Friedrich Paulus

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Friedrich Paulus (1942)

Friedrich Wilhelm Ernst Paulus (born September 23, 1890 in Guxhagen , †  February 1, 1957 in Dresden - Oberloschwitz ) was a German army officer ( Field Marshal General from 1943 ) and Commander-in-Chief of the 6th Army during the Battle of Stalingrad in World War II . Paulus was a Soviet prisoner of war from 1943 to 1953 and then lived in the GDR until his death .


Empire and First World War

After his family moved to Kassel , Friedrich Paulus completed his schooling at the Wilhelmsgymnasium there in 1909 with the Abitur . His original goal of becoming an officer in the Imperial Navy , he could not achieve because he was rejected. Instead, he enrolled at the University of Marburg for law one. After one semester, he left the university again and entered on 18 February 1910 as a cadet in the Infantry Regiment "Margrave Ludwig Wilhelm" (3 Badisches) no. 111 of the Prussian army in Rastatt one, on 18 October 1910 where he became Ensign was appointed. After attending the Engers War School , he was promoted to lieutenant on August 15, 1911 . Before the outbreak of war he was adjutant of the III. Battalions .

After the outbreak of war and the relocation of his regiment to Freiburg im Breisgau on August 6, 1914, Paulus' unit was deployed on the western front a little later . The Rastatt regiment was initially used to support the German troops, which had been thrown back to the right bank of the Rhine by the French army immediately after the start of the war . The French army had reached Mulhouse through the Vosges and occupied a large part of Upper Alsace . The fighting to recapture the Sundgau began on August 9th, and on the 13th Belfort was occupied by German troops. Two days later, Paul's regiment was transported to Strasbourg . At Saarburg , the association suffered heavy losses in repeated assaults against French positions, but was then able to pursue the fleeing enemies. In mid-September the regiment was moved to the region between Nancy and Metz (→ Metz Fortress ), from where it was supposed to advance westwards between the French fortresses of Toul and Verdun . This plan was unsuccessful, the breakthrough failed. On October 8th, meanwhile on duty between Lille and Arras , Paulus called in sick.

After a long illness he was not fully usable again until 1915 and was assigned to the staff of the Pomeranian Jäger Battalion "Fürst Bismarck" No. 2 as an orderly officer . In May 1916, Paulus, meanwhile promoted to lieutenant , was promoted to battalion adjutant. As part of the German Alpine Corps that was newly established in May 1915, the battalion was initially deployed in South Tyrol to defend the Austria-Hungary border against Italy. In October 1915 he came to Serbia and in February 1916 he was in Macedonia . A little later Paulus fought with his battalion on the Western Front , first (March 1916 to May 1916) in Champagne , then (until August 1916) in the Battle of Verdun . This was followed by participation in the fighting in the Argonne until September 1916 and then the war in Romania . There he remained, apart from a brief assignment in the Vosges in May / July 1917, until September 1917. From September 1917 a participant in the Isonzo battles , he was transferred to Flanders with his regiment in the spring of 1918 . He had meanwhile been promoted to captain as the third general staff officer of his corps responsible for communications and was transferred to the staff of Reserve Infantry Regiment No. 48 in May 1918, which was no longer deployed. That is why he no longer took part in the fighting in Flanders.

The war time had profound effects on Paul in several ways. During the operations in the Balkans he fell ill with amoebic dysentery , from which he never fully recovered. Apart from being promoted to captain, he was awarded both classes of the Iron Cross . But he had also seen the warfare escalate. The enemy was mercilessly fought in the material battles, and the local population was intimidated by taking hostages and shooting. Paul experienced the war of movement in Serbia and the war of positions in the "Hell of Verdun" . He was also shaped by a strong elitist awareness, as he belonged to an already well-motorized elite unit. He found his role model in the arch-conservative troop leader Franz Ritter von Epp .

Weimar Republic

After the war, from the end of 1918 Paulus was a member of a volunteer corps with the Eastern Border Guard that fought against the occupation of Silesian areas by Polish troops. He was involved in organizing volunteer work, advertising and recruiting, but did not take part in any fighting himself.

