David Irving


A Test of Endurance

In Stalin, Hitler unquestionably now knew, he had met his match.  As the Soviet resistance hardened despite each fresh catastrophe inflicted on its armies, Hitler’s admiration for his Bolshevik adversary grew.  “This Stalin is obviously also a great man,” he kept telling his baffled generals.  “To claim anything else would not make sense.  Historians of the future will have to set out from the fact that today’s events are governed by the collision or collusion of great, towering personalities whose paths cross like this only once in many centuries.”

The Wehrmacht had captured over three million Russian prisoners.  No estimate could be put on the Red Army’s casualties.  The Soviet Union had lost most of its aluminum, manganese, pig iron, and coal resources.  As soon as Hitler’s armies could penetrate beyond Rostov into the Caucasus, Stalin would lose 90 percent of his oil as well.  This was why Hitler could only smile confidently when he read in Intelligence reports that Stalin was rebuilding his armies beyond the Urals.  Hitler learned that Averell Harriman said in confidence early in November 1941 that the Russian leader took three days to agree to the western condition that the Soviet Union must not make a separate peace with Hitler, and even then he made his agreement conditional on receiving adequate war supplies from the West.  In Moscow, meanwhile, tens of thousands of people were being evacuated.  Some of those who had to stay in the capital tried to obtain swastika flags and German dictionaries in anticipation of the city’s capture.

For the first two weeks of November the German armies were held immobile by the mud and mire.  The Russians were able to build line after line of defensive positions.  There were those generals—Erich Hoepner among them—who bitterly criticized their army superiors for not giving the panzer Gruppen their head in the October offensive but rather tying them rigidly to the infantry armies ;  this overcautiousness, bordering on defeatism, had deprived Hoepner of the chance of destroying all the Russian reserve forces as well.  Now these reserves, augmented by workers from the Moscow factories and freshly arrived Siberian divisions—magnificently equipped with winter gear—were pouring into the capital’s defenses and bracing for the frost, which would give the Germans firm ground on which to resume the attack.

Germany had still suffered no military reverses, and this was a position of strength from which Hitler was willing to envisage offering peace terms to the enemy.  There are several indications of this.  The most curious is the manner in which he and Ribbentrop allowed the unsuspecting former ambassador to Rome, Ulrich von Hassell, to pursue his clandestine peace feelers with American officials from September on ;  Heydrich submitted a full report on Hassell’s activities to Ribbentrop early in November and inquired whether the ambassador was “acting with the consent or instructions” of the government.  Since the secretary of the principal American involved was one of Heydrich’s agents, and she and Hassell conversed freely on the telephone, it is not surprising that this conspiracy was known to the authorities.  The American had asked Hassell to meet him in Lisbon ;  Hassell proposed Switzerland instead and sent the American a memorandum—which also fell into the hands of the German authorities—to the effect that many intelligent Germans, even if they did not fear losing the war, dreaded the devastation that even victory would entail.  Since “that man down south”—meaning Mussolini—was also said to think the same way, perhaps the memorandum to the United States ambassador to Rome, William Philipps, should suggest puting out feelers to the Duce too.  “At present not clear as to the How of peace—but great haste called for as otherwise danger that the various parties will go too far out onto their respective limbs to be able to go back.”  Hassell urged the Americans not to insist at this stage on “top authority”—meaning Hitler’s written sanction for the dialogue.

By early November, Ribbentrop’s diplomatic seismographs detected other signs that the F¸hrer wanted peace.  Etzdorf, Ribbentrop’s liaison officer to the General Staff, listed them thus :  “Ambassador von Bergen is to be replaced at the Vatican by a more active personality, one better able to monitor the peace possibilities coming through there.  Everything relating to peace in the [foreign] press is to be carefully collected and immediately submitted.  The same procedure is to be followed with regard to Russia’s domestic situation.”  As for Japan :  “The F¸hrer is not particularly interested in Japan entering the war ;  it would only make peace more difficult.”  Weizs”cker, Ribbentrop’s state secretary, held out no hope of peace to the army, however.  He told Halder that there was no evidence that Britain was inclined toward a cessation of hostilities ;  he felt that any moves initiated by Germany would be rebuffed.

By the end of the month Hitler knew Weizs”cker was right.  British foreign office instructions to ridicule any “peace offensive” by Hitler reached German hands.  Churchill had emphasized in a Mansion House speech that to talk of Europe’s future was not the sole prerogative of “those who are causing the cold blood of execution yard and scaffold to flow between the German race and other European countries.”  An economically self-contained Europe was, he warned, equally impracticable.  “The present peace offensive,” the foreign office instruction continued, “comes not, as it was intended to do, at a moment of victory over Russia, but when Germany is further away from victory than at any previous time.  Hitler doubtless intended to proclaim the New Europe from the Kremlin.  He is now an ersatz victor making an ersatz peace offer from an ersatz Kremlin.”  Hitler reminded one minister arriving in Berlin for the fifth anniversary of the Anti-Comintern Pact that Lord Halifax had bragged of being “a strong enough man” to ignore the countless letters from all over England demanding peace in 1940 ;  this was proof, said Hitler, that the “Jewish-Bolshevik” suicidal forces still had the upper hand in London.  Wistfully he added that what irritated him most was that “that cretin Churchill” was interrupting him in his mighty task of cultural reconstruction.

For Hitler, the thrills of warmaking had long palled ;  but not for the generals.  Halder’s private letters home proudly reveled in the advances “his” army had achieved.  Although his own Intelligence staff warned that the Russians were moving reinforcements west of Moscow, Halder turned a blind eye on these unpalatable signs and commanded Bock’s army group to delay its Moscow offensive until the logistics buildup would support a far more ambitious offensive.  The Ninth Army would lunge far beyond Moscow toward Kalinin, the Volga reservoir, and Selizharovo ;  the Third and Fourth Panzer Gruppen would make for Vologda, and Guderian’s Second Panzer Army was even assigned Gorki as its final objective for the winter.  Hitler pocketed his doubts and approved the plans.  On November 11 Jodl signed a directive to the army groups setting out these far-flung ambitions to be achieved before the heavy snowfalls began :  “The goals would justify an extreme exertion to sever the two supply lines used by Anglo-American war materials, and to improve and safeguard our restricted petroleum supplies, by advancing on Stalingrad and a rapid capture of Maykop in the south, and the capture of Vologda in the north.”  Halder stoutly defended these aims at a staff conference in Orsha on November 13—optimistically counting on six weeks’ campaigning before winter really closed in—but neither Bock nor Rundstedt would hear of them ;  thus a limited advance on Moscow only was finally approved.  Had Halder’s grand strategy been adopted, Hitler would undoubtedly have lost his entire eastern army in the catastrophe that shortly unfolded.

