Command Culture: Officer Education in the U.S. Army and the German Armed Forces, 1901-1940, and the Consequences for World War II

Command Culture: Officer Education in the U.S. Army and the German Armed Forces, 1901-1940, and the Consequences for World War II

by Jörg Muth
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Command Culture: Officer Education in the U.S. Army and the German Armed Forces, 1901-1940, and the Consequences for World War II by Jörg Muth

In Command Culture, Jörg Muth examines the different paths the United States Army and the German Armed Forces traveled to select, educate, and promote their officers in the crucial time before World War II. Muth demonstrates that the military education system in Germany represented an organized effort where each school and examination provided the stepping stone for the next. But in the United States, there existed no communication about teaching contents or didactical matters among the various schools and academies, and they existed in a self chosen insular environment. American officers who finally made their way through an erratic selection process and past West Point to the important Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, found themselves usually deeply disappointed, because they were faced again with a rather below average faculty who forced them after every exercise to accept the approved “school solution.”
Command Culture explores the paradox that in Germany officers came from a closed authoritarian society but received an extremely open minded military education, whereas their counterparts in the United States came from one of the most democratic societies but received an outdated military education that harnessed their minds and limited their initiative. On the other hand, German officer candidates learned that in war everything is possible and a war of extermination acceptable. For American officers, raised in a democracy, certain boundaries could never be crossed.
This work for the first time clearly explains the lack of audacity of many high ranking American officers during World War II, as well as the reason why so many German officers became perpetrators or accomplices of war crimes and atrocities or remained bystanders without speaking up. Those American officers who became outstanding leaders in World War II did so not so much because of their military education, but despite it.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781574413038
Publisher: University of North Texas Press
Publication date: 06/10/2011
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 376
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

 JÖRG MUTH received his Ph.D. in history from the University of Utah. He is the author of Flucht aus dem militärischen Alltag: Ursachen und individuelle Ausprägung der Desertion in der Armee Friedrichs des Großen, a study of desertion in the Prussian army during the era of Frederick the Great.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

Introduction 1

1 Prelude: Military Relations between the United States and Germany and the Great General Stall Fantasy 15

Part 1 The Selection and Commissioning of Officers

2 No "Brother Officers": Cadets at the United States Military Academy at West Point 43

3 "To Learn How to Die": Kadetten in Germany 85

Part 2 Intermediate Advanced Education and Promotion

4 The Importance or Doctrine and How to Manage: The American Command and General Staff School and the Overlooked Infantry School 115

5 The Importance of the Attack and How to Lead: The German Kriegsakademie 149

Part 3 Conclusions

6 Education, Culture, and Consequences 181

Author's Afterword 213

Officers' Rank Index 218

Endnotes 221

Selected Bibliography 317

Index 355

What People are Saying About This

Robert Citino

“Muth has written a fascinating book here. Command Culture is an important and long-lasting contribution to the debate over officer training in the United States. What Muth is able to bring to the debate is a vast knowledge of the archival resources and historiography of the modern German army. The book is at once a study of the U. S. officer corps before World War II, a valuable analysis of U. S. and German officer training and education, and a stinging comparison of the two armies'' military cultures.”
Robert Citino, author of The German Way of War

Dennis Showalter

“Muth makes a strong case that effective command at all levels has a set of elements that do not depend on wider social, cultural, and political matrices. His challenge to the ‘new military history’ will generate controversy but cannot be dismissed.”
Dennis Showalter, author of Patton and Rommel

Gerhard Weinberg

“To the best of my knowledge there is nothing in print in either English or in German that offers the kind of analytical comparison Muth offers. The text is based on a truly exemplary coverage of published literature and very substantial work in relevant archives. The work is highly original in both its research design and its presentation. The general message, though controversial and certain to lead to arguments, is buttressed by substantial evidence. His topic has immediate present-day relevance and will certainly appeal to those interested in military history and the conflicts in which the United States is currently engaged.”
Gerhard Weinberg, author of A World at Arms

Edward M. Coffman

“Jörg Muth’s book is about an interesting and significant topic. Although I disagree in some respects with his thesis, I recognize that it is well argued. Based on extensive research in primary and secondary sources, it is also well written.”
Edward M. Coffman, author of The Regulars: The American Army, 1898-1941

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