Battle of the Netherlands
The Battle of the Netherlands was a military campaign part of Case Yellow, the German invasion of the Low Countries and France during World War II. The battle lasted from 10 May 1940 until the surrender of the main Dutch forces on 14 May. Dutch troops in the province of Zeeland continued to resist the Wehrmacht until 17 May when Germany completed its occupation of the whole country; the Battle of the Netherlands saw some of the earliest mass paratroop drops, to occupy tactical points and assist the advance of ground troops. The German Luftwaffe used paratroopers in the capture of several airfields in the vicinity of Rotterdam and The Hague, helping to overrun the country and immobilise Dutch forces. After the devastating bombing of Rotterdam by the Luftwaffe on 14 May, the Germans threatened to bomb other Dutch cities if the Dutch forces refused to surrender; the General Staff knew it could not stop the bombers and ordered the Dutch army to cease hostilities. The last occupied parts of the Netherlands were liberated in 1945.
The United Kingdom and France declared war on Germany in 1939, following the German invasion of Poland, but no major land operations occurred in Western Europe during the period known as the Phoney War in the winter of 1939–1940. During this time, the British and French built up their forces in expectation of a long war, the Germans completed their conquest of Poland. On 9 October, Adolf Hitler ordered plans to be made for an invasion of the Low Countries, to use them as a base against Great Britain and to pre-empt a similar attack by the Allied forces, which could threaten the vital Ruhr Area. A joint Dutch-Belgian peace offer between the two sides was rejected on 7 November; the Dutch were ill-prepared to resist such an invasion. When Hitler came to power, the Dutch had begun to re-arm, but more than France or Belgium. Successive Dutch governments tended to avoid identifying Germany as an acute military threat; this was caused by a wish not to antagonise a vital trade partner to the point of repressing criticism of Nazi policies.
Hendrikus Colijn, prime minister between 1933 and 1939, was convinced Germany would not violate Dutch neutrality. International tensions grew in the late 1930s. Crises were caused by the German occupation of the Rhineland in 1936; these events forced the Dutch government to exercise greater vigilance, but they limited their reaction as much as they could. The most important measure was a partial mobilisation of 100,000 men in April 1939. After the German invasion of Poland in September 1939 and the ensuing outbreak of the Second World War, the Netherlands hoped to remain neutral, as they had done during the First World War 25 years earlier. To ensure this neutrality, the Dutch army was entrenched. Large sums were spent on defence, it proved difficult to obtain new matériel in wartime, however as the Dutch had ordered some of their new equipment from Germany, which deliberately delayed deliveries. Moreover, a considerable part of the funds were intended for the Dutch East Indies, much of it related to a plan to build three battlecruisers.
The strategic position of the Low Countries, located between France and Germany on the uncovered flanks of their fortification lines, made the area a logical route for an offensive by either side. In a 20 January 1940 radio speech, Winston Churchill tried to convince them not to wait for an inevitable German attack, but to join the Anglo-French Entente. Both the Belgians and Dutch refused though the German attack plans had fallen into Belgian hands after a German aircraft crash in January 1940, in what became known as the Mechelen Incident; the French supreme command considered violating the neutrality of the Low Countries if they had not joined the Anglo-French coalition before the planned large Entente offensive in the summer of 1941, but the French Cabinet, fearing a negative public reaction, vetoed the idea. Kept in consideration was a plan to invade if Germany attacked the Netherlands alone, necessitating an Entente advance through Belgium, or if the Netherlands assisted the enemy by tolerating a German advance into Belgium through the southern part of their territory, both possibilities discussed as part of the hypothèse Hollande.
The Dutch government never formulated a policy on how to act in case of either contingency. The Dutch tried on several occasions to act as an intermediary to reach a negotiated peace settlement between the Entente and Germany. After the German invasion of Norway and Denmark, followed by a warning by the new Japanese naval attaché Captain Tadashi Maeda that a German attack on the Netherlands was certain, it became clear to the Dutch military that staying out of the conflict might prove impossible, they started to prepare for war, both mentally and physically. Dutch border troops were put on greater alert. Reports of the presumed actions of a Fifth Column in Scandinavia caused widespread fears that the Netherlands too had been infiltrated by German agent
Prisoner of war
A prisoner of war is a person, whether a combatant or a non-combatant, held in custody by a belligerent power during or after an armed conflict. The earliest recorded usage of the phrase "prisoner of war" dates back to 1660. Belligerents hold prisoners of war in custody for a range of legitimate and illegitimate reasons, such as isolating them from enemy combatants still in the field, demonstrating military victory, punishing them, prosecuting them for war crimes, exploiting them for their labour, recruiting or conscripting them as their own combatants, collecting military and political intelligence from them, or indoctrinating them in new political or religious beliefs. For most of human history, depending on the culture of the victors, enemy combatants on the losing side in a battle who had surrendered and been taken as a prisoner of war could expect to be either slaughtered or enslaved; the first Roman gladiators were prisoners of war and were named according to their ethnic roots such as Samnite and the Gaul.
