World War 2 Stories for Sheffield

WW2 Terminology

From various sources

Always being updated

Ack-ack: Anti aircraft gun or regiment

Armistice:

The armistice between the Allies and Germany was signed in a railway carriage in Compiègne Forest on 11 November 1918, and marked the end of fighting in the First World War on the Western Front. Principal signatories were Marshal Ferdinand Foch, the Allied Commander-in-chief, and Matthias Erzberger, Germany's representative. It was a military agreement that marked a complete defeat for Germany, but was neither an unconditional surrender nor a treaty.

 

The Armistice was agreed at 5 a.m. on 11 November, to come into effect at 11 a.m. Paris time, for which reason the occasion is sometimes referred to as "the eleventh (hour) of the eleventh (day) of the eleventh (month)". It was the result of a hurried and desperate process.

The Armistice Carriage

Painting depicting the signature of the armistice in the railway carriage. Behind the table, from right to left, general Weygand, Marshal Foch (standing) and British admiral Rosslyn Wemyss. In the foreground, Matthias Erzberger, general major Detlof von Winterfeldt (with helmet), Alfred von Oberndorff and Ernst Vanselow.

The armistice was signed in a carriage of Foch's private train, CIWL #2419 ("Le Wagon de l'Armistice"). It was later put back into regular service with the Compagnie des Wagons-Lits, but after a short period it was withdrawn to be attached to the French presidential train.

From April 1921 to April 1927, it was on exhibition in the Cour des Invalides in Paris.


In November 1927, it was ceremonially returned to the forest in the exact spot where the Armistice was signed. Marshall Foch, General Weyland and many others watched it being placed in a specially constructed building: the Clairiere de l’Armistice.

There it remained, a monument to the defeat of the Kaiser’s Germany, until 22 June 1940, when swastika-bedecked German staff cars bearing Hitler, Goering, Keitel, von Ribbentrop and others swept into the Clairiere and, in that same carriage, demanded and received the surrender armistice from France.


During the Occupation, the Clairiere de l’Armistice was destroyed and the carriage taken to Berlin, where it was exhibited in the Lustgarten.

After the Allied advance into Germany in early 1945, the carriage was removed by the Germans for safe keeping to the town of Ohrdruf, but as an American armoured column entered the town the detachment of the SS guarding it set it ablaze and it was totally destroyed.

After the war, the Compiègne site was restored, but not until Armistice Day 1950 was a replacement carriage, correct in every detail, rededicated – an identical Compagnie des Wagon-Lits carriage, no. 2439, built 1913 in the same batch as the original, was renumbered no. 2419D.

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B.E.F.

The British Expeditionary Force (BEF) was the name given to the British Forces in Europe from 1939–1940 during The Second World War. Commanded by General Lord Gort, the BEF constituted only 110 of the defending Allied force.

The British Expeditionary Force was started in 1938 in readiness for a perceived threat of war after Germany annexed Austria in March 1938 and the claims on the Sudetenland which led to the invasion of Czechoslovakia in March 1939. After the French and British had promised to defend Poland, the German invasion began and war was declared on 3 September 1939.

The BEF was sent to France in September 1939 and deployed mainly along the Belgian—French border during the so called Phoney War leading up to May 1940. The BEF did not commence hostilities until the invasion of France on 10 May 1940. After the commencement of battle they were driven back through France forcing their eventual evacuation from several ports along the French northern coastline in Operations Dynamo, Ariel and Cycle. The most notable evacuation was from the Dunkirk region and from this the phrase Dunkirk Spirit was coined.

 

Deployment

Following the German invasion of Poland on 1 September 1939 the British Expeditionary Force was sent to the Franco-Belgian border in mid-September 1939. The BEF had been formed earlier in 1938 as a response to signs that war in Europe was likely.

The First deployment was completed by 11 October 1939 at which point 158,000 men had been transported to France.. The "War Secretary" Leslie Hore-Belisha said "158,000 had been transported across the Channel within five weeks of the commencement of the present war. Convoys had averaged three each night and the B.E.F. had been transported intact without a single casualty to any of its personnel." There were immense pressures to produce the equipment necessary which led to a severe ramping up of output. Clothing items were one example of this with items such as greatcoats and boots being produced at up to 50 times the normal peacetime rates. Twenty-five years of greatcoats were produced in six months and 18 months of army boots were turned out in one week.

By 19 October the BEF had received 25,000 vehicles to complete the first deployment. The majority of the troops were stationed along the Franco-Belgian border and along the Maginot Line (see pic 5 below). Belgium and The Netherlands were neutral countries at this point and so no troops were sent to either of them. For those troops along the Maginot line the inactivity and an undue reliance on the fortifications, which it was believed would provide an unbreakable defence, led to "Tommy Rot" – as portrayed by the song "Imagine me on the Maginot Line". Morale was high amongst the British troops but the small-scale actions of the Germans by 9 May had led many into assuming that there would not be much chance of a full scale German attack in that area.

Over the next few months troops, materials and vehicles continued to arrive in France and Belgium and by 13 March 1940 the BEF had doubled in size to 316,000 men.By May 1940 the BEF order of battle consisted of 10 infantry divisions in three corps (I, II, and III), 1st Army Tank Brigade, the BEF Air Component RAF detachment of about 500 aircraft and the Advanced Air Striking Force (AASF) long-range RAF force. These forces were led by the General Headquarters (GHQ) which consisted of men from Headquarters Troops (1st Battalion Welsh Guards, 9th Battalion The West Yorkshire Regiment and the 14th Battalion The Royal Fusiliers), the 1st Army Tank Brigade, 1st Light Armoured Reconnaissance Brigade and HQ Royal Artillery 5th Infantry Division.

A separate second expeditionary force was formed after 10 May consisting of the 52nd (Lowland) Infantry Division and the 1st Canadian Infantry Brigade and was known as Norman Force.

