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History Questions Not Worth Their Own Thread VIII

Discussion in 'World History' started by Flying Pig, Jan 22, 2017.

  1. caketastydelish

    caketastydelish Finally telling the truth about where I'm from.

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    I watched this video:



    and it talked about one final battle where the Americans and German regular soldiers fought against the SS together.

    This sounds like a stupid question (which it probably is) but I'm trying to picture something.

    If you are the SS, and you see American soldiers and German soldiers fighting on the same side, would that not make it incredibly obvious that the war is already over? By that point in time, it should have been common knowledge that the war was over regardless. If the German soldiers and American soldiers were wearing their respective uniforms (I'm guessing they were) then how could the SS not be able to tell just by looking at them what had happened? Literally, the only way the Germans and Americans could be fighting on the same side in the first place is if the war is over, so I don't get it.
     
  2. Dachs

    Dachs Emissary of Hell

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    In the beginning of his book The End, about the final months of the Second World War in Europe, Ian Kershaw describes the fall of Ansbach, in central Franconia.

    On 18 April 1945, the Americans were within a few miles of the town. Many Nazi officials had already fled, but Ansbach's defenses, such as they were, remained in the hands of Oberst Dr. Ernst Meyer of the Luftwaffe, who refused to stand down. So, in order to aid the incoming Americans, a nineteen-year-old theology student, Robert Limpert - who had distributed some leaflets calling for the town's surrender earlier in the month - cut some telephone wires. He thought they connected Meyer's base to the Wehrmacht forces outside. They did not. But the act of sabotage was witnessed by some Hitlerjugend members, who informed on him. Limpert was arrested at his home almost immediately, and quickly processed by the civil authorities. Meyer personally oversaw a sham "trial" by tribunal that lasted a few minutes, and then sentenced him to be executed by hanging immediately.

    Limpert managed to break free and run for it, but the police gave chase and caught him within a hundred meters. They dragged him back through the crowd to the noose at the gate of the Rathaus. Not a single person lifted a finger in his defense. Quite the opposite: he was beaten bodily by some of the crowd members before his hanging. In one last act of incompetence, the hangman's noose broke, but Meyer's goons fashioned a new one. Robert Limpert was executed in the early afternoon of 18 April, and Meyer ordered his body to hang "until it stinks". It was still hanging there, four hours later, when the Americans showed up. Meyer himself had already fled, along with the rest of the Wehrmacht. The Americans cut his body down and treated it with the respect it deserved.

    Not a single person in Ansbach did a single thing to resist this last, most pointless vile act of the Nazi regime in their town. They knew the Americans were at the gates. The policemen might have delayed in arresting Limpert; they did not. The civil authorities might have procrastinated; instead, they cooperated with Meyer. The townsfolk might have hidden Limpert, or not informed on him; instead, they cooperated with the police and beat him half to death before his hanging.

    The entirety of the Nazi state and society kept trying to function and resist until the bitter end. And if ordinary Germans were willing to act like good citizens of Hitler's Reich up to the point where the Allied soldiers were physically in their midst, you can imagine how ready the SS diehards were to fight. The unique part about the Battle of Schloß Itter (a relatively brief, if intense and undeniably weird, affair) wasn't that the SS continued to attack long after the war was blatantly, obviously lost. It was that some Wehrmacht troops, in contradistinction to basically the entire rest of the German military, were willing to recognize reality (and a sense of basic human decency) and protect the denizens of the Itter concentration camp and fight alongside the Americans.
     
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  3. HoloDoc

    HoloDoc Chieftain

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    You watched the video, but didn't check the Wiki page for this rather famous battle?

    Source.

    Basically, this battle - and a film is supposedly coming out this year, although it seems likely it's been pushed back, unless it's being released over Christmas - was a freak occurrence. The SS commandant abandoned a bunch of high-profile prisoners because he feared for his life; those prisoners then took over the prison, with a few friendly former guards staying on to help. The prisoners also attempted to contact the Americans, but ended up in contact with the Austrian anti-Nazi resistance instead.

