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Thread: Fear of Polish troops at the Western Front

  1. #16
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    Default Re: Fear of Polish troops at the Western Front

    A little provocation: perhaps the kid knew what the Polish guards did to the Italian prisoners on the Laconia?

  2. #17
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    Default Re: Fear of Polish troops at the Western Front

    Quote Originally Posted by DVX View Post
    A little provocation: perhaps the kid knew what the Polish guards did to the Italian prisoners on the Laconia?
    Would you please elaborate on this? Never read about this specific issue (not the Laconia incident itself).
    Last edited by flamethrowerguy; 10-31-2011 at 02:54 PM.
    "I just ran out of ammo. I will ram this one. Good bye, we'll meet in Valhalla." - Major Heinrich Ehrler, April 4, 1945

  3. #18
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    Default Re: Fear of Polish troops at the Western Front

    It must be clear, firstly that I'm a bit joking and I'm very far from opening a flame. But by joking I want remember an historical fact. I guess you know the story of the cargo Laconia and the U 156 of commander Hartenstein... The cargo was full of 1800 Italian prisoners; when the cargo was torpedoed, the Britons - but many guards were actually Polish soldiers (anyway under british command and responsability) - closed the holds with the prisoners inside, started to shoot to the prisoners that tries just to survive by overboarding, killed or cut off the hands to the Italian survivors the tried to cling to lifeboats... The ship had lifeboats for 2700 people: considering that the British crew, soldiers and civilians and Polish guards summed to about 600 people, we can say that the Italian prisoners were murdered, with cruelty.
    Those who didn't drown, were shot or cut off the limbs... especially, but not only, by the Poles... See for example "Hitler's U boat war" by Clay Blair jr. or "Sopra di noi l'oceano" by Antonino Trizzino.

  4. #19
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    Default Re: Fear of Polish troops at the Western Front

    "Laconia Incident" is well known because of the "Laconia-Order" (Laconia-Befehl) issued by Admiral Karl Doenitz, after the failed rescue attempt by German navy. Since then, any Kriegsmarine vessel was not allowed to save the survivors of sunken enemy ships.
    Less known is what happened on board of the ship after it was struck by the torpedoes.
    As far as I know, Polish guards (from 8th Inf. Div.) couldn't shoot the POWs as they were issued rifles with bayonettes without ammunition. In fact, it was British armed personnel who shot at the Italians in order to prevent them from climbing the lifeboats.
    Personally, I think that Polish had no intention of killing the Italians as there was no open hostility between them.
    Of course, it is possible some of Polish soldiers could murder the POWs, but I oppose any attempt to blame Polish troops for the tragedy of Italian POWs on board of "Laconia".
    All what happened was the consequence of German attack (the largest number of Italians died when torpedo hit hold no 2) and the order issued by the British commander to hold the post and prevent the Italians from reaching the lifeboats before all civilians and crew were ready to abandon the ship.

    The most detailed book about that tragedy is "The Sinking of the "Laconia": A Tragedy in the Battle of the Atlantic" by Frederick Grossmith.

  5. #20
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    Default Re: Fear of Polish troops at the Western Front

    Quote Originally Posted by flamethrowerguy View Post
    Would you please elaborate on this? Never read about this specific issue (not the Laconia incident itself).
    me too. Our friend DVX seems does't stop to wonder us.

    "I decide who is a Jew and who is an Aryan "- Hermann Goering

  6. #21
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    Default Re: Fear of Polish troops at the Western Front

    Quote Originally Posted by Kovalski View Post
    As far as I know, Polish guards (from 8th Inf. Div.) couldn't shoot the POWs as they were issued rifles with bayonettes without ammunition. In fact, it was British armed personnel who shot at the Italians in order to prevent them from climbing the lifeboats.
    One instance of British troops mistreating Italian or any other prisoners doesn't prove another instance of British troops alleged to have mistreated Italian prisoners or any others, but British troops, with no Polish elements, very badly mistreated civilian internees on HMT Dunera which also had a smaller contingent of Italian and German POWs bound for Australia. A British soldier also bayonetted one of the civilian internees, so the absence of ammunition doesn't mean that the guards of any nation couldn't harm their prisoners.

    This isn't my favourite source but, as is often the case, it is also a good starting point. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMT_Dunera

    More detail is here, at least until it got derailed by a persistent troll from that era. http://www.ww2incolor.com/forum/show...my-Aliens-quot
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  7. #22
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    Default Re: Fear of Polish troops at the Western Front

    Quote Originally Posted by Rising Sun* View Post
    A British soldier also bayonetted one of the civilian internees, so the absence of ammunition doesn't mean that the guards of any nation couldn't harm their prisoners.
    I completely agree with you. All I wanted to say was that Polish weren't the ones that shot Italians.
    I never tired to deny that they did or could use bayonets against the POWs, because I don't have a source for that.
    I said in my opinion it seemed unbelievable, but not impossible. But I strongly oppose blaming Polish for the massacre of Italians, which unfortunately takes place recently in some media.

  8. #23
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    Default Re: Fear of Polish troops at the Western Front

    These were the vet's exact words.

  9. #24
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    Default Re: Fear of Polish troops at the Western Front

    I'd say the age was most likely approximated-how would he really know.

    The kid had been around the military for at least a short while.

    Stories, tales, and advice abound.

    At some point he probably heard or was told to beware of capture by Poles, or whomever.

    So there he was, wounded, in pain and shock, in enemy hands and sees they are Poles-freakout ensues.

    Not that complicated.

