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Michael Dorosh

There is no such thing as "Blitzkrieg"

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Apologies for the seperate thread, but as the old one has been taken over by SuperSpammer and his meaningless googled statistics, and now apparently a Nazi-apologist who is claiming the Germans were the "good guys", I'll post this for anyone interested. This is verbatim out of Cooper, but bear in mind that John Ellis, in the seminal work "Brute Force", echoes a lot of what he says, and certainly backs up JasonC point for point on economics, etc. Both books are worthy of a thorough read.

Here then, from Matthew Cooper, The German Army 1933-1945: Its Political and Military Failure

Blitzkrieg is a term inevitably linked with the German Army and the Second World War. From a convenient way of explaining the unknown, it evolved into a strict definition of a new form of warfare believed to be the basis for the devastating early victories of Hitler's Germany. The essence of Blitzkrieg was seen to lie not so much in the use of airborne units, which was, in any case, limited and of a purely tactical nature, nor in the activities of the dive-bomber, which were designed essentially to support the ground forces, but in the handling of the new armoured formations. As Liddel Hart wrote in a letter to Guderian: 'The secret of Blitzkrieg lay partly in the tactical combination of tanks and aircraft, partly in the unexpectedness of the storke in direction and time, but above all in the "follow through - the way that a breakthrough (the tactical penetration of the front) was exploited by a deep strategic penetration carried out by an armoured force racing ahead of the main army, and operating independently.' This is a concept which, remaining intact and unquestioned for the past thirty-five years (NOTE - the book was published in the 1970s), has been raised to the status of a self-evident truth. But Blitzkrieg is a myth. It is a word devoid of any meaning, having substance not in fact but in fiction, serving only to mislead and deceive. For Hitler and the German military establishment, the High Commands of the Army and the Wehrmacht, did not espouse a new, revolutionary idea of war; the German Armed Forces were not organised, equipped or directed according to new, revolutionary principles; and the German form of war in the years 1939 to 1942 was the product not of one new, revolutionary strategy, but of two strategies - one well-defined and traditional, the other ill-expressed and novel - whose mutual conflict went far to hamper the practice of the mode of warfare popularly imagined to be Blitzkrieg.

...

A further illusion, in part resulting from the idea of Blitzkrieg, also remains prevalent: it is that the German Army of 1939 was a well-trained force of overwhelming numbers possessing the best of modern weapons, fully prepared for a modern, mobile European war....such illusions before and during the war are easy to understand; they arose from the impression of overwhelming power and thorough preparedness shown by the Reich's Armed Forces through their outwardly impressive rearmament and decisive early victories, and were fosted by skilful propaganda, mass parades, and the general militarisation of society under National Socialism. Even after the war, when the reality of the Army's state in 1939 was revealed for all to see, these beliefs remained....

Nothing, however, could be further from the truth. The outbreak of general war in 1939 took the German military leaders by surprise; the Army that marched triumphantly into Poland was one constituted not for war but for peace, and had still to be reorganised into a well-equipped, well-trained instrument of aggression....Hitler's war abruptly interrupted this progression, and ensured that the Army was never to overcome the major defects with which it began the conflict. Consequently, the reasons for the German Army's initial victories lay not so much within itself, but in the weakness of its enemies....

(Bold face emphasis added)

So, who in the other Blitzkrieg thread is still buying Goebbels' propaganda, eh?

Besides von Churov, I mean.

[ June 06, 2005, 09:43 PM: Message edited by: Michael Dorosh ]

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Michael

Regardless of how the term "Blitzkreig" came into existence, it is a word that has currency.

The English language is evolving, and new terminology is created or adapted from other languages continuously.

In 1940 and then 1941, the world witnessed a style of warfare that - while in no way being revolutionary - stunned the world.

As a result the term "Lightning War" was created by the media to describe the impact of this unexpected disaster.

