Gustaf Gründgens

Gustaf Gründgens

Gustaf Gründgens, the son of a prosperous businessman, was born in Düsseldorf on 22nd December 1899. He served in the German Army during the First World War. After demobilization Gründgens attended acting school. According to Stefan Steinberg: "As a young man Gründgens was determined to make a name for himself. At 18 he sent a postcard to a friend advising the latter to hold on to the item because one day he, Gründgens, would be famous and the card would be valuable". (1)

Gustaf Gründgens formed an experimental theater troupe, the Laienbund Deutscher Mimiker. Other members included Klaus Mann, Erika Mann, and Pamela Wedekind, the daughter of the playwright Frank Wedekind. In 1924 Klaus wrote Anja and Esther, a play about "a neurotic quartet of four boys and girls" who "were madly in love with each other".

Gründgens decided to direct the play with himself in one of the male roles, Klaus in the other; Erika and Pamela Wedekind would be the two young women. "Klaus planned to marry Pamela, with whom Erika fell in love, while Erika arranged to marry Gustaf, with whom Klaus began an affair." (2)

The play, which opened in Hamburg in October 1925, attracted vast amounts of publicity, partly because of its scandalous content and partly because it starred three children of two famous writers. A photograph appeared on the cover of Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung. It created a great deal of controversy as "Klaus's lipstick gave him the look of a transvestite". (3)

On 24th July, 1926, Gustaf Gründgens, married Erika Mann, even though both were gay. (4) The marriage was not successful and in 1927, she and Klaus traveled around the world. (5) Andrea Weiss, the author of In the Shadow of the Magic Mountain: The Erika and Klaus Mann Story (2008) has explained why the marriage failed: "A cynical explanation would point out that Erika’s theatrical career had flourished to the point where she no longer needed Gustaf as stepping-stone; that Gustaf had finally realised his marriage to Erika would not bestow on him her father’s impeccable social credentials." (6)

During this period Gründgens, like Erika and Klaus, were left-wing activists, and associated with members of the German Communist Party (KPD). In 1926 he talked about creating a "Revolutionary Theatre" and Klaus claims that he was "always ready to exchange a clenched-fist welcome on his way to rehearsals". At the same time Gründgens did not hide his abhorrence for Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party. (7)

Gründgens went to work for Germany's most prominent director Max Reinhardt. In 1932 he had his first opportunity to play the role with which he was to become closely identified - Mephistopheles in Goethe's Faust. Later that year he voted for the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and was known "to help gay friends, colleagues and left Jewish acquaintances". (8)

Gründgens was out of the country when Adolf Hitler came to power in early 1933. As his biographer has pointed out: "We have no way of knowing what went through his head. We do know that he was apprehensive about returning to Germany. He had not, after all, made his feelings about the Nazis a secret and he was wise enough to know that he could also encounter problems as someone, despite his short-lived marriage, known to be a homosexual." (9)

Gründgens did go back and he received the patronage of Hermann Göring. He was appointed the artistic director of the Prussian State Theatre and was later became a member of the Prussian state council. He was also director of Berlin's principal theatre, the Staatstheater. In 1934, his lawyer, a member of the Sturmabteilung (SA), arranged for Gründgens to move into a luxurious villa owned by a Jewish banker who had fled the country. Erika Mann, his former wife, suggested that Hitler had treated Gründgens well because of his sexuality: "Hitler's interest in him is interpreted as erotic." (10)

Joseph Goebbels was openly hostile to him, as he was to all homosexuals (whom he referred to as 175ers according to the appropriate clause of the Weimar Constitution), but Gründgens was protected by Hitler and Göring. In 1936 Gründgens sealed a deal securing an annual average income of Reichsmark 200,000. Gründgens also starred in several propaganda films during this period earning on average RM80,000 per picture. In comparison a state secretary in Nazi Germany earned on average RM20,000. One critic claimed that "Gründgens is emblematic of the intellectual who chooses ego and career, even in the service of monsters, over principle." (11)

Gründgens's wife, Erika Mann, like many on the left, had been forced to flee Nazi Germany. So had his brother-in-law, Klaus Mann, who was living in Amsterdam. Klaus wrote to his mother that his publisher, Fritz Helmut Landshoff, had made him a "relatively generous offer", where he was to receive a monthly wage to write a novel. (12) Klaus originally intended to write a utopian novel about Europe in the 22nd century. The author Hermann Kesten suggested that he write a novel about a homosexual who is willing to compromise his ideals in order to have a successful career under Hitler. (13)

Klaus accepted his advice and based his novel on Gustaf Gründgens. (14) The novel, Mephisto (1936), portrays an actor Hendrik Höfgen (Gustaf Gründgens), who in his youth was a communist. However, unlike, Gründgens, he is not homosexual as Klaus was himself gay. He decided to use "negroid masochism" as the main character's sexual preference. In 1933, when Hitler gains power, he flees to Paris, because he expects to be persecuted for his left-wing activities. However, he is persuaded to return to Germany and takes the role of Mephisto. There are situations where Höfgen tries to help his friends or to complain about concentration camps, but he is always concerned not to lose his Nazi patrons. (15)

In September,1944 Goebbels issued an order closing all German theatres until the end of the war. All available artistic personal were assigned to vital war production. However, Gründgens was allowed to sit out the rest of the war in his Berlin home. In April 1945 he was captured by the Red Army but eventually he was released and allowed to use his theatre talents in East Germany. In 1946 he managed to move to West Germany and over the next few years established himself as the best known actor-director in the country. (16)

Klaus Mann, who was now living in Los Angeles, attempted to get Mephisto published in Germany. In April, 1949, he received a letter from his publisher to say that his novel could not be published in the country because of the objections of Gustaf Gründgens. (17) Klaus wrote to Erika Mann about his problems with his publisher and his financial difficulties. "I have been luck with my family. One cannot be entirely lonely if one belongs to something and is part of it." (18) Klaus Mann died in of an overdose of sleeping pills on 21st May 1949. (19)

