217

...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 ...


126

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 ...


90

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 ...


85

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 ...


82

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, ...


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 ...


73

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. ...


72

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 ...


68

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 ...


63

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 ...


55

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 ...


55

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 ...


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% ...


50

Well, not officially. Insulting the Führer or insulting Hitler, any laws for that? 'Insulting the Führer' was often interpreted as being a Lèse-majesté, codified from the beginning of the 2nd Reich in 1871 as "Majestätsbeleidigung und Verunglimpfung des Staatsoberhauptes (§§ 94 ff. RStGB, 90 StGB)", and still a German law in §90 StGB. After January ...


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 ...


46

The Soviets were caught by surprise and suffered massive casualties as a result. See this Wikipedia article. Lots of aircraft were destroyed on the ground, not the air. The first attacks began at 03:00 on 22 June. The Soviets had been caught by surprise, their aircraft bunched together in neat rows which were vulnerable. The results were devastating ... ...


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, ...


43

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) ...


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 ...


39

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

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 ...


38

I'm wondering if Hitler or others conceived of this possibility when they were planning Barbarossa? (Note: much of this is derived from Wikipedia, I don't have the referenced sources.) It seems they conceived the opposite. They were so confident the Soviet army would be unable to function without their supplies from European Russia that they would stand ...


37

The skull and crossbones or "death's head" is not a purely German - still less a specifically Nazi - symbol, but has been, and still is, used by many military units, including the British, Australian and Swedish armies and the US Marine Corps. The British Queen's Royal Lancers use the skull and crossbones with the caption beneath "Or Glory" - the "Death or ...


37

Like this Swedish front page from December 18, 1942 it was known. The headline says "Planer på att utrota judarna förverkligas" (Plans to exterminate the Jews put into action). It speaks of hundreds of thousands of victims. Based on the British Foreign Secretary, Anthony Eden's proclamation. So it was reported in regular newspapers, but perhaps not the ...


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