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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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Lost Victories, or the Limits of Operational Thinking

Lost Victories, or the Limits of Operational Thinking

(p.189) 7 Lost Victories, or the Limits of Operational Thinking
The Myth and Reality of German Warfare

Gerhard P. Gross

, David T. Zabecki
University Press of Kentucky

Chapter 7 challenges the myth popularized by Nazi propaganda that the German military developed a comprehensive plan to achieve supremacy through successive Blitzkrieg strikes. The early victories over Poland and France were actually based on traditional German operational thinking and were not the result of a well-considered, long-term Blitzkrieg strategy. For a short time, the mobility afforded by tanks, trucks, and aircraft allowed for the swift maneuvers key to operation-based thinking, but as the war continued, fuel shortages forced the German army to demobilize until the conduct of rapid operations became impossible. This chapter examines the failure of the German high command to adapt to this reality as well as their inability to recognize the importance of logistics, especially during Operation Barbarossa. Instead of blaming a one-dimensional strategy for their failure, German military theorists blamed Hitler, and as happened following World War I, the personalization of blame deflected attention from the deficiencies of German operational thinking in World War II.

Keywords:   Blitzkrieg, World War II, Nazi propaganda, operational thinking, Operation Barbarossa

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