Colonel General Hans-Jürgen von Arnim, 1889-1962

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Colonel General Hans-Jürgen von Arnim was a Prussian general who is best known for having commanded the German forces in Tunisia towards the end of the fighting in North Africa in 1943. Arnim had earned a distinguished record in the First World War, and by 1942 had risen to command an army corps on the Eastern Front.

By the end of 1942 Hitler was looking for a replacement for General Nehring, the command of XC Corps in Tunisia. He chose Arnim, who arrived to take command of the newly corps, now renamed as the Fifth Panzer Army, on 8 December. For the next three months he would command the German army in the north of Tunisia, under Field Marshal Kesselring, the overall German commander in Tunisia.

Between then Rommel, Kesselring and Arnim would delay the Allied victory in North Africa for six months, but almost from the start Arnim was aware that he was fighting a delaying action, for the Allies could only get stronger while after their initial rapid buildup the Germans received very few reinforcements. At a meeting with Rommel early in 1943 Arnim even suggested using the Italian fleet to evacuate the army, to avoid a second Stalingrad. Rommel was also pessimistic about the chances of success, but Kesselring was more confident, and at this stage Hitler was completely unwilling to consider a retreat from North Africa.

Despite their pessimism, Arnim and Rommel came close to winning a major victory in February 1943, launching an attack on the Americans west of Tunisia with their combined forces while Montgomery's Eighth Army was advancing carefully west through Libya. At the Kasserine Pass the Germans came close to achieving their aims, but their offensive eventually ran out of steam, handing the initiative back to the Allies.

As the German pocket in North Africa shrank, Rommel and then Kesselring were withdrawn, leaving Armin in command of the remaining beachhead around Tunis. The final Allied offensive began on 19 April, and despite Armin's best efforts, Tunis fell on 7 May. Five days later, on 12 May, Armin surrendered. On the next day the last Axis troops in Africa laid down their arms, Armin have refused to take responsibility for their fate.

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (8 April 2008), Colonel General Hans-Jurgen von Arnim, 1889-1962, http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/people_arnim_hans_jurgen.html

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