The situation was clearer in the second half of the 14th century, when the Ottomans began expanding into the Balkans. Fortifications played a major role from the very start of this process, the Byzantine Emperor John VI giving his Ottoman allies the small fort of Çimbi (Tzympe) as their first foothold in Europe around 1352. Two years later an earthquake caused widespread damage to other Byzantine fortifications in this area, enabling the Ottomans to seize the much more important Byzantine fortress and harbour of Gallipoli. After being lost to a crusade for several years, Gallipoli returned to Ottoman control for good and under the rule of Murad I (1360-89) it became the first Ottoman naval base.
Troops being transferred between the Ottoman state’s Asian and European provinces remained vulnerable, so Murad’s successor Bayezid I, had a fortified inner harbour constructed. The Ottomans nevertheless remained a very minor naval power and in 1416 a Venetian fleet defeated their fleet outside Gallipoli. The Venetians attempted to attack Gallipoli’s inner harbour 13 years later, but failed to break in. Bayezid I’s naval fortifications had proved their worth, yet it was not until the Ottomans won complete control over the Dardanelles, the Bosphoros and the great city of Istanbul (Constantinople) itself that they could ensure their own freedom of navigation in the straits. Even then the Christian maritime threat remained, and thus the defences of the two straits continued to be strengthened.
A distinguishing feature of Constantinople in its role as the capital of the Byzantine Empire was that it often became the scene of struggles for the imperial throne. Since the civil war of 1341–7 between John VI Kantakouzenos and the partisans of John V Palaiologos, it had become almost customary for claimants to the Byzantine throne to run to the Turks for assistance. But what course was a claimant to follow when the ruling emperor himself happened to be officially allied with the Ottomans? In 1373 while Emperor John V was serving on an Ottoman campaign in Asia Minor in compliance with his recent agreement with Murad I whereby he had become a tributary vassal of the Ottomans, his son and regent, Andronikos IV, and the Sultan’s son Savcý Çlebi prepared a joint plot to overthrow their fathers. John V and Murad I responded to this conspiracy by likewise joining forces against their sons. Within a few months the movement was suppressed, and the young princes were captured. After having Savcý blinded and beheaded, Murad I ordered the Emperor to put out the eyes of his own son. John V reluctantly obeyed, but made sure that Andronikos did not lose his sight completely. For the time being, the failed usurpation additionally cost Andronikos his right of succession to the Byzantine throne, which was transferred to his younger brother Manuel (II).
In a letter to John V dated to the fall of 1373, Demetrios Kydones noted that many Byzantines went over to the Turks and collaborated with them against the Emperor. After participating in the banquets of the Turks and exchanging presents, they returned to the Byzantine capital without making any effort to conceal themselves. Kydones expressed indignation that these people were neither detained from going over to the Turks, nor indicted for their open association with them. It may well be that Kydones was alluding in his letter to Andronikos IV and his partisans. This, of course, can be stated as no more than a hypothesis in the absence of concrete evidence. Nonetheless, Kydones’ letter is instructive because it reveals the freedom of movement and open contact between Byzantine and Ottoman territories that made the coordination of a joint plot like that of Andronikos and Savcý possible. In addition, the letter highlights the awkward situation of the Byzantine government which could apparently take no strict action against its subjects who formed ties with the Ottomans, given that the head of the state, the Emperor himself, had declared official allegiance to the Turkish Sultan. We have evidence, moreover, indicating that the traffic between Byzantine and Ottoman lands did not necessarily flow in a single direction, from the former to the latter, as Kydones’ letter might suggest. In 1375 Pope Gregory XI wrote to John V that, “those Turks, after the truce which you have made with them, have entered the city [Constantinople] in no small multitude and there dare to perform many horrible deeds, and we fear that they may deceive your Majesty and occupy the city.” Unless the Pope, concerned primarily with the safety of the Byzantine capital, was referring to the presence of Ottoman soldiers rather than ordinary civilians inside Constantinople, we may take his statement as a further demonstration of the contacts between Byzantine and Ottoman subjects that would have been facilitated by John V’s peace treaty with Murad I.
In 1376 Andronikos IV escaped from Constantinople, where he was held in confinement together with his wife and son, to the Genoese colony of Pera. It was not difficult for him to obtain the support of the Genoese, whose commercial interests had recently been threatened by John V’s cession of the island of Tenedos to Venice. The Emperor’s rebellious son sought, in addition, the support of the Ottoman ruler Murad I. After his failed attempt to seize the throne three years earlier, Andronikos must have come to realize that his future efforts would be in vain as long as the alliance between John V and Murad I remained in effect. Accordingly, he approached the Sultan and offered him his allegiance and tribute payment in return for the use of Ottoman cavalry forces. Two Venetian sources report that Andronikos also promised his sister to Murad in marriage, one adding that God took her life in order to prevent this “abominable sin.”
