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Sheepster
Post subject: Posted: October 11th, 2020, 8:34 am
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Berlin, 18 – 19 May 1940

France’s strategy had always been one of defence, and so stopping the invader and initiating a static war of strongpoints and trenches was the expected outcome of any attack.
In Germany the public were not aware of the military situation, but within the German High Command the reaction to a return to the horrors of Passchendaele was as shocked as in Britain.
With the pride of the panzerwaffe burning in the fields of Belgium and France the planned lightning war in the west had collapsed in failure, with the gamble itself being very much the product of the Führer’s planning. War in the trenches was his worst nightmare, and now the pride of German youth was digging in to relive their fathers’ trauma. Hitler broke down.
When news of the British change in government reached Berlin, the potential for a more moderate leader to negotiate with was grasped at. At Hitler’s command Rudolph Hess was given carte blanche to initiate those negotiations with Britain as rapidly as possible. Hess commandeered one of the search and rescue Heinkel He 59 flying boats, with a plan to fly directly to the Thames at Westminster. The aircraft was hurriedly de-identified, and repainted with a Union Jack finflash and Union Jacks on the upper wings.
Late on the afternoon of the 19th, Hess was ready to undertake his mission. To ensure the aircraft was not accidently intercepted by German forces, an escort flight of Bf 110’s guarded the Heinkel until clear of the German coast, where they broke away and returned to land. Over the North Sea, Hess dropped to wave height tracking for London. British radar identified the single target, but its low speed led to it being misidentified as a returning British aircraft. Spitfires were directed to intercept, and the hastily painted Union Jacks were enough to confuse the fighter pilots as to the identity of the Heinkel, allowing Hess to successfully land on the Thames next to Big Ben.

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But the Führer was not the only one devastated by the stalling of Fall Gelb. Senior generals had been very uncomfortable with the military risks involved, particularly the risk to the panzer force. Now their fears had been realised with the German General Staff seeing themselves being directed at the “whim of an Austrian corporal”. Generalleutnant Halder, chief of staff of the German Army High Command contacted Oberstleutnant Hans Oster of the Abwehr to initiate the coup planned originally for the Munich Crisis of 1938. Oster frantically re-established the network of connections from both the German officer and diplomatic corps, and sent orders for Prince Willem Of Prussia to return from the front to Berlin with all haste, ostensibly being posted to the Abwehr.


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Sheepster
Post subject: Posted: October 12th, 2020, 5:59 am
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London, 20 May 1940

Hess’ arrival in London was initially treated with great secrecy. He claimed he was on “a mission of humanity” and that the Führer “wished to stop the fighting” with Britain. All through the night Hess was interrogated to confirm the validity of his claims, and by the early morning the new British government determined that they had a serious chance to end the fighting.
Unlike 1918, the negotiations were not between a nation on the verge of collapse and an undefeatable coalition, but rather two equally powerful states each wishing not to be drawn further into conflict. With neither Britain nor German at a real military advantage, and with the knowledge of the failures of the Treaties that ended the Great War, both parties started from a position of trying to return to an antebellum world, without conceding too much to the other. Britain seized the role of primary negotiators for the Entente and neutral nations, much to the chagrin of the French. Britain’s primary concern was to end the war and to protect her empire, with concerns for the nations of continental Europe coming as secondary to the imperial commitment.
Dutch and Norwegian representatives, whose countries were barely hanging on under German attack, wanted the invaders expelled and the damage to their nations repaired, with no particular concern to matters outside their borders. Belgium, although confident that the German advance had been halted in her east was still concerned about German advances from the north, and also was mostly concerned with its own liberation. Representatives from Poland were the most vociferous. Britain and France had declared war to protect them, and had then done almost nothing for the Polish people. The Poles wanted their country back from the Nazi and Communist invaders, and wanted retribution. France considered that their eternal mission of holding back the Germanic hordes had been successfully accomplished outside of her own borders, and desired even more punitive conditions than they had demanded at Versailles 20 years earlier.