Montgomery said in his memoirs:

I have always held the opinion that Gort's appointment to command the B.E.F. in September was a mistake; the job was above his ceiling. Moreover, G.H.Q. of the B.E.F. had never conducted any exercises, either with or without troops, from the time we landed in France in 1939 up to the day active operations began in May 1940. The need for wireless silence was given as an excuse; but an indoor exercise on the model could easily have been held. The result was a total lack of any common policy or tactical doctrine throughout the B.E.F.; when differences arose these difficulties remained, and there was no firm grip from the top.

—Bernard Montgomery, 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, The Memoirs of Field Marshal Montgomery (1958)

This period leading up to 10 May 1940 was known as the Phoney War (see down this page).

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Berlin Wall (The) 

The Berlin Wall was constructed by the Russians in 1961 in an attempt to cordon off the allied sector of West Berlin, occupied by the French, Americans, and British. The Berlin Wall stood until 1989, when it fell along with the rest of the Iron Curtain. The Berlin Wall is often used as an example of extreme isolationism, and was a serious diplomatic blow to relations between Russia and the rest of the world.

After the Second World War, Germany was occupied by the Allied Control Council while it stabilized and was rebuilt. As part of the occupation arrangement, Russia was given control over a sector of Germany which came to be known as East Germany, while the non-communist powers controlled West Germany. Berlin, a major city in Germany, was located in East Germany, and the city itself was also split up by the major powers.

The split of Berlin resulted in an island in the midst of the sea of East Germany, a situation which understandably made all sides in the situation uncomfortable. The East Germans feared that the Western Powers might attempt a takeover or liberation of East Germany, while the Western Powers feared for the citizens and workers stationed in Berlin.




View of graffiti art in 1986 from the West side, on the wall's infamous "death strip"

 

Access to Berlin had been restricted before, most notably in 1948 when several Western nations were forced to stage the Berlin Airlift, an ambitious plan to get vitally needed food and supplies into West Berlin. Numerous East Germans saw West Berlin as an island of safety, and many defected to West Berlin in the search for a better life. The East Germans realized that they were losing control and citizens, and in the small hours of August 13th they began to build the Berlin Wall, a literal blockade around West Berlin.

The Berlin Wall shut off access to West Berlin for East Germans. It also made it difficult for people to get out of West Berlin by establishing a series of checkpoints. Extensive diplomatic negotiations surrounded the Berlin Wall, and several famous political figures including President Kennedy spoke about the Berlin Wall. In 1963, President Kennedy made a famous speech, expressing solidarity with the people of West Berlin and stating that West Berlin was an island of democracy and freedom in a sea of communism.

The Berlin Wall claimed numerous lives, with the first death on the wall occurring in 1962 when Peter Fechter was shot and left to bleed to death in the neutral zone between East and West Berlin. In 1989, with the fall of Communism, citizens on both sides of the wall cooperated to tear it down, opening the 192 streets that had been closed by the construction of the Berlin Wall. The felling of the Berlin Wall was a monumental historic event, and is often used as a symbol of the decline of Communism.




Map of the location of the Berlin Wall, showing checkpoints.

 

Post-war Germany

After the end of World War II in Europe, what remained of pre-war Germany west of the Oder-Neisse line was divided into four occupation zones (per the Potsdam Agreement), each one controlled by one of the four occupying Allied powers: the United States, the United Kingdom, France and the Soviet Union. The capital of Berlin, as the seat of the Allied Control Council, was similarly subdivided into four sectors despite the city's location deep inside the Soviet zone.

Within two years, political divisions increased between the Soviets and the other occupying powers. These included the Soviets' refusal to agree to reconstruction plans making post-war Germany self-sufficient and to a detailed accounting of the industrial plants, goods and infrastructure already removed by the Soviets. Britain, France, the United States and the Benelux countries later met to combine the non-Soviet zones of the country into one zone for reconstruction and approve the extension of the Marshall Plan.

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Blitzkrieg:  Blitzkrieg means "lightning war". Blitzkrieg was first used by the Germans in World War Two and was a tactic based on speed and surprise and needed a military force to be based around light tank units supported by planes and infantry (foot soldiers). The tactic was developed in Germany by an army officer called Hans Guderian. He had written a military pamphlet called "Achtung Panzer" which got into the hands of Hitler. As a tactic it was used to devastating effect in the first years of World War Two and resulted in the British and French armies being pushed back in just a few weeks to the beaches of Dunkirk and the Russian army being devastated in the attack on Russia in June 1941.

Bushidō Code of Honour meaning "Way of the Warrior", is a name in common usage since the late 19th century which is used to describe a uniquely Japanese code of conduct adhered to by samurai since time immemorial. This code is said to have emphasized virtues such as loyalty, honour, obedience, duty, filial piety, and self-sacrifice.

Samurai Warrior Code was a strict code that demanded:

·  loyalty

·  devotion

·  obedience

·  duty

·  filial piety

·  respect

·  self sacrifice

·  honor to the death

Under this code, if a samurai warrior failed to uphold his honor he could regain it by performing seppuku (ritual suicide).

The samurai bushido code is an internally-consistent ethical code, grounded in the spiritual approach of the Rinzai school of Zen Buddhism.

In its purest form, it demands of its practitioners that they look effectively backward at the present from the moment of their own death, as if they were already, in effect, dead.

The Bushido of the Samurai was also a spiritual basis for those who committed kamikaze attacks during World War II.

For this reason many of the martial arts that are rooted in Japanese Bushido were banned by the occupying Americans during the post-war occupation.

Bushido is still practiced today (in modified forms) and in many of today's modern martial arts. The most common forms of bushido martial arts, still practiced in Japan today, are:

·  judo

·  karate

·  jujutsu

·  aikido

·  kendo

·  kenjutsu

The modern sport of kendo takes its basic philosophy from Japanese Bushido, in particular, the theory that the entire purpose of the sport is "one cut, one kill".

Unlike in other martial arts, extended contact, or multiple strikes, tends to be discouraged in favor of clean single strokes on the body or the head.

