Saturday, November 21, 2020

War and Politics

(Source)

Hauptfeldwebel Hermann Krüger was followed by the remnants of his company, the 8th company of the 3rd Battalion of Grenadier Regiment 985. He and his men had been ordered to report to a Hauptmann von Lüttwitz. All Krüger knew was that the captain was somewhat famous for having led a small band of survivors of his company across most of France after the army had collapsed in Normandy.

As he approached the bivouac area of Kampfgruppe von Lüttwitz, he noted that they had a fairly significant number of armored vehicles for what was essentially a weak battalion. It seemed that Germany was scraping the bottom of the barrel now for units to try and stop the American advance. It was working, though Aachen had fallen, the army was still holding strong in the Hürtgenwald.

"Herr Hauptfeldwebel, can I help you?" Grenadier Hans-Peter Fuchs was on sentry duty at the entrance to the bivouac. He wondered if this ragged band was meant to be added to their own little unit. He liked the idea, the man standing in front of him was highly decorated¹ and looked like he'd been around.

"Yes, Grenadier. We, my men and I, have been ordered to report to a Hauptmann von Lüttwitz. Perhaps..."

"If you follow this track about 50 meters, you'll see a small house on the right, just past those trees there. That's the headquarters, the captain should be there."

As Krüger signaled his men to follow him, Fuchs stopped him. "Begging your pardon Herr Hauptfeldwebel, but your men look hungry, the field kitchen is down that way."

Krüger looked in the direction that Fuchs had pointed, he nodded at the young soldier and said, "Thank you Grenadier, my men are indeed hungry." He had the senior surviving sergeant, only two Unteroffiziers and a Gefreiter had survived the fiasco in the valley, take the men down to the field kitchen.

Walking down the path, he looked around, these men had been resupplied with good equipment and the new reversible winter uniforms, camouflaged on one side, white on the other. It was a good sign perhaps, but it could also mean that these men were about to be thrown back into the fire.


"I don't think you understand the situation here Herzig, I command this battlegroup. If I want your advice, I will ask for it. Until then you will keep your mouth shut, you will stop pestering the men with your National Socialist nonsense, and, if you know what's good for you, you will keep out of my way. Is that clear Oberleutnant?"

Herzig had a smirk on his face, it was apparent to him that this man had been at the front for far too long. Did he not understand that since the attempt on the Führer's life back in July that the Party was now paramount? Only pure National Socialistic thoughts and ideals would stem the Allied advance so that the bulk of the army could then be thrown at the Bolsheviks in the East.

"Herr Hauptman, I do understand the military situation here. We have stopped the American advance all along the front. They have taken Aachen, but I am sure the Führer has already made plans to retake the city and deal with the traitors who surrendered it. The English and their lackeys are still bogged down in Holland and winter is coming. I am quite sure that we will soon be moved to the East, to fight the Slavic hordes. That also explains the political dimension of the war in its current state. Hold the west at the borders of the Reich while we turn and deal a final blow to the Communists who have overreached themselves. I have it on good authority that their advance has stalled in Poland." Herzig completed his lecture with a rather smug look on his face.

Von Lüttwitz sat behind the table which served as his desk, he was speechless. This Nazi pup, this scion of the new Germany, this leech from headquarters dared lecture him on the military situation. The Americans had been slowed down, not stopped, they were still inching forward in the Hürtgen, though paying dearly for each meter they advanced into Germany. Germans were dying by the hundreds trying to stop that advance, as slow as it was, eventually there would be nothing to stop them with.

And in the East, the Soviets, stalled? No, they were resupplying and regrouping after having destroyed an entire army group in the summer. They had driven the German Army back to the borders of the Reich and had cleared half of Poland. Warsaw was still in German hands after an abortive uprising by the Poles had been defeated barely two months ago. That summed up the military and the political situation. The war was nearing its end, Germany was losing. The only reason they kept fighting was that there was no alternative. They must bleed the enemy in the hopes of a negotiated settlement. He remembered his uncle's tales of the aftermath of the First World War, Germany must not go through that again.

Rather than scream at this idiot standing so arrogantly in front of him, von Lüttwitz managed to calm himself. Though he would have loved to have this fool shot, he realized that he would be killing himself as well. Before he could say anything, there was a sharp rap at the door.

"Enter!"

The door opened to reveal a rather disheveled Hauptfeldwebel. "Herr Hauptmann, Hauptfeldwebel Hermann Krüger reporting. I have 33 men under my command. I was ordered to report to you."

Von Lüttwitz stood and extended a hand, "Please come in Krüger, have a seat." Turning to the other man in the room he said, "You, Oberleutnant, are dismissed."

"Herr Hauptmann, we need to..."

"Dismissed, Oberleutnant."

Krüger had to wonder what that was all about as he took a seat next to the small table.

"Sorry about that Krüger, that, by the way, was our NSFO. Now where are your men coming from?"

"Sir, we are the only survivors of the 8th Company, 3rd Battalion, Grenadier Regiment 985. We had been rebuilt over the past month, many new recruits, just boys really, and a number of First World War veterans as well. We were sent into the Hürtgenwald to reinforce one of our positions which was in danger of being overrun by the Americans. We were caught in an artillery barrage. We are all that is left of the 8th Company."

Von Lüttwitz nodded, he had heard of that butchery. An entire company reduced to a weak platoon in a manner of minutes. He had seen the American artillery at work, he knew what it was like to be under it. He shuddered at the thought.

"Have you and your men eaten yet today?"

"My men were directed to the field kitchen by your sentry. I wanted to report in first."

