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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.


Wednesday, February 20th 2019, 8:09pm

London, The German Embassy, Sunday, 30 January 1949

The British press was whipping up anti-German feelings in the midst of the trial of Erich Stoben.

“The man was reported safe in Dublin? Why did he return to Britain straight into the clutches of the security services?”

To Schellenburg is was a legitimate question – why. Stoben was no fool. “Could the Irish Garda have had a hand in it?”

It was very unlikely that the Irish government would have turned Stoben over to the British without any sort of official statement on the subject, such as extradition. Might the British have mounted some sort of ‘snatch and grab’ operation without knowledge of the Garda? Not impossible, but risky – and the British would soon find Stoben to be a dead end without further links to the ‘Baker Street Irregulars’.

He began to write a cable for Berlin… perhaps they could provide an answer to the question.

Survey Ship Komet, The Bismarck Sea, Wuluvu Island bearing Southeast, Monday, 31 January 1949

The Komet had reached to wide end of the Manus Trench and began her explorations. She sailed a racetrack course that saw her slowly advance to the east-northeast, her magnetometer streamed and her echo-sounder tracing the shape of the seafloor beneath her keel. Her crew settled down for a long, boring, voyage.


Thursday, February 21st 2019, 12:34am

It was very unlikely that the Irish government would have turned Stoben over to the British without any sort of official statement on the subject, such as extradition. Might the British have mounted some sort of ‘snatch and grab’ operation without knowledge of the Garda? Not impossible, but risky.

Correct. While Eire's still part of the Commonwealth and on excel... er, satisfactory political terms with Great Britain, the Garda wouldn't extradite Stoben without even so much as a legal notification. Stoben would have at least received a few weeks to mount a legal challenge, which would inevitably have become public.

...actually, there probably would've been an extended hand-wringing session from the Dail about whether or not they wanted to turn him over or buy him a pint.


Thursday, February 21st 2019, 12:42am

It was very unlikely that the Irish government would have turned Stoben over to the British without any sort of official statement on the subject, such as extradition. Might the British have mounted some sort of ‘snatch and grab’ operation without knowledge of the Garda? Not impossible, but risky.

Correct. While Eire's still part of the Commonwealth and on excel... er, satisfactory political terms with Great Britain, the Garda wouldn't extradite Stoben without even so much as a legal notification. Stoben would have at least received a few weeks to mount a legal challenge, which would inevitably have become public.

...actually, there probably would've been an extended hand-wringing session from the Dail about whether or not they wanted to turn him over or buy him a pint.


Schellenburg, for his part, would lean towards a British "snatch" operation, rather than an experienced agent making a foolish mistake - unless, of course, the British lured him back by some means - fair of foul. Hopefully counsel for the defense might shed some light on that.


Tuesday, February 26th 2019, 3:35am

German News and Events, February 1949

Hamburg, The Waterfront, Tuesday, 1 February 1949

“Fido” kept his eyes and ears open while the Hamburg waterfront hummed with activity. His contacts had recently shown more interest in the information he was able to bring, even increasing the sums they paid him – nothing huge of course, but to a man in his position an additional twenty marks came in quite handy. It even provided the wherewithal to buy a round of drinks for some ‘friends’ who worked in the Deschimag yard, ‘friends’ who could be encouraged to boast of the ‘important work’ the yard was doing. Of these boasts “Fido” kept careful mental note.

According to them the frigate Roon – the navy’s latest training ship – would soon be completed. Some admiral was said to be coming to Hamburg from the Baltic Naval Station to witness the ship’s commissioning. And there was word that Deschimag had been awarded contracts to refit a pair of destroyers recently taken out of reserve – the yards in the Baltic were so busy with that sort of work, it was said – that the Hamburg yards needed to take part of it. This work, his ‘friends’ said, would start in March.

Oberösterreichische Rundschau, Wednesday, 2 February 1949

The prototype of the Wiener Neustadter Flugzeugwerke Wf21 transport helicopter was rolled out for the press yesterday. After company testing it is expected that the aircraft will be evaluated by the Heer and the Luftwaffe to fulfil requirements for a troop transport helicopter. The company has announced that it will fund a second prototype expected to join the test programme sometime in the late spring.

