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The Japanese and German Alliance / What once was….

L:Japanese ambassador Kintomo Mushakoji and foreign minister of Nazi Germany Joachim von Ribbentrop sign the Anti-Comintern Pact in 1936.R: Matsuoka with Generalfeldmarschall Wilhelm Keitel (centre) and ambassador Heinrich Georg Stahmer (right) at a reception in the Japanese embassy in Berlin on 29 March 1941

Alliances during a war can change the outcome, but the alliance between Japan and Germany is one that baffles many people. Most people can understand why Japan went to war with America, but why did the Imperial nation join forces with Nazi Germany? To understand the Tripartite Pact which created the Axis Powers, a look further back in history is needed.

Both Germany and Imperial Japan arrived on the international stage in the mid-1800s. Japan was forced out of isolation and started rapid westernization in 1854. Germany had been a number of city-states before Prussia won the Franco-Prussian war and united all of them in 1871.

A Japanese lithograph depicting Japan’s troops attacking the German colony of Tsingtao in 1914

Before Germany became a country of its own, Prussia and a newly open Japan had a very friendly relationship. Prussia had been going through a modernization effort with the speed and efficiency that the Germans are known for. This led Japan to view them as a good role model, as Japan wanted to modernize in a similarly effective manner.

To this end, Japan hired many Prussian and German advisers to help them with modernization. These advisers brought the militaristic approach to modernization which worked in Prussia, and later Germany, to Japan.

As German ambassador in Tokyo from 1920 to 1928, Wilhelm Solf initiated the re-establishment of good German–Japanese relations. Bundesarchiv,

However, this cozy relationship ended when both nations decided to follow the other major powers and look for colonies.

The problem that Germany faced with its colonization efforts was the fact that the Age of Exploration was coming to an end.

The other major powers of the time had been colonizing the world for years, so all the areas Germany would have considered first were already colonized. This led Germany to turn east and start colonizing different areas of Asia.  At the same time, Japan was also looking for colonies and saw their best options in East Asia. This was the same area the Germans were operating in and led to a cooling of the relationship between these nations.

“Good friends in three countries”: Japanese propaganda poster from 1938 promoting the cooperation between Japan, Germany and Italy

Japan also started to become friendly with Great Britain at this time, which would affect the relationship between Japan and Germany during World War I.

When WWI broke out in 1914, Japan allied with Britain. After the Allies won the war, Japan was quick to take over the former German colonies in Asia.

While this would normally sour relationships between countries, Japan and Germany’s friendship would reignite in the post-WWI world.

Japanese foreign minister Yōsuke Matsuoka visits Adolf Hitler in Berlin in late March 1941.

After the war, Germany was not in a good place and was forced to sign an incredibly harsh treaty by the Allied Powers. This led to the crash of the government and economy as well as the rise of the Nazi Party.

In addition, the newly formed League of Nations was unpopular in Germany, and Japan was not a fan of it either.

The League of Nations was not very fair to Japan. Japan would often be punished by the league for its actions against its neighbors.

This sowed the seeds of discontent because the leaders of the League, France and Great Britain, often conducted the same actions against their own colonies. This hypocrisy would lead to Japan withdrawing from the League of Nations.

Adolf Hitler declares war on the United States on 11 December 1941 in the wake of Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor.

As the Nazi Party gained power, Hitler created strong ties with China. However, he changed course and started to view Japan as a more strategic partner in Asia.  For its part, Japan wanted to continue expanding, and saw rebuilding its relationship with Germany as beneficial to this goal.

The renewed relationship between Japan and Germany was still fragile when WWII broke out. In the early stages of the war, Japan was strongly allied with Germany, but not involved militarily in the war.

The I-8 arriving in Brest, France, in 1943, on a “Yanagi” mission to exchange material and personnel with Nazi Germany

Their relationship was one of mutual benefit rather than a complete alliance, since Japan was more focused on exerting its influence in East Asia.

The true alliance of Japan and Germany would only come about when Japan entered the war. When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and other American bases, it led to America declaring war on the Imperial nation.

Rear Admiral Jisaku Uozumi signs the surrender of Penang aboard the battleship HMS Nelson on 2 September 1945. He fainted shortly afterwards and was rushed to hospital. Note the Distinguished Service Cross ribbon on Uozumi’s uniform, which he had earned from the British during the alliance

In response, Germany declared war on America, and thus further strengthened their relationship with Japan. The Tripartite Pact created the Axis Powers, allying Germany, Japan, Italy and a number of smaller countries.

