Napoleon or Hitler?

Nov 2017
24
Houston, TX
#1
In your own opinion, who was the better leader/military strategist/commander... Napoleon B. or A. Hitler?

What did one do that the other could or couldn't do? Who had the better control of their military?

Random Fact: It was 136 years between when Napoleon became emperor of France and Hitler invading Paris.
 

SPERRO

Ad Honorem
Mar 2011
3,480
North East England
#2
In your own opinion, who was the better leader/military strategist/commander... Napoleon B. or A. Hitler?

What did one do that the other could or couldn't do? Who had the better control of their military?

Random Fact: It was 136 years between when Napoleon became emperor of France and Hitler invading Paris.
There is no comparison in my view, between Adolf Hitler and Napoleon. Hitler had no military skill whatsoever, and was really only good at remembering facts and figures.

Napoleon was a good strategist, but sometimes his plans did not work out in the way he intended. Both of these men had a contempt for human life, and there, the comparison ends In my opinion.:)
 

Rodger

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
6,169
US
#3
There is no comparison in my view, between Adolf Hitler and Napoleon. Hitler had no military skill whatsoever, and was really only good at remembering facts and figures.

Napoleon was a good strategist, but sometimes his plans did not work out in the way he intended. Both of these men had a contempt for human life, and there, the comparison ends In my opinion.:)
Well put. Hitler was not a military strategist. In fact, if he had deferred to his generals, maybe he would have won the war, or at least survived.
 

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,260
Dispargum
#4
Hitler had no formal schooling in war. His experience was that of a corporal in WW1. He may have had some understanding of squad and platoon level tactics but nothing higher. He was widely read in history, but off the top of my head I don't recall reading that he was especially interested in military history (I could be wrong). He may have had some amateur level understanding of wartime economy and how raw materials are turned into weapons. In this regard he may have been a little smarter than his generals who rarely thought about crippling the enemy economy. His generals mostly only wanted to win on the battlefield. Hitler placed far too much hope in wonder weapons like the Tiger Tank, V-1, V-2, advanced U-boats, jet fighters, etc. He would have been better off producing more weapons of less complexity and greater reliability.

Napoleon was a far greater tactician and strategist. He was also a more inspiring leader. (Hitler's response to opposition was to throw a temper tantrum.) Napoleon was in many ways at his best when things were going wrong. He was back in old form for his campaign of 1814, right before his first abdication. Hitler was at his best only when things were already going well.
 
Dec 2017
185
Germany
#6
Hitler had no formal schooling in war.
I don´t think military academies in Germany offered a course on how to deliberately initiate a genocial and global war which would kill 50 million people.

True, Hitler didn't´t attend military academy, but he nevertheless established the most militaristic and militant regime in human history.

Hitler galvanized and coerced the German nation into conquering the whole of continental Europe with stunning victories in 1940.

Hitler also fought off three superpowers (The US, the Soviet Union and the British Empire) for more than three years.

His party - the Nazi Party - spent half of its existence in power at war.

The Germans fought for the Führer to the very last bullet and refused to surrender even though their war was lost, their cities destroyed, and the country was overrun by the enemy.

No formal schooling in war?

Hilter didn´t read much military history? But, he fought in WW1.

I´ve got a PhD in WW2 studies, but anyone out there who has served in Vietnam (or any other conflict) will always have a better understanding of war than I do.

What I am saying is reading about warfare in a book is one thing, direct personal experience is another.

Hitler´s school was called the First World War.

In many ways, Hitler just continued the fight from 1914 to 1945.
 
Last edited:
Likes: macon

SPERRO

Ad Honorem
Mar 2011
3,480
North East England
#7
Hitler had no formal schooling in war. His experience was that of a corporal in WW1. He may have had some understanding of squad and platoon level tactics but nothing higher. He was widely read in history, but off the top of my head I don't recall reading that he was especially interested in military history (I could be wrong). He may have had some amateur level understanding of wartime economy and how raw materials are turned into weapons. In this regard he may have been a little smarter than his generals who rarely thought about crippling the enemy economy. His generals mostly only wanted to win on the battlefield. Hitler placed far too much hope in wonder weapons like the Tiger Tank, V-1, V-2, advanced U-boats, jet fighters, etc. He would have been better off producing more weapons of less complexity and greater reliability.

Napoleon was a far greater tactician and strategist. He was also a more inspiring leader. (Hitler's response to opposition was to throw a temper tantrum.) Napoleon was in many ways at his best when things were going wrong. He was back in old form for his campaign of 1814, right before his first abdication. Hitler was at his best only when things were already going well.
I fully agree.
 