In fact Hitler was on the horns of a dilemma.  Even if the nearest Russian oil fields at Maykop could now be seized, he lacked the tankers to bring the oil to the Mediterranean theater, where it was most needed by Italy.  He had postponed his assault on the main Caucasus oil fields until 1942, but since these were likely to be so thoroughly destroyed that it would hardly be possible to produce any oil until 1943, Keitel’s petroleum experts questioned whether there was any real point in invading the Caucasus at all.  To Hitler, there was ;  he wanted to rob Stalin of his oil resources, and he had heard of British plans to establish a front in the Caucasus as well.

In another sense, Hitler showed a curious optimism.  Halder wrote :  “All in all he gave an impression of anticipating that when both warring parties realize that they are incapable of destroying each other there will result a negotiated peace.”  It was the vision of a second Verdun that kept recurring to Hitler ;  and the condescendingly chivalrous notion that since Stalin had fought well and fearlessly, he should be spared the fate he no doubt otherwise deserved.

With the return of the long nights, the British bombing had resumed.  On November 7 no fewer than four hundred RAF bombers attacked Berlin, Mannheim, and half a dozen other targets.  When Hitler arrived in Munich the next afternoon to speak at the annual beer-cellar gathering of his Old Guard, the city’s population had all but fled in fear of the almost inevitable nightly air raid.

That same night a most severe blow befell the supply lines to Rommel’s force in North Africa.  Although Italian warships had provided strong cover, an entire Italian supply convoy of seven ships was sunk by a small British force comprised of two light cruisers and two destroyers.  Admittedly there was compensation in the fact that one of Raeder’s U-boats sank the aircraft carrier Ark Royal a few days later and another sank the battleship Barham before November was over, but when the British counteroffensive opened in North Africa on the eighteenth the German and Italian divisions besieging Tobruk were weak, low in fuel, and short of men and materials.  Supply shipping losses were now running at sixty thousand tons a month.  Rommel managed to inflict heavy losses on the enemy, but he then took the hard decision to abandon Cyrenaica.  In December, however, the tide turned again in his favor :  Field Marshal Kesselring arrived in Rome as Hitler’s newly appointed “Commander in Chief South,” and with him he brought the air power needed to regain air supremacy in the Mediterranean.  On the nineteenth, bold Italian midget submariners disabled Admiral Sir Andrew Cunningham’s last two battleships at Alexandria, the Queen Elizabeth and the Valiant, and he lost more big warships the next day in a minefield off Malta.  Soon the British possessed only three cruisers and a handful of destroyers and submarines in the area between Gibraltar and Alexandria.  New blood began to flow into Rommel’s Afrika Korps.

The unexpected prolongation of the war faced Hitler with fundamental decisions on armaments policy—for soon he expected to be confronting three world empires.  The wasteful use of scarce resources might have been tolerable in the Blitzkrieg economy of 1940, but it would be no longer.  His munitions minister, Fritz Todt, returned from a tour of the Russian front and in a private talk with Hitler on November 29, 1941, summed up his prognosis thus :  “Given the arms and industrial supremacy of the Anglo-Saxon powers, we can no longer militarily win this war !”  Hitler calmly inquired, “How am I supposed to end it, then ?  I can’t see much possibility of ending it politically.”

Even before “Barbarossa,” Hitler had realized that German arms production was inefficient.  The aircraft industry was beset by prima-donna personalities and producing a plethora of outdated aircraft.  The Luftwaffe had no long-range aircraft for reconnaissance or bombing far into the Atlantic or beyond the Urals.  The new generation of fighters which G–ring had promised was still unfit for squadron service.  General Ernst Udet, the director of air armament, recognized his share of the blame and shot himself in November.  To succeed Udet, Hitler appointed Field Marshal Erhard Milch, G–ring’s bustling deputy who had founded Lufthansa and built the secret prewar Luftwaffe.  But it would be 1943 before Milch’s appointment could have any real effect.  In the last week of his life Hitler ruefully admitted that he had erred in so blindly accepting G–ring’s advice about Luftwaffe matters all along.

Tank design was different.  Here Hitler considered himself an expert, and he was indeed far ahead of the professionals.  By November 1941 he feared that the tank’s useful offensive life would soon be over as the Allies had clearly got wind that summer of the German army’s secret antitank shells with tungsten cores.  Hitler’s still-embargoed other secret weapon, the Redhead “hollow-charge” shell, would soon have to be given its debut as well.  All this meant that the German panzer divisions would have to complete Hitler’s program of territorial conquests quickly, and this meant building tanks stronger and in greater quantity than the British or Russians could.  The huge Russian tank output, and the appearance of the Soviet T-34, had shaken him badly ;  when Todt now told him of two more new Russian types he had examined at Orel, Hitler exclaimed in exasperation, “How can such a primitive people manage such technical achievements in such a short time !”

Nine months had passed since Hitler had called his own first tank-design symposium at the Berghof on February 18, 1941.  Then he had demanded the modification of the Mark III and Mark IV tanks to mount much heavier caliber long-barreled guns—50 and 75 millimeters, respectively—despite the design objections raised by the experts.  When Keitel demurred at releasing twenty thousand skilled workers from the army for tank production, Hitler snapped that it was better than losing perhaps ten times as many soldiers because of the lack of a powerful tank force.  The modified tanks were demonstrated to him at the Chancellery six weeks later.  Hitler climbed all over them and asked for the turret to be rotated.  The gunner explained that he first had to duck his head inside—at which Hitler angrily stopped the demonstration.  “Obviously the gunner must be able to keep his eye to the eyepiece at all times !”  A further symposium followed on May 26 at the Berghof.  Hitler demanded an even heavier gun in future tanks and instructed both the Henschel tank works and Professor Ferdinand Porsche to produce prototypes mounting the 88-millimeter heavy gun.  The designers were aghast, but Hitler announced that in future campaigns his tanks would travel to the battlefields “in the outer reaches of Europe” by train, so the load-bearing ability of roadbridges would no longer impose a limit on his tanks.  He pictured to them the “morale and physical effect” of a direct hit by such a shell on a cast-steel tank turret—it would burst asunder.  In Greece his SS Life Guards had destroyed enemy tanks at ranges of up to seven thousand yards with this fearful weapon.

Much had happened since that February symposium.  The enemy’s T-34 was vastly superior to the newest German Mark IV.  At an arms conference on November 29, Hitler again warned Todt and Brauchitsch that the age of the tank would soon be over ;  he asked them to concentrate on three basic tank designs—a light tank for reconnaissance, like the present Mark III ;  a medium tank, the Mark IV ;  and a heavy tank (the later Panther) to outclass the Russian T-34.  A superheavy tank was also to be blueprinted by Porsche for the future.