The alliance between Japan and Germany during WWII may seem strange and an odd pairing which did not yield much in terms of results. 

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Andrew Benjock – Pittsburgh, PA; USMC, WWII, PTO/CBI, Korea, radioman, Master Gunnery Sgt. (Ret. 31 y.)

Allan Brown – Toronto, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII

Dan Darden – Montgomery, AL; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Ralph Esposito – Mahopac, NY; US Coast Guard, WWII

Margaret Fish – CA; US Women’s Marine Corps, WWII

Murphy Neal Jones Sr. – Baton Rouge, LA; US Air Force, Vietnam, POW (6½ y., Hanoi Hilton)

Fred Knodle – Cincinnati, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, 187/11th Airborne Division, Medical unit

Robert Messel – Vincennes, IN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, West Point grad

Jack O’Neil – North Haven, CT; US Army, WWII & Korea, Chief Warrant Officer 4

Jocelyn Todd – Aiken, SC; US Army WAC, WWII

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70th V-E Day

WWII US Army veteran Howard Harvey @ Washington DC ceremonies

WWII US Army veteran Howard Harvey @ Washington DC ceremonies

On May 8, 1945, millions of people around the globe took to the streets to celebrate the World War II surrender of Germany on what came to be known as Victory in Europe Day, or V-E Day. At 2:41 a.m. local time the previous day, representatives from the victorious Allied nations met with German officials in Reims, France, to sign the official surrender documents but, in accordance with an earlier agreement between leaders in the United States, Soviet Union and United Kingdom, the news of the end of hostilities on the continent was withheld for 24 hours and announced simultaneously on the 8th. In London, spotlights in the form of a “V” for victory were turned on over St. Paul’s Cathedral—although it took some time to get them working again after nearly six years of wartime blackouts. In the United States a newly sworn-in president got a very unusual birthday present. And in the Soviet Union, a powerful leader was already planning his next, post-war moves. Millions had been killed, rationing continued and there was still three months of deadly fighting ahead, but for a few hours, the world stopped to commemorate and celebrate. As we remember its 68th anniversary, here are some surprising facts you may not know about V-E Day.

V-E Day

It took 20 hours to complete the surrender documents.
Following the suicide of Adolf Hitler on April 30 and the collapse of the Nazi Party, the end of the war in Europe was clearly in sight. Susan Hibbert, a British secretary stationed at Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF) in Reims, France, began working on a series of documents and cables to world leaders informing them of the impending surrender. On May 6, after the arrival of General Alfred Jodl, the chief of staff to new German President Karl Dönitz, in Reims, Hibbert and other staffers knew the end was imminent. That morning, she began typing the English version of the Act of Military Surrender and, thanks to repeated changes in wording from all parties, didn’t finish until 20 hours later. Finally, at around 2:30 am May 7, Hibbert and other staffers crowded into a conference room to witness one of the most momentous events of the 20th century. Curiously, General Dwight Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander and architect of the successful war strategy, didn’t attend the ceremony, and was instead represented by his chief of staff Walter Bedell Smith. He did, however, decide how the historic news would be relayed around the world. While many on his staff pressed for a strongly worded declaration of victory, “Ike” overruled them, instead crafting a far simpler message to announce the end of six deadly years of conflict: “The mission of this Allied Force was fulfilled at 0241, local time, May 7th, 1945.”Joseph Stalin insisted on a second surrender ceremony.
As the fighting neared its end, the post-war political wrangling had already begun. When Soviet leader Joseph Stalin heard about the surrender ceremony in Reims, he was none too pleased. He declared that the U.S.S.R’s representative there, Ivan Susloparov, had not been authorized to sign the document and that the wording differed from a previous agreement Stalin had approved. Stalin, who ensured Soviet troops were the first to arrive in Berlin in an effort to secure control of the city before the Allies, also refused to accept a surrender signed on French soil, and declared the Reims document simply a preliminary surrender. Stalin’s remarks caused massive confusion; German radio announced that the Axis may have surrendered on the Western Front, but remained at war with the Soviets, and fighting continued throughout the day on May 8. Finally, just before midnight (in the early hours of the 9th, Moscow time), another hastily assembled ceremony got underway in Soviet-controlled Berlin. So, while much of the world would commemorate V-E Day on May 8, Victory Day in the Russia and its republics would be celebrated on May 9.

