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Nickdfresh
01-21-2009, 03:48 PM
I came across this article while Googling stuff on various theories I've heard about seeming Wehrmacht inaction during the critical hours of D-Day...

A mystery of World War II:

Did the Germans try to surrender immediately after D-Day?

by Ken Kreckel

On August 18, 1944, a little over two months after the D-Day landings, a German staff car pulled off the road near Claremont-en-Argonne, France. En route to Fuhrer Headquarters, it would never reach its destination. Field Marshall von Kluge and his aide alighted from the car, heading to a peaceful spot shaded from the heat of the midday French sun. After a pleasant lunch, the Field Marshall handed his aide a personal letter addressed to his brother, and calmly swallowed a cyanide capsule.

The Field Marshall, who had just been relieved as Commander-in-Chief West, was in disgrace. Like his predecessor Rundstedt and subordinate Rommel, he had failed to hold back the growing tide of Allied power breaking out from Normandy. In common with them, he had come to believe the task was impossible. But there was another similarity, one infinitely more important. Although lacking the pugnacity of Rundstedt, who advised the High Command to ‘make peace’, or the moralism of Rommel, who allied himself with the active opposition to Hitler, Kluge too came to believe there was only one way out for Germany, that of making peace with the western Allies.

Unfortunately Hitler suspected as much. Just days before, when the Fuhrer HQ lost contact with the Field Marshall for several hours, Hitler shouted “Kluge must have been involved in the bombing plot and has now sneaked off for secret surrender talks with the enemy”. Why did Hitler jump to this remarkable conclusion? Was it simply a case of his well-known paranoia, stoked by his recent escape from the July 20 plot, or were there more concrete reasons for this statement?

Rommel made no secret of his opinion that the time had come for a political solution to counter the inevitable defeat looming in the West. In a meeting with Hitler as early as June 17, barely a week and half after D-Day, Rommel cautioned that conditions at the front were impossible. On his way to a Fuhrer conference at Berchtesgaden set for June 29, Rommel commented to his superior Rundstedt: “...you and I both believe that this war must be stopped now. I intend to make no bones about it when we see the Fuhrer.” However, at the conference, Hitler refused to let him speak on political matters, eventually dismissing him from the room. As Rommel repeated his attempts to persuade Hitler through memoranda on July 3rd and the 15th, it is clear he had made up his mind. In his own words, “the unequal struggle is approaching its end.”

By mid July Rommel decided on a course of action: “I have given him [Hitler] his last chance. If he does not take it, I will act”. When asked what would happen if Hitler refused, he replied, “Then I’m going to open up the Western Front. Only one thing matters now, the British and Americans must get to Berlin before the Russians do.” General Bayerlein, Rommel’s old desert comrade who commanded the Panzer Lehr division at Normandy, flatly states, “Rommel and Speidel...(intended)...to open independent peace negotiations with the Western Allies. Everything had been prepared and von Kluge and many others won over....”

Indeed they were. Von Kluge endorsed his subordinate’s view. He explored ways to contact the enemy himself, even to the point of speaking with some German nurses who had just been released from American captivity in Cherbourg. Most of Rommel’s subordinates in Army Group B were ready. SS General Sepp Dietrich, an old crony of Hitler’s, stated he would follow Rommel’s orders, even if they contradicted the Fuhrer’s.

Rommel’s intent was clear. Speaking shortly before his forced suicide, in October, 1944, he insisted, “The revolt should not have started in Berlin, but in the West...the expected forcible American and British occupation of Germany would have become an unopposed ‘march-in’.

General Blumentritt, Kluge’s chief of staff, reports: “if it had succeeded, his [Kluge’s] first step would have been to order the discharge of the V1's against England to be stopped, and that his second step would have been to get in touch with the Allied Commanders.”

It was not to be. Rommel was removed from play by strafing British fighters, severely wounding him on July 17. In a few days, it became clear the July 20 plot had failed. Kluge, however, remained free to act. But did he?

Besides recording Hitler’s suspicions, history is mostly silent on this question. There is, however, one tantalizing clue. In September of ‘44, Keitel, of the Army High Command, related to Blumentritt, that he had “documentary evidence about his [Kluge’s] treasonable activities”. He went on to say they had intercepted a wireless message from an Allied headquarters asking to be put in touch with von Kluge. Was Kluge successful in making contact? While some sources assert the Allied command was aware of this, no record of this message has ever been found. But does this mean it did not exist?

