Academic journal article Military Review

The Path to Blitzkrieg: Doctrine and Training in the Germany Army, 1920-1939

Academic journal article Military Review

The Path to Blitzkrieg: Doctrine and Training in the Germany Army, 1920-1939

Article excerpt

THE PATH TO BLITZKRIEG:

Doctrine and Training in the German Army, 1920-1939, Robert Citino, Lynne Rienner, Boulder, CO, 1999, 279 pages, $55.00.

Even in Operation Desert Storm's aftermath, the 1940 Wehrmacht's blitzkrieg victory over France remains the most conspicuous example of the elusive concept of maneuver warfare. In six weeks, Germany annihilated a "peer competitor." The spectacular German victory still captures soldiers, historians and analysts' imaginations and is continually cited as an example of the Germans' successful adaptation and the Allies' failure to adapt.

Not surprisingly, the 1940 campaign has long inspired quality scholars. The Roots of Blitzkrieg: Hans von Seeckt and German Military Reform (University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, 1994), by James S. Corum, superbly analyzes the prewar German army's role in shaping a bold command style, innovative doctrine and decisive maneuver. The book's quality might prompt the question, what is left to examine on the topic? Does our understanding of blitzkrieg's origin lack for anything? Apparently, for The Path of Blitzkrieg offers avenues of emphasis and interpretation.

Robert Citino shares Corum's view that von Seeckt's leadership in the early years of the Reichswehr was crucial in establishing a preference for maneuver-oriented tactics. Yet, Citino finds von Seeckt's faith in the utility of horse-mounted cavalry a conspicuous blind spot in the general's tactical thinking. Although much gentler in his discussion of von Seeckt, Corum discredits him as being the "father" of the blitzkrieg. Chino sees von Seeckt's greatest contribution as his ability to fuse past wisdom with current knowledge, thus readying the German army for rebirth. …

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