How important is air supremacy in war
The second World War
Dr. Thomas Vogel
Lieutenant Colonel Dr. Thomas Vogel, born in 1959, is project division manager at the Center for Military History and Social Sciences of the Bundeswehr (ZMSBw), formerly the Military History Research Office (MGFA), in Potsdam. He has long been interested in the military opposition in the 'Third Reich' and the resistance of soldiers against National Socialism. For several years he has been dealing more intensively with various aspects of warfare in the age of the world wars, most recently with coalition warfare in particular. He has, inter alia. published: "Uprising of conscience. Military resistance against Hitler and the Nazi regime, 5th edition, Hamburg et al. 2000 (publisher and author); Wilm Hosenfeld:" I try to save everyone. "The life of a German officer in letters und Tagebüücher, Munich 2004 (ed. and author); Tobruk 1941: Rommel's Failure and Hitler's Success on the Strategic Sidelines of the 'Third Reich', in: Tobruk in the Second World War. Struggle and Remembrance, ed. v. G. Jasiński and J. Zuziak, Warsaw 2012, pp. 143-160; "A fruit knife for chopping wood." The battle for Stalingrad and the failure of the German allies on Don and Volga 1942/43, in: Stalingrad. An exhibition of the Military History Museum of Bundeswehr, edited by G. Piecken, M. Rogg, J. Wehner, Dresden 2012, pp. 128-141; A War Coalition Fails in Coalition Warfare: The Axis Powers and Operation Herkules in the Spring of 1942, in: Coalition Warfare: An Anthology of Scholarly Presentations at the Conference on Coalition Warfare at the Royal Danish Defense College, 2011, ed. v. N. B. Poulsen, K. H. Galster, S. Nørby, Newcastle upon Tyne 2013, pp. 160-176; The First World War 1914-1918. The German deployment into a warlike century, Munich 2014 (co-publisher and author).
Radicalization of warfare
Hitler's decree on the formation of the "German Volkssturm" from 25.09.1944
As in the autumn of 1939, we are now facing the front of our enemies all alone. In a few years we succeeded in solving the most important military problems through the first large-scale deployment of our German people's strength, and in securing the existence of the Reich and thus Europe for years. While the enemy now believes they can strike the last blow, we are determined to carry out the second large-scale operation of our people. We must and we will succeed, as in the years 1939 to 1941, relying exclusively on our own strength, not only to break the enemy's will to destroy, but to throw it back again and keep it from the Reich until the future of Germany, its allies and thus securing peace in Europe
We oppose the total will to destroy our Jewish international enemies, as we know, with the total commitment of all German people. In order to strengthen the active forces of our armed forces and in particular to conduct a relentless fight wherever the enemy wants to set foot on German soil, I therefore call on all German men who are capable of armed forces to fight.
1. In the districts of the Greater German Reich, the German Volkssturm must be formed from all men who are capable of arms between the ages of 16 and 60. He will defend his home soil with all weapons and means, as far as they appear suitable.
2. The Gauleiter in their districts is responsible for setting up and managing the German Volkssturm. Above all, they make use of the most capable organizers and leaders of the tried and tested institutions of the party, the SA, SS, the NSKK and the Hitler Youth.
3. I appoint the chief of staff of the SA, Schepmann, as inspector for shooting training and the corps leader of the NSKK, Kraus, as inspector for engine training for the Volkssturm.
4. The members of the German Volkssturm are soldiers within the meaning of the Defense Act during their deployment. 5. The membership of members of the Volkssturm in non-professional organizations remains unaffected. Service in the German Volkssturm takes precedence over any service in other organizations.
6. As the commander of the reserve army, the Reichsführer SS is responsible for the military organizations, training, armament and equipment of the German Volkssturm.
7. The combat deployment of the German Volkssturm is carried out according to my instructions by the Reichsführer SS as the commander of the replacement army.
8. As the commander of the replacement army, Reichsführer SS Himmler issued the military implementation regulations, and Reichsleiter Bormann issued the political and organizational regulations on my behalf.
9. The National Socialist Party fulfills its highest duty of honor in front of the German people by first and foremost using its organizations as the main bearers of this struggle.
Führer headquarters, September 25, 1944
The Führer: Adolf Hitler
The head of the party chancellery: M. Bormann
The Chief of the High Command of the Wehrmacht: Keitel
The Reich Minister and Head of the Reich Chancellery: Dr. Lammers "
Source: Walther Hofer (ed.), National Socialism. Documents 1933-1945, Frankfurt am Main 2nd edition 1957, p. 252 f.
