2 December 1942
The Beveridge Report is issued. It becomes the blueprint for post-war Social Security
Professor Fermi sets up an atomic reactor in Chicago
Russian Army Repels Hitler's Forces: August 1942-January 1943
On December 2, 1942, physicists achieve the first nuclear chain reaction, a breakthrough that will make atomic weaponry a reality. Learn about this and the other important World War II events that occurred during the month of December 1942 below.
World War II Timeline: December 1-December 13
December 1: The United States institutes a gasoline-rationing program across the nation.
December 2: In a breakthrough that will make atomic weaponry a reality, University of Chicago physicists Enrico Fermi and Arthur Compton achieve the first nuclear chain reaction.
December 3: Attacking American bombers hamper the efforts of Japanese engineers to build an airfield on New Georgia in the Solomon Islands.
December 4: Long-range U.S. Liberator bombers sink ships in a raid on Naples, Italy.
December 5: The Nazi German hospital ship Graz sinks after being torpedoed off the coast of Libya.
December 7: More than 700 young German Edelweiss Pirates, a group formed in response to the rigidity of the Hitler Youth movement, are arrested by the Gestapo in Düsseldorf, Cologne, and several other cities.
The USS New Jersey, the largest battleship in the U.S. fleet, is launched from the Philadelphia Navy Shipyard on the first anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
December 8: Spanish dictator General Francisco Franco delivers a speech in Madrid. He defends his Axis alliance by claiming he'd rather be a Fascist than a Communist.
December 11: Adolf Hitler orders that the surrounded and besieged German Sixth Army may not retreat from Stalingrad.
December 13: The "Shark" Enigma code, which was especially difficult to crack due to its use of an extra rotor, is finally deciphered. This intelligence breakthrough allows the Allies to resume intercepting Nazi German communications to U-boats in the Atlantic.
World War II Headlines
Below are more highlights and images that outline the details of World War II, such as the involvement of African American soldiers in the war.
B-17 Flying Fortresses have mixed results: Above, B-17 Flying Fortresses bomb Lae, New Guinea. Many B-17s were destroyed on the ground by Japanese attacks in the opening days of the war, and the heavy bombers that survived attempted to interdict enemy shipping, with mixed results. Pacific-based B-17s proved more useful in attacks against enemy bases in the island-hopping campaign that followed Midway. The B-17 was tough, though early models were vulnerable to attack from the rear. The "belly gunner" also faced a horrifying fate if the plane was forced to land without its landing gear.
Barbed-wire beaches on Hawaii: Once a vacation retreat for the rich and famous, the Royal Hawaiian Hotel was leased by the U.S. Navy as a major rest and relaxation center for military personnel. The average stay was 10 days at $1 a day for officers and a quarter for enlisted men. Barbed wire in front of the Royal Hawaiian stretched the length of Waikiki Beach. An air of suspicion existed across the rest of the Hawaiian Islands because approximately 118,000 civilians were of Japanese descent. Plans had been developed to evacuate 100,000 to the continental U.S., but when discussion ended, only about 1,000 were transferred.
Five brothers killed in action: "I am writing to you in regards to a rumor going around that my five sons were killed in action in November," Alleta Sullivan began in a letter to the Bureau of Naval Personnel. Soon after she sent the letter, she learned that all five of her sons serving on the USS Juneau had not survived its sinking in November 1942. The War Department turned this tragedy into a propaganda piece by sending the boys' parents on a lecture tour across the United States and by having Mrs. Sullivan christen the USS The Sullivans on April 4, 1943. The tragedy led to a Navy policy that discouraged family members on the same ship.
Find out about the key World War II events that took place during the remainder of December 1942 in the timeline on the next page.
Learn more about the significant events and players of World War II in these informative articles:
In April 1944, nine African American soldiers were denied service at several establishments in Texas. As they left, "about two dozen German prisoners of war, with two American guards came to the station," remembered Corporal Rupert Trimmingham, one of the black soldiers. "They . . . had their meals served, talked, smoked, in fact had quite a swell time. . . . I could not help but ask myself why they are treated better than we are?"
In the 1940s, the segregation of African Americans was not limited to civilian life. About 909,000 black Americans served in the Army during WWII, but most of these recruits were assigned to support details because military leaders questioned their ability to perform effectively in combat.