The best reply to this question died with the Field Marshall on that lovely French summer afternoon. Recalled to Germany to answer Hitler’s suspicions, he chose his own way out of the war. With his failure went the chance that the millions killed over the next year might have survived.


Ken Kreckel further explores this mystery in his upcoming book, The Rommel Mission, to be released in 2006.


Photo credits:

Title shot of German delegation at Brest France:

World War II Multimedia Database
http://www.worldwar2database.com/

World War II in Color

ww2incolor.com



Link (http://home.bresnan.net/~kreckel12/Kluge%20and%20Rommel.htm)

Centurion
01-21-2009, 04:50 PM
Great article very interesting indeed.

But, unless Hitler was removed which he wasn't, then there was no hope for a German surrender.

Instead the mad man decided to fight to the very last man.

Rising Sun*
01-21-2009, 05:01 PM
But, unless Hitler was removed which he wasn't, then there was no hope for a German surrender.


If the German forces in the West all surrendered, what could Hitler do about it?

He couldn't take forces from the East.

I don't know what was available in Germany or elsewhere, but I suspect that he didn't have sufficient reserves to replace his Western forces or to compel his Western forces to keep fighting.

Centurion
01-21-2009, 05:08 PM
If the German forces in the West all surrendered, what could Hitler do about it?

He couldn't take forces from the East.

I don't know what was available in Germany or elsewhere, but I suspect that he didn't have sufficient reserves to replace his Western forces or to compel his Western forces to keep fighting.

Didn't Hitler have some sort of grip over his subordinates ?

Handpicking them for that exact purpose. To obey only.

On the other hand though you are right, if everybody on the Western Front layed down arms, there would of been nothing he can do. Plus as you said, his reserves at that point were very limited and were finding it hard to reach the front due to Allied bombing behind the German front line. Perhaps Hitler would of killed himself earlier thus saving many German soldiers their lives.

Rising Sun*
01-21-2009, 05:14 PM
Didn't Hitler have some sort of grip over his subordinates ?

Handpicking them for that exact purpose. To obey only.



The quoted article suggests that they weren't all willing to obey.

Perhaps the only course open to Hitler to quell what in effect would be a passive mutiny would be to send in something like Einsatzgruppen to terrify his forces back into fighting.

Centurion
01-21-2009, 05:21 PM
The quoted article suggests that they weren't all willing to obey.

Perhaps the only course open to Hitler to quell what in effect would be a passive mutiny would be to send in something like Einsatzgruppen to terrify his forces back into fighting.

German forces against German forces ?

Well i guess anything would of been possible during the Third Reich.

pdf27
01-21-2009, 06:37 PM
If the German forces in the West all surrendered, what could Hitler do about it?

He couldn't take forces from the East.

I don't know what was available in Germany or elsewhere, but I suspect that he didn't have sufficient reserves to replace his Western forces or to compel his Western forces to keep fighting.

Thing is, if the German forces in the West surrendered shortly after the Normandy breakout, it would make very little difference at all. These forces were overwhelmingly destroyed or captured anyway during the breakout, and it was lack of fuel rather than German resistance which stopped the allied advance. The only place that could have made a difference - Antwerp and the approaches to it - were not under Rommel's command.

flamethrowerguy
01-21-2009, 06:43 PM
Would there have been the slightest chance for the western allies accepting a seperate peace/truce or anything but an unconditional german surrender anyway?
Major differences with the Soviet Union would have been a logical consequence, wouldn't it?

alephh
01-21-2009, 06:49 PM
while Googling stuff on various theories I've heard about seeming Wehrmacht inaction during the critical hours of D-Day...

Care to explore/explain this a bit more...?


_

Nickdfresh
01-21-2009, 07:02 PM
Thing is, if the German forces in the West surrendered shortly after the Normandy breakout, it would make very little difference at all. These forces were overwhelmingly destroyed or captured anyway during the breakout, and it was lack of fuel rather than German resistance which stopped the allied advance. The only place that could have made a difference - Antwerp and the approaches to it - were not under Rommel's command.

