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The sobering 80th anniversary of two major

      World War II turning points for Germany

         by Martin Ederer            end of the corridor open, became a                                                          nine in early March 1943 began to
               orld  War  II  specialists  key objective. A German-held Stal-                                                    turn  the  tide.  Rommel  was  pulled
               often  identify  major  ingrad was to prevent Soviet forces                                                       from the North African campaign.
       Wturning  points  of  the     from  crossing  the  Volga  from  the                                                       In  May  the  German-Italian  lines
       war.  Often  the  only  reason  why  East and cutting off German forces                                                   surrendered after the Battles of Tu-
       historians  consider  events  to  be  advancing south down the corridor                                                   nis and nearby Bizerta. The Allies
       turning points is that we know how  toward  the  Caucasus.  Defeat  of  a                                                 took 105,000 Italian prisoners and
       the  story  ends  –  a  luxury  usually  city named for Stalin also had psy-                                              170,000  German  prisoners.  The
       lacking for the people in the actual  chological value.                                                                   fact that more prisoners were taken
       thick  of  the  events.  Two  major  General Friedrich Paulus’ Sixth                                                      here than in Stalingrad earned the
       events  in  1943,  however,  left  no  Army began to seize Stalingrad in                                                  Battle of Tunis the sardonic name
       questions among those involved at  mid-August.  By  mid-September,                                                        of “Tunisgrad.”
       the  time  that  these  were  turning  German forces were in the city, but                                                  More  men  had  died  in  Stalin-
       points.                       so was Georgy Chuikov’s 62nd Ar-                                                            grad, but more prisoners had been
         The first was the German defeat  my – and they were not surrender-                                                      taken in North Africa. One of my
       at  Stalingrad,  which  ended  in  the  ing.  What  followed  was  urban                                                  father’s cousins assigned to the Af-
       destruction  of  Nazi  Germany’s  combat at its worst: street-to-street,                                                  rikakorps ended up a POW picking
       Sixth Army in February 1943. The  house-to-house,   apartment-to-  The centre of Stalingrad after liberation, February 1943.  peanuts in the state of Georgia for
       Battle of Stalingrad was the culmi-  apartment, bombed out factory-to-                                                    the rest of the war – near where my
       nation  of  renewed  hopes  for  Ger-  bombed out factory, sewer-to-sew-  vation, disease, mistreatment (or all  For most of the North African  father was assigned in the U.S. Ar-
       man  victory  in  1942  after  winter  er.                                                 campaign, Irwin Rommel’s Afrika-  my.  They  only  learned  that  many
                                                                    four) as they got marched off to the
       had  stalled  Germany’s  1941  inva-  By the end of September, Pau-  Gulag. If any ever made it home, it  korps was most successful at mas-  years later.
       sion  of  the  Soviet  Union.  Hitler  lus’ troops were already exhausted.                 tering the environment and supply  Both turning points were hugely
                                                                    was often as late as the 1960s.
       could  afford  to  remain  optimistic.  Hitler  demanded  that  they  keep  The second turning point – one  limitations.  Time  and  time  again  – and directly – significant for Ger-
       German lines got bent up over the  fighting.  The  battle  became  more                    Rommel snatched victory from the  many. Stalingrad marked the end of
                                                                    that fewer of us are familiar with –
       1941-42  winter,  but  they  had  still  savage  and  more  desperate.  On  was  the  Battle  of  Tunis  in  North  Allies  by  escaping  them  to  fight  confident German offensives on the
       held. Moreover, German forces al-  Nov.  11,  Paulus  launched  a  final                   again.  Even  with  superior  troop  Eastern Front. German forces now
                                                                    Africa that ended in May 1943. The
       ready  had  control  of  45%  of  the  offensive. It failed. Then winter set  whole  North  African  theatre  was  strength and U.S. equipment pour-  faced retreat and regroup. The easy
       Soviet Union’s population and had  in. Once the Volga froze, the Sovi-                     ing  in  to  the  British  in  1942,  the  victories had ended. In North Afri-
                                                                    mainly  the  work  of  Germany  at-
       seized vast Soviet resources.  ets  could  simply  walk  their  rein-  tempting to shore up failing Italian  British still couldn’t deliver the de-  ca, Germany was simply defeated.
         For  1942  Hitler  decided  that  forcements across the frozen river.                    cisive blow against Rommel. Then  That campaign had closed in favor
                                                                    forces there. For all sides this was a
       Army  Groups  North  (Leningrad)  By  this  time  the  Germans  were  desert campaign of maneuver, strat-  after  U.S.  forces  landed  in  late  of the Allies. As bad as that was,
       and Center (Moscow) were to hold  starving and freezing to death. Ger-                     1942, the Allies – U.S. to the west  defeat  in  North  Africa  also  num-
                                                                    egy, position and above all, inade-
       their positions. The major offensive  man supply shipments became in-  quate  equipment  and  supply.  In  of Rommel, the British to the east –  bered the days of Italy as a member
       was for Army Group South to pro-  adequate  and  intermittent.  Hitler                     still  struggled  to  close  the  Allied  of  the  Axis,  which  became  even
                                                                    many  ways  it  was  the  ultimate
       ceed through the Caucasus toward  ordered Paulus to hang on until Jan.  chess game – except that it cost real  vise on him.  worse news for Germany by the end
       the rich Caspian Sea oil fields. With  30 if he wanted to be promoted to                      Finally Allied victory at Mede-  of 1943.
       those kinds of resources, the Ger-  Field  Marshal.  Paulus  ordered  his
       man war machine could mop up the  troops to fight on.
       rest at leisure. The plan was to ad-  In  January  the  Soviets  seized
       vance through the Don-Donets cor-  the last German airstrip. Then they Fruhlingfest celebrated as part
       ridor  southward  toward  the  Baku  unleashed  a  7000-artillery  piece
       oil fields.                   bombardment  on  German  posi-  of 90th year of Edelweiss Buffalo
         Prudence dictated that German  tions. Paulus and 24 German gener-
       forces  hold  that  corridor  open  to  als finally surrendered on Jan. 30 –
       prevent Soviet counterattacks from  after he had been promoted. Paulus
       the East and to maintain an escape  became the first German field mar-
       route. The Fourth Panzer army was  shal to surrender. The last German
       to hold the northern end of the cor-  stragglers  surrendered  on  Feb.  2.
       ridor,  and  the  Sixth  army  was  to  The final tally: 50,000 Soviets dead
       anchor  the  southern  end.  Occupa-  – 147,000 Germans dead – 110,000
       tion  of  Stalingrad,  though  not  the  Germans  taken  prisoner.  Many  of
       only  choice  for  holding  the  south  the prisoners died of injuries, star-

