by Daniel Russ on January 31, 2019

Post image for 12/11/44


Germany has effectively lost Balkan states Romania and Bulgaria and Finland. Also Belgium and Luxembourg. Finland’s access to good Baltic Sea ports was a devastating development for Reich forces trying to keep Europe. Hungary, Yugoslavia and Albania were on the verge of falling.  Nazi forces dug in at Alsace were proving hard to displace.


Germany could barely replace military equipment chewed up in combat. What they manufactured often sat lifeless until they could move dwindling gasoline stocks to them. The Third Reich demanded that the workweek move up to sixty hours and did away with time off of almost any kind. Loyal workers and factory managers were rewarded with vacations in the Alpine ski resort Tyrol. They were fed and given medicine. Disloyal workers were met with firing squads. There were over 7 million POWs, most of them from Russia, who provided about 25% of the total German industrial work capacity.


The Volksturm, or Folk Storm, was a desperate last ditched attempt to increase combat capability in the final days of the Third Reich. It basically consisted of kids as young as 16 and adults as old as fifty were now required to fight for the Fatherland. There were signs put up in retirement homes that said: “Closed for the call-ups.”



All this bombing of Germany was beginning to take its toll. By 1944, Germany produced 23 million tons of fuel. America and the Allies in the same amount of time produced 600 million tons. Plus the US 8thAir Force was targeting what remanding oil manufacturing facilities there were. Over the course of the war, Allied bombs would devastate 131 German cities and kill 40,000. It also create 7 million homeless Germans.


Allied bombing runs were brutal to the Germans. Air Raid sirens meant turn off the gas, turn out the lights, grab a flashlight and head to a municipal bombing facility. There were 3000 such facilities built by the Germans, far too few to handle the population. It often went very badly, where people had to share vital lifesaving facilities with too many desperate people, rats and cadavers. Not to worry though. Each bomb shelter displayed a sign that read The People Thank Their Fürher.


The iron and steel facility in Duisburg was bombed 300 times in 24 hours. Braunschweig received thousands of incendiaries and 5000 people died overnight in a fire on one night, October 15th. To make matters worse, allies dropped bombs with delayed fuses to discourage rescue crews.



Make no mistake about it. The German people were subjected to a horror in bombs and fires that they didn’t deserve. Such is the utter Hell of war. 


It wasn’t much better for the bomber crews. In the first half of 1944, one in four US airmen survived 25 missions. That was supposed to be the limit of expected runs with death. By the end of the war it was increased to 30 or 35 missions. In fact, of the 7,374 Lancaster built, 3,349 were shot out of the sky. Two of five RAF members did not live. In the first months of 1944, 800 US heavy bombers were shot down. The Germans lost over 31000 aircraft in the same amount of time. The addition of the P-51 helped reduce this awful statistic. Luftwaffe pilots at the end of the war were also short timers, many of them thrust into war with 30 hours of flight time. Germans firing 88 mm flak guns had to fire 16,000 rounds to bring down a single plane. The Allies lost 6400 planes and saw 27000 others damaged. Over 1.2 million Germans manned the 88 mm antiaircraft guns.



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