In 1919 Paulus was accepted into the provisional Reichswehr , in 1920 he became regimental adjutant of the 14th Infantry Regiment in Constance . Paulus sympathized with the Kapp putschists , but was able to pursue his career with determination. In Stuttgart he was employed as a general staff officer from 1924 to 1927 and then received his first troop command as a company commander in the 13th Infantry Regiment . Here he met Erwin Rommel , who was the company commander of the machine gun company. After that, Paulus worked as a tactics teacher in the division until 1931 and in this position attracted attention through his operational talent. In February 1931 he was transferred to the war school in Berlin and appointed major . As a course leader for tactics and war history, he was used in officer training.

time of the nationalsocialism

Pre-war period

In the capital of the Reich Paulus witnessed the takeover of power by the NSDAP ; his personal attitude towards it is not documented. The officer corps remained rather indifferent, since the Reichswehr was not involved in the direct pursuit of political opponents and the street battles. Only the ambitions of the SA were viewed with concern.

Since April 1934 commander of the motor vehicle department 3 in Wünsdorf near Berlin, Paulus and his unit were put on alert during the Röhm putsch , but were not used.

The military service reintroduced in 1935 and the increased armament were expressly approved by the officer corps. Paul benefited from this development when he was promoted to colonel in 1935 and appointed chief of the general staff of the motor vehicle troops in September. Here he played a key role in the construction and development of the German tank weapon . After four years he became Chief of the General Staff of the XVI in early 1939. Army corps under the command of Lieutenant General Erich Hoepner , at the same time he was appointed major general.

Second World War

Paulus (right next to Hitler) at a briefing on the Eastern Front in June 1942

The mobilization in 1939 brought Paulus the post of Chief of the General Staff of the 10th Army in Leipzig , which was renamed the 6th Army after the victory over Poland on October 10, 1939. As the right hand of Commander-in-Chief Colonel - General Walter von Reichenau , Paulus took part in the attack on Poland and in the western campaign, in the east via Częstochowa , Kielce , Radom and Lublin to Warsaw , in the west via Liège , Flanders , Lille , the Somme , Oise , Aisne , Marne and Seine to Orléans and across the Loire to the Channel coast in Normandy , which his association reached at the end of July 1940.

Quartermaster I.

On September 3, 1940, Paulus took up his new position as Quartermaster I in the Army General Staff . He was thus Deputy Chief of Staff Franz Halder . Only Halder and the Commander-in-Chief of the Army, Field Marshal Walther von Brauchitsch , stood above him . First operation studies for by Hitler ordered an attack on the Soviet Union , the Operation Barbarossa , were already available. Paul now took over the detailed elaboration of the operational procedure. He recognized the need for a quick advance with the aim of conquering Moscow . In his opinion, in order to be able to overthrow the Soviet Union quickly, it was necessary to advance with fast tank formations and to prevent powerful enemy formations from withdrawing into the vastness of the area. In the event that this plan did not succeed, the General Staff foresaw a long war that the Wehrmacht would hardly be able to cope with. On December 18, 1940, Hitler gave the order to initiate the attack.

In the first half of 1941 Paulus was involved in negotiations with the German allies for the war against the Soviet Union. His part in the preparation of the Barbarossa company was therefore not limited to simulation games, but also included active coordination with the other partners of the axis .

On April 24, Paulus was sent to North Africa , where the German Africa Corps had been supporting the Italian army in the fight against the British army since February 1941 . The General Staff was skeptical of Rommel's offensives, as they were not crowned with lasting success and tied up the resources needed for the attack on the Soviet Union. A delayed attack date would make it impossible to bring the fighting to a victorious end before the start of the autumn muddy season. In North Africa, Paul took part in the unsuccessful attack on the Tobruk fortress on April 30 and May 1, then flew to Rome on May 8 to meet the Duce Benito Mussolini . From Rome he returned to Berlin two days later.

The campaign against the Soviet Union began on June 22, 1941 . After initial great successes by the German troops, the advance came to a halt in October and November 1941 due to the onset of the muddy season . Hitler, who from the beginning had striven for economic warfare instead of military warfare, decided against the fierce resistance of the General Staff of the Army to place the main emphasis on the occupation of the important industrial area in the Donets Basin while at the same time sticking to the goal of conquering Leningrad. This did not succeed, the Leningrad blockade that lasted for years . This meant that the Wehrmacht lacked the strength to take Moscow and a protracted war was imminent. In this situation, Chief of Staff Halder sent Paulus to various sectors of the front to assess the local situation. In August 1941 he also visited the 6th Army and their Commander-in-Chief von Reichenau in the section of Army Group South . Here he fell ill again with amoebic dysentery, and on top of that he made a tired and overworked impression on observers. Although Paulus knew that Hitler had been wrong in his assessment that the Soviet Union would collapse quickly, he nevertheless dutifully performed his duties and granted Hitler the power to make decisions.

