February 2nd was the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Stalingrad. A Russian friend posted a link about it and a I started reading.
One thing that stood out to me was how the Catholicism of the commander of the German army in Stalingrad probably was the reason for his refusal to commit suicide as Hitler wanted. He refused to disobey other terrible orders, but this one he refused.
In deciding to promote Paulus, Hitler noted that there was no known record of a Prussian or German field marshal ever having surrendered. The implication was clear: Paulus was to commit suicide. If Paulus surrendered, he would shame Germany's military history. From the Wikipedia entry about Friedrich Paulus
Despite this, and to the disgust of Hitler, Paulus and his staff surrendered the next day, 31 January. On the 2 February 1943 the remainder of the Sixth Army capitulated. Upon finding out about Paulus' surrender, Hitler flew into a rage, and vowed never to appoint another field marshal again, though he would in fact go on to appoint another seven field marshals during the last two years of the war. Speaking about the surrender of Paulus, Hitler told his staff:
"In peacetime Germany, about 18,000 or 20,000 people a year chose to commit suicide, even without being in such a position. Here is a man who sees 50,000 or 60,000 of his soldiers die defending themselves bravely to the end. How can he surrender himself to the Bolshevists?! ”
Paulus, a Roman Catholic, was opposed to suicide. During his captivity, according to General Pfeffer, Paulus said of Hitler's expectation: "I have no intention of shooting myself for this Bohemian corporal". Another general told the NKVD (the public and secret police organization of the Soviet Union) that Paulus had told him about his promotion to field marshal and said: "It looks like an invitation to commit suicide, but I will not do this favour for him." Paulus also forbade his soldiers from standing on top of their trenches in order to be shot by the enemy.