An inglorious end for the French fleet
scuttled at Toulon

Project 60: A Day-by-Day Diary of WWII 

Remembering the First Fight Against Fascism

Red Army Katusha rockets fire in support
of the Soviet attack at Stalingrad

November 17, 1942

Elements of the British 78th Infantry Division tangle with German paratroops 70 miles west of Tunis, the first combat action in Tunisia.

Return to the top

November 18, 1942

Marshal Petain grants law-making power to Prime Minster Laval, enabling him to issue decrees solely on his own authority. Petain is becoming less important in the government although his influence and prestige remain.

Return to the top

November 19, 1942

Operation Uranus, The Counterattack at Stalingrad, Begins. At 0730 hours, the massed guns of Vatutin's Southwest Front opened fire on the positions of the 3rd Rumanian Army along the Don River 70 miles northwest of Stalingrad. The barrage lasted 80 minutes and was followed up by an immediate infantry assault. Elements of the Red Army's 5th Tank Army overran the Rumanian left wing. 21st Army, spearheaded by the new 4th Tank Corp struck the right wing. The Rumanians held briefly, but they too were soon routed. By the end of the day's fighting, the Soviets had scored a clean breakthrough, shattering the Rumanian forces. 1st Tank Corp was advancing southeast to the Don River in a deep flanking move. 26th Tank Corp was heading to the important supply center and major Don crossing point  at Kalach. Meanwhile, 4th Tank Crop was aimed at Golobinsky, to hit the immediate area behind Stalingrad. All the Germans had to stem the red tide was the much depleted 48th Panzer Corp. The Battle of Stalingrad had entered a new phase.

Russian attacks launched in the Caucasus intended only to pin the Germans in place, unexpectedly resulted in gaining substantial ground as the Germans retreated.

In North Africa, British engage a German tank column only 30 miles from Tunis while the British 8th Army occupies Cyrenne in Libya.

The Germans launch limited attacks in Tunisia at Djeb el Abiod and Medjez el Bab
but were stopped by British and Free French forces.

An attempt to destroy the German Norsk Hydro heavy-water facility at Vemork Norway ends in failure as all of the 34-manNorwegian-British team are either killed in a glider crash or captured and executed by the Germans.

US forces in New Guinea begin attacks on heavily fortified Japanese positions at Buna, New Guinea.

Return to the top

November 20, 1942

Yeremenko's Stalingrad Front opened it's offensive. This attack started with a massive barrage by 1000 Katyusha rocket launchers aimed at the Rumanian 4th Corps. This formation had the unenviable task of defending the yawning gap between the German 6th Army in Stalingrad and the 4th Panzer Army far to the South in the Caucasus. The attack was spearheaded by the 64th and 57th Armies supported by 13th Tank Corp and 51st Army supported by the 4th Mechanized Corp. This attack succeeded in routing the Rumanians and in this case, the only reserves were the 29th Motorized Division. The division temporarily checked the advance of the Soviet 13th Tank Corps, but the division was ordered back to Stalingrad as the threat to the rear of the 6th Army became acute. By the end of the day, the Soviet columns were well on their way to Kalach on the Don River 60 miles west of Stalingrad. The Soviet spearheads in the north continued their headlong advance toward the vital link in the line of supply for the German 6th Army.

In North Africa, the Eighth Army reaches Benghazi, while in Tunisia Heavy artillery and determined attacks drive the Free French forces out of Medjez el Bab in Tunisia.

Australian forces break Japanese defenses at Gona but lose the gains to Japanese counterattacks.

Return to the top

November 21, 1942

Von Paulus attempted to move his HQ, already far to the rear of Stalingrad, further back from the fighting, claiming that the new location offered excellent communications. When Hitler heard this, he saw a commander attempting to save his skin and ordered von Paulus to move his HQ once again, this time into the forming pocket at Stalingrad. This confusion slowed the German response to the crisis.

