Barrows: What’s going on behind the German defenses? (May 1944)

The Pittsburgh Press (May 8, 1944)

What’s going on behind the German defenses?
Nazis furiously strengthen forts along highly-touted ‘Atlantic Wall’

Denmark also improved in bitter race against time
By Nat A. Barrows

How tough an opposition will our invading forces encounter when they land in Western Europe? What is really going on behind Hitler’s Atlantic Wall? From his observation post in neighboring Sweden, Nat Barrows has been collecting closely guarded information about Germany’s ability and willingness to cope with the titanic forces assembled in England for Allied victory. In a most important series of articles, of which the following is the first, Mr. Barrows will reveal many hitherto unknown facts about the men directing the German war effort, Germany’s heavy industry, and other hitherto undisclosed information about the German war machine.

Stockholm, Sweden –
In their machine-gun nests overtopping the fjords of Norway, behind their tank traps and minefields, along the shallow coast of Denmark, amid their “sandwich system” fortifications in Holland and their 20-mile-deep defenses in France, a million Germans await the Allied invasion.

What does D-Day mean for them?

What will happen behind that 2,000-mile stretch of the Atlantic Wall when the Nazis’ anti-invasion commander, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, tries to outguess Allied Commander-in-Chief Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower?

How have five Nazi leaders, wielding vast power, been able to reorganize Germany’s heavy industry and keep these Atlantic Wall fighting men superbly equipped and confident of victory in face of slashing Eastern Front defeats and relentless air bombardments?

What, then, is going on today inside the Atlantic Wall?

Only from Stockholm can such details be told. Here are men – and women too – newly arrived from inside the Atlantic Wall. They have heard and seen what our Allied soldiers, sailors and airmen must find out for themselves.

Would face torture

In this series, telling what the Germans are doing and thinking in the shadow of the greatest battles in history, are many details which have not hitherto been printed. Long weeks of careful checking and rechecking lie behind this assembly of facts, culled from travelers, refugees and deserters as well as German publications.

Some of these men and women are still in Sweden; some are now back home in Germany, France and other Nazi-occupied countries. I protect their true identities as I guard my American passport; torture or death would overwhelm them and their families if the Nazis learned that they had talked.

First, let us take the Atlantic Wall itself. One million Germans sit there, from the North Cape of Norway to the Pyrenees, waiting, waiting, waiting, only because Rommel forced the German High Command to make the greatest military dice-throw the Nazis have ever undertaken and transfer 50 crack divisions from the Eastern Front. The consequences of this sacrifice, leaving about 1,750,000 men facing the Russian Army, may soon become apparent.

Troop quality varies

The quality of these Atlantic Wall troops varies country by country; trainees and older men are the nucleus in Norway; absolutely first-class fighting men, the flower of all Germany, in France. They have good morale, thanks to Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels’ insidious program and they have splendid equipment, thanks to the way five Germans have been able to implement the ideas of a man long dead – Fritz Todt.

This Atlantic Wall stretch of 2,000 miles is divided into definite coastal defense zones, which the Germans call Küstenverteidigung Zone, two each in Norway and France, one each for Holland, Belgium, Denmark and Northwest Germany.

Denmark strengthened

The Germans today think that they will get at least one diversionary attack somewhere along the shallow coast of Denmark – perhaps Jutland. They took Prime Minister Churchill’s speech seriously when he encouraged the Danes with such a hint.

Accordingly, they have been working feverishly in the past month, trying to strengthen defenses already heavily fortified, especially against paratroopers seeking to utilize the flat Danish terrain. They have sown vast minefields in every channel approach to the key Jutland harbors of Esbjerg, Hirtshals and Hansted and they have dug a triple line of tank traps 30 feet wide and 15 feet deep, strongly protected with pillboxes, casemates and artillery.

One of these tank traps extends entirely across Jutland from Jammerbugten in the north to the German border.

Six divisions ready

In all, Denmark has six divisions under the Nazi commander of occupation troops, Gen. Hermann von Hanneken, including one brigade of Gen. Vlasov’s traitorous Cossacks. The fighter plane strength in Denmark is small due to the presence of German bases hardly an hour’s flying time away.

In the past weeks, Todt Organization workers have been improving Danish airfields.

Danish improvements started when Rommel visited Hanneken at his Silkeborg headquarters last December and warned him that his guns were pointing the wrong way.

