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13 January 1945

13 January 1945


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13 January 1945

January 1945

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Western Front

British 2nd Army reaches the Ourthe River

Burma

14th Army captures Wetlet, Kani and Alon and lands on the Myebon Peninsula



Government Uses Ward Case to Aid Anti-Strike Power

From The Militant, Vol. IX No.ق, 13 January 1945, pp.ف &م.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

In the guise of a federal court action ostensibly directed against a recalcitrant employer in the Montgomery Ward case, the Roosevelt administration is attempting to fortify its legal powers for government strikebreaking through plant "seizures.”

That was the clear meaning of administration arguments before federal court hearings which opened in Chicago last Monday. The government is seeking an injunction to bar company “interference” with government operation of 16 Ward properties “seized” in order to halt strikes in Detroit, Chicago and Kansas City, Mo., as well as a threatened CIO “labor holiday” in the auto center.

In presenting the government’s brief Hugh Cox, Assistant Solicitor General, stated flatly that “the real question here is whether the United States has the power in time of war to take possession wherein a labor controversy threatens to interfere with the successful prosecution of the war.”
 

Not for Labor

“We are not here to argue the merits of the labor controversy,” he admitted, “because we are not here to assist labor or to vindicate the War Labor Board.” The main issue, he contended, was the threat to the “structure and organization of the War Labor Board,” that is, the government’s apparatus for preventing strikes through compulsory arbitration and for maintaining Roosevelt’s wage-freezing “wage-stabilization” program.

Cox argued the right of government “seizure” in the Ward case, where the government had failed previously to enforce longstanding orders against the company, specifically because of the strikes. He stressed particularly need for government action in the Ward strikes because of their “adverse effect” on the CIO United Automobile Workers referendum on the no-strike pledge.

Thus, Cox indicated, that non- compliance with a WLB order by an employer is not in itself a matter for government action. The government acts only where a “labor controversy” leading to a strike or threat of strike, to “interference with production,” occurs. This supported Attorney General Biddle’s previous admission that WLB orders, are only “recommendations.”

In reality, they are only “recommendations” so far as the employers are concerned. So long as the workers do not strike, the government admits in effect, the employer can disregard WLB directives when he doesn’t like them, or stall them with delaying court actions.
 

Aimed at Strikes

But the workers – against whom most of the corporation-dominated WLB’s decisions are directed – are compelled to accept WLB orders automatically. For the employers, who control wages, hours, working conditions, contractual relations, enforce these orders – except when workers go on strike. Whichever way the workers turn, their only recourse for self-protection is strike action. WLB orders against employers cannot be enforced without strikes – as the four-year old Ward case amply proves. Anti-labor decrees of the WLB cannot be resisted without strikes.

But it is precisely against strikes, under any and all circumstances, that the Roosevelt administration is directing its real attack. Strikes were the real motivation for these latest Ward “seizures.” It is the argument of strike prevention that the government is using in court to. justify these “seizures.” The net effect, regardless of the immediate outcome of the Ward case, is to reinforce the power of government “seizure” as a strikebreaking weapon.

This power will be all the more potent precisely because the “seizure” was demanded by the unions and directed, ostensibly, against an anti-labor employer. The most important instances of such “seizures” previously, particularly of the railroads and coal mines, were openly directed against the workers. This will be just as true in the future – with this addition: The government will be able to point to the Ward case in order to claim “impartiality” in its strikebreaking.

What is basically involved is the administration’s endeavor to reinforce WLB authority, challenged by Avery. But that authority is not needed because of the employers. Fundamentally, it is needed against the workers, because the very purpose of the board is anti-labor – to impose compulsory arbitration, bury labor grievances in red tape, and, above all, to enforce the wage freeze. That has been conclusively demonstrated in all the decisive wage cases, coal, railway, steel, auto, packinghouse, rubber, textiles. etc.

Avery, by his actions, was tossing a monkey-wrench into the very machinery for controlling labor that the employers as a class themselves require. Hence, the big business government was finally compelled to act – although “reluctantly,” as it admitted – against an employer who broke the discipline of his own capitalist class.

But only to be in better position ultimately to squeeze the vise tighter on labor!


Shop Talks on Socialism

From The Militant, Vol. IX No.ق, 13 January 1945, p.ل.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

“Say, who’s running this shop anyway, you or me?” the foreman said.

And Slim said, “I don’t see where you’re doing so much to run it.” The foreman got mad at that. But he didn’t say anything. Mainly because there wasn’t anything to say.

But later on in the washroom Scissorbill Sam sneered out to nobody in particular, “Some people think they’re pretty good around here. They know how to run the shop with their eyes shut.”

“If some people don’t slow down a little on running that punch press they’ll lose a couple of fingers – with their eyes wide open, too,” said Shorty.

“They might get their eyes closed at that,” said Slim.

There was some more sarcasm back and forth, until Scissorbill Sam came back to the point. “If you guys think you can get along without Hallory (the foreman), you’re wrong. You’ve always got to have a boss on a job. . Of course if you’re one of these here Socialists” . he started to sneer again.

“I don’t know about the Socialist part of it,” Slim said.

“But remember the landing-barge job?” Everybody remembered because we made good money on that job. “And the whistle system? Two whistles for the crane, three for the inspector and four for the foreman. Any of you guys ever hear the whistle blow four times?” Nobody peeped. “I don’t think the foreman ever came around except when the navy inspector called him.”

“Sure, but you guys were all on piece-work for that job. Hallory knew you’d work hard anyhow.”

“Why Scissorbill, you don’t mean to say Hallory is just a nasty old pusher, do you ? You don’t mean to say he only comes around to make us work harder?”

Scissorbill Sam (the bosses’ man) looked embarrassed, though he didn’t know why he should be. “Well, what do you want a foreman to do? That’s what he gets paid for, ain’t it?”
 

What Is a Foreman For, Any Way?

Slim went on without paying Scissorbill any attention. “A foreman is supposed to know something, I was always told. Remember the time some welder came over from the shipyard to work on the landing barges? Hallory got hold of a hood and stood over the guy to watch him weld. So the guy turned around and asked Hallory to show him how he wanted the welding done. Well you know how much Hallory knows about welding. The only man that knows less around here is Hawkshaw himself. And I’ll bet even he read a book about it. After that Hallory didn’t show up at that end of the shop for a week.”

“You can’t expect a foreman to know every job in the shop” said Scissorbill.

“What can you expect him to know, then?”

“A foreman is an organizer. He lays out the work and makes sure that you don’t do more left parts than right parts. And stuff like that.”

“The stock boy or the dispatcher always let me know if that’s happening. No,” said Slim, “I never saw a foreman yet that was the best man, best skilled, best organizer or anything else.”

“What about Billy Jones?”, asked Shorty.

