Problem -- also Dunkirk Miracle & Hitler Order?

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neugierig
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Problem -- also Dunkirk Miracle & Hitler Order?

Post by neugierig » Mon Jun 17, 2013 11:55 pm

Hi all.

This “Miracle of Dunkirk” came up recently, and even though I was somewhat familiar with it I never paid attention. This time I have and I’ll post something on it. There are however some disagreements as to what different German commander thought of the Hitler Stop order, Guderian in particular. I read somewhere that he was livid, but forgot where I read it.

Today I found this report from the State Department Special Interrogations Mission, re. the interrogation of Guderian, it is dated Wiesbaden, October 4, 1945.

The problem, the bottom of page 2 (attached), which deal with Dunkirk, is blurred, unrecognizable. Can this be brought back to life? If so, page 4 is also not legible. I contacted the people from MilSpecManuals, but I thought with all the experts here…???

Regards
Wilf


[EDIT: renamed topic title since thread is covering Dunkirk and Hitler Order. ~ Admin]
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Re: Problem

Post by rollo the ganger » Tue Jun 18, 2013 12:35 am

To the Germans, for all those Allies who escaped at Dunkirk and elsewhere, it would have meant another 1/2 Million mouths to feed and house. Not to mention that POW's, even in POW camps, can become agents for gathering information about enemy movements and nuisances with escape attempts and having to waste troops on tracking them down. I don't believe not capturing the over 300,000 Allied troops at Dunkirk made any real difference to the outcome of the war. With Germany in control of the French, Belgium and Dutch coasts the prospect of England returning to the continent, by itself at least, was an impossibility. An invasion of England by Germany would have brought on an immediate declaration of war by the United States which Roosevelt had threatened. A wise move on Hitler's part to keep the US out of the war as long as possible. Especially with the massive buildup of Soviet armies in the east that he knew he would have to contend with. I believe Hitler may have bought himself some time by NOT capturing the troops at Dunkirk.

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Re: Problem

Post by neugierig » Tue Jun 18, 2013 12:37 am

Darn, this getting old is a riot, I forgot to add the document, here it is.

Sorry
Wilf
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Re: Problem

Post by neugierig » Tue Jun 18, 2013 12:38 am

RTG, there is more to it than that, but before I get into it I need to get my stuff together.

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Wilf
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Re: Problem

Post by neugierig » Tue Jun 18, 2013 4:34 pm

So no help from any of the experts, disappointing. On NCIS, they find stuff where there isn't any, I had hoped that some here know how that is done. ;)

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Wilf
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Re: Problem

Post by rollo the ganger » Tue Jun 18, 2013 11:22 pm

neugierig wrote:RTG, there is more to it than that, but before I get into it I need to get my stuff together.

Regards
Wilf
Wilf, there certainly is more to it but since Hitler and all the German generals who participated in the affair are now all dead we can only speculate on the reasons for their decisions. The first question would be was whether it was a sound military decision not to attack at Dunkirk and try and capture the allied troops there. I believe it may have been. Even though most of the British troops were bottled up, most of the French, the more formidable force, were not. And they may have been threatening a counter attack to relieve the British at Dunkirk. The ground around Dunkirk was believed to not be suitable for tanks and even if it turned out it was the General Staff and Hitler had information to the contrary and had to make a decision based on that.

Also, the panzer divisions had gotten ahead of the infantry and contrary to what some people think, tanks by themselves are in bad company. Tanks are meant to break through lines and get into the enemy's rear to cause mischief and mayhem. The "rear" at Dunkirk was the English Channel. 300,000 men is a formidable army and they were still well equipped. Tanks by themselves attacking into an infantry position like that could find itself annihilated by swarms of men with anti tank weapons. Tanks must have infantry support to attack infantry positions of that nature. The British may have simply gotten away before the Germans could bring up their infantry to do a proper job of capturing them

A good historical analogy is the pursuit of General Lee's confederate army by the Union General Geo. Meade after the battle of Gettysburg. Lee retreated to the town of Westport in MD on the Potomac River but had to delay his crossing while the river subsided from the torrential rains that had been pouring since July 5th of that year. Lee had his back to the river like the British had their backs to the Channel but he was well entrenched and prepared for any assault on his position. General Meade had a difficult time moving his troops up the rain soaked roads and only forward contingents of his army had reached the lines at Westport when Lincoln and Halleck were screaming for him to attack Lee. Had Meade done so his troops would have been annihilated. Meade wisely waited until he could bring up his forces to full strength in the area and properly reconnoiter the situation. Timing was against him. The river fell to a crossable level and Lee scooted across before Meade could gather his forces. Of course it is now viewed as a great tragedy and missed opportunity. The truth is it was nothing of the sort. Meade could have done nothing otherwise. He has gotten a bum rap by the historians.

