Germany During the War 1939-1945 Part III

After the failure of the winter of 1941, at the beginning of 1942 he made the supreme effort to provoke a decision in the war – as he put it – “total”. To fill the gaps produced by the serious losses in the East, he was forced to remove increasingly numerous labor forces from the national economy and replace them with workers forcibly recruited in the occupied territories, a provision for which the Reichsstatthalter of Thuringia was appointed commissioner, on March 21, 1942. Fritz Sauckel. The “Zentrales Planungsamt” founded on April 22, 1942 and whose leading personality was the Minister of Armaments, Albert Speer, coordinated the entire war economy. In the session of the Reichstag of April 26, 1942, Hitler was given full powers to draw every German into the war effort, without regard to legal forms and acquired rights. Despite this, the summer offensive unleashed against the advice of the supreme command of the Wehrmacht, in two directions, towards the Caucasus and against Stalingrad, did not reach its strategic objectives due to lack of forces. He was neither able to break through the Volga artery, nor to conquer the oil fields of Baku. The attack on Egypt, the second arm of a gigantic pincer movement against the Near East, was covered up in el-‛Alamein.

With the defeat of Rommel at el-‛Alamein and the Anglo-American landing in North Africa on 7 November 1942, the military and, at the same time, political climax had been reached. In fact, Roosevelt and Churchill in the Casablanca conference of 23 January 1943 advanced the claim of unconditional surrender which Stalin later made his own, in the Moscow conference of 19-30 October 1943. Up to this point the Allies, in their official statements, and even more in their propaganda, had pointed out that they were waging war against the Hitler regime, not against the German people, and that they were ready to grant it, if it freed itself from Hitler, a bearable peace. The formula of the unconditional surrender definitively dropped this distinction. Whoever had brought down Hitler had no chance from now on to ensure better conditions of peace for Germany, on the contrary he was in danger of going down in German history as the promoter of a new “dagger strike in the back”. Hence the Casablanca formula essentially contributed to strengthening Hitler’s position, albeit shaken by failures that could no longer be hidden, and to prolong the war. On February 3, 1943, against Hitler’s orders to fight to the last man, surrendered F. Field Marshal von Paulus with the remains of 6 in army in Stalingrad closed for over two months.

Shortly after, von Paulus joined the ” Freies Deutschland ” committee founded by gen. Seidlitz and which set itself the goal of overthrowing Hitler; and for this purpose he made proselytes among the prisoners and – according to not absolutely certain reports – he formed military units with them which, however, during the war, were no longer employed as organic bodies.

According to Localbusinessexplorer, the effect of this first great military defeat, immense on the German people, was increased by the contemporary measures for the continuation of the “total war”. By order (February 4) of the minister for the economy of the Reich, Funk, all industrial and commercial enterprises which were not directly used for the supply of the nation were closed; thus labor forces and raw materials for war were made free. The gaps resulting from the recall to arms of numerous workers were filled, on the basis of the law on compulsory service, increasingly by women; the number of foreign forced laborers, which in the spring of 1941 was only about 1 million, rose to 6,691 in January 1945. 000 units (including prisoners of war employed in factories). They carried out numerous acts of sabotage and at the moment of the collapse they avenged the suffering suffered on the population.

Another blow to Hitler’s regime was the fall of Mussolini on 25 July 1943 and the collapse of fascism in Italy. The aerial bombardments, which at the same time began to get harder (for example the bombing of Berlin on 24 August, of Nuremberg on 11 August, of Hanover on 29 September) weighed heavily on the morale of the nation. The invasion of Europe had already begun some time before. After the capitulation of Tunis, on 12 May, the Allies had landed in Sicily and Calabria and on 8 September followed the proclamation of the Italian armistice. On the other hand, Hitler, appointing Himmler Minister for the Interior of the Reich on 24 August 1943, wanted to emphasize that he was determined to resist at all costs, and to identify with his own the destiny of Germany. In a speech on November 20, he posed the alternative “either win or perish”. Göbbels’ propaganda machine portrayed the dire consequences of a defeat. Even opponents of the regime were impressed and resigned themselves to what seemed inevitable. The despair that was taking hold of the nation more and more did not shorten the war, but prolonged it by at least a year. More than half of all destruction could have been avoided if the opposition against Hitler had been given even a small chance of success.

Germany During the War 1939-1945 3