't want any " little problems" to crop up before they'd safely handed their catch over to HQ,...

Can you imagine the fate that would await the clumsy so in so who managed to let a German Field Marshal, the Commander in Chief no less commit suicide under his very nose?
Newly surrendered or not Schmidt could not contain his fury..
Grabbing the scissors from the befuddled Tommy gunner and waving them above his head like some tribal fetish he yelled:

" A German Field Marshal does not commit suicide with nail scissors!"

I'll finish this up here.

_________________
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 3 Empty Re: The Rise of Hitler and the Foundations of Antisemitism

on Mon 18 Jan 2021, 2:13 am
STALINGRAD

POSTSCRIPT

The date, 31st January 1943, of Paulus's capitulation is ostensibly regarded as the "official" surrender, and certainly it's true by that date the vast percentage of the remaining German and Axis troops( Romanians, Italians, Hungarians, Croatians and even Austrians,  now desperately tried to distance themselves from their erstwhile allies) had indeed surrendered, however a not inconsiderable minority held on.

In the northern pocket, taking advantage of the vast cavernous ruins.
The eerie forests of twisted girders, wrecked factory machinery... the hollow cathedral like expanses, roofless ,with giant wrought iron beams balancing precariously overhead,  the silent production lines, the twisted intestines of the presses torn out...scattered across the floor....

The gigantic factories had been transformed into a maze of machine gun emplacements and booby traps..as the Soviets knew only too well, a strategically placed   battalion could cause horrendous casualties..

In these sinister surroundings, the epitome perhaps of soulless, mechanised urban warfare; the individual soldiers reduced merely to impersonal cogs in ravenous machines of death, small battlegroups clung on.
Usually centred on a particularly charismatic field grade officer: majors, hauptmenn or even oberleutnants, driven by fanatical belief or an all consuming dread of the Bolsheviks..

They held on, in their makeshift eyries, high up amidst the tangled ruins; running out of ammo, with no food for days, forced to subsist on black scum polluted waters, or yellowish  foul tasting water from the central heating systems...they clung on, grudging their own breath, as they listened to the creaking bootsteps move closer .the muffled clangs and the hoarse mocking whispers...the dreaded Bolsheviks moving closer...

The biggest group held on until the 3rd of February, huddled in the shattered remains of the Red October factory. 
Led by Oberstleutnant ( Lt col) Groscurth, they even possessed a radio transmitter...
Their last message, received on the morning of the 3rd, would be widely disseminated by Goebbels Propaganda Unit :

" The Bolsheviks are poised to overrun us, I have just opened my last magazine. Tell my father I will know how to die. Heil Hitler"

In a piece of typically shoddy duplicitous legerdemain Goebbels insisted on changing the original message. The sender had pointedly ended with " Long live Germany"

Making no mention of Hitler and the regime

Groscurth, another of those young conservative nationalist officers who had grown to despise the regime for it's inhumane savagery ( Groscurth's awakening was particularly visceral; the Bela Tverskai massacre of 96 defenceless Jewish orphans) was a member of the Schwartz Kapelle ( Black Orchestra) resistance network

A disaster of this magnitude could not be denied. Even in the warped hyper reality of the Third Reich. For several days the radio played solemn music; Bruckner's Fifth Symphony, Beethoven, interrupted by muffled drums and the melancholy voice of Hans Fritsche ( later arraigned, and acquitted at the major Nuremberg Trial. As a surrogate for Goebbels. )

Then the crafty little Propaganda Minister himself spoke, his fast talking and cynical inventiveness had extricated himself and the regime from many tight spots; this time he played it straight, or as straight as it was conceivably possible for a crooked batsman.
In a somber tone, with none of glottoral tongue rolling showmanship he was famous for, he informed his listeners of the heroic sacrifice.

" They died so that Germany may live"

Only Goebbels could announce the defeat of a 250000 strong army without actually mentioning the word defeat..

The themes of glorious sacrifice, camaraderie, fanatical devotion to the Fuhrer's plan and most of all the Final Victory became the chosen narratives..
As if Hitler's masterplan actually included such a cataclysmic defeat 

Many listeners were confused..." Did we win then?" they asked each other..

Back on the Volga things were eerily quiet, unsettlingly quiet.
A Soviet spotter plane cruising above the smouldering ruins reported with some bemusement, as if some Godzilla like monster had just been spotted rampaging through the rubble strewn boulevards,
" All is quiet in Stalingrad"

All is quiet in Stalingrad..