Homer's Iliad describes Greek and Trojan soldiers offering rewards of wealth to opposing forces who have defeated them on the battlefield in exchange for mercy, but their offers are not always accepted. Little distinction was made between enemy combatants and enemy civilians, although women and children were more to be spared. Sometimes, the purpose of a battle, if not a war, was to capture a practice known as raptio. Women had no rights, were held as chattel. In the fourth century AD, Bishop Acacius of Amida, touched by the plight of Persian prisoners captured in a recent war with the Roman Empire, who were held in his town under appalling conditions and destined for a life of slavery, took the initiative of ransoming them, by selling his church's precious gold and silver vessels, letting them return to their country. For this he was canonized. During Childeric's siege and blockade of Paris in 464, the nun Geneviève pleaded with the Frankish king for the welfare of prisoners of war and met with a favourable response.
Clovis I liberated captives after Genevieve urged him to do so. Many French prisoners of war were killed during the Battle of Agincourt in 1415; this was done in retaliation for the French killing of the boys and other non-combatants handling the baggage and equipment of the army, because the French were attacking again and Henry was afraid that they would break through and free the prisoners to fight again. In the Middle Ages, a number of religious wars aimed to not only defeat but eliminate their enemies. In Christian Europe, the extermination of heretics was considered desirable. Examples include the Northern Crusades; when asked by a Crusader how to distinguish between the Catholics and Cathars once they'd taken the city of Béziers, the Papal Legate Arnaud Amalric famously replied, "Kill them all, God will know His own". The inhabitants of conquered cities were massacred during the Crusades against the Muslims in the 11th and 12th centuries. Noblemen could hope to be ransomed. In feudal Japan, there was no custom of ransoming prisoners of war, who were for the most part summarily executed.
The expanding Mongol Empire was famous for distinguishing between cities or towns that surrendered, where the population were spared but required to support the conquering Mongol army, those that resisted, where their city was ransacked and destroyed, all the population killed. In Termez, on the Oxus: "all the people, both men and women, were driven out onto the plain, divided in accordance with their usual custom they were all slain"; the Aztecs were at war with neighbouring tribes and groups, with the goal of this constant warfare being to collect live prisoners for sacrifice. For the re-consecration of Great Pyramid of Tenochtitlan in 1487, "between 10,000 and 80,400 persons" were sacrificed. During the early Muslim conquests, Muslims captured large number of prisoners. Aside from those who converted, most were enslaved. Christians who were captured during the Crusades, were either killed or sold into slavery if they could not pay a ransom. During his lifetime, Muhammad made it the responsibility of the Islamic government to provide food and clothing, on a reasonable basis, to captives, regardless of their religion.
The freeing of prisoners was recommended as a charitable act. On certain occasions where Muhammad felt the enemy had broken a treaty with the Muslims, he ordered the mass execution of male prisoners, such as the Banu Qurayza. Females and children of this tribe were divided up as spoils of war by Muhammad; the 1648 Peace of Westphalia, which ended the Thirty Years' War, established the rule that prisoners of war should be released without ransom at the end of hostilities and that they should be allowed to return to their homelands. There evolved the right of parole, French for "discourse", in which a captured officer surrendered his sword and gave his word as a gentleman in exchange for privileges. If he swore not to escape, he could gain the freedom of the prison. If he swore to cease hostilities against the nation who held him captive, he could be repatriated or exchanged but could not serve against his former captors in a military capacity. Ea
Hermann Hoth was a German army commander and war criminal during World War II. He fought as a panzer commander on the Eastern Front. Hoth commanded the 3rd Panzer Group during Operation Barbarossa in 1941, the 4th Panzer Army during the Wehrmacht's 1942 summer offensive. Following the encirclement of the 6th Army in the Battle of Stalingrad in November 1942, Hoth's panzer army unsuccessfully attempted to relieve it during Operation Winter Storm. After Stalingrad, Hoth was involved in the Third Battle of Kharkov, the Battle of Kursk in the summer of 1943 and the Battle of Kiev. Hoth implemented the criminal Commissar Order during the invasion of the Soviet Union. After the war, Hoth was convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity in the High Command trial and sentenced to 15 years, he was released on parole in 1954. Born in 1885, Hoth joined the army in 1903 and was awarded both classes of the Iron Cross during World War I, he remained in the Reichswehr in the interwar period. Following the reorganization of the German military into the Wehrmacht in 1935, he was appointed to command the 18th Infantry Division.