“I’m not talking about maintenance work. That’s the exception —

“Who does the company choose for a production foreman. The man they figure knows the most, or the man they figure will push the most?”

“All right, all right!” said Scissorbill, getting hot. “What’s all this got to do about it? What if the foreman is a pusher? He has to get the work out, don’t he? He’s supposed to be a boss, ain’t he? I take notice, when you guys are on day-work you keep out of his way, too. That proves there’d never be any work done in this place if it weren’t for him.”

“We made landing barges without his help – and without his pushing. And we made them better, and faster, for the size crew we had than anywhere else in the country.”

“That was piece-work. Piecework, I tell you!” Scissorbill shouted at the top of his lungs. “You had an incentive.”
 

Putting Pork Chops on the Table

“Piece-work without a foreman – or day-work with a foreman – the incentive is the same. To put the pork chops on the table. Only it works backward in the second case. If you don’t do what the foreman tells you, you’re liable to lose your job, and the pork chops come off the table.”

In that case,” said Shorty, “you have to have the foreman to organize the job, or else be on piece-work to organize it yourself.”

“I’m not so sure about that,” said Slim. “We all know piecework is no good. But the main thing is this: that we had about 25 fellows on each shift for the landing barges . burners, fitters, chippers and welders. We laid out our own work. We systematized it. And we produced way more than Hallory or anybody else ever thought we could. That’s the main thing. Us fellows did it – And without benefit of foreman.”

“What do you want to do, Slim. Abolish foremen altogether?” somebody spoke up.

“Not exactly. Like Scissorbill says, you need an organizer. We used to spend 15 minutes or more in a huddle every morning to decide how we were going to work. That’s 25 times 15 minutes If some one person had done that and laid out the work it would have saved time and maybe been done better.”

“I know that’s what Hallory tried to do once. But in the first place he didn’t know how to do it. And in the second place he’s a company man.”

“If you’re not going to listen to the company’s man,” yelled Scissorbill, "who in hell are you gonna listen to?”

“We’re going to listen to ourselves. When we get the chance we’ll organize the work ourselves. And someday we’ll change things around and get time to train somebody how to be a WORKERS’ foreman instead of a company foreman.”


The Battle for Lisow January 13th 1945

Post by Koen[B] » 06 Jul 2008, 15:14

was reading the OOB for the Schwere Panzer Abteilung 501 - sPzAbt. 501/424 and got interested in 'the battle for Lisow'.

This was the largest encounter between königstigers and the JSII's.

The Battle for Lisow on 13th January 1945
Lisów is a small village in Gmina of Lubartów in Lublin Voivodeship in Poland

The Schwere Panzer Abteilung 424 was formed in December 1944 from Schwere Panzer Abteilung 501.[commander Major Saemisch] [previously Schwere SS-Panzer-Abteilung 101]
The unit kept it’s remaining operational Tigers, while receiving 11 additional Tiger I's from the Schwere Panzer Abteilung 509. The unit strength on 30th December 1944 was 18 operational Tiger II and 54 Tiger I, while 2 were in need of repair (although some sources claim that it’s Tiger strenght was 28 Tiger II or even 45 Tiger II with 11 additional Tigers II coming from the sPzAbt. 509).

The Abteilung was attached to XXIV Panzerkorps. The unit itself participated in one big engagement when it fought against the Russian 61st Guards Tank Brigade of 10th Guards Tank Corps (4th Tank Army) for the town of Lisow on 13th January 1945. The German XXIV Panzerkorps made it’s counter attack with the 424 advancing towards the town of Lisow.

The town itself was at that time already occupied by the 61st Guards Tank Brigade (with approximately 65 T-34/85, a few JS-2 from the 72nd Guards Heavy Tank Regiment, and ZIS-3 anti-tank cannons). This was the single largest encounter during WWII between King Tigers and JS-2's.

The attack by the Abteilung on Lisow began with Tiger #323 breaking across the bridge enabling the units attack. The 1st company advanced on the left, the 3rd company on the right and the 2nd company followed. During the push several tanks were bogged down in the swamps beside the road. On the South edge of Lisow, Tiger #111 (commanded by Leutnant Oberbracht) lost both tracks but destroyed 20 tanks. The 2nd company knocked out 7 T-34s. Tigers #202 and #221 broke down during the movement to contact 200 meters in front of the town. Tiger #334 stopped with a broken driveshaft. When the Abteilung entered the town it found itself opposed by numerous well prepared anti-tank positions and tanks, which decimated it’s ranks. Saemisch himself was killed in action when his command Tiger was knocked out. The result of the attack was that the majority of the Abteilung’s Tigers were either destroyed or lost to bad terrain. The 424 was destroyed.

What can you guys tell me about this one?

Are there correct numbers available of tanks used on both sides?
What tanks beside KT's and JSII's were involved?
Which infantry was involved?
Has anyone got a map of Lisow in 45?

thx in advance
all info is appreciated

The Battle for Lisow January 13th 1945

Post by Koen[B] » 06 Jul 2008, 15:50

Lissow itself was defended by 61st Guards Tank Brigade of 10th Guards Tank Corps (4th Tank Army). On the eve of the Vistula-Oder operation this brigade was nearly in full strength - i.e. it had approx. 65 T-34/85s. JS-2's belonged to 72nd Guards Heavy Tank Regiment . However, probably they were very few in numbers - only one company (5 tanks) - because by that time the bulk of the regiment (less on company) was fighting with 17.PzD south of Lissow as part of the 10th Guards advance detachment (reinforced 63rd Guards Tank Brigade). The towed anti-tank guns (76 mm ZIS-3) belonged to 426th Guards Light Artillery Regiment (eventually one of its battalions was deployed there). It was quite possible that the brigade had been reinforced with (elements of) 425th Guards Anti-Tank Regiment that possessed the newly introduced SU-100's tank destroyers..

It is a pure speculation that by the dawn of 13 Jan 45 sPzAbt 424 was fighting in the Soviet rear - it was the Red Army's spearhead elements that were operating in the rear of Army Group A causing panic among the supply columns and those military units in process of redeployment.

The Soviet offensive towards lower Oder (Vistula-Oder operation) began at dawn of 12 January 1945. By midday the German tactical defense facing the Branov bridgehead was penetrated and by 13 00 Marshal Konev (the commander of 1st Ukrainian Front) unleashed one of his two tank armies – Lelushenko’s 4th Tank Army (10th Guards Tank Corps and 6th Guards Mech. Corps). It went into action one hour later. Shortly afterwards its forward elements were involved in combat with some of the German reserves - namely sPzAbt 424 and elements of 168.ID . Despite the sporadic German resistance, by 17 00 the forward detachments advanced some 35 km deep into the enemy rear (by then the distance between them and the main body of 4th Tank Army was 15-20 km) and reached the area southeast of Kielce. By the end of day the head of 4th Tank intelligence informed Lelushenko that aerial reconnaissance had spotted sizable enemy reinforcements (in fact - XXIV.PzK) moving to the front. Nevertheless the advance of the both corps continued throughout the night (it became dark at 18 00).