Use on the Eastern Front

On December 3, 1941, von Reichenau was appointed as Commander-in-Chief of the 6th Army in personal union as Chief of Army Group South. He remembered his capable subordinate from the years 1939 and 1940 and wanted him to take his post of Commander-in-Chief of the 6th Army. In fact, on January 5, 1942, Paulus was promoted to General of the Panzer Troops . However, he only took up his post after von Reichenau died of complications from a stroke . His nomination also met with criticism: not only had senior officers been ignored, Paulus also had little experience in command. He hadn't even led a division or an army corps and was now in command of an entire army of around 300,000 men. On January 20, Paulus took up his new post in the army in the greater Kharkov region .

With him, the management style of AOK 6 changed: while von Reichenau was a "troupier" and a "warrior", Paulus led his army more from his desk. The first official act of Paul as the new commander-in-chief was the lifting of Reichenau's order that the German soldier had to be “the bearer of an inexorable national idea”. At the same time he spoke out against the continued observance of the commissar's order in his army area. Admittedly, he was unable to assert himself with all of his commanders with this attitude.

The attacks by the Red Army from mid-January 1942 north of Kharkov were repulsed by the 6th Army. On May 12th, a massive Soviet attack began in this region. Paul proved himself and emerged victorious from the Second Battle of Kharkov . 20,000 of their own losses faced almost 240,000 captured Red Army soldiers. All of his critics who had accused him of having no idea about leading an army fell silent. After this military disaster, the Soviets were so weakened that Operation Blau could begin the attack on the Donets Basin and the Caucasus . On July 23, the 6th Army received the order, contrary to originally planned, to march alone against Stalingrad , while the bulk of the German troops advanced further in the southern section against the Caucasus. On July 29th, Paul warned Hitler's personal adjutant that the 6th Army was too weak to take the city alone. But he only received the promise of a certain amount of support from units of the 4th Panzer Army on the south wing of the 6th Army .

Friedrich Paulus (right) with Walther von Seydlitz-Kurzbach in Russia, 1942

Even in the early phase of the attack on Stalingrad there were considerable supply problems, among other things because of Hitler's volatility, so that the crossing of the Don by the 6th Army was delayed by eight days. This gave the Red Army enough time to retreat to Stalingrad and fortify the city. While until then there had been a certain focus, according to which three armies were to advance south, the 4th Panzer Army now also received orders to advance south of Stalingrad. The first operational mistakes were made here: Instead of dividing the city according to the focal points to be occupied, attack strips were established. After a few days of fighting, the situation was too bad and dangerous to regroup. The ferry station on the Volga , the most important point in the city, remained in Soviet hands. Nevertheless, on September 4, the strategic goal was achieved: the Volga was interrupted as a traffic route. The bitter struggle over the following weeks for the complete capture of the city would not have been necessary, but it became a "question of honor" on both sides. Despite constant new attacks, the German troops did not succeed in bringing Stalingrad completely under control.

Paul, who had received the Knight's Cross on August 26th , requested the cessation of the fighting and withdrawal from the city in view of the poor supply of his soldiers: hunger, cold and epidemics afflicted the soldiers; Paul himself was again sick with amoebic dysentery. Hitler forbade cessation of the fighting; the front could not be withdrawn by a meter. On 19./20. November 1942, the Soviet army forces broke through in a major attack, Operation Uranus , the Romanian lines north and south of Stalingrad and completely enclosed the city. Hitler no longer trusted the Red Army with this breakthrough, even though Paulus had made him aware of the danger on September 12th during a conversation at the Führer headquarters "Werewolf" near Vinnitsa (Ukraine). Now the 6th Army was trapped.