The fact that the word Blitzkreig also has a flexible meaning is also not an issue: many English words have multiple possible meanings, and means change over time.

Most words gain currency because both the user and the listener understand to a broad extent what the term means.

For example, the term Bore as in Boring or Boredom is only several centuries old. People were bored prior to this word gaining currency, but they used a number of different words to describe it. Bore won out because it was (a) a single term, and (B) a term that everyone thinks they understand, even if they actually have differing opinions on a precise meaning.

So I have no problem using the term Blitzkreig.

A.E.B

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Originally posted by A.E.B:

Michael

Regardless of how the term "Blitzkreig" came into existence, it is a word that has currency.

The English language is evolving, and new terminology is created or adapted from other languages continuously.

In 1940 and then 1941, the world witnessed a style of warfare that - while in no way being revolutionary - stunned the world.

As a result the term "Lightning War" was created by the media to describe the impact of this unexpected disaster.

The fact that the word Blitzkreig also has a flexible meaning is also not an issue: many English words have multiple possible meanings, and means change over time.

Most words gain currency because both the user and the listener understand to a broad extent what the term means.

For example, the term Bore as in Boring or Boredom is only several centuries old. People were bored prior to this word gaining currency, but they used a number of different words to describe it. Bore won out because it was (a) a single term, and (B) a term that everyone thinks they understand, even if they actually have differing opinions on a precise meaning.

So I have no problem using the term Blitzkreig.

A.E.B

The problem is obviously when people attempt to use it without first defining it, or using an accepted definition. But moreover, the issue here is that the definition in use by most people is to describe a falsehood. To wit - the idea that the Germans were spectacularly well prepared for war in 1939 and used revolutionary methods of warfare to gain brilliant victories on the battlefield. Even if one accepts the word "blitzkrieg" to mean the use of deep armoured penetrations and radical tactical innovation, it is patently false in 1939 as the Germans never did that.

You are, of course, free to use blitzkrieg if you wish, and if those you are speaking with are sharing your definition - bob's your uncle.

But to apply it to the German Army in 1939 is a patent falsehood, not only by matter of semantics, but because the very (imagined) definition of the word doesn't fit the reality.

In 1940 and then 1941, the world witnessed a style of warfare that - while in no way being revolutionary - stunned the world.
The end results were stunning; the seemingly cheap and easy victories the Germans were able to provide themselves were the stunning part. The way they did it - the "style of warfare" is a mix of innovation (not revolution) and mythology. I'd be far more interested in a rebuttal of Cooper, personally, than to read another page of posts on why "Blitzkrieg" was so great, especially if no one really wants to say what it means at the nuts and bolts level.

[ June 06, 2005, 07:44 PM: Message edited by: Michael Dorosh ]

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Michael

If I said "The new management of my company has introduced a Blitzkrieg of changes" I suspect that most people would understand what I meant.

Blitzkrieg is associated with a ruthless, relentless, driving, crush all oposition under your tracks style of doing things.

When I think of Blitzkreig in think of how hapless Germany's opponents were, rather than how prepared the Germans were.

A.E.B

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Originally posted by A.E.B:

When I think of Blitzkreig in think of how hapless Germany's opponents were, rather than how prepared the Germans were.

A.E.B

So put another way, you reduce the word itself to meaninglessness. Aside from spelling it wrong each and every time, I mean. :D

So "blitzkrieg" means "hapless opponents"?

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Michael

You don't reduce the word to meaninglessness. Rather the word now has a broader usage than just some narrow WWII definition.

It is the way words work - you take a complex, technical issue that people have spent their lives researching, writing and arguing about, and sum it up with a single term that becomes the accepted usage.

For another WWII example - the word Blitz used as a description of the bombing of London. There is absolutely no connection between the word 'Blitz' and its usage in this context, but for good or bad it is now referred to as the Blitz.