Return to the top

November 22, 1942

After driving into Ostrov with the 26th Tank Corp, the local commander, Major-General Robin, ordered an attempt to be made to capture the vital bridge at Kalach by a coup de main. The commander of the 14th Motorized Rifle Brigade, Lt.-Col. G.N. Filippov set off at 0300 with his scratch force of two companies of infantry and 5 tanks and headed toward Kalach. After a three-hour drive, lights blazing to fool the Germans into thinking the column was friendly, the force rolled up onto the bridge and secured both sides. Despite heavy artillery barrages and desperate counter attacks, the force held, and during the day, the rest of 26th Tank Corp came forward. Meanwhile, 4th Mechanized Corps came up from the south, closing the ring. The German 6th Army, 300,000 men strong, were cut off and surrounded at Stalingrad.

888 Jewish men, women and children living in the Dunilowicze, Poland, were herded into a large barn which was set on fire by Nazis. Those attempting to escape were machine gunned.

Return to the top

November 23, 1942

The Red Army makes it's first installment of payback to the Axis when 24,000 Rumanian soldiers surrounded at Raspopinskaya in the initial stages of the Stalingrad Counter Offensive, surrender. Meanwhile, von Paulus appeals to the German high command to be allowed to breakout from Stalingrad.

In North Africa, Montgomery calls a halt to the pursuit of Germans in order to regroup for his advance to Tunisia.

Return to the top

November 24, 1942

Hitler orders von Paulus to hold Stalingrad, promising his forces would be supplied from the air.

The Australians are thrown back after attempting to take Buna, New Guinea

Return to the top

November 25, 1942

Operation Mars Begins: The long awaited offensive against the Germans opposite Moscow begins. The Red Army forces of the Kalinin and Western fronts directed attacks against the west, north and east faces of the Rzhev bulge and the German 9th Army defending it. On the eastern face, the Western Front's 20th and 31st Armies (200,000 men, 500 tanks) hit the German 39th Panzer Korp (40,000 men) along the Vazusa and Osuga Rivers. Resistance by the 102d Infantry Division stopped the attacks cold with heavy losses to the attackers. On the western face, Kalinin Front's 41st and 22d Armies strike across the Belyi and Luchesa Rivers, achieving some success in penetrating the German front. Finally, in the north, the 39th Army (80,000 men, 200 tanks) hit the German 23d Corps, but the German 14th Motorized Division stopped these attacks. Editor's Note: There has long been the misconception that Zhukov planned and executed the counterattack at Stalingrad. This is not true. His major area of interest at this time was actually in the Moscow area. He saw this operation as primary and the offensive in the south as secondary. It was not until Operation Mars fell apart and the southern offensive well under way that his attentions were directed to that location.  

Greek resistance fighters succeed in blowing up the massive viaduct on the Athen-Salonika railway. This destroyed the main supply route for Rommel's beleaguered forces in North Africa.

Return to the top

November 26, 1942

Operation Mars continues as Konev (West Front) commits his second echelon and mobile forces to the breakthrough operations on the eastern face. Casualties in the lead 20th and 31st Armies are devastatingly high and little headway is made against the German defenders. The Soviet follow-up forces is being jammed into a desperately small bridgehead and German artillery plays havoc with their approach march. The Germans countered by releasing the 9th Panzer Division to shore up their defense. On the western face, 1st Mechanized Corp is committed. This attack was very successful tearing a hole in the German lines 20 kilometers wide and 30 deep. The Germans countered by committing the 1st Panzer Division and the elite Grossedeutschland Divisions.

Red Army forces close with the Don River capturing Krasnoye, Generalov and Selo.

The British 78th Division retakes Medjex el Bab, Tunisia while US tank forces raided the airfield at Djebeida destroying 30 planes on the ground.

The Germans make the first large deportation of Jews from Norway.

Return to the top

November 27, 1942

The Germans formed Army Group Don under the command of von Manstien. He is tasked with holding the line between Army Group South and Army Group A as well as conduct a relief attack to Stalingrad. Meanwhile, Red Army infantry and artillery pours across the Don River as new lines facing Stalingrad and facing outward against the expected relief attempt begin to form.

