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Turkey and WWII


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Bulgaria in WWII



WWII: Appeasement



D-Day succeeded thanks to an ingenious design called the Mulberry Harbours



To stage their invasion of Nazi-held France, Allied forces created floating harbors in the English Channel where ships could safely dock to send soldiers and supplies ashore.
Royal Air Force

Colin Flint, Utah State University

When Allied troops stormed the beaches at Normandy, France on June 6, 1944 – a bold invasion of Nazi-held territory that helped tip the balance of World War II – they were using a remarkable and entirely untested technology: artificial ports.

To stage what was then the largest seaborne assault in history, the American, British and Canadian armies needed to get at least 150,000 soldiers, military personnel and all their equipment ashore on day one of the invasion.

Reclaiming France’s coastline was just the first challenge. After that, Allied troops planned to fight their way across the fields of France to liberate Paris and, finally, onto Berlin, where they would converge with the Soviet army to defeat Hitler.

When Gen. Dwight Eisenhower and his advisers pressed for this ambitious invasion of Nazi-occupied France, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was dubious.

Could it be done?

Such an operation would require more than a million soldiers – all equipped with weapons, ammunition, food and clothing – plus hundreds of thousands of vehicles, tents and medical personnel.

Getting so many people and materials from ship to shore while battling waves, tides and currents presented an enormous logistical challenge.

Churchill, recalling the failed marine campaign to capture Gallipoli during World War I, feared that Allied troops would get trapped on the beaches and be sitting ducks for the German soldiers awaiting atop Normandy’s cliffs.

So Churchill demanded that a team of engineers, scientists and military officers design a marine staging area that could actually support a successful operation.

The team’s solution was ingenious: two easy-to-assemble artificial ports where Allied ships could safely anchor to stage the massive operation.

As I write in my 2016 book on what became known as the “Mulberry Harbours,” each of these artificial ports consisted of artificial breakwaters – barriers against waves made up of sunken ships and huge concrete chambers.

Behind the circular breakwaters was a sophisticated system of floating piers anchored to the seabed.

All of these parts were towed 30 miles across the English Channel on D-Day from southern England, then sunk into place, about a mile off France’s northwest shore, the same day.

German planes doing air reconnaissance did spot the concrete chambers, which had been filled with air to make them float before they were sunk. But, according to my archival research, they had no idea what they were seeing or how these giant containers would be used.

A floating solution

Once complete, each Mulberry Harbour – a code name that has no deeper meaning – gave Allied troops about 1 square mile of quiet, wave-free ocean from which to stage the invasion.

Nearly 200 military ships and landing crafts anchored at Mulberry Harbours in their first week, sending 12 military divisions, or about 180,000 men, straight into enemy territory.

Ten thousand of them were killed or injured on the first day, blown up by landmines and picked off by camouflaged German machine gun nests and blasted by artillery in concrete bunkers.

On June 19, 1944, a storm permanently disabled the Mulberry Harbour used by the American armed forces.

But Britain’s Mulberry Harbour continued to serve Allied forces for another 10 months as they freed all French ports from German control.

War games in the bath

Churchill became convinced of the merit of the Mulberry Harbours design while in a bath tub on the Queen Mary, as he traveled to Washington to discuss war strategy with President Franklin Roosevelt in 1943.

Churchill’s scientific adviser, Professor John Bernal, floated paper boats in the prime minister’s bathtub, agitating the water to simulate waves, then used a loofah, or sponge, to demonstrate the pacifying effect of breakwaters.

Churchill, who often worked while bathing, saw in that Queen Mary bathtub the answer to the challenge he had issued in the 1942 memo commissioning portable harbors for D-Day.

“They must float up and down with the tide. The anchor problem must be mastered. Let me have the best solution worked out,” Churchill wrote. “Don’t argue the matter. The difficulties will argue for themselves.”

After D-Day, some Mulberry Harbours engineers were sent to the South Pacific with the idea that similar portable ports would be needed for the invasion of Japan. The atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki made that unnecessary.

