The Roots of Blitzkrieg: Hans von Seeckt and German Military Reform

Overview


Following Germany's defeat in World War I, the Germans signed the Versailles Treaty, superficially agreeing to limit their war powers. The Allies envisioned the future German army as a lightly armed border guard and international security force. The Germans had other plans.

As early as 1919, James Corum contends, the tactical foundations were being laid for the Nazi Blitzkrieg. Between 1919 and 1933, German military leaders created and nurtured the Reichswehr, a new military ...

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Overview


Following Germany's defeat in World War I, the Germans signed the Versailles Treaty, superficially agreeing to limit their war powers. The Allies envisioned the future German army as a lightly armed border guard and international security force. The Germans had other plans.

As early as 1919, James Corum contends, the tactical foundations were being laid for the Nazi Blitzkrieg. Between 1919 and 1933, German military leaders created and nurtured the Reichswehr, a new military organization built on the wreckage of the old Imperial Army. It was not being groomed for policing purposes.

Focusing on Hans von Seeckt, General Staff Chief and Army Commander, Corum traces the crucial transformations in German military tactical doctrine, organization, and training that laid the foundations for fighting Germany's future wars. In doing so, he restores balance to prior assessment of von Seeckt's influence and demonstrates how the general, along with a few other "visionary" officers—including armor tactician Ernst Volckheim and air tactician Helmut Wilberg—collaborated to develop the core doctrine for what became the Blitzkrieg.

The concepts of mobile war so essential to Germany's strength in World War II, Corum shows, were in place well before the tools became available. As an unforeseen consequence of the Versailles Treaty, the Germans were not saddled with a stockpile of outdated equipment as the Allies were. This, ironically, resulted in an advantage for the Germans, who were able to create doctrine first and design equipment to match it.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This well-written, thoroughly researched book makes a powerful case that the tactical concepts used so effectively by the German army in World War II originated with Hans von Seeckt in the 1920s. Corum (military studies, Air Univ., United States Air Force) deserves particular credit for demonstrating that the German army's tactical orientation reflected not indifference to strategic questions but recognition that Germany's national interests were best served by short wars ending in decisive victories. In a state disarmed by the Versailles Treaty, Seeckt established a body of doctrine independent of armies and weapons. He broke with many aspects of the Prussian-German military tradition to develop concepts of offensive mobile war by elite combined-arms forces, closely supported from the air. He also emphasized high standards of leadership and training at all levels--standards that persisted in the Wehrmacht and contributed greatly to its wartime efficiency. Recommended for military history collections.--D.E. Showalter, U.S. Air Force Acad., Colorado Springs
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780700606283
  • Publisher: University Press of Kansas
  • Publication date: 10/28/1992
  • Series: Modern War Studies Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 276
  • Sales rank: 1,120,427
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Table of Contents


List of Illustrations

Preface

1. The Lessons of World War I

2. Von Seeckt and Rethinking Warfare

3. Debate within the Reichswehr

4. Training the Reichswehr

5. Developing Modern Weaponry

6. The Development of German Armor Doctrine

7. Developing a Reichswehr Air Doctrine

8. The Reichswehr as a Mature Military Force

9. Epilogue

Appendix: Proposed Reichswehr Tables of Organization and Equipment from the 1920s

Notes

Selected Bibliography

Index

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