There was also another possibility and bent on the Dunkirk matter. Consider this; the British had cajoled the French into joining them in a second crusade against the "Hun" with the French supplying the majority of man-power of course. Now when the British were getting their butts whipped they turned and skeedadled to the coast to await evacuation. In other words they left their French friends in the lurch. If the Germans had captured the British at Dunkirk the Brits could have said they "fought to the end in a desperate situation with their backs to the wall" . Instead the Germans could now say to the French; "Some friends you got there. First they get you involved in this war and then they book all the way across the Channel when the going gets tough. Leaving you Frenchmen to get your heads stomped.". The French could now say of their British allies; "COWARDS!". And some friends the British turned out to be. They withdrew all their aerial support and sunk the French Fleet at Oran even though Hitler had no intention of commandeering the French Fleet.

No, I don't think the failure to capture the British at Dunkirk was the tragic mistake by the Germans everyone tries to make it out to be. Just like the "Miracle of the Marne", but that's a different story.

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Re: Problem

Post by neugierig » Wed Jun 19, 2013 12:29 am

RTG, I am not quite ready yet, but here is what I have so far. The document I posted above, with the bottom part illegible, is from the interrogation of Guderian, the tank commander who was close to Dunkirk. According to his testimony, he contemplated ignoring Hitler's order, but did not. Hitler gave the order, if this would have been a military consideration the generals would have issued it, they didn't.

“The Miracle of Dunkirk”.

Louis C. Kilzer wrote:

“It had taken the Nazi Führer less time to rout the British from the Continent than it had taken him to defeat the Poles. The fleeing Tommys had even left almost all of their weapons behind as they scrambled aboard ships and boats and anything that would float at Dunkirk. Back in Great Britain, they were an army in name only. If Hitler had decided to come, he could have. The cliffs of Dover would have offered as much resistance as the British army”. (Churchill’s Deception. The Dark Secret That Destroyed Nazi Germany. Simon & Schuster, 1994, p.20)

There is evidence to show that Hitler did not want war with Britain, this western campaign forced on him because of the declaration of war by Britain and France over Poland. That would explain why he did not take advantage of the situation as described by Kilzer. We do know however that this Dunkirk miracle was possible only because Hitler ordered his troops to stop their advance, thus allowing the British to escape. Why did Hitler allow the Brits to escape? Kilzer provides what is accepted as one of the explanations:

“Explaining Dunkirk, Hitler told Gerdy Troost that "the blood of every single Englishman is too valuable to shed. Our two people belong together, racially and traditionally—that is and always
has been my aim, even if our generals can't grasp it."25 Other close associates heard similar reasoning expressed in different words. "The army is England's backbone," Hitler said. "If we destroy it, there goes the British Empire. We would not, nor could not inherit it. ... My generals did not understand this."26 (p.213)
(25 Toland, John. Adolf Hitler. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1976, p.611
26 Lukkacs, John. The Duel, 10 May-31 July 1940: The Eighty-Day Struggle between Churchill and Hitler. New York: Ticknor & Fields, 1991, p.86)

The Dunkirk Stop order was issued, by Hitler, on May 24, 1940 at 12:45hrs (Dünkirchen – Warum Hitler seinen Sieg verschenkte [Dunkirk, why Hitler gave his victory away]
http://www.welt.de/geschichte/zweiter-w ... enkte.html )

The above article, of May 17, 2013, is by Sven Felix Kellerhoff – an interview with the historian Karl-Heinz Frieser, who had studied the files. Kellerhoff had published an earlier article (April 9, 2013), titled: Warum stoppte Hitler den Dünkirchen Vormarsch? (Why did Hitler stop the advance toward Dunkirk?) http://www.welt.de/geschichte/zweiter-w ... arsch.html

In this article Kellerhoff wrote that on May 24, 1940, Hitler visited Army Group A under the command of Gerd von Rundstedt and ordered him to revoke the already issued order for the tanks to undertake the last push toward Dunkirk, only some 25km away. This then gave the British troops the opportunity to flee, many of those able to escape later formed the core of the British army, some helped to defeat Rommel later on. Kellerhoff admits that there is no plausible explanation for this Stop order, but advances the possibility that because of the losses Guderian’s tank division had suffered they would not have been effective, and that the troops were exhausted. But, and that is my proviso, if that would have been the case, the Generals would have issued that order, for surely they were aware of the condition their troops were in. They however did not order the stop, Hitler did.

