Berlin, The Cold War Years Part 5. A Hot War in reality.

At the end of World War 2, what remained of pre-war Germany was divided into four zones of occupation. Each of the Allied powers; the United Kingdom, United States, France and Russia, controlled one of them.

The capital of Germany, Berlin, was also divided into four Sectors. The consequence being, that the three Western Allied powers now controlled territory deep within the Soviet Union Zone of Germany.

Over time, the tensions between the four Allied powers increased, eventually resulting in the Berlin blockade in 1948, when the Soviets attempted to starve West Berlin into submission and force the other three Allied powers out. This failed and the Soviets eventually relented, but an ever-increasing number of East Germans fled to the West; between 150,000 and 300,000 a year during 1951-1953. As a consequence restrictions were placed on movement between the divided country. From 1961, the border was closed and Berlin completely encircled, first by barbed wire, then bricks and finally a concrete wall, along with the infamous ‘death strip’.

Access was now restricted between Berlin and the West. A wall, 124 mile miles in length, was placed around the three sectors of West Berlin, cutting off the city from the rest of the world.

An Iconic picture of the face-off between the West and the East.  The Cold War starts – October 1961

.

Another iconic picture of a GDR Border Guard fleeing across the barbed wire to  West-Berlin, 1961

.

With these controls in place, special routes were established for the three Allied Powers, Great Britain, the United Staes and France, to move from West Berlin to the Federal Republic of Germany, West Germany. Three autobahn routes, one for each sector and three rail routes.

On the Autobahn route special parking zones were allocated for the three Allied powers. This is a sign on the West Berlin to Helmstedt route. Civilians from the GDR were not allowed to use these allocated parking zones. – GDR 1982

 

The British Military Train ran every day, except Christmas Day.  – West Berlin 1984

.

And for the Stamp Collectors amongst you, a Commemorative Cover. First day issue. Not for sale. 🙂

.

There were also air corridors the Allies could use to fly from West Berlin to West Germany. Soviet Hip F. East Berlin 1984

.

 Control to and from West Berlin was controlled by the Berlin Air Safety Centre, consisting of representatives from the four Allied Powers. I was told that the Soviets were unhappy about their flag being last on the plaque. So, the names were placed in a hat and guess what? True story or not, I don’t know.

 

Berlin Air Safety Centre Icon – West Berlin 1984

.

I covered the Reichstag in Part 4. But, I have some more photos i would like to share with you.

This turret on the Reichstag is the well known spot where the Soviet Flag was planted on taking Berlin in 1945.  Berlin – February 2012

.

The raising of the flag over the Reichstag – Berlin, May 1945

.

I found the design of the new dome in the Reichstag fascinating, so I have added a couple of more photos.

.

Inside the Reichstag Dome, Berlin – February 2012

.

Looking down from higher up in the Dome itself. Reichstag – Berlin, February 2012

.

The badly damaged Reichstag. Berlin 1945

.

The Reichstag, showing the Berlin Wall in situ behind it. – West Berlin 1981.

.

Bullet strikes still visible, Museum Island – Berlin February 2012

.

Another visit to the Treptow Russian Memorial in Berlin.  February 2012

 

The main entrance to Treptow Park Soviet Memorial – Berlin 2012

.

Treptow Park,  The Soviet Navy wasn’t forgotten. Berlin 2012

.

One of the many representations of the Soviet Army during WW2 at the Treptow Park Memorial – Berlin 2012

.

Outside the entrance to the Tiergarten Soviet Memorial. Berlin 2012

.

The Tiergarten Soviet Memorial – Berlin 2012

.

Tiergarten Soviet Memorial. They were as interested in us as we were in them. The one on the right with the fancy leg kick, I think is a full Colonel  or above. West Berlin 1983

.

T-34 outside the Karlshorst Museum Berlin – 2012

.

Karlshorst Museum. Where we used to meet with our Soviet friend….. Berlin 2012

.

In a previous Post, you saw a picture of my shadow. This was his replacement. KGB, GRU or Spetsnaz?  He was far more subtle in his recruitment attempts though. East Berlin 1985

.

One advantage of being in Army Intelligence, was you got to go to Berchtesgaden every year to the annual conference where we shared intelligence, and vice versa, with the US – Germany 1986.

There were lots of special events and this was one of them. Cocktail dresses and Gin and Tonic. West Berlin 1982

.

The Queens Birthday and other events were celebrated with style.

The Berlin Tatto was an amzing event. The parade in front of the Deutschlandhalle prior to the final dress rehearsal. West Berlin 1983.

