Stalingrad, Paulus and the 6th Army?

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by Lucky13, Apr 8, 2013.

  1. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2006
    Messages:
    36,731
    Likes Received:
    1,064
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Nightshift picker
    Location:
    A Swede living in Glasgow, Scotland
    Home Page:
    Not knowing what kind of person and officer General Paulus was, what if he had ignored Hitler when he first wanted, what should he, what could he do next, to save his men and as much of his equipment?

    What the next move?
     
  2. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2008
    Messages:
    10,691
    Likes Received:
    676
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Urban Design/Strategic Studies Tutor
    Location:
    Orange NSW
    The obvious answer is to redirect all the available resources to a breakout attmpt. This is the usual a;terante history often trotted out by the pro-German apologists, as they struggle with the reality that their army was defeated by an army they consider to be infereior in every way except numbers.

    I dont share that view.

    Whilst a breakout may well have gotten ^A out of the pocket, there are two problems with the whole concept. the first is that the Russians will follow the Germans, with the result that there will be additional encirclements outside the city. STAVKha had reserves ready for just such an eventuality. The problem for the Germans, having lied to all their allies and left them short of vital equipment and manpower, the satellite armies defending the flaks of ^A were simly not secure. the Russians could choose further enciclements at any time.

    Moreover, an attempt at a breakout would very likely bring about a more rapid demise of ^A, and if enything in the winter of 1942-3, the ^A had to hold for as long as possible and tie down as many reserves of the Red Army as possible. If not even bigger portions of the heer was likley to be lost to further encirclements near Rostov. Much is done nowadays to try and hide the sheer military incompetence that was the hallmark of that final great offensive by the germans. but it was a dud, from top to bottom, thgought up by a madmen, and executed by slavish yes men, for the most part. in my opinion. the people who paid the price for that incompetence was the common German (and Axis) soldier.
     
  3. rochie

    rochie Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2006
    Messages:
    14,640
    Likes Received:
    427
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Head chef
    Location:
    billingham nr middlesbrough uk
    wonder if Paulus withdrew from the city would he have had the manpower and or time to take on each of the Soviet thrusts one at a time ?

    given he had intel on them coming that is !!!!
     
  4. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2006
    Messages:
    36,731
    Likes Received:
    1,064
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Nightshift picker
    Location:
    A Swede living in Glasgow, Scotland
    Home Page:
    When was the first time, Paulus asked for permission to retreat?
     
  5. vinnye

    vinnye Member

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2009
    Messages:
    604
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Occupation:
    Maths teacher
    Location:
    Barnsley, UK
    I believe the 6th Army was always going to be in trouble because they had weakened the flanks of the German troops and tanks, and left Rumsnian and Italian troops who did not have the anti tank capability required. So when the Russians attacked these flanks - Paulus was going to have to retreat immediateley or be trapped. We know that he was given assurances that a break in was planned and he would be re-supplied by air - which never happened.
     
  6. rochie

    rochie Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2006
    Messages:
    14,640
    Likes Received:
    427
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Head chef
    Location:
    billingham nr middlesbrough uk
    i agree but just wondered given enough warning could Paulus have avoided a disaster and actually succeeded on the Volga or was the opposing force just to strong no matter what
     
  7. vinnye

    vinnye Member

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2009
    Messages:
    604
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Occupation:
    Maths teacher
    Location:
    Barnsley, UK
    I dont think thta having 2 elite divisions moved from the East to the mobile reserve for defence against an Allied invasion in France, or moving LW units to combat the Allies MTO operations, would have helped the situation. But, even with those forces - the sheer weight of numbers that the Russians were able to deploy would have eventually overwhelmed the Axis forces.
     
  8. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 28, 2009
    Messages:
    2,343
    Likes Received:
    409
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Motor Mechanic
    Location:
    Lancashire
    It seems madness to have fought in Stalingrad in the first place. What would have been the best plan for the 6th that would avoid getting bogged down in a built up area.
     
  9. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2009
    Messages:
    6,418
    Likes Received:
    64
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    An army commander shouldn't ask for permission to retreat while conducting a mobile operation. He fights the battle to the best of his ability. If that means tactical withdrawal to avoid encirclement then so be it.
     