Two all-black infantry divisions, the 92nd and 93rd, were led by white officers, some of whom were openly racist. Morale was low in these units due to substandard facilities, poor training, low pay, and inferior commanders. The 93rd was shipped to the Pacific and showed promise in its first few fights. It was later split up, with its troops assigned to support positions.
The 92nd Division, nicknamed the Buffalo Division, had mixed success in Italy. By the end of fighting, the division had suffered about 22 percent casualties while earning about 12,000 decorations. Its erratic performance in the field, due primarily to ineffective leadership, damaged the division's reputation and reinforced the stereotype that African Americans were unfit for combat.
Tuskegee, Alabama, became the training site for black pilots. The 99th Fighter Squadron and the 332nd Fighter Group were two of the units formed from its graduates. The 99th was inadequately trained when it was sent into combat, and its poor performance placed the Tuskegee program in jeopardy.
Given a second chance, these airmen eventually proved themselves in combat. By the end of the war, almost 1,000 pilots had graduated from Tuskegee and earned more than 850 medals. The 332nd Fighter Group, nicknamed the "Red Tail Angels," earned fame as the only escort group that did not lose a bomber to the enemy.
Russian Army Repels Hitler's Forces: August 1942-January 1943
The existence of Nazi death camps is first officially made public on December 17, 1942, in the British House of Commons. Learn about this and the other important World War II events that occurred during the month of December 1942 below.
World War II Timeline: December 14-December 31
December 14: Despite an airlift of supplies, the German Sixth Army remains trapped, inadequately equipped, and under siege in Stalingrad. The airlift is hindered by the weather, the Red Air Force, and the need to use many transport planes to support Axis forces in Tunisia.
December 16: Adolf Hitler issues a directive that Germany is to be purged of Gypsies, and anyone with any amount of Gypsy blood is to be sent to "resettlement" camps in the East.
December 17: An Allied official makes the first public statement confirming the Nazi death camps when British foreign secretary Anthony Eden tells the House of Commons that Adolf Hitler has begun to make good on his threat to annihilate Europe's Jews.
Vichy admiral François Darlan announces that French ships and resources at North African ports will be at the disposal of the Allied cause.
December 22: A group of Jewish partisans sets off bombs in two Kraków cafés, killing 20 Nazi German army officers.
December 26: Former German prisoner of war general Henri Giraud succeeds Admiral Darlan as high commissioner for French North Africa following Darlan's assassination in Algiers two days earlier.
December 28: Despite the wartime alliance between the two nations, Franklin Roosevelt admonishes the Los Alamos science-research team against sharing atomic secrets with the British.
December 31: In the Barents Sea north of Norway, Nazi German ships attack a British convoy that is attempting to deliver materiel to the Soviet Union.
World War II Headlines
Below are more highlights and images that outline the details of World War II, including weapons and propaganda used during the war.
Soviets take revenge on German POWs: During the winter of 1941-1942, and again the following winter, Nazi German mechanized transport, tanks, artillery, and aircraft froze up, while frostbite killed and maimed inadequately clothed soldiers. Since Adolf Hitler still banned retreat, capture must have seemed a better option to many Nazi Germans. However, the Soviets took revenge for the crimes that Nazi Germans had committed against civilians during the invasion. The Soviets executed some POWs and sent others to work camps, where many died of exposure, starvation, and overwork during forced labor. Nearly 500,000 of the more than three million prisoners taken by the Soviet Union died in captivity.
Multibarrel rocket-launcher has psychological impact on enemy: Early during Operation Barbarossa, the Wehrmacht noted the efficacy of the Red Army's multibarrel rocket-launchers and quickly developed similar weapons, with the six-barrel, 150mm Nebelwerfer ("fog launcher" pictured above) entering service in 1942. Over a 10-second period, while operated by a four-man crew, it fired salvos of six projectiles up to 7,000 meters.
Due to the heat and blast it produced, the Nebelwerfer was fired electrically from a position 10 meters away. With great trails of fire, smoke, and a whistling noise in flight, the weapon simultaneously inflicted destruction and had a deleterious psychological impact on the enemy. It was nicknamed "Moaning Minnie" by Allied troops.
