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Young man sitting on coach rest at home. But his health was a matter of increasing concern to his staff and his family.
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Ruhende Frau mit Buch Svenska: Divan med vilande dam English: Portrait of a young woman resting in a landscape Deutsch: Portrait d'une jeune femme en repos dans un paysage???????: Ragazza distesa in un paesaggio. Ruhende Schafherde, Kohle, 10 x 8 cm. Sonnenstein Euthanasia Centre, Pirna Work period c. Also auch fur biologische Wesen. In diesem Aufsatz werden Betrachtungen uber die Berechnung der maximalen Rumpfgeschwindigkeit und der Froude-Zahl schwimmender Wasservogel angestellt und deren Bedeutung fur eine Ubertragung auf kunstliche, technische Systeme angestellt.
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As during the French campaign, Hitler was panicked by his own success. By early July he was full of anxiety that the German armour was advancing too quickly, without infantry support, and that it was exposed to Soviet counter-attacks. On 10 July Brauchitsch arrived at Rundstedt's headquarters at Brody , with instructions from Hitler that Kleist was turn south towards Vinnitsa and link up with Schobert's army there, rather than continue south-east to Kirovograd.
This would still have trapped many Soviet divisions, but it would have allowed the mass of Soviet forces at Uman and Kiev to escape. Rundstedt defended Kleist's ability to execute the larger encirclement, and persuaded Brauchitsch that he was right.
Brauchitsch then contacted Halder, who succeeded in persuading Hitler to support Rundstedt. This was a sign that Rundstedt still had Hitler's respect, as were Hitler's two visits to Rundstedt's armies during this period. The danger of encirclement was obvious, but Stalin stubbornly refused to consider withdrawal, despite warnings from both Budyonny and Kirponos that catastrophe was imminent. Budyonny has been freely blamed by postwar writers for the disaster at Kiev, but it is clear that while he was out of his depth as a front commander, he warned Stalin of the danger, and was dismissed for his pains.
Although many Soviet troops were able to escape eastwards in small groups, around , men — four whole armies comprising 43 divisions, nearly one-third of the Soviet Army's strength at the start of the war — were killed or captured, and the great majority of those captured died in captivity. Kirponos was killed in action on 20 September, shortly before resistance ceased.
Rundstedt had thus presided over one of the greatest victories in the history of warfare. But this catastrophe for the Red Army resulted far more from the inflexibility of Stalin than it did from the talents of Rundstedt as a commander or the skill of the German Army.
David Stahel , a recent historian of the Kiev campaign, wrote: Stahel sums the situation up with his chapter heading: Despite their successes, they had sustained high levels of casualties and even higher levels of loss of equipment, both of which were impossible to replace. Despite the triumph at Kiev, by the end of September Rundstedt was becoming concerned about the state of his command. After three months of continuous fighting, the German armies were exhausted, and the Panzer divisions were in urgent need of new equipment as a result of losses in battle and damage from the poorly-paved Ukrainian roads.
As autumn set in, the weather deteriorated, making the situation worse. Reichenau advanced east towards Kharkov and Kleist and Stülpnagel headed south-east towards the lower Donets.
In the south 11th Army and the Romanians commanded by Manstein following the death of Schobert advanced along the Sea of Azov coast towards Rostov. The Soviet armies were in a poor state after the catastrophes of Uman and Kiev, and could offer only sporadic resistance, but the German advance was slowed by the autumn rains and the Soviet scorched earth policy, which denied the Germans food and fuel and forced them to rely on overstretched lines of supply.
Rundstedt's armies were also weakened by the transfer of units back to Army Group Centre to take part in the attack on Moscow Operation Typhoon.
Nevertheless, during October Rundstedt's forces won another great victory when Manstein and Kleist's tanks reached the Sea of Azov, trapping two Soviet Armies around Mariupol and taking over , prisoners. On 3 November Brauchitsch visited Rundstedt's headquarters at Poltava , where Rundstedt told him that the armies must halt and dig in for the winter. But Hitler drove his commanders on, insisting on an advance to the Volga and into the North Caucasus , to seize the oilfields at Maikop.
These demands put Rundstedt under severe strain. The Russian winter set in with full force in mid-November. The Germans were short of food, fuel, ammunition, vehicles, spare parts and winter clothing. Partisan activity was growing in their rear areas, threatening their supplies. Rundstedt was now 65 and not in good health — he was a heavy smoker, and in October in Poltava he suffered a mild heart attack.