.

The Fernsehturm in Berlin – February 2012

.

 The Fernsehturm in Berlin – February 2012

.

The Fernsehturm. Sitting in the revolving restaurant seeing the full 360 degree view of Berlin was amazing. When the sun shone on the tower it reflected as a cross and was known as ‘The Popes Revenge’.  – East Berlin 1983

.

The one on the far right is Moby Dick – West Berlin 1982

.

A quick break from Berlin. I did three tours in Northern Ireland, but don’t propose to do a Post for it separately. It’s too close to home…. But I will share a few photos with you.

.

I currently have a book, my watch and my iPad next to my bed. Then, I had a 9mm Browning. You would take the rounds out  so as to take the pressure off the magazine springs.  Oh, and I liked Ultravox. – Belfast 1980’s

.

Murals of this type were very common.  – Belfast 1980’s

.

Belfast- 1980’s

.

Belfast- 1980’s

.

Targeting an Army Pig (Humber) – Belfast 1980’s

.

I used to play Cowboys and Indians as a child. Belfast 1980’s

.

Those were very scary times. Belfast 1980’s

 Now back to work….

Well, at least once we’ve dug our vehicle out…. East Berlin, 1983

.

Then time for a rest. We often slept out, Sometimes we took sleeping bags as we couldn’t run the engines as we needed to preserve our fuel. Our favourite drink was a flask of black coffee with a good dose of Grand Marnier. – East Berlin 1982

.

Back to work. 2S1 Self Propelled Artillery (122mm) – East Berlin, 1984

.

Until interrupted. East Berlin, East Berlin 1983.

.

ACRV’s, Armoured Command and Reconnaissance Vehicle. The chassis was far too long for this vehicle, making it difficult to manoeuvre. – East Berlin 1984

.

Ural 375 – East Berlin 1984

.

Rm-70 Rocket Launcher (122mm) – East Berlin 1984.

.

One key event that occurred every year, was the military parade to celebrate the formation of the GDR. This was naturally a key concern for the western allies. A country we didn’t officially recognise, holding a military parade on our doorstep. It was also an opportunity to disguise the movement of troops for a potential attack.

SA-3 Resupply on a Ural 375 chassis. –  East Berlin – 1984

.

ZSU 23-4 (Shilka) (Anti-Aircraft) – East Berlin 1984

.

2S3 (152mm Self propelled artillery) – East Berlin – 1984

.

2S3. East Berlin 1984

.

SA-6 resupply. East Berlin 1984

.

2S3 (122mm self propelled artillery) – East Berlin 1984

.

Parade ready to start, SA-4 resupply on Ural 375 transporter. East Berlin 1984.

.

BMP – 1 with Sagger missile East Berlin 1984.

.

FROG 7, resupply. Range of 68km. Can carry a Nuclear (200- 450kt warhead), HE, Chemical and submunitions. – East Berlin 1984

.

The closer we could get to the equipment the better. It gave our analysts an inclination of any changes to equipment. We were constantly designing new equipment and defence measures that cost billions of pounds. In order for us to make the right decisions we needed to know what we were up against. We would always use black and white film, in stereo if possible, and not the colour ones you see now. Catching tanks, etc, stationery and unmanned, on exercise, or on flat cars in rail sidings gave us the best opportunities but held the greater risk. The guards were always armed.

.

T-12 Anti-Tank Gun. East berlin 1984

.

Silk Worm. Surface to Ship TEL. East berlin 1984

.

BMP -2. –  East berlin 1984

.

BMP – 2. – East berlin 1984

.

I will finish off with a bit of fun. I can’t remember where this was in Berlin, but it is known as the ‘Sex Museum’.

.

Berlin Sex Museum. -Berlin 2012

.

Berlin Sex Museum. Berlin 2012

My intention is not to portray a particular message, but just share some of my photographs and experiences with you.  This is the last of my Berlin, The Cold War series. But, there will be a new ‘Cold War’ series, supporting the writing of my new ‘Cold War’ series of novels, covering the hypothetical invasion of West germany by the Warsaw Pact in the 80’s. ‘The Red Effect’. so keep your eyes peeled.

.

HarveyBlack-Red Effect150313

Photographs are copyrighted to Harvey Black

Fallschirmjager, Grüne Teufel, Green Devils. Part 4.

.

The Fallschirmjager qualification badge.

.