Nachrichten für Außenhandel, Thursday, 3 February 1949

It was announced today that the Hamburg-Bremer Afrika-Linie and the Afrikanische Dampfschiffs AG Woermann-Linie have joined forces to offer new services between continental Europe and the growing West African market. Weekly sailings are scheduled from Hamburg with calls at Lisbon, Dakhla, Dakar, Freetown, Monrovia, and Accra.


Thursday, March 7th 2019, 6:56pm

London, The German Embassy, Friday, 4 February 1949

Schellenburg was drafting his follow-up report on the Stoben trial. As he had suspected elements of the British security services had managed to ‘snatch’ Stoben from the safety of Dublin – though the court had failed to give proper heed to this point in Stoben’s testimony. He made a note to suggest to Berlin that perhaps his counterpart in Dublin, Kellermann, might be able to shed light on this aspect of the affair, or, perhaps, ‘encourage’ the Irish Gardai to investigate what the British were doing perpetrating crimes on Irish soil.

A by-product of the Stoben trial was the curious fact that all mention of the loss of the coaster Phoebe Ann had been driven from the pages of Britain’s newspapers. He wondered why this should be so, given the danger rogue mines might play to Britain’s coastwise shipping. Schellenburg mused that perhaps the Admiralty had discovered something that they did not want to mention to the gentleman of the press – that the loss might have been an ‘own goal’.

Survey Ship Komet, The Bismarck Sea, North of Manus Island, Saturday, 5 February 1949

The Komet lay hove-to above the waters of the Manus Trench, the namesake island lying some two hundred kilometres to the south. The support tanker Lech lay alongside, transferring fuel, water, and provisions that would enable to remain at sea and continue on her mission in an uninterrupted fashion. The Lech had made rendezvous the previous evening, and once her mission to resupply the Komet was complete, she would head for Davao in the Philippines to take on supplies for another rendezvous three or four weeks hence. For the Komet’s crew, their scientific investigations were interesting enough but for the most part boring.

Die Welt Am Sonntag, Sunday, 6 February 1949

Farewell to the Hallore

After many years of service the Siebel Si204 has been finally retired from service in the Luftwaffe, where it had performed a variety of roles – air-crew trainer, navigation trainer, and light transport – since its introduction in 1938. Though production of new aircraft had ceased in December of 1943, it remained in service in diminishing numbers until the last aircraft were pensioned off last month.

But the Hallore continues to be present in the skies of Europe, Africa, and parts of Asia. The type was sold, in limited numbers, to the militaries of Czechoslovakia, Romania, and Hungary, while demobilised Luftwaffe aircraft have found niches as light civil transports, seating up to eight passengers, or freight, in such far-flung places as Czechoslovakia, Nordmark, and Danish Somaliland. Indeed, a number of ex-Luftwaffe aircraft, suitably overhauled, are awaiting sale abroad. No doubt this rugged aircraft will continue its career for years to come.


Sunday, March 10th 2019, 8:57pm

Deutsche Presse-Agentur, Monday, 7 February 1949

The first three production examples of the Vereinigte Flugtechnischewerke Vf191 advanced training aircraft were accepted today at the manufacturer’s Delmenhorst facility. The Vf191 is slated to become the standard advanced training aircraft of the Luftwaffe.

Frankfurter Zeitung, Tuesday, 8 February 1949

The Minister of Economics confirmed today the Government’s intentions to expand the stockpiles of the Strategische Material Reserve-Verwaltung. Among the steps planned are establishment of two new food depots, one at Uettingen in Bavaria, and a second at Zelditz in Thuringia.

Hamburger Abendblatt, Wednesday, 9 February 1949

The training frigate Roon was completed here today at the Deschimag works. Following her builders’ trials she will join the Lehrdivision in the Baltic.


Thursday, March 14th 2019, 4:45pm

Elbinger Volksstimme, Thursday, 10 February 1949

The icebreaking harbour tugs Eiszapfen and Eisberg were formally commissioned today at the Pillau naval station.

Brunsbüttel Harbour, Friday, 11 February 1949

The weak winter sun was already going down when the order was given to cast off. The submarines Zigarrenhai and Schlinghai, the latest of their class, slowly made their way into the channel under the watchful eyes of a pair of motor torpedo boats; these would accompany the submarines until their charges could safely dive and make their way on the first operational patrols. Heligoland was to be their first stop; after that, who knew?