Now back to the first Die Welt article, the Frieser interview. Kellerhoff starts out by writing that this Stop Order made the “Miracle of Dunkirk” possible. The encircled soldiers were able to erect some defenses, and even though the order was lifted 49 hrs. later, it prevented the tanks from advancing, thus allowed some 370 000 British and France troops to escape. This controversial order by Hitler has been discussed for 73 years, but now the military historian Colonel (ret.) Karl-Heinz Frieser, author of “Blitzkrieg-Legende” has shed light on it.

Kellerhoff asks if Hitler did issue this order. Frieser tells him that von Rundstedt, the supreme commander of Army Group A, was concerned about the speedy advance and on May 24 ordered a stop of the tanks. But, Army supreme command wanted to advance toward Dunkirk immediately (a given, the enemy was fleeing, dropping things as they did. Wilf) and relieved Rundstedt of the command of the tank division, that without the knowledge of Hitler. Hitler then used his position as commander in chief to override army command and issued the Stop order.

Kellerhoff: We have several explanations as to why this order was given, was the swampy ground around Dunkirk the reason?
Frieser: Definitively not, the rains only started after the Stop order.
Kellerhoff: Were the tanks to be saved for further action?
Frieser: This so-called tank crisis is a legend. Whatever repairs had to be undertaken - had been, the parts supplied by plane. And further more, one tank regiment would have been sufficient to capture defenseless Dunkirk, only 15km away (Kellerhoff above has it as 25km. Wilf)
Kellerhoff: Were the generals concerned about a flank attack, by de Gaulle for instance?
Frieser: Just then, the only flank attack of any concern near Arras had been dispelled, and intelligence informed HQ that there is no indication of any preparations for another attack. The tanks of the enemy were scattered, not able to mount an attack.
Kellerhoff: Was it to spare the British, to form the basis of a German-British peace treaty?
Frieser: Hitler later stated that he allowed the British to escape, he could not bring himself to harm members of the same race. He later tried however to initiate a bloodbath among them during the escape by using devious ammunitions (heimtückische Munition)(Frieser does not elaborate, I have no idea what he is referring to. It is however possible that he needed to add this baseless allegation just for effect. Wilf). But, no German politician could be that stupid to allow the British to escape, they would have been extremely valuable as a bargaining tool in peace negotiations.
Kellerhoff: You dismissed all of the arguments, are you convinced then that the order was issued just to show the generals who was in charge?
Frieser: During the controversy the generals rebelled, the issue: Who gives the orders, Army supreme command or the civilian Hitler. Hitler prevailed against von Brauchitsch and Halder. Hitler’s army adjutant Colonel Engel later told that this was not about substantial issues, but to demonstrate who was in charge.
Kellerhoff: What consequences did this order have, did it decide the outcome of the war?
Frieser: Without the intervention by Hitler the British would have suffered the biggest disaster in their history, they would have lost almost all of the standing army. This would no doubt have been the end of the Churchill government, and a new government would have been hard pressed to not make peace. How this would have played out, with the German Reich able to move all of their forces against the Soviet Union, is a fatal question (he uses the word: fatal. Wilf). By this, Hitler diminished a sure overall strategic success to just a localized achievement. The “Miracle of Sedan”, the successful break through allied lines, was cancelled out by the “Miracle of Dunkirk”.

The reason provided by Frieser is as unconvincing as those he dismissed. Fact is, Hitler’s order helped to bring about the defeat of Germany, if it wasn’t the reason for it. As Frieser states, with Britain out of the way, Hitler could have concentrated on the SU. Roosevelt and the war party in the US? Sure, they would have done their best to get into the game, but without the British base it would have been extremely hard. Was Hitler just naïve, an unconditional love for England, no matter what? I find that extremely hard to believe. If he was unable to understand the implications, he should have been removed. This came in May 1940, the British already had shown that they were not interested in peace with Germany by dismissing the peace offers during the Polish campaign. Capturing the British army would have provided Hitler with a real bargaining chip to use, forcing the English to come to terms with him. This would have then negated the necessity to send his trusting friend, Rudolf Heß, to England in May 1941, with a peace offer Hitler should have known the English would refuse.
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Re: Problem

Post by Scott » Wed Jun 19, 2013 3:51 am

I'm afraid that I can't help about the corrupted image/text. It is not possible to fix stuff like that unless someone knows of another source for finding another copy that isn't corrupted.

