WW 2 (ETW)



After WW1, the German economy was in shambles, national pride was at ground level, Germans felt betrayed, and Hitler parlayed that sentiment into national rejection of the Treaty of Versailles.  Once again, the German military machine (Wehrmacht) began to grow.


Day of the Army in 1939, in front of the Infantry Camp, now Minnick Field.

When I was stationed at Baumholder, my office was in that middle building,

just above the Maltese Cross on the flag.


Minnick Field today


Twenty-five miles south of Flossenburg, just days before the war ended (21 April 1945), Nazi SS guards slaughtered 161 men along Neunberg vorm Wald’s roadsides and farms—they shot them dead or brained them with rifle butts.  The death march started a day earlier with 17,000 prisoners.  They were marching south to Dachau.  Prisoners too weak to hurry were killed along the route.  They numbered into the thousands.  When the American soldiers discovered the 161 bodies dumped like trash in shallow graves on a hill, they forced the townspeople—all 2,500 except children and the very old—to dig up the bodies, then to mourn the murdered men and bury them with some measure of dignity.



                                                KZ Flossenburg,                                    The Po River, Italy (10th Mountain Division Operations)

                                 Flossenburg, Germany



                                    M4 Sherman Tank (AKA the Ronson, because of its                 The Rhein River, Germany (Patton crosses the Rhein

                                          tendency  to explode when hit)                                    2 March 1945, and urinates in the river two days later)



                                                Anne Frank's House, Amsterdam, Holland                 Mirabell Gardens, Salzburg, Austria

                                                                                                                              ("Doe, a deer, a female deer...")


From 1938 to the end of WW2, there was no Austria.  Hitler had annexed the country, and it was just Germany extended.  The Sound of Music is a musical based on the true story of the Von Trapp family as they attempted to escape the Nazi expansion into their homeland.


Roosevelt had chosen General Eisenhower as Supreme Allied Commander of Operation Overlord.  Bradley and Montgomery were chosen to be subordinate commanders.  Planners wanted to go 5 June, but the weather was not conducive.  Weather forecasters ensured the leaders all would be well on the 6th.  We now know they were wrong.  Germans expected the invasion to leave Dover through the 20-mile Pas de Calais.  This would be the smartest move, since allied forces would need a harbor in order to supply the infantry forces (in fact, Hitler thought the invasion at Normandy was a deception).  More than 16 million tons of supplies would be needed to feed and supply those men and their allies: six and one-quarter pounds of rations per day per man; 137,000 jeeps, trucks, and half-tracks; 4,217 tanks and fully tracked vehicles; 3,500 artillery pieces; 12,000 aircraft; and huge stores of sundries—everything from dental amalgam for fillings to chewing gum and candy bars.  The British had another idea:  portable harbors, called MULBERRIES.  They would first sink ships 1,000 meters off-shore.  Then they would pull pre-fabricated sections into place, finally bridging the gap between shore and harbor.  The British got theirs in place (outside Juno, Sword, and Gold beaches).  The Americans were not as fortunate (at Omaha and Utah beaches), the high seas pounding their harbor into submission.



Mulberries, seen just off the coast                                                                       Omaha Beach, France


More than 5,000 ships and 10,000 aircraft made the attack on Hitler's vaunted Atlantic Wall, “Fortress Europe (a system of some 15,000 concrete bunkers, the brainchild of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel).  By nightfall more than 150,000 soldiers--American, British and Canadian--were ashore in northwest France, along the English Channel in Normandy. They had just traveled the 120 miles across the English Channel.  German leaders could not get armor quick enough to the Norman coast.  Only Hitler could give that order, but he was sleeping late that day.  He loved to watch movies until pre-dawn, then take drugs that would make him sleep until late in the morning.  Operation Overlord not only changed the course of World War II; it also established the United States as the superpower it is today.  Walter Edward Wheeler went ashore with the invasion of Normandy (121st Infantry, 3rd Division, Georgia NG), and was later killed in the Hurtgen Forest in Germany.


Allied leaders had told the invasion force (many coming across in Higgins boats, so-named in honor of its designer) that they would not have to fight their way up the beach (low tide would leave 300 meters of beach before they reached the bluffs).  Allied bombers and naval gun fire had prepped the area, and there was no way German forces could have survived.  Furthermore, the infantry would have armored support. 



Higgins Boat                                                      One of many bomb and naval gun craters at Point du Hoc


What they didn’t know is that none of the 440 B-24’s hit their targets (they bombed perpendicular to the beach), almost none of the naval gun fire was successful, and over half the amphibious tanks sank in the high seas.  As a result, 9,000 allied soldiers died on June 6, 1944, over half of them Americans.  Unit integrity had all but disintegrated.  This was even true for the 82nd and 101st in their Area of Operation.  Eisenhower had already drafted a statement accepting blame for the failed invasion.  But somehow it all came together and Allied forces took the Cherbourg peninsula.


As planned, airborne units led the invasion. Shortly after midnight the British 6th Airborne Division dropped northeast of Caen, near the mouth of the Orne River (now called the Pegasus Bridge), where it anchored the British eastern flank by securing bridges over the river and the Caen Canal. On the other side of the invasion area, the U.S. 101st and 82d Airborne Divisions dropped near Ste. Mere-Eglise and Carentan to secure road junctions and beach exits from which the VII Corps could push to capture Cherbourg.



                                                    Pegasus Bridge, Caen, France                    Madame Gondree, who was just four years old when the

                                                                                                        British landed.  She remembers that day.  Her house,

                                                                                                        which is now this restaurant, is right next to the bridge.