If people wish to narrowly define a word to a specific context, that is fine. But there is no authority - not even the OED - on what constitutes correct usage of words, so such a narrow definition has no impact on broader (and by definition) less precise definitions of the same word.

Take a CM term - BORG Sighting. We know what it means in context. A Trekie may well argue that we are misusing the concept of BORG because it doesn't conform to the Star Trek definition of BORG.

But we all still know what it means.

A.E.B

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Originally posted by A.E.B:

Michael

You don't reduce the word to meaninglessness. Rather the word now has a broader usage than just some narrow WWII definition.

It is the way words work - you take a complex, technical issue that people have spent their lives researching, writing and arguing about, and sum it up with a single term that becomes the accepted usage.

For another WWII example - the word Blitz used as a description of the bombing of London. There is absolutely no connection between the word 'Blitz' and its usage in this context, but for good or bad it is now referred to as the Blitz.

If people wish to narrowly define a word to a specific context, that is fine. But there is no authority - not even the OED - on what constitutes correct usage of words, so such a narrow definition has no impact on broader (and by definition) less precise definitions of the same word.

Take a CM term - BORG Sighting. We know what it means in context. A Trekie may well argue that we are misusing the concept of BORG because it doesn't conform to the Star Trek definition of BORG.

But we all still know what it means.

A.E.B

Except for those who post "what is borg sighting"...they are far less likely to use the term, however, without knowing what it means than those who throw around "blitzkrieg" - especially since the word blitzkrieg has far less actual meaning (or, alternately, far too many possible interpretations) than "borg spotting" which is far more specific in nature.

In the other thread, "blitzkrieg" was used to refer to a style of game play, a type of tactic used on the battlefield, a type of operational art and a type of grand strategy. That's great, if the Germans actually practiced such a thing. It's an inprecise term and kind of useless, in the context of discussing what exactly it is - the entire focus of the thread.

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Originally posted by Bone_Vulture:

I've ebeen a lazy reader lately, and I still haven't figured out what on Earth has people so riled up about.

You're lazier than you thought - as I don't see evidence that anyone is "riled". Apologies if I've given that impression; its really a matter of semantics more than anything else.

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Originally posted by Michael Dorosh:

You're lazier than you thought - as I don't see evidence that anyone is "riled". Apologies if I've given that impression; its really a matter of semantics more than anything else.

Considering that the "Blitz myth?" thread has already spanned beyond a 120 replies, including numerous long winded posts by JasonC, I'd say that this debate has indeed become heated, or at least warmed up.

Also, thank you for your reply. Although I was aware of the old age of the Lewis auto rifle, I never knew it was used as a squad level weapon in WWI.

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Originally posted by Bone_Vulture:

</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />Originally posted by Michael Dorosh:

You're lazier than you thought - as I don't see evidence that anyone is "riled". Apologies if I've given that impression; its really a matter of semantics more than anything else.

Considering that the "Blitz myth?" thread has already spanned beyond a 120 replies, including numerous long winded posts by JasonC, I'd say that this debate has indeed become heated, or at least warmed up.

Also, thank you for your reply. Although I was aware of the old age of the Lewis auto rifle, I never knew it was used as a squad level weapon in WWI. </font>

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Really a very convincing logic: because the Wehrmacht wasn't prepared for a long war and in no way for a WW, not the established fairy-tales about conquering the world are wrong, but guess what: Blitzkrieg didn't exist, it was a myth!

:D:D:D

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Michael is quite correct in many ways, and A.E.B.'s take on things, whilst enticing, is not really helpful.

Oberst Frieser, author of 'The Myth of Blitzkrieg', (Blitzkrieg Legende) and current head of Section II (Age of World Wars) at the MGFA, the German army's office of military history, cites an article by Raudzen ("Blitzkrieg Ambiguities") with seven different interpretations of the word, and quite rightfully concludes that it is as good as useless and a "semantic trap". Therefore I would argue that A.E.B.'s idea that language changes, and one should go with the flow, in this case will not help the inquiry at all, precisely because unlike Borg Spotting, we do not all know what it means, since it has (and has always had) so many different meanings. Cooper falls into the trap BTW when he says that no such thing as Blitzkrieg existed, by defining it in one way that has little relation to the pre-war German term, i.e. "the new, revolutionary idea of war", before telling us that this did not exist.

