Georg Stumme

Georg Stumme (29 July 1886 – 24 October 1942) was a general in the Wehrmacht of Nazi Germany during the Second World War who briefly commanded the Axis forces at the beginning of the Second Battle of El Alamein, and was killed during the Defence of Outpost Snipe. He had taken part in the Battle of France, the invasion of Yugoslavia and Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union. He was a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross, the highest award in the military and paramilitary forces of Nazi Germany during the war.

Georg Stumme
Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1980-009-34, Georg Stumme.jpg
Born(1886-07-29)29 July 1886
Halberstadt, Province of Saxony, Kingdom of Prussia, German Empire
Died24 October 1942(1942-10-24) (aged 56)
Outpost Snipe, El Alamein, Kingdom of Egypt
Allegiance German Empire
 Weimar Republic
 Nazi Germany
Years of service1906–1942
RankGeneral (Wehrmacht) 1.svg General der Panzertruppe
Commands held2nd Light Division
7th Panzer Division
XL Army Corps
Panzer Army Africa
Battles/warsFirst World War

World War II

AwardsKnight's Cross of the Iron Cross

Second World WarEdit

Stumme fought in the First World War and stayed with the Reichswehr after the war. After the Nazis came to power in 1933 he was promoted to Oberst (Colonel) in 1933 and Generalmajor (Major-General) in 1936. Stumme became commander of 2nd Light Division, which was formed on 10 November 1938.[1]

Stumme had achieved the rank of Generalleutnant by the beginning of the war, and he commanded the 2nd Light Division in the Invasion of Poland in 1939. After the unit was converted into the 7th Panzer Division on 18 October 1939, he relinquished command of the 7th Panzer Division to Erwin Rommel in 1940, and was appointed as commander of XL. Armeekorps on 15 February 1940, which became XL Corps (motorized) in September 1940.[1] He led this corps in the 1940 Ardennes campaign, being promoted to General der Kavallerie on 1 June 1940. Shortly thereafter he was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross for bravery during the Battle of France.[2]

Stumme was sent to Bulgaria and participated in the attacks on Yugoslavia and Greece. Stumme led the attack of the right flank of the12th Army. His two divisions drove west separately into Yugoslavia and then wheeled south, meeting at Monastir on 9 April. He then participated in the invasion of Greece.[3] He was promoted to General der Panzertruppe.

In Operation Barbarossa Stumme served under Field Marshal Fedor von Bock. Stumme commanded the capture of Mozhaisk. He then participated in Fall Blau (Case Blue) to lead the advance of the 6th Army with his renamed XL. Panzerkorps.[1]

In June 1942 some German plans were captured by Soviet forces. Hitler blamed Stumme and ordered that he be court-martialled. He was relieved of command on 21 July 1942, was found guilty and was sentenced to five years imprisonment but Bock secured his release.[1][4] Ulrich von Hassell called it a case of "the grotesque game of tin soldiers which Hitler plays with the generals" in his diary and commented: "Stumme, commanding general of a tank corps, was sentenced to five years' imprisonment because [of the actions of a divisional staff officer]. He was immediately pardoned, with Göring promising him a new command and is now being sent to Africa as a substitute for Rommel. An unmilitary, un-Prussian farce".[5]

Stumme joined the Afrika Korps in Egypt in September 1942, which was confronting the British at El Alamein.[1] Rommel had been relieved due to illness and exhaustion. Stumme arrived on 19 September to be briefed a few days before Rommel departed. He took overall command of Panzerarmee Afrika (combined German and Italian forces), with Ritter von Thoma replacing the wounded Walther Nehring as commander of the Afrika Korps.[3]

Battle of El Alamein and deathEdit

Stumme "faithfully followed the plan left by Rommel" for responding to the expected attack.[3] His letters to his superiors indicate he was not optimistic and agreed with Rommel that the only real prospect of success lay in keeping the enemy wrongfooted with attacks, for which he did not have the resources.[6] Just over a month after his arrival the British began their attack on 23 October with a massive bombardment. Stumme prohibited the use of German artillery ammunition to bombard the British forward assembly areas, where the troops were vulnerable, preferring to keep his limited resources in reserve.[3] Reinhard Stumpf called this "a grave mistake that enabled the British to form up for the attack in relative peace".[6]

