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Thread: General Heinz Guderian, Father of the Blitzkrieg

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    General Heinz Guderian, Father of the Blitzkrieg

    Here is a german general that the "Allies" refused to prosecute at Nurenburg.

    This is a good article about him.

    He is one of my favorite Germans of all time.


    http://www.achtungpanzer.com/gen2.htm
    "Wenn vor uns ein feindliches Heer dann erscheint, Wird Vollgas gegeben Und ran an den Feind!
    Was gilt denn unser Leben
    Für unsres Reiches Heer? (Ja Reiches Heer)
    Für Deutschland zu sterben ist uns höchste Ehr!"

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    Huginn ok Muninn's Avatar
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    He's one of my favorites as well. If he had been allowed his way, I really think Germany would have won the war. The key was cutting off the British and French retreat at Dunkirk, and if Guderian's Panzers had beaten them there and not been hobbled by more cautious people, Germany would have been much, much closer to defeating Britain quickly, and defeating Britain quickly was the key to the whole war.

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    Dunkirk - Hitler’s Momentous Order to Stop

    On this day (the 24th) the Supreme Command intervened in the operations in progress, with results that were to have a more disastrous influence on the whole future course of the war. Hitler ordered the left wing to stop on the Aa. It was forbidden to cross the stream. We were not informed of the reason for this. The order contained the words: ‘Dunkirk is to be left to the Luftwaffe. Should the capture of Calais prove difficult, this port too is to be left to the Luftwaffe.’ (I quote here from memory.) We were utterly speechless. But since we were not informed of the reason for this order, it was difficult to argue against it. The panzer divisions were therefore instructed: ‘Hold the line of the canal. Make use of the period of rest for general recuperation.’

    Fierce enemy air activity met little opposition from our air force.

    Early on the 25th May I went to Watten to visit the Leibstandrete and to make sure that they were obeying the order to halt. When I arrived there I found the Leibstandrete engaged in crossing the Aa. On the far bank was Mount Watten, a height of only some 80 metres (235 feet), but that was enough in this marshland to dominate the whole surrounding countryside. On top of the hillock, among the ruins of an old castle, I found the divisional commander Sepp Dietrich. When I asked why he was disobeying orders, he replied that the enemy on Mount Watten could ‘look right down the throat’ of anybody on the far bank of the canal. Sepp Dietrich had therefore decided on the 24th May to take it on his own initiative. The Leibstandrete and the Infantry Regiment Grossdeutschland /GD on its left were now continuing their advance in the direction of Wormhoudt and Bergues. In view of the success they were having I approved the decision taken by the commander on the spot and made up my mind to order the 2nd Panzer Division to move up in their support.

    On this day we completed the capture of Boulogne. 10 th Panzer Division was fighting outside the Calais citadel. When a demand that he surrender was addressed to the English commander, Brigadier Nicholson sent the laconic reply: ‘The answer is no, as it is the British Army’s duty to fight as it is the German’s.’ So we had to take by assault.

    On the 26th May the 10th panzer Division captured Calais. At noon I was at the divisional headquarters and according to the orders I had received I asked Schaal whether he wanted to leave Calais to the Luftwaffe. He replied that he did not, since he did not believe that our bombs would be effective against the thick walls and earthworks of the old fortifications. Furthermore, if the Luftwaffe were to attack them it would mean that he would have to withdraw his troops from their advance positions on the edge of the Citadel, which would then have to be captured all over again. I was bound to agree with this. At 16.45 hours the English surrendered. We took 20,000 prisoners, including 3-4000 British, the remainder being French, Belgian and Dutch, of whom the majority had not wanted to go on fighting and whom the English had locked up in the cellars.

    In Calais for the first time since the 17th May I met General von Kleist, who expressed his appreciation for the achievement of my troops.

    On this day we attempted once again to attack towards Dunkirk and to close the ring about the sea fortress. But renewed orders to halt arrived. We were stopped within sight of Dunkirk! We watched the Luftwaffe attack. We also saw the armada of great and little ships by means of which the British were evacuating their forces.