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,260
Dispargum
#8
What I am saying is reading about warfare in a book is one thing, direct personal experience is another.

Hitler´s school was called the First World War.

In many ways, Hitler just continued the fight from 1914 to 1945.

And a fuller text of what I said was "Hitler had no formal schooling in war. His experience was that of a corporal in WW1. He may have had some understanding of squad and platoon level tactics but nothing higher."

I was a sergeant. The military never taught me strategy. They only teach that to senior officers.

Hitler's WW1 experience did not serve him well in WW2. He did not learn that Germany can not win if it takes on too many enemies simultaneously. His understanding of trench warfare did not prepare him for a war of mobility like the Blitzkreig. He never learned that a retreat can be a useful device for setting up a counter-attack. Even after Manstein showed how it was done at Kharkov, Hitler still insisted on issuing 'No retreat' orders. He did not learn that Britain was for more motivated to keep the sea lanes open than Germany's U-boats would ever be to close them. He did not learn that U-boats in the Atlantic would cause problems with a neutral US. Yes, Hitler had a WW1 experience, but it didn't help his WW2 performance.
 
Dec 2017
185
Germany
#9
And a fuller text of what I said was "Hitler had no formal schooling in war. His experience was that of a corporal in WW1. He may have had some understanding of squad and platoon level tactics but nothing higher."

I was a sergeant. The military never taught me strategy. They only teach that to senior officers.

Hitler's WW1 experience did not serve him well in WW2. He did not learn that Germany can not win if it takes on too many enemies simultaneously. His understanding of trench warfare did not prepare him for a war of mobility like the Blitzkreig. He never learned that a retreat can be a useful device for setting up a counter-attack. Even after Manstein showed how it was done at Kharkov, Hitler still insisted on issuing 'No retreat' orders. He did not learn that Britain was for more motivated to keep the sea lanes open than Germany's U-boats would ever be to close them. He did not learn that U-boats in the Atlantic would cause problems with a neutral US. Yes, Hitler had a WW1 experience, but it didn't help his WW2 performance.
Well, the First World War made Hitler.

Ironically, WW1 destroyed his world and the old order in Germany, but defeat and chaos presented him with golden opportunities.

A man like Hitler would never have emerged from a stable, peaceful society, but
in the turbulent aftermath of the war, he flourished.
Thanks to the his wartime contacts in the Bavarian Army, he got into politics.

In fact, it was with the encouragement of his military superiors that he wrote his first political statement on 16 September 1919.

In other words, he was a product of the First World War.

War did not teach him strategy?

Well, the war taught him the value of propaganda, extreme nationalism, and mass mobilization - useful lessons for WW2.
Defeat in 1918 also provided Hitler with a mission - to restore Germany to its former glory and to destroy those who were responsible for its defeat.

Hitler gambled on a short, victorious European war. He had never planned for a long war, still less a world war.

Retreat was not possible because Nazi propaganda always had to show that the Germans were on the offensive in newsreels.

Hitler would have ruled the whole of Continental Europe, if British resistance had not prevented him from winning the war.

With hindsight it seems obvious now, but nothing in 1939 suggested that the conflict would go on for 6 years, and that the fighting would widen, and intensify.

In 1940, Lord Halifax, among others, wanted to appease Hitler and avoid war. If Halifax had been prime minister, Britain might have made a deal with Nazi Germany.

Nor was it clear in 1939 that Hitler´s air-sea blockade of Britain would not work.
 
Last edited:

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,260
Dispargum
#10
I suspect that in 1939 no German had given much thought to an air-sea blockade of Britian. It had failed in the first war and there was little reason to think it would work a second time. Then suddenly the German Navy found themselves in a war no one had expected. They had no strategy. Plan Z would not be ready for many years yet. The German Navy could only repeat the old strategy and hope for the best.

Did anyone in Germany in 1939 ask the question 'How do we wage U-boat warfare in the North Atlantic without angering the US and bringing them into the war?' Someone should have asked that question - Hitler if no one else. IMHO Hitler did not care if the US came into the war, but that is just an example of him failing to learn from his WW1 experience.

No argument on the statement that WW1 made Hitler. I'm just saying it didn't teach him anything about strategy. I don't consider propaganda, mobilization, or nationalism to be elements of strategy. Useful tools for a politician certainly, but if anything I suspect nationalism, propaganda, etc fooled Hitler into believing Germany was stronger than it really was.
 
Last edited:

Similar History Discussions