As the initial elation wore off, and before the bitter recriminations began( men who performed such seemingly superhuman feats were revealed to be all too human, bickering and squabbling over the spoils ..Chuikov grew to nurture a particular hatred of the affable articulate Rodimitsev. The first time  after the end of the battle both men crossed to the Eastern bank, of all things to celebrate the anniversary of the founding of the Cheka, almost ended in catastrophe. Too drunk to walk Chuikov leapt on Rodimitsev's back, flailing haplessly until both men nearly capsized the small launch, falling into the icy Volga...two bedraggled half frozen generals were subsequently fished out) there were important details to be taken care of .. the technicalities of victory ..a certain protocol to be followed.

Paulus was quickly bustled into a car and driven to the nearest HQs. Again we can almost hear the mordant cackle of the wily old trickster god himself...the nearest HQ just happened to be Paulus's old headquarters , a snug one storey izba in the remarkably undamaged hamlet of Golubskia, now home of General Shumilov of the 65th Army. One of the veteran Stalingrad formations, chased across the fields of golden corn and through the blossom filled orchards that dotted the dusty steppes back in August... the 65th , reduced at one point to regimental strength held on in the city centre...

Shumilov, a typical Soviet general, bald, paunchy with thick flabby jowels hanging bloodhound like over his immaculate white shirt collar and with expansive gut carefully buried beneath a well tailored general's tunic, that clanked and clanged everytime he moved, his plump chest practically ablaze with the ostentatious ribbons and thick plated bronze decorations...

Shumilov, a fearsome martinet who terrorised his subordinates, frequently thrashing them with the bulbous head of his walking cane or screaming through the radio into the ears of slow moving recalcitrant tank commanders..

" Attack you motherfucker!! If the Fritzes don't kill you I fucking will"

Shumilov now beamed expansively, spreading his soft flabby palms in welcome..

Tall lean and stooped, his facial tic painfully obvious, Paulus shuffled in, followed by Schmidt, sporting a huge fur hat, eyeing his captors coldly, his thin lips twisted into a supercilious sneer ....

Paulus in a fur trimmed steel grey  greatcoat of a German Field Marshal, but still wearing the dark olive tunic of a Generaloberst looked dazed, his face sunken and gaunt, his left cheek twitching uncontrollably, he cut a pathetic figure.
He was a broken man. Gazing vacantly into the whirring camera, of none other than Svetlana Stalin's beau, Alexei Kapler, who had dashed over here in a borrowed jeep. In another darkly ironic twist , Kapler would be soon joining the generals in captivity. For a middle aged roue, and a Jew to boot to deflower Stalin's teenage daughter...he could have expected nothing less...

He was killed " trying to escape" from Vortuka in 1949

Shumilov, somewhat overwhelmed by the occasion, simply asked Paulus to confirm his name and rank...
In a pitiful gesture, he produced his army paybook from his top pocket, pointing at the neat handwriting, to prove he had indeed been promoted, and was indeed a GeneralFeldMarshall.
Shumilov nodded
" We knew that" , he lied.

In reality the Soviets had been completely caught off guard by the sheer scale of their victory.

After a timid enquiry about the tobacco, Paulus had apparently noticed the distinctive smell of the ubiquitous makhorka, Schmidt, rising abruptly declared the interview was terminated.

The generals were led back out, where they posed for the waiting cameramen, before they were ushered politely back to their car and driven away , towards Chuikov's HQ.

The Soviets had netted quite a haul of brasshats....over 20 generals, and hundreds of colonels and majors.

Their fate would be dramatically different to the rank and file. Approximately 91000 of them had been taken prisoner. Rounded up and formed into long straggling lines, stretching out across the frozen steppe, the ice stained a dirty brown, dyed with blood, mud, soot, grime ...as the bedraggled columns shuffled on their way, heading to the hastily constructed " transit camps"( often little more than barbed wire compounds, before beginning their grim odyssey northwards( some prisoners were forced to march ...all the way to Siberia or Uzbekistan), they passed heaps of wrecked or discarded equipment; shot up vehicles, the burnt out hulks of tanks, sometimes lines and lines of neatly torched staff cars and half tracked AFVs, ruined guns, the barrels dipping , dripping with charred impotence...but most of all they passed corpses. Thousands of them.
Frozen puddles of gore squashed under tank tracks, a lone boot sticking out as a forlorn reminder of vanished humanity...A totalitarian version of the medieval momento moris, that mocked the vanity of the living, piles of icebound logs stacked up, some perfectly preserved, lying as they fell...limbless stumps who'd dragged themselves along the road...and horses too...hacked carcasses strewn everywhere..