One of the Soviet units that was heading at full speed to the west was Colonel Zhukov’s 61st Guards Tank Brigade from 10th Guards Tank Corps. The Brigade was moving in a column formation as follows: 1st Tank Battalion, Brigade’s HQ, 2nd Tank Battalion, 3rd Tank Battalion, Artillery Battery (eventually equipped with 76 mm ZIS-3 guns), Mortar battery. Three rifle companies were attached to the battalions as tank-borne infantry. (NO JS-2’s THUS FAR. ). The column followed closely 4th Tank’s forward detachment – the reinforced 63rd Guards Tank Brigade. Lieutenant-Colonel Zaytsev, the chief of staff of the 61st was leading the brigade with a jeep while the commander (Zhukov) was driven in the in HQ’s bus.

By midnight the column suddenly halted and Zaytsev heard the sounds of battle ahead - 63rd Guards had been engaged in combat with the enemy. Zaytsev ordered 1st Tank Battalion to remain where it was and moved forward alone to scout the situation. Shortly afterwards he found Colonel Fomichev (the commander of the 63rd Guards) conducting the battle of one of his battalions. In the meantime the commander of 10th Guards Tank Corps Colonel Chuprov arrived and asked Zaytsev:
- Where is your combrig (the commander of the brigade)? I need him immediately!
Zaytsev sent one of the communication officers to find Zhukov, but shortly afterwards the young chap returned and reported that there is no tail behind 1st Tank Battalion – the rest of the brigade was missing! Then Chuprov ordered Zaytsev to remain attached to the corps HQ with 1st Tank Battalion and to undertake attempts to establish contact with the main body of the brigade. Zaytsev and Captain Krinko spent the night in fruitless attempts to establish radio contact with Zhukov and the rest of the brigade, but everything was in vain.

Shortly after midnight the lost brigade turned to the northwest and reached Lisow, a small village south of Kielce. Col. Zhukov sent a reconnaissance platoon under Lieutenant Pobedinskii to scout the situation. Shortly afterwards Pobedinskii radioed that an enemy tank column comprising some 70 tanks was coming from the west . Zhukov ordered to let them pass and the Soviet tanks, well hidden in the dark, remained silent.

By dawn Pobedinskii’s platoon entered the village and reached its center where an enemy artillery column (trucks, prime movers, towed guns) was resting. The Germans spotted the approaching tanks, but didn’t react because they confused them with German machines. Suddenly Soviet tanks opened fire and all hell broke lose. Some of the Germans were killed, others fled and the rest were taken prisoner (among them was the commander of Pz.Art.Reg. 27 of 17.PzD).
The interrogation of the prisoners showed that the main body of 17.PzD would arrive in Lisow soon and Zhukov decided to accept the battle and ordered his men to prepare for defense. All weapons were camouflaged carefully and the riflemen, the artillery and mortar batteries and the T-34’s occupied the most important sectors.

By 1000 Lelushenko was informed that the aerial reconnaissance had spotted two enemy tanks columns heading towards Lisow – one from the south (17.PzD) with approx. 100 tanks and another from the north (16.PzD, 20.PzGrD) with approx. 200 tanks . Lelushenko concluded that Nehring was aiming to cut off the forward detachments of 4th Tank Army (61 and 63 G.T.Brigades and 16.G.Mech.Brigade) and decided to entrap XXIV.PzK. He ordered the anti-tank artillery to deploy east of Lissow and instructed the commanders of the both corps to attack the flanks of the enemy columns from the north (6.G.Mech) and south (10.G.Tank) respectively. Thus Nehring Corps would be placed between the hammer (6.G.Mech and 10.G.Tank) and the anvil (the anti-tank artillery) and smashed. However, Nehring’s plan was far more ambitions – he was aiming to envelop the entire 4th Tank Army! Nehring shifted the emphasis of the attack further to the east. Soon 16.PzD and 20.PzGrD collided with 6.G.Mech east/southeast of Kielce while 17.PzD struck 63 G.T.Brigade east of Lisow . The later fought vigorously, but was unable to withstand the pressure and began to fall back. Thus a gigantic tank battle erupted, with over 1000 tanks engaged, that was comparable only to that in the vicinity of Prochorovka.

Meanwhile Zhukov and his men, completely unaware about the intentions of Lelushenko and Nehring, waited in their positions for more than an hour. Then an intense artillery barrage opened up and heavy enemy shells began to pound the village.
Major Ankudinov, the commander of the 3rd Tank Battalion, was aware that within the next 10-15 minutes Lisow would become the hell itself and ordered two of his men – sergeant Ryzhov, the driver of his tank, and sergeant Muzichenko to evacuate the inhabitants of the village out of the combat zone as soon as possible. Most of them (predominately women, children and elderly men) followed Ryzhov and Muzichenko, but some others (among them was Jan Banach, the priest) decided to stay. Soon the both sergeants returned back and took their places inside their tank.
Meanwhile the first German tanks reached the outskirts of the village and struck the positions of the Major Nikonov’s 2nd Tank Battalion . It was Captain Markov ’s company that took the heaviest blow – 17 Tigers were rolling against the tanks of Lieutenants Pobedinskii, Kuznetsov, Abuzgaliev and Marinin . Markov reported the desperate situation to Zhukov, but the commander radioed him back:
- Stand fast! Lisow must be defended at any cost!
Markov positioned his tanks as best as he could and ordered his men to let the Tigers to close in and then to open fire against their most vulnerable parts. When the enemy tanks closed in Markov ordered his T-34’s to fire simultaneously from a distance of 150 m. In a matter of seconds Pobedinskii’s, Abuzgaliev’s and Labuza’s tanks destroyed collectively four Tigers. Soon more German tanks were hit and began to burn. The enemy attack in this sector (the cemetery) was repelled and the Germans fell back leaving behind 13 burning machines.

Captain Vertiletskii ’s company fought bravely too and knocked out 10 enemy tanks. Vertiletskii himself was heavily wounded and lost an eye, but continued to conduct his men. But it was Zhukov, the brigade commander , who had distinguished himself most – his tank was credited with the destruction of seven enemy tanks. Furthermore, Zhukov never dropped his main functions – to conduct the actions of the tank units, infantrymen and artillery. Sadly for his men, in the heat of the battle his tank was hit in the ammo section and exploded. Zhukov and his crew died instantly.

The first enemy assault upon Lisow was repulsed, but the onslaught had taken heavy toll on 61st guards.

