viernes, 31 de agosto de 2012

The Beggining of the War: The Gleiwitz Incident

The Gleiwitz incident was a Nazi Forces, which in that moment were acting like if they were Poles, attack on August 31 in 1939. It was against the German radio station Sender Gleiwitz the eve of World War II. This was part of the several actions in the Operation Himmler, a series of unconventional operations by the SS in order to make propaganda about Nazism at the outbreak of the war. 

The objective was to create the impression that there was a Polish aggression against Germany and in that way justify the subsequent invasion of Poland. Most of the information known about the Gleiwitz incident is because of Alfred Naujocks testimony, where he states that he organized the incident under the order from Reinhard Heydrich and Heincrich Muller that was the chief of Gestapo.

The night of August 31, a small group of Germans that were dressed as if they were from Poland seized the Gleiwitz station and broadcast a little anti-German message in Polish. Germans wanted like it seems that the attack and the broadcast were because of those “anti-German Polish saboteurs”. But to make it more convincing, Germans brought Franciszeck Honiok that was a German Silesian who was known as a man that sympathizes a lot with the Poles. Days before, he was arrested by the Gestapo. They dress him as a saboteur and then killed him with a lethal injection, then make him gunshot wounds and left him dead at the scene so he looks like he was killed during the attack.

The Gleiwitz incident is part of a large operation. It wasn’t only one attack, because there were other incidents orchestrated by the SS forces along the Polish. German Border, such as the House torching in the Polish Corridor and the spurious propaganda output. There were a total of 21 attacks all categorized as part of the Operation Himmler, all with the intensions of making people think that Poland was going against them. Also months before this, Germans started to publish in their newspapers messages from politicians, such as Adolf Hitler, accusing Polish authorities of organizing operations to harm the German people that lived there. The next day of Gleiwitz, Germany started the Fall Weiss operation (invasion of poland), initiatinf the WW2

Is incredible how Germans were so preparated and intelligent in a way, to create this big and datiled plan in order to invade Poland. Its a really shocking how people can be so determinated to  reach their goals, people thirsty of power that could do anything, to the point they killed people. And this is what the war is about. How the idea of one men can make a revolution all around the world, the extermination of a million of inocent families, the destruction of many countries, and the beggining of one of the worst mistakes humans may have been commited: the World War II.

Mariana Flores
Valeria Otarola

The beggining of the End: Cause of D-Day

The D- Day Invasion of Normandy laid a beachhead for the Allies on the Front of Europe. This battle was the most important battle in the Western Front because was a way of being closer to the Nazi defeat. D- Day is referred to the paratrooper operations that happened in June 6 of 1945 in Normandy.

To understand the D- Day it’s important to talk about the context to know what expectative and reasons had the allies to invade Normandy. Russia had signed a non-aggression pact with Germany, and the two countries invaded Poland. That’s how the war started. The British and French people were indignant with this situation and declared the war to Germany. Germany advanced with big steps among Europe, invading France and the Low Countries too. Hitler wanted to invade the Low Countries because he wanted to get around the Maginot line, which was a huge fortification that stretches the whole distance of the German-French border. This was a big surprise for the French Army and they had to accept the defeat. Also the British army that was trying to help France had to retreat, this was embarrassing for Britain and the country now wanted to invade France to and with that obligate Germany to move on. But this was not the only problem…

In December 7 of 1941, Japan attacked the American fleet at Pearl Harbor. The attack caused the declaration of war and the entry of United States in WW2. Three days after, Germany and Italy declared war to USA, which had a really strong army. It was so strong that the country defeat Germans in North Africa and also invaded Italy for 2 years with the help of Britain.

On June 4, 1944, two days before D-Day, the allies captured Rome and Germany immediately started a plan to invade Russia, naming the operation: Operation Barbarossa. However the Russians didn’t permit it making a counterattack, but the problem was that USSR did not want to fight alone against the German Army so they asked British and American armies for help. The two countries accepted the call and immediately started the plan to liberate Western Europe with the code-named Operation Overlord, and their first step was Normandy.

