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Tuesday, January 1st 2019, 8:49pm

German News and Events 1949

Marinestützpunkt Wilhelmshaven, Saturday, 1 January 1949

The workers attendant upon the naval shipyard griped at working on New Year’s Day, but at least their aggravation would be assuaged by the overtime and holiday bonuses that would appear in their next pay check. There was work a plenty in the yard. The fitting out basin held two small tankers while the keel for one of the new coastal escorts was taking shape in the yard’s small Nr.2 dry dock.

But the work going on elsewhere was of interest to Vize-admiral August Becker. No less than five utility landing ships were being laid down – occupying every available slip and dock not seeing construction of something else. These ships, and the sisters and cousins being laid down elsewhere were, in Becker’s estimation, vital for the future of the Kriegsmarine.

Die Welt Am Sonntag, Sunday, 2 January 1949

Doctor René Belloq, under the sponsorship of the Deutsche Orient-Gesellschaft, has done much to bring to light the Bronze-Age Hittite culture of Anatolia. Over the last eight years he and his associates have carried out extensive excavations at Kültepe, Yazılıkaya, and numerous other sites in Turkey, but above all at Hattusa, where Doctor Belloq discovered the Hittite royal archives. The preliminary evaluation of the clay tables found here have illuminated our understanding of Bronze-Age history to an unprecedented degree. The Tawagalawa Letter, which is interpreted to relate to conflicts between the Hittite kingdom and a power to the west – suspected to be Achaean Greece - has been taken to be proof of the veracity of Homer’s account of the Trojan War. Among his published work is the best seller, Hattusa – Stadt der Götter und Tempel (Hattusa – City of Gods and Temples).

Le Courrier du Indochina (Saigon), Monday, 3 January 1949

The German East Asia Squadron has returned to the naval anchorage at Cam Rahn Bay following an extended cruise in the Indian Ocean.


Wednesday, January 9th 2019, 5:34pm

Fliegerhorst Stettin, Tuesday, 4 January 1949

The troops of the Heer’s First Armoured Cavalry Regiment had first bivouacked on the under-utilised Luftwaffe airfield two days ago – and von Hauser had done his best to make his men as comfortable as possible – but living under canvas in winter was not something one wanted to do. Then, of course, in any army, you rarely get the opportunity to do what you want. Their temporary quarters, albeit limited in creature comfort, were conveniently located near the area in which they were exercising – if one subsumed under the rubric of ‘exercising’ learning the arcane skills of loading their vehicles on landing craft and then landing them again on the snow-swept, open beach.

Berlin, Abwehr Headquarters, Wednesday, 5 January 1949

Major Alexander Mach had begun compiling his report on the topography and land transport networks of East Anglia and south-eastern England immediately upon his return to Berlin. There was much data for him to work through, not only his own detailed notes and observations, but information from other desks of the Abwehr’s own Abteilung II as well as from the Heer’s Fremde Heere West. It would take weeks before all had been sifted, compared, evaluated, and conclusions drawn – but at least in his own mind he had reached an initial conclusion.

“Difficult, but not impossible.”

But then, most problems look that way before the details are examined.

Berlin, The British Embassy, Thursday, 6 January 1949

Alfred Burcough, the naval attaché, re-read the reports he had from Tanner, the Service’s station chief in Berlin. Their cooperation had cooled somewhat after the sudden disappearance from the scene of Ernst Blofeld, but Tanner had sent over what his stringers in the German Baltic ports were telling him. Every yard was reported to be busy – either building new construction or converting merchantmen for as yet undetermined service. More to the point, the ship repair yards in Kiel, Rostock, Stettin, and Lübeck were all engaged in overhauling destroyers.

Burcough had read the pre-Christmas item in the German press about the Kriegsmarine’s decision to reactivate the ships of three destroyer flotillas, but he had expected this to begin in the spring perhaps, or the summer. Instead it looked as if the work had commenced in the dead of winter. He wondered where the Germans would find the crews for these ships?


Tuesday, January 15th 2019, 1:43am

The Port of Stettin, Friday, 7 January 1949

Von Hauser had his orders which he followed despite misgivings. He was personally accompanying the company of his regiment tapped to practice loading its vehicles on a chartered merchantman.