                                                                     from page 1
                                                                                                  than  1.2  million  participants  each  musical group that is also known as
                                                                    spring  events,  it  was  added  that  year, Frühlingsfest makes its name "Buffalo's Big German Band."
                                                                    Bavarian Springfest is taking place  as the largest spring festival in Eu-  "Everyone is looking forward to
                                                                    April  22  at  St.  Mary  Ukrainian  rope.                   the  warmer  weather,  and  the  ap-
                                                                    Church Hall in Rochester, from 6-  German  American  Musicians  proaching  Oktoberfest  season  in
                                                                    11  p.m.  James  Smith  said  he  ex-  Inc. longtime band member Herbert Buffalo!" said Schmidt.
                                                                    pects  that  event  to  present  a  fun  Schmidt  III  was  also  on  hand  to  For  details  on  SG  Edelweiss
                                                                    event to the public, to go along with  enjoy the event with his family, and  Buffalo,  visit    www.facebook.
                                                                    the March 25 Fruhlingfest.    said  he  looks  forward  to  a  busy  com/SgtvEdelweissBuffalo/   or
                                                                      "The food, music and unity of  spring/summer  schedule  for  the http://www.   Edelweissbuffalo.
                                                                    those  involved  make  this  and  up-                        com/.
                                                                    coming  events  something  to  be-
                                                                    hold," said Smith.
                                                                      Edelweiss  Buffalo  secretaries
                                                                    Judy Marquardt and Betty Broder-
                                                                    ick  worked  the  admission  desk  at
                                                                    the event, and said they were happy
                                                                    events  like  this  have  returned  to
                                                                    WNY  post-COVID,  with  Mar-
                                                                    quardt adding, "It's so great to see
                                                                    people out having a good time."
                                                                      The Auslanders have performed
                                                                    at WNY-area events such as vari-
                                                                    ous  Oktoberfest  celebrations  for
                                                                    nearly 50 years.
                                                                      “Frühlingsfest”, is translated as
                                                                    spring  festival.  An  annual  family-
                                                                    friendly  celebration  of  the  spring
                                                                    season, Frühlingsfest takes place in
                                                                    cities  all  over  Germany,  such  as
                                                                    München and Stuttgart. With more
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