Friday, January 27, 2017

THE END OF THE AFRIKA KORPS

Between 1941 and 1943 there were a total of 260,000 German troops in North Africa. Of this number 18,594 were killed and 3,400 posted as missing. The rest who did not make it out of Africa in 1943 mostly ended up as PoWs taken either by the British and Commonwealth troops or the Americans. The treatment of prisoners by both sides was on the whole very good. There were isolated incidents of shooting prisoners on both sides but these were very few and far between and captured prisoners on both sides who required medical attention were given the best treatment as the situation permitted. Many British and commonwealth prisoners were surprised at fair treatment they received from the Afrika Korps when captured. The same can be said for the the German prisoners.


German Fallschirmjäger POWs belonging to the Ramke Brigade captured by Australian troops at El Alamein.

On the whole the Campaign in Africa was fought in a chivalrous manner with respect being shown by both sides and this view has been confirmed by both Allied and Axis troops. An ex-British despatch rider serving in Africa recalls that on several occasions he saw crews escaping from burning tanks from both sides and not once were they shot at while trying to escape. This was in sharp contrast to the war in Eastern Europe where quite the opposite was true.

Some British prisoners who were wounded were sent to hospitals containing German and Italian wounded and on several occasions during arguments between the British and Italians the Germans would side with the British. German prisoners also commented on the fair treatment shown to them by their Allied captors, both British and American and in most cases it was either Britain or America where these prisoners would end up. Allied troops also commented on the fighting prowess of the Afrika Korps whose relatively small size coupled with the supply problems they encountered as well as their generally unreliable allies the Italians achieved astounding victories.


Tunisia, 12. Mai 1943

Whatever the Afrika Korps was it was not an army of fanatical Nazis as some films and fictional authors would have us believe, but an army of patriotic soldiers (no more patriotic than any other army at the time)  who showed great discipline and courage in the face of the enemy and of a calibre of which any commander would have been honoured to command in battle.


For them the war is over. Afrika Korps on a road near Enfidaville on 13th May 1943 assemble for surrender to Allied troops. Hitler's expedition in Africa was an unessecery side-show that squandered valuble reserves of manpower and supplies that could have been put to much better use on the Eastern front.

Courtesy of Ciaran Byrne from ELITE FORCES OF THE THIRD REICH


Picture courtesy of Jeff Wendt

An official Army Air Corps (AAC) photograph of Afrika Korps Italian General Apporte being lead away after his capture in North Africa in 1943

AXIS LOSSES UNTIL THE END OF THE AFRICA CAMPAIGN
Men
Around 1.000.000
Planes
Around 8.000
Guns
Around 6.200
Armoured Cars
Around 2.500
Other Transports
Around 70.000
Ships
Around 2.500.000 tons

From 1941 to 1943, around 22.000 Germans lost their
lives in the North Africa campaign...


A Luftwaffe oficer surrender to the American Soldiers in Tunisia

The Deutsche Afrika Korps remains forever as one of the most excellent army's of the 20st Century. Rommel combines speed with tactical and strategical maneuvers even on retreat. Modern wars like the war in Iraq in 1991 are based on Afrikakorps basic moves.

Every fair person who loves history should remember thankfully the British/Allies soldiers for freeing Europe but also respect their enemy, German and Italian soldiers, because there they did their duty with real courage and honor.


Picture courtesy of Fran from The Desert War (colorized by me)

A group of veteran Afrika Korps prisoners pose for a snapshot




No comments:

Post a Comment