Search billions of records on

Secrets and my Recollections of World War II

Gardner L. Friedlander 1990, 2000

How Von Arnim Gave Up



The Detroit News


THURSDAY, MAY 13, 1943, 70th Year, No. 264


16 Generals Among 175,000 Axis Captives


    WITH BRITISH 1ST ARMY. Tunisia. May 12 - (Delayed.) - Col.-Gen. Jurgen von Arnim, angrily beating his fist into the palm of his other hand, bitterly refused to accept Lient.-Gen. K. A. N. Anderson's demand for "unconditional surrender" today, but nevertheless was captured without a struggle.

    Driven into the last Axis toehold in the mountains west of Hammamet, pounded by Allied aerial fleets, surrounded by British armor and made helpless by the wholesale surrender of Axis troops on Cap Bon, the Prussian commander-in-chief finally asked Anderson for terms.

    "Unconditional surrender," the Scotsman replied. "Also the handing over of all weapons and plans for mine fields and assistance in sweeping the mined fields."

    The terms were delivered to von Arnim as he stood haughtily in his headquarters, which patrols of the 4th Indian division had already found.

    His face turned purple. His big right fist hammered at the palm of his left hand. The iron cross over his heart trembled as his whole body shook with anger. He refused to sign.

Prisoners Continue to Pour In

    Anderson ordered him taken to British headquarters, near Tunis, with the idea of persuading him that any further resistance by his forces was futile.

    But his Axis soldiers had sometime before realized the futility on their own and continued today to stream into Allied barbed wire prison cages.

    They were bedraggled and dust-covered and many were taken without guards in their own trucks driven by their own men, to the prison camps. Unguarded Axis vehicles ran a "shuttle service" collecting prisoners.

    While all this was going on and even troops which had good positions, guns and ammunition were giving up, von Arnim sent a final message to Hitler, who had commanded him to fight to the bitter end.

    "I report that the order to defend Tunisia to the last cartridge has been carried out," his message said.

    His radio operator, who sent the final message to Hitler in reply to vain urgings by Hitler and Premier Benito Mussolini to fight to the end, added, apparently on his own initiative: "Everything has been destroyed. We are closing down forever."

    (Allied headquarters announced that the Italian commander, Marshal Giovanni Messe, had surrendered as ordered by Premier Benito Mussolini, but had refused to give himself up to any troops except the British 8th Army, which was to pick him up today.)

    British patrols found von Arnim standing in his headquarters in the mountains.

Directed Resistance in Tunisia

    (At Allied headquarters, a spokesman said that von Arnim had directed the Axis resistance throughout the Tunisian campaign and had "justified every estimate of his ability.")

    (There was an unconfirmed report that a son-in-law of the King of Italy had been with the Italian commander, but his name was not known and it was not known whether he had been captured.)

    Since the Allies captured many tons of ammunition and huge amounts of other booty, von Arnim's last message to Hitler was not literally accurate, but in the area where the Axis commander surrendered, his orders probably were carried out.

    Some of the veteran German units, such as the remnants of the Hermann Goering division, fired their last shells and cartridges into the air and then walked out into the roads with their hands high to surrender -- without any ammunition left.


Detroitnews.jpg (97904 bytes)

wb01569_.gif (193 bytes)

Return to Section:

This Section: How Von Arnim Gave Up

Last Updated:
Friday, 07-Jul-2000 11:17:58 MDT

Gardner L. Friedlander 1990, 2000
Page created and maintained by Craig S. Buchanan. Email