House of History: the Podcast
German Youth Gangs that Opposed Hitler: the Edelweiß Pirates

German Youth Gangs that Opposed Hitler: the Edelweiß Pirates

March 3, 2021

The Edelweiß Pirates were youth gangs that opposed the ever-increasing totalitarian grip of the Nazi regime. Their actions ranged from passive resistance to robbing munitions depots and even murder. Curiously enough, after the Second World War came to an end, a group of post-war Nazi resistance cells coopted their name and carried out a series of bombings and attacks against the occupying Allied powers.

Hitler’s Favourite Pilot: Hanna Reitsch

Hitler’s Favourite Pilot: Hanna Reitsch

March 1, 2021

The German Hanna Reitsch was one of the best test-pilots ever. She attended the 1936 Berlin Olympics and participated in the Air Sports discipline; she broke multiple endurance and altitude records and has flown nearly every German aircraft during her career. She flew bombers, fighters, and even the Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet-rocket plane. She was one of the first test pilots to fly the Focke-Achgelis Fa 61, world’s first operable helicopter. There was a dark side to Hanna, though. She was a fanatical Nazi, loyal to Hitler and very involved in Luftwaffe operations. In fact, she stood at the forefront of the notorious German V-1 human-glider bomb project. This was a last-ditch attempt by the Germans to turn the tide of the war, by utilising suicide pilots against Allied troops. She survived the war and wrote several books about her life, giving us a very candid look at the life of the woman Hitler referred to as his favourite pilot.

The Forgotten ‘Battle’ of Ni’ihau Overshadowed by the Pearl Harbor Attack (Dec, 1941)

The Forgotten ‘Battle’ of Ni’ihau Overshadowed by the Pearl Harbor Attack (Dec, 1941)

February 27, 2021

On December 7, 1941, the 'battle' of Ni'ihau commenced. For obvious reasons this incident is usually overshadowed by the attack on Pearl Harbor. The Ni'ihau incident was a deadly incident on an island that was assumed to be deserted, but was inhabited by a few Hawaiians. What followed was part of the population siding with the Japanese pilot, and part of the population siding with the United States once they realised an attack on Pearl Harbor had taken place.

The Legendary Dambusters Raid: Operation Chastise (Germany, 1943)

The Legendary Dambusters Raid: Operation Chastise (Germany, 1943)

February 22, 2021

The May 1943 secret operation by Britain's Bomber Command to destroy several German dams located in its industrial heartland, the Ruhr Area, was a groundbreaking mission. Not just because of the risk involved, but because a new weapon would be used for the first time: the so-called 'Bouncing Bomb'.

The only U.S. Pilot to defect to the Waffen-SS during WW2… in October 1944

The only U.S. Pilot to defect to the Waffen-SS during WW2… in October 1944

February 20, 2021

During the Second World War there were multiple people from Allied countries that deserted to the Axis powers. Actually, there are too many to name them all. Some of them ended up working propaganda jobs, and the ‘American-Germans that travelled to Germany to defend the Reich’ was of course immortalised by the (fictional) scene in Band of Brothers. But all these people generally deserted before there was a full-fledged war between the United States and Germany. Let alone when it became obvious that Germany was going to lose the war. Well, not Martin James Monti.

 

Playing a bit of bluff he ended up in German-held territory in Europe, joined the SS propaganda unit and even fought on the German side. But what makes the case perhaps even more strange is that all this happened in late October 1944, when it was evident to nearly everyone that Germany would lose the war. 

The Secret “Mannerheim-tape” of Hitler’s Normal Voice

The Secret “Mannerheim-tape” of Hitler’s Normal Voice

February 17, 2021

Oddly enough although many speeches given by Adolf Hitler have been preserved, there is no audio footage of his normal conversational voice. Well, except one tape, recorded in secret by a Finnish sound engineer and released to the public only decades after the war ended.

 

Article with transcripts: https://houseofhistory.co/2020/11/29/the-only-secret-recording-with-hitlers-normal-voice/

Video with transcripts: https://youtu.be/WE6mnPmztoQ

The Real Finnish Soldier of 3 Armies: Lauri Allan Törni

The Real Finnish Soldier of 3 Armies: Lauri Allan Törni

February 15, 2021

Lauri Törni was a warrior. There's no way around it. Taking up arms in 1939 against the Soviet Union invading his Finland, he ended up fighting alongside the German Waffen-SS during the final days of the Second World War. After the war he fled to the United States, where he joined the U.S. Army Special Forces. He met his end the way he lived: on deployment in Vietnam, fighting against communism. 

The coup that nearly ended the Weimar Republic before it began (March, 1920)

The coup that nearly ended the Weimar Republic before it began (March, 1920)

February 13, 2021

After the German Empire lost the First World War and the Kaiser abdicated, the newly established Weimar Republic lingered in an incredibly unstable and chaotic situation. Both the far left and far right rejected parliamentary democracy. 

One of the most infamous events must have been the Kapp Putsch. During the night of March 12 1920, an elite paramilitary unit entered Berlin. It aimed to overthrow the democratically elected government and install an autocratic military regime. Surprisingly enough, these paramilitary troops enjoyed support from the actual army and a considerable number of civil servants. For a moment, it looked like the young Weimar Republic already came to an end, before it really had begun. 

 

 

Image source:

By Bundesarchiv, Bild 119-1983-0007 / CC-BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0 de, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5415957

The Father in Law of Europe: King Christian IX of Denmark (1818-1906)

The Father in Law of Europe: King Christian IX of Denmark (1818-1906)

February 10, 2021

It is well known that European royal families tend to marry among each other to either maintain or expand their power-base. Yet the Danish King Christian IX managed to take it to a whole new level. Disregarding a lousy start of his reign, namely losing a war and nearly half of Denmark's territory,  the marriage politics of his children made up for it all.

His children married into incredibly powerful royal houses in Europe, and often times had children of their own that in their turn too married into prominent royalty. Because of his cunning marriage politics, King Christian IX of Denmark is remembered as the ‘father in law of Europe’, and rightfully so, might I add.

When the Wehrmacht and U.S. Army Teamed up Against the Waffen-SS: Battle of Castle Itter

When the Wehrmacht and U.S. Army Teamed up Against the Waffen-SS: Battle of Castle Itter

February 8, 2021

The last days of the Second World War were incredibly chaotic. To nearly every German soldier it became clear the war had been lost, both in the Wehrmacht and even among some ideological diehard Waffen-SS. Europe was filled with large groups of refugees, displaced persons and bands of soldiers that either were looking for another front to fight at or tried to reach the western allied powers before the Soviets caught them. A very curious event happened during this chaotic time: in Tyrol, Austria, a centuries-old castle housed prominent French political prisoners. When a fanatical SS division attempted to take the castle, a German Wehrmacht unit ended up fighting side-by-side with a United States army unit to defend these prisoners. It was the only time during the entire war that the Germans and Americans fought side-by-side, and it is often described as the ‘strangest battle of the entire war.'

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