Crumbling Empire: The German Defeat in the East, 1944

Crumbling Empire: The German Defeat in the East, 1944

by Samuel W. Mitcham
     
 

The last place a German soldier wanted to be in 1944 was the Russian front. That summer, Stalin hurled into battle more than six million men and 9,000 tanks, supported by 16,000 fighters and bombers and more than 12,800 guns and rocket launchers. Despite this massive effort and the resulting decimation of German forces, events on the Eastern Front are largely

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Overview

The last place a German soldier wanted to be in 1944 was the Russian front. That summer, Stalin hurled into battle more than six million men and 9,000 tanks, supported by 16,000 fighters and bombers and more than 12,800 guns and rocket launchers. Despite this massive effort and the resulting decimation of German forces, events on the Eastern Front are largely neglected by historians who focus instead on German defeats in Normandy and the Ardennes. This account details the massive battles on the Eastern Front from the summer of 1944 until the fall of Budapest in early 1945, a period when Hitler lost the majority of his conquered Eastern territories and many of his best remaining divisions.

To destroy the Third Reich, the Allies needed to defeat the German Wehrmacht militarily, and the decisive victories of this period occurred on the Russian Front. More German soldiers were lost in White Russia than at Stalingrad; more troops were lost in Rumania in a brief ten days than in the entire Normandy campaign; and German losses in Hungary were greater than the Battle of the Bulge. The most mobile army in the world in 1940, the German Army was the least mobile by 1944, and Hitler's stand fast and fortified place policies imposed a paralysis that neither senior German generals nor the High Command of the Army were able to overcome. Outnumbered 3 to 1 in men, 5 to 1 in tanks, and 20 to 1 in airplanes, the German Army was slaughtered, as casualties mounted and the empire crumbled.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This detailed account of the collapse of the Eastern Front covers the period June 1944 to February 1945. The horrendous defeats at Stalingrad and Kursk were past, and the Wehrmacht had a chance to back off, stabilize the front, and possibly retain some of its gains. Instead, a series of bad decisions by Hitler, coupled with substantial gains in combat efficiency by the Soviet Army, vitiated those efforts. By February, the German empire in the East was gone, and the battles would henceforth be on German soil. Mitcham (The Desert Fox in Normandy) does not break any new ground all citations are to secondary sources) but he does provide detailed information about a complex period. The frequent and confusing changes in leadership, organization, and location are carefully detailed. Most of his attention goes to the decisive area at the center of the front, but he does provide a coherent window on the collapse of Romania, Bulgaria, and Hungary. Of considerable interest is Mitcham's extensive footnoting of the fates of the many German and other Axis commanders. Still, most libraries will be sufficiently served by Paul Carell's Scorched Earth (Schiffer, 1994) and Earl F. Zeimke's Stalingrad to Berlin (Dorset, 1986). For substantial military history collections. Edwin B. Burgess, U.S. Army Combined Arms Research Lib., Ft. Leavenworth, KS Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Booknews
Mitcham, who is gifted with a succinct writing style, provides a well-organized account of the complex events of the period from June 1944 to February 1945 that culminated in the German defeat in the East. Special attention is devoted to the Ukrainian Nationalist movement as a significant military factor. This is straight-up military history, documenting in painstaking detail the personalities, strategies, and engagements of this aspect of the war. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780275968564
Publisher:
Greenwood Publishing Group, Incorporated
Publication date:
06/28/2001
Pages:
336
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

SAMUEL W. MITCHAM, JR. is an internationally recognized authority on Nazi Germany and the Second World War and is the author of more than 15 books on the subject, including this title's companion volume, Retreat to the Reich (Praeger, 2000), Why Hitler? (Praeger, 1996), and The Desert Fox in Normandy (Praeger, 1997), as well as several dozen articles. A former army helicopter pilot and company commander, he is a graduate of the U.S. Army's Command and General Staff College. He has been a professor of geography and military history since 1984. He lives in rural Louisiana.

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