Although the Venetian chronicler objected to Murad’s marriage with Andronikos’ sister, it is a well-known fact that such unions had already taken place between the Byzantine and Ottoman ruling houses. The first and most celebrated of these marriages was the one consummated in 1346 between Orhan, Murad I’s father, and Theodora, John VI Kantakouzenos’ daughter, during the civil war between John V and John VI. Murad was not born of this union, but his mother, too, was a Byzantine, though she was a woman of lower rank. In the late 1350s, moreover, Orhan’s youngest son Halil was betrothed to a daughter of John V Palaiologos and Helena Kantakouzene called Eirene. This betrothal was the upshot of a complex affair that began with the capture of Halil by Phokaian pirates, but ultimately it too had some connection, albeit indirect, with Byzantine dynastic conflicts. For it was because Leo Kalothetos, the governor of Phokaia and a devoted partisan of John VI Kantakouzenos, delayed Halil’s release through his refusal to obey Emperor John V’s orders to this effect, that the latter was compelled to appease Orhan by means of a marriage settlement. Clearly, when Andronikos IV, following the examples of John VI and John V, offered his sister as wife to Murad I, his principal motive must have been to rally the Sultan’s support to achieve his dynastic ambition. In addition, Andronikos may have hoped to reinforce the status of his own line within the Palaiologos family, by initiating a marriage alliance that would supersede the former links of the Ottoman house with John V’s branch and with the Kantakouzenoi.
Thus allied with the Ottomans and the Genoese, Andronikos attacked Constantinople in the summer of 1376 and seized the throne from his father. Shortly afterwards, John V was put in prison with his other sons, Manuel and Theodore. One of Andronikos’ first acts upon assuming power was to reward the Genoese by ceding to them the island of Tenedos. This set the stage for the war of Chioggia (1377–81) between Venice and Genoa, part of which was fought in Byzantine waters and in which the Genoese obliged Andronikos to participate. Thus the new Emperor’s alliance with the Genoese culminated in his costly involvement in a war that was in essence of no direct interest to Byzantium. “In the midst of so much misery,” wrote Kydones in a letter, “he is preparing arms, munitions, engines of war and ships, and is forced to hire troops, a thing which for him is more difficult than flying.” Andronikos also granted the Genoese the right to extend the boundaries of their colony in Pera.
The price that Andronikos had to pay for the assistance he received from the Ottoman Sultan in deposing his father was even higher, especially in view of its long-term consequences. Shortly after his accession to the throne, the young Emperor is known to have visited Murad I’s court. It was probably during this visit that Andronikos, in addition to the annual tribute he had promised in advance, made arrangements to surrender Gallipoli to the Sultan as a token of his subservience. Gallipoli, it will be recalled, had been occupied by the Ottomans about two decades earlier, and it was of great strategic importance for their expansion in the European territories of the Byzantine Empire. In 1366, however, the Ottomans had lost the fortress to the forces of Amadeo of Savoy, who restored it to Byzantium. Murad’s recovery of Gallipoli, which we know he had been striving for at least since 1371, was therefore a most welcome prize, made all the more valuable since it was achieved through peaceful means simply by manipulating the conflict between John V and Andronikos IV. The Ottomans entered the town circa 1377, which remained in their possession permanently thereafter, serving as their principal naval base and a stepping stone for their future conquests in the Balkans. In a letter written in the winter of 1376–7 Kydones summarized the detrimental consequences of this situation for Byzantium:
[T]he old scourge, the Turks, roused to arrogance by the alliance which they concluded with the new Emperor against his father, have become more oppressive for us. Thus they received Gallipoli as compensation for this and seized many other things belonging to us and exacted such an amount of money that nobody could easily count it. Still, they claim that they are not sufficiently paid for their aid. They command everything and we must obey or else be imprisoned. To such a point have they risen in power and we been reduced to slavery.
The armed forces of the German Democratic Republic (GDR, East Germany) included the Nationale Volksarmee (NVA, National People’s Army), the Grenztruppen (Border Troops), units of the Ministerium für Staatssicherheit (MFS, Ministry of State), the Volkspolizei (VP, People’s Police), the Kampfgruppen der Arbeiterklasse (Combat Groups of the Working Class), and the Zivilverteidigung (Civil Defense). The NVA was, however, the heart of East Germany’s national defense structure. In July 1952 the armed military police force was transformed into the Kasernierte Volkspolizei (KVP, Garrisoned People’s Police), predecessor of the armed forces of East Germany.
The rearmament of East Germany was made public in May 1955 in conjunction with the foundation of the Warsaw Treaty Organization (Warsaw Pact), which was itself a response to the incorporation of a rearmed Federal Republic of Germany (FRG, West Germany) with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) that same month. On 18 January 1956, the East German parliament, the Volkskammer (Chamber of People’s Deputies), established the NVA and the Ministry of National Defense (MFNV). By 1 March 1956, the command authorities of the new army reported their operational readiness.
The NVA was organized in three military services: ground forces, consisting of two armored and four motorized rifle divisions (1987 peak strength of some 106,000 troops); air force/air defense, consisting of three divisions (1987 strength some 35,000 troops); and the People’s Navy of three flotillas (1987 peak strength of approximately 14,200 men).
At its inception, the NVA was a volunteer army. Only after the August 1961 construction of the Berlin Wall was the framework for compulsory military service created. It went into effect in 1962. Until spring 1990, there was no specific provision made for conscientious objectors, and all able-bodied East Germans served a minimum and compulsory eighteen-month tour of duty. In 1964, however, it became possible to satisfy the conscription requirement as a so-called construction soldier.
East Germany’s close association with Soviet military models and the state’s strong desire to establish unquestioned political supremacy quickly transformed the NVA into an army of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED). Almost all NVA officers were members of the SED, and a network of political officers and members of the state security apparatus provided the required political indoctrination and supervision of the rank and file.
The NVA was equipped in accordance with the recommendations of the Joint Armed Forces Command of the Warsaw Pact. Thus, from 1962 the NVA received Soviet short-range missiles, and although it did have means of delivering nuclear weapons, the nuclear warheads remained in Soviet custody. Also in 1962, the air force became part of the unified air defense system of the Warsaw Pact. Beginning in 1963, the navy was equipped with Soviet missile patrol boats and landing craft capable of conducting offensive operations in the Baltic Sea.
