During his post-war trial , Erich von Lewinski called von Manstein claimed that he had not had any knowledge of SS-Einsatzgruppen activities within in his command. This is a LIE. Stahlberg (1) and von Tresckow (who was “too less of a National Socialist” for Manstein to become a member of his staff) did inform him about what was happening to the Jews. Officers of his own Army High Command were present at Nikolaiev and in Simferopol as spectators of the mass executions. A war diary entry was discovered which stated: "The new Commander in Chief [Manstein] does not wish officers to be present at shooting of Jews. This is unworthy of a German officer.". If Manstein didn't know about the shootings, how can he don't wish his men to be present there? Manstein complained at the leader of SD-Einsatz Group D (which killed 90,000 civilians during June 1941 and June 1942 in the wake of Mansteins 11th Army) to speed up the liquidations at Simferopol.
Originally posted by KnightMove:
What kind of lies?
Consequentially, in accordance to his defense strategy at his trail, Manstein’s memoirs “Verlorene Siege” (Lost Victories), 1953, - though filling a good 600 pages of his remembrance – are never mentioning the fate of the civilian population in his rear, except to the following remarks:
“Despite of all supply problems as described above, the [11th, A.W.] Army did everything – partially by reducing her own rations [NOT SUPPORTED BY EXISTING EVIDENCE, A.W.] - to feed the numerous POW’s, who couldn’t be brought back because of transportation problems. The success of this was an average mortality rate of not even 2%... [NOT SUPPORTED BY EXISTING EVIDENCE, A.W.] (p.246) He continues “Aside this the [11th, A.W] Army did everything possible [WRONG] to help the civil population” (p.247)
While the mortality of Soviet POW’s in the 11th Army’s area under Mansteins leadership (starting September 1941) was not as horrible as f.ex. at AG Center (due to less POW’s captured, a more warm climate and an overall better local food situation) is was still dire beyond all recognition. Since the 1970s, numerous studies dealing with the fate of the Soviet POW’s have completely debunked the myth that the Wehrmacht did care for the Soviet POW’s in 1941 and early 1942 (2). More recent studies dealing with the fate of the population conquered by the 11th Army, are convincingly contradicting Manstein’s blatant statement as untrue (see (a) and the documents of the Quartermaster of the 11th Army in the exhibition catalog listed under (3))
Since the mid-1960s, numerous studies (4) had already proven that the German warfare in the East was a not a “normal European war...fought within the limits of the already known”, but instead “the most enormous war of conquest, war of enslavement, war of annihilation, that modern history had seen” (5). In the defend of his “Scorched Earth” policy during the German retreat Manstein wrote: “The fact that the warfare brought up much suffering and inevitable harnesses can’t be denied. But those were not comparable to what the terror bombing brought on the German civil population, not even to mention what later happened with Germans in the East.” (p.540)
Manstein claims that the Soviet Commissars were “certainly no soldiers” (p.176) [WRONG], that he reported to his superiors (that would have been Hoepner and Leeb at this time) that he refuses to carry out the s.c. “Commissar-decree” [NOT SUPPORTED BY THE FACTS] and that all his military superiors “certainly agreed with him” in this [WRONG]. He does not only claim that the “Commissar-decree” wasn’t carried out in the 11th Army [WRONG] but also that this attitude was “shared in the entire Army” [WRONG], (pp177).
Numerous studies (see 2) on this have already shown that the German Army in general did carry out the s.c. “Commissar-decree”. Additionally, it is absolutely unbelievable that SS-Divisions like “Totenkopf” and “Polizei-Division” being temporarily under Manstein’s command did not carried it out, as Eicke explicitly announced the criminal orders to his men.
Consequentially, on Dec. 19, 1949, Manstein was sentenced to 18 years of prison for the following crimes:
a) enabled the orders classifying Red Army prisoners as partisans subject to summary execution;
issued and enforced the "Commissar Order" ordering the execution of commissars;
c) issued orders for "reprisal killings" in Simferopol and Eupatoria;
d) disregarded his duty to ensure the respect of rights and individual life of (Jewish) civilians within his command;
e) ordered or permitted the use of POWs in dangerous and prohibited work;
f) ordered the deportation of civilians for forced labor;
g) ordered the seizure and/or destruction of civilian owned property in German occupied areas, and removal of the civilian population.
(thanks to Peter Mitchell for that list)
He claims that he had heard of Operation WEISS (planned invasion of Poland) as late as in summer 1939 (p. 12) [WRONG], even though he was CoS in Leeb’s Army Group SOUTH, so he simple had to know since May 1939.
He claims that Hitler underestimated the strength of the Red Army prior “Barbarossa” (in fact it was the German Army High Command who underestimated it), resulting in Hitler’s plan to crush the USSR in ONE campaign (in fact only 1 out of 20 operational studies prepared by the Army called that the campaign should be carried out in two steps). He claims that Hitler’s occupation policies in the East were in contradiction to those of the Army – they weren’t, as numerous modern studies (see 3, 4, 6) dealing with the German military occupation are showing.
Manstein’s twisting about the “outbreak”-question at Stalingrad as already been discussed. Stahlberg (1), who was Manstein’s ordinance during that times remembers a conversation between Paulus and Manstein where Paulus was begging him (Manstein) to give the order for breakout. Manstein denied that request.
More interesting is what Manstein did NOT mention in his book: I already mentioned the absence of the character of the war against Russia, the absence of the Holocaust or economical exploration in his memoirs. Manstein does not expand on his time during the occupation of Poland (until Oct. 18, 1939) where he must have collected first-hand experience with the Nazi terror put upon the Polish people. His administrative role as the Commander of the 11th Army and later Army Groups and his relations to the Einsatzgruppen and SS are neglected by him. In his criticism on decisions of the “upper” or “top leadership” he is equaling this “leadership” with Hitler in personae, in reality this was Hitler, the OKW, OKH and, later during the war, himself as a part of the “highest leadership”. The chapter dealing with his role as Commander of the 56.Tank Corps during July 1941, where he was sacked by (as always) “superior” or “stronger” RA units, is pretty weak, too.