    General von Wietersheim appeared at my headquarters during the course of the day to discuss with me arrangements for the relief of XIX Army Corps by his XIV Army Corps. The advanced division of this corps, the 20th (Motorised) Infantry Division was placed under my command. I put it to the right of the Leibstandarte ‘Adolf Hitler’. Before this discussion was over a small incident occurred. The commander of the Leibstandarte, Sepp Dietrich, while driving from the front came under machine gun fire from a party of Englishmen who were still holding out in a solitary house behind our lines. They set his car on fire and compelled him and his companions to take shelter in the ditch. Dietrich crawled into a large drain pipe, where the ditch ran across the road in order to protect themselves from the burning petrol of his car covered his face and hands with damp mud. A wireless truck following his command car signalled for help and we were able to send part of the 3rd Panzer Regiment of the 2nd Panzer Division, whose sector this was, to get him out of this unpleasant predicament. He soon appeared at my headquarters covered from head to foot in mud and had to accept some very ribald comments on our part.

    It was not until the afternoon of May 26th that Hitler gave permission for the advance on Dunkirk to be resumed. By then it was too late to achieve a great victory.
    The corps was sent into the attack during the night of the 26-27th. The20th (Motorised) Infantry Division with the Leibstandarte ‘Adolf Hitler’ and the Infantry Regiment Grossdeutschland /GD under command and reinforced by heavy artillery, was given Wormhoudt as its objective. 1st Panzer Division on its left was ordered to push forward; with point of main attack its right wing, in accordance with the progress that that attack should make.

    The Infantry Regiment Grossdeutschland /GD received useful support from the 4th Panzer Brigade of the 10th Panzer Division and secured its objective, the high ground Crochte-Pitgam. The Armoured Reconnaissance Battalion of the !st Panzer Division took Brouckerque.

    Heavy enemy movement of transport ships from Dunkirk was observed.

    On the 28th May we reached Wormhoudt and Bourgbourgville. On the 29th Gravelines fell to the 1st Panzer Division. But the capture of Dunkirk was after all completed without us. On the 29th May XIX Army Corps was relieved by XIV Army Corps.

    The operation would have been completed very much more quickly if Supreme Headquarters had not kept ordering XIX Army Corps to stop and thus hindered its rapid and successful advance. What the future course of the war would have been if we had succeeded at that time in taking the British Expeditionary Force prisoner at Dunkirk, it is now impossible to guess. In any event a military victory on that scale would have offered a great chance to capable diplomats. Unfortunately the opportunity was wasted owing to Hitler’s nervousness. The reason he subsequently gave for holding back my corps – that the ground in Flanders with its many ditches and canals was not suited to tanks – was a poor one.

    On the26th I was anxious to express my gratitude to the brave troops under my command. This took the form of the following corps order:

    Soldiers of the XIX Army Corps!

    For seventeen days we have been fighting in Belgium and France. We have covered a goog 400 miles since crossing the German border: we have reached the Channel Coast and the Atlantic Ocean. On the way here you have thrust through the Belgium fortifications, forced a passage on the Meuse, broken the Maginot Line extension in the memorable Battle of Sedan, captured the important heights at Stoone and then without halt, fought your way through St. Quentin and Peronne to the lower Somme at Amiens and Abbeville. You have set the crown on your achievements by the capture of the Channel Coast and of the sea fortress at Boulogne and Calais.

    I asked you to go without sleep for 48 hours. You have gone for 17 days.

    I compelled you to accept risks to your flanks and rear. You never faltered.

    With masterly self-confidence and believing in the fulfilment of your mission, you carried out every order with devotion.

    Germany is proud of her Panzer Divisions and I am happy to be your commander.

    We remember our fallen comrades with honour and respect, sure in the knowledge that their sacrifice was not in vain.

    Now we shall arm ourselves for new deeds.

    For Germany and for our leader Adolf Hitler!

    signed GUGERIAN.


    P117 120 from the book PANZER LEADER General Heinz Guderian.

