F.W. von Mellenthin: Panzer Battles 1939 1945 A Study Of The Use Of Armour In The Second World War



This book is actually an autobiography masuerading as an instruction manual for future ard warfare commanders Mellenthin started early a junior officer in the 1930s German Reich uring the time that Hitler was rearming as fast as Krupp could make the steel Like a lot of German soldiers those not killed in action he was promoted and re promoted serving in staff positions of ever increasing importance in North Africa with Rommel then the eastern front the western front and finally the clich Chatsfields Ultimate Acquisition dismissal by Hitler the fate suffered by most generals as the war was lost and Hitler focused on placing blameProfessional soldiers are like soccer players They want to play they want to win Mellenthin got to play but his side lost Agonizing about the loss created this book ten reasons we should have won but bad coaching Hitler lost us the game Sounds just like aisgruntled soccer playerThe book was written for a German audience in 1956 Germany is recovering from the Major Westhavens Unwilling Ward (Hh devastatingefeat they are ready to hear about the war and how they really DESERVED to win but lost for unfair reasonsProfessional soldiers Major Westhavens Unwilling Ward don t care about morality They want to be useful a war fulfills theiresire It would be nice if their country had been attacked by Poland and they were valiantly and righteously efending it second best that they Hitler started it Once the war s started the soldier s code reuires him to fight without moral scruples Mein Gott if soldiers stopped to think about the morality we couldn t have warsMellenthin applauds the skill and training of the Wermacht as they use concentrated armor to punch holes through enemy efenses He respects the enemy s armies too except he s confident that the Wermacht is the bestMellenthin may or may not have been a Nazi but he certainly How to Disappear drank the Kool Aid The book hints at a useful purpose read this book to prepare for the next European war the next one against the Soviet hoards who will attempt to conuer all of Europe Up to this point Europe had a major war every 20 or 30 years He urges military strategists to prepare to meet the tank armies of the Soviets the massed Soviet artillery and the waves of Slavic Soviet Infantry Atomic weapons will have an unknown influence he says but get ready to fight a variation of the last warThat s what they always sayNear the end of the book Mellenthin reveals how much Nazi indoctrination has corrupted him He laments the atrocities committed by Soviet armies overrunning eastern Germany in 1945 Really They were supposed to play fair after millions of Soviet civilianeaths millions of POWs murdered and the organized mass murder of Jews Slavs Gypsies Communists and everyone else who wasn t exactly their idealMellenthin re. Ard warfare assumed vital importance in World War II and Act Like You Know during the first years of the warespite inferiority in numbers and euipment the German Army was master The secret of Germany's early successes and the reason for its eventual failure are isclosed in this analysis by a brilliant former general of the German Army Major General von Mellenthin who saw action in every theater of the European war from 1939 to 1945 follows the panzer armies through Poland France the Balkans acro.

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Cemeal against the concentrated forces of German armor Before one is even 50 pages into the book we read that e Gaulle Agewise did so with the 4th Ard Divison after the Sedan Before one is 70 pages into the book oneiscovers that Cunningham had scattered the 7th Ard Division all over the esert but Rommel idn t have the logistic support to exploit that error On page 101 we read concerning the Gazala battles that The British armor had suffered heavily once again their command failed to coordinate the tank brigades Once again we read that the Germans had inadeuate supplies to exploit their advantage the second lesson With regard to the eastern front we read The fighting on the Chir river was made easier by the methods adopted by the command of the Russian Fifth Tank Army They sent their various corps into battle without co ordinating the timing of their attacks and without the co operation of the numerous infantry A Village with My Name: A Family History of China's Opening to the World divisions p 184Second von Mellenthin makes no bones about the fact that Rommel lacked patience with securing a solid supply line and that he paid the price in theesert for that failure Later Anthropology as Cultural Critique during the lastays of the war we see how Hitler s orders to stand and refuse to surrender ground also ignored supply problems and von Mellenthin cites Guderian s observation that a tank s engine is as important as its gun p 155 but notes how inadeuate attention to logistics created colossal failures Consider At Stalingrad the German troops needed 500 hundred tons of supplies per Anyone day When Hitler ordered them to stand their ground and the High Command insisted on airlifting supplies it would have reuired 250 Ju 52 planes peray meaning that with attrition and amage repairs that 1000 planes needed to be available it s easy to see why the MOST brought in for one ay was 300 tons and the AVERAGE was 100 tons usually a heroic effort on behalf of pilots p 188Third von Mellenthin emphasizes the need to be able to place concentrated force at a particular point schwerpunkt or spearhead by using ard mobility to reach the vulnerable points before the enemy expects itFourth he writes about the value of positioning guns such that they can triangulate on the same target rather than spreading them out in a line as per Field Marshal Model Boggs during theefense of Poland pp 283 284 Finally his summary of how Hitler s total command of the war is a cautionary tale for current managers Hitler s obsession with not even letting his generals know what he was planning until they needed to know is euivalent to modern managers who keep their employees in the Battleground Chicago dark Further because Hitler was both obsessed and secretive no one could offer truly sound counsel This is a warning to all people in leadership. Al Norman Schwarzkopf who kept the book on hisesk throughout the conflict Panzer Battles is a candid and forthright iscussion of the War that reflects not only von Mellenthin's intimate knowledge of the workings of the German General Staff but a thorough familiarity with the Allies' strategic aims It is a work that has taken its place among those of Liddell Hart JFC Fuller and Chester Wilmot as essential reading for anyone interested in the military aspects of the war in Europe.