In mid-November 1941 Field Marshal von Bock’s drive toward Moscow was resumed.  He was confident of success, and General Halder swallowed his own misgivings and gave Bock free rein.  Bock’s northern wing began to move on the fifteenth, followed by the southern wing two days later.  All Hitler’s commanders had assured him that the Red Army lacked depth ;  but the enemy’s resistance before Moscow was ominously vehement, and he began to suspect that he had again been wrongly advised.  He saw victory at Moscow slipping through his fingers ;  he bluntly told the ailing Field Marshal von Brauchitsch—who had suffered a fresh heart attack a week before—that it was a question of the army’s will to victory.

Meanwhile, General von Kleist’s First Panzer Army had managed to seize Rostov on the Don, only to be thrown back again on November 28.  Temperatures of 14ƒF. gripped the front.  Fuel and equipment shortages dogged every move.  The troops lacked ice axes, glycol antifreeze had to be flown in, the tank engines refused to start.  (The army’s quartermaster general had not informed lower levels of a simple “cold-start” procedure first demonstrated by the Luftwaffe in 1939)  Hitler’s generals were gripped by apathy.  Reichenau’s Sixth Army had found comfortable winter quarters which they were very loath to leave ;  this enabled the enemy before them to regroup against the desperately harassed Kleist.

The temperature was still falling all along the front.  Ribbentrop came on the twenty-second, no doubt to discuss the big demonstration of European solidarity he was about to stage in Berlin.  But on the twenty-fourth Hewel noted :  “F¸hrer is dissatisfied with Ribbentrop’s draft speech, lots of corrections, etc.  His mind is on Africa.”  And one of Hitler’s adjutants, Major Engel, wrote the next day :  “In the evening a further lengthy debate on future operations.  The F¸hrer explains his great anxiety about the Russian winter and weather conditions, says we started one month too late.  The ideal solution would have been the surrender of Leningrad, the capture of the south, and then if need be a pincer around Moscow from south and north, following through in the center ... but time is his greatest nightmare now.”

Hitler listened to Ribbentrop’s Berlin speech on the radio.  It was an important address to the ambassadors and foreign ministers of Germany’s allies and friendly neutrals ;  “Europe’s struggle for freedom” was its theme.  Had the Soviet Union been on the brink of defeat it would have been timely and well-chosen ;  but Ribbentrop made the British government the butt of his leaden witticisms, goaded by the constant and effective British propaganda charge that he as Hitler’s foreign minister was to blame for this war.  Ribbentrop lauded Hitler’s unexampled and benign patience toward Britain in these words :  “If any sane person examines the advantages offered by the F¸hrer’s foreign policy to Britain, then he must clutch his head at the thought of the blindness with which the British statesmen were stricken, because the F¸hrer not only offered a comprehensive territorial and maritime guarantee to the British Isles but even offered to supply German forces to help safeguard the British Empire.”  Ribbentrop referred to his own endeavors to bring the two countries together :  “I will be happy to leave it to History to judge whether the sapient British propagandists are right in claiming that I advised the F¸hrer that Britain would never fight, and that I was ignorant of the British and their national character.”

Soon after Ribbentrop’s radio broadcast was over, he himself was on the phone asking if Hitler had liked his speech.  The F¸hrer had not, and he was still fulminating against Ribbentrop, the foreign ministry, and the speech when his train left headquarters to take him to Berlin at 7 P.M. that evening.

In Berlin a round of receptions for the new signatories of the Anti-Comintern Pact began.  They made a curious bunch.  The Hungarians had to be kept apart from the Romanians.  Serrano Suner had to be received jointly with Ciano.  Ciano was accorded the same frozen politeness as had been his lot on his recent visit to the Wolf’s Lair.  The Turks, who had also been invited to join the pact, had refused point-blank ;  from decoded British admiralty telegrams Hitler knew that Turkey was again playing a double role and negotiating with the British for destroyers and submarines ;  and her Chief of Staff had even taken to referring to the Germans as les boches in conversation with British officers.  Vichy France, despite Petain’s jostling for German favors, was not invited to join the pact, as Hitler still evidently hoped to treat with Britain some day at France’s expense.  A French volunteer legion was now fighting under Bock’s command, and from decoded American cables the Germans knew that PÈtain had commended Germany for adhering to the armistice conditions.  Hitler had kept his promises, and PÈtain accordingly supported his plans for a New Order, from which he felt that France could only profit.  But Hitler’s latent resentment had its psychological roots too deep in recent history to be easily overcome, as his surly reply to a letter from the French marshal showed :  Hitler reminded PÈtain that France had declared war on Germany, not vice versa, and he said that Germany’s recent execution of French “Communists” in reprisal for the assassination of German officers doing their “lawful duty” was fully justified.  The F¸hrer drew a passionate comparison between what he presented as Germany’s restrained presence now in France and the French troops’ unruly behavior in the Rhineland between the wars, when they had driven German citizens from the sidewalks with their riding crops, and the rape of more than sixteen thousand German women had gone unpunished.

A major source of discontent in France was that Germany—like France after World War I—was still detaining over a million French prisoners of war.  Hitler could not dispense with this labor force, for the German agricultural and armament economy relied heavily on prisoners.  Hitler had recently put G–ring in charge of employing three million Russian prisoners, remarking that such stubborn fighters must make good workers too.  But the army had paid scant attention to their welfare and accommodations ;  hunger, exhaustion, lack of medical care, and fierce typhus epidemics took their toll.  Albert Speer, Hitler’s chief architect, had asked him on November 21 to provide forced labor for his work in rebuilding Berlin.  (Now that Hitler was in the capital again, Speer lunched with him and then showed him the latest scale-models of Berlin’s new buildings, set up in the Model Room at the Chancellery—finely detailed miniatures of the vast Great Hall, the Office of the Reichsmarschall, and the new stadium.)  Hitler granted Speer’s request for thirty thousand Russian prisoners to help in the construction work.  The F¸hrer assured Speer that he proposed to start work on this huge reconstruction of Berlin before the war was over—no war was going to keep him from putting these plans into effect.