Rommel scolded:

You’re not fighting tin soldiers now, general. You must be ready to meet attack from all directions.

Problem is different

A different military problem confronts the Germans in Norway. There the terrain aids the defenders and Gen. Nikolaus von Falkenhorst, Nazi occupation troop commander there, has tried to taker every advantage of the overhanging cliffs and deep fjords.

Harbors like Oslo, Narvik, Trondheim and Bergen are guarded with torpedo tubes mounted on cliff platforms, 12-inch howitzers and even 13-inch naval guns on railroad mounts. Every possible sea approach is protected with machine-gun nests and minefields.

Von Falkenhorst plainly built his defenses around the conception that the Allies would find it difficult to maintain proper air cover over the beachheads. His air force is now less than 100 planes on the theory that a powerful striking force could reach Norway within two days by a series of shifts in Luftwaffe power from the Mediterranean to the north.

Second-rate troops

Von Falkenhorst has eight divisions whose second-rate fighting abilities the Germans think to offset by the natural advantages of the terrain, although some members of the Nazi High command are known to have said that von Falkenhorst should not count too much on the impregnability of his section of the Atlantic Wall.

Holland, with eight divisions stationed in what its Nazi commander, Gen. Friedrich Christiansen, calls the “sandwich system of defense” is to be defended, of course, by flooding. Thus, the sandwich system: coastal fortifications, floods and inland fortifications.

But the Nazis have not forgotten how they crossed Holland’s flooded land in 1940 with 20,000 rubber boats and they have laid careful plans to make certain that the Allies do not use the same trick against them.

Antwerp may be hit

Christiansen thinks that the sector around the mouth of the river Scheldt, approaching Antwerp, will be one of the targets on allied D-Day and there he has concentrated his heaviest guns, torpedo batteries and minefields.

Three of his eight divisions guarding Holland are actually stationed across the German border at Wesel, Münster and Krefeld for greater mobility in the third layer of his sandwich system.

Denmark, Norway and Holland are part of this uncensored, detailed picture of what is happened behind the Atlantic Wall – but only one part. There is France… and the Luftwaffe… and the Kriegsmarine… and the five warlords running heavy industry… and the German people themselves. Other articles in this series will discuss them all in detail from the viewpoint of what lies ahead for the Allied boys preparing to fight and bleed and conquer inside the Atlantic Wall.

TOMORROW: Nazis have 200,000 entbehrlich troops on the Western Front. That word means “expendables,” men who will be sacrificed in the first push of the Allies into the continent.

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The Pittsburgh Press (May 9, 1944)

What’s going on behind the German defenses?
Nazi ‘expendables’ on Channel to seek to delay the invasion

Axis wants time to ‘dope’ attack
By Nat A. Barrows

How tough an opposition will our invading forces encounter when they land in Western Europe? What is really going on behind Hitler’s Atlantic Wall? From his observation post in neighboring Sweden, Nat Barrows has been collecting closely guarded information about Germany’s ability and willingness to cope with the titanic forces assembled in England for Allied victory. In a most important series of articles, of which the following is the second, Mr. Barrows reveals many hitherto unknown facts about the men directing the German war effort, Germany’s heavy industry, and other hitherto undisclosed information about the German war machine.

Stockholm, Sweden –
Waiting there inside the Nazi Atlantic Wall, they think they have posts of honor – 200,000 German troops and their mixture of satellites, tensely and nervously alert along the coast of France, unaware that their casemates and pillboxes may soon become sacrificial altars.

They are entbehrlich – write-offs and expendables, sacrifices for time.

By their crushed and lifeless bodies, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel hopes to gain enough time to concentrate mobile striking forces behind the wall at the area threatened with the breakthrough.

They have to die so that the real fighting men of Germany, based well inside the wall, may know where to strike back.

The men behind the wall, the very flower of Germany, must be overwhelmed before Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower can drive his invasion wedge into France and turn it toward Germany. Battlewise, grim and fanatical, they comprise Waffen-SS, panzer troops, motorized infantry and grenadiers such as the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler Division, seasoned on the Eastern Front, and remnants of Rommel’s old Afrika Korps.

Hard and ruthless

They are hard and they are ruthless. They will fight as they have never fought before, fully confident that they are going to throw us back through the Atlantic Wall and into the English Channel.

In France, Rommel’s Channel coast commander, Field Marshal Karl Gerd von Rundstedt, has 600,000 men ready for the invasion, carefully trained in all three phases around which the Germans have based their plans to meet attack.