These POW columns, haggard unshaven wretches wrapped in rags, one stumbling along with what looks like a wicker basket on his foot, the Romanians recognisable in their thin coats and ersatz sheepskin hats, are one of the most lasting images of the battle.

Out of the 91000 or so only 5000 ever made it home

5000( with maybe another 15000-20000 , but probably far less according to recently discovered figures. Probably closer to 8000, flown out by the Junkers and Heinkel) out of 270000.

91000 out of 270000.

And that's not including the hiwis. 

After the surrender they just disappear. According to the last reliable ration cards figures, around mid January, there were probably upwards of 30 000, maybe considerably more, ex Soviet POWs fighting with the Germans.
Some artillery detachments were entirely manned by Russian gunners.

They fought side by side with their erstwhile tormentors, acquitting themselves well. Usually they were amongst the very last to surrender.
Who are we to judge? Sitting in our comfortable homes, well fed, snug and warm.
These men were often nothing more than hapless victims; dragooned into the Red Army, often at gunpoint, when confronted with a choice between a slow degrading death by starvation, herded like wild beasts into cattle pens and a warm overcoat , half a mouldy loaf and a handful of rotten potatoes, they chose the latter.
Some were already sympathetic to the Nazis, anti semitic right wingers/ old White Guardsmen and Baltic/ Ukrainian nationalists( an anonymous junior official in Goering's labyrinthine Office of the Four Year Plan( this rickety byzantine structure served no purpose other than the expansion of Goering's turf into the domain of Rosenberg's equally necrotic Plenipotentiary for the Eastern Territories and Bormann's Party infrastructure, the Gaulieters reported directly to Hitler, a crucial advantage as Hitler often made important policy decisions on the slightest whim, or the cosmic vibrations...once lecturing the architects responsible for the Auschwitz Stammlager for " excessive obscurantist mysticism") once wrote a memorandum, frightening in it's prescience. He wrote that if the conquering Germans had treated the ex Soviet Republics with respect ;abolishing the hated collective farms and issuing proclamations " Down with the Bolshevik Tyranny" etc, followed by a few vague promises of self determination, the Republics- especially the newly reconquered Baltic States, Moldova and most importantly Ukraine ( even parts of Byelorussia) would have enthusiastically volunteered to fight alongside the Wehrmacht)

But most were just flotsam, blown along in the wake of the two most violent and destructive storms of the 20th century.. caught up in a pathetically futile struggle for survival.

Latest studies show that just under 40% of the 2.8 million or so German POWs captured by the Red Army died in Soviet captivity

The Stalingrad prisoners fell into the War Criminals category. Sentenced to 25 years hard labour ( if not executed) in Beria's sprawling GULAg empire, then reaching its destructive zenith; a true melting pot it was able to digest the influx of German prisoners, carefully siphoning off experts to work in the special camps on the nuclear weapons project and the Soviet rocket program.
The Stalingrad kampfers would be amongst the last POWs to return to West Germany in 1955, after Adenauer's epochal visit to Moscow.

The footage , showing desperate mother's and wife's holding up photographs of their sons/ husbands, scouring the crowd of dazed men forlornly...sometimes there's an almost delirious yelp of joy, an otherwise respectable hausfrau dressed up in her Sunday best, falls to her knees... burbling hysterically " Hansi!! Hansi!! My son is alive!!" 
Before springing up with forgotten agility to wrap her thick arms round the painfully thin neck of a startled looking man in an ill fitting blue suit and grey alpine style kepi, the hair too, once a luxuriant blonde has also turned grey...is some of the most poignant, most evocative footage available. Providing an all too rare glimpse behind the scenes, behind the flags , the banners, the marching bands and patriotic speeches ..this is the real cost of war.
Not neatly bound books and glossy documentaries. 
War is measured in shattered minds and broken shells. Your nation thanks you what you did for your nation, now be a good little patriot and fuck off 
The dreams of nations are conjured out of the nightmares of the millions who sacrificed their mortal soul so their nation may live forever.


Back on the Volga, the Soviets had hurriedly flown in planeloads of foreign correspondents. 
Mostly Americans and British, including Alexander Werth.
Beaming proudly their Soviet guides( including Dyatlenko) showed them their prized captives...
Like a zoo, or exhibits in a Victorian freak show.
They could talk to them through the locked doors of the heavily fortified izbas  they were held in, with a whole regiment of blue capped NKVD guards strolling around, nursing the PPSH machine pistols that hung round their necks.