“How long will it take to get a crane to lift one of my tanks from the dock into the hold of a freighter? Half-an-hour? An hour? And how many cranes might they have on the dock to handle it? Two perhaps?”

The local police cleared the way ahead as his column snaked its way through the roads leading into the port while the military police attached to his regiment dealt with traffic control itself. Von Hauser wanted no collisions with buildings or the random motor lorry. After about two hours the head of his column reached the designated dock for their exercise; and what he found surprised him greatly.

Rather than a high-sided freighter with conventional derricks and cranes the vessel tied up to the dock was had a ramp ran from her open stern to right to the dockside – and the dock itself was more like a parking lot. As the merchant captain explained to him and his officers the ship, Kormoran, from the Hanseatic Line could – in theory – take his vehicles aboard directly via her stern ramp. Whether all or some of them would fit was the purpose of the day’s test.

The process was not speedy – it had not been tried before – and both the naval and merchant officers detailed to superintend were in no rush. The height of each vehicle was measured and tall ancillary items – like wireless antenna – were removed or tied down to keep from catching on the hatchways. Backing the vehicles onto the ship was also a laborious matter – assuring that the Kormoran maintained her trim while taking on successive tanks or infantry carriers, determining how best to fit the military hardware into the holds designed for civilian lorries, and determining if there was space aboard for the crews that would crew the vehicles. They worked in relays into the night.

The following morning, with most of a company of the regiment embarked aboard her the Kormoran pulled away from the dock and moved out into the harbour, to test how the ship handled while loaded with her unusual cargo. The gods must have been smiling, for nothing untoward occurred. She made her way back to the dock on the tide and was warped into position. Her ramp was lowered and locked into position.

Von Hauser himself was in the lead tank that came down the ramp onto the dock’s large parking area; it was followed by a succession of tracked and wheeled vehicles. For all the time taken in loading, discharging took a comparatively short ninety minutes. The colonel was impressed by the possibilities.

Oberösterreichische Rundschau, Saturday, 8 January 1949

The Voralberg Commercial Registrar has reported the formation of a new firm in the town of Dornbirn. It is known as Elektrogeräte und Kunstharzpresswerk W. Zumtobel KG, and will undertake the manufacture of fluorescent commercial lamps and lamp fittings.

The Portuguese Fort, Bahrain, Sunday, 9 January 1949

For Bessig, Hachmann, and their colleague Jones it seemed that this year’s expedition would be over just when they were on the brink of important discoveries. The temple site near the village of Barbar yielded artefacts on a daily basis, and the work of uncovering it was still ongoing. Jones’ excavation inside the tel itself had revealed the origins of the settlement – it dated far back into antiquity – predating perhaps the Sumerians themselves.

“We can’t just pack up and go home for six months. What we’ve found here is too important.” Jones’ adventurous spirit could not be doused by mere facts of life.

“In two months the hot season will be upon us. No European can work in the heat and humidity of the summer months. Besides, our funds will run dry by March, if not earlier – and it will be necessary to spend weeks at home begging for next season’s money.” Hachmann was of the old school – six months in the field, six months in the university – that was the way archaeology was done.

“Must we write our grant applications from Marburg? Why can they not be written here?”

Jones smiled. Bessig, it seemed, had been infected with his audacious spirit.


Monday, January 21st 2019, 6:31pm

Berlin, The Admiralstab, Monday, 10 January 1949

Kapitän zur See Norbert von Baumbach took his duties as chief of the Marine-Nachrichtendienst quite seriously, and checked the daily ‘book’ before it was disseminated to his counterparts at the Heer, the Luftwaffe, and above all the Abwehr. It was lengthy, with information culled from a variety of sources – annotated by his analysts and cross-referencing previous reports. As he read through it a small item caught his eye.

The inspection ship Roter Löwe, on ice patrol east of the coast of Labrador, had reported detecting a stream of large aircraft flying an easterly course over her position. Back-plotting their course suggested the aircraft had taken off from somewhere in eastern Canada and the projection of their course suggested a trans-Atlantic destination. After pondering what it might mean, he flagged the item for the attention of Generalmajor Alfred Keller.

