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456 hits since 21 Sep 2018
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP22 Sep 2018 11:25 a.m. PST

….Campaigns of 1944-1945'.

"Robert M. Citino, presently at the National WWII Museum, has again teamed up with the University Press of Kansas for his latest installment on modern German military history. The Wehrmacht's Last Stand investigates Germany's final battles against the Soviet Union and the Western Allies to its east, south, and west. As we have come to expect from Citino, the book is thoroughly researched, clearly narrated, and tightly argued. While Wehrmacht's Last Stand synthesizes a great number of secondary materials—a review of its bibliography reveals only a couple pre-1945 German military journals that could be considered primary sources—it is full of new insights and thought-provoking interpretations of key events in late World War II.[1] Citino takes military historians to school by demonstrating how operational history should be written, at a time when elements of the academy consider that subdiscipline passé and of doubtful utility.

The Wehrmacht had a good run during the first two years of the war, then a couple years of transition (notably against the USSR), but in Wehrmacht's Last Stand it is reeling backward on every front. By early 1945, German soldiers were defending German soil, not someone else's. For the sixteen months under study here, the Wehrmacht bent but did not break until the sauve qui peut during the last weeks of the war. Citino therefore asks, "What kept the German Army going in such an increasingly hopeless situation?" (p. 3). The answer should not be surprising: loyalty to Adolf Hitler.[2] As in his earlier works, Citino's frame of reference is what he calls Germany's "way of war" (p. 229). This is not the same as strategy or doctrine but instead represents an "ingrained and traditional military culture, imposing repetitive patterns of thought and behavior" spanning centuries (p. 299). Consistent with his emphasis on the traditional point of view, Citino frequently invokes the Great Elector, Frederick the Great, Carl von Clausewitz, and other German military luminaries of yore to demonstrate the Wehrmacht's continuity with its Prussian ancestors.

Central to Citino's German way of war framework is his assertion that the "war of movement" was its preferred technique. Actually, he goes beyond saying that movement was merely preferred, and claims that it was the only form of fighting at which they could excel. The contrasting "positional war" was anathema to the Prussian/German way. This one-sided approach might have worked in the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries, when a few weeks of marching culminating in a couple day-long battles could decide a campaign or, in some cases, a war. Starting with the American Civil War, however, this was no longer possible when considering wars between modern industrialized states and alliances. Unfortunately, Citino's emphasis on movement cherry-picks the brief episodes of exertion, adrenaline, and glory (or terror) that punctuated weeks or months of often boring, static positional or defensive warfare, which routinely dominated the remaining 90+ percent of an army's existence—the case regardless of whether we are talking about Frederick II, Gebhardt von Blücher, Wilhelm II, or Hitler…."
Full review here

link

Amicalement
Armand

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP23 Sep 2018 11:32 a.m. PST

Interesting that the reviewer discusses Germany's persistence in a hopeless war without mentioning either having the Soviet Union for an opponent or the "Unconditional Surrender" ultimatum. I wonder whether Citino makes the same mistake?

And by the time the issue was serious, the German officer corps knew exactly what happened to the last Western officers to surrender to Stalin--something the reviewer also missed. Actually, adding the White Russians to the Poles and Balts, the German officers released in 1952--were any commissioned officers released earlier?--may be the first commissioned officers of any nationality to survive surrendering to Communists.

There may have been fanatic loyalty to Hitler. But it might not have taken that.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP23 Sep 2018 2:04 p.m. PST

Agree!


Amicalement
Armand

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