Today in History

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3 months ago

The situation in the Ardennes/Eifel is getting desperate as
the german troops are pushing ever deeper into the allied lines.
However, on a few key places their assault is being halted, most importantly at Bastogne.
This city was an important crossroad for the main roads through the Ardennes.
Denying the use of these roads caused the germans having to use steep, narrow byroads which will slow their progress considerably.

The germans gave the Americans an ultimatum, surrender or the city will be bombed.
This was refused and during several nights the city was bombed.
The defenders dug in and offered stiff resistance.
Also, the germans where stopped near a large fueldump which they needed to capture to be able to fuel their tanks and stuff.
The small defending force used some of the fuel to create a wall of fire which proved impossible to pass.

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3 months ago

In the still occupied western part of the Netherlands, in particular in the major city's, the situation is getting worse by the day.
Soon the temperature will dip below freezing, it will stay there for weeks.
The civilian population is getting allready malnurished.

In desperation more and more people start making so called
" honger tochten" , litteraly
" hunger tracks", from the city's towards the countryside in surch of food.
These desperate tracks where mainly made by woman and children, as the germans were still picking up male's for arbeidseinzatz, forced labor.
In these dark times both the best and the worst side of the Dutch people showed.
Many farmers sheltered these "trackers" and provided what food they could spare , however, others saw an opportunaty and made people pay hugh sums for small bits of food.

Having found food was only the start.... they had to get it back also and many people who had endured the ordeal got robbed by german soldiers.

In the city , anything that could burn , was stripped, trees got cut down, even floorboards where ripped from houses and such.
Soon , every cat that strayed outside dissapeared and became " dakhaas"
(roofrabbit).
Later , even tulipbulbs where eaten.
People who died where hidden so the survivers could use their , minimal,rations.

In total over 20.000 people would die of starvation before the end of the war and many more , in particulair young children, would suffer from the effects for the rest of their lives.

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3 months ago

The battle of the Bulg has turned, clear sky's enable allied fighter/ bombers to attack the german forces in droves, the tracks in the snow guiding them to hidden armour and troops.
The siege of Bastogne was broken by American forces under Patton.
From now on the german army was back into the defence, the troops and materials that they lost would be sorely mist .
However, the fight would continue and there was still the river Rhine that had to be crossed.
The war was far from over.

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2 months ago

Over the complete frontline the germam army is steadely beaten back. On December 13th the American army took Malmedy and found the body's of the murdered POW's.
Their body's where , mostly, well preserved due to the cold weather and snow.
After the war , many members of Kampfgruppe Peiper where brought to trial.
Highest ranking officers where Joachim Peiper and his commanding officer general Sepp Dieterich.
Both where convicted but, as they weren't actually present at the scene nor gave direct orders , they where convicted to relatively light sentences.
All convicted ss- members where released in the 1950's, Joachim Peiper being the last in December 1956.
In 1972, he moved to a small town in France, under a false name, however , in early June 1976 his tru identety was revealed and he received several treaths.
He send his wife and children back to germany but he remeaned.
He died in the night of the 13th on the 14 th of July when fire was set to his house, killing him in the fire.

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2 months ago

Today, 25 years ago , people in the Netherlands were again evacuated due to high waters. It was the first time it had to be done after the great floods of 1953.
However , there was a big difference, the flood wasn't coming from the West , it came from the East.
Rain and melt waters had driven the waterlevels in the Rhine and Meusse rivers to record levels.

The dikes in the, so called, River Country didn't fall under the Delta works and the focus had been on the sea.

In the end, the dikes did hold and no major flooding happend but many houses that where build in places that used to be the old floodplanes were dammaged.
This lead to a "Delta plan" for the rivers, called "Room for the Rivers".
Basically, it was decided that, in case of high water, farmland would be flooded to save inhabited earea's.
It just wasn't possible to make the dikes high enough for future events, due to the growth of the population. For every meter raised ,the base of the dike would expand 15 or more and this was usually build on for houses.

New rules where made so that if you wanted to build in these " flood" earea's , you had to take measures, like building on terps.
What was done made large pieces of land into new floodplanes.
They still had dikes but these where lower than the others , so when the waterlevels got close to dangerlevel , the water would spill out into these floodplanes, releaving the dikes around inhabited places.

The farmers , who's lands where selected , where compensated for loss of income if their lands flooded and their farms where placed on terps.

No evacuations have been neccessary since.

