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SovPha

Binoculars with a unique story

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This item is not only unique but leaves many questions that will be never answered. During my stay in Ireland in 2014, I have purchased these binocular in Germany from an auction house. It took me almost 2 years when I recognized the little secret associated with them. After carefully cleaning them, the lid on the top came off and unveiled this outstanding surprise. It contained a secret message on a carefully sewed silk piece. Underneath the silk piece, I found another piece of paper (Soviet bank transfer order) with a translation of the Russian text into German.

These binoculars 6x30 were made by Bausch & Lomb Optical Co. Rochester N.Y. USA., and supplied to England in 1940 during WWII. The binoculars show the large British Broad Arrow acceptance markings to the front along with a serial number.

Translation: Albert! Your good heart, honesty, and frankness have left indelible feelings in my heart for you. Dora. October 18th, 1941 Taganrog.

I started to research the name of the place + date and found out that the Rostov Defensive Operation was taking place during this time.

The Soviet counter-attack delivered as part of the general Donbass-Rostov Strategic Defensive Operation (29 September 1941 – 16 November 1941) also forced Rundstedt's Army Group South to order his 1st Panzer Army to maneuver in order to be better placed to counter any further Soviet thrusts in the Romanian sector of the front, and also to attempt an encirclement of the two Soviet Armies, which was partly successful in the area of Chernigovka where on 8 October the commander of the 18th Soviet Army, General-Lieutenant A.K. Smirnov, was killed by artillery fire on his command post in the village of Popovka during the breakout attempt between 5th and 10th October 1941. This was interpreted by Hitler as such a success that he declared "The battle of the Sea of Azov is over" on 11 October before the troops had even reached their objective. As a commemorative gesture, Hitler issued the order to redesignate the Leibstandarte Brigade as SS Division Leibstandarte.

The German 11th Army was ordered back to Crimea to effect the breakthrough of the Isthmus of Perekop.

Perceiving that the way to Rostov and the Caucasus was open, Hitler issued an order transferring the objective from the 11th Army to the 1st Panzer Army and attaching to it ill-prepared Romanian 3rd Army, the Italian Alpine Corps, and the Slovakian Motorised Brigade.

During the subsequent reorganization of Axis forces the III Panzer Corps and XIV Panzer Corps took the lead, supported by the XLIX Mountain Corps recently arrived from Crimea.

By 17 October 1941, the Mius River was crossed by the 14th Panzer Division and Taganrog was captured by German troops, with the mountain troops entering Stalino, forcing the newly formed 12th Army into a renewed withdrawal. However, the autumn rains had begun, and the Rasputitsa ("roadlessness") had set in slowing the 1st Panzer Army's advance to "meter by meter". This meant that the leading German units did not reach the outskirts of Rostov until mid-November, having lost contact with the Red Army in the meantime.

The assault on Rostov began on 17 November, and on 21 November the Germans took Rostov. However, the German lines were over-extended, and Kleist's warnings that his left flank was vulnerable and that his tanks were ineffective in the freezing weather were ignored.

One month later the Rostov Offensive Operation took place. On 27 November the 37th Army, commanded by Lieutenant-General Anton Ivanovich Lopatin, as part of the Rostov Strategic Offensive Operation (17 November 1941 – 2 December 1941), counter-attacked the 1st Panzer Army's spearhead from the north, forcing them to pull out of the city. Adolf Hitler countermanded the retreat. When Rundstedt refused to obey, Hitler sacked him and replaced him with Reichenau. However, Reichenau saw at once that Rundstedt was right and succeeded in persuading Hitler, via Franz Halder, to authorize the withdrawal, and the 1st Panzer Army was forced back to the Mius River at Taganrog. It was the first significant German withdrawal of the war.

We will never know who Dora and Albert was. But the feelings Dora described to Albert, are defiantly related to a great love story during the Great Patriotic War. Thank you for reading.

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Edited by SovPha

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what a lovely thing to discover... thanks for sharing

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