Unfortunately there is no single serious biography on Manstein available until today, as his son doesn’t allow any research in Manstein’s legacy (if he has reasons to do so?). However, some more recent studies have dealt with Manstein in a more critical, scholarship manner as he did in his self-serving memoirs:
a) Marcel Stein: “Generalfeldmarschall Erich von Manstein. Kritische Betrachtungen des Soldaten und Menschen.”, (General Fieldmarshal Erich von Manstein. Critical views on the Soldier and Person), 2000, 346 pages
Oliver von Wrochem: “Die Auseinandersetzung mit Wehrmachtverbrechen im Prozeß gegen den Generalfeldmarschall Erich von Manstein 1949” (The debate on Wehrmacht crimes in the trail against General Fieldmarshal Erich von Manstein 1949), in: Zeitschrift für Geschichtswissenschaft 46, Nr. , pp. 329-353, 1998
c) Reginald Thomas Paget: “Manstein: His Campaigns and his Trial”, 1951
d) Wallach, Jehuda L.: “Feldmarschall Erich von Manstein und die deutsche Judenausrottung in Rußland” (Fieldmarshall Erich von Manstein and the Extermination of the Jews in Russia) in: Jahrbuch des Instituts für Deutsche Geschichte, 1975, pp. 457-472
e) Schneider, Christian: “Denkmal Manstein: Psychogramm eines Befehlshabers” pp. 402-417 in Heer, Naumann (eds.): “Vernichtungskrieg : Verbrechen der Wehrmacht 1941 bis 1944” (War of Annilihation: Wehrmacht Crimes 1941-1944), 1995
f) Andreas Hillgruber: "Generalfeldmarschall Erich von Manstein in der Sicht des kritischen Historikers" (GFM Erich von Manstein seen from the perspective of a critical Historian) in: Ulrich v. Gersdorff (ed.): "Geschichte und Militärgeschichte " (History and Military History), 1974
It is not unusual that memoir literature is meanly self-serving. And it its the nature of the that kind of literature that its written out of the perspective of one side, biased, with omissions of uncomfortable facts and out of a limited point of view. No one expects a historical correct view of the events by reading a personal account of someone who was involved on top position in the events took place. This applies for Erich von Manstein as well as for Patton, Zhukov, Guderian, Speer, Churchill etc, etc...
Memoir literature is always supplementary literature. Read by itself or as a ‘starting literature’ it will cause more harm than benefit.
The problem with Manstein’s and other German memoir literature is that it became (due to the lack of other sources and scholarship activity on this topic and thanks to Lidell Hart), a semi-official reading of German warfare in WW II until the 1960s/early 70s. Much of the myths about the ‘clean’, descent Wehrmacht who only defended Germany and would have won the war if Herr Hitler wouldn’t be that moronic ‘lance Corporal’ was built by this literature. Even the titel of Manstein’s book (“Lost Victories”) gives a good clue about the way of thinking of Manstein. His Victories, lost by others.
Notes (I tried to limit this to more recent studies):
(1) Alexander Stahlberg: “Bounden Duty: The memoirs of a German officer 1932-45”, 1990
(2) just to name a few of the most significant studies, also dealing with the “Commissar-decree”:
Christian Streit: “Keine Kameraden: Die Wehrmacht und die sowjetischen Kriegsgefangenen 1941–1945” (No Comrades: The Wehrmacht and the Soviet Prisoners of War 1941-1945), 1997;
Alfred Streim: “Die Behandlung sowjetischer Kriegsgefangener im ‘Fall Barbarossa’" (The Treatment of Soviet Prisoners of War during “Operation Barbarossa”), 1981, 442 pages;
Buchheim, Broszat, Jacobsen (eds.): “Anatomie des SS- Staates” (Anatomy of the SS-State), 1964
(3) Exhibition Catalog of the Hamburger Institut für Sozialforschung (Ed.) :“Verbrechen der Wehrmacht. Dimensionen des Vernichtungskrieges 1941-1944“ (Crimes of the German Wehrmacht: Dimensions of a War of Annihilation) 749 p, 2002
(4) just to name a few most significant in this regard:
Boog, Förster, Hoffmann (eds.): “Das Deutsche Reich und der Zweite Weltkrieg, 10 Bde., Bd.4, Der Angriff auf die Sowjetunion” (Germany and the Second World War, 10 Volumes, Vol. 4: The Attack on the Soviet Union) 1987;
Müller, Volkmann: „Die Wehrmacht, Mythos und Realität“ (The Wehrmacht: Myth and Reality), 1999, 1318 pages;
Wolfram Wette: “Die Wehrmacht. Feindbilder, Vernichtungskrieg, Legenden” (The Wehrmacht: Foe Images, War of Annilihation, Myths) 2002, 384p
(5) Nolte, Ernst : “Der Faschismus in seiner Epoche” (Fascism during his Time),1963, p. 436
(6) Werner Röhr (eds.) "Europa unterm Hakenkreuz. Die Okkupationspolitik des deutschen Faschismus (1938-1945)" (Europe under the Swastika. The occupation Policy of the German Fascism 1938-1945), 1996;
Theo J. Schulte: "The German Army and Nazi Policies in Occupied Russia", 1989;
Truman O. Anderson: "The Conduct of Reprisals by the German Army of Occupation in the Southern USSR.", 1994
[ 25. November 2003, 09:48 AM: Message edited by: AndyW ]