I have just finished writing my third novel in the Devils with Wings series, Devils with Wings: Frozen Sun. The Fallschirmjager, after their successful battle taking Crete in only 10 days, are shipped to Poland to partake in Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the Soviet Union.

Leaving temperatures in excess of forty degrees to be used, not in an airborne operation, but as a fire brigade, plugging gaps in the line around Leningrad, particularly along the banks of the River Neva. They were Army Group North’s strategic reserve.  They were quickly placed into the fray, fighting along the River Neva, where temperatures dropped to below -30 degrees, sometimes as low as -40. They were successful at plugging the gaps and preventing the Soviet Union from exploiting their bridgeheads over the River Neva, but at a price. Some units suffered up to 75% casualties. Many who had survived the assault on the Fortress Eben Emael, (Devils with Wings) and the fierce fighting on the Island of Crete (Devils with Wings: Silk Drop) met their fate in this bitter struggle with the atrocious weather and the never ending Soviet hordes.

The German Army, and the Fallschirmjager, were soon to experience the hostile Russian winters.

The airborne operation against Crete inflicted severe losses on the Fallschirmjager Division. At only a third of its original strength, there were far too few qualified troops available to conduct any large scale airborne operations at the outset of Operation Barbarossa. The Luftwaffe had also suffered considerable losses in transport aircraft and gliders. So, rather than initially being involved in Operation Barbarossa, 7th Flieger Division remained in Germany to rest and refit. But, they weren’t left out of it for long.

.

Fallschirmjager helmet, M38 Model Fallschirmjagerhelm.

.

The front cover of Hauptmann Piehl’s Ganze Manner, the 1943 first edition, with a foreword by General Kurt Student.

The German Fallschirmjager in WW2.

.

On the 22nd June, 1941, Operation Barbarossa was launched, the German invasion of the Soviet Union. Nearly 4 million Axis troops invaded the USSR along a front that extended nearly 4,000 kilometres.

.

Destroyed Russian ranks.

.

The German Army deployed three Army Groups, North, Centre and South. Army Group North’s ultimate goal was Leningrad. The commander of Army Group North, Ritter von Leeb, had three armies at his disposal. 16th Army, 18th Army and the powerful 4th Panzer Army, fielding 29 Divisions between them.

.

Initially progress was good.

.

German troops advance quickly and deep into the Soviet Union.

.

Although the Russians fielded the infamous T-34’s, they were unable to stop the German onslaught.

.

The T-34’s came as a shock to the German Army, unaware of their existence until they met them in battle.

.

The Russian airforce was no match for Army Group North’s Luftwaffe support provided by Luftlotte 1.

.

On the first day, Panzer Group 4’s 600 tanks crossed the River Neman and penetrated up to 80 kilometres.

.

Horse drawn supply wagons.

Although supposedly a mechanised army, the German forces were heavily dependant on horse drawn wagons for their supplies and very quickly ran out of fuel and ammunition. By the end of the 22nd June, the German armour had penetrated 80 kilometres in their drive towards Leningrad. On the 23rd June, near a town called Raseiniai, the Soviets counter attacked. It was here that the German panzers came across the KV heavy tanks for the first time. The Panzer 35(t)’s and anti-tank weapons were practically ineffective against them. The Pak 37, 37mm anti-tank gun earned the nickname of ‘door knocker’ because it couldn’t penetrate the thick armour.

.

KV heavy tanks. The later Pak 40, 75mm anti-tank gun was given a priority as they were badly needed to stop these new tanks. One tank in Raseiniai held the advance up for 24 hours.

.

The advance continued with thousands of Russian prisoners being taken.

.

Long columns of Russian prisoners were marched to the rear, guarded by only a few german guards.

.

The Russian troops were demoralised, badly led and beaten.

.

But it didn’t all go the German Army’s way. By the end of September 1941, Army Group’s North, Centre and South, ground to a halt. The worsening mud of the Russian Rasputitsa and stiffening Russian resistance ground the German forces down. Although Army Group North had surrounded Leningrad to the south, east and west and the Finnish closed the ring to  north, they made little headway.

The Russian Army was desperate to penetrate the ring of steel that isolated them from the rest of the soviet Union and fought hard to break out. They managed to get two bridgeheads across the River Neva, the German army struggling to restrain them.

The only German Strategic reserve that could be thrown into battle to stem the flow, was the 7th Flieger Division.

.

The 1st and 3rd battalions of the 1st Parachute, Fallschirmjager, Regiment and the 2nd battalion of the Luftlande-Sturmregiment were dispatched to the Leningrad to fight alongside 18th Army. They were to be the Army’s fire brigade.

