Episode #125 of the Stack Overflow podcast is here. We talk Tilde Club and mechanical keyboards. Listen now
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...but if the Strait is guarded such that they can't get them without braving an enfilading strafe of torpedoes, then it wouldn't do much good even if they knew where they are. From this comment by the OP, and others like it, it seems they don't appreciate the tactical limitations and vulnerabilities of a WWII submarine. I'll address that. While WWII ...


125

Saying that no Wehrmacht soldier ever refused to kill civilians or PoWs is wrong, there are documented instances of this happening. It's just that this did not happen often enough to make a difference. What happened to those who refused to participate? There is this study on some documented instances. In multiple cases, some punishment indeed was inflicted ...


124

Information regarding mass murders of Jews began to reach the Allied leadership soon after the invasion of the Soviet Union in late June 1941. The volume of those reports increased with time. This was some six months before the Wannsee Conference and the formalisation of the Nazi's "Final Solution to the Jewish Problem". I'm not aware that this information ...


89

I think your question is best answered by addressing an underlying presumption. Namely: your 21st century eyes and your living in a society that considers hate speech to be antisocial are misleading you into assuming that societal norms were similar a century ago. They were not. On the contrary, hating jews (and gypsies) in the early 20th century was ...


84

To a certain extent there's a wider question to ask - why did German armies fight so well in WW2? I say that because the answers to both questions overlap. The effectiveness of ordinary German soldiers made their generals look good, and good generalship made the soldiers effective. But to restrict this answer specifically to the senior officers I'd say the ...


83

I want to offer a personal perspective: I am German. I learned about the Holocaust in school. I visited concentration camps. I have friends who lost family in concentration camps. I watched documentaries and Schindler's List. I read Anne Frank's Diary. I talked to Holocaust survivors. And yet, I feel I haven't fully comprehended the horror, the inhumanity, ...


74

Concerning your questions, beyond the original "why didn't they refuse" one: the massacres definitely caused psychological problems for many soldiers, even the SS - to the point that Himmler himself decided to replace shootings with gas chambers and have prisoners and local auxillaries handle the victims and their bodies as much as possible. Summary from ...


73

The nature of Nazi and Japanese atrocities is quite different. The Japanese atrocities, when ordered from above, were "rational" in the sense that they were perpetrated to gain a perceived tangible benefit for the war effort (please do not misconstrue my words to mean that I condone these actions! I do not!) The most appalling crimes, such as the rape of ...


70

Perhaps this is a generational thing? As a Gen-X'er, I grew up hearing about things like the Bataan Death March, The Rape of Nanking, and how in general the Japanese didn't feel like adhering to the Geneva Conventions, (as dramatized in Bridge over the River Kwai, among other movies and books). When I was a kid we also had lots more Pacific Theater veterans ...


67

Short Answer Despite the claims of some sites, I can find no evidence that Hitler himself said 'Heil Hitler', and it would make no sense for him to do so as the words were more than a greeting: they indicated obedience to the leader (Hitler) and were an oath of allegiance (to Hitler). This was made clear by a senior Nazi official, Gregor Strasser, as early ...


65

It is far easier to sink than capture, especially when your main tool is the submarine. If you go further back in history, capture was indeed often the name of the game. But in a WW2 context Germany could not go head-to-head with the Royal Navy, hence submarines being the primary tool. Beyond this, ships were far more traceable and could be avoided; once ...


62

From the "contemporary German perspective", the answer is doubtless "Alaric", Juan Pujol García, known to the British as "Garbo". He was paid a total of US$340,000 and awarded the Iron Cross, second class, in July 1944 for his contributions to the war effort. He operated a network that grew to 27 sub-agents in all parts of the UK, communicating via post to ...


53

Sweden was a vital source of iron ores to Germany, an important strategic resource for her war effort. Because the allies controlled the seas, Scandinavia was Germany's main source of good quality iron. Attacking Sweden would have disrupted the supply for no real gain. Production of high-grade steel suitable for armour plate and gun barrels depended ...


53

You are correct. Parts of the Wehrmacht were mechanized, but the vast majority was foot infantry with horse drawn logistics. Most soldiers walked towards Moscow, and back. World War II German Military Weaknesses: Logistics German Logistics: Could the Germans Support an Advance into the Moscow-Gorki Space in the Summer of 1941? The WWII German Army was 80% ...


