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Thread: Small, Forgotten Small Wars

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Small, Forgotten Small Wars

    I noticed recently a few posts on largely forgotten conflicts and although this thread has many references, I think a new thread is appropriate.

    Post on Estonia (thanks to Stan):
    In the 1940s the so-called Forest Brothers were responsible for more Russian officer (single shot) kills than any other military unit to include SS death squads. They couldn't afford to squander ammo nor spend too much time in the AO. They adapted well to both the terrain and their own shortcomings (Estonian's rarely whine when the chips are down).
    Added to by Cannoneer No.4:
    The Forest Brothers and the Selbschutz, Schuma Battalions, and the 20th Waffen Grenadier Division der SS (Estnische Nr. 1) whacked a lot of Sovs during the Great Patriotic War. Great Irregular Warfare stuff for a different thread.
    To which Stan responded:
    Generally speaking the Forest Brothers limited their activities to supporting Estonian and Finnish soldiers and were at one time something of a myth or legend when soldiers returning from the front recanted stories of “Forest Brothers” disrupting flanking enemy fire and saving their butts. They however were not an elite SS unit hangin’ out in the trees and Bogs. One very old dude told me “how easy it was to pick off Russian officers” as they always paraded around in class A’s with all the glittering accoutrements glaring you in the face.
    davidbfpo

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Missing one

    I know someone has posted a short post on counter-guerilla operations in WW2 Russia, but despite searching I cannot identify it.

    If you know where it is please link or copy & paste here.
    davidbfpo

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    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    Excerpts from Estonian military awards and decorations, 1918-1940

    1939 – 1944, Serving in the Finnish armed forces, and the Winter War
    During this period an estimated 3,352 Estonian men crossed the frozen Gulf of Finland to fight in the Finnish armed forces (410 would form 10% of the Finnish Navy). Among those, was the Estonian reconnaissance unit ERNA, trained for action behind enemy lines. They would later return to Estonia’s front providing significant data to Finnish and German commands. ERNA together with the Forest Brothers, opposed to Russian occupation, would effectively fight against the Russian fighter battalion and military intelligence units.

    A little more background on the Defense League:
    On October 1st, 1917 the Tallinn Citizen’s Self-Defense Force under the command of CPT Johan Pika and merchant Eduard Saarepera was founded. The Self-Defense Force was founded out of political and practical needs. Great Russian chauvinism and Bolsheviks internationalism threatened to suffocate the idea of Estonian national self-determination. Estonia’s provisional government was unable to run the country and chaos reigned. Things at the WWI front were worsening for the Russians, when on 21 August information regarding the German occupation of Riga, Latvia was received. This spread panic among the Estonians, creating a new wave of refugees while Russian troops stationed in Estonia began robbing people.

    The Self-Defense Force displayed great vitality and took effective measure to stop the Bolsheviks ‘evacuation all the while under German occupation and illegal actions (such as the battle in the vicinity of the electric power station in Tallinn and the large beach gate on 24 February 1918). On 11 November 1918 the German occupation of Estonia ended and the Self-Defense Force was replaced by the Estonian Defense League. The Defense League, now directly subordinate to the Minister of War, began its activities under the leadership of MG Ernst Põdder and the chairmanship of Johan Pitka. Acting only upon the principle of acting with honor and in a manner for the good of the State, the Defense League operated without standing orders and statutes.

    A short piece of history regarding the Estonian Shooting Union – in order to give you an idea as to the Defense League’s and Defense Forces’ marksmanship capabilities.

    In November of 1930 representatives of the Defense League, Defense Forces, Border Guard and Police formed the Estonian Shooting Union Working Group, uniting shooting sportsmen and developing relations with shooting societies and unions in other countries.

    From 1935 to 1939 during competitions in Rome, Helsinki and Lucerne, Estonians broke four world records, six team and four individual world titles and twice winning The Argentina Cup for best free rifle team. By 1940 there were no less than 51 Grand Masters in Estonia. During four shooting events with large and small caliber rifle, free and combat pistol, Estonians won the Grand Masters title 77 times. They also held three triple and twenty double Grand Master titles.
    Last edited by Stan; 01-09-2011 at 08:58 AM.
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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default WW2 German counter-guerilla operations

    This was the post I could not find, by JMA in the Suppressive Fire thread:

    The book Communist Guerrilla Warfare by Dixon/Heilbrunn (1955) dealing with how the Germans dealt with Soviet guerrilla activity after the invasion of 1941 was useful reading in the 70s before COIN became an "industry". It is worth study even though some of the methods used against the guerrillas were considered war crimes at the time.
    This booklet, thanks to Fuchs, is available on:http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=2956428 (Requires registration for a free trial).

