Originally posted by golddragnet
I am sure if you do study the 6th army you will realise their "defeat" was engineered. The implications of that should be obvious.
I have attempted to gain some understanding of Barbarossa and there are indeed some gross miscalculations and in some cases down right incompetence of
leadership. When we go that little bit deeper you cannot help but see that something more significant is at work here but what that is, is much
harder to pin-point.
First and foremost Paulus was a yes man. He refused to act on initiative, he refused, despite overwhelming pressure from both his own corp commanders
and von Manstein to withdraw, he could not or would not disobey Hitler - until his final surrender that is. In the eyes of many militarists he was an
incompetent strategist, as undoubtably was Hitler. The combination of these two minds was devasting and the loss of life extraordinary. Famously von
Wietersheim advised Paulus to be more tactically flexible and not repeat the mistakes of Verdun - Paulus responded by replacing him with General
Secondly Goering was equally culpable, he gave Hitler assurances, based upon the previous successes of supplying the some 5 units trapped in the
Demjansk pocket for approximately four months, that he could keep the 6th going. The Luftwaffen dropped 70 tonnes of supplies a day throughout
December (not even ten percent of that required) to Paulus' men. The inadequacy of these supplies meant that Paulus was forced to order that the
12,000 wounded not be fed and only those capable of fighting receive rations. Many, including Paulus were suffering from dysentry by this time and
were too weak to retreat. Though von Manstein got within thirty miles and sent Major Eismann in with details of 'Thunderclap', Paulus claimed his
men were too weak to move out and their armoured vehicles had insufficent fuel. The fact that when captured 45,000 of the 91,000 survivors died on
the march to Siberia perhaps confirms this. It is likely though that more would have survived a retreat.
Goering of course was disgraced and spent the remainder of the war in increasing isolation - the tie was broken with Hitler and this in some ways can
be seen as a victory for the allies. Whether planned or not.
In terms of engineering, you may have to clarify your opinion on this for me - I still have a lot to learn, this is my take so far....
Paulus was recommended by von Reichenau for command of the 6th when he was forced to retire due to illness. Guderian had recognised Paulus' lack of
experience and recommended him for a more administrative role.
Von Reichenau was a devote Hitlerite, and was the catalyst for Hitler assuming head of the army, when von Runstedt and Beck refuse to accept him as
their superior when he tried to replace Brauschitsch with von Reichenau. Hitler would not accept a Prussian and the Prussians would not accept von
Reichenau whom they considered too political (against army code of honour). Hitler therefore appointed himself, and further replaced Beck with Halder
as Chief of Staff, who though not quite a yes man but did lack balls. So from Hitler down to Paulus we have yes men and no real military strategists
So far then from this perspective I see only incompetence and meglomania. In some ways the situation can be put down to set of loaded circumstances
and I personally feel that Hitler did not at any point plan the outcome to this effect. He was not a tactician but his distrust toward the Generals
meant that he placed himself in this position and bouyed by his relative successes in the first winter offensive felt he was capable of the job. He
was not, but then it is likely that he had planned the initial strikes with Hess whom he was now without. The gulf that Hess left should not be
underestimated, it left Hitler completely out on a limb and in free fall from that point onwards.
If you would like to elucidate I am more than happy to consider an alternative opinion, as I have explained before, Barbarossa is a new area of study
to me and I am still examining the various angles. I see greater machination from the soviets and the British than from Hitler, though Bormann is, at
all times, of interest.
All the best.