No similar wartime engineering feat has been tried since.The Conversation

Colin Flint, Distinguished Professor of Political Science, Utah State University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


World War II: D-Day



The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact



What happens now we’ve found the site of the lost Australian freighter SS Iron Crown, sunk in WWII



File 20190423 175521 rnurec.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
A bathymetric map showing SS Iron Crown on the sea floor.
CSIRO, Author provided

Emily Jateff, Flinders University and Maddy McAllister, James Cook University

Finding shipwrecks isn’t easy – it’s a combination of survivor reports, excellent archival research, a highly skilled team, top equipment and some good old-fashioned luck.

And that’s just what happened with the recent discovery of SS Iron Crown, lost off the coast of Victoria in Bass Strait during the second world war.

Based on archival research by Heritage Victoria and the Maritime Archaeological Association of Victoria, we scoped an area for investigation of approximately 3 by 5 nautical miles, at a location 44 nautical miles SSW of Gabo Island.

Hunting by sound

We used the CSIRO research vessel Investigator to look for the sunken vessel. The Investigator deploys multibeam echosounder technology on a gondola 1.2 metres below the hull.

Multibeam echosounders send acoustic signal beams down and out from the vessel and measure both the signal strength and time of return on a receiver array.

The science team watches the survey from the operations room of the CSIRO research vessel (RV) Investigator.
CSIRO, Author provided

The receiver transmits the data to the operations room for real-time processing. These data provide topographic information and register features within the water column and on the seabed.

At 8pm on April 16, we arrived on site and within a couple of hours noted a feature in the multibeam data that looked suspiciously like a shipwreck. It measured 100m in length with an approximate beam of 16-22m and profile of 8m sitting at a water depth of 650m.

Given that we were close to maxing out what the multibeam could do, it provided an excellent opportunity to put the drop camera in the water and get “eyes on”.

Down goes the camera.

The camera collected footage of the stern, midship and bow sections of the wreck. These were compared to archival photos. Given the location, dimension and noted features, we identified it as SS Iron Crown.

The merchant steamer

SS Iron Crown was an Australian merchant vessel built at the government dockyard at Williamstown, Victoria, in 1922.

SS Iron Crown afloat.
South Australian Maritime Museum, Author provided

On June 4 1942, the steel screw steamer of the merchant vavy was transporting manganese ore and iron ore from Whyalla to Newcastle when it was torpedoed by the Japanese Imperial Type B (巡潜乙型) submarine I-27.

Survivor accounts state that the torpedo struck the vessel on the port side, aft of the bridge. It sank within minutes. Thirty-eight of the 43 crew went down with the ship.

This vessel is one of four WWII losses in Victorian waters (the others were HMAS Goorangai lost in a collision, SS Cambridge and MV City of Rayville lost to mines) and the only vessel torpedoed.

After the discovery

Now we’ve finally located the wreck – seven decades after it was sunk – it is what happens next that is truly interesting.

A bathymetric map showing SS Iron Crown on the sea floor with its bow on the right.
CSIRO, Author provided

It’s not just the opportunity to finally do an in-depth review of the collected footage stored on an external hard drive and shoved in my backpack, but to take the important step of ensuring how the story is told going forward.

When a shipwreck is located, the finder must report it within seven days to the Commonwealth’s Historic Shipwreck Program or to the recognised delegate in each state/territory with location information and as much other relevant data as possible.

Shipwrecks aren’t just found by professionals, but are often located by knowledgeable divers, surveyors, the military, transport ships and beachcombers. It’s no big surprise that many shipwrecks are well-known community fishing spots.

While it is possible to access the site using remotely operated vehicles or submersibles, we hope the data retrieved from this voyage will be enough.

It was only 77 years ago that the SS Iron Crown went down. This means it still has a presence in the memories of the communities and families that were touched by the event and its aftermath.

No war grave, but protected

Even though those who died were merchant navy, the site isn’t officially recognised yet as a war grave. But thanks to both state and Commonwealth legislation, the SS Iron Crown was protected before it was even located.

All shipwrecks over 75 years of age are protected under the Commonwealth Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976. It is an offence to damage or remove anything from the site.

A drop camera view of the bow of SS Iron Crown with anchor chains.
CSIRO, Author provided

This protection is enhanced by its location in deeper water and, one hopes, by the circumstances of its loss.

Sitting on the sea floor in Bass Strait, SS Iron Crown is well below the reach of even technical divers. So the site is unlikely to be illegally salvaged for artefacts and treasures.