There are seven virtues associated with the samurai code of bushido:

  • Gi - Rectitude

 

  • Yu - Courage

 

  • Jin - Benevolence

 

  • Rei - Respect

 

  • Makoto - Honesty

 

  • Meiyo - Honor

 

  • Chugi - Loyalty

 

 

Corps:  A Corps (pronounced "core"); plural  spelled the same as singular, is either a large formation, or an administrative grouping of troops within an armed force with a common function such as Artillery or Signals representing an arm of service.

In many armies, a corps is a battlefield formation composed of two or more divisions, and typically commanded by a lieutenant general. During World War I and World War II, due to the large scale of combat, multiple corps were combined into armies, which then formed into army groups. In armies with numbered corps the number is traditionally indicated in Roman numerals (e.g., XX Corps).


Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC): The Distinguished Flying Cross is a military decoration awarded to personnel of the United Kingdom's Royal Air Force and other services, and formerly to officers of other Commonwealth countries, for "an act or acts of valour, courage or devotion to duty whilst flying in active operations against the enemy".

The award was established on 3 June 1918, shortly after the formation of the RAF. It was originally awarded to air force commissioned officers and to Warrant Officers. During the Second World War it was also awarded to Royal Artillery officers from the British Army serving on attachment to the RAF as pilots-cum-artillery directors. Since the Second World War, the award has been open to army and naval aviation officers, and since 1993 to other ranks as well; the Distinguished Flying Medal, previously awarded to other ranks, has been discontinued. Recipients of the Distinguished Flying Cross are entitled to use the post-nominal letters "DFC". A bar is added to the ribbon for holders of the DFC who received a second award.

During the Great War, a total of approximately 1,100 DFCs were awarded, with 70 first bars and 3 second bars. During the Second World War, 20,354 DFCs were awarded (the most of any award), with approximately 1,550 first bars and 45 second bars. Honorary awards were made on 964 occasions to aircrew from other non-commonwealth countries.

In 2008, Flight Lieutenant Michelle Goodman became the first woman to receive the DFC.

 

 

F.A.N.Y.s (The) 

The 'First Aid Nursing Yeomanry' - pronounced Fanny, is a British independent all-female unit and registered charity affiliated to, but not part of, the Territorial Army.

It was formed as the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry in 1907 as a first aid link between the field hospitals and the front lines, and was given the yeomanry title as all its members were originally mounted on horseback.


In the Second World War, the F.A.N.Y. was formed into the initial driver companies of the Auxiliary Territorial Service, called the Women's Transport Service, and it also served as a parent unit for many women who undertook espionage work for the Special Operations Executive. Three of these (Odette Sansom, Violette Szabo and Noor Inayat Khan), were awarded the George Cross and Nancy Wake the George Medal for their service.


Since the end of the war, the corps has specialised in communications for the Army and the City of London Police and is open to volunteers between the ages of 18 to 45 who reside or work near London (within the M25). Corps members are trained in radio communications, paramedical skills, map reading, navigation and orienteering, shooting, self-defence and survival techniques, advanced driving and casualty bureau documentation. On formal occasions they still wear a uniform similar to that worn by the Auxiliary Territorial Service in the Second World War (although their working dress is similar to that of the modern British Army). They also have their own rank system.


The First Aid Nursing Yeomanry was officially renamed the Princess Royal's Volunteer Corps in 1999. But the original name has greater recognition.

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Geneva Convention:   The third Geneva Convention ("Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War") covers members of the armed forces who fall into enemy hands. They are in the power of the enemy State, not of the individuals or troops who have captured them

Prisoners of war MUST be:

- Treated humanely with respect for their persons and their honour.
- Enabled to inform their next of kin and the Central Prisoners of War Agency (ICRC, the International Red Cross) of their capture.
- Allowed to correspond regularly with relatives and to receive relief parcels.
- Allowed to keep their clothes, feeding utensils and personal effects.
- Supplied with adequate food and clothing.
- Provided with quarters not inferior to those of their captor's troops.
- Given the medical care their state of health demands.
- Paid for any work they do.
- Repatriated if certified seriously ill or wounded, (but they must not resume active military duties afterwards) .
- Quickly released and repatriated when hostilities cease.

Prisoners of war must NOT be:

-Compelled to give any information other than their name, age, rank and service number.
- Deprived of money or valuables without a receipt (and these must be returned at the time of release).
- Given individual privileges other than for reasons of health, sex, age, military rank or professional qualifications.
- Held in close confinement except for breaches of the law, although their liberty can be restricted for security reasons.
- Compelled to do military work, nor work which is dangerous, unhealthy or degrading.

The fourth Geneva Convention ("Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War") covers all individuals "who do not belong to the armed forces, take no part in the hostilities and find themselves in the hands of the Enemy or an Occupying Power".


Protected civilians MUST be:

- Treated humanely at all times and protected against acts or threats of violence, insults and public curiosity.
- Entitled to respect for their honour, family rights, religious convictions and practices, and their manners and customs.
- Specially protected, for example in safety zones, if wounded, sick, old, children under 15, expectant mothers or mothers of children under 7.
- Enabled to exchange family news of a personal kind. - Helped to secure news of family members dispersed by the conflict
- Allowed to practise their religion with ministers of their own faith. Civilians who are interned have the same rights as prisoners of war. They may also ask to have their children interned with them, and wherever possible families should be housed together and provided with the facilities to continue normal family life. Wounded or sick civilians, civilian hospitals and staff, and hospital transport by land, sea or air must be specially respected and may be placed under protection of the red cross/crescent emblem.

Protected civilians must NOT be:

- Discriminated against because of race, religion or political opinion. - Forced to give information.
- Used to shield military operations or make an area immune from military operations.
- Punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed. - Women must not be indecently assaulted, raped, or forced into prostitution.

Grofaz:  GROeSSTE FELDHERN ALLE ZEIT = Greatest Field General of All Time

German soldiers' derogatory acronym for Größter Feldherr aller Zeiten, a title initially publicized by Nazi propaganda to refer to  Adolf Hitler during the early war years; literally, the "Greatest Field Commander of all Time".

