Posts Tagged ‘Hermann Goering’

“Fortress Stalingrad” had a grandiose sound to it, but the title was deceiving.  German General Friedrich Paulus knew that his 6th Army was in serious trouble.  What a difference 5 days made!  Back then he believed his Soviet enemies had their backs against the proverbial wall and that Stalingrad was nearly his.

But a massive Soviet counterattack was rapidly changing the situation.  Launched in the dim morning hours of November 19th, Operation Uranus crashed into the weakened German flanks with devastating effect.  By the end of that first day, the Romanians (manning the flanks) had suffered more than 55,000 casualties.  The next day saw the 1st Romanian Armoured Division eliminated and the 22nd Panzer Army badly mauled.

The flanks largely collapsed, leaving the Soviets only modest resistance on their path to encirclement.  Paulus, seeing a horrific disaster unfolding to his back (the west), released his own 3 Panzer divisions, but a lack of fuel and ammunition – keep in mind that supply lines, which were incredibly long, came from the west – made their efforts much less effective.

On November 23, 1942, Paulus’ nightmare became reality when Soviet forces, which had stepped off from both north and south of the city, met up at Sovietskiy, 30 miles west of Stalingrad.  The encirclement, although tenuous, was complete.  What was left of the Romanian Third Army (more than 25,000 men) was forced to surrender…the Romanians suffered nearly 90,000 total casualties in four days of brutal fighting.

Inside the pocket lay Stalingrad, General Paulus, and his forces.  They comprised remnants of the Romanian Fourth Army, the Fourth Panzer, and (of course) the German Sixth Army…nearly 270,000 men.  It was at this point that Paulus stood his best chance of escape from his “trap on the Volga”.  Soviet forces had yet to consolidate their positions, Field Marshal Erich von Manstein was pushing to reinforce the destroyed flanks, and Paulus still commanded a formidable force with substantial artillery.  A breakout, while not anything close to victory, would have prevented certain destruction.

But it was at this point that the German High Command did itself in.  Hermann Goering foolishly boasted that his Luftwaffe could keep Fortress Stalingrad supplied from the air…even though Wolfram von Richthofen’s 4th Air Fleet only had half the aircraft it needed.  And Adolf Hitler, blinded to all reality but the now vanishing hope of capturing Stalingrad, bought Goering’s plan and ordered Paulus to hold his ground.  One can almost hear Goering’s arrogant assurance and the remaining Generals giving each other those fleeting glances of dismay.

However, in speaking of the German failures, one should not minimize Soviet Marshal Georgy Zhukov’s genius in launching Uranus.  I’ve mentioned Chris Bellamy’s book Absolute War on several occasions, and he is effusive in his praise…and rightly so.

He writes, “Along with the Carthaginians’ encirclement and annihilation of the Romans at Cannae in 216 BC, Zhukov’s destruction of the Japanese at Khalkin Gol in 1939, and Schwarzkopf’s Hail Mary of 1991, it was from a purely military point of view one of the greatest encirclements of history.  But its staggering scale, in spatial and human terms, especially given the very thin margins available to the Soviet High Command, and its strategic and political consequences must make it the greatest encirclement of all time.”

Experts may argue over the “greatest”, but the Soviet linkup at Sovietskiy set in motion the most significant defeat in the 4-year Russo-German war…probably the biggest defeat for Germany in the entire war.

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Here I am, trapped behind these bars.  If there was any way to escape, I’d do it.  Many of my subordinates did get away, and are probably halfway to Argentina by now.  Hitler was right…those stupid Generals cost us the war and then a bunch of them got away.

My Luftwaffe did everything possible, but Speer’s directives made it impossible for me to put together the air power we needed!  Speer, Speer, SPEER!!!  Always the humble one, so sorry, SO contrite!!  The apple of the court’s eye…he’ll probably be sentenced to live in Carinhall…figures…

I wonder how dear Emmy is doing?

I wonder what’s happened with Carinhall?  Is it still standing?  Ah, those were the good times!  The music, the artwork, the statues, the fancy rugs, those fancy parties…I miss it!  All those Jews that made Carinhall possible…and the place in Berchtesgaden.  I wondered what happened to all of those Jews…I probably know, but then again, I don’t…

Hehehe…I convinced that jury that I wasn’t anti-semitic…well, I almost did.  That letter to Heydrich just before Wannsee was the dagger in my defense.  How was that not destroyed?!?

Why didn’t Bormann just leave me alone?!?  I wasn’t trying to take over.  I thought Hitler was incapacitated, and I was the next in command.  I had the letter from Hitler from way back…’41, maybe ’42.  It was in the safe!  Didn’t we all just want the fighting to end?

Couldn’t we have worked together for just once?!?  Negotiate the peace, then make for the Alps?  If Bormann hadn’t gotten all power-hungry and had me arrested…ME!!!…we probably would all be safely out of harm’s way.  I made Martin Bormann!!  He was a nobody…and he wasn’t captured, so he’s probably living it up south of the equator as well.

Well, they’re going to hang me tomorrow.  I should be shot…actually, they should be shot and I should living it up with Emmy and the little darling someplace not in Europe.  Hehehe…at least I’ll cheat the hangman with my bit of insurance.  Bit…more like a “bite” of insurance.

Oop…wave at the guard and give a half smile.  Yeah buddy, you think I’m gonna swing tomorrow.  You won’t be back for at least 10 minutes.

