General Erich Marcks stood at his long table
studying the war map spread out before him. He was surrounded by his staff.
They had been with him ever since the birthsday
party, briefing the 84th Corps commander for the war games in Rennes.
Every now and then the general called for another map. It seemed to
his intelligence officer, Major Friedrich Hayn, that Marcks was
preparing for the 'Kriegsspiel' as though it was a real battle,
instead of merely a theoretical invasion of Normandy.
In the midst of their discussion, the phone rang.
The conversation ceased as Marcks
picked up the receiver. Hayn recalls that "as he listened, the
general's body seemed to stiffen." Marcks motioned to his
chief of staff to pick up the extention phone.
The man who was calling was GeneralMajor Wilhelm
Richter, commander of the 716th Division, holding the coast above
Caen. "Paratroopers have landed east of the Orne" Richter
told Marcks. "The area seems to be around Bréville and
Ranville.....along the northern fringe of the Bavent Forest..."
This was the first official report of the Allied
attack to reach a major German headquaters. "it struck us"
Hayn says, "like lightning." The time was 2:11 a.m.
(British Double Summer Time).
Marcks immediately telephoned GeneralMajor Max
Pemsel, chief of staff of the Seventh Army. At 2:15 a.m. Pemsel
placed Seventh Army on Alarmstufe II,
the highest state of readiness. It was four hours since the second
Verlaine message had been intercepted. Now at last the Seventh Army,
in whose area the invasion had already begun, had been alerted.
Pemsel was taking no chances. He awakened the
Seventh's commanding officer, GeneralOberst Friedrich Dollmann.
"Herr General" said Pemsel, "I believe this is the
invasion. Will you please come over immediately?"
As he put down the phone, Pemsel suddently
remembered something. Among the sheaf of intelligence bulletins that
had come in during the afternoon, one had come from an agent in
Casablanca. He had specifically stated that the invasion would take
place in Normandy on June 6......
Longest Day' by Cornelius