His poems continue to draw the interest and praise of readers centuries after his death and are among the most acclaimed works of the English-speaking world. The originality of his language and style, the vivacity of his humor, and the depth of his understanding are continually cited as reasons for the permanence of his works.
Was he, as his former subordinates claimed after World War Two ended, a meddlesome amateur who kept them from conducting the war properly?
What were his strengths and weaknesses, his goals and methods? The answers to these questions reveal a man who was indeed responsible for Germany's downfall, though not entirely in the way that his generals claimed.
Hitler was, first and foremost, determined to command personally. At each level, the superior was to give the orders, the subordinates to follow them to the letter. In practice the command relationships were more subtle and complex, especially at the lower levels, but Hitler did have the final say on any subject in which he took a direct interest, including the details of military operations, that is, the actual direction of armies in the field.
Moreover, as time went on he took over positions that gave him ever more direct control. Hitler wanted to be the Feldherr, the generalissimo, exercising direct control of the armies himself, in much the same sense that Wellington commanded at Waterloo, albeit at a distance.
A small personal staff attended to him, and the army high command also kept its headquarters, with a much more substantial staff, nearby. He held briefings with his senior military advisors, often in the company of Party officials and other hangers-on, each afternoon and late each night.
His staff would present him with information on the status and actions of all units down to division strength or lower, as well as on special subjects such as arms production or the technical specifications of new weapons.
Hitler had an incredible memory for detail and would become annoyed at any discrepancies. Every point had to be correct and consistent with previous briefings, for Hitler had an incredible memory for detail and would become annoyed at any discrepancies.
He supplemented that information by consulting with his field commanders, on very rare occasions at the front, more often by telephone or by summoning them back to his headquarters. As the briefing went on he would state his instructions verbally for his staff to take down and then issue as written orders.
There were several broad sets of problems with Hitler's style of command.
These revolved around his personality, the depth of his knowledge, and his military experience, and they exacerbated corresponding problems in the German command system. After the war, the picture emerged of Hitler as a megalomaniac who refused to listen to his military experts and who, as a consequence, lost the war for Germany.
That picture emerged due largely to the efforts of his former generals, who had their own reputations to protect. The truth was more complicated, even if Hitler's failings remained at the heart of it.
He had to overcome a certain amount of timidity among his senior officers before the war - during the reoccupation of the Rhineland, for example - and his perception of them as over cautious set the tone for his relations with them.
Certainly his operational decisions, especially early in the war, were sometimes as good as, or better than, those of his generals. He was, after all, one of the two men who first thought up the campaign plan that the Wehrmacht the German army used against France with such stunning success inand he had to push hard before the General Staff would accept it.
As time went on he came to believe that Germany's victories were his alone and that most of his generals were narrow-minded, overly cautious and incapable. For their part, the generals expressed admiration for Hitler's political skills and goals.
His defence minister from toGeneral Werner von Blomberg, said that Hitler's rise to power represented 'a broad national desire, and the realisation of that towards which many of the best have been striving for years'.
Their attitude toward his military leadership, on the other hand, ran hot and cold. They often recognised his talents - far more than they later wanted to admit.
At other times they tried to resist him - though less often, less effectively, and sometimes less justifiably than they later claimed. In any case, he grew ever more distrustful and contemptuous of them as a group, despite the unflagging loyalty that most of them displayed right to the end.
As early as he was heard to say that every general was either cowardly or stupid, and his opinion only worsened with time. Top Reliance on instinct Whatever the problems with his generals, however, there is no doubt that Hitler lacked many of the qualities he needed to control military affairs with consistent success.
There have been examples - Churchill was one - of political leaders who successfully interceded in the details of military strategy and operations, but Hitler had neither the experience nor the personality for such a role.
He shunned serious, comprehensive intellectual effort and was largely ignorant of military affairs and foreign cultures. He tended to reject any information that did not fit with his often wildly inaccurate preconceptions.
Instead he relied on his 'instinct' and a belief that the will to win would overcome every obstacle in the end. No military leader can hope to understand the realities of the situation on the ground from hundreds of miles away His talents - or lack thereof - aside, Hitler took the practice of personal command much too far.
No military leader can hope to understand the realities of the situation on the ground from hundreds of miles away, and yet he came to believe that he could control all but the smallest units at the front.
At the end offor example, during the battle of Stalingrad, he actually had a street map of the city spread out before him so that he could follow the fighting, block by block. Similarly, near the end of the war he ordered that no unit could move without his express permission, and he demanded lengthy reports on every armoured vehicle and position that his forces lost.
Such methods guaranteed that opportunities and dangers alike would go unnoticed, that good commanders would be trapped in impossible situations and bad ones allowed to avoid responsibility.The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer Essay Words | 5 Pages The Canterbury Tales is a set of stories written by Geoffrey Chaucer in the fourteenth century.
Geoffrey Chaucer is sometimes known as the founder of English literature, and his role in literary history is difficult to overestimate. This lesson offers essay topics that will help your students think deeply about Chaucer's life and works.
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