The Angel of Death

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WWII Topics: Answer Sheet

  1. Dr. Joseph Mengele- “The Angel of Death” he was a Dr. in the Birkenau concentration camp infamous for his experiments on the prisoners there. He was fickle in his choice of who lived and who died. He had a love of physical and genetic abnormalities and as a result targeted twins, little people and anyone who had a physical or mental impairment. Experiments conducted by him included trying to change eye color through the use of dyes, creating conjoined twins, removing and reattaching limbs, live dissections, removal of organs without pain killers, etc.. He was prosecuted for war crimes at the Nuremburg trials but he had escaped to South America where he lived out the rest of his life following the war.

  2. Rape of Nanking- This event took place in December and January of 1937 and 1938 and lasted approximately six weeks following the capture of the city of Nanjing, China by the Japanese Army. During this event the Japanese carried out the systematic rape of over 20,000 Chinese women(most of the time gang raped and then murdered) and the execution of over 300,000 Chinese people. The executions were done in a variety of ways including beheadings by sword as they knelt before a mass grave. The person who was to be killed next pushed the body into the grave before kneeling down themselves. This saved on Ammunition. This is a hotly contested event today with many Japanese questioning the validity of the claims even though there were newspapers from the time in Japan chronicling the event.

  3. Unit 731- Japanese chemical and biological warfare unit that was active in China. This group carried out many different types of experiments that not limited to but including, live dissection, testing of weapons on live targets, studying the effects of freezing and burning on the body, blood loss, removal and reattachment of limbs, deliberate infection of people with diseases and they then dissected the bodies to see the results of the experiments on them, giving fleas the bubonic plague and dropping them in Chinese territory. The results of these tests and activities are between 200 and 600,000 people dead. Many of these men were never prosecuted for war crimes and were instead pulled into service of other countries as a result of their valuable knowledge. Ethical question is it ok to use the information that was gained through these losses if it saves lives today?

  4. Operation Torch- The Invasion of Northern Africa, There was a debate going on between Churchill, Stalin, and FDR as far as the war in Europe in 1942. Stalin wanted the US to attack in Europe now and the British were pressuring us to hold off that attack and to instead attack in North Africa to clear that territory and the Mediterranean of German forces. The belief being once we accomplished this it would be easier to attack southern Europe in 1943. The problem with this plan is that it will delay the US attack in Europe by at least one year maybe more. The US ends up backing the British plan and invades Africa. The US first worked to assess the interest of the Vichy French forces in changing sides and at the same time prepared to stage amphibious and airborne assaults to take targets and to prevent the destruction of key targets such as ports and bridges that they needed. The Allies were able to find out that there was interest however and they had it set up to stage the landings without any danger of return fire. Unfortunately it did not work out that way, many of the French commanders were discovered as traitors by Axis loyalist and they instead met our landings which came under heavy fire. (The American troops were expecting a soft-landing and their commanders had ordered them to not fire unless fired upon, to prevent an accidental escalation of the battle). This meant that there had not been any softening of the enemy by artillery prior to the battle. Blowback from the subsequent French surrender is that Hitler sent reinforcements to hold this territory under Rommel and the French were finally invaded to the full extent of other captured territories. The result will still be an Allied victory but mostly due to our supplies of men, ammunition, food, and fuel. The Germans were low by this point and not able to fight a sustained conflict regardless of their experience and tactics.

  5. The Sherman Tank- This tank was mass produced for the US military and was effective in its role as an infantry support vehicle. Benefits to the Sherman- more of them on the battlefield than any other tank, gasoline engine was easy to work on, it was able to be modified for different roles including turning it into a platform to carry a flamethrower as well as amphibious landing. Drawback: In a tank to tank battle one on one it was very difficult for its main gun to penetrate the armor of the German main battle tanks, the gasoline engine made it liable to explode if hit, burning the crew alive, many of the DD versions used in amphibious assaults sank in the water as they were arriving on the beaches.

  6. General George S. Patton-“old blood and guts” Commander of the US 3rd army, famous for his understanding of tank warfare and unusual tactics and leadership style. Won victories for the US in North Africa, Italy, and famously the Battle of the Bulge. He was interesting in the fact that he carried a riding crop and a chrome handled 45. He is famous for his language and attitude about enemy soldiers. He will lose a lot of prestige over slapping a soldier on the back of the head and verbally berating him for cowardice, in a hospital for crying. It will later turn out that the soldier had malaria and Patton will apologize.

