English POW eyewitness to Dresden

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Re: English POW eyewitness to Dresden

Postby Jeff_36 » Mon Mar 30, 2015 10:47 pm

Berlin and Leningrad are two different scenarios. The Russians had no choice and could not surrender. Hitler could have surrendered Berlin but chose not to.

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Re: English POW eyewitness to Dresden

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Tue May 26, 2015 2:36 am

In his recent biography of Goebbels, Longerich includes this from Goebbels's diary, based on a conversation Goebbels had with Hitler on 8 July 1942, "Nothing must be left of Bolshevism. The Führer intends to have cities like Moscow and Leningrad wiped off the map." In this case, the informal discussion speaks to intent and buttresses the documents introduced in this thread. Longerich, Goebbels: A Biography, p 483.
You know, my dear Colonel General, I don't really believe that the Russians will attack at all. It's all an enormous bluff. - Heinrich Himmler to Heinz Guderian, December 1944

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Re: English POW eyewitness to Dresden

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Wed Oct 21, 2015 3:53 pm

A bit more on Leningrad:

Third Reich's Hunger Plan, authored by Backe, Reinicke, and others in the Food Ministry: this plan divided the USSR into food-deficit regions (north, where Leningrad lay; cities) and food-surplus regions (Ukraine, Caucasus; rural). The concept was that during the occupation the Wehrmacht would feed itself from the agricultural produce of former USSR areas; provide subsistence nutrition to those needed for agriculture in the food-surplus areas; strip agricultural products beyond the bare minimum required to keep farming going and send those products back to Germany to make sure that Germany was well fed; and depopulate, through starvation and other means, the northern and urban areas (costing the lives of, in the words of German planners, umpteen millions or up to 20-30 million "Russians"; see Gesine Gerhard, Nazi Hunger Politics: A History of Food in the Third Reich, pp 85-103 for a readable description of the genesis and implementation of the Hunger Plan, published this year (Leningrad was of course in the northern, deficit area and a prime target for depopulation under the plan)

Leningrad was surrounded by the Germans by early September 1941 - by 30 August "the Luftwaffe began massed raids on Leningrad's food depots." (Nicholas Stargardt, The German War: A Nation Under Arms, 1939-1945, 2015, p 184)

An entry in the diary of an expert on nutrition advising the OKW (high command of the German military) made on 10 September 1941, in line with the Hunger Plan and Nazi racial thinking regarding conquest in the east, reads
We will not burden ourselves with future demands for the surrender of Leningrad. It must be destroyed using a scientific method.

(Stargardt, p 184)

German commanders asked the Quartermaster's department of the 18th Army whether supplies should be used to feed Leningrad. Eduard Wagner, Quartermaster General for the Wehrmacht handled this inquiry, echoing the Hunger Plan by instructing the officers not to feed the people of Leningrad:
Every train bringing provisions from the homeland cuts foodstuffs there. It is better that our relatives have something to eat and that the Russians starve.

(Stargardt, p 185) Wagner had already written a letter to his wife stating his view that the 3.2 million residents of Leningrad would remain sealed off and without the Germans permitting foodstuffs to be "diverted" to the city ("would just be a burden on our provisioning purse").

In late September the Germans reiterated the decision to destroy and level Leningrad as part of the German occupation policy. The city was to be
razed to the ground. If this creates a situation that calls for surrender, they will be refused. In this war, we are not interested in preserving even a part of the population of this large city.

(Stargardt, p 185)

RSHA plans were aligned with the military strategy for the region; in these plans it was envisioned that the population of "Ingermanland" (the area south of Finland and Lake Lagoda in which Leningrad/St Petersburg lies) would fall from 3.2 million to 200,000, with the millions lost being mostly from Leningrad. (Stargardt, p 185)

Field Marshall Ritter von Leeb, head of Army Group North, issued orders requiring, according to Stargardt, that "the artillery . . . mow down any civilians breaking out of the city while they were still too far away to upset German infantrymen on the front line" who may have recoiled from slaughtering civilians; by the end of September the Luftwaffe bombed the encircled city of Leningrad 23 times and kept up daily shelling of the city; the war diary for the army stated in a mid-November entry that the first civilian break-out attempt had been successfully repelled by the Germans. (Stargardt, pp 185-186)
Last edited by Statistical Mechanic on Wed Oct 21, 2015 4:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
You know, my dear Colonel General, I don't really believe that the Russians will attack at all. It's all an enormous bluff. - Heinrich Himmler to Heinz Guderian, December 1944

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Re: English POW eyewitness to Dresden

Postby Jeff_36 » Wed Oct 21, 2015 4:20 pm

a truly despicable war crime.

