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Everyone knows about D-Day and Market Garden but few know about Bagration

A map of Bagration (Public domain)

June 6th is a date that most people know but very few people know about June 22nd. Operation Overlord kicked off on Tuesday, June 6th, 1944, and landed thousands of troops and tonnes of material supplies on the beaches of France. The invasion of France caused Germany to frantically redeploy vital men and equipment from the Eastern Front back to the Western Front. This gave the Soviet Union an opening that they could not pass up.

June 22nd was the three year anniversary, to the day, of Operation Barbarossa and it was the day that the Soviet Union kicked off…

Easy, cheap and lethal

Two German Volkssturm members surrender to British forces in 1945 (Public domain)

In October of 1944, Germany declared the formation of the Volkssturm or the People’s Storm. The Volkssturm was supposed to be a massive popular uprising that was designed to swell the German army size by millions of fanatical civilians ready to defend the homeland to the death. It was a part of the last gasp efforts of Hitler and Goebbels to promulgate a total war that would consume the entire German people and economy to repel the Allies.

The problem was, most able bodied men and women were already deployed to war critical jobs. Fighting aged men were, largely, already…

The story of the first modern Olympiad

The opening ceremony of the first Olympic games in Athens, 1896 (Public domain)

The official name of the modern Olympics is the Games of the Olympiad with the number of the games included. Most people will simply call the 2020 Summer Games or Tokyo 2020 but the true name is the Games of the XXXII Olympiad. The new naming scheme reflects the length of the modern Olympic games which did not recommence until 1896 after a fifteen-century hiatus.

Now, the Olympics are a massive multinational spectacle that occurs every two years in a repeating pattern of summer games and winter games with a rotating host city and nation. …

All hail the Warwolf

A depiction of a 15th century trebuchet (Public domain)

After many years of hard and frustrating fighting, King Edward I of England finally had the subjugation of Scotland in his sights. Despite soundly defeating the bulk of William Wallace’s rebellious forces at Falkirk in 1298CE resistance had continued throughout the countryside. It took years to grind down the remaining Scots and by 1304 there was only one major hostile fortress left standing opposed to English rule — Stirling Castle.

It was no accident that Stirling Castle was the last fortress standing. It was, and still is, a formidable construct that guards the crossing over the River Forth. Without it…

A spit of land no one else wanted

An early map of Old Bermuda (Public domain)

The island of Bermuda is one of the only Atlantic islands colonized by Europeans not to have a native population. The only things that called Bermuda home were dangerous shallow reefs, frequent powerful hurricanes, and a species of shrieking petrels that sound like evil spirits. The island was so inhospitable that the Spanish began calling it Demoniorum Insulam or Demon Island.

Bermuda was first discovered in the early 16th century and first appeared on a map in the year 1511. Despite being made known to the Spanish, Portuguese, and British no one wanted to lay a permanent claim to the…

An example of how governments whitewash atrocities to protect themselves

US Department of State seal (Public domain)

While doing research for a new piece on the United States’ occupation of Haiti in the early 20th century I stumbled across a page from the US State Department titled Milestones. The page gives a brief account of the invasion and occupation of Haiti. It is located within the official family of websites. Reading it made me laugh and then made me sick.

The language and descriptions of this event are so watered down, so neutral, so muted, that it can only have been done on purpose. It describes the US’s actions in clipped terms and completely glosses over…

An unfortunate distinction to carry

A depiction of the crew of the Soyuz (Public domain)

On June 29th, 1971, Soviet observers watched as the capsule of the Soyuz 11 mission came hurtling back down to Earth after a three-week mission in space. From the ground, the reentry looked routine. The craft landed safely 90km from the town of Karazhal in Kazakhstan as planned, and a team was dispatched to the site to retrieve the capsule and crew.

As the Soviet retrieval team approached the Soyuz 7K-OKS ship on the ground, nothing appeared amiss. They knocked on the side of the capsule; a tradition used to greet the waiting cosmonauts. …

Operation Tanne Ost

A German sign erected in Finland during WWII (Public domain)

1944 was a bad year for the Axis during World War II. The spring campaigns by the Allies in Italy and on the Eastern Front were beginning to bring tangible results. The Soviets had pushed the last German defenders out of Crimea. The American and British armies in Italy were knocking on the door of Rome, and preparations were being made for massive new summer offensives in both the west and east.

The summer of 1944 saw some of the most promising gains yet on the part of the Allies. Operation Overlord and the D-Day landings were a great success…

No one leads alone, not even an absolute ruler

Hitler gives a speech declaring war on the United States (Bundesarchiv, Bild 183–1987–0703–507 / unbekannt / CC-BY-SA 3.0)

When people study history, they like to focus on individuals. These people are given absolute credit for the deeds of their time as singular people. The best examples of this are Julius Cesar, Joseph Stalin, and Adolf Hitler. They are attributed with all of the triumphs and atrocities that occurred on their watch but boiling down these challenging periods of history to single men give a pass to all of the people who supported them in their time.

Adolf Hitler perhaps gets the most potent amount of attention. He is labeled one of the evilest men to ever walk the…

Grant Piper

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