Challenging previous accounts, Geoffrey Megargee shatters the myth that German generals would have prevailed in World War II if only Hitler had not meddled in their affairs. Indeed, Megargee argues, the German high command was much more flawed than many have suspected or acknowledged. The book reveals that while Hitler was the central figure in many military decisions, his generals were equal partners in Germany's catastrophic defeat. Megargee exposes the structure, processes and personalities that governed the Third Reich's military decision making and shows how Germany's presumed battlefield superiority was undermined by poor strategic and operational planning at the highest levels. The study tracks the evolution of German military leadership under the Nazis from 1933 to 1945 and expands understanding of the balance of power within the high command, the role of personalities in its organizational development and the influence of German military intellectuals on its structure and function. It also shows how the organization of the high command was plagued by ambition, stubbornness, political intrigue and overworked staff officers.
A "week in the life" chapter puts the high command under a magnifying glass to reveal its inner workings during the fierce fighting on the Russian Front in December 1941. Megargee also offers insights into the high command crises of 1938 and shows how German general staff made fatal mistakes in their planning for Operation Barbarossa in 1941. Their arrogant dismissal of the Soviet military's ability to defend its homeland and virtual disregard for the extensive intelligence and sound logistics that undergird successful large-scale military campaigns ultimately came to haunt them. In the final assessment, argues Megargee, the generals' strategic ideas were no better than Hitler's and often worse. Heinz Guderian, Franz Halder and the rest were as guilty of self-deception as their Fuhrer, believing that innate German superiority and strength of will were enough to overcome any obstacle.
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- ID: 9780700610150
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