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    Moscow or Kiev


    The conference with Hitler took place in Novy Borissov, at the headquarters of Army Group Centre. Those present were Hitler and Schmundt, Field-Marshal von Bock, Hoth and myself as well as a representative of the OHK, Colonel Heusinger, the Chief of the Operations Department. We were each the opportunity to express our views and we did this alone so that no man knew what his predecessor might have said. But Field-Marshal von Bock, Hoth and I shared the opinion that a continuation of the offensive towards Moscow was of vital importance. Hoth reported that the earliest date by which his Panzer Group could resume its advance was August the 20th; the date I gave for my group was the 15th. Then Hitler assembled the whole company together and began to speak. He designated the industrial area round Leningrad as his primary objective. He had not yet decided whether Moscow or the Ukraine would come next. He seemed to incline towards the latter target for a number of reasons: first, Army Group South seemed to be laying the groundwork for a victory in that area: secondly, he believed that the raw materials and agricultural produce of the Ukraine were necessary to Germany for the further prosecution of the war: and finally he thought it essential that the Crimea, ‘that Soviet aircraft carrier operating against the Rumanian oilfields’ be neutralised. He hoped to be in procession of Moscow and Kharkov by the time winter began. No decisions were reached on this day concerning these problems of strategy which we regard as most important.


    The conference then began to discuss more detailed questions. The important point for my Panzer Group was a decision not to evacuate the Elnya salient, since it was not yet known whether this salient might not still be needed as a jumping off point for an attack towards Moscow. I stressed the fact that our tank engines had become very worn as a result of the appalling dust; in consequence they must be replaced with all urgency if any more large scale tank operations were to be carried out during the current year. It was essential that replacements be provided for our tank casualties from current production. After a certain amount of humming and hawing Hitler promised to supply 300 new tank engines for the whole Eastern Front, a figure which I described as totally inadequate. As for new tanks, we were not to get any, since Hitler had decided to retain them all at home for the equipping of newly set-up formations. In the ensuing argument I stated that we could only cope with the Russians ‘ great numerical superiority in tanks if our tank losses were rapidly made good again. Hitler then said: ‘If I had known that the figures for Russian tank strength which you gave in your book were in fact the true ones, I would not – I believe – ever have started this war.’ He was referring to my book Achtung! Panzer!, published in 1937, in which I had estimated Russian tank strength at that time at 10,000; both the Chief of the Army General Staff, Beck and the censor had disagreed with this statement. It had cost me a lot of trouble to get that figure printed; but I had been able to show the intelligence reports at the time spoke of 17,000 Russian tanks and that my estimate was therefore, if anything, a very conservative one. To imitate the Ostrich in political matters has never been a satisfactory method of avoiding danger; yet this is what Hitler, as well as his more important political, economic and even military advisers, chose to do over and over again. The consequences of this deliberate blindness in the face of hard facts were devastating; and it was we who now had to bear them.


    P 189 & 190 the book PANZER LEADER General Heinz Guderian by General Heinz Guderian.
    Guderian stated in 1950, that Hitler wanted only the best for Germany, though he made some mistakes.

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    The Campaign in Russia, 1941


    As an indication of the attitude of the Russian population, I should like to quote a remark that was made to me by an old Czarist general whom I met in Orel at this time. He said: ‘If only you had come twenty years ago we should have welcomed you with open arms. But now it’s too late. We were beginning to get on our feet and now you arrive and throw us back twenty years so that we will have to start from the beginning all over again. Now we are fighting for Russia and in that cause we are all united.’

    P 249 & 250 the book PANZER LEADER General Heinz Guderian by General Heinz Guderian.

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    MHV used to be an unconditional fan of Guderian too, but his view of him has become more nuanced throughout the years.

    “Individuals trapped in a dying culture live in a twilight world. They embrace death through infertility, concupiscence, and war. A dog will crawl into a hole to die. The members of sick cultures do not do anything quite so dramatic, but they cease to have children, dull their senses with alcohol and drugs, become despondent, and too frequently do away with themselves. Or they make war on the perceived source of their humiliation.”
    — David P. Goldman, as quoted by Jack Donovan in The Way of Men.