Europeans use mythology as propaganda: European nations drew on history, heroic legends, and mythology to build nationalism, inspire their citizens, and spur their militaries to action. In the Soviet Union, propaganda posters compared 1942 to 1242, the year when Russian prince Alexander Nevsky led his troops in a rout of German invaders. In Germany, Hitler presented his Third Reich as the successor to the Holy Roman Empire and claimed to be establishing the 1,000-year utopia predicted in millenarian stories. In Italy, Mussolini justified expansionism as the creation of a New Roman Empire.
German brutality in Russia: In 1942, a young woman from a village near Moscow was hanged by Nazi German troops. Although beaten and tortured, she gave her captors no information before her death. A photograph of the hanging was found on the body of a Nazi German officer killed in action near Smolensk. The woman's defiance and the officer's grotesque souvenir both testify to a fierce antipathy between Nazi Germans and Slavs -- a loathing that helped make the Eastern Front a particularly brutal theater of operations.
The major World War II events of early January 1943 can be found on the next page.
Learn more about the significant events and players of World War II in these informative articles:
In 1939 Poland's cavalry famously fought against the invading Nazi Germans. Both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union used large cavalry forces on the broad steppes of Russia and the Ukraine, including Cossacks fighting on both sides.
A Soviet cavalry corps once operated behind Nazi German lines for four months. Italian mounted cavalry had some success in Russia. Two cavalry divisions served in the Waffen-SS, and the Nazi German army formed more units later in the war.
Though the popular image of the Wehrmacht is of panzers, it remained dependent upon 5,000-plus horses in each infantry division for the war's duration. More than 600,000 animals drew Nazi German artillery and transport wagons in the advance into the Soviet Union. They suffered terribly, with 180,000 dying in the winter of 1941-1942 alone.
In July 1944 in France, British and Canadian troops in the Falaise Pocket saw the horrific effects of Allied air attacks on the congested horse-drawn transport of Panzer Group West.
While the U.S. Cavalry was mechanized by the end of 1941, the 26th Cavalry Regiment of the Philippine Scouts is said to have made the last American charge, on the Bataan Peninsula in January 1942. Britain mechanized its last cavalry division in Palestine in 1941, but the Burma Frontier Force made a suicidal charge against the Japanese at Toungoo in March 1942.
The Japanese in turn used cavalry regiments in China and mule transport in the rugged terrain of New Guinea and Burma, as did their opponents there and in Italy.
Important Events From This day in History December 2nd
Celebrating Birthday's Today
Born: 2nd December 1973 Novi Sad, Yugoslavia
Known For : Former World No. 1 Ladies professional tennis player in 1991 and 1992 winning nine grand slam titles. Wimbledon Ladies Champion 1992, French Ladies Open Champion 1990, 1991 and 1992, US Ladies Open Champion 1991 and 1992, Australian Ladies Open Champion 1991, 1992, 1993 and 1996. She was forced to have a break after a German spectator stabbed her in the back with a knife during a match at Hamburg, Germany. She did make a come back in 1996 when she won The Australian Open for a forth time but could never match her earlier record of the worlds number 1.
Born: 2nd December 1981 McComb, Mississippi, United States
Known For : American entertainer and singer who started her career as a member of The New Mickey Mouse Club and featured on the show from 1993 to 1994. In 1998 she released her first single "Baby One More Time" which reached number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in January 1999. She continued in the music industry for some time releasing the Oops. I Did It Again album in 2000 which once again shot to the top of charts. She continued to have success with her music with the In the Zone album topping the charts in 2003, and followed with other albums that were hugely popular. From 2006 her life appears to have become complicated and controversy followed her life including a period in a drug rehabilitation center and her controversial divorce and child custody battle with Kevin Federline.
2 December 1942 - History
World War 2 - United States Navy at War
UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS CASUALTIES
Part 2 - BY DATE , DECEMBER 1942, Battle for Guadalcanal
This list of Marine casualties - those who died or were killed - is compiled from the USMC Casualty Cards (mc) , supplemented by other sources - click for source abbreviations. For unit abbreviations, see the 'Glossary of U.S. Naval Abbreviations", OPNAV 29-P1000 made available online by Hyperwar.
