Lutjens' Intentions

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Herr Nilsson
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Re: Lutjens' Intentions

Post by Herr Nilsson » Fri Aug 02, 2013 10:41 am

wadinga wrote:Hi Marc,

Can you think of a reason why Lutjens would put the wrong time on his radio message that you reproduced? I can't? :D

BTW thank you for putting so much genuine factual material to enrich this site and counteract all the other guff. :clap:

All the best

wadinga
Well, Brinkmann stated in his KTB Hood was sunk at 6:01 o'clock. The personal accounts of Brinkmann, Jasper and Schmalenbach seemingly are talking about 5:00 o'clock.
The time on board depends on the location. The Kriegsmarine regulation for time on ships was to put the clocks for the !!!watch!!! back every 15°, but the commanding officer could decide what time was to use in case of just touching another time zone. Hood was sunk beyond 30° W and Lütjens hadn't ordered another time. Group West couldn't know at all which time was ordered and used.
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Marc

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Re: Lutjens' Intentions

Post by Vic Dale » Sat Aug 03, 2013 9:50 am

In order that this discussion should not be side tracked, I have opened a new thread dedicated to the KTBs and the times used in them. Perhaps now we can get back to discussing Admiral Lutjens' Intentions.

I have studied the debriefing and interrogation reports sufficiently to satisfy myself that there is no doubting that the holes in the bow were sealed on the 25th with steel plates welded in place. One of the more detailed accounts says the plates were prepared within an hour of the DS battle, but because the Fleet Commander would not allow the ship to slow for sufficiently long to complete the job, the futhering sail (collision mat) was used instead, apparently it would be quicker than welding. The most important event at that time was safely detaching PG for oiling. However the following day the Bismarck ship did slow and the plates seem to have been welded in place then.

There is no mention of any failure to weld these holes shut. The British Admiralty were left in no doubt about this either, as can be seen from their comments in the Interrogation report. From my own experience of damage control at sea, I can seen no acceptable or plausible explanation as to why the welding did not take place. In fact there would have been a mighty row had it not been done and the Fleet Engineer would have set to work himself and shown how it was done

The ship was now restored to full operational efficiency and Lutjens' options for action were fully opened as far as use of his flagship was concerned.

I have considered the headings Lutjens steered, and it seems to me that his decisions were strongly influenced by the presence of Aircraft Carriers, and steering towards a European or African coast, would permit Luftwaffe over flight for protection. Planes could fly from France, passing though Spanish and Portuguese airspace and planes could also fly from French North Africa, hence the heading toward Agadir. If the British wanted to lose a carrier or two they could hover within striking distance of one of these coasts. Twin engined fighter bombers, ME110s and JU88s had twice the range of the carrier-born Swordfish and Fulmar.

There is also the positioning of U-Boat patrols to consider, since one of Lutjens' stated tactics was to draw the Home Fleet over them and hopefully to their destruction. The headings after contact was re-established on the morning of the 26th,show that Lutjens was determined to draw the enemy over the U-Boat patrol and firing on the shadowing aircraft to clearly identify himself shows that this was now his intention.

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Re: Lutjens' Intentions

Post by wadinga » Sun Aug 04, 2013 12:11 am

Vic and all,

Earlier some one likened all this to inconclusive games of chess and this is one player's illegal gambit
In order that this discussion should not be side tracked, I have opened a new thread
Here, having been checkmated, the board is upset, the pieces thrown to the floor and the offer made of a new game requiring the opponent to represent all the evidence all over again.

No credible evidence is presented for this
The ship was now restored to full operational efficiency
and we know when Lutjens sent his famous demand for fuel, he was steaming initially for sanctuary in Spanish waters, hoping perhaps to do an "Altmark" hiding in neutral waters whilst actually in transit home, and later, when discovered by the RAF, swinging east for a direct run for sanctuary in a French port.

Group West constantly kept Lutjens informed of all the detailed preparations for his reception in France, the Luftwaffe protection, the ad-hoc and poorly positioned U-boat screen and eventually assured him he would get his tanker as well throughout the 25th and 26th. At no point, even though there was no further need for radio silence, did he indicate for a moment any other plans whatsoever. His clear intention was to get to safety as quickly as his flooded bow and limited fuel supply would allow whilst keeping the pursuing forces from "cutting the corner"by by swinging to the southat first.

All the best

wadinga
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Re: Lutjens' Intentions

Post by Vic Dale » Sun Aug 04, 2013 9:56 am

I think the way to fully understand what was going on in the German vessel is to ask what would Lutjens have done after sinking Hood and driving off PoW, had his Flagship, not been damaged.

