The Significance of The Northern Crusades in History

Modern historians tend to overlook economic factors when investigating historical motivations. The first Northern Crusade (The Wendish Crusade), as commonly narrated, was a branch of the Second Crusade, undertaken on behalf of St. Bernard de Clairvaux’s furious pulpit outreach to retake the holy land. Ideological motivation is difficult to overlook when analyzing historical empires: the majority of empires and religions are so closely intertwined that it is almost impossible to separate them. This is true of Roman Catholicism no less than for the Vedic seers who wrote the Rig Veda, the Achaemenids who patronized Zoroastrianism, and the cult of Quetzalcoatl in Aztec Mexico. Early Islam and Maccabean Judaism are virtually … Read more…

Book Review: Death in the Baltic by Cathryn J. Prince

Wilhelm_Gustloff_Modell_sx3_cropped

[FULL DISCLOSURE: I received my copy of this book free from the author for purposes of reviewing it. I was not paid for this review and the opinion expressed is purely my own] The Wilhelm Gustloff was a German built pleasure ship built by the Nazis to bolster their public image both at home and abroad in the late 1930’s.  It is remembered today because when it was sunk by a Soviet submarine in early 1945 as it was evacuating civilians and wounded military personnel from East Prussia to Kiel its sinking became the ship sinking with the highest loss of life in recorded history.  Nobody knows for sure but … Read more…

Book Review: Dresden: A Survivor’s Story by Victor Gregg

[FULL DISCLOSURE: I received my copy of this book free from the author. I was not paid for this review and the opinion expressed is purely my own] Victor Gregg’s Dresden: A Survivor’s Story is a short work describing the author’s experience as  POW who got caught in Dresden in February, 1945 when the Allies bombed the city in what would become known as the Firebombing of Dresden.  The attack essentially destroyed the city center and killed an estimated 25,000 German’s.  Wikipedia has a pretty good article on the attacks that also discusses the controversy surrounding them that has grown up since the war.  To sum up the controversy, general anti-war people claim they were a crime and … Read more…

Stasi Museum – Leipzig, Germany

Mural of the Coat of Arms of the (Minsitry for State Security) Stasi just inside the entrance to the building.

The Stasi Museum in Leipzig, Germany.  For those who have never heard of it, the Stasi was the East German Little brother to the Russian NKVD internal security Secret Police.  The Stasi maintained a network of informers within both East and West Germany during the Cold War and also maintained dossiers on almost every German, even many in the West.  In East Germany (GDR) the Stasi was the government organ responsible for internal security and ferreting out dissidents to the regime.  They did this by doing some things that made the  Nazi Gestapo look like amateurs. Below are some of the photos I took in our hasty tour of the museum before it closed.  

Sudeten Deutsch Memorial

Bahnhof-Plaque-Bayreuth

Saw this interesting little bit of history this morning and figure I would take a photo. This has less to do with warfare itself than with the aftermath of war. This is a plaque dedicated to the role that Bayreuth, Germany played in the resettlement of ethnic Germans in the wake of the mass expulsion of these people from their homes in Eastern Europe after Germany’s defeat in WWII. Their is a good piece with a brief history of post war ethnic movements in Europe by the BBC Here: ArticleNo More War or Expulsions

from February to October 1946 the Bayreuth Main Train Station hosted 33 Cargo trains containing 39,281 expellees from the Sudetenland.

The city and county are thankful for the reception

Sudeten German Organisation July 2010

Burg Waldeck in Waldeck, Germany

Below is a series of photos I took recently when my family and I visited the castle ruins of Burg Waldeck in Waldeck, Germany.   The top photo is a screen shot from Google Earth showing the layout of the castle as it appears today. Burg Waldeck is a typical Keep and Bailey type castle.   There is a rounded keep at the center of the complex with a small courtyard and various outbuildings.   It is surrounded by a curtain wall that is currently about 10-15 foot high with rounded turrets defending the most vulnerable parts of the wall.   It sits on top of fairly steep hill that … Read more…

Book Review: Military or civilians? The curious anomaly of the German Women’s Auxiliary Services during the Second World War by Alison Morton

[FULL DISCLOSURE: I received my copy of this book free from the author. I was not paid for this review and the opinion expressed is purely my own] I was contacted by Ms. Morton about reading and reviewing her book: Military or civilians? The curious anomaly of the German Women’s Auxiliary Services during the Second World War and jumped at the opportunity as the subject matter of the book, German Woman serving with the Wehrmacht is one that has been virtually ignored in English scholarship as she rightly points out in her introduction and demonstrates by including the text of an email she received from the director of the Imperial War Museum in which he demonstrates total ignorance about any female auxiliaries used … Read more…

The Grave of Richard Wagner

The grave where Wagner and his wife Cosima are buried.

I recently visited the grave of Richard Wagner behind the Wagner Museum in Bayreuth, Germany and thought I would share the photos I took while there.  The grave itself is not very remarkable and the only way you know it is is his is because there are signs pointing to it.  There is no marking on the grave itself saying it is where Wagner and his wife are buried.  There is an outstanding site with a wealth of information on the composer at the Richard Wagner Archive.   The gravestone for the dog says Here rests and guards Wagner’s Russ.  Russ was the name of his dog.  

Where are the honest Nazi’s?

I was reading an article in the current issue of the Journal of Military History and it hit me once again that there are no memoirs from Germans in World War II that are really honest about what they thought. The article in question is Hagermann, Karen. Mobilizing Women for War: The History, Historiography, and Memory of German Women’s War Service in the Two World Wars Journal of Military History, Vol. 75 no. 4 (October 2011), 1055-1094. I actually don’t have a problem with the article itself, it is written well although I don’t necessarily agree with the vaguely feminist premise of the article itself, it is pretty interesting. What … Read more…

Book Review – Iron Kingom: The Rise and Downfall of Prussia, 1600-1947 by Christopher Clark

This massive tome lays claim to being a complete history of Prussia, and if he doesn’t achieve it, he doesn’t miss it by much. It is fairly large at over 700 pages but Dr. Clark has a pleasant writing style that makes the book easy to read. He is not so much recounting events as using the historical events to tell the story of Prussia. The book opens with the retelling of the Allies abolishment of Prussia as a political unit in 1947 then goes right to the beginning of Prussia with the establishment of Prussia as a political unit under German sovereignty under the Great Elector in the years … Read more…

Germany’s Current Strategic Position

At the present time, Germany is in a strategic position unparalleled in its history.   The German state shares no borders with any potential enemies in the near future.   Historically Germany has had to contend with one or more enemies sharing contiguous borders with it and rarely has Germany been able to count on outside help in combating these enemies.   As a continental as opposed to maritime power this situation is unprecedented for Germany with her short coastline and long land borders.   Historically Germany has always shared a border with at least one enemy whether at peace with them or not. The list of historical enemies is … Read more…

Book Review: Fighting the Great War by Michael Neiberg

I originally saw Neiberg’s Fighting the Great War mentioned in a review essay covering recent works on WWI. The essay had good things to say about the work and then I decided to check and yes, the book had been reviewed by the Journal of Military History in the Jan 2007 issue, Vol. 71 no. 1 pg 242. I subscribe to the Journal so I pulled it it out and read the review. The review is generally favorable and recommends the book as a general history of the war. I did not have the same impression of the book as did the reviewer in JMH.I found the book to be … Read more…