In Frieser's opinion, Blitzkrieg on the operational/tactical level is the application of the late-WW1 Stosstrupp tactics to an environment with mechanised and air warfare and radio-control. It's aim is unchanged from WW1 - to gain mobility in the depth of the enemy territory.

Frieser debunks the idea that Germany had a strategic Blitzkrieg intention in 1939 or 1940, of winning wars quickly before the extent of lack of preparation could hurt the German war effort.

He would therefore prefer the use of "Blitzoperation" or "Blitzfeldzug" (lightning campaign) instead of "Lightning War". Post-1940 however, his argument goes that the German leadership got so besotted by its success that they failed to understand this critical distinction. The failure to clearly differentiate between the two concepts then (i.e. believing that a Blitz campaign was equal to a short war) was Germany's undoing when it attacked the Soviet Union.

Final note - the word can be traced back to 1935 at least, when it was used in the strategic sense in the German military publication "Deutsche Wehr". Then 1938 to an article in the "Militaer-Wochenblatt" outlining the operational concept. But mention before 1940 appears rare.

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I was hoping you would remind me of where the word itself appeared pre-war in German writing. Cooper cites Hitler as attributing it to the Italians(!)

Are any of the refuations of Cooper available in English? Having been written in the 1970s I wonder how much is still seen as holding water?

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Originally posted by Michael Dorosh:

Apologies for the seperate thread, but as the old one has been taken over by SuperSpammer and his meaningless googled statistics, and now apparently a Nazi-apologist who is claiming the Germans were the "good guys",
Yeah, that's what I said. :confused: Since you evidently are inviting me to respond, I will do so in YOUR thread now.

My point was that IMHO the specific reasons that England and France went to war with Germany were, at the time unjustified. NOT that the Nazis or Hitler were nice people or 'the good guys'.

As for this thread, well, call it 'Avocado' if you want, but I'd call knocking the armies of Europe's other major powers off the continent in 6 weeks frickin 'lightning' fast. smile.gif

What Cooper seems to be saying is that the other countries were not as well equipped, and not as well prepared...that Germany was able to use it's mobility born of modernized equipment to fully exploit the breakthroughs that had always been sought.

Well, okay, it wasn't the New Testament, but don't you think that when you build an army from the ground up, procure equipment over the course of several years to support a method of warfare that had never been used before, and then put it into practise such that you roll over every major military power on the continent that someone might give it a name and dub it revolutionary? What are we arguing here?

Blitzkreig means lightning (i.e. fast, shocking, powerful) war intuitively. Okay, so maybe the press gave it the name, but it was clear what it meant. Fast, mobile, 'not-attrition based' war. It probably wasn't well defined when the term was coined because if everyone understood what it meant, then the European campaign would have lasted longer than 6 weeks.

I think Blitzkreig was an intention, not a mechanism...the intention being breakthrough by overwhelming a single point using all resources available (not new, though the means were), and then use every means available to exploit (not new, but the means were). Operationally it really meant applying the right (and as it turned out, the newest) technologies available. Probably more than anything, given the time, it meant spending money to equip the armed forces with vehicles that allowed the inf to keep up with tanks, and learning how to use CAS with modern airplanes.