Premature German defeats in air and sea warfareAs the Allied armies from East and West approached the German borders, Allied bomber fleets of up to 1,000 aircraft laid the German cities in ruins. Since early 1943, the British received Bomber Command Support from a US air fleet in Great Britain, from the end of 1943 another one in southern Italy. The British undertook their operations at night, the Americans by day. The two also differed in their objectives. The British strategy tried to shake the morale of the population by means of terrorist attacks ("moral bombing"). Measured against its goal of achieving the early (moral) collapse of the German population, it ultimately remained unsuccessful, although the Allied air war in Germany killed almost half a million people and destroyed a fifth of all homes. In contrast, the Americans concentrated on the destruction of the German arms industry. With targeted attacks against the German aircraft industry, the Allies secured air control over Germany in the summer of 1944. After that, their bomber fleets gradually paralyzed German warfare by destroying key industries. They made a major contribution to ending the war. The German air defense shot down a total of over 15,000 bombers with a crew of 100,000, but could not do anything against the growing majority of the Allies. Technically, too, she fell behind. Your radar systems were soon effectively disrupted by the enemy. From the spring of 1944, powerful escort fighters protected the US bomber fleets, which significantly reduced their initially high losses from German fighters. In contrast, the weak German bomber weapon was no longer capable of real counter-attacks, as a last small air offensive against Great Britain in the spring of 1944 showed. Now the Nazi leadership relied on attacks with "retaliatory weapons" such as the V1 and V2, which cost many human lives and caused great damage, but no longer changed the course of the war.
Maps and graphics: "End of the war"
Germany also lost the naval war prematurely. This initially applied to naval warfare over water. Its surface fleet, which is still under construction, could not even come close to competing with British naval power. Early losses such as those of the armored ship "Admiral Graf Spee" in 1939 and the battleship "Bismarck" in 1941 or even the loss of half of the operational fleet during the "Weser Exercise" operation in 1940 were all the harder and even that was less and less successful in the second half of the war. The German submarines are different. Soon very successful in the trade war and already stylized as a decisive weapon, they suffered serious setbacks in the spring of 1943. Improved defense measures by the Allies and the decryption of German radio communications by the British ("Ultra") caused the submarines' successes to collapse and their own losses to increase dramatically. Even a staunch National Socialist like their new Commander-in-Chief, Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz, was therefore forced in May 1943 to withdraw the submarines from their main war zone, the North Atlantic. It was not until very late that naval armaments were concentrated on submarine warfare under him. The growing Allied superiority at sea limited the use of the Kriegsmarine from then on essentially to the coastal apron. Shortly before the end of the war, she was given an important task in evacuating troops and civilians across the Baltic Sea.
Last German offensives and Allied assault on "Fortress Germany"In the winter of 1944/45 Hitler's will ensured the last major, almost desperate attempt by the Wehrmacht to stop the Allied advance in the west. Prepared under great secrecy, on December 16, 1944, an offensive by Army Group B with three armies overran the relatively weak American lines in the border region between the Eifel and the Ardennes (company "Wacht am Rhein"). Their destination was Antwerp, 200 km away, which has recently become the most important supply port for the Allies on the continent. It was also hoped to cut off the British-Canadian Army Group under Field Marshal Montgomery in the Netherlands. Growing opposition from the enemy and their own supply problems brought the attack to a standstill on December 24th after it had penetrated 80 km deep into the Ardennes. The Allied High Command under General Eisenhower quickly recovered from the surprise, deployed all available reserves and threw the attackers back to their starting positions by the end of January 1945. Even a mass deployment of 900 German aircraft on January 1st did nothing to change that; it only led to the ultimate ruin of the Luftwaffe. The German Ardennes offensive cost both sides heavy losses at the last minute. For the Americans, it became the bloodiest battle of the entire war. However, they could easily compensate for their losses, while they drained the substance on the German side. Because of the murder of American prisoners of war during the fighting, numerous SS soldiers later had to appear before a US military tribunal.
With the Ardennes offensive
The fact that the eastern front collapsed so quickly was also due to Hitler himself, who preferred to send the last tank reserves from the west to Army Group South in Hungary. There the Red Army was stopped in front of Budapest in January 1945 and in some cases even got on the defensive due to minor German counter-attacks. Hitler saw the chance to strike back, also to secure the last large German oil reserves in western Hungary. It was soon too late for the relief of Budapest; the city fell after a seven-week siege on February 13, 1945. The battle had cost the Red Army over 300,000 dead and wounded, the German-Hungarian defenders a lot less. Regardless of this, the newly reinforced Army Group South rushed to attack between Budapest and Lake Balaton at the beginning of March and in bad weather, and already failed at the beginning ("Spring Awakening" operation). It did not withstand an immediate counter-offensive by the Red Army. Hitler's hold orders did nothing to change that. At the beginning of April, with continued support from Hungarian troops, she evacuated southern Slovakia and Burgenland. The advancing Red Army took Vienna almost without a fight until April 12th, profiting from the resistance of the Wehrmacht and the residents against Nazi rule. After that, the fighting in Austria gradually came to an end. The Soviet forces concentrated on enclosing the last intact German Army Group in Bohemia, which finally surrendered on May 11, 1945. The protracted fighting in Hungary meant that southern Germany was spared a Soviet invasion.