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    Russia 1941 and the First Dismissal

    The Campaign in Russia, 1941

    On December 16th, at my urgent request, Schmundt, who was in our neighbour, came to meet meat Orel airfield, where we had half an hour’s conversation. I described the situation to him in the gravest terms and asked him to repeat what I had said to the Führer. I expected Hitler to telephone me during the night and to answer the proposals that I had made via Schmundt. It was during this conversation that I learned of the approaching changes in the Army High Command and the imminent departure of Field-Marshal von Brauchitsch. During that night I wrote:

    I frequently cannot sleep at night and my brian goes round and round while I try to think what more I can do to help my poor soldiers who are out there without shelter in this abominable cold. It is frightful, unimaginable. The people at OKH and OKW, who have never seen the front, have no idea what the conditions here are like. They keep on sending us orders which we cannot possibly carry out and they ignore all our requests and suggestions.

    During the night I received the telephone call from Hitler that I had been expecting. He commanded that we hold fast, forbade further withdrawals and promised that we should receive replacements – to the number, I think of 500 men – by air. It was a very bad line and Hitler repeated his orders. As for our withdrawals, these had already begun as a result of my conversation with Field-Marshal von Brauchitsch in Roslavl and could not be halted.

    On December 17th I visited the commanders of the XXIV and XLVII Panzer Corps and of the LIII Army Corps to learn once again what the state of our troops was like and to discuss the situation. The three generals were all agreed that it was impossible, with the strength at our disposal, to organise a defensive line east of the Oka. The problemwas how to keep up the combat strength of the troops until the arrival of fresh formations should permit the construction of a defence which could hold fast. They reported that the troops were beginning to doubt the ability of a Supreme Headquarters which had ordered the last, desperate attack against an enemy whom they had grossly underestimated. ‘If only we were mobile and had our old combat strength, then it would be child’s play. The Russian is trained and equipped for winter warfare and we are not.’

    On this day Second Army became nervous lest the enemy break through to Novosil.

    In view of the general situation I decided withArmy Group’s approval, to fly to the Führer’s headquarters and personally to describe to Hitler what the position was in my Army, since neither telephonic nor written communications had produced any results. The conference was arranged for December 20th. By that date Field-Marshal von Bock had reported himself sick and had been replaced as Commander of Army Group Centre by Field-Marshal von Kluge.

    On December 18th Second Army was ordered to hold a line Tim-Livny-Verchoie and to withdraw in the course of the next few days, in conjunction with the right wing of the Second Panzer Army, to the line Bolshaia Reka-Susha. Second Panzer Army was to occupy the line Mogilki-Vershoie Plavy-Ssorochenka-Chunia-Kosmina.

    XLIII Army Corps was placed under command of Fourth Army.

    On December 19th XLVII Panzer Corps and LIII Army Corps withdrew to the line of Plava. I decided to bring the XLVII Panzer back to a line from Oserki to the north-west of Podissiniovke and to assemble XXIV Panzer Corps in the Orel area as army reserve so as to give the units of that corps a short rest and to create an operational, mobile force at my disposal.

    Fourth Army was strongly attacked on its right wing and partially thrown back.


    My First Dismissal

    ‘Little monk, little monk, you are taking a hard road!’ These words of Frundsberg to Dr Martin Luther before the Diet of Worms of 1521, were quoted to me by my comrades when they learned of my decision to fly to Hitler’s headquarters. They were applicable enough. I was perfectly well aware that it would not be easy for me to bring Hitler over to my way of thinking. At that time, however, I still believed that our Supreme Command would listen to sensible propositions when they were laid before it by a general who knew the front. This belief I retained while making the long flight from the ice-bound battle area north of Orel to the well-appointed and well-heated Supreme Headquarters far away in East Prussia.

    At 15.30 hrs on December 20th I landed at Rastenburg airfield. I was to confer with Hitler for five hours, with only two breaks of half an hour each, one for the evening meal and one for the general weekly briefing which Hitler always attended personally.