In the meantime Lieutenant-Colonel Zaytsev, who together with 1st Tank Battalion was still attached to the HQ of 10th Guards Tank Corps, was monitoring the radio traffic. Finally he heard Zhukov’s voice and sounds of a heavy battle. Zaytsev quickly realized that his brigade was caught in a fierce battle and asked Colonel Chuprov, the corps commander, to release both him and the battalion and to let them join their comrades. Chuprov refused – there was no continuous frontline ahead of them and corps HQ was still vulnerable to enemy raids. The Germans attacked again. The forward observers spotted them and shouted:
- Attention! Tanks!
Tigers and Panthers were rolling forward slowly and SPW’s were following them closely firing repeatedly with their machineguns and guns. The defenders opened fire from a distance of 600 m. Bullets and shells were flying from everywhere and the tanks of 61st Guards were forced to change their positions quite often.

Lieutenant Pobedinskii where outside his tank and was showing Uhanov, his tank-driver, the new position when his T-34 was hit by shell. Pobedinskii immediately returned to the tank, opened the hatch, removed the body of Agafonov, the gunner, and took the seat of his dead comrade. In the meantime a Panther bypassed his tank and began to recede into the distance. Pobedinskii managed to swing the turret and fired. Shell struck the Panther from the rear. Then came a blow and the German tank exploded. Almost immediately a Tiger appeared, but Pobedinskii and his crew were saved by the Kuznetsov’s tank – the later managed to destroy the beast with the very last AP shell available in its ammo box…

By noon Captain Climovich arrived from Lisow to the HQ of 10th Guards Tank Corps. He brought a note from Lieutenant-Colonel Scopa, brigade’s political officer (comisar), and informed Zaytsev about the death of Zhukov. Zaytsev reported the sad news to Chuprov and the corps commander finally allowed him to join his brigade, but once again refused to release 1st Tank Battalion from its guarding functions. Soon Zaytsev, Climovich and two soldiers took a jeep and headed for Lisow at full speed.

Meanwhile the struggle for Lisow (or what was left of it) continued. The brigade was repulsing the Germans again and again. After the eleventh attack the defenders of the right flank (3rd Tank Battalion) began to lose nerve and to fall back. There was no more continuous line of resistance and some Germans began to attack the brigade from the rear. Captain Markov assembled the remnants of his company (Pobedinskii’s, Abuzgaliev’s and Kuznetsov’s tanks) at the cemetery and simply told them:
- I know that we will die here…
Then he hugged and kissed each of his men.

Markov’s company repulsed the twelfth enemy attack and then the Germans gave up and retreated. After the final German assault Markov himself was speechless, shell-shocked, exhausted, but alive. His jacket was covered with blood and oil. His men were very much in shock too. Jan Banach, the priest, appeared from somewhere and entered the circle of soldiers. Then the old Pole carefully hugged the bandaged head of the heavily wounded Anatolii Borzenkov and told him quietly:
- I saw everything…everything…

The jeep of Lieutenant-Colonel Zaytsev reached Lisow by dusk. By then the fighting was definitely over. The scene was beyond description – burned-out skeletons of tanks, ruined homes and burning farm buildings. The only house that was still intact had been turned into brigade’s HQ and first aid station. Zaytsev entered the house, greeted Lieutenant-Colonel Scopa and took the command of the unit. He sent a scout patrol to find the body of Zhukov and afterwards order the commanders of the both tank battalions (Nikonov, Ankudinov) and the rifle battalion (Major Bendrikov) to report him the situation. Own loses were quite heavy – 11 tanks were total write-offs and another 11 were heavily damaged, but reparable. The officers counted 35 destroyed enemy tanks. Furthermore, one of the officers added, many destroyed AFV’s had been recovered by the Germans and evacuated.

The newly appointed combrig earned a short break for his men. By the end of the day 1st Tank Battalion arrived and joined its parent brigade. The maintenance teams worked all night long and by dawn the brigade had strength of 50 tanks. The dead soldiers were buried in Lisow while the body of Colenel Zhukov was transported to Lvov and buried there. By noon 61st Guards received orders to move towards Kielce and the tanks rolled forward again.


13 January 1945 - History

What is 1945-01-14 converted to roman numerals? Above is the date 1-14-1945 converted into roman numerals.
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Month-Day-Year. If you prefer the European way of writing dates (Which is day-month-year) the roman numerals would be written XIV • I • MCMXLV.

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Your birthday is on January fourteenth, 1945. Being born in mid-January says a lot about you. Your zodiac sign is capricorn, your birth-stone is the Garnet, and your birth flower is the Carnation (both of which make great gifts for someone with this birthday). You are 76 years old, and were born in the beginning of the Baby Boomer Generation . Which generation you are born into makes a huge impact on your life, click here to see our interactive table and learn more. You have been alive for 27896 days, or 669504 hours, or 40170240 minutes! Your next birthday which is in 2022, is on a Friday.


The True Story of The Holocaust Train Rescued From The Heart of Darkness – Friday, April 13th, 1945

‘I cannot believe, today, that the world almost ignored those people and what was happening. How could we have all stood by and have let that happen? They do not owe us anything. We owe them, for what we allowed to happen to them.’ – Carrol Walsh, Liberator

Near the end of the war, Jewish prisoners from the Bergen-Belsen death camp were being transported by rail to another camp when their German guards abandoned the train. The US Army came upon the survivors. Two soldiers took photographs. And from those pictures, decades later something wonderful happened.

Friday, April 13th, 1945. The Moment of Liberation.
Farsleben, Germany. By U.S. Army, Major Clarence Benjamin, 743rd Tank Battalion.

Matthew Rozell is a United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Teacher Fellow and teaches history at his alma mater in upstate New York. His work has resulted in the reuniting of 275 Holocaust survivors with the American soldiers who freed them. How that came about is a story of curiosity, chance, the human spirit and the power of photography.

Matthew was interviewing World War II US Army tank commander Carrol Walsh in July 2001. ‘For two hours we talked about battles and close calls, friends he lost and those he bonded with,’ Matthew writes. ‘He hated the war, he hated the Army. “Well, I think you had an obligation and you knew it, and you weren’t going to let the guys down, that’s all,” said Walsh. He mentioned the train, almost as an afterthought, and only when prompted by his daughter.’

(George Gross and Red Walsh) “This is a picture of two comrades who depended upon each other in the war. I am the one on the viewer’s left on the right is Judge Carrol S. Walsh, who was with me at the train and at most of our memorable experiences in combat.”

Carrol Walsh invited Matthew to contact his friend on the West coast, George C. Gross, who had a negative of the photo you see at the top of this story and ten others he’d taken of the train.

What happened next made the past come alive. Dr. Gross was happy to meet and talk. In March 2002, Sgt. Gross told Matthew his story. The captions to the images below are his words.

