Disobedience and Conspiracy in the German Army, 1918¿1945

Disobedience and Conspiracy in the German Army, 1918¿1945

by Robert B. Kane


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Disobedience and Conspiracy in the German Army, 1918¿1945 by Robert B. Kane

This work examines, among other topics, the personal oath of loyalty that the officers of the German army swore to Adolf Hitler on August 2, 1934. It discusses how the majority of officers—those who did not become conspirators against him—complied with Hitler’s orders until May 1945 despite his cruel treatment of soldiers, militarily unsound strategy and tactics, and the widespread destruction and crimes he and his forces committed.
The oath taken by the officers had a strong psychological effect among a proud corps with a long history of obedience and honor. They followed Hitler to the end even though they knew they were fighting a losing battle. The author also examines why and how only a few officers, the conspirators, began to break away, lose trust in Hitler, oppose him and finally stage an assassination attempt.
This history traces the development within the German army from 1918 of the philosophies of loyalty and disloyalty—and obedience and disobedience—as challenged by the Hitlerian oath of loyalty.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780786437443
Publisher: McFarland & Company, Incorporated Publishers
Publication date: 04/10/2008
Pages: 279
Product dimensions: 7.00(w) x 10.00(h) x 0.56(d)

About the Author

Robert B. Kane lives in Montgomery, Alabama.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

Figures and Tables ii

German Terms and English Equivalents xiii

Abbreviations xvi

German Army Officer Ranks and American Army Officer Equivalents xvii

Foreword xix

Introduction 1

1. The Military Oath of Loyalty: Theoretical and Historical Background 13

The Military Oath of Loyalty, Obedience, and Disobedience 13

Historical Background: Prehistory to the 1660s 19

Historical Development: Prussia-Germany, 1660s–1918 26

Summary 32

2. The Army and the Weimar Republic, 1918–1930 40

Defeat and Revolution 40

The Kapp Putsch 46

Organization and Development of the Reichswehr 49

The Hitler Putsch 54

The Reichswehr After Seeckt 59

Summary 61

3. The Army and National Socialism, 1930–1934 69

The Leipzig Trial 70

The Army and Hitler, 1930–1933 76

The Army and Hitler: The First 18 Months 80

The Röhm Purge and Its Aftermath 84

Summary 89

4. The Army and the Nazi Regime, 1934–1939 97

Continuation of the Nazification Process 98

Rearmament and Its Effects 102

The Impact of Nazi Education, the Hitler Jugend, and the Reich Labor Service 106

The Development of the Oberkommando Wehrmacht (OKW) 108

The Creation of the Waffen SS 111

Summary 113

5. The Beginnings of the Military Opposition, 1936–1939 120

The First Signs of Opposition 121

The Blomberg-Fritsch Crisis 124

The Military Opposition and the Road to War 131

The Military Opposition and Hitler’s Domestic Policies 138

Summary 140

6. The Army at War, 1939–1945 147

The Senior Officers and Hitler 148

The Lower-Ranking Officers and Enlisted Personnel, and Hitler 158

The Army and War Crimes 160

Summary 167

7. The Military Opposition During the War, 1939–1945 178

The Evolution of the Military Opposition, 1939–1943 179

Stauffenberg and the Military Opposition, January 1943–June 1944 183

The July 20, 1944, Assassination Plot and Aftermath 186

Aftermath of the July 20, 1944, Coup 189

Summary 191

8. Conspirators, Nonconspirators, and Followers 197

Comparison of Conspirators, Nonconspirators, and Followers 198

Influence of Education and Family Background 199

Effects of Familial and Collegial Relationships 207

Summary 211

Summary 215

Origins 218

Consequences 219

Significance 223

Appendix A. Prussian-German Military Oaths 227

Appendix B. Political Justice in Weimar Germany 229

Appendix C. German Treatment of Soviet POWs in World War II 233

The Treatment of Soviet POWs 233

The Treatment of Western POWs 237

The Treatment of Russian POWs during World War I 239

Summary 241

Bibliography 245

Index 251

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