Poland's Daughter

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Ostkrieg: Hitler's War of Extermination in the East (continued)

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The link between war and euthanasia was hardened with the German invasion of Poland. Within weeks of the attack, special units began killing mental patients, both Polish and German, in Polish institutions, some by shooting, and some, signifi cantly, through the use of a sealed gas van. pp 138-139

Kiev lay some 350 miles from the border p140

Battle for Kiev: Fearful losses on both sides resulted, with roadsides strewn with corpses and piles of bodies stacked before German positions. German soldiers, hungry, thirsty, fatigued, and stunned by the hand-to-hand fi ghting, were worn down by the remorselessly bloody process of reducing the Kiev pocket. In some German companies, losses ran to 75 percent, yet no end appeared in sight. [Kesselschlacht (battle of encirclement) at Kiev] When the fighting ended on 25 September, the Germans had bagged some 665,000 prisoners.... Four Soviet field armies, consisting of forty-three divisions, had ceased to exist, p145

By the time the fighting at Smolensk had ended, Guderians Second Panzergruppe was 450 miles from its original base, barely within reach of motorized supply. p149 (the marching infantry couldn't keep up)

bottlenecks occurred at the exchange points between German and Russian rail lines, with waits of up to three days to unload some trains, while others were simply lost. Even converted track proved problematic as Russian rail beds were lighter, which prevented the use of heavy locomotives. In addition, German engines needed additives in order to burn Russian coal effi ciently. Finally, deportations of German Jews began on 15 October, which meant that the Reichsbahn was able to furnish only half the required boxcars for supplying the Ostheer, while much of the remaining rolling stock was engaged in transporting food, cereals, and meat back to the Reich. p150

(Moscow) Evacuations began during the night of 15-16 October amid scenes of hysteria at rail stations. Signs of collective panic abounded as people looted shops and rushed to escape the city. Offi ces and factories stopped working amid proliferating rumors of an imminent surrender. p157

Oct 6 the fall rains began the rasputitsa (time without roads) 158 [In New Hampshire, we had one "mud season" to immobilize us; the Russians had two, in spring when the roads thawed and in autumn when the rains came.]

The Russian saying "in the autumn a spoonful of water makes a bucketful of mud" nonetheless proved devastatingly accurate. "The roads, so far as there were any in the western sense of the word, disappeared in mud," remarked one officer, "knee-deep mud ... in which vehicles stuck fast." p158

Constantly soaked, covered in mud, unable to dry their clothing or boots, susceptible to trench foot and other maladies in the nearfreezing temperatures, covered in lice, exhausted, and with limited rations, the infantry endured wretched conditions as they struggled to advance. 159

by the end of October, the Germans had run out of troops.... on 1 November Bock ordered that "further advances should be temporarily suspended" .... "In the army group's area more than twenty battalions are under the command of lieutenants." (Bock) 162

A study by General Thomass War Economy and Armaments Offi ce concluded in early October that deliveries from the United States and Great Britain would to a great extent offset the lost industrial production of western Russia while the Germans could do little to interrupt the flow of such goods. 165

In the first six months of the war, the Germans captured some 3.3 million Red Army soldiers, of whom barely a million were still alive by the end of 1941, with less than half of those in suffi ciently good physical condition eventually to be employed as workers. 166

Goebbels noted with a homicidal coldness tinged with the dire memories of the World War I experience, "would be the outbreak of a famine in Russia in the coming winter that would leave all previous ones in history far in its shadow. But that is not our concern.... If Europe should go hungry, then we Germans will be the last to starve." ... Goering noted in mid-September, after listing the priorities in food distribution, with the troops fi rst and the occupied peoples a distant third, "Even if one wished to feed all the rest of the inhabitants, one could not do so in the newly occupied eastern territory. As for issuing food to Bolshevik prisoners, we are ... not bound by any international obligations." 170

The army did not always cooperate; soldiers sometimes fed civilians from their field kitchens. One military administrator: "If we shoot the Jews, let the prisoners of war die, deliver a large part of the urban population to death by hunger, in the coming year lose a part of the rural population to hunger, the question remains unanswered: Who then will actually produce anything of economic value?" 171

with the spires of the Kremlin visible some twelve miles in the distance. (Nov 29) 191