Gustaf Gründgens remained in great demand as an actor-director until he died of an an overdose of sleeping tablets while on holiday in Manila on 7th October, 1963. (20)

At the end of 1924, Klaus Mann wrote Anja and Esther, a play about "a neurotic quartet of four boys and girls" who "were madly in love with each other". The following year he was approached by the actor Gustaf Gründgens, who wanted to direct the play with himself in one of the male roles, Klaus in the other; Erika Mann and Pamela Wedekind, the daughter of the playwright Frank Wedekind, would be the two young women. The ambitious Gründgens, who was born in 1899, had a reputation in Hamburg but not in Berlin. At one point, as they worked on the play, Klaus planned to marry Pamela, with whom Erika fell in love, while Erika arranged to marry Gustaf, with whom Klaus began an affair. At Erika and Gustaf’s wedding reception, Erika noted that her mother’s brother was, as she wrote to Pamela, "flirting with Gustaf". The honeymoon was spent in a hotel where Erika and Pamela had stayed not long before as man and wife (Pamela had checked in dressed as a man).

Anja and Esther, which opened in Hamburg in October 1925, attracted vast amounts of publicity, partly because of its scandalous content and partly because it starred three children of two famous writers. One magazine put them on the cover, cropping out Gründgens’s face, making a point of his status as outsider amid all this fame. His marriage to Erika ended soon after it began. "A cynical explanation," Weiss writes, "would point out that Erika’s theatrical career had flourished to the point where she no longer needed Gustaf as stepping-stone; that Gustaf had finally realised his marriage to Erika would not bestow on him her father’s impeccable social credentials."

Pamela Wedekind married a man old enough to be her father, and the foursome returned to being the twosome of Erika and Klaus Mann. Although Erika played the part of Queen Elisabeth in Schiller’s Don Carlos at the State Theatre in Munich, she longed for greater excitement. And since Klaus was bored and his next play a flop, they decided to go to America, where they were ready to have their genius fully recognised. To amuse themselves, they told the US press that they were twins and thus began the American myth of The Literary Mann Twins. They went on a tour of the country. "Whenever they were stuck for funds," Weiss writes, "Klaus would write articles and Erika would write letters to organisations, seeking lecture engagements. They often arrived in town with no change in their pockets." Soon, they decided to tour the world. They stayed at the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo for more than six weeks – ‘kept in that luxurious prison by the evil spell of our unpaid bill’ – and, on being rescued by their father’s publisher, agreed to write a book about their travels as a way of paying him back.

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Adolf Hitler and the First World War (Answer Commentary)

Adolf Hitler and the German Workers' Party (Answer Commentary)

Sturmabteilung (SA) (Answer Commentary)

Adolf Hitler and the Beer Hall Putsch (Answer Commentary)

Adolf Hitler the Orator (Answer Commentary)

An Assessment of the Nazi-Soviet Pact (Answer Commentary)

British Newspapers and Adolf Hitler (Answer Commentary)

Lord Rothermere, Daily Mail and Adolf Hitler (Answer Commentary)

Adolf Hitler v John Heartfield (Answer Commentary)

The Hitler Youth (Answer Commentary)

German League of Girls (Answer Commentary)

Night of the Long Knives (Answer Commentary)

The Political Development of Sophie Scholl (Answer Commentary)

The White Rose Anti-Nazi Group (Answer Commentary)

Kristallnacht (Answer Commentary)

Heinrich Himmler and the SS (Answer Commentary)

Trade Unions in Nazi Germany (Answer Commentary)

Hitler's Volkswagen (The People's Car) (Answer Commentary)

Women in Nazi Germany (Answer Commentary)

The Assassination of Reinhard Heydrich (Answer Commentary)

The Last Days of Adolf Hitler (Answer Commentary)

(1) Stefan Steinberg, The Rehabilitation of Gustav Gründgens (29th December 1999)

(2) Colm Tóibín, London Review of Books (6th November, 2006)

(3) Anthony Heilbut, Thomas Mann: Eros and Literature (1995) page 437

(4) Britta Probol, Norddeutscher Rundfunk (10th July, 2013)

(5) Time Magazine (10th October, 1938)

(6) Andrea Weiss, In the Shadow of the Magic Mountain: The Erika and Klaus Mann Story (2008) page 55

(7) Stefan Steinberg, The Rehabilitation of Gustav Gründgens (29th December 1999)

(8) Jacques Schuster, Die Welt (18th February, 2013)

(9) Stefan Steinberg, The Rehabilitation of Gustav Gründgens (29th December 1999)

(10) Anthony Heilbut, Thomas Mann: Eros and Literature (1995) page 529

(11) Stefan Steinberg, The Rehabilitation of Gustav Gründgens (29th December 1999)

(12) Klaus Mann, letter to Katia Mann (21st July 1935)

(13) Andrea Weiss, In the Shadow of the Magic Mountain: The Erika and Klaus Mann Story (2008) page 126

(14) Stefan Steinberg, The Rehabilitation of Gustav Gründgens (29th December 1999)

(15) Andrea Weiss, In the Shadow of the Magic Mountain: The Erika and Klaus Mann Story (2008) page 126

(16) Stefan Steinberg, The Rehabilitation of Gustav Gründgens (29th December 1999)

(17) Colm Tóibín, London Review of Books (6th November, 2006)

(18) Klaus Mann, letter to Erika Mann (20th May, 1949)

(19) Andrea Weiss, In the Shadow of the Magic Mountain: The Erika and Klaus Mann Story (2008) page 239

(20) Stefan Steinberg, The Rehabilitation of Gustav Gründgens (29th December 1999)

Floki Played by Gustaf Skarsgård

Floki is a genius ship builder and he designs and builds the prototype of the new generation of Viking ships which can sail across the open ocean but also up the shallowest of rivers. Without Floki, Ragnar would have never been able to fulfill his dreams of discovering new lands and new civilizations. Floki is a religious zealot who believes in the Gods above anything and everything, including Ragnar.