I pretty much agree with Rollo's comments earlier in the thread.

However, if memory serves me correctly the way that Guderian remembered the Dunkirk "stop order" in his memoirs was that von Rundstedt and the General Staff were gravely concerned about the mechanized Panzer divisions getting too far ahead of the railhead or their foot and horse-bound supply lines.

This is hugely important because it illustrates a logistical problem that never went away for Germany and which was especially acute for the invasion of Russia. Guderian, the creator of what the British press dubbed the Blitzkrieg, and some of the other war-of-movement advocates like Rommel, who commanded a Panzer division for Case Yellow/Green in France in 1940, might have decried any idea of "stopping" to mop-up, but this was a very real and a very serious concern at the time.

Hitler ultimately ruled in favor of von Rundstedt and the General Staff to stop, while the Luftwaffe continued to hit the British Expeditionary Force at Dunkirk as hard as possible. Ultimately the Luftwaffe wasn't able to prevent the evacuation of the BEF once they dumped their equipment, and the soft sand was supposedly no better for Göring's bombs than it supposedly was for Guderian's tanks.

Mostly Dunkirk just happened that way. The "Miracle of Dunkirk" was mostly British propaganda meant to continue the war after the hugely demoralizing French Armistice, and depending on which version you get, Hitler may have tried to upend that somewhat by implying some kind of chivalrous gesture. Given that Hitler never wanted to fight the Entente anyway, and hoping for a coming to generous terms with Albion after the French Armistice, this is not too outrageous a suggestion.

If that explanation doesn't wash with the usual military historians, however, then the "Hitler stop order" was meant to salvage Göring's ego, as the Panzertruppen were supposedly getting all of the credit in the propaganda machine for the Blitzkrieg in the West at the expense of the Stukas. This is of course no less nonsense. Göring got the Grand Cross of the Iron Cross for his role in building up the Luftwaffe from clandestine glider force to one crucial in Germany's early victories that required close ground-support tactics developed in the Spanish Civil War and leading to near perfect victory on the continent in 1940. Guderian had begun his military career in the German Army Signal Corps after all, and all German tanks had radios in them so that they could operate in concert with the infantry, artillery and air-forces. All German mechanized tank and grenadier forces had specially-trained liaison officers with them to provide Stukas as their flying artillery. This was crucial to the Blitzkrieg operational doctrine.

In addition, after the Armistice Hitler created a bunch of new Field Marshals to celebrate the occasion, and even made Göring a Reichsmarschall, so it seems strange that Dunkirk was deemed a Luftwaffe or General Staff failure--or any failure at all except that it allowed Britain to continue the war. Sure, evacuating the BEF was a moral victory for the British despite the defeat of France. As has already been pointed out, after the BEF and the RAF skedaddled the continent and Churchill was put in charge he took revenge for the French Armistice by ordering the exiled the French Navy to be attacked killing thousands--surely a desperate measure, but another moral victory against Vichy and supposed Appeasement.

Another important military point is that the bifurcation of the Western Front between the pursuit of the British vs. the French forces is actually an old problem. General Erich Ludendorff very nearly faced this problem himself with his Spring 1918 offensive; they put "our backs to the wall" in the words of the BEF's General Alexander Haig. If Ludendorff had been a little luckier and been able to crack the junction of the French and the British forces on the Western Front with his Somme offensive in 1918, then the BEF would have fallen back on its Channel ports while the French went the other way to protect Paris. That is why the Allies appointed the French General Ferdinand Foch as the Supreme Allied Commander in 1918, to head off the very danger posed by the Germans fracturing the Allied front. Unheard of by Western Front standards since 1914, Ludendorff's Storm Battalions advanced 40 miles and then ran out of steam. If the joint had been cracked, I suppose Foch would have just thrown the combined armies' units in piecemeal as replacements wherever was necessary to protect Paris. Filling holes in piecemeal is exactly how Pershing did not want his own American AEF forces used, btw, which is one reason why the American buildup took so long.

