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German Military Strategies of World War II

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German Military Strategies of World War II

Seth Jones


IB History of the Americas; 20th Century

February 22, 2016

What was more instrumental to the Nazi occupation of Europe between 1939 and 1942: traditional strategies or technologically enabled tactics?

Word Count: 1,500

Section A: Plan of Investigation

Beginning in 1939, Adolf Hitler and his Third Reich began the systematic occupation of Europe. There were many factors that led to the success of this occupation. The two primary aspects which influenced the success of the invasion of Europe were newly developed technologies and revolutionary strategies of (military) engagement. In order to assess the effect of German technological superiority, it is essential to differentiate between the established static warfare of World War I and the newly developing maneuver warfare used by Nazi Germany. This begs the question: What was more instrumental to the briefly successful Nazi occupation of Europe: traditional tactics or strategies developed as a result of new technology?

Section B will provide a summary of the various strategies utilized by the German army in Europe between 1939 and 1942. Evidence will be given to address the question of the investigation. Section C will be a critical evaluation of Inside The Nazi War Machine by Bevin Alexander and German Order of Battle by Samuel W. Mitcham, Jr. The evaluation of these sources will provide an understanding of the interrelationship between technology and strategy in warfare by contrasting it with the prevailing tactics of traditional warfare. Section D will include critical comments on the evidence, examine historical context and underlying assumptions, and address different interpretations of the evidence. Section E will answer the proposed research question. All sources used will be listed in Section F.

Word Count: 241

Section B: Summary of Evidence

Inside the Nazi War Machine, Bevin Alexander

Blitzkrieg comprised of the two traditional strategies of Bewegungskrieg and Kesselschlacht.

Battle of Britain was essentially a war of attrition

German Order of Battle, Samuel W. Mitcham Jr.

German Panzer divisions allowed fast breakthroughs of enemy lines

Dive-bombers allowed never-before-seen precision at neutralizing targets

German radios permitted extremely well coordinated Panzer divisions

Half-tracks enabled supply lines to traverse extreme terrain and could keep up with the rate of German advance

Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, William L. Shirer

Lower Nazi generals felt new strategies were needed to get the full effectiveness of new developments.

Germany settled on more traditional strategies for Operation Barbarossa

Word Count: 120

Section C: Evaluation of Sources

Key German strategies are highlighted throughout Inside the Nazi War Machine, written by Bevin Alexander. Alexander is a specialist in military strategy and has written thirteen books on military history. The value of this volume is shown through Alexander’s application of his own expertise in military strategy. The purpose of this volume is to “examine the groundbreaking martial concepts developed by [Nazi commanders]” (Alexander web). Inside the Nazi War Machine was published in 2010. It is limited by the lack of discussion regarding the influence of new technology. He states that while German technology certainly assisted in Blitzkrieg’s success, it would have been entirely possible to utilize these tactics successfully with older technology. Of Germany’s many fronts of terror, the Battle of Britain is certainly a shining example of the Nazi’s tenacity. Britain was bombarded with aerial attacks day and night. Hitler aimed to crush British morale and hinder any hope of mobilization. This is what is known as a war of attrition, which was widespread throughout World War I. Inside the Nazi War Machine explains that the use of heavy, long-range

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