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11 March 1944
War at Sea
German submarine U-380 sunk at Toulon
German submarine U-681 sunk off Bishop's Rock
Indian troops capture Buthidaung, on the Arakan Front
Heavy fighting during the Japanese counterattack on Bougainville.
Soviet troops on the Dniepr take Berislav
Wheels West Day in Susanville History – March 11th, 1944
Lassen Union high school seniors last week took first steps in the establishing of a “new school tradition,” which will not only mark the school as the first in the United States to adopt such a project, but which will also have a marked influence in the beautification of Susanville.
Meeting as a body, with its president, Lawrence Price presiding, the senior class enthusiastically acted on a resolution referred to it by the Lassen union high school student council, for the planting of vines throughout the community memorializing each succeeding senior class. The senior class also decided to invoke the requirement, on penalty of social hazing, making it compulsory for all freshmen to plant rose bushes in the spring of their first year in school. The type, color and species of rose bush will be decided upon by the seniors.
The planting will take place on especially appointed days when the entire classes will participate. The program was originally decided upon a meeting of the student council on February 28, when, with president James Jeskey presiding, a resolution was passed urging the initiating of a new tradition at Lassen union high school, to be executed by the senior classes each succeeding year. It was decided that the planting of suitable perennially flowering vines, would have the double effect of commemorating the class memberships and beautifying the community.
Flowering vines were decided upon as best symbolizing the growth from high school classmen to that of adults, going forth beyond school to maturity, enlightenment and progress. It was further decided that the enforced planting of rose bushes by freshmen, regulated and supervised by seniors, would be symbolic of the thorns and troubles involved in their coming four years of high school attendance. Freshmen who failed to adhere to the tradition would be hazed by being excluded from school games, dances and other social functions. The student council unanimously agreed to aid the senior class in the project.
The project will require that plants be planted both around public buildings and private homes. Vines and bushes will be planted adjacent to private homes on the condition that they will be adequately cared for.
A permanent record will be maintained, according to senior class plans, on a tablet to be erected in the school building. The 1944 committee is considering the planting of several vines which prosper in Susanville, including wisteria, trumpet vine, honeysuckle and silver lace vine. The committee also decided that an official name would be given to the vine planting day, to be voted upon by the senior class. It was indicated that “the new tradition” would be invoked as a testimonial to their heroism of the men and women in the armed services in world war II.
Hungarian Labor Service In 1939, the Hungarian government, having forbidden Jews to serve in the armed forces, established a forced-labor service for young men of arms-bearing age. By 1940, the obligation to perform forced labor was extended to all able-bodied male Jews. After Hungary entered the war, the forced laborers, organized in labor battalions under the command of Hungarian military officers, were deployed on war-related construction work, often under brutal conditions. Subjected to extreme cold, without adequate shelter, food, or medical care, at least 27,000 Hungarian Jewish forced laborers died before the German occupation of Hungary in March 1944.
Heartbreaking Photographs of Child Soldiers from WWI and WWII
The military use of children can take three distinct forms: children can take a direct part in conflict as child soldiers they can be used in support roles such as porters, spies, messengers, and lookouts or they can be used for political advantage and propaganda.
Children have always been easy targets for indoctrination for military purposes because of their vulnerability to influence. Children have also been historically seized and recruited by force or join voluntarily to escape current circumstances.
Throughout history, children have been extensively involved in military campaigns even when such practices went against cultural morals. In World War I, in Great Britain, 250,000 boys under the age of 18 were able to join the army. In World War II, child soldiers fought throughout Europe, in the Warsaw uprising, in the Jewish resistance, for the Nazi army, and for the Soviet Red Army.
Following World War I, in 1924 the League of Nations adopted the Geneva Declarations of the Rights of the Child. Despite this attempt, World War II left millions of children unprotected from indoctrination, war, and murder. The lack of legal protection for children in times of war, which allows for their exploitation, can be linked to the lack of a universally recognized definition of a child during World War II.