The Army High Command (AOK) 6, which had been cut off from its own lines by the Soviet advance, received the order on November 22nd to fly into the pocket and to encircle itself with the entire army. At the same time, however, the 6th Army was preparing to break out. On the evening of the same day Paulus reported the encirclement and asked Hitler for freedom of action in order to break out. Hitler did not grant him this; instead, on November 24th, the 6th Army received its final decision to hold positions under all circumstances. The General of the Infantry Walther von Seydlitz-Kurzbach as commander of the enclosed LI. Army Corps had already begun to withdraw its formations in the direction of the focus of the outbreak. When Hitler found out about this, he immediately demanded an account of the army command. Paul introduced himself to von Seydlitz, but demanded an explanation from him; at the same time he informed the other commanders of the hold order. Seydlitz complied, but in a memorandum to Paulus called for an immediate outbreak and declared that “if the OKH does not immediately [revoke] the order to persevere in the hedgehog position, it will arise before one's own conscience towards the army and the German people the imperative to take the […] freedom of action oneself and to make use of the […] still existing possibility of avoiding the catastrophe […]. ”With Paul he found no support for this position, he relied on the top leadership and their better overview of the overall situation, in which he was strengthened by a letter from his new Commander-in-Chief von Manstein , who promised him that he would not be left in the lurch. After the war Paul was accused from various quarters of not having ordered an outbreak on his own responsibility.

Despite the already catastrophic situation, there was confidence in the boiler that the Wintergewitter operation, begun on December 12, 1942 by Army Group Don , would lead to success for the liberation of the 6th Army. Paul himself made a tired and nervous impression, evidently he was dissatisfied with the development, but could not make up his mind to attempt a breakthrough in the direction of the relief army . The forces of the 6th Army were no longer sufficient for a successful breakthrough to the German lines. The shortage of ammunition, provisions, fuel, heating and medical supplies was so great that the army was practically immobile.

Friedrich Paulus in 1943 in Soviet captivity

The relief attack had to end on December 23rd, but in view of the impossibility of an outbreak, Paul still hoped for outside help. In a telex to Army Group Don on December 26th, he expressed his unconditional will to persevere, but at the same time asked that the Fuehrer's headquarters be urged to take energetic measures, because otherwise the "fortress Stalingrad" would not long against the massive ones despite their will to resist Attacks would hold.

Paulus, who was promoted to Colonel General on November 30, 1942, received an offer of surrender from the Red Army on January 8, 1943 , and at the same time Hitler's General of the Panzer Troop Hube, who landed in the boiler on the same day, brought the news from Hitler that a another attempt at relief is planned; that's how long the army had to endure. Paul did not believe that further holding out would be possible without increased supplies, but noted that he was not aware of the transport options offered by the Air Force . The offer of surrender was rejected by both the Army High Command and the AOK 6, so that Paulus finally rejected it and gave the order to reject Soviet parliamentarians by fire. He let his own troops, informed by leaflets and loudspeaker announcements, from the Red Army, that it was merely a matter of propaganda and deception.

On the morning of January 10, 1943, a Sunday, the Soviet general attack on the 6th Army began at six in the morning with 47 divisions. With 218,000 soldiers, over 5,000 guns, 170 tanks and 300 aircraft, the boiler was compressed from the west. The 6th Army had nothing to counter this: on January 14th the provisional landing site Basargino was lost, on January 16th the Pitomnik airfield was lost. The desperation of those trapped reached its climax: Thousands tried to be flown out of the remaining Gumrak makeshift airfield . The majority of the army, however, already fled to the ruined city of Stalingrad, which promised a certain protection against enemy attacks. In view of the severity of the fighting, Paul received the oak leaves for the Knight's Cross on January 15th .

The commanding officers in the boiler were aware of the situation. They saw Hitler's promise to save the army as sabotaged by the air force. A major who had flown in to inspect Gumrak airfield had to be severely reproached. The spectrum of emotions of the army leadership ranged from striving objectivity (Seydlitz) to extreme nervousness (Paulus) to the tantrum of the chief of staff Arthur Schmidt . Nevertheless, their belief in Hitler was unbroken. When the Gumrak airfield was lost on January 22nd, Paulus, clearly desperate and helpless, radioed the OKH:

“Russians advancing 6 km wide on both sides of Voroponowo , partly with unfurled flags to the east. No more possibility to close the gap. Withdrawal in neighboring fronts, which even without ammunition, pointless and impracticable. Compensation with ammunition from other fronts is also no longer possible. Food over. Over 12,000 wounded in the boiler without care. What orders should I give the troops that are out of ammunition and continue to be attacked with strong artillery, tanks and infantry masses? The quickest decision is necessary, as dissolution already begins at individual points. But trust in the leadership still exists. "

As a result of this radio message, Paulus' superior v. Manstein to Hitler for starting surrender negotiations, which Hitler still refused: For reasons of honor alone, surrender would not be an option.

