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"Meet Hermann Balck The Trailblazing Panzer General" Topic

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©1994-2020 Bill Armintrout
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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP14 Mar 2020 9:16 p.m. PST

…. That History Forgot

"GERMAN GENERAL Friedrich von Mellenthin had a number of goals when writing Panzer Battles: A Study of the Employment of Armor in the Second World War. In his 1956 best-seller, the former staff officer and divisional commander devoted considerable energy convincing his readers of the Wehrmacht's unparalleled military excellence. According to Mellenthin, the German army would have likely prevailed had it not been for the unlimited manpower of the Red Army, coupled with the insane orders from the military amateur Adolf Hitler.

In Panzer Battles, Mellenthin also sets out to convince readers that the Wehrmacht was far removed from the Holocaust and the abhorrent world of Third Reich politics. Such themes are, unsurprisingly, found in other bestsellers written by former German generals such as Heinz Guderian's Panzer Leader (1950) and Erich von Manstein's Lost Victories (1955). However, these myths are ultimately unconvincing and have been demolished by the work of serious historians. For example, I recommend Why the Germans Lose at War: The Myth of German Military Superiority (1996) by Kenneth Macksey and The Wehrmacht: History, Myth, Reality (2002) by Wolfram Wette…"
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Wolfhag15 Mar 2020 4:44 a.m. PST

Excerpts of the book: link


Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP15 Mar 2020 3:22 p.m. PST



Legion 416 Mar 2020 2:26 p.m. PST

I read Panzer Battles when I was in High School. Still have it too. I think I have Balck's book too in my library, will have to look … old fart

Mark 116 Mar 2020 2:48 p.m. PST

Missing from the introduction above is the key thesis of the article (which, although not mentioned in the first two paragraphs as shown above, should be no surprise based on the thread topic):

Mellenthin concluded: "If Manstein was Germany's greatest strategist during World War II, I think Balck has strong claims to be regarded as our finest field commander."

The author goes on to note:

Balck analyzed German tactical shortcomings and theorized a new way in which infantry and tanks would cooperate in kampfgruppen (battlegroups), revolutionizing the way panzer divisions fought. …

Both Balck and Mellenthin travelled to America during the late 1970s and early 1980s as military consultants where they participated in symposiums, conferences and wargames. … In fact, General William E. DePuy, commander of Training and Doctrine Command, considered him to be "the best division commander in the German Army."

Balck's advice strongly shaped the AirLand Battle doctrine, which forms the basis of western military thinking to this day. …

Balck recorded his thoughts in a journal between 1914 and 1945, which formed the basis of his long overdue memoir Ordnung im Chaos (1981). An English version only recently appeared in 2015. Balck in his memoir, unlike Guderian, Manstein and Mellenthin, took responsibility for mistakes: "We lost Stalingrad, Africa, and the Caucasus campaign because these campaigns were conducted beyond secured supply lines, and when this error became apparent, we did not abort in time."

He acknowledged that the Red Army counter-offensive during the winter of 194243 "was well planned, well prepared, and brilliantly executed." He also added, "I also underestimated the Russians considerably." Balck's honesty makes Order in Chaos a far more valuable resource for historians than the earlier accounts written by his contemporaries.

If all of this is true, Balck deserves to stand out as one of the great practitioners of, and contributors to, combined arms mechanized warfare.

An interesting read. A name I had not previously appreciated.

(aka: Mk 1)

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP18 Mar 2020 11:44 a.m. PST

Glad you enjoyed it my friend!. (smile)


Blutarski18 Mar 2020 8:31 p.m. PST

Hermann Balck was the son of Generalleutnant William Balck, author of several very influential volumes on infantry and cavalry tactics, widely read in the USA.


Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP18 Mar 2020 8:50 p.m. PST



Blutarski28 Mar 2020 8:27 p.m. PST

For anyone interested, the DTIC website has several interesting direct interviews with, and documents related to General Hermann Balck.

Go here – link


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