German Army (1935–1945)
The German Army was the land forces component of the Wehrmacht, the regular German Armed Forces, from 1935 until it was demobilized and dissolved in August 1946. During World War II, a total of about 13 million soldiers served in the German Army. Germany's army personnel were made up of conscripts. Only 17 months after Adolf Hitler announced publicly the rearmament program, the Army reached its projected goal of 36 divisions. During the autumn of 1937 two more corps were formed. In 1938 four additional corps were formed with the inclusion of the five divisions of the Austrian Army after the Anschluss in March. During the period of its expansion under Hitler, the German Army continued to develop concepts pioneered during World War I, combining ground and air assets into combined arms forces. Coupled with operational and tactical methods such as encirclements and the "battle of annihilation", the German military managed quick victories in the two initial years of World War II, a new style of warfare described as Blitzkrieg for its speed and destructive power.
The infantry remained foot soldiers throughout the war. The motorized formations received much attention in the world press in the opening years of the war, were cited as the main reason for the success of the German invasions of Poland and Denmark, Belgium and Netherlands, Yugoslavia and the initial stages of Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union; however their motorized and tank formations accounted for only 20% of the Heer's capacity at their peak strength. The army's lack of trucks limited infantry movement during and after the Normandy invasion when Allied air-power devastated the French rail network north of the Loire. Panzer movements depended on rail, since driving a tank long distances wore out its tracks; the Oberkommando des Heeres was Germany's Army High Command from 1936 to 1945. In theory the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht served as the military General Staff for the German Reich's armed forces, coordinating the Wehrmacht operations. In practice OKW acted in a subordinate role as Hitler's personal military staff, translating his ideas into military plans and orders, issuing them to the three services.
However, as the war progressed the OKW found itself exercising increasing amounts of direct command authority over military units in the west. This created a situation where by 1943 the OKW was the de facto command of Western Theatre forces while the Army High Command was the same on the Eastern Front; the Abwehr was the Army intelligence organization from 1921 to 1944. The term Abwehr had been created just after World War I as an ostensible concession to Allied demands that Germany's intelligence activities be for defensive purposes only. After 4 February 1938, the Abwehr's name was changed to the Overseas Department/Office in Defence of the Armed Forces High Command. Nazi Germany used the system of military districts to relieve field commanders of as much administrative work as possible, to provide a regular flow of trained recruits and supplies to the field forces; the method OKW adopted was to separate the Field Army from the Home Command, to entrust the responsibilities of training, conscription and equipment to Home Command.
The German Army was structured in Army groups consisting of several armies that were relocated, restructured or renamed in the course of the war. Forces or allied states as well as units made up of non-Germans were assigned to German units. For Operation Barbarossa in 1941, the Army forces were assigned to three strategic campaign groupings: Army Group North with Leningrad as its campaign objective Army Group Centre with Smolensk as its campaign objective Army Group South with Kiev as its campaign objectiveBelow the army group level forces included Field armies –, panzer groups, which became army level formations themselves and divisions; the army used the German term Kampfgruppe which equates to the English'combat group' or battle group. These provisional combat groupings ranged from an Army Corps size such as Army Detachment Kempf to commands composed of several companies and platoons, they were named for their commanding officers. German operational doctrine emphasized sweeping pincer and lateral movements meant to destroy the enemy forces as as possible.
This approach, referred to as Blitzkrieg, was an operational doctrine instrumental in the success of the offensives in Poland and France. Blitzkrieg has been considered by many historians as having its roots in precepts developed by Fuller, Liddel-Hart and von Seeckt, having ancient prototypes practiced by Alexander, Genghis Khan and Napoleon. Recent studies of the Battle of France suggest that the actions of either Rommel or Guderian or both of them, ignoring orders of superiors who had never foreseen such spectacular successes and thus prepared much more prudent plans, were conflated into a purposeful doctrine and created the first archetype of blitzkrieg, which gained a fearsome reputati
Tangermünde is a historic town on the Elbe River in the district of Stendal, in the northeastern part of Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. Tangermünde is situated in the historic Altmark region of the North German Plain, on a glacial terminal moraine, above the left shore of the Elbe; the town's name derives from the mouth of the Tanger tributary. The altitude protects it from floods. Since the administrative restructuring effective January 1, 2010, the area of Tangermünde comprises the former municipalities of Bölsdorf, Grobleben, Hämerten, Langensalzwedel and Storkau. Tangermünde can look back at a thousand-year-long history as in 1009 the medieval chronicler Bishop Thietmar of Merseburg referred to a local lowland castle, erected in the early 10th century during the rule of King Henry the Fowler at the border with the lands of the Polabian Slavs incorporated into the Saxon Marca Geronis; the town itself was first mentioned in a 1275 deed, governed by a succession of vogts, such as Ruthger von Blumenthal.
