Why did Steiner refuse to attack?

Answered by Jeremy Urbaniak

Steiner’s decision to refuse Hitler’s order to attack can be attributed to several reasons. Firstly, it is important to understand that Steiner, as the commander of the III SS Panzer Corps, was well aware of the dire situation facing Germany in the final stages of World War II. The Soviet forces were advancing rapidly, and the German military was severely weakened and stretched thin.

One of the main reasons for Steiner’s refusal was the lack of adequate troops and resources available to him. The units assigned to him were a mixture of soldiers, Hitler Youth teenagers, emergency Luftwaffe ground units, and other inexperienced personnel. These forces were ill-equipped and lacked the training and combat experience necessary for a successful counterattack against the Soviet forces.

Steiner would have understood that attacking with such a weak and inexperienced force would have been futile and would likely result in heavy casualties without achieving any significant military objectives. He would have been aware of the overwhelming strength of the Soviet forces and the high probability of failure in the face of such odds.

Furthermore, Steiner may have also recognized that the German military was already on the brink of collapse. The morale of the troops was low, and there was a growing sense of surrender and defeat among many soldiers. Engaging in a suicidal counterattack would have only further demoralized the troops and potentially led to a complete collapse of the German defense.

Another factor that likely influenced Steiner’s decision was self-preservation. As a military commander, he would have been responsible for the lives of his troops. Ordering them to attack with little chance of success would have been seen as a reckless and irresponsible decision. Steiner may have felt a moral obligation to protect his men and avoid unnecessary bloodshed.

Additionally, Steiner may have also been aware of the political implications of his decision. Hitler’s authority was already crumbling, and many military commanders were starting to question his leadership. By refusing to carry out Hitler’s order, Steiner may have been trying to distance himself from Hitler’s increasingly irrational and desperate decision-making.

Steiner’s refusal to attack can be attributed to a combination of factors, including the inadequate troops and resources available to him, the dire military situation facing Germany, the low morale of the troops, the self-preservation instinct, and the political implications of defying Hitler’s orders. Ultimately, Steiner made a calculated decision to avoid a futile and costly counterattack that would have only worsened the already dire situation for Germany.