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Exposing the Third ReichColonel Truman Smith in Hitler's Germany$

Henry G. Gole

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780813141763

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813141763.001.0001

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(p.337) Appendix F: Smith on the Situation in Europe, May 1944

(p.337) Appendix F: Smith on the Situation in Europe, May 1944

Exposing the Third Reich
University Press of Kentucky

On 19 May 1944 Smith wrote this memo to General Clayton Bissell on the strategic situation the Allies faced just prior to D-Day. Smith's estimate reminds us that General Eisenhower had prepared two press releases: one for failure and one for success.

WAR DEPARTMENT War Department General Staff Military Intelligence Division G-2 Washington

19 May 1944


Subject: Personal estimate of Colonel Truman Smith as to general strategic situation in Europe.

I consider that Germany faces the coming 1944 campaign on the strategic defensive in all areas.

The German High Command intends two main defensive efforts—on the Channel Coast and in Galicia. Elsewhere it will give ground if strongly pressed, especially in Italy and in the vast area from the Baltic to the Pripet Swamps.


I consider the German defenses, both in material and personnel, along the Channel Coast as very strong. Our invasion will be met at the beaches and no foot of ground abandoned voluntarily. The Germans will not hesitate to commit the full power of their Air Force to break up or disrupt our initial assault both at the invasion ports and on the beaches. I consider their chances of preventing an impregnable Allied beachhead being established on the Channel Coast as about 45%. If our great air superiority and capability of large-scale air landings did not enter the picture, I would estimate the German chances of a successful defense at better than 70%.

At any rate, the Allied margin of success is uncomfortably (p.338) small and the miscarriage of any important detail of the plan would shift the odds of success definitely in the German favor.

In view of the general strategic situation, which is highly unfavorable for Germany notably in Russia, the invasion, should be carried through despite undoubted risks and even the possibility of disaster.


Until a decision has been reached both along the Channel and in Galicia, no large reinforcing units, except in dire need, will be sent by Germany into Italy Kesselring will give ground. in Italy as [unreadable]. If pressed by the Allies, Rome will be abandoned and retirement slowly effected to the line Pisa—Rimini.


Germany will seek to maintain her present positions, without transferring to this area any important reserves.


If Germany is attacked in strength in Galicia, or in fact anywhere south of the Pripet, she will be forced to accept decisive battle.

If Germany is attacked in strength north of the Pripet, she will fight delaying battles similar to those of 1943 back to the Niemen. If the fighting reaches the latter river, she will be forced to accept decisive battle just as she must do now in Galicia.

A detailed consideration of the German situation and a review of CIC 56/2,13 May 1944, is attached.

/s/ Truman Smith TRUMAN SMITH Colonel, General Staff

4 encls.

Tabs A, B, C, and D.