The Second World War in Europe and North Africa Part II
In response to the events in North Africa, Hitler ordered the construction of a German-Italian bridgehead in Tunisia (from November 9, 1942), the invasion of the previously unoccupied southern France (from November 11), and the occupation of the initially unoccupied port of Toulon (November 27th) – the majority of the French warships sank themselves in the process – and the disarmament of the weak French armistice army. The government in Vichy finally became a satellite of the German occupying forces.
After Rommel’s army had evacuated Tripoli on January 23, 1943 and withdrew to Tunisia, the newly created Army Group Africa still held a relatively broad bridgehead position, which was, however, blocked by the Allies, who had absolute control of the air and suppressed supplies from Sicily At the beginning of May it was narrowed down more and more, with the fighting that was still very tough. On May 13, 1943, the remnants of the German and Italian troops surrendered. Around 250,000 soldiers were taken prisoner by the Allies.
According to BEST-MEDICAL-SCHOOLS,the war in the USSR: In the summer of 1942, Hitler resumed the offensive in the east. However, the losses of the first year of the war forced him to limit the attack to part of the front. As a strategic target of attack – v. a. for economic reasons – the Caucasus region chosen, a side thrust on Stalingrad should cover the subsequent operations in the Caucasus.
After preliminary fights (capture of Kerch, May 8-18, conquest of Sevastopol, June 7th-July 1st, 1942, Kesselschlacht south of Kharkiv, May 17th-28th 1942, around 240,000 Soviet prisoners) the actual summer offensive could not begin until June 28, 1942. On July 3, 1942, the German attack, in which one Italian, one Hungarian and two Romanian armies also took part, reached the upper reaches of the Don at Voronezh and then advanced down the Danube to Kalach. The advance against the lower Don began on July 9, but, as in the previous year, it was not possible to encircle large parts of the Red Army. On July 23, it was on instructions from Hitler - contrary to the previous planning – the offensive continued at the same time with equally strong forces in the direction of Stalingrad and the Caucasus. After reaching the High Caucasus (hoisting of the war flag on the Elbrus on August 21, 1942) it got stuck there on the Terek. The occupation of some oil fields near Maikop (August 9th), which were also badly destroyed, was not enough to eliminate the fuel shortage on the German side. In the resulting leadership crisis, Hitler dismissed F. Halder as Chief of the Army General Staff on September 24, 1942. By September 10, 1942, the losses of the Eastern Army had risen to 1.6 million men; they could hardly be replaced halfway. In basic orders, Hitler put the Eastern Army nonetheless firmly committed to the defense of the territory it had won in a far overstretched front. There was a gap in it, especially in the Kalmykensteppe south of Stalingrad, which by the end of October 1942 was largely conquered by the 6th German Army ( F. Paulus) in heavy street fighting against the tough resistance of the 62nd Soviet Army (W. I. Tschujkow), a gap several hundred kilometers wide in which v. a. local auxiliaries such as the Kalmyk Cavalry Corps were used.
The defeat of Stalingrad and its military consequences: On 19./20. 11. In 1942 the Red Army launched a major offensive to the northwest and south of Stalingrad, smashed the two Romanian armies and closed the ring to the 6th Army between the Volga and Don on November 22nd. In the further course of the fighting, the 8th Italian Army was also crushed. A relief attempt by the 4th Panzer Army had to be broken off in the face of new Soviet attacks. Goering’s promise to ensure an adequate air supply could not be kept. The starving troops were pushed back onto the city of Stalingrad. Only 34,000 wounded and specialists could be flown out to the Luftwaffe with great losses. Because Hitler had forbidden an outbreak and also refused to surrender, the 6th Army offered in vain resistance against the general attack of the Red Army on the pocket on January 10, 1943. On January 31, Paulus surrendered with part of the 6th Army, on February 2, 1943 the remainder of the group. National Socialist propaganda tried to use the defeat of Stalingrad as a beacon for exhausting all reserves of strength to “ward off the Bolshevik onslaught” (proclamation of the “total war” by J. Goebbels on February 18, 1943 in the Berlin Sports Palace).
In the large gap that had been struck in the southern eastern front, the Red Army advanced further west, via Kursk and Kharkiv to the area of the Dnieper knee, but was then reinforced by Army Group South (E. von Manstein) once pushed back beyond Kharkiv to the northeast (March 1943). A closed front was formed again, but in the Kursk area it had an arch protruding far to the west. Most of the German troops retreating from the Caucasus in January 1943 were returned to the Kuban bridgehead, from there to the Crimea in September / October 1943. Against the front arch around Kursk The focus was on the even more limited German summer offensive of 1943 (Operation Citadel from July 5, 1943), from which the largest tank battle of the Second World War developed. With the frontal attack against the well-prepared and deeply tiered Soviet defense, Hitler tried to inflict such great losses on the Red Army in a war of attrition that Germany was later able to oppose the Allied threat of invasion in the west. However, after the pincer attack on the Kursk Arch had failed, Hitler left break off the attack because on July 10th the Western Allies landed in Sicily and he wanted to transfer his own forces to Italy. The initiative in the east finally passed to the Soviet side. Despite this military development in 1942/43, Hitler stuck to his ideological war goal, the annihilation of European Jews, and was also not prepared to change course in Ostpolitik, as Rosenberg and supporters in the Wehrmacht propagated. He neither approved of a relaxation of the brutal policy of exploitation, nor did he agree to the proposal to build an army allied with Germany from Russian volunteers, which was the Soviet General A. A. Vlasov, who was captured by Germany in 1942 wanted to lead to the liberation of Russia from Bolshevism (only in November 1944 beginning of the establishment of a “Russian Liberation Army”, which could no longer be effective militarily and was extradited by the Americans to the Soviet Union after the end of the war).
A heavy burden on the German warfare was – as a result of the German policy based on the “master races” ideology – the increasing activity of partisans in the wooded areas of Karelia, Belarus, the areas of Smolensk, Oryol and Bryansk, off Leningrad and in the Ukraine, which particularly threatened German lines of communication and supply (including »rail warfare«).