This was a recipe for defeat, but Rundstedt obeyed Hitler's orders. But the Soviets had had time to prepare, and launched a counter-offensive on the 25th. When Hitler heard of this the next day, he ordered that Rostov should be held, although it had in fact already been evacuated. Rundstedt replied by insisting on his decision, and adding: This was the first significant defeat the German Army suffered in World War II, and Rundstedt was the first senior commander to be dismissed.
Hitler, however, immediately realised that he had gone too far in arbitrarily sacking the most senior commander of the German Army. He arrived in Poltava on 3 December, where he found both Reichenau and Dietrich firm in defending the correctness of Rundstedt's actions. Sodenstern explained the full circumstances of the retreat from Rostov to Hitler, an explanation which Hitler grudgingly accepted. Hitler then met with Rundstedt and excused himself on the grounds that it had all been a misunderstanding.
He suggested that Rundstedt take a period of leave, "and then once more place your incomparable services at my disposal. Shortly after his return to Kassel, on his 66th birthday, Rundstedt received a cheque from Hitler for , Reichsmarks. Many found this offensive, but none turned down these gifts.
Rundstedt tried to do the next best thing by failing to cash the cheque. By February this was attracting adverse comment in Berlin, and Rundstedt then cashed it. Some writers have sought to connect Rundstedt's acceptance of this money with his continuing refusal to support the resistance movement against Hitler's regime within the German Army.
The Einsatzgruppen were initially ordered to establish "security" in the rear areas by killing communists and partisans, but by the identity between Jews and communism was strongly established in the minds of most SS men and Police officers. In July Himmler told an SS gathering: The Army did not usually participate directly in these mass killings, although officers of Reichenau's 6th Army took part in organising the massacre at Babi Yar. Therefore the soldier must fully understand the necessity for severe but just atonement by the Jewish subhumanity [ Untermenschentum ].
Since Reichenau's order was widely understood as endorsing the mass killings of Ukrainian Jews which were going on behind the German lines, with which 6th Army at any rate was actively co-operating, Rundstedt's open endorsement of its strongly anti-Semitic language clearly contradicts his later assertions that he did not know what the Einsatzgruppen were doing.
He told interrogators in that he was aware of just one atrocity, at Berdichev on 30 July. No army in the world can tolerate such conditions for any length of time, but in the interests of the security and protection of its own troops it must take sharp, energetic measures. But this should, of course, be done in a correct and soldierly manner.
He described Zamosc as "a dirty Jewish hole. In September Rundstedt issued an order that soldiers were not to participate in or take photos of "Jewish operations",  [Notes 13] indicating awareness of their existence. The killings took place with the knowledge and support of the German Army in the east. Under Rundstedt's command, Army Group South actively participated in the policies outlined in the Hunger Plan , the Nazi racial starvation policy, by "living off the land" and denying food supplies to Soviet prisoners of war and civilians.
German troops "plundered huge quantities of livestock, grain and dairy produce", enough to feed themselves and to create substantial reserves for the Reich. As a consequence, mass starvation set in in urban areas, especially in Kiev and Kharkov. But his position was to grow increasingly difficult. Hitler did not intend giving him real authority, seeing him as a dignified figurehead. He also had no control over the SS and Gestapo operations in France: Secondly, the internal situation in France had changed greatly since Rundstedt's departure in March The result was an escalating cycle of assassinations and reprisal killings that rapidly alienated the hitherto quiescent French population.
Rundstedt had no direct control over the Army's response to Resistance attacks. Nevertheless, many held him responsible, then and later. Rundstedt had more direct responsibility for the Commando Order of , which later served as the basis of war crimes charges against him. There were in fact two German orders concerning captured Allied commandos.
The first was issued by Rundstedt in July , and stated that captured Allied parachutists were to be handed over to the Gestapo, whether in uniform or not , rather than made prisoners of war. This was a response to the increasing number of British agents being parachuted into France by the Special Operations Executive. It stipulated that all captured Allied commandos were to be executed, again regardless of whether they were in uniform.
As a consequence, six British commandos captured in Operation Frankton , a raid on shipping at Bordeaux in December , were executed by the German Navy.