In the prelude to the 1968 Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia, several NVA training exercises allowed Soviet forces in East Germany to be deployed elsewhere and provided cover for the general Warsaw Pact troop buildup. Although two NVA divisions were prepared to take part in the actual invasion, they were not requested. NVA participation was limited to a small liaison team at Warsaw Pact headquarters within Czechoslovakia.
The East German minister of defense commanded the Joint Warsaw Pact maneuvers in 1970, code-named WAFFENBRÜDERSCHAFT (brothers-in-arms), which were conducted on East German territory—proof positive that East Germany had been successfully integrated into the alliance.
In spite of the official policy of détente, combat capability and readiness were increased during the 1970s and accelerated in the early 1980s after the end of détente. In case of war, the NVA would reach a personnel strength of some 500,000 troops and would become part of the 1st and 2nd Front within the 1st Strategic Echelon. Under the command of the Soviet main force, attacks were to be launched on the territories of West Germany, Denmark, and Benelux. A special force supported by combat groups, border troops, and police readiness units were to invade West Berlin.
As civil unrest in Poland increased during 1980–1982, one NVA division was kept on alert should an invasion have been required. During the domestic crisis and disorder during the Velvet Revolution in October and November 1989, “groups of one hundred” were formed, comprising a total of 20,000 troops, to support East German police forces. The operation was conducted to secure buildings and institutions from damage or destruction.
Between 1989 and 1991, there was an initial phase of disorientation that in January 1990 was followed by demonstrations and strikes in more than forty garrisons. The NVA leadership stabilized the situation by making concessions and launching reforms. The disbanding of the political machinery within the armed forces and the introduction of democratic structures based on the rule of law after the first free elections in East Germany in March 1990 caused more uncertainty vis-à-vis the role and place of the NVA. Sweeping democratic-style reform was carried out against the backdrop of the still unsolved issue of whether there would be two armies on German territory after the reunification.
After the Soviet Union agreed to the reunified Germany’s membership in NATO, the end of the NVA was sealed. On 24 September 1990, it was removed from the military organization of the Warsaw Pact and was officially disbanded on 2 October. On the day of reunification, 3 October 1990, the Bundeswehr (Federal Armed Forces) of Germany integrated more than 89,800 former NVA members and 48,000 civilian employees.
References Childs, David. The GDR: Moscow’s German Ally. Boston: Allen and Unwin, 1983. Forster, Thomas. The East German Army: The Second Power in the Warsaw Pact. Translated by Deryck Viney. Boston: Allen and Unwin, 1980. McAdams, A. James. Germany Divided: From the Wall to Reunification. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1993. McCauley, Martin. The German Democratic Republic since 1945: East and West. New York: St. Martin’s, 1986.
Discussions regarding German rearmament took place as early as 1946, but the British government opposed anything more than an armed and mobile police force, while the French government did not wish to see Germans rearmed in any way. Serious negotiations over the creation of a German military began in 1950, however, when the Korean War stretched Western military resources thin. Once again, French resistance was the major obstacle.
The Paris Accords of May 1955 overcame these obstacles by creating a Federal Republic of Germany (FRG, West Germany) army, the Bundeswehr, that was firmly under civilian and Allied control. In stark contrast to previous periods in German history, the Bundeswehr was under intense oversight by parliamentary committees and a public wary of military institutions. Soldiers would be subject to civil law in all matters that were not strictly military. All Bundeswehr units were designated to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) for action, with the German government retaining peacetime control. Weapons and military matériel were imported from the United States, Britain, and France on a large scale until the late 1960s, when domestic military production developed.
Under the 1955 agreement, the United States and Great Britain committed themselves to maintaining a troop presence in Germany. NATO’s current European partners would provide naval and air forces to complement British and American commitments. In return, West Germany would provide twelve mixed divisions (approximately 340,000 men) for the common defense of Europe by 1959, with a final strength of 500,000. Each infantry division would have three combat commands with three motorized infantry battalions and an armor battalion each; antiaircraft, engineer, communications, and reconnaissance battalions; a company of aircraft; a military police company; and combat support from three light artillery battalions and one medium artillery battalion. Tank divisions contained two armored and three mechanized infantry battalions in each combat command. Two of the divisions would be further specialized for airborne and mountain operations.
A civilian screening process was created to recruit officers and noncommissioned officers (NCOs) from World War II veterans. NATO would be responsible for all war planning and for the direction of all operations. No German general staff was permitted, on grounds that it might revive German militarism. The Bundeswehr was allowed an operations staff but on the condition that officers rotated through such duty periodically. Planners believed that half of the necessary manpower for the divisions would be volunteers, while a draft would provide the remaining numbers.
The first West German military volunteers reported for duty in November 1955, and the Law for Compulsory Service passed the West German parliament on 7 July 1956. It required all men between the ages of eighteen and forty-five to serve for twelve months, with provisions allowing conscientious objectors to fulfill their obligation through alternative means, usually administered at the state and local levels. Further exemptions, thought to include some 10 percent of eligible males, covered the sons of deceased and wounded veterans, economic hardship cases, clergy, and those deemed unfit for service. Men who became officers or NCOs would remain in the reserves, known as the Territorial Army, until age sixty. The term of service was increased to eighteen months in 1962 at the height of the Berlin Crisis (1958–1963). It was then reduced to fifteen months in 1972, as population growth began to provide more than adequate numbers of draftees.
