Wednesday, December 26, 2012

For Führer and poglavnik

Hostilities were not over yet, when the invaders started dismemberment of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, change of its state and regional borders, and annexation of economically and strategically important regions, according to the Provisional Guidelines for the Division of Yugoslavia (Provisorische Richtlinien für die Teilung Jugoslawiens) agreed upon already on 12 April 1941.

Earlier, on 10 April 1941 at 17:45, the radio-stations of Zagreb broadcast a proclamation of creation of so-called Independent State of Croatia (Nezavisna Država Hrvatska - NDH). At night from 15 to 16 April, immediately after the recognition of the NDH by Germany and Italy, in Zagreb arrived from Rome the leader (poglavnik) of the fascist Croatian Revolutionary Movement, better known as the ustaše, Ante Pavelić. More >>>

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Dreams about white plume

The battle for Monte Cassino became one of the biggest Polish historical myths. Losses of the II Corps there amounted to 4,199 men, of whom 923 were killed, while the German casualties were four times smaller. Did that great sacrifice serve Poland, or only personal ambitions of Gen. Władysław Anders? More >>>

Friday, September 14, 2012

In the beginning were songs

On 9 April 1940 at 4:15 in the morning the hitlerite Wehrmacht launched operation Weserübung Süd (Weser Exercise South) and attacked Denmark. After a short resistance, having 16 killed and 23 wounded, the Danish army ceased fights. That small country (43, without forests or mountains, inhabited by 3,800,000 people, was occupied so quickly and unexpectedly that many Danes did not realise it until they left for work in the morning and saw German troops in the streets. More >>>

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Reich's Commissariat "Ukraine"

The Nazi minister for the occupied eastern territories, Alfred Rosenberg, who remained under a strong influence of the advisers, recruited among the Ukrainian renegades, thought about creation of a Ukrainian satellite state, similar to the Slovak State or so-called Independent State of Croatia. He expressed his ideas in May 1941 in the instructions to the commissar for the Ukraine. It soon occurred, though, that the Ukrainian renegades, rallied around Stefan Bandera, had no intention to remain loyal to Berlin due to conflict of interests. The day before the aggression on the Soviet Union - 21 June 1941 - the chief of Sipo and SD stated in the letter addressed to the Foreign Ministry and the genera staff, that he would not tolerate activities of the Ukrainian nationalist groups in their current form, since they were incompatible with German interests. Therefore, he announced that he would act accordingly. Meanwhile he ordered to postpone creation of the Ukrainian National Committee and forbade the key figures among the Ukrainian nationalists to travel to the occupied areas. More >>>

Sunday, June 10, 2012

900 days of Leningrad

The defence of Leningrad was on the Leningrad Military District, responsible for guarding the Soviet-Finnish border from the Barents Sea to the Gulf of Finland. It was to hold positions on a 1,600km-long front with the forces of three armies (14th, 7th and 23rd), which together numbered 15 infantry divisions and 2 mechanized corps. In the Baltic Sea operated the Baltic Fleet with 2 battleships, 2 cruisers and 65 submarines. A move very important to the defence of Leningrad was shifting the Soviet-Finnish border after the war of 1939-1940. Then the border running within 32km from the city centre was moved by 150km westward, and the Baltic Sea gained bigger ease of operating in the Baltic Sea. More >>>

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Yugoslavia: A shattered kingdom

The Kingdom of Yugoslavia emerged from the First World War in 1919, when the Serbs exploited their political weight, as a member of the victorious Entente, to unite South Slavs under the rule of the dynasty of the Karadjordjevićes. That state of the matters remained unchanged throughout the inter-war period; a particularly acute problem at that time posed so-called Croatian question. During the 1930's quickly grew economical dependency on foreign factors; Balkan food products and tobacco at that time found a very attractive market in Germany. Politically, however, the strongest ties were those with France. How dangerous in its consequences was the economical dependency on the German Reich, transpires from the assessment of the situation by prime-minister Dragiša Cvetković: Economically, Yugoslavia was completely dependent on Germany, and remained a self-governing state only by name. In the summer of 1940, after the military collapse of France, the pro-German orientation prevailed. More >>>

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Absence of the American aircraft-carriers in Pearl Harbor during the Japanese attack and saving those ships, critically important to the modern naval warfare, caused that the Americans, forced to assume defensive tactics at the initial stage of the war, were able to mount spectacular raids against the enemy communications and naval bases scattered all over the western Pacific. Those raids were carried out by task forces formed around nuclei made of a carrier, two or three cruisers, and several destroyers. The raids began in the beginning of February 1942, simultaneously with the Japanese invasion of the Dutch East Indies. More >>>

