Hitler’s Blunders in 1933-39 (2)

IMG_0385Under Hitler’s leadership, the tiny Reichswehr was transformed into a mighty Wehrmacht – undoubtedly the most powerful and fearsome military force in the world (purely naval operations are a different story entirely). The whole branches of armed forces – Luftwaffe, Panzerwaffe, paratroopers and the massive submarine fleet – were created from scratch.

However, it was a highly imperfect force as it could win only one kind of war – the proverbial blitzkrieg. A combined air and land all-out assault on its adversary that within a few weeks destroys enough of the opponent’s armed forces and occupies enough of his territory to force the latter to either unconditionally surrender or at least sue for peace, accepting the German terms.

Wehrmacht could find other kinds of war, of course – a sea & air war with Britain or a protracted land/sea/air campaign in North Africa, but it could not win them. For a very simple reason – Adolf Hitler and his generals had no clear vision of what exactly their victory should look like and how to achieve it.

Lack of clear vision of victory over the Great Britain led to another strategic blunder – the ill-fated Plan Z for the re-equipment and expansion of the Kriegsmarine ordered by Adolf Hitler in early 1939.

This blunder was actually quite strange because both the vision of victory over Great Britain and the path to it were pretty obvious (though apparently not to Adolf Hitler and his Oberkommando der Marine – Naval High Command).

Challenging the naval power of the United Kingdom (let alone the combined naval might of Great Britain and the USA – a very real possibility) was simply insane in an industrial and military sense as Germany simple had not nearly enough resources to build and deploy the Navy of quantity and quality needed to achieve this grandiose objective.

Still, Plan Z called for exactly that – which made it a colossal strategic blunder indeed.

The only way to force Great Britain to sue for peace and accept Hitler’s peace terms was to starve it of military hardware, ammunition and strategic materials. Which could only have been done by a mighty submarine fleet (Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz – commander of the German submarine fleet estimated that he needed 300 of the Type VII boats to achieve this objective).

Obviously, U-boat operations had to be closely coordinated with an air war over Britain which had to be very thoroughly planned and fought. I wasn’t – which was another major strategic blunder committed by Adolf Hitler (and Hermann Göring).

Consequently, Plan Z (that should have been developed in 1933, not 1939, replacing the ill-conceived Schiffbauersatzplan – “Replacement ship construction program”) should have stipulated only six weapons programs:

  1. Construction of 300+ Type VII U-boats required to set up a naval blockade of Britain sufficiently devastating to force the latter to sue for peace (actually, accept German peace terms)
  2. Design, production and deployment of long range reconnaissance and attack aircraft – FW 200, Junkers 290, etc. to support U-boats in attacking British convoys
  3. Design, production and deployment of guided weapons – guided bomb Fritz-X, anti-ship missile Henschel Hs 293, which will make these attacks especially deadly
  4. Radical improvement in quality of conventional torpedoes whose widespread malfunctions in 1939-40 contributed significantly to the defeat of Kriegsmarine in the Battle of the Atlantic
  5. Design, production and deployment of acoustic torpedoes which would have made U-boat attacks even more deadly
  6. Design, production and deployment of next-generation submarines (Type XXI) making the Allied anti-submarine warfare far more difficult

Obviously, construction of all large surface vessels stipulated by the Schiffbauersatzplan (Admiral Hipper-class cruisers, Bismarck-class battleships, Admiral Scheer and Admiral Graf Spee – should have been stopped).

And the security of the Enigma cipher machine should have been radically improved (i.e. five rotors from the set of seven) – as well as the procedures used to make breaking of the Enigma code virtually impossible for the 1940s technology.

Unfortunately, Adolf Hitler made a very different decisions which ultimately led to the defeat in the Battle for the Atlantic and very possibly in the whole World War II.

 

New Book Table of Contents

Acknowledgements

Introduction

The Fundamentals

Methodology for Analyzing the Nazi Germany

Structure & Logic of the Book

Executive Summary

1.     Common Myths about Nazi Germany

2.     General Portrait of Nazi Germany – Third Reich at a Glance

3.     The Soviet Existential Threat to Western Civilization

4.     World War I – The Great War

5.     Other Founding Forces of Nazi Germany

6.     Der Führer – Adolf Hitler

7.     Nazi Ideology

8.     Nazi System: Key Structures

9.     Nazi System: Key Functions

10. Nazi Economy

11. Relationships with Nazi Stakeholders

12. Nazis and the Occult

13. The Übermenschen and Nazi Racial Policy

14. Die Schutzstaffel – The SS

15. Daily Life in Nazi Germany

16. World War II – the War that Killed the Third Reich

17. Treatment of the Prisoners-of-War

18. Management of Occupied Territories

19. Nazi Wunderwaffen

20. Post-War Events

21. The Holocaust

22. Other Nazi Crimes

23. Other Mass Murders of the “Genocide Age”

24. Nazi War Crimes Trials

25. Anti-Nazi Resistance

26. The Prominent Nazis – 25 Brief Bios of Nazi Leader

Conclusions

Appendices

Glossary

Bibliography

About the Author

Key Visual Diagram for Nazi Germany and the Basic Book Structure (2)

kvdsmallNazi ideology defined the Mission, the raison d’être of Nazi Germany. Obviously, its mission (both internal and external – every organization has both) was the core of the Third Reich; consequently, I will cover it in sufficient detail in the appropriate section of the book.

Mission and ideology inevitably create the detailed vision of an organization. Therefore, in another section of the book, I will cover (again in sufficient detail) the vision of Nazi Germany that Adolf Hitler and his Nazis (especially Heinrich Himmler) wanted to turn into reality (actual system, as is usually the case, turned out to be somewhat different, to put it mildly).

Mission and vision of organization are very important, of course; however, its strategic objectives (what exactly the leaders of the organization in question intend to accomplish) are even more important.

Important because these strategic objectives are something very tangible that can (and must) be evaluated – from functional and legal perspective (as I have already mentioned several times, a genuine historian does NOT make moral judgements).

Consequently, I will cover strategic objectives of the Third Reich (of Adolf Hitler, actually) in the corresponding section of the book. Obviously, these objectives were determined by Nazi identity, Nazi ideology, key external and internal factors, and, of course, the Mission and the vision of Nazi Germany.

Strategic objectives provide the answer to the fundamental question “What do we intend to do?” Which immediately poses another fundamental question: “How do we intend to do it?” In other words, how do we plan to achieve our strategic objectives.

This fundamental question is answered by a set of strategies selected by the leaders of the organization in question to achieve the desired results. Consequently, I will devote another section of the book to fundamental strategies of Nazi Germany (unlike its strategic objectives which with one exception were quite benevolent, many of its strategies were malignant and outright criminal).

Which is not surprising at all as these strategies were based to a very significant extent on Nazi ideology which was outright criminal. However, it was much worse than that as it created a highly distorted perception of the world (as we all know, perceptions are the only reality).

Hence, the strategies chosen by the Nazis to achieve their strategic objectives were not only criminal, but in many cases simply wrong. Wrong not morally (a historian does not pronounce moral judgements), but functionally as they led to results very different from intended.

The first key step in achieving strategic objectives is obviously to develop strategic plans – financial and operational – and then to implement them. Although strategic planning in Nazi Germany left much to be desired (to put it mildly), I will still cover these plans – and the whole Nazi strategic planning process – in the corresponding section of the book.