[ June 07, 2005, 11:51 AM: Message edited by: athlete ]

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athlete, you do realise britain actualy had an agreement with poland? to protect it from Germany. unlike what many people think this was a real agreement made on more than one occasion. plus Germany had agressivly taken over the non-sudetan checkoslovakia. im sorry i missed the rest of that thread but how exactly was it unjustified?

as for blitzkrieg? it is a devicive word but it has a basis on the grounds that german strategy was based around mobility and quick decsive victories by making the most of penetrations?

by saying that the word has many meanings it is therefore meaingless is a little strange. Many people describe montgomery as caustious and patton as an egotist. These words have many meanings and are based on much less evidence. Does that mean that they are meaninless descriptions too?

infact doesnt that mean that all human comunication is therefore meaningless??????

Are you all intitionists?

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Originally posted by athlete:

I think Blitzkreig was an intention, not a mechanism...the intention being breakthrough by overwhelming a single point using all resources available (not new, though the means were), and then use every means available to exploit (not new, but the means were). Operationally it really meant applying the right (and as it turned out, the newest) technologies available. Probably more than anything, given the time, it meant spending money to equip the armed forces with vehicles that allowed the inf to keep up with tanks, and learning how to use CAS with modern airplanes.

Really? So why then were infantry divisions in Poland actually marching as far as the motorized units - Cooper cites that the mech units were averaging 25 km a day (the best ones), while infantry units were averaging 20 km a day. The lion's share of the work was done by infantry, with armour in support. Cooper cites after action reports by the high command which state that the armour was primarily used in Poland as infantry support - not as a breakthrough weapon.

CAS was a heated discussion here, too - it was argued that such a thing didn't exist in WW II, and certainly not by the Germans. Is it not true that Stuka units generally attacked targets of opportunity rather than communicating with FAC (for lack of a better term) on the ground?

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michael and andreas are perfectly right. i can

hardly see any sense in further arguing over this

topic. and correct me if i'm wrong, is there

someone out there accusing the allies of bringing

unjustified war to nazi germany? now that's an

unjustifiable argument in itself. blame france for

not having crushed the nazi villains in 1936, after

the wehrmacht re-occupied the rhineland, but this

one - oh boy.

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Michael,

20 vs 25km per day is a tough one to argue without all the facts, but there are several possibilities.

For example, if you are just advancing troops across undefended ground, then perhaps you get them marching and they move 20km/day.

If you've got an armoured attack underway, it could be that the mech troops sit around for hours and hours and when the breakthrough occurs, they pile onto the vehicles and race ahead to exploit.

In both cases the two units move the same total distance, but clearly you can't race footsoldiers through a breach in the defence if it is 20km away the way you can if they are on trucks/HTs etc... Just a hypothetical possibility...one of many that I could dream up.

The other thing to remember is that the bulk of the time spent fighting was during the siege of Warsaw, so if you are advancing reserves from the rear, there really is no rush. The Mech units would get there faster and wait for several days while the foot soldiers plod along. If the trip is 100km (example here) and the mech units get there on day 1, and the other inf gets there day 4, then both averaged 25km/day. This is a simplification of another possibility.

Of course in that example, the tanks WOULD be used as inf support (i.e. during the siege), and would have been for the majority of the time.

Point is that simply comparing the 20/25km/day number might not be a fair operational comparison.

Rad, this is for me a very complicated conversation, and I've said before (and succumbed anyway for some reason) that it's tough to articulate in a forum without coming off as pro-Nazi (which I am not); but simply put, yes, the Brits had an agreement with the Poles; but given that Hitler was clearly taking back what Germany had lost with the ToV, and since he'd been bitching for years that he wanted access to E.Prussia, and given that the war drums had been beating in Poland for the better part of a year, it wouldn't take the brains of an Archbishop to predict that there was a pending conflict between Poland and Germany.

I'll give you the invasion of Czeck. Frankly I don't know that much about why Hitler went beyond the terms of his agreement with Chamberlain and occupied the whole country. I'll do some reading and get back to you.

...but to me, the Polish question is pretty clear. The Danzig and East Prussia were given to Poland as part of the ToV...it was occupied by Germans almost exclusively (as it relates to EP), and all Germany had originally asked for was a mile wide corridor to get to EP. This was stomped by the Polish Government.

