The German Way of War

The German Way of War

From the Thirty Years' War to the Third Reich

Book - 2005
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For Frederick the Great, the prescription for warfare was simple: kurz und vives (short and lively) - wars that relied upon swift, powerful, and decisive military operations. Robert Citino takes us on a dramatic march through Prussian and German military history to show how that primal theme played out time and time again. Citino focuses on operational warfare to demonstrate continuity in German military campaigns from the time of Elector Frederick Wilhelm and his great sleigh-drive against the Swedes to the age of Adolf Hitler and the blitzkrieg to the gates of Moscow. Along the way, he underscores the role played by the Prussian army in elevating a small, vulnerable state to the ranks of the European powers, describes how nineteenth-century victories over Austria and France made the German army the most respected in Europe, and reviews the lessons learned from the trenches of World War I.
Publisher: Lawrence, Kan. : University Press of Kansas, c2005.
ISBN: 9780700614103
Branch Call Number: 355.020943
Characteristics: xix, 428 p. : ill., maps, ports. ; 24 cm.


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LRS1969 Feb 16, 2016

I found the book to be very dry reading. It could have used a lot more maps and better maps! Length was too long (maybe should have been spread out over a couple of volumes?).

One of the aspects which bothered me (from an ethical position) was the cavalier attitude in the "dissolving of Prussia".... almost as if they just made some administrative changes to shut down the state / province of Prussia with it being incorporated into other states / provinces of Germany. Even though that would have been (back then) East Germany, that still wasn't good enough. Prussia - the main part - was turned over to (Communist) Poland and East Prussia was incorporated into the Soviet Union. And the German population was forcibly expelled, with several million Germans forced from their homes of generations and somewhere between 50,000 to as many as 200,000 (civilians) killed. That folks is ethnic cleansing at its best... And was done as a MANDATE of the United Nations and Allies, with the full support of the United States. And the author just makes a side mention of Prussia being dissolved as if it had just been put in time out (with none of the ethnic cleansing details).

From a military viewpoint, I was shocked to read the ending section (before the almost 100 pages of notes and bibliography) where it hit me that (based on the description he gave of a mythical incident from Desert Storm), that the author really doesn't understand what the term "Auftragstaktik" really means! Which then convinced me that was probably true of "Schwerpunkt" and "Fingerspitzengef├╝hl", etcetera, etcetera also. Or even as to the true nature of the success of WW I storm troop tactics and the refinement into blitzkrieg. He seems to believe that it died with the takeover of military strategy by Hitler (with the support of his decisions by a now defunct General Staff). The General Staff died in the latter stages of WW 2, so therefore this evolved style of war must have also! Yet it was adopted by the Israelis (who excelled at it), used quite strongly in Desert Storm, and to a large extent by the United States in the opening phase (the Invasion up to Baghdad's capture) of the Iraqi War.

I came close to a 2-star review, but had to admit that large chunks of those dry sections were accurate from a technical perspective.


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