Inside Hitler's Headquarters, 1939-45

Inside Hitler's Headquarters, 1939-45

Inside Hitler's Headquarters, 1939-45

Inside Hitler's Headquarters, 1939-45

Synopsis

Warlimont, deputy chief of operations for the OKW from 1939 to 1944, was at the centre of power during one of history's most shattering periods. His account of World War II tells the story of men whom the fates tempted and then destroyed.

Excerpt

The fortunes of German Supreme Headquarters (the 'Führer's Headquarters') in the Second World War were closely bound up with those of the man whose name it bore. At times it was looked upon as the fount of brilliant plans of campaign and the repository of all the highest qualities of military leadership; for many it remained, even long after the course of the war had turned against Germany, a sanctuary of security in which implicit confidence could be reposed; in the end everyone, whether a member of the Wehrmacht or not, heaped upon it their curses at the defeat of their country. Even today, when so much of the dust thrown up by the collapse of Germany has settled, no one who lived in that time will thank you for awakening memories of 'the Führer's Headquarters'.

In large measure of course these currents of German public opinion were, and still are, directed at Hitler personally in his capacity as 'Supreme Commander of the Wehrmacht'. But in company with Hitler, although only as a junior partner, any officer who occupied a senior staff appointment in that headquarters must carry his share of the burden - not so much because other people have charged him with it, but because his whole career has been one of conscious acceptance of a high degree of responsibility. True, the regulations in force at the time laid down otherwise and expressly eliminated the so-called 'joint responsibility' of senior staff officers which Ludendorff had regarded as a golden rule; it is also true that only on rare occasions during the war did any question of right or wrong have a bearing on the course of events in German Supreme Headquarters; finally the Allied War Crimes Tribunals eventually came to completely self-contradictory decisions on this subject. Yet a residue of responsibility remains with which the conscience of each individual must continue to wrestle. Even making allowance for the normal human error and failure all who worked in that headquarters must feel that the fateful goddesses of the ancients . . .

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