Monday, May 21, 2012

War experience

Panther, in principle, had been thought as an imitation of the Soviet T-34. Originally, German commanders with frontline experience proposed to copy the Soviet tank, but it turned out that Germany did not possess adequate technologies. On 25 November 1941 the Ministry of Armaments placed orders with Daimler-Benz and MAN companies for the prototype of a tank with armour and armament superior to T-34. Daimler-Benz had proposed a tank closely resembling T-34 by shape and arrangement, with the engine and traction wheels placed in the rear. Nevertheless, more successful was the MAN's project with the traditional German arrangement: engine in the rear, and traction wheels and transmission in the front. It allowed to move the turret closer to the rear and fit it with a long-barrel gun. Each road wheel had individual torsion-beam suspension. More >>>

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Nagumo attacks

Before the take-off Japanese crews had a hearty meal composed of rice, soy soup, nuts and sake. It was not dawning yet, when four carriers switched on their projectors and lit the decks. A green flash-light blinked in the hands of Hiryu's flight deck officer, and at 4:30 the first wave of the Midway-bound planes - 36 dive bombers, 36 torpedo bombers armed with regular bombs, and 36 fighters - took off to the cheering of the flight deck crews. Soon only a garland of red and green lights in the night sky marked the flight of that destructive power. More >>>

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Main enemy

When the German command studied the project of the medium tank Pz.Kpfw.T-III, fitted with a 37mm gun, it came to conclusion that the German army needed also another medium tank, fitted with a gun of a bigger calibre. Its high-explosive fragmentation shell had to be capable of knocking anti-tank guns and field fortifications. The 75mm calibre was deemed sufficient to achieve that goal. Therefore as early as in 1934 the German command placed orders with several companies to develop prototypes of such a medium tank. Thus began the career of the Pz.Kpfw.T-IV, which became the standard German tank of the Second World War that saw combat actions on all the fronts in Europe and Africa, and remained in active service of several countries after the war. It also was built in mass quantities - more than 8,500 vehicles of all modifications. More >>>

Monday, April 30, 2012

Two years of experience

The Soviet command faced a dilemma: to attack or to assume defence? All the options and every scenario had been thoroughly examined. It was the collective wisdom, the creative work of experienced, seasoned during two years of the war military commanders and staffs, from the front level to the Supreme Command, that helped to adopt the only proper solution. While analyzing intelligence data on the enemy's preparations, fronts, General Staff and the General Headquarters gradually came to the idea of switching to a deliberate defense. That issue had been discussed many times in late March and early April at the State Defence Committee and the General Headquarters. We discussed the issue thoroughly and comprehensively by telephone with Deputy Supreme Commander G. K. Zhukov, who was on the Kursk Salient, at the headquarters of the Voronezh Front. As a result, on April 8th, G. K. Zhukov sent to the Supreme Commander a detailed report assessing the situation, and outlining considerations for the plan of action in the Kursk Salient. More >>>

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

September uprising

While the Red Army was marching through the north-east Bulgaria to the cheers of the local population, 300km away, in Bulgaria's capital, more important events took place. The government of Konstantin Muravyev, trying to save its control over the country, severed diplomatic relations with Germany and asked the Soviet Union for cease-fire. Yet, those decisions were already hopelessly late. The Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Bulgarian Workers' Party (communists) and the General Revolutionary Staff of the People's Revolutionary Army of Liberation (NOVA) deemed that moment best for the final armed uprising. It took place on 9 September 1944 at 2:00 in Sofia. More >>>

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Strike southward

The utter rout of the American battleships in Pearl Harbor furnished Japanese forces' superiority over the joint naval forces of the United States, Great Britain, Holland and Australia in the Pacific Ocean, and enabled the offensive in the south, namely the Philippines, Malaya and, eventually, Dutch East Indies. Therefore, within few hours after the strike on Pearl Harbor, Japanese ships showed up off Malaya and the Philippines, while the fleet coming back from Pearl Harbor attacked American bases on Guam and Wake. Those two islands make somewhat a bridge between Hawaii and the Philippines, and therefore their seizure would break the natural link between the Pacific Fleet and the Asian Fleet. More >>>

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Intelligence and counter-intelligence

Miscellaneous intelligence activities, conducted already in the peacetime, are organically linked with the armed struggle, and constitute an important factor in the history of the mankind, and especially its military history. Simultaneously they are a subject very difficult to research, because even after decades it is not always possible to access once secret archives, as well as other trustworthy sources of information. True, there is a plethora of studies and reminiscences published in the post-Second World War era, but way too often they miss proportions and perspective, while sensational stories, real or just imaginary exploits of various "archspies" and "superagents", obscure the meaningful matters. Meanwhile, the cardinal problem of espionage is better described by its other name - intelligence. Collecting and processing information about the enemy - probable in the peacetime and real during the war - is the basic and superior task of the intelligence services around the globe. More >>>

