8 Things You Should Know About WWII`s Eastern Front
(1) Joseph Stalin disregarded early warnings of the German attack. Germany`s invasion of Russia was the largest surprise attack in military history, but according to most sources, it shouldn't have come as a surprise at all. In the months before the German advance, Stalin brushed off dozens of reports from Soviet spies warning that an invasion was imminent. He also accepted Hitler`s cover story that the sudden presence of German troops on the Soviet border was just a move to keep them out of range of British bomb strikes, and even ordered his troops to not fire on German spy planes despite numerous invasions of Soviet airspace.
Audi employed thousands of concentration camp inmates during WWII
Car giant Audi employed thousands of concentration camp inmates during the Second World War and was 'firmly ensnared' in the Nazi regime, an investigation has found. During the war years Audi was known as Group Auto Union and, in a deal brokered by the SS, hired 3,700 concentration camp inmates to work in what was then Germany`s second biggest car firm. The academic study also revealed another 16,500 forced laborers, who were not imprisoned in concentration camps, were working in Auto Union plants.
WWII veterans recall the terror and chaos of D-Day
Scared stiff but with nowhere to hide, Ken Scott tried to block out the sight of his comrades being gunned down as he pushed up the Normandy beach on D-Day. "Soldiers were falling all around, and they were hollering and shouting and calling for their mothers. We just had to brush it aside and just keep going, we couldn`t stop and help them. It was just impossible. We would have been dead ourselves. We had to get ashore and stop those machine guns."
How news of D-Day reached the Nazi death camps
News of the Allied invasion of Normandy quickly spread across Europe, fueling hope even among those languishing in Nazi concentration camps. Jacques Moalic was one of the detainees in Buchenwald at the time. For the 50th anniversary of the landing, in June 1994, he wrote this first-hand account of how the news filtered through to Buchenwald and other camps: "We had barely passed through the forged iron gate when another French deportee came, his face ecstatic, and murmured to us: 'They have landed. It`s official. The Germans have confirmed it'."
Members of Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS formed a secret army in 1949
Newly discovered documents show that in the years after World War II, members of the Nazi Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS formed a secret army to protect the country from the Soviets. The illegal project could have sparked a major scandal at the time.
RAF ace who took part in first WWII dogfight by MISTAKE and was last survivor of the Battle of France dies at 93
An RAF fighter pilot who took part in the first dog fight of the Second World War and was the last survivor of the Battle of France has died at the age of 93. Wing Commander Peter Ayerst DFC survived combat operations in the Battle of France, Battle of Britain, El Alamein and D-Day. In October 1939 he became the first RAF pilot to come into combat with a German fighter plane - and that was by accident.
Hidden ruins of Monte Cassino monastery bombed in WWII (video)
The 70th anniversary of the end of the World War II battle for the monastery at Monte Cassino will taken place in southern Italy on Sunday. Tens of thousands of Allied troops, many of them British, died in the effort to drive the Germans out of the area and the monastery itself was destroyed. In the period after the war the abbey was restored on its mountaintop perch. But traces of its destruction can still be found. Hidden in a dark corner of the monastery is a room containing the last of the rubble from the bombing of Monte Cassino. It is not shown to the public, and it has never been filmed before, but Alan Johnston was given access.
Hitler house in Braunau am Inn to become integration centre
Austrian officials who are keen to end a growing row over the future of the house where Adolf Hitler was born in the town of Braunau am Inn are reportedly close to coming to a deal with the owner that will see it turned into an integration centre.
How a dead man's change of heart saw $1 billion in Nazi art returned home
Cornelius Gurlitt was an old man with a secret. Much of his art collection, estimated to be worth more than $1 billion, was comprised of paintings the Nazis stole from Jews during the Second World War. The Wall Street Journal reports on the chain of events that led Gurlitt from declaring he would not "freely give anything back" to their rightful owners to voluntarily agreeing to the deed. The intricate tale is built around Gurlitt's desire to clear his family name, move his art out of Germany, and to see his beloved paintings once again.