Before the Allies could think how to release the invasion they needed a supreme commander. The three countries argued about this during months and finally Roosevelt took the decision to choose General Dwight Eisenhower as the Supreme Commander.

German commander did expect and invasion but the disadvantage is that they didn’t know when and where. Everybody think of a different place and they couldn’t prepare for anything because the problem was where they put their army if the invasion could be in many different places. The Plan for Normandy was very complicated; there were naval and aerial bombardment, paratroopers that were dropped behind the enemy lines, five beaches for landing, etc. America would take place in Omaha and Utah, and the British in Sword and Gold. The day of the invasion started with really bad weather conditions, buy Eisenhower however, decided to take the risk.

And these are the causes of why America, Britain and Russia decided to invade Normandy. They needed to stop the pressure that Germany was putting in France. The D-Day and the Operation Overlord were a big victory for the countries and had a great effect on the outcomes of the war. This time the Allies were determinate to succeed and it’s good they did it because if they could fail the operation, maybe their morale could go down and they would be weaker. The D-Day Invasion of Normandy have been a great part in the World History and the beginning of the end.

Mariana Flores

Operation Little Saturn

The Battle of Stalingrad is considered by many experts and historians to have been the turning point in World War Two in Europe. After the Germans bust intent to get Moscow, the Sixth Army was order to take Stalingrad because this city had all the products Russia needed to survive, without them a big crisis will appear. Also because Stalingrad was Russia’s center of communications in the south as well as being a center for manufacturing, after attacking this city, they would attack Moscow again. From a strategic point of view it would have been imprudent to have left a major city unconquered in your rear as they advanced. 

The Battle for Stalingrad was fought during the winter of 1942 to 1943. That was an advantage for the Russian army because the Germans suits were not prepare for a cold climate. In September 1942, the German commander of the Sixth Army, General Paulus, assisted by the Fourth Panzer Army, advanced on the city of Stalingrad. His primary task was to secure the oil fields in the Caucasus and to do this, Paulus was ordered by Hitler to take Stalingrad. The Germans final target was to have been Baku. 

Operation Saturn, also known as Operation Little Saturn, was a Red Army operation on the Eastern Front of World War II that led to battles in the northern Caucasus and Donets Basin regions of the Soviet Union from December 1942 to February 1943. The success of this operation during the Battle of Stalingrad was launched on November 19 of 1942 and trapped over 300,000 troops of General Friedrich Paulus's German 6th Army and 4th Panzer Army in Stalingrad. To exploit this victory, the Soviet general staff planned a winter campaign of continuous and highly ambitious offensive operations, codenamed "Saturn". Later Joseph Stalin reduced his ambitious plans - due to his initial huge losses attacking the Axis troops - to a relatively small campaign codenamed "Operation Little Saturn". 

After the defeat of the Romanian Army around Stalingrad and the successful encirclement of the German Sixth Army, Stalin started a counter-offensive nicknamed "Operation Little Saturn" in order to enlarge the area controlled by the Soviet Army in eastern Ukraine until Kharkov and Rostov. 

The first stage was unleashed at December of 1942, an attempt to cut off the German Army in the Caucasus that had to be rapidly revised when General Erich von Manstein launched Operation Winter Storm on 12 December in an attempt to relieve the trapped armies at Stalingrad. While General Rodion Malinovsky's blocked the German advance on Stalingrad, the Operation Little Saturn was launched on 16 December. 

This operation consisted of a pincer movement which threatened to cut off the relieving forces. General Fyodor Isidorovich Kuznetsov's 1st Guards Army and General Dmitri Danilovich Lelyushenko's 3rd Guards Army attacked from the north, encircling 130,000 soldiers of the Italian 8th Army on the Don and advancing to Millerovo. 