While he was in Berlin, on November 27, Hitler learned that the protracted talks between Japan and the United States had broken down.  He had a private meeting with the Japanese ambassador, General Oshima, who tried unsuccessfully to warn him of what was coming ;  two weeks later Hitler admitted to his military staff that he should have paid closer attention to the cautious hints that Oshima dropped.  Unlike Ribbentrop, who wanted the Japanese to strike northward into Russia, Hitler preferred that they should thrust southward to embarrass the British.  He felt that attacking Vladivostok would not help now, as he considered “Barbarossa” all but over.  Indeed, at the end of October Hitler had been against any Japanese involvement, as this would have made the peace settlement more complicated.  Militarily, Japan was an unknown quantity.  Her population was bigger than Germany’s, so she could raise perhaps 120 divisions ;  but the world knew nothing of any Japanese tank, aircraft, or warship capabilities.

The United States was also evidently having second thoughts about fighting a war in Europe.  Several American destroyers and merchant vessels had recently been sunk by U-boats, but Roosevelt had shown little firm reaction.  The German foreign ministry answered General Halder’s inquiry about whether Roosevelt was likely to declare war with a decisive negative.  As late as December 6, Hitler would be shown dispatches from Hans Thomsen, his charge d’affaires in Washington, listing the reasons why the United States would not declare war yet.  This firm suggestion that Roosevelt—alarmed at the Soviet Union’s imminent collapse—now wanted to avoid armed conflict until his rearmament was ready, persuaded Hitler that war between the United States and Japan might serve his purposes after all :  it would tie this powerful enemy down in the Pacific at least throughout 1942, which would give him time to realize his own ambitions in Russia.  Admiral Raeder and the hard-pressed U-boat commanders in the Atlantic would certainly welcome such a showdown.

As Hitler’s policy toward the United States swung around during November 1941, so did that of Japan as hopes dwindled in Tokyo that Roosevelt would relax the oil and economic sanctions imposed on Japan.  The German attachÈs in Tokyo both warned Berlin that Japan would enter the war before the year was out.  Indeed, the naval attachÈ cabled on November 5 that a senior Japanese naval officer had advised him that “the government has as good as made up its mind to fight America.  The southern campaign will most probably begin this year.”  In due course Tokyo would approach Germany for a pact binding each country not to make a separate peace with the United States so long as the other was still fighting.  Sure enough, such a request was received by Ribbentrop on the eighteenth ;  he agreed “in principle,” fearing that otherwise Japan might reach a compromise with the United States.  For the next week the reports reaching Hitler were conflicting.

Then on November 28 he received one from Hans Thomsen in Washington reporting that Cordell Hull had handed to the Japanese what amounted to an ultimatum which “is bound to result in the immediate breakdown of the talks.”  The Americans demanded a nonaggression treaty, the evacuation of Indochina, and Japan’s withdrawal from the Axis.  Hitler discussed the implications of this with his political and military advisers at the Chancellery late that day, then sent Ribbentrop to inform the startled General Oshima—startled, for the ambassador himself was unaware the Japanese-American talks had collapsed—that if Japan did reach a decision to fight “Britain and the United States,” they must not hesitate, as it would be in the Axis interests.  Oshima inquired in puzzlement whether he was to infer that Germany and the United States would soon be at war, and Ribbentrop replied, “Roosevelt’s a fanatic.  There’s no telling what he’ll do.”  Ribbentrop then gave the Japanese the assurance they had wanted :

If Japan becomes engaged in a war against the United States, Germany will of course join the war immediately.  There is no possibility whatever of Germany entering into a separate peace with the United States under such circumstances.  The F¸hrer is adamant on that point.

Even so, Ribbentrop does seem to have had doubts.  On the train carrying them both back to East Prussia the next day, November 29, he asked Hitler what Germany’s posture would be if Japan actually attacked the United States ;  the Tripartite Pact only obliged Germany to assist if Japan was the victim of an attack.  Hitler cast these diplomatic niceties aside ;  if Germany welshed on Japan in the event of Japan’s attacking the United States, it would be the end of the Tripartite Pact.  “The Americans are already shooting at us—so we are already at war with them.”

Some days passed before Hitler’s attention was again called to Japan, for he was virtually incommunicado—touring his army headquarters on the tottering eastern front.  Only then was he shown the latest telegram from Tokyo, reporting Roosevelt’s ultimatum to Japan ;  the Japanese had assured the German ambassador they would honor Germany’s interests, and they again asked for Germany and Italy to stand at her side under the Tripartite Pact.  In fact the secret instructions to Ambassador Oshima in Berlin were couched in even plainer terms :  he was to inform Hitler and Ribbentrop confidentially that war between Japan and the Anglo-Saxon powers might be ignited “quicker than anybody dreams”;  and he was to propose an agreement binding Germany and Italy to join in too.

Oshima saw Ribbentrop forthwith, on December 2, and again the next day ;  but the Nazi foreign minister had to prevaricate because he still could not reach the F¸hrer.  By scrambler-telephone he evidently managed this late on December 4.  That night Rome was asked to approve the German counterproposal for an agreement, and at 4 A.M. Ribbentrop handed Oshima the agreed text of a German-Italian-Japanese treaty.  This more than met Japan’s requirements.  It did not even ask for Japanese intervention against Russia as the price.  “Our view,” Ribbentrop cabled his man in Tokyo, “is that the Axis powers and Japan regard themselves as locked in one historic struggle.”

Neither he nor Hitler realized that Japanese aircraft carriers had already sailed with war orders ten days before.

Hitler’s eyes were of course elsewhere.  As winter closed in, barbarous fighting erupted everywhere on the Russian front, where the army’s all-out assault on Moscow was beginning.  The fighting was of unexampled savagery.  On both sides, prisoners were frequently shot out of hand—the Spanish “Blue Division” took the fewest prisoners.  Villages were starved to feed the Germans and razed to the ground to deprive the Russians of cover ;  and warm clothing was stripped off captives.  A captured Russian battalion commander related what happened to three Waffen SS soldiers in his area :  “When the regiment’s commissar, Zhukenin, of the 508th Infantry Regiment, asked an officer what he was fighting for, he replied, ‘For Hitler !’  So the commissar kicked him in the groin and shot him.”  The other two shared his fate.  A captured Russian order stated that only three prisoners were to be taken in an infantry division’s coming attack ;  the rest were to be slain.  Meanwhile autopsy reports revealed that Russian troops defending the beleaguered Leningrad had resorted to nature’s most primitive crime—cannibalism.  German corpses found behind the Russian lines lacked parts of their bodies, although the uniforms nearby were undamaged.