The defensive blueprint for the 52 divisions in France and the 14 in Belgium is effectively the same as the basic plan for other troops along the Atlantic Wall: eight divisions for Holland, six for Denmark, eight for Norway and 12 highly trained, handpicked divisions stationed inside Germany as the Nazis’ last strategic reserve.

Phase of operation

As a result of a long, thorough investigation of sources from inside Germany, this correspondent submits that Rommel’s anti-invasion blueprint is broken down into the following German phases of operation:

  • PHASE I: The Allies still at sea

In this phase, Rommel plans to utilize radio-steered bombs, fighter-bomber planes, 750-ton submarines and the new 30-foot, two-man midget submarines, all attacking in coordination with destroyers of the 2,000-ton Narvik class and the 1,100-ton Elbing class.

E-boats based at Rotterdam, IJmuiden, Antwerp and Saint-Malo, and smaller motor torpedo boats, will converge into the Channel with destroyers racing out from their Brest anchorage.

Electrically exploded minefields will point 12-inch, 13-inch and even 15-inch naval coastal guns in smashing hot lead among the Allied landing barges. As the invaders draw near their selected beachheads, land-based torpedo tubes will open up, firing both at surface level and underwater.

In the countryside behind the Atlantic Wall, an armored “parachaser” unit will begin scouring for allied paratroopers and airborne soldiers the minute the “Fourth of July” rocket bursts – the signal of the invasion.

  • PHASE II: The battle for the Atlantic Wall

The Germans in this phase intend to inflict the greatest number of losses to the invading shock troops in order to delay to the last possible moment the Allied breaking of the wall and the plunge into the open country behind the wall.

This is the stage where the 200,000 “write-offs” in the French sector of the wall must fight – and die to the last man, if necessary, German officers must have time to find out where Gen. Eisenhower is really making his drive and where he is only attempting a diversionary landing.

It is clear from authentic information reaching Stockholm that the Germans no longer think their Atlantic Wall impregnable. Rather, they conceive the Atlantic Wall as a series of spaced fortifications, an obstacle for delaying the breakthrough, thus allowing them time to concentrate mobile troops behind the breach.

  • PHASE III: The battle behind the wall itself

Here the Luftwaffe finally must take flight with every possible machine, no longer able to conserve its strength by refusing combat except for the most vital targets. D-Day will be the Luftwaffe’s greatest battle… and its final chance to dispute Allied air might.

In addition to fighting unending hordes of Allied planes, the Luftwaffe will have the problem of trying to guard its own supply lines and to give some kind of support to German ground troops.

It is more than likely that the first defensive unit to crack will be the Luftwaffe, subjected as it will be to the most formidable air attack in history.

TOMORROW: The above is one part of the picture of how the Germans see the Atlantic Wall and D-Day. What weapons will they use against our soldiers? What are the weaknesses in the wall? The answers will be given tomorrow in another article of this series, telling how Germany is prepared to meet the invasion.

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The Pittsburgh Press (May 10, 1944)

What’s going on behind the German defenses?
Rommel bases his anti-invasion plans on stand behind the Atlantic Wall

No new, ‘secret’ weapons are expected to be used
By Nat A. Barrows

How tough an opposition will our invading forces encounter when they land in Western Europe? What is really going on behind Hitler’s Atlantic Wall? From his observation post in neighboring Sweden, Nat Barrows has been collecting closely guarded information about Germany’s ability and willingness to cope with the titanic forces assembled in England for Allied victory. In a most important series of articles, of which the following is the third, Mr. Barrows reveals many hitherto unknown facts about the men directing the German war effort, Germany’s heavy industry, and other hitherto undisclosed information about the German war machine.

Stockholm, Sweden –
Inside the Atlantic Wall, hourly rechecking anti-invasion preparations for his one million fighting men, strung from North Norway to the Bay of Biscay, in more than 45,000 fortifications, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel is ready for battle.

First of all, when the excited warning “Achtung!.. Achtung!” (Attention! Attention!) summons the Atlantic Wall defenders into action, Germany’s anti-invasion supreme commander is prepared to face an Allied breakthrough as a matter of course.

Rommel knows that Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower’s infantrymen can – and will – infiltrate behind the wall, blasting their path with heavy demolition charges and massed air cover while large sections of his 200,000 “write-off” troops in France fight delaying actions.

