Operation Barbarossa and Germany's Defeat in the East

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The aim of this new series is to publish outstanding works of research on warfare throughout the ages and throughout the world. Books in the series will take a broad approach to military history, examining war in all its military, strategic, political and economic aspects. The series is intended to complements Studies in the Social and Cultural History of Modern Warfare by focusing on the 'hard' military history of armies, tactics, strategy and warfare. Books in the series will consist mainly of single-author works academically vigorous and groundbreaking-- which will be accessible to both academics and the interested general reader.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"… thought-provoking and valuable. It dispels any illusions that the first months of Operation Barbarossa were a pushover for the Wehrmacht; Stahel documents in detail, from German war diaries and letters, the heavy fighting and the high casualties."
Evan Mawdsley, The English Historical Review

"… a thoroughly researched, comprehensive, and convincing analysis of Barbarossa … Any still-lingering notions of a German 'genius for war', as opposed to skill in some aspects of warmaking, is unlikely to survive this intellectually disciplined, archivally documented analysis of one of history’s most misbegotten, mistakenly executed campaigns."
Dennis Showalter, Journal of Military History

"Stahel paints a convincing portrait of a Germany army whose shape edge was already well into the process of being blunted during the first weeks of the fighting … This is a serious book and a welcome contribution to the military debate over Operation Barbarossa."
Robert M. Citino, Central European History

"The author’s research is impressive … Stahel’s clearly written and accessible account convincingly questions the competency of the German planning for Barbarossa … all will profit from reading this fine work."
Howard D. Grier, The Journal of Modern History

"Operation Barbarossa and Germany’s Defeat in the East will undoubtedly stand as a standard work on the first phase of Operation Barbarossa for a long time to come … The staggering amount of detail offered ensures this is an invaluable addition to Eastern Front literature and Operation Barbarossa in particular."
Yan Mann, Global War Studies

"… interesting and well researched."
Michael Jabara Carley, Canadian Journal of History

"… a thrilling book that no military historian can afford to ignore …"
German History

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521768474
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 11/30/2009
  • Series: Cambridge Military Histories Series
  • Pages: 500
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

David Stahel is an independent researcher based in Berlin.
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Table of Contents

List of illustrations vii

List of maps ix

Acknowledgements xi

Glossary of terms xiii

Tables of military ranks and army structures xv

Introduction 1

Part I Strategic plans and theoretical conceptions for war against the Soviet Union

1 Fighting the bear 33

The evolution of early strategic planning 33

Two ways to skin a bear - the Marcks and Lossberg plans 39

Crisis postponed - from war games to Directive No. 21 54

2 The gathering storm 70

The army deployment directive 70

The dysfunctional order - delusion as operative discourse 84

Barbarossa - the zenith of war 95

3 Barbarossa's sword - Hitler's armed forces in 1941 105

Carrying fear before them and expectation behind - Hitler's panzer arm 105

Standing before the precipice - the infantry and Luftwaffe on the eve of Barbarossa 117

The impossible equation - the logistics and supply of Barbarossa 127

4 The advent of war 139

Welcome to hell on earth' 139

Part II The military campaign and the July/August crisis of 1941

5 Awakening the bear 153

Indecisive border battles and the surfacing of strategic dissent 153

The Belostok-Minsk pocket - anatomy of a hollow victory 170

Straining the limits - Bock's race to the rivers 186

6 The perilous advance to the east 209

Forging across the Dvina and Dnepr - the threshold to demise 209

The Russian is a colossus and strong' (Adolf Hitler) 228

Caught in the hinterlands 245

7 The battle of Smolensk 260

The end of blitzkrieg 260

Crisis rising - the German command at war 273

'I am on the brink of despair' (Franz Halder) 290

8 The attrition of Army Group Centre 306

The killing fields at Yel'nya 306

Sealing the Smolensk pocket and Army GroupCentre's fate 324

Victory at Smolensk? The paradox of a battle 344

9 In search of resurgence 361

The arduous road to renewal 361

'Today is the beginning of positional warfare!' (Fedor von Bock) 380

Embracing world war and apocalypse - Hitler reaches resolution 400

10 Showdown 423

Hitler's triumph in defeat 423

Conclusion 439

Bibliography 452

Index 474

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