Posts Tagged ‘retreat’

Berliners, and many other Germans, would face a bleak existence at the end of the war. Had Hitler had his way it would have been many times worse.

There is no need to consider the basic requirements that a people needs in order to continue to live a primitive life. On the contrary, it is better ourselves to destroy such things, for this nation will have proved itself the weaker and the future will belong exclusively to the stronger Eastern nation. Those who remain alive after the battles are over are in any case only inferior persons, since the best have fallen.

The 'Fluchtlingstreck' - flight of the refugees  East Prussia.- refugees on horse cart on the way through a village in 1945.

Near me lay a very young woman whose head was shorn almost to the skin and whose face was all covered with ugly sores. She looked terrible. Once when she got up I saw that she walked with a cane. The East Prussian told us that she had been a woman auxiliary; the Russians had caught her in Roumania in the autumn of 1944 and had taken her to a labour camp. She had escaped somehow and trekked up here. He said she was only eighteen or nineteen. I tried not to, but I couldn’t help looking at her. A few hours later we couldn’t stand the barracks any more and ran away. We preferred the cold.

The Ludendorff Bridge from the north-eastern shore after the attempted demolition. The 300-kilogram (660 lb) weak, industrial-grade demolition charge only succeeded in destroying part of the eastern pedestrian catwalk and a section of main truss (shown above) on the northern side of the bridge.

German soldiers and civilians, gathering from miles around, were sitting in ‘grandstand’ seats at every vantage point on the east bank, waiting for the spectacular event to come off, when Burrows’ patrol ran onto the bridge – ten minutes before the hour fixed for its destruction. The German lieutenant signaled the plunger down. Two small explosions occurred, but the bridge only shuddered and remained standing. Several of the fuses had been faulty.

Soviets soldiers advance on a village - the officer in the foreground is armed with captured German submachine gun MP-40.

On the 12th the Red Army began its final offensive to push the Germans out of Poland and pursue them into Germany itself. German intelligence had been warning about an impending assault but Hitlers response had been ‘the Eastern front will have to make do with what it has got’. There were no reserves left […]

Abandoned vehicles of the german 9th army at a road near Titowka/Bobruisk (Belarus).

Men died for very little — for the possibility of a day’s food. When everything had been eaten, down to the last sprout in the meagre gardens, twelve thousand soldiers stared at the village, which had been abandoned by its terrified inhabitants. Living corpses wandered here and there, staring at the tragic shreds of existence which remained to them.

The Battle of Imphal-Kohima March - July 1944: The remains of Japanese dead, equipment and caved-in bunkers on 'Scraggy Hill' which was captured by 10th Gurkha rifles in fierce fighting in the Shenam area.

Icy rain fell mercilessly on us and we lived day and night drenched to the skin and pierced with cold. I remember how we longed for a place, any place at all, where we could take shelter and rest. Once we found a tent in the jungle; inside it were the bodies of six nurses. We had never imagined there would be female victims, especially so far over the Arakan Mountains. Why, we asked one another, had the army not taken the nurses to a place of safety?

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