Hamburg, The Waterfront, Tuesday, 11 January 1949

There was no shortage of activity in Hamburg’s docklands despite the winter weather. “Fido” kept his eyes and ears open for what useful information he could pick up; he was happy to supplement his pay-packet with the marks his contacts would pass to him ‘under the table’.

Rumour had it that the Deschimag yard had all its building ways in operation, with four ships under construction for the Kriegsmarine. Alas, his own rounds did not take him inside its grounds and he had no wish to attract attention by attempting to trespass – his contacts didn’t pay enough for that. But he had seen barges continually ferrying loads of steel and other material in the yard’s direction. His own experience was with commercial cargos – and recently the Customs authority had tightened up their requirements for certificates of origin. The unloading of a Dutch-flag freighter had been delayed three days while matters were put right.

As he went down the steps of the keller where he would meet his contact, he wondered what value would be placed on the information he was bringing.

Addis Ababa, East African State, Wednesday, 12 January 1949

Georg Gyssling, German consul-general, had a terrible distaste of his surroundings. The Italian puppet ‘East African State’ was a backwater among African backwaters. Not three months after his arrival he had begun a campaign to obtain a promotion to a more prestigious posting – and that had been two years ago. Thus he considered the document before him all the more important for what it might mean to his future.

The consul in the outlying town of Addis Alem, in Shewa Province, had reported that anti-government forces, known locally as Arbegnoch, had raided the local garrison, killing more than seventy Italian and East African troops and making off with more than two thousand rifles and much ammunition. The Government response had been swift and heavy-handed. Gyssling was aware of Berlin’s interests in the activities of the Arbegnoch and he carefully built up the narrative before sending the report to the Foreign Office.


Saturday, January 26th 2019, 7:22pm

London, The German Embassy, Thursday, 13 January 1949

Schellenburg fumed at the necessities of operational security had delayed his agent’s report on the arrival of a Canadian squadron in the Firth of Forth.

“A week; they’ve been there a week. No doubt the Marinenachritendienst already has a report but The General will be displeased.”

He appended the information in his latest report to Berlin; the courier was already waiting downstairs. Schellenburg did not include the rumour of the arrival of Canadian air squadrons in Britain; he wanted confirmation of it before passing that information to Abwehr Headquarters.

Militär-Wochenblatt, Friday, 14 January 1949

Marine Früherkennung-und-Vorwarnung Staffel 8 has successfully completed qualification trials with the Breguet-Nord Br.930 Pêcheur aboard the aircraft carrier Tegetthoff. The way is now clear to field a detachment of airborne control and warning aircraft aboard the larger aircraft carriers of the Kriegsmarine.

Kieler Nachrichten, Saturday, 15 January 1949

The air defence destroyers Erfurt and Altona completed their final phase of operational training today and have departed for Wilhelmshaven where they will formally join the Atlantikflotte.


Monday, January 28th 2019, 7:31pm

Light Cruiser Novara, Cam Rahn Bay, Sunday, 16 January 1949

Konteradmiral Rogge’s desk was littered with reports, messages, and charts – while the ships of the East Asia Squadron continued their routine maintenance and replacements were fitted into the spaces left by crewmembers transferred to other duties, Rogge had the time to consider how best to employ his forces. For the moment, at least, the situation in eastern waters was quiet – nothing demanded immediate action on his part. The Chinese, who seems some months ago ready to go to war with Russia, had blinked and the whole Bering Strait matter had come to nothing. The political situation in the Dutch Indies seemed calm enough. No immediate direction had been received from Berlin as to what he was, or was not, to do; discretion was still allowed him. So too, it seemed, that the survey ship Komet would remain in eastern waters and fall under his jurisdiction.

Deciding upon a task for her next cruise was far easier than deciding upon for the entire East Asia Squadron. The investigation of the sea floor was a task the Komet was well suited for, and the sea floor north of the island New Guinea was poorly charted. Its investigation was something that Komet could well spend a month or two doing.

