Handbook of the War

By John C. De Wilde; David H. Popper et al. | Go to book overview

5. THE WAR OF ANNIHILATION

THE first war on the Western Front was, as we have seen, a prolonged stalemate in military terms. And the second one, with its concrete and steel dugouts and its tripled defensive fire power, promises to be more of the same. Still, not every stretch of European earth can be lined with steel and sowed with tank traps. There are other battlefields: the Balkans, or the Near East, for instance; or, in the event of a Russo-German war, Poland again.

And there are new revolutionary engines of maneuver, developed since the World War. These are tanks and mass motor transport, working in close co-operation with bombing and fighting planes. These are the tools of Blitzkrieg, as practiced in Poland and Ethiopia.

The tactics of annihilation depend on the power to maneuver. In the last war maneuver had almost vanished from the military vocabulary and the cavalry, the maneuvering arm of the nineteenth-century army, was out of a job. Today the cavalry has been reincarnated in mechanized units, or Panzerdivisionen, as they are called in Germany; they share with the air force the responsibility for tactical annihilation. The ambition of any aggressor is to turn the tactics of annihilation, made possible by the internal combustion engine, into a strategy of annihilation; i.e., the rapid disablement of the enemy as a whole. This strategy of lightning annihilation is the special dream of the Germans and Italians. They are the least able to support the alternative strategy of attrition.

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Handbook of the War
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Contents iii
  • Maps and Pictorial Charts v
  • Note vii
  • 1. What They Are Fighting For - A Rapid Glance at Europe Since Versailles 1
  • 2. the Geography of Land War 15
  • 3. Armed Men 33
  • 4. the War of Attrition 44
  • 5. the War of Annihilation 57
  • 6. Air: the New Dimension 69
  • 7. Ships and Strategy 89
  • 8. the Sea Front 109
  • 9. the Economic Front 135
  • 10. Can Germany Be Blockaded? 153
  • 11. Merchant Shipping 181
  • 12. Paying for the War 203
  • 13. Propaganda 215
  • 14. the Defense of America 227
  • Index 243
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