Friday, March 09, 2012

"The Big Three" leave Teheran

The morning of December 2 was dull and grey. It had suddenly turned cold. Gusts of wind were swirling the yellow leaves round the park. At the entrance to the main building of the Soviet Embassy stood three military jeeps. American detectives were scurrying around, their jackets bulging with the automatic pistols hidden under their arms. Everything was ready for the departure of the President of the United States.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Poland fights on

The first military campaign of the Second World War, lost in September 1939, and quick disintegration of the Polish state brought, apart from destruction and the loss of human lives, a complete surprise to the Polish society, which felt betrayed by the pre-war political régime (so-called sanacja). In that climate the Poles with understanding and hopes received news about creation of the Polish government in exile in France, led by a renown political opponent of the sanacja régime, General Władysław Sikorski, as well as the Polish Army in France under his command. Gradually, the hopes in quick victory of the Anglo-Franco-Polish forces over the Nazi Germany revived. During the first months of the occupation a popular saying "the higher is the sun - the closer is Sikorski", spread from mouth to mouth, expressed the moods and hopes of the Polish society. More >>>

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Operation "Pekin"

On Wednesday 30 August 1939 the commander-in-chief of the Polish Navy, Rear-Admiral Józef Unrug, received an unequivocal signal from Warsaw: "Execute Pekin". That signal meant sending three most worthy Polish destroyers - Błyskawica, Grom and Burza - to Great Britain. All three of them had already been readied in the roadsteads of the navy port in Gdynia, but when the signal was received at 12:50, probably none of their crewmen had any inkling what would be the consequences of that order. Nobody probably thought that it meant that three ships and half a thousand sailors would leave Poland at the most critical point of the Germano-Polish political relations. For six months then they had been preparing for defence of the Polish territorial waters, and now they had to abandon them. Only Wicher would be left at the disposal of the Coastal Sea Defence Command.  More >>>

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Did Stalin fall in prostration?

One of the many lies, introduced into circulation after Nikita Khrushchev's notorious report to the 20th Congress of the Soviet Party, is that the German invasion on the Soviet Union became such a shock to Stalin that he reportedly fell in depression and was hiding in an out-of-the-city villa. And only the members of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee, sent there for that purpose, talked him into returning to work. This is how this episode is presented in the memoirs of Nikita Khrushchev himself:  More >>>

Liberation of Poland

As the Soviet command prepared offensive operations in the summer of 1944, it decided to carry out a series of strategic operations, coming one after another, and with mutually bound objectives. They had to bring the complete liberation of the Soviet territories, striking Finland, Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary out of the alliance with Germany, and, as the result of strategic advantages on the wings, creation of the basis for further strategic advance in the central direction - in Poland and farther to Berlin.  More >>>


The Soviet partisan movement started almost on the first days of the war with Germany. In some regions anti-fascist underground organizations, and partisan groups and detachments were created yet before they were occupied by the German forces. They were either created by the local state and party authorities, or emerged spontaneously inspired by the social activists or Red Armists, who found themselves in the enemy rear or were sent there across the frontlines in order to organize underground and partisan movement.  More >>>

The hunt for Adolf Hitler

It is difficult to say, how many attempts had Adolf Hitler survived. Historians name as many as 60 of them, ranging from very serious to completely anecdotal ones. As early as in 1920's Hitler several times narrowly escaped death in usual at that time brawls and malees among feuding German parties, or even national socialist factions. More qualified attempts, specifically targeting Hitler, occurred as he climbed to the power. One of them, staged yet before his becoming the chancellor, took place in the beginning of January 1932 in the restaurant of the hotel Kaiserhof in Berlin, where Hitler dined with members of his staff. Within an hour after the dinner, all its guests felt symptoms of poisoning. Nobody died though, and the Führer was affected the least - its is being said that due to his vegetarianism. More >>>

The race for oil

Hitlerite strategists, convinced that the second front in West Europe would not be opened in 1942, started planning of a new offensive in the east. During the meeting with the Japanese ambassador in Berlin, Hiroshi Oshima, the German leader, Adolf Hitler, expressed belief that the Russians would be ultimately crushed the same summer. He decided to strike to the Caucasus and Persia (Iran), advance as far as to Afghanistan, and create a direct threat to the Indies, in which he saw the source of the British colonial supremacy.  More >>>


Blitzkrieg - or "lightning war" - is the term characterizing a set of war features, whose theoretical paradigms are elaborated to assure prompt victory. The victory in a "lightning war" is achieved through overwhelming the enemy by massive and surprising strikes from the air and on the land. In the course of the "lightning war" within a short period of time the enemy forces are destroyed,  the social and economical life of the  country is disorganized, and its territory occupied.  More >>>