The West German government experienced some difficulty in providing the promised troops. Part of the reason was monetary. Between 1956 and 1989, the share of defense-related expenditures in the West German federal budget never sank below 12 percent. It reached its zenith in the early 1960s when it was one-third of the overall budget, yet most of the money was going to purchase matériel. On average, throughout the Cold War the West German government annually spent about 20 percent of its total budget on defense.
Beyond that, rearmament was never popular in West Germany. In October 1956, West German Defense Minister Franz Josef Strauss announced that manpower targets had been reduced from 96,000 to 80,000 for 1956 and from 240,000 to between 175,000 and 200,000 for 1957 largely because volunteers were not coming forward in the numbers anticipated. Only eleven of the twelve German divisions originally planned for 1959 were filled out and under NATO control by 1963. It took until the mid-1970s before West Germany’s armed forces reached the final benchmark of 500,000 troops envisaged in 1955. In 1975, the Bundeswehr contained 345,000 soldiers, 110,000 air force personnel, and 39,000 seamen. At any given time, only 48 percent of the German armed forces were volunteers, far short of the 55 percent target that the West German governments maintained. Recruitment of long-term (twenty-one-month) volunteers and of NCOs in particular continuously fell far short of expectations, although the federal government offered numerous incentives such as vocational education programs and career guarantees.
Popular opposition to the Bundeswehr, although always strong, increased notably in early 1957 when the United States indicated that it would arm its European allies with nuclear weapons as part of a shift in NATO strategy. Before 1957, NATO planned a forward defense along the German frontier. Chancellor Konrad Adenauer had pushed for and won the integration of German units all along the line rather than having the Bundeswehr assigned a particular sector. He had also readily accepted a ban on atomic, biological, and chemical weapons for German units in order to make rearmament more palatable to the public and to the Social Democratic opposition. NATO’s new strategy of nuclear deterrence, officially adopted on 21 March 1957, thus set off a maelstrom in German politics that continued into the 1960s.
Adenauer renounced German construction of nuclear weapons and declared that Germany would not accept national control over such weapons. NATO responded by introducing the two-key system, whereby German units possessed nuclear capabilities but the nuclear warheads and launchers remained under Allied control. After winning by-elections in Nordrhein- Westfalen in July 1958, Adenauer’s government announced that it was prepared to equip the Bundeswehr with atomic weapons. German units received Matador rockets and nuclear-capable artillery pieces so that they could fight either a conventional or a tactical nuclear war. Bundeswehr units were also divided into either the six armored infantry or four purely armored divisions to facilitate mobility and, supposedly, increase defense against nuclear attack.
Even before this restructuring was complete, however, NATO, with some prompting from West Germany and led by U.S. President John F. Kennedy’s administration, moved to a strategy of flexible response. This deemphasized the role of nuclear weapons where German forces were concerned by creating a multilateral force that deployed nuclear-armed Polaris submarines. Two of the German armored infantry divisions created in 1957 were reorganized as straight infantry divisions, and the Bundeswehr’s deployed division strength was increased by about 10,000 men to compensate for its reduced nuclear role. The question of arming West Germany with nuclear weapons was shelved for good when the coalition government led by Willy Brandt and the Social Democratic Party (SPD) signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in November 1969.
In the late 1970s, however, NATO plans to station intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Germany renewed the debate over atomic weapons. German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, who had earlier been one of the principal advocates of flexible response in Germany, declared in early 1978 that West Germany would accept nuclear weapons only if other NATO countries did as well. U.S. President Jimmy Carter eventually led a NATO climb-down on the issue, agreeing to a two-track policy that tied deployment in Germany to Soviet deployments in Eastern Europe. In the 1980s his successor, President Ronald Reagan, worked closely with German Chancellor Helmut Kohl to manage the deployment of Pershing missiles in Germany. Nuclear weapons always remained under NATO and U.S. control, and the German and American governments continued to cooperate in reducing the number of nuclear weapons stationed in West Germany.
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, the Bundeswehr has changed immensely. Despite the integration of the former East German Army since 1990, overall troop strength has been roughly cut in half. Although during the Cold War West German troops were never deployed on foreign soil except for training exercises and joint NATO maneuvers, the Bundeswehr has undertaken several foreign peacekeeping missions since 1991, most notably in the Balkans. German armed forces now serve as part of different international missions on several continents, most notably in the Balkans and in Afghanistan.
References Bald, Detlef. Die atombewaffnung der Bundeswehr: Militaer, oeffentlichkeit und politik in der Aera Adenauer [Nuclear Armaments for West Germany’s Army: Military, Public, and Politics during the Adenauer Era]. Bremen: Edition Temmen, 1994. Schmidt, Gustave, ed. A History of NATO: The First Fifty Years. 3 vols. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2001. Thoss, Bruno, ed. Vom Kalten Krieg zur deutschen einheit [From Cold War to German Unification]. Munich: Oldenbourg, 1995.
Stalin’s 1949 cancellation of the Berlin blockade did not repair the damage it had done. Stalin’s move had been astoundingly counterproductive. In March 1948, before the Berlin blockade, Britain and France had signed a mutual defense pact with Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. The Berlin blockade then led to its expansion into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), signed 4 April 1949, uniting the United States, Canada, and Iceland with nine western European countries. NATO pledged its members to treat an attack on any one as an attack on all. In addition, Stalin had succeeded, only three years after the end of World War II, in making Germans into victims. This removed remaining obstacles to the formal unification of the three western zones into the Federal Republic of Germany, or West Germany, in May 1949. Stalin responded by turning his occupation zone into the German Democratic Republic, or East Germany, in October 1949.
