Operation Thunderclap

Discussion in 'The Eastern Front' started by Thomas McCall, Apr 5, 2004.

  1. Thomas McCall

    Thomas McCall Senior Member

    With General Hoth 4th Panzer Army trying to battle it's way through the Soviet 2nd Guards Army in Operation Winter Storm, could the Sixth Army had tried Operation Thunderclap and broken out of the Kessel.

    The Sixth Army was suffering from shortages of food for the infantry and fuel for the few tanks that were left in the Kessel but if the Fuhrer had finally let Paulus attempt the breakout in Operation Thunderclap could it have succeded and linked up with Mansteins Army Group Don?
  2. Kiwiwriter

    Kiwiwriter Very Senior Member

    The later the 6th Army waited, the less chance it had. 6th Army was at the end of a fragile logistics chain in Stalingrad, with men consuming ammo and food almost as soon as it was delivered. There was no margin for error or waste. The Uranus offensive cut off 6th Army and eradicated much of its supply dumps, whacking their stocks down even further. If it was to save itself, it had to move quickly.

    One of the big problems it faced was that the boss, Lt. Gen. Friedrich Paulus, was physically and emotionally exhausted by November. Suffering from dysentery and fatigue, he was a fastidiously clean man, who had trouble coping with being unable to simply shower for weeks on end. Those conditions, combined with a head wound and his relative lack of imagination (he was a superb planner and staff officer, but lacked drive and charisma), froze him. He was overwhelmed by the magnitude of his situation.

    In addition, Paulus was uneasy about his war. His wife was Rumanian nobility and made no secret of her disdain for Hitler and his coarse, anti-Semitic crowd. She detested him and said so in her letters. One of the first things Paulus did on taking over 6th Army was put the brakes on the "Reichenau Order" of his predecessor, that authorized 6th Army men to murder Jews and Commissars. That went on anyway, but Paulus did not sanction such behavior.

    These factors were combined with the betarayal and idiotic decisions Hitler made, that affected the weary Paulus's thinking in that climactic winter. He believed Hitler's promises...and then for the first time since 1933, Hitler's promises to the Reich didn't come true. Paulus was devastated, and the best example of this came when he told a Luftwaffe inspector, "What can I do when a private comes up to me and begs me, 'Herr Generaloberst, may I have a piece of bread,' and I cannot give it to him?"

    He never saw his wife again.

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