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Was Stalingrad yet another Manstein's Lost Victory?

Discussion in 'Eastern Europe' started by Tamino, Oct 23, 2012.

  1. rkline56

    rkline56 USS Oklahoma City CG5

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    Excellent point, Caronade! The lines, or supposed lines of the weak step - allies crumbled faster than rice paper in a Cat 5 hurricane. OK, not that fast but pretty ridiculously, unprofessionally fast.

    I would like to see Gebirgsjaeger's take on this interesting topic. Stalingrad has held me spellbound since I was 11, as an enigma wrapped within an enigma.
     
  2. Tamino

    Tamino Doc - The Deplorable

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    I miss Ulrich too and hope he will get back soon with his great posts.
     
  3. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Another interesting reason why Paulus held on,perhaps?

    From Nuremberg 1946:

    The Q is PROF. EXNER (counsel for Jodl)
    The A is Paulus

    Q. I would also be interested to know something about Stalingrad. In your written statement, or written declaration, you said that Keitel and Jodl were guilty of the prohibition of capitulation, which had such tragic consequences. How do you know that?

    A. I only intended to say it was the High Command of the Wehrmacht who was responsible for that order. It had the responsibility, and it makes no difference whether it was one person or another. At any rate their group is responsible as such.

    Q. Then you do not know anything about the personal participation of either of these two gentlemen? You only known that the O.K.W.---

    A. The O.K.W., which is represented by these persons.

    Q. Why, when the situation at Stalingrad was so hopeless and terrible, did you not, in spite of the order by the Fuehrer to the contrary, try to give up?

    A. Because at that time it was represented to me that by holding out with the army which I led, the fate of the German people would be decided.

    Q. Do you know that you enjoyed the confidence of Hitler to a special degree?

    A. I am not aware of that.

    Q. Do you know that he had already decided that you were to be the successor if the Stalingrad operation would be successful, because he no longer liked working with Jodl?

    A. I do not know about that exactly, but there was a rumour that late in the summer or early in the autumn of 1942 a change was planned in the leadership. That was a rumour which the Chief of Staff of the Luftwaffe told me, but I did not get any official information about that. There was another rumour, that I would be relieved of the command of that army and would be given the command of a new Army Group along the Don.

    Q. Do you remember the telegram which you sent to the Fuehrer when you were promoted to the rank of Field Marshal at Stalingrad?

    A. I did not send a telegram then. After my promotion I did not send a telegram.

    Q. Did you not thanked the Fuehrer in any way?

    A. No.

    From the Nuremberg trials available in the net...
     
  4. rkline56

    rkline56 USS Oklahoma City CG5

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    Good, very good information, Kai. Looks like Herr Paulus could stay right on point. Without overtly doing so, he has, very subtly, made a fool of Professor Exner as a producer of rumor and innuendo in an international tribunal.
     
  5. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    At the time of the interview wasn't Paulus a guest of the socialist Worker's Paradise?
     
  6. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    He was - he was kept in isolation in a villa in Moscow. His wife had been incarcerated in a concentration camp by the Nazis and died in 1947.

    I haven't seen any reference to a signal being sent after Paulus' promotion. A signal was sent in his name on 29th January ( the anniversary of Hitler's accession to power ) but it's now generally belived that this was drafted and sent by General Schmidt.
     
  7. Tamino

    Tamino Doc - The Deplorable

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    Hausser is a good example how an officer should behave; another good example is general Sponek who also risked his head at Crimea.

    According to Marcel Stein, responsibility of Manstein and Paulus isn't the failure of the Operation Blue but the failure to save lives of their soldiers. Also, he considers Mansteins' responsibility as greater because he was capable commander but unwilling to help. Here is a passage from his book:

    At Stalingrad, Manstein did not conduct himself like a Feldmarshall. Generaloberst von Richthoffen, who commanded the air fleet attached to Army Group Don, wrote in his diary: »As things are now, one is at best well paid sergeant. « This would have been a fitter conclusion to Manstein's Stalingrad than the Thermopylae quote.

    Liddell Hart described the German commanders as prototypes of modern Pontius Pilatus, who washes his hands of responsibility for all orders that he carried out.

    Both, Manstein and Paulus could prevent suffering of their soldiers but have failed to act accordingly.
     
  8. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    I'm far from an expert in this area but I have seen arguments that holding at Stalingrad saved Army Group South. If this is indeed is the case at what point was holding at Stalingrad no longer critical to AGS's survival?
     
  9. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    It was not their business to do this :if 6th Army capitulated,these soldiers were lost for Germany (POW= the same as KIA),thus,the longer they were fighting,the better.
     
  10. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Hitler definitely underestimated the Red Army. The retreat of the "Caucasus Army" did not start until early 1943. Hitler himself led the Stalingrad fighters to face the "save the front" problem. Definitely it would have been a huge blow to the German Army to start early retreat from the Caucasus but staying put was a gamble as well. The Red Army was attacking in all Army Group sectors since Mid-Nov 1942, and waiting for trains from France was going to take a long time to help Manstein with tanks. If I recall correctly, the late escape from the Caucasus also meant losing a lot of heavy equipment as well.
     
  11. Tamino

    Tamino Doc - The Deplorable

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    That's »widely accepted truth« and yet just theory which hasn't been tested. Manstein was one of those who have produced this theory to wash his hands. There are other views on this subject too. And, let's not forget, Paulus was a »traitor« and hence easy target for scapegoating.