 

Infantry: Infantrymen are soldiers who are specifically trained for the role of fighting on foot to engage the enemy face to face and have historically borne the brunt of the casualties of combat in wars. As the oldest branch of combat arms, they are the backbone of armies. Infantry units have more physically demanding training than other branches of armies, and place a greater emphasis on discipline, fitness, physical strength and aggression.

Iron Curtain (The) 

"Iron Curtain" is a term used to describe the boundary that separated the Warsaw Pact countries from the NATO countries from about 1945 until the end of the Cold War in 1991. The Iron Curtain was both a physical and an ideological division that represented the way Europe was viewed after World War II. To the east of the Iron Curtain were the countries that were connected to or influenced by the former Soviet Union. This included part of Germany (East Germany), Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, and Albania (until 1960 when it aligned with China). While Yugoslavia was Communist politically it was not considered to be a part of the Eastern Bloc or behind the Iron Curtain. Josip Broz Tito, the president of Yugoslavia at the time, was able to maintain access with the west while leading a communist country. The other countries to the west of the Iron Curtain had democratic governments.


Warsaw Pact countries to the east of the Iron Curtain appear shaded red; NATO members to the west of it shaded blue; militarily neutral countries shaded grey. Yugoslavia, although communist-run, was independent of the Eastern Bloc and is shaded dark grey. Similarly, communist Albania broke with the Soviet Union in the early 1960s, aligning itself with the People's Republic of China after the Sino-Soviet split and is shaded grey.

 

Although the term "Iron Curtain" was used in literature and politics earlier, it was made popular by Winston Churchill, who used it publicly in a speech in March of 1946. The term was first used to refer to the actual metal barrier that cut the continent in two, but it soon became a reference to the ideological barrier also. When Churchill first referred to the barrier he wasn't trying to emulate the words of others. In a telegram directed to US President Harry S. Truman, Churchill spoke about the European situation and said "An iron curtain is drawn down upon their front. We do not know what is going on behind." This was his first official mention of the term Iron Curtain.

The Iron Curtain fence stretched for thousands of kilometers to separate Eastern and Western countries, and it was especially strong in Germany, where the Berlin Wall became an unmistakable symbol of the Iron Curtain division. In certain regions, the Iron Curtain was nothing more than a plain chain link fence, when in other places it was a highly guarded area which only people carrying special government permissions could approach.

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League of Nations:

The League of Nations came into being after the end of World War One. The League of Nation's task was simple - to ensure that war never broke out again. After the turmoil caused by the Versailles Treaty, many looked to the League to bring stability to the world.

America entered World War One in 1917. The country as a whole and the president - Woodrow Wilson in particular - was horrified by the slaughter that had taken place in what was meant to be a civilised part of the world. The only way to avoid a repetition of such a disaster, was to create an international body whose sole purpose was to maintain world peace and which would sort out international disputes as and when they occurred. This would be the task of the League of Nations.

The League of Nations was to be based in Geneva, Switzerland. This choice was natural as Switzerland was a neutral country and had not fought in World War One. No one could dispute this choice especially as an international organisation such as the Red Cross was already based in Switzerland.

Maginot Line    The Maginot Line dominated French military thinking in the inter-war years. The Maginot Line was a vast fortification that spread along the French/German border but became a military liability when the Germans attacked France in the spring of 1940 using blitzkrieg – a tactic that completely emasculated the Maginot Line’s purpose.

France had suffered appalling damage to both men and buildings in World War One. After Versailles in 1919, there was a clear intention on the part of the French that France should never have to suffer such a catastrophe again. After 1920, those men in both political positions and the military favoured adopting a military strategy that would simply stop any form of German invasion again.

The Munich Agreement - September 29th 1938

In September 1938, Neville Chamberlain, the British prime minister, met Adolf Hitler at his home in Berchtesgaden. Hitler proposed invading Czechoslovakia unless Britain supported Germany's plans to takeover the Sudetenland. After some discussion  with  Edouard Daladier (France) and Eduard Benes (Czechoslovakia), Chamberlain told Hitler that his proposals were unacceptable.

Hitler was in a difficult situation but he also knew that Britain and France were unwilling to go to war and he thought it unlikely that they would wish to link up with the Soviet Union, whose totalitarian system was hated more that Hitler's fascist dictatorship.

Benito Mussolini suggested to Hitler that they could hold a conference of Germany, Britain, France and Italy. This would exclude both Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union, and therefore increase the likelihood of reaching an agreement, which would undermine the solidarity that was developing against Germany.

The meeting took place in Munich on 29th September, 1938. Anxious to avert war, and an alliance with Joseph Stalin and the Soviet Union, Neville Chamberlain and Edouard Daladier agreed that Germany could have the Sudetenland. In return, Hitler promised not to make any further territorial demands in Europe.

On that day, Hitler, Chamberlain, Daladier and Mussolini signed the Munich Agreement, which transferred the Sudetenland to Germany.

When Eduard Benes, Czechoslovakia's head of state, protested at this decision, Chamberlain told him that Britain would be unwilling to go to war over the issue of the Sudetenland.

The Munich Agreement was popular with the British people because it appeared to have averted a war with Germany but some politicians, including Winston Churchill and Anthony Eden, disapproved of the agreement. They pointed out that not only had the British government behaved dishonourably, but it had lost the support of Czech Army, one of the best in Europe.

In March, 1939, the German Army seized the rest of Czechoslovakia. In taking this action Adolf Hitler had broken the Munich Agreement. The British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, now realized that Hitler could not be trusted and his conciliation policy now came to an end.

 

NATO:  The North Atlantic Treaty Organization or NATO was signed on 4 April 1949.

For its first few years, NATO was not much more than a political association. However, the Korean War galvanized the member states, and an integrated military structure was built up under the direction of two U.S. supreme commanders. The first NATO Secretary General, Lord Ismay, famously stated the organization's goal was "to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down". Doubts over the strength of the relationship between the European states and the United States ebbed and flowed, along with doubts over the credibility of the NATO defence against a prospective Soviet invasion—doubts that led to the development of the independent French nuclear deterrent and the withdrawal of the French from NATO's military structure from 1966.

Obergruppenführer

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The title of this article contains the character ü. Where it is unavailable or not desired, the name may be represented as Obergruppenfuehrer..