  10. #25
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    Default Re: Fear of Polish troops at the Western Front

    The image of blood-thirsty Poles must have been widely spread among the German population.
    It just seems unbelievable how easily such a primitive propaganda could be accepted without any skepticism.
    I do not wish to stray too far from the subject you have raised, Kovalski, but I believe you are correct. On the streets of Warsaw, I remember the look I received from a young, German soldier before the summer of 1944. He stood stock still, at attention, but I could detect fear because I imagine the knew the allies were close, and that as soon as the Russians broke through the line of defense, we would slaughter him. He twitched when I glared back, but quickly resumed his facade of superiority, as was all too common in those days. Goebbels magnificently propagandized the Russian Red Army as "red hordes," and "red beasts," ready for the slaughter. But, I imagine the propaganda worked because the soldiers knew, like the German soldier I briefly mentioned above, of the brutalities and crimes that their comrades committed and believed that vengeance and primitive torture awaited them in captivity. I assumed that is why most fought as they did.

  11. #26
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    Default Re: Fear of Polish troops at the Western Front

    /
    Quote Originally Posted by flamethrowerguy View Post
    The 1927'ers were drafted in July 1944. Those of 1928 were drafted for the RAD (labour service) and only sporadically for the Wehrmacht.
    Allegedly there were single drafts of boys born in 1929 by March 1945, but this is not officially assured.
    The Germans were scraping bottom - old German newsreels show schoolkids in uniforms.

    I think that the number of Germans in the general population knew a great deal about what was going on in the camps. For one thing, the odor was said to be overwhelming and those chimneys and watch towers must have given a rather un-subtle clue. Maybe not everyone knew, but I think most adults knew what was going on. The civil population ignored it until they came face to face with it. There was a lot of "mass lying and denying" going on after the war.
    Last edited by royal744; 08-18-2013 at 10:38 PM.

  12. #27
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    Default Re: Fear of Polish troops at the Western Front

    Quote Originally Posted by royal744 View Post
    /
    The Germans were scraping to bottom - old Germqn newsreels shows some schoolkids in uniforms.
    Certainly, but there were different kind of uniforms.

    I think that the number of Germans in the general population knew a great deaal about what was goimg on in the camps. Maybe not everyone knew, but I think most adults knew what was going on. The civil population ignoed it until yhey came face to face with it.There was a lot of "mass lying and denying" going on after the war.
    Hard to tell, there are not too much people left to ask about what they knew or not. I'm not sure if they'd dare to tell the truth about that issue either- even 70 years later.

    For one thing, the odor was said to be overwhelming and those chimneys and watch towers must have given a rather un-subtle clue.
    Yes, that's why the Nazis established the "Vernichtungslager" (~ annihilation or extermination camps) outside of Germany - in occupied Poland.
    "I just ran out of ammo. I will ram this one. Good bye, we'll meet in Valhalla." - Major Heinrich Ehrler, April 4, 1945

  13. #28
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    Default Re: Fear of Polish troops at the Western Front

    Quote Originally Posted by royal744 View Post
    /
    The Germans were scraping to bottom - old Germqn newsreels shows some schoolkids in uniforms.

    I think that the number of Germans in the general population knew a great deaal about what was goimg on in the camps. For one thing, the odor was said to be overwhelming and those chimneys and watch towers must have given a rather un-subtle clue. Maybe not everyone knew, but I think most adults knew what was going on. The civil population ignoed it until yhey came face to face with it.There was a lot of "mass lying and denying" going on after the war.
    By 1942 Hitler Youth were manning AA Guns along with females to free up men for the Heer, iirc correctly by late 1944 3/4 of all air-defence were female or those too young for the draft (out of approximately 900,000 in air defence).
    IN the days of lace-ruffles, perukes and brocade
    Brown Bess was a partner whom none could despise
    An out-spoken, flinty-lipped, brazen-faced jade,
    With a habit of looking men straight in the eyes
    At Blenheim and Ramillies fops would confess
    They were pierced to the heart by the charms of Brown Bess.

  14. #29
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    Default Re: Fear of Polish troops at the Western Front

    Quote Originally Posted by Kovalski View Post
    I completely agree with you. All I wanted to say was that Polish weren't the ones that shot Italians.
    I never tired to deny that they did or could use bayonets against the POWs, because I don't have a source for that.
    I said in my opinion it seemed unbelievable, but not impossible. But I strongly oppose blaming Polish for the massacre of Italians, which unfortunately takes place recently in some media.

    Yeah, I tend to agree.
    The sinking of an (obviously old) transport ship with a well aimed torpedo(s) goes fast..and there is no chance that 2500 men can be saved and have time to board lifeboats (never enough) orderly.
    So, of course the most dead come from drowning in itself.
    There can be simply no time to cut off limbs of 1700 POWs , while pondering if you can make it to the lifeboats after "the job".

    Simply assume -as always- few have learned to swim, and ALL are in panic, and of course the guards/crew want to reach and take the lifeboats first . And to ward off 100's of POW easiest is by gunning them (the ones too close to the lifeboats while hanging in the davits) down.
    After being in the lifeboats away from the sinking ship there is no need to gun or bajonet the floating pows.
    (edit: so this wiki line " Survivors later recounted how Italians in the water were either shot or had their hands severed by axes if they tried to climb in a lifeboat. The blood soon attracted sharks." seems in contradiction, but (a) this too is an act of perhaps too many pows going after one lifeboat and its boatcommander orders (in panic?) to get rid of it (b) accounts under stress&danger&trauma are full of irregularities, shootings/butchering of earlier moments are misplaced at other occasions ..it happens.)

    The only sensible thing to investigate is whether the holds with the italian pows were locked (* wiki: yes) and kept locked or not, and whether it was on purpose to make them drown, or simple incompetency (wiki says nothing).
    Again, there is panic, also with the guards.. who is to say you are supposed to always have a cool character and assess you have time and opportunity to open the locks of ALL the hatches of the holds ?
    Last edited by Frankly Dude Really; 02-20-2015 at 06:29 AM.

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