Happy Memorial Day everybody! Let us give thanks to the troops, who have fought and died so that we can continue to make our country a great nation. In regards to “The Greatest Generation,” they went through the Great Depression, fought overseas during World War II, and came back to turn our society from a war machine to a nation of economic prosperity and social values. Even though American ideology has changed over the years, the nation still has potential of living up to the American ideals we cherish. This generation is slowly dying, so if you meet a veteran or person from that era, thank them for everything they fought and worked for!
P.S. Stay tuned for the next battle!
Regarded as the best tank in the world, mass production of the T-34 began in July 1940. Even before the Germans invaded Russia, 1,225 T-34s were ready for battle. The T-34 was more superior than the German Panzer due to its high velocity gun and the tank’s thick, sloped armor was difficult to pierce. In addition, the tank had extra wide tracks which improved its mobility over long distances and the diesel engines gave the T-34 longer range than its German counterpart.
Hey ya’ll! It was a long, busy finals week, but I made it and have been relaxing the last couple of days. Alright, so last time, Germany had pushed swiftly across Russia with hardly any opposition in its tracks. The invasion was split into three army groups that were aiming to capture Moscow and Leningrad – the two cities that were vital to the success of Operation Barbarossa. Both sides suffered heavy losses during Barbarossa’s first month, but the odds were in the Germans’ favors as Russia’s ill-prepared forces crumbled in the invasion’s wake. That is, once fall was turning into winter, Stalin’s troops finally gained the upper hand thanks to their greatest ally – the weather!
On October 2, 1941, the Battle for Moscow, codenamed by the Germans as ‘Operation Typhoon,’ began when weather conditions were still ideal for Field Marshal Von Bock’s troops to push towards the Russian capital. While Bock was given overall command of the attack on Moscow, Hitler ordered all units from other components of the Russian campaign to join up with the Field Marshal’s forces. Sounds like serious trouble for Russians, right? I mean apart from the two army groups arriving from the north and south to assist in capturing Moscow, Von Bock by himself had a million men, 1,700 tanks, 19,500 artillery guns, and 950 aircraft at his fingertips. The Russians had under 500,000 troops, less than 900 tanks, and just over 300 combat planes to defend the city. Seems that the Russians were on the verge of losing their homeland? How did it all go down – sorta speak?
Just a few quick points: The attack started out well for Bock since Russian infantry troops, situated on the outskirts of Moscow, didn’t have any air or artillery support. A few Russian army groups had been encircled and trapped in the little town of Vyazma as the Germans were getting closer to the Russian capital. However, Field Marshal Von Bock was not going to just leave these Russians in his rear while advancing east, so he segments of his army into Vyazama to keep them trapped. In the meantime, the rest of Von Bock’s forces advanced to encircle Moscow and compel Stalin to make peace with Germany. The Soviets prepared with what little manpower and equipment they had, but reinforcements from the Far East were brought in since Japan didn’t pose a threat to Siberia. Ultimately, the extreme weather conditions, Russian defense strategy, and the arrival of the superior T-34 tank helped the Russians push the Germans 60 to 160 miles away from Moscow.
Hey everyone. Sorry that I haven’t been putting posts up as often. I’ve had big assignments from my other classes holding me up. Thankfully, finals are right around the corner, so I’ll soon be blogging more in the next couple of weeks. Now we transition from the Blitz to Russia, where Germany’s Operation Barbarossa consequently brought a second front upon the Third Reich. I once thought that this was another one of Hitler’s military strategies to create more space for the German people by kicking Stalin out of Russia, but this campaign was really an ideological push to enslave the Slavic people and exterminate the Jews. This eight month long campaign was ruthlessly fought in manners that no European had ever seen since the Mongols.
Despite the Non-Aggression Pact on August 23, 1939, the Germans and Russians were suspicious of what move the other side might make on the other. On June 22, 1941, Russia’s suspensions were confirmed when a massive German invasion was launched: three army groups with over three million troops, 150 divisions, 3,000 tanks smashed their way onto Russian soil. Stretching from the North Cape to the Black Sea (two thousand miles long), these experienced German soldiers represented the finest army to have ever assembled in the twentieth century. Within Barbarossa’s opening month, German armored forces were already two-thirds of the distance away from Moscow and Leningrad. Back and forth, the fight for Russia exchanged hands until December 1941 when the tide was turned in the Russians’ favor by their greatest allies – the weather and their strategic capabilities.
Given that Hitler was aiming to get rid of Russia’s Slavic and Jewish populations, I think it’s fair to assume that it was his ideological goals that blinded him while he planned Operation Barbarossa with his commanders. Anyone who reads enough history can tell you that Hitler made the same mistake as Napoleon in underestimating the Russians’ abilities to fight on their own soil. While both leaders swiftly overwhelmed the defenses at the start of their campaigns, their generals in the field were not prepared for the bitter winter that caught the invading armies off guard. German troops barely had any winter clothes and the heavily snowed-in roads had stalled their equipment, allowing the Russians time to commence their counter offensive. Once that happened, Hitler realized that Germany would lose the war.
Above: Londoners crowded into London Underground during an air raid. Bottom: St. Paul’s Cathedral in the midst of heavy smoke after another German air raid in December 1940.
Raging from September 1940 to May 1941, the German Blitz on London was accidentally started by bombers that were on their way towards other targets. It was August 24, 1940 when the planes were heading towards military bases on the outskirts of London, drifted off course, and dropped their loads on the center of the city, destroying many houses and killing civilians. Outraged and convinced this tragic incident was deliberate, Prime Minister Churchill ordered the RAF to bomb Berlin the next evening.
While the forty British bombers inflicted minimal damage on the city, the German people were completely stunned since bombs had never fallen on Berlin before. They were convinced by Luftwaffe chief, Hermann Goering, that Allied war planes would never attack the German capital. In his September 4 speech to an outraged audience, Hitler threatened “…When the British Air Force drops two or three or four thousand kilograms of bombs, then we will in one night drop 150-, 230-, 300- or 400,000 kilograms. When they declare that they will increase their attacks on our cities, then we will raze their cities to the ground. We will stop the handiwork of those night air pirates, so help us God.” Beginning on September 7, 1940, London and other major English cities were bombed on a nightly basis and by the end of the year, 15,000 British civilians were killed during the air raids. However, Hitler’s intent of breaking the British people’s morale only served to unite them. At the same time, the RAF had more time to rebuild their bases, develop new radar technology, and train new pilots to repel the air attacks.
Glenn McDuffie, the man who claimed he’s the sailor in the above iconic photo, died on March 9 in a nursing home in Dallas, Texas, his daughter, Glenda Bell, told the Associated Press. Other men have also claimed they’re the sailor in the photo taken in Times Square on V-J Day by Alfred Eisenstaedt, a renowned German photographer. However, a People Magazine article states that Houston Police Department forensic artist, Lois Gibson, was able to identify the young sailor and met with the man to find out.
Regardless of your political views, we owe military veterans our gratitude for the sacrifices they’ve made.
“World War II veteran Joe Bell was watching and cheering on runners near the end of their race in San Jose, Calif., in full military uniform. Instead of passing by him, runners began going over to the 95-year-old mid-race to thank him for his service….
via Runners Stop Mid-Race to Thank WWII Veteran.