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