Rommel bases his plans behind the line. That is where the real battle will be fought. That is where the Allied must build up and consolidate local superiority as soon as possible.

Rommel’s plans

Briefly, Rommel and his anti-invasion staff base their hopes for success on four main points:

  • On the decisive smashing of our main bridgeheads.

  • On counterattack within a definitely limited period: that is, before we have had time to establish local superiority.

  • On the Nazis’ ability to keep their supply lines open.

  • On the general toughness and equipment of the shock troops deployed behind the wall.

It is mere foolishness to think of German troops as demoralized. Many of Rommel’s first-line soldiers – 50 divisions, in fact – recently have been under fire on the Eastern Front; all are tough, fanatical, ruthless and utterly determined to give their lives to prevent the Allies from reaching Germany.

Their nerves, naturally enough, are at high pitch under the strain of waiting week after week, but, judging from the thoroughly reliable information leaking into Sweden from pro-Allied sympathizers, they will fight as Germans never fought before.

What of weapons?

What weapons will Rommel’s troops use against us? Not on authentic fact from inside the Atlantic Wall has reached me to show that the Germans actually have any secret weapons other than what we have already seen and publicized: the “Goliath” robot tank, the robot plane, and rocket gun.

The Germans, instead, appear to be putting their faith on improved versions of types already existing such as motorized infantry… 88mm anti-tank guns… the 62-ton Tiger “battleship tank” with its four-inch armored turret and 1¾-inch armored hull… six-barreled artificial fog-throwers… 8cm mortars, or Panzerwerfer mounted on armored chassis.

The Germans will go into battle against us with at least three new types of motorized artillery. These are the Bumblebee, Hornet and Wasp, rapid-firing field guns mounted on Tiger or Mark IV tank chassis and varying in caliber from four to six inches.

The German air picture is something else again. The Luftwaffe today is like a bright red apple rotten at the core. Any sound air force should have a working minimum of 100% reserve backing up its first-line fighting strength. But Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring has been forced to use his reserves until today he has only a little more than 1,000 combat aircraft in reserve.

Nazis lack planes

German first-line aircraft, excluding trainers and transports, today number in round figures 5,000 planes, divided as follows: 3,000 fighters, 1,500 bombers and 500 reconnaissance machines. Göring has concentrated three0quarters of his fighter strength in the west – about 2,250 planes. Most of his medium bombers are there also.

At no time since the war began have the Germans had fewer aircraft on the Russian front.

Anglo-American bombing raids in the past three months have taken a toll of 20%, 30% and in some instances as high as 50% more fighter aircraft, either in factories or in combat, than the Germans are able to replace. Nazi production figures show hardly more than 1,650 planes of all types a month.

Another hopeful sign for the Allies is the lack of trained crew reserves. Training at present is completely inadequate, a matter of only 11 or 12 months. This is fully 25% less time than the Allied training period.

German aerial engineers apparently will not put any secret airplanes into the invasion battle against us. In the past six months, they have developed several new designs such as the Focke-Wulf “Midget,” a night fighter of great firepower and maneuverability, and a two-engined Messerschmitt.

It can be doubted if any of these planes are yet being produced in large numbers.

Luftwaffe weakened

From all facts available, it would seem that the Luftwaffe has nothing beyond improved types of planes already familiar to the Royal Air Force and U.S. Army Air Force combatmen, such as the Fw 190, A and B… the Me 110 and 210… the Hs 129 ground strafer… the Ju 87, the so-called panzer Brecher with its two 3.7 anti-tank guns… and the Me 410 light bomber-fighter.

The Luftwaffe definitely has a strong first-line fighter force but decreasing production and utterly inadequate reserves make it impossible to undertake anything like a long operation involving heavy losses.

Probably the first German force to crack after D-Day will be the Luftwaffe.

Finally, what about oil stocks inside the Atlantic Wall?

Even with an estimated 20% drop in production at Ploești following the USAF raids, the Third Reich still has eight million tons in reserve, I learn from a confidential source. For a short-term policy this is enough.

More oil needed

But the Reichswehr’s oil consumption for 1943 – 15 million tons – will jump astronomically once the Allied invasion begins – to take only one Nazi fighting unit.

In 1943, the Germans got five million tons from Ploești and one and a half million tons from other European wells. The remainder, eight and a half million tons, came from synthetic oil plants of IG Farben.

