The Stalingrad scapegoat.

Neither the Russian attack nor the breakthrough surprised the Army General Staff. 
The General Staff had no means with which to strengthen the front and, as has been 
made clear, Hitler had refused to allow a timely withdrawal of the line.
The situation was regarded as grave in the extreme. When Hitler learnt of the Russian 
breakthrough, he flew into a rage. But the collapse of the Third Rumanian Army should have
given him an indication of the fate that awaited Stalingrad and the German forces there.
Yet nothing happened to indicate that he had in any way revised his preconceived opinions. 
Colonel-General Halder had uttered his warnings in vain and General Zeitzier had done 
the same. And now the 'exhausted foe' was on his feet again, and with six army corps had
broken the German front at that very spot which had been pointed out to Hitler in a 
thousand and one reports.

It was necessary to find a scapegoat, and one was duly found. In an order of the day 
which Hitler communicated to all senior officers, he sought to lay all the blame on the Com-
mander of the XXXXVIHth Panzer Corps. The text of the order was as follows :

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

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 lo 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 :
1. That he shall be immediately dismissed from the Army.
2. 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.

This is a suitable moment to describe briefly the further course of events in the 'Heim case', 
and to see what were the decisions made, in Hitler's words 'in accordance with military
tradition in such cases'.

The XXXXVIIIth Panzer Corps had just fought its way through to the Chir, when
Lieutenant-General Heim was recalled by radio to Hitler's headquarters.

The Commander-in-Chief  ofthe Army Group in Starobelsk,Colonel-General von Weichs,
'knew nothing' of the matter, and at Army High Command General Zeitzler 'had no idea what
it was all about'. Both men believed that there had been a misunderstanding. They certainly 
knew that Hitler was furious about something, but they could think of nothing with which he 
could reproach General Heim.

That there was no misunderstanding was only shown when Field-Marshal Keitel informed 
the thunderstruck commander of the Panzer Corps that he was dismissed from the Army, 
stripped him of his decorations, and had him flown to the Army prison at Moabit. 
After that, nothing more happened.

Lieutenant-General Heim was kept in solitary confinement until April 1943.He was neither
charged, nor interrogated, nor tried, nor was the affair ever investigated. He was not
allowed to see anyone or to receive any letters. At the end of April he was transferred, 
without any reason being given, to the military hospital at Zehlendorf. Three months later the
'accused Heim' was informed that his dismissal from the Army had been cancelled, and that he
was to be placed on the retiredlist. There the matter seemed to rest.

Exactly a year later, in August 1944, Lieutenant-General (Retired) Heim was once again 
given a front-line command. He was made commander of the forces fighting a lost battle
at Boulogne. The 'decision in accordance with military tradition' had been made.

Generalleutnant Fedinand Heim

Sources : Stalingrad : Heinz Schröter

Heim was replaced by Major General Eberbach on November 29, 1942.
The same day Eberbach was wounded and was replaced by Major General Cramer,
commander of the "Schnellen Truppen".
December 5, 1942 General of Panzertroops von Knobelsdorff took over command of 
the XXXXVIII Army-Corps.