Paul submitted and continued to urge his troops to hold out. On January 25, 1943, the last aircraft left the boiler from the Stalingradski makeshift area, now all supplies had to be thrown off, most of which was lost. By the end of January, the Soviets managed to split the boiler into a northern and a southern part. Paul and his staff were in the Univermag department store in the south. In fact, however, he had already largely lost command of the units: Individual commanders prepared to cease fighting and were taken prisoner with their troops. Others tried to break out with their groups: one group managed the venture, but only one man got through. Many officers committed suicide or sought death in enemy fire: in the IV Army Corps on January 24, the commander of 297th Infantry Division took the remains of his division into captivity; on the evening of January 25th, the commander of 371st Infantry Division shot himself. Lieutenant General Richard Stempel, and the next morning the commanders of the IV Army Corps, the 71st Infantry Division and the Artillery Division IV Army Corps stood on the embankment on the Tsaritsa and shot at the Russians without cover. By the time Paul found out about this and ordered them to take back the lines, one was already dead. While Paulus left the initiative to other officers, he obeyed the order given to hold out and sent an address of allegiance to Hitler on January 29th . The radio message read:

“To the Führer! On the anniversary of the takeover of power, the 6th Army greets its leader. The swastika flag is still blowing over Stalingrad. May our struggle be an example for the living and future generations to never capitulate even in the most hopeless situation, then Germany will win. Hail my leader! Paul, Colonel General. "

For this he was promoted to Field Marshal General on January 30, almost at the last minute. On the morning of January 31, Red Army troops broke into the “Univermag” department store, where the 6th Army headquarters was located in the basement. At 7:35 am, the radio station there gave its last two reports: “Russian is at the door. We are preparing for destruction. "Shortly afterwards:" We are destroying. "

Officers from General Michail Schumilow's headquarters then conducted the handover negotiations with General Arthur Schmidt, while Paulus received information from the Adjutant of the 6th Army, Colonel Wilhelm Adam , in an adjoining room .


Paul was per se without its own participation in the January 31, 1943 prisoner of war the Red Army. He was then driven in his own car to the Donfront headquarters near Zawarykino, 80 km from Stalingrad. First he was interrogated by the Soviet army command by the later Marshal of the Soviet Union , Konstantin Rokossowski , on February 2, 1943 at 4 p.m. He vehemently denied that the southern basin had surrendered, but instead insisted that the fight had simply been stopped due to a lack of ammunition . In addition, despite repeated requests, he refused to order the still fighting northern basin of Stalingrad to cease fighting. He said he had no authority over this because he was not with the troops. On February 20, 1943, Paulus and his staff were transferred to POW Camp No. 27 in Krasnogorsk near Moscow, where they stayed for six weeks before moving on to Camp No. 160 in Suzdal .

Since their capture, the officers of the Stalingrad Army have been subject to secret surveillance by the NKVD , which regularly compiled dossiers on their political positions. In mid-May 1943 it was reported about Paulus that he was trying to maintain his composure and that he expected to be exchanged for a Russian general when the opportunity arose, and that he continued to greet his officers with "Heil Hitler" and reject the socialist celebrations May 1st from.

During a visit by Wilhelm Pieck , who wanted to advertise the newly established National Committee for Free Germany , however, unlike most of the officers, who merely disdained Pieck, he was ready to talk. In this conversation he admitted his disappointment with Hitler, but insisted that, as a soldier, he had to obey under all circumstances. So he resolutely refused to help set up the committee.

After the transfer to the prisoner-of-war camp 5110/48 Woikowo in July 1943, Paulus, as the highest-ranking officer, had to act as a mediator in disputes between the group of soldiers prepared to work with the NKFD and the other camp inmates. In addition, he was urged by General von Seydlitz, whose superior he had been in the Stalingrad pocket, to take part in the founding of the NKFD, as the participation of such a highly decorated soldier was expected to send a signal. But Paul justified his refusal by pointing out that as a prisoner of war he was not allowed to take a stand against his political leadership. A declaration he co-signed, which accused the members of the Association of German Officers (BDO) of treason , did not meet with his inner approval either.

