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Friedrich von Paulus

This article should be merged with Friedrich Paulus.

Friedrich Paulus (September 23, 1890 - February 1, 1957) was commander of the German 6th Army during the Battle of Stalingrad.

Prohibited by Hitler from retreating, Paulus ground his army to dust against Soviet defenses around Stalingrad. Hitler promoted Paulus to the rank of field marshal in 1943; since no German field marshal in history had ever surrendered, the implication was clear: Paulus was expected to hold Stalingrad to the death. Despite this, he surrendered (of sorts) in February 1943 and became a vocal critic of the Nazi regime while in Soviet captivity. He remains a controversial historic figure, due to his late conversion to the anti-Nazi cause and perceived spineless behaviour towards Hitler. He is frequently unfavourably compared with Rommel who came from a similar background of a family with no great military distinction, was much favoured by Hitler, like Paulus, and then forced to take cyanide by his master.

The "von" in the name is not authentic, a misconception presumably based on the fact that for many German "noble families" the career of officer in the armed forces was traditionally popular for at least one of their sons. Many German officers and generals carried the "von" in their names. Paulus was the son of a minor official, one reason why he was promoted by Hitler who saw himself in the same light - a genius from humble background.