While German-speaking people have a long history, Germany as a nation state dates only from 1871. Earlier periods are subject to definition debates. The Franks, for instance, comprised a union of Germanic tribes; nevertheless, some descendants of the Franks later identified themselves as Dutch, Flemish, French and again others as Germans. The capital of the medieval ruler Charlemagne's empire, the city of Aachen, lies in present-day Germany, yet he was a Frank. Though France takes its name from the Franks, the Dutch and Flemish people are the only ones to speak a language that descends directly from Frankish (the language of the Franks). Hence nearly all continental Western European historians can claim Charlemagne's victories as their heritage. The Holy Roman Empire he founded c. 800 was largely - but far from entirely - German-speaking. The Kingdom of Prussia, which unified Germany in the 19th century, had significant territory in what is now Poland. In the early 19th century, the philosopher Schlegel referred to Germany as a Kulturnation - a nation of shared culture and political disunity, analogous to ancient Greece. Until the unification of 1871, many considered Austria part of this imagined cultural Germany, and potentially part of a future German state (Grossdeutschland, as opposed to Kleindeutschland: a future German state without Austria), even though much of its empire never formed part of the Holy Roman Empire and was non-German in language and in ethnicity. (Full article...)
The Battle of Greece (also known as Operation Marita, German: Unternehmen Marita) is the common name for the invasion and conquest of Greece by Nazi Germany in April 1941. Greece was supported by British Commonwealth forces, while the Germans' Axis allies Italy and Bulgaria played secondary roles. The Battle of Greece is usually distinguished from the Greco-Italian War fought in northwestern Greece and southern Albania from October 1940, as well as from the Battle of Crete fought in late May. These operations, along with the Invasion of Yugoslavia, comprise the Balkans Campaign of World War II.
The Balkans Campaign began with the Italian invasion of Greece on 28 October 1940. Within weeks, the Italians were driven out of Greece and Greek forces pushed on to occupy much of southern Albania. In March 1941, a major Italian counterattack failed, and Germany was forced to come to the aid of its ally. Operation Marita began on 6 April 1941, with German troops invading Greece through Bulgaria in an effort to secure its southern flank. The combined Greek and British Commonwealth forces fought back with great tenacity, but were vastly outnumbered and out-gunned, and finally collapsed. Athens fell on 27 April, however the British managed to evacuate about 50,000 troops. The Greek campaign ended in a quick and complete German victory with the fall of Kalamata in the Peloponnese; it was over within 24 days. The conquest of Greece was completed through the capture of Crete a month later. Greece remained under occupation by the Axis powers until October 1944.
Heinz-Wolfgang Schnaufer (16 February 1922 – 15 July 1950) was a German Luftwaffe night fighter pilot and is the highest scoring night fighter ace in the history of aerial warfare. A flying ace or fighter ace is a military aviator credited with shooting down five or more enemy aircraft during combat. All of his 121 victories were claimed during World War II at night, mostly against British four-engine bombers, for which he was awarded the coveted Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds (German: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub, Schwertern und Brillanten) on 16 October 1944, Germany's highest military decoration at the time. He was nicknamed "The Spook of St. Trond", from the location of his unit's base in occupied Belgium.
Born in Calw, Schnaufer grew up in the Weimar Republic and Third Reich as the first of four children of Alfred Schnaufer and his wife Martha. The family owned and operated a winery business. Schnaufer, a good student and already a glider pilot at school, began military service in the Wehrmacht by joining the Luftwaffe in 1939. After training at various pilot and fighter-pilot schools, he was posted to Nachtjagdgeschwader 1 (NJG 1—1st Night Fighter Wing), operating on the Western Front, in November 1941. He flew his first combat sorties in support of Operation Cerberus, the breakout of the German ships Scharnhorst, Gneisenau, and Prinz Eugen from Brest. Schnaufer participated in the Defence of the Reich campaign from 1942 onwards, in which he would achieve most of his success. He claimed his first aerial victory on the night of 1/2 June 1942. As the war progressed, he accumulated further victories and he later became a squadron leader and group commander. He was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 31 December 1943 for reaching 42 aerial victories.
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