Saturday Afternoon: The German who lost D-Day

Published by carolyn on Sat, 2014-06-07 12:52

June 7, 2014

On the 70th anniversary of the Allied landing  on Normandy's coast, known as D-Day, which was Friday, June 6, Carolyn looks at the possibility of treason as the reason for the poor Wehrmacht response to the invasion. Highlights include:

  • Generals and even Field Marshals serving in Northwest France in anticipation of the 1944 invasion were the same ones who participated in the July 20, 1944 assassination attempt on Hitler;
  • Most likely of all to be helping the enemy was Lt. General Hans Speidel, FM Erwin Rommel's Chief of Staff, who had authority while Rommel was away and was slow to pass on information;
  • An unusual number of key leaders were away from their headquarters on June 6, but the weather was thought unfavorable for a landing;
  • Hans Speidel was released by the French after the war and in 1957 was named Commander of the Allied Forces, Central Europe, an important NATO post, held until 1963;
  • The last installment of Oblt. Leopold Wenger's letters from the front have been published - comments are welcomre.

Image: Lt. General Hans Speidel and FM Erwin Rommel, with Gen. Lang between, at Pas-de-Calais in April 1944. Enlarge


I am sorry that I read that sidebar mentioning "the superspy Alcazar de Velasco" from my own article (!) in The Barnes Review on this program. I don't remember where that information came from, but it had to come from Wilhelm Mann, from one of his books, or maybe a German web site. We didn't footnote it. I vaguely remember that when he mentioned it to me, I liked it so much and wanted to add it. It fit with my view of Speidel.

So I just looked the guy up and I find his reputation is that of a bigmouth who was not taken very seriously and he told some of his stories to Harry Cooper of Sharkhunters. He is Harry's source for at least some of his "Hitler fled the Bunker." nonsense. I am no fan of Cooper's, to put it mildly.

I can't remove that quote from the magazine, but I didn't add it to my website. I now put no faith in what Alcazar Velasco says.

A listener provided this link with some interesting info on it. The British considered assassinating some German Commanders in NW France prior to the invasion. Stuelpnagel, Rundstedt and Rommel are mentioned by name.

But they don't like to bear any moral responsibility for the reprisals that would naturally follow. It's all about image, you see. They have their image of being on the moral high-ground to maintain.

Starting at 1:07:30 I "go off the reservation" (sticking with my notesl) and start naming names and get some things mixed up. I said that Von Hofacker was Chief of Staff of Stuelpnagel and Blumentritt C of S of Von Kluge. Wrong. Hofacker was ON the staff of Stuelpnagel and Blumentritt was Stuelpnagel's C of S.

Also, by the time of July 20th, Spiedel was Von Kluge's C of S, not Rommel's, who was in hospital in serious condition and had been replaced by Von Kluge. Sperrle was Commander of the Luftwaffe in Western Europe at this time, and obviously in sympathy with the conspirators.

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ALSO, someone wrote wanting the correct spelling of Fellgiebel so he could look him up. Check here:

Minor errors. A very interesting and detailed show about the D Day preparations.

I thought for a moment you was going to be critical of some of Hitler's decisions. Holding the Panzers back for so long. Fair point about the plots against Hitler which made it hard for him to trust his subordinates.

And you mentioned for one second, but then skipped the V1's. I've always wondered why they didn't pummel the landing areas with them. The only way around Allied air superiority and it would have had a great effect on Allied moral. I know they used them against the port at Antwerp.

Normandy landings 6th June 1944

First V1's land on London 13th June 1944

That means they were firing them at London when the Allies had already got past the Atlantic wall.

During the week commencing 25/06/1944 125 V1's fell on South London killing 357 approx plus thousands injured.

The V1 mention I started to read was not about D-Day. It was from Hans Speidel's page at Wiki and was about attacking Paris in August. I'm really not sure about that story and I wouldn't want to bring it up in any case.

I never came across anything about using V-rockets at Normandy Beach. Maybe it was too close to the launch site? Perhaps they were calibrated to go across the channel. Did you think of that?

I hadn't thought of that to be honest.
I've saw some footage of Antwerp looking pretty devastated from V1's.
It's just a subject I've always been interested in. Unlike the V2 it only cost the price of a standard vw family car to make one, 500 Reichsmarks.
I spoke to an elderly WW2 American pilot once (he married and stayed in England). He said "We could handle the bombs - it was the V1's and rockets that got peole really scared."
"We must admire the German technical genius which has again produced an entirely new and formidable weapon."
Daily Express

Friedrich Georg says that the generals were against using the V1 in the Normandy (Verrat in der Normandie). They recommended bombing London and lied about the results. He thinks that the rockets were shot mostly off the target too.

The corect name is Speidel

Boy, in three places too. Yet I know the correct spelling. By the way, correct is spelled with two r's. Haha, got ya! Just kidding, I appreciate the correction.