ADOLF HITLER'S TELEGRAM TO THE 9TH ARMY BEFORE MOSCOW, JAN. 26, 1942
A superlative pair of Hitler documents, includes the printed text of a telegram prepared for the men of the desperate 9th Army, then before Moscow, heavily annotated in the hand of Adolf Hitler, who exhorts his now-ragged army to continue their offensive to encircle the enemy, despite the 'harsh rigors of winter', along with an official copy of the final message as it was sent. The original text of the message, before Hitler's edits, reads: 'Soldiers of the 9th Army! The gap in your front north-west of Rshev has been closed. The enemy who had penetrated into it has been cut off from his rearward communications. The 9th Army has won a success of which it can be proud. I thank you who, as comrades ready for action, moved there for the offensive from the fronts neighboring the area of penetration, for this victory. The harsh rigors of winter could not break your attacking spirit. My soldiers, I know what that means. My recognition goes to all of you, soldiers of the 9th Army, in particular to the VI and XXIII Army Corps and the latter's 206th Inf. Division, who by your courageous defense made possible the disengagement of your comrades and their preparation for the attack. The 9th Army has justified the confidence which I placed in it. I am grateful for this, and know that I can in future also rely on you, soldiers of the 9th Army.' The documents bear Hitler's extensive additions and deletions throughout. On Jan. 26, 1942, the amended message was transmitted to the 9th Army by telephone. Also included here is the copy of the message sent to Army High Command from Hitler's headquarters relaying the text of the message, 1p. 4to., [Berlin], Jan. 26, 1942, in part: '...Soldiers of the 9th Army! The gap in your front north-west of Rshev has been closed. The enemy who had penetrated into it has thereby been cut off from his rearward communications. If you again do your duty in this manner in the coming days, a large number of Russian divisions will be destroyed. I thank all of you who, as comrades ready for action, moved there for the offensive from the fronts neighboring the area of penetration, for the fact that despite the harsh rigors of winter your attacking spirit could not be broken. My soldiers, I know what that means. My grateful recognition goes to you, soldiers of the 9th Army. Adolf Hitler' This final approved version of a draft message has been initialed by Capt. KARL J. PUTTKAMER, Hitler's Naval Adjutant, Col. NICOLAUS VON BELOW, Hitler's Luftwaffe Adjutant, and Lt. Gen RUDOLF SCHMUNDT, Chief of the Army Personnel. Marginal file holes, the amended drafts with an upper corner clipped, else very good condition. By late October, 1941 the German forces were worn out, with only a third of their motor vehicles still functioning, infantry divisions at third- to half-strength, and serious logistics issues preventing the delivery of warm clothing and other winter equipment to the front. By Dec. 8, Hitler put his Moscow forces on the defensive and even fired Heinz Guderian and other generals for even considering a withdrawal. A Soviet counter-offensive was launched, but initially was unable to reduce the Rzhev salient, held by several divisions of Army Group Centre (including the 9th Army). Immediately after the Moscow counter-offensive, a series of desperate, costly Soviet attacks (the Battles of Rzhev) were attempted against the salient, each time with heavy losses on both sides. In what would be Hitler's last chance to take Moscow, here he desperately urges his frozen and hungry men onwards.