The Führer and Supreme Commander of the Army. 5 December 1942.
During the course of the operations against Stalingrad there arose, as early as October, the danger of a threat developing to the long northern flank of our attacking front. In the first half of November there were indications of an impending attack against the Third Rumanian Army. To meet this threat, I gave orders that the 22nd Panzer Division should take up a position behind the right wing of the Third Rumanian Army and together with the 1st Rumanian Panzer Division should constitute the XXXXVIIIth Panzer Corps, under the command of Lieutenant-General Heim. In the event of an enemy attack or breakthrough, this Panzer Corps was under orders to make an immediate counter-attack, and to prevent at all costs the forcing back of the right wing of the Third Rumanian Army. The forces which were thus deployed to oppose the enemy's attack were exceptionally strong.
From the very beginning, the way in which the 22nd Panzer Division was brought up and deployed gave rise to grave doubts concerning the Corps Commander's efficiency. Of more than one hundred tanks, only a little over thirty reached their appointed assembly area. I regard it as a most serious dereliction of an officer's duty if, at such a time and in such conditions, he fails to exert the utmost energy in bringing the fighting strength of his units to the highest possible pitch, or alternatively in redressing errors already made.
The leader of the Panzer Corps had a duty to make himself immediately conversant with every aspect of the operation which confronted him. It was his further duty to keep in close touch with the Panzer Divisions assigned to him and to discuss thoroughly with the two divisions all questions concerning this operation. Speed of action was all the more essential, in that it must have been obvious:
first, that the organisation, leadership and general condition of our Rumanian allies was not of a sufficiently high standard to make them equal to tasks which could be undertaken by German divisions in similar circumstances;
secondly, that, especially with regard to anti-tank weapons, they did not possess the necessary equipment.
When the Russians launched their expected attack on the 19th of November, the sector of front directly concerned was to begin with comparatively narrow. If the Panzer Corps, with a strength of over one hundred and fifty tanks, had been rapidly sent into action, this would beyond any question of doubt have resulted in a German victory. But the Panzer Corps did not in fact go into action at all during the first twenty-four hours. During the next twenty-four hours the Corps Commander was attempting to establish contact with the ist Rumanian Panzer Division. It was thus impossible immediately to concentrate the two divisions, so that a concerted counter-attack could be launched. Then, instead of at least grimly battling through to join the Rumanian Panzer Division, so that a joint counter-attack could be mounted, operations by the 22nd Panzer Division continued to be as hesitant as they were unsafe.
This failure by the XXXXVIIIth Panzer Corps was alone responsible for the fact that the Third Rumanian Army was broken through on both wings. This has resulted in a catastrophe of immense proportions, the ultimate consequences of which cannot even now be foreseen. In view of the extremely grave consequences that have followed this disaster, namely the loss of a large number of units and an immense amount of war material and the encirclement of the Sixth Army, the conduct by the Corps Commander must be regarded as not merely grossly careless, but as a crime of negligence hitherto unparalleled in the course of this war.
In addition, the moral effect will have serious repercussions on the German war effort.
I am determined that the conditions which prevailed during the Battle of the Marne in 1914, and which German military and historical research has not, after twenty-five years, yet succeeded in explaining, shall in no circumstances be allowed to reappear in the new army.
In view of the disastrous consequences that have resulted from the failure of this general I have decided :
That he shall be immediately dismissed from the Army.
That while awaiting final elucidation of the failure of this German officer, no further decisions will be made concerning the ultimate action which, in accordance with military tradition in such cases, may have to be taken against him.
Signed: ADOLF HITLER.