On the eastern end of the Rzhev salient, after regrouping from the disorganized approach march and river crossing against constant artillery attack, Konev and Zhukov launch their reserves against the German 39th Panzer Corps. Soviet casualties were appallingly high, but the bulk of the 6th Tank Corp and some elements of the 2nd Guards Cavalry Corp slipped between German strongpoints into the rear of German lines. To the west, German resistance in the city of Belyi has been fierce. Russian reserves are being bled white in futile attacks against the city. Meanwhile, the breakthrough south of the city goes unexploited for lack of troops.

As German troops march into Toulon, Admiral Labrode orders the scuttling of his fleet. Seventy-five warships are sunk. Four of the French submarines were able to escape and join the Allies.

British forces captured Tebourba, 22 miles from Tunis.

Return to the top

November 28, 1942

In the Rzhev battles along the eastern face, local German counterattacks slow the Soviet attacks. The advanced elements of Konev's forces (6th Tank and 2nd Guard Cavalry Corps) are isolated from the rest of the Front.

Rommel proposes to Hitler that the campaign in North Africa be terminated because there was no hope of adequately supplying the troops there. Hitler would have none of it claiming there was a "political necessity" for the decision to stay in North Africa.

Return to the top

November 29, 1942

Konev's tank and cavalry force, cut off in the Rzhev battle begin breakout operations moving west in an attempt to meet up with the 1 Mechanized Corp still advancing on that front. The carnage was incredible but large portions of the trapped forces escaped.

A British paratroop battalion land in the Oudna area while heavy German pressure at Djedeida force the Allies to withdrawal.

Return to the top

November 30, 1942

Nazi interests in the Silesian-American Corporation, long managed by Prescott Bush and his father-in-law George Herbert Walker, were seized under the Trading with the Enemy Act.

The Battle of Tassafaronga, yet another night action of Savo Island, is fought. In the action, US Naval forces attempted to interdict yet another attempt by the Japanese to reinforce Guadalcanal. Admiral Wright's force of 5 heavy cruisers and 7 destroyers use radar to attack the Japanese and for once get the first shots. However, the initial salvo is ineffective sinking only one Japanese destroyer. In the ensuing melee, the heavy cruiser USS Northampton is sunk and the other three cruisers are heavily damaged. The tactical defeat for the Americans is however a victory as the supplies destine for the island were turned back.

Soviet forces begin to probe German positions along the lower Chir River. Von Manstein has managed to form up a scratch defense that manages to hold against the limited attacks.

In a secret directive to mental asylums in Germany declared that those inmates unable to provide meaningful service to the fatherland would be starved to death.

The British 123rd Brigade makes headway in attacks in the Arakan region of Burma, reaching Bawali Bazaar.

As the attacks by the 20th and 31st Armies against the Rzhev salient falter, Zhukov reinforces failure by committing the 29th Army and 5th Tank Corp to the area.

Return to the top

Editor's Corner 

The items found in this section are comments from the editors of Project 60 and may not necessarily reflect the opinions of bartcop.

Hitler's Angel

Many of the great houses of American industry and finance had very dirty hands when it came to dealing with the Nazis. General Motors, IBM, Standard Oil and many others have had their sorted dealings with the enemies of the United States aired in public forums. However, one criminal has had little exposure - Prescott Bush, father and grandfather to two occupants of the Whitehouse.

The story of Prescott Bush and his association with the Nazis begins just before the end of World War I with the dealings of the German industrialist family of Thyssen. As German hopes for victory sank into the mud filled trenches of the western front, August Thyssen, known as the "Rockefeller of the Rhur" opened the Bank voor Handel en Scheepvaart in Rotterdam, placing his son Fritz at its head. The bank, being in neutral Holland, was an excellent place to hide his vast wealth as the Imperial Germany disintegrated. Meanwhile, his other son, Heinrich, married into Hungarian nobility and changed his name to Barron Thyssen Bornemisza de Kaszon.