Sächsische Zeitung, Saturday, 12 February 1949

A spokesman confirmed yesterday that the Vogtländische Maschinenfabrik will complete its production of armoured vehicles for the Ministry of Defence with the next months, and instead will concentrate on the manufacture of omnibuses and an expanded line of textile machinery, the latter aimed at fulfilling an expanding demand in Asia and South America.


Tuesday, March 19th 2019, 9:22pm

Kieler Nachrichten, Sunday, 13 February 1949

The Schichau Works at Memel is due to complete the construction of the submarines Nagelhai and Eishai today. These are the latest in the ‘Shark’ class of submarines building for the Kriegsmarine.

Survey Ship Komet, The Bismarck Sea, North of Emirau Island, Monday, 14 February 1949

Re-fuelled and re-provisioned the Komet had continued on her easterly course to investigate the ocean floor. The survey of the Manus Trench had brought the Komet to an area of surprising complexity, where several separate portions of the seabed appeared to join together, thrusting up mountains and broken up by intersecting trenches running in a north-south direction. The oceanographers aboard Komet insisted on the need for repeated runs with their magnetometers and other survey instruments; the Komet seemed destined to spend many days of investigation in this area.

Österreichische Schiffswerften, Wien, Tuesday, 15 February 1949

Vize-admiral August Becker had arrived at the shipyard at mid-morning, and immediately begun his tour of inspection. His first interest was the state of the two landing ships the yard had begun the previous month, the Nordstrand and Vogelstand. He peppered the yard management regarding their construction schedule, and was adamant that they be launched on schedule in order that they shipyard might begin the next pair of ships. He then extended his tour to the facilities in which raw material was already being prepared and pre-fabricated for future construction. At last he pronounced himself satisfied.


Wednesday, March 27th 2019, 6:19pm

Zeitschrift für Wirtschaftspolitik, Wednesday, 16 February 1949

In view of the questions that have arisen in the wake of the Ministry of Economics’ decision to expand the nation’s commodity stockpiles under the control of the Strategische Material Reserve-Verwaltung, Zeitschrift für Wirtschaftspolitik requested and obtained an interview with Minister of Economics His Excellency Otto von Hapsburg to explore the implications of the decision.

Zeitschrift für Wirtschaftspolitik (ZfW): Your Excellency, there are those who have raised the question of the necessity of expanding Germany’s material stockpiles at this time. How would you respond to them?

Otto von Hapsburg (OvH): Our commodity stockpiles serve several purposes. Commonly they are thought of as a wartime reserve – but this is not, and has never been, their principal purpose. The German economy consumes commodities by the millions of tonnes, and our reserves have never been so large. Thankfully, the Chancellor’s adroit foreign policy has not only reduced the threat of conflict with our neighbours, but together with our Alliance partners, substantially increased our security in all spheres – the economy and the commodity markets being chief among them.

ZfW: This is true. Then what purposes do our commodity stockpiles serve?

OvH: Our strategic commodity reserves permit the Government to intervene in the market to counter the actions of speculators who would drive up costs to consumers if harvests are poor, either here in Germany or abroad. They are managed in such a way as to prevent prices falling to the degree of injuring farmers, by creating a market for agricultural surpluses.

They these stockpiles are not meant to sustain the nation in time of war?

OvH: In the unlikely event of war being forced upon us they would, of course, be drawn upon and would be capable of helping overcome the short-term disruptions of foreign trade. But this is an unlikely scenario.

ZfW: Are the strategic commodity stockpiles related in any way to Germany’s economic rapprochement with the nations of South-eastern Europe?

OvH: Indeed they are. Our success in exporting capital and consumer goods to nations such as Poland, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, and Romania is dependent upon their ability to pay for their imports. The recent agreements that have been negotiated over agricultural imports from these countries are tied to reciprocal purchases of German goods. While some of these purchases abroad are directly drawn into the free market, some are acquired for the strategic commodity reserves, and are used in the manner I have previously described.

ZfW: Then you expect that our commodity stockpiles will continue to increase?

OvH: Yes. I cannot predict the details – there are many factors to take into account – but not only is capacity being increased in existing depots but the establishment of new facilities is project. The recently announced depots at Uettingen in Bavaria, and Zelditz in Thuringia are but the first of several.