Due to its favourable location, it soon became a point where tolls were charged on boats sailing along the Elbe River as well as a residence of the Ascanian margraves of Brandenburg. Margrave John II hid his treasure under the parish church, passed the secret to his brother Otto with the arrow; when the latter was held to ransom by the citizens of Magdeburg in 1278, he used the treasure to pay for his release. Upon the extinction of the Ascanian dynasty, the town was one of the favourite places of the Luxembourg emperor Charles IV, who had purchased the Margraviate of Brandenburg in 1373 and had Tangermünde Castle rebuilt as a Kaiserpfalz, including a chapter of Canons Regular. From 1415 onwards, it became the residence of the Hohenzollern electors, after the Nuremberg burgrave Frederick VI was enfeoffed with Brandenburg by Charles' son Emperor Sigismund; the 15th century marked the "Golden Age" of Tangermünde, an affluent member of the Hanseatic League, when numerous Brick Gothic buildings including the town hall and St Stephen's parish church arose, surrounded by an entirely preserved city wall with well-fortified gates and the castle complex.
However, after a 1488 revolt of the Tangermünde citizens against an excise tax on beer, the town lost the grace of Elector John Cicero, the residence was relocated to Berlin-Cölln. On 13 September 1617 Tangermünde was completely destroyed by a fire started as an act of revenge by a townswoman who had vainly sued at the local court for her inheritance. Accused of arson and burned at the stake in 1619, her story was perpetuated by Theodor Fontane's historical novel Grete Minde; the town was rebuilt with a variety of half-timbered houses lending it a unique appearance. However, after the castle had been slighted by Swedish troops during the Thirty Years' War in 1640, Tangermünde lost its strategic importance. Elector Frederick III had a local administrative building erected in 1699; the present-day complex is a reconstruction of the early 20th century. In 1826 a sugar refinery was established as the town's main employer, which from 1910 manufactured the popular Feodora chocolate, today part of the Hachez company.
As an effect of Tangermünde's decreasing importance, its historic centre and the city walls were preserved in its original appearance. Tangermünde was not hit by severe damage during World War II until elements of the U. S. Army closed on the city and its strategic bridge across the Elbe River on 12 April, 1945, triggering a brief but fierce battle, during which the modern combined rail and highway bridge was blown up by retreating German forces. In the closing days of the war Tangermünde was the scene of one of the last skirmishes of the war and the surrender en masse of the German 12th Army and remnants of the 9th Army to U. S. Forces. Between 4 May and 7 May, 1945, as many as 100,000 German soldiers and civilians crossed the rickety ruins of the bridge on foot until Russian forces reached the east bank of the Elbe. Since German reunification the old town has been restored; the Tangermünde Town Hall is a late medieval building constructed in the 1430s. In German, this building serves as a civic meeting center.
The building performs a secular purpose, as a town hall for the community, but its exterior is evocative of a mixture of Romanesque and Gothic features. This building contains gothic and Romanesque structural elements that appear on the exterior of the building (the interior of the building has not been photographed; some of the more prominent features of the town hall are its high gables. On the façade are three staggered gables, with one central gable extending above the peak height of the roofline; these gables are a feature of brick architecture during this period. Adorning each gable are miniature spires, evocative of high gothic architecture popularized on cathedral exteriors; each gable contains one large central circular window with two smaller ones below it, all with decorative tracery. These central circular windows are reminiscent of the grandiose rose windows that appear on the west façade of many gothic cathedrals. “The most remarkable feature is the gable end richly decorated with octagon buttresses, having stories of canopied niches — the gable is stepped between these buttresses”.