The Cold War’s front lines in Europe were becoming increasingly rigid, even more so once Stalin possessed his own atomic weapons. Stalin and the Soviets had downplayed the significance of the atomic bomb, briefly in reality and longer in rhetoric, when the Americans first revealed its existence. When the United States possessed the atom bomb and Stalin did not, it was in Stalin’s interests to dismiss the bomb as not changing warfare in any essential way. His actions suggest a somewhat different view. Stalin took some convincing as to the importance of atomic research, and serious efforts to build a bomb began only after the two atom bombs were dropped on Japan. Aided by espionage, the Soviet atom bomb project successfully detonated its first weapon on 29 August 1949.
The Soviet military first had to figure out how to fight a nuclear-armed opponent without arms of its own. Even after it possessed the atomic bomb, the Soviets lacked bombers or missiles capable of reaching American territory. Partly as a psychological defense mechanism, partly in recognition of the limited power of early atomic weapons, Soviet doctrine and planning downplayed their importance. The Soviets did step up their attention to strategic bombing and air defense. Soviet aviation during World War II had focused on control of the battlefield, not strategic missions, and the Soviets lacked a strategic bomber. American B-29s that had been interned on Soviet territory during the war were dismantled and reverse engineered to produce the Tu-4, the Soviets’ first real strategic bomber in decades. British jet engine designs were purchased to upgrade the Soviet Air Force. In July 1948, Air Defense Forces were reorganized as a separate branch of the Soviet military, on a par with the navy, the air force, and ground forces. At the same time, Soviet military doctrine held that atomic weapons had only limited utility against hard targets like armored vehicles and that speedy operations could overrun air bases and capture foreign territory, greatly reducing the utility of atomic weapons.
Even with the American atomic monopoly broken, the Cold War was still not fully a military confrontation. While NATO represented a joint Western commitment to defense, the creation of NATO did not produce rearmament on any appreciable scale. Some within the U.S. government advocated a major conventional military buildup to counter Soviet strength, but the money and political will for such a step were missing.
A shooting war between the West and the communist bloc changed that. On 25 June 1950, North Korean forces invaded South Korea. Like Germany, Korea had been divided at the end of World War II and had two systems imposed: a communist one-party state in the Soviet-occupied north, a pro-Western and capitalist (though not at all democratic) state in the U.S.–occupied south. After the withdrawal of occupation forces in 1948, both North and South Korea wished to unify the peninsula under their own control. The difference was that Stalin gave the North Korean regime his permission to go ahead, along with the equipment and raw materials to fight a war. Stalin’s possession of the atom bomb gave him more freedom to risk military confrontation with the West. After the northern invasion, American troops intervened to defend the South, backed by a United Nations mandate and troop contingents from over a dozen other countries. Though the North almost succeeded in conquering the entire peninsula, in September 1950 a United Nations amphibious landing at Inchon quickly turned the tide, and the North Koreans were driven back in disarray. As the American-led force crossed the 38th parallel and continued north, the recently formed People’s Republic of China, with Stalin’s backing, intervened on behalf of the North. Early in 1951, the front lines stabilized back at the 38th parallel, where they would remain through a 1953 cease-fire. Stalin saw the Korean War as the beginning of confrontation between the capitalist and communist worlds. Indeed, at the beginning of 1951 he warned the leaders of the communist bloc that war with the West was coming soon, and rearmament had to begin immediately.
In addition to giving Kim Il-Sung, ruler of North Korea, permission for the invasion, Stalin assisted in the construction of the North Korean army and the war effort itself. Even after Soviet troops evacuated North Korea, 4,000 military advisors remained to train the North Korean army. During the war, the Soviet 64th Fighter Corps, based in northern China and from August 1951 in North Korea as well, fought secretly against UN forces. Over 20,000 Soviet servicemen and 300 planes were involved at any one time, though the Soviets were careful not to allow Soviet pilots to fly over enemy territory where they might be shot down and identified. The precise performance of Soviet fighters and antiaircraft guns is disputed; almost 300 Soviet servicemen died fighting in Korea.
In these early years of the Cold War, Soviet armed forces had domestic responsibilities as well. The reimposition of Soviet rule, especially on territories that had not been part of the Soviet Union during the 1920s and 1930s, was a violent process. In the Baltics, especially Lithuania, scattered assassinations and partisan resistance lasted well into the 1950s. In western Ukraine, this looked more like a civil war. There, the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) engaged in a vicious fight that involved ethnic and religious warfare, not simply opposition to Soviet rule. Only massive use of military and police power brought order. Over the decade after World War II, OUN averaged over 1,000 killings per year of Soviet officials and collaborators. The Soviet regime deported at least 300,000 people from the Baltics and western Ukraine in efforts to pacify the region. Most of this fighting was conducted not by the Soviet army, but by special troops of the Ministry of Internal Affairs organized and trained for that purpose. The military itself supported and occasionally participated in these operations.