Yet this also means that maritime archaeologists have limited access to the site and the data that can be learnt from an untouched, well-preserved shipwreck.

Virtual wreck sites

But, like the increasing capabilities for locating such sites, maritime archaeologists now have access to digital mapping, 3D modelling technologies and high-resolution imagery as was used for the British Merchant Navy shipwreck of the SS Thistlegorm.

You can move within the video.

These can even allow us to record shipwreck sites (at whatever the depth) and present them to the public in a vibrant and engaging medium.




Read more:
VR technology gives new meaning to ‘holidaying at home’. But is it really a substitute for travel?


Better than a thousand words could ever describe, these realistic models allow us to convey the excitement, wonder and awe that we have all felt at a shipwreck.
Digital 3D models enable those who cannot dive, travel or ever dream of visiting shipwrecks to do so through their laptops, mobiles and other digital devices.

Without these capabilities to record, visualise and manage these deepwater sites, they will literally fade back into the depths of the ocean, leaving only the archaeologists and a few shipwreck enthusiasts to investigate and appreciate them.

So that’s the next step, a bigger challenge than finding a site, to record a deepwater shipwreck and enable the public to experience a well-preserved shipwreck.The Conversation

SS Iron Crown alongside SS Hagen.
National Library of Australia, Author provided

Emily Jateff, Adjunct lecturer in archaeology, Flinders University and Maddy McAllister, Senior Curator – Maritime Archaeology, James Cook University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


WWII: Germany Invades Denmark



Postwar Austria



World politics explainer: The Holocaust



File 20180824 149472 yloajn.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
The horrific incarceration of European Jews during WWII should never be forgotten, particularly when we need to solve contemporary genocide and forced migration issues.
Shutterstock

Daniella Doron, Monash University

This article is part of our series of explainers on key moments in the past 100 years of world political history. In it, our authors examine how and why an event unfolded, its impact at the time, and its relevance to politics today.

Warning: some of the following photos may be disturbing to readers.


The event traditionally defined as the Holocaust — by which I mean the systematic extermination of European Jewry between 1941 and 1945 — defies an overly simplified explanation.

With that being said, making sense of the who, what, where and when presents the somewhat easier task.

What happened?

The Jews of Europe have been traditionally understood by historians as the principal targets of annihilation by the Nazis. Though Germans were perpetrators of this genocidal act, so too were other complicit Europeans, who either directly participated in murder or looked the other way.

Onlookers watching as Jewish people are forced to scrub the pavement.
USHMM/Wikicommons

Eastern Europe housed the sites of mass death (ghettos, labour camps, and concentration and death camps) built by the Nazis to “eliminate” Europe of Jews. Scholars generally point to 1941 – 1945 as constituting the woeful years in which approximately 6 million European Jews were killed by the Nazis.

The question of why the Nazis murdered the Jews of Europe remains somewhat thornier and far more controversial amongst scholars.

When the Nazis rose to power in 1933, the issue of how to handle the so-called “Jewish problem” ranked high on their agenda. The Germans held a racialised view of antisemitism, which defined Jews as not only biologically distinct from Germans, but also a critical threat to the health of the German nation.

Given their view of Jews as parasites, sapping the strength of the national body, the German Nazis experimented with a series of mechanisms to “eliminate” Jews from German life. The notion of murdering the Jews of Europe, we should note, had not yet surfaced.

Rather, in the early years of the regime, the Nazis saw emigration as an acceptable solution to the Jewish problem.

Legislation that disenfranchised Jews, stripped them of their financial assets, and denied them their livelihoods sought to clarify to Jews their new degraded position within Germany. The days of their security, stability, and equality under the law had come to an end. It was time to make a new life elsewhere. But these measures failed to bring about the results desired by the Nazis.

By 1939, slightly more than half of German Jews had decided to chart a new course abroad. Unfortunately, the outbreak of war the same year only served to exacerbate the dilemma of eliminating Germany of Jews within its domain.

The extent of Nazi Germany’s spread across Europe by 1942.
Shutterstock

As Germany quickly and violently occupied large swaths of territory in eastern and western Europe, the number of Jews in its territory exploded. Whereas the population of Jews in Germany in 1933 stood at roughly half a million, approximately nine million Jews resided in Europe as a whole.