Unlike Rommel, Stumme travelled without the protection of an escort and radio car. On 24 October Stumme and Colonel Andreas Büchting, his chief signals officer, drove to the front to review the situation. On the way to the command post, the car came into the open and was attacked. Büchting was killed by a shot in the head. Stumme jumped out of the car and apparently was holding onto the side while the driver drove out of range. He was found dead along the track the next day, with no wound that could be seen. He was known to have high blood pressure and it was thought he had died of a heart attack.[7] He was replaced as commander of Panzerarmee Afrika with the return of Rommel, while the Afrika Korps was commanded by General der Panzertruppe Wilhelm Ritter von Thoma.[3]


Stumme has been described[by whom?] as a "competent but pleasure-loving general", who cultivated a convivial relationship with his officers, unlike the hard-driving Rommel.[8] One of his officers, Friedrich von Stauffenberg, said that Stumme created a "congenial" atmosphere while maintaining a "crack, well-officered division".[8] According to Mark M. Boatner,

The short, good-humored Stumme suffered from chronic high blood pressure that gave his face a permanent flush. The troops called him "Fireball", and the monocled little general, although old for front line duty even by Wehrmacht standards, had a flair for seizing tactical opportunities.[3]

Rommel had suggested that Heinz Guderian should replace him in North Africa but Guderian was out of favor and his request was refused. Stumme was given the command instead and Rommel had confidence in him as a commander.[3]




  1. ^ a b c d e Glantz, David M.; House, Jonathan (2009). To the Gates of Stalingrad: Soviet-German Combat Operations, April–August 1942. Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas. p. 24. ISBN 978-0-7006-1630-5.
  2. ^ Scherzer, Veit (2007). Die Ritterkreuzträger 1939–1945 Die Inhaber des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939 von Heer, Luftwaffe, Kriegsmarine, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm sowie mit Deutschland verbündeter Streitkräfte nach den Unterlagen des Bundesarchives [The Knight's Cross Bearers 1939–1945 The Holders of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939 by Army, Air Force, Navy, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm and Allied Forces with Germany According to the Documents of the Federal Archives] (in German). Jena, Germany: Scherzers Militaer-Verlag
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Mark M. Boatner, Biographical Dictionary of World War II. Contributors: III, Presidio Press, Novato, CA., 1999, p. 547.
  4. ^ Adam, Wilhelm; Ruhle, Otto (2015). With Paulus at Stalingrad. Translated by Tony Le Tissier. Pen and Sword Books Ltd. p. 23. ISBN 978-1-4738-3386-9.
  5. ^ Ulrich Von Hassell, The Von Hassell Diaries, 1938–1944: The Story of the Forces against Hitler inside Germany, Doubleday, Garden City, NY., 1947, p. 267.
  6. ^ a b Stumpf, Reinhard, "The War in the Mediterranean Area 1942–43" in Germany and the Second World War: Volume 6: The Global War, Oxford University Press, 2001.
  7. ^ Young, Desmond (1950). Rommel The Desert Fox. New York: Harper & RowYoung, p. 250
  8. ^ a b Samuel W. Mitcham, Rommel's Lieutenants: The Men who Served the Desert Fox, France, 1940, Issue 7, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2007, p. 27.
  9. ^ Fellgiebel 2000, p. 416.


  • Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000) [1986]. Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939–1945 [The Bearers of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939–1945] (in German). Friedberg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas. ISBN 978-3-7909-0284-6.
  • Glantz, David M.; House, Jonathan (2009). To the Gates of Stalingrad: Soviet-German Combat Operations, April–August 1942. Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas. p. 24. ISBN 978-0-70-061630-5.
  • Young, Desmond (1950). Rommel: The Desert Fox. New York: Harper & Row. OCLC 48067797.
Military offices
Preceded by
Commander of 2nd Light Division
10 November 1938 – 18 October 1939
Succeeded by
7th Panzer Division
Preceded by
2nd Light Division
Commander of 7th Panzer Division
18 October 1939 – 5 February 1940
Succeeded by
Generalmajor Erwin Rommel
Preceded by
Commander of XL. Armeekorps
26 January 1940 – 9 July 1942
Succeeded by
XL. Panzer Corps
Preceded by
Generalfeldmarschall Erwin Rommel
Commander of Panzerarmee Afrika
22 September 1942 – 24 October 1942
Succeeded by
General der Panzertruppe Wilhelm Ritter von Thoma