Nevertheless, if the Ludendorff offensive had split the front along Allied lines, the attackers would have then had to decide where to go in pursuit, and the Sturmtruppen spearheads did not have anything like the mobility in 1918 that the Panzertruppen had in 1940. The role of the infantry mopping up after the spearheads is usually downplayed by everyone except for the General Staff, who knew better, and the Germans had faced this same issue in 1918 with their Storm Troop tactics. The Western Front in 1918 was not the Italian or Russian Fronts where enemy supply lines were just as thin as Hindenburg's, if not more so. Getting too far ahead of supply lines easily short circuited the innovative 1918 German doctrines of mobility, so this was the German General Staff's legitimate nightmare with Case Yellow/Green in France in 1940, and even more the case with Barbarossa in 1941 over an immensely wide and long Soviet front.

The Allied rout--what military historian Kenneth Macksey called "the Green light through France" in 1940--might have been reversed if the thin armored and mechanized spearheads got cut off from their supporting infantry, who were mopping up and necessarily marching almost twenty miles each day. Those kind of fully-loaded road marches absolutely suck, as any of you know who may have had any kind of Army training. In WWII the German infantry were marching their way in France and Russia--plus doing any of the fighting that they were doing--to overcome a huge shortage of motor vehicles by Allied standards. In 1940, when Hitler had to decide what the German forces would do at Dunkirk--something that the Germans had not quite gotten the chance to do at the Somme in 1918--it wasn't yet clear that the French were even out of the war.

If the BEF had been rounded up and captured at Dunkirk, I don't hardly see how the British could have avoided taking Hitler's generous peace terms that left Britain and the British Empire inviolate. So from the point of view of Churchill and the warmongers, Dunkirk was indeed a miracle and a huge strategic loss on Germany's part. But it mostly just happened that way, regardless of what Hitler had decided.

Anyway, von Rundstedt and the General Staff were strongly in favor of halting their spearheads in pursuit of the BEF in order to anchor pressing home against the French who were falling back the other way onto Paris. That was decisive! Only in retrospect can this decision be seen as either deficient or magnanimous somehow. If Guderian's tanks hadn't been halted the military historians like Macksey might now have been blaming the Panzers rather the Stukas for the "Miracle at Dunkirk." I'm sure that Hitler would also be blamed either way.

:)
Dunkirk Evacuation
( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunkirk_evacuation )

[...]

Subsequently, Churchill referred to the outcome as a "miracle", and the British press presented the evacuation as a "disaster turned to triumph" so successfully that Churchill had to remind the country, in a speech to the House of Commons on 4 June, that "we must be very careful not to assign to this deliverance the attributes of a victory. Wars are not won by evacuations." Nevertheless, exhortations to the "Dunkirk spirit", a phrase used to describe the tendency of the British public to pull together and overcome times of adversity, are still heard in the United Kingdom today.[42]

The rescue of the British troops at Dunkirk provided a psychological boost to British morale; to the country at large it was spun as a major victory. While the British Army had lost a great deal of its equipment and vehicles in France, it still had most of its soldiers and was able to assign them to the defence of the UK.

[...]

German land forces might have pressed their attack on the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) and the Allies, especially having secured the ports of Calais and Boulogne. For years, it was assumed that Adolf Hitler ordered the German Army to stop the attack, favouring bombardment by the Luftwaffe. However, according to the Official War Diary of Army Group A, Generalfeldmarschall Gerd von Rundstedt – the Chief of the General Staff, disconcerted by the vulnerability of his flanks and supply to his forward troops, ordered the halt.[45][46][47] Hitler merely validated the order several hours after the fact. Hitler had been urged by Göring to let the Luftwaffe finish the British off,[45] much to the consternation of OKH Chief of Staff, General Halder,[48] who noted in his diary that the airforce was dependent upon the weather.[48] This lull in the action provided the Allies a few days to evacuate by sea. Von Rundstedt had ordered the halt on 23 May, confirmed by Hitler on 24 May at 11:30 am. On 26 May, at 1:30 pm Hitler ordered the German armour to continue the advance, but the delay had allowed the construction of defences vital for the following week's evacuation.[48]

Several high-ranking German commanders—for example, Generals Erich von Manstein and Heinz Guderian,[49] as well as Admiral Karl Dönitz—considered the failure of the OKW (German High Command) to order a timely assault on Dunkirk to eliminate the BEF to be one of the major mistakes the Germans had made on the Western Front in World War II.

“Now we have forced Hitler to war so he no longer can peacefully annihilate one piece of the Treaty of Versailles after the other.”
~ Major General J.F.C. Fuller,
historian – England

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Re: Problem

Post by neugierig » Wed Jun 19, 2013 3:01 pm

Thanks Scott, I didn’t think anything can be done, just hoping because it is part of what I am interested in, darn. I contacted the seller, they offered me my money back. I asked if they still had access to the microfilm, no reply yet.