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Re: English POW eyewitness to Dresden

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Wed Oct 21, 2015 7:57 pm

By the way Stargardt's book is a really good read; I am only a little over a third of the way in but it is excellent - the focus is how Germans experienced and made sense of the war and Holocaust.
You know, my dear Colonel General, I don't really believe that the Russians will attack at all. It's all an enormous bluff. - Heinrich Himmler to Heinz Guderian, December 1944

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Re: English POW eyewitness to Dresden

Postby Matthew Ellard » Wed Oct 21, 2015 11:19 pm

Jeff_36 wrote:a truly despicable war crime.
Absolutely. It was a clear German plan to let a million civilians starve to death.

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Re: English POW eyewitness to Dresden

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Tue Apr 24, 2018 7:33 pm

The lengths to which the Soviets went to supply Leningrad and to break the blockade are described in Bellamy's book, Absolute War. He also provides some background on the siege:

> Bellamy's estimate is that about 3.4 million people lived in the Leningrad area, with perhaps 600,000 escaping the city during fall 1941; a death toll during the first 8 months of the siege reaching 1 million he considers possible; the Germans estimated 1 million deaths from starving or freezing during winter 1941-1942
> Hitler's Directive 35 came on 6 September 1941, shortly after the city had been (almost completely) cut off from the rest of the country: the German decision to starve the residents rather than occupy the city was prompted in part because of the Germans' food supply problems - the stated rationale of the Germans was that the city was "being defended as a fortress and that therefore the city and its inhabitants should be treated as military targets," thus Leningrad would be "isolated hermetically" and turned into "dust with artillery and air attacks"
> the Germans contemplated how they might offload the problem, a population which they chose not to feed, and score propaganda points by so doing, onto Roosevelt, with a proposal (never made) for the USA to feed or evacuate the residents
> on 8 September the Luftwaffe bombed the Badayev food warehouses with incendiaries; these warehouses were located in the southern part of Leningrad and stored much of the city's food stores; 1000s of tons of sugar and flour were destroyed - following the raids, food supplies were immediately dispersed so that when German planes struck the area again on 10 September the warehouses were empty
> Leningrad was unprepared for what hit it; along with the food crisis, Leningrad had a severe shortage of firewood, required for winter heating, because the wood-cutting season didn't begin until after the siege was in place and cutting was no longer possible on the scale needed
> a proposal from Leningrad citizens that the city be declared an open city went nowhere, Bellamy says, because "this was the last thing the Germans wanted until resistance in the city was crushed" although using the designation as a pretext to infiltrate the city and stir up hunger revolts and the like appealed to them
> on 10 October 1941, the OKW gave "the definitive order . . . that no German soldier was to enter downtown Moscow or Leningrad"
> the Soviets decided to move supplies into the city, whilst evacuating industrial plants; not until December 1941 were large amounts of food - but not enough - reaching the city over the Road of Life and Route 101, the ice-bridge across Lake Ladoga - the tricky operation of which was plotted using Soviet metereologists along with trial and error
> in unsuccessful attempts to break the blockade and relieve the starving city during 1942, the Russians lost twenty divisions including Vlasov's army, the Second Shock Army, and, in June, Vlasov himself
> during the siege, German artillery fire was unleashed regularly on Leningrad center during "rush hour" and into "entertainment" areas during evenings
> on 23 August 1942 Hitler ordered that Mannstein drive to link up with the Finns and then proceed to raze the city; the Russians stages a counteroffensive to pull the Germans away from the city and prevent the encirclement; this attack succeeded through at tremendous cost to the Soviets, blocking capture and destruction of the city and putting the Germans into a months-long defensive posture
> for the second winter of the siege, 1942-1943, the Soviets had warning and time to prepare better than the first winter; over half a million additional people were evacuated from the city, leaving perhaps just 700,000 civilians in Leningrad - this second winter saw improved food supplies (e.g., mandatory gardening during the summer), more fuel (e.g., vacant wooden structures harvested for fuel, a fuel pipeline laid under Lake Ladoga), a more efficient supply operation (the learning curve of the previous winter had been steep), and milder weather (the previous winter had been unusually severe - in the winter of 1942-1943 ships could bring food to Leningrad across Lake Ladoga for all but 6 or so weeks)
> a counteroffensive to relieve Leningrad, led by none other than Zhukov, was launched on 12 January 1943 - and opened a fragile, 10-km-wide corridor into the beleaguered city by 18 January; by early February the Soviets had built a short RR and a bridge for movement of supplies to Leningrad - for the remainder of 1943, the "corridor of death" would be subject to German artillery fire; still, through 1943 food supplies - including Spam from the US - reached the city to the extent that artillery fire became the main concern of civilians
> a further attempt to drive the Germans back and open up the breach, made in February 1943, failed; finally, after nearly 900 days, the Soviets drove the Germans back about 100 km from Leningrad during January and February 1944
You know, my dear Colonel General, I don't really believe that the Russians will attack at all. It's all an enormous bluff. - Heinrich Himmler to Heinz Guderian, December 1944