I would not for one moment expect Lutjens to head for a port. He would have all his options open and would be trying to use his speed to shake off his shadowers. In order to do this he would need to get PG safely away to oil from a tanker in some remote spot, as oiling would not be possible whilst being chased. The squadron would have made south, as per most of the daytime of the 24th, in order to put distance between themselves and any British vessels tasked to group on the shadowers with a view to engaging. The only ships suitable for this would be Battleships and all but two would not be able to catch them. Those which could catch Bismarck and PG would not be powerful enough to stop her. Even with their speed they would be hard pressed to bring her to action.

Having made their way south and stretched the British fleet some, it would be time to separate and send PG away to oil. Lutjens would now need to steer so as to draw the enemy away from PG, whilst still building distance between himself and ships which could engage Bismarck on relatively equal terms. Since the ship was attacked by carrier born aircraft during the late evening, it would be wise to use the night to distance himself from the carrier. He could steer to the west, but that would place the ship under surveillance from US over flight and he had already experienced the actions of one neutral who reported his presence in the Kattegat. The USA was more or less openly assisting Britain and would be sure to step up aerial surveillance in order to nail Bismarck for the British. Going west would not be a good option, until contact had been completely broken and the hunt had been called off.

Lutjens' best bet would be to make for the mid Atlantic where aerial surveillance would be at it's thinnest, but even there, according to survivor's testimony, the ship was being over flown by a good many aircraft, throughout the daylight hours of the 24th and 25th. If he was to remain at sea, he would need to place his flagship within striking distance of the Luftwaffe and outside the range of British strike aircraft. The Spanish and Portuguese coasts would be suitable as would the French North African coast. British warships would not dare to venture to within striking distance of the Luftwaffe and would have to break off the chase. Ark Royal and Victorious plus any other carriers available would not survive for long under the Luftwaffe, their planes would be shot down and such big unarmoured targets would be bombed and sunk. That would be the risk and the Admiralty would not have taken it.

With absolutely no need to to seek a French port, I would still expect Lutjens to have made the same headings after detaching PG as he actually did, to Portugal or Agadir or to Spain.

All of the operational documents went down with the ship, so there is no way of knowing what was on Lutjens' mind at any given time. He was not known for sharing his thoughts and feelings with anyone outside his staff, though this has not stopped many from making assumptions, largely based upon misreading the KTBs and seeing the final agony of the sinking as in some way inevitable.

There are some here who think they are better tacticians than Lutjens, so lets' ask them what they would have done with an undamaged ship carrying 6040m3 of fuel oil and steaming south at noon on the 24th, having sunk the Hood and driven off a KGV. I think without doubt that all and any would be able to see that their options would be fully open and that they held the initiative. As good Fleet Commanders they would need to use every opportunity to get at British commerce and sink it. This can be addressed in "Hypotheticals" if anyone wishes to take it further.

Bringing ourselves back to the real situation facing Lutjens; his ship is damaged and needs to repair. He has plenty of fuel, but must reduce speed in order to keep the ship safe. He cannot use his speed to shake off the shadowers, so he will need to seek a French port to make repairs. It is imperative to detach PG and draw the shadowers away from her so she can make good her escape.

The afternoon of the 24th sees PG safely away. The night of the 24th to 25th sees the shadowers shaken off and the ship able to make towards the southeast. The afternoon of the 25th sees the ship's bow permanently repaired and very quickly a whole new ball game has opened up. The problems of the previous day have completely evaporated and the ship is restored to full battle efficiency. Instead of a French Port the ship's command would be looking at preparations for an extended stay in the Atlantic. Oiling points, recce of the convoys by air and surface scouts, U-Boats etc and planning the best way of halting the flow of goods to British ports.

Perhaps another way to look at this would be to ask what Raeder or Hitler even, would make of the fact that their greatest naval asset was heading for a French port when she was fully operational. Lutjens would know in advance that if he did not remain at sea and begin destroying commerce, that his days as Fleet Commander would be numbered. I personally think he is one of the great Naval Commanders and would have seen immediately where his duty lay and what opportunities were open to him at any given point.

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Re: Lutjens' Intentions

Post by wadinga » Sun Aug 04, 2013 11:55 am

Vic and everybody else,

It has been said
The afternoon of the 25th sees the ship's bow permanently repaired
What the afternoon of the 25th actually sees is the Naval Constructor branch specialist on board suggest the only way of alleviating the sunken bow is to gas-axe all the anchors and chains off, allowing an increase in buoyancy.