    Indeed, that was their business but there are different ways to accomplish the task and Manstein as a Fieldmarshall could have afforded himself more freedom of choice except waiting untill it was too late. It appears that he hasn't even informed Paulus about his real position. This is Paulus' reaction while reading Manstein's »Verlorene Siege«:

    »You have to read this. Suddenly Manstein appears without blame for the disaster of 6th Army. This man writes blatant lies. He puts all the blame on Hitler and me. You have listened in to all my conversations over decimetre with him. You know that he never informed me about the situation and how he practically paralysed me. Now he turns everything upside down. And this is a man whom I once held in the highest esteem. A man, who at that time did not see fit to give me an order, or at least permission to break out, has no right today to write that he had wished me to break out and would have covered me.«
     
  12. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    At Charkow,Hausser had the choice between being encircled and captured and retreating to continue the fighting.
    At Stalingrad,Paulus had the choice between surrendering at the end of november,or continue the fighting till the proverbial last man ,and finally surrendering in january.
    Thus,both situations are different .
    BTW:a break out in november,or later was of course excluded .
     
  13. scipio

    scipio Member

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    WHY? With 6th Panzer at the Mishkova, there was a chance of a breakout by some of the force, surely?

    Was not the worst option chosen?

    Surely you either write off 6th Army and tell them they are on their own - fight to the last man in order to bog down the maximum Soviet forces or you attempt a break out.

    The worst option IMO is to attempt to a break-in and a relief effort which sucks in 6th Panzer which otherwise could have been used to bolster the Italians and Hungarians who were the next weak link destroyed by the Russians.
     
  14. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    What would be the distance from the Mishkova to Stalingrad ?
    And (from Feldgrau: Panzerstrength at Stalingrad): Strength of the 6th PzD on 7 december 1942:
    PzIII :92
    Pz IV: 25
    PzII: 21
    Pz Befehl: 2
     
  15. scipio

    scipio Member

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    I feel distinctly out of my depth discussing Stalingrad since it really is not a campaign that I read upon much but here goes:


    About 20 miles of open Steppe with a small river the Aksai in the way.

    In Manstein's defence I believe he was only given command of Paulus on 26th November a week after 6th Army had been surrounded. From beginning to end of the siege, Manstein's orders were to relieve Stalingrad and at no time was he given permission to achieve a breakout.

    So either he or Paulus had to disobey Hitler and OKW if anything could be saved from Stalingrad - Paulus was the man on the spot and knew the true strength of this Army. I can't see anything that indicates that Manstein wanted or valued 6th Army remaining at Stalingrad. On the contrary, he seems to have been more worried (and rightly so) about the imminent trapping the Army Group at Rostov - in which case 6th Panzer and believe 17th Panzer which was following up would be better used in keeping his Flanks clear than a failed attempt to reach Stalingrad.
     
  16. Tamino

    Tamino Doc - The Deplorable

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    Manstein has doctored extensively the date of his appointment in his book »Lost Victories«. Army Group Don was formed on 20th November, Manstein was informed about his appointment one day later, on 21th November.

    However, in this case the fundamental question is: What was the purpose of Manstein as the commander of Army Group Don?

    This is a difficult question but, according to Zhukov, the final authority is vested in 'Front Commander'. In case of Stalingrad, both Manstein and Paulus have failed utterly as the front commanders because they held their careers and the Führer higher than the destiny of soldiers under their command.

    To illustrate this, here is a snippet from Marcel Stein's »Von Manstein a Portrait: The Janus Head«:

    During the Russian retreat in the autumn months of 1941 a dispute arose between the two generals. Rokossovsky had ordered a retreat of his army. Zhukov had disagreed and Rokossovsky appealed to Stavka. Stavka sided with Rokossovsky, Zhukov simply tore Stavka's order up and told Rokossovsky that final authority was vested in him as 'front' commander. In 1941 Rokossovsky felt that he had no choice but to follow Zhukov's order.

    Zhukov has done so despite the danger from opposing the Stavka and Stalin himself. That is exactly how the man with the highest authority at the front line should behave.
     
  17. Tamino

    Tamino Doc - The Deplorable

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    The present days perception of Manstein is influenced primarily with the involvement of the West in covering up the unpleasant aspects of Nazi's war against the Soviet Union to ensure support for West German remilitarization. Western Alies have re-habilitated Manstein to paint a different, distorted picture of the war at the East. He was the best choice: the first eschelon Nazi leaders were too disguising while Paulus was a traitor at the East. Manstein was something in the middle, a "Good Nazi", so to speak.

    Therefore, not just the Soviet history, but the Western view on the WW2 was deliberately distorted to support efforts during the Cold War.

    Manstein has used the conflict among the East and the West to embellish his role during the WW2, including his role as the commander of Army Group Don.
     
  18. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    I also think several German Generals were listened closely in order to get as much info as possible if the Western Allied troops would face the Red Army tank action after 1945.The political situation soon changed after 1945.
     
  19. steverodgers801

    steverodgers801 Member

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    even if Manstein had made contact, there was no way Germany could have held the line.
     
  20. thunder_love

    thunder_love Member

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    When I was reading ``Lost Victories`` it did clearly state ( i don`t know whether this was true or not true)that Goering supported Hitler order to stand and fight at Stalingrad with the promise to resupply the entrapped 6th Army in Stalingrad by air.If something is obvious in the OKW is that or with most of the present day armies is that there is less leadership from the front and more from the HQ.I haven`t read too much on the biographies of Manstein, Paulus,Zhukov if anybody knows any ebooks with their memoirs or biographies, i would like to read them.
     

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