"Very good. I have to tell you, I already have a first sergeant for the Kampfgruppe, Klaus-Peter Keller, but now I think having another is good. We should probably divide the group into two companies. We are still trying to get organized, word has it that we'll be going back into the line within a week or so. Go, get something to eat, get your men settled in, then report back to me." Von Lüttwitz stood up and offered his hand again. After shaking hands, Krüger snapped off a very professional military salute, which von Lüttwitz returned. Then Krüger hesitated, wondering if he'd made a mistake.

"Never mind the Hitlergruß² Krüger, I prefer tradition to politics. But mind yourself around that young lieutenant who was here when you arrived. He's a stickler for the new rules."

"Understood Sir, unfortunately, our NSFO was killed in the artillery barrage." Krüger said that in a neutral tone.

"Yes, Hauptfeldwebel, how unfortunate. Now go, get some food in you. Dismissed."

Von Lüttwitz thought that he should be more careful around strangers, but the way Krüger had mentioned his NSFO's death made him believe that man was also a traditionalist. Still though, one couldn't be too careful.

Grabbing his cap from the hook on the nearby wall, and his greatcoat, Hauptmann Jürgen von Lüttwitz, scion of the old German nobility, went out to gather his combat leaders. They had rested long enough, they needed to reorganize the unit. And find something to keep their NSFO busy while they did so.

"Hhmm, killed in an artillery barrage? How unfortunate..." von Lüttwitz muttered to himself as he closed the door.

"How unfortunate."






¹ The German soldier of WWII wore his combat decorations and awards on his tunic, even in combat.
² Hitler salute

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32 comments:

  1. This does not bode well, for Herzig.

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    1. A German translation for "fragging" bitte :-)

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    2. There is no direct translation as the term was coined during the Vietnam War. Though it isn't a uniquely American thing (I read of at least one instance in WWI in the British Army), the Germans didn't have a word for it in WWII to my knowledge.

      But yes, it could happen.

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  2. You are doing a good job of keeping the STUG III photos STUG IIIs, rather than STUG IVs, or Guderian Ducks! Bravo!

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    1. Count the road wheels, first thing I do when looking at assault gun photos. As to the Jagdpanzer IV, the silhouette is too different to be easily confused. Armored vehicles are one of my specialties. I read far too much about them.

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    2. Count Roadwheels? Does the AGM-65 Maverick have that capability?

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    3. Maverick doesn't care, it's philosophy is "Kill 'em all."

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    4. I always went by the IV's tiny little roadwheels. Tiny little, it's a IV derivative.

      As to Mavericks counting roadwheels? Nah. That's the job of some intel weenie or boffin.

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    5. Never looked at it that way, six versus eight always did it for me. (As to III versus IV.)

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    6. Six vs right has always been my method.

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  3. That it does. Quite well, I might add.

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  4. Oh, sounds like the good NSFO is going to wake up to a live grenade or something. Maybe scratch his head with a barrel.

    Nice interplay of tension between the various characters.

    As to the winter uniform, I heard that the German stuff, late war, was pretty good. Their early war winter stuff was okay for Germany and Poland, but not up to Russian standards. Though, well, '44, the Americans will discover just how bad their winter stuff is. But the war will be over before they fix that issue, just in time to freeze too many troops in Korea.

    And the Forest waits to feed again. It doesn't mind eating when it's winter.

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    1. I added the NSFO to add a bit more tension to the story. Apparently it's working!

      German early war winter stuff? Wool greatcoat, that's about it. Totally insufficient for Russia.

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    2. I read a book by a Marine platoon commander in the Korean war. His unit got some of the first Mouse Boots, and they thought them to be a near miracle.

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    3. They are very good in frigid conditions!

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    4. My pops was a radioman with 1st Marines at Chosin. Never saw him get cold as kid when we hunted ducks in the midwest, even after getting dunked in a flooded cornfield one november... Bad men, one and all, those guys and it's an honor to say I was raised by them.

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    5. There is an American Experience Episode on the "Frozen Chosin" on Amazion and the description given for the cold there - when they finally got out and it was 32 degrees, they started to shed clothing.

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    6. William - Trust me, when you get used to subzero weather, anything above 30 feels "warm." Ask anyone from a northern tier state.

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  5. BOOK ALERT! BOOK ALERT! STEVEN ZALOGA'S SHERMAN vs PANZERFAUST IS ONLY $1.99 ON KINDLE, TODAY!

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  6. There is NOTHING as reprehensible as a true believer/zealot. I really hope you have a suitable fate in mind for this guy, when his turn in the barrel comes around, Sarge.

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    Replies
    1. Herzig reminds me of the Nazi zealot on Das Boot...

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    2. lol no - I'm pretty sure he won't survive the war.

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  7. Hey OldAFSarge;

    I was wondering exactly when and how you were going to incorporate the "new Germans" into the story and you did it quite well. The Germans learned from the Russian winter and made their gear better, and the Americans ran into the worst winter in generations the winter of 44/45 and their gear was lacking, but the war ended before any meaningful improvements came down the pipeline and we fought the beginning of
    the Korean war in the same gear we fought WWII in with the same frostbitten results until I think 1952 when the new stuff started hitting the supply lines. Another awesome Post.

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    1. You'd think armies might remember that winter is cold.

      Nope.

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  8. The winter of 45-46 was no picnic either from what I've read.
    Von L needs to resolve his NSFO problem before the problem "resolves" him. Snotty little "connected" true-believers are more dangerous than Ami artillery
    Boat Guy

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    1. Artillery will just maim or kill you, Nazis will torture you first, and hurt your family, then kill you. Nasty bastards, the lot of 'em.

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