2019-12-16 14:39:10 UTC
The Soviet Fifth Tank and Twenty-first Armies launched Uranus on 19
November. It was reported to Hitler who was on holiday that hundreds of
Soviet tanks had shattered the Rumanian front. This was not unexpected as
the Germans were already concerned about their weakiness there and they had
noted Soviet preparations in the area.
Soon it became that day clear that the situation was dire.
However, the Germans army were not sure then whether they could contain the
Soviet army. They immediately ordered available troops to the area, but
they did not have enough that could be sent in at such short notice. Soon
it became clear that their armies and allies in Stalingrad would quickly be
trapped between the quickly closing Soviet pincers.
Now, what to do?
Jeschonnek, chief of the Luftwaffe General Staff was called in and was
advised that the German army and its allies in Stalingrad would probably be
trapped. However, a German army would soon launch a relief effort, but for
a short time, the German army would be cut off. Now he was asked if for a
short time the German army could be supplied. Jeschonnek who was not given
time to consider the situation and replied that it could be done for a
short time. Maybe he should have asked for time to review the situation,
but in truth then there was no time.
So Hitler initially ordered his troops to stand in Stalingrad.
However, later that day, many in the German army and Luftwaffe voiced their
concerns and stated that the airlift was not going to work, and an
immediate breakout was required. At this stage, German General Paulus might
here have started the breakup on his initiative, but he did not. Note I am
not so sure without Hitler's approval Paulus could do such a breakout.
In a few days, Jeschonnek after doing a review of the situation concluded
that the Luftwaffe could not supply the German army in Stalingrad and he
told Hitler that. Hitler, however, refused to change his mind and ordered
his forces in Stalingrad to stand firm. The die was cast.
Most people think this stand order by Hitler was a mistake, but I am not so
sure of this.
If say Hitler had ordered the army at Stalingrad to withdraw, the German
army there would have lost most of its equipment. Many of his troops would
be lost anyway, many would-be wrecks too sick to do any more fighting.
Probably only a remnant as a fighting force would be available to the
Germans later. Then there is the problem of seven Soviet armies driving
into the German lines in the South and not much to stop them.
By ordering those people at Stalingrad to stand firm, Hitler kept the
Soviet forces contained for months. Because of this, the bulk of the German
army in the area was able to withdraw safely. Soon the front in the South
was stabilised although at a terrible cost of the losses in Stalingrad.
What are your thoughts about this?