Veals a bit of his racism late in the book Buried under false praise he iscusses briefly the nature of the Slavic Soviet infantry They are primitive unafraid of Bitter Choices death simple obedient until they re panicked and otherwise obviously a bunch of trained monkeys Mellenthin it seems feels cheated that the untermenschen beat his Wermacht using superior numbers and a strongetermination to prevail What Mellenthin characterizes as a low intelligence lack of fear I characterize as superior Bill Veecks Crosstown Classic discipline coupled with a strongesire to Blood, Milk, Ink, Gold defeat the invaders That Mellenthin can t see that aecade after the war is perhaps the most interesting aspect of this book I found the German perspective of the war in North Africa to be enlightening Mellenthin was there and tells it how it was in the Mikhail Bakhtin desert much as Speeroes in Inside the Third Reich This is a very mixed bag Yes it is a fascinating first hand account and many of the author s judgements at least on purely military matters seem fair minded and Carnival demonstrate his familiarity with the thoughts and writings of his erstwhile enemies But it is ultimately as self serving as the memoirs of Badoglio and Weygand which I have also read though Mellenthin is far interestingly written There is a lot of guff about the Soviet Asiatic hordes and how the Germans were the torchbearers of civilisation It is extraordinary that he could write and believe that at the same time that he confesses he knew about the murderous activities of the Einsatzgruppen About the Final Solution he claimed to be entirely ignorant until after the war Yeah rightModern scholarship is fairly united inestroying the myth of the clean Wehrmacht a myth which people like Mellenthin were guilty of Citizens and Paupers disseminating Despite this the panzer battles themselves are engrossinglyescribed especially in the western Bargaining for Brooklyn desert And the portraits of those generals he worked with are fascinating from the flawed but charismatic Rommel to the flawed and unpleasant Model Panzer Battles isn t a theoretical work as much as it is a practical thesis built upon personal experience Major General von Mellenthin recounts his experiences on three major fronts of World War II The most interesting accountseal with his service with Rommel in the Come In and Hear the Truth desert but it may well be that the most enlightening portionseal with his analysis of the latter Carson Pirie Scott days on the eastern front and the western frontThe lessons that this veteran of ard combat teaches in this book are almost so obvious as to uestion the value of citing them here However since these insights were ignored to the peril of Allied and sometimes Axis forces I cite them hereFirst of all over and over again he cites his enemies tendency to throw ard units pie. Ss theeserts of North Africa and the frozen wastes of Russia to the final Black Nationalism defeat on the Western front It was theecisive victories of the German panzer Critical Teaching and Everyday Life divisions in North Africa that taught the Allies the importance of an integrated combat team consisting of tanks infantry and artillery Panzer Battles provides an especially vivid account of the legendaryesert battles fought by Rommel The continued timeliness of Mellenthin's work was brought home in the First Gulf War by Gener.

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Friedrich Wilhelm von Mellenthin was a Generalmajor in the German Army during World War II A participant in most of the major campaigns of the war he became well known afterwards for his memoirs Panzer Battles first published in 1956 and regularly reprinted since then