ZfW: Thank you Your Excellency for clarifying this important matter for our readers.

Dithmarscher Landeszeitung, Thursday, 17 February 1949

The recently refitted vessels of Zerstörergeschwader 32 were re-commissioned in the Kriegsmarine today. They follow their sisters of Zerstörergeschwader 31 and will transit to the Baltic for training prior to operational deployment. It is expected that they will be followed by the last of the Kriegsmarine reserve destroyers of Zerstörergeschwader 33, whose refits are expected to commence next month.

Münchener Post, Friday, 18 February 1949

The Ministry of Transport announced today the formation of the Reich Office for Flight Security which will undertake the regulation of air navigation facilities, licencing of all private and commercial pilots, and development of a system of air traffic control and navigation for both civil and military aircraft.


Monday, April 1st 2019, 12:19am

Berlin, H.M. Passport Control Office, Saturday, 19 February 1949

William “Bill” Tanner, MI6 station chief in the German capital, studied the document before him with a slight sense of incomprehension. It was an internal report filed by the Vacuum Oil AG – the German subsidiary of the American-owned Vacuum Oil Company of New York – with the German Ministry of Economics Statistical Office, summarizing the stocks on hand in the firm’s storage terminals in Austria.

Economic intelligence was not his primary interest, but the first thing that stood out was the sheer number of facilities being reported on. He went to the filing cabinet and pulled out the file kept on matters related to Germany’s petroleum industry – official reports, newspaper clippings, and the occasional agent report. He found what he was looking for, the 1947 summary report on the state of the German oil industry. In it he read that Vacuum Oil official reported having three depots in the Austrian provinces with a combined storage capacity of 100,000 tons of petroleum, oil, and lubricants.

The report before him cited thirteen depots with the old borders of Austria, with a combined capacity more than four times what had been officially reported in 1947. He dug further, and did find an item culled from a 1948 number of Oberösterreichische Rundschau mentioning the construction of the terminal at Wiener Neustadt, relating to the development of the big oil field at Matzen. But the other eight locations were not previously cited; and Tanner noted that they were all reported as holding only crude oil. If – and it was a rather large if – Vacuum Oil had built up an oil reserve of more than 200,000 tons that was ‘off the books’ as it were.

“And what might that mean?” Tanner pondered the question long and hard.

Survey Ship Komet, The Bismarck Sea, North of New Ireland, Sunday, 20 February 1949

Thus far in her survey of the seafloor of the Bismarck Sea the Komet had encountered few commercial vessels but her eastward course now brought her close to the north-south shipping lanes that ran between the Philippines and eastern Australia. Her crew, instructed to keep alert for the potential of an encounter with a lumbering tramp freighter or even a liner, stood double watches by day and night. Her hydrographers monitored the instruments that measured the extremely interesting contours of the sea floor, while the small meteorological detachment took daily weather readings and broadcast them for the benefit of mariners. Were it not for the round of daily assignments to keep the ship taut and tidy, one might have thought their mission a pleasure cruise.

The Portuguese Fort, Bahrain, Monday, 21 February 1949

Hans Bessig and his American colleague, Henry Jones, together with Alexander Klaws, the Hansa Line agent from Manama, sat around an evening fire in the archaeologists’ camp that stood within the walls of the old Portuguese fort. Klaws shrugged,

“I saw Hachmann off on today’s flying boat to Basra. Do you think he will return in the autumn?

“He said that he would,” though Bessig sounded a note of doubt. “His health has deteriorated in the last several months. Cooler weather might revive him. But we shall see.”

“I can’t imagine he could turn his back on the sort of discoveries we’ve made here. We’ve discovered a city that dates back to the time of the Sumerians, with evidence of occupation through to the time of Alexander the Great.” Jones was expansive on the subject of the uniqueness of their find. “And your temple complex at Barbar, and the mound fields… we could spend twenty years here and still not be finished.”

“Perhaps, and I think Hachmann will make a strong case with the authorities at Marburg to continue funding our excavations.”

“My firm will continue its support as long as you are here.” The aid – financial and otherwise – provided by the Hansa Line had proved irreplaceable.”

“So, where do we begin tomorrow?”