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Sheepster
Post subject: Posted: October 12th, 2020, 1:06 pm
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Armistice Day, 22 May 1940

With both Britain and Germany anxious for peace, negotiations were concluded rapidly, with the Armistice coming into effect at midnight on the 21st London time, 0200 on the 22nd in Berlin. Up until that time artillery fire from both French and German batteries had been pounding their trench-bound opponents, but neither the RAF nor Luftwaffe mounted other than defensive patrols – the French Armée de l’Air having already lost the power of offensive operations. Elsewhere on the ground only minor probing actions had been fought by either side, with the German advance on Antwerp being the only movement of the line.
The following major points were agreed to in the Anglo-German negotiations, with grudging acceptance of the other nations consulted – except Poland who refused any form of acceptance in disgust.
* Termination of hostilities in Scandinavia and the Low Countries, with the exception of defensive actions against francs-tireurs,
* Evacuation of all foreign troops from Scandinavia and the Low Countries with 14 days,
* Release and repatriation of all prisoners of war and interned civilians from belligerent nations within 28 days (considering that many German POW’s had already been deported to Canada),
* No removal or destruction of civilian goods, infrastructure or inhabitants in evacuated territories,
* Immediate cessation of all hostilities at sea, and all naval vessels not involved with repatriation to return to their home port within 14 days.
The Armistice agreement only covered the war zones to Germany’s north and west, not to the east where Poland was ignored. The uncomfortable reality was that with Soviet occupation of half of that nation, nothing decided in London could restore Poland.
While the fighting was stopped by the Armistice, a treaty to formally end the war still had to be negotiated. With no “victor” and no “defeated”, the bureaucracy of politics now had to play out, with Commissions from the combatant nations required to negotiate the details of returning the world to peace. Britain in particular could see that this would be no easy task after having started the war to defend Poland and providing sanctuary to Poles, and now with no means to honour that commitment.


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Sheepster
Post subject: Posted: October 12th, 2020, 2:56 pm
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Germany, 22 May 1940

In Germany the Nazi propaganda-machine had immediately capitalised on Britain’s initial tentative requests for peace. With word from London that negotiations were a reality, the German people were told that the Wehrmacht had secured Germany’s western border, and that Britain and France had come to the negotiating table recognising Germany’s sovereignty and repudiating Versailles.
The horror of another protracted trench war was quickly overshadowed by the relief of victory, Germany’s military were portrayed as heroes, the new Teutonic Knights having liberated the Reich from the shackles imposed in 1918. Hitler though, did not share the jubilation of the German people. The panzer thrust that he had gambled on had failed miserably, and the German army and air forces had been crippled. The start of trench warfare had shaken him to the core and brought on a bout of depression and symptoms of what may have been Parkinson’s disease, such that even the best efforts of Dr.Morell’s pharmacopeia were not able to restore his health.

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The executive transport Condor “Grenzmark” was hurriedly reverted back to governmental duties, and partially repainted back from Luftwaffe colours, and flown to Britain to return Hess to Berlin to a hero’s welcome at Templehof, an arrival that Hitler was too unwell to attend.


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Sheepster
Post subject: Posted: October 14th, 2020, 5:46 am
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German Coup, 24 May 1940