Halifax, Canada - V-E Day 1945

Halifax, Canada – V-E Day 1945

V-E Day sparked the deadly Halifax Riot.
Unfortunately, not every V-E Day celebration ended peacefully. For six years tensions had been rising in the critical Canadian port city of Halifax, Nova Scotia, as thousands of sailors flooded the city, more than doubling its population. With housing, commodities and entertainment in short supply, prices were high and tempers were extremely short. On May 7, when word reached the city of the impending surrender, business leaders, fearing an influx of servicemen in search of a celebration, decided to close all liquor stores, restaurants and stores, while the city suspended local transportation. Despite these concerns, the nearby military base’s commander gave more than 10,000 sailors temporary leave to enjoy the end of the war downtown. Angered at what they considered gross mistreatment by city residents, and with little in the way of peaceful diversions, the men eventually began to riot, looting retail stores and liquor outlets and starting dozens of fires. The Halifax Riot continued into May 8, with another 9,000 sailors teeming into town. By the time order was restored and the looting had stopped late that afternoon, three servicemen were dead, 360 had been arrested and the city had suffered more than $5 million in damages—$62 million in today’s money.

It made for a fine presidential birthday present.
On May 8, 1945, Harry Truman had been president for just 26 days—in fact, he had only moved into the White House the day before. Writing to his mother and sister, Truman informed them of the German surrender the day before (which he would announce to the country shortly after finishing the letter), and noted the day’s other, more personal, significance—it was his 61st birthday. When Truman met with reporters later that morning to discuss the surrender, he dedicated the victory to his predecessor Franklin D. Roosevelt, who had died less than a month earlier, then quietly slipped away to celebrate both his birthday and V-E Day with friends and aides.

Reims, France - site of German surrender 1945

Reims, France – site of German surrender 1945

The location of the surrender was known as France’s city of kings.
The French city of Reims, like much of Europe, had suffered mightily in the early 20th century: Nearly 80 percent of the city had been destroyed during World War I and again during the second world war, when the Nazi-occupied city was heavily bombed by Allied planes. Located in the northeast part of the country, it is today probably best known for producing some of the best champagne in the world. But for hundreds of years, Reims played a crucial (if ceremonial) role in French history. Beginning in 496 with the baptism of Clovis, Rheims was where the coronation of 33 French kings were consecrated, all using anointing oil that according to legend, had been provided directly by God. During the Hundred Years War, Joan of Arc liberated the city and had Charles VII crowned king in the city’s cathedral. The tradition continued until 1825, when Charles X became the last king to be consecrated in Reims.

050506VEDay

by: John Fewings

Information courtesy of History.com

To view previous V-E Day posts – CLICK HERE and then HERE.

ve-day-70th-anniversary

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Political Cartoons ~ from back in the day ~

szyk6

by: Arthur Szyk (1894-1951)

 

There you are!  Don't lose it again!

There you are! Don’t lose it again!

Post-Register, Idaho Falls, ID

Post-Register, Idaho Falls, ID

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Farewell Salutes – 

David Baron – WPalm Beach, FL; US Navy, WWII

The Final Farewell

The Final Farewell

Anthony Dacquisto – Winnipeg, CAN; RC Army, WWII, ETO/Korea, Intelligence Corps

Riley Foster, Sr. – Stiglar, OK; US Navy, WWII

Dorothy Grant – Auckland, NZ; NZWAAC # 72475, WWII, nurse

John Kreiper Jr. – Washington, DC; US Army, WWII/ US Air Force, Major (Ret.)

Andrew Morrison – Palm Springs, FL; US Navy, Korea, USS Northhampton, Aerographer

J.W. Royals – Dover, TN; US Army, 408th/11th A/B Div.

Bill Schlossberg – W.Orange, NJ; US Army, WWII, ETO, Bronze Star

Jack Sonnenblick – Harrison, NY; US Army, WWII, ETO, 1st Lt., Combat Engineers

Fred Tucker – Karori, NZ; RNZ Air Force (Ret.)

 

Click on images to enlarge.

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Intermission Stories (18)

Once we get back into WWII, we will mainly have Pacific Theater information here.  So, during this intermission time, I’ll take this opportunity to include another European Theater story.

X-Troop, George Lane is standing, back row center

X-Troop, George Lane is standing, back row center

 

Mr. X Meets the Desert Fox

George Lane aka: Lanyi Gyorgy

British Commando, No. 10 X Troop

In the spring of 1942, Lord Mountbatten created a commando unit made up of 10 troops.  No. 10 consisted of European born Jewish volunteers to be described as “unknown warriors,” false identities included.  To prove their loyalty, these men were required to perform extremely dangerous operations behind enemy lines.