It wasn't reasonable, yet England came to Poland's defence as did France. THEY knew that Hitler wouldn't back down, but IMHO, after the broken agreement with Chamberlain they couldn't publicly back Hitler's position.

This is all old news. Appeasement didn't work because it wasn't done correctly. First, there should not have been a no-further expansion clause in the agreement with Chamberlain. They should have just conceded what was unjustly re-assigned at the ToV and taken the high road. They should have strongly encouraged Poland to give up the Danzig corridor, and probably even the Danzig province.

They should have drawn the line in the sand once Hitler's eyes turned towards lands that had not, in recent history, been part of Germany (Prussia).

Further, isn't it odd that England and France didn't declare war on Russia when THEY invaded Poland?

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Fast fact here for ya,,,, In 1939, the german army was totaly unprepared for a real war, Hitler was terrified that poland might get the jump and attack first,,, and with good reason, the poles were better mechanized than the germans, The german general staff were against the whole invasion idea, and the german public were nervous as hell,

But poland screwed up and played into the hands of germany by massing along the border instead of defending in depth and preparing a counterstroke, Poland gave up its greatest advantage, MOBILITY,

The germans were able to scout out the weak points in polish defences, and strike at those points,, push deep into poland with their few mechanized formations,, sew confusion behind the polish lines, and draw off the poles from their strong defencive positions, the main body of the german army was then able to walk across the denuded polish defence lines almost totaly unopposed, by the time the poles realized they had made a mistake,, it was too late,,

Also the russians invaded from the east,, if this had not happened,, it is posible that the poles might have been able to rally and counter attack,, and germany would have been pushed out,

The polish army of 1939 was better armed and equiped,, and just as well trained, plus they had the numerical advantage, the myth of a weak and outdated polish army is just that,, A MYTH, Had poland attacked first,, they would have won easily,,

As to the failure of england and france in 1940,,, just bad luck and bad planning,,,

Germany was weak, and ill equiped for the war they waged, but they were lucky that their stronger enemys were led by the utterly incompetent,,

Poland, England, and France, had all sacked several good generals for various reasons, (mostly political), and as a result,, they had only unimaginitive and often cowardly generals to fall back upon,,, Poland, England and France were defeated by their own generals, and the germans just happened to be ready to exploit the mistakes and blunders of those generals,,,

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The Danzig Corridor was just that, a corridor! It allowed Poland her only access to the sea and international trade. Once given to her by treaty she was loath to let go of it. Furthermore Danzig was considered a "Free City", German Police, Polish Post Office (they probably got that one reversed) etc. German shipping and trains (allowed to pass through the corridor), telephone lines, etc, kept the communications between Germany and East Prussia clear. Hitler made a point of inflaming a situation that was working for both Poland and Germany rather well. He, if not his Generals, was hot to trot to make war on Poland when war, from a geopolitical/economic point, was unnecessary. He and the Nazis made a huge deal over what was working out to be a minor irritation all in the name of ideological purity. German Ground for Germans! Seig Heil!

Oh and by the way the end results will be the division of ALL of Germany (and the perminate loss of East Prussia) for over three times longer than the Thousand Year Reich lasted. He wanted war and he got war. At the end he blamed the German people for not being strong enough for National Socialism! What an ass-hole.

Just my humble opinion.

DavidI

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Guest ExplodingMonkey

blitz·krieg

n.

A swift, sudden military offensive, usually by combined air and mobile land forces.

[German : Blitz, lightning (from Middle High German blitze, from bliczen, to flash, from Old High German blekkazzen) + Krieg, war (from Middle High German kriec, from Old High German krēg, stubbornness).]

This is a silly and pointless thread. Here, if pointless discussions float your boat, try this one:

Did you know colors don't really exist? They are just a condition of what our eyes perceive. Discuss. :rolleyes:

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