Hoth was promoted to Lieutenant-General and given command of the XV Motorised Corps in 1938, leading it in the invasion of Poland the following year. During the invasion of France in May 1940, his panzer corps was on Guderian's right flank during their advance through the Ardennes, contained the 5th Panzer and 7th Panzer Divisions. Hoth was promoted to Generaloberst in July 1940. In Operation Barbarossa in 1941, Hoth commanded the 3rd Panzer Group which captured Minsk and Vitebsk as part of Army Group Center's operations. In mid July, the 3rd Panzer Group was subordinated to Army Group North to shore up the flanks and attempted to seize Velikie Luki. Hoth's forces were driven back on 20 July when Red Army forces broke through the German lines, prompting criticism from Field Marshal Günther von Kluge, commander of Army Group Center for unnecessarily striking out too far to the north east. In mid to late August, Hoth's forces faced another setback owing to heavy losses and dispersal of efforts: facing the reinforced Soviet 19th Army, he committed the 7th Panzer Division without infantry support, which resulted in what the historian David Stahel describes as a "debacle".
The division's attack was repulsed with the loss of 30 tanks. As with all German armies on the Eastern Front, Hoth's Panzer Group implemented the Commissar Order. According to reports from subordinate units, the order was carried out on a widespread basis. In October Hoth was appointed commander of the 17th Army in Ukraine. Hoth was an active supporter of the war of annihilation against the Soviet Union, calling on his men to understand the need for "harsh punishment of Jewry". Under Hoth's command, units of the 17th Army took part in the hunt for and murder of Jews in its territory of control. Following the issuance of the Severity Order by Walter von Reichenau in October 1941, he issued the following directive to troops under his command in November 1941: Every sign of active or passive resistance or any sort of machinations on the part of Jewish-Bolshevik agitators are to be and pitilessly exterminated... These circles are the intellectual supports of Bolshevism, the bearers of its murderous organisation, the helpmates of the partisans.
It is the same Jewish class of beings who have done so much damage to our own Fatherland by virtue of their activities against the nation and civilisation, who promote anti-German tendencies throughout the world, who will be the harbingers of revenge. Their extermination is a dictate of our own survival. During the Soviet winter offensives of early 1942, Hoth's 17th Army was driven back in the Second Battle of Kharkov. In June 1942, he took over from General Richard Ruoff as commander of 4th Panzer Army; as part of Operation Blue, the German offensive in southern Russia, the army reached the Don River at Voronezh. Hoth was ordered to drive to Rostov-on-Don, it advanced to the north in support of the Sixth Army's attempt to capture Stalingrad. In November 1942, the Soviet Operation Uranus broke through the Axis lines and trapped the Sixth Army in Stalingrad. Hoth's panzer army led the unsuccessful attempt to relieve the Sixth Army, under the overall command of Field Marshal Erich von Manstein's Army Group Don.
By 25 December, the operation had failed. In February 1943, Hoth's 4th Panzer Army participated in the counteroffensive against the Soviet forces advancing in the Donbass region; the operation did not receive a name. Known as Third Battle of Kharkov, it commenced on 21 February, as the 4th Panzer Army launched a counter-attack; the German forces cut off the Soviet mobile spearheads and continued the drive north, retaking Kharkov on 15 March and Belgorod on 18 March. Exhaustion of both the Wehrmacht and the Red Army coupled with the loss of mobility due to the onset of the spring rasputitsa resulted in the cessation of operations for both sides by mid-March; the counteroffensive left a salient extending into the German area of control, centered around the city of Kursk, leading up to Operation Citadel. In July 1943, Hoth commanded the 4th Panzer Army in the Battle of Kursk as part of Army Group South. Operation Citadel called for a double envelopment, directed at Kursk, to surround the Soviet defenders and seal off the salient.
