Friedrich von Paulus – I am not going to shoot myself for a Bohemian Corporal.
That Bohemian Corporal, Adolf Hitler by name was the sole reason for the failure of Russia campaign and for the destruction of the empire he created. Just three incidents are sufficient to prove how right Paulus was –
1. The target was Moscow. Collapse of it would have impacted Soviet resistance very severly. But, instead of going for Moscow when the doors are wide open, he went for destruction of Russian armies at Kiev. Though the Russians lost more than 600,000, it blunted the speed of German attack.
2. Caucaus Campaign. The target was Baku which produced 80% of Soviet oil. Instead of going for the real target, Hitler, seeing the name Stalingrad on a map would have diverted his forces there out of personal ego instead of putting it under a light blockade. This means unnecessary energy was wasted on a city, which is nothing more than the next one. Failure at Stalingrad forced the Germans, now in fear of encirclement to evacuate the Caucus.
3. Nazi-Turkish Pact. It is said that Hitler was not ready to give any concession to the Turks unless they prove themselves. See the sequence of events as a consequence of this – Germany was not able to support the Iraqi rebellion, Persian invasion by Britain and no exit route for Germany out of Caucaus. Had Turkey been made a partner in crime, a Turkish advance of a joint Nazi-Turkish advance over Caucaus linking German Crimea and Grozny with Turkish advance in conjunction with Iran and Iraq would have made the Axis history a multi-headed hydra. That may even have made Japan advance upon Russia. The added advantage was a Turkish invasion of Egypt through a Free French Transjordan cutting off the allies. Another alternate was a German invasion of Turkey. Only a statesman and a strategist with proper vision can do this, not a corporal with basic education and no knowledge of geo-politics.
The map below depicts the maximum German advance in Caucaus before they turned back for good.
And tracing the army path –
And below is the timeline, first column giving the dates of German capture and the second, Soviet retake after German retreat. It is such an absurd operation, looking like a tour plan of two different groups. Someone should have looked at it and the back out plan more seriously. Added to it, we see the Corporal taking direct control of the Army Group after sacking the Field Marshal(Wilhelm List) leading it. Had he left the military planning to real generals, may be, we will be speaking German instead of English today.
|German Advance||Soviet Capture|
|Battle of Voronezh||28 Jun to 24 Jul 1942||15 Jan to 25 Jan 1943|
|Fall of Ostrogozhsky||06-Jul-42||20-Jan-43|
|Fall of Rossosh||09-Jul-42||27-Jan-43|
|Fall of Voroshilovgrad||18-Jul-42||21-Jan-43|
|Siege of Rostov-on-Don||22 to 25 Jul 1942||14-Feb-43|
|Fall of Bataysk||27-Jul-42|
|Fall of Proletarskaya||29-Jul-42|
|Fall of Salsk||01-Aug-42||23-Jan-43|
|Fall of Stavropol||03-Aug-42||21-Jan-43|
|Fall of Tikhoretsk||06-Aug-42|
|Fall of Temryuk||27-Sep-43|
|Fall of Armavir|
|Fall of Krymsk||05-May-43|
|Fall of Krasnodar||09-Aug-42||23-Jan-43|
|Fall of Maikop||09-Aug-42||29-Jan-43|
|Fall of Elista||12-Aug-42|
|Seige of Krasnodar||14 to 18 Aug 1942||12-Feb-43|
|Raising of flag over Mt Elbrus||23-Aug-42|
|Siege of Grozny – failed||15 Aug to 4 Nov 1942||N/A|
|Fall of Cherkessk||18-Jan-43|
|Battle of Staligrad||23 Aug 42 to 2 Feb 1943|
|Fall of Mozdok||25-Aug-42||03-Jan-43|
|Capture of Taman Peninsula||02-Sep-42||09-Oct-43|
|Fall of Terek||20-Sep-42||01-Jan-43|
|Fall of Malgobek||06-Oct-42||03-Jan-43|
|Fall of Anastasyevsk||31-Mar-43|
|Fall of Novorossiysk||06-Oct-42||16-Sep-43|
|Fall of Nalchik||29-Sep-42||03-Jan-43|
|Fall of Alagir||01-Nov-42||03-Jan-43|
|Siege of Ordshonikidze – failed||05-Nov-42||N/A|