The post-1942 collar insignia.

 Gottlob Berger, commander of the SS-Hauptamt wearing the rank insignia of an SS-Obergruppenführer.

Obergruppenführer was a Nazi Party paramilitary rank that was first created in 1932 as a rank of the SA and until 1942 it was the highest SS rank inferior only to Reichsführer-SS (Heinrich Himmler). Translated as "Senior Group Leader", the rank of SA-Obergruppenführer was held by members of the Oberste SA-Führung (Supreme SA Command) and also by veteran commanders of certain SA-Gruppen (SA Groups). The rank of Obergruppenführer was considered senior to the older title of Gruppenführer.

As an SS rank, Obergruppenführer was created due to the growth and expansion of the SS under Heinrich Himmler. Himmler was one of the first SS officers appointed to the rank of SS-Obergruppenführer, and held the rank while simultaneously serving as the Reichsführer-SS. At the time Himmler held the rank of Obergruppenführer, Reichsführer was simply a title and not yet an actual rank.

In the early days of the SS, the rank of Obergruppenführer was occasionally used to make two SS leaders equal in seniority, so as to prevent a power struggle within the Nazi Party. Such was the case with Kurt Daluege, who commanded most of the SS in the Berlin region between 1930 and 1934. To avoid having the SS split into two separate entities, one based in Northern Germany and the other in Bavaria, Adolf Hitler promoted Daluege to the new rank of Obergruppenführer making him equal in rank to Himmler.

After the Night of the Long Knives, the SS and the SA became two completely separate organizations. The SA continued to use the rank of Obergruppenführer, but the title gained predominance mainly in the SS. With the Nazi Party in power, and the SS a state agency of Germany, SS-Obergruppenführer was considered the highest rank of the Allgemeine SS (equivalent to lieutenant general) with the exception of Himmler’s special rank of Reichsführer-SS. Within the Waffen-SS, the rank came to be considered the equivalent of a (German General) Lieutenant general; holders were titled in full SS-Obergruppenführer und General der Waffen-SS.

Ninety-eight men were to hold SS-Obergruppenführer rank, 21 of whom served in the Waffen-SS. The rank would remain the highest SS-General rank until 1942, when the SS created the rank of SS-Oberstgruppenführer.

The rank of Obergruppenführer was held by some of the most notorious figures in the SS, with Reinhard Heydrich and Ernst Kaltenbrunner both bearing the rank. Karl Wolff was another holder of the rank who was taken alive by the Allies after the close of Second World War. SS-Obergruppenführer was also the standard rank for SS and Police Leaders as well as Corps commanders of the Waffen-SS.

 

Oder Neisse Line (The) 

The Oder-Neisse line (Polish: Granica na Odrze i Nysie Łużyckiej, German: Oder-Neiße-Grenze) is the border between Germany and Poland which was drawn in the aftermath of World War II. The line is formed primarily by the Oder and Lusatian Neisse rivers, and meets the Baltic Sea west of the seaport cities of Szczecin (German: Stettin) and Świnoujście (Swinemünde). All pre-war German territory east of the line (23.8% of the former Weimar Republic lands, most of them from Prussia) was either awarded to Poland or the Soviet Union after the war, and the vast majority of its native German population was expelled by force or evacuated during wartime. The line marked the border between the German Democratic Republic and Poland from 1950 to 1990. In 1990 newly reunified Germany and the Republic of Poland signed a treaty recognizing it as their border.


Paratroopers are soldiers trained in parachuting and generally operate as part of an airborne force.

Paratroopers are used for tactical advantage as they can be inserted into the battlefield from the air, thereby allowing them to be positioned in areas not accessible by land.

 

Peace In Our Time

The phrase "peace for our time" was spoken on 30 September 1938 by British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain in his speech concerning the Munich Agreement and the Anglo-German Declaration.

Less than a year after the agreement, following continued aggression from Germany and its invasion of Poland, Europe was plunged into World War II.

It is unknown how deliberate Chamberlain's use of such a similar term was, but anyone of his background would be familiar with the original.

PM Neville Chamberlain read out the  agreement to jubilant crowds

Phoney War 

The Phoney War was a phase early in World War II—in the months following Britain's declaration of war on Germany (shortly after the German invasion of Poland) in September 1939 and preceding the Battle of France in May 1940—that was marked by a lack of major military operations in Continental Europe. The various European powers had declared war on one another but neither side had committed to launching a significant attack, and there was relatively little fighting on the ground, notwithstanding the terms of the Anglo-Polish military alliance and the Franco-Polish military alliance, which obliged the United Kingdom and France to assist Poland.

The period was also called at the time, the Twilight War by Winston Churchill, der Sitzkrieg in German ("the sitting war": a play on the word Blitzkrieg), the Bore War (a play on the Boer War), the Polish dziwna wojna ("strange war"), and the French drôle de guerre ("strange/phoney war").

While most of the German army was engaged in Poland, a much smaller German force manned the Siegfried Line, their fortified defensive line along the French border. At the Maginot Line on the other side of the border, British and French troops stood facing them, but there were only some local, minor skirmishes. The British Royal Air Force dropped propaganda leaflets on Germany and the first Canadian troops stepped ashore in Britain, while western Europe was in a strange calm for seven months. Meanwhile, the opposing nations clashed in the Norwegian Campaign. In their hurry to re-arm, Britain and France had both begun buying large amounts of weapons from manufacturers in the US at the outbreak of hostilities, supplementing their own productions. The non-belligerent United States contributed to the Western Allies by discounted sales, and, later, lend-lease of military equipment and supplies.

German efforts to interdict the Allies' transatlantic trade at sea ignited the Second Battle of the Atlantic in the 20th century.

Alfred Jodl at the Nuremberg Trials said that "if we did not collapse already in the year 1939 that was due only to the fact that during the Polish campaign, the approximately 110 French and British divisions in the West were held completely inactive against the 23 German divisions."

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Pillboxes 

British hardened field defences of World War II were small fortified structures constructed as a part of British anti-invasion preparations. They were popularly known as pillboxes by reference to their shape.