More information on each casualty is being added to:
|GUADALCANAL: The 1st Marine Aviation Engineer Battalion relieved the 6th Naval Construction Battalion|
BOHAC, John Paul, Jr, 358916, CoE, 2ndBn, accidental death (mc)
HOFRICHTER, John Joseph, Jr, 386345, CoA, accidental death (mc)
MITCHELL, Glenn Leo, 326705, CoA, killed in action (mc)
KOEGLER, Howard Alexander, 8971, MCAS, Parris Island, SC, accidental death (mc)
LARSON, Harold Isidor, 4655, MCAS, Parris Island, SC, accidental death (mc)
TAVERN, Joseph John, 4392, RifleRangeDet, MarBks, Parris Island, SC, accidental death (mc)
GUNTZBURGER, Floyd Leon, 357590, BtryB, 2ndSplWpnsBn, 2ndMarDiv, Camp Pendleton, Calif, accidental death (mc)
|GUADALCANAL: The report of the 2d Raider Battalion patrol to the south reassured Major General A. A. Vandegrift of enemy concentration there|
YOUNG, Loyce George, 324138, CoF, 2ndBn, died of wounds (mc)
FARRAR, Richard Clinton, 336677, CoB, died of wounds (mc)
HERMISTON, Albert Laddce, 276542, CoA, killed in action (mc)
MATELSKI, Cyrill Anthony, 346458, CoB, killed in action (mc)
MILLER, Jack, 8438, CoA, died of wounds (mc)
|GUADALCANAL: The 3d Infantry Regiment, USA, and the 132d Regimental Combat Team, USA, arrived to begin the relief of the 1st Marine Division|
Wednesday, December, 9, 1942
|GUADALCANAL: The 1st Marine Division was transferred operationally from ComSoPac to CinCSWPA and began to embark for Australia. Command of the troops on Guadalcanal passed from Major General A. A. Vandegrift to Major General Alexander M. Patch, USA, commanding the Americal Division and senior Army officer present|
Wednesday, December, 9-16, 1942
|GUADALCANAL: The 164th and 182d Infantries, USA, near Point Cruz were relieved by the 2d Marines, the 8th Marines, and the 132d Infantry, USA|
Saturday, December 12, 1942
TREUIL, Edward John, 282800, POW&MPDet, HQUSMC, Washington DC, POW-died (mc)
WIECHMAN, John Henry, 11278, HqSqn, MCAS, Quantico, Va, accidental death (mc)
Thursday, December, 17, 1942
MAHONEY, Robert Allen, 364246, CoE, 2ndBn, killed in action (mc)
MAHONEY, Daniel Francis, 377485, CoF, 2ndBn, killed in action (mc)
ZATZKE, Robert Francis, 313599, CoF, 2ndBn, killed in action (mc)
SHAFFER, Charles Curtis, 407922, CoF, 2ndBn, killed in action (mc)
|USMC: Marine Barracks, New River, North Carolina, was redesignated Marine Barracks, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina|
ALLISON, Hugh Robert, 336538, CoC, 1stBn, died of wounds (mc)
AVERY, Herman Dallas, 324068, SplWpnsCo, accidental death (mc)
GEFFERT, Lester B, 294833, CoL, 3rdBn, killed in action (mc)
Saturday, December, 26, 1942
|GUADALCANAL: Brigadier General Francis P. Mulcahy, Commanding general of the 2d Marine Aircraft Wing, relieved Brigadier General L. E. Woods as Commander, Aircraft, Cactus Air Force.|
WISEMAN, James Coleman, 306480, CoE, 2ndBn, killed in action (mc)
ASSENMACHER, Alphonse Nicholas, 336959, CoF, 2ndBn, killed in action (mc)
HAGEMEIER, Raymond David, 337862, CoF, 2ndBn, killed in action (mc)
SUTTLES, Robert Harvey, 360845, CoF, 2ndBn, killed in action (mc)
THOMPSON, Leslie Earl, Jr, 272074, CoF, 2ndBn, killed in action (mc)
WOMACK, Olean Kenneth, 349643, CoF, 2ndBn, killed in action (mc)
WOOD, Jewel Dawson, 320060, CoE, 2ndBn, killed in action (mc)
PRATZ, Leroy Hillman, 11097, Hq&SBtry, 3rdBn, killed in action (mc)
HANCOCK, Robert Oliver, 271882, H&SCo, 2ndTkBn, died (mc)
GIBBS, Norman Eugene, 331826, CoD, 1stBn, killed in action (mc)
FREELAND, Harold Estes, 404593, CoD, 1stBn, accidental death (mc)
BLAIR, James Lloyd, 313930, CoC, 1stBn, killed in action (mc)
2 December 1942 - History
Entry from the diary of Moshe Flinker from December 2, 1942, in which he postulates how World War II will end from a religious perspective.