Lanyi Gyorgy, Hungarian-born, was in England in 1939 and married Miriam Rothschild in 1943; it was through her connections that he was able to enlist in the army at all.  On 15-17 May, before D-Day, the newly named “George Lane” and “Roy Woolridge” were sent to Normandy Beach to search for mines.  They brought back an old corroded sample.  They were sent back to locate and photograph the anti-tank obstacle known as Element C.

George Lane

George Lane

Upon eluding capture on shore, a German patrol boat caught them in their dory and brought them back to the beach.  Lane’s interrogator insisted he was a saboteur and a member of the special services.  (An interpreter was used because Lane insisted he did not speak German).  Lane continued to state he had been on a troop ship that sunk in the Channel and he knew nothing.  He had his hands bound and a blindfold applied, but it was not done correctly – he could see out of the bottom.

George was led to a car and saw Roy sitting in the rear, he was put in the front.  During the drive, he pretended to sleep, head tilted back to view the route and memorize the French street signs.  At a large castle, an English-speaking German officer gave him food and tea and requested he was up to meet someone; he said, “…can I count on you to act like an officer and a gentleman?”  Lane agreed that he was indeed a gentleman.

He was brought into a vast ballroom and a slim, impressive general walked up to greet him.  Lane recognized him at once – the legendary “Desert Fox”, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel.  “So you are one of those gangster commandos?”  Lanes replied that he heard the commandos were the best in the world.  “So, you are a commando?  And a saboteur too, I suppose?”  Lane answered that he wouldn’t have been invited to the castle if that were true.

Field Marshall Erwin Rommel; The Desert Fox

Field Marshall Erwin Rommel; The Desert Fox

“You call this and invitation, do you?” Rommel snorted.  “Of course,” Lane said to the interpreter, “But also a privilege,” and then he smiled.  Rommel began to laugh and the discussion went on for about 20 minutes.  The general promised he would be treated fairly as a POW.  Lane and Woolrige both agreed that they were.

At the POW camp, Lane reported to the English senior officer, Col. E. Miller and admitted he was a commando in X-Troop.  A coded message was sent to England to confirm his identity along with the name of a road sign he remembered by the castle.  17 July, Rommel’s car was strafed by a Typhoon fighter-bomber, the driver killed and the general injured so badly he was forced to relinquish his command.  There is no proof that Lane’s info caused the attack, but he was awarded the Military Cross for his services.

Military Cross

Military Cross

He returned to the castle 40 years later and asserted that he always believed General Rommel had saved his life.

George Lane passed away on 19 March 2010 at the age of 95.  His story here was derived from one that appears in “True Stories of D-Day” by Henry Brook and The Telegraph.co.uk.  These are the only 2 photos of George Lane I was able to locate.

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Farewell Salutes – 

Fred Bickley, Jr. – Birmingham, AL; US Army, WWII

John Boyle – Farmingdale, NY; US Air Force, Korea

A Farewell Salute

A Farewell Salute

David R. Clare – Westfield, NJ & No.Palm Bch., FL; US Navy, WWII

Charles Garrison III – Long Beach, CA; US Army, Ranger

Anne Jarvie – Rotorua, NZ – RAF # 2145065 & RNZ Air Force # 73299, WWII

Sydney Johnson – Colorado Springs, CO; US Army, Korea, Military photographer

David Lake – Buhl, ID; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, flight engineer, B-17’s

John Niceley – Front Royal, VA; US Navy, WWII

Richard Parrish, Jr. – No.Palm Beach; US Army Air Corps, Lt., B-17 pilot

Walter Shackel – Port Washington, NY; US Army, WWII, 86th Mountain Infantry

George Thomas – Toronto, Can; RCAF, WWII, Squadron 435-436, Burma/India Theater

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Mainland Attacks – East Coast