British anti-invasion preparations of the Second World War entailed a large-scale division of military and civilian mobilisation in response to the threat of invasion by German armed forces in 1940 and 1941. The British army needed to recover from the defeat of the British Expeditionary Force in France, and 1.5 million men were enrolled as part-time soldiers in the Home Guard. The rapid construction of field fortifications transformed much of the United Kingdom, especially southern England, into a prepared battlefield. Short of heavy weapons and equipment, the British had to make the best use of whatever was available.

The German invasion plan, Operation Sealion, was never taken beyond the preliminary assembly of forces. Today, little remains of Britain's anti-invasion preparations. Only reinforced concrete structures such as pillboxes are common, and until recently, even these have been unappreciated as historical monuments.


 Hexagonal pillbox (type 22)



In May 1940, the directorate of Fortifications and Works (FW3) was set up at the War Office under the direction of Major-General G. B. O. Taylor. Its purpose was to provide a number of basic pillbox designs which could be constructed by soldiers and local labour at appropriate defensive locations. In the following June and July FW3 issued 6 basic designs for rifle and light machine gun, designated Type 22 to Type 27. In addition, there were designs for gun emplacements suitable for either the Ordnance QF 2 pounder or the Hotchkiss 6pdr gun (designated Type 28) and a design for a hardened medium machine gun emplacement.

There were also designs for pillbox-like structures for various purposes including light anti-aircraft positions, observation posts and searchlight positions to illuminate the shoreline. In addition, the Air Ministry provided designs of fortifications intended to protect airfields from troops landing or parachuting. These would not be expected to face heavy weapons so that the degree of protection was less and there was more emphasis on all-round visibility and sweeping fields of fire. Many of these were later reinforced.

There were also designs for pillbox-like structures for various purposes including light anti-aircraft positions, observation posts and searchlight positions to illuminate the shoreline. In addition, the Air Ministry provided designs of fortifications intended to protect airfields from troops landing or parachuting. These would not be expected to face heavy weapons so that the degree of protection was less and there was more emphasis on all-round visibility and sweeping fields of fire. Many of these were later reinforced.

Embrasures were available precast and factory produced to standard designs, but as these were in short supply some embrasures were improvised from brick or concrete paving. Embrasures were frequently fitted with a steel or concrete-asbestos shutter. From March 1941, some pillbox embrasures were fitted with a Turnbull mount, this was a metal frame that supported a medium machine gun.

The degree of protection offered by a pillbox varied considerably: the thickness of the walls and roof generally varied from just 12 in to 3 ft 6 in (0.3 to 1.1m) or more although the commercially produced designs were often much thinner. In March 1940, General Brooke carried out penetration trials and recorded that a 25 mm anti-tank gun could easily penetrate up to 2 feet (60 cm) of reinforced concrete. Despite such results the thick-walled pillboxes were designated as shell proof whereas the thinner-walled pillboxes were designated as bullet proof.


Extant example at Curzon Bridges near Pirbright, Surrey

Internally, pillboxes are generally cramped and basic. Some internal concrete shelves and tables were provided to support weapons and some were whitewashed inside. Only the Type 28s provided a little space — sufficient for a few home comforts.

Adaptations

The basic designs were adapted to local circumstances and available building materials such that, outwardly, two pillboxes of the same basic design could look quite different. The height of a pillbox could vary significantly according to local needs: some were half buried so that the embrasures might be as low as ground level, others were raised up to give a better view; those built into hillsides might lack embrasures on some walls; the entrance could be moved and its size varied as might be convenient and there may be additional walls to protect the entrance, a freestanding blast wall or a steel door.

Appearance also varied due to the building materials used, although all the FW3 designs are formed from reinforced concrete. Where brick was used as a shuttering, the bricks essentially formed a mould into which concrete was poured, the bricks being left in place. Otherwise, the pillbox was formed using shuttering of wood (usually planks, but sometimes plywood) and/or corrugated iron. Wood shuttering was removed, whereas corrugated iron was sometimes left in place. Construction often took advantage of whatever materials were available locally (for example, at the coast, beach sand and pebbles would be used) and this expedient use of local materials had the added advantage of aiding camouflage. The reinforced concrete used in construction was generally conventional making use of thin steel rebars with floor, walls and roof all mutually bonded. However, several instances are known where scrap metal had been used such as parts of an old bed or park railings.

Local commanders introduced modifications to the standard FW3 designs or introduced designs of their own which may be produced in some numbers or completely ad hoc designs suited to local conditions. Other designs were produced as commercial ventures. Finally, there were a small number of pillboxes that had been constructed in the first world war.

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Reich:  literally, empire (German).  Former German State – usually known as the Third Reich, nazi regime from 1933 – 45. The First was considered to be the Holy Roman Empire 962 - 1806 while the Second Reich was the German Empire 1871 – 1918.


Reichsluftfahrtministerium:

The Ministry of Aviation was a government department during the period of Nazi Germany (1933–45). It is also the original name of a building in Wilhelmstraße in central Berlin, the capital of Germany, which now houses the Bundesministerium der Finanzen (German Finance Ministry).

Reichstag: The Reichstag as a parliament dates back to the Holy Roman Empire and ceased to act as a true parliament in the years of the Nazi regime (1933–1945). In today's usage, the German term Reichstag or Reichstagsgebäude (Reichstag building) refers to the building, while the term Bundestag refers to the institution.

The Reichstag building (above)  is a historical edifice in Berlin, Germany, constructed to house the Reichstag, parliament of the German Empire. It was opened in 1894 and housed the Reichstag until 1933, when it was severely damaged in a fire supposedly set by Dutch communist Marinus van der Lubbe. During the Nazi era, the few meetings of members of the Reichstag as a group were held in the Kroll Opera House. After the Second World War the Reichstag building fell into disuse as the parliament of the German Democratic Republic met in the Palace of the Republic in East Berlin and the parliament of the Federal Republic of Germany met in the Bundeshaus in Bonn.