    The head of the local resistance group was a Wehrmacht officer, Major Josef Gangl. His troops had realised the war was lost, weren't fans in the first place, and had refused to evacuate to Germany. Due to his military experience, the resistance put him in charge, and his main job was to defend Austrian civilians against SS reprisals. As soon as he discovered the existence of a prison full of French elites nearby, he realised it would be a prime target for the SS - mopping up their own mess and eliminating witnesses before the end - and both took off to protect the French and reached out to the Americans for help.

    The Americans realised the same thing Gangl had, and also rushed to help. By this point, some of the remaining SS in the area had launched an attack on Castle Itter, and Gangl and his troops fought alongside the French POWs, and even a few remaining SS guards, until the Americans arrived to relieve them.

    Gangl died in the defence, and is considered a national hero in Austria. He took a fatal bullet shielding former French Prime Minister Reynaud; the guy who promoted De Gaulle to general and made him a cabinet minister in 1940. Gangl has a street named after him in Worgl, the nearby Austrian town he was defending from the SS. I presume the only reason his corpse wasn't presented with numerous medals was because no one knew what medals to give a German soldier fighting for the Austrian resistance alongside American soldiers who saved a French Prime Minister's life.

    As for your question of why the SS a would fight if the war was over...

    Germany hadn't surrendered yet. Technically, Gangl was committing treason. Good for him.
     
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  4. r16

    r16 not deity

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    which naturally revolves around the question that still remains unasked . Why the SS themselves left the camps open for perusal , so that the Allies would see them Jews , with all bones sticking out in their totally starved bodies ? Powerful images indeed , Erhard Milch , the Luftwaffe Marshall surrendered to a Lord Roberts , the Brigadier general commanding a 2nd British Commando , possibly a large special operations unit or something and Lord Roberts had just seen Dachau or some other place . The Brit calmly received the Marshall's baton , in strict accordance to the protocols military etiquette . Then broke it on Milch's head . Which naturally gets better as Milch was famous for survival in Nazi Germany despite his enemies "proving" he was a Jew and Goering bombastically declaring , as the head of Luftwaffe , ı think Gestapo at the time and possibly Prussia , that it's Goering who decides who's a Jew and who is not .

    as for the camp , it might be related to discreet knowledge of Patton's raid on some camp , to save his son-in-law in early '45 . Raid going good and possibly would go bad only after the American tanks accidentally blew up a truck full of nurses . So , Germans apparently arranged a little thing with their reported super-panzers and the attack on the American task force was the only time the survivors ever saw Germans fighting in the way they were supposed to be fighting . But before that , the tanks had made it to the camp and were forced to stop shelling the Serbian PoWs by an American delegation . Which included Patton's son-in-law . Then some solitary guy rose from the grass in an uniform no one could tell and shot Patton's son-in-law in the groin . Barely survived by attention of the said Serbians with their highly qualified surgeon carrying out a fast operation in American wrecked buildings . Had Patton not been that embrassed , the whole 9th Air Force would napalm the whole region out of existance . And the French were indeed angry in 1945 .
     
  5. Olleus

    Olleus Warlord

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    :lol::lol::lol:
     
  6. SS-18 ICBM

    SS-18 ICBM Oscillator

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    Did German ever reach the same status in the US as Spanish today, i.e. a de facto official language?
     
  7. Dachs

    Dachs Emissary of Hell

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    Yes and no. Mostly no.

    There is a persistent myth that German was almost made the official language of the United States in the 1790s but lost by a single vote. A similar myth has been advanced for an official language of Pennsylvania vote. Neither is correct; the United States has no official language, as you know. They both appear to be based on a petition from 1795 from some German-speaking people living in Virginia (of all places), which was made to Congress on behalf of those German-speakers who did not understand English and wished for an official German-language translation of the Constitution. Congress debated the matter but ultimately did not include an official translation in any bill. Hence the no. (An author named Löher apparently made many fanciful exaggerations to the story of the vote, adding in a role for Speaker Muhlenberg, which spawned the official language myth.)

