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The Myth and Reality of German WarfareOperational Thinking from Moltke the Elder to Heusinger$
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Gerhard P. Gross

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780813168371

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813168371.001.0001

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Old Wine in New Wineskins

Old Wine in New Wineskins

Operational Thinking in the Reichswehr and the Wehrmacht between Reality and Utopia

(p.133) 6 Old Wine in New Wineskins
The Myth and Reality of German Warfare

Gerhard P. Gross

, David T. Zabecki
University Press of Kentucky

Chapter 6 examines the rearmament of the German military from disorganization in peacetime (the Reichswehr) through the foundation of a centralized and unified military (the Wehrmacht) at the start of World War II. Although Schlieffen’s plan of swift annihilation and operational maneuvers had proven unsuccessful, the German military blamed this failure on the incompetence of individual commanders. As a result, the dogmatic adherence to quick, operational warfare independent of political considerations remained unquestioned. Instead, military leaders like Joachim von Stülpnagel and Hans von Seeckt debated the value of a total people’s war as a means of achieving a battle of annihilation in future conflicts. Not all of Germany’s failures in World War I were ignored, however. Wilhelm Groener noted the lack of cooperation between not only branches of the armed forces but also military and political leadership. He called for the centralization of command and control in a political body—a call that was answered by the rise of Adolph Hitler and the establishment of the Wehrmacht under Werner von Blomberg.

Keywords:   Reischswehr, Wehrmacht, Joachim von Stülpnagel, Hans von Seeckt, Wilhelm Groener, Adolph Hitler, Werner von Blomberg

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