This was a secret location and the guards weren't just for show...there had been rumours of German parachutists , a gliderborne commando attack launched by the Brandenburgers, the crack Luftwaffe unit that captured Eban Emael, Crete and who would would later provide the backbone of the team that snatched Mussolini from the Gran Sasso.

No such mission was ever seriously planned but the Soviets were wise to take precautions.

Paulus was briefly paraded, to prove he was still alive. Goebbels had been hinting, via friendly neutral media contacts that the Field Marshal was dead.

Werth provides us with a fascinating insight into the psychology of the recently captured generals.
Schmidt was haughty and abrasive, ordering the meek and pliable Paulus around like a subordinate.
Von Seydlitz cracked morbid jokes, while Heitz and Deboi seemed more concerned about their luggage , that had apparently been pilfered by souvenir hunters.
" Four suitcases" Deboi spluttered, with his monocle, his light grey General Der Artillerie* tunic festooned with bright ribbons and crosses, he seemed to personify the stiff necked humourless caricature of the Prussian general.
Edler Von Daniels was stunned when one of his captors sidled up to him and congratulated him on the birth of his baby son. 
The Soviets had captured the German Feldpost station intact, and had discovered letters( including rather risqué photos of the general's young wife) informing Von Daniels of the new arrival.

The Stalingrad generals were transferred en masse to Suzdal camp 160, an abandoned semi ruined monastery in Eastern Siberia.

The survival rate for generals and colonels were roughly 95%, while for the field grade officers ( majors captains and lieutenants) they were closer to 70%

The Stalingrad generals existed in relative comfort, their conditions probably equalled those of their Western Allied counterparts held in Germany.
Russian officers were treated atrociously by the Germans( with some exceptions)

Even willing collaborators, like Red Army general Vlasov, leader of the ill fated ROA and  SS Brigadefuhrer Kaminskii, leader of the eponymous unit that rivals the Dirlewanger Brigade for stomach churning debauched savagery, were treated with a mixture of mistrust and open contempt.

Those Soviet officers who refused to collaborate ( including generals and VIPs, most notoriously Stalin's own son, Senior Lieutenant Yakov Djugashvilli, son of his first wife Kato Svanize, unlike his half brother Vasili, a spoilt drunken brat and wastrel, Yakov was a decent man and brave soldiers, who refused all incentives to betray the father who had treated him appallingly. His death is shrouded in mystery and controversy, apparently he committed suicide by throwing himself on the electrified fence of the camp, allegedly Sachsenhausen) were treated like their men. Forced to undertake manual labour ( neither the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany were signatories of the Geneva conventions that forbade such treatment for officers)

By and large the Soviets, especially the officers, behaved correctly and with remarkable restraint.

Fired up by their staggering victory the Red Army now turned Westwards...the demoralising routs and the endless retreats were consigned to the past..

Their brutal apprenticeship was over, they had learned from the invading Fascist hordes...

Now it was time to repay them...

* There were four grades for Wehrmacht general's.
Generalmajor ( roughly equivalent to a US Brigadier general or British Brigadier)
General leutnant( Major General)

General ( of infantry, of panzertruppen of cavalry etc) ( lieutenant general)
Generaloberst ( Literally supreme general but commonly translated as Colonel General, a rank created for members of the Prussian nobility or Hohenzollern princelings as a GeneralFeldMarshall had to win a battle of capture a fortress to be awarded promotion) ( Four star General)

GeneralFeldMarshall was the equivalent of a Five Star US General( General of the Armies. If my memory serves me right only Eisenhower, MacArthur, Bradley and HAP Arnold reached that rank. Although maybe Nimitz and a couple of others reached similar rank in the Navy)
A British Field Marshal was / is a ceremonial appointment.

