Timeline – From the Ashes, by Annette Oppenlander

  • September 1, 1939 Germany attacks Poland under the guise that Poland attacked a German office, killing several men. In reality, Hitler had planned the war on Poland for years. The attack at the German office had been staged by the SS and actually began at least an hour earlier than announced. Two days later, France and Britain declare war against Germany. Within two weeks Poland is overrun, and is divided up between Germany and Russia.
  • Spring 1940 Emboldened by the quick victory, Hitler attacks Denmark and Norway. France is invaded next. Both offensives require large quantities of troops, siphoning German men away from homes. First attacks on German ground occur; Hitler dictates the building of additional bunkers.
  • May 11, 1940 The British Royal Airforce (RAF) begins attacks on Germany
  • 1941 Hitler breaks his agreement with Russia and attacks.
  • Dec 11, 1941 Germany declares war on the U.S.
  • May 30, 1942 The RAF bombs Cologne with more than 1,000 bombs – until 1945, 262 attacks follow.
  • Sept 13, 1942 The battle for Stalingrad begins.
  • 1942/1943 The winter of Stalingrad turns the tide, ultimately leading to Germany’s doom. More than 700,000 people, Russians and Germans die during the battle.
  • Feb 2, 1943 The German army capitulates in Stalingrad. Large scale air attacks drop bombs on German cities. The civilian population, mostly women and children and without food and heat, seek refuge in bunkers and cellars.
  • Feb 18, 1943 NS propaganda minister Goebbels declares “total war” – the Third Reich’s reaction to the loss in Stalingrad
  • April 19, 1943 The Warsaw ghetto’s remaining Jews fight the German SS and are able to resist until May 16.
  • 1943 To scare the German civilian population, British and American Air Forces perform large scale bombing attacks; carpet bombs cover large areas.. The German flak, in charge of protecting the homeland, is unable to reach the high flying planes.
  • June 6, 1944 The Allied Forces land in France.
  • June 22, 1944 Eastern front: the largest battle between Red and German armies ensues, 670,000 men die, adding to the huge losses in the west. Rumblings to end the Nazi regime erupt within the German military leadership.
  • July 20, 1944 Oberst Stauffenberg’s attempt to assassinate Hitler fails.
  • Sept. 11, 1944 The Allied Forces enter Germany.
  • Oct. 16, 1944 The Red Army enters Germany.
  • Nov. 4/5 1944 Solingen is leveled and burns for a week. The bombing on November 5 lasts 18 minutes and leaves 100 large fires, 300 middle sized and 500 small fires. Black clouds of smoke billow from houses. 921 tons of bombs and mines followed by 138 tons of phosphor bombs fall. More than 20,000 people lose their homes. On November 5, 1944, the British radio announces: “Solingen, the heart of the German steel industry, a destroyed, dead city!”
  • Jan. 1945 While the German army lacks ammunition and food and soldiers retreats on all fronts, families are asked to sacrifice yet again. Coined the final war, boys and grandfathers are drafted. The Allies move to finish the job, no longer fearing much opposition. Air attacks blanket the country. The Red Army frees the KZ camp Auschwitz – most of the prisoners have died during SS-organized death marches.
  • Feb 13, 1945 RAF and USAAF bomb Dresden, burning it to the ground, killing 18,000-25,000 civilians.
  • March 1945 While Russians and Americans are already on German ground, the German government threatens to shoot anyone who displays white sheets as a sign of surrender.
  • April 21, 1945 Battle for Berlin, 2.5 million Red Army soldiers surround the city, fighting one million German soldiers. The last fanatics, SS, Hitler youth create stand-up desertion tribunals, shooting German citizens on the spot. American troops arrive in Solingen. Its citizens surrender without a fight. Hitler commits suicide.
  • May 2-8, 1945 Germany surrenders.
  • Summer 1945 British and American military release German prisoners, Russia continues filling its camps.
  • 1945-1948 With its infrastructure and production facilities destroyed, the German population starves. Families go on barter trips, trading and stealing to survive while run-away inflation and black markets seize the country.
  • June 1948 The new currency, Deutsche Mark, is introduced; stores that have horded for months, fill with goods overnight.
  • 1953-1955 The last prisoners of war “The last 10,000” are released from Russian camps.

5 thoughts on “Timeline – From the Ashes, by Annette Oppenlander”

  1. Scott Oppenlander

    I have been working on genealogy for over 30 years. My great-great-grandfather (Chris Oppenlander) was born in Hengstfeld and came to the US through Michigan in the 1860’s. He got married in Indiana and settled in Kansas. He has always been a dead end for me – I could never develop any information on his siblings or parents.

    My uncle talked about a ‘group of 9’ that made the decision to come to the US but I never saw any evidence of it. My father-in-law mentioned that there was a sizeable German immigrant population in Michigan. My assumption has always been that my ancestor came to Michigan first to link up with his family, and strike out on his own from there. I believe other Oppenlanders came through Michigan and on to Oregon.

    There was also a Kurt Oppenlander who was a general at Stalingrad. He got out before the surrender but eventually died in a US prison camp. He was born in Ulm; the German wikipedia site has a good article on him.

    Can you or your husband please get in touch with me at soppenlander@gmail.com? I would love to finally break through on this…

Leave a Reply to Scott Oppenlander Cancel Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *