Saturday, June 13, 2015

Panzer Leader




By Heinz Guderian

It isn't that I haven't been reading a lot of books lately, its just that I haven't had much inclination to write about them, and also, a lot of what I'm reading at the moment are the Poirot books so there would be quite a lot of repetion I think.

But anyways, here is a topical book for this blog, and quite a good read it was too. Guderian comes across as quitea  sympathetic man, which might be surprising given his place in history, along side the rest of the German High Command of the Second World War, but perhaps less so if one is aware of the reputation of the Prussian aristocracy. In describing his actions during the war, one becomes aware of Guderian's humanity and his empathy, mostly to his soldiers, and to his fellow Germans is quite apparent. He keeps his disaproval of Germany's leadership in check, but it seems apparent that Guderian wants to be remembered as a soldier who did his duty to his nation, and to its people. This could be seen as an admirable character trait, and I make no doubt that it was probably what saved Guderian at the Nuremburg trials, but the sad fact is that this same devotion to duty by the German high command is what allowed Adolf Hitler to commit his nation to do unspeakable crimes, and to enter into a conflict they could not possibly hope to win.

Guderian does not shy from his share in the responsibility of Germany's fate, nor does he offer any feeble minded excuses. He explains the situation in a precise and clear fashion, starting in the late 1930's and continuing right through to the aftermath of the war. The middle of the book suffers slightly from this as the war on the Eastern Front is a long and tedious read full of place names one has never heard of, being fought over by units one is largely unfamiliar with (especially the Soviets).

Having said that, if your not interested in the history of the Second World War then this isn't a book for you. I slogged through the many pages of conflict against the soviets and was thankful I am merely a spectator to that horrific and ultimately pointless conflict.

To the end of the book, Guderian offers some interesting observations regarding Hitler and some of the other leading figures of Nazi Germany, and he puts the German High Command into a useful perspective, explaining how it came to be the way it was, historically speaking, and why it developed the way it did under Hitler. I for one, have a much better understanding of the way the Germany leadership functioned, and how and why it failed. Guderian doesn't hold back his punches. On the whole an interesting book though a little dry in the middle.



3 comments:

Steve-the-Wargamer said...

...read "Achtung Panzer" a long time ago and found that very interesting...

PS. "ultimately pointless"? Depending on your point of view the war of attrition in Russia may have been/was, what won the Allies the war...

moif said...

I agree. I meant pointless from the perspective that Germany started a war it couldn't hope to win, not even from the point of view of their assumed technological superiority. They simply didn't have the resources to hold down a country of that size and the idea that Russia could be taken simply by holding Moscow was a catastrophic misunderstanding of the lesson history offered.

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