After the end of the war, Stalin wanted to guarantee a politically reliable military. Unfortunately for Stalin, victory brought great prestige to the Red Army’s high command, particularly Georgii Konstantinovich Zhukov. Stalin had tried in the last months of the war to spread credit to other generals—Ivan Stepanovich Konev and Aleksandr Mikhailovich Vasilevskii in particular—but to no avail. Zhukov’s own conduct, in which he clearly drew attention to his own accomplishments, exacerbated the situation. In the summer of 1946, Zhukov was brought back from Germany and demoted to running the insignificant Odessa Military District as a lesson to other generals. Stalin also maintained political officers and secret police minders as additional systems of control over his military. Within the armed forces, he used a system inherited from World War II to divide power. Authority over the Soviet military was split between the Minister of Defense, responsible for organizing and supplying the military, and the Chief of the General Staff, responsible for training and operational control. Though the Minister of Defense was nominally superior to the Chief of the General Staff, the real distinction was slightly different. The Minister was typically a more political and administrative figure, while the Chief of the General Staff was a fighting general, intended to manage combat.
With special thanks to Captain Edward A. Studzinski, USNR (Ret.), for his generous assistance in making the success of Refighting the Pacific War: An Alternative History of World War II, including the electronic version and USNI sponsorship of this program possible.
U.S. Naval Institute
Contributors to this alternative WWII history include the noted military historians William Bartsch, John Lundstrom, Douglas Smith, Barrett Tillman, and H. P. Willmott, among others. In a roundtable discussion format, more than thirty veterans and historians address “what if” questions about the war in the Pacific. Their differing views on possible outcomes of various campaigns and the implications of those changes on the course of history are certain to provoke debate. All major naval campaigns and key battles are discussed along with such questions as whether Japan could have inflicted even greater damage at Pearl Harbor, how Admiral Yamamoto might have won at Midway, and the impact of that victory on the direction of the war. The book also explores whether the war was inevitable and whether the conflict could have ended without the use of the atomic bomb. Vice Admiral Yoji Koda, Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (Ret.), provides the book’s introduction.
THE DIVISION OF EUROPE AFTER THE SECOND WORLD WAR
It took time before the western zones of Germany were amalgamated and gained autonomy, and the communists were defeated in the Greek Civil War. The Sovietization of eastern Europe was a steady process, completed with the Czech coup of 1948, and only effectively resisted by Tito, another communist. Austria did not join the ranks of the neutrals until the country was reunited in a 1955 treaty and promised not to confederate with either West or East Germany.
1. from Germany to Poland 1945
2. from Germany to USSR 1945
3. returned to Czechoslovakia from Hungary 1945
4. returned to Romania from Hungary 1945
5. from Hungary to USSR 1945
6. from Romania to USSR 1945
7. to USSR 1940, lost 1941, retaken 1944
8. to USSR 1940, lost 1941-44,
9. returned 1947 o to USSR 1947
10. Federal Republic of Germany formed Sept. 1949
As victory over Germany grew closer, tensions among the Allies grew. The ideological conflict between the Soviet Union and the West had been only temporarily eclipsed by the common effort against Hitler. Numerous contentious issues, including the slow development of a second front and the future political status of Poland and Germany signaled possible postwar conflicts. Stalin recognized that the Soviet Union was bearing the brunt of the war against Germany and suspected that the British and the Americans would be happy to let that continue. After all, Harry Truman, then a Senator, had remarked in 1941, “If we see that Germany is winning we ought to help Russia and if Russia is winning we ought to help Germany and that way let them kill as many as possible.” After the opening of the second front in June 1944, disputes over the future shape of Europe threatened to wreck relations. President Franklin Roosevelt put a high priority on staying on good terms with Stalin, well aware Soviet troops were doing most of the fighting. At a three-way summit in Tehran in November–December 1943, Winston Churchill and Roosevelt agreed to Stalin’s keeping the Polish territory he had seized as a result of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.
The fates of Germany and of Eastern Europe were still unsettled. Unable to reach a consensus on the German question, the three Allies, meeting at Yalta in February 1945, agreed as a stopgap measure to divide the country into occupation zones. At American insistence, France was included as an occupying power. The result was the division of Germany and of Berlin into four zones each, one for each power. This was not intended as a permanent solution, only a temporary expedient until a better solution was reached. Yalta also tried to reach some compromise on Eastern Europe. The war against Germany was clearly won, but Roosevelt’s priority had shifted to Soviet cooperation against Japan. Stalin’s actions made it clear that he intended to establish friendly governments in Eastern Europe. Needing Stalin’s assistance, and with the Red Army occupying Eastern Europe, Roosevelt had little choice but to acquiesce. Churchill and Roosevelt did obtain Stalin’s commitment to democratic governments in Eastern Europe. Both sides had, however, very different ideas about what democratic meant. So while there were very real conflicts about the future of Europe, Yalta had achieved at least a temporary solution.
In April 1945, though, Roosevelt died. He was replaced by Harry Truman, who had much less commitment to fostering Soviet-American relations. This coincided with growing evidence that Soviet policy in Eastern Europe was incompatible with Western interests. Given the history of Soviet-Polish relations, no democratic government in Poland could be pro-Soviet, defining democracy in Western terms of free expression and free elections. Stalin’s unshakable desire for a friendly and docile Poland thus required active Soviet intervention in Polish politics. Similar processes occurred in the Balkans, where pro-Soviet parties took power in Bulgaria and in Romania. The universal presence of the Red Army made Stalin’s task simpler. This Sovietization did not happen uniformly or immediately. Hungary, and especially Czechoslovakia, maintained open, multiparty systems for several years. By 1948, though, Eastern Europe had been thoroughly Sovietized. Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria were all run by one-party systems, taking direction from Moscow. Yugoslavia was communist as well, but its large wartime resistance movement under Jozef Broz Tito meant communist rule was imposed without active Soviet involvement, and in 1948 Yugoslavia broke from the Soviet bloc while remaining communist. Overall, though, the Soviet Union replicated its own political system in the territories under its control, and the West was terrified by what it saw.