Gustaf Skarsgård

Gustaf Skarsgård is an internationally acclaimed film, television, and theater actor. Gustaf started acting as a six year old. He fell in love with the craft early on and kept working throughout his entire childhood. He was accepted at the Stockholm Academy of Dramatic Arts at the record early age of 18.

After graduating in 2003, he became an ensemble member of the Royal Dramatic Theatre (Sweden’s National Theatre). Gustaf has starred in many European cinematic successes: the academy award nominated Evil (nominated for a Guldbagge for Best Supporting Actor, Sweden’s highest cinema honor), Kidz in da Hood (winning a Guldbagge for Best Actor), and Patrik 1.5 (nominated for a Guldbagge for Best Actor). In 2007, he received the European Film Academy’s prestigious Shooting Star Award. In 2010, he returned to the Theatre to star in “Hamlet” as the title role, to great critical acclaim.

Gustaf’s most recent films include the independent psychological thriller VI , Peter Weir’s The Way Back (starring opposite Ed Harris and Colin Farrell), and the Golden Globe and Academy Award nominated adventure drama Kon-Tiki .


In 1934 the German Army High Command (OKH) commissioned Krupp of Essen to design a gun to destroy the forts of the French Maginot Line which were nearing completion. The gun's shells had to punch through seven metres of reinforced concrete or one full metre of steel armour plate, from beyond the range of French artillery. Krupp engineer Erich Müller calculated that the task would require a weapon with a calibre of around 80 cm, firing a projectile weighing 7 tonnes from a barrel 30 metres long. The weapon would have a weight of over 1000 tonnes. The size and weight meant that to be at all movable it would need to be supported on twin sets of railway tracks. In common with smaller railway guns, the only barrel movement on the mount itself would be elevation, traverse being managed by moving the weapon along a curved section of railway line. Krupp prepared plans for calibres of 70 cm, 80 cm, 85 cm, and 1 m.

Nothing further happened until March 1936 when, during a visit to Essen, Adolf Hitler enquired as to the giant guns' feasibility. No definite commitment was given by Hitler, but design work began on an 80 cm model. The resulting plans were completed in early 1937 and approved. Fabrication of the first gun started in mid-1937. Technical complications in the forging of such massive pieces of steel made it apparent that the original completion date of early 1940 could not be met.

Krupp built a test model in late 1939 and sent it to the Hillersleben firing range for testing. Penetration was tested on this occasion. Firing at high elevation, the 7.1 tonne shell was able to penetrate the specified seven metres of concrete and the one metre armour plate. Α] When the tests were completed in mid-1940 the complex carriage was further developed. Alfried Krupp, after whose father the gun was named, personally hosted Hitler at the Rügenwald Proving Ground during the formal acceptance trials of the Gustav Gun in early 1941.

An 800 mm shell next to a Soviet T-34-85 tank at the Imperial War Museum, London

Two guns were ordered. The first round was test-fired from the commissioned gun barrel on 10 September 1941 from a makeshift gun carriage on the Hillersleben firing range. In November 1941 the barrel was taken to Rügenwald, where 8 further firing tests were carried out using the 7,100 kilogram armour-piercing (AP) shell out to a range of 37,210 metres.

In combat, the gun was mounted on a specially designed chassis, supported by eight bogies on two parallel sets of railway tracks. Each of the bogies had 5 axles, giving a total of 40 axles (80 wheels). Krupp christened the gun Schwerer Gustav (Heavy Gustav) after the senior director of the firm, Gustav Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach.

The gun could fire a heavy concrete-piercing shell and a lighter high-explosive shell. A super-long-range rocket projectile was also planned with a range of 150 km, that would require the barrel being extended to 84 metres.

In keeping with the tradition of the Krupp company, no payment was asked for the first gun. They charged seven million Reichsmark for the second gun Dora, named after the senior engineer's wife.

Gustaf Gründgens - History

In 1907, Gustav finished the work on his version of Danaë, a popular topic for the artists that lived during his time. His painting captures the image of the princess imprisoned by the king in a bronze tower. During that time she was visited by Zeus in the form of a golden rain that flows between her legs. Danaë’s face shows signs of arousal by the golden stream. The artist is trying to create a quintessential symbol of transcendence and divine love using Danaë as the main protagonist of his artwork.

Gustav Klimt

Born in a family of three brothers in 1862, Gustav painted his greatest artworks after the tragic death of his father and brother. At that moment in life, the artist started to discover contemporary art and symbolism. Most of his paintings focus on the female body covered in a deep tone of erotism. His weakness for the female body and symbolism got him to stand out as one of the most influential members of the Vienna Secession movement.

What Gustav family records will you find?

There are 2,000 census records available for the last name Gustav. Like a window into their day-to-day life, Gustav census records can tell you where and how your ancestors worked, their level of education, veteran status, and more.

There are 2,000 immigration records available for the last name Gustav. Passenger lists are your ticket to knowing when your ancestors arrived in the USA, and how they made the journey - from the ship name to ports of arrival and departure.

There are 1,000 military records available for the last name Gustav. For the veterans among your Gustav ancestors, military collections provide insights into where and when they served, and even physical descriptions.

There are 2,000 census records available for the last name Gustav. Like a window into their day-to-day life, Gustav census records can tell you where and how your ancestors worked, their level of education, veteran status, and more.

There are 2,000 immigration records available for the last name Gustav. Passenger lists are your ticket to knowing when your ancestors arrived in the USA, and how they made the journey - from the ship name to ports of arrival and departure.

There are 1,000 military records available for the last name Gustav. For the veterans among your Gustav ancestors, military collections provide insights into where and when they served, and even physical descriptions.