As for Dunkirk, I do not agree that is was a military issue, nor does Frieser who claims to have studied the documents. Be that as it may, in war the object is to defeat the enemy, that was done. To then let your foe escape – when it would have been easy to capture him – so he can rearm and fight you the next day, as had happened, is ludicrous and no military commander would have allowed this to happen. Capturing the Expeditionary Force would have been a huge blow to England, and would most definitively have changed the course of events in Germanys favor.

The generals would have done everything in their power to capture the fleeing Brits, to finish what they set out to do. Why did Hitler interfere? The faulty document above is page 2 of: “State Department Special Interrogation Mission-Interrogation of Colonel General Heinz Guderian. June 14, 1945”. It was declassified but I can’t make out the date when it was done. Anyway, p.3 starts out with:

“He received the strictest orders not to move. This course of action was completely incomprehensible to him and he was strongly tempted to act on his own. After the British escape, he saw Brauchitsch and demanded an explanation of these disastrous instructions. Brauchitsch asserted they had come from higher up and implied that he himself had been in disagreement with them. He even said that he had hoped that Guderian would disobey, but the latter replied that this could hardly be expected when after two previous disobediences he had been severely reprimanded.”

This is confirmed by what you posted, Scott, the bottom part:

“Several high-ranking German commanders—for example, Generals Erich von Manstein and Heinz Guderian,[49] as well as Admiral Karl Dönitz—considered the failure of the OKW (German High Command) to order a timely assault on Dunkirk to eliminate the BEF to be one of the major mistakes the Germans had made on the Western Front in World War II.”

Again, if this would have been a military concern, the generals would have dealt with it. But rest assured, they would have made every effort to capture the fleeing Brits.

So, why did Hitler not let the professionals do their job? This stop order was a monumental blunder, treason in fact “aiding and abetting the enemy”. The generals should have disobeyed Hitler and do what is necessary.

Why did Hitler, an amateur, get involved? German officers were highly trained professionals, they knew what they were doing. Why did this lance corporal get in the way? Vanity? That is what Frieser suggest, and if that was the case, Hitler should have been removed.

I know this does not make me popular, but I am writing this as someone who still bleeds German. How many lives were lost because of this criminal order we will never know, but it surely did have a negative effect. For me this has never been about hero worship, but always to find out, as best as I can with the limited resources available to me, what really happened. And if Hitler was to blame, as in this case, I have no problem with putting blame where it belongs.

Regards
Wilf
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Re: Problem

Post by Charles Traynor » Wed Jun 19, 2013 4:49 pm

I’m with Scott and Rollo on this one. The Germans made the correct military decission at Dunkirk. At this stage of the battle the immediate threat to German forces in France was from the south. Hitler believed the BEF would put up protracted resistance and his motorised forces would get bogged down at Dunkirk for days just as he needed them on the new front facing south. It is also known Hitler was worried about the British landing fresh divisions through the port of Bordeaux. Ultimately, if von Below’s account is to be believed, Hitler left the final decision on whether to attack Dunkirk or turn the Panzers south to Rundstedt.

I hope the following goes some way towards clearing the Führer of the charge of treason.

Hitler's decision on Dunkirk was strongly influenced by Göring, who saw the chance for his airmen to strike a decisive blow against Britain. He persuaded a sceptical Hitler that the Luftwaffe could prevent the withdrawal of the BEF. Hitler relied on this promise, although it suited his plans, and, undoubtedly strengthened by Göring’s assurance, on 24 May he flew to Army Group A in order to discuss the next step with Rundstedt. The Dunkirk situation was deliberated on at great length. Hitler’s conviction was for a swift drive towards southern France. The British Army had no relevance for him. Halder wanted to go into the Dunkirk cauldron with all available forces and annihilate the BEF. Hitler thought this would take several days and hold back the trust towards southern France for too long. In the end he left the decision to Rundstedt, who decided upon the quickest resumption of the offensive. Accordingly, the forces on the Somme and Aisne were regrouped. Bocks Army Group B led from the coast down to about Bethel, Rundstedt’s Army Group A made eastwards for the Saar, and Leeb’s Army Group C remained where it was. The attack of 5 June in which the Panzer Korps of Hoth and Manstein had particular success brought the whole front into motion.
At Hitler’s Side, Nicolaus von Below, pp. 60-61
Kitty Hart-Moxon (1998): "Believe me, I came into Auschwitz in a much worse condition than I actually left it."

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