This observational analysis of the building dates from late 19th century, therefore its terminology differs from modern architectural jargon. Many of the ground floor windows and doorways are exaggerated with ornamental archivolted brickwork. One of the most intriguing features of the town hall is its use of colour on the exterior; the highlighting and trabeation
A train station, railway station, railroad station, or depot is a railway facility or area where trains stop to load or unload passengers or freight. It consists of at least one track-side platform and a station building providing such ancillary services as ticket sales and waiting rooms. If a station is on a single-track line, it has a passing loop to facilitate traffic movements; the smallest stations are most referred to as "stops" or, in some parts of the world, as "halts". Stations elevated. Connections may be available to intersecting rail lines or other transport modes such as buses, trams or other rapid transit systems. In British English, traditional usage favours railway station or station though train station, perceived as an Americanism, is now about as common as railway station in writing. In British usage, the word station is understood to mean a railway station unless otherwise qualified. In American English, the most common term in contemporary usage is train station. In North America, the term depot is sometimes used as an alternative name for station, along with the compound forms train depot, railway depot, railroad depot, but applicable for goods, the term depot is not used in reference to vehicle maintenance facilities in American English.
The world's first recorded railway station was The Mount on the Oystermouth Railway in Swansea, which began passenger service in 1807, although the trains were horsedrawn rather than by locomotives. The two-storey Mount Clare station in Baltimore, which survives as a museum, first saw passenger service as the terminus of the horse-drawn Baltimore and Ohio Railroad on 22 May 1830; the oldest terminal station in the world was Crown Street railway station in Liverpool, built in 1830, on the locomotive hauled Liverpool to Manchester line. As the first train on the Liverpool-Manchester line left Liverpool, the station is older than the Manchester terminal at Liverpool Road; the station was the first to incorporate a train shed. The station was demolished in 1836 as the Liverpool terminal station moved to Lime Street railway station. Crown Street station was converted to a goods station terminal; the first stations had little in the way of amenities. The first stations in the modern sense were on the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, opened in 1830.
Manchester's Liverpool Road Station, the second oldest terminal station in the world, is preserved as part of the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester. It resembles a row of Georgian houses. Early stations were sometimes built with both passenger and goods facilities, though some railway lines were goods-only or passenger-only, if a line was dual-purpose there would be a goods depot apart from the passenger station. Dual-purpose stations can sometimes still be found today, though in many cases goods facilities are restricted to major stations. In rural and remote communities across Canada and the United States, passengers wanting to board the train had to flag the train down in order for it to stop; such stations were known as "flag stops" or "flag stations". Many stations date from the 19th century and reflect the grandiose architecture of the time, lending prestige to the city as well as to railway operations. Countries where railways arrived may still have such architecture, as stations imitated 19th-century styles.
Various forms of architecture have been used in the construction of stations, from those boasting grand, Baroque- or Gothic-style edifices, to plainer utilitarian or modernist styles. Stations in Europe tended to follow British designs and were in some countries, like Italy, financed by British railway companies. Stations built more often have a similar feel to airports, with a simple, abstract style. Examples of modern stations include those on newer high-speed rail networks, such as the Shinkansen in Japan, THSR in Taiwan, TGV lines in France and ICE lines in Germany. Stations have staffed ticket sales offices, automated ticket machines, or both, although on some lines tickets are sold on board the trains. Many stations include a convenience store. Larger stations have fast-food or restaurant facilities. In some countries, stations may have a bar or pub. Other station facilities may include: toilets, left-luggage, lost-and-found and arrivals boards, luggage carts, waiting rooms, taxi ranks, bus bays and car parks.