And so, Rommel waits and listens and polishes his plan of counterattack. He knows that his Atlantic Wall forts can be breached: the Red Army troops taught the Germans that before Leningrad, when they smashed through concrete and steel forts of exactly the same thickness as those of the Atlantic Wall.

He knows that the ventilation system inside the wall forts can cause serious trouble; that lucky hits by Allied naval guns and aerial bombers might disable the forced draft system and suffocate many of his men.

So, he centers his plans around and behind the line of major engagements – and waits… and waits.

TOMORROW: The story “inside Germany” is recounted by Mr. Barrows.

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The Pittsburgh Press (May 11, 1944)

What’s going on behind the German defenses?
Big five run Germany’s war industry and they’re turning out the arms, too

But Hitler has little reserve
By Nat A. Barrows

How tough an opposition will our invading forces encounter when they land in Western Europe? What is really going on behind Hitler’s Atlantic Wall? From his observation post in neighboring Sweden, Nat Barrows has been collecting closely guarded information about Germany’s ability and willingness to cope with the titanic forces assembled in England for Allied victory. In a most important series of articles, of which the following is the fourth, Mr. Barrows reveals many hitherto unknown facts about the men directing the German war effort, Germany’s heavy industry, and other hitherto undisclosed information about the German war machine.

Stockholm, Sweden –
That vast mysterious war organization, the Speer Ministry, is herewith stripped of its secrets and shown for what it is – an industrial empire, conceived by a genius and implemented by five Nazi warlords ruthlessly exercising incredible powers, still intact but dangerously near collapse.

Nothing like it ever came out of any war before. No five men ever had greater power.

Now, after weeks of painstaking survey and rechecking of available sources, the story is told:

How the briefcase, lying beside Gen. Fritz Todt’s body in his wrecked airplane, offered the Third Reich two alternatives – in February 1942 – for revolutionizing German industry… how the second scheme, reducing red tape and bureaucracy to the barest minimum and permitting industry the maximum of self-government consistent with strong central authority, produced an empire without parallel anywhere… how that plan was developed into a smooth-working, skillfully coordinated network of war industries turning out huge quantities of guns, tanks, planes and submarines.

Controls the factories

Today, in the shadow of the Allied invasion, that great brainchild of Fritz Todt still wields immense power, still directly or indirectly controls every factory in the Reich, still keeps war production at high pitch.

But now it is at the saturation point. The peak has been reached. Munitions Minister Albert Speer and his four companions are extending the limits of Nazi war factories almost to the breaking point in their frantic necessity for building up more reserve stocks.

Germany, momentarily, has enough weapons and material on hand for an all-out counterattack of extremely vicious scale – in the west behind the Atlantic Wall, but only for a short-term campaign. I repeat: only for a short term.

The Speer Ministry based its production plan on the theory that Field Marshal Erwin Rommel (anti-invasion supreme commander) would succeed in crushing Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower’s bridgeheads and tossing the Allies back to the sea after a momentary breakthrough in the Atlantic Wall.

Industrial trouble

The Nazis do not have enough reserves and weapons, if not enough aircraft, for such a short-time defense. That is a fact.

But as soon as our invasion reaches the digging-in stage, the Germans are going to find themselves in serious trouble on the industrial front. Then they must begin drawing on reserves, already heavily strained by reserves on the Eastern Front, by terrific Anglo-American bombing raids and by hundreds of isolated setbacks, which are now beginning to show themselves on the production line.

In assembling material for this series – inside the Atlantic Wall – my colleague, Ossian Goulding of the London Daily Telegraph, and I have repeatedly been told by informants freshly arrived from Germany or France, that the Allies must continue their strategic bombing at any cost – even during the actual invasion – if they want to knock out German industry.

Transportation hard hit

Europe’s transportation has already taken such a heavy battering from the Royal Air Force and the U.S. Army Air Force that it is tottering and shaking. Factory workers are overworked and very tired. Enough key plants have been knocked out to increase the future value of every factory many times over.

Germany’s five autocratic warlords have definitely provided their soldiers and sailors with ample weapons and supplies to meet the Allied invasion on D-Day. But after the first stage is over, it is a black picture for them, especially if the Red Army mounts simultaneous attacks on the East.

In no way am I suggesting that the Nazi Wehrmacht, Kriegsmarine or even Luftwaffe is going to fall apart like the old one-hoss shay for lack of equipment or lack of fanatical desire to fight to the death.