The Army Group South committed Hoth's 4th Panzer Army, alongside Army Detachment Kempf. Hoth's divisions, reinforced by the II SS Panzer Corps under Paul Hausser, penetrated several Soviet defensive lines, before being brought to a halt in the Battle of Prokhorovka. In the aftermath of Ku
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army shortened to Red Army was the army and the air force of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, after 1922, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The army was established after the 1917 October Revolution; the Bolsheviks raised an army to oppose the military confederations of their adversaries during the Russian Civil War. Beginning in February 1946, the Red Army, along with the Soviet Navy, embodied the main component of the Soviet Armed Forces; the Red Army provided the largest land force in the Allied victory in the European theatre of World War II, its invasion of Manchuria assisted the unconditional surrender of Imperial Japan. During operations on the Eastern Front, it accounted for 75–80% of casualties the Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS suffered during the war and captured the Nazi German capital, Berlin. In September 1917, Vladimir Lenin wrote: "There is only one way to prevent the restoration of the police, and, to create a people's militia and to fuse it with the army."
At the time, the Imperial Russian Army had started to collapse. 23% of the male population of the Russian Empire were mobilized. The Tsarist general Nikolay Dukhonin estimated that there had been 2 million deserters, 1.8 million dead, 5 million wounded and 2 million prisoners. He estimated the remaining troops as numbering 10 million. While the Imperial Russian Army was being taken apart, "it became apparent that the rag-tag Red Guard units and elements of the imperial army who had gone over the side of the Bolsheviks were quite inadequate to the task of defending the new government against external foes." Therefore, the Council of People's Commissars decided to form the Red Army on 28 January 1918. They envisioned a body "formed from the class-conscious and best elements of the working classes." All citizens of the Russian republic aged 18 or older were eligible. Its role being the defense "of the Soviet authority, the creation of a basis for the transformation of the standing army into a force deriving its strength from a nation in arms, furthermore, the creation of a basis for the support of the coming Socialist Revolution in Europe."
Enlistment was conditional upon "guarantees being given by a military or civil committee functioning within the territory of the Soviet Power, or by party or trade union committees or, in extreme cases, by two persons belonging to one of the above organizations." In the event of an entire unit wanting to join the Red Army, a "collective guarantee and the affirmative vote of all its members would be necessary." Because the Red Army was composed of peasants, the families of those who served were guaranteed rations and assistance with farm work. Some peasants who remained at home yearned to join the Army. If they were turned away they would prepare care-packages. In some cases the money they earned would go towards tanks for the Army; the Council of People's Commissars appointed itself the supreme head of the Red Army, delegating command and administration of the army to the Commissariat for Military Affairs and the Special All-Russian College within this commissariat. Nikolai Krylenko was the supreme commander-in-chief, with Aleksandr Myasnikyan as deputy.
Nikolai Podvoisky became the commissar for Pavel Dybenko, commissar for the fleet. Proshyan, Steinberg were specified as people's commissars as well as Vladimir Bonch-Bruyevich from the Bureau of Commissars. At a joint meeting of Bolsheviks and Left Socialist-Revolutionaries, held on 22 February 1918, Krylenko remarked: "We have no army; the demoralized soldiers are fleeing, panic-stricken, as soon as they see a German helmet appear on the horizon, abandoning their artillery and all war material to the triumphantly advancing enemy. The Red Guard units are brushed aside like flies. We have no power to stay the enemy; the Russian Civil War occurred in three periods: October 1917 – November 1918: From the Bolshevik Revolution to the First World War Armistice, developed from the Bolshevik government's nationalization of traditional Cossack lands in November 1917. This provoked the insurrection of General Alexey Maximovich Kaledin's Volunteer Army in the River Don region; the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk aggravated Russian internal politics.