True enough. I think it was Omar Bradley that later said he was astonished at the German decision to defend the whole of France and try to contain the Allied advance when it was clear the Allies were secure in-country and were going to break out sooner or later. He thought the Germans might have preserved significant elements of the Heer and SS and avoided near encirclement if they had conducted a phased withdrawal and created defense lines to the East...



Care to explore/explain this a bit more...?


_

As for this article, what I was looking for was something on the speculations that Gen. Von Kluge (I think) intentionally delayed orders in the critical hours after the landings either because he was so irate that the Fuhrer was not wakened earlier, or because he knew Germany was finished, and the further East the Western Allies got - the better for Germany...

If true, and it's ultimately unknowable for certain, then it would have been perhaps the ultimate act of "resistance."

Rising Sun*
01-21-2009, 09:35 PM
German forces against German forces ?

Well i guess anything would of been possible during the Third Reich.

I believe that the German army's field police, a type of military police, were engaged in that sort of work in the later part of the war and summarily executed their own soldiers considered as deserters or traitors or unwilling to fight, with the intention of encouraging the others to avoid similar conduct. (A bit like being a mod on a forum, but more personal and brutal. :D)

kuuk
01-22-2009, 04:21 PM
In the book "Body Guard of Lies" by Anthony Cave Brown, the alleged attempt by von Kluge to surrender, or at least meet with the Americans, is more or less confirmed by reporting in the book an account shown in Times magazine of June 25, 1945 which stated:
"One day last August (Kluge) suddenly left his headquarters on the Western Front....With some of his staff, Kluge drove to a spot on a lonely road near Avranches in nortwestern France. There he waited hour after hour, for a party of U.S. Third Army officers with whom he had secretly arranged to discuss surrender. They did not appear. Fearing betrayal, Kluge hurried back to his headquarters".

The book also said that von Kluge actually went missing that day (August 15, 1944) for seventeen hours and was unaccounted for.
During that time, however, his radio truck was attacked by Allied planes and destroyed and he never made it to his pre-arranged meeting with some staff officers. There was a report indicating that radio messages made by von Kluge had been intercepted.

Hitler was desperate when von Kluge did not return on time to his HQ and AH had said several weeks later, that that day was the worst day of his life.

BTW, the above quote was originally given to the magazine by General George Patton.

The story seems kind of confusing and contradictory, but something must have happened that day in light of the fact that von Kluge was dismissed and shortly there after committed suicide.

Carl Schwamberger
01-22-2009, 04:52 PM
Most likely it was as Kluge said, he was prevented from communicating or returning to his HQ by the the Allied air attcks and general chaos. That was the same week Eberhard was captured when a British recon unit overran his HQ was it not? Things were rapidly falling apart for the Germans and a lot of generals & HQ were communicating only intermittantly.

Nickdfresh
01-22-2009, 05:16 PM
Most likely it was as Kluge said, he was prevented from communicating or returning to his HQ by the the Allied air attcks and general chaos. That was the same week Eberhard was captured when a British recon unit overran his HQ was it not? Things were rapidly falling apart for the Germans and a lot of generals & HQ were communicating only intermittantly.

Possible. But the fact that Von Kluge was neck deep in anti-Hitler resistance at least lends itself to speculation...

And the fact that he killed himself even though he hadn't been named as a suspect is also interesting...we'll never know since he died long before the end of that War...

Panzerknacker
01-22-2009, 05:46 PM
The germans tried, but Hitler did not.:rolleyes:

redcoat
01-24-2009, 06:01 PM
As for this article, what I was looking for was something on the speculations that Gen. Von Kluge (I think) intentionally delayed orders in the critical hours after the landings either because he was so irate that the Fuhrer was not wakened earlier, or because he knew Germany was finished, and the further East the Western Allies got - the better for Germany...

If true, and it's ultimately unknowable for certain, then it would have been perhaps the ultimate act of "resistance."
General von Kluge didn't replace von Rundstedt until the 2nd July 1944, before that he had been in Germany recovering from injuries suffered in a car accident

Nickdfresh
01-24-2009, 07:32 PM
General von Kluge didn't replace von Rundstedt until the 2nd July 1944, before that he had been in Germany recovering from injuries suffered in a car accident

You are correct sir. My error...