Early Life

Mahler and his siblings spent their lives in the then Austrian empire in Jihlava, the present-day Czech Republic, where their parents relocated to when they were young. Discovering his talent at a tender age, Gustav’s parents took him for piano lessons when he was barely six years old. Gustav learned the piano so quickly that he staged his first performance at the age of ten. Realizing that he was not as good in school as he was in piano, his parents took him to Vienna Conservatory where he enrolled in music and piano classes. When he was fifteen years old, Gustav attended Vienna University to study History, Philosophy, and Music.While at the University, Mahler was also teaching music. His first attempt was the composition of Das klagende Lied which he presented in competitions although it never won a price.

Carl XVI Gustaf (The Lost Prince)

Carl XVI Gustaf (Carl Gustaf Folke Hubertus born 30 April 1946) is the King of Sweden. He ascended the throne on the death of his grandfather, King Gustaf VI Adolf, on 15 September 1973.

He is the youngest child and only son of Prince Gustaf Adolf, Duke of Västerbotten, and Princess Sibylla of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. His father died on 26 January 1947 in an airplane crash in Denmark when Carl Gustaf was nine months old. Upon his father's death, he became second in line to the throne, after his grandfather, the then Crown Prince Gustaf Adolf. Following the death of his great-grandfather King Gustaf V in 1950, Gustaf Adolf ascended the throne and thus Carl Gustaf became Sweden's new crown prince and heir apparent to the throne at the age of four.

A short while after he became king in 1973, the new� Instrument of Government took effect, formally stripping Carl XVI Gustaf of even a nominal role in governmental affairs. As a result, he no longer performs many of the duties normally accorded to a head of state, such as the formal appointment of the prime minister, signing off on legislation, and being commander-in-chief of the nation's military. The new instrument explicitly limits the king to ceremonial functions and, among other things, to be regularly informed of affairs of state. As head of the House of Bernadotte Carl Gustaf has also been able to make a number of decisions about the titles and positions of its members.

Breaking the Gustav Line

GENERAL DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER’S DECISION to invade the Italian peninsula, based on wishful thinking and best-case scenarios, had drawn the Allies into a campaign without clear strategic objectives beyond a vague desire to capture Rome and tie down German divisions. But pinning down those divisions obliged the Allies to execute offensive operations across a tormented landscape that goats would find challenging. The difficulty spiked considerably once German commander Albert Kesselring completed a series of defense-in-depth barriers across central Italy. The most formidable, the Gustav Line, ran from the Adriatic to the Tyrrhenian Sea, with the medieval Benedictine monastery of Monte Cassino as its anchor point.

Perched atop 1,706-foot Monastery Hill at the confluence of the Rapido, Garigliano, and Liri River Valleys, Cassino dominated Route 6, the critical axis that followed the Liri Valley north to Rome. Cassino came to epitomize the slow, blood-spattered slogging march up the spiny peninsula, which replicated in its strategic futility and tactical frustrations the mud-soaked misery of the trench warfare of 1914–1918.

The long struggle in Italy might have proved even more humiliating for the Allies had it not been for the vital contribution of the Corps Expéditionnaire Françaisa force that by May 1944 counted four divisions of French-led, largely North African troops supplemented by irregular Moroccan levies called goums. In the winter of 1943–1944 the CEF intervened in the conflict to break the stalemate at Monte Cassino.

The force was led by the wily, brilliant, and innovative General Alphonse Juin, whose hard-hitting fighters supplied the critical margin between victory and defeat at Monte Cassino in May 1944. U.S. general and Fifth Army commander Mark Clark conceded: “General Juin’s entire force showed an aggressiveness hour after hour that the Germans could not withstand.” He called it “one of the most brilliant and daring advances of the war in Italy.” Juin broke the Gustav Line after convincing Clark to switch from his futile and bloody frontal assaults on Monte Cassino to a campaign of surprise, maneuver, and infiltration. Juin’s French-led Muslim troops, especially the goums, proved particularly adept at mountain warfare. They almost single-handedly cracked the German front on the second day of the battle. Then, exploiting the breakthrough, they thwarted Kesselring’s attempt to reestablish his front on the reserve Hitler Line, branching west of the Aurunci Mountains at Cassino.

Remarkably, the CEF and its commander almost didn’t make it to Italy at all: The French had had to reconstruct an army virtually from scratch and largely from limited manpower resources in North Africa. Under the terms of the 1940 armistice, the French counted barely 60,000 poorly armed soldiers in North Africa when the Allies invaded in November 1942. Algeria and Tunisia relied on conscription, while Morocco called for “volunteers,” which produced a disproportionate number of Berbers. Most were young and illiterate, although tough and whipped into shape by native corporals who did not hesitate to employ brutality. The revival of conscription and the recall of reservists in Algeria reeled in 175,000 pieds noirsAlgerians of European descent.

Allied generals at that time held the French in contempt. Both Eisenhower and British chief of staff Alan Brooke viewed the French as worthy garrison troops at best. While Clark to his credit was more open-minded (or more desperate), his subordinate commanders remained skeptical. And well they might: The CEF appeared to be an unpromising motley force, 54 percent were largely illiterate North African Muslims, 40 percent French, and 6 percent odds and ends of overseas subjects. Clark’s original idea was to divvy up the French troops among U.S. corps commanders, but Juin remained determined that France claim its own sector of the front.

Delays in reequipment meant that initially only two French divisions were available for operations, the 2nd Moroccan Infantry and the 3rd Algerian Infantry, which disembarked at Naples in November 1943. Each division had been assigned a battalion composed of four goums or companies of 175 officers and men divided into three platoons. “Goums are companies of irregular light mountain infantry which are recruited almost exclusively from the Berber tribes,” read an undated Seventh Army report. Lean, bronzed recruits from the Atlas Mountains of Morocco, they wore their American-supplied uniforms camouflaged under striped woolen North African djellabas. Armed with World War I vintage Springfield and Enfield rifles and wearing Great War-style French helmets, they appeared a study in anachronism. Their reputation, earned in Tunisia and Sicily, for rusticity, adaptability, raiding, and night operations led Clark to ask Juin in October 1943 to include goums in the CEF.

