Today marks the 80th anniversary of the invasion of Poland by German and Slovak forces, triggering the start of WWII.
Below are some pictures and media releases of that day.
The Polish Troops
The Nazi’s and Slovaks
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We all know there were hundreds of Operations during WWII, some successful like “Operation Overlord”, and some not so successful like “Operation Market Garden” There were however, just as many if not more operations which were planned and not carried out or cancelled altogether. Below is a summary of some of these operation, a few of these were quite bizarre.
Operation Vegetarian was a British military plan in 1942 to disseminate linseed cakes infected with anthrax spores onto the fields of Germany. These cakes would have been eaten by the cattle, which would then be consumed by the civilian population, causing the deaths of millions of German citizens. Furthermore, it would have wiped out the majority of Germany’s cattle, creating a massive food shortage for the rest of the population that remained uninfected.
The cakes themselves were tested on Gruinard Island, just off the coast of Scotland. Because of the widespread contamination from the anthrax, the land remained a no-go area until 1990. The five million cakes made to be disseminated in Germany were eventually destroyed in an incinerator shortly after World War II ended in 1945.
Despite its neutrality, Switzerland was expecting to be invaded at any time, and had actually raised the draft age to 60 to add more soldiers to defend the country. Hitler promised to respect their neutrality, but the Swiss knew better, especially after he started to invade other non-enemy countries like the Soviet Union. Hitler even told Italian diplomats “Switzerland possessed the most disgusting and miserable people and political system. The Swiss were the mortal enemies of the new Germany.”
Germany started planning the invasion of Switzerland on 25 June 1940, the day France surrendered. At this point the German Army in France consisted of three army groups with two million soldiers in 102 divisions.Switzerland and Liechtenstein were surrounded by Occupied France and the Axis Powers, and so Guisan issued Operationsbefehl Nr. 10, a complete overhaul of existing Swiss defensive plans. The St. Maurice and St. Gotthard Passes in the south and the Fortress Sargans in the northeast would serve as the defense line. The Alps would be their fortress. The Swiss 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Army Corps were to fight delaying actions at the border, while all who could retreated to the Alpine refuge known as the Réduit national. The population centers were, however, all located in the flat plains of the north. They would have to be left to the Germans in order for the rest to survive.
Hitler demanded to see plans for the invasion of Switzerland after the armistice with France. Franz Halder, the head of OKH, recalled: “I was constantly hearing of outbursts of Hitler’s fury against Switzerland, which, given his mentality, might have led at any minute to military activities for the army.”
Captain Otto-Wilhelm Kurt von Menges in OKH submitted a draft plan for the invasion.General oberst Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb’s Heeeresgruppe C(HGr. C), led by Generalleutnant Wilhelm List and 12th Army would conduct the attack. Leeb himself personally reconnoitered the terrain, studying the most promising invasion routes and paths of least resistance. Menges noted, in his plan, that Swiss resistance was unlikely and that a nonviolent Anschluss was the most likely result. With “the current political situation in Switzerland,” he wrote, “it might accede to ultimatum demands in a peaceful manner, so that after a warlike border crossing a rapid transition to a peaceful invasion must be assured.”
The plan continued to undergo revision until October, when the 12th Army submitted its fourth draft, now called Operation Tannenbaum. The original plan called for 21 German divisions, but that figure was downsized to 11 by the OKH. Halder himself had studied the border areas, and concluded that the “Jura frontier offers no favorable base for an attack. Switzerland rises, in successive waves of wood-covered terrain across the axis of an attack. The crossing points on the river Doubs and the border are few; the Swiss frontier position is strong.” He decided on an infantry feint in the Jura in order to draw out the Swiss Army and then cut it off in the rear, as had been done in France. With the 11 German divisions and roughly 15 more Italian divisions prepared to enter from the south, the Swiss were looking at an invasion by somewhere between 300,000 and 500,000 men.
Hitler never gave the go-ahead, for reasons still uncertain today. Although the Wehrmacht feigned moves toward Switzerland in its offensives, it never attempted to invade. After D-Day, the operation was put on hold, and Switzerland remained neutral for the duration of the war.
Operation Downfall was the name given to the planned invasion of Japan. Operation Downfall itself was divided into two parts – Operation Olympic :the code-name for a planned landing in Kyushu – the furthest main island in the southand, Operation Coronet: Coronet was planned as a massive amphibious landing on beaches near to Tokyo.By mid-1945, it was apparent that the collapse of Japan was near and the Allies had to plan for the invasion of the Japanese mainland – something that they knew would be very costly in terms of lives lost.
American military commanders were given the task of planning for the invasion – Douglas MacArthur,Chester Nimitz, Ernest King, William Leahy, Hap Arnold and George Marshall. Inter-service rivalry did occur as both army and navy wanted one of ‘their men’ to be supreme commander of planning. Eventually the navy accepted that MacArthur was to have total control if the invasion was to take place. The planning proceeded without taking the atomic bomb into consideration as so few knew about its existence.
Operation rädda Danmark
Swedish plan to liberate Denmark before the country was occupied by the Soviet Union (cancelled because of German surrender)
The 4th May 1945 the Swedish army General Major C.A. Ehrensvärd had approved the last decisions concerning the Swedish invasion of eastern Denmark, early planning had started already during christmas 1943. The invasion would be launched at the same time the Allies’ would attack western Denmark. A week earlier the American General Major in the Army Air Force Frederick Anderson had visited Sweden and finally managed to talk Per Albin Hansson to take side and join the Allies’.
To be able to pull the Op off, according to planning there was a need for 1158 troop transport ships (most of them quite small) and about 100 naval vessels. From the Swedish side the invasion would be led by 3. Army Corp consisting of two divisions (I. and IX.) and 7. motorized brigade, and 8. armoured brigade. To this came numerous independent units and about 4 000 Danish soldiers trained in Sweden. All in all 60 000 soldiers with about 6 000 vehicles. To this came the personnel in the Navy and the Air Force.
Operation FS was the name of the Imperial Japanese plan to invade and occupy Fiji, Samoa, and New Caledonia in the south Pacific during the Pacific conflict of World War II. The operation was set to be executed in July or August 1942 following the MO, RY, and MI (Battle of Midway) operations.
FS was to be a joint effort between the Imperial Japanese Navy and the Imperial Japanese Army. The primary goal of the FS operation was to, following the completion of MO, RY, and MI, cut the supply and communication lines between Australia and the United States, with the goal of reducing or eliminating Australia as a base to threaten Japan’s perimeter defenses in the South Pacific.
The FS operation was postponed following the Japanese setback at the Battle of the Coral Sea, then cancelled after the Japanese defeat at the Battle of Midway, following the losses of four Japanese fleet carriers. The land forces originally dedicated for the FS operation, namely the 17th Army, were instead reassigned to a subsequently unsuccessful reattempt to take Port Moresby, part of the original goal for the MOoperation, and to defend the Solomon Islands from Allied offensives.