Even a brief analysis of Germany’s internal setup – the Speer Ministry, for example – will show that although industry is being strained as tight as an extended rubber band, we cannot yet afford the luxury of thinking that Germany is about to blow up like a bursting ack-ack shell.

The big five

Read this explanation of how the five men of the “Magic Circle,” the five warlords, have set up their organization – and realize the kind of experts with whom we are dealing.

The five men are: Speer, Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring, Undersecretary Körner (manager of Göring’s Four Year Plan), Field Marshal Erhard Milch (chief of staff of the Luftwaffe and Göring’s “honorary Aryan” and protégé) and Economic Minister Walther Funk.

They determine in what proportion available raw materials are to be divided among the fighting services and home industries, decide every question about production policy and adjust priority claims.

Under them are 11 coordination officers and distinctive units called Rings and Committees (Ringe und Ausschüsse).

The Rings deal with production and raw material, the Committees with finished articles: thus – Rings for iron, steel, electricity, wood and chemicals, but Committees for engines, ships and guns.

‘Little Hitlers’ of industry…

Appointed directly by Hitler upon Speer’s or Göring’s recommendation, members of the Committees are able to do anything they please subject only to appeal to Hitler – afterwards. They can take over whole factories at a moment’s notice; they can confiscate and commandeer at will, unhampered by red tape or bureaucracy.

Always at their disposal are airplanes, autos and motorcycle escorts.

These are the “Little Hitlers” in German industry: Röchling and Krupp for steel; Blücher for electricity; Hahne, Porsche and Roland for panzers; Heinkel, Messerschmitt and Dornier for aircraft. These are the men, working under direction of the “Magic Circle” autocrats, who have to keep the German armies fighting by substituting rapid results for red tape.

Supposing Rommel or his chief in France, Gen. Karl Gerd von Rundstedt, decide, for instance, that the Germans cannot compete with some new Allied tank. What happens then is simple enough, the way Fritz Todt foresaw it long ago, the way the “Magic Circle” carries it out.

Rommel’s demand is approved by the Central Planning Committee – the big five – then handed along immediately without confusion of paperwork to the Speer Ministry. Promptly it reaches the armaments delivery office, which stamps it “SS Unmittelbar Heeresbedarf” …urgent army requirement… and turned it over to the chief of the panzer committee.

The panzer committee obtains the necessary raw materials from the Speer Ministry and the job is underway in a matter of hours after the desired model has been drawn up. When Rommel’s new tanks are ready, the armaments delivery office arranges transportation to the front. No more red tape than that.

Hanns Kerrl, as president of the Speer Planning Office, is second only to Speer himself in the ministry. Once the big five have made their decisions, Kerrl translates them into action.

Types simplified

Simplification of industrial types has been one big achievement.

For example, locomotives in Germany today have 978 fewer parts than in 1941. Factories, of course, are obliged to exchange patents and production secrets.

This system has worked and worked amazingly well… one million tons of oil yearly for the fighting forces, 450 U-boats maintained and another 125 building, steel production raised from 20 million tons in 1937 to between 45 and 50 million tons in the spring of 1943.

Then came Dortmund, Düsseldorf, Essen – the Battle of the Ruhr… then the smashing of the Möhne and Eder Dams… then the U.S. 8th Air Force daylight raids in ever-intensified force against aircraft factories and ball-bearing plants and against dozens of Speer Ministry links in Fritz Todt’s industrial empire.

Steel production is now down to 30 million tons yearly. Ruhr Valley production of guns and tanks is well below the 30% previous level. Transportation grows worse after every Allied raid.

On the home front, the big five are stripping the country bare in a desperate effort to find scrap metal for feeding the hungry maws of the blast furnaces. Lampposts, iron railings, autos and even yacht keels are being confiscated. The loss of the Nikopol manganese deposits, the East Ukraine coal fields and now Turkish chrome, and the reduced Spanish wolfram add no brightness to the German industrial picture.

Germany has reserves today as it awaits invasion – how much only a few know. But accumulated reserves are in peril. The empire has its saturation point as it nears its final struggle inside the Atlantic Wall.

TOMORROW: Mr. Barrows tells how Hitler and his cohorts are making their own post-war plans.