 


Siegfried Line:

The original Siegfried line (German: Siegfriedstellung) was a line of defensive forts and tank defenses built by Germany as a section of the Hindenburg Line 1916–1917 in northern France during World War I. However, in English, Siegfried line more commonly refers to the similar World War II defensive line, built during the 1930s, opposite the French Maginot Line, which served a corresponding purpose. The Germans themselves called this the Westwall, but the Allies renamed it after the First World War line. This article deals with this second Siegfried line.

The Siegfried Line was a defence system stretching more than 630 km (390 mi) with more than 18,000 bunkers, tunnels and tank traps. It went from Kleve on the border with the Netherlands, along the western border of the old German Empire as far as the town of Weil am Rhein on the border to Switzerland. More with propaganda in mind than for any strategic reason, Adolf Hitler planned the line from 1936 and had it built between 1938 and 1940. This was after the Nazis had broken the Treaty of Versailles and the Locarno Treaties by remilitarizing the Rhineland in 1936.

SA: Sturmabteilungen - Hitler's Stormtroopers, forerunners to the SS set up when the Nazi's came into power in 1933.

Sortie:  Sortie is a term for the deployment or dispatch of a military unit, be it an aircraft, ship or troops.

SS : Schutzstaffel – The Nazi special police force  founded in 1925 by Hitler as a personal bodyguard. It grew out of the SA (Sturmabteilungen), which was a group of storm troupers. The SS provided security forces including the Gestapo and administered the concentration camps. It was led by Heinrich Himmler. 

Stalag: Stalag was a term used for prisoner of war camps. Stalag is an abbreviation for "Stammlager", itself a short form of the full name "Mannschaftsstamm- und Straflager".

Tripartite Pact:

The Tripartite Pact, also the Three-Power Pact, Axis Pact, Three-way Pact or Tripartite Treaty was a pact signed in Berlin, Germany on September 27, 1940, which established the Axis Powers of World War II. The pact was signed by representatives of Nazi Germany (Adolf Hitler), Fascist Italy (foreign minister Galeazzo Ciano), and Imperial Japan (Japanese ambassador to Germany Saburo Kurusu).

The three nations agreed that for the next ten years they would "stand by and co-operate with one another in... their prime purpose to establish and maintain a new order of things... to promote the mutual prosperity and welfare of the peoples concerned." They recognized each other's spheres of interest and undertook "to assist one another with all political, economic and military means when one of the three contracting powers is attacked" by a country not already involved in the war, excluding the Soviet Union.

The pact supplemented the Anti-Comintern Pact of 1936 and helped heal the rift that had developed between Japan and Germany following the 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact between Germany and the Soviet Union.
The Tripartite Pact was subsequently joined by Hungary (November 20, 1940), Romania (November 23, 1940), Slovakia (November 24, 1940), Bulgaria (March 1, 1941, prior to the arrival of German troops), Yugoslavia (March 25, 1941), and Croatia (June 15, 1941), Thailand, Manchukuo & China. Soviet Union

Just prior to the formation of Tripartite Pact, the Soviet Union was informed of its existence, and the potential of its joining. Vyacheslav Molotov was thus sent to Berlin to discuss the pact and the possibility of the Soviet Union joining it.

For the Soviets, they considered joining the Tripartite Pact to be an update of existing agreements with Germany. On Molotov's visit, he agreed in principle to the Soviet Union joining the pact so long as some details, such as Soviet annexation of Finland, could be worked out. The Soviet government sent a revised version of the pact to Germany on November 25. To demonstrate the benefits of partnership, the Soviet Union made large economic offerings to Germany.

Regardless of the talks however, the Germans had no intention of allowing the Soviets to join the pact. They were already in the preparation stages for their invasion of the Soviet Union and were committed to doing so regardless of any action the Soviets took.

Political conversations designed to clarify the attitude of Russia in the immediate future have been started. Regardless of the outcome of these conversations, all preparations for the East previously ordered orally are to be continued. [Written] directives on that will follow as soon as the basic elements of the army's plan for the operation have been submitted to me and approved by me. -- Adolf Hitler.

When they received the Soviet offer in November, they simply did not reply. They did, however, accept the new economic offerings, and signed an agreement for such on January 10, 1941.
Text of the pact


A 1938 Japanese propaganda poster promoting the Tripartite Pact: "Good friends in three countries".

The Tripartite Pact between Japan, Germany, and Italy, 1940
The Governments of Japan, Germany, and Italy consider it as the condition precedent of any lasting peace that all nations in the world be given each its own proper place, have decided to stand by and co-operate with one another in their efforts in Greater East Asia and the regions of Europe respectively wherein it is their prime purpose to establish and maintain a new order of things, calculated to promote the mutual prosperity and welfare of the peoples concerned. It is, furthermore, the desire of the three Governments to extend cooperation to nations in other spheres of the world that are inclined to direct their efforts along lines similar to their own for the purpose of realizing their ultimate object, world peace. Accordingly, the Governments of Japan, Germany and Italy have agreed as follows:

ARTICLE 1. Japan recognizes and respects the leadership of Germany and Italy in the establishment of a new order in Europe.
ARTICLE 2. Germany and Italy recognize and respect the leadership of Japan in the establishment of a new order in Greater East Asia.
ARTICLE 3. Japan, Germany, and Italy agree to cooperate in their efforts on aforesaid lines. They further undertake to assist one another with all political, economic and military means if one of the Contracting Powers is attacked by a Power at present not involved in the European War or in the Japanese-Chinese conflict.
ARTICLE 4. With a view to implementing the present pact, joint technical commissions, to be appointed by the respective Governments of Japan, Germany and Italy, will meet without delay.
ARTICLE 5. Japan, Germany and Italy affirm that the above agreement affects in no way the political status existing at present between each of the three Contracting Powers and Soviet Russia.
ARTICLE 6. The present pact shall become valid immediately upon signature and shall remain in force ten years from the date on which it becomes effective. In due time, before the expiration of said term, the High Contracting Parties shall, at the request of any one of them, enter into negotiations for its renewal.