The youngest known soldier of World War I was MomÄilo GavriÄ, who joined the 6 Artillery Division of the Serbian Army at the age of 8, after the Austro-Hungarian troops killed his entire family in August 1916.
The youngest member of the United States Military in World War II was 12-year-old Calvin Grahm who lied about his age when he enlisted in the US Navy. His real age came out after he was wounded.
The Hitler Youth was established as an organization in Nazi Germany that physically trained children and indoctrinated them with Nazi ideologies. At the onset of war, Hitler Youth totaled 8.8 million children. Hitler Youth children first saw conflict following the British Air Raids in Berlin in 1940. Huge numbers of Hitler Youth soldiers were removed from school in early 1945 and sent to war.
Many child soldiers served in the Soviet Union&rsquos armed forces during World War II. Orphans often voluntarily, unofficially joined the Red Army. Children were often affectionately known as &ldquosons of the regiment.&rdquo
The Japanese Imperial Army training started in schools. Military drills were a staple in physical education classes. Children between the ages of 14-17 were conscripted to fight in the Battle of Okinawa.
Currently, the United Nations Children&rsquos Fund (UNICEF) defines a child soldier as &ldquoany child &ndash boy or girl &ndash under eighteen years of age, who is part of any kind of regular or irregular armed force or armed group in any capacity&rdquo The age limit of 18 was introduced in 2002 under the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of a Child. Prior to 2002, the 1949 Geneva Convention set 15 years old as the minimum age to participate in armed conflict.
Two young German soldiers armed with Panzerfausts (anti-tank weapons) and Mauser rifles, march along Bankowa street in LubaÅ (Lauban), Lower Silesia. There was fierce fighting there and it was the site of pretty much the last successful German operation of the war. worldwartwo 20 March 1945: Adolf Hitler decorates his last tranche of boy soldiers for fighting to the bitter end. Artur Axmann, a leader of Hitler Youth, is behind Hitler Otto GÃ¼nsche is in the background on left, then Hermann Fegelein in the center and Heinz Linge on the right. worldwartwo 1944 &ndash Ten-year-old German boy soldier poses with his Major after their capture in Antwerp, Belgium. Hundreds of other prisoners taken with them march past in the background. Since Antwerp was in Allied hands by October 1944, this is proof that child soldiers were serving well before the Reich&rsquos last days. worldwartwo 11-year-old soldier killed during the Warsaw uprising 1944. worldwartwo 13-year-old boy soldier, captured by United States Army in Martinszell-Waltenhofen, 1945. warhistoryonline 15-year-old boy soldier of Legion of French Volunteers Against Bolshevism, 1941. Bundesarchiv 15-year-old Misha Petrov with captured German MP-38 and Soviet grenade RGD-33 in his boot. warhistoryonline A Chinese Nationalist soldier, age 10, member of a Chinese division from the X-Force, boarding planes in Burma bound for China, May 1944. warhistoryonline A soldier of the 94th Infantry Division searching two young anti-aircraft gunners who surrendered in Frankenthal, 23 March 1945. worldwartwo Admiral Giulio Graziani and X Flottiglia MAS. The boy on the picture is Franco Grechi. Italy, 1943. warhistoryonline Seaman First Class Calvin Graham in 1942 was the youngest U.S. serviceman to serve and fight during World War II at the age of 12. Wikipedia B. Mussolini during a review of a youth organization, Rome, 1940. warhistoryonline Boy soldier from Hitlerjugend, at the age of 16, Berlin, Germany, 1945. Soon after this picture was taken, Soviets entered the city. Bundesarchiv Chinese boy hired to assist troops of Chinese 39th Division during the Salween Offensive, Yunnan Province, China, 1944. The United States Army Signal Corps German boy soldier after his capture, Italy, 1944. warhistoryonline Hitler Youth being awarded medals, 1943. worldwartwo
A WWII massacre emerges from shadows
By the time Army Capt. William Everett examined the 11 bodies, they had been on the frozen ground for more than a month, covered only by a shroud of snow.