IF THE ITALIAN CAMPAIGN WOULD PROVE THE REDEMPTION of the French army, so too would it rescue the reputation of Alphonse Juin. He was a pied noir officer and native of Constantine, in eastern Algeria. Juin had elected to join the Algerian tirailleurs after graduating first in his 1911 Saint Cyr class, and throughout his illustrious career remained fervently attached to L’Armée d’Afrique. A soldier’s soldier who enjoyed the rough humor of the barracks, Juin was reserved and understated. His authority sprang from his competence rather than any obvious charm or martial bearing. His signature was his left-handed salute, permitted after his right arm was badly wounded in the Champagne offensive of 1915. With his beret pulled down to his ears, the inevitable cigarette dangling beneath a full mustache, and a thick pied noir accent, Juin might easily have been mistaken for a Mediterranean peasant who had wandered onto the battlefield, had it not been for his insignia of rank. Anyone who underestimated him soon discovered a man who succeeded through personal bravery, an intuition for the right answer, and more than a touch of cunning.

Allied commanders in Italy quickly came to see Juin’s operational brilliance. His strengths resided in his understanding of the capacities and limitations of the North African troops in his command and in his straightforward, robust battle planning. He also had experience in mountain combat, gained in Morocco during the Rif War between Spanish colonial forces and Berber tribesmen in the 1920s. Despite Juin’s protestations that “politics isn’t my thing,” he proved remarkably diplomatic, using his humility, charm, and tactical sagacity to win over Clark, seven years his junior, and the Americans who, in Juin’s view, were simultaneously powerful and desperately insecure.

On November 25, 1943, Juin flew into Naples in a rainstorm. The Anglo-American advance had stalled before a near-impregnable string of fortifications that ran from the mouth of the Garigliano River on the Tyrrhenian Sea, along the jagged ridges and peaks of the Aurunci Mountains, to the confluence of the Gari and Liri Rivers about a mile and a half south of the town of Cassino. Route 6 wound southwest through the town and around the foot of Monte Cassino, crowned by the majestic medieval mother abbey of the Benedictine order, before it turned northwest toward Rome. Unfortunately, to exploit this most practical route toward the Italian capital, the Allies would have to cross the Rapido and charge up the funnel of the Liri Valley. Doing so would expose their flanks to the Aurunci Mountains to the south and to the north, to Monte Cassino, a shoulder of rock that stretched southeast from its 5,000-foot pinnacle of Monte Cairo. Kesselring, recognizing that Monte Cassino and the Liri Valley was the most obvious passage to Rome, concentrated his strongest defenses there. To the northeast, the Gustav Line curved through a series of spurs and ridges dominated by Monte San Croce and Monte Belvedere before it joined the Sangro River as it dropped out of the mountains to the Adriatic.

This tormented landscape became home to 60,000 German defenders deeply ensconced behind ridges and on reverse slopes that made the men difficult to spot, much less to blast with artillery or bombs. Ridgelines that appeared from a distance to offer smooth routes of advance were, in fact, shattered into irregular knolls and outcroppings transformed by the defenders into bunkers reinforced with concrete and railway tracks and ties, protected by kilometers of barbed wire and mines. The weaknesses of the German position in Italy were two: They could be outflanked by sea, and the massive extension of their front, caused by the sheer size of the mountains, meant they could not be strong everywhere. It was this latter deficiency that Juin and the CEF would exploit.

THE 2ND MOROCCAN INFANTRY DIVISION officially entered the line on December 11 to relieve the U.S. 34th Division, the link between the U.S. Fifth Army and the British Eighth Army in a rock-strewn, mine-infested, snow-whipped confusion of stark 6,000-foot peaks and ridges. The CEF rapidly realized that it would have to leave most of its American equipment at the foot of the mountains—that the mule, not the jeep, reigned in Italy. The enemy knew the sector and its chaotic terrain well and was always shifting position out of view. Officers had to prevent tirailleurs from lighting fires against a cold so bitter that the mechanisms of rifles froze. Because of imposed radio silence, messages had to be passed by runners, who frequently got lost. Boots slipped treacherously in the ubiquitous mud. Allied attacks, even when successful, could not be sustained because they could not be reliably supplied.

On December 1 the U.S. 34th Division’s attack to take the heights east of Cassino had come to a halt at the foot of the Pantano mountain. Juin knew he was taking a risk in throwing the untested 2nd Moroccan into the attack, but at 6:30 a.m. on December 16 he launched them up a mountainside still littered with GI corpses. In two days of fierce hand-to-hand fighting among a line of blockhouses sited on narrow ridges covered by German artillery, the 2nd Moroccan became the master of the Pantano. French troops pushed forward to occupy Mount Cerasuolo and pressed toward Mount Monna Casale and Mainarde Ridge, where German resistance firmed up. “Our allies saw us as the defeated of ’40,” remarked André Lanquetot, who served with the 8th Regiment of Moroccan Tirailleurs in Italy, “After these initial engagements [on the Pantano], we were accepted as companions in arms.”

During a glacial and joyless Christmas, the French attempted to assimilate the lessons of the Pantano engagement: the difficulties of night operations the need to do their own reconnaissance rather than rely on U.S. reports, which they found to be fragmentary and imprecise the requirement to lighten the load carried by the soldiers better coordination among battalions and better infantry-artillery liaison.

The commander of IV Corps, John P. Lucas, was eager to seize a troika of peaks called the Catenella delle Mainarde before the Germans could reinforce them. The first attack launched on December 26 failed when low visibility precluded close-air and artillery support, and U.S. engineers working on the road cut the telephone wires, which prevented coordination. The only success was that the goums had gained a foothold on the Mainarde Ridge.