The Pittsburgh Press (May 12, 1944)

What’s going on behind the German defenses?
Hitler and aides base post-war hopes on plan to split U.S., Britain, Russia

Nazi Party still in the saddle in Germany
By Nat A. Barrows

How tough an opposition will our invading forces encounter when they land in Western Europe? What is really going on behind Hitler’s Atlantic Wall? From his observation post in neighboring Sweden, Nat Barrows has been collecting closely guarded information about Germany’s ability and willingness to cope with the titanic forces assembled in England for Allied victory. In a most important series of articles, of which the following is the fifth, Mr. Barrows reveals many hitherto unknown facts about the men directing the German war effort, Germany’s heavy industry, and other hitherto undisclosed information about the German war machine.

Stockholm, Sweden –
Nazi Party leaders – Hitler, Göring, Himmler, Bormann and the rest of that cunning, merciless band – are making their own post-war plans against the inevitable day when their crackpot empire tumbles about them like Allied bombs on Berlin.

Secretly they are exploring the chances for banking their own personal loot in neutral countries and for finding avenues of escape if necessary. They know that the game is nearly up and now they are trying to save their own necks and, at the same time, are busy devising fiendish plots to win the peace, even when they lost the actual war.

One of their secret plots is the development of their own brand of “underground” which will foster trouble between America and Britain, on the one hand, and Russian on the other. They hope that this movement, under one name or another, will one day return the defeated Nazis to power.

Both ends against middle

The Nazi Party chief are also following a policy predicated on the hope that the Allied invasion will be repulsed and the German Army can then smash Russia in the East and make a compromise peace with the Allies in the West.

It is a negative but consistent policy – and an excellent indication of how Hitler is trying to play both ends against the middle. Briefly, this wishful policy can be defined thus:

  • Countries in Europe should join together to defend the “European idea” against Asiatic Communism.

  • Germany is the chief persecutor of this European culture against Russian and American – and to a somewhat lesser decree – British savagery.

  • Russia is a land of barbarism; America is politically bankrupt and has nothing better to offer the German people than they already have, and Britain is only to be pitied as it trots at the heels of one ally or another trying to salvage crumbs.

This is not idle rumor. It is the type of thinking that Hitler and his fellow criminals are following. It is their great dream – a war between the British and Americans and Russia, with both sides trying to woo Germany’s support.

No surrender expected

The Nazis have succeeded all too well in making the German people believe that they face certain extermination unless they fight on to the bitter end. They are weary, and some of them in the mire of defeatist psychology, but the vast majority has no thought of surrender thanks to the insidious propaganda that surrender means extermination.

All this is written after months of careful, precise checking. More importantly, it is written following consultation with a nongermane observer who left Berlin only three days ago after five years inside Germany.

He believes that revolution will never come to Nazi Germany until military collapse is already an accomplished fact. He sees the Nazi Party today like a house of cards, standing upright only by a combination of Hitler’s power and the fact that the war still continues. If either collapses, the house then falls in ruins.

Sudden military defeat, he thinks, is the best solution for the troubles of the German people.

Hitler still in saddle

But if the Allied invasion in the West should become a long, dreary war of attrition, then it is his opinion that the Nazi system will disintegrate suddenly into what will be the “bloodiest chaos the world has ever seen, and I doubt if any occupying power, even the Allies, could succeed in putting the pieces together again.”

Any talk of Hitler’s losing his grip on Germany is incorrect. Certainly, his popularity has decreased since Stalingrad, and he has lost something of his “God-like” character for the German people. But he is still the supreme boss of Germany and firmly in the saddle at Army High Command headquarters.

The various factions in the Nazi Party fully realize that Hitler, and Hitler alone, is able to maintain the unity which is their only strength.

No matter what rumors have been spread abroad, Hitler has not handed over military power to his generals, nor in reality is there any potent opposition in a political sense among the generals. The German generals will not trespass beyond certain limits their tradition of discipline, obedience and loyalty.

Thus, at the moment the army remains in the background, lurking a political factor of great potentialities but with no actual political power today. The Nazi Party still has its monopolistic state control over Germany.

Factions within party

The Nazi Party itself is divided into the factions led by Hangman Heinrich Himmler, dreaded Gestapo chief, and Martin Bormann, successor to Rudolf Hess and the real power behind the Nazi throne.

Both men are hated and despised by the German people but they are able to keep the Nazi Party itself united as never before.

Himmler’s own method of preventing dissention is reaching incredible proportions. In the past year he has ordered more than 10,000 persons executed for defeatist talk or activities against the Nazi Party. Only five weeks ago, he caused five aged civil clerks to be stood against a wall in Liebenwalder Strasse, Berlin, and shot, for singing a vulgar drunken song about Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring’s matrimonial relations.