With the relief column under threat of encirclement, Manstein had no choice but to retreat back to Kotelnikovo on 29 December, leaving the encircled Germans at Stalingrad to their fate. Of the 250,000 soldiers encircled 90,000 survived to be taken prisoner. Only 5,000 lived to return to Germany. 

The second stage of operations started on 13 January of 1943 with an attack by four armies of General Golikov's Voronezh Front that encircled and destroyed the Hungarian Second Army near Svoboda on the Don. As a consequence the Hungarian Second Army, as most other Axis armies ceased to represent a meaningful fighting force, in fact the German Sixth Army, encircled in Stalingrad, was destroyed on February 2 of 1943. 

On January 13 of 1943, the Soviets launched their second stage of Operation Saturn, where four armies of Soviet General Filipp Golikov's Voronezh Front attacked, encircled, and destroyed the Hungarian Second Army near Svoboda on the Don to the northwest of the Italians. 

Although the Alpini corps was ordered to hold the front at all costs, preparations for a general retreat began on January 15. On the evening of January 17, the commanding officer of the corps General Gabriele Nasci finally ordered the full retreat. 

At this point the Julia and Cuneense divisions were already heavily decimated and only the Tridentina division was still capable of conducting effective combat operations. 

Lucia Valdivia
Arianne Velez

Plan West

During the time Józef Piłsudski was the dictator of Poland, most of Polish planning concentrated on contingences in case of a possible attack from the East. It was only after Piłsudski's death in 1935 that the new Polish government and military reevaluated the situation and decided that the current Polish plan for a Polish-German war, dating from the mid-1920s (Plan "S"), was inadequate and needed to be revised.

Designed in the late 1930s, Plan Zachód (Plan West) was a military plan of the Polish Army of the Second Polish Republic, for defense against invasion from Nazi Germany.

Poland's most valuable natural resources, industry and population were located along the western border in Eastern Upper Silesia. The fact that none of Poland's allies had specifically guaranteed Polish borders or territorial integrity certainly did not help in easing Polish concerns.

The West Plan did permit the Polish armies to retreat inside the country, but it was supposed to be a slow retreat behind prepared positions and was intended to give the armed forces time to complete its mobilization and execute a general counteroffensive with the support of the Western Allies.

The plan of operations took into account, first of all, the numerical and material superiority of the enemy and, consequently, assumed the defensive character of Polish operations. The Polish intentions were: the defense of the western regions judged as indispensable for waging the war, the taking advantage of the propitious conditions for counterblows by reserve units, the avoidance of being smashed before the beginning of Allied operations in the West and the making of decisions depending of the existing situation. The operational plan had not been elaborated in detail and concerned only the first stage of operations.

                                                         Polish Infantry

The British and French estimated that Poland should be able to defend itself for two to three months, while Poland estimated it could do so for at least six months. Poland drafted its estimates based upon the expectation that the Western Allies honor their treaty obligations and quickly start an offensive of their own.

In addition, the French and British expected the war to develop into trench much like World War I. The Polish government was not notified of this strategy and based all of its defense plans on promises of quick relief by their Western allies.

Polish forces were stretched thinly along the Polish-German border and lacked compact defense lines and good defense positions along disadvantageous terrain. This strategy also left supply lines poorly protected. One-third of Poland's forces were massed in or near the Polish Corridor, making them vulnerable to a double envelopment from East Prussia and the west.

Although the Polish military had prepared for conflict, the civilian population remained largely unprepared. Polish pre-war propaganda emphasized that any German invasion would be easily repelled.

                                                               Victims of German air raid

Consequently, Polish defeats during the German invasion came as a shock to the civilian population. Lacking training for such a disaster, the civilian population panicked and retreated east, spreading chaos, lowering troop morale and making road transportation for Polish troops very difficult
                                                                                                                        Valeria Otarola

The Battle of Salingrad: Operation Uranus

In October 1942, German forces had reached the Volga, and the Soviet generals Aleksandr Vasilyevskiy and Georgy Zhukov, both responsible for the strategic plan in all the Stalingrad territory, concentrated big masses of Soviet forces in the siege of Stalingrad. The German northern flank was particularly vulnerable to any attack, since it was defended by the allied axis and these that were the Italian, Hungarian, and Romanian forces suffered from inferior training, poor equipment, and lack of morale and hopes when compared with their German counterparts. 