December 2, morning 
The small detail I mentioned above is the following: most of the Jews think that redemption and salvation depend on the victory of England. Now if England wins, most of the Jews (even those who wish to be redeemed) will be able to say that not the Lord but England saved them. The gentiles will say the same. I mention this because I think the gentiles too will learn something from this war. For although I don’t care about them [*] we must nevertheless not forget that they too have lost much in the way of people and property, and the time has come for them to learn something from all the wars they wage, especially from the last two world wars. The victor in this war that we are living through will not be either of the opposing sides, but God: not England and not America, but the Lord of Israel will triumph. I think that before this final victory, Germany will win on almost all front, and when it will seem that she has almost won, the Lord will approach with His sword and will conquer. Obviously my outlook is a religious one. I hope to be excused for this, for had I not religion, I would never find any answer at all to the problems that confront me. [. . .] 1
The Chicago Pile-1 Reactor was soon disassembled and rebuilt with concrete radiation-protecting shielding at the nearby Argonne Laboratory as Chicago Pile-2. The experiment not only proved that nuclear energy could generate power, but also showed a viable method to produce plutonium. Large -scale reactors, including the X-10 Graphite Reactor at Oak Ridge and the B Reactor at Hanford, were subsequently built with Chicago Pile-1 as a model.
Although Stagg Field would be demolished in 1957, a plaque commemorating Chicago Pile-1 was dedicated for its 5 th anniversary. The plaque, which remains there to this day, reads, “On December 2, 1942, man achieved here the first self-sustaining chain reaction and thereby initiated the controlled use of nuclear energy.”
For the 25 th anniversary in 1967, British sculptor Henry Moore erected a bronze sculpture on the site of Stagg Field titled “Nuclear Energy.” Moore commented, “Like anything that is powerful, it has a power for good and evil. the lower part [of the sculpture] is more architectural and in my mind has the kind of interior of a cathedral with sort of a hopefulness for mankind.” Today, the site of Chicago Pile-1 is a Chicago Landmark and a National Historic Landmark.
Links to other podcasts
Australian Naval History Podcasts
This podcast series examines Australia’s Naval history, featuring a variety of naval history experts from the Naval Studies Group and elsewhere.
Produced by the Naval Studies Group in conjunction with the Submarine Institute of Australia, the Australian Naval Institute, Naval Historical Society and the RAN Seapower Centre
Life on the Line Podcasts
Life on the Line tracks down Australian war veterans and records their stories.
These recordings can be accessed through Apple iTunes or for Android users, Stitcher.
The United States Declares War
After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Japan achieved a long series of military successes. In December 1941, Guam, Wake Island, and Hong Kong fell to the Japanese, followed in the first half of 1942 by the Philippines, the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia), Malaya, Singapore, and Burma. Japanese troops also invaded neutral Thailand and pressured its leaders to declare war on the United States and Great Britain. Only in mid-1942 were Australian and New Zealander forces in New Guinea and British forces in India able to halt the Japanese advance.
The turning point in the Pacific war came with the American naval victory in the Battle of Midway in June 1942. The Japanese fleet sustained heavy losses and was turned back. In August 1942, American forces attacked the Japanese in the Solomon Islands, forcing a costly withdrawal of Japanese forces from the island of Guadalcanal in February 1943. Allied forces slowly gained naval and air supremacy in the Pacific, and moved methodically from island to island, conquering them and often sustaining significant casualties. The Japanese, however, successfully defended their positions on the Chinese mainland until 1945.
In October 1944, American forces began retaking the Philippines from Japanese troops, who surrendered in August 1945. That same year, the United States Army Air Forces launched a strategic bombing campaign against Japan. British forces recaptured Burma. In early 1945, American forces suffered heavy losses during the invasions of Iwo Jima (February) and Okinawa (April), an island of strategic importance off the coast of the Japanese home islands. Despite these casualties and suicidal Japanese air attacks, known as Kamikaze attacks, American forces conquered Okinawa in mid-June 1945.
