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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.