A renewed attack the next day was announced by a short but furious artillery barrage on the 800-meter-long Mainarde Ridge and at pillboxes on adjoining heights. Three battalions of the 8th Regiment, each man’s pack reduced to a blanket, a shovel, a tin of rations, and as much ammunition as he could carry, surged forward at 8:45 a.m. The 5th Regiment of Moroccan Tirailleurs followed at 10:30. The fractured nature of the terrain broke the attack into a constellation of individual duels, with grenades and bursts by Thompson submachine guns against pockets of German resistance. Because German defenses were sited on the reverse slope, tirailleurs on neighboring heights often had a better view of the defenses than did those directly engaged, so the tirailleurs hit the enemy from the flanks with mortars and machine guns. The fog allowed some sections to take the defenses from the rear, where they hurriedly collected the valued German stick grenades.

As night fell, a violent snowstorm swept the battlefield, shrouding corpses and freezing the feet and rifles of the living. Tirailleurs sucked on snow for moisture, stripped the German dead of their clothing, and struggled to scrape a hole for the night, over which they rolled their tent half. Through the darkness mule convoys loaded with munitions toiled up the hill, while men hauled 50-caliber machine guns on their backs. On the return trips badly wounded men and corpses were wrapped in tent halves and lashed onto mule back.

“The Americans were stunned,” Juin remembered, because they had been unable to make any progress for two weeks. On December 27 the 3rd Algerian Infantry Division was also successful—against hardened Wehrmacht veterans dug in on the heights of Catenella delle Mainarde, a remarkable feat, made even more so given that it was the division’s first combat. The cost had been significant: 16 officers, 46 NCOs, and 235 tirailleurs had fallen. However, the French were mastering the art of mountain warfare with better artillery preparation more mules to convey ammunition to the front and casualties to the rear and more radios to coordinate attacks. They had also learned to take advantage of fog, rain, and snowstorms to attack from the rear. Four-man “stiff patrols” were dispatched to collect the dead and strip German corpses of their warmer boots and jackets. Soon the two armies were indistinguishable at a distance.

THE PANTANO WAS MERELY A WARM-UP for Clark’s mid-January assault, sometimes called the First Battle of Cassino. And while that frontal blitz failed amid great carnage for the U.S. 36th Division, a breath of promise and suggestion for a way forward emerged on Clark’s right flank. In two days Juin had so decimated the German 5th Mountain Division that Kesselring was forced to replace it with the 3rd Panzer Grenadier Division. Hoping to turn the Cassino position from the northeast, Juin renewed his offensive on January 21, his agile Moors scaling the most difficult routes in the hope that these would be the least well defended. On the 23rd, Clark asked Juin to shift his attack to German lines just north of Cassino (that is, on the left side of the French line), which required moving all the artillery over mountain roads under German harassing fire. On the night of the 25th, the 3rd Algerian Infantry took Hill 470 by surprise, then seized the three peaks that constituted the mist-shrouded Belvedere. They changed hands several times before the 3rd Algerian finally secured them against 36 hours of repeated German counterattacks. Only two of the 80 mules sent to resupply the French defenders reached the summit, but the French advance placed the defenders in crisis mode and Kesselring had to milk his divisions for reserves.

On January 29 the U.S. 142nd Infantry Regiment was thrown into the fight for Monte Abate to bolster the French. On January 30 the French seized Monte Abate in bitter fighting—squads of French-led troops infiltrating over treacherous terrain approached German bunkers from the flanks, to push grenades through the embrasures and machine gun anyone who tried to flee out the back door. Peaks and ridges were taken, surrendered, and retaken as men fought for days without food, their weapons often frozen. By the first week in February, however, the German defenses had hardened, while lashing rain, logistical problems, and sheer exhaustion had halted the Allied advance. The costs for the 3rd Algerian had been high: 2,091 were hors de combat, including 64 officers. Loss rates for the Germans were unclear but included 450 POWs. Colonel Goislard de Monsambert of the 3rd Algerian proudly quoted a German POW: “I have just found out that the French army is not dead yet.”

The U.S. 34th Division and the CEF had snatched the honors of this first attempt to crack Monte Cassino. Juin reported that the Germans had required 17 battalions, or 44 percent of their forces, to halt the CEF. The British were especially impressed by the ferocity of the Moroccans the official British history reported that they “regarded the killing of enemies as an honourable and agreeable duty to be undertaken with zest.” German General Julius Ringel reported that the Moroccans had inflicted 80 percent casualties on his troops who had opposed them. However, a setback was a setback: Juin’s desire to restore France’s martial reputation did not blind him to the serious problems the Allies still faced in Italy.

Tactically, Juin had been unhappy with the role Clark had allotted him. He felt that the strengths of his troops—mobility, fluidity, the ability to maneuver and infiltrate—were mismatched against Kesselring’s tightly constructed German defensive system. Juin also feared that the morale of his North Africans might crack as their casualty rates skyrocketed. While Kesselring praised the “excellent troops of the French Expeditionary Corps,” he concluded that the Allies could not continue such a “reckless” expenditure of men.

For the May 1944 offensive against Cassino—Operation Diadem—the British XIII Corps was returned to the Eighth Army, which would bear the responsibility for the main effort against the monastery. The CEF would replace the XIII Corps at a portion of the line that paralleled the Garigliano River between Cassino and Gaeta on the Tyrrhenian coast. At first glance this sector, dominated by Mount Majo, appeared too formidable even for Juin’s North Africans: a bewildering maze of cliffs, crags, and stark hillsides studded with primeval boulders and dwarf oaks. But intelligence reports told Juin that the Germans were not occupying the mountain summits, because they believed the British XIII Corps lacked the capacity to attack them.

