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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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Operational Thinking in the Age of the Atom

Operational Thinking in the Age of the Atom

(p.259) 8 Operational Thinking in the Age of the Atom
The Myth and Reality of German Warfare

Gerhard P. Gross

, David T. Zabecki
University Press of Kentucky

Unlike the downfall of 1918, that of 1945 changed fundamentally a central element of German operational thinking. Divided into two states, Germany moved from being the center of Europe to being the border between two hostile world power blocs. As a result, the need for a quick decision that had dominated German military thinking since Schlieffen became moot. This chapter examines the struggle of the German Democratic Republic and the Federal Republic of Germany to develop a new theory of war accounting for nuclear weapons. In the West, NATO encouraged this development, but in the East, Soviet ideology prevented Germany’s independent command and control methods from taking root. Thus, West Germany inherited Schlieffen and Moltke’s operational theory while the GDR did not. This tradition led Inspector General of the Bundeswehr Adolf Heusinger, in contrast to the prevailing American ideology of “massive response,” to advocate for a “flexible response” and for the use of nuclear weapons for deterrence only, allowing his ground forces to conduct classical operations. Although his plans were largely accepted, he struggled to comprehend the revolutionary nature of nuclear weapons and the impact they would have on future wars.

Keywords:   German Democratic Republic, Federal Republic of Germany, West Germany, NATO, Bundeswehr, massive response, flexible response, Adolf Heusinger, nuclear weapons

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