The Soviet authorities did not let up in their efforts and moved him to Saretschje near Lunowo / Moscow without his escort. After on 11./12. September in Lunowo the BDO had to be founded without Paulus, the pressure on the field marshal increased: He was only allowed to have contact with members of the BDO, who as well as his Soviet guards urged him to join. Paul complained: He did not share the opinion of his roommates, but did not do so out of narrow-mindedness, but because he felt unable to make a decision on this matter. He was therefore brought back to Woikowo by July 20, 1944, but after the assassination attempt on Hitler he was put under pressure again for two weeks until Paulus agreed to cooperate. The reason was the breakdown of diplomatic relations between Germany and Turkey , which would lead to the Allies landing in the Balkans, meaning that Germany would lose the war. On August 8, 1944, he therefore signed an appeal to the German people in which he called on them to renounce Hitler.

With his long hesitation and with his swinging into the Soviet line, Paulus only earned outrage from the BDO and the other German prisoners of war. The members of the BDO took the position that Paul could not have a leading position, since his indecision made him unbelievable. His step also met with astonishment abroad, as Paul in particular had followed Hitler's orders unconditionally and right down to the last resort. In Germany, his relatives were in Sippenhaft taken his wife came to the Dachau concentration camp and his son to Immenstadt in imprisonment . Paul himself overestimated his influence and tried to convince other officers to join, and he also put together a new staff. Two calls to Army Group North and the newly established 6th Army to lay down their arms were unsuccessful. On October 30, 1944, he asked Stalin to speak to him in order to propose the establishment of German volunteer associations - comparable to the Russian Liberation Army under Andrei Andreevich Vlasov established on the German side . In view of the unsuccessfulness and insignificance of the NKFD and the BDO, both among the German prisoners of war and among the fighting troops, his request received no response.

post war period

Witness for the prosecution in Nuremberg

Goering , Hess , Ribbentrop and Keitel , behind them Donitz , Raeder , von Schirach and Sauckel in the dock.

The announcement of the trials against the main German war criminals in November 1945 caused great unrest among the prisoners-of-war officers who had fought in Stalingrad: One charge related to the killing of 40,000 civilians in the Stalingrad area. Paul's subordinates rejected any responsibility and referred to him as their superior. This may have prompted him to cooperate with the Soviet Union: He made it clear to the NKVD liaison officer that he wanted to testify in preparation for the Russian campaign and the knowledge of the generals.

Paulus was flown to Germany under the code name “Satrap” at the beginning of 1946 and appeared on February 11 as a witness for the prosecution under Soviet protection. He reported on his own role in the preparation of Operation Barbarossa and its character of a war of conquest and extermination, which the defendants did not miss. When asked about the main culprits, he named Wilhelm Keitel , Alfred Jodl and Hermann Göring . The defense did not succeed in dismissing his statements by claiming his role in the General Staff, in the 6th Army and in the NKFD, as the judges did not consider these aspects to be relevant. Paul's statement fully met the expectations of his Soviet supervisors. Of course, this was of no use to Paul: A reunion with his seriously ill wife was denied to him due to a lack of “expediency”. She died in 1949 without seeing her husband again.

The field marshal's appearance met with a mixed response from soldiers and officers in Soviet captivity: most of them considered it undignified and no less guilty than Keitel, Jodl and Göring. A great many therefore assumed that they would later try him themselves. After his return, Paul was not taken back to the general camp, but transferred to a dacha in Tomilino . Besides him, Generals Vincenz Miiller and Arno von Lenski were also accommodated there; Paul's adjutant, Colonel Wilhelm Adam , was also present more frequently. In the summer of 1947, they spent two months in the Crimea to recover from an abducted pulmonary tuberculosis . A change occurred in 1948, when - in contrast to Paulus himself - the officers were dismissed, so that only two German prisoners of war remained as cook and orderly. This and the news about his wife's steadily deteriorating health led to increasing depression in Paul. In June 1948 he therefore asked for repatriation to the Soviet occupation zone , as he wanted to help build a democratic Germany closely linked to the Soviet Union. Apparently, he figured it would have a better chance of being released. This request went unanswered. Paul sensed that an investigation had begun against him. He was no longer allowed to go to the theater in Moscow, officials no longer visited him, and the radio had been taken away from him under some pretext. Although there were sufficient incriminating evidence in 1949, no charges were brought against him.