Dr Gross got to know quite a few of the people he helped save before he died on Feb. 1, 2009. Before we hear from him, some words about that train. In his book Move out Verify: the Combat Story of the 743rd Tank Battalion, Wayne Robinson tells us what the Americans saw:

A few miles northwest of Magdeburg there was a railroad siding in a wooded ravine not far from the Elbe River. Major Clarence Benjamin in a jeep was leading a small task force of two light tanks from Dog Company on a routine job of patrolling. The unit came upon some 200 shabby looking civilians by the side of the road. There was something immediately apparent about each one of these people, men and women, which arrested the attention. Each one of them was skeleton thin with starvation, a sickness in their faces and the way in which they stood-and there was something else. At the sight of Americans they began laughing in joy-if it could be called laughing. It was an outpouring of pure, near-hysterical relief.

The tankers soon found out why. The reason was found at the railroad siding.

There they came upon a long string of grimy, ancient boxcars standing silent on the tracks. In the banks by the tracks, as if to get some pitiful comfort from the thin April sun, a multitude of people of all shades of misery spread themselves in a sorry, despairing tableaux [sic]. As the American uniforms were sighted, a great stir went through this strange camp. Many rushed toward the Major’s jeep and the two light tanks.

Bit by bit, as the Major found some who spoke English, the story came out.

This had been-and was-a horror train. In these freight cars had been shipped 2500 people, jam-packed in like sardines, and they were people that had two things in common, one with the other: They were prisoners of the German State and they were Jews.

These 2500 wretched people, starved, beaten, ill, some dying, were political prisoners who had until a few days before been held at concentration camp near Hanover. When the Allied armies smashed through beyond the Rhine and began slicing into central Germany, the tragic 2500 had been loaded into old railroad cars-as many as 68 in one filthy boxcar-and brought in a torturous journey to this railroad siding by the Elbe. They were to be taken still deeper into Germany beyond the Elbe when German trainmen got into an argument about the route and the cars had been shunted onto the siding. Here the tide of the Ninth Army’s rush had found them.

“This is a shot of others on the train. I am moved still by all those smiles, particularly the one on the thin little girl in front at the left.”

These are the words of George C. Gross – Spring Valley, California, June 3, 2001:

“On Friday, April 13, 1945, I was commanding a light tank in a column of the 743rd Tank Battalion and the 30th Infantry Division, moving south near the Elbe River toward Magdeburg, Germany. After three weeks of non-stop advancing with the 30th from the Rhine to the Elbe as we alternated spearhead and mop-up duties with the 2nd Armored Division, we were worn out and in a somber mood because, although we knew the fighting was at last almost over, a pall had been cast upon our victories by the news of the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. I had no inkling of the further grim news that morning would bring.

“Suddenly, I was pulled out of the column, along with my buddy Sergeant Carrol Walsh in his light tank, to accompany Major Clarence L. Benjamin of the 743rd in a scouting foray to the east of our route. Major Benjamin had come upon some emaciated Finnish soldiers who had escaped from a train full of starving prisoners a short distance away. The major led our two tanks, each carrying several infantrymen from the 30th Infantry Division on its deck, down a narrow road until we came to a valley with a small train station at its head and a motley assemblage of passenger compartment cars and boxcars pulled onto a siding. There was a mass of people sitting or lying listlessly about, unaware as yet of our presence. There must have been guards, but they evidently ran away before or as we arrived, for I remember no firefight. Our taking of the train, therefore, was no great heroic action but a small police operation. The heroism that day was all with the prisoners on the train.

“Major Benjamin took a powerful picture just as a few of the people became aware that they had been rescued. It shows people in the background still lying about trying to soak up a bit of energy from the sun, while in the foreground a woman has her arms flung wide and a great look of surprise and joy on her face as she rushes toward us. In a moment, that woman found a pack left by a fleeing German soldier, rummaged through it, and held up triumphantly a tin of rations…

This view shows compartment cars. Most of the train was made up of boxcars. It looks as though one man at lower left is praying others are sitting or lying on the ground.

“I pulled my tank up beside the small station house at the head of the train and kept it there as a sign that the train was under American protection now. Carroll Walsh’s tank was soon sent back to the battalion, and I do not remember how long the infantrymen stayed with us, though it was a comfort to have them for a while. My recollection is that my tank was alone for the afternoon and night of the 13th. A number of things happened fairly quickly. We were told that the commander of the 823rd Tank Destroyer battalion had ordered all the burgermeisters of nearby towns to prepare food and get it to the train promptly, and were assured that Military Government would take care of the refugees the following day. So we were left to hunker down and protect the starving people, commiserating with if not relieving their dire condition.

“A young woman named Gina Rappaport came up and offered to be my interpreter. She spoke English very well and was evidently conversant with several other languages besides her native Polish. We stood in front of the tank as along line of men, women, and little children formed itself spontaneously, with great dignity and no confusion, to greet us. It is a time I cannot forget, for it was terribly moving to see the courtesy with which they treated each other, and the importance they seemed to place on reasserting their individuality in some seemingly official way. Each would stand at a position of rigid attention, held with some difficulty, and introduce himself or herself by what grew to be a sort of formula: the full name, followed by “a Polish Jew from Hungary” – or a similar phrase which gave both the origin and the home from which the person had been seized. Then each would shake hands in a solemn and dignified assertion of individual worth. Battle-hardened veterans learn to contain their emotions, but it was difficult then, and I cry now to think about it. What stamina and regenerative spirit those brave people showed!”

Gina Rappaport – Friday, April 13th, 1945. This is Gina Rappaport, who spoke very good English and spent a couple hours telling me her story. I have notes packed away somewhere but have never felt up to trying to make an essay of them. She was in the Warsaw ghetto under terrible conditions, and then was sent to Bergen-Belsen. She said that the people on the train had been hurriedly jammed into cars and sent on a meandering journey back and forth across central Germany to escape the British, American, and Russian troops. The attempt was evidently to get them to a camp where they could be eliminated before they could be liberated.

Gina Rappaport looks at her 1945 photograph

“Also tremendously moving were their smiles. I have one picture of several girls, specter-thin, hollow-cheeked, with enormous eyes that had seen much evil and terror, and yet with smiles to break one’s heart. Little children came around with shy smiles, and mothers with proud smiles happily pushed them forward to get their pictures taken. I walked up and down the train seeing some lying in pain or lack of energy, and some sitting and making hopeful plans for a future that suddenly seemed possible again. Others followed everywhere I went, not intruding but just wanting to be close to a representative of the forces that had freed them. How sad it was that we had no food to give immediately, and no medical help, for during my short stay with the train sixteen or more bodies were carried up the hillside to await burial, brave hearts having lost the fight against starvation before we could help them.

“The boxcars were generally in very bad condition from having been the living quarters of far too many people, and the passenger compartments showed the same signs of overcrowding and unsanitary conditions. But the people were not dirty. Their clothes were old and often ragged, but they were generally clean, and the people themselves had obviously taken great pains to look their best as they presented themselves to us. I was told that many had taken advantage of the cold stream that flowed through the lower part of the valley to wash themselves and their clothing. Once again I was impressed by the indomitable spirits of these courageous people.”

