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Was Stalingrad yet another Manstein's Lost Victory?

Discussion in 'Eastern Europe' started by Tamino, Oct 23, 2012.

  1. Tamino

    Tamino Doc - The Deplorable

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    On 20 November 1942 Manstein took command of Army Group Don. On the same day general Yeromenko has commenced his second part of operation Uranus. Clearly, Manstein was superior to Paulus before the 6th army was encircled.

    According to several notable German generals, Manstein was arrogant and dismissive of his peers and subordinates’ recommendations. According to Joachim Wieder and Graf Heinrich von Einseidel, the ‘extremely self-assured’ Manstein discounted their opinions concerning the Luftwaffe’s inability to supply 6th Army and that the forces available were insufficient to mount a successful relief. In fact, Manstein’s evaluation and reporting to Hitler effectively ‘stabbed all the other commanders in the back’.

    Manstein was unwilling to defy Hitler by countermanding Hitler’s order for 6th Army to ‘Stand Fast’—despite the extraordinary difficulties and Hitler’s unrealistic expectations.

    What do you think: who is more responsible for the Stalingrad disaster: Paulus who just executed his orders or Manstein who was commander of the Army group Don, practically from the beginning of operation Uranus?

    Sources:
    (1) The operational (warfighting) performance of Field Marshal Erich von Manstein Eastern Front 1942–1944, Major Mark Welburn, Australian Army
    (2) Stalingrad: Memories and Reassessments, translated by Helmet Bogler, Arms and Armour Press, London
    (3) Wieder, Joachim and Graf von Einsiedel, Heinrich, 1995, Stalingrad: Memories and Reassessments, translated by Helmet Bogler, Arms and Armour Press, London.
     
  2. scipio

    scipio Member

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    [​IMG]


    Here is the actual message sent from Manstein to Hitler - and he is practically begging the Fuhrer to give permission for Paulus to break out of Stalingrad.


    However, whilst Hitler gave his blessing to Operation Winterstorm, Manstein's relief of Paulus, he consistently refused the second part ie Thunderclap, 6th Army's withdrawal from Stalingrad.

    In the messages between Manstein and Paulus, time and time again Manstein tells Paulus to prepare for Thunderclap adn time and time again Paulus asks if the Fuhrer has agreed to Thunderclap.

    Of course Manstein could not lie and say YES but he keeps telling Paulus that he talking to the High Command and is waiting the go-ahead on Thunderclap.

    Manstein or rather 6th Panzer perform beyond even the German Army high standard in pushing aside superior Russian forces to get to the Mishkova river where Manstein needs Paulus to link-up with him.

    All the time Paulus dithers - his only chance is to defy Hitler, abandon Stalingrad and send all his force South to meet up with Manstein. He is not strong enough (as he, himself repeats) to remain in Stalingrad and still strike out to the Mishkova.

    So no blame to the arrogant, snobbish Manstein (nice guys don't make successful commanders!) - Paulus had to have the guts to risk Hitler's punishment and disobey orders.

    Sorry but Paulus was weak and gutless and hid behind "orders are orders" when he should have risked his personal life in the same way he was asking his poor troops daily throughout the 6 weeks horror of Stalingrad.
     
  3. PzJgr

    PzJgr Drill Instructor

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    I was going to say that Hitler was at fault and he even admitted it to the General Staff after he personally took over Army Group A from List. The whole idea was Hitler's and Hitler's direct intervention prevented any success.
     
  4. 36thID

    36thID Member

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    IMO, the blame is entirely on that Dummkopf Hitler and his stupid ego. Ego and the reality of the battlefield should never be confused. This was proven on both sides during WW 2.
     
  5. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    I've read a fair bit about Stalingrad and, without quoting sources too numerous to list, my own opinion is now that ; -

    - Paulus was absolutely the wrong man for the job. A good staff officer.
    - Manstein ; certainly unpleasant but not to 'blame'. There were insufficient resources to break in or break out by late November.
    - When the Russians cut 6th Army off, it was over for logistical reasons as well as for any other.

    Possibly some form of limited breakout could have been possible but any chance was squandered - back to Paulus on that one.
    Overall, I'm left wondering if the whole Army Group South force should have gone for the Caucasus and bypassed Stalingrad altogether ( I'm not arguing that one - I haven't formed any opinion ).

    And finally - the Russians won.

    ( It's like one of my favourite quotes from a veteran of Arnhem - that's war, you win some, you lose some. We lost that one.... )
     
  6. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    If you are looking for a scape-goat :Zhukov
     
  7. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    The chances for success were almost nihil at the start of Blau .
     
  8. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    Bypass Stalingrad - the Germans needed to establish a firm line along the Volga and Don, but there was no need at all to secure the city of Stalingrad, let alone to fight for it block to block. It's sometimes suggested that Stalingrad could have been taken easily early on, if 4 PzArmy had not been diverted to "assist" von Kliest - if so, great, but if the Russians were solidly in the city when the first German units arrived, they should have backed off. A line along the Volga-Don canal, then under construction, would have served their purpose. Getting bogged down in the city was entirely Hitler's contribution. Not sure what von Paulus could have done differently other than outright defying the Fuhrer.

