The Third Reich's last week is often described as a lightly contested race between the Allied and Soviet armies to see who could secure the most territory. The reality was anything but so simple. What many Americans don't appreciate is that the vicious fighting characterizing the Nazi-Soviet conflict continued well past the official end of the war. As we approach the 70 year anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe's let's remember why many of the combatants at that time hardly felt like celebrating once the Nazi's finally surrendered.
Following Hitler's December 1941 declaration of war upon the United States German Admiral Karl Doenitz sought to take advantage of the weakly guarded sea-lanes near the American coast and pick off the highly vulnerable, solitary, merchant ships plying these waters. Hitler approved Doenitz's plan, code named Operation Paukenschlag, or drumbeat/roll the drums. Doenitz' U-boats would carry Hitler's war to America and if successful deliver the first blows designed to cripple American shipping and industry.