6th Army Break Out From Stalingrad

German campaigns and battles 1919-1945.

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august winter
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6th Army Break Out From Stalingrad

Post by august winter » Sat Oct 21, 2006 4:12 pm

Hi everyone, I have some questions regarding the break out that may have possibly saved the 6th army at stalingrad...

Firstly, was there ever a time when Hitler himself advocated such a venture?

Did Von Paulus ever seriously consider breaking out and was the suggestion mooted in Berlin?

Did any individual units break out successfully on their own and is it documented?

If the 6th army had attempted a breakout say during nov/dec period 1942 (realistically after this period they would have been to weak/under supplied), would it have succeeded and what would sort of losses do you think the breakout would have incurred (bearing in mind when the Germans attempted breaking out from Budapest in 45 losses were huge).

On the basis of a breakout being successfull, what would have been the likely implications for the conduct of the war in 1943?

Finally, if Von Paulus had ordered a breakout without permission from Hitler which resulted in success, what would have been Von Paulus' fate?

Sorry so many questions but it is a fascinating battle!

Regards,
August

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Post by sid guttridge » Sun Oct 22, 2006 1:24 am

Hi AW,

I would guess that if a breakout had been attempted early on a rump of 6th Army might well have escaped. However, I suspect that it would have been a bit like Korsun - the survivors would have arrived without most of their heavy weapons, transport and wounded.

As the Red Army would then have had more forces available for further operations, Rostov would have come under earlier pressure and I suspect the strategic outcome would have been similar - the German loss of all their gains of the summer of 1942.

Cheers,

Sid.

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TPMM
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Post by TPMM » Sun Oct 22, 2006 1:49 pm

A great viev on that problem is given in F.W. von Mellenthin's book "Panzer Battles".
Manstein during his counteroffensive reached the point 64 km far from von Paulus lines. He (von Paulus) gave an order to commence march ahead approaching forces when they would be 32 km away. Manstein has never reached such a distance, so the didn't even try to break out. Germans hadn't enough forces and supplies to establish route to Stalingrad.

Even if the 6th army had been saved, it's remainings wouldn't have been able to take serious operations for a long time. They would propably have been evacuated to France or Germany to reinforce or destroyed in incoming Russian offensive. How sid wrote, russians would be much sooner able to endanger Rostov. Moreover, if Russians hadn't had to use so many divisions around Stalingrad, they would propably have been sent to cut off von Kleist's 4th Army retreating from Caucasus. It has been written in many books, that sacrefice of 6th Army save the 4th.

So: even if Manstein had been able to brake and save a part of 6th Army (without most of it's heavy equipment, but with many highly experienced soldiers), the 4th Army would propably have been destroyed and Red Army would sooner have reached Rostov.

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august winter
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re break out

Post by august winter » Mon Oct 23, 2006 2:32 pm

Thanks for the replies chaps, very interesting views.
I definately agree that most of the heavy equipment would have been lost.
Also I suspect that the breakout if successfull would have incurred horendous (sp) losses and what survived of the 6th army wouldnt have been functional for some time after.

best

august

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Breakout

Post by timobrienwells » Thu Oct 26, 2006 3:41 am

It all depends on the timing.If Paulus had been allowed to breakout within the first 48 hours[say 20 th to 22nd november],then it is highly likely that they would have escaped in good order,and rejoined the german line.In all likelyhood though they would not have been able to salvage all of the the considerable artillery assets it had.However having an entire army back in the line,supplied by land lines surely would have conferred a greater benefit to the overall german position than having it surrounded[no operational freedom]and poorly supplied by air.The 6th army had 3 motorised divisions and 3 panzer divisions which were largely immobilised after the encirclement,fuel being the issue.On the other hand,there were very few german forces available to 'meet' the 6th army if it broke out,as there was no reserve in the area,so a breakout would probably have been problematic.Manstein believed the only long term solution was for the caucasus forces[17th army and 1st panzer] to be withdrawn from the caucasus to Rostov to link up with an operational 6th army so a cohesive front could be estalished.Hitler would never contenance any such withdrawal he said.
tim wells

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Fate of Paulus

Post by timobrienwells » Thu Oct 26, 2006 3:54 am

Hitler would have had his head.Remember Heim[48th panzer corp]was court-martialled,and sentenced to death[from memory]and put in prison just because he 'failed' to stop the nothern pincer from taking the crossing at Kalatch.In my view,if Paulus had dis-obeyed a direct order from Hitler,he would have paid for it with his life.
tim wells

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Re: 6th Army Break Out From Stalingrad

Post by cpa95 » Wed Nov 15, 2006 1:05 pm

august winter wrote: Did Von Paulus ever seriously consider breaking out and was the suggestion mooted in Berlin?
Yes, see the radio messages between 6th army and army group B/OKH between 22.11. and 24.11.1942. Paulus asked for a "free hand" and a breakthrough in the south-western direction.

