"May I ask why?"
"You have not carried out the orders of the Corps commander."
"And what am I to do? Should I tell them to throw rocks? Or maybe snow, there's lots of that -- I have nothing else. The artillery battery behind me, they don't shoot anymore because they have no ammunition. But Corps has ordered them to stay and defend us. How about telling Corps HQ to take back their guns and send their personnel up here to become part of my infantry."
"You tell them," the lieutenant replied.
Lemcke got on the radio. Corps repeated the order to attack. Lemcke again refused. Corps then told the lieutenant to arrest that man and bring him in. As the lieutenant made to do so, Lemcke's men surrounded him. "These were soldiers who had been with me since Russia," Lemcke recalled. "A number of them had long since earned the Iron Cross 1st Class. They would not allow this lieutenant to take me anywhere."
Next to Hitler himself, the biggest jerks in Germany were Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering and Reichsfuehrer SS Heinrich Himmler. In November 1944 Himmler was put in command of the eastern bank of the Upper Rhine. Himmler knew a lot about how to terrorize and slaughter civilians, but nothing about military affairs. On January 3, 1945, he ordered Maj. Hannibal von Lüttichau to attack.
"I don't doubt that these orders were developed with the greatest care," Lüttichau told Himmler. "But we must have fuel."
"You don't need to drive," Himmler replied.
"But a dug-in panzer is easily destroyed from the air," Lüttichau explained. "The panzer's strength is to shoot and move. Suddenly pop up and fire and get out of there! Besides, I don't have ammunition. It doesn't matter how much heroism we have, we won't last a day before our soldiers know that we are crazy and stick their hands in the air and give up. What should I do about that?"
Himmler ordered him arrested. He was, but his Iron Cross 1st Class protected him and he survived.
Copyright © 1997 by Ambrose-Tubbs, Inc.
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