After the war, Avrell Harriman, son of the rail baron E. H. Harriman, and his partner George Herbert Walker, was busy setting up their own international banking network. In 1922, Harriman met with Fritz Thyssen and agreed to set up banking interests for him in the states. By 1924, the Union Banking Corporation was born.

Meanwhile, back in Germany, the crippling effects of the war and the harsh conditions inflicted on the German economy due to the Versailles Treaty were causing widespread unrest. One of the players in this unrest was, of course, Adolph Hitler. Fritz Thyssen became an ardent follower of Hitler, embarrassing the ideas of the Nazis, especially his anti-union, anti-labor views. He provided Hitler with his first infusion of cash. Several German industrialists followed Thyssen's lead and also donated to the Nazis. After the failed "Beer Hall Putsch" in 1923, many gave up on Hitler, but not Thyssen.

The late 1920's saw a boom in the German economy. August Thyssen died, leaving his son Fritz in control of their vast holdings. Thyssen merged his steel operations with Flick who owned many coal and steel interests throughout Germany and Poland, forming United Steel Works (USW). Walker and Harriman meanwhile sold $50,000,000 in German bonds to bankroll the Thyssen/Flick Empire.

It was at this time that the young Prescott Bush entered the picture. Walker hired his new son-in-law to run the American side USW. Prescott was a hard worker and helped everyone involved make a great deal of money. 

Then 1929 came. World financial markets crumbled to dust. However, the plutocrats -, Thyssen, Harriman and Flick maintained their empires. With the ever-deepening desperation setting into the mindset of the German public, Hitler's maniacal rants became more popular. Thyssen joined the Nazis and bankrolled their rise to power.  By 1932, despite loosing 35 seats in parliament in the national election, the Nazis were able to broker a power sharing deal. By 1934 Hitler was the dictator of Germany.

Hitler wanted to see the rebirth of Germany. He began a massive campaign to build the autobahn and rebuild his military. All of this needed steel, steel which Thyssen and Flick controlled. Profits for the Bank voor Handel en Scheepvaart and the Union Banking Corporation soared. Prescott Bush became managing director of Union Banking Corporation and personally ran the German end of the business.

However, all was not rosy for the gang. The Polish government was growing weary of Flick's operations in Poland and threatening to take over the businesses claiming fraudulent bookkeeping, securities fraud, tax evasion and excessive borrowing. The conflict with the Polish government ended when Hitler invaded, destroying that nation and, starting World War II in Europe.

Thyssen and Flick's Polish steel interests were centered at Oswiecim in the heart of a vast coal and steel-producing region. After Hitler's takeover, he decided to place a forced labor camp in the area in order to exploit the resource rich state. That camp became Auschwitz.

Thyssen and Flick, fearing a repeat of the collapse of Germany after WWI, bailed out, selling their Polish interests to Union Banking Corporation and fleeing Germany. As it turned out, Fritz and his brother Heinrich had made similar slights of hand between these banks and a third bank - The August Thyssen Bank of Berlin - many times, perpetrating a series of tax and securities frauds. Whenever there was a threat to the Thyssen Empire, the brothers would collude to hide their assets. In this case, Harriman became the controlling interest and Bush managed the former Polish enterprises, all of which were supplied labor from the camps at Auschwitz.

On December 13, 1941, six days after the attack at Pearl Harbor, Roosevelt signed the "Trading With the Enemy Act". This act banned business dealings the enemies of the United States. Prescott Bush ignored this and continued to do business with the Nazis.

