Today in History

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8 months ago

In the still occupied part of the Netherlands about 8000 german soldiers are being deployed towards Rotterdam and Schiedam (these two city's have a comon border) and are surrounding a large section of these city's.

Tomorrow morning they'll start the so called Razzia of Rotterdam. The aim is to capture and deport ALL man aged between 17 and 40 years. This Razzia will take two day's: 10 and 11 November. The reason for this razzia, officially , is that they are needed for
"arbeid-einsatz" , the nazi forced labour program. However , it later turned out there was not much work for those men ,as most factory's and such where bombed out of existance.
It is believed now that the allied victory at the Westerschelde fuelled german fears of an uprising.

Due to the surprise and , for the Netherlands, unprecedented scale,
around 52.000 men of the 70.000 present where captured and deported.
Several people who tried to hide , or later escape during transport, where shot.
After the war it turned out that , at least, 410 people who where caught in this razzia had died .

In the coming months there will be several more of these razzias in other towns but , as people where now aware of these, many men went into hiding outside major towns and the germans wouldn't succeed ever again to caputre
such a large percentage of people.
Many of those captured died, estimates range from ca 24000 to 29000.
The exact number can't be determent because several resistance groups raided the administration centre's where the citizens where registered.
The Netherlands had
( and still have, hurray :sick: ) an extended registration of it's citizens. This is one of the reasons wanted people had dificulty's with " onderduiken ", going "underground".

After the war people wanted this registration to be , at least, reduced but the gouvernement refused , as it knew it was a great means of control. Anyone who wants anything done in the Netherlands needs to be in this registration.But that's not the point of this series :offtopic: .

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8 months ago

VOX wrote:
8 months ago
around 52.000 men of the 70.000 present where captured and deported.
Vox, were they taking these men to Germany?
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VOX
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8 months ago

About 10.000 men where brought to the North-Eastern part of the Netherlands, the rest where, indeed, transported to germany, in particular the Ruhr erea.

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7 months ago

On the border between liberated and occupied parts of the Netherlands lies the Biesbosch. This is a region of the Netherlands made out of tidal forrest, creeks and such, it lies between the city of Dordrecht and the villages Werkendam and Sliedrecht in the North and Drimmelen in the South but more importantly between the Merwede and het Hollandsch diep , 2 large arms of the Rhine-Muese delta.
This erea is about 90 square Km in size and has the roughest terrain in this part of the country.

It is trough this terrain a group of Dutch resistance fighters sets up a line of communication with the allied forces, transporting intelligence, downed airman , medication
( mainly insuline) , even a general named John Hacket who got injured at Arnhem and other things.

These 21 man, mostly from Werkendam, make over 370 of these , so called, crossings and are the main source of information for both the allies and the still occupied parts of the country.
The risks these man took in their small boats where enormous, if caught , they , and their family!, would either be shot or send to concentration camps.
Added to that where the risks of navigating those big rivers in small boats, both these rivers are enormous , over 500 meters wide at places and flowing in a South-Westerly direction. This is also the direction of the prevailing winds, causing high waves.


They became known as "the crossers".
Only one was ever captured but he managed to escape.

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7 months ago

VOX wrote:
7 months ago
These 21 man, mostly from Werkendam, make over 370 of these , so called, crossings and are the main source of information for both the allies and the still occupied parts of the country.
The risks these man took in their small boats where enormous, if caught , they , and their family!, would either be shot or send to concentration camps.
Added to that where the risks of navigating those big rivers in small boats, both these rivers are enormous , over 500 meters wide at places and flowing in a South-Westerly direction. This is also the direction of the prevailing winds, causing high waves.

They became known as "the crossers".
Only one was ever captured but he managed to escape.
They should make a movie about these guys... if it hasn't already been made in the Netherlands.
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7 months ago

First I have to make some corrections:
First:
I said only one was ever captured. Unfortunally that is not correct, at least 2 others where and they where actually shot,
just day's before the end of the war.
Second:
I said it was set up by the resistance, part of it was but others acted on their own.
I've been living in this part of the Netherlands from my 3th till my 21th birthday and, just as many other things about the resistance, their importance is often made more important than it was.
Most of the participants didn't want to talk about it after the war and a lot is still unknown about this story.

There's a documentory/ story about them on you tube, called " linecrossers".
It is Dutch ( so the acting isn't that great) but has English subtitles.
I've seen most of it but can't verify some of what goes on but it gives an impression.