Hamburger Abendblatt, Monday, 17 January 1949

The eight ships of Zerstörergeschwader 31 completed their refits today and have been formally recommissioned into service. They will undergo brief trials and training in the Baltic before taking up regular assignments. They will be followed in the hands of the yards by the ships of Zerstörergeschwader 32.

Oberösterreichische Rundschau, Tuesday, 18 January 1949

The firm of Schiebel Elektronische Geräte, Wien, has won a contract from the Ministry of Defence for the supply of a new magnetic mine detection device to Pionier troops of the Heer.


Friday, February 1st 2019, 2:32pm

Berlin, The Cabinet Meeting Room, Wednesday, 19 January 1949

“What is next?”

The Cabinet had already discussed several major items of business as well as a number of minor items, and the Chancellor’s question sounded a note of growing impatience.

Dehler, the Foreign Minister brought up the question of the impending Yugoslav royal wedding.

“Given our desires for closer relations for Yugoslavia it might warrant that you attend yourself Herr Chancellor.”

There was a murmur of agreement and several heads nodded.

“I would agree.” He paused and considered a moment before continuing “but would it be politic to include or exclude the Minister of Economics from the delegation?” The lingering spectre of the Great War continued to complicate international relations even after three decades.

Otto von Hapsburg furrowed his brow. He was the chief architect of Germany’s policy of ‘fair and equal partnership’ with south-central Europe – which had been particularly successful in Yugoslavia. “Given the unusual conjunction of circumstances I believe it would be best that I were not included in the official delegation.”

And there the matter was allowed to rest.

Survey Ship Komet, The Balabac Strait, Thursday, 20 January 1949

As the Komet entered the strait she rendered passing honours to the Philippine patrol ship she encountered. It must have been the third or fourth such encounter since she had departed Cam Rahn Bay – and she would, no doubt, encounter more as she cruised through the Sulu Sea. Her lookouts were alert for any native small craft that plied between the coasts of Borneo and the western parts of the Philippine – but no particular dangers were expected at this point.

Motor Vessel Kormoran, Hamburg, Friday, 21 January 1949

The Hanseatic Line ran regular high-speed services between Hamburg and London geared to the needs of both German and British clients for movement of priority cargo to and from the Continent. Kormoran’s decks were filled with large lorries still loaded with their cargo while on the foredeck were stacked refrigerated cargo containers filled with meat and dairy products. She was due to arrive at her dock in London on Sunday’s evening tide, should the weather not interfere. Her master was very happy that his ship had not suffered any serious fault during her recent stint in the port of Stettin.


Monday, February 4th 2019, 7:15pm

The Inspection Ship Roter Löwe, Sint Jans Harbour, Vinland, Saturday, 22 January 1949

The Roter Löwe rode easily at anchor, protected from the winds and waves of the Atlantic in the sheltered harbour. She was taking on fuel from a tank barge moored to her port side and provisions from a smaller lighter moored to starboard. She had arrived in the Nordish settlement two days previously for resupply before she returned to patrolling the fishing grounds between Vinland and Greenland – where even during winter months fishermen braved the elements to wrest a living from the unfriendly sea.

Fregattenkapitän Richard Zapp, the Roter Löwe’s commander, re-read the report he had prepared for Berlin – a routine summary of their last two weeks of activity – which he would leave with the consul before the she returned to sea.

Berlin, Abwehr Headquarters, Sunday, 23 January 1949

Reinhard Gehlen added another note to the list of items had noted in the last several reports to cross his desk. To his experienced mind they suggested a reinvigoration of the Commonwealth naval and military ties – the arrival of a Canadian naval squadron in British waters, the deployment of Canadian air squadrons to British bases. What was less than clear was whether this was as a result of British realisation of their growing inferiority or misplaced Canadian pugnaciousness – or, perhaps, some combination of both. He would raise the question with Dehler at the next meeting of the cabinet. He also made a mental note to direct the increase of the Abwehr’s network in Canada itself – despite the challenges entailed therein.