Well, I guess this worked for Hitler…and Frau Goebbels said she set it aside for the kids.  Just bite and wait, eh?  I suppose I’d rather the last sound I hear be glass breaking than my neck.  Goodbye world, goodbye Emmy, goodbye guard…a little wave even though you can’t see me…goodbye October 15, 1946…

I wonder who’ll get fired when they find me…ok, little pill, one chomp and I’ll be gone…forever…to nothing…here goes…yeow, glass hurts no matter how sma…



huh…I didn’t think I’d still be awake…this is weird.  Least it’s warm.  I wonder wher…what’s th…uh oh…

Recommended Reading:  Angels of Death: Goering’s Luftwaffe

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The early months of 1933, while culminating in a long national nightmare for Germany, probably seemed like a fairy-tale ride to destiny for Adolf Hitler.  As January ended, a tired and ailing President Paul von Hindenburg had named Hitler Chancellor of Germany.

And then the wheels began to turn.  First, the new Chancellor dissolved the Reichstag (Germany’s governing body) and called for new elections (to be held the first week in March).  Then, in a complete and utter coincidence, the Reichstag building caught fire just a week after Hitler’s appointment.  Hitler conveniently blamed the fire on the Communists, suspended habeas corpus, and began arresting Communist Party officials, removing them from play in the upcoming elections.

When the March 5th election counts were tallied, Hitler was still unable to win a clear majority (though a coalition with the Nationalist Party gave him a slim “on-paper” majority).  But Hitler was smart enough to know that reliance on a second party for passing legislation gave that weaker party tremendous power…power he wanted.

So he had his cabinet draw up what became the Enabling Act, an incredibly powerful tool which allowed Hitler (and his cabinet) to create and pass legislation, including changing Germany’s constitution, without the Reichstag’s consent.  But how to get this little gem of a law past the Reichstag?  Out came those wheels again.

The Catholic-led Centre Party agreed to support the measure when Chancellor Hitler made promises to them…promises he, of course, never kept.  Which left two other groups.  Most Social Democrats (the SPD Party) and Communists were expected to vote against the deal.  As mentioned, many of the Communists were now out of the picture and the Social Democrats didn’t have the votes to carry the day.  But the SPD had another weapon.  If they refused to show up for the vote, the Reichstag wouldn’t have the quorum required to even vote in the first place.  So can we see those wheels a third time?

The Reichstag President, some guy named Hermann Goering, changed the rules, giving himself the power to declare any deputy “absent without excuse” as present.  You know, this is a lot like Calvinball…just make the rules up as you go.  Anyways, the SPD Party was now cornered, and with the SA (Hitler’s merry band of enforcers, commonly referred to as “thugs”) standing outside the chambers, and the outcome was inevitable.

On March 23, 1933, the votes were cast, and the Enabling Act squeaked through by a 441-to-94 margin.  The Reichstag had just voted itself out of relevance in Germany and, in 2 months, the German Republic had become a totalitarian state under the man destined to become one of history’s greatest tyrants.

Recommended Reading: The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich – A History of Nazi Germany

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“…ford every stream…follow every rainb…”

Ok, every time I hear of the Austrian Anschluss (which, admittedly, doesn’t make the news a lot), I can’t help but think of Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, and the scene with Captain von Trapp tearing down the Nazi flag from the front of his home. In fact, I’ve probably seen the Von Trapp children frolicking around Salzburg in their “play clothes” more times than I’ve heard about the actual historical event which takes place in the movie.

But even if the The Sound of Music embellishes the real von Trapp story almost beyond recognition, the Anschluss itself was very real, and pretty simple in scope.  Adolf Hitler and the German Nazi Party had been putting increasing pressure on Austrian Chancellor Kurt Schuschnigg to grant more and more concessions to the Austrian Nazi Party. Some he did grant, like appointing Arthur Seyss-Inquart, a prominent Nazi, as Interior Minister. But on others, Schuschnigg hesitated.

And that was pretty much all the provocation the German dictator needed. Knowing full well that France and England would sit on the sidelines, knowing that Austria’s primary defender (Italy and Benito Mussolini) were already in his hip pocket, and knowing that many of the younger Austrians supported National Socialism, Hitler gave the embattled Chancellor two options: step down and name Seyss-Inquart as his successor immediately, or face invasion immediately.

Meanwhile, Hitler had worked with Seyss-Irquart and arranged that, when he became Chancellor, he would ask Hitler to send German troops across the border to maintain order.

Schuschnigg couldn’t stand the idea of bloodshed on either side so, on March 11, 1938, he stepped down as Chancellor.  But Austria’s President, Wilhelm Miklas, refused to name Seyss-Irquart Chancellor.  Tired of waiting, Hitler and Hermann Goering simply forged a telegram requesting military aid, said it came from the Austrian Government, and gave the military the go-ahead.  The troops crossed the German-Austrian border on March 12, 1938, and the Rape of Austria, known as the Anschluss, was begun.  Austria ceased to exist and did not regain full sovreignty as a nation until the mid 1950’s.

Recommended Reading: The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich – A History of Nazi Germany – I am not above recommending books more than once, because if you want to research a topic in greater depth, I want to provide you with a very good source of information.  Shirer’s work is superb…believe me, you’ll see it again.

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