Revised view of German military strength and strategies

aggienation

Ad Honorem
Jul 2016
9,787
USA
Politics is also the continuation of war by other means. - Live Canadian dude
That makes no sense. Politics is the local town alderman proposing the opening of a dog pound. Clausewitz's quote is true and has you beat.

The problem with Germany in WW2 was that its greatest military minds were greatly flawed. Around the mid to late 19th century the Kriegsacademie and General Staff stopped teaching and focusing on politics and grand strategy, and things like economics, industry, etc., really only focused on strategy, operations, and tactics. By the point of the creation of the Wehrmacht after Hitler's rise to power they'd basically stopped learning and being interested in anything besides tactics and operations. For them, wars were won by tactical and operational victories that crushed the enemy's armed forces, and thus made them unable to continue resistance, forcing them to sue for peace. And it worked early on, so that reinforced to them that they were right, in Poland, France and the Low Countries, Yugoslavia, and Greece. But failed against Great Britain, and then again even worse against the Soviet Union. Even then, their solution was still to win wars by winning battles, to crush enemy armies using maneuver warfare, forcing enemy politicians to sue for peace.

Hitler was a politician, who dabbled in military studies a bit. He was a keen reader, was obsessed with Frederick the Great, and considering his utter lack of experience and formal education was actually not horrible (though completely irrational, especially as the years went on). His greatest problem, micromanaging the war from a position of influence, was not unique, it was shared by numerous national political leader in WW2, Churchill, Mussolini, all Stalin did the same things Hitler did, and it was only really FDR and Hirohito (who was largely a puppet) who didn't interfere much at all and try to play field marshal. But throughout the war, Hitler was surrounded by generals who were only focused on their own theater and their own slice of the operational scheme, who seemed like they would never take into account the larger picture. It wasn't that Hitler was a genius, far from it, but he should not have been the lone individual concerned with the topics he was. His problem was that the general staff at that time sucked. Hitler should not have been the only one bringing up things like working to keep alliances with other Axis nations intact, as an influence on strategy and operational planning (need for a big offensive in summer '43). Or need for food for the German people (goal for taking and holding Ukraine in Barbarossa). Or independence for oil (taking and holding the Caucasus was also supposed to be a major goal for Barbarossa).

There were only a few German generals who also thought big picture, and AFAIK all of them are considered Hitler toadies. And they were, but they were also the few who looked a the big picture.
 
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aggienation

Ad Honorem
Jul 2016
9,787
USA
I think German mentality also got in the way. They just loved to tinker, modify almost to excess. Meaning production time was lost every time someone decided a hatch needed to hinged a different way or coax machine gun was not quite in the right place.

Americans on the other hand just loved a good battlefield modification. Out rolls a stock standard Sherman, and someone would begin welding bits and pieces to it to assist with whatever issue was at hand.
Germans did the same thing with field modifications. They were even putting commander cupolas on captured T-34-76 and reissuing them to German units. And you can look up how many variants of the M4 Sherman there were, it was quite a lot. Even the USSR, who for years purposely stopped trying to upgrade vehicles to maximize production, still were changing things a lot. They were still even executing plant managers for doing so without permission when it failed, but rewarding them when the mods succeeded.

The major German problem wasn't that they were constantly tinkering, it was that their manufacturing techniques sucked, in terms of mass production. My understanding is that of all the German tank plants, only one of them making Tigers was actually being run as a proper assembly line. The rest were stationary bays, with the tank being left in one position and workers performing different steps on the same tank as the time went on, with individual parts being individually fitted to each tank (their standardization was rather bad). And that was in keeping with customary German modes of production, they favored high quality manufacturing with skilled labor, but it was a disaster considering that by 1941 they were facing off against the two greatest industrial powerhouses, one who invented the assembly line and the other who fully embraced it. Even to this day its still like that, when you're buying a BMW or Mercedes, you're getting a hand crafted car and not something pumped out of a crappy plant trying to make quotas. The problem with the German concept though was in WW2, those quotas that they could never come close to (which were based on realistic demands), which meant they weren't just lagging behind their enemy, they were lagging behind what they should have had, if they had done things better.
 
Jan 2013
1,061
Toronto, Canada
That makes no sense. Politics is the local town alderman proposing the opening of a dog pound. Clausewitz's quote is true and has you beat.
Politics is Frederick the Great manipulating Peter III to survive a war that should have destroyed him. It's British and French regimes surviving a World War that brought down German, Russian, Austrian and Turkish governments. It's Italians staying loyal to the Republic despite Hannibal's victories because they liked Rome and didn't like Carthage.
 

aggienation

Ad Honorem
Jul 2016
9,787
USA
Politics is Frederick the Great manipulating Peter III to survive a war that should have destroyed him. It's British and French regimes surviving a World War that brought down German, Russian, Austrian and Turkish governments. It's Italians staying loyal to the Republic despite Hannibal's victories because they liked Rome and didn't like Carthage.
And none of that at all has anything to do with "Politics is also the continuation of war by other means." You took a famous and established saying, a cornerstone of modern political, strategic, and military thought, and jumbled the words to make it meaningless.

Clausewitz said that war is a continuation of politics using violence as "the other means." Meaning its still diplomacy, but using killing and destruction as the means of coercion to still achieve a political goal. You stating that politics is a continuation of war has no meaning, war is a subsection of politics and not the other way around.

Did you ever think why I would quote Clausewitz in a thread about German military strength and strategy in WW2?
 

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
5,160
Sydney
I concur on politics being the continuation of war by other means ,
it shake the view that war and no war are different situation
war don't happen out of a vacuum , there must be a confrontation beforehand
 
Mar 2019
1,952
Kansas
I concur on politics being the continuation of war by other means ,
it shake the view that war and no war are different situation
war don't happen out of a vacuum , there must be a confrontation beforehand
I like to think the reverse is applicable. War is a continuation of politics by other means. All politics is not about avoiding war. Where as all war is a continuation of government policy.
 

aggienation

Ad Honorem
Jul 2016
9,787
USA
I concur on politics being the continuation of war by other means ,
it shake the view that war and no war are different situation
war don't happen out of a vacuum , there must be a confrontation beforehand
I love this forum. Clausewitz's definition written two hundred years ago is apparently wrong but someone on HIstorum jumbles the words up and suddenly it makes sense. :lol:
 

betgo

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
6,424
Germany / Prussia had excellent international politics and diplomacy under Frederick the Great and Bismark. Germany lost WWI and WWII due to weakness in politics, diplomacy, intelligence, and strategy.
 
Nov 2010
1,279
Bordeaux
Once upon a time, Hitler was a madman and never listened to his wise generals.
The Wehrmacht fought with bravery on the eastern front but Russian hordes overwhelmed it.
And so on.

Then we discovered Hitler's decisions were not (always) mad and the german generals wrote a lot of self-serving lies.
Is there a book collecting and explaining the new historical and military knowledge about the German side of things, after this revision?
A sort of "you knew this, but it was not right" book.
Karl Heinz Frieser "The Blitzkrieg Legend"
It's not exactly about Hitler being mad or not, but it is a revised vision of the German military planning and capabilities in 1940.


Also, if you can read French: François Delpla's biography of Hitler, and also "Churchill an Hitler" , offers updated views which discard the old, lazy, convenient myths.