Larger or manned stations tend to have a greater range of facilities including a station security office. These are open for travellers when there is sufficient traffic over a long enough period of time to warrant the cost. In large cities this may mean facilities available around the clock. A basic station might only have platforms, though it may still be distinguished from a halt, a stopping or halting place that may not have platforms. Many stations, either larger or smaller, offer interchange with local transportation. In many African, South American countries, Asian countries, stations are used as a place for public markets and other informal businesses; this is true on tourist routes or stations near tourist destinations. As well as providing services for passengers and loading facilities for goods, stations can sometimes have locomotive and rolling stock depots (usually with facilities for storing and refuelling rolling stock an
Josef Harpe was a German general during World War II who commanded the 9th Army. He was a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords of Nazi Germany. Harpe served on the Eastern Front, where he commanded the 9th Army. From September 1944 to January 1945 Army Group A, when he was relieved of his command due to the inability of German forces to stop the Soviet Vistula–Oder Offensive, he ended. Iron Cross 2nd Class & 1st Class Wound Badge in Black Wehrmacht Long Service Award 1st Class Clasp to the Iron Cross 2nd and 1st ClassKnight's Cross on 13 August 1941 as Generalmajor and commander of the 12. Panzer-Division Oak Leaves on 31 December 1941 as Generalmajor and commander of the 12. Panzer-Division Swords on 15 September 1943 as General der Panzertruppe and commanding general of the XXXXI. Panzerkorps German Cross in Gold on 19 February 1943 as General der Panzertruppe and commanding general of the XXXXI. Panzerkorps Citations Bibliography
The Oder is a river in Central Europe and Poland's third-longest river after the Vistula and Warta. It rises in the Czech Republic and flows 742 kilometres through western Poland forming 187 kilometres of the border between Poland and Germany as part of the Oder–Neisse line; the river flows into the Szczecin Lagoon north of Szczecin and into three branches that empty into the Bay of Pomerania of the Baltic Sea. The Oder is known by several names in different languages, but the modern ones are similar: English and German: Oder. Ptolemy knew the modern Oder as the Συήβος, a name derived from the Suebi, a Germanic people. While he refers to an outlet in the area as the Οὐιαδούα Ouiadoua, this was the modern Wieprz, as it was said to be a third of the distance between the Suebos and Vistula; the name Suebos may be preserved in the modern name of the Świna river, an outlet from the Szczecin Lagoon to the Baltic. In the Old Church Slavonic language, the name of the river is Vjodr; the Oder is 840 kilometres long: 112 km in the Czech Republic, 726 km in Poland and is the third longest river located within Poland, second longest river overall taking into account its total length, including parts in neighbouring countries.
It drains a basin of 119,074 square kilometres, 106,043 km2 of which are in Poland, 7,246 km2 in the Czech Republic, 5,587 km2 in Germany. Channels connect it to the Havel, Vistula system and Kłodnica, it flows through Silesian, Lower Silesian and West Pomeranian voivodeships of Poland and the states of Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in Germany. The main branch empties into the Szczecin Lagoon near Poland; the Szczecin Lagoon is bordered on the north by the islands of Wolin. Between these two islands, there is only a narrow channel going to the Bay of Pomerania, which forms a part of the Baltic Sea; the largest city on the Oder is Wrocław, in Lower Silesia. The Oder is navigable over a large part of its total length, as far upstream as the town of Koźle, where the river connects to the Gliwice Canal; the upstream part of the river is canalized and permits larger barges to navigate between the industrial sites around the Wrocław area. Further downstream the river is free flowing, passing the towns of Eisenhüttenstadt and Frankfurt upon Oder.
Downstream of Frankfurt the river Warta forms a navigable connection with Poznań and Bydgoszcz for smaller vessels. At Hohensaaten the Oder–Havel Canal connects with the Berlin waterways again. Near its mouth the Oder reaches the city of a major maritime port; the river reaches the Baltic Sea through the Szczecin Lagoon and the river mouth at Świnoujście. Under Germania Magna the river was known to the Romans as the Viadrus or Viadua in Classical Latin, as it was a branch of the Amber Road from the Baltic Sea to the Roman Empire. In Germanic languages, including English, it was and still is called the Oder, written in medieval Latin documents as Odera or Oddera. Most notably, it was mentioned in the Dagome iudex, which described territory of the Duchy of Poland under Duke Mieszko I in A. D. 990, as a part of duchy's western frontier. Before Slavs settled along its banks, the Oder was an important trade route and towns in Germania were documented along with many tribes living between the rivers Albis and Vistula.