    I have a vague memory that German operations have appeared before somewhere.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 01-09-2011 at 11:58 AM.
    davidbfpo

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    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Let's not forget that German "anti-partisan" operations in occupied Soviet territory and the Baltics would eventually help shape the Holocaust post-1941. The enthusiastic massacre of Jews by locals in the Baltics was encouraged and channeled by the Germans as a method of recruitment and control, and eventually the Baltics became an important killing ground for for Jews from all over Eastern Europe.

    The mission of the Einsatzgruppen, according to Otto Ohlendorf, was essentially rear-area security, and they were aided and sometimes exceeded by Wehrmacht security divisions. "Where the partisan is, there is the Jew, and where the Jew is, there is the partisan" went the slogan, and to a large extent this attitude was endemic to the German conception of anti-partisan operations in the East. The difference between German operations can be seen when German units used to the Eastern way of doing things were transferred to the western European theater in 1944.

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Tequila,

    The reality of German operations in the former USSR was brought home to me, in visits to Western Ukraine, around Lvov or Lviv and in the Crimea. There is a superb, grim modern film about the topic, the title of which eludes me.

    As an aside anti-German feelings in the Crimea appear to have disappeared; I was touring with a mainly German-speaking group. In Lvov it was harder to establish, as a former Polish province the Poles had been expelled in 1945.
    davidbfpo

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    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tequila View Post
    Let's not forget that German "anti-partisan" operations in occupied Soviet territory and the Baltics would eventually help shape the Holocaust post-1941. The enthusiastic massacre of Jews by locals in the Baltics was encouraged and channeled by the Germans as a method of recruitment and control, and eventually the Baltics became an important killing ground for for Jews from all over Eastern Europe.
    Tequila,
    One of the research projects I was working on in 2006 included the massacre of Jews in the Baltic States. The Estonian archives claim less than 900 Jews killed in Estonia (Wiki has an even 1,000), 80,000 plus in Latvia and 140,000 plus for Lithuania (Wiki figures are somewhat similar).

    Of the people interviewed then (most well over 65 years old), I was unable to find one that, although part of an SS unit, had any information on the massacre of Jews in Estonia. While 1,000 deaths is certainly too many, I was struck by the general lack of information on massacres in Estonia.

    Lithuanian holocaust numbers tend to jibe with a 14th century Jewish ghetto (Jewish Quarter) and large Jewish population, but the figures for Latvia and Estonia don't fit.

    Do you have a better source than Wiki ?

    Regards, Stan
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    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Stan,

    A lot of this is from my memory of Ian Kershaw's book, specifically on how the Holocaust developed to the extent it did out of the German war effort in the East. Timothy Snyder's The Reconstruction of Nations also has a lot of good stuff on Lithuania and Poland, specifically on the development of ethnic nationalism separated out different groups which previously did not define themselves by ethnic categories. Most of the slaughter of the Jews in the Baltics was in Latvia and Lithuania - Estonia had a very small Jewish population, IIRC.

    As for the slaughter of Jews in the Baltics, a large number of these were not "national" Jews because the Germans shipped many Jews from all over Eastern Europe to Baltic camps for extermination. Vaivara, for instance, housed thousands of Jews from all over the Baltics in Estonia, and thousands of Czech Jews were shot at Kalevi-Liiva (US HHM website).

    Not to take the focus off of German anti-partisan operations to refocus on the Holocaust - my post was meant to introduce the fact that the German conception of anti-partisan operations was inevitably wrapped up with their overall political conceptions at the time.
    Last edited by tequila; 01-09-2011 at 03:23 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    This was the post I could not find, by JMA in the Suppressive Fire thread:

    This booklet, thanks to Fuchs, is available on:http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=2956428 (Requires registration for a free trial).

    I have a vague memory that German operations have appeared before somewhere.
    David the key to that book is the German publication as follows:



    Larger image here.

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    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tequila View Post
    Stan,

    A lot of this is from my memory of Ian Kershaw's book, specifically on how the Holocaust developed to the extent it did out of the German war effort in the East. Timothy Snyder's The Reconstruction of Nations also has a lot of good stuff on Lithuania and Poland, specifically on the development of ethnic nationalism separated out different groups which previously did not define themselves by ethnic categories. Most of the slaughter of the Jews in the Baltics was in Latvia and Lithuania - Estonia had a very small Jewish population, IIRC.

    As for the slaughter of Jews in the Baltics, a large number of these were not "national" Jews because the Germans shipped many Jews from all over Eastern Europe to Baltic camps for extermination. Vaivara, for instance, housed thousands of Jews from all over the Baltics in Estonia, and thousands of Czech Jews were shot at Kalevi-Liiva (US HHM website).
    Thanks for the link Tequila! It was to say the least, strange and even my Estonian better half (at nearly 50) remains skeptical over the sheer numbers in the article. We were coincidentally in Vaivera County for a friends wedding last year. Stranger yet is the County's far eastern location to the Russian border (most of the German camps were not directly on the land borders with Russia - at least not long lived camps). There are Estonian articles referring to the UK Guardian's reports on Kalev-Liiva in 2008, but darn little evidence that would substantiate the numbers (even Wiki has but 1,000 deaths).