On March 22 Juin sought to convince Clark that the key to successful warfare in the mountains was surprise and a steady, seamless advance that denied the enemy the time to react. But Juin’s observations appeared to have fallen on deaf ears when on April 1 Clark’s operations officer announced a reprise of the frontal assault on Cassino, this time on a superior scale. The role of the CEF would be to open a small road to Castelforte, Ausonia, and Esperia for Clark’s Fifth Army. In other words, Juin’s corps was to be sacrificed so Clark could seize Rome and salvage his tottering reputation. Juin uncharacteristically protested by pounding his usable left arm on the map on the table.

Juin’s staff nevertheless worked up a plan to scramble over the lightly held mountain peaks to maneuver against the rear of the German Tenth Army, with the goal of blocking the roads against reinforcements. Although their plan to launch two divisions—a total of 35,000 men, supported by 7,000 mules—along a goat trail that ran for 45 miles into the German rear appeared fantasist, Juin got the backing of both French president Charles de Gaulle and U.S. 36th Division commander Fred L. Walker. Together, they convinced Clark to adopt Juin’s plan. On April 17 Juin visited General Harold Alexander, Fifteenth Army commander, to sell him on the idea. While Clark, Alexander, and Eighth Army commander Oliver Leese did not seem convinced by Juin’s scheme, they were bereft of better ideas and concluded that they had nothing to lose.

Juin’s idea proved to be based on a sound operational construct it wasn’t merely a shot in the dark. In a remarkable April 15, 1944, memo issued by the CEF operations bureau, Juin laid out his concept of mountain warfare, opening with the observation that success begins with capturing the mountain peaks that give “the best observation and fields of fire,” as well as the possibility for flanking movements. Commanders must begin with a thorough reconnaissance to understand which terrain features are most important to seize. Overwhelming force is a liability in mountain warfare large numbers of infantry are often superfluous in a constricted battle space. Small groups of men acting against “islands of enemy defense” can produce “great results” in breakthrough operations. The infantry must be organized in what Juin called “torrents,” so that fresh elements are always available to seize a ridge or execute a flanking movement and maintain unrelenting momentum. Surprise and speed are vital.

Juin’s memo stressed the importance of infiltration, decentralization of command, flexibility to adjust to rapidly evolving circumstances, and the need for mutually supporting advances. Seizing choke points—passes, valleys, road junctions—would keep the enemy from reinforcing them. Corps-level concentrations of artillery and mortars must suppress enemy defensive fire so the infantry could close on fortifications before revealing themselves. The artillery must also organize mobile elements to follow the advances. Engineers must advance with the infantry to demine and rapidly open roads and trails so the mules could supply the advance. Finally, Italy was to be scoured for mules, without which no breakthrough could be sustained: “No mules, no maneuver,” Juin declared.

THE BATTLE OF THE GARIGLIANO, part of Operation Diadem, launched at 11 p.m. on the night of May 11 behind a barrage of 2,000 guns firing 284,000 shells in four hours. Flanked by the 1st Free French Division and the 4th Moroccan Mountain Division, the 2nd Moroccan led and rushed the German defenses. But the attack had barely begun when radios crackled with calls for ambulances. Prearranged artillery targeting had failed to silence German batteries. The three attacking French divisions became entangled in mine fields and were subjected to heavy bombardment and counterattacks. They were driven back to their start line, suffering horrible casualties.

The next morning, May 12, Juin jumped in his jeep, crossed the Garigliano, and picked his way forward through a carnage of dead mules and mutilated men to assess the situation. Calculating that German defenses must be stretched to the limit, Juin quickly decided to risk renewing the attack with his single remaining reserve division on May 13. This time a strong preparatory bombardment disoriented the defenders, who began to surrender in large numbers. Clark shifted his artillery to support a promising French initiative, just in time to catch two German counterattacks in the open and stop them cold. By the afternoon of May 13, the 2,000-foot Mount Majo had been taken by the French, completing a rupture in the Gustav Line through which the entire CEF surged. For once Kesselring failed to react. His attention was riveted on the British Eighth Army’s thrust at Cassino, and he was also reluctant to commit his reserves against the advancing French just as the Anzio bridgehead sprang to life. Juin pushed his troops mercilessly forward to overrun the reserve defensive lines behind Cassino before Kesselring could regroup to defend them.

“Ability to cross country is especially notable among French and Moroccan troops,” Kesselring later reported. “They have quickly surmounted terrain considered impassable, using pack-animals to transport their heavy weapons, and have on many occasions tried to turn our own positions (sometimes in wide encircling movements) in order to break them open from the rear.” By May 17 the CEF had outdistanced its mules and hence its ammunition. Medium bombers of the Twelfth Air Force’s Tactical Air Command dropped water, ammunition, and food to the lead French units. Though his men were exhausted, Juin realized that they had to pursue the remnants of the retreating German forces, infiltrating their positions, turning their flanks, and ambushing unsuspecting units—giving them no time to recover. On May 18 the French swamped the seasoned 9th Panzer Grenadiers, capturing 40 guns in the process. This feat of arms shook the confidence of a German command disorganized by Allied air strikes and demoralized by the shredding of the XIV Panzer Corps. By May 22 the CEF and II Corps had pierced the Hitler Line and closed in on the Liri Valley from the south. His line breached, Kesselring had no choice but to scamper north with whatever troops he could salvage.

In the aftermath of the attack, the goums came in for both high praise and condemnation. A Fifth Army after-action report stated: “It was the Goums who caused real havoc behind the German positions. By infiltrating through the enemy lines at night in groups of two or four these troops attacked sentry posts, isolated rest bunkers, and in general succeeded in keeping the rearmost Germans on the line in constant fear of being isolated. By these means the enemy was given many false indications of attack. The result was that the German was under a constant nerve strain which contributed to tiring out the enemy forces.”