Centuries after Germanic tribes, the Bavarian Geographer specified the following West Slavic peoples: Sleenzane, Opolanie and Golensizi in Silesia and Wolinians with Pyrzycans in Western Pomerania. A document of the Bishopric of Prague mentions Zlasane, Trebovyane and Dedositze in Silesia. In the 13th century, the first dams were built to protect agricultural lands; the Finow Canal, first built in 1605, connects the Havel. After completion of the more straight Oder–Havel Canal in 1914, its economic relevance decreased; the earliest important undertaking with a view to improving the waterway was initiated by Frederick the Great, who recommended diverting the river into a new and straight channel in the swampy tract known as Oderbruch near Küstrin. The work was carried out in the years 1746–53, a large tract of marshland being brought under cultivation, a considerable detour cut off and the main stream confined to a canal. In the late 19th century, three additional alterations were made to the waterway: The canalization of the main stream at Breslau, from the confluence of the Glatzer Neisse to the mouth of the Klodnitz Canal, a distance of over 50 miles.
These engineering works were completed in 1896. During 1887–91 the Oder–Spree Canal was made to connect the two rivers; the deepening and regulation of the mouth and lower course of the stream. By the Treaty of Versailles, navigation on the Oder became subject to International Commission of the Oder. Following the articles 363 and 364 of the Treaty Czechoslovakia was entitled to lease in Stettin its own section in the harbour called Tschechoslowakische Zone im Hafen Stettin; the contract of lease between Czechoslovakia and German
Ponyri, Ponyrovsky District, Kursk Oblast
Ponyri is an urban-type settlement in the Ponyrovsky District of the Kursk Oblast. It has been famous for its apples, known as Antonovskiye Yabloki In the Soviet era it consisted of two state farms, Ponyri 1 and 2. In English-language publications it is sometimes referred to as Ponyri Station, due to its location on the railway between Oryol and Kursk. Following the Nazi invasion, Ponyri was not under threat of occupation until late October, 1941, when the German XXXXVIII Motorized Corps pushed through against minimal resistance but while enduring minimal supplies and appalling weather on its way to Kursk. Ponyri remained under German occupation until February, 1943. In the course of the Soviet winter counter-offensive on the southern half of the front, following their victory at Stalingrad, elements of Bryansk Front's 48th and 13th Armies liberated the settlement on February 9; the Soviet advance was brought to a halt in late February with the lines several kilometres north of Ponyri, they began to dig in, at first as a matter of course, more as a summer German offensive was anticipated.
The north shoulder of the Kursk salient was defended by 13th Army of Gen. K. K. Rokossovsky's Central Front in the first line. On April 21, Rokossovsky was ordered by STAVKA to evacuate the civilian population from the frontal zone to a depth of 25 km, including Ponyri, so as to adapt the evacuated towns and settlements for defense; the first attacks on Ponyri came from the air on the first morning of the battle. Rokossovsky had anticipated that the main German 9th Army attack would come straight down the rail line, but in fact it struck somewhat farther west, he scrambled to get reserves into place; the 3rd Tank Corps was deployed to the south of Ponyri in the afternoon, as well as the 3rd and 4th Guards Airborne Divisions, in support of the 307th Rifle Division. On the following days the 9th and 18th Panzer Divisions pushed into Ponyri, at great cost to both sides; the German writer, Paul Carell, described it as "the Stalingrad of the Kursk salient." The 307th fiercely contested the schoolhouse, the water tower, the train and the field tractor stations.
The 1023rd Rifle Regiment hung on to the high ground of Hill 253.5, just to the south of the settlement, by July 11 the German forces were stuck fast, many kilometres from their objectives
The Seelow Heights are situated around the town of Seelow, about 90 kilometres east of Berlin, overlook the Oderbruch, the western flood plain of the River Oder, a further 20 kilometres to the east. They are sometimes known as the "Gates to Berlin", because the main eastern route out of Berlin runs through them. During April 1945, the Battle of the Seelow Heights saw some of the heaviest fighting of the Second World War between the German defenders and the Soviet attackers. Many localised Soviet attacks were held back by remnants of the Wehrmacht; the Soviet advances could not be held off for long. After several days of intense fighting, the Soviets managed to break through the defences and fight their way into the German capital in the Battle of Berlin