This weakness from the axis was well known and exploited by the Soviets, who preferred to battle against troops that weren’t German when was possible so they had more chance to defeat, just as the British preferred attacking Italian troops, instead of German ones in North Africa. The Soviet’s plan was to keep maintaining the Germans down in the city, then punch through the overstretched and weakly defended German flanks and surround the Germans inside the Stalingrad area. During the preparations for the attack, Marshal Zhukov himself visited the front, which was rare for such a high-ranking general. This master operation was code-named “Uranus” and launched by the hand with Operation Mars, which was directed at Army Group Center. The plan was similar to Zhukov’s victory at Khalkin Gol three years before, where he had destroyed an important division of the Japanese army. 

On November 19, the Red Army of Soviets unleashed Uranus. The attacking Soviet unit forces under the command of Gen. Nikolay Vatutin consisted of three complete armies, , including a total of 18 infantry divisions, eight tank brigades, two motorized brigades, six cavalry divisions and one anti-tank brigade. The preparations for the attack could be heard by the Romanians, who continued to push for reinforcements, but once again they ended being rejected. When the Romanian Third army which defended the northern flank of German Sixth Army was finally spread, outnumbered and poorly equipped, was shattered by the Soviets. 

On November 20, a second Soviet attack by two armies was launched to the south of Stalingrad, against flanks defended by the Romanian IV Corps. The Romanian forces, made up primarily of infantry, were defeated almost immediately. Soviet forces raced west in a pincer movement, and met two days later in a place near the town of Kalach, sealing the ring around Stalingrad. The Russians later reconstructed the link up for use as propaganda, and the piece of footage made famous around the entire world. We can say Operation Uranus was a master operation, wll prepared, where the Red Army knew how to explote and use the overwhelming resources to smash down the German flanks of the 6th Army that were weakly defended by the axis, and also encircled it into the Stalingrad pocket. During battle preparations, Stavka, employed empleado maskirovka for hiding his intentios, one facet that would turn into a distinguished hallmark of future attack operations, as would the huge artillery preparations which opened the offensive and the far greater superiority in manpower and material which were employed to ensure its success. Finally, Hitler's refusal to release forces from Stalingrad and allow 6th Army freedom of movement to meet the threat, added to Paulus's reluctance to take independent action, sealed 6th Army's fate. 

Lucia Valdivia

Pearl Harbor

The attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise military strike conducted by the Imperial Japaneesse navy against the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor. It all happened in Hawaii at the morning of December 7, 1941, when many people at Pearl Harbor were at leisure. They were completely unaware that an attack was imminent. . The attack was intended as a preventive action in order to keep the U.S. Pacific Fleet from interfering with military actions the Empire of Japan was planning in Southeast Asia.

The base was attacked by Japanese fighters, bombers and torpedo planes in two waves, launched from six aircraft carriers. The 8 U.S. Navy battleships were damaged half of them being sunk. Of these eight damaged, two were raised and six battleships returned to service later in the war.

The Japanese also sank three cruisers, three destroyers, an anti-aircraft training ship and one minelayer. 188 U.S. aircraft were destroyed; 2,402 Americans were killed and 1,282 wounded. The power station, shipyard, maintenance, and fuel and torpedo storage facilities, as well as the submarine piers and headquarters building were not attacked. Americans were destroyed in a question of minutes.

By the other side the Japanese losses were not as much as much as in the U.S.A, only 29 aircraft and five midget submarines lost, and 65 servicemen killed or wounded. One Japanese sailor was captured.

