Synopses & Reviews
Challenging previous accounts, Geoffrey Megargee shatters the myth that German generals would have prevailed in World War II if only Hitler had not meddled in their affairs. Indeed, Megargee argues, the German high command was much more flawed than many have suspected or acknowledged. Inside Hitler's High Command
reveals that while Hitler was the central figure in many military decisions, his generals were equal partners in Germany's catastrophic defeat.
Megargee exposes the structure, processes, and personalities that governed the Third Reich's military decision making and shows how Germany's presumed battlefield superiority was undermined by poor strategic and operational planning at the highest levels. His study tracks the evolution of German military leadership under the Nazis from 1933 to 1945 and expands our understanding of the balance of power within the high command, the role of personalities in its organizational development, and the influence of German military intellectuals on its structure and function. He also shows how the organization of the high command was plagued by ambition, stubbornness, political intrigue, and overworked staff officers. And his "a week in the life" chapter puts the high command under a magnifying glass to reveal its inner workings during the fierce fighting on the Russian Front in December 1941.
Megargee also offers new insights into the high command crises of 1938 and shows how German general staff made fatal mistakes in their planning for Operation Barbarossa in 1941. Their arrogant dismissal of the Soviet military's ability to defend its homeland and virtual disregard for the extensive intelligence and sound logistics that undergird successful large-scale military campaigns ultimately came back to haunt them.
In the final assessment, observes Megargee, the generals' strategic ideas were no better than Hitler's and often worse. Heinz Guderian, Franz Halder, and the rest were as guilty of self-deception as their Fuhrer, believing that innate German superiority and strength of will were enough to overcome nearly any obstacle. Inside Hitler's High Command exposes these surprising flaws and illuminates the process of strategy and decision making in the Third Reich.
Challenging previous accounts, Megargee shatters the myth that German generals would have prevailed in World War II if only Hitler had not meddled in their affairs. Instead, he observes that the military's strategic ideas were no better than Hitler's and often were worse. 20 photos.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 299-313) and index.
Table of Contents
List of Abbreviations
1. The Roots of the German Command System
2. Expansion and Debate, January 1933 to November 1937
3. Converging Trends, November 1937 to March 1939
4. The Onset of War and the Initial Victories, March 1939 to June 1940
5. New Directions, New Problems: June 1940 to June 1941
6. Military Intelligence and the Plan of Attack in the East
7. Logistics, Personnel and Barbarossa
8. The System at Work: A Week in the Life of the High Command
9. The Last Grasp, 1942
10. A Command Divided Against Itself, January 1943 to January 1944
11. Collapse, July 1944 to May 1945
12. The German High Command: An Assessment
Appendix: A Note on the Documents and Translations