All these 21 people received decorations after the war, 4 of them the " Militairy Willems Orde" , the highest you can get in the Netherlands.
It's comparable with the Medal of Honor.
3 of those came from the tiny town of Werkendam, more than any town in the history of this medal.

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7 months ago

Operations in the Netherlands are gearing down. Until now , the allies have been kreeping up North and North-East and kept liberating towns and village's along the way. However, as winter is coming, the weather in North-Western europe is getting worse, with heavy cloud cover, rain and hard winds.
These sevearly impact the allied capability for air support. Mud makes moving vehicle's a nightmare and , on top of these , the daylight period is shrinking fast.
In the higher parts of europe snow begins to fall

All those factors are making large scale operations a nightmare. Fighting won't come to a stop , but everything slows down to a crawl.

In some places , however, there is still heavy fighting going on, in particulair in the Heurtgen Forrest. At this time the third major attack is going on and , after bitter fighting slow progress is made.
Ernest Hemingway was , as a war correspondent, in this battle.

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7 months ago

On December 3th the village of Blerick becomes the last one to be liberated in The Netherlands this year.

It will be more then one and a half month before the allies go further .

As mentioned before, the Netherlands didn't have priority.

After the battle of Arnhem bridge, the germans impose a ban on transporting food and fuel towards the west of the country.
This was a represaille for the general strike the Durch gouvernement in exile had called for the railways.
This started to impact on the ,already minimal, rations people could get.
Sadly , in these dire times , people who had contacts and could get food via illigal means started to ask lots of money and other stuff for this black market material.
The germans gave harsh punisments to people who were caught trading this black market, both sellers AND buyers.

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6 months ago

In the german headquater the final preparations for operation "Wacht am Rhein" ( "Watch on the Rhine") are being completed.
This operation is the final , big, offensive of the german army in WW2.
In continental Europe it's know as "the Ardenne offensive" , in the UK and USA
as " the battle of the Bulge".
Hitler personally planned this operation
after the allies where defeated at Arnhem.

On December 16th, under cover of heavy clouds, the german army attacks throug the Ardenne and Eiffel forrests.
Objective is to recapture Antwerp harbour and in one sweep seperate the English and Canadian forces in the North from the Americans in the South.
If this succeeds, it will be a heavy blow for the allies.

In the german high command there was much discussion about the offensive, in particular over the targets.
Most generals considered the goal of recapturing Antwerp unrealistic and wanted to consolidate at the river Meusse .
Hitler however pushed his vision upon them and Antwerp and the destruction of the Northern part of the allied army became the target.

The route via the Ardennes was chosen by Hitler because it was the least defended part of the allied front, in fact it was used as a recouperation area for troops from other parts of the front.
Also, this was the route that the german army had taken in the beginning of the war, totally surprising everybody , as this route was deemed
" impossible " for tanks and such.

On the allied side, the general view was that the german army wasn't capable of mounting big offensive's anymore.
Once again underestimating the german army, even after getting their arses kicked at Arnhem.

And so, on December 16th german troops, mainly consisting out of ss ,start their attack and totally surprise the allies.
One thing they did was the use of English speaking german troops under Otto Skorzeny.

This ss unit would go in front of the attack, using captured American uniforms and equipment to get behind allied lines and cause as much confusion as possible.
They also sabotaged where they could.
This did indeed cause much confusion, to the extent of Amercian general Omar Bradley being detained briefly by Amercian troops.
After learning about the commando's the troops resorted to grilling people about baseball teams and pop culture to capture them.
Bradley was, shortly, detained after a soldier thought he gave a wrong answer but was himselve mistaken.
This kind of behaviour by the germans was in strive with war conventions and any german captured in American uniform was executed.


The plan for the offensive was complicated ( f.e. it relied on capturing allied fuel) and all has to go off without a hitch.
But hitches did come.
Contrairy to the start of the war there now was a front which had to be broken.
And while the operation in general went well, there where small pockets of heavy resistance and these would determine the outcome of the battle.

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6 months ago

Today, one of the better known ss crimes takes place at Malmedy.
84 American prisoners of war are massacred at a crossroad near the village of Malmedy.
Gefechtsgruppe Peiper , an ss unit under command of Joachim Peiper , had commit several warcrimes in the day before, had lead the captured into a field where suddenly they opened fire.
It's been long unclear if this had been pre arranged but it's now believed that some prisenors had tried to escape and where shot at after which the rest of the man where also shot.
Several man did indeed escape the slaugther.
It would take until the 14th of Januari before the dead where found, due to the heavy snow and fighting.

The unit would commit many warcrimes during the battle like the murder of civilians at the village of Stavelot.

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