Soviet–German War - Leadership - Adolf Hitler

Adolf Hitler

Adolf Hitler exercised a tight control over the war, spending much of his time in his command bunkers (most notably at Rastenburg in East Prussia, at Vinnitsa in Ukraine, and under the garden of the Reich Chancellery in Berlin). At crucial periods in the war he held daily situation conferences, at which he used his remarkable talent for public speaking to overwhelm opposition from his generals and the OKW staff with rhetoric.

In part because of the unexpected success of the Battle of France despite the warnings of the professional military, Hitler believed himself a military genius, with a grasp of the total war effort that eluded his generals. In August 1941 when Walther von Brauchitsch (commander-in-chief of the Wehrmacht) and Fedor von Bock were appealing for an attack on Moscow, Hitler instead ordered the encirclement and capture of Ukraine, in order to acquire the farmland, industry, and natural resources of that country. Some historians believe that this decision was a missed opportunity to win the war.

In the winter of 1941–1942 Hitler believed that his obstinate refusal to allow the German armies to retreat had saved Army Group Centre from collapse. He later told Erhard Milch:

I had to act ruthlessly. I had to send even my closest generals packing, two army generals, for example ... I could only tell these gentlemen, “Get yourself back to Germany as rapidly as you can – but leave the army in my charge. And the army is staying at the front.”

The success of this hedgehog defence outside Moscow led Hitler to insist on the holding of territory when it made no military sense, and to sack generals who retreated without orders. Officers with initiative were replaced with yes-men or fanatical Nazis. The disastrous encirclements later in the war – at Stalingrad, Korsun and many other places – were the direct result of Hitler's orders. This idea of holding territory led to another failed plan, dubbed "Heaven-bound Missions", which involved fortifying even the most unimportant or insignificant of cities and the holding of these "fortresses" at all costs. Many divisions became cut off in "fortress" cities, or wasted uselessly in secondary theatres, because Hitler would not sanction retreat or abandon voluntarily any of his conquests.

Frustration at Hitler's leadership of the war was one of the factors in the attempted coup d'etat of 1944, but after the failure of the 20 July Plot Hitler considered the army and its officer corps suspect and came to rely on the Schutzstaffel (SS) and Nazi party members to prosecute the war.

Hitler's direction of the war was disastrous for the German Army, though the skill, loyalty, professionalism and endurance of officers and soldiers enabled him to keep Germany fighting to the end. F. W. Winterbotham wrote of Hitler's signal to Gerd von Rundstedt to continue the attack to the west during the Battle of the Bulge:

"From experience we had learned that when Hitler started refusing to do what the generals recommended, things started to go wrong, and this was to be no exception."

Read more about this topic:  Soviet–German War, Leadership

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Famous quotes by adolf hitler:

    The great mass of people ... will more easily fall victim to a big lie than to a small one.
    Adolf Hitler (1889–1945)

    The great mass of people ... will more easily fall victim to a big lie than to a small one.
    Adolf Hitler (1889–1945)

    I thank heaven for a man like Adolf Hitler, who built a front line of defense against the anti-Christ of Communism.
    Frank Buchman (1878–1961)

    Mankind has grown strong in eternal struggles and it will only perish through eternal peace.
    Adolf Hitler (1889–1945)

    When an opponent declares, ‘I will not come over to your side,’ I calmly say, ‘Your child belongs to us already.... What are you? You will pass on. Your descendants, however, now stand in the new camp. In a short time they will know nothing else but this new community.’
    Adolf Hitler (1889–1945)