Although Rundstedt neither ordered nor was informed of this action, he was later held responsible as German commander in France. Meanwhile, the military situation for the Germans was deteriorating.
The entry of the United States into the war in December raised the likelihood of an Allied invasion of France. Hitler's response was to order the construction of the Atlantic Wall , a system of coastal fortifications from Norway to the French-Spanish border, to be constructed by the Organisation Todt using slave labour. There was also a steady build-up of German forces in France, despite the demands of the eastern front.
By June Rundstedt commanded 25 divisions. When the Vichy authorities in Africa surrendered after token resistance, the Germans responded by occupying all of France and dissolving what remained of the French Army. The catastrophe of Stalingrad prompted renewed efforts by dissident German officers to remove Hitler from power while there was still time, as they believed, to negotiate an honourable peace settlement.
The conspirators were centered on Halder, Beck and Witzleben, but by all had been removed from positions of authority. The real movers were now more junior officers: Their strategy at this time was to persuade the senior field commanders to lead a coup against Hitler. Their initial target was Manstein, now commanding Army Group Don , but he turned Tresckow down at a meeting in March Several sources say that Rundstedt was also approached, although they do not say specifically who approached him.
Let Manstein and Kluge do it. It was true, however, that Rundstedt was well past his best. The military historian Chester Wilmot wrote soon after the war: He was old and tired and his once active brain was gradually becoming addled, for he had great difficulty in sleeping without the soporific aid of alcohol.
Rundstedt was still capable of clear thought and decisive action. But his health was a matter of increasing concern to his staff and his family. His son Major Hans-Gerd von Rundstedt was posted to his command as an aide-de-camp, partly to monitor his health and report back to Bila in Kassel. In one of his letters, Hans-Gerd referred to his father's "somewhat plentiful nicotine and alcohol consumption," but assured his mother that Rundstedt's health was basically sound.
Later he stayed some time at Grundlsee in Austria , and was received by Hitler at his summer house at Berchtesgaden , a sign of Hitler's continuing respect for him. He was back at work by July. The Allied invasion of Italy in September removed Rundstedt's fears that France would be invaded that summer, but he could not have doubted that the massive build-up of American troops in Britain meant that a cross-channel invasion would come in He placed no faith in the Atlantic Wall, seeing it merely as useful propaganda.
There were several problems with this, particularly the lack of fuel for rapid movements of armour, the Allied air superiority which enabled them to disrupt the transport system, and the increasingly effective sabotage efforts of the French resistance.
Hitler was not persuaded: Characteristically, however, he told Rundstedt he agreed with him, then sent Field Marshal Erwin Rommel to France with orders to hasten the completion of the Atlantic Wall; while Rundstedt remained the commander in France, Rommel became the official commander of Army Group B.
Rundstedt was extremely angered by this decision; although he admired Rommel's tactical skill, he knew from his colleagues that Rommel was notoriously difficult to work with and would mostly be able to ignore Rundstedt's authority thanks to his patronage by Hitler and Goebbels.
Rommel in fact agreed with Rundstedt that the Atlantic Wall was a "gigantic bluff", but he also believed that Allied air power made Rundstedt's proposed defense plan impossible. By the spring of Rommel had turned the mostly nonexistent 'Wall' into a formidable defensive line, but since he believed the invasion would come somewhere between Dunkirk and the mouth of the Somme , much of his work was directed at strengthening the wrong area, although in late he had focused on Normandy.
As fears of an imminent invasion mounted, conflict broke out among the commanders. Rommel wanted the armoured divisions positioned close to the coast, mostly in the area he considered at highest risk. The commander of armoured forces in France, General Leo Freiherr Geyr von Schweppenburg , backed by Rundstedt, strongly disagreed, wanting his forces to be positioned inland to preserve their manoeuvrability. Eventually Hitler intervened, imposing a compromise: Hitler made matters worse by appointing Rommel commander of Army Group B, covering all of northern France.
This unworkable command structure was to have dire consequences when the invasion came. The invasion duly came before dawn on 6 June , in Normandy , far to the west of the sector where Rundstedt and Rommel had expected it.
