The Decline and Fall of the German General Staff in World War II
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Rarely has a relationship between a leadership and a military general staff been as fractious as that of Nazi Germany. Shattered Genius charts the turbulent existence of the German general staff from its resurrection by Hitler in 1935 to the end of World War II. It highlights the increasingly strained relationship between general staff officers and Hitler during this period—a deteriorating situation that culminated in Claus von Stauffenberg’s abortive attempt to assassinate the Führer in 1944. The failure of this plot and the unsuccessful efforts to initiate Operation Valkyrie, a plan to wrest control of Germany from the Nazi Party, ultimately sealed the fate of the general staff as both Hitler and Himmler exacted a series of savage reprisals in the final stages of the war.
Drawing on a wealth of new research material, David Stone has produced a masterful account of this tumultuous period, which offers detailed insight into the actions and motivations of key figures in the German Army during their dealings with the Nazis at the highest level throughout the war. Beset by stronger enemies on all fronts, the German Army also had to grapple with an internal command structure that often inhibited the pragmatic application of military solutions.
Stone traces the origins and heritage of the Prussian and German military leaderships and the post-1919 development of the Reichswehr to set the context for the tensions and challenges the general staff contended with under the Third Reich. He also highlights the crisis of conscience that many officers faced as the articles of the Soldier’s Oath—a personal vow of loyalty to Hitler himself—seemed increasingly irreconcilable with the actions of an ideologically obsessed and dangerous leader.
The book dispels many prevalent myths that surround the general staff: its perceived infallibility, the belief that it unquestioningly supported Hitler’s policies, and the convention that it was primarily the general staff which persuaded Hitler to declare war in 1939. At the same time, it identifies failings of the general staff that resulted in serious errors of judgment in dealings with the Nazis both before and after the party’s rise to power. Yet the general staff was still able to prosecute the war effectively up to late 1941 and to prolong the conflict to 1945, despite overwhelming odds and increasingly diminished resources. Such feats did not satisfy the Führer, however, and ultimately, the disaffected general staff became linked to the German resistance movement—an association that led to its catastrophic fall into ruin.
An engrossing work marked by impressive scholarship and insight, Shattered Genius deftly chronicles one of history’s most bizarre and toxic military relationships.
Hardcover Book : 424 pages
Publisher: Casemate Publisher & Book Dist. ( January 01, 2012 )
Item #: 13-544425
Product Dimensions: 6.0 x 9.0 inches
Product Weight: 32.0 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
This was a strange book. The blurbs on the dust-jacket speak of "new research," but there isn't any new research in the book itself, as evidenced by a dearth of notes which cite sources. The bibliography lists no archival sources and only lists monographs, for which there are curious omissions such as Cooper's The German Army or The Battle of Kursk by Glantz and House. The author thanks people for letting him use their personal libraries--it would appear that he did not consult university libraries and his work at the German archives in Freiburg was only for pictures to include in the book.
Cooper and Megargee tackle this topic in a far more scholarly fashion. I was hoping that this book was to be an update of Cooper's work (published in the 1970s) that would incorporate the latest research on the topic. Sadly, Shattered Genius is a poor popular history that will leave those with knowledge of the topic feeling cheated that they wasted money to buy this book.
Reviewer: R W
The author, a military man himself, looks closely at the process by which the German General Staff was reduced from one of the world's great command structure to what was to a great extent a group of lackeys subservient to the perverted will of Adolf Hitler. Numerous details missing from most books about WWII are provided, including greater insight into the various plots to assassinate Hitler that never led to action. Yes, there were military plotters against the Fuehrer even in the early years. There is little about what happened to the players after the war ended.
Reviewer: Judith B
This is no scholarly, in-depth history. Just an easy reading history of the World War II from the perspective of the German Army and General Staff. This is a great book for someone who is unread on WWII and wants to read about the German Army and its relationship with Hitler. Some good pictures of the personalities and good charts. Lots of simplistic generalizations about the Waffen SS is the weakest part.