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Re: English POW eyewitness to Dresden

Postby Jeffk 1970 » Tue Apr 24, 2018 8:02 pm

Thanks, BTW, the exchanges at the beginning of this topic are entertaining. David is (was?) such a tool.
“Today I saw one of those places, saw it in all of its horror, all its filth, all its death.”
Soldier entering the Ohrdruf Concentration Camp.

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Re: English POW eyewitness to Dresden

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Tue Apr 24, 2018 8:22 pm

you prompted me to re-read the whole thread - Mary and David made a wise call removing themselves from these premises IMO

(sorry for some of the repetitions of earlier points in the thread in my latest post . . . I wanted to get the high points of Bellamy down, so it was kind of inevitable and I forgot how much of it we'd covered in this brief discussion!)
You know, my dear Colonel General, I don't really believe that the Russians will attack at all. It's all an enormous bluff. - Heinrich Himmler to Heinz Guderian, December 1944

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Re: English POW eyewitness to Dresden

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Tue Apr 24, 2018 8:45 pm

I should add one point: in summer 1942, when the worst was over in Leningrad but much was yet to be endured (the heaviest German artillery attacks were to come that fall), and after a general massive cleanup operation inside the city, the city's authorities decided to host a performance of Shostakovich's no. 7 symphony "Leningrad." The Leningrad Philharmonic rehearsed for 6 weeks and finally performed the piece in its concert hall, the venue still boarded over and with many lights missing.

The Germans outside the city were able to pick up the broadcast of the performance on their radios, as, for morale reasons, it was being broadcast across the USSR - and relayed by short wave to Europe and the US. The Eighteenth Army decided on hearing the broadcast to rain artillery on the performance hall. German gunners were used to hitting the precinct and knew its buildings.

But Govorov, commander of Soviet forces in the area, and a specialist in artillery (a specialty of the Soviets), was prepared. Not a German shell hit the Philharmonic performance hall; instead, Govorov was able to strike the Germans' artillery formations: "As the majestic symphony played on, a massive and precisely targeted Russian artillery strike paralyzed the German guns. There is no doubt about this . . . all the witnesses - and the elite of Leningrad were all there - confirm that no German shells landed anywhere near the concert hall." Bellamy describes how the guns around the city and in the harbor combined with the music in the hall . . . and the German guns were silenced.

I did in fact play Shostakovich's no. 7 Symphony as I read through the conclusion of the Leningrad saga.
You know, my dear Colonel General, I don't really believe that the Russians will attack at all. It's all an enormous bluff. - Heinrich Himmler to Heinz Guderian, December 1944


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