The Tripartite Treaty was immediately named by the Italian press Roberto based on the first syllables of Rome, Berlin and Tokyo.

United Nations 

The United Nations Organization (UNO) or simply the United Nations (UN) is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace. The UN was founded in 1945 after World War II to replace the League of Nations, to stop wars between countries, and to provide a platform for dialogue. It contains multiple subsidiary organizations to carry out its missions.

There are currently 192 member states, including nearly every sovereign state in the world.

After the League of Nations failed to prevent World War II and realizing that humankind cannot afford a Third World War, the United Nations was established to replace the flawed League of Nations in 1945 in order to maintain international peace and promote cooperation in solving international economic, social and humanitarian problems. The earliest concrete plan for a new world organization was begun under the aegis of the U.S. State Department in 1939. Franklin D. Roosevelt first coined the term 'United Nations' as a term to describe the Allied countries. The term was first officially used on 1 January 1942, when 26 governments signed the Atlantic Charter, pledging to continue the war effort.

United Nations Building in New York City

On 25 April 1945, the UN Conference on International Organization began in San Francisco, attended by 50 governments and a number of non-governmental organizations involved in drafting the Charter of the United Nations. The UN officially came into existence on 24 October 1945 upon ratification of the Charter by the five permanent members of the Security Council—France, the Republic of China, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and the United States—and by a majority of the other 46 signatories. The first meetings of the General Assembly, with 51 nations represented, and the Security Council, took place in Westminster Central Hall in London in January 1946. The organization was based at the Sperry Gyroscope Corporation's facility in Lake Success, New York, from 1946–1952, before moving to the United Nations Headquarters building in Manhattan upon its completion.


Versailles (Treaty of): The Treaty of Versailles was the peace settlement signed after World War One had ended in 1918.It was signed at the vast Versailles Palace near Paris - hence its title - between Germany and the Allies. The three most important politicians there were David Lloyd George, Georges Clemenceau and Woodrow Wilson. The Versailles Palace was considered the most appropriate venue simply because of its size - many hundreds of people were involved in the process and the final signing ceremony in the Hall of Mirrors could accommodate hundreds of dignitaries. Many wanted Germany, now led by Friedrich Ebert, smashed - others, like Lloyd George, were privately more cautious.

The treaty can be divided into a number of sections; territorial, military, financial and general.

 

Territorial

The following land was taken away from Germany :

Alsace-Lorraine (given to France)

Eupen and Malmedy (given to Belgium)

Northern Schleswig (given to Denmark)

Hultschin (given to Czechoslovakia)

West Prussia, Posen and Upper Silesia (given to Poland)

The Saar, Danzig and Memel were put under the control of the League of Nations and the people of these regions would be allowed to vote to stay in Germany or not in a future referendum.

The League of Nations also took control of Germany's overseas colonies.

Military

Germany’s army was reduced to 100,000 men; the army was not allowed tanks. She was not allowed an airforce She was allowed only 6 capital naval ships and no submarines The west of the Rhineland and 50 kms east of the River Rhine was made into a demilitarised zone (DMZ). No German soldier or weapon was allowed into this zone. The Allies were to keep an army of occupation on the west bank of the Rhine for 15 years.

Financial

The loss of vital industrial territory would be a severe blow to any attempts by Germany to rebuild her economy. Coal from the Saar and Upper Silesia in particular was a vital economic loss. Combined with the financial penalties linked to reparations, it seemed clear to Germany that the Allies wanted nothing else but to bankrupt her.

Germany was also forbidden to unite with Austria to form one superstate, in an attempt to keep her economic potential to a minimum.

General

There are three vital clauses here:

  1. Germany had to admit full responsibility for starting the war. This was Clause 231 - the infamous "War Guilt Clause".
  2. 2. Germany, as she was responsible for starting the war as stated in clause 231, was, therefore responsible for all the war damage caused by the First World War. Therefore, she had to pay reparations, the bulk of which would go to France and Belgium to pay for the damage done to the infrastructure of both countries by the war.

        3. A League of Nations was set up to keep world peace.

 
            
            In fact, the first 26 clauses of the treaty dealt with the League's organisation.

The German reaction to the Treaty of Versailles

After agreeing to the Armistice in November 1918, the Germans had been convinced that they would be consulted by the Allies on the contents of the Treaty. This did not happen and the there was anger throughout Germany when the terms were made public. The Treaty became known as a Diktat - as it was being forced on them and the Germans had no choice but to sign it. Many in Germany did not want the Treaty signed, but the representatives there knew that they had no choice as German was incapable of restarting the war. Germany was given two choices: 

1)     sign the Treaty or 


2) be invaded by the Allies. 

The consequences of Versailles

The Treaty seemed to satisfy the "Big Three" as in their eyes it was a just peace as it kept Germany weak yet strong enough to stop the spread of communism; kept the French border with Germany safe from another German attack and created the organisation, the League of Nations, that would end warfare throughout the world.


However, it left a mood of anger throughout Germany as it was felt that as a nation Germany had been unfairly treated. 


Above all else, Germany hated the clause blaming her for the cause of the war and the resultant financial penalties the treaty was bound to impose on Germany. Those who signed it (though effectively they had no choice) became known as the "November Criminals".


Many German citizens felt that they were being punished for the mistakes of the German government in August 1914 as it was the government that had declared war not the people.

Were the terms of the Treaty carried out?

Throughout the 1920’s, in nearly all parts of the Treaty, the terms were carried out. It was after 1933, that there was a systematic breaking of the terms when the Hitler's Nazis came to power.

 

WEHRMACHT: The Wehrmacht  Defence Force) was the unified armed forces of Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer (army), the Kriegsmarine (navy) and the Luftwaffe (air force).

The Waffen-SS, the combat branch of the SS (the Nazi Party's paramilitary organization), became the de facto fourth branch of the Wehrmacht, as it expanded from three regiments to 38 divisions by 1945. Although the SS was autonomous and existed in parallel to the Wehrmacht, the Waffen-SSOberkommando der Wehrmacht, OKW) or the Supreme High Command of the Army (Oberkommando des Heeres, OKH).