Russian counteroffensive: Hitler's assumption on [Dec] nineteenth of formal command of the army. 206

in 1942 the Soviet Union alone, even without the contributions of Great Britain and the United States, would once again outproduce the Reich in virtually every weapons category. In the key areas of small arms and artillery, the advantage was three to one, while, in tanks, it was a staggering four to one, accentuated by the higher quality of the Soviet T-34. As Adam Tooze has noted, the real productive miracle in 1942 took place in the Urals, not in the Ruhr. Buoyed by the flow of vital goods and raw materials through Lend-Lease, the Soviets could concentrate production on a limited number of weapons while at the same time employing the full range of Stalinist methods of oppression to exact enormous sacrifices from the Russian home front, where millions of civilians died for the sake of the "Great Patriotic War." This effort was not sustainable, and by 1944 German production roughly equaled Soviet, but by then it was too late. p230

the Crimea, important both as a springboard to the Caucasus and, if left in Soviet hands, as a persistent threat to the vital Rumanian oil fields. ... the Crimea, important both as a springboard to the Caucasus and, if left in Soviet hands, as a persistent threat to the vital Rumanian oil fi elds. p241

By 1942 Red Army less interested in mass assaults by untrained troops, and was romodeling itself on German lines. p249

envisioned "little Germanys" around Leningrad, in the Baltic states, southern Ukraine, and the Crimea, farming areas & strongpoints linked by superhighways. At the Urals, a defensive wall would protect Germanic Europe from the Asian hordes. p255 Germany logistical backbone designed for 300 miles was stretched in the Caucuses (Operation Edelweiss) to over 1,000 miles "in a region with few highways and a virtually non-existent rail system." July 26, 1942 p.272

"spectacular advances" 275 this is when Stalin issued his "not one step back" order.

Driving to Astrakhan on the Caspian! Compare to Krasnavordsk?

Took Maikop Aug 9, the oilfields & refineries wrecked. By mid-August Germans in the foothills of the towering Caucusus mountains. Began to stall on Aug 18.

Battle for Stalingrad a Rattenkrieg, a rat's war, in the Landers' term. 293

"By November 1942, half of European Russia, an area of some 80 million people that contained nearly half the cultivated land and the bulk of the industrial resources of the Soviet Union, had been lost" to the Germans. But thanks to its vast land area beyond the Urals, to the ruthless dictatorship that managed the military and the economy, and to American Lend-Lease aid, the Soviet Union was able to fight on, while the Germans weren't. p305

Arguably the war turned for Germany in November 1942, when the Russians mounted a gigantic offensive to free Stalingrad, the British sent Rommel retreating in Egypt, and the Americans landed troops in Morroco.

July 1943 Battle of Kursk coincided with Anglo-American invasion of Sicily, making the two-front war in Europe a reality, and prompting Hitler to break off Operation Citadel and order the 2nd SS Panzer Corps to move to Sicily. pp350-51 "effectively gutted his forces" at Kursk p351, paving the way for a Soviet triumph while doing little to bolster the Italian front. So there was already an effective second front in 1943! (Nor was the Kursk battle the unalloyed victory usually claimed: Red Army losses far exceeded German. p352

30 percent or more of German strength had to fight in North Africa and stand watch in western Europe, while the Russians kept only 7 percent of their much larger manpower in the Far East. 384

"the second front existed before it became a reality" 399

of 341 operational units in the Army and Waffen SS, 131 (38%) were deployed in France, Scandinavia, and Italy. 399

Late May 1944, 2,243,000 men in the Heer, 6,100,000 in the Red Army. p400

450,000 trucks and jeeps delivered to the Red Army, without which it could not have achieved its remarkable advances. 421

Ferdinand Schörner became a general and field marshall, and a major trouble-shooter for Hitler. "energetic and ruthless" p.445 (see Wikipedia) Hitler put him in charge of Army Group A when the Red Army began its push to Warsaw (and the German border) in January 1945. He was named commander in chief of the German army in Hitler's last testament in April 1945, a largely meaningless post since he had no staff. In 1951 he was arrested and tried by the Russians for carrying out a criminal war against the Soviet Union. He was released to West Germany in 1958 and tried there for ordering the shooting of German soldiers, for which he served a short prison term. (Held the Iron Cross and Pour Le Meri'te from WW1)

One estimate holds that 1.4 million German women were raped in the eastern half of the country, including one out of two Berliners. "Since many women were raped repeatedly, even a figure as high as this cannot convey the reality of the constant anxiety, lingering uncertainty, and inner turmoil to which women were subjected. Gang rapes were common, as were sexually transmitted diseases, while many unwanted pregnancies resulted in abortions or abandoned babies. The sexual violence went on for weeks or months, long after the war had ended. Women learned to hide, to disguise themselves, or to find a protector (preferably an officer). p450

Note that the Hitler-Stalin pact ensured that Germany could not be starved by a British blockade, as had happened in the First World War.

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