  10. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2009
    Messages:
    7,535
    Likes Received:
    948
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Not for an army commander in nazi Germany.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  11. vinnye

    vinnye Member

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2009
    Messages:
    604
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Occupation:
    Maths teacher
    Location:
    Barnsley, UK
    With most armies - there would have been room for some autonomous decision making at the frntline, but with Adolf - it could end your life.
    I have read that Manstein had advised Hitler against an attempt to breakout, and changed his mind in his memoirs!
     
  12. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2009
    Messages:
    6,418
    Likes Received:
    64
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    Baloney. German army commanders maneuvered their forces as they saw fit right up to summer 1944. Rommel is a good example of this. His Afrika Korps mostly ignored both Hitler and OHL. He received a field marshal baton for his actions, not execution.

    Paulus was a political suck up. That's why he sat in Stalingrad asking Hitler for permission rather then doing what needed to be done.
     
  13. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2009
    Messages:
    7,535
    Likes Received:
    948
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Rommel's sitiation in North Africa was entirely different from Paulus' and others in Stalingrad. That comparison reeks of Bologna sausage.
    Hitler had taken a personal interest and was issuing orders himself. There was an immense political facet to this operation,it was not purely military.Even if you are a Field Marshall you have to obey orders from the man who is not only your Commander in Chief but also the Head of State.
    Critcism of the Fuhrer's plans got you sacked (ask Halder or List). The consequences of disobeying an order might be more serious.

    There may have been some merit in Hitler's orders. What would have been the consequences of a 6th Army withdrawal? There's a "what if" of epic proportions :)

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  14. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2010
    Messages:
    2,484
    Likes Received:
    110
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Occupation:
    auto body repair
    Location:
    pound va
    During WW2 the Wehrmacht had 17 field marshalls, 10 were relieved by Hitler.
    During WW2, 84 generals were executed on Hilers orders.
    I'm sure soneone on this forum can provide a breakdown of the reasons for all those executions and reliefs .
    All are not in connection with the July plot, nor after July 44.
    And that's just Field Marshalls and Generals. What about lower field grade officers ?

    That doesn't sound like Wehrmacht commanders had much independance of action to me.
     
  15. DonL

    DonL Banned

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2007
    Messages:
    986
    Likes Received:
    32
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Occupation:
    IT
    Location:
    Niedersachsen
    #15 DonL, Apr 9, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2013
    I disagree!
    Rommel had got the same order then Paulus! Hold the frontline or die!

    Rommel had the nuts, the military knowledge and was the man on location which could assess the situation and disobeyed, because his military knowledge said no to the situation and he wanted to save the life of his men and his army.

    This is from primary sources:
    Directly after Rommel dictated the order to retreat for his Army, he dictated a letter to his wife and son with best wishes, because he thought (and has written this at the letter) he will be executed for this order.

    Many things are hanging on the man at location, his will and his charism and Rommel revolted because he knew he was right and Hitler's order wrong from his military knowledge. He had the nuts to save his army and he was well aware what could be happened.

    If Paulus had the same nuts and charism he had 12-20 hours to retreat and revolt against Hitler and his order and General von Richthofen and General von Weichs had both helped him.
    A retreat of 12-20 hours at the situation of Stalingrad couldn't be holded and it had saved the 6th Army.

    Parsifals arguments are wrong from the military viewpoint. Paulus had 2 fresh (100%) break through divisions at the south west and 50km to the german frontline outside the circle (20-23 November). All he needed was air supply of fuel and ammo and General von Richthofen was able and willing to organize this, also General von Weichs commander of the Heeresgruppe B was also willing to help him.
     
  16. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2010
    Messages:
    2,484
    Likes Received:
    110
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Occupation:
    auto body repair
    Location:
    pound va
    Did they actually get the order, "hold or die " ?
    Or did they get the order to hold, and the or else die was understood as the penalty for failure to obey ?
     
  17. DonL

    DonL Banned

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2007
    Messages:
    986
    Likes Received:
    32
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Occupation:
    IT
    Location:
    Niedersachsen
    Hold and no retreat!
     
  18. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2010
    Messages:
    2,484
    Likes Received:
    110
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Occupation:
    auto body repair
    Location:
    pound va
    Any military organization expects it's orders to be obeyed, and has harsh penalties when this isn't done.

    But there is a difference between attempting to carry out a order and failing, and not attempting to carry out the order.