Rommel was on leave in Germany, many of the local commanders in Normandy were at a conference in Rennes , and Hitler was asleep at Berchtesgaden. But Rundstedt, now 68, was up before He immediately saw that the reported Allied airborne landings in Normandy presaged a seaborne invasion. He contacted OKW and demanded that he be given authority to deploy the armoured reserves, but OKW could not agree to this without Hitler's approval.
Hitler's refusal came through at In mid-afternoon Rundstedt ordered that "the Allies [be] wiped out before the day's end, otherwise the enemy would reinforce and the chance would be lost",  but it was too late. Rundstedt's reasoning was sound, his actions decisive, his orders clear. Being right was little consolation to Rundstedt. By 11 June it was evident that the Allies could not be dislodged from their beach-head in Normandy. Their total command of the air and the sabotage of roads and bridges by the Resistance made bringing armoured reinforcements to Normandy slow and difficult, but without them there was no hope of an effective counter-offensive.
Supported by Rommel, he tried to persuade Keitel at OKW that the only escape was to withdraw from Normandy to a prepared defensive line on the Seine , but Hitler forbade any withdrawal. Both Field Marshals argued that the situation in Normandy required either massive reinforcements which were not available or a rapid withdrawal.
Remarkably, they both also urged that Hitler find a political solution to end the war, which Rommel told him bluntly was unwinnable. Rommel warned Hitler about the inevitable collapse in the German defences, but was rebuffed and told to focus on military operations. It was during the desperate German attempts to bring reserve units to the front that men of the Das Reich SS Panzer Division destroyed the village of Oradour-sur-Glane in central France, in retaliation for partisan attacks in the area.
This was enough for the French government to demand after the war that he stand trial for the massacre at Oradour. On 29 June Rundstedt and Rommel were summoned to Berchtesgaden for a further meeting with Hitler, at which they repeated their demands, and were again rebuffed. On his return to Saint-Germain, on 30 June, Rundstedt found an urgent plea from Schweppenburg, who was commanding the armoured force at Caen , to be allowed to withdraw his units out of range of Allied naval gunfire, which was decimating his forces.
Rundstedt at once agreed, and notified OKW of this decision. On 1 July he received a message from OKW countermanding his orders. In a fury, he phoned Keitel, urging him to go to Hitler and get the decision reversed.
Keitel pleaded that this was impossible. Rundstedt is said to have replied "Macht Schluss mit dem Krieg, ihr Idioten! This literally means "End the war, you idiots! Keitel conveyed to Hitler that Rundstedt felt unable to cope with the increased demands, and Hitler relieved him of his command, replacing him with Kluge. It is likely that Hitler had already decided that Rundstedt should be replaced after the meetings of 17 and 29 June.
It was officially given out that Rundstedt was retiring on the grounds of age and ill-health. Hitler wrote him a "very cordial" letter, and awarded him the Oak Leaves to his Knight's Cross , one of the highest of the new decorations created in Rundstedt departed Saint-Germain for the last time on 4 July, accompanied by his son, and was driven back to the sanatorium at Bad Tölz, to be reunited with his wife.
He told Rommel on departing that he would never hold another military command. Rundstedt had resisted all attempts to recruit him to the various conspiracies against Hitler that had been operating inside the German Army since Although he had not denounced or reported any of the officers who had approached him, he had shown no sympathy with their appeals. By June the conspirators had given up on him and indeed on all the senior field commanders , because he was not approached by the group around Tresckow and Stauffenberg who hatched the unsuccessful plot to kill Hitler with a bomb at the Wolf's Lair Wolfsschanze , his headquarters in East Prussia , and had no inkling of what was planned.
A year later, in June , he told the investigating commission preparing for the Nuremberg Trials: He also argued, however, that the attempt to kill Hitler was pointless, because the German Army and people would not have followed the conspirators.
Officers like Rundstedt who argued that a coup against Hitler would not have won support in the Army or among the German people were, in the view of most historians, correct. Joachim Fest , writing of Tresckow, says: Rundstedt was thus above suspicion of involvement in the 20 July plot, but he could not escape entanglement in its bloody aftermath. Many of these would have been known personally to Rundstedt. Witzleben was an old colleague, and Stülpnagel had been his subordinate in Ukraine and his colleague in France.
Hitler was determined not only to punish those involved in the plot, but to break the power, status, and cohesion of the Prussian officer corps once and for all. Since traditionally German officers could not be tried by civilian courts, he decided that the Army must expel all those accused of involvement.