  7. General Erwin Rommel- “The Desert Fox”, one of the greatest German generals, he fought the US in North Africa, Fortress Europe, etc.. He really becomes famous when he is implicated in an attempt to assassinate Hitler. He is initially expected to stand trial, but Hitler realizes that he is loved by the people and to make him stand trial will lower German morale which is already low by that time so he instead gives him the choice to commit suicide peacefully and his family and staff will be spared and no one will know that he killed himself or go through the trial where the verdict is already known and his family and staff can be prosecuted for crimes as well. Rommell chooses suicide by cyanide and no one but his family really knows the truth until the Nuremburg trials following the war the German people are told he died of injuries in battle.

  8. The Tehran Conference-December 1, 1943 The First meeting of the Big Three. The Partisans of Yugoslavia should be supported by supplies and equipment and also by commando operations, It would be most desirable if Turkey should come into war on the side of the Allies before the end of the year, in which circumstances, the Soviet Union was to support them, Operation Overlord would be launched during May 1944, in conjunction with an operation against southern France, The military staff of the Three Powers should from then on keep in close touch with each other, At the insistence of Stalin, the borders of post-war Poland were determined along the Oder and Neisse rivers and the Curzon line, A United Nations Organization was tentatively agreed to, The Soviet Union agreed to wage war against Japan once Germany was defeated.

  9. Operation Husky- The Invasion of Sicily- This battle lasted just over a month and it was important in that the Allied victory here secured allied dominance of the Mediterranean Sea and it helped destabilize Mussolini further to the point that he was overthrown in a military coup shortly after. As in all operations they tried to through the German’s off and they conducted a bit of deception prior to this using a corpse that was dressed in a British Officers Uniform and had fake documents saying that the invasion was going to be in Greece bypassing Sicily. This operation was a success in just over a month the Axis were forced to evacuate the island although it was not as easy as we had originally hoped.

  10. Operation Avalanche- The Invasion of Italy- Called by Winston Churchill the Soft Underbelly of the Axis. The Invasion of Italy was supposed to give us an easy route from the South into Europe. We were expecting light resistance from the Italians as Mussolini had just been deposed after a coup and the new leaders were approaching the allies to make peace. The assumption was that we could win a quick victory. The reality was very different, because Hitler knew of the Italian plan to capitulate with the allies he sent reinforcements to Italy to tie the allies down. What was supposed to be a quick and decisive victory turned into a quagmire of fighting that distracted from our goals and ended up hurting us more than them. Any territory that we “liberated” we now had to protect and provide for and that tied up food money and supplies. The German defense was strong and the US was fighting in Italy up to the fall of Berlin.

  11. D-Day- June 6th 1944 US army website on D-Day with primary resources from it. PBS D-Day website If we could get a beachhead and get up the cliffs on the beaches of Normandy then by striking inland we could catch the Germans in a pincher and they would have to fight on three fronts. The Allied Army coming north from Italy, the new invasion heading west to Germany from France, and the Russian Army heading east to Germany from the Soviet Union. This would be their doom. Components of D-Day: Misdirection(Operation Fortitude), Airborne, Amphibious, Bombing, Naval, French Resistance, etc.. What went wrong on that day; Tanks sinking-no armor on the beaches, Paratroopers being dropped in the ocean or miles from their drop points, Landing ships dropping off the ground troops in ten foot of water instead of a few feet from the beach, Troops being dropped off at the wrong beach, German emplacements had not really been softened up by the Allied Artillery barrage, equipment was delivered to the wrong locations leaving troops terribly exposed and under gunned. We still pulled off the victory in the face of all of this partially because of these problems; the Germans had so many reports or allied landings both amphibious and airborne that their response was slow and limited, we had more men and supplies to throw at the beaches that they did, and the French Resistance did their job in causing disruptions.

  12. Operation Fortitude- Allied plan to misdirect the Germans on the location of the Allied Invasion. Fake planes, tanks, an entire fake army to convince them that we were staging for another location and the Germans bought it. The operation involved a massive effort to deceive Germany about the date and place of the invasion. It saw the "creation" of a nonexistent U.S. army to mislead the Germans into believing that the Normandy landings were merely a feint and that the main landing would be under the command of Lieutenant General George S. Patton in the Pas de Calais. The ruse reinforced the already existing German conviction that the main landing would indeed take place in that part of France closest to Britain. Another part of the plan was to draw off resources from France by convincing the Germans that the Allies also intended to invade Norway. Both aspects of fortitude worked to perfection. Hitler was convinced that the invasion at Normandy was merely a feint and that the main thrust would come in the Pas de Calais sector. Allied intelligence played a key role in deluding him.