From receiving the instruction to proceed on the 17th, Oberstleutnant Hans Oster worked feverishly with Carl Goerdeler to coordinate action.
The German generals had initially been reticent to take action against Hitler, remembering that in spite of his failed 1918 Spring Offensive Ludendorff was still seen as a hero, while those who had negotiated the German surrender after that military failure were hated as criminals. However Hitler had revealed himself to not be the Great Leader, and his overruling of the general staff’s concerns about warplans had led to the destruction of the cream of the German military. This had finally tipped the balance to allow them to violate their oaths of loyalty as Hitler had now demonstrably failed to be honour his side of the compact. However the rest of the German military and civil service would not feel the same sense of betrayal, so the death of Hitler was seen as necessary to break that bond of fealty.
At noon on 24th May, the planned putsch was implemented. Loyal troops moved in to positions blocking streets to isolate the Reich Chancellery. With the Chancellery cut-off to any traffic, Graf Hans-Jürgen and a party of officers entered to obtain an audience with Hitler. After their initially peaceful entry to the building, the usual officious resistance from SS troops who were unaware of the unfolding drama led to gunfire and the loss of any further surprise. The assault party were all veterans of both Poland and the Low Countries with a clear concept of their mission, fighting against office workers and ceremonial guards suffering from confusion as to what was happening around them and who they were fighting against. The action was brief, and Hitler’s offices were breached before 1pm. Details of Hitler’s personal actions are unknown, but the coded message that Hitler was dead was relayed by radio to the conspirators.
Just before 1:30pm Generalleutnant Halder, chief of staff of the German Army High Command, issued his order calling the German military to action, and by blaming unnamed Party Leaders initiated a purging of Party-loyalists:
I. The Führer Adolf Hitler is dead!
An unscrupulous clique of disaffected Party leaders has attempted to betray the hard-struggling front and to seize power to overturn the victory won by the Führer, for their own selfish purposes.
II. In this hour of greatest danger, the government of the Reich has declared a state of military emergency for the maintenance of law and order and at the same time has transferred the executive power to me.
III. With this, I order:
1. I transfer the executive power – with the right of delegation, to the territorial commanders – on the home front, to the commander of the army reserves – in the occupied western area, to the supreme commander west – in the occupied eastern area, to the supreme commander of the army groups and the commander of the Wehrmacht eastern land for their respective area of command – in Denmark and Norway, to the Wehrmacht commander.
2. The holders of executive power have control over:
a) all sections and units of the Wehrmacht, including the Waffen-SS, RAD and the OT, within their area of command;
b) all public authorities, especially the entire law enforcement police, security police and administrative police;
c) all office bearers and subdivisions of the Nazi Party and those of its affiliated associations
3. The entire Waffen-SS is integrated into the army with immediate effect.
4. The holders of executive power are responsible for the maintenance of public order and security. They especially have to ensure:
a) the protection of communications
b) the elimination of the SD.
Any opposition to the military power of enforcement is to be ruthlessly crushed. In this hour of highest danger for the Fatherland , unity of the Wehrmacht and the maintenance of full discipline are the uppermost requirements.


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Sheepster
Post subject: Posted: October 15th, 2020, 1:12 am
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Germany in Transition, 24 May – June 1940

The death of the Hitler came as major shock to the German people, euphoric over the success in the West, and wildly supportive of the Führer’s leadership and the Wehrmacht. Halder’s initial declaration of martial law received widespread public support and immediately undermined loyalty to the Party.
Within Germany squads from the Ersatzheer under Generaloberst Fromm secured public buildings and facilities, and moved to place senior Nazi and government officials into protection. Party members in positions of power were as shocked by the situation as everyone else, and many immediately announced their support for Halder’s state of martial law and disavowance of support for any disaffected Party-led coup. The actual coup was not designed to completely remove all Party members from positions of power, but rather to remove the Führer and those with a fanatical loyalty to the Party rather than the Fatherland. Those who chose to resist were seen to be a part of a Party conspiracy, and with the Propaganda Ministry issuing statements supporting the actions of the Wehrmacht the fictional Party-led attempted coup gained the perception of reality.
Within Germany itself the only significant resistance was from SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich. Heydrich and loyalists within the SD initially repelled the Wehrmacht troops sent to arrest him and take control of the SD and police structures at the Braunes Haus in Munich. The building being the headquarters of the Party and the SD’s internal spying network was heavily defended by security staff committed to the Party.
With the arrival of the Wehrmacht security detachment sent to secure him, Joseph Goebbels was able to quickly ascertain the strength of the military-led coup. As a shrewd political operator Goebbels announced his support for the institution of martial law, and brought with him the support of the Public Enlightenment And Propaganda Ministry. Likewise Generalfeldmarschall Hermann Göring and Reichsleiter Heinrich Himmler fell in in support of the military coup.
Within the military formations in the field, arrest parties attempted to remove senior officers from SS units and replace their commands with regular officers. For the most part this proceeded smoothly.
In northern Belgium Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler under the command of SS-Obergruppenführer Josef "Sepp" Dietrich, refused any attempts at integration or disarming. The unit had been depleted with the failed holding action at Zeeland, which had not reduced their morale but had instead fostered a contempt for the regular army officers who looked down on the SS. The army escort detachment were rebuked, and tensions quickly escalated to open combat.
Within days all resistance from all holdout SS and SD units was quashed, with the work of the Propaganda Ministry ensuring little quarter was given to the “traitors to the Reich”. In Munich Heydich’s defence of the Braunes Haus ended with the destruction of the complex, including all the SD’s secret records held on Germans, and with his death. Few rank-and-file members of the Party suffered with the implementation of the new regime. However, senior unrepentant Nazis soon joined the communists, socialists and others they had considered undesirables within the German labour camp system.