I find this picture very moving: mothers love to show off their youngsters, no matter what the situation. The little fellow was pleased at having his picture taken. Note the thin legs and brave smile.

“I spent part of the afternoon listening to the story of Gina Rappaport, who had served so well as interpreter. She was in the Warsaw ghetto for several years as the Nazis gradually emptied the ghetto to fill the death camps, until her turn finally came. She was taken to Bergen-Belsen, where the horrible conditions she described matched those official accounts I later heard. She and some 2500 others, Jews from all over Europe, Finnish prisoners of war, and others who had earned the enmity of Nazidom, were forced onto the train and taken on a back-and-forth journey across Germany, as their torturers tried to get them to a camp where they could be eliminated before Russians on one side or Americans on the other caught up with them. Since the prisoners had little food, many died on the purposeless journey, and they had felt no cause for hope when they were shunted into this little unimportant valley siding. Gina told her story well, but I have never been able to write it. I received a letter from her months later, when I was home in San Diego. I answered it but did not hear from her again. Her brief letter came from Paris, and she had great hopes for the future. I trust her dreams were realized.

“We were relieved the next morning, started up the tank, waved good-bye to our new friends, and followed a guiding jeep down the road to rejoin our battalion. I looked back and saw a lonely Gina Rappaport standing in front of a line of people waving us good fortune. On an impulse I cannot explain, I stopped the tank, ran back, hugged Gina, and kissed her on the forehead in a gesture I intended as one asking forgiveness for man’s terrible cruelty and wishing her and all the people a healthy and happy future. I pray they have had it.”

“This is a view of the train from the rear, showing boxcars like those in picture 1. On the hill to the left are people resting–some forever. Some sixteen died of starvation before food could be brought to the train.”

“This one, too, is very moving. My original note says, ‘The little girl in the middle is so weak from starvation she can hardly stand–yet she has a smile for her ‘liberators.” One might say exactly the same of the two children on either side.”

Long Time, No See!

Thanks to Matthew’s story, the story got out. ‘Then, the first miracle happened,’ he notes. ‘I heard from my first Holocaust survivor now living in Australia, a grandmother who had been a little girl on the train. In short order I heard from a doctor in London, a scientist in Brooklyn, and a retired airline executive in New Jersey. So I decided to host a reunion for them at our school. Judge Walsh met them with a laugh, and said, “Long time, no see!”’

Dr. Tomkiewicz, professor of Environmental Studies and Physics at Brooklyn College, sai of the reunions: ” Mr. Tomkiewicz said of the Reunion, “Suddenly, we had names. We could shake hands. We could put our own background in a context we couldn’t put before this was an event that crystallized the scenario.”

Words From the Saved:

‘It was a beautiful, balmy morning in April 1945, when I entered Major Adams’ makeshift office in Farsleben, a small town in Germany, to offer my services as an interpreter. It made me feel good that I could show, in a small way, the gratitude I felt for the 9th American Army, which had liberated us as we were being transported from Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

‘Orders found by the Americans in the German officer’s car directed that the train was to be stopped on the bridge crossing the Elbe River at Magdeburg, then the bridge was to be blown up, also destroying the train and its cargo all at once. The deadline was noon, Friday the 13th, and at 11 A.M. we were liberated!

‘With the liberation had come the disquieting news that President Roosevelt had died, and while I was airing concern that the new President, Harry Truman, (a man unknown to us) could continue the war, a sergeant suddenly said, “Hey, you speak pretty good English. I am sure the major would like to have you serve as his interpreter.”

‘Major Adams had not been told of my coming, so he was startled when he saw me. No wonder! There stood a young woman as thin as a skeleton, dressed in a two-piece suit full of holes. The suit had been in the bottom of my rucksack for 20 months, saved for the day we might be liberated, but the rats in Bergen-Belsen must have been as hungry as we were and had found an earlier use for my suit. For nine days we had been on the train, and this was the only clean clothing I owned.

‘Major Adams quickly recovered from his initial shock and seemed delighted after I explained why I had come. He asked how his men had treated us, and I heaped glowing praise on the American soldiers who had shared their food so generously with the starving prisoners. Then he took me outside to meet the “notables” of the German population, and with glee I translated orders given to them by the American commander. The irony of the reversal of roles was not lost on me nor the recipients I was now delivering orders to those who had been ordering me around for so long! The Germans were obsequious, profusely claiming they never wanted Hitler or agreed with his policies and hoped the war would soon be over.

‘When asked to come back the next day, I was delighted but hesitated, wondering if it would be appropriate to ask a favor. Major Adams picked up on my hesitation, so I asked him to help me contact my family in America. We had emigrated to the U.S. in 1939, but after six months I returned to Holland to join my fiancé who was in the Dutch army. My parents knew that eight months after we were married my husband was taken as a hostage and sent to Mauthausen concentration camp where he was killed in 1941, but they did not know if I was alive, not having heard from me in more than two years.

‘Major Adams gave me a kind glance, saying, “Give me a few handwritten lines, in English, and I will ask my parents to forward the letter to them.”

‘When he saw the address on the note he looked at me, his mouth open in total amazement, and then he started to laugh – his parents and my parents lived in the same apartment building in New York City!

‘And so it was on Mother’s Day that his mother brought to my mother my message:

“I am alive!”’
– Lisette Lamon, a Holocaust survivor

“I survived because of many miracles. But for me to actually meet, shake hands, hug, and cry together with my liberators–the ‘angels of life’ who literally gave me back my life–was just beyond imagination.’
– Leslie Meisels, Holocaust Survivor

“We’d heard stories about the mistreatment of Jews, about them being tortured and being put to death, but we dismissed what we thought was propaganda. We didn’t believe one group of human beings could do that to another group of human beings. It wasn’t until we saw this trainload of Jews that we believed.”
– Army first lieutenant Frank Towers, Liberator

‘I cannot believe, today, that the world almost ignored those people and what was happening. How could we have all stood by and have let that happen? They do not owe us anything. We owe them, for what we allowed to happen to them.’
– Carrol Walsh, Liberator

World War II infantry veteran Carrol Walsh, top, hugs Holocaust survivor Paul Arato at a reunion in Queensbury, N.Y., on Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2009. “Please give me a hug. You saved my life,” Arato told Walsh. Mr Arato was just 6 when he was rescued. A GI gave him a Tootsie Roll. He never forgot it.

Carrol Walsh died on Dec. 17th, 2012. He was 91. A retired state judge whose account of liberating Holocaust victims from a Nazi train led to reunions with the survivors 60 years later. “He’s the catalyst for everything,” said Matthew. “All of these people, men, women, children, jam-packed in those boxcars, I couldn’t believe my eyes,” Walsh said in 2001. “And there they were. So, now they knew they were free, they were liberated. That was a nice, nice thing.”