The situation encouraged direct Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War, in which twelve foreign countries supported anti-Bolshevik militias. A series of engagements resulted, amongst others, the Czechoslovak Legion, the Polish 5th Rifle Division, the pro-Bolshevik Red Latvian Riflemen. January 1919 – November 1919: Initially the White armies advanced: from the south, under General Anton Denikin; the Whites defeated the Red Army on each front. Leon Trotsky reformed and counterattacked: the Red Army repelled Admiral Kolchak's army in June, the armies of General Denikin and General Yudenich in October. By mid-Nove
World War I
World War I known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as "the war to end all wars", it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history, it is one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide. On 28 June 1914, Gavrilo Princip, a Bosnian Serb Yugoslav nationalist, assassinated the Austro-Hungarian heir Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, leading to the July Crisis. In response, on 23 July Austria-Hungary issued an ultimatum to Serbia. Serbia's reply failed to satisfy the Austrians, the two moved to a war footing. A network of interlocking alliances enlarged the crisis from a bilateral issue in the Balkans to one involving most of Europe.
By July 1914, the great powers of Europe were divided into two coalitions: the Triple Entente—consisting of France and Britain—and the Triple Alliance of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy. Russia felt it necessary to back Serbia and, after Austria-Hungary shelled the Serbian capital of Belgrade on the 28th, partial mobilisation was approved. General Russian mobilisation was announced on the evening of 30 July; when Russia failed to comply, Germany declared war on 1 August in support of Austria-Hungary, with Austria-Hungary following suit on 6th. German strategy for a war on two fronts against France and Russia was to concentrate the bulk of its army in the West to defeat France within four weeks shift forces to the East before Russia could mobilise. On 2 August, Germany demanded free passage through Belgium, an essential element in achieving a quick victory over France; when this was refused, German forces invaded Belgium on 3 August and declared war on France the same day. On 12 August and France declared war on Austria-Hungary.
In November 1914, the Ottoman Empire entered the war on the side of the Alliance, opening fronts in the Caucasus and the Sinai Peninsula. The war was fought in and drew upon each power's colonial empire as well, spreading the conflict to Africa and across the globe; the Entente and its allies would become known as the Allied Powers, while the grouping of Austria-Hungary and their allies would become known as the Central Powers. The German advance into France was halted at the Battle of the Marne and by the end of 1914, the Western Front settled into a battle of attrition, marked by a long series of trench lines that changed little until 1917. In 1915, Italy opened a front in the Alps. Bulgaria joined the Central Powers in 1915 and Greece joined the Allies in 1917, expanding the war in the Balkans; the United States remained neutral, although by doing nothing to prevent the Allies from procuring American supplies whilst the Allied blockade prevented the Germans from doing the same the U. S. became an important supplier of war material to the Allies.
After the sinking of American merchant ships by German submarines, the revelation that the Germans were trying to incite Mexico to make war on the United States, the U. S. declared war on Germany on 6 April 1917. Trained American forces would not begin arriving at the front in large numbers until mid-1918, but the American Expeditionary Force would reach some two million troops. Though Serbia was defeated in 1915, Romania joined the Allied Powers in 1916 only to be defeated in 1917, none of the great powers were knocked out of the war until 1918; the 1917 February Revolution in Russia replaced the Tsarist autocracy with the Provisional Government, but continuing discontent at the cost of the war led to the October Revolution, the creation of the Soviet Socialist Republic, the signing of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk by the new government in March 1918, ending Russia's involvement in the war. This allowed the transfer of large numbers of German troops from the East to the Western Front, resulting in the German March 1918 Offensive.
This offensive was successful, but the Allies rallied and drove the Germans back in their Hundred Days Offensive. Bulgaria was the first Central Power to sign an armistice—the Armistice of Salonica on 29 September 1918. On 30 October, the Ottoman Empire capitulated. On 4 November, the Austro-Hungarian empire agreed to the Armistice of Villa Giusti after being decisively defeated by Italy in the Battle of Vittorio Veneto. With its allies defeated, revolution at home, the military no longer willing to fight, Kaiser Wilhelm abdicated on 9 November and Germany signed an armistice on 11 November 1918. World War I was a significant turning point in the political, cultural and social climate of the world; the war and its immediate aftermath sparked numerous uprisings. The Big Four (Britain, the United States, It
Friedrich Wilhelm Ernst Paulus was a German general during World War II who commanded the 6th Army during the Battle of Stalingrad. The battle ended in disaster for Nazi Germany when Soviet forces encircled and defeated about 265,000 personnel of the Wehrmacht, their Axis allies and collaborators. Paulus surrendered in Stalingrad on 31 January 1943, the same day on which he was informed of his promotion to field marshal by Adolf Hitler. Hitler expected Paulus to commit suicide, repeating to his staff that there was no precedent of a German field marshal being captured alive. While in Soviet captivity during the war, Paulus became a vocal critic of the Nazi regime and joined the Soviet-sponsored National Committee for a Free Germany, he moved to East Germany in 1953. Paulus grew up in Kassel, Hesse-Nassau, the son of a treasurer, he tried, unsuccessfully, to secure a cadetship in the Imperial German Navy and studied law at Marburg University. Many English language sources and publications from the 1940s to the present day give Paulus' family name the prefix "von".
