Panzer general wrote:
Gwynn Compton wrote:We do have to remember that Hitler was nick named the "Bohemian Corporal" by Hindenburg. Perhaps the old man was right to remind those near him that Hitler had tactical, not strategic combat experience...
Hmmm I do not agree. Hitler wasn't so bad at all. He was the one who take some (risky) decisions that result in conquer almost Europe!!! The mean problem was the relationship between him and most of his generals. And some generals had made some weird decisions too. A good example of this is Operation Zitadelle (Kursk).
Most of his generals want to go through with this stupid operation. The Russians were already alarmed and had plenty of time to dig in! Hitler wasn't so sure about this operation neither Guderian. But the rest of the High Commander centre, even von Manstein would not listen to Guderian. (Hitler agree with Guderian but he had no other choice to give green light to the operation because he was under pressure after the debacle in Stalingrad)
My opinion about Germany winning the war is: if Hitler had started operation Barbarossa with his best General Guderian as Chief commander and not Halder, he would certainly had won the war.
On the same tune as being called the "Bohemian Corporal" he was also jokingly nicknamed Gröfaz (Grössest Feldzherr Alle Zeiten - Greatest Commander of All Times). The reason was simply that his own view of his strategic, operational and tactical skills far exceeded his abilities -- basically he listened a little bit too much to his own PR department...
After reading a few thousand pages on ww2 military history, it seems to me - astonishingly enough - that when he got it right it was almost by chance.
Generals of course make mistakes too, but in operation Zitadelle, the biggest mistake was being undecisive:
- ¤ Guderian believed that only in 1944 would the Germans be able to go on the offensive again, as the present situation showed that their divisions were much too weak and their equipment partly obsolescent.
¤ Guderian's opinion was shared by almost the entire senior army command who favored limited attacks with reequipped divisions during 1943.
¤ Von Manstein, who was seeking to deal the Soviet army more powerful blows, insisted that action was to be taken NOW -- further delay would just give the Russians more time to build up troops.
¤ Zeitzler shared von Manstein's beliefs, and these were presented to Hitler on a number of times after 19 march.
¤ Hitler worked out a plan with Zeitzler that involved an assault north of the Kursk salient and south of the salient. The plan was strictly restricted to the destruction of the forces inside the salient.
¤ Hitler, not always a good listener, disregarded what was the most essential factor - TIME - he favored a large build up of men and material rather than quick deployment.
¤ Hitler thereby postponed Operation Zitadelle, which Guderian bitterly contested.
¤ Zeitzler and von Manstein too became increasingly skeptical of the plan.
Hitler could have followed Guderians advise conserving strength and reequipping for the next year, OR
he could have gone with Manstein and moved quickly -- he did neither
, instead fortifying the troops past the decisive moment and then launching the attack anyway. By then the USSR knew all about it and it was far too late.
BTW. Guderian was one of the great generals, as in one
of the great...
Much more to the point is that OKH had a pretty good operative plan to take Russia, which Hitler threw out. The original plan was concentrated and decisive the final one dispersed.
Not to paint him a total fool, I have to give Hitler that he was a scary political strategist. One that managed to play the populistic card to the hilt, and one who could hide general deficiencies in a sense of greatness and great times. Somewhat of an illusionist and seducer.
My two cents.