"On 15 February 1945, I personally examined the bodies of the American Negro soldiers listed below," Everett wrote. In a single-spaced, one-page memo, the assistant regimental surgeon chronicled their wounds. Most had been killed by blows to the head with a blunt instrument, probably a rifle stock. They had been stabbed repeatedly with bayonets. The finger of one man was almost completely severed. The soldiers had been shot multiple times.
There was little time to pursue justice. The Allies were advancing on Germany, and the European war was drawing to a close. "The perpetrators were undoubtedly SS enlisted men, but available testimony is insufficient to establish definite unit identification," the report concluded. The investigation was closed and marked secret.
Back in the USA, the wives and parents of the 11 soldiers received letters saying their husband or son had died in combat. Most went to their graves believing that.
Nearly 70 years later, as another Veterans Day approaches Monday, the mystery of what happened to the 11 men in Wereth, Belgium, is unraveling, revealing a remarkable tale that has shed new light on the contribution of black Americans in World War II's European theater. The story of the 11 men would probably have remained buried in a dusty file in the National Archives if not for the efforts of a Belgian man who was a 12-year-old boy when he saw the 11 Americans marched out of the tiny hamlet by a handful of SS soldiers. Unable to forget that image, in 1994, he quietly placed a cross on the site where the black Americans were brutally murdered. From there, a network of amateur historians, relatives of the soldiers and military officers worked to uncover what had taken place.
Thanks to those efforts, families have learned for the first time that their relatives were killed in a war crime. "It was overwhelming to know," said Renna Leatherwood, who is married to the grandson of Jimmie Leatherwood, one of the men killed at Wereth.
Regina Benjamin, the former U.S. surgeon general, whose uncle was a member of the same battalion and was captured during the Battle of the Bulge, said, "These 11 guys deserve to be remembered."
On Dec. 16, 1944, the Germans launched a furious offensive aimed at punching a hole in Allied lines. They concentrated their efforts on a wooded area near the Germany-Belgium border that was defended by an American division untested by combat.
Supporting the 106 th Division was the 333 rd Field Artillery Battalion, an all-black unit. Unlike the inexperienced outfit it supported, the battalion consisted of combat veterans who prided themselves on being able to pick off German tanks at great distances with their 155mm howitzers.
The 106 th Division was overrun in what was one of the worst American defeats of the war. Many of its members would join columns of American prisoners marched back to Germany, said Norman Lichtenfeld, a Mobile, Ala., physician who has helped lead efforts to uncover the story of the 11 men. Among the prisoners were the black soldiers in the 333 rd .
Benjamin said her uncle described hearing the German advance as tanks rumbled through the woods, driving right up on to American positions. "All of a sudden, the earth started shaking," she said.
The unit was decimated. "We were all either killed or captured," said George Shomo, 92, a veteran of the 333 rd who lives in Tinton Falls, N.J.
Eleven members of the 333 rd managed to escape. For hours, they trudged through waist-deep snow, staying away from roads and hoping to avoid German patrols. They carried only two weapons.
Exhausted and hungry, the men stumbled upon the tiny Belgian farming hamlet of Wereth shortly before dusk. They were waving a white flag, recalls Tina Heinrichs-Langer, who at the time was 17 years old.
Tina's father, Mathias Langer, didn't hesitate to offer help. He invited the men into his home, seating them at the family's rustic kitchen table, where he gave the grateful soldiers hot coffee and bread.
Harboring the Americans was a risky move for the Langer family. Wereth was a town of divided loyalties. It had been part of Germany before World War I, and some of its residents still identified themselves as German.
But Mathias Langer was unwavering in his support of the Allies. He hid deserters from the German army and sent his own sons away to avoid having them conscripted.
The men hadn't finished eating when a military vehicle pulled up to the house. The Americans knew there was nowhere to go and may also have wanted to save the Langers from trouble. They emerged from the house with their hands up.
A couple of German soldiers, members of the Waffen SS, entered the Langer home to make sure no one was hiding. Then they ordered the 11 Americans to sit on the damp ground behind the house. It was growing dark, and the men began shivering.