They could then be tried before the People's Court Volksgerichtshof , a special court established in to try political crimes and presided over by the fanatical Nazi Roland Freisler. Hitler therefore ordered the convening of a Court of Honour Ehrenhof to carry out the expulsions, and appointed Rundstedt to head it.
This court considered only evidence placed before it by the Gestapo. No defence counsel was permitted, and none of the accused was allowed to appear. On this basis, several officers were expelled from the Army, while others were exonerated. Among those the court declined to expel were Halder who had no involvement in the plot , and Speidel, Rommel's chief of Staff who was deeply implicated.
Rundstedt and Heinz Guderian have been singled out as the two who most contributed to Rommel's expulsion from the army, especially as both had good reason to dislike him; however, Rommel and Rundstedt had always had a grudging respect for one another, and Rundstedt later served as Hitler's representative at Rommel's state funeral. No incident in Rundstedt's career has damaged his posthumous reputation as much as his involvement in this process.
John Wheeler-Bennett wrote in Blumentritt, always loyal to his old Chef , complained in The aftermath of the 20 July plot coincided with the rout of the German armies in both the east and the west. The German command in the west was reorganised following the suicide of Kluge, the arrest of Stülpnagel and the incapacitation of Rommel. At Blumentritt's urgent request, supported by Model, Hitler agreed to ask Rundstedt to resume his post as OB West, which at a meeting on 1 September he agreed to do, saying "My Führer, whatever you order, I shall do to my last breath.
The appointment of Rundstedt was at least in part a propaganda exercise. He was the most senior and one of the best known German Army commanders, both in Germany and abroad.
His formidable reputation inspired confidence at home and trepidation among the enemy. His appointment was designed to impress the Allies, reassure the German people, and bolster the morale of the officer corps after the shock of 20 July and the subsequent purge.
Rundstedt, on the other hand, saw himself as the voice of experience, restraining the younger Model, whom he described as "courageous but impulsive. With the comforts of Saint-Germain no longer available, Rundstedt established his headquarters near Koblenz. His chief of staff was now the capable General Siegfried Westphal.
Under Rundstedt was Model, commanding Army Group B and facing the British and Canadians as they advanced through Belgium and into the Netherlands, and the Americans as they advanced into the Ardennes in southern Belgium and Luxembourg.
In October, Army Group H in the north was split off from Model's very extended front, and was placed under the command of the paratroop General Kurt Student.
Rundstedt believed even at this stage that an effective defensive line could only be established on the Rhine , but this would have meant giving up large areas of German territory, and Hitler would not countenance it. He insisted that a stand be made on the West Wall known to the Allies as the Siegfried Line , a defensive system built along Germany's western frontiers in —40, but partly dismantled in —44 to provide materials for the Atlantic Wall.
Instead the line was held by patched-up divisions escaping from the debacle in France, and Volksgrenadier divisions made up from transferred Navy and Air Force personnel, older men and teenagers: Nevertheless, the Germans now had certain advantages. In military terms, it is easier to defend a fixed line than it is to take one by storm. They were now fighting in defence of their own frontiers, and this stiffened resolve.
They no longer had to deal with partisans sabotaging their supply lines, and they were close to their own sources of supply in Germany. The Allies on the other hand had severe logistical problems, with their supply lines running all the way back to the Normandy beaches.
The great port of Antwerp was in their hands, but the Germans still controlled the mouth of the Scheldt , so the Allies could not use it as a supply port.
In September the American tank armies in Lorraine literally ran out of fuel, and during October the Allied offensive gradually lost momentum and came to a halt on a line well west of the German border in most sectors, although the frontier city of Aachen fell on 21 October. With the failure of the British attempt to force a crossing of the Rhine at Arnhem Operation Market Garden in late September, the chance of invading Germany before the winter set in was lost, and Rundstedt was given time to consolidate his position.
Hitler, however, had no intention of staying on the defensive in the west over the winter. As early as mid-September he was planning a counter-offensive. On 27 October Rundstedt and Model met with General Alfred Jodl , chief of operations at OKW, and told him flatly that they considered this impossible with the available forces. Jodl took their views back to Hitler, but on 3 November he told them that the Führer's mind was made up, and that he wanted the attack to begin before the end of November.
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