Lutjens told the crew they were still going to France in the early hours of the 26th, so maybe the imaginary repair didn't not happen until later on the 26th?

All the best

wadinga
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Re: Lutjens' Intentions

Post by northcape » Sun Aug 04, 2013 4:27 pm

I think it is known that the heavy manoeuvring during Victorious aircraft's attack led to dismantling the temporarily welded plates in the bow, so I doubt that the holes were permanently fixed one day after that!

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Re: Lutjens' Intentions

Post by Vic Dale » Sun Aug 04, 2013 6:34 pm

To Northcape.

If you have a look at the the KTB, the Barons' book and the Survivors Interrogation reports, you'll see that the repair which was s destroyed when Bismarck was maneuvering to avoid torpedoes form Victorious' planes, was a "Futhering Sail" a form of collision mat which had been put in place as a temporary measure. That sail was torn by the action of the sea at high speed and whilst making heavy turns. The welding was carried out next day and once the plates were welded in place the repair will have fully sealed the hull. Where frames had been cut through, stock steel sections will have been welded into place to restore damaged framing and the finished job will have been almost as strong as the finished hull. Certainly the ship will have been restored to her former self as far as the holes in the bow were concerned.

The plates once welded around the edges will have made the seal, so the vessel could make full speed once more. Making good the framing will have taken a much longer time, perhaps days or even a week, but that work would be on-going whilst the ship participated in the continuing operation.

Failure for a ship like Bismarck, with the wealth of technical ability among her NCOs and able men, to seal the hull would be extraordinary and would have shown a catastrophic failure in the ship's organisation. Lindemann's organisation of his ship to be well be below accepted operational standard. There would certainly have been signals to Group West about that.

We have a radio message sent in four parts starting at 0401 on the morning of the 25th, giving detail to the reasons the operation could not continue. Actual shortage of fuel is not among them and neither is any failure to seal the bow mentioned. From this it is clear that Lutjens did not consider that the ship's organisation had failed in any way.

After contact had been reestablished on the morning of the 26th, Lutjens was able to signal Group West without regard to radio silence and certainly, had any failure in the ships organisation revealed itself by that time, it would have been mentioned. Also, had the ship really been short of fuel due to the damage sustained in the Denmark Strait action, that would have been quickly made known to Group West, as would figures for fuel remaining, so that Group West could estimate when the ship needed to oil. Had the situation been desperate, further tactical measures could have been instituted to ensure the ship's safe return. Certainly, suggestions would have been made for getting the ship to Portugal or Spain in order to replenish and diplomatic appeals for resources and fro special consideration for the ship and her crew would have been lodged. Turning up out of the blue would not be a good idea. There is no mention of any of that in Lutjens' signals, so clearly he was not worried over Bismarck's fuel stocks.

Until 1100 on the morning of the 26th, Bismarck's heading had beens 150 degrees and her bow was pointing towards Lisbon, but at about that time she turned 20 degrees to port and fired on a recon aircraft, thus clearly announcing her position. I believe this was a deliberate act, designed to identify the ship.

At about this time Group West radioed Lutjens with an Intel. Report, saying that a British aircraft ID; "X1 AZ" had reported the location of a battleship steering 130 degrees and giving his position. From this it becomes clear that the turn to port of 20 degrees at 1100 toward Northern Spain was not engendered by any need to get to France, but was a tactical turn designed to Identify a shadowing aircraft.

Group West radioed Lutjens earlier that morning with the World Situation Report regarding the position of De Gaul's France and it's place in the New World Order - under German domination. Mention was also made of ports in North Africa and the Mediterranean, Syria and Iraq, so very possibly Lutjens was already looking at the wider picture and adapting his tactics to that overall strategy. This strategy will have been an ongoing thing and an officer operating at the level of Fleet Commander will have been taking full account of developments on a world scale and how he could influence them for the good of the Third Reich. Allies such as Spain, Portugal and Vichy France might well need testing and a ship which had so badly dented Britain's naval pride might be the asset best suited to that purpose. A flag flying operation by a ship which had achieved the highest Battle Honours, might be the perfect lever for demonstrating the power of the Third Reich and bringing possible waverers onside.

