The Afrika Korps
or German Africa Corps
: Deutsches Afrikakorps
, DAK listen
)) was the German expeditionary force in Africa during the North African Campaign
of World War II
. First sent as a holding force to shore up the Italian defense of its African colonies, the formation fought on in Africa, under various appellations, from March 1941 until its surrender in May 1943. The unit's best known commander was Field Marshal Erwin Rommel
The Afrika Korps formed on 11 January 1941 and one of Hitler's favourite generals, Erwin Rommel
, was designated as commander on 11 February. Originally Hans von Funck
was to have commanded it, but Hitler loathed von Funck, as he had been a personal staff officer of Werner von Fritsch
until von Fritsch was dismissed in 1938.
On 15 August 1941, the German 5th Light Division was redesignated 21st Panzer Division
, the higher formation of which was still the Afrika Korps. During the summer of 1941, the OKW increased the presence in Africa and created a new headquarters called Panzer Group Africa
. On 15 August, the Panzer Group was activated with Rommel in command, and command of the Afrika Korps was turned over to Ludwig Crüwell
. The Panzer Group comprised the Afrika Korps, with some additional German units now in North Africa, plus two corps of Italian units. The Panzer Group was, in turn, redesignated as Panzer Army Africa
on 30 January 1942.
1943 drawing by US army artist Rudolph von Ripper
of Afrika Corps prisoners of war, captioned "laden with the loot of many country's, the Africa-Corps is brought into captivity."
On 23 February 1943, the original Panzer Army Africa, which had since been re-styled as the German-Italian Panzer Army, was now redesignated as the Italian 1st Army
and put under the command of Italian general Giovanni Messe
. Rommel, meanwhile, was placed in command of a new Army Group Africa
, created to control both the Italian 1st Army and the 5th Panzer Army. The remnants of the Afrika Korps and surviving units of the 1st Italian Army retreated into Tunisia. Command of the Army Group was turned over to Arnim in March. On 13 May, the Afrika Korps surrendered, along with all other remaining Axis forces in North Africa.
Most Afrika Korps POWs were transported to the United States and held in Camp Shelby
, Camp Hearne in Texas and other POW camps until the end of the war.
Composition and terminology
The Afrika Korps was restructured and renamed in August 1941. "Afrikakorps" was the official name of the force for less than six months but the officers and men used it for the duration. The Afrika Korps
was the major German component of Panzerarmee Afrika
, which was later renamed the Deutsch-Italienische Panzerarmee
and finally renamed Heeresgruppe Afrika
(Army Group Africa) during the 27 months of the Desert campaign.
Persecution of Jews
writes in his book Among the Righteous: Lost Stories from the Holocaust's Long Reach into Arab Lands
that as the German and Italian forces retreated across Libya towards Tunisia, the Jewish population became victims upon which they released their anger and frustration. According to Satloff, Afrika Korps soldiers plundered Jewish property all along the Libyan coast. This violence and persecution only came to an end with the arrival of General Montgomery in Tripoli on January 23 1943
German historian Clemens Vollnhals writes that the use of Jews by Afrika Korps as forced labour is barely known, but it did happen alongside persecution of Jewish population (although on smaller scale than in Europe) and some of the labourers were worked to death.
Reforming of units
Certain divisions were reformed in Europe after the cessation of fighting in Tunisia:
- ^ Beevor, Antony (2009). D-Day: The Battle for Normandy. London: Viking. p. 405. ISBN 978-0-670-88703-3.
- ^ Pier Paolo Battistelli (20 January 2013). Rommel's Afrika Korps: Tobruk to El Alamein. Bloomsbury Publishing. pp. 12–. ISBN 978-1-4728-0081-7.
- ^ Bruce Gudmundsson (30 August 2016). Inside the Afrika Korps: The Crusader Battles, 1941-1942. Frontline Books. pp. 19–. ISBN 978-1-84832-996-6.
- ^ Ian Baxter (30 January 2019). The Armour of Rommel's Afrika Korps - Introduction. Pen and Sword. ISBN 978-1-5267-1380-3.
- ^ Robert Satloff Among the Righteous: Lost Stories from the Holocaust's Long Reach into Arab Lands 2006 page 44
- ^ Kaum bekannt ist, dass auch das deutsche Afrikakorps Juden zur Zwangsarbeit heranziehen ließ. Die Judenverfolgung gestaltete sich in Nordafrika nicht so mörderisch wie in Europa, doch starben einige der Zwangsarbeiter doch starben einige der Zwangsarbeiter Wehrmacht, Verbrechen, Widerstand: vier Beiträge zum nationalsozialistischen Weltanschauungskrieg, page 55 Clemens Vollnhals Hannah-Arendt-Institut für Totalitarismusforschung e.V. an der Technischen Universität Dresden, 2003
Last edited on 12 May 2021, at 13:24
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