Challenge:Its December 1942 and the Soviets just Encircled Stalingrad
Since I’m now in command I reach out to the western Allies and basically beg them for a Ceasefire offering to completely withdraw from Scandinavia, Africa Western Europe to withdraw all uboats from the Atlantic and to provide all evidence of communication of the previous administration with Japan and Italy if this will help in their war effort. Also collaborate vis a vis the existing death camps and promise to immediately empty the ones that are standing, If they accept send every single last man to the eastern front and pray they survive to last until 1950. Hopefully they see it as the foreign policy objective they always wanted get Germany and the USSR to wear each other down. Not getting bombed to smithereens, being able to focus entirely on the eastern front and the USSR probably no longer getting lend lease might give me a fighting chance at least to surviving a few years longer. If they refuse, fake my death, hand over to someone else and flee to Argentina learn Spanish.
Unfortunately the Allies don't even entertain the option.
Once Hitler opened up the second front into Africa the writing was already on the wall. The Afrika Korps was made up of the best tank operators, soldiers, and commanders that the German military had available. These were the guys who largely conquered Europe, and Hitler only sent them into Africa b/c his plans for capturing the oil in the Southern Caucuses of Russia were already failing, and Africa was the backup plan. Once the US joined in Africa it broke the stalemate and practically 150,000 troops and their equipment were lost to the Wehrmacht. An entire corps of troops that could've helped at either Leningrad, Moscow, or Stalingrad, gone!
German supply lines into Russia were also overstretched and under provisioned. Hitler refused to entertain the possibility that it would take longer than the Spring and Summer to capture Central Russia, and as a result German troops had to scavenge for everything from Winter clothing to food/water. An undertaking made even more difficult by the Russians burning everything from Ukraine to Stalingrad on their retreat.
Most importantly, the Germans never had a chance of touching Russia war industry. By the time the Germans made it to Stalingrad the majority of war production was moved behind the Ural mountains. Yes there were some tank factories in the city that literally rolled tanks off the assembly line into combat mere meters away, but nearly everything else was far away from German hands. The Germans never even possessed a long range bomber that they could use to hit said factories.
The very minute that the Rasputia set in in the Fall, and Winter kicked in the Germans lost any chance to capture the cities and the surrounding suburbs.
The only way that the German military could've salvaged the situation and existed at near max strength was to pull back from the major cities, and pick a spot to set up a well fortified front line. Pulling back would prevent the 9th Army's encirclement at Stalingrad, pull troops away from unsuccessful sieges, and slightly shorten supply lines to more manageable distances. Then maybe the Wehrmacht could last another year, but they still could NEVER survive in their war time state.
I’d reference Operation Winter Storm which was Manstein’s failed attempt to rescue the 6th Army.
The 6th Army probably should have been allowed to break out at an earlier date when their supply situation was better. By the time Hitler agreed to a breakout, it was logistically almost impossible.
Manstein typically asked for forces knowing what he could and couldn’t do with them, but in this case the 6th Army had only a limited ability to attack for their part of the breakout, and the Soviets dedicated quite a lot of manpower and equipment to ensuring they couldn’t.
As an alternative to historical events, highly risky evacuation flights to pull some lucky portion of the army out of the encirclement might have succeeded (see what was done for Franco in 1936) but if it’s less than half the manpower it’s too little too late. Manstein’s relief effort might have gotten further with more resources, but this would weaken some other portion of the front. The point to be underlined is that December is probably too late to save the 6th Army.
In any case, the right move for 1943 would not have been the risky and ultimately doomed attempt to encircle and destroy the Soviets at Kursk. Guderian favored a strategy of elastic defense, trading ground for manpower and designed to maximize Soviet losses and conserve German ones. This likely would have allowed for 1943 to be a rebuilding year, although wars are not won by such strategies.
Still, without the egregious losses for Germany in 1943 and 1944, the historical Normandy landing probably can’t happen when it did in the summer of 1944. Allied force calculations would show a better prepared enemy and recommend the slower Italian campaign to continue while Anglo-American lend-lease continues to prop up the Soviets.
If elastic defense does pay off for Germany from a manpower cost/benefit ratio, this will prevent the ruinous Operarion Bagration in 1944. At some point, the number of recruitable men in the USSR will dry up, after which time the war can enter a new phase. Should the USSR sue for peace, it’ll take nothing short of an American nuke to win on the continent.
What if Hitler had adopted this flexible strategy with the aim of just deferring defeat (knowing he could not win a traditional land war now) but just that extra time to develop a war-winning weapon such as the atomic bomb? Would that have been a more feasible way to combine the flexible defence with a non-traditional strategy to win the war?