Waffen SS Officer Ranks are as follows:
Untersturmfuhrer( 2nd lieutenant)
Obersturmfuhrer ( lieutenant)
Hauptsturmfuhrer ( captain)
Sturmbannfuhrer ( major)
Obersturmbannfuhrer ( lieutenant colonel)
Standartenfuhrer ( colonel)
Oberfuhrer ( senior colonel. No NATO/ US/ UK equivalent. )
Brigadefuhrer ( major general)
Gruppenfuhrer ( lieutenant general)
Obergruppenfuhrer ( general)
Oberstgruppenfuhrer ( colonel/ supreme general)
Only four Oberstgruppenfuhrers ever existed: two( Sepp Dietrich and Paul Hausser in the Waffen SS) while the other two ( Kurt Daluege, chief of the Orpo, Orderpolice or Green police and Franz Xavier Schwartz, Party Treasurer) were purely political appointees.
Bormann was an " honorary" Obergruppenfuhrer while Speer rejected the offer of promotion to Oberstgruppenfuhrer

As Reichsfuhrer SS Himmler was roughly equivalent to a GeneralFeldMarshall.
Although Goering, as Reichsmarshall was regarded as the senior officer in the entire Reich
There was talk of a Volksmarschall rank for Himmler that came to nothing.

The SA, NSKK, Nazi Party, Hitlerjugend, Operation Todt even the Farmers organisation ( with such esoteric sounding ranks as Reichs bauernfuhrer) as well as the Orpo and the Gestapo and the Totenkopferband ( Concentration Camp guards) all had seperate rank structures...

_________________
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
Posts : 818
Join date : 2019-04-10

The Rise of Hitler and the Foundations of Antisemitism - Page 3 Empty Re: The Rise of Hitler and the Foundations of Antisemitism

on Tue 19 Jan 2021, 12:43 am
THE DONBAS- KHARKOV OPERATION ( incl OPERATIONS STAR AND GALLOP, CULMINATING IN THE THIRD BATTLE OF KHARKOV)

After getting a little bit sidetracked, okay who am I kidding, after getting massively sidetracked by the battle of Stalingrad, i'll try to spend one single post focusing on a particular battle/ operation, while intermittently using a post to detail the wider strategic context.

In this post I'll concentrate on the immediate post Stalingrad fallout, and the developments that led to Operation Citadel ( the Battle of Kursk) the last great German offensive of the war.

Even while the battle of Stalingrad was raging; with the Sixth Army lashing out ferociously , like a cornered predator, going through it's convulsive death agonies , with the cold remorseless eyes of over a million Soviet huntsmen upon it, the STAVKA, capitalising on the indifferent success of Little Saturn ( driving westwards , the near annihilation of the 8th Italian and 2nd Hungarian Armies tempered by their inability to prevent Army Group A escaping from the Caucasus) decided to launch Operation Star, that sent Golikov's Voronezh Front towards the city of Kharkov ( captured by the Sixth Army last July )

Launched on the 2nd January the offensive was a success, destroying the remains of the Axis formations.

A week later Vatutin's reconstituted Southwest Front launched a 
complimentary operation, Gallop, aimed at Voroshilovgrad and Donetsk.

Both offensives made sluggish progress; the freezing conditions coupled with the exhaustion of the badly depleted troops, many Soviet divisions were down to 1000/2000 men, and the only artillery support available for Golikov's units at the start of the offensive were three understrength mortar regiments.

Still buoyant in the first blush of victory, the STAVKA, decided to increase the scope of the offensive; on the morning of February 2nd, just as the last strongpoints were being cleared in the wreckage of the factory district, Markian Popov's Mobile Group( comprising 4 undermanned Tank Corps, with less than 40 tanks per Corps) were sent across the Don, heading for the Dnieper bend and the town of Zaporozhye( a town rich with symbolism since it was here the rebellious Cossack chieftains, including Stenka Razin, sent the famous " Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks ", full of blasphemous profanity, to the Sultan. A scene immortalised by Ilya Repin, a print of the painting hanging in the study of Stalin's famous dacha out at Kuntsevo)

Kharkov fell on the 10th of February.

Acknowledging the gravity of the situation, and the potentially catastrophic outcome if the Soviets were to drive a wedge between the Southern and Central Army Groups, Hitler bestirred himself.
Rousing himself from his gloomy lethargic mood... the dark oppressive forests of East Prussia apparently seemed to affect his " psychic equanimity"
, or so he claimed... and gathering together his entourage; the armoured transport plane, the fleet of armour plated, bullet proof grey Mercedes, the towering SS bodyguards from the elite Fuhrer Begleitbattalion and his inner retinue of ashen faced satraps..he flew directly to Von Manstein's new HQ , a railway siding just outside Zaporozhye.

Roughly 60 miles from the front lines

Von Manstein was now in charge of the reformed Army Group South. An improvised formation, constructed from the remnants of Army Groups A, B and Don

On paper it seemed like a fearsome force: no less than five Panzer Korps.