    The drive into the Caucasus depended upon a secure flank, backed up by mobile reserves, against the easily anticipatible Russian counterstroke in the direction of Rostov. Without that the Caucasus was just driving into a trap, or as it turned out, "there and back".

    Another crucial decision, not sure where it was made, was to deploy the Italian, Hungarian, and Romanian armies in what anyone with a map could see was the likely path of the Soviet counteroffensive. Second-rate troops - no offense - should be used to free up forces for the most important sectors. At the least they should have been 'corsetted' between German armies.
     
  9. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    Can one trust Einsiedel? He was a lieutenant of 21 in 1942,and later actif in the committee Freies Deutschland.
     
  10. Triple C

    Triple C Ace

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    Recent scholarship suggests that von Manstein at first dismissed the suggestion that the LW could not supply Stalingrad and that the Sixth Army should breakout immediately. It was after rigorous protests from Richthofen that he changed his mind. See: 288, Murray and Millet, A War to Be Won. That von Manstein came around to the views of his subordinates certainly is not incompatible to a lapse of judgement earlier. However, ultimately, Russian victory in Stalingrad had less to do with German incompetence than Soviet competence, and a lot of historical "what ifs" are conceptually flawed in the way the question was framed.
     
  11. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    The Stalingrad desaster cound only be prevented if both AG's were retreating to the point of departure before september.
     
  12. Hufflepuff

    Hufflepuff Semi-Frightening Mountain Goat

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    That's not entirely true. Before the true Stalingrad thrust began the Germans had made it all the way to the Caucasus. The only reason the Germans didn't take Baku and the massive oil fields in Azerbaijan was because Hitler fired List before the Caucasus front could make any more progress. What Hitler should have done was not take over the AG himself, seeing that he himself was entirely in-adept for command in the field. Also, the Germans should not have focused on Stalingrad OR Baku offensives after they reached the Caucasus; they should have regrouped and reorganized another offensive for the future. The German Blue Offensive was doomed to fail because both Baku and Stalingrad would have turned out to be traps, logistically, for the Germans. Both were simply too far away for the Germans to expect to take them from the outskirts of Kharkov within the first two months. There was simply no way it was going to happen.

    A lot of people seem to blame Hitler here; I agree with them. If there was anybody to blame for the Stalingrad disaster, it was Hitler's inability to recognize the fact that he should not lead an AG personally, and that the objectives for Blue were simply too impossible, logistically, to accomplish. With the Germans fighting along the entire front in Russia simultaneously, not to mention in Africa, there was simply no way the High Command could adequately supply Blitzkriegs into the Caucasus/Kalmykija fronts.
     
  13. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    You are confirming my point :the failure of Blau had nothing to do with Hitler:Blau could only succeed if the initial successes were decisive,and,they were not .
    BTW:there is a difference between the failure of Blau,and Stalingrad.
     
  14. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Paulus should have taken his men to safety in time whatever anyone else says: Hitler ,Manstein etc. He had his responsibility to his men. Some months later Häusser saved his men from Kharkov against all advice and those troops were in key position to restore the front line in march 1943.
     
  15. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    I tend to agree but this brings us back to the fact that Paulus, by nature of his character and background, just wasn't the man to do it. Just about everything I've read seems to confirm this - just picking up the nearest one ( Beevor's Stalingrad ) I see 'Paulus possessed an exagerrated respect for the chain of command.....he enjoyed working late at night, bent over maps, with coffee and cigarettes to hand...' ( p.53).

    A Strecker or Seydlitz he sadly ( for 6th Army ) wasn't.......
     
  16. ptimms

    ptimms Member

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    Paulus may not have been the man but you cannot compare his position to Hausser at Kharkov. Hausser was in comand of 3 SS Panzer Divisions not a burnt out Infantry Army also the distance to be covered was less, Kharkov wasn't even totally surrounded.
     
  17. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    But Hitler´s order to Häusser was that there will be no retreat under any circumstances. Häusser did not hesitate when the time came and was ready to go to military court for his decision.
     
  18. Tamino

    Tamino Doc - The Deplorable

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    I tend to agree that destiny of the 6th Army was in Paulus' hands but it is difficult to deny Manstein's active involvement in events after the encirclement. Manstein thought that following the escape of the 6th army from the pocket, the Soviet encirclement forces would become available for immediate attack in direction of Rostov on Don treatening to cut all his forces. This could lead to destruction of all Axis forces at the southern front. This was a product of cold blooded calculation indicating that the encircled forces are more usefull in the pocket. Hitler and Manstein have sacrifised the 6th army to save other troops for continuation of war. Paulus's fault was just that he did not attempt to escape from the cauldron.
     
  19. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    Following most experts,an escape of 6th Army was impossible,thus the decision to let 6th Army at Stalingrad ,was justified.
     
  20. Tamino

    Tamino Doc - The Deplorable

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    That is entirely true; operation Uranus left (almost) no choice for rescue actions, on top of that the 6th Army was utterly exausted and immobilized. However, cool blooded decision to sacrifice the whole army of men is moraly questionable even if justified. What I want to say is that Manstein took active part in decision making process and has sealed the fate of the 6th army as the officer with the highest rank at the battlefield.
     

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