    I was received by Hitler at about 18.00 hours. Keitel, Schmundt and other officers of Hitler’s entourage were also there. Neither the Chief of Army General Staff nor any other representatives of the OKH was present though Hitler had appointed himself Commander-in Chief of the Army after the dismissal of Field-Marshal von Brauchitsch. And so, as on the 23rd August, 1941, I stood in lonely opposition to the ranks of the OKW. As Hitler came forward to greet me I saw to my surprise , for the first time, a hard unfriendly expression in his eyes, and this convinced me that some opponent of mine must have turned him against me. The dim lighting of the room served to increase this unpleasant impression.

    The conference began with my description of the state of the Second Panzer Army and the Second Army. I then spoke of my intention of withdrawing both armies bit by bit to the Susha-Oka position, an intention which as already stated, I had expressed to Field-Marshal von Brauchitsch on December 14th, in Roslavl, and which he had approved. I was convinced that Hitler must have been informed of this. I was therefore, all the more taken back when he shouted: ‘No! I forbid that!’ I informed him that the withdrawal was already in progress and that there was no intermediate line at which it could be halted for any length of time before the rivers were reached. If he regarded it as important to preserve the lives of the troops and to hold a position throughout the winter he had no choice but to permit the withdrawal to be completed.

    HITLER: ‘If that is the case they must dig into the ground where they are and hold every square metre of land!’

    I: ‘Digging into the ground is no longer feasible in most places, since it is frozen to a depth of a metre and a half and our wretched entrenching tools won’t go through it.’

    HITLER: ‘In that case they must blast craters with the heavy howitzers. We had to do that in the First World War in Flanders.’

    I: ‘In the First War our divisions in Flanders held, on the average, sectors 2 to 3 miles wide and were supported in the defence by two or three battalions of heavy howitzers per division with proportionately abundant supplies of ammunition. My divisions have to defend fronts of 25 to 35 miles and in each of my divisions there are 4 heavy howitzers with approximately 50 shells per gun. If I use those shells to make craters I shall have 50 hollows in the ground, each about the width and depth of a wash tub with a large black circle round it. I shall not have a crater position. In Flanders there never was such cold as we are now experiencing. And apart fromthat I need my ammunition to fire at the Russians. We can’t even drive stakes into the ground for carrying our telephone wires; to make a hole for the stake we have to use high explosives. When are we to get sufficient explosives to blast our defensive positions on the scale you have in mind?
    But Hitler insisted on his order, that we remain where we were, being carried out.’

    I: ‘Then this means taking up positional warfare in an unsuitable terrain, as happened on the Western Front during the First World War. In this case we shall have the same battles of material and the same enormous casualties as then without any hope of winning a decisive victory. If such tactics are adopted we shall during the course of this coming winter, sacrifice the lives of our officers, our non-commissioned officers and of the men suitable to replace them, and this sacrifice will have been not only useless but irreparable.’

    HITLER: ‘Do you think Frederick the Great’s grenadiers were anxious to die? They wanted to live, too, but the king was right in asking them to sacrifice themselves. I believe that I, too, am entitled to ask any German soldier to lay down his life.’

    I: ‘Every German soldier knows that in wartime he must risk his life for his country and our soldiers have certainly proved up to now that they are prepared to do so. But such a sacrifice may only be asked of a man if the results to be obtained from it are worth having. The intentions I have expressed will lead to losses that are utterly disproportionate to the results that will be achieved. My soldiers will not have protection against the weather and the Russians until they reach the Susha-Oka line and the fortified positions that were built there during the autumn. I beg you to remember that it is not the enemy who is causing us our bloody losses: we are suffering twice as many casualties from the cold as from the fire of the Russians. Any man who has seen the hospitals filled with frost-bite cases must realise what that means.’

    HITLER:’ I know you have not spared yourself and you have spent a great deal of time with the troops. I grant you that. But you are seeing events at too close a range. You have been too deeply impressed by the suffering of the soldiers. You feel too much pity for them. You should stand back more. Believe me, things appear clearer when examined at longer range.’

    I: ‘Naturally it is my duty to lessen the suffering of my soldiers so far as that lies within my power. But it is hard when the men have even now not yet received their winter clothing and the greater part of the infantry are still going about in denim uniforms. Boots, vests, gloves, woollen helmets are either non-existent or else are hopelessly worn out.’

