As Chief of the Army General Staff Franz Halder, far right, had been at the side of Hitler during the planning of all the Wehrmacht operations until 1942.

The deteriorating relationship between Hitler and his Generals came to a culmination on the 24th September when he sacked his Chief of Staff, Franz Halder. The reality that the objective for 1942, the oilfields of Russia, was not going to be achieved, was sinking in. Deep down their must have been a realisation that the war was looking increasingly unwinnable. The Soviet state had not collapsed when they ‘kicked in the door’ in 1941 and their was every sign that the Russian resistance had been stiffening throughout 1942.

Hitler’s belief that an ‘unconquerable will’ would be sufficient to ensure a German victory was increasingly at odds with the military facts. As a professional soldier Franz Halder was the man who was responsible for presenting Hitler with these unpalatable facts.

Halder’s diary was largely confined to military matters and he only made limited comment on his relationship with Hitler:

24th September 1942

After situation conference, farewell by the Fuehrer: My nerves are worn out, also his nerves are no longer fresh. We must part. “Necessity for educating the General Staffs in fanatical faith in the Idea.” He is determined to enforce his will also in the Army.

Only recently Halder had recorded the statistics for casualties since the launch of Operation Barbarossa in June 1941.

Casualties: 22 June, 1941 – 10 September 1942 in the East:

Killed : 336,349 including 12,385 Officers

Wounded : 1,226,941 including 34,525 Officers

Missing : 75,990 including 1,056 Officers

Total : 1,637,280 including 47,966 Officers

It was bad enough, but it was just the beginning.

Halder was to finish the war in a concentration camp after being suspected of involvement in the July 1944 bomb plot.

The Halder Diaries can be found online.

A portrait of Franz Halder from 1938. He came from a traditional Prussian military background and stood apart from the Nazis.





Japanese treatment of attempted escapees

23rd September 1942: Japanese treatment of attempted escapees

The amazing thing was the ability of the three men to stay alive, if indeed they were still alive at the end of the second day of this treatment — they were battered beyond recognition, with the ear of one prisoner hanging down to his shoulder. I think we all prayed for the men during this ordeal. I know I did. And I am sure all of us said a prayer of relief when the Japanese finally cut the men down and took them away for execution. Two of the men were shot. The third was beheaded.




A Romanian officer arrives in Russia

22nd September 1942: A Romanian officer in Russia

In the station there was another German train of a Caucasian battalion. We were astonished to see these men in German uniform and we could not understand them because of their Kirghizian dialect. All officers were Caucasians but battalion’s commander who was German. These were volunteers previously captured by the Germans and that offered to fight against the Bolsheviks. After a training session of several months they were sent to front.




A work party leaves Auschwitz for Buna

21st September 1942: A work party leaves Auschwitz for Buna

The summer sun scorched the back of my neck. The alsatian trotting beside me was panting. A man reeled from the ranks, fell and had the top of his head blown off by an S.S. man who did not even bother to stop as he fired. Farther up the line a man ran wildly into the road and was bowled over by a burst of machine gun fire. The S.S. were kicking the kapos now and all the time they were shouting: “Faster, you bastards! We’re late! We’re late!”




Operation Musketoon – Commando raid on Glomfjord

20th September 1942: Operation Musketoon – Commando attack on Glomfjord power station

After the operation, which took place successfully on the night of 20th September, we climbed up to the huts behind Glomfjord power station. Captain Black then told the rest of us to climb the hill as best we could and get away. We divided into two parties, Smith, O’Brien, Christiansen (Granlund), Fairclough and Trigg going up to the right and the others to the left. However Captain Black called Smith back to administer morphia to a man who had been wounded.




An Officer adjusts to life in the Desert

19th September 1942: An Officer adjusts to life in the Desert

As in other things military, the Australians were very unorthodox in their patrolling methods. They hardly bothered about compasses but went from point to point by means of battle landmarks, utilising everything from broken-down tanks to unburied corpses. One company had a skeleton whom they affectionately called ” Cuthbert,” who was propped up with his arm pointing to the gap in our minefield.




The fight for the Stalingrad grain elevator

18th September 1942: The fight for the Stalingrad grain elevator

Soon after that enemy tanks and infantry about ten times our strength attacked from south and west. After the first attack was beaten back a second began, then a third, and all the while a reconnaissance plane circled over us. It corrected the fire and reported our position. Ten attacks were beaten offjust on September 18th




Bomber Command steps up the attack

17th September 1942: Bomber Command steps up the attack

As the aircraft crossed into Reich territory, air raid alarms were given for vast areas, sending people down into the shelters for hours at a time. This brought a damaging loss of production, particularly serious for the armaments industry, in its train. Quite apart from the damage and casualties inflicted by the bombing itself, these alarms imposed a great strain on people.




The Battle for Voronezh continues

16th September 1942: The Battle for Voronezh continues

The one thing that we are unable to get used to though, is the nasty flies. They are drawn to all the dying corpses under the rubble, and have multiplied to form large swarms too countless to grasp. Birds are also circling over the battlefield; thou- sands of crows screech above the ruins and fields of death. Again and again, they dive into the depths of the rubble when they see the horrific harvest of death.




The launch of Operation Muskatoon

15th September 1942: The launch of Operation Muskatoon

At 2115 we surfaced to disembark the commando team, but encountered a few problems blowing up the two inflatables, for it was cold out there and the compressed air air lost pressure. Some buckets of hot water sorted that out, There was calm all around us and the silence was broken by the barking of dogs, the familiar sounds of the countryside and even the ringing of bicycle bells. The wind brought the scent of the pine forests to us: it was so serene.