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Re: Lutjens' Intentions

Post by RF » Tue Aug 06, 2013 9:09 am

Vic Dale wrote:Group West radioed Lutjens earlier that morning with the World Situation Report regarding the position of De Gaul's France and it's place in the New World Order - under German domination. Mention was also made of ports in North Africa and the Mediterranean, Syria and Iraq, so very possibly Lutjens was already looking at the wider picture and adapting his tactics to that overall strategy. This strategy will have been an ongoing thing and an officer operating at the level of Fleet Commander will have been taking full account of developments on a world scale and how he could influence them for the good of the Third Reich. Allies such as Spain, Portugal and Vichy France might well need testing and a ship which had so badly dented Britain's naval pride might be the asset best suited to that purpose. A flag flying operation by a ship which had achieved the highest Battle Honours, might be the perfect lever for demonstrating the power of the Third Reich and bringing possible waverers onside.
But this report is basically propoganda and hardly an equivalent of say BBC Newsnight!
Neutral pro-Axis countries like Spain or Vichy France were hardly likely to want Bismarck in their ports - hiding a U-boat or supply ship in harbour is one thing, having Bismarck there is another as it could provoke British attack. Britain, especially Churchill, were robust in dealing with pro-Axis neutrals, declaring war on a former ally guarateed by Chamberlain (Romania) and another country it wanted to help against Soviet aggression when the USSR had a non-aggression pact with Hitler (Finland) when both of these countries posed no threat whatsoever against Britain.
Vichy was effective in keeping the Germans out of its North African ports (except Tunisia which the Germans seized in November 1942). Syria and Iraq had no ports of any use to the Axis - for starters how would Bismarck even get there?
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Re: Lutjens' Intentions

Post by northcape » Tue Aug 06, 2013 11:50 am

Ahem.

"so very possibly Lutjens was already looking at the wider picture and adapting his tactics to that overall strategy. "

How can one really believe that Lutjens planned his tactics based on the World Situation report, and if they could listen to that in Bismarck anyway? How can one call this propaganda report a "strategy"? Seriously ....

And why should Vichy France or Spain have accepted Bismarck in their harbours? What would have been their benefit?

No offence, but the word trolling is coming to mind once again.

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Re: Lutjens' Intentions

Post by RNfanDan » Tue Aug 06, 2013 12:04 pm

wadinga wrote:Vic and everybody else,

Lutjens told the crew they were still going to France in the early hours of the 26th, so maybe the imaginary repair didn't not happen until later on the 26th?

All the best

wadinga
Clearly, Lütjens' intent was to head for Spain, where he could find a nice, sandy beach, dump off all the ship's excess weights, order every man to the pikes and ...careen his ship. You know-- just as was done in the days of Frobisher, Hawkins, and Cortez.... :whistle:
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Re: Lutjens' Intentions

Post by Vic Dale » Tue Aug 06, 2013 1:12 pm

An admiral of the Fleet is one of the highest ranking officers in the armed forces. He is already a Captain and has had command of many vessels large and small. Commanding a Battleship is a job any captain can do, though specialism in gunnery is probably a good bet.

When I was at sea, the Captain could always give us a pretty good general picture of the world political situation, though coloured to suit British foreign policy of course. The Admiral of the Fleet is not only a naval position, but is also a political position and it is a position from which World military strategy can be worked out. World Economic strategy and also domestic strategy is considered, so that a task force can be directed to give aid, assist militarily and even get involved politically in the event that a general strike needed to be put down. This is why Lutjens had such a large staff. Bismarck had everything aboard and was seen to be in fine working order, so she could do all she was designed to do, fight with other battleships, steam at high speed, destroy convoys and intervene in landings and all of it under the command of a single man - the Captain. Even the ship's Captain often acts as an envoy, a diplomat and he must know what he is talking about when his ship flies the flag. He must know how to apply a sensitive touch when dealing with foreign national leaders. Many officers who reach flag rank serve time in the diplomatic service, Mullenheim Rechberg being one.

Admiral Lutjens had demonstrated all the necessary capabilities of a fighting naval Captain. Now that he had command of the German fleet he was also in a high political position - though unelected. Bismarck was not just a battleship, she was an international Command Center, able to direct the operations of the whole fleet in any action which the world situation demanded and in any location.

Those here who chuckle and smirk about this do not know a tenth part of the spread of strategy, tactics and world political and economic perspectives, which were being considered, by high ranking Naval, Army and Luftwaffe Officers.

In Bismarck's KTB there is a four part signal from Group West to Fleet, sent at 1144 on the 26th, outlining the world political developments exactly as I presented them in my previous post. That was addressed to Lutjens. In addition, Lutjens would also be party to all signals sent to various military and political units, wherever the German Reich was intervening and also where it was not.