.

Deployed east of the city, along the River Neva.

.

Fallschirmjager Granatwerfer, mortar team in action.

.

In mid-October, just as the Russian winter was setting in, the 7th Flieger’s Divisional Headquarters arrived at the front.

.

The Fallschirmjager now had much better support under the command of their own division rather than the Wehrmacht.

.

The soviets battered the Fallschirmjager troops relentlessly, desperate to escape the trap, but to no avail. The Fallschirmjager, reinforced by the Parachute Engineer Battalion, held their ground. The troops held the Red Army soldiers from the Volkhov front back, some units suffering up to 75% casualties. The weather, dropping to lows of nearly -40 degrees, also took its toll on the paratroopers.

.

Although the Fallschirmjager were heavily involved in the defence of the River Neva, they weren’t involved in any attacks on Russian military armoured trains. Bearing in mind my books are novels, i have included a section where my characters do just that. Some of the armoured trains they were involved in are shown below.

.

MBV2 – Russian Armoured Cruiser. Details given in Devils with Wings: Frozen Sun

.

MBV-2 Armoured Cruiser

.

.

MBV-2 Armoured Cruiser. Some were built in Leningrad and were given names.

.

Anti-Aircraft guns – 4 x interlinked, Vickers water cooled machine guns

.

PL-37 artillery wagons. Information can be found in Devils with Wings: Frozen Sun.

.

High explosive torpedo on a battery powered rail trolley.

.

T-34.

.

T-34.

.

T-34.

.

Fallschirmjager.

The qualification phase to become a paratrooper consisted of 6 jumps. The first would be a t height of around 200 metres, the next two at 150 metres, but in a stick of six trainees. Their fourth jump would be from the same height, but at dusk or dawn and as part of a much larger stick, of perhaps 10 men. For the fifth jump they would be part of a Kette formation, a V-formation, a Chain of three Junkers JU-52. The final jump would be made under simulated combat conditions, up to nine aircraft flying at little over 125 metres in height.

.

Fallschirmschutzenabzeichen, parachutist badge.

.

.

.

.

Rein-actors at the Bovington Tank Museum Tankfest.

.

.

.

Rein-actors at the Bovington Tank Museum Tankfest.

.

Devils with Wings: Frozen Sun by Nick Britten

Devils with Wings: Silk Drop

.

The Parachutist’s “Ten Commandments”

The Fallschirmjager had ten commandments that they lived by as elite soldiers.

Number 4.  Be calm and prudent, strong and resolute. Valour and enthusiasm of an offensive spirit will cause you to prevail in the attack.

My intention is not to portray a particular message, but just share some of my photographs and information with you and help set the scene for my forthcoming novel. The next post will cover the Fallschirmjager in Russia.

.

 

.

 Blog is copyrighted to Harvey Black

 

.

Third novel in the Devils with Wings series

Barbarossa, Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union. Part 5

I have just finished writing my third novel in the Devils with Wings series, Devils with Wings: Frozen Sun. The Fallschirmjager, after their successful battle taking Crete in only 10 days, are shipped to Poland to partake in Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the Soviet Union.

They leave temperatures in excess of forty degrees to be used, not in an airborne operation, but as a fire brigade, plugging gaps in the line around Leningrad. They were Army Group North’s strategic reserve.  They were quickly placed into the fray, fighting along the River Neva, where temperatures dropped to below -30 degrees, sometimes as low as -40. They were successful at plugging the gaps and preventing the Soviet Union from exploiting their bridgeheads over the River Neva, but at a price. Some units suffered up to 75% casualties. Many who had survived the assault on the Fortress Eben Emael, (Devils with Wings) and the fierce fighting on the Island of Crete (Devils with Wings: Silk Drop) met their fate in this bitter struggle with the atrocious weather and the never ending Soviet hordes.

The German Army, and the Fallschirmjager, were soon to experience the hostile Russian winters.

By mid-July, the German Army had come within a few kilometres of Kiev. 1st Panzer Army headed south as the 17th Army advanced east, trapping three Soviet armies near Uman. They eliminated the pocket and pushed across the Dnieper.

2nd Panzer Army crossed the River Desna, flanked by 2nd Army, trapping a further four Soviet armies.

4th Panzer Army was again heading for Leningrad. Reinforced by tanks from Army Group Centre. On the 8th August they broke through the Russian defences. By the end of August, 4th Panzer Army, supported by 16th Army and 18th Army, had got within 30 miles of Leningrad.