Wasser-und-Schifffahrtsamt, Emmerich, Monday, 24 January 1949

The captain of the Dutch barge tied up to the customs pier grew more exasperated by the moment, despite the measured tones used by the German customs official before him.

“I am sorry your papers are not in order, and until they are you cannot commence unloading your cargo. You see half your cargo does not have required certificates of origin.”

“Certificates of origin? What difference does that make?”

“To confirm whether the goods in question were made in the Netherlands, any of the Netherlands overseas possessions, or in some third country. The book of rates has been updated.”

“Who is supposed to provide these certificates? Certainly not me?”

“By no means… certificates of origin shall be provided by the manufacturer or by the shipper, and shall indicate the country of origin.”

“But all the cargo originates within the United Netherlands!”

“For customs purposes, the Kingdom of the Netherlands and its colonies overseas are not treated as one. If you wish to resolve this I strongly suggest you advise your firm and ask that they expedite the proper certificates that will allow you to offload and clear customs.”

The Dutch captain was not amused.


Saturday, February 9th 2019, 1:23am

Survey Ship Komet, The Celebes Sea, Tuesday, 25 January 1949

Thus far her voyage was uneventful; the Komet had entered the Sulu Sea through the Balabac Strait, and sailed south through the Sibutu Passage, all under the watchful eye of Philippine naval aircraft or patrol ships; though relations between Germany and the Philippines were friendly enough, it seemed that the Philippine Navy was zealous in its defence of its sea frontiers. Sangihe Island now lay to the southeast, and their intended course would take them north of the outlying Molucca Islands. It would be several days at least before reaching the area of their investigations – the Manus Trench.

Motor Vessel Kormoran, At Sea, Wednesday, 26 January 1949

Kormoran had arrived at Tilbury the previous Sunday, as scheduled, and had immediately begun to offload her cargo of lorries, trailers, and other wheeled vehicles. As soon as her decks were clear of her inward cargo she had begun to take on her return cargo for Hamburg; the roll-on, roll-off features of her design facilitated rapid turn arounds and escorted by a pair of tugs she had sailed on Monday’s evening tide. She would soon enter the outer roadstead of Hamburg’s harbour to complete her latest voyage.

Peenemünde Test Centre, Thursday, 27 January 1949

The Rheinbote missile was poised on its launch apparatus while across the test range dradis devices swung and rotated, their electronic beams tracking the unmanned drone aircraft now coming into range. Others stood in readiness for the next phase of the test.

“Primary target tracking dradis?”


“Secondary target tracking dradis?”


“Primary missile control dradis?”


“Secondary missile control dradis”


“All stations confirm communications check.”

All was in readiness for the test of the Rheinbote missile.

“Target is entering missile operational envelope”


On its launcher the Rheinbote’s engines sprang to life, the boosters hurling it skyward.

“Missile control dradis has acquired the missile.”

While one set of dradis kept the old Ju88 bomber tracked, another set traced the missile’s trajectory, while both sets of data was fed to a control device that computed the mid-course changes required to bring the missile into proximity of its target. In the sky above the Baltic the bomber and the missile converged and when in proximity joined in a fireball that announced a successful test firing.


Tuesday, February 12th 2019, 4:02pm

Sächsische Zeitung, Friday, 28 January 1949

The Ministry of Defence has announced its decision to procure a service test quantity of the Junkers Ju322 long-range bomber. The first of the twenty aircraft on order is expected to be rolled out in May of this year. Meanwhile, the existing prototypes are being put through an accelerated programme to test equipment expected to be used on the production aircraft.

The Inspection Ship Roter Löwe, off the coast of Vinland, Saturday, 29 January 1949

Fregattenkapitän Richard Zapp had brought the Roter Löwe back to the Grand Banks to resume her mission of fisheries support and patrolling of the shipping lanes for vessels in distress. It was harsh and boring work, punctuated with episodes of danger, as when the stormy Atlantic would send huge waves crashing over the Roter Löwe’s bows. But it was necessary work to assure the safety of those at sea; it also served to monitor the movements of ships outward bound from the St. Lawrence or heading towards the American ports of Boston and New York. The dradis watch on the Roter Löwe was manned around the clock.