The cruel Russian winter fell equally on the opposing armies, but it was unequally felt.  Stalin’s troops were well-clad, skilled in winter warfare, with skis and equipment adapted to sub-zero temperatures ;  they were also fighting close to their industrial base.  Not so Hitler’s armies.  While the Luftwaffe and SS were more adequately provided, the German army’s meager winter supplies were still bottled up by the chaotic railroad system at Minsk and Smolensk far to the rear.  Different and feuding railroad authorities operated the networks in Germany, Poland, and occupied Russia.  German locomotives were not only the wrong gauge, but their external “gossamer” of plumbing and pipework made them easy prey for the sub-zero winters.  The retreating Russians had methodically wrecked the water towers, bridges, and railroad installations as well as the rolling stock.  In consequence, the supply of food, equipment, and ammunition to the entire eastern front suddenly choked to a halt.  Instead of seventeen supply trains a day, each army on the Leningrad front was lucky to get one ;  instead of eighteen, Guderian’s Second Panzer Army was getting only three.  It became apparent that the German railroads had unloaded their most infuriatingly feckless and inept staff members onto the Polish and Russian networks.

When at last winter clothing did reach the fighting troops, it was useless against the Russian winter.  Many weeks earlier Brauchitsch had paraded before Hitler a dozen soldiers outfitted with the army’s special new winter gear.  Only now did Hitler learn that those dozen outfits were all the army had.  The blame for this fraud lay squarely on the General Staff.  Meanwhile Hitler’s armies were trapped in blizzards and snowdrifts outside Moscow—and were slowly freezing to death.

The reverse suffered by the First Panzer Army on the Don at Rostov was a bitter pill for Hitler to swallow, because now an Intelligence report confirmed that his own original strategy—of conquering Russia’s southern petroleum oil fields first—was what the Soviets had feared most.  Marshal Timoshenko had just delivered a secret speech to the supreme defense council in Moscow :

So far, Timoshenko continued, Marshal SemÎn BudÎnny had had to wage a scorched-earth campaign and ignore his own colossal military casualties.  “This first phase of the war has been decisively won by us, however much a glance at the map may give the public a different impression.”  The Red Army’s task now was to throw the Germans back just far enough to destroy the caches of tanks and ammunition it had built up for the Caucasus offensive.  This would win a few precious months for new Soviet armies to be raised, for Britain’s General Archibald Wavell to establish his Caucasus front in Iraq and Iran, for the evacuated Soviet factories to resume production, and for the American supplies to start to flow.

How Hitler must have cursed the General Staff for having foisted its Moscow campaign on to him.  With winter upon him, he had no option but to see it through, although the armies’ reserves were at an end and the physical conditions were brutal in the extreme.  How far the army faithfully called his attention to these adverse conditions is controversial even now.  The two army group commanders, Bock and Rundstedt, believed that Hitler was not being told the blunt facts ;  so did Kleist’s Chief of Staff Zeitzler.  Guderian—commanding the Second Panzer Army south of Moscow—blamed his immediate superiors too.  “We must face the melancholy fact,” he wrote privately, “that our superior command has overreached itself ;  it didn’t want to believe our reports on the dwindling combat strength of our troops, it made one fresh demand after another, it made no provision for the harsh winter, and now it’s been taken by surprise by the Russian temperatures of -30†F. . . . While the Luftwaffe is methodically commanded, we in the army have to put up with horrifying bungling and aimlessness.”

This lack of Zivilcourage was first brought home to Hitler by the immediate sequel to the loss of Rostov.  First, the city proved far larger than shown on the General Staffs maps.  Second, Kleist’s frantic warnings about his panzer army’s long exposed left flank and the severe icing conditions were withheld from Hitler.  When Kleist was forced to withdraw his spearhead—intending to fall back on the Mius, which had been adequately prepared for a long defense—Hitler had on November 30 vetoed this :  Rundstedt, the army group commander, was to order Kleist to defend a line five miles forward of the Mius.  In the course of the evening, Brauchitsch received Rundstedt’s uncompromising reply refusing to carry out what he evidently believed to be only Brauchitsch’s order.  “If my superiors have no faith in my leadership, I must ask to be replaced as Commander in Chief.”  Hitler sacked Rundstedt that same night, replacing him with Reichenau ;  the newcomer was ordered categorically to halt the panzer army’s retreat.

Hitler backed this order with a personal visit to Kleist’s battle headquarters at Mariupol (Zhdanov), on the Sea of Azov.  He took no General Staff officers with him just his adjutants.  He had intended sacking both Kleist and Zeitzler, but SS General Sepp Dietrich, whose SS Life Guards Division had been in the thick of the fighting, pluckily defended his superiors ;  and Schmundt told Hitler that Zeitzler had now shown him copies of the panzer army’s frantic signals before the Rostov operation.  These messages had accurately predicted this very outcome.  Hitler was astonished that they had been withheld from him.  He exclaimed, “So the panzer army saw it all coming and reported to that effect.  It bears none of the blame, then.”  He telephoned Jodl’s staff in this vein on December 3 :  Kleist’s panzer army bore none of the blame for the Rostov crisis.  “It reported to the army group as early as November 21 and 22 about its great anxiety over the threat to its eastern flank and the complete lack of any reserves.  Army Group South has moreover claimed that it forwarded details of this menacing situation to the war ministry.”  Clearly the messages had been suppressed by the General Staff.  Thus Hitler’s confidence in Rundstedt was restored—though characteristically of Hitler the dismissal remained in force.

The Rostov setback paled into insignificance against what now occurred at Moscow.  General Kluge’s powerful Fourth Army had begun its big push on December 1 through the forests and swamps west of the capital ;  Hoepner’s Fourth Panzer Army and Guderian’s Second Panzer Army began an enveloping action to the north and the south, respectively.  On December 2, through snowstorms and blizzards, a reconnaissance battalion of the 258th Infantry Division reached Khimki, on the very outskirts of Moscow ;  but it was driven back by armed Russian workers.  Thus German troops came within twelve miles of the city center before exhaustion overcame them.

This was the German army’s trauma.  Moscow was being evacuated ;  its streets and public buildings were being mined for demolition.  Yet by December 4, with temperatures of -6ƒF., both Hoepner’s tanks and Kluge’s infantry were at a standstill.  Guderian, visiting the battlefield, found his tank crews still optimistic, while their corps and division commanders were not.  But Field Marshal von Bock warned the OKW by telephone that his troops would soon be able to proceed no farther.  “If the attack is not called off until then,” he warned Jodl, “it will be almost impossible to go over to the defensive.”  On the fifth, Guderian—up at the forefront of his army with the 296th Infantry Division—realized that his own attack was hopeless too.  His Chief of Staff recorded in his diary :  “Twenty-five degrees below zero this morning.  Tank turrets frozen solid, frostbite taking heavy toll, artillery fire has become irregular as gunpowder evidently burns differently.”  As the hours passed, the temperature sagged to thirty-five degrees below zero.  “Our troops no longer had the strength to carry the attack victoriously through to Moscow,” Guderian described privately on the eighth.  “And so with a heavy heart I had to decide late on December 5 to call off the now pointless attack and fall back on a relatively short line I had already chosen earlier, which I can just about hope to hold with my remaining forces.... Fortunately we have been able to hang on to our fine tanks—at least insofar as they they are still running.”