Emigration no longer seemed like a viable option. Which nation would be the new home to all those Jews? As it stood, the half a million Jews of Germany struggled to find nations willing to house them.

And it was soon decided that new solutions needed to be found.

The impact of the Holocaust

Scholars debate why and when and even who arrived at the new solution of mass murder to solve Europe’s so-called “Jewish problem.”

We know that in 1939, when war broke out in the East and Germany occupied Poland, the Nazis turned to the creation of ghettos in Poland, which served to concentrate and isolate Jews from the greater Polish non-Jewish population. In these ghettos, often surrounded by high walls and gates, Jews engaged in forced labour and succumbed in great numbers to starvation and disease.

We also know that in 1941, when war broke out with the Soviet Union, the Nazis turned to rounding up Jews in the towns and villages of eastern Europe and murdered them by bullets. At least 1.6 million eastern European Jews died in this fashion. But why this turn from “passive murder” in the ghettos to “active murder” in the killing fields and later the concentration and death camps of eastern Europe? Who proposed this radical solution?

Row of bodies found at a liberated concentration camp, 1945.
Shutterstock

These questions defy scholarly consensus. It may be that the earlier policies of emigration, isolation and concentration of Europe’s Jews were eventually perceived as insufficient; it may be that the murder of Europe’s Jews by starvation and later bullets proved too slow and costly. And perhaps it was not Hitler who first arrived at the idea of mass murder, but Nazi bureaucrats and functionaries working on the ground in eastern Europe, who first conceived and experimented with this genocidal policy.

Regardless, by 1942, Jews across Europe were rounded up — from their homes, their hiding places, and Nazi run ghettos and labour camps to be deported to killing centres and concentration camps, where the vast majority lost their lives.

Contemporary implications

The legacy of the Holocaust has loomed large for more than 70 years, and continues to inform our culture and politics. It has come to be seen as arguably one of, if not the, defining events of the 20th century.

The Holocaust is commonly perceived as a truly rupturing occurrence in which a modern state used the mechanisms of modernity — technology, scientific knowledge and bureaucracy – not for the benefit of humanity but to inflict suffering and death.

We are now well aware that modernity does not necessarily result in progress and an improved standard of living, but that it comes with a dark underbelly that can lead to the violent purging of segments of society perceived as undesirable.

In its aftermath, the Holocaust became paradigmatic for defining genocide. The murder of European Jewry inspired the term “genocide”, which was coined by the jurist Raphael Lemkin in 1944. It later prompted the Genocide Convention agreed to by the United Nations in 1948.

The 1948 Genocide Convention, the memory of the Holocaust, and the phrase “never again” are thereby routinely invoked in the face of atrocity. And yet these words ring hollow in the face of genocides in Rwanda, Cambodia, Bosnia, and the current genocide against the Rohingya in Myanmar.

Rohingya Muslims walking through a broken road in Bangladesh late last year.
Shutterstock

It happens again and again. Not to mention that the largest refugee crisis since the second world war is occurring this very moment as desperate Syrians undertake perilous journeys across the Aegean.

Approximately 80 years ago, Nazi persecution likewise culminated in an international refugee crisis. World leaders recognised the plight of Europe’s Jews during the 1930s and into the 1940s, even if they could not foretell their eventual genocidal fate.

International leaders even convened a conference (the Evian Conference) in which they debated how best to aid German Jews. Country after country expressed their sympathies with Jewish refugees but ultimately denied them refuge.

International news at the time closely followed the journey of the SS St Louis, as it sailed from port to port with 900 Jewish refugees unable to disembark because nations refused to grant asylum. We now know the future that befell many of these refugees.

These days, images of desperate Syrians undertaking perilous journeys across the Aegean, or the Rohingya fleeing their persecution in Myanmar, occupy our front pages. As we contemplate our responsibility towards these desperate individuals, the SS St Louis and the Evian Conference have been routinely invoked in our public discourse as a reminder of the devastating consequences of restrictive refugee and immigration policies.

We must remain haunted by our past failings. It is the legacy of the Holocaust that compels us to examine our responsibility to intervene and turn our attention to the plight of refugees. And we should consider whether that legacy has remained sufficient or whether we need a reminder of the dire consequences that comes with numbing ourselves to the suffering of others.The Conversation

Daniella Doron, Senior lecturer, Monash University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


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