The death of his wife in November 1949 was kept a secret from him for four weeks: Paulus should not withdraw his promise to move to the GDR after he only had a son and daughter, both of whom lived in the Federal Republic of Germany. For this reason, a new request in May 1950 was only approved in principle, but no specific permission was given. In a report from 1953 it says: "In addition, the repatriation of Paulus was postponed until a special order, after which the question was no longer examined." In September 1953 there was another meeting between Walter Ulbricht and Paulus, at which his return was discussed. Before Paulus and his two servants boarded the train to Frankfurt (Oder) on October 24, 1953 , he wrote another address of devotion to the Soviet Union, full of gratitude, with which he finally stamped himself a traitor and "turning neck" in the eyes of the West German public .

Further life

Paulus-Villa, Preussstrasse 10 in Oberloschwitz
Friedrich Paulus at a press conference in 1954

On October 26, 1953, Paul set foot on German soil for the first time since 1946. At the platform he was received by Arno von Lenski and Wilhelm Adam . He was then taken to East Berlin for an official reception by the GDR state and party leadership. His name had gained weight again since Chancellor Adenauer had led the Federal Republic on a westward course. The GDR wanted to take countermeasures with celebrities who supported it. Paulus was assigned a Dresden villa on the White Eagle in Oberloschwitz and was given the privilege of having his own handgun and a West German car, an Opel Kapitän .

Since his arrival, Paul has been under the surveillance of the state security as an "object terrace" . Some of his employees were informers from the secret service, his mail was checked, the telephone and the apartment were bugged. He was not given any influential positions in the GDR; his official function was head of the War History Research Council at the University of the Barracked People's Police .

Paul dealt with the laying down of his views and in two lectures in 1954 with the battle of Stalingrad. In 1955 he was the figurehead of the SED initiative “All-German Officers' Meetings”, which was supposed to prevent rearmament and foreign trade and foreign policy integration of West Germany into the West. During the meeting he was commissioned by those involved in the West to seek the release of the last prisoners of war. He therefore turned to the GDR leadership, which, however, had to pay tribute to Moscow's interests in rapprochement with the Federal Republic at this stage. A second meeting of the initiative called for “national resistance to the policy of permanent division in Germany”. These tones and the participation of Waffen SS officers led to the GDR ending the meeting. Afterwards Paul withdrew from the public, mainly for health reasons, since he had suffered from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis since 1955/1956 , which leads to paralysis of the muscles with complete mental clarity. Due to his rapidly deteriorating state of health, a study of the Battle of Stalingrad, which he was last concerned with, remained unfinished. Paul died in the late afternoon of February 1st, 1957 in his Dresden villa. He was buried with military honors in the Dresden- Tolkewitz cemetery. His urn was later reburied in the family grave in the main cemetery in Baden-Baden .


On July 4, 1912, he married the Romanian noble daughter Constance Elena Rosetti-Solescu (* January 25, 1889, † November 9, 1949), the sister of a regimental comrade. The marriage had three children: Olga, married. von Kutzschenbach (1914–2003) and the twins Friedrich († February 29, 1944 at the Battle of Anzio ) and Ernst Alexander († 1970), born in 1918 .

Awards (selection)

Literature (selection)

  • Field Marshal Paulus speaks. Kongreß-Verlag, Berlin [1954].
  • Hans Doerr : The campaign to Stalingrad. An attempt at an operational overview. Mittler, Darmstadt 1955.
  • Walter Görlitz (Ed.): Paulus. "I'm here on orders!" Life path of General Field Marshal Friedrich Paulus. With the records from the estate, letters and documents. [With a foreword by Ernst Alexander Paulus.] Verlag für Wehrwesen Bernard & Graefe, Frankfurt am Main 1960.
  • Heinz Schröter: Stalingrad - ... down to the last cartridge. Ullstein, Frankfurt am Main, Berlin 1993, ISBN 3-548-22972-7 .
  • Leonid Reschin: Field Marshal in cross-examination. Friedrich Paulus in Soviet captivity 1943–1953. Edition q, Berlin 1996, ISBN 3-86124-323-7 .
  • Peter Steinkamp: Field Marshal General Friedrich Paulus. In: Gerd R. Ueberschär (ed.): Hitler's military elite. Vol. 2. From the beginning of the war to the end of the war. Primus, Darmstadt 1998, ISBN 3-89678-089-1 , pp. 161-168.
  • Peter Steinkamp: Field Marshal General Friedrich Paulus. An apolitical soldier? Sutton, Erfurt 2001, ISBN 3-89702-306-7 .
  • Manfred Kehrig:  Paulus, Friedrich Wilhelm Ernst. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 20, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 2001, ISBN 3-428-00201-6 , p. 133 f. ( Digitized version ). (The different, visually similar place of birth is unoccupied.)
  • Johannes Hürter : Hitler's military leader. The German commanders-in-chief in the war against the Soviet Union in 1941/42. R. Oldenbourg, Munich 2007, ISBN 978-3-486-57982-6 , p. 650 f. (Short biography).
  • Torsten Diedrich : Paul. The Stalingrad trauma. A biography. Schöningh, Paderborn 2008, ISBN 978-3-506-76403-4 . ( Review )