Prescott's dreams of riches began to crumble in the summer of 1942. The New York Tribune had discovered and written on the Bush-Thyssen connection. The Tribune hung the moniker of "Hitler's Angel" on Bush. On October 20, 1942, after investigation by the US government, Vesting Order 248 was executed. The order stated

Under the authority of the Trading with the enemy Act, as amended, and pursuant to law, the undersigned, after investigation, finding:

(a)    That the property described as follows:

All of the capital stock of Union Banking Corporation, a New York corporation, New York, New York, [identifying E. Roland Harriman, Cornelius Lievense, Harold D. Pennington, Ray Morris, Prescott S. Bush, H.J. Kouwenhoven and Johann G. Groeninger as shareholders]

all of which shares are held the benefit of Bank voor Handel en Scheepvaart, N.V., Rotterdam, The Netherlands, which bank is owned or controlled by members of the Thyssen family, nationals of German and/or Hungary

(b) That the property described as follows is an interest in the aforesaid business enterprise held by nationals of an enemy country or countries, and also is property within the United States owned or controlled by nationals of a designated enemy country deemed it necessary in the national interest, hereby vests such property in the Alien Property Custodian, to be held, used, administered, liquidated, sold or otherwise dealt with in the interest of and for the benefit of the United States .

With that, Prescott Bush lost his power in the Union Banking Corporation. Bush resigned as managing director in 1943, but still retained his stock interests. For the remainder of the war, he engaged in fund raising activities and became the founder of the United Services Organizations (USO).

But the story, and the audacity, of Prescott Bush do not end here. For that, we must return to Fritz Thyssen.

After Holland was overrun in 1940, Hitler's auditors investigated the Bank voor Handel en Scheepvaart. Hitler was after Fritz Thyssen's fortune, which had been transferred to the Netherlands after he fled Germany in 1939. Transfer of funds outside the Reich was illegal. However, no evidence was found in Rotterdam and Hitler imprisoned his one-time benefactor for the duration of the war. Unknown to Hitler, Thyssen had transferred his family's assets to his brother Heinrich in Hungary.

As the war ground on and German hopes faded, Thyssen planned to transfer his empire back to "neutral" Rotterdam as in German and the Soviet bloc would not be recoverable. The only hitch in the plan was that the August Thyssen Bank of Berlin was destroyed in the war and the vault with all the Thyssen family papers were buried under a mountain of rubble. But the enterprising Thyssen brothers got Dutch authorities to dig up the vault and bring it back to The Netherlands.

Despite being held and interrogated by the Allies, Fritz Thyssen never told the authorities where his fortune was hidden and ultimately he was released from prison. He died in Argentina in 1951. Upon his death, the Alien Property Custodian released the assets of the Union Banking Corporation. The principles cashed out and the UBC was no more.

Prescott Bush received $750,000 for his share of Union Banking Corporation, a princely sum in 1951, but nothing compared to the millions the Thyssen family got back. Prescott used some of this Nazi cash to bankroll his son George Herbert Walker Bush's first business enterprise and to support his successful bid for Senate in 1952. The Thyssen's rebuilt their empire, and today, the Thyssen Group (TBG) is the largest industrial conglomerate in Germany.

D. A. Friedrichs


This column relied heavily on the writings of John Loftus, President of the Florida Holocaust Museum and Tony Rogers of Clamor Magazine. I am greatly indebted to them for their work.

1941 Archive:
June | July | August | September | October | November | December

1942 Archive:
  January |  February | March  | April | May | June | July | August | September 

Special Editions:
Pearl Harbor | The Doolittle Raid | Midway

Editor's Corner Archive:

The Past Through Tomorrow "It is quite frightening to realize just how similar our nation's actions have been and appear to be heading when compared this way..."

Afghanistan and Vietnam: When the "war against terrorism" began, many knowledgeable people warned that our operations in Afghanistan would turn into another Vietnam.

Want to Win - Think Before You Lash Out - "If we are serious about taking the war to the enemy, it is time to look ..."

The First Fight Against Fascism - We must remember the Spanish Civil War also.

Arguing Victory - "... Each nation who fought against fascist tyranny in WWII brought with it part of whole needed to defeat that evil..." 

War, Glory, Honor and Remembrance - "War is a brutal and savage insult on human society..."

The First Casualty... in time of war, those in power are even more inclined to hide the truth, since that truth is often manifest in the most gruesome and terrible acts.  

Those wishing to contribute items. stories or comments should contact D.A. Friedrichs


Privacy Policy
. .