But these Korps had taken a ferocious mauling, most were down to a couple of dozen serviceable tanks; light tanks, Panzer IIs and the Czech built Skodas

The debacle at Stalingrad seemed to have affected Hitler profoundly. Von Manstein claims he was shocked by the small hunched figure that tottered out of the Junkers; his diminished stature further emphasised by the huge SS bodyguards who surrounded him 
He seemed nervous, distracted, fidgeting idly with the coloured pencils he used to scrawl on the maps.
When he spoke his voice was weak, listless...a hoarse staccato rasp...

His eyes too, so often described as hypnotic, seemed pale and watery. They were the eyes of an old man, focused on the past.. mesmerised the dim shades he'd conjured, phantoms he'd carried since his days as a vagrant, scrabbling around the margins of the elegant Baroque majesty of Vienna, in those far way Indian summer days..the shadows he watched creep across the gaudy gold plated and velvet draped walls of the Royal saloon car..

For once Hitler did the listening as Von Manstein launched upon a well rehearsed monologue...he needed reinforcements..urgently; his units were depleted, the surviving troops exhausted, they had barely any tanks, and as for ammunition...then the talk shifted to operational matters...Von Manstein pleaded with Hitler, a frontal assault would be disastrous...the Soviets are just as worn out and understrength as we are, plus their advances have left them dangerously overextended...
Let me use my Panzer Korps ..my reinforced Panzer Korps, he added hopefully, glancing down at the Fuhrer, who was slumped on his seat..he looked awful ....grey haggard, a vacant glassy eyed state, unfocused, playing with those damn pencils...let me adopt a flexible defence...let me attack the Soviets by letting them believe that they are attacking us..

After he finished Von Manstein prepared for the deluge; he expected Hitler to spring to his feet and begin pacing, to and fro like a caged animal, hurling abuse and recriminations.

Instead he merely glanced at the map and with a feeble wave of his hand , he accented:
" Very well Von Manstein, have it your way"

Hitler released the newly formed II SS Panzer Korps AND the elite GrossDeutschland( then a reinforced regiment, closer to a brigade) to Army Group South.

The Panzer Korps ( 1st Leibstandarte SS , 2nd Das Reich and the 3rd Totenkopf) commanded by " Papa" Hausser, a retired Army general and the founder of the Waffen SS, as a battlefield formation, were probably if not the strongest, then certainly the most lavishly equipped formations in the entire Ostfront. 
Near to full complement: 15/19000 men, 100/150 tanks and a battalion of self propelled artillery, they also fielded two battalions equipped with the new Tiger Mark 1 heavy tank. With its reinforced hull armour, and crucially ,it's 88mm main armament, the Tiger carried the hopes of the entire Panzerwaffen on its bulky shoulders..

This would be an old style " Barbarossa" " schwerpunkt" double envelopment offensive.
Von Manstein's much vaunted " backhand"

He simply applied the offensive mentality to a primarily defensive operation.
Drawing the Soviets in, hitting them in the flanks, cutting them off then switching over to the offensive, apply the tried and tested methods. Force concentration being the key.
The German forces aiming to outnumber the Soviets at the point of contact.

There was a seriously comic ending to the Fuhrer conference...as the two staffs sat down to lunch in the sumptuous dining car; the Fuhrer having already swallowed down his pre prandial medication( a Von Manstein later wrote that this was the first time he noticed that Hitler's hands visibly shook) and his SS valet having already tasted the plate of steamed vegetables and rice( made specially for him by his Hungarian cook Fraulein Manziarly) Hitler was already wolfing down...all of a sudden there was an explosion, a loud resounding crump...then another, and another and another...falling into the forest that formed a protective panalopy around the secluded railway siding, the last shell however landed  little too close to the edge of the hastily constructed makeshift runway..

Then a young Luftwaffe captain came bursting in, a thin layer of persperation visible on his face; his ghastly pallid face .whispering urgently to the colonel who quickly shot bolt upright, as if his chair had been suddenly electrified...

The colonel, G2 on Von Manstein's staff announcing calmly:
" Mein Fuhrer, mein herren, it appears that we are being fired upon, by long range artillery, also Bolshevik tanks have been sighted less than 10km away"

Without saying anything Hitler leapt up, and swept imperiously out the dining carriage.

Within the half hour he was airborne; surrounded by a protective escort of prowling Me109s.... that provided a grim chaperone back to the Wolf's Lair

With your permission I'll finish this post 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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