A major consideration is the attitude of the USA, in foreign policy and developments domestically. The sinking of HMS Hood will have sent a serious ripple of doubt among the mass population, which could even bring the USA on side, or at least strengthen US neutrality. Roosevelt was having to play a very tricky game giving aid to Britain when US foreign policy was supposed to be isolationist. It may well be that the loss of Hood will have strengthened determination among the Brits, but it would do nothing of the sort in the USA and might just demonstrate sufficient incapacity in British military strategy to finally cut the ties and let Britain sink. Churchill had built enormous trust with Roosevelt and his Generals and Admirals and if Britain did not continue to demonstrate determination, those Military chiefs could turn against him and undermine Roosevelt. If Britain came under the jackboot, the USA would want to make a new trading partner very quickly. The 1930s depression was still very fresh in the memory. And Germany now had a very powerful economy.

In the colonies which had been dominated by Britain for centuries, there was a ripple of hope that the tyranny would finally end. It should be remembered that many eastern leaders initially welcomed news of the Japanese invasions as liberation. Ghandi being one of them. Nazi Germany would certainly want to share in any such development, especially if it was the result of action by one of her own battleships. Nazi Germany was now a major player on the world market, with control of most of Europe and with much potential to spread further.

Lutjens had a great deal more than simple commerce raiding on his mind. Any Cruiser Captain could handle that and a quick glimpse at PG's KTB shows that Brinkmann had a considerable grasp of world events too. He probably had his eye on moving up to flag rank too.

Never underestimate the probing fingers of the military. They get those fingers into every pie and are ever ready to exploit any development in furtherance of their power and influence.

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Re: Lutjens' Intentions

Post by RNfanDan » Tue Aug 06, 2013 6:27 pm

Seems to be getting a trifle windy in here. :lol:

I do appreciate sailor tales though, as they offer a welcome break from the usual hypothesizing. :clap:
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Re: Lutjens' Intentions

Post by Vic Dale » Wed Aug 07, 2013 1:42 pm

Having studied the preparations being made at St Nazaire and Brest for the reception of Bismarck, I would say they were making it perfectly obvious that that is where Bismarck was heading. The French agent Philipon will have been radioing this intelligence to London by the hour.

In PG, Brinkmann knew this was going on and he decided to delay his return until after the heat had died down, despite his ship suffering far more dangerous damage than Bismarck.

Group West had radioed Lutjens suggesting an extended wait in a remote area, even if making for a French port was still the main aim. Preparing reception for a large warship could only mean Bismarck so it would be prudent to wait a while and head in when the British might least expect it. This may well explain the curious heading of 150 degrees toward North Africa between 0600 and 30 minutes after the ship was sighted on the 26th.

It was the signal activity by Group West and the reception preparations at French ports which gave the biggest clue to the British about Lutjens' intentions. Brinkmann saw this and wrote about it in his war diary.

At the time of relocation on the 26th, Bismarck was 600 miles from either Spain or France and from interception of British WT it would be clear that they were aware that that is where she might be heading. Had the TB attack on the evening of the 26th failed to stop Bismarck, there is little doubt that Lutjens would have to break away to the south. He could not get adequate air cover in the Biscay due to the weather and much of the defence at Brest or St Nazaire relied upon camouflage, torpedo nets and flak. Camouflage would not work too well if the ship's entry into the port was known and possibly observed, by air patrols.

If Lutjens could manage to break away to the south, the battle groups hunting him would thin considerably and only Force H would stand any chance of catching him and that force was too weak. Nelson might venture out into the Atlantic, but she would stand little chance of catching the German unless she was slowed or stopped after a TB attack.

Lutjens would have everything going for him in the open Atlantic, whilst if he tried to force his way to Brest or St Nazaire he would face intense heat. Even when in harbour, his ship would be under more or less constant attack and the only safe option would be to get her to sea asap after any damage had been repaired. If the damage incurred on the 24th was not pressing it would make sense to stay at sea and complete the operation. As any Senior Officer in the RN would know, their forces were spread far too thin to be able to protect their convoys against a determined raider and at that time there were two able to operate and strike at will. The ships destroyed could not be replaced and a heavy operation using Bismarck and PG might easily paralyse the whole of transatlantic trade.

Lutjens will have been weighing all of this very carefully and his tactics may well have been changing by the hour. though few would know because he did not readily share his thoughts.