    HITLER shouted: ‘That is not true. The Quartermaster-General informed me that the winter clothing had been issued.’

    I: ‘I dare say it has been issued but it has never arrived. I have made it my business to find out what happened to it. At present it is in Warsaw station, where it has been for the last several weeks, since it cannot be sent on owing to a lack of locomotives and obstructions to the lines. Our requests that it was forwarded in September and October were bluntly refused. Now it is too late.’

    The Quartermaster-General was sent for and had to admit that what I said was correct. Goebbels campaign that Christmas for clothes for the soldiers was a result of this conversation. The clothes thus collected did not reach the soldiers during the winter of 1941-42.

    The question of fighting strength and ration strength was next raised. As a result of the heavy vehicle losses, during the mud period and from the great cold, the transport available was insufficient both for the fighting troops and for the supply troops. Since we had received no replacements for the transports lost, the troops were having to supplement their insufficient vehicles by using whatever they could find in the country. This consisted mostly of sleds and sledges, which had a very limited load capacity. A great number of such vehicles were required to replace the lorries we had not got. Thus we needed a proportionately higher number of men to move the supplies. Hitler now, insisted that the number of supply troops and of soldiers in the units’ supply columns, which he considered far too great, be drastically cut down to provide more rifles for the front. Needless to say this had been done to the greatest possible extent that was consistent with not endangering our supply services. Further reduction was only feasible if the conditions of other supply means, and particularly of the railroads, was improved. It was difficult to make Hitler grasp this simple fact.

    Then came the question of shelter. A few weeks before there had been an exhibition in Berlin of the arrangements that had been made by the OKH for the care of the troops during the coming winter. Field-Marshal von Brauchitsch had insisted upon personally showing Hitler around the exhibition. It was all most handsomely presented and was featured in the newsreels. Unfortunately, however, the troops possessed none of these beautiful things. As a result of the continual movement it had been impossible to do any building and the countryside had little to offer. Our living conditions were utterly wretched. And to this, too, Hitler was ignorant. The Armaments Minister Dr Todt, was present during this part of the discussion; he was a man of understanding and normal, human sensibility. He was deeply moved by my description of life at the front, and he presented me with two trench stoves which he had just had made; these stoves, constructed to be shown to Hitler, were to serve as models for the troops who could then build them themselves with materials available in the countryside. This was at least one positive result of the lengthy discussion.

    During the evening meal I sat next to Hitler and I took the opportunity to describe incidents of life at the front to him. But the effect of my anecdotes was not what I expected. Both Hitler and his entourage were plainly convinced that I was exaggerating.

    After dinner, when our discussion was resumed, I proposed that general staff officers who had actual experience of front-line fighting during this war be transferred to the OKW and the OKH. I said ‘Judging by the reactions of the men of the OKW I have reached the conclusion that our messages and reports are not being correctly understood and as a result, are not being properly interpreted to you. It seems to me, therefore, necessary that officers with front line experience be transferred to fill general staff positions at the OKW and the OKH. It’s time the guard was changed. In both these headquarters officers have been sitting miles away from the fighting since the beginning of the war, that is to say for over two years, without even once seeing the front. This war is so different from the First World War that service at the front in that war is no help in understanding this one.’

    I had stirred up a hornet’s nest with this suggestion. Hitler replied angrily: ‘I cannot now be separated from my personal staff.’

    I: There is no need for you to change your adjutants. That’s not the point. What does matter is that the important general staff positions be occupied by officers who have had recent experience at the front, and particularly of the front during this winter war.

    This request, too, was gruffly refused. My conversation with Hitler was thus a complete failure. As I left the conference room I heard Hitler say to Keitel: ‘I haven’t convinced that man!’ The breach was now complete and could no longer be closed.

    The next morning before starting the flight back I telephoned General Jodl, the Chief of the Armed Forces Command Structure, and repeated to him that present methods must lead to intolerable sacrifices of life for which there could be no possible justifications. Reserves are needed urgently to occupy positions behind the front and out of contact with the enemy. This call of mine had no recognisable effect.