Some of the American airborne troops came to ground near their objectives, but most were scattered over a wide area. A number drowned in the flooded lowlands. Others landed in the midst of German positions, where they were killed or captured. In the hours that followed, nevertheless, paratroopers from the 101st succeeded in clearing much of the way for VII Corps' move inland. The 3d Battalion, 505th Infantry, of the 82d Airborne Division meanwhile captured Ste. Mere-Eglise and cut the main enemy communications cable to Cherbourg.  By August, Allied troops were in Paris.  By Spring of 1945, they were at the Rhein.


A replica of paratrooper Private John R. Steele of Kentucky hangs on a church in Ste. Mere Eglise where the paratrooper was caught by his parachute in the early hours of D-Day.  After the Germans spotted him hanging there, they shot at him, hitting him in his foot.  They probably thought he was dead, and left him there hanging.



                                        Ste. Mere Eglise, France                                           Point du Hoc (pronounced, "Hoe")

                  (note the paratrooper hanging from the roof)


A memorial built by the French at Pointe du Hoc honors the 225 U.S. Army Rangers who scaled the 90-foot cliffs at this spot on D-Day. The Rangers captured two German gun emplacements here and then fought off counter-attacks for two days. 81 Rangers died; 58 were wounded.



                                                  Nazi Party Rally, Nuremberg, Germany                                 Rally Grounds today



Former residence of Albert Einstein, Princeton, NJ                                   Ellis Island


Albert Einstein lived at 112 Mercer St., Princeton, N.J., from 1936 to his death in 1955.  He had previously agreed in 1930 to spend part of each year at the Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS).  When the Nazis came to power, Einstein moved permanently from Berlin to Princeton.  In fact, Germany suffered a "brain drain" because of its Nazi leadership.  Wernher von Braun (of Saturn V fame) was another scholar who "escaped" to the U.S. during Hitler's dictatorship.  So, one might say we won the two biggest races in the 20th century because of the Nazis:  the Atomic Bomb and the Manned Lunar mission.


Ellis Island was the gateway through which more than 12 million immigrants passed between 1892 and 1954.  During its peak years (1892 to 1924) Ellis Island received thousands of immigrants each day. Everyone was scrutinized for disease or disability as the long line of hopeful new arrivals made their way up the steep stairs to the great, echoing Registry Room.



                                      Bastogne, Belgium (note the name of the restaurant)                            One of Hitler's many bunkers,               

                                                                                                                                      Berchtesgaden, Germany


General Anthony McAuliffe, when surrounded by Germans at Bastogne, Belgium (Battle of the Bulge, 19 Dec. 1944), answered the besieging Germans' surrender demand by his now famous response:  "Nuts!"  Today, the town's central plaza is named after him, and a restaurant on the plaza still carries the response.  Eisenhower asked LTG Patton how long it would take to get his Army to Bastogne to relieve the salient.  Patton answered, "Three divisions in three days."  Eisenhower was furious with Patton, believing Patton was living up to his cocky reputation.  What Eisenhower didn't know is that Patton has already wargamed the scenario, and at the word "Go" could execute on order.  On 26 December he arrived in Bastogne with three divisions.  It took him just three days (Bradley called 26 December "High Water" day, referring to the day the tide was turned back on the Germans).  Not many people know that Patton signed over his entire monthly paycheck to AER.  Of course, he came from a wealthy family.



                              Oscar Schindler's House, Regensburg, Germany              Participating in a Memorial Day Ceremony at the

                                                                                                            Lorraine American Cemetery, St. Avold, France


The World War 2 Lorraine American Cemetery and Memorial is located three quarters a mile north of the town of St. Avold (which is twenty eight miles east of Metz, LTG Patton’s headquarters).  The cemetery contains 10,489 American Military Dead, the largest number in our military cemeteries of World War II Dead in Europe. Most of the Dead here were killed in driving the German forces from the fortress city of Metz toward the Siegfried Line and the Rhine River.  Initially, there were over 16,000 Americans interred in the St. Avold region, mostly from the U.S. Seventh Army's Infantry and Armored Divisions and its Cavalry Groups.  St. Avold served as a vital communications center for the vast network of enemy defenses guarding the western border of the Third Reich.


At Dachau, prisoners were hung here on these rafters before being cremated in these ovens.  Both the 42d and 45th Infantry Divisions took part in its liberation.  Competition was so fierce between the two divisions, that at one point a soldier from the 42d drew a pistol on a soldier from the 45th demanding to be the first to enter the camp.



                                    KZ Dachau, Liberated by the                                          Nuremberg Palace of Justice, Room 600,                   

                                  42d and 45th Infantry Divisions                                                      Nuremberg, Germany


Shortly after the war, several war criminals were tried in Nurnberg.  From November 20, 1945, until October 1, 1946, the International Military Tribunal convened in Room 600 in the Nurnberg Palace of Justice.


Patton's Grave, Luxembourg American Cemetery


George Smith Patton Junior was a peerless source and subject of controversy among his countrymen.  Among Luxembourgers who survived the darkest days of the Grand Duchy’s history there is no controversy.  Patton was and remains revered as the man who delivered their homeland from tyranny.  General Patton was injured in an automobile accident on December 12, 1945.  He clung to life for another nine days.  George S. Patton was buried among the fallen liberators of the Grand Duchy at the Luxembourg American Cemetery in Hamm on Christmas Eve, 1945.



Note:  While I make every effort to produce an error-free document, errors occasionally creep in. I would appreciate you bringing any to my attention so that I may make the necessary corrections.



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