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Alternate History

The Breakout of the Sixth Army

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The air is tense on Kalach, a small town on the Don River in the Soviet Caucasus, just outside of the town happiness as the Soviet Forces meet on the outskirts firing Flares and with an optimistic feeling in the air both Soviet Pincers part of Operation Uranus seal the faith of the Sixth Army, trapped in a death match with the 62th Army in Stalingrad. When news of the encirclement reach Hitler he immediately collapses he orders counterattacks with invisible units, the scene with the Führer is a tense one many Commanders recall. Hitler left the Reichstag early that night, and to many of the Generals surprise Hitler did not appear until 12 midnight the next morning, Hitler was a new man, they recall. Hitler ordered General Mainstein to head back to Berlin to plan out a Relief Operation, when he got news that Paulus had escaped the Encirclement he called him to return to Berlin, on the 25th when Paulus arrived Hitler began to plan out a new Offensive with attacks coming in from both sides of the Pocket, the Sixth Army would be supplied by Air as best as it could to keep the morale high, he also suggested Paulus flew back to Stalingrad to keep morale high. Just as Hitler was ready to address Mainstein's troop requirements Hitler received the notification that a heavy Soviet attack had just been launched against the Rzhev Salient, Hitler trusted Model in holding the Front and just issued basic orders to Model, before he came back to Mainstein he promised Tigers and Panzer Formations to Mainstein before the 3rd of December the planned date for the breakout. As Mainstein prepared to head to the Caucasus to organize his forces and Paulus back to Stalingrad to prepare for the breakout.

Preparation

Both Paulus and Mainstein were able to reach their destinations safely and began to carry out their part of the plan. Göring assured Hitler that he could maintain the Pocket by Air, but Hitler ordered that Fuel be drooped to keep the Tanks moving he also ordered the transportation of as many wounded as they could. As more and more formations reached Mainstein and his forces he was able to assure Hitler of an offensive by at least the 5th of December, the date of the Third was therefore moved to the 6th of December to allow for more forces to arrive, it was agreed that the Sixth Army would attack 48 Hours later in the hope of catching less front line forces. As Paulus reported back to Berlin he said the air bridge was by at most at 35% with Göring agreeing to a 45% capability, but Paulus said that the Tanks would be able to breakout by the pre determined date and that his forces were ready to pull back in the north of the city were still heavy fighting issued.

On the 5th of December Paulus received the code word Sapphire which meant the strategic retreat of German and Romanian Units in both outside and inside Stalingrad to the south to prepare for the breakout this retreats were only performed at night. On the morning of the 6th Mainstein still without sufficient forces called off the attack until the 7th at Hitler's displeasure.

Breakout

On the morning of the 7th Mainstein´s forces turned on their engines and headed for Stalingrad, on the other side the Germans were eager to breakout, with the Soviets caught off guard Mainsteins push gained a lot of ground on the first day Hitler decided to delay the order of breakout. On the second day Mainsteins push kept the same strength as the day before but it was until the 9th when Soviet forces were able to show resistance to Mainstein´s push, Hitler now ordered Paulus who had a very dangerous positions as the 62nd Army proved to not give the Germans a second, it was ordered to Paulus to order the breakout on the 12th, by the moment of breakthrough from Stalingrad Mainstein was 55 km´s away from Stalingrad. Attacking rear units Paulus and his Sixth Army had began their breakthrough, facing heavy resistance from the north many units were not able to join the breakthrough until the 14th by the 15th the Sixth Army was 20 km´s away from freedom but just as it seem that the situation might end very well for the Germans on the 16th the Soviets launched Operation Little Saturn catching the Italian Forces off guard and delivering heavy blows to them. Hitler ordered Mainstein to keep the push until the Sixth Army was out of danger.

On the 17th the Sixth Army was just 10 km´s when the northern units in Stalingrad had been pushed back to the outskirts to the City and the collapse from units covering the west of the City meant that almost 25,000 men were going to be left in Stalingrad and with the Airfields capture almost imminent death for the units would be assured. On the 18th as forward Sixth Army units meet with the Fourth Panzer Division, units were ordered to strike back into Stalingrad to free their comrades succeeding in the attacks and leaving the fateful City for once and for all. The Sixth Army was given the order to retreat by the 22nd the last day Mainstein´s forces could keep the passage, with heavy Soviets attacks the passage was in many cases closed temporarily on the 21st but by the 22nd 85% of the Sixth Army had escaped and reached the other side of the Don. The passage was forcefully closed on the 23rd with all remaining Sixth Army Units escaped. By the 26th Mainstein´s Forces were back to their starting point with 260,000 German and Romanian Soldiers.

Aftermath

Having escaped the trap in Stalingrad, Mainstein and his forces were ordered by Hitler on the 2nd of January to retreat from the Caucasus, of which Mainstein accomplished by the 10th. With the success of Uranus and Mars now destroyed and Little Saturn almost not accomplishing anything forced Stalin to stop his planned attack on Rostov to capture Army Group A in the Caucasus of which was across Rostov by the planned date of the 15th. Having calmed the situation now Hitler was more determined than ever to not allow such thing to happen again and now relied on his generals' decision making rather than his own, he ordered several elements of the 4th Panzer Division and the Sixth Army to France for re-armament. The Eastern Front remained relatively quiet as forces from the re-armed units came back to the East, but as the Afrika Korps had been pushed out of North Africa and Italy now seemed threatened Hitler decided to continue the war against the Eight Army, after meeting with the Turkish government Hitler forced the Turks to accept the movement of a refurnished 4th Panzer Division to the Middle East and with a steady supply of oil as the oil was directly bought in Turkey and put into the tanks.

On May 1943 Holt´s 4th Panzer entered Syria beginning Operation Donner Malleus (Thunder Hammer)

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