The British "double cross" system worked to perfection. Every German agent in Britain was either dead, jailed, or working for British intelligence. The British actually controlled the entire German spy network in the United Kingdom and used it to feed disinformation to the Germans. Operations FORTITUDE NORTH and FORTITUDE SOUTH also deceived Hitler. Operation FORTITUDE NORTH caused him to believe that the Allies intended to invade Norway from Scotland, leading him to maintain and even reinforce substantial German units there; FORTITUDE SOUTH led Hitler to believe that the main Allied effort in France would come in the form of a subsequent landing in the Pas de Calais area, the narrowest point of the English Channel, and that the lodgment in Normandy was only a feint. To this end the Allies created the "First U.S. Army Group" under Lieutenant General George S. Patton, still without command following an incident in which he had slapped soldiers suffering from combat fatigue in Sicily. The Germans expected the aggressive Patton would command any Allied invasion of the Continent. First U.S. Army Group, a notional formation of 18 divisions and 4 corps headquarters, contributed nothing to OVERLORD but did confuse the Germans.
Not until late July did Hitler authorize the movement of the Fifteenth Panzer Army from the Pas de Calais to Normandy. In effect, the deception totally immobilized 19 German divisions east of the Seine. Although units of the Fifteenth Army were moved west to Normandy before that date, this was done piecemeal and hence they were much easier for the Allies to defeat.

  1. The Battle of the Bulge- December 1944-January 1945 just over a month long. The last major German offensive. They concentrated all of their forces in a last ditch effort to drive the Americans from Europe. Many of Hitlers commanders questioned whether this was possible prior to the battle taking place but Hitler demanded it. Reasons why the Germans were successful at first: The Weather caused our aircraft to be grounded for the most part, the Germans had been retreating, They infiltrated our ranks. This was the bloodiest battle of the War for the US with an estimated 100,000 casualties of which nearly 20,000 were deaths.

  2. The Yalta Conference- February 4–11, 1945 This conference was a wartime meeting of the heads of government of the United States-FDR, the United Kingdom-Churchill, and the Soviet Union-Stalin for the purpose of discussing Europe's postwar reorganization. Mainly, it was intended to discuss the re-establishment of the nations of war-torn Europe. It was the second of three wartime conferences among the Big Three (Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin). Major points of interest Japan, Poland, Germany. The US and SU had very different views of the way Europe would be shaped following the war and this will come to a head at the conference. Stalin will not feel like he needs permission at this conference and will operate from a position of control with the US and GB trying to coerce concessions, why? National Defense policy as well as Red Army only 40miles from Berlin at this time.

    1. The result of the conference: German unconditional surrender and then 4 zones, Germany will undergo demilitarization and denazification, The creation of a reparation council located in the SU, discussed Poland(idea is that existing Communist gov’t set up by Soviets will reorganize on a broader democratic basis, New Polish borders that gave up territory to Russia and took it away from Germany, Churchill tried to push for free Polish Elections which never happened, Stalin promised to participate in the UN, Stalin agreed to help fight Japan within 90 days of the German surrender, Nazi war criminals will be hunted down and brought to justice, Set up a committee to discuss taking Germany apart into separate nations

  3. Navajo Code Talkers- Navajo Indians were recruited by the Government to be used in the war against the Japanese because they were the perfect code machines. No one in the world outside of the tribe spoke there language so as long as you had a Navajo at each end of a radio conversation messages of great military importance could be spoken in the clear with no danger of interception. Even if the Japanese heard the messages they would never be able to understand without a Navajo(“Windtalker”). Link to a Navy Navajo Code Talker Dictionary There work saved many battles for the US, they could create send and decipher a message in 20sec versus the 30 min that a machine required. This meant nearly instantaneous information in the field. There were many other groups were were used in this way the Basque, the Cherokee, the Choctaw, the Comanche, and the Meskwaki. This practice went back to the 1st world war when it happened almost by accident in the 2nd battle of the Somme. Navajo though was perfect as it was spoken fluently by less than 20 non-Navajo people, it was not a written language, and no Japanese spoke it at all or had ever heard of it. Problem with “Windtalkers”….