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Re: Lutjens' Intentions

Post by RF » Thu Aug 08, 2013 9:20 am

Vic Dale wrote: An admiral of the Fleet is one of the highest ranking officers in the armed forces. He is already a Captain and has had command of many vessels large and small. Commanding a Battleship is a job any captain can do, though specialism in gunnery is probably a good bet.
Agreed.
Admiral Lutjens had demonstrated all the necessary capabilities of a fighting naval Captain. Now that he had command of the German fleet he was also in a high political position - though unelected. Bismarck was not just a battleship, she was an international Command Center, able to direct the operations of the whole fleet in any action which the world situation demanded and in any location.
I think this is overstating matters. In the open Arlantic so far as Lutjens was concerned Bismarck was the fleet, with only the Prinz Eugen as support. U-boats and aircraft (other than shipboard planes) were outside his ambit.
Those here who chuckle and smirk about this do not know a tenth part of the spread of strategy, tactics and world political and economic perspectives, which were being considered, by high ranking Naval, Army and Luftwaffe Officers.
In a more normal democracy or a country with a pluralist system yes, but not in Nazi Germany.That was the preserve of the Fuhrer and his fantasies. Raeder was aware of the general direction of the war, such as Hitlers' intention to attack the USSR, which would sideline the war against Britain and leave the KM last in the prioriIisation of military resources, but beyond that he was an outsider. Even in naval political matters such as relations with and co-operation with Japan he was left in the dark. What Lutjens is told is little more than propaganda, especially as the nazies would be aware that he wasn't one of them. He was no Sepp Dietrich.
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Re: Lutjens' Intentions

Post by Vic Dale » Thu Aug 08, 2013 10:45 am

Nazi Germany was not the monolith which wartime and postwar propaganda has painted. Hitler became a dictator but he had to continually demonstrate that he was democratic. He ran plebiscites to garner support for his actions and his propaganda ministry had to run continuously to convince people that the Fuhrer was popular. Post war, the generals and Admirals all sunned Hitler and said they didn't know. BS! Of course they knew and they were up to their armpits in it. It was the intense denazification programme which had them all scared, so post war they all became good little boys. That is why their memoirs and books are all so highly coloured in favour of the allies.

The best example would be the attack on Poland - right out of the blue and with no warning. The military tops knew about it and all of the naval officers at command level were aware, so they could respond if they were needed. The same was true when the Japanese went for Pearl Harbour.

Military Intelligence was what Hitler was able to button into when he attained power and that military machine had been up running and had it's chain of information supply established long before Hitler came along. All commanding officers would be made aware of the latest developments nationally and internationally in signals - for their eyes only - and it would be the job of all to follow current affairs and be aware of possible and potential developments world wide.

In July 1944, Army officers tried to kill Hitler and would have taken over the country. They would need to know a good deal more than the daily guff which was churned out for the masses. In 1945, Admiral Doenitz became the head of the German Government. He too needed to know a thing or two about what was going on. The masses may have been kept in ignorance but no the high rankers in the Armed forces.

Even the use being made of the concentration camps was known because that is where much of their war materiel came from. Auschwitz was producing synthetic fuels and rubber, plus the Fockewulf 190. Other camp complexes were producing other essential war materials. I believe torpedo warheads and contact pistols were made in the camps too and sabotage caused a number of torpedo failures. Lutjens and other officers would be well aware of what was going on. It might be thought that Lutjens would object having Jewish blood in his family, but the fact is, the Jews as a community were not in the camps in 1941. It was socialists and communists who were the supply of labour at that time. No point locking them up and feeding them if they do not produce. The camps were built specifically to concentrate the commies and give them a hard time. Later when Germany came unstuck in Russia, Himmler circulated a notice telling the camp commandants that production must be stepped up and the camps must become properly run factories. It seems also that there was some improvement in the way inmates were handled and fed and this appears to be backed up by people who served in the camps and eventually got released. Some PoWs were held at Auschwitz for a time and they appear to agree.

The Jews did not go into the camps in great numbers until around August 1944. Until that time they were stuck rotting in the ghettos. The mass deaths and the terror of the camps seems to have been concentrated into a truly hellish 10 month period and what a hell that must have been. In that event the sheer carnage when millions of people died was even more grotesque and demonstrates the utter desperation during the decline and collapse of the Nazi regime. The horror is staggering - unbelievable. The leading lights of the armed forces will have known about that too.

In case anyone does not believe an army general or an admiral could be so heartless; it was General Mannstein whose diktat caused millions to starve in Russia, because he would not release any of the millions of tons of grain, which his troops had seized. He was a practical man.

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