Welcome to Jester's Trek.
I'm your host, Jester. I've been an EVE Online player for about six years. One of my four mains is Ripard Teg, pictured at left. Sadly, I've succumbed to "bittervet" disease, but I'm wandering the New Eden landscape (and from time to time, the MMO landscape) in search of a cure.
You can follow along, if you want...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

An impossible situation

Today, it's time for a short history lesson, where Jester Makes History Fun.  Are you seated comfortably?  Then I'll begin.

In late summer 1942 at the height of World War II, the German Army began what is widely regarded as one of the bloodiest battles in the history of warfare, the Battle of Stalingrad.  The attack was led by the German Sixth Army, under the command of General Friedrich Paulus.  The attack was initially very successful and at points, the Sixth Army held more than 90% of Stalingrad.  However, autumn 1942 set in with the city still hanging on in bloody house-to-house fighting.  The Soviet Army launched a counter-offensive in November 1942, and the combination of the counter-attack and the Soviet winter began slowly crushing Paulus and the Sixth Army.

The Sixth Army was completely encircled by January, and Paulus requested permission to abandon Stalingrad and break out of the encirclement... and was refused.  An attempt to relieve Paulus's Army failed.  On January 8th and on the 25th, the Soviet commanding General offered Paulus very generous terms of surrender, noting (correctly) that Paulus was in an impossible situation, crushed between the encircling army and the still Soviet-held city.  There was no chance for Paulus to succeed.  His army didn't even have winter clothing.  On both occasions, he again asked for permission to surrender for the sake of his remaining men, and was refused.

The bloody fighting went on and on, killing hundreds of thousands of people.  By 1943 January 30, Paulus informed Hitler that his position was hours from collapse.  Hitler responded by promoting the bulk of Paulus's officers by radio to stiffen morale, and promoting Paulus himself to Field Marshal.  No German Field Marshal had ever surrendered or been captured alive.  If Paulus surrendered or was captured, he would shame Germany's military history.  The implication was clear: Paulus was to commit suicide to prevent this.

Yes, that means that Adolph Hitler is the modern inventor of the "kill urself" meme.  Only he meant it quite literally.  This presented Field Marshal Paulus with quite a problem, particularly since he was also a Catholic.

Is it bad to laugh at the personal and professional difficulties of a man who died before most of us were born?  Probably.  But I'll give you a special dispensation usable for this case only.  Go ahead and laugh.

Paulus refused to commit suicide and to Hitler's disgust, he surrendered the very next day, January 31st.  The remaining Sixth Army surrendered two days later, on February 2nd.  Upon learning of Paulus's surrender, Hitler flew into a rage.  To his staff, he very publicly compared Paulus (unfavorably) to the thousands of Germans who committed suicide every year "even without being in such a position" as Paulus was.  The Russians held Stalingrad and recaptured the surrounding area.

Friedrich Paulus survived the war in a Soviet prison camp as a vocal opponent of the Nazis, and acted as a witness for the prosecution at the Nuremberg trials.  He was released in 1953 and died four years later.

What does this have to do with EVE Online?

Nothing at all.  Nothing whatsoever.

A hearty congratulations to Fidelas Constans and Controlled Chaos on being promoted from guests to full members of the NC!  It's unfortunate that the fights in ZLZ and 7-K didn't go better.  But being encircled by 40 Titans and almost 150 Super-carriers with no super-caps on your own side whatsoever is what you might call an impossible situation.

8 comments:

  1. Good to see people who know their history! Even if it has nothing, I repeat nothing at all to do with Eve Online..

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  2. Nope, nothing at all to with EvE. Nosiree.

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  3. *confused*

    Is this a joke that only NC people get?

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  4. I'm not an "NC people" but I do follow 0.0 activities. Read the last link in the blog entry.

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  5. Damn Russians and their blob warfare.

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  6. Thanks for the history lesson. I can see the time nears to join the Borg...umm, DRF. If you can't beat em...

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  7. This post confirms why Jester's Trek is one of my favorite blogs to read.

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  8. OMG there is so much I didn´t know about the WWII. It is impressive from the point of view of the common people, how many guys died out there. Last year I travelled to Argentina to know more about its position in the war, why they stayed neutral and the pros and cons of that. I stayed in a hotel in downtown of buenos aires which helped me a lot to do some research as I was close to everything.
    Learnt a lot!
    Rachel

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