Don't reinforce North Africa with the 5th Panzer Army, but instead divert the resources-especially the Ju-52s being used for aerial resupply, to Stalingrad. The latter is sufficient to achieve the 500 daily tons needed for Army Group B to remain operational i.e. capable of undertaking Operation Thunderclap. The former, however, frees up 1st SS LSSAH Division, 2nd Fallschrimjaeger, 10th Panzer Division, HG Panzer Brigade, and some other odds and ends (164th Infantry Division, IIRC). 16th Motorized Division at Elista could also be utilized if you divert some air assets to get them refueled. This combined force adds a significant punch to von Manstein's Operation Winter Storm which, when combined with Army Group B undertaking Thunderclap, likely results in the successful breakout and escape of said AG-B.
From there, everything proceeds as close to OTL as possible, with the rest of II SS Panzer Corps arriving and enabling the back hand below of Third Kharkov by Manstein as per OTL, but with the Soviets significantly more chewed up and more German forces on hand it is likely the Kursk Bulge can be prevented or at least mitigated. From there, I would seek a peace deal with Stalin. Historically, he was open to such:
Besides the linked articles, A World At Arms by Gerhard L. Weinberg (1994) and Hitler's War by Heinz Magenheimer (1998) support it. I don't have access to Magenheimer, but I do have Weinberg and I'll quote from that.
Until access to Soviet archives enables scholars to see more clearly into these murky episodes, this author will remain convinced that it was the shock of German military revival so soon after the great Soviet victory at Stalingrad which reinforced Stalin's inclinations during 1943 to contemplate the possibility of either a separate peace with Hitler's Germany or with some alternative German government. With the road to Berlin so obviously a difficult one, the temptation to sound possible alternatives was enormous. Surely by now the Germans must realize that their hopes of defeating the Soviet Union were illusory. The German government had had sense enough in 1939 to work out an accommodation with the Soviet Union on terms both sides had found advantageous the same people were still in charge in Berlin. In the winter of 1940-41 they had refused to reply to the Soviet proposals for Russia to join the Tripartite Pact, but instead had insisted on attacking her perhaps in the interim they had learned better in the hard school of war. As for the Soviet Union, she had demonstrated conclusively that she could defend herself, but this defense had been immensely costly.
A new agreement with Germany would provide a breathing space for reconstruction and recovery, would remove German occupation without either further Red Army casualties or economic destruction, and would leave the Soviet Union dominant in all of Eastern Europe, especially in Poland where a Soviet puppet government would replace the pre-war regime. It may have been known to the Soviet government that there were elements in the German government and military apparatus who wanted an agreement with Moscow, and it was certainly known that Japan was very strongly in favor of a German-Soviet peace.
On the Soviet side, the position appears to have been that Germany must evacuate all the occupied territory, certainly to the 1941 border, possibly later on, after the Soviet victory in July 1943, back to the 1914 border (thus turning over central Poland to the Soviet Union). German Foreign Minister von Ribbentrop appears to have been at least slightly interested in some compromise peace he saw himself as the architect of the 1939 pact with the Soviet Union and had always given priority to the war against Great Britain. Joseph Goebbels, the Minister of Propaganda, favored negotiations with Stalin and so advised Hitler, almost certainly much more strongly than von Ribbentrop. Hitler, however, was unwilling to have any negotiations with the Soviet Union. Some of the sources make a great deal out of his suspicions about a key intermediary in Stockholm being Jewish, but Hitler's explanations to Goebbels and Oshima go to the core of the issue: he wanted to keep territory, especially the Ukraine, which he was certain Stalin would not give up and on this point, if no other, his assessment of the Soviet Union was certainly correct. While Stalin might have been willing to negotiate about territory to the west of the 1941 border of the country, he was certainly not about to leave the Germans in occupation of portions of it, least of all the rich agricultural and industrial areas of the Ukraine. The latter would, if necessary, be retaken in battle, and in the fall of 1943 and the winter of 1943-44 that is exactly what the Red Army did.
With the inconclusive nature of Stalingrad and the higher losses sustained in the Winter and Spring, it is likely Stalin would be receptive to such offers. Once "Peace in the East" is had, it is likely the Anglo-Americans follow suit. If not, sufficient resources are on hand now to not only fend off landings by them on the European mainland, but also to effectively fight the Air War against them.