Saturday, October 04, 2014

Breakneck pace

The attractive at the first glance theory of Gen. Giulio Douhet, prophesizing a total air war, did not fool the leading military brains of different countries. They understood that deploying heavy horizontal bomber planes against the enemy troops dispersed in the battleground would be ineffective: capable only of area-bombing, and on top of it - from high altitudes, they hardly would be able to destroy highly mobile armoured troops and motorized infantry. More >>>

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A wolf in sheep's clothing

There came the spring of 1938, and the spectre of a new war haunted Europe again! This time the ominous clouds of the new conflict had been gathering over the mountainous massifs of the Sudetes. The Sudeten-German Party (Sudetendeutsche Partei - SdP), by orders from Berlin, launched a massive propaganda offensive against the Czechoslovak Republic. More >>>

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Indian Ocean raid

In the beginning of the spring of 1942 the Japanese occupied the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The British garrisons of the islands left them earlier due to menace from the north, where the Japanese took Rangoon on 8 March, and the south, where the Japanese landed on Sumatra. The enemy presence in the Andaman Sea, in the north-eastern section of the Indian Ocean, meant in the first place the menace to the main forces of the Eastern Fleet in Colombo on Ceylon. The base did not possess any adequate anti-air defence - either anti-aircraft artillery or aircraft. After all, the British air forces in the Indian Ocean was weak as far as the quantity and quality of the equipment is concerned. The forces of the Royal Navy comprised three aircraft-carriers, but the Japanese could oppose them with six ships of the same class. More >>>


Occupation of Albania on 7 April 1939 did not crown the Italian imperial ambitions. After all, Albania was supposed to become merely the bridgehead of the Italian fascism in the Balkans, from which soon further aggressions would be launched against Greece and Yugoslavia. The invaders also had perfect knowledge that - despite of official propaganda about the Italian tutelage being received favourably in the broad circles of the Albanian society - Albanian highlanders would never reconcile with the loss of their freedom. They were actually bound to open a new chapter in the history of the Albanian struggle for independence very soon. Yet, Rome believed that resistance sooner or later would be suppressed, and the rule of the iron fist would, with time, turn the annexated country into a calm overseas province of a modern Roman empire. As the Italians issued from such assumptions, they immediately undertook the efforts to create in Albania a strong and efficient administration. More >>>

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Soldiers of the Army "Poznań"

Germany commenced direct preparations for the war with Poland in the early spring of 1939. On 3 April German generals presented to Adolf Hitler the outline directive of the Wehrmacht deployment in 1939-1940. Its second part, codenamed Fall Weiß, dealt with the plan of destroying of the Polish armed forces. That plan had to be realized by surprise attack of concentric thrusts from Silesia, Pomerania and East Prussia, beating the Polish armies concentrated in the west of the the rivers Vistula and Narew, and then pursuit eastwards to prevent the Poles to rebuild their defences along Narew, Vistula and San. The focal point of those thrusts was Warsaw, the capital of Poland and its major political, administrative and economical centre, which was supposed to be taken in the third, and last, phase of the war. More >>>

Sunday, July 06, 2014


With the occupation of Malaya and Dutch East Indies rich in oil, rubber and other raw materials, the Japanese had achieved their primary strategic goal. Yet, in order to guard the perimeter of their conquests, they had to establish a system of advanced positions from the Indies to the Gilbert Islands. That is why they laid an eye on Burma - the country located ideally for safeguarding their conquests in the west. High, longitudinally stretched ranges of Arakan, Assam and Manipur could constitute a natural defence line, blocking the only three local roads, impassable during the rainy season. More >>>

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Polish coast in war plans

Poland, brought to the independent being after 123 years of absence on the political maps of Europe, on 10 February 1920 received access to the Baltic Sea. However, it was not a reason for excessive joy, as the coast awarded to Poland by the decisions of the Treaty of Versailles constituted merely a 142km-long stretch of sandy beaches from Hel Peninsula to the outskirts of Zoppot. Danzig with adjacent area was declared a free city under the international control; although it maintained certain formal links with Poland, majority of its population was German. Poland was too weak politically to get a better deal. The narrow "corridor" of the Polish Pomerania, wedged between the German Pomerania and East Prussia in a space no bigger than 40 kilometres, was impossible to defend in case of a conflict with Germany. The whole area had barely few fishermen villages, with only one small port in Puck. The Germans made sure that no objects of economic importance was left to the Poles; the land was stripped of anything that Poland might use to build a real sea economy and a navy. In the beginning of 1920s Poland's access to the sea was an illusion rather than a reality. More >>>

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Two years of peace

After the outbreak of the war in 1939, the Soviet Union undertook unprecedented measures to speed up its economical and industrial development, especially in the branches of strategic importance. Issuing from the obvious notion that the future war would affect western areas of the USSR, there was made the decision to make bigger investments into the industry of eastern regions to ensure that they would provide at least 20% of the whole industrial output. More >>>