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1 month ago

After a period of , relative, little progress the allied forces are moving up North-Eastwards into the Netherlands again.
The german forces had been beaten back out of the Ardennes forrest and all over the frontlines the allies are moving towards the Meusse river in the North-East
and the Rhine in the East.
German defenders are retreating towards these ,big, rivers and are putting up the last line of resistance.
If the allies can cross these rivers , the route into the german heartlands lays wide open.
Meanwhile in England , the Dutch gouvernement had pleaded to the high command to negociate the possability of ,neutral, food aid to the Dutch people.
An agrement is being prepaired between the german forces and the red Cross from neutral Sweden and Schwitzerland.
It will be a while still before this will be completed.
And alltough the worst of the winter weather is behind the people, the dieying will continue.

On the Eastern front , the Russians are encountering more and more concentration camps.
In the end of Januari they liberated the camps of Auswitz-Birkenau. These in particular will become examplary for the beastial crimes of the nazi regime. Over 1.000.000 people (Jews, Gipsys, Homo sexuals and others, considered
" undesireables" by the nazis ,will be starved ,worked and gassed to death and creamated in these 2 campes alone.
In total , over 6.000.000 people in total will die in german camps like : Dachau, Buchenwald , Treblinka, Bergen-Belsen and many others.

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1 month ago

About a week ago , the battle for the Heurtgen forrest ended.
The germans where defeated.
However, this was achived with high costs, around 57.000 American troops where killed and it had taken months.
The german army lost about 15.000 men.
Before the rest retreated they had opened the Ruhr-dam and this had caused massive flooding, so the American troops couldn't proceed further for almost 2 weeks. In other parts of the frontline the allies kept kreeping ever closser towards the Rhine.
On the 13th and 14th of Februari the allies carpetbombed the city of Dresden, destroying large parts of the innercity.
The strategy of carpet bombing is one of the more disputed ones the allies used as it was directly aimed at civilians in an attempt to break the moral of the german people by causing massive fires.
This was done by letting the first wave(s) of bombers use high explosives , causing many roofs and windows to be damaged, later waves would drop , smaller but many more , incendary bombs.
These would cause many fires which ,under certain conditions , would cause massive firestorms, killing thousends.
The attack on Dresden in particular is considered by many to be a warcrime as it was known that the city was filled with refugees, flying for the Russian army.

An estimated 25.000 people perished during the bombings.
Only the attacks on the city of Hamburg, 1943, where the firestorm had been particulary heavy caused more deaths , at least 42.600.
That is, in the European theatre.
Many Japanese city's would suffer the same faith, made worse by the fact that many buildings where made out of wood and where tightly packed.
The attack on Tokio , which will take place in the beginning of March, is considered to be the deadliest , "conventional " ,airbombardement ever, estimates range from 83.000 to 100.000 deaths and many wounded.
Only the atomic attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki would claim more lives.

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1 month ago

On the end of Januari 1945, several Swedish ships had arrived in the Port of Delfzijl. This is a port in the upper North-east of the Netherlands.
These ships where carrying wheat and their arrivel was a result of the negociations between the Allies, The Red Cross and the german command.
Unfortunally, the germans kept on throwing up hurdles and it would take until the end of Februari/ start of March before the White bread , which was baked from the wheat, would reach the starving population of the Western parts of the Netherlands.
Zweeds Wittebrood
( Swedish Whitebread) became an byword for something eadable that is very delicious.
This bread , finally, breaks the worst of the famine but it"s far from enough.
But the first light of the new dawn is glowing.

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1 month ago

Something happend today which could be called a miracle.
American troops capture the Ludendorff bridge across the Rhine at Remagen, practically undamaged.

The germans had undermined it but , apart from one small section, it failed to explode.
This was an enormous stroke of luck for the allies.
No longer having to cross the Rhine with an amphibious attack
, which undoubtatly would have taken a heavy cost in lives and materials, was a great gift.
It's said of many things " that this shortened the war " , but this is one of the tru sites.
Allied forces would pour over the bridge into the german heartland and in the coming weeks the german army try anything, including eleven V2's to destroy it.
But it would be to no availe, the bridge stood until the 17th of March, when it collapsed due to structural issues.
This did nothing for the german army, as many pontoon bridges had allready been build under cover of the bridgehead that had been formed on the far side of the river.

Taking the bridge did not change the outcome of the war but it was a very important point for the situation after the ending of the war. For sometime it had become clear to the western allies that the Sovjets weren't going to give up the lands they " liberated" from the german occupation, several "elections" had already taken place and puppet gouvernements had been installed.
The river Oder had been the agreed borderpoint between the Sovjets and the other allies but few doubted that the Sovjet army wouldn't hassetate to take what they could.
So, it became important to gain as much terrain as possible , to be able to withstand any future Soviet thread.

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1 week ago

Thanks for all of this Vox. It's good to know about the war from different perspectives, especially the Dutch.
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