Thus, in a mixture of terror and blind, sheeplike stupidity, the Germans grope along, fanatically determined not to surrender – while Hitler retains as much practical power as ever and make his plans to win the peace regardless of what happens inside the Atlantic Wall, after the Allied D-Day.

It is something to which to give deep thought as we look ahead into the future.

TOMORROW: German people, tired and overworked, still fear to voice discouragement.

The Pittsburgh Press (May 13, 1944)

What’s going on behind the German defenses?
Tired and forlorn German people are kept gagged by Gestapo

Defeatism or bitterness talk brings hangings
By Nat A. Barrows

How tough an opposition will our invading forces encounter when they land in Western Europe? What is really going on behind Hitler’s Atlantic Wall? From his observation post in neighboring Sweden, Nat Barrows has been collecting closely guarded information about Germany’s ability and willingness to cope with the titanic forces assembled in England for Allied victory. In a most important series of articles, of which the following is the sixth, Mr. Barrows reveals many hitherto unknown facts about the men directing the German war effort, Germany’s heavy industry, and other hitherto undisclosed information about the German war machine.

Stockholm, Sweden –
A nation of sleepwalkers, apathetically groping through the darkness of the Gestapo inquisition, bleakly concerned with such basic facts of life as food, clothing, shelter and self-preservation; determined to fight the Allies to death rather than face what the Nazis have made them believe will be the terrible consequences of defeat – that is how Germany’s 80 million people today await the Allied invasion.

They are a people tired and overworked and haunted always by the fear of more Allied bombing raids.

They dare not even whisper of their discouragement and their bitterness. For defeatist talk, 10,000 Germans have perished before Gestapo firing squads or on Gestapo nooses in the past 12 months.

They hardly talk anymore, at least in public, about the war on the Russian front. And the Balkan campaign is in another world. They only shrug their shoulders when the retreat from Leningrad toward the Baltic States is mentioned.

‘Sword of Damocles’

It is the Allied blitz that the average German carries before him day and night. It hangs over every German like “The Sword of Damocles.” No one factor stabs more deeply into the consciousness of the German citizen unless it is Goebbels’ fiendishly successful propaganda campaign that defeat means extermination for every German.

The bomb warfare, in one way or another, is affecting the life of every single German. If he remains in Berlin or in other cities, he is never able to enjoy his sleep unbroken by the fear of another attack. Half of his life after dark is spent in crowded shelters.

If he lives in the country, he must share his quarters with evacuees from the cities.

Earlier in the raids evacuation from the cities brought many quarrels between hosts and evacuees, but such outbursts of torn nerves now are overshadowed by nationwide appreciation of the calamity.

Live in nightmare

Every report reaching Sweden from non-German sources relates how the Germans today seem to be in a nightmare, apathetic and hardly energetic enough for hatred.

What hatred they do express openly these days is directly largely against the Americans.

I have heard repeatedly how German crowds vent their anti-American spit against captured airmen by throwing stones at them, spitting at them and calling them vulgar names. One American airman, parachuting away from his wrecked Flying Fortress is reported to have escaped mob violence by quickly announcing that he was British, not American.

A partial explanation for this anti-American feeling is psychological: Germans often see American bombing raids. Forts and Liberators and their fighter escorts are there in the sky above them, visible and tangible. RAF night raids are shrouded in darkness.

Part of this explanation is an old story – Goebbels’ insidious propaganda against America.

Germans expect worst

Two outstanding characteristics of the German people must be appreciated by the Allies if we are going to understand the Nazi home front today. One is their sentiment, the other their toughness.

The Germans can take about as much suffering and hardship as any people in the world, and what is more, they are so constructed mentally that they always expect the worst.

This combination of sentiment and toughness, which often overflows into brutality, is enabling the Germans to withstand Allied bombing raids.

Thus, it is a fair deduction, viewing the picture factually and not wishfully, that it is practically impossible to bomb the German nation into moral collapse, at least on the present raiding scale. More to the point is the fact that RAF and USAAF raids are gradually destroying the Nazi administrative system. That is having an infinitely more serious action on the Nazi war effort than the effect of raids on civilian nerves.

TOMORROW: Germans exchange grim jokes but they cannot hide the fact that they’re suffering from irritation, overstrain and lack of nourishing food.