1000 letters sent from Nazi-occupied France discovered in the archives of the BBC
The remarkable discovery of a box of letters in the archives of the BBC is shedding new light on conditions and attitudes in France during WWII. The letters were sent to London from just after the French surrender to Germany in June 1940, through to the end of 1943. They were addressed to the French service of the BBC, otherwise known as Radio Londres, which during the German occupation was a vital source of information for millions of French men and women. Extracts from the letters were read out on a programme called The French Speak to the French. After the war, the letters were put in storage and forgotten. That was until historian Aurelie Luneau stumbled upon them while researching her thesis on Radio Londres.
Burning the Reichstag: An Investigation into the Third Reich`s Enduring Mystery by Benjamin Carter Hett
Just over eighty years ago major violent event occurred in Berlin, then early in the transition from the Weimar Republic to the Third Reich, with Hitler installed as chancellor but not yet in possession of dictatorial power. Just after nine o`clock on the evening of 27 February 1933, passers-by heard the sound of breaking glass coming from the Reichstag and, shortly afterwards, saw flames beginning to light up the inside of the building. Fire engines were summoned and brought the blaze under control, but it was too late to save the debating chamber. Arriving on the scene, Hitler, Göring, Goebbels and the interior minister, Wilhelm Frick, declared that the arson attack was a Communist plot, designed, as Goebbels put it in his diary, ‘through fire and terror to sow confusion in order in the general panic to grasp power for themselves`.
Like it or not, Nuremberg's Nazi past is a tourist attraction
Nuremberg is connected with the crimes of National Socialism in various ways, and the city makes no attempt to conceal its dark historical legacy, like the grandstand at the Zeppelinfeld, the massive open-air space where the Nazis held their annual party rallies from 1933 to 1938. It's the only surviving, major, completed work by Speer, and it's pretty much a ruin.
Last surviving women who helped crack Hitler's top secret codes using Colossus computer at Bletchley Park meet again after 70 years
The last remaining women code-breakers who operated Colossus - the world`s first computer - have been reunited after 70 years after a picture of them was published in a local paper. The women were all part of the Colossus C Watch at Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire during the Second World War and were the world`s first computer operators. Most of them lost touch with each other after the war ended and they have not been together as a group for seven decades.
Germany's interest in Adolf Hitler at record levels
Germans are more interested in Adolf Hitler that at any time since the end of WWII, a new study has concluded. The German Media Control research group found that documentaries about Hitler are aired twice a day on German TV channels and that books and films about the Nazi leader are being produced in record numbers. 242 programs dealing with Hitler had been shown on TV during the first four months of 2013, while 500 other films and documentaries that had dealt with the Nazi era in general had also been aired. Some 2,000 books on Hitler were published in Germany last year. The documentaries had titles which included Hitler's Wonder Weapons, Hitler and the Holy Lance, Hitler's War and Hitler's Blitzkrieg.
Hitler's maid Elisabeth Kalhammer recalls Fuhrer's late-night munchies and afternoon sleep-ins
Late–night "Fuhrer cake" and sleeping in until the afternoon are just a few of the tidbits that one of Hitler's maids has revealed about life at the Bavarian mountain residence. In what appears to be her first public interview about working for Hitler, Elisabeth Kalhammer told the Austrian newspaper Salzburger Nachrichten what life was like for the 22 housemaids on staff at the Berghof. Kalhammer responded to a wanted ad in 1943, and was accepted for the job after undergoing screening by the SS. She also told that staff addressed Eva Braun, who later became Hitler's wife, with "Heil, merciful lady." Regarding the atrocities committed by Hitler, she said: "That he had ordered such terrible things, I just couldn't believe it. Even now, I prefer to remember the charming facets of his personality."
Unseen pictures of Hitler on tour in Naples found in Virginia thrift store
Photography enthusiast Matt Ames was pleased to find some rolls of old film among the usual collection of discarded bric-a-brac lining the shelves of a thrift shore in Virginia. But what Ames didn't realise was that he'd stumbled upon a piece of Nazi history. For among the 400 negatives on the 35mm nitrate films, he was shocked to uncover previously unseen photos of Hitler touring Italy at the height of his powers. In one of the forgotten photos, Hitler is pictured sitting next to King Emmanuel III of Italy during a parade in Naples in 1938 after the Fuhrer had viewed fellow fascist leader Benito Mussolini's naval fleet in the Mediterranean.