The West also saw evidence of Stalin’s potential hostility outside of the Soviet bloc. Stalin was reluctant to withdraw his troops from northern Iran after World War II. Britain had attempted to maintain its prewar influence in the Mediterranean by supporting Greece and Turkey. The pro-Western Greek government was under threat from a domestic communist insurgency, backed by Yugoslavia. Turkey, by contrast, was facing Soviet pressure for concessions at the Turkish Straits. By 1947, Britain was near bankruptcy and could no longer underwrite Greek and Turkish security. The result was a new commitment by the United States to European politics. Truman agreed to take over Britain’s role in the Mediterranean and committed the United States to containing communism more generally. In early 1947 he proclaimed the Truman Doctrine, pledging American support to peoples attempting to maintain their freedom against outside pressures: communism. Massive economic and military aid to Greece and Turkey followed.
Despite the growing tensions, the Cold War was not yet military. It involved a competition for political influence, but the threat of force remained muted. Both the United States and the Soviet Union had demobilized their armies rapidly after the war. Soviet manpower dropped to under 3 million by 1948 and was moreover counterbalanced by the American atomic monopoly.
In mid-1948, though, the Cold War’s military side began to become more important. The trigger was Germany. The occupying powers had all imposed their own social and political systems in their respective zones. The difference was that Germans found the Western systems much more pleasant. The Soviet zone saw the steady imposition of one-party dictatorship, while the Western zones enjoyed the slow return of normal social, economic, and political life. As time passed, it became more and more difficult to envisage a way in which the steadily diverging British, French, and American zones, on the one hand, and the Soviet zone, on the other, could be brought back together.
In response to the creation of a unified currency for the three Western zones, Stalin acted to halt the creation of a pro-Western Germany by exerting pressure on the West’s most vulnerable spot: the Western-occupied enclaves in Berlin, buried deep inside the Soviet zone. On 24 June 1948, he shut off road and railroad access to West Berlin. Stalin did not see this as a prelude to war, for the Soviet occupying force in Germany made no preparations for war. Indeed, the entire operation seems quite shortsighted; Stalin made no provisions for military complications and cut off Berlin while the United States still enjoyed an atomic monopoly. It was instead an effort either to liquidate the Western presence in Berlin or to force a better deal for Stalin in Germany as a whole. After considering and rejecting the option of testing the Berlin blockade with military force, the United States and Britain organized the Berlin airlift, supplying the city with food and fuel by air. The Soviet military harassed flights into Berlin, but did not halt them. When the blockade had clearly failed, Stalin canceled it on 12 May 1949.
Simultaneously with the Berlin blockade, Stalin remilitarized the Soviet satellite states in Eastern Europe, and the Soviet Union itself. Eastern Europe had generally been demilitarized after the war. Hungary’s army, for example, bottomed out at a mere 5,000 soldiers (plus 8,000 border guards). In 1948, however, a major military buildup began throughout Eastern Europe. Soviet military advisors flooded Eastern Europe, and Soviet satellite governments were instructed to build mass armies. Domestic military traditions were obliterated and replaced by the wholesale Russianization and Sovietization of uniforms, doctrine, traditions, and training. Top military officials had Soviet minders. In the case of Poland, Stalin appointed Konstantin Konstantinovich Rokossovskii, a Soviet marshal of Polish ancestry, as Poland’s Minister of Defense. Levels of interference varied, depending on the particular country’s strategic importance and the level of anti-Soviet attitudes. Bulgaria was relatively free; Poland was tightly controlled. There was at this point no overarching structure; the Soviet Union managed its military ties to Eastern Europe through individual, bilateral arrangements.
Flight sergeant Ray Blacklock (right) with one of the Grey Nurse Spitfires.
Anzac Day isn’t just about those who died in the Great War – it is a time to remember every Australian man and woman who sacrificed their lives in modern history’s conflicts.
On the eve of Anzac Day this year, ABC News Online heard from a number of people about the sacrifices their families and relatives made.
With an overwhelming response from those who lost loved ones in either World War I or World War II, the following photo story tracks the memories of people today about those who have not been forgotten.
We’d like to hear from you about any of your personal experiences in conflict, or the sacrifices you may have made during these tough times. Did you serve in Afghanistan? Or perhaps your family members or ancestors were caught in battle?
Share your story by commenting below, tweeting @abcnews with the hashtag #anzac or sending us a message on Facebook.
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Mouquet Farm, situated about 1.7 kilometres north-west of the heights behind the village of Pozières (q.v.), between 8 August and 3 September 1916 became the focus of nine separate attacks by the three Australian divisions of I Anzac Corps. The purpose of these operations was to extend British control of the ridge extending from Pozières towards the ruined town of Thiepval, with the aim of driving a wedge behind the salient held by the Germans there.
The 4th Division under Major-General Sir Herbert Cox—having relieved the 2nd on 6–7 August—was the first to press the advance in this direction. After a week of constant attacking the line had been carried forward to the fringe of the farm. The toll upon the 4th Division due largely to incessant German shelling, however, had been 4,649 casualties and it was replaced by the 1st Division (Major-General Harold Walker). Restored to only two-thirds its normal strength after losses at Pozières, this formation could make only very small gains and on 22 August—having lost another 2,650 men—it again handed over to the 2nd Division (Major-General Gordon Legge). A dawn attack launched on 26 August actually succeeded in reaching the farm, but with this success came the discovery of deep shelters which were now filled by troops of the German Guard Reserve Corps. The Australians could not hold their gains and were pushed out again.
