Arnim, Colonel General Jurgen von, 1889-1971

Arnim was the offspring of a traditional Prussian military family. He became a member of the elite German General Staff and commanded a corps in the USSR. At the end of 1942 HITLER selected him at short notice to command the Fifth Panzer Army. Arnim was not the right man because he habitually failed to co-operate with ROMMEL in the field and did not consult the Italian allies preferring to deal directly with KESSELRING and the German High Command. He took over command in early December 1942 in Tunisia and secured lines of communications with Rommel on the Mareth Line. He was ordered to attack Sidi bou Zid and the Germans captured the Kasserine Pass but had to fall back for lack of support. Arnim then decided to go through with his own Ochsenkopf plan to take Beja, but as it should have been initiated earlier he failed to make any progress. In March Arnim was made Commander of Army Group Afrika but he never received enough supplies and fought a depressing retreat until he had run out of space, ammunition and equipment. The Germans had orders to fight until their last round of ammunition was fired but the spirit of defeatism that spread through the ranks led them to take their orders literally: they fired their last shots in the air. Arnim was captured on 12 May 1943 but only after he had severed communications with his units so he could not call for the surrender of all his troops. He spent the rest of the war in Prisoner of War camps.

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