53

No country is impossible to invade. Andorra could invade the USA. The question you should have asked was "Was Switzerland Impossible to Conquer during World War II?". The answer is no country is impossible to conquer. But there is great variation in the probability that a specific country will actually conquer another specific country if it tries to ...


47

The overall answer is that the Soviets were not rich in railways and destroyed much of it as they retreated. The Germans anticipated this, and had railway commandos rebuild much of the Soviet trunk lines and some feeders to standard gauge. They also maintained several of the wide gauge lines if captured intact and with enough rolling stock. Some efforts, ...


47

The options that submarines had were, in practice, limited to sinking Allied shipping and leaving the area as quickly as possible to avoid detection. U-boats had a disadvantage compared to destroyers (not to mention airplanes) when it came to speed, especially when submerged. They were also poorly equipped to fight surface warships as their deck guns were no ...


46

According to Arthur D. Jacobs, author of the autobiographic book "The Prison Called Hohenasperg: An American boy betrayed by his Government during World War II", by the end of the war, 11000 persons of German ancestry were interned, both immigrants and visitors. Also, under the pressure of US Government, Latin American countries arrested more than 4000 ...


45

The funds for the Autobahn project came from the Reinhardt Program, a credit finance scheme originated by Kurt von Schleicher. The contractors who built the highways were paid not in Reichsmark, but with debentures issued by the Reich Finance Ministry which could be redeemed at a discount at certain banks that formed a work creation consortium. These banks, ...


42

There was an 88-minute long speech made by Hitler to the Reichstag on December 11th, 1941, which was four days after the Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor, where he officially declared that Germany would join Japan in the war against the USA. In this speech, he mentioned a few of his personal reasons for this decision. That decision to declare war had been ...


40

No, Hitler had no plan for defeating the US outright. However, the Germans had been fighting against the US for quite some time in the Battle of the Atlantic, since US escorts would take convoys partway across and defend them against U-Boats. So the US neutrality was very strained already. And when the US entered the war, the Germans at once sent U-Boats ...


40

There was a mechanism called voting against Hitler. Unfortunately, Hitler's opponents failed to set aside their differences and unite against him. It is important to realise that Hitler did not gain dictatorial powers solely by virtue of winning a democratic election (though the Nazi electoral performance helped immensely). In fact, in the last generally ...


38

I think the Great Depression was quite irrelevant for Germany in 1939 similarly to for other countries that took measures at state regulation. As for the income, Germany was a well-developed industrial country with advanced technology. It was a pioneering country at chemistry, electrical engineering, machine-tool construction, railroads and transportation, ...


38

Could an SS officer get from Auschwitz to Berlin by train in July/August/September 1944? Yes. Per the many comments to your question they'd repair the rails as they'd get destroyed. Trains might get delayed, but they would arrive. And per John Dallman's answer the rail system only broke down in early 1945 when allies began to attack it systematically. ...


38

Ok, since I think I finally got your real question (as I see it): I'm simply asking if the defense of Switzerland during WW2 was overrated. Many people claim that the country was impossible to occupy, I just want to know if this is not clearly exaggerated. The emphasis is what I interpret as your "real" question (since there is a lot of confusion here) ...


37

Gibraltar during the war had a quite formidable British naval presence (Force H), an airfield, and significant coastal gun emplacements easily capable of covering the entire strait. The primary batteries were a set of twin 9.2" naval guns guns at the southern end of the peninsula, which had sufficient range to interdict all surface naval traffic through ...


37

Three steps to observe: Hitler was given the chancellory Election in 1933 Reichstag fire & Enabling decree First the really unwanted elements were beaten up, imprisoned or just killed. Then a lot of the right-wingers saw their wishes and chances and did not switch sides, to the contrary, they just switched the membership card. Then, after eliminating ...


36

Neither side really saw enough of a strategic advantage. The UK was already spread thin trying to defend their own island, so going out and trying to take control of Ireland didn't make sense, even if it meant preventing Germany from doing so. Given the long history of turmoil between England and Ireland, I believe they were content that Ireland didn't side ...


36

I seriously doubt it. Japan was a traditional monarchy, philosophically and ideologically far closer to China than Germany. Of course both were mortal enemies and had been for centuries. Far more likely they were drawn together simply by the fact that both were shut out from the "international community" and felt slighted by the UK and US (and in case of ...


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