After the 2nd Division had suffered another 1,268 casualties, the 4th Division was brought back again and made further attacks on the nights of 27 and 29 August. The second of these again occupied the farm, but the attackers’ strength was insufficient to cope with the counter-attacks. This achievement was repeated on 3 September, but after fierce fighting the objective was again lost. At a cost of another 2,409 casualties the 4th Division had extended the gains in this sector as far as they could be achieved. As a result Mouquet Farm was practically half-surrounded on its north-eastern face, but the place was still in enemy hands when the I Anzac Corps was withdrawn from the Somme on 5 September. It did not finally fall until a further three weeks—after British forces had swept past in a wider offensive and left it as an isolated outpost. The 11,000 Australian casualties sustained in battling for this objective meant that in just six weeks since entering the Somme front, I Anzac Corps losses had reached 23,000 (of whom 6,741 had been killed)—which was broadly comparable to the toll sustained by the AIF in the eight-month Gallipoli campaign.
C.E.W. Bean (1929) The Australian Imperial Force in France, 1916, Sydney: Angus & Robertson.
An exhausted mule, Fricourt, December 1916 [AWM E00091]
LARRAKIA was built for the Commonwealth Government in May 1936 to serve as an air-sea rescue vessel in Northern Territory waters. Her design was based on a RAF air-sea rescue launch. As a consequence of concerns about the activities of foreign fishing vessels in these waters, Civil Aviation agreed that she be given the additional role of patrol vessel.
During LARRAKIA’s period of service as a patrol boat, she was commanded by CAPT C.T.G. Haultain, RAN who described his first impression of the vessel: “Photographs I had seen of the boat had not brought out her sinister looks; a jet black hull, high out of the water, squat upperworks ending aft in the rise of the Control cabin gave her a smooth compact line. The ‘hard chine’ construction of the hull was noticeable in the fin-like length which ran from the raked stem to the flat bottomed stern; to a sailor’s eye she had an unfamiliar look.”
Korewa Island, an incident which took place on 3 or 4 April 1937 off Korewa (Guribah) or North-West Crocodile Island about 40 kilometres north-east of Milingimbi in the Northern Territory, involving Japanese pearl-luggers and the patrol launch Larrakia commanded by Captain Theo Haultain. The 14-metre vessel was originally acquired in 1936 as a crash rescue craft to serve on standby for Qantas aircraft crossing the Timor Sea on the Darwin–Singapore run, but was also used part-time by the newly-established Northern Territory Patrol Service of the Customs Department.
Following up reports that Japanese pearling crews were entering Australian territorial waters and illegally landing within Aboriginal reserves for wood and water, and to rest and trade in Aboriginal women, Larrakia came across a dozen luggers anchored off Korewa at midday. After positioning a Vickers machine-gun onto its mount and loading this weapon, Haultain approached downwind from the north-east. Immediately the launch was sighted, five of the vessels attempted to flee—four going out to sea; the fifth towards Korewa’s sister island, North-East Crocodile.
Concentrating first on the group of four, as soon as the range had narrowed to 600 metres Haultain fired a warning rifle-shot across the bow of the leading boat. This was ignored, as were nine further rounds. The machine-gun was then brought into action at 400 metres and, after three successive bursts were fired ahead of the first boat, it and one other lugger turned about and returned to where the other seven remained at anchor. A further burst caused a third of the escapees to do likewise. According to Haultain, it was not until rounds were placed to within metres of the fourth boat’s stern that its master, too, gave up and allowed himself to be escorted back to the others.
After Haultain boarded the largest of the luggers, a vessel named Takachiho Maru No.1, Larrakia sped off in pursuit of the fifth vessel attempting to escape in the opposite direction. The launch made a dramatic return, however, when Haultain accidentally discharged his pistol and his crew, hearing this, feared he was under attack on the Takachiho. After firing a machinegun burst directly above the Japanese vessel, the gunners were about to fire again—this time directly at the lugger—when Haultain managed to signal that he was safe. Nearly 1,000 rounds had been fired in the course of the entire incident.
While local Aborigines on the island were being questioned, two more Japanese boats were seen to approach. Larrakia slipped out from behind the line of detained vessels and caught these, too, without any attempt being made to escape. Soon afterwards, a fleet of a further 35 boats was also seen approaching but, realising that it was completely beyond one vessel to handle a ‘catch’ of this size, Haultain settled for sending one of the luggers under his coxswain to warn them away. After reporting to Darwin that he was now holding thirteen luggers and requesting instructions, Haultain was informed at nearly 8 p.m. that current provisions of the Customs Act required that foreign vessels found inside territorial waters be given twelve hours in which to put to sea before they were liable to arrest. On receipt of this advice the detained luggers were warned and released, after the name of the master of each was recorded.
When news of the incident became known down south, there was great excitement in the press focused on whether international complications would result from the Japanese vessels being fired on. In the event, ructions from this occurrence were muted and inconsequential compared to later developments. Because of the deficiency recognised within existing Australian laws, amendments were subsequently made to the Aboriginal Ordinance which introduced high penalties (including confiscation) for foreign vessels trespassing on the coast within Aboriginal reserves. It was only when Larrakia made arrests under these new provisions in June, August and September 1937, that the issue of Japanese encroachment became a hot political issue.
Argus (Melbourne), 6 April 1937; C.T.G. Haultain (1971) Watch off Arnhem Land, Canberra: Roebuck Society; Alan Powell (1988) The Shadow’s Edge, Carlton, Vic.: Melbourne University Press