    After my telephone conversation with Jodl, on December 21st, I flew back to Orel. By Hitlers orders the left-hand boundary of my Army was changed to the junction of the rivers Shisdra and Oka. This alteration increased the responsibilities of my Panzer Army to an undesirable extent. I spent the rest of the day working out and issuing orders in accordance with Hitlers intentions.

    With the object of ensuring that these orders were carried out I drove, on December 22nd, to the divisions of XLVII Panzer Corps. After a brief conversation at corps headquarters I went to Chern, where the 10th (Motorised) Infantry Division was located, and explained to General von Loeper the purpose of the orders issued and the reasons that led Hitler to make his decision. In the afternoon I visited the 18th and 17th Panzer Divisions for the same reasons. I arrived back in Orel after a freezing drive at about midnight. The commander of the Western end of my front were at least now fully informed, by me personally, of the change in the situation resultant on Hitler’s orders; I thought therefore , that I could face the coming events of the next few days with a clear conscience.

    I spent December 23rd instructing the other corps commanders. LIII Army Corps reported that the 167th Infantry Division was also being heavily attacked now. The 296th Infantry Division fell back on Bielev. The defensive power of the corps could by this time only be rated as poor. Between its left wing and the XLIII Army Corps a great gap still existed which could not be closed on account of the almost total immobility of the troops once they were of the roads; the countryside was, in fact, impassable. I therefore decided to withdraw the 3rd and 4th Panzer Divisions to Orel by way of the Tula-Orel road, to give them a short period of rest for three days to recuperate, and then to move them north under command of XXIV Panzer Corps through Karachev and Bryansk with the object of attacking the flank of the enemy forces that were pressing towards the Oka. But deep enemy penetrations of the Second Panzer Army’s front necessitated the switch of part of this force to the new danger points and delayed their assembly in the Lichvin area. The immobile elements of the XXIV Panzer Corps were collected together at Orel for the protection of that town.

    I spent December 24th visiting a number of hospitals to see the Christmas festivities. I was able to bring a little good cheer to many a brave soldier. But it was heart-rending business. I spent most of the evening working alone; later Liebenstien, Busing and Kahlden came to see me and we spent a short time together in comradely fashion.

    On December 24th Second Army lost Livny. To the north of that place the enemy crossed the Oka. By order of the OKH the 4th Panzer Division was sent off to Bielev to check the enemy advance. The unified counter-attack by XXIV Panzer Corps which I had planned thus seemed likely to become impossible on account of the dispersal of the corps’ forces.

    During the night of December 24th-25th the 10th(Motorised) Infantry Division lost Chern as a result of a Russian enveloping attack. The Russian success became unexpectedly great, because the elements of the LIII Army Corps fighting on the left of the 10th(Motorised) Infantry Division were unable to hold and the enemy thus achieved a break-through. Parts of the 10th(Motorised) Infantry Division were encircled at Chern. I immediately reported this misfortune to Army Group. Field-Marshal von Kluge accused me in violent terms, saying that I must have ordered the evacuation of Chern and, what is more, must have done so at least twenty four hours before. The exact contrary was the case. I had, as already mentioned, personally given Hitler’s orders according to which the town was to be held. I therefore angrily denied the unjust accusation that Field-Marshal von Kluge made against me.

    On December 25th the elements of the 10th(Motorised) Infantry Division which had beed encircled succeeded in breaking out and reaching our lines with several hundred prisoners. I ordered a withdrawal to the Susha-Oka position. In the evening I had another sharp argument with Field-Marshal von Kluge, who accused me of having sent him an incorrect official report. He hung up with the words: ‘I shall inform the Führer about you.’ This was going too far. I told the Chief of Army Group that if I was to be treated in this fashion I had no wish to continue to command my Army and that I would request that I be relieved of my command. I immediately sent of a telegram to this effect. But Field-Marshal von Kluge was ahead of me. He had requested the OKH that I be removed, and on the morning of December 26th I was informed that Hitler had transferred me to the OKH reserve pool. My successor was to be commander of the Second Army, General Rudolf Schmidt.