In the spring of 1945, the Allies on the German western border initially had a similarly difficult time. The unexpectedly fierce German resistance in the Hürtgenwald, in the Ardennes and most recently in January 1945 in Alsace made them cautious. Last but not least, they respected the German "Siegfried Line" near the border - until it turned out that it was not an obstacle. The German leadership also overestimated the value of this line of defense, which was based on the bunkers of the "West Wall" between Kleve and Lörrach. Strengthened by their last strategic reserves, the Allies went on the offensive on February 8, 1945 between the Moselle and Waal in order to win the Middle and Lower Rhine as a basis for the further advance into the Ruhr area and central Germany. Obstructed by bad weather and rough terrain, they only reached the Rhine after a month, where on March 7th the undestroyed Remagen bridge fell into their hands. They soon succeeded in building bridgeheads to the right of the Rhine in other places. The German lines were then quickly broken, and the Allies quickly advanced into the interior of Germany.Under the pressure of their attacks, the context of the German defense was visibly lost; it was increasingly difficult to coordinate and control it from Berlin. Army Group B, encircled in the Ruhr area, and the "Harz Fortress", which opened on 16./17. April and April 20 surrendered. On March 28, General Eisenhower had realigned the Allied approach. Accordingly, the British-Canadian Army Group continued to conquer northern Germany. On the other hand, he no longer wanted to intervene in the battle for Berlin. The Red Army had already made him their cause. In addition, Eisenhower feared excessive losses of his own. Therefore, the American advance through central Germany ended on the Elbe, where American and Soviet troops met for the first time on April 25, 1945. The US troops soon had to withdraw from Central Germany because after the decisions of the Yalta Conference (February 4-11, 1945) it became part of the Soviet zone of occupation. Before that the Americans fell into the hands of the art and gold treasures of the "Third Reich" and the elite of German armaments research that had been relocated there. The liberation of the Buchenwald concentration camp near Weimar on April 15th confronted them with the horror of the "Third Reich". Eisenhower got a personal impression of it, while his attention as Commander-in-Chief was on Southern Germany. The news of the alleged retreat of the Nazi regime and the Wehrmacht into an "Alpine fortress" had induced him to swerve there with strong forces, especially since the French army subordinate to him had already advanced unauthorized into the German south-west. However, the "Alpine Fortress" soon turned out to be a pipe dream made up of German wishes and false conclusions from the Allied secret services. On their way south, the US Army captured the National Socialist model cities of Nuremberg ("City of the Reich Party Rallies") and Munich ("City of Movement") in mid / late April 1945. On May 5, she established the connection with the American troops advancing from Italy on the Brenner Pass. The Western Allies had made their contribution to the liberation of Germany from Nazi rule.
Final battle for Berlin and the fall of the "Third Reich"A drama of its own took place during the last weeks of the war in the battle for the
Hitler's order for destructive measures in the Reich territory of March 19, 1945 ("Nero order")
1) All military, traffic, communications, industrial and supply facilities as well as material assets within the Reich territory that the enemy can somehow make immediately or in the foreseeable future usable for the continuation of his fight are to be destroyed.
2) Responsible for carrying out this destruction are the military command authorities for all military objects including the traffic and communication systems, the Gauleiter and Reich Defense Commissioners for all industrial and supply systems as well as other material assets; the Gauleiters and Reich Defense Commissioners are to be given the necessary help in carrying out their tasks.
3) This order must be made known to all troop commanders as quickly as possible, instructions to the contrary are invalid. "
Source: Federal Archives, Military Archives Department, RM 7/237.
The "Third Reich" outlasted the dictator and the downfall of the
The deeds of surrender from Reims and Berlin-Karlshorst.
DECLARATION OF CAPITULATION
2. The High Command of the German Armed Forces will immediately order all authorities of the German land, sea and air forces and all armed forces controlled by Germany to cease fighting at 11:01 p.m. Central European Time on May 8th and to remain in their positions that they hold at this point in time and completely disarm themselves by delivering weapons and equipment to the local Allied commanders or to the officers to be appointed by the Allied representatives. No ship, boat or aircraft of any kind may be sunk, nor may hulls, mechanical facilities, equipment, machines of any kind, weapons, apparatus, technical objects that can be useful for war purposes in general, be damaged.
3. The High Command of the German Wehrmacht will immediately pass on to the responsible commanders all additional orders issued by the Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces and the High Command of the Red Army and ensure that they are carried out.
4. This declaration of surrender is without prejudice for any general surrender provisions that take its place and that may be imposed by the United Nations and in its name on Germany and the German Armed Forces.
5. If the High Command of the German Armed Forces or any armed forces subordinate to or controlled by it should fail to behave in accordance with the provisions of this declaration of surrender, the High Command of the Red Army and the Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces will all punish and take other measures that they deem appropriate.
6. This declaration is in English, Russian and German. Only the English and Russian versions are authoritative.
Signed in Berlin on May 8, 1945
signed von Friedeburg (Commander in Chief of the Navy)
signed Keitel (Chief of the Wehrmacht High Command)
signed Stumpff (Chief of the Air Force General Staff)
for the high command of the German Wehrmacht. "
End of the war in the Far East
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