At this staff, Hitler ordered the final destruction of the City, and by the 19th September Army Group North got to within 7 miles of Leningrad, but casualties were mounting. Hitler lost patience and ordered the City to be starved rather than stormed.

Some of the types of equipment used in this biggest ever invasion of a country are shown below. Most of the photographs were taken at the Bovington Tank Museum.

T-34/85. 

.

Speed 33mph.

.

T-34/85. 26.5 tons.

.

85mm Zis gun.

.

Big Cat brought in to fight the Russian tanks.

.

Panther. Larger and much better quality than the T-34. But production was slow and there were never enough of them.

.

Crew of five protected by 80mm of armour.

.

44 tons. Speed of 28.5 mph. 75mm gun.

.

Panther.

.

Pz Kpfw VI Ausf B

.

88mm.  King Tiger or Royal Tiger. SS Panzer battalion 101.

.

The Allies first met this in Normandy, soon after D-Day.

.

Royal Tiger.

.

68 tons. Armour 150mm thick. Speed 24mph.

.

Tiger I, mobile at the Bovington Tank Museum

.

T-34

.

Destroyed T-34

.

T-34’s in a Russian winter.

.

T-34 graveyard.

.

KV heavyweights.

.

My intention is not to portray a particular message, but just share some of my photographs and information with you and help set the scene for my forthcoming novel.

Photographs and Blog is copyrighted to Harvey Black

.

41BGbEG9IpL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU02_

.

51r3+Lge68L._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-67,22_AA300_SH20_OU02_

.

51NoH+grXdL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-68,22_AA300_SH20_OU02_

Barbarossa, Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union. Part 1

I have just finished writing my third novel in the Devils with Wings series, Devils with Wings: Frozen Sun. The Fallschirmjager, after their successful battle taking Crete in only 10 days, are shipped to Poland to partake in Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the Soviet Union.

They leave temperatures in excess of forty degrees to be used, not in an airborne operation, but as a fire brigade, plugging gaps in the line around Leningrad. They were Army Group North’s strategic reserve.  They were quickly placed into the fray, fighting along the River Neva, where temperatures dropped to below -30 degrees, sometimes as low as -40. They were successful at plugging the gaps and preventing the Soviet Union from exploiting their bridgeheads over the River Neva, but at a price. Some units suffered up to 75% casualties. Many who had survived the assault on the Fortress Eben Emael, (Devils with Wings) and the fierce fighting on the Island of Crete (Devils with Wings: Silk Drop) met their fate in this bitter struggle with the atrocious weather and the never ending Soviet hordes.

The German Army, and the Fallschirmjager, were soon to experience the hostile Russian winters.

Beginning on the 22 June 1941, nearly 4 million Axis troops invaded the USSR along a front that extended for nearly 4,000 kilometres.

Some of the types of equipment used in this biggest ever invasion of a country are shown below. Most of the photographs were taken at the Bovington Tank Museum.

Panzer I. Command Tank. Fitted out with communications equipment for use by a senior German Officer 

Panzer I. Command Tank. Entered service in 1934. Often seen in large numbers in pre-war parades. 

Panzer I. Command Tank. Rear view

SdKfz 251 Armoured Personnel Carrier

SdKfz 251 Armoured Personnel Carrier. Crew of 2 + 10

SdKfz 251 Armoured Personnel Carrier. Designed by Hanomag and Bussing-NAG in 1937

SdKfz 251 Armoured Personnel Carrier. Weight 7.8 tons. Top speed 53kph

Luchs PzKfw II Ausf L, a key reconnaissance vehicle on the Russian Front.

Luchs PzKfw II Ausf L, 30mm of armour and a crew of 4.

 Luchs PzKfw II Ausf L, with a top speed of 60kph and weighing 13 tons. 

SdKfz 234/3 Heavy Armoured Car

The 234 was unusually diesel powered. 

SdKfz 234/3.  Crew of 4 and 30mm armour. Markings are for 116th Panzer Division.

SdKfz 234/3.  Fitted with a short 75mm gun.

SdKfz 234/3.  Used in a close support role.

SdKfz 234/3.  Gun mounted in an open barbette rather than a turret.

A technically advanced 8-wheeler.

My intention is not to portray a particular message, but just share some of my photographs and information with you and help set the scene for my forthcoming novel.

Photographs are copyrighted to Harvey Black

Devils with Wings ref=sib_dp_kd

Devils with Wings: Silk drop ref=sib_dp_kd

Devils with Wings: Frozen Sun ref=sib_dp_kd