Web links

Commons : Friedrich Paulus  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. In the literature, Breitenau is often given as the place of birth, but this is - and was even then - only a locality of Guxhagen. See the Royal Prussian State Service Calendar for the Cassel administrative region for the year 1890/91 . Reformed Orphanage, Cassel 1891, p. 267 ( 16 District Court of Melsungen. ORKA ).
  2. Peter Steinkamp: Field Marshal Paulus. P. 11 ff.
  3. Peter Steinkamp: Field Marshal Paulus. P. 14 ff.
  4. Peter Steinkamp: Generalfeldmarschall Paulus , p. 21 ff.
  5. Peter Steinkamp: Generalfeldmarschall Paulus , p. 29 ff.
  6. Peter Steinkamp: Generalfeldmarschall Paulus , p. 32 ff.
  7. Peter Steinkamp: Generalfeldmarschall Paulus , p. 48 ff.
  8. Joachim Wieder: Stalingrad and the responsibility of the soldier , Herbig, Munich 1997, ISBN 3-7766-1778-0 , chapter Generalfeldmarschall Paulus, pp. 216-257.
  9. Peter Steinkamp: Generalfeldmarschall Paulus , p. 58 ff.
  10. Peter Steinkamp: Generalfeldmarschall Paulus , p. 70 ff.
  11. Heinz Schröter: Stalingrad - ... to the last cartridge , p. 248 ff.
  12. Joachim Wieder: Stalingrad and the responsibility of the soldier , Herbig, Munich 1997, ISBN 3-7766-1778-0 , p. 364.
  13. Peter Steinkamp: Generalfeldmarschall Paulus , p. 78 ff.
  14. Leonid Reschin: Field Marshal in Cross Examination , pp. 73 ff.
  15. Peter Steinkamp: Generalfeldmarschall Paulus , p. 94 f.
  16. ^ Statement by Field Marshal Paulus General in the main negotiations of the Nuremberg Trial, afternoon session on Monday, February 11, 1946 (56th day) . Published in: The Trial of the Major War Criminals before the International Court of Justice Nuremberg , Volume 7. Nuremberg 1947 pp. 283-310.
  17. Leonid Reschin: Field Marshal in cross-examination , pp 169 et seq.
  18. Peter Steinkamp: Generalfeldmarschall Paulus , p. 98 ff.
  19. ^ German photo library of the SLUB Dresden : Friedrich Paulus with his daughter in his apartment ; see. Dresden and Saxon Switzerland (=  ADAC travel guide ). 2006, ISBN 3-89905-441-5 , pp. 100 ( limited preview in the Google book search = : entry on Weißer Hirsch ( memento from December 16, 2008 in the Internet Archive )). Dresden and Saxon Switzerland ( Memento from December 16, 2008 in the Internet Archive )
  20. ^ Walter Görlitz: Paulus und Stalingrad , Athenäum Verlag, Frankfurt am Main, 1964, p. 268.
  21. called Paulus Villa : Preußstr. 10, 01324 Dresden; Coordinates 51 ° 3 '35.96 "  N , 13 ° 49' 48.68"  O
  22. Peter Steinkamp: Generalfeldmarschall Paulus , p. 107 ff.
  23. ^ Mark A. Fraschka: Field Marshal General Friedrich Paulus to Stalingrad 1953–1957 . 2008 ( Master's thesis at the University of Würzburg (PDF; 11.6 MB)).
  24. Also on the following orders Johannes Hürter : Hitler's Army Leader. The German Commander-in-Chief in the War against the Soviet Union 1941/42 , Oldenbourg, Munich 2007, ISBN 978-3-486-57982-6 , p. 651 (accessed via De Gruyter Online).
This version was added to the list of articles worth reading on March 29, 2006 .