  4. Philippines- The Island were originally captured in the first months following the attack on Pearl Harbor. The US plan to take back the Islands took place from October 1944 to August 1945.

  5. Okinawa- 82 day battle from April to June of 1945 to take the Island. This Island is important because it will be used to launch bombing runs on the Japanese main islands and it is considered to be a part of the Japanese home islands by them. This will be the bloodiest battle of the war with approximately 100,000 Japanese killed, 50,000 allies, and tens of thousands of civilians. The battle will be marked with suicide attacks by Japanese soldiers and civilians as well as mass suicides by Japanese civilians. Human Landmines, cliff diving, starvation, etc… They tried to fight to the last man. One of the reasons why we will use the Atomic Bomb.

  6. Iwo Jima and Chi Chi Jima-

  7. Tokyo Fire-bombings- US attacks against the Civilian population of Japan. In the last 5 months of the war they changed tactics and bombed 67 Japanese cities to achieve a death toll as high as 500,000 and made up to 5,000,000 more homeless. Tokyo was the worst hit and an estimated 100,000 people died in this attack alone. The city was so hot that the water in the canals literally boiled. This tactic helped to lead to the Japanese surrender.

  8. USS Indianapolis- US cruiser which had delivered many of the components for the little boy bomb to Tinian to be used in the attack on Hiroshima. Unfortunately it will be remembered as one of the worst events of the war as it was sunk 4 days later. The ship had a crew of nearly 1200 and 330 of these died with the ship as it went down in approximately 12 min. The rest ended up in the water for the next 4 days. While in the water they were faced with a variety of dangers not limited to suicide, murder, salt poising, dehydration, and shark attacks. When they were finally rescued by chance only 316 survived. The distress call is reported to have went out but no one responded to it although there were reportedly 3 bases that received the call. If they would not have been spotted they never would have been saved since no one was aware that the Indianapolis was missing. They had removed it from the board. The captain of the Ship was court martialed; they later cleared him of wrong doing and returned him to command until he retired in 1949. But the shame of it never left him and he killed himself in 1968.

  9. The Manhattan Project- The project to create the Atomic Bomb ahead of the German’s and Japanese. There were many aspects to the development of this and at its heights it employed over 130,000 people. The project had to decide what type of bomb to build, where to conduct the project, how to get the material to create the bomb, and keep track, steal from, and obstruct the Axis attempts if possible. The Bomb was developed in Los Alamos, New Mexico and that is where the first explosion took place but the material was collected in Oak Ridge, Tennessee a site chosen due its remote location and access to abundant water and power. The first atomic power plant was actually created underneath the football field at the University of Chicago but they removed it quickly afterward due to fears of a disaster in such a heavily populated area. The US succeeded in creating the bomb and testing it in July 16 1945. The explosion had the energy equivalent of 20 kilotons of TNT (20,000 tons) The shock wave was felt over 100 miles away.

  10. The Potsdam Conference Class discussion tomorrow

  11. Hiroshima- August 6th 1945, 1st City ever attacked by the Atomic Bomb. The US dropped the bomb on the city to try to force a Japanese surrender because they had not acted favorably to an ultimatum issued by the allied leaders at the Potsdam Conference. The Bomb was dropped by Colonel Paul Tibbets from his Plane the Enola Gay a modified B-29 Bomber. The resulting explosion was an estimated 13kilotons, a much smaller blast than what could have occurred, only a very small percentage of the nuclear material actually exploded. The blast killed an estimated 70,000 people instantly with another 70,000 injured. Over the next few months the death toll rose with estimates today of as high as 160,000. The blast did not result in the Japanese immediate surrender.

  12. Nagasaki- August 9, 1945, 2nd and last city to date to be attacked by the atomic bomb. Same goal, finally achieved. The explosion is estimated to have been around 21 kilotons in size. This time it was a fatman bomb, dropped by Captain Frederick Bock from his B-29 bomber, the Bockscar. Immediate fatalities 40-75,000 total death toll from the bomb are estimated to be as high as 80,000. The Japanese agreed to surrender after this.

  13. Nuremburg Trials Class discussion tomorrow

  14. United Nations Class discussion tomorrow

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