no edit summary
News of the encirclement of the German divisions under Paulus was a severe blow to Hitler and he ordered an immediate attack to relieve the encircled forces in Stalingrad. Goering intervened and believed that the Luftwaffe or German air force could re-supply Paulus’ army. Goering promised Hitler that he would supply the Germans in Stalingrad with all that was needed. In the end, the Luftwaffe’s efforts to supply the besieged forces was completely inadequate. It has been estimated that the German air force only dropped one-quarter of the material and the food that the German soldiers needed to fight and survive in the Russian Steppe during the winter.
The failed Luftwaffe efforts to supply German soldiers caused morale in the city to fall. Many German officers even argued that they should surrender. During December 19th, the gifted German General Eric von Manstein and a significant number of German division attempted to reach Stalingrad. Operation Winter Storm was initially successful, despite it occurring during the depths of winter. Von Man stein’s forces came within thirty kilometers of the besieged Germans, but Paulus refused to breakout and link up with the relief forces. He possibly could have saved some of his forces. However, this would have required him to disobey Hitler’s explicit orders. In the end, he refused to do so and the opportunity was lost. If Hitler had allowed his generals more flexibility, then Von Paulus could have saved some of his divisions from complete annihilation.<ref> Hoyt, Edwin Palmer. ''199 Days: The Battle for Stalingrad'' (New York: A Forge Book, 1999), p. 167</ref>