    The Russians shot a lot of men for the first variation, but very few for the second, because nobody dreamed of doing the second.
    In the IJA, if you failed, it was expected you'd apologize with your death.
    In the Wehrmacht, what was the usual result ?

    Paulus doesn't appear to have the imagination to think of a alternate, or the personal nerve to stand up to a order that he must have known wasn't sound.
     
  19. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2008
    Messages:
    10,691
    Likes Received:
    676
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Urban Design/Strategic Studies Tutor
    Location:
    Orange NSW
    posibly the two men - rommel and paulus represent two extremes of the same coin, but hitlers interference in operatinal matters is undenaible, and he took a particular interest in the Eastern Front.

    Hitler may noit have executed every general that defied him, but he did shoot or kill quite a few nevetheless. He also sacked many for exercising good military judgement. Some of the more prominent that come to mind include Guderian, List, Rundstedt, and Model. In the context of the 1942 offensive, Hitler had made very clear what he wanted. Paulus had to have been influenced by that.

    The case relating to Rommel was different. in the first instance the chain of command was unclear. Rommel could, and did, often appeal directly to hitler and OKW, but he was actually subordinate to Commando Supremo, so could claim that his orders were from one or the other as it suited him. He was on Furlough at the time of Alamein, so could also claim ignoirance of hitlers orders at the time he instructed DAK to begin preparations for withdrawal. Finally Hitler did eventually rescind his hold fast order (which had been improperly issued anyway), and Rommel could arghue that his actions up to that receission were preparatory only.

    There is no comparison to paulus's situation. Nevertheless paulus was given orders to prepre for a breakout, but in the finish permission to undertake that breakout were never given. by that time it was obvious that a breakout would cost the wehrmacht more than what it was worth in saved lives, so serving up the 6A as a sacrifice to save the rest of AGS was a necessary price to pay.

    Having said that, after Stalingrad, many german commanders did decide to act unilaterlally to withdraw from perilous situations as they needed to. but to try and say it was not without risk or that hitlers influence was not real, is simply denying facts. Manstein undertook several withdrawals unilaterally before it cost him his job...a case of one too many withdrawals.

    Its somewhat Hitlers fault, but it also is a fault in the german command system. German training tended to not deal with retreats very well. You cannot blame hitler solely for that....whilst german officer training was extremely thorough and of very high quality, the training for retreats had been deleted in 1935, and not ever reinstated. Consequently, when the germans were forced to reteat from a batlle, such retreats tended to be in the nature of uncontrolled fleeing, rather than controlled withdrawals.

    Its a more complex situation than people are acknowledgeing here.....
     
  20. DonL

    DonL Banned

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2007
    Messages:
    986
    Likes Received:
    32
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Occupation:
    IT
    Location:
    Niedersachsen
    #20 DonL, Apr 9, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2013
    Such things didn't exist at the Wehrmacht till 20 July of 1944.
    After the assassination Hiltler went havoc.
    If you wern't a good Commander you got your displacement.
    A very prominent issue was the fall von Sponeck, he retreated against a direct order from von Manstein (Dezember 1941, halfisland Kertsch) an revolted against a direct order to hold without retreat. From a military viewpoint his action was right and saved his Korps and he could hold a reduced frontline against the attacking Red Army.
    For disciplinal reasons he was brought to military court and got 7 years of jail, von Manstein protested heavily against the judgment, but defended his decision to get him to military court for disciplinal reasons.

    The situation at 20-23 November at Stalingrad was very confusing but there were two assessments from Heeresgruppe B General von Weichs and Luftflotte 4 General von Richthofen for an instantly break out of the 6th Army south west. Also General von Seydlitz wanted to break out.
    Paulus offers him the commando that he can give the order to break out (25 November) but he also didn't have the nuts.

    All location commnaders and their assessments (von Richthofen, von Weichs, Hoth and Paulus) was, to break out south west, this was the military situation for the commanders at location and to my opinion they had the best military overview on location.
    Even General von Weichs Heeresgruppe B had on the Telex the break out order for Paulus, but Hitler was faster with his hold and no retreat order.

    Now the location commander (Paulus) is in charge what to do and to me he had done the easy way, against his better military knowledge and against all military assessments of all the other local commanders, because he hasn't had the nuts and the charism to go the hard way for himself, but the better way for his men and Army.

    Edit:
    Pure speculation without substance and against the assessments of von Weich and von Richthofen.
     
Loading...

Share This Page