The Tide of the War Turns

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The tide of the war turned at the end of 1942: From then on, the Wehrmacht was no longer the aggressor in the war, but was put on the defensive instead. Halting at first, the forced retreat of the German army steadily gained momentum and became unrelenting.

Their gross underestimation of the enemy’s forces and equally gross overestimation of their own strength as well as the murderous racist doctrine virtually doomed Hitler and the German army to fail militarily.

The stages of defeat:

In the south, the British broke through at El Alamein on November 3, 1942, precipitating the retreat of the German Afrika Korps and the capitulation of the German troops in North Africa on May 13, 1943.

Anglo-American forces landed on Sicily on July 10, 1943 and on mainland Italy on September 3, 1943.

In the East, the turning point came in the winter of 1942. The tide turned against Hitler’s armies within a few days after they had taken Stalingrad on November 10, 1942. The encirclement of General Paulus’s 6th Army in the region between the Volga and Don on November 22, 1942 ushered in the catastrophe of Stalingrad from which the German Wehrmacht would never recover.

The big invasion in the West (“D-Day”) eventually took place in Normandy on June 6, 1944. The Allies liberated southern France on August 15, 1944 and ultimately Paris on August 19 to 25, 1944.

SD reports on domestic affairs from June 8, 1944 addressed the impact of the invasion of the populace:

The onset of the invasion is generally perceived to be a release from unbearable suspense and oppressive uncertainty. It is virtually the only topic of conversation. Everything else completely fades in importance.

The news of the launch of the invasion was partly received with great enthusiasm. It came quite surprisingly to many who had already no longer believed in it because it failed to materialize for so long. Morale shifted suddenly and while it is serious it is however calm and confident in terms of what is coming. Reports on the development of battles on the Atlantic are followed with utmost excitement.

Discussions about the invasion chiefly revolve around the following questions: Will the invasion bring the eagerly awaited decision? Will it result in a lasting respite from the air raids on German territory? Will the invasion also finally bring retribution? Will our “secret weapon” be used now? Where else will the Anglo-Americans land?

People also frequently refer to the sentence in the Führer’s statement about Rome’s surrender without a fight on June 5: “The year of the invasion will bring the enemy a crushing defeat at the most critical point.” This now appears to be becoming reality sooner than thought. Again and again one hears satisfied comments such as: “Thank God that this never-ending suspense is finally gone now” or “Now we finally know what we’re up against” or “Now the decision is finally here. Now everyone will soon see that nothing was in vain and that we are still here.” (Berlin, Kiel, Stettin, Breslau, Hamburg, Koblenz, etc.), (Boberach, Meldungen aus dem Reich 17, p. 6576)

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