But at this point, reports from both British and American soldiers began to arrive that the Moroccans, especially the goums, were raping women, abusing POWs or even selling them to the Americans, ransacking the homes of locals, stealing livestock, and committing armed holdups of Italians. Juin denounced these claims as “exaggerated” charges leveled to discredit the French. Nevertheless, on June 20 he ordered his commanders to impose severe discipline, which produced a spate of courts-martial as well as summary executions.

On June 30, when Pope Pius XII met with de Gaulle in Rome, the pontiff too complained about the depredations of the Moroccans. French authors insisted that charges against the goums were exaggerated, and the accusations, they believed, spoke to the humiliation of the Italians in the war or to papal discontent with the French for importing Muslim troops into Italy. Whatever the case, the CEF was directed well to the east of Rome, as they continued to pursue Kesselring north to Siena.

“Juin’s operation was one of the most remarkable feats of a war more remarkable for bloody attrition than skill, and deserves to be better known instead of being a briefly noted incident of the secondary Italian campaign, or ignored altogether,” wrote Shelford Bidwell and Dominick Graham, historians of the Italian campaign. Under Juin, the CEF reached the apogee of French performance in World War II.

DOUGLAS PORCH, professor emeritus and former chair of the Department of National Security Affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School, has written extensively on French military history and World War II. His most recent book is Counter­insurgency: Exposing the Myths of the New Way of War (Cambridge University Press, 2013).

This article originally appeared in the Spring 2016 issue (Vol. 28, No. 3) of MHQ—The Quarterly Journal of Military History with the headline: Breaking the Gustav Line.

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The Golden Phase

Early Examples

Pallas Athene is often regarded as the earliest piece from Klimt's Golden Phase. Completed in 1898, this oil painting depicts the Greek goddess Athena clad in armor and striking a defiant pose. While this piece still features the classical influence present in his early pieces, its bold use of gold and the presence of patterns hint toward Klimt's coming work.

“Pallas Athena, 1898 (Photo via Wikimedia Commons Public Domain)

Another early example from this period is Judith I. Like many of his later pieces, this painting features a portrait of a woman (in this case, it is Judith, a biblical figure famous for slaying Holofernes, an invader) surrounded by decorative designs and set against a gold background. Similarly, Klimt also depicts the female figure with erotic undertones&mdashan approach that would become intrinsic to his practice during this period.

In 1902, Klimt moved deeper into his Golden Phase with the Beethoven Frieze. This 112-foot-long wall cycle was created for the 14th Vienna Secessionist exhibition. It pays homage to the German composer and pianist Ludwig van Beethoven by offering a visual interpretation of his 9th Symphony. It also features the opulent planes, mystical motifs and figures, and ornamental accents that have come to characterize Klimt's golden paintings.

Detail of the “Beethoven Frieze,” 1902 (Photo via Wikimedia Commons Public Domain)

The Height of the Period

Klimt's Golden Phase reached full fruition with three key works: Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I, The Stoclet Frieze, and The Kiss.

As a successful painter and prominent figure in Vienna's contemporary art scene, Klimt was often commissioned to paint portraits of the capital city's upper-class women. The most well-known of these depictions is Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I(1907), a piece that features the wife of a wealthy Jewish banker. Though this piece portrays one of Klimt's real-life contemporaries, its bold use of gold gives it an ethereal feel reminiscent of a Byzantine mosaic, illustrating the timeless quality of the &ldquonew Viennese woman.&rdquo

“Adele Bloch-Bauer I,” 1907 (Photo: Neue Galerie via Wikimedia Commons Public Domain)

Between 1905 and 1911, Klimt created the Stoclet Frieze, a series of three extravagant mosaics commissioned for the dining room of the Stoclet House in Brussels. The focal point of the entire set is the Tree of Life, a stylized portrayal of a tree with swirling, spiraling branches, intricate pattern-work, and symbolic motifs inspired by ancient art. The tree is complemented by figures, including an elegant dancer and a couple that bears a striking resemblance to the lovers featured in The Kiss. In his studies for the frieze, Klimt adorned the scene with gold accents.

Study for the “Tree of Life,” ca. 1905-1909 (Photo: The Yorck Project via Wikimedia Commons Public Domain)

Arguably Klimt's most famous work, The Kiss was completed in 1908. It portrays a man and a woman as they peacefully embrace in a patch of shimmering flowers. Clad in contrasting patterns and predominantly composed of gilded forms, they encompass the decorative focus of Klimt's Golden Phase.

Subject Matter

The Kiss depicts an embracing couple kneeling in a grassy patch of wildflowers. Clad in a geometrically-printed robe and with a crown of vines on his head, the man cradles the woman's face as he leans in to kiss her. The female figure&mdashwhose colorful, organically patterned dress contrasts her partner's garment&mdashwears flowers in her hair. As she wraps her arms around her partner's neck, her eyes are peacefully closed, emphasizing the tranquility and intimacy of the scene.

Klimt often explored this theme of love in his work. In The Tree of Life, a mosaic from his Stoclet Frieze series, two figures that bear striking resemblance to those featured in The Kiss&mdashboth compositionally and aesthetically&mdashare shown in a similar intimate embrace.

The Tree of Life, Stoclet Frieze, 1909

The Tree of Life, Stoclet Frieze (detail)

This amorous focus is also evident in Love, an early piece painted in 1895. While, stylistically, this work has little in common with Klimt's more well-known paintings, its romantic subject matter conveys his interest in exploring and capturing love.”Whoever wants to know something about me,” he said, “should look attentively at my pictures and there seek to recognize what I am and what I want.”

As apparent in The Family, another gilded painting by Klimt, the artist's tendency toward this iconography is not limited to romantic love. In this depiction, a sleeping mother and father hug their child. Like The Kiss, the scene offers a quiet glimpse into an intimate relationship.

Watch the video: Gustav Gründgens über die Realität des Dritten Reiches