Mathias Langer asked the Germans if the Americans could wait somewhere warmer. The Germans scoffed, saying the men would warm up when they started running.
Tina and her younger brother Hermann watched as the exhausted men ran with the German soldiers following in their vehicle. It would be the last time they saw the Americans alive.
In the following weeks, the villagers huddled in their homes while fighting raged around them. It was the last gasp for the Germans, as their enemies closed in on them.
By early February, the fighting had subsided enough for people to venture out. Mathias and his wife, Maria, were walking to church when they saw hands emerging from the ground. The snow had receded, and the bodies were visible where they had been slaughtered, not far from the family home.
The villagers reported the bodies, prompting an investigation.
Over the years, the massacre was rarely discussed in the village. The people in the war-ravaged area simply wanted to get on with their lives, said Anne-Marie Noel-Simon, president of the Wereth memorial organization.
But Hermann, the young boy who had seen the Nazis march the men off, never did shake the vision. "He saw the fear in the eyes of the soldiers," Noel-Simon said of Hermann, who died this year.
In 1996, more than 50 years after the killing, Hermann Langer quietly placed a cross at the site of the massacre, a cow pasture, and sought the names of the 11 Americans his father had sheltered for a short time before their death.
"Hermann never thought it was right that no one remembered those men," Lichtenfeld said. "He never forgot it."
In 2001, Lichtenfeld, whose father was a Battle of the Bulge veteran, helped a small group of Belgians from the area raise funds to purchase the property and build a larger memorial.
Lichtenfeld's interest in the story dated to 1994, when he accompanied his father to the Belgian battlefield and stumbled across the small Wereth memorial. A World War II buff, he was surprised to learn of the role of black soldiers in the Battle of the Bulge and set out to learn all he could about their role.
For at least the past decade, there has been a ceremony each year in the spring, attracting Americans, Belgians and Germans to the memorial.
Army Maj. Gen. Robert Ferrell, a guest speaker at one ceremony, said, "We owe a lot to the Langer family."
In the USA, starting in the 1990s, amateur historians and the families of World War II veterans caught wind of the story and began seeking out relatives and descendants of the men. Several years ago, one amateur historian, Joe Small, financed a documentary film about the carnage.
It was too late for the parents and wives of the men, but their children and grandchildren are discovering the role their relatives played in the war and the details of their death.
The body of Pfc. Jimmie Lee Leatherwood, who was 22 when he was killed in Wereth, was returned to a cemetery near Pontotoc, Miss., in 1947. His body lay for decades in an unmarked grave. Families were often too poor to buy a gravestone, and it was not uncommon for African-American veterans at that time to have difficulty in claiming benefits.
Last year, local supporters and Leatherwood's family unveiled an engraved headstone with a short description of how he was killed.
In Piedmont, W.Va., locals led by T.J. Coleman, an Air Force veteran, have dug into the background of James Stewart, who went by his middle name, Aubrey. They've discovered letters he sent home, including one to his mother urging her not to worry and telling her the money he sent home was for her to spend as she saw fit.
The story of Stewart's service has inspired the community, said Richard "Preston" Green, a nephew of Stewart who lives in Ohio. "Once that came to light, they really understood what patriotism is," he said. "They were proud."
Historians disagree over whether the Waffen SS killed the men because they were black. The Germans killed 80 prisoners of war the day of the Wereth killings. The Malmedy massacre, as it came to be known, captured headlines worldwide and ultimately led to war crime trials.
"I don't think it was as much about racism as these guys had to get to the Meuse River," said Robert Hudson, whose father fought with the 333 rd during the Battle of the Bulge. "I just don't think they could afford to take prisoners."
The torture and disfigurement of the bodies suggest a different motive. "There is no doubt in my mind that race had something to do with it," said David Zabecki, a retired Army major general and military historian. "You can never forget the twisted racial ideology of the Third Reich."
Hermann Langer was surprised that the story attracted worldwide attention. The memorial services have grown larger with each passing year, attracting top U.S. military brass.
