Austria in WW2 and beyond

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by Goatman, Feb 7, 2011.

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  1. Goatman

    Goatman LE Book Reviewer

    Had a couple of visits to Austria recently and set me wondering about their part in Adolf's Spiel Zohne Grenzen ( apart from fathering the fatherless) .

    Not least from a brief conversation with a friend at work who, on learning where I was off to told me his dad had been an unwilling Gastarbeiter from 1943-45, in Stalag XVIII.

    I was mooching about Innsbruck airport and reading the history of aviation in the area.....and what struck me was the curious blank between late thirties and early fifties during what the photo captions refer to coyly as the period of the NS administration.

    Anyone know where I can find out some more about particularly Allied Operations in 1945 there ?

    I know that US units in Southern Germany were involved in Western Tyrol and that British Army (38th bde) provided guardforce for the surrendering Vlassov's Cossacks in Austria ( qv Operation Keelhaul ? ) but beyond that not much.

    I would be interested to know more about RAF Bomber Command targeting. Innsbruck got a bit of a battering and I imagine rail links beteeen Germany and Italy were high priority.

    Found this bit of background reading which students of early Cold War may find interesting;
  2. I served with a guy who was part of the Army of Occupation in Austria at the ed of WW2. He reckoned that there were loads of un-repentant Nazis there. In his opinion, the Austrian people were, in general, more Nazi the the Germans as the average German showed some remorse but he said he hardly ever met an Austrian who did.
  3. The only time anyone has ever been shitty to me about being English re. WWII was by an Austrian.
  4. Pretty much read the same also there was an active resistance to the Russian occupation until they pulled out. Never hear much about their armed forces either all I could tell you is they bought all the old 110mm guns once the AS90 came into service was a small peice on SSVC news
  5. I knew an Austrian woman who was a teenager during WWII, she would happily talk about her experiences before and after the Russian occupation but never, ever about the time during it.
  6. jim24

    jim24 Book Reviewer

    It would appear that some complete units of the Austrian Army became units in the German Army, The 44th Reichgrenadier Division ( Hoch and Deutschmeister) was one such unit, they even carried the old standard of the type used in the Imperial Austro Hungarian Army.
    As to the bombing it seems that Bomber Command did not carry out any really large raids against Austrian targets but this does not mean that raids were not carried out by other units such as the RAF in Italy or the LNSF ect
    The USAAC most certainly did bomb Austria, from August 1943 the US 15th Airforce in Italy, at times in coordination with the 8th Airforce from the UK, carried out a very heavy campaign of raids on Austrian targets,
    Now I have a list of every one of these raids as there is a very good book "Air War Europe" which gives details of every USAAC operation in the ETO so if you have a specific date or town let me know if you need further info
  7. Goatman

    Goatman LE Book Reviewer

    Thanks jim,

    one of the visits I did whilst there was to Kufstein, a large mediaeval castle which ( as you might expect) commands an excellent tactical position above the river (Inn ?) and dominating one of the routes to Munich.

    Dit here. Festung Kufstein - Geschichte

    Be interested to know if USAAC/Allied forces targeted Kufstein and secondly, whether it was garrisoned in WW2 and by what kind of units.
  8. Umm,
    USAAC July 2, 1926 – June 20, 1941
    USAAF June 20, 1941–September 17, 1947 USAF(and seperate Branch) thereafter
  9. jim24

    jim24 Book Reviewer

  10. Goatman

    Goatman LE Book Reviewer

    Thanks Jim

    Coo - ten raids on pretty lil Innsbruck in 1944......makes you wonder how many ac were involved in a typical sortie and how much ordnance they delivered.....and why ?

    I'm guessing that by that stage of the war Krupp munitions factories and massed ground unit formations were scarce.....

    ( Nature of the beast......I've never got my head around why Brookman's Park qualified as a 'legitimate military objective' either.....)

    Edit: Saw this account in one of the links you gave. A WWII veteran remembering some of his time with the British Army garrison in Austria late 1945:
  11. Wordsmith

    Wordsmith LE Book Reviewer

    A good source for Bomber command raids is "The Bomber Command War Diaries: An Operational Reference Book, 1939-45". It's by Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt. It details every significant raid made during the war, with aircraft numbers, bomb tonnages, losses, etc. If the raid was a heavy one, there are also often damage reports from the target city.

  12. jim24

    jim24 Book Reviewer

    Unfortunately the numbers of aircraft are not given on all raids. Some of the 15th Airforce raids were only in single figures of aircraft , but, on the 5th November 1944 they put 500 B17s and B24s along with 337 P38s and P51s as escort on an attack on Vienna/Floridsdorf oil refinery, claiming 10 German fighters shot down, this was 15AFs largest single target mission
  13. jim24

    jim24 Book Reviewer

    Theres an interesting bit in Stephen Ambrose's Book "Wild Blue" about Sen George McGovern saying on a TV show in Austria in 1985 that he was only sorry for one bomb that had hung up and eventually dropped on an Austrian farm house, The Owner of the farm phoned the TV station to say the no one was hurt and that he had been Anti Nazi. "I thought that if the bombing of my farm reduced the war by one minute ,it was well worth it" he said
  14. Goatman

    Goatman LE Book Reviewer

    One of the aerial reconnaissance shots taken over Austria in 1945 on the TARA site (LINK) is titled Sortie SA_60_1110

    Presumably somewhere this correlates to briefing for the sortie : target to be observed, etc.

    Is that detail in Air War Europe or where plse ?
  15. AlienFTM

    AlienFTM LE Book Reviewer

    I remember being told a year or two back that a post-war German's favourite joke was:

    Q. How many people died in the first World War?
    A. One Austrian too few.