Siegfried Westphal

Siegfried Westphal : Nazi Germany

Siegfried Westphal, the son of a soldier, was born in Leipzig, Germany in 1902. He joined the German Army and during the Desert War served as operations officers under General Erwin Rommel.

In 1943 Westphal became one of Germany's youngest generals when he was was appointed to serve as chief of staff under General Albrecht Kesselring in Italy. The following year he succeeded General Heinrich von Brauchitsch as chief of staff to General Gerd von Rundstedt.

After the war Westphal wrote The German Army in the West (1952).

Primary Sources

(1) Siegfried Westphal was interviewed by Basil Liddell Hart about the invasion of Sicily in his book The Other Side of the Hill (1948)

The situation around Rome calmed down completely when the Commander of the Italian forces accepted in its entirety the German capitulation suggestion. This eliminated the danger to the supply of the 10th Army. At the same time the German Command in Italy was freed from the nightmare of having to use weapons against their former allies. The capitulation ensured for the Italian soldiers an immediate return to their homes. This concession had a repercussion because it infringed Hitler's order, according to which all Italian soldiers were to be made prisoners of war. But there can be no doubt that adherence to this order would have held out no inducement to the Italians to accept the German proposals.

(2) General Siegfried Westphal took part in the defence of Italy.

After the landing at Salerno, the next amphibious operation should not have taken place at Anzio but as far north of Rome as possible-say, at Livorno (Leghorn). There were first-rate landing facilities everywhere in that area. By the end of 1943 the Allied High Command must surely have known how small was the size of the German forces in North Italy, and that the bulk of the forces were tied down on the front south of Rome. Taking account of the situation of the German forces in Italy, and the overall situation of the German forces, it should have been clear that neither from Rome, nor from the north of Italy, nor from anywhere else, could a German counter-stroke in any strength be brought up before the Allies had consolidated such a landing - at Livorno, for instance.

In the spring of 1944 - before the big Allied drive in May - the conditions for such an operation were still more favourable. At that time, apart from two divisions stationed in the Livorno area, the entire available forces were tied down with the 10th and 14th Armies, in the Cassino and Anzio sectors. The Allies' policy on those fronts should have been to keep merely enough forces to contain ours, while employing the bulk for a strategic outflanking manoeuvre - and thus to have cut off the mass of the German forces in Italy.

I can only imagine that operations of this kind, widely separated, were not undertaken on account of the risk of suffering losses from interference by the German Air Force. It must surely have been known, however, that the German Air Force had more or less disappeared from the battlefield - after its severe losses in the African campaign, coupled with the lack of trained flying reinforcements and the inferiority of the German Messerschmidt 109 fighter, as well as the absence of effective bombers.