German sub, U-215, underwater

German sub, U-215, underwater

The photograph above is the German U-boat U-215, first discovered in July 2004 off of Nova Scotia, Canada’s southern coast. This boat was credited with sinking the USS ‘Alexander Macomb.’ From 1939 until V-E Day, Canada’s Atlantic coast ports were extremely important to the resupply effort for the United Kingdom and later for the combined Allied offensive. There were frequent attacks by the German U-boats on the departing ships, especially after the United States entered the war. The submarines started battling along the east coast and the gulf from early 1942 through to the end of the shipping season of 1944. The American coast was an easy target for the enemy U-boats after Germany declared war on the U.S. Until the blackouts were enforced in May 1942, shipping vessels were silhouetted against such major towns as Atlantic City. This caused 348 ships to be sunk from February to May; with the loss of only two U-boats. Many attribute this to Admiral Ernest King who was adverse to the British recommendation of using convoys, also because the U.S. Navy did not have enough escort vessels for the job. British and Canadian warships were transferred to the American east coast. 8 April 1942, German U-boat, U-123, commanded by Lt. Commander Reinhard Hardegen, spotted the oil tanker “Oklahoma” silhouetted against a blazing shore off St. Simons Island, GA. His torpedo ran hot and true. He also later hit the “Brunswick”, sank the Esso “Baton Rouge” and one more the following morning.

Cabot Tower, Canada

Cabot Tower, Canada

There were five significant attacks on Newfoundland in 1942 alone. 3 March, U-587 fired three torpedoes; one hit Fort Amherst and two more hit the cliffs of Signal Hillbelow Cabot Tower. Later, U-boats attacked four iron ore carriers at Wabana on Bell Island. Several ships were torpedoed within sight of U.S. cities like New York and Boston. Civilians were able to watch the battles between those ships. 5 May 1945, the German U-boat U-853 attacked and sank the collier ‘Black Point’ off the coast of Newport, Rhode Island. The U.S. Navy dropped depth charges where they believed the submarine was and the following day they spotted an oil slick and debris in the area. The site has since become a popular dive site 130 feet deep off Block Island, Rhode Island. Another wreck discovered and identified as U-869 was found off New Jersey in 1997.

Gun at Fort Amburst

Gun at Fort Amhurst

In Florida, the Civil Air Patrol had a Piper Cub patrolling at a low altitude along the Palm Beach coast (as many other cities had) and on one occasion, the 55-year-old pilot swooped down for a closer look at something he felt was unusual and he was fired on – it was a German submarine. The plane received enough damage to force him to return to the airfield. This is probably the only American plane downed by enemy fire in the continental U.S. history.

The Black Point

The Black Point, sunk by U-853

Miami, Florida, for some reason, was not required to comply with the block-out rules and the lights could be seen for miles out to sea. The German U-boats used them to sink the freighters within sight of shore.   As air cover and convoys were introduced, the activity in the Atlantic subsided and the U-boats moved into the Gulf of Mexico.  In this body of water, the Germans concentrated on the oil tankers leaving Texas and Louisiana.  During 1942 and 1943, there were twenty known U-boats in this area which are credited with sinking 56 ships, such as the ‘Virginia,’ a 10,731 ton Turbine tanker on 12 May ’42, at the mouth of the Mississippi River by U-507.  This event caused 26 crewmen casualties and 14 survived.  Again, once defensive measures were finally introduced, ships sunk decreased and U-boats sunk increased.  The U-166 lies in 5,000 feet of water about one mile from her last victim, the SS ‘Robert E. Lee,’ sunk by depth charges from her naval escort. There were actual landings by German U-boats, but that information brings us to our next category of – spies and sabotage.  For a more complete listing  for the ships check:  http://uboat.net/allies/merchants/1635.html

An updated story sent in by Argus, finally vindicates a heroic Captain ___

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/12/141217-german-u-boat-u-166-gulf-mexico-archaeology-history/

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Farewell Salutes –

Gone but not forgotten

Gone but not forgotten

Thurman Richard Hicks – Parkesburg, W. VA. & Greenacres, FL; U.S. Army Carl Vincent Hoffman – Cincinnati, Ohio & Boynton Bch., FL.; USMC John Gutjahr – No. Bergen, NJ; U.S. Army David C. McDonald – Brooklyn, NY & Lake Worth, FL; U.S. Navy in WWII and Korean War; 20 years with FDNY Sheldon Krubiner – Lawrence, NY & Boynton Bch., FL.; U.S. Navy WWII William Anthony Wilder – Detroit, MI & Jupiter, FL.; U.S. Army corporal in Korean War Vernon Lee Kaiser – Evansville, Ill. & Inverness, Fl; Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army Ranger, Korean and Vietnam Wars Hurant “Tavy” Tavetian – Ohio, N.Y. and Fla.; U.S. Navy WWII Irving V. Gerstein – NYC, NY & Palm Beach, FL; Captain in U.S. Army Air Corps, WWII Pacific Theater #####################################################################################

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