Matthew Rozell continues his compelling work at his excellent website Teaching History Matters. After the war, the woman and her daughter seen above in the haunting moment captured by Major Benjamin retuned to their native Hungary. They did not want to be identified.


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Witness the sinking of the German legendary cruise liner MV Wilhelm Gustloff after the Soviet attack in the Baltic Sea

NARRATOR: January 1945 - the German Reich faces defeat in the Second World War. The Soviet army has surrounded East Prussia. Millions of Germans attempt to flee. In the end, the only remaining escape route is the Baltic Sea. Harbored in the Bay of Danzig are ships carrying military equipment, soldiers and civilians. Also at port is the Wilhelm Gustloff, once the legendary cruise liner. According to the passenger list, it is to bring 10,000 refugees to safety.

URSULA SCHULZE-RESAS: "These people were first subjected to a rigorous selection. Party members were preferred. But the people who were in the harbor, who were hungry, who were thirsty, who were about to freeze to death. They rushed the ship."

NARRATOR: Among the passengers of the Wilhelm Gustloff is a young Jürgen Danöhl with his mother and three siblings. They are relieved.

JÜRGEN DANÖHL: "Mother said 'Children, we made it. No trudging through the snow, no frost, no more wet gloves, no wet feet.' It was music to our ears. It was hope."

NARRATOR: But war is also being waged on the Baltic Sea. A Soviet submarine cruises nearby. The crew is alerted by the noise of the great ship's engines.

FJODOR DANILOV: "Our goal was the same as always: Destroy the enemy. We were supposed to seek and destroy transport ships. That was our mission."

NARRATOR: The commander gives the order to attack. Three torpedoes hit the Gustloff.

DANÖHL: "It was just a short boom. And then mother began screaming 'children, out, out out. We've hit a mine.'"

NARRATOR: On board panic breaks out. Only a few find their way to the deck.

SCHULZE-RESAS: "My sister clung to me and kept saying 'Ulla we're going to die. Ulla, we're going to die.' But I had a lot of courage. I said 'No, I don't want to die. I want to live.'"

NARRATOR: But thousands are trapped within the sinking ship. There aren't enough lifeboats. Many jump into the ice-cold Baltic Sea. A German torpedo boat is nearby.

ROBERT HERING: "It was a terrible situation. What happened to the Gustloff could also happen to us. But then I said 'Saving them comes first. We've got to risk it.'"

NARRATOR: Within minutes many drown. But some are saved.

SCHULZE-RESAS: "And then we were saved. I was hoisted up and then I hugged the first sailor and I said, 'Thank God, I'm saved.'"

NARRATOR: More than a thousand castaways are saved. But almost 10,000 passengers of the Gustloff meet their deaths. Was this the killing of innocent civilians or a normal action of war?

HERING: On the Gustloff was a division of U-Boot trainees, who were, indeed, soldiers. C'est la guerre."

NARRATOR: The survivors are brought to Denmark. Never before and never since has the sinking of a ship taken so many lives.


38 Comments

Now THIS was the REAL "Holocaust." An horrific war crime perpetrated against a civilian population, a fiery conflagration that made humans ignite, and which otherwise suffocated a great many other innocents by using incendiary bombs that eliminated all usable and breathable oxygen in the bombing zone. The great German people rose from the rubble to rebuild this amazing city. The All-Lies responsible should have been tried and hanged for this abomination.

So you say is was more a holocaust than the innocent people killed by Germans in the actual holocaust?

You are as worthless as they come, I wish I could meet you face to face to see what human trash looks like.

I think this conversation is going in the wrong direction. it should not be about which act is the worst. holocaust or bombing of Dresden.

both of them are awful and disgusting and as next generation we need to remember the destruction and brutality of war and don't make the same mistake again and again.

killing innocent and unarmed people is savage and unforgivable. it doesn't matter who does that. whether Nazi done it or allied or now a days ISIS doing the same thing over and over.

some times I wonder when mankind start to learn from history!!

If I'm correct, the Allies bombed the shit out of Dresden as revenge for all the horrible things Germany did. And anyone who praises the Germans for what they did in World War II is exactly the type of person who needs to experience the concentration camps firsthand, lex talionis.

After what Germany and Germans pulled, they honestly deserved to be wiped off the face of the planet forever, not just to deal with Germany but as a warning to all remaining nations that doing what Germany did will not be tolerated at all.

If you EVER want to see justice done, we have YouTube now, so we can document German justice, German logic, and German morality and ethics practiced on Germans for the entire world to see.

The gas chambers and mass graves for you, failures. Thought you were better by virtue of being "pure" and "Aryan" but that just made you weak, stupid, crazy, and inbred. You were defeated because you were arrogant and the rest of the world ganged up on you and your mad leader, Adolf Hitler.

If Germany ever tries to pull this shit again, I'll be advocating they use nuclear bombs and COMPLETELY DESTROY YOU, RIGHT AT THE BEGINNING so idiots like YOU never have a chance to draw breath in the first place.

Deutschland, Niedrigsten der Niedrigen!

Well, Mr. Discolust (or whatever you real name might be), it is almost a year ago, you were here. And you have written a beautiful comment. Now, let's see what we can make of it.

"And anyone who praises the Germans for what they did in World Warr II is exactly the type of person who needs to experience the concentration camps firsthand, lex talionis."

Well, is this not a very good and beautiful response! Splendid, I would say! "Lex Talionis" (An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.) You know, Mr. Discolust, unlike you, there was once another Jew (a very courageous Jew to boot), who have written a book in the past, entitled, "An Eye for an Eye The Story of Jews Who Sought Revenge For the Holocaust," (fourth edition, 2000, published by Mr. Sack himself)

Mr. John Sack, an honest and true Jewish historian, wrote about the revengeful attitude of Jews who killed thousands and thousands of innocent Germans just after the war. Unlike you, he was one of the few good and humane Jews who said it was wrong and criminal to kill those Germans. One of those Jewish mass murderers was Shlomo Morrell. After killing thousands of Germans (who had nothing to do with the Nazi party or even the war), Morell fled to Israel.

Later on, however, the Polish government demanded that he should be delivered to Poland to brought before a court of committing war crimes. Israel, however, refused to do so, Even repeated attempts by Poland for delivering him, didn't work out. And so it happened that Morell died peacefully at high age. You see, Mr. Dislocust, unlike you as a very vengeful and cruel Jew, Sack was an honest man. He was, in contradiction with you, NOT a man of "lex talionis."

2: "If you EVER want to see justice done, we have YouTube now, so we can document German justice, German logic, and German morality, and ethics practiced on Germans for the entire world to see."

