The mindset displayed by Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist group, reflects that of the German Wehrmacht during the titanic battle of Stalingrad, which raged from August, 1942, to February, 1943.
This mindset was vividly captured in the diary of Wilhelm Hoffman, one of the 150,000 Germans who died in the battle.
The document reveals how a would-be conqueror can quickly turn from arrogant euphoria in triumph to self-righteous anger and self-pity when faced by unyielding opposition.
Hamas has reacted similarly. When its rockets blasted Israel, that was in accordance with the Will of Allah. But when the Israelis returned fire with planes and missiles, Hamas members rushed to TV cameras to shed copious tears and wail about the barbarity of their intended victims.
A Hamas funeral
Wilhelm Hoffman was a member of the elite Sixth Army, which had scored impressive victories over Poland in 1939 and France in 1940.
After Adolf Hitler launched the invasion of the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, it had destroyed one Soviet army after another. By August, 1942, it was poised to strike the city of Stalingrad and seize the Russian oil fields of the Caucuses.
Instead, it became bogged down in deadly inner-city fighting. Then a Russian counteroffensive trapped the Sixth army and, through attrition and starvation, forced it to surrender on February 2, 1943. It was a major turning point in World War 11.
German soldiers besieging Stalingrad
Hoffman’s diary reflects the euphoria of those early months, when yet another Nazi victory seemed in sight. But as his fellow Germans took increasingly heavy losses, Hoffman grew resentful at the Russians’ refusal to meekly surrender.
September 13: An unlucky number. This morning “katyushi” [multiple rocket launchers] attacks caused the company heavy losses: 27 dead and 50 wounded.
The Russians are fighting desperately like wild beasts, don’t give themselves up, but come up close and then throw grenades. Lieutenant Kraus was killed yesterday, and there is no company commander.
September 16: Our battalion, plus tanks, is attacking the [grain storage], from which smoke is pouring–the grain in it is burning, the Russians seem to have set light to it themselves. Barbarism. The battalion is suffering heavy losses.
There are not nore than 60 men left in each company. The elevator is occupied not by men but by devils that no flames or bullets can destroy.
September 18: Fighting is still going on inside the elevator….If all the buildings of Stalingrad are defended like this then none of our soldiers will get back to Germany.
September 26: Our regiment is involved in constant heavy fighting. After the elevator was taken the Russians continued to defend themselves just as stubbornly.
You don’t see them at all, they have established themselves in houses and cellars and are firing on all sides, including from our rear–barbarians, they use gangster methods.
The Russians have stopped surrendering at all. If we take any prisoners it’s because they are hopelessly wounded, and can’t move by themselves. Stalingrad is hell.
Those who are merely wounded are lucky; they will doubtless be at home and celebrate victory with their families.
October 3: We have entered a new area. It was night but we saw many crosses with our helmets on top. Have we really lost so many men? Damn this Stalingrad!
October 14: It has been fantastic since morning; our aeroplanes and artillery have been hammering the Russian positions for hours on end; everything in sight is being blotted from the face of the earth.
October 22: Our regiment has failed to break into the factory. We have lost many men; every time you move you have to jump over bodies. You can scarcely breathe in the daytime; there is nowhere and no one to remove the bodies, so they are left there to rot.
Who would have thought three months ago that instead of the joy of victory we would have to endure such sacrifice and torture, the end of which is nowhere in sight.
October 27: Our troops have captured the whole of the Barrikady factory, but we cannot break through to the Volga. The Russians are not men, but some kind of cast-iron creatures; they never get tired and are not afraid to die.
We are absolutely exhausted; our regiment now has barely the strength of a company. The Russian artillery on the other side of the Volga won’t let you lift your head.
German prisoners taken at Stalingrad
December 11: Three questions are obsessing every soldier and officer:
When will the Russians stop firing and let us sleep in peace, if only for one night? How and with what are we going to fill our empty stomachs, which, apart from the 3%-7 ozs of bread, receive virtually nothing at all? And when will Hitler take any decisive steps to free our armies from encirclement?
December 26: The horses have already been eaten. I would eat a cat; they say the meat is also tasty. The soldiers took like corpses or lunatics, looking for something to put in their mouths.
They no longer take cover from Russian shells; they haven’t the strength to walk, run away and hide. A curse on this war!