Auschwitz: Photographs from Hell | Iconic Photos

This week, the world paused briefly to remember 27th January 1945 when the Red Army liberated Auschwitz.  The press release from the White House, now improbably occupied by a man who has sur…

Source: Auschwitz: Photographs from Hell | Iconic Photos

The Strangest Battle of WWII: When Americans and Germans Fought the SS Together

Originally posted on War History Online.

M4-Sherman_tank-European_theatre

Adolf Hitler killed himself on April 30, 1945. Germany’s war to advance its empire across Europe and beyond was coming to an end. A unique story, however, has emerged just days after Hitler committed suicide in a book by Stephen Harding called ‘The Last Battle’.

As most of Germany and German-occupied territory became overrun with Allied or Red Army troops advancing to Berlin, three US tanks from the 23rd Tank Battalion of the  US 12th Armored Division were making their way through Austria towards Schloss Itter.  The castle was, and still is, a medieval castle built in the 1200s and sits high on a hilltop near the small village of Itter in Austria’s North Tyrol region.

The Nazis had been holding many important French prisoners at Castle Itter, and the Allies had planned the operation to liberate the castle and its prisoners. Among them were ex-French prime ministers Paul Reynaud and Eduard Daladier and former French commanders-in-chief Generals Maxime Weygand and Paul Gamelin, the dailybeast.com reports.

The very model of a Wehrmacht officer… In this photo, newly contributed by Sepp Gangl’s son, Norbert, the man who would later help Jack Lee defend Castle Itter is seen during a rare happy moment in 1944, probably just before the Allied landings at Normandy (Source: Facebook)

In this photo, newly contributed by Sepp Gangl’s son, Norbert, the man who would later help Jack Lee defend Castle Itter is seen during a rare happy moment in 1944, probably just before the Allied landings at Normandy (Source: Facebook)

In addition, Jean Borotra, a former tennis champion, and Francois de La Rocque, both of whom were part of the Vichy France government, and notoriously pro-Nazi, had been imprisoned at the castle. Harding explains the complicated politics of the time, and that while they had been part of the pro-Nazi government, they had also supported the Allies via the French resistance, which explains why…

via The Strangest Battle of WWII: When Americans and Germans Fought the SS Together.

V.E. Day — Dorothea von Schwanenfluegel

laughter-wasnt-rationed

Laughter Wasn’t Rationed by Dorothea von Schwanenfluegel

Dorothea von Schwanenfluegel was struggling to survive the hideous days in Berlin with her daughter as the end of the war approached. Hitler had already committed suicide in his bunker and General Wilding was about to surrender the city. 

“The next day, General Wilding, the commander of the German troops in Berlin, finally surrendered the entire city to the Soviet army. There was no radio or newspaper, so vans with loudspeakers drove through the streets ordering us to cease all resistance. Suddenly, the shooting and bombing stopped and the unreal silence meant that one ordeal was over for us and another was about to begin. Our nightmare had become a reality. The entire three hundred square miles of what was left of Berlin were now completely under control of the Red Army. The last days of savage house to house fighting and street battles had been a human slaughter, with no prisoners being taken on either side. These final days were hell. Our last remaining and exhausted troops, primarily children and old men, stumbled into imprisonment. We were a city in ruins; almost no house remained intact.”

The History Girls: Women of the Warsaw Uprising, by Clare Mulley

Gravestone of a female resistance fighter,
Powąnski Cemetery, Warsaw.
(Copyright Clare Mulley)

This month marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the Warsaw Uprising. By the summer of 1944 the tide of the Second World War had turned. The Soviets, now Allies, had reversed the German advance, and France was fighting towards liberation. Sensing change, the Polish government-in-exile authorized their highly organised resistance ‘Home Army’ to rise up against the extremely brutal Nazi forces occupying their capital.

On the 1st August thousands of Polish men, women and children launched a coordinated attack. The Poles had faced invasion on two fronts at the start of the war, and were well aware of the dual threat to their independence. Their aim now was to liberate Warsaw from the Nazis so that they could welcome the advancing Soviet Army as free, or at least fighting, citizens. Moscow radio had appealed to the Poles to take action, but the Red Army then deliberately waited within hearing distance for the ensuing conflict to decimate the Polish resistance before making their own entry. The Warsaw Uprising is remembered as one of the most courageous resistance actions of the Second World War, but also…

Continue: The History Girls: Women of the Warsaw Uprising, by Clare Mulley.