American people were totally shocked. This event is very important because after this attack americans will decide to enter to World War II in both the Pacific and European theaters. The following day, December 8, the United States declared war on Japan. The United States had clandestine support from Britain (for example the Neutrality Patrol) then they join to the allies and fight against Germany and Japan.

There were numerous historical precedents for unannounced military action by Japan. But, the lack of any formal warning, particularly while negotiations were still apparently ongoing, led President Franklin D. Roosevelt to proclaim December 7, 1941, "a date which will live in infamy" and a feeling of reveange to Japan that they will later put in action.

Now a days , the USS Arizona Memorial on the island of Oahu honors the lives lost on the day of the attack. Visitors to the memorial reach it via boats from the naval base at Pearl Harbor. Alfred Preis is the architect responsible for the memorial's design. The structure has a sagging center and its ends strong and vigorous. It commemorates "initial defeat and ultimate victory" of all lives lost on December 7, 1941.

Although December 7 is known as Pearl Harbor Day, it is not considered a federal holiday in the United States. The nation does however, continue to pay homage remembering the thousands injured and killed when attacked by the Japanese in 1941. Schools and other establishments across the country respectfully lower the American flag to half-staff.

                                                                                                      Arianne Velez

The Last Battle: The Consequences

The battle of Berlin was one of the last battles in World War 2. It was between Germany and the USSR. Stalin was determined to defeat Nazism this time. So he, with the Red Army, decided to invade Berlin where Hitler was. It was a really difficult and devastating battle, and although the Red Army was bigger in number, Germans were focused in being loyal to Hitler, as their phrase: Heil Hitler. That’s why it was very laborious for Stalin to win, and his army had to fight house by house, murdering also innocent people. 

The cause why Germans where defeated was because of the lack of ammonisation and troops. In April 30, the USSR entered to the centre of Berlin and Adolf Hitler after he marries Eva Braun, suicide with his recent wife. His last words ordered that Admiral Karl Donitz converted in the new Reich president and Joseph Goebbels to be the new chancellor of Germany, but Joseph suicide with all his family and all the war responsibility lay in Karl Donitz. Finally, in May 8 of 1945, Germany surrenders unconditionally to the Soviet Union, ending that way, the battle. The USSR lost tanks exceeded all the estimates due to the effective German use of the Panzerfaust(a cheap anti tank weapon), which was not enough to stop the armoured advance on the capital. That shows that they fight and give all their effort and capacities until they couldn’t, and explains how big was their feeling of pride for being a Nazi and having that ideology. 

Berlin suffered a lot of serious damage, especially in Reichstag (were Hitler was staying), and also Moltke and Alezanderplatz. The USSR count approximately 155 000 people dead and 250 000 that were sick or wounded. And Germans had 45 000 dead, that included civil people that were not necessarily soldiers. A lot of Nazis escape leaving German civilians to their fate and sometimes this people only know when the Red Army was coming when there was too late to escape. The soldiers in that moment showed that in a way they weren’t loyal to their people, they were loyal to Hitler and the Nazi ideology in particular. 

One famous characteristic about the Russian invasion in Germany were the aggressive and massive violations committed against German women as a “punishment” for the war. An idea that wasn’t right because it wasn’t their fault in a way. As a consequence, 2 000 000 women were sexually assaulted, and 10 000 of them suicide right after. It was a catastrophe; USSR had gotten out of control. And was very bad of their part because they had won that time, they invaded Berlin and defeated Hitler, but they wanted revenge and they were exceeded with these poor women.

 Berlin was in a big chaos. The USSR wasn´t happy with only distroying Germany and their revenge was terrible and devastating, and of course what germany did was bad but that is not an excuse for acting like that . Also the city was extremely destroyed and altough it was not the only one in bad conditions, its situation was horrible. Now the question is, What would happen next? How can Germany recuperate now? What would happen with the allies? There would be a second treaty and  a pay from germany?...
 There are a lot of questions and doubts to resolve but the truth is that, after 6 years, the war was   FINALLY  over

 Mariana Flores