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Sheepster
Post subject: Posted: October 15th, 2020, 11:59 pm
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Public Statements, 25 May 1940

By Saturday 25th May, the Propaganda Ministry released radio broadcasts that served to unite the German people with the establishment of a new political order.
In the morning General Halder provided the German people with the official background to the declaration of martial law. The borders of Germany had been secured by the gallant actions of the German Armed Forces, under a glorious plan devised by the Führer. With Germany having been strengthened back to becoming a world power, and with her place in the world secured, the Führer’s next task had been returning the House of Hohenzollern. Self-important Party functionaries had rebelled against the Führer, fearing a loss of power with the return of the Monarchy, had rebelled and betrayed the whole of the German volk. The military were now working to preserve the mission of the Führer, and save the Reich by crushing the Party revolt. The ongoing combat actions against the SD and SS units were seen as the obvious proof of the guilt of both those individual leaders and the organisations that they represented.
In the afternoon Prince Willem Of Prussia made his first radio broadcast to the Reich and the world. The Prince was grandson to the former Kaiser, and had not renounced his claim to the German throne as both his grandfather and father had done, and so had been chosen to provide the monarchist legitimacy to the coup. Again the broadcast celebrated the German armed forces and the skill and leadership of the Führer, and condemned the traitorous actions of a clique of Party members with loyalties only to themselves and not the Reich or volk. Prince Willem exhorted all members of the volk and the greater world community to support the military in the time of transition. Although not mentioned, the voice of the Prince brought the implication of his leadership to the coup and the future of the monarchy in the Reich.
The work of the Propaganda Ministry was evident through all of the public statements made during and after the coup. The thing that had united the coup was a common hatred of Hitler, and so the continuous honouring of him was anathema to all involved. However Goebbels’ expert directions towards manipulation of public opinion were accepted by all involved as necessary to undermine the Party’s hegemony.


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Sheepster
Post subject: Posted: October 16th, 2020, 4:33 pm
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New Reich Government

German public perception was very positive towards the establishment of a new government. In the West the removal of Hitler from power was greeted positively, but with reservations until the new government was fully established.
In the Soviet Union the removal of the Nazi regime with an imperial military regime was viewed with concern. Regardless of details of individual political orientation, Stalin had been able to work with another totalitarian strongman against the Western imperialist democracies. The new regime had the potential to be considerably less accommodating to the Soviets and become more a partner to the Reactionary West.
With British sensitivity to the term “Kaiser”, Prince Willem adopted the title of “Imperator Willem III”, harking back to the Holy Roman Empire’s Latin title, and also separating the new imperium from the old imperial constitution that tied the Reich’s crown to the Prussian kingship.
Hitler had combined the roles of President and Reich Chancellor, creating the title of Führer. With the return of the Monarchy, the presidency now no longer existed. For the German public the title Führer was now preserved for history as Hitler’s alone. The post of Reichskanzler was appointed to Carl Goerdeler, former economist and one of the chief co-ordinators of the coup.
Joachim von Ribbentrop was one of the few governmental casualties of the coup. Not being a career diplomat, but rather a well-placed businessman, he was considered to have been to responsible for Nazi foreign policy decisions and so was not considered to be suitable for a position in the new government. Instead the role of Foreign Minister was given to Ernst von Weizsäcker.
Regardless of what was hoped in the West, the coup was not about restoring democracy or even changing the political system. The majority of the coup members, military and civil, were conservative nationalists, but not democrats. Their motivation was best described as the “aristocratic resentment” of conservative elites, who had initially been integrated into Nazi structures, but were now losing influence. They were opposed to popular mass participation in governance of the state. Even so, many had principled opposition to Nazi policies and actions against German citizens and former citizens. Goerdeler in particular had opposed the anti-Jewish policies from their start.


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Sheepster
Post subject: Posted: October 18th, 2020, 2:44 pm
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Norway

As Germany was conducting military action in Norway to protect her economic interests against Britain, rather than as conquest as had been the case in Poland, political and publicity considerations for the wider world featured prominently in German actions. This included the public deployment of 3 prototype multi-turret Neubaufahrzeug tanks as propaganda vehicles.