On December 5, as Hitler’s offensive slued to a halt, four Soviet armies opened their counterattack north of Moscow.  Next day ten more armies—one hundred divisions—fell upon Bock’s exhausted and frozen troops on a two hundred-mile front on either side of Moscow.  Thus the real emergency began.  The Luftwaffe was grounded.  Gasoline fires had to be lit in pits under their tanks for four hours to thaw out the engines.  The telescopic gunsights were useless, and every caliber of gun and cannon jammed.  The oil congealed in the tank tracks.  The Russians used special winter oils and lubrication techniques, and now their formidable T-34 tank appeared en masse, with its armor impregnable to the standard German 37-millimeter antitank shell.  “From the depths of Russia, undreamed-of masses of humanity were hurled against us,” recalled an OKW staff officer.  “I can still see the situation maps of the next days and weeks :  where until now the blue of our own forces had dominated the picture, with the enemy’s red only sparsely sketched in, now from Leningrad right down to the Sea of Azov thick red arrows had sprung up on every sector of the front, pointing at the heart of Germany.  Only thin blue lines wound their tortuous way around this broad-arrowed onslaught.”

Meanwhile the paraphernalia of modern war accumulated by the Wehrmacht in its seven years of preparation for this moment congealed into frozen impotence, paralyzed by the icy grip of a sub-Napoleonic winter.  If battle casualties were not dragged under cover, they were dead within half an hour from exposure.  Guderian lost twelve hundred men to frostbite in one division in one day.  On the ninth, one corps reported fifteen hundred cases ;  three hundred fifty men had to have limbs amputated.  Eleven hundred army horses perished every day.

“In wave after wave of densely packed soldiers, the enemy offensive rolled across the snowscape toward us.  Our machine guns hammered away at them without letup, you could not hear yourself speak.  Like a dark and somber carpet a layer of dead and dying stretched across the snow in front of us, but still the masses of humanity came on at us, closer and closer, seemingly inexhaustible.  Only when they came within hand-grenade range of us did the last of these attacking Russians fall to our machine guns.  And then, as our gunners began to breathe again, there was a fresh stir in the distance, a broad dark line on the horizon, and it all began again.”  Thus a German officer described the rearguard actions north of Moscow.

Even a healthy commander would have quailed inwardly before such an onslaught.  But Field Marshal von Brauchitsch was already a sick man :  he had suffered heart attacks in November, and the tongue lashing to which Hitler had recently subjected him had not aided his convalescence.  On December 6, as the great Russian offensive began, he tendered his resignation to Hitler.  He must have known that he would otherwise be made the scapegoat.  Hitler stalked up and down the room for ten minutes without answering ;  then he replied that he could not agree to any change at this moment.  Brauchitsch left the room without a word.

From the Russian front came the ominous sounds of an impending avalanche.  But even Hitler now saw that Brauchitsch was a sick and exhausted man.  Who could replace him ?  The names of Manstein and Kesselring were whispered to him.  Colonel Rudolf Schmundt persuasively urged Hitler to become his own army Commander in Chief, issuing orders directly through Halder to the army.  Hitler said he would think it over.  In fact he had already begun to act the role—or rehearse it :  by early December 7 it was obvious that the corps holding the embattled salient at Tikhvin despite blizzards and catastrophic losses was in danger of being encircled.  Hitler decided to abandon the city, which was largely gutted and ruined anyway, and confirmed this in a direct telephone conversation with Leeb, commander of Army Group North, at 7:04 P.M.  He did not consult Brauchitsch at all.  Halder sorrowfully wrote in his diary :  “Today’s events are again stunning and shameful.  The Commander in Chief [Brauchitsch] is barely even used as postman now.  The F¸hrer deals over his head with the army group commanders direct.  The terrible thing is, however, that the High Command does not grasp the condition our troops are in, and is relying on patchwork operations where only bold decisions can be of use.”

Yet the High Command—and that meant Hitler—was all too aware of Germany’s precarious position now that her offensives had been halted.  The uneasiness of the German people was as nothing compared with Hitler’s own private nightmare, for only in him were all the threads of foreign Intelligence and strategic decisions combined.  As the usual faces gathered in his bunker after dinner that Sunday evening, December 7—the women secretaries, Bormann’s adjutant Heim, a doctor, and Walther Hewel—Hitler reflected that the emergency collection of warm winter clothing now beginning throughout Germany on behalf of the troops on the eastern front was an admission of bad planning intelligible to even his most loyal followers.

Toward midnight the buzz of conversation was stilled as Heinz Lorenz, a press officer, burst in.  An American radio station had just announced a surprise Japanese air attack on the U.S. fleet in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.  Japan was at war with Britain and the United States. It was so unexpected—Hitler’s immediate reaction was to slap his thighs in delight and joyously proclaim, “The turning point !”  Then he bounced out of the bunker and ran through the icy darkness to show the news bulletin to Keitel and Jodl.  To Hewel, Hitler rejoiced :  “Now it is impossible for us to lose the war :  we now have an ally who has never been vanquished in three thousand years, and another ally”—he added, paraphrasing a remark Napoleon had also made about the Italians, a remark which he had read in Talleyrand and which had been drifting around his magpie memory ever since—“who has constantly been vanquished but has always ended up on the right side.”(1)

In Berlin, the Japanese ambassador was calling on Ribbentrop.  Ribbentrop assured him that Germany and Italy would immediately declare war on the United States too.  In fact, Hitler took two days over this decision (the records give no indication of a reason).  Meantime the news of Japan’s triumph hardened.  In a carbon copy of the Japanese attack on the Russians at Port Arthur in 1904,(2) torpedo planes had sunk five battleships and badly damaged three more at Pearl Harbor ;  air bases in the Philippines had been bombed, and the northeastern corner of Malaya had been invaded at Kota Bharu.  The British battleships Prince of Wales and Repulse were sent to combat the invasion and sunk two days later by Japanese aircraft.

