German Preparation for the Invasion of Normandy Term Paper

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German Preparation for the Invasion of Normandy

On June 06, 1944, the biggest combined naval, military and air operation ever contrived took place, code-named Operation Overlord (Commemorative pp).

When the Allied armada arrived off the Normandy coast in France, it launched the largest amphibious assault in history, and by the end of that day, American, British, and Canadian troops were firmly established on each of the five beachheads (Zuljan pp). A week later, the Allies could confidently claim that Hitler's Festung Europa had been permanently breached and the coup de grace had been delivered to the Third Reich (Zuljan pp). The D-Day landings saw Allied forces mount a daring invasion of Nazi territory, marking the beginning of the campaign that would eventually lead to the Allied victory in Europe (Commemorative pp).

On May 18, 1944, the Oberbefehlshaber West, Supreme Commander of the Western Front, General Gerd von Rundtstedt spent the entire day in trepidation, and beginning from Norway up to the region of Bordeaux in France, the troops of the Wehrmacht were on the look out, because the German Intelligence Service had communicated in the preceding days that this was the date of the allied attack (German pp). It is said that May 18th was the ideal day for an invasion, with high tide, calm sea, and clear sky, certainly, the "God of the weather" would have been with them (German pp). When nothing happened, Von Rundstedt, deeply angered about the ineffectiveness of the German information groups in England, "the proverbial calm of this professional soldier disappeared and for some minutes changing into a stream in flood that poured curses and insults towards all components of his staff" (German pp). His anger was justified, because since the beginning of 1944, the Intelligence service of the Third Reich had released numerous statements designating probable places of landing being, Norway, Zeland in the Low Countries, the mouths of the Schelda in Belgium, the region around Brest in Brittany and even neutral Spain (German pp). The only thing certain was that something big was in preparation in Great Britain, noting the monumental moves of troops between United States and the island of Albion (German pp). The increase of activity of the forces of clandestine resistance showed a superior wish of destabilizing the German rear areas in France, nad Hitler had defined United States and Great Britain two "democracies full of chatters," however no one had succeeded in discovering the secret, the where and the when of the Allied invasion (German pp).

By 1944, Hitler's Europe had become what seemed to be an impenetrable fortress (Operation pp). It was protected in the west by what came to be known as the Atlantic Wall, the most massive fortified position ever in history, and a formidable obstacle for the Allied planners (Operation pp). Created by order of Hitler's Furhrer Directive No. 405, it was comprised of a massive World War I like trench system, reinforced with massive concrete strong-points (Operation pp). The wall was filled with machine-gun nests and pillboxes, and some of the more heavily fortified concrete bunkers held huge 66, 75, 88, 115 and 155 mm6 gun emplacements (Operation pp). The beaches were also heavily fortified with hedgehogs, Belgian gates, log ramps, wooden posts, and Rommel's asparagus (Operation pp).

Hedgehogs are star-shaped, six-foot high obstacles, constructed of solid steel and topped with mines that were designed to rip out the hull of any boat that passed over them (Operation pp). Belgian gates are large pieces of ten-foot high steel perpendicular to the beach and facing the water, topped with antitank mines (Operation pp). The log ramps and wooden posts are bits of wood angled toward the sea and topped with mines intended to destroy any passing boats (Operation pp). Barb wire and minefields covered the beaches with the intent to stop any invading army from exiting the beach (Operation pp). By D-Day, Rommel had laid 6.5 million mines and was working toward his goal of 11 million mines (Operation pp). Rommel's asparagus is the name given to the poles he had driven into the ground of any field that was suitable for landing a glider so the stakes would rip the glider apart when it tried to land (Operation pp).

The Atlantic wall was manned for the most part by immobile German Ost, East, Battalion troops, made up of roughly fifty percent captured Russian and polish troops, which meant that they were only fighting because German sergeants were holding guns to their backs and would surrender the first change they got (Operation pp). The fact that the Ost Battalion was immobile gave the Allies another advantage because it allowed the Allies to know exactly where to target the guns, enabling destroyers in the channel to shoot and hit the German Widerstandsnester, WN or strong points, without having to predict where they might move next (Operation pp). The ability of the destroyers to knock out the WN ended up saving many lives, especially those on Omaha as destroyers risked being beached to fire at point-blank range at the German pillboxes (Operation pp).

In the latter part of 1943, Rommel was recommended by the Chief of OKW, German High Command, to serve as the leader of Army Group B, under the command of Field Marshal von Rundstedt, the commander in Chief West (Operation pp). Then, Rommel was granted the command by Hitler and assigned the task of completing the fictional Atlantic Wall, and after his first two-week tour of what had been accomplished so far, he proclaimed that it was a "figment of Hitler's Wolkenkucksheim (cloud-cuckoo-land)," and had discovered through his agents, that "the enemy knows more about it than we do" (Operation pp). Rommel then proceeded with zeal to create the Atlantic Wall as it is known today, pouring million of tons of concrete, placing millions of mines, and covering miles and miles of beach with other obstacles, all based upon his belief that the Allies would come at high tide (Operation pp).

The Germans made another major mistake in their preparations for the Allied assault by creating a command structure so disorganized that no one knew who were their superiors and inferiors, or who held equal rank (Operation pp). This was a huge contrast to the rigid and organized command structure of the Allies (Operation pp). For example, the anti-aircraft batteries were in the territory that Rommel controlled, however, they were under the jurisdiction of the Luftwaffe, which, at the time, were based in Germany, thus, during the Allied assault, they could not be used (Operation pp). Another example of German disorganization was the Panzer-Lehr divisions, one of the very few mobile German forces in France (Operation pp). They had large Tiger-class tanks and fast armored motorcycles, and were comprised of ace SS and Nazi Youth troops, that if used properly, could have sent the Allies into a retreat before they moved very far off the beaches (Operation pp). Although they were stationed at Rommel's bases, they could only be released into battle by Hitler himself, who, at the time when needed, was hundreds of miles away, sleeping (Operation pp). The Germans did have other small forces in the area, such as the 352nd Army division and the 6th parachute regiment (Operation pp). The 352nd was comprised of strong, battle seasoned German troops that proved a tough match for the U.S. 29th division at Omaha beach (Operation pp). And the 6th parachute regiment helped the Germans hold onto small towns for longer than expected, yet, like the rest of the German defenses, were too little, too late (Operation pp).

The German Navy was composed by few torpedo boats denominated by the Allies E-Boat, perfect for the corsair war but not for preventing an invasion (German pp). The formidable "pocket" battleships that had been the…[continue]


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