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In the evening of the day of the German invasion Vidkun Quisling, leader of the Nasjonal Samling party, made a radio broadcast declaring himself prime minister. After 6 days this coup collapsed, to be replaced in the occupied areas by the Administrasjonsrådet council led by Ingolf Christensen. While Southern Norway was overrun by the Germany, King Haakon VII and the government fled north to Tromsø in the British protected north.
With the armistice in effect, Norway was still a country divided. Germany had captured the south and still held Narvik, the town that had been the target of both the German and British invasions, albiet under heavy pressure from combined British, French and Polish forces. The north still remained under government control. The terms of the Armistice were that all foreign troops were to vacate Norway, both Entente and German. Although the fighting stopped, this proved to be a point of contention for both sides. Germany did not want to surrender her gains and potentially lose access to Narvik, and Britain wanted the political situation to revert to that antebellum, conveniently forgetting that she had also initiated hostilities against Norway.
In the occupied south German forces started to pull out and return to Germany, but leaving behind equipment and arms. Quisling was called to the Reichskommissariat Norwegen as it was disbanding and advised of the situation. Understanding the unfolding events he moved to mobilise the Nasjonal Samling and its militant arm the Hirden, to fill the pending power vacuum in southern Norway. Once again Quisling took to the radio to announce the taking of power, but this time backed up by the force arms. With access to German military equipment Hirden members and supporters took to the streets taking the roles of both police and military. Under the terms of the Armistice action against civilian para-militaries was specifically approved, and German troops adopted a partisan stance, taking actions to support Quisling’s forces, who had no particular support from the general populace, against pockets of communist/monarchist/demobbed military resistance.

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In the unoccupied north, the Armistice was greeted with joy, but Quisling’s coup was met with distain. However with all remaining government structures isolated in the north, there was little apart from diplomatic efforts that could be done. British forces in Norway were given explicit instructions not to engage in any activities that could be interpreted as a violation of the Armistice, and so were forced to watch as the Nasjonal Samling took control of Narvik. They did however leave behind their now outdated Gloster Gladiator’s to rebuild the Norwegian air force. Without any deliberate intent, Norway broke into two states, Quisling’s new Norwegian Realm stretching up past the Arctic Circle, and the rump Kingdom of Norway comprising the unoccupied counties of Troms and Finnmark.

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Corrected spelling


Last edited by Sheepster on October 28th, 2020, 12:05 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Sheepster
Post subject: Posted: October 19th, 2020, 10:48 am
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German Self-analysis Of The War

Once the new regime had established itself in power, the German general staff turned their attention inwards to analyse the previous almost year’s combat.
Germany’s efforts at advanced force projection had been a dismal failure. Although the assault on Fort Eben-Emael had been a success and the force landed at Rotterdam had been able to hold, almost every other airborne force had failed or been countered within 24 hours. In the assault on the Netherlands in excess of 50% of the Ju 52 transports had been destroyed, crippling the potential of large scale troop movements. No territory had been captured in North Holland, as a lack of German small boats required the capture of Dutch boats to cross the Ijsselmeer or to the Wadden Islands. With no boats being found, the German advance was stopped at the coast. The expectation was that the Dutch would rapidly fold, however their resistance was sufficient to significantly upset the German timetable for the offensive. Even German intelligence was lacking, with the Dutch remote airbases being unknown and undiscovered.
The panzer force fared very badly in combat with the French. Battle against the Poles had not prepared the Germans for confrontation with a modern army. The light panzers were insufficiently armed or armoured, and even the heavier Panzer III’s were outclassed. The main advantages over the French armour was speed and tactical responsiveness, which allowed Rommel to push forward, but was not able to be exploited anywhere else.
The Luftwaffe’s performance was patchy, and was hampered by a lack of forward airfields once the army advanced, relying on airfields back in Germany reduced the time available overhead the battlefield, and reduced the ability to rapidly respond to changing situations – the fighters at times having close to an hour of flight from their home airfields to the combat zone. The Stukas had been vital to the war plan, and had not been up to the task. Without air superiority and against modern fighters, they had suffered great loses. As a psychological weapon they had broken ground troops, and as a precision bomber they were able to deliver their munitions, but against bunkers and casemates those munitions had had little effect. The loses to the Ju 52’s had shown that the aircraft was no longer robust enough to be a front-line aircraft, and with numbers depleted to the point of no longer being an effective military asset for large scale operations.


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