Hitler issued to the admiralty orders that German submarines and warships might forthwith open fire on American ships as and where they met them ;  and before he left for Berlin on the evening of the eighth, he discussed at length with his staff how best to declare war on the United States so as to make a good impression on his own people.  That he would declare war was a foregone conclusion ;  not even G–ring, Hitler’s second man, was consulted on that point.  In Washington the mood was reported to be grave ;  public opinion was consoled with the bromide that the United States had not yet lost a war, but late on the eighth, the west coast of the United States was panicked by a false air raid warning, followed the next noon by an alert on the Atlantic seabord, with warnings broadcast on the radio that German bomber squadrons were approaching !  Hitler scoffed some weeks later, “Roosevelt declares war”—presumably meaning the covert shoot-on-sight phase existing since September—“and thereupon not only allows himself to be thrown out of East Asia wholly unprepared, but lets his merchant shipping ply peacefully back and forth along the American coast for us to pick off like sitting ducks.  He drives pell-mell out of Washington because of air raid dangers, onto his estate, then back to Washington.... He makes his whole country hysterical, the way he goes on.”

Hitler arrived in Berlin with Keitel, Jodl, Schmundt, and other members of his staff at 11 A.M. on December 9.  The German chargÈ in Washington had now confirmed that Roosevelt was unlikely to demand war with Germany and Italy under the circumstances, unless he felt it necessary to beat Hitler and Mussolini to such a declaration for reasons of personal prestige ;  Roosevelt would do all he could to avoid open war in the Atlantic, a war on two fronts.  To Hitler, however, this was the delicious moment when he could deliver to that “lout” Roosevelt the public smack in the eye he deserved.  Late on the ninth the Washington embassy was instructed to burn its secret files and code books.  Hitler began to prepare a speech for the Reichstag ;  the foreign ministry furnished him with a list of all Roosevelt’s violations of neutrality.

Shortly after 2 P.M. on the eleventh Ribbentrop read out Germany’s declaration of war to the American chargÈ in Berlin :  now President Roosevelt had the war he had been asking for, Ribbentrop concluded.

There was little to distinguish Hitler’s Reichstag speech that afternoon :  he referred to the Chicago Tribune, which had recently published “war plans” revealing Roosevelt’s intention of invading Europe in 1943, and he read out the text of the agreement just signed with Japan.  Yet deep within, instinct was warning the F¸hrer that he ought not to be welcoming the events that must now unfold.  Major von Below, his Luftwaffe adjutant, who had met him at the railroad station in Berlin, found him uneasy about the long-term effects of Pearl Harbor.  Ribbentrop also professed (later) to have been distraught at the manner in which the Tripartite Pact, made to keep the United States out of the war, had now brought her into direct confrontation with the Reich.  But neither he nor Hitler raised any obstacles to the military covenant drafted by the Japanese and dividing the world into operational zones :  west of the meridian of 70 degrees east, Germany and Italy would operate ;  all the world east of that line, including British India, would fall to Japan.  Only this, the German leaders reasoned, would bring Japan into a sharp and prolonged conflict with Britain and exclude any possibility of a separate peace.

Despite the strategic benefits—Japan’s advance on Singapore and Australia would force Britain to withdraw Indian and Anzac forces, particularly from the Mediterranean, and the United States would have to cut back her arms supplies to Britain and the Soviet Union—Hitler was heard to mutter, “I never wanted things to turn out like this.  Now they”—meaning the British—“will lose Singapore !”  It was after he had returned to the Wolf’s Lair, with the “Barbarossa” campaign on the brink of its first winter crisis, that he made to Walther Hewel the remark that has already been reported :  “ How strange that with Japan’s aid we are destroying the positions of the white race in the Far East—and that Britain is fighting against Europe with those swine the Bolsheviks !”  His foreign minister soberly warned him :  “We have just one year to cut off Russia from her American supplies arriving via Murmansk and the Persian Gulf ;  Japan must take care of Vladivostok.  If we don’t succeed and the munitions potential of the United States joins up with the manpower potential of the Russians, the war will enter a phase in which we shall only be able to win it with difficulty.”  To this Hitler made no reply.

1 Napoleon had said, “ The Italians have never yet ended a war on the same side as they started it—except when they changed sides twice.”

2 Liddell Hart effectively quoted the 1904 Times on the Port Arthur attack :  “ The Russian squadron was open to, and invited attack.  The invitation has been accepted with a promptness and punctuality that do high honor to the navy of our gallant allies,” i.e., the Japanese.  (History of the Second World War, London, 1970.)


p. 337   Erich Hoepner’s critique of October 16, 1941, is in his papers (N51/2).

p. 338   Hassell’s dealings are mentioned in his diary, September 20 and October 4, 1941.  The correspondence between Heydrich, Ribbentrop, Himmler, and Hitler’s staff (T175/125/0248 et seq.) disprove Dr. Hedwig Maier’s theory that Himmler conspiratorially kept his knowledge of such dealings to himself (VJZ, 1966, pages 302 et seq.)

p. 340   In a telephone conversation with General Greiffenberg, Chief of Staff of Army Group Center, Halder expressed the following beliefs :  “The Russians will try and hang on to the Moscow area as long as possible.  This area—which is excellently linked with the Asiatic power sources—can be regarded as the bridgehead of Asiatic Russia in Europe. ... In contrast to this, the possession of the Caucasus is not strategically necessary for the Russians and they can replace the oil fields they’ll lose there by other adequate sources in the Urals and Asia.  Their defense of Caucasus serves more of a negative purpose—to keep Germany out of the energy sources we so desperately need” (war diary of Army Group Center).

p. 341   Todt’s private meeting with Hitler on November 29, 1941—immediately before the one mentioned on page 342—was also attended by the tank specialist Dr. Walter Rohland, who made available to me his pocket diary and unpublished manuscript memoirs.

p. 341   Notes on Hitler’s tank-design symposia in February, May, and November 1941 are—with related correspondence—in the OKW war diary, Vol. I, and microfilm T77/17 ;  I also used Todt’s notebooks and the postwar testimony of Saur, his deputy (FD-3049/49).

p. 342   Milch’s documents prove that the Luftwaffe “cold-start” technique—whereby basically a little gasoline was added to the engine oil while still warm to thin it ready for the next morning—was demonstrated to army liaison officers by Udet at Rechlin in Hitler’s presence on July 6, 1939 (MD56/2678).  Halder’s diary shows that on December 6, 1941, Hitler advised the army to investigate the “Udet” cold-start technique, which was probably that described.