You know, Dislocust, YouTube is a good channel. It differs with History Channel in this that there are also videos about what we apt could be called, the "Red Holocaust." Now, what do I mean? Well, there are besides many videos about Hitler and the Nazis, also videos in which is described, for example, the Holodomor. Josef Stalin himself, the second ruler of Soviet Russia, was not a Jews (although opinions of him differ.) But he was surrounded by revengeful and cruel Jews of the worst kind! Lazare Kaganovich, nicknamed "the Wolf of the Kremlin", is together with other Jews, responsible for the Holodomor, the greatest mass murders ever committed. Mr. Sever Plocker, another fine and good Jew, moderator of EyenetNews, wrote in 2006 that some of the greatest murderers of 20th history were Jews and who have "blood on their hands for eternity." Now, it is very unlikely that you will reappear here again while your profile is removed. But I have one very urgent advice for you: Before you will point with on finger at me in a accusing way, you've got to point with four fingers at yourselves (and at other revengeful and cuel Jews as you are, of course!)

After the war, investigators from various countries, and with varying political motives, calculated the number of civilians killed to be as little as 8,000 to more than 200,000. Estimates today range from 35,000 to 135,000. Looking at photographs of Dresden after the attack, in which the few buildings still standing are completely gutted, it seems improbable that only 35,000 of the million or so people in Dresden at the time were killed.

Look - the definitive report from the Dresden Historical Commission itself published their final report on the subject around 2010.Between 18,000 and 25,000 dead. No more. This is based on their own research, on documents that were not even available for review until after the fall of the Soviet Union, and most important, is consistent with what the Dresden authorities said at the time.

We didn't have the reports of the Dresden authorities, because the Soviets occupied the city shortly afterwards. All we got was Goebbels exaggerating the number by an order of magnitude, for propaganda purposes. On the scale of WW-2 area bombings by both sides, that's actually a fairly average-to-low-average death toll. There were a lot of air raids with much higher death tolls.

The UK and France declared war on Germany after Germany invaded Poland. Russia (USSR) did not declare war on Germany -- it signed a non-aggression pact and the two divided up Poland. A year later, Germany invaded the USSR.

Maybe you should do a bit more studying.

“It looked a lot like Dayton, Ohio, more open spaces than Dayton has. There must be tons of human bone meal in the ground”.

Look at a picture of a real cremation, where the intention is to turn a human body into bone meal. At the end of the cremation, when all the flesh is burned away, you are still left with large bone skeletal remains, which has to be swept into a grinder to be ground into the fine powder we expect of human cremains.

The reason I'm pointing this out, is the official count of Dresden bombing deaths is about 25,000. That number reflects what the Dresden authorities reported in 1945, and it reflects what historians say today, on review of the available evidence.

So many people want to claim the number is up to an order of magnitude higher, because the burned bodies were turned to dust and could not be counted.

That would be a surprise to any competent funeral director. Even when you are deliberately trying to burn a body, you are left with large skeletal remains that have to be deliberately ground to dust.

Look at pictures of Dresden dead, they are gruesome, but can easily be counted as a body. An unidentified body is still a body, and it can still be counted.


13 January 1945 - History

FDR didn't really makes his views known via published documents, but various meetings he had with his staff as well as with Churchill indicates pretty much without debate that he was ready and willing to use it. Certainly he didn't develop the atomic bomb and devote all the resources to it during a time of war to sit idle with it while American's and allies were being killed daily in the war. This topic was also discussed in previous threads in this forum. This topic I found:
https://www.city-data.com/forum/hist. hiroshima.html

I am not a huge fan of Truman, but Truman's legacy is very much intact as the president that gave us VJ day, thank you very much.

I wonder. The Germans were certainly working on an atomic bomb of their own. Who would they have dropped it on?

Personally I think we would have dropped the A-bomb on Dresden due to its proximity to the Soviets and the impact it would have had on them.

I think the same factors leading to the decision to firebomb Dresden would have led to a decision to nuke it.

I don't think the unique radiation collateral damage factors we now consider when designating DGZs were considered at all back then (when you think of how nukes were tested using our own troops in later years: "Radiation? What radiation? I don't see no frickin' radiation. Get out of those trenches and move forward!").

  • Target #1 - Berlin, center of government and obvious military command center, I think because of it exceeded the range of our bombers of the time from England (and extended range B29's not operational until mid-1944, and that was only in the Pacific Theater) it really wasn't heavily bombed and not heavily damaged until the Russians ground assault of the capital. Bonus - taking out Hitler.
  • Target #2 - Dresden. Industrial area, lots of military factories and relatively untouched in January 1945 (the infamous Dresden bombing had not yet occurred).

I think the same factors leading to the decision to firebomb Dresden would have led to a decision to nuke it.

I don't think the unique radiation collateral damage factors we now consider when designating DGZs were considered at all back then (when you think of how nukes were tested using our own troops in later years: "Radiation? What radiation? I don't see no frickin' radiation. Get out of those trenches and move forward!").

As far as I've read, Allied command just looked at nuclear bombs as Very Big Bombs available in very limited numbers. The interesting question is whether taking out Berlin would've been considered too much of a helping hand to the Red Army - dispositions were already made with an eye to post-war conditions. If a similar target could be found that would make the Western front collapse.

That being said, if Germany ultimately wouldn't be on the target list in this scenario, I doubt it would be out of humane concerns. RAF mixed delayed-fuze bombs in with their regular bomb loads for the specific purpose of killing rescuers and firefighters. They weren't delicate.

I wonder. The Germans were certainly working on an atomic bomb of their own. Who would they have dropped it on?

Personally I think we would have dropped the A-bomb on Dresden due to its proximity to the Soviets and the impact it would have had on them.

I doubt it would have been used anywhere else but Japan. By January 1945 Germany had effectively lost its will to fight and was basically in "strategic retreat" mode. The civilian populace was too demoralized and war-fatigued to mount any significant guerilla opposition. The cost to occupy and pacify Germany had already been 90%+ paid in blood and treasure.

The Japanese mainland on the other hand didn't experience anywhere near the devastation or demoralization and its civilian populace was ready, willing, and able to put up a lot of resistance. The only thing that was going to bring about Japan's surrender other than flat-out annihilation of the mainland was to demonstrate our willingness and ability to do so rapidly and at far greater cost to them than to us.

They're lucky we only had enough fissile material for two bombs at the time or they might have gotten a third while they twiddled their thumbs wondering what to do after Nagasaki was turned into a crater.

Obviously. But they wanted to develop it, and they were planning to drop it somewhere or at least threaten to. Look at the mass destruction and slaughter on and off the battlefield the Nazis rained without it!

My point is, I think in the context of World War II that an A-bomb dropped somewhere in Europe by one side or the other, is not as far-fetched as some in 2021 think it is.


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