The gloom that descended upon the troops within Stalingrad, as they realised that there was to be no escape, was echoed at Hitler’s HQ. The Chief of Staff Zeitzler even put himself on the ‘same’ rations as the average soldier within the ‘Kessel’ or cauldron. They were now on two slices of thin bread and a little tinned meat, with watery soup if they were lucky. He did not have to resort to partially decomposed horse meat dug up from below the snow as some men were now doing, as starvation began to get a grip.
Reports were filtering in of incompetence in the delivery of supplies into the besieged city, two planes had apparently arrived with four tons of spices. Perhaps someone thought it would go with the horse meat. The flight in and out was becoming ever more hazardous as the weather worsened and the Soviet Air Force concentrated their efforts on cutting off Stalingrad as completely as possible. The sacrifices made by the Luftwaffe still did not bring in anything like what was needed.
Gerhard Engel, Hitlers Army adjutant, was quietly watching from the sideline:
28 December 1942
Here deepest depression. Nearly everybody had been hoping against hope that P. [Paulus] would take the risk and try to break out against his orders. He could have got out with the bulk of the men, albeit at a high cost in material.
This evening Jodl spoke very seriously and one could see that even he was counting on Paulus acting independently. (Same view) definitely Chief of the General Staff and the Army Group. Nobody knows what should be done next at Stalingrad.
F. [Fuhrer] very quiet and is almost never seen except at daily situation conference and to receive reports. What worries us most is that apparently discord rules within the encirclement and [Paulus] does not know how to proceed. In addition, air supply is getting worse.
Christian reported again that in his opinion air drop not realistic. F. argued that this was only a question of rationalisation: if rubbish was being flown in then that was so. One should get exporters to plan the job instead of lack-lustre administrative or General Staff officers.Concentrates had to be got in, they were available and he would see to it personally.