Defeat in the East

On 7 August 1943 the battle of Kursk was not over yet, when the Western Front (Gen. Vasiliy Sokolovskiy) and forces of the Kalinin Front started an advance on Smolensk. This way the Russians undertook a strategically important offensive parallel to another one. There began a massive revenge, during which the Germans would be beaten i operations launched simultaneously on two or more sectors of the gigantic front. On 18 August the Southern Front (Gen. Fyodor Tolbukhin) struck across the River Miuss into the Donbass, and on 26 August, three days after the liberation of Kharkov, the Central, Voronezh and Steppes Fronts rushed towards the Dnieper. Their goal was Kiev.  More >>>

World war comes to the Balkans

Italian aggression against Greece, which was launched on 28 October 1940, and resulted in humiliating blunder, had created a new political situation in the Balkans. To Great Britain it occurred as an opportunity to open another front of the war against the fascist "Axis", and engage vast human resources of the region in the military operations. Therefore, Great Britain declared its full support to the fighting Greece, and simultaneously embarked on diplomatic manoeuvres, aimed at creation of a block of Balkan countries - Greece, Yugoslavia and Turkey - blocked with England and her dominions.  More >>>

The king's sword presented to Stalingrad

A solemn ceremony took place on November 29, before the opening of the conference plenary meeting; it was a demonstration of Allied unity in the struggle against the common enemy. Such a demonstration was highly opportune. It dispersed somewhat the dark clouds which had gathered over the conference and reminded that the anti-Nazi coalition was still faced with great and difficult problems which could only be solved through mutual and concerted efforts.  More >>>

Warsaw Uprising

Historical and political assessments of the decision to start an uprising in Warsaw in August 1944 are so diverse and conflicting, that it is not possible, and unlikely will be possible in the foreseeable future, to reduce them to a common denominator. Despite of the whole absurd of the political predicaments of the uprising, and the horrors of its military defeat, it still remains popular among an army of its enthusiasts. While its critics often use the ominous word "crime". Mounds of radio-dispatches exchanged between Warsaw and London during the time of critical decisions have been examined. Memoirs of the eyewitnesses of the events have been published. Calculations of generals Tadeusz Komorowski (Bór), Antoni Chruściel (Monter), Stanislaw Jankowski (Sobol) and objections of Colonel Jerzy Kirchmayer have been known. So are known the facts... In no way do they eliminate diametrically opposite views in their assessment. Arguments are infinite. More >>>

Taierzhuang 1938 - Stalingrad 1942

A militarily powerful country invades a very much larger country to seize territory. The invader has had an almost unbroken string of impressive victories and the larger country seems unable to fend off the invader. The most powerful units of the invader are now tasked with cutting the larger country's most important north-south transport route which is a waterway. A town on the banks of that waterway is the target set for the invader's elite combat units to capture. Capturing the town would enable the invader to menace the enemy capital and force it to surrender.  More >>>

Before the D-Day

Very often one may happen over the statement that Overlord was the name for the Allied seaborne landing on the beaches of Normandy on 6 June 1944. This statement is not precise. Overlord was in fact the codename for a strategic plan, a directive even, of the initial stage of the great battle for Western Europe. That plan outlined in general terms tasks of all three branches of service - Army, Navy and Air Force - during the first 90 days of operations in Normandy and Brittany. It foresaw that within that period the Allied forces would reach the Seine in the north-east, Loire in the south, and the Atlantic coast in the west. More >>>

Second World War 1939-1945

The Second World War in 1939-1945 became the continuation of the First World War, the conflict that ravaged Europe in 1914-1918. Then, in August 1914, Germany, the industrial leader of the continental Europe, came to the conclusion that the future did not promise to her success in the growing competition with her neighbours; that Germany's neighbours would not succumb to the idea of German domination in Europe, and would rather lock her in the Stahlring, the strangulating "steel ring" of political and economic isolation. And so, Germany went against her continental rivals, France and Russia, not expecting that Great Britain would take advantage of the opportunity to show the self-styled European hegemon its proper place. Yet Germany did not reconcile with her defeat in the first global conflict, and as soon as the History made its next sharp turn - the Great Depression that began in 1929, she opened leeway to the forces led by Adolf Hitler and his National Socialist party, which claimed that Germany's defeat in the Great War resulted from a "stab in the back", dealt by a faint minority, the treacherous Social Democrats and non-Germanic elements of the population. So, Germany started a new armament race, while her neighbours, horrified by the atrocities of the Great War and its casualties, watched in dismay the process of rebuilding the fantastic German military machine, which in 1914-1918 was capable to challenge the united forces of nearly the whole world.  More >>>