p. 343   Ribbentrop’s full speech will be found in the BA’s Reich Chancellery file R4311/606.  Under interrogation (August 29, 1945) he stated that Hitler gave him express permission to make this reply to the—very shrewd—British propaganda motif that Ribbentrop had misinformed the F¸hrer.  For a recent—and surprisingly well-researched—examination of the origins of that canard see his widow’s book Die Kriegsschuld des Widerstandes (Stamberg, 1974).  In fact Ribbentrop warned Hitler in writing in his last report as ambassador in London that the British would be Germany’s “deadliest enemies” and would stop at nothing to join war with her ;  this report, A 5522 of December 28, 1937, was allegedly “not found” by the Allied editors of the published German documents.  (I found it in the Library of the British FO—where one would have expected to find it.)  I have placed copies in the German AA library and the IfZ archives.

p. 343   Hewel later showed Hitler the AA’s intercept of Ciano’s coded telegram reporting their interview.  According to Koeppen’s note, Ciano and his entourage ate with Hitler and Ribbentrop alone.  “The individual members of the F¸hrer’s HQ made virtually no attempt to conceal their dislike of him [Ciano].”

p. 344   On October 21, 1941, Marshal PÈtain had written to Hitler reminding him of his offer at Montoire, adding :  “The victory of your arms over bolshevism now gives even greater cause than there was one year ago to cooperate on peaceful works for the greatness of a changed Europe” (T77/851/5971).

p. 344   On the employment of Russian prisoners in German industry, see Milch’s diary and G–ring’s conference of November 7, 1941 (1193-PS), and Speer’s unpublished office chronicle, November 21 and 29.  Despite opposition from the army—who could not handle the task—from the food minister, DarrÈ, and from the Party, who feared Bolshevik contamination of Germany, Hitler insisted on the immediate employment and proper nutrition of the Russian prisoners.  In this Fritz Sauckel, whom he appointed manpower commissioner in March 1942, supported him, as did Dr. Herbert Backe, DarrÈ’s numbertwo man.  On March 22, Albert Speer recorded the F¸hrer’s categorical order :  “The Russians are to receive absolutely adequate nutrition and Sauckel is to ensure that the food is provided by Backe.”  Moreover :  “The F¸hrer is surprised that the Russian civilians are still being treated like prisoners of war behind barbed wire.  I [Speer] explain that this results from an order he issued.  The F¸hrer is aware of no such order.”  Hitler’s attitude is confirmed by Frau Backe’s private diary :  on April 11 she summarized Backe’s many conferences with Sauckel on the injection of one million Russians into the German arms industry.  Hitler had told Sauckel, “Go to Backe first—it all depends on whether he can agree to feed them.”  Herbert Backe assured Sauckel the Russians would get “normal rations.”  “At the next conference Sauckel thanked Herbert for his help.  Herbert’s opinion tallies exactly with the F¸hrer’s, he said.  Then he announced that he wants to import five hundred thousand foreign girls as home helps !  Herbert was shocked at this and wouldn’t quiet down all day because of it—how can such a thing be planned as though the F¸hrer seriously desires it ?”

p. 345   Unknown to Hitler, the German military attachÈ in Washington, General Friedrich von Boetticher, took pains to suppress any evidence that his theory that war with Japan would make it impossible for Roosevelt to intervene in Europe was wrong.

p. 346   My text is translated from Oshima’s Japanese telegram to Tokyo—which was, significantly, intercepted by American cryptanalysts (ND, D-656).  The German record describes Ribbentrop’s remarks to Oshima even more clearly :  “He didn’t believe that Japan would avoid the conflict with America, and the situation could hardly be more favorable to the Japanese than now.  He [Ribbentrop] thought they should exploit it now, while they were so strong” (T120/6o6/0025 et seq.).

p. 346   Baron von Weizs”cker summarized in his diary on December 6, 1941 :  “For four or five days now the Japanese have been afraid they will scarcely avoid their clash with the U.S.A.  The Japanese navy has stepped up the pressure, for seasonal reasons.  We have been asked if we’d be willing if need be to bind ourselves not to sign an armistice or peace without Japan’s consent with the U.S.A. and Britain, and in the event of war with the U.S.A. breaking out to regard ourselves as at war with the U.S.A. as well.  In my view we can’t say No, but on the second count we must demand reciprocity.  This is the line our negotiations have been taking.  Today we’ll probably reach agreement.”

p. 347   Autopsy reports revealing that Waffen SS troops killed in battle had been partially eaten by the Russians will be found in the unpublished files of SS division Nord (annexes to war diary, T175/120/5322 et seq.).  On several occasions Hitler referred in private to Russian cannibalism—e.g., to the new Croat envoy Budak on February 14, 1942 (“hundreds of bones and bits of human body” were found after a long siege of a Russian unit was ended), in Table Talk on the evening of April 5, to Goebbels (diary of April 21 and 26), and to the Belgian Fascist Anton Mussert (remarking on the “big stocks of human flesh” found on Russian prisoners of war) on December 10, 1942 (BA file NS-19/neu 1556).

p. 348   Timoshenko’s secret speech was reported by the German military attachÈ in Berne (First Panzer Army, war diary, annex, N63/53).  Timoshenko commanded the Soviet Southwest Front (i.e., army group) from mid-September 1941, and was a member of the Soviet supreme command, the Stavka.  G–ring mentioned this speech to Mussolini on January 28, and Hitler to Antonescu on February 11, 1942.

p. 349   My version of events at Rundstedt’s HQ is based on the diaries of Halder, Richthofen, Waldau, and Bock ;  the war diaries of Army Group South and the First Panzer Army ;  and an OKW note of December 3, 1941, as well as on postwar interrogations.

p. 349   The crisis in the Battle of Moscow :  I used the diaries of Bock, Waldau, Richthofen, Halder, and Hewel ;  the war diaries of Army Group Center and the Second Panzer Army ;  interrogations of Guderian, Heusinger, Brauchitsch ;  G. Blumentritt’s study of the Fourth Army’s role in WR, 1954, pages 105 et seq, and especially Klaus Reinhard, Die Wende vor Moskau (Stuttgart, 1972).  Guderian’s son also supplied me with letters of his father, and diary extracts of General Liebenstein, his father’s Chief of Staff, and of Lieutenant Joachim von Lehsten, Guderian’s aide-de-camp.

p. 351   The Soviet counteroffensives opening on December 5-6, 1941, clearly accelerated Brauchitsch’s decision to resign.  On the 4th his chief staff officer, Colonel Gyldenfeldt, wrote in his diary :  “With utter candor he has admitted that he just can’t go on any longer, particularly since he feels completely incapable of holding his own in discussions with the F¸hrer.  Therefore he intends to lake the necessary measures to wind up the eastern campaign, which must be regarded as not won, and to take responsibility for this ;  then he’ll ask the F¸hrer to relieve him of his post.”  See too Halder’s testimony in the OKW Trial at Nuremberg, page 1891, and the recollections of Siewert, Engel, and Frau von Brauchitsch.