Hitler trusts Goering to supply Stalingrad by air

In the winter of 1941-1942 the Luftwaffe had managed to maintain supplies to the Demjansk pocket despite treacherous flying conditions. Now Goering was promising that they could do it all again – but this time for the whole of the 6th Army trapped in Stalingrad.

Stalingrad was now surrounded. Around 250,000 German troops were now isolated in the city, together with around 10,000 civilians and several thousand Russian Prisoners of War. The weather could only be expected to get worse.

The city was already invested with political and symbolic significance for both sides. Hitler had declared in September 1942 that he would never leave the city. Now he faced the decision as to whether the besieged men should attempt to break out – or whether they could hold out until a corridor could be forced through the Soviet lines to reach them.

Controversy continues to this day about how this decision was reached. One perspective comes from a bystander who was present as the issue was discussed at Hitler’s headquarters.

25 November 1942

Major discussion about air supply for Stalingrad. Goering bound himself to supply Army. On the average one could manage 300 tonnes [illegible, might be 500 tonnes]. Everything would be thrown in, even the Ju 90s from the commercial runs.

Z. [Kurt Zeitzler, the new Chief of Staff ] was doubtful, thought that 300 [or 500] tonnes would not be enough. talked about the weather situation and losses. However, Reichsmarschall was enormously strong, said he would fly in any weather conditions. Demyansk and other cases had proved it possible.

We were horrified at his optimism, which is not shared even by Luftwaffe General Staff. F. [Fuhrer] was enthusiastic about the Reichsmarschall, who would deliver the goods as he had done in the past. There was no chicken-heartedness with him as there was in many Army circles.

From the diary of Major Gerhard Engel, see At the Heart of the Reich: The Secret Diary of Hitler’s Army Adjutant

Hermann Wilhelm Göring (or Goering) with Luftwaffe General Paul Conrath in 1942.

Adolf Hitler and Hermann Goering, (titles included Reichsmarschall, Oberbefehlshaber der Luftwaffe,Ministerpräsident von Preußen) went back a long way. Seen here in 1934, Goering was already indulging his love of elaborate uniforms.

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Andrew Shakespeare November 25, 2017 at 1:04 pm

In “Enemy at the Gates” (the book, not the movie, both of which are excellent),William Craig makes the point that 300 tonnes — which would barely have been adequate for defence, in any case, and woefully short of what would have been needed for any offensive action — was always logistically impossible.

Although it had been achieved on a couple of exceptional times, practice had shown that doing so consistently was out of the question, even in good flying conditions. Now the winter was closing in, there would be numerous days in which flying would be suicidally dangerous. In addition, the Soviets could be expected to turn Stalingrad into a forest of anti-aircraft guns, and the Luftwaffe’s ability to continue the supply would be steadily depleted.

The most tragic aspect is that the Germans’ best chance of escape would have been to try to break out before the Soviets had consolidated. Thanks to Goering’s criminally irresponsible delusions, coupled with Hitler’s ridiculous notions of resisting to the last man, they were ordered to stay put. Within a couple of days, the Soviets had completed their defences, and the Germans in the Stalingrad kessel were doomed.

davidkruger April 6, 2015 at 4:34 pm

The walk of evil. Birds ofa feather. Nava b4 in the history of mankind has evil walke so loud and proud. May we neva 4get these lessons.

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