Hitlers ended this by sending the message on 24.11.1942, that 6th army had to defend the "fortress" Stalingrad.

source: war diaries of 6th army.

Greetings
Thomas
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6th Army Breakout

Post by Mike36 » Mon Oct 22, 2007 5:15 pm

If I am not mistaken,both Hauser and Manstein disobeyed direct orders from Hitler and lived to tell the tale.

Of course today we all have the great benefit of hindsight regarding that horrific drama being played out at Stalingrad. Had the 6th Army escaped it's trap would the Southern front have disastrously collapsed perhaps shortening the war by a year or more? Had the axis allies been better equiped and led would there never have been the decisive engagement at Stalingrad?

It would appear,that had the 6th Army made the attempt early enough,while it still had power and mobility,some would have gotten out.

But then what?

Mike

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Post by sid guttridge » Wed Oct 24, 2007 3:24 am

Hi Mike,

Don't think it would have made much difference for reasons I give above.

I would suggest that the encirclement could have been avoided if the Germans had broken off their assaults on Stalingrad earlier and moved their remaining armour to positions supporting their allies, particularly the Romanians.

It is not widely known that the 3rd Romanian Army beat off a series of local Soviet attacks during October and held the initial Soviet assault on 19 November. As a result the Red Army released its armoured and mechanised corps prematurely, before a breakthrough had been achieved. The Romanians had little with which to oppose such a mass of T34s. Only the Germans had the resources to do so and most were still tied down in Stalingrad.

David Glantz's new book on the battles in north-eastern Romania in the spring of 1944 show that German armour in support of Romanian infantry was a viable combination in the face of major Soviet offensives.

Cheers,

Sid.

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Post by Enrico Cernuschi » Wed Oct 24, 2007 11:33 am

Hello Sid,

I presume the same argoument may be valid for the Italian VIII Army along the Don river too?

Greetings

EC
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Post by sid guttridge » Fri Oct 26, 2007 10:28 am

Hi Enrico,

Even more so, as the Italians only had a single battalion of L6/40 light tanks of their own, if I remember rightly. By those standards even the Romanians were well equipped with armour!

Cheers,

Sid.

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Post by Enrico Cernuschi » Fri Oct 26, 2007 11:08 am

Glad to hear you again Sid.

Don't forget there were too 19 Self propelled 47/32 guns of the Cavalleggeri d'Alessandria on the Don Line too.

(Do you know this Italian joke of the time? Hitler phones to Mussolini asking him a tank support for the crumbling Russian Front. The Duce answer: "All right. I will despatch you one tank" "What!?" replies the Fuhrer, " I mean tanks". "Well, I will sent you by rail two tanks". "Are you joking. What the hell do you want I do with two tanks?". "Talke if easy, Adolf, I will send you all the three tanks i have got".

Bye

Ec
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Post by sid guttridge » Sat Oct 27, 2007 4:28 am

Hi Enrico,

The designation "47" says all one needs to know. The best Italian armour available only had a 47mm gun. Only German armour could have saved the Italian 8th Army.

Cheers,

Sid.

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Post by Mike36 » Sat Oct 27, 2007 6:56 am

Sid/Enrico

Can you reccomend any good books on the axis allies during the Stalingrad campaign? It is a subject that has always fascinated me.

In his memoirs,Manstain says only that they were poorly equipped and poorly led.He did suggest to Hitler that Antonescu was capable and be given greater responsibilities.I understand that a few of the axis allied units put up a good resistance but most panicked and fled at the first fire.Why did those units stand and the rest flee?

Best regards,

Mike

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Post by sid guttridge » Mon Oct 29, 2007 8:56 am

Hi Mike,

Try "Third Axis, Fourth Ally" by Axworthy, Scafes and Craciunoiu on the Romanians at Stalingrad and elsewhere. This has just been republished, I understand.

There is also an excellent book on the Hungarian Army in WWII (by Niehorster, I think. It is published by Axis Europa).

Axworthy has also done a book on the Slovaks for Axis Europa.

I think only the Italians are not well covered in English, but many of the lessons you can learn from the Romanian and Hungarian books apply to them.

One must remember that the Axis allies on the Eastern Front were unable to publish their own histories of the Eastern campaign because they were under Soviet control for over four decades after the war. This left the field free for German memoirs to blame them for almost anything.

If you read the above books you will find that the performance of the Romanians, Hungarians and Slovaks was rather better than you may have been led to believe from essentially German sources. The same may well be true of the Italians.

Happy hunting.

Sid.

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