|Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler. The friendship of Hitler with the "Duce" forces him to help the Italian Army in North Africa, by sending a German expedition force. The Deutsches Afrikakorps.|
The situations for Italians in Africa became very critical, so in February 6 of 1941 Adolf Hitler calls General Erwin Rommel, and gives him the order to go to North Africa with an expedition force, named by Hitler as the Afrika Korps and equipped with the most modern weapons and supplies, to reinforce the despirited Italian troops.
Hitler's first choice to command the DAK (Deutsches Afrika Korps-German Afrika Korps) was Maj. General Hans von Funk, a Prussian aristocrat, whos negative report that Libya was lost led him to be dissmissed. Next Hitler thought of Lt. General Erich von Manstein, who deviesed the invasion of France, but he was a too valuable component of Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of Russia. Hitler thus settled for Erwin Rommel.
The beging of the DAK was simply the 5th Light Division, but was doubled when a full panzer division arrived. Rommel arrived in Tripoli on February 12, 1941. "Something had to be done to bring the British offensive to a halt," he wrote. By now the British had moved as far as El Ageila, 400 miles from Tripoli. To decieve British spies, he had his troops parade in Tripoli. But, he had them march around the same block over and over, as well as with both real and dummy tanks, thus making his forces appear larger.
|Adolf Hitler and Rommel|
The Deutsches Afrikakorps is set by the V Light Division and the XV Panzer Division. The mission of this forces is to help the Italian Army in the Tripoli defence.
The first action of the Afrika Korps takes place at March the 13st of 1941 against the British Forces in the Aghelia Straight. Since them the Afrika Korps and is Commander Rommel never give the enemy a rest even during the battle of El Alamein and when the Afrika Korps surrender to the Allied Forces in 13 of May 1943.
AFRIKA KORPS: THE PERFECT DESERT WAR MACHINE
During the North African campaign in WW2 there were two myths: one was Rommel, the Desert Fox, the other was his desert war machine, the D.A.K. or Deutsches Afrika Korps.
It was an expeditionary force, composed of armoured and motorized infantry divisions specifically trained and equipped with the best German technology.
To be precise, the D.A.K. did not include only the German forces in North Africa, but it was composed of German and Italian units, there were also other German units fighting in North Africa but they did not belong to the D.A.K. Even if now it is a common habit to call refer to all German forces in North Africa as Afrika Korps.
The myth of Afrika Korps was due not only to the value of the German Soldiers but also to the equipment that was far better than the British and not even comparable to the Italian. The importance of the equipment's quality was not only in the weapons or firearms but also in surviving supplies such as clothes, canteens, etc. Even the simplest ordinary object was important in such extreme environmental conditions.
|Rommel talking with Italian and Germans Officers|
The life in the desert was extremely hard, temperatures could reach 50°C during the day to fall near to 5°C during the night: in these conditions even the best warriors could be vanquished easily if they were not well equipped and supplied.
In the summer of 1942, just before the El Alamein battle, the D.A.K. consisted in two armoured divisions, 15th and 21th Panzer Division, one light infantry division, the 90th, one armoured infantry division, the 164th Panzergrenadieren Division and one Paratroopers Brigade, the "Ramcke", named after its commander.