"He never expected it to get so big," said Marion Freyaldenhoven, a granddaughter of Matthias Langer. "It was just to get him some peace."
11 March 1944 - History
A s Allied forces broke through the German containment in the hedge row country beyond the Normandy beaches, Supreme Commander, General Dwight Eisenhower set his sights on a rush into Germany. Concerned that a battle for Paris would only bog down the advance, Eisenhower planned to by-pass the French capital. However, events on the ground would soon dictate a different course.
|Resistance fighters arm themselves|
as liberation troops approach Paris
Hitler ordered General Dietrich von Choltitz, military commander of Paris, to destroy the city. The city's bridges were mined and preparations made to follow Hitler's request. However, von Choltitz hesitated. On August 20 he agreed to a cease-fire with the Parisian insurgents. It was a fragile agreement as sporadic fighting continued throughout the city.
On August 24, leading elements of de Gaulle's forces (led by General Jacques Leclerc) made their way into the French capital. The remainder followed the next day. Confronting pockets of intense German fighting, the liberators proceeded through the city. French tanks surrounded von Choltitz's headquarters. The commander of Paris was taken prisoner without resistance and signed a formal surrender agreement. Although sporadic fighting continued, General de Gaulle entered the city in a triumphal procession on the 26th. After four years, Paris was free again.
"Germans were also shooting from Notre Dame and from nearby houses."
John Mac Vane was a NBC radio correspondent who accompanied the allied troops as they approached Paris. We join his story as the troops enter the city: :
"We reached Paris itself, the university, at just ten minutes past eight by my watch. I felt like pinching myself. It was hard to believe I was back in Paris once again.
Suddenly a fusillade of bullets spattered on the street. The whole column came to a quick stop. We leaped out and crouched beside the jeep. FFI men started blazing away at something over our heads. Men in the dozen vehicles ahead of us began firing at something in the tower of the university.
Germans in the tower were firing on the column. I saw the stone­work blasted off in white flakes as Leclerc's men kept it under continuous fire.
We were also being fired on from a nearby house. Some FFI men, with Leclerc's troops, got cover near the building, then rushed through the door and up the stairs. I heard the explosion of a grenade and the firing stopped.
After about half an hour the tower of the university fell silent, and the column moved on.
Twice again the column was held up in similar fashion. One moment the streets would be filled with people. At the first volley of shots they would scatter to the doorways. FFI men with ancient pistols and captured German rifles would start firing at what they thought was the source of the attack.
Whenever the trouble seemed serious, Leclerc's men would loose a few bursts of machine-gun fire from the weapons mounted on the trunks. Or a light tank would stop at a street comer and streams of tracers would spout out of it to cover our advance. We felt terribly unprotected in the jeep, and the noise of the bullets singing past us was most unpleasant.
Just as the column began moving again, a civilian in a black homburg jumped onto the jeep. I told him roughly to get off.
The civilian grinned and told me in good but accented English that he was an American ASS agent who had been in Paris for three months preparing for our entry. He was French by birth but naturalized American. We let him ride with us down the boulevard Jourdain and through the porte d&rsquoOrleans. In the rue St.-Jacques he jumped off with a &lsquothanks very much,&rsquo smiled, and disappeared as mysteriously as he had come.
We passed across the bridge that led directly to the square between Notre Dame Cathedral and the Prefecture of Police. In the sunshine Paris had never looked more beautiful. It was then just a quarter to nine.
The vehicles just ahead of us rolled into the square and parked, and we parked the jeep with them. Kokoska switched off the motor. We looked up at the lovely towers of Notre Dame, and someone said, &lsquoWell, that's that. The fight is all over now.&rsquo
As he finished speaking, the air crackled into life with bullets, hissing and whining all over the square. The French light tanks began firing over our heads at some Germans across the Seine. Germans were also shooting from Notre Dame and from nearby houses. For twenty-five minutes Wright, Jack Hansen, Kokoska, and I lay on our stomachs crouched beside the jeep. We could see no likely shelter of any kind. There was so much shooting that we could hardly hear one another speak. Guns, machine guns, rifles - everything was going off together in one great earsplitting, crackling inferno of sound.
|A Parisian family seeks shelter from|
sniper bullets as liberation forces
The wounded were carried across the square by girls and doctors in Red Cross uniforms. They waved Red Cross flags.