    Realistically, the maximum proportion of Germans in any of the Thirteen Colonies was about 30% (Pennsylvania), and in the other colonies the population dropped off rather sharply from there. Although German immigration increased in the nineteenth century, and resulted in the heavily-German-populated Upper Midwest and Dakotas, by then the English-speaking population of the US was even larger and German continued to recede into the distance. Some municipalities maintained German-language media (including the Deitsch Eck, or '[Pennsylvania] German Corner', in the Allentown, PA, newspaper The Morning Call). There are some reports of some state documents being provided in German in places like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, although I myself haven't come across any proof of that. There's a sharp contrast to Spanish in modern America; documents in Spanish are readily available from both federal and state governments in many locations, and dual-sided English/Spanish documents are not uncommon.

    The tiny bit of "yes" comes from the fact that it was a minority language with numerous speakers and was often viewed with the same hysteria that many Americans reserve for Spanish now. There are many accounts of WASP hand-wringing from the 1750s and onward about the fantastic number of Dutchmen in nearly every county that would allegedly swamp Pennsylvania with foreigners. Obviously didn't happen.
     
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  8. caketastydelish

    caketastydelish Finally telling the truth about where I'm from.

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    Literally, every single American born person of Latin American decent that I personally know is a native English speaker. Only the immigrants are native Spanish speakers, and in my experience, the majority of them attempt to learn English (and successfully do). The idea that "Spanish will eventually take over English." is laughable IMO. America becoming browner is one thing, but Spanish isn't 'taking over' in the long term.
     
  9. SS-18 ICBM

    SS-18 ICBM Oscillator

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    What factors were ensuring it was becoming less prominent? The proportion of German-speaking immigrants being much lower (compared to the current situation in US Southwest) than the established English-speakers?
     
  10. PPQ_Purple

    PPQ_Purple Techpriest Engineer

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    I'd imagine that Germany uniting as a sort of promised land helped stem the tide. And than two world wars made being German highly unpopular. The same thing that happened in parts of Europe.
     
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  11. Dachs

    Dachs Emissary of Hell

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    More or less. German immigration dried up between 1800 and 1820, but started to climb again starting in the 1830s to a peak of a third of all immigrants to the US from 1850 to 1869. By then, however, many of the older German communities had lost a lot of members to Anglicization and internal migration. While the wave of the 1850s and 1860s certainly introduced a lot of native German-speakers to the Midwest and Upper Midwest, the Pennsylvania German community had shrunk dramatically. From what I understand, there were a few things that prevented the new German speakers from moving in near the old ones. The first was the American government's system of land appropriation and homestead creation, which drew millions of people west away from the old heartland around York, Lancaster, Reading, and Allentown. A second was the fact that a lot of these Germans came from different places; the OG Pennsylvania Germans were mostly Rhinelanders, but the new wave included South Germans and Prussians. They didn't really have that much affinity with each other.

    Immigration from Germany didn't shrink much in absolute terms after 1860, and actually skyrocketed in absolute terms in the 1880s, but it steadily shrank as a proportion of overall immigration to the US over the next several decades. While the immediate aftermath of German unification may have had some effect slowing down German migration, what seems more likely is that it took some decades for Germans in the Kaiserreich to start to enjoy the technological and economic benefits of the Second Industrial Revolution there. Once Germany started to seem like a place worth staying, people mostly stayed there - with hiccups for the First World War and Second World War, a mild increase in the proportion of German immigrants as a whole in the 1930s due to the imposition of quotas on other groups, and a significant increase in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War and extending into the 1950s.

    Some historians date the decline in German as a spoken language in America to the First World War, and there's a decent amount of anecdotal evidence for that, but realistically Germans, like most immigrant communities, started to learn English in successive generations as they set down roots in the new country. The American government never felt significant pressure to adopt German as an alternative language. The German immigrant community had some transient political muscle in the 1860s, but it was mostly personality-based (and Civil War-based), it didn't significantly outweigh, say, the Irish immigrant community, and it rapidly disappeared at the end of the war.
     
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