This is incorrect. After leaving the university without a degree, he joined the 111th Infantry Regiment as an officer cadet in February 1910. On 4 July 1912 he married the Romanian Elena Rosetti-Solescu, the sister of a colleague who served in the same regiment; when World War I began, Paulus' regiment was part of the thrust into France, he saw action in the Vosges and around Arras in the autumn of 1914. After a leave of absence due to illness, he joined the Alpenkorps as a staff officer, serving in Macedonia, France and Serbia. By the end of the war, he was a captain. After the Armistice, Paulus was a brigade adjutant with the Freikorps, he was chosen as one of only 4,000 officers to serve in the Reichswehr, the defensive army that the Treaty of Versailles had limited to 100,000 men. He was assigned to the 13th Infantry Regiment at Stuttgart as a company commander, he served in various staff positions for over a decade and briefly commanded a motorized battalion before being named chief of staff for Panzer headquarters in October 1935.
This was a new formation under the direction of Oswald Lutz that directed the training and development of the Panzerwaffen, or tank forces of the German army. In February 1938 Paulus was appointed Chef des Generalstabes to Gen. Heinz Guderian's new XVI Armeekorps, which replaced Lutz's command. Guderian described him as "brilliantly clever, hard working and talented" but had severe doubts about his decisiveness and lack of command experience, he remained in that post until May 1939, when he was promoted to major general and became chief of staff for the German Tenth Army, with which he saw service in Poland. The unit was renamed the Sixth Army and engaged in the spring offensives of 1940 through the Netherlands and Belgium. Paulus was promoted to lieutenant general in August 1940; the following month he was named deputy chief of the German General Staff. In that role he helped draft the plans for the invasion of Operation Barbarossa. In November 1941, after German Sixth Army's commander Field Marshal Walther von Reichenau—Paulus' patron—became commander of the entire Army Group South, who had never commanded a larger unit than a battalion prior to this time, was promoted to General der Panzertruppe and became commander of the Sixth Army.
However, he only took over his new command on 20 January, six days after the sudden death of Reichenau, leaving him on his own and without the support of his more experienced sponsor. Paulus led the drive on Stalingrad during that summer, his troops fought Soviet forces defending Stalingrad over three months in brutal urban warfare. In November 1942, when the Soviet Red Army launched a massive counter-offensive, code-named Operation Uranus, Paulus found himself surrounded by an entire Soviet Army Group. Paulus followed Adolf Hitler's orders to hold his forces' position in Stalingrad under all circumstances, despite the fact that he was surrounded by strong Soviet forces. Operation Winter Storm, a relief effort by Army Group Don under Field Marshal Erich von Manstein, was launched in December. Following his orders, Paulus prepared to cooperate with the offensive by trying to break out of Stalingrad. In the meantime, he kept his entire army in fixed defensive positions. Manstein told Paulus that the relief would need assistance from the Sixth Army, but the order to initiate the breakout never came.
Paulus remained firm in obeying the orders he had been given. Manstein's forces were unable to reach Stalingrad on their own and their efforts were halted due to Soviet offensives elsewhere on the front. Kurt Zeitzler, the newly appointed chief of the Army General Staff got Hitler to allow Paulus to break out—provided he continue to hold Stalingrad, an impossible task. For the next two months Paulus and his men fought on. However, the lack of food and ammunition, equipment attrition and the deteriorating physical condition of the German troops wore down the German defense. With the new year Hitler promoted Paulus to Colonel General. Regarding the resistance to capitulate, according to Adam, Paulus stated What would become of the war if our army in the Caucasus were surrounded? That danger is real, but as long as we keep on fighting, the Red Army has to remain here
Battle of Stalingrad
The Battle of Stalingrad was the largest confrontation of World War II, in which Germany and its allies fought the Soviet Union for control of the city of Stalingrad in Southern Russia. Marked by fierce close quarters combat and direct assaults on civilians in air raids, it was the largest and bloodiest battle in the history of warfare. After their defeat at Stalingrad, the German High Command had to withdraw vast military forces from the Western Front to replace their losses; the German offensive to capture Stalingrad began in August 1942, using the 6th Army and elements of the 4th Panzer Army. The attack was supported by intensive Luftwaffe bombing; the fighting degenerated into house-to-house fighting. By mid-November 1942, the Germans had pushed the Soviet defenders back at great cost into narrow zones along the west bank of the Volga River. On 19 November 1942, the Red Army launched Operation Uranus, a two-pronged attack targeting the weaker Romanian and Hungarian armies protecting the German 6th Army's flanks.