The shooting sputtered, then died down, and finally burst out with new fury before it ceased. The air was strangely quiet. I could see the sun glint on the white marks where the bullets had struck Norte Dame..
A new sound broke the hush of that Thursday morning the bells of Notre Dame. Someone began ringing them. They pealed over Paris as they had for so many hundreds of years, a song of triumph that Paris was once again free.
. There were some strange incidents in that square. Two men dressed in the helmets and uniforms of Paris firemen came up to me and, speaking in unmistakable American, said, &lsquoAre you guys Americans?&rsquo
&lsquoSure,&rsquo I replied, &lsquobut what in hell are you guys doing in that getup?&rsquo
One of them, whose name I took down, reported to the authorities at his request, then promptly lost, said, &lsquoHe and I are Eighth Air Force. I'm a pilot. He's a navigator. We got shot down, and the French underground took charge of us. We been in Paris for a month attached to this fire department unit. We have a hell of a time at night, going around fighting fires and killing Germans when we get the chance. I wouldn't have missed this for the world.&rsquo
&lsquoDo you speak French?&rsquo I asked.
&lsquoNot a damn word,&rsquo said the bomber pilot. &lsquoOne of the firemen speaks a little English, and he does all the translating. We get into a house of some collaborator that is burning, and we bust up the whole inside before we put the fire out. Or maybe we just let it all bum down.&rsquo
When he left us, the pilot said, &lsquoHell of a thing to have to go back to flying-after all this fun.&rsquo "
This eyewitness account appears in: Mac Vane, John, On the Air in World War II (1979) Blumenson, Martin, Liberation (1978).
Memory Wars: World War II at 75 and Beyond
The National WWII Museum will be hosting a first of its kind international conference to address shifting landscapes of popular memories of this world-altering conflict. Memory Wars: World War II at 75 and Beyond will take place September 9–11, 2021 at the new Higgins Hotel & Conference Center.
Memory Wars will explore World War II’s place in public memory through a global prism, examining how museums, filmmakers, media, memorials, and historians (both academic and public) help shape memories of the conflict.
Europe 1940: Winter War
On 17 September 1939 the Soviet Union moved to occupy eastern Poland as had been agreed with Germany. The Soviets followed this by establishing influence over the Baltic states and attempting to invade Finland. Finnish defences were unexpectedly tough, however, and the Russians were forced to make do with territorial concessions.
17 Sep–6 Oct 1939 Soviet Invasion of Poland▲
In accordance with the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, the Soviet Union invaded Poland on 17 September, meeting the Germans invading from the west on 6 October. On 1 November, the Soviets annexed Eastern Poland, incorporating its territory into the Belarusian and Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republics. in wikipedia
29 Sep–10 Oct 1939 Soviet influence over Baltic states▲
Following the fall of Poland in 1939, the Soviet Union pressured Finland and the Baltic states—Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania—to conclude mutual assistance treaties. Pressure was applied to Estonia first, which also had to agree to host Soviet army, air, and naval bases in late September. Latvia and Lithuania followed in early October, although the Soviets agreed to reward the Lithuanians for their support by ceding the historically-disputed city of Vilnius to Lithuania from what had been Poland. in wikipedia
30 Nov 1939–13 Mar 1940 Winter War▲
The Soviet Union invaded Finland with some 450,000 men, without declaring war and in violation of three non-aggression pacts. Despite numerical superiority, the Soviets suffered repeated setbacks until reinforcements allowed them to break through in January 1940. At the Moscow Peace Treaty, the Finns agreed to cede significant territory along the border of the two states, including the Karelian Isthmus. in wikipedia