    On December 26th I said farewell to my staff and issued a short order of the day to my troops.

    On December 27th I left the front, spending the night in Roslavl; the night of the 28th-29th I passed in Minsk; the 29th-30th in Warsaw, the 30th-31st in Posen, and on New Year’s Eve I arrived in Berlin.

    Further disagreement arose between Field-Marshal von Kluge and my staff concerning my final order of the day to my soldiers. Army Group wished toprevent publication of the order, since Field-Marshal von Kluge was afraid it might contain criticisms of higher commanders. Needless to say the order was quite unobjectionable. Liebenstien ensured that my men at least received a parting greeting from me.

    My final order ran as follows:
    The Commander of Second Panzer Army Group headquarters 26. 12. 1941

    Daily Army Order.

    Soldiers of the Second Panzer Army! The Führer and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces has today relieved me of my command. At this time when I am leaving you I remember our six months of battle together for the greatness of our land and the victory of our arms, and I recall with honour and respect all those who have bled and died for Germany. From the bottom of my heart I thank you my comrades-in-arms, for the trusty devotion and true comradeship which you have at all times shown during those long months. We have been together in success and adversity and my greatest joy has lain in my chances to help you and to protect you. Good luck to you now! I know you will continue to fight as bravely as ever and that despite the hardships of winter and the numerical superiority of the enemy you will conquer. My thoughts will be with you in this hard struggle.
    You are waging it for Germany.
    Heil Hitler!

    Signed GUDERIAN.







    P 263 - 271 the book PANZER LEADER General Heinz Guderian by General Heinz Guderian.
    Guderian stated in 1950, that Hitler wanted only the best for Germany, though he made some mistakes.

    WWII would be won or lost in Russia. Incompetent, blind, thoughtless and determined leadership in the Supreme Command who were oblivious to what life on the Eastern Front was like, was the reason WWII was lost. Those Commanders at the front, like Guderian who had proved themselves so often, were just ignored. It could all have been very different.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jagdmesser View Post
    Guderian stated in 1950, that Hitler wanted only the best for Germany, though he made some mistakes.

    WWII would be won or lost in Russia. Incompetent, blind, thoughtless and determined leadership in the Supreme Command who were oblivious to what life on the Eastern Front was like, was the reason WWII was lost. Those Commanders at the front, like Guderian who had proved themselves so often, were just ignored. It could all have been very different.
    No, the war was lost when Britain was left standing.

    Gerd von Rundstedt was of similar opinion.
    Most people think as they are trained to think, and most people make a majority.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Huginn ok Muninn View Post
    No, the war was lost when Britain was left standing.

    Gerd von Rundstedt was of similar opinion.
    Yes, indeed. When Operation Sea Lion was tabled in preference for Operation Barbarossa (which the Axis forces were not prepared for at the time), the UK became a convenient stepping stone to Europe by Allied forces, including the demoralizing and brutal carpet bombing campaign. This also resulted in the Axis nations being forced to go on the defensive after being confronted by the logistical nightmare of fighting on two major fronts.

    If the Germans allowed the multitude of Allied troops trapped at Dunkirk to flea back across the Channel to fight another day as an act of good faith with the hope that it would lead to a favorable truce with Britain, they were sadly mistaken about this too.

    A very bad time in our history, to be sure.
    “A dying culture invariably exhibits personal rudeness. Bad manners. Lack of consideration for others in minor matters. A loss of politeness, of gentle manners, is more significant than is a riot.” Robert A. Heinlein

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gareth Lee Hunter View Post
    When Operation Sea Lion was tabled in preference for Operation Barbarossa (which the Axis forces were not prepared for at the time)


    The major alternative idea here is whether it is actually true that Stalin was amassing a huge preparation of offensive forces to invade and take over not only Germany but continue on across Europe.


    I know some people disregard this (ie, those who believe official history and possibly some here) but I feel there is something to it (and surely explains why Hitler would start an eastern front which would be foolish to do if not necessary) .

    If Hitler had to attack the USSR's build-up to the east to pre-empt Stalin's attack date, then there was no choice (fully prepared or not).

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