Today in History – May 13, 1943 – The Afrika Korps surrenders

It was the first campaign Hitler was forced to fight due to his Italian ally’s incompetence.  The thrashing of the Italians in North Africa forced Hitler to send in one of his best tank commanders Erwin Rommel and the Afrika Korps in February 1941.  Outnumbered and out-equipped Rommel won a series of stunning victories before his offensive was decisively stopped at the Second Battle of El Alamein in November 1942.  The same month the Allies landed in Morocco for Operation Torch.  After that the Afrika Korps was on the defensive fighting a holding action in a battle that could not be won.

Generalfeldmarschall Erwin Rommel
Generalfeldmarschall Erwin Rommel

In March 1943, Rommel returned to Germany in an unsuccessful attempt to convince Hitler about the reality of the lost battle.  He was replaced and never returned to Africa.  On May 13, 1943 the exhausted remnants of the Afrika Korps surrendered to the Allies.  Thousands of Afrika Korps POWs were interned in Mississippi for the remainder of the war.  With North Africa secured the Allies would invade Sicily and then mainland Italy resulting in the fall of Mussolini.

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