Building and Breaking the Atlantic Wall Evan Pierce Dec 3, 07 Wim
What Was The Atlantic Wall • The Atlantic Wall was a defense fortress made of Pillboxes, Artillery, Troops, and other obstacles. • Built to defend Nazi Germany from the Allied invaders on the western front.
Building the Atlantic Wall • Nazi Officials wanted reinforcement on the Western Front. • In December of 1941 orders were given to construct the Neue Westwall • This task was taken on by Fritz Todt and Albert Speer of the Todt Organization
Building the Atlantic Wall • Construction went from 1942 until 1944 • The wall was made of reinforced concrete bunkers up to thirteen feet thick, barbed wire, and landmines. • The wall reached from Norway to the French-Spanish Border. • Nazi Propaganda would later change the name to the Atlantik Wall and said it was impregnable
The Defenders • Task was to guess were the Allied Army was going to land. • Narrowed down entire coast line to areas that were near deep water ports. • Hitler bet the invasion would be at Pas-de-Calais. Shortest distance from London, so put V-rockets at the site to make the allies land there.
The Defenders • Were exhausted old men (average age of 35) who joined the army in fear. • Poorly trained artillery soldiers rushed into service. • Battle hardened veterans who were brain washed and thought they could win. • Over 60,000 German soldiers were captured on the eastern front retrained to fight against Stalin but forced to fight at Normandy
The Defenders • German Leaders included Field Marshall Gerd von Rundstedt, Field Marshall Erwin Rommel, Friedrich Dollmann and Adolf Hitler. • German infantry divisions included the 716th, 352nd, 91st, 709th, 243rd, 711th, 30th, • German armored divisions included the 21st SS Panzer, 12th SS Panzer, 1st SS Panzer, and the 17th SS Panzer.
Gerd Von Rundstedt • The top German Army leader of the West. • Disagreed with the entire idea of the Atlantik Wall. Just some Propaganda for the home front • Believed that the invaders should be allowed to come to shore and be held up at rivers and bridges. • Thought that the German soldiers would put up a better fight away from Allied Naval Guns
Sent by Hitler to reinforce the wall Reinforced the wall using six million land mines, erecting Belgian gates, and built Rommelspargel (Rommels Asparagus). He also flooded fields to slow down airborne troops. Disagreed with how Hitler controlled the Panzer Divisions, the wall and its use for propaganda, and how Hitler did everything in general. Said that the Key to the invasion was to make the Allies crawl back from the sea. Erwin Rommel
Panzers • Where under the direct command of Adolph Hitler. • Under his command due to many blunders and request of who should have command and where the panzers should be committed
The Invaders • Included American, British, Canadian, French Resistance Forces, Free French, Poland, and the Netherlands. • Lead by Dwight D. Eisenhower, Bernard Montgomery, Bertram Ramsay, Trafford Leigh-Mallory, Harry Crerar, Omar Bradley, Miles Dempsey.
The Invaders • The US troops taking part in the invasion came from the 82nd, 101st, 1st, 29th, 1st and 5th Ranger Battalions, 4th,and the 91st • Other troops came from British 3rd, 27th armored, 6th, 1st special brigade, Canadian 3rd, 2nd armored, 27th armored, 50th, XXX Corps. • More armor was planned but failed to get ashore.
The Invaders • Contained ships from eight different navies with over 6,000 vessels.
The Invaders • Patton's 1st Army • Double crossing spies and false reports.
Dwight D. Eisenhower • Had to deal with all every concern by every high commander on the Allied Side. • Put in charge by Winston Churchill. • Initially had to decide weather or not to go when bad weather came in. • Knew that Rommel was well prepared for his landing troops
The Plan of Attack • To cause chaos by using French Resistance and Airborne Troops, the airborne having set objectives. • Use a naval bombardment to soften the beach. • Land troops, establish the beach head, protect the flank, and then take Cherbourg. • Cherbourg to Paris. Paris to Berlin.
When and Where • The Allied Army choose Normandy because it was the closest distance across from the English Channel. • Also, Cherbourg was in close proximity • A strict time table was set so that there was enough time to establish a well supplied front before winter came.
The Beginning • Started with a build up information and build up of the Resistance and classified air jumps. • Resistance collected intelligence and sent it back to England. • England sent Paymasters with gold to pay French. Gold was used to bribe German officials and buy explosives.
Go • “He stopped pacing faced his subordinates, then said quietly but clearly,” Okay Lets Go. • “Within thirty seconds the Southwick House was empty everyone ran to their command post and Eisenhower was left by himself. There was nothing more he could do.”- SA pg.189
Out of his Hands • “Our Landings…have failed and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time was based upon the best information available. The troops, the air and the navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone. “ – Dwight D. Eisenhower June 5th 1944
The Airborne • Question on where to deploy the Airborne Troops arose when planning. • If they were deployed at the coast where they were deployed estimated were projected that only one in ten would survive. • The other option was to deploy them further inland and risk them being captured.
The Airborne • General Eisenhower would see many Airborne Soldiers off on June 5th because of the high estimated casualty rate. He stayed until the last plane took off
In Berlin • Hitler was struggling to deal with the war. • Doctors were giving him drugs all the time to deal with stress. • His focus was on the Great Escape that had happened back in March when 100 P.O.W escaped. • Was not to be disturbed after taking a sleeping pill.
Around the World • When news reached the United States that landings were taken place everyone danced in the streets. • American and Soviet Diplomats partied in the bars and beat up German Diplomats that walked in • In Germany propaganda reported that the Allies would be pushed back
Back In France • Rommel was on his way home to celebrate his birthday. • The rest of the German High Command were either on leave in Paris or on their way to a training exercise • The Rest of the German army was confused if and where the real landings where taking place.
Failure • The Germans failed to set up proper defense. • There was poor communication and lack of agreement in the High Command. • Failure to react in time.
Suggested Reading • Behind Hitler’s Lines by Thomas H. Taylor • Band of Brothers by Stephen Ambrose • D-Day By Stephen Ambrose • Recon Scout by Fred Salter
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