About stupid Hitler and smart generals

He repeatedly noted that in his memoirs German generals very carefully separated themselves from Hitler, arguing in every way that it was he and he who made stupid strategic and operational decisions, while all generals (especially the next author of the next memoirs) knew how to fight, what directions to attack, when and how. And that they, they say, in every way proved to Hitler and urged him. But he, stupid, did not listen to them, but if he had listened, then everything would have gone completely differently and the victory would have remained with Germany.

About stupid Hitler and smart generals

Naturally, Hitler is to blame for the defeat more than anyone else as the highest military leader, since the last word was always hiss. It had the burden of making a final decision. And if Germany lost the war, then the statement about Hitler’s incompetence in itself does not require proof.

But at the same time, the memoir generals somehow forget that Stalin was not a professional soldier, and in matters of warfare he was no more competent than Hitler, who at least got a gunfighter, but still smelled gunpowder in the First World War. To some extent, it can be assumed that Hitler’s incompetence was compensated by Stalin’s incompetence. And in general, how many are the newest история knows the top state leaders who would be outstanding military experts? French Prime Minister Reynaud was never military. US President T. Roosevelt, too. The head of the English government, Winston Churchill, although he graduated from a military college, did not make a military career, and therefore had no practical knowledge. Interestingly it turns out: the military incompetence of the heads of the United States, Britain, France and the USSR ultimately did not prevent successfully waging the war, but for some reason it prevented the Führer.

However, the assertions of the beaten generals and field marshals that if Hitler had made decisions based on their opinions, the victory would have been certain, it would not be possible to refute only because the battles did not take place according to their scenarios.

Unfortunately, life and real war are not computer games, when you can play a battle, first in one variant, then in another, third and unequivocally say then that the decision of one player was wrong, and the other was right.

And yet there is every reason to believe that the opinions and proposals of the German generals were far from always correct and promised success.

Take Hitler’s first military decision to bring troops into the demilitarized Rhineland in 1936. The generals unanimously argued that this act would cause an immediate military reaction from France and England, that they would instantly invade the Rhineland and throw out weak German units from there. But we now know that Hitler was right, not the generals. The militarization of the Rhineland passed without a hitch without a hitch. Consequently, Hitler was right in this case, because he did not listen to his generals. His decision turned out to be correct, and not the general's concerns.

Anschluss of Austria in 1938. The newly alarmed generals proved to Hitler the unreasonableness of such a decision, predicting major international complications, up to the Allied attack on Germany. Result? The world accepted the accession of Austria to Germany. Hitler was right again, not his outstanding military strategists.

Well, it was less military-political decisions, and more political.

But here is a purely military-political decision on the annexation of the Sudetenland by Czechoslovakia. This country then had a very strong army, plus it was in military alliance with France, England, Poland and even with the USSR. Wehrmacht General Beck even submitted a memorandum in which he argued that this act would trigger an allied war against Germany, in which the Germans could not stand. With the general agreement of the meeting of senior military leaders, this memorandum was officially sent to Hitler. And what? Hitler was again right, not the generals. The world has come to terms with the seizure of a large part of its territory from Czechoslovakia.

Suppose that in this case, too, the decision was more military-political, not military, and that the generals here are not very competent. Although the military strategy itself as a science lies on the border of pure politics and pure war. All strategic decisions are the essence of the military-political.

Next, 15 March, 1939, the Wehrmacht invades Czechoslovakia and occupies it. This is a purely military act. According to the German generals, the decision to invade Czechoslovakia will certainly lead to a big war in Europe, as a result of which Germany will be defeated. After all, Poland clearly stated that it would support Czechoslovakia. Soviet divisions are pulling up to the border in readiness to immediately come to the aid of the Czechs at their first request, as soon as the consent of the Polish government to pass Soviet troops through their territory is obtained (in the 1939, the USSR and Czechoslovakia did not have a common border).

And again it turns out that the opinions and calculations of the German strategists are erroneous and incorrect. The operation ends with great success. Again, the correct solution is Hitler.

War with Poland. Yes, the predictions of the German generals that an attack on Poland would lead to a big war in Europe were finally justified. France and England declared war on Germany. But again, the events in 1939 year did not unfold as the brilliant German field marshals counted, but in the manner that the incompetent Hitler had assumed. Poland was defeated in a matter of weeks, and its allies only marked the war, but in fact did not take any action.

There is no need to describe further the events of 1940 – 1941 until 6 in December of 1941, when every time the generals' fears were in vain, and everything developed in the best way for Germany in accordance with Hitler’s plans.

Another consideration.

Hitler, like any other head of state, did not take decisions and did not give orders, based only on his ideas, thoughts and calculations. He consulted with his ministers, generals, demanded to calculate various options for waging war, battles, asked for initial data, found out what was required for success. Of course, Hitler made the final decision, but on the basis of the data that the generals presented to him.

When the generals in their memoirs write about their disputes with Hitler, they somehow very cleverly bypass the question, and on the basis of what did Hitler take a different way than the solution they proposed? Only from personal stubbornness? Hardly. It is easy to assume that the Führer also had opposite opinions from other equally high-ranking generals, and Hitler’s opponents could not convincingly substantiate their point of view. In other words, in Hitler’s making wrong decisions, a large proportion of the guilt is still the same German generals.

This is confirmed by the German historian A. Filippi, who, in his book Pripyat Problem, describes the process of developing and adopting the military plans of Germany. For example, the development of a plan for an attack on the USSR began with the fact that the Chief of the General Staff of the Wehrmacht Land Forces, General Halder, suggested that several generals should develop a draft outline. As a result, the three most promising plans were born. The first is the development of OKN, the second plan is General Marx and the third is General von Soderstern. Each of them had both positive and negative points. Note that all three plans were proposed by the highest German generals. And you could only choose one. A similar system operated in the development of each military campaign of the Wehrmacht.

It is easy to understand how the thesis about Hitler’s military incompetence was born after the war.

The scheme is as follows: campaign plan number 1 is offered by General X and General Y. Hitler accepts the plan for General X - the campaign is lost. In the post-war memoirs, General Y convincingly explains that if his plan were adopted, the campaign would definitely have been won. Gen. X in his memoirs modestly silent about the fact that the lost campaign was planned by him.

Take now the campaign plan number 2. Everything changes places when Hitler accepts the plan of General Y - the campaign is lost. Now in the post-war memoirs, General X convincingly explains that if his plan were to be adopted, the campaign would definitely have been won. General Y is modestly silent in his memoirs that the lost campaign was planned by him.

And what is the result? And he is like this: two campaigns were lost and two memoirs were born in each of which the authors point out that in both cases the stupid Hitler did not obey his generals. The fact that in two cases one of the generals was potentially right, and the other is a priori wrong, somehow slides out of the reader’s sight.

Concentrating all readers' attention on their discrepancies with Hitler, memoirists in stripes very skillfully ignore those facts and those of their opinions, which fully or partially coincided with Hitler's.

It is said that truth is born in disputes. That's just how to identify it when the mistake is wearing the same clothes. There is no doubt that the erroneous and wrong decisions that led to the catastrophe were made by Hitler on the basis of assumptions and calculations of the same field marshals. So talking about their outstanding talents and the lack of talent of Hitler would not be worth the beaten generals, all the more so after a careful examination of the events of that time, their own tragic mistakes and gross miscalculations become quite noticeable. They cannot be hidden behind the clumsy descriptions of the great successes and victories of 1941 – 1942. Moreover, in the final result, they led to a crushing defeat for the whole country.

Y. Veremeev "The Red Army at the Beginning of the Second World War", Eksmo Algorithm, 2010
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