    Back to the thread I guess !
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    Council Member Cannoneer No. 4's Avatar
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    Default Estonica.org

    Thanks, davidbfpo, for starting this thread.

    Links that should be of interest to students of Estonian Irregular Warfare:

    Forest Brothers

    reconnaissance group Erna

    Estonian Legion

    The post-WW II armed resistance to Soviet power in Estonia

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    http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-a...rising-author/

    Two hundred years ago, slaves outside New Orleans launched the largest revolt in American history, but this bloody event has been ignored by history, says Dan Rasmussen, author of a new book, American Uprising.

    The revolt was meticulously planned, politically sophisticated, and ethnically diverse—and a fundamental challenge to the system of plantation slavery. Dressed in military uniforms and chanting “On to New Orleans,” they rallied a rugged army of around 500 slaves to attempt to conquer the city, kill all its white inhabitants, and establish a black republic on the shores of the Mississippi.
    A scrimmage in a Border Station
    A canter down some dark defile
    Two thousand pounds of education
    Drops to a ten-rupee jezail


    http://i.imgur.com/IPT1uLH.jpg

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Turkish COIN campaign in Kurdistan

    A war that fits the thread's title and is currently in the RFI thread:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ad.php?t=12285
    davidbfpo

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Forest Brothers

    Found via the Finnish leisure thread the Wikipedia entry:http://fi.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mets%C3%A4veljet
    davidbfpo

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    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    Found via the Finnish leisure thread the Wikipedia entry:http://fi.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mets%C3%A4veljet
    Hello David,
    I had no idea you were scanning the Finnish language sites. For that matter, I had no idea you spoke Finnish

    The thing about this info that bugs me are the estimated numbers of Estonian Forest Brothers as they don't jibe with most historical documents (unless you happen to be a former Estonian Prime Minister being cited as a source - which there just so happens to be ). This would have a one-50th of the population hiding in the woods the size of Rhode Island

    I did enjoy the short brief on "Scary Ants" being a bandit, hero and legend.
    Last edited by Stan; 01-21-2011 at 03:58 PM.
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    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    The Caste War in Yucatan lasted from 1847 to 1901, with the Mayans in rebellion. The Mayans gave the Conquistodores a lot of trouble also. The Cristero Rebellion lasted from 1926 to 1929. There are probably a lot of small wars in Mexican history, or at least a lot us Gringos don't know about.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Mau Mau Emergency in Kenya

    A colonial era COIN war 1952-1960 that the UK would probably prefer to overlook and due to a current legal case has re-appeared. What is astonishing is that the civil disclosure requirements led to the discovery of colonial records "lost" in a store. This short BBC report is summary:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-13044974

    The use of torture in the 'Emergency' was well known at the time, there was a public airing of one case of abuse and killings at the Hola Camp.

    A "taster" on the 'Emergency':http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mau_Mau_Uprising
    davidbfpo

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    Default 50 Years Ago Today.....The Bay Of Pigs

    Link to articles on the 50 year anniversary of the Bay Of Pigs.


    http://specials.msn.com/A-List/Lifes...ex=1&gt1=36010

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Small Wars bonanza

    Via the BSAP History group having circulated an article on an episode in the WW1 campaign in German East Africa, the author Harry Fecitt has responded and so drawn my attention to a fascinating website:
    This site serves as a monument to all soldiers who fought and all casualties of World War 1 and the Colonial Wars in the period leading up to World War 2. It intends to honor soldiers of all nationalities and all races..
    Link:http://www.kaiserscross.com/40020.html

    It is full of Small Wars materiel, pre-WW1 to pre-WW2, notably in Africa; have a peek at those listed here, including service with the inter-war Iraqi Levies or the '1st Chinese Regiment':http://www.kaiserscross.com/304501/home.html

    The link to the African articles:http://www.kaiserscross.com/188001/home.html

    Plenty to read this weekend, first The 24th Punjabis at Ismid, Turkey, 15 June 1920; an incident I've never heard of.
    davidbfpo

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Some constant themes run through accounts of fighting in Africa

    methinks these themes have been re-learnt more recently:
    -The ferocity of the fight – killing is the only thing that counts.

    -Administrative problems, particularly the provision of water and the vulnerability of lines of communication, often determine tactics.

    -Much of the terrain dictates that infantrymen do the fighting – armour, field artillery and aircraft may be useful but their presence involves costly technical support.

    -Tribal custom and belief can win or lose the day.

    -The local enemy leader does not burden his mind with complications such as taking prisoners or evacuating casualties.

    -Africa always wins – the invaders or colonizers in the end acquiesce.
    Link:http://www.kaiserscross.com/188001/home.html
    davidbfpo

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