The Third Reich`s Electric Submarine Fail: The Type XXI U-boat cost more than it was worth
On May 4, 1945 one of the most advanced submarines in the world crept up to a British Royal Navy cruiser. U-2511 was one of Germany`s new Type XXI-class `wonder` submarines, and she was hunting for Allied ships. She also represented one of the Third Reich`s biggest failures. More than 250 feet long and displacing 1,620 tons, the Type XXI had six hydraulically-reloaded torpedo tubes capable of firing more than 23 stored torpedoes. But the real improvement lay deep inside the U-boat`s bowels. There rested an advanced electric-drive engine that allowed the submersible to travel underwater at higher speeds—and for longer periods—than any submarine that came before.
Hitler`s Commanders: German Bravery in the Field 1939-1945 (book review)
Hitler may have been the leading light in the German war machine – but it was his generals who were responsible for day to day activities. This book tells the stories of 14 German generals such as Eduard Dietl, the commander of German forces in Norway and Eastern Europe and Kurt Meyer, commander of the Waffen-SS Hitler Youth Division and one of Germany`s youngest generals. Other generals profile include Heinrich Schaefer who was the defender of Cactus Farm in Tunisia, paratrooper Erich Johannes Schuster and Theodor Scherer, the hero of Cholm. In each case, James Lucas deals with their background, motives, levels of loyalty towards Hitler and their success/failure as generals.
Photos made after the Fall of Berlin illuminate the sordid underworld where Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun died
Not long after Red Army troops won the brutal Battle of Berlin in the spring of 1945, effectively marking the end of the Second World War in Europe, LIFE magazine photographer William Vandivert descended into Adolf Hitler`s bunker beneath the ruined city. Soviet troops had already ransacked the subterranean warren — including the room where Hitler and his wife of 48 hours, Eva Braun, killed themselves on April 30 — leaving behind scenes of silent, chaotic upheaval masterfully chronicled by Vandivert in haunting black and white.
Mistaken For Twins: How Two Italian Sisters Survived Auschwitz
Two sisters -- Tatiana and Andra Bucci -- return to the camp 70 years after they were first brought there, sharing memories of snowball fights, feelings of guilt and the need to never forget.
Papers prove Japan forced women into second world war brothels, says China
China has released documents it claims offers "ironclad proof" that the Japanese military forced Asian women to work in front line brothels before and during WWII. Almost 90 documents from the archives of the military police corps – part of Japan's Kwantung army, the occupying force that propped up a puppet regime in Manchuria in the early 1930s – include letters from Japanese soldiers, newspaper articles and military files discovered in the 1950s and kept at the Jilin provincial archives in north-east China. Documents from the regime's national bank were also included.
Sonar cameras capture first images of two American ships sunk in Operation Tiger, D-Day practice attack, that claimed 749 lives
Detailed images two American ships that sank off the coast of England during a pre-D-Day training exercise in World War II have been recorded by a U.S. submarine. The images, recorded by a Massachusetts company that surveyed the wreckage to mark the 70th anniversary of the sinking, are the first in high definition. The two ships were sunk off by German forces during Exercise Tiger on April 28, 1944, claiming the lives of 749 U.S. soldiers and sailors. The company behind the images, Hydroid, based in Bourne, Massachusetts, said they had become interested in exploring the area because of the upcoming anniversary of the attack.
John Phillips from the Dambusters squadron who helped to sink the feared Nazi battleship Tirpitz dies at 90
A hero pilot from the Dambusters squadron who helped to sink the feared Nazi battleship Tirpitz during the Second World War has died at the age of 90. John `Des` Phillips joined legendary 617 Squadron as a 20-year-old in 1944, a year after the raids on dams in Germany which made it famous. He took part in later RAF attacks on U-boat pens, Nazi rocket sites in the Pas de Calais, and the Berchtesgaden mountain retreat of Adolf Hitler. But his claim to fame was the part he played in three raids on the Tirpitz, the sister ship to the Bismarck.
Salamo Arouch survived Holocaust by boxing for the entertainment of Nazi officers
Salamo Arouch was a Jewish Greek boxer, the Middleweight Champion of Greece (1938) and the All-Balkins Middleweight Champion (1939), who survived the Holocaust by boxing (over 200 bouts) for the entertainment of Nazi officers in Auschwitz Concentration Camp.