The Panzer Legions: A Guide to the German Army Tank Divisions of World War II and Their Commanders

The Panzer Legions: A Guide to the German Army Tank Divisions of World War II and Their Commanders

The Panzer Legions: A Guide to the German Army Tank Divisions of World War II and Their Commanders

The Panzer Legions: A Guide to the German Army Tank Divisions of World War II and Their Commanders

Synopsis

Hitler's tank divisions were some of his most feared troops and most lethal weapons in the taking and securing of territory during World War II. From success to failure, in victory and in defeat, each division played a role in Hitler's campaign against the Allies. This is the first guide to chronicle the history of each division from its inception to its destruction. With painstaking research and attention to detail, Mitcham describes the formation and organization of each, then discusses its overall combat history. He also includes a career sketch of every panzer divisional commander.

While this reference will serve as a valuable research tool, it contains more than facts and figures. Mitcham assesses the performance and quality of each division, including how and why it changed over time. He evaluates strengths and weaknesses during different phases of the conflict in terms of manpower, vehicles, and armor quality. He also analyzes commander performance and its impact on overall efforts. The story follows the panzer legions until their ultimate disposition-destruction or disbanding. Includes a comprehensive index of individuals, units, battles and campaigns.

Excerpt

Created in the 1930s, the German Panzerwaffe (armored branch) revolutionized warfare for the rest of the 20th century, ending the era of the cavalry and nonmotorized infantry formation and replacing it with something far faster and more lethal. This era of mobile warfare is with us still: the advent of the helicopter was just another step in its logical development. Operation Desert Storm was a blitzkrieg campaign, and there will be others.

This book provides a guide to the World War II German Army tank divisions from inception to destruction and surrender. The guide is divided into two parts. Part I provides a generalized history of the panzer force. This part also includes a section on the German military districts (Wehrkreise), which were largely responsible for creating the panzer divisions, generally along the lines specified by the Panzer Inspectorate. This information on the Wehrkreise is critical to an understanding of how the German military system worked in World War II. It functioned so smoothly and so unspectacularly that it has generally gone unnoticed by historians, but without it Hitler could never have won his victories. Also, without the Wehrkreise’s replacement and training system, it would have been impossible for Germany to have kept its divisions in the field for six years.

Part II of the book provides entries, arranged chronologically, giving the history of each individual division and its commanders. Full entries are included on the German Army tank divisions. Although the focus of the book is on the Army tank divisions, the SS panzer divisions are covered briefly. These divisions were not created until 1943, when the German defeat was inevitable and Hitler’s distrust of his generals and the General Staff was such that he began to replace them with a Nazi Party organization (the SS). They had no effect on the evolution of the blitzkrieg. The German theories on employment of tank and mobile divisions was already fully in place by the time the first SS panzer division was created. This comment is not meant to minimize their importance . . .

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