|Born||23 Sep 1890|
|Died||1 Feb 1957|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
Friedrich Paulus was born in Breitenau to Ernest and Bertha Paulus. He enlisted in the Prussian Army in 1910, and was promoted to second lieutenant the year after. He married a woman of Romanian aristocracy, Elena Rosetti-Solescu, on 4 Jul 1912, and from that point in his life he acted in an aristocratic manner, including his insistence personal cleanliness even in the most gruesome battlefields. After participating in WW1 in Macedonia, France, and Serbia, Paulus held various staff posts. In 1935, he would be named the chief of staff for the Panzer Headquarters, where he caught the attention of Hitler, and was promoted to a leadership position. He was transferred to the German 10th Army to take command in 1939.
Paulus led forces in Poland in 1939 during the invasion, and later also took part in the invasion of Belgium, Holland, and France. The 10th Army would be renamed the 6th Army during that campaign. He prepared his troops with rigorous training for an invasion of Britain that never took place. In 1940 he served as the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Army General Staff. Starting in 1941, he served briefly under Erwin Rommel in North Africa before being transferred to the Russian Front. He later was appointed a commanding general in that theater in Jan 1942. He was a key contributor for planning of Operation Barbarossa. He was successful in capturing Kharkov in May 1942, and was largely successful in the entire Caucasus region. Nevertheless, he had never been a support of the campaign against Russia. As a senior officer before Operation Barbarossa, he warned against such an invasion, citing that the enormous front would overstretch German strength.
As Paulus moved his troops toward Stalingrad, the difficulties set in as he had previously warned. In the following month, Russian forces launched a counterattack that eventually surrounded the German 6th Army in the city of Stalingrad. Adolf Hitler promoted Paulus to the rank of Field Marshal in Jan 1943, hoping that it would inspire him to fight to the death in Stalingrad (no Field Marshal hard ever surrendered to the enemy in German history). Very soon after the promotion, however, he surrendered his forces on 2 Feb 1943. He became a prisoner of war in Russia until 1953. During his captivity, he joined the Russian-sponsored National Committee for a Free Germany, and urged the German people to turn their backs on the Nazi government. During the Nuremberg Trials, Paulus acted as a witness.
Paulus passed away in Dresden in 1957 as an inspector in the city's police force.
Certain sources cite Paulus as "von Paulus", adding the "von" prefix that indicates aristocracy, which is not correct. His father, a school teacher, was not of noble blood; the only connection Paulus had to aristocracy was through his marriage with Elena Rosetti-Solescu.
Sources: DHM Object Database, Spartacus Educational, Wikipedia.
Friedrich Paulus Timeline
|23 Sep 1890||Friedrich Paulus was born in Guxhagen, Germany.|
|4 Jul 1912||Friedrich Paulus married Elena Rosetti-Solescu.|
|27 Apr 1941||German Deputy Chief of Staff Friedrich Paulus arrived in Libya.|
|17 Apr 1943||Matome Ugaki chaired a conference at the 8th Base Force Headquarters at Rabaul, New Britain. Among other topics, the admirals discussed the lack of armor on Japanese aircraft and the concern that Isoroku Yamamoto was soon to personally visit the front lines.|
|1 Feb 1957||Friedrich Paulus passed away in Dresden, Germany.|
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James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy, 23 Feb 1945