The Axis forces on the flanks were overrun and the 6th Army was cut off and surrounded in the Stalingrad area. Adolf Hitler ordered that the army make no attempt to break out. Heavy fighting continued for another two months. By the beginning of February 1943, the Axis forces in Stalingrad had exhausted their ammunition and food; the remaining units of the 6th Army surrendered. The battle lasted one week and three days. By the spring of 1942, despite the failure of Operation Barbarossa to decisively defeat the Soviet Union in a single campaign, the Wehrmacht had captured vast expanses of territory, including Ukraine and the Baltic republics. Elsewhere, the war had been progressing well: the U-boat offensive in the Atlantic had been successful and Erwin Rommel had just captured Tobruk. In the east, they had stabilized their front in a line running from Leningrad in the north to Rostov in the south. There were a number of salients, but these were not threatening. Hitler was confident that he could master the Red Army after the winter of 1942, because though Army Group Centre had suffered heavy losses west of Moscow the previous winter, 65% of its infantry had not been engaged and had been rested and re-equipped.
Neither Army Group North nor Army Group South had been hard pressed over the winter. Stalin was expecting the main thrust of the German summer attacks to be directed against Moscow again. With the initial operations being successful, the Germans decided that their summer campaign in 1942 would be directed at the southern parts of the Soviet Union; the initial objectives in the region around Stalingrad were the destruction of the industrial capacity of the city and the deployment of forces to block the Volga River. The river was the Caspian Sea to central Russia, its capture would disrupt commercial river traffic. The Germans cut the pipeline from the oilfields; the capture of Stalingrad would make the delivery of Lend Lease supplies via the Persian Corridor much more difficult. On 23 July 1942, Hitler rewrote the operational objectives for the 1942 campaign expanding them to include the occupation of the city of Stalingrad. Both sides began to attach propaganda value to the city, based on it bearing the name of the leader of the Soviet Union.
Hitler proclaimed that after Stalingrad's capture, its male citizens were to be killed and all women and children were to be deported because its population was "thoroughly communistic" and "especially dangerous". It was assumed that the fall of the city would firmly secure the northern and western flanks of the German armies as they advanced on Baku, with the aim of securing these strategic petroleum resources for Germany; the expansion of objectives was a significant factor in Germany's failure at Stalingrad, caused by German overconfidence and an underestimation of Soviet reserves. The Soviets realized, they ordered that anyone strong enough to hold a rifle be sent to fight. If I do not get the oil of Maikop and Grozny I must finish this war. Army Group South was selected for a sprint forward through the southern Russian steppes into the Caucasus to capture the vital Soviet oil fields there; the planned summer offensive, code-named Fall Blau, was to include the German 6th, 17th, 4th Panzer and 1st Panzer Armies.
Army Group South had overrun the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1941. Poised in Eastern Ukraine, it was to spearhead the offensive. Hitler intervened, ordering the Army Group to split in two. Army Group South, under the command of Wilhelm List, was to continue advancing south towards the Caucasus as planned with the 17th Army and First Panzer Army. Army Group South, including Friedrich Paulus's 6th Army and Hermann Hoth's 4th Panzer Army, was to move east towards the Volga and Stalingrad. Army Group B was commanded by Field Marshal Fedor von Bock and by General Maximilian von Weichs; the start of Case Blue had been planned for late May 1942. However, a number of German and Romanian units that were to take part in Blau were besieging Sevastopol on the Crimean Peninsula. Delays in ending the siege pushed back the start date for Blau several times, the city did not fall until early July. Operation Fridericus I by the Germans against the "Isium bulge", pinched off the Soviet