The W-Hour

The day 1 August 1944 in Warsaw was hot and muggy like before a storm. Every now and then the sun was hiding behind the clouds, and one might expect a rain any moment. Yet, the streets were unusually crowded. Trams were running seldom and with irregular intervals; passengers crowded them to the utmost. About the noon to the streets took groups of young men walking quickly in apparent hurry. Reinforced patrols of the German police and gendarmerie were cruising throughout the whole city, but without bothering by-passers. The crowd grew by hour. More >>>

Friday, May 09, 2014

Defence of Sevastopol

In the hitlerite plan of war with the Soviet Union the Army Group Centre was assigned to make the main thrust towards Moscow, whereas the Army Group South was assigned to auxiliary tasks. From the area south to the Pripet Marshes it had to advance to Kiev, Occupy the Ukraine and Crimea, and proceed to the Caucasus. More >>>

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Diplomatic initiatives

The whole system of the Soviet diplomatic initiatives in the international relations was focused on preserving peace at any cost, keeping at bay those forces, which were seeking military solutions to their political aspirations, and winning time to consolidate the defence of the Soviet Union. As the Soviet political and military leadership issued from the ideological premises, they foresaw that the most probable enemy of the socialist Soviet Union would be nazi Germany. However, they were afraid of the possibility to face an international crusade mounted by the Western democracies together with Germany. To the Kremlin such a perspective looked very probable in view of the collapse of the Anglo-Franco-Soviet talks in the spring and summer of 1939, as well as mounting anti-Soviet propaganda in the West. In such circumstances the Soviet Union accepted the German proposal to conclude the non-aggression treaty, which was signed on 23 August 1939. More >>>

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Making the plans

The original plan of the war with the United States, worked out in 1930s by the Imperial Japanese Navy General Staff, foresaw that the navy would "wait" for approaching American fleet just like it happened with the Russian fleet in 1905. Some hopes were put in weakening the enemy force through air and submarine attacks from the outlying Japanese islands. But the fates of the campaign would be decided in a coveted general battle, in which the decisive role would be on the artillery of the Japanese battleships, and aircraft-carriers would be assigned to auxiliary tasks. More >>>

Thursday, April 03, 2014

On the Yugoslav soil

For almost three and half a year peoples of Yugoslavia conducted persistent struggle with the German invaders, their satellites, and domestic fascists almost in complete isolation from the rest of the fighting Europe. But when the Army Group Southern Ukraine collapsed, and Romania and Bulgaria turned tables and declared war on the fascist "Axis", the situation in the Balkans changed cardinally. At the same time Soviet forces crossed the borders of Hungary and Czechoslovakia, and approached the north-eastern frontier of Yugoslavia. More >>>

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Italo-Abyssinian War

Abyssinia (Ethiopia) since the ancient times has been an important link on the shortest way from Europe, along the African coast, to India and China. Building of the Suez Canal had strengthened that position of Abyssinia, and attracted attention of great colonial powers: Great Britain (which ruled in Indies), France (which ruled in Indo-China), and Italy (which sought acquisition of colonial possessions). Penetration of European powers into Abyssinia resulted in colonial partitions of her sea coasts from Suakin to the Cap Guardafui, and farther to Zanzibar. More >>>

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Dramatis personae

The spring of 1940 brought the war to North Africa. Although the political borders dividing that region have survived historical turmoil, it is worth to outline the contemporaneous political situation, as the borderlines roughly coincided with the frontlines, or at least the spheres of influence and colonial possessions of the European countries. More >>>

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

General Staff at war

The bombing of Moscow grew in intensity. Alerts were sounded nearly every night. Sometimes bombs fell quite close to the General Staff. The shelter in the basement, though quite unsuitable, now had to be used for work as well. Soon the decision was taken that the General Staff should spend the night in Byelorusskaya Underground Station, where a command post and communications centre had been fitted out. More >>>

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Why Norway?

On 9 April 1940, when Nazi Germany without declaration of war attacked Denmark and Norway, it was not the form of attack that surprised the world's public opinion; after all, the invasion of Poland had demonstrated that the Third Reich was breaking international laws unscrupulously. It was the direction of the new aggression that was beyond the comprehension of an average bread-winner. Why Norway, a country of 3 million people, located in the outskirts of the European continent, and maintaining the policy of strict neutrality, became a victim of the brutal and unprovoked aggression? More >>>

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

While Westerplatte was fighting on...

The case of the command on the Westerplatte and steadfast and heroic stance of Major Henryk Sucharski seemed to be beyond dispute ever since the end of the Second World War. Suddenly, it became not so obvious, as a picture of the defence of the Military Transit Depot on Westerplatte from 2 to 7 September 1939 has been emerging quite different from that Polish youth has been learning from the History classes for decades. More >>>

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Possessions of Germany's satellites in Yugoslavia

After the fall of Benito Mussolini no substantial changes occurred in the areas under the Hungarian occupation. Hungarian officers, three high-ranking and several lower ones, responsible for war crimes against the Serbs and Jews, were court-martialled in December 1943. It happened soon after the Allies had announced that war criminals would be punished. The defendants were duly sentenced, but found no obstacles to escape abroad. After March 1944 they came back to German-occupied Hungary and demanded a retrial in the court, which eventually vindicated them and restored to the previous military ranks. More >>>