Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

German General Staff

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • German General Staff

    In spite of many years of reading, and seeing references to the German General Staff and its effect on history, I really do not have a good concept of how/what it operated in actual practice. How its practice compared with say the British/French/American general staffs.

    Can anyone give me an explanation, or post a link?

    Thanks

  • #2
    The best book on the subject is "A genious for War" by Col. Dupuy.

    To this day, in spite of logic and simple decency, some people actually
    believe that Germany’s smashing victories and near-success were because of
    Hitler and the Nazi Party. The truth of the matter is this: without the German
    General Staff to lead his armies, Hitler would never have gone any farther
    than any of the rest of the tin-pot dictators that liter history. There are dozens
    of “leaders” in charge of nations throughout the world today that have the
    same attitudes, ambitions, and ideas that Hitler had. The Nazi Party was less than
    unique. Like so many political parties, it was a collection of losers and
    street gangs that came out on top, for a while. Even if they had won the war,
    the whole thing was as weak and temporary as a house of cards; it would have
    collapsed as soon as the last of the old hands that had built it had died off, as
    was the case with the Soviets. Historically, this has always been the case.
    The morbid fascination, the flash that caused some of you to pick this
    book up, is entirely misplaced. The Nazis did not make Germany strong; they
    ruined it.
    Every German military victory since the early 1800s can be attributed to
    the career of one man, Napoleon. He did not instruct the Germans, not in the
    conventional sense, but he did inspire them. Prior to 1806, the Prussians
    (Germany was not invented until 1870, after the American Civil war) thought
    that they had a great army. Then the Little Corporal came along and handed
    them their own heads at a place called Jenna. In one day, that Frenchman had
    reduced proud Prussia to a vassal state, and so it remained for the next seven
    years.
    There is nothing like a good disaster to free a society from the chains of
    tradition. Many young Prussian Officers sat down and took a long, hard look
    at themselves, to find out what the problem was and how to fix it. (The men
    who lived in Europe two centuries ago must have been very different from the
    ones who do today) Two in particular, Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, advocated
    reforms, new ideas, and a clearer way of thinking. These was codified by Von
    Clauswitz in his famous book On War. A widely known, little read, and
    highly demonized book, it has been discredited for such phrases as “War is an
    extension of policy by other means.” This has been held up by many as a
    justification for war, and was certainly trumpeted as one in the 1930s. It was
    not, and anyone who has read the sub-chapter that this phrase heads knows
    that. What the author meant was that if a nation’s policies are flawed, then the
    conduct of its wars will be equally flawed. Too bad so many European
    leaders, and a certain fellow named McNamara, did not bother to be as well
    read as they thought they were.


    Basicaly, The German General Staff institutionalised exellence. How?
    Unique among all the organizations in Human history, this was a group where
    WHAT you knew was actualy more important than WHO you knew.

    Hope that helps.
    (and makes me wonder why I can't get published)
    Last edited by The Exorcist; 26 Nov 07, 13:32.

    Comment


    • #3
      Koalaburger

      I read in a couple of places that Hitler liked to have competition between his general staff. This fit in with the dog eat dog Klingon type philosophy of a nazi. All armies have competing generals - Montgomery and Patton for instance, but there were 2 competing sectors of Hitlers general staff and it became very destructive and did not engender a supportive atmosphere. Rommel complained of getting contradictary messages at times from Berlin.

      Comment


      • #4
        That was how a good system was driven to failure by a lousey political establishment.

        Another basic idea was that "education is the objective search for the truth"... something that I wish was more prevalent today.

        Comment


        • #5
          The answer to a good question deserves more than a sound-byte answer; I would recommend you secure a copy of the classic, "History of The German General Staff: 1657-1945" by Walter Goerlitz.

          rna
          Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

          Comment


          • #6
            To get a view of the last days of the original General Staff take a look at Siegfried Knappes 'Soldat'. He was in the last General Staff class convined in 1944 and has several pages of details of the school and ciriculum. In the closing months of the war he served on two corps staff as a major. Knappes reminice illustrates some of the details of of how the Wehrmacht GS functioned in WWII.

            The main difference between the US Military and the German Army is there was no formal designation between a officer that had been to the Comand and Staff school or the War College and one who had not. Just a entry in his service record, but no clear dividing line. Into the 1950s it was still not uncommon for US officers who had been to neither school to reach high rank & command billet. The USMC General Puller was turned down several times for the Command and Staff school, but still held a realatively senior command for the USMC.
            Last edited by Carl Schwamberg; 05 Feb 08, 07:51.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
              To get a view of the last days of the original General Staff take a look at Siegfried Knappes 'Soldat'. He was in the last General Staff class convined in 1944 and has several pages of details of the school and ciriculum. In the closing months of the war he served on two corps staff as a major. Knappes reminice illustrates some of the details of of how the Wehrmacht GS functioned in WWII.

              The main difference between the US Military and the German Army is there was no formal designation between a officer that had been to the Comand and Staff school or the War College and one who had not. Just a entry in his service record, but no clear dividing line. Into the 1950s it was still not uncommon for US officers who had been to neither school to reach high rank & command billet. The USMC General Puller was turned down several times for the Command and Staff school, but still held a realatively senior command for the USMC.
              I was just going to suggest that. In fact I just finished that book today.
              "Artillery lends dignity to what might otherwise be a vulgar brawl." - Frederick the Great

              Comment


              • #8
                RN is ahead of the pack--as usual. I've read Goerlitz and also recommend him.

                Another point is that the German commanders alternated between staff and field commands, thus giving them a good look at both sides of the equation.

                IMHO that training helped them develop FSG.

                Comment


                • #9
                  The first comments in this thread are very informative. But I have to correct, the German Empire was not created in 1870 after the American Civil War, it was created on 18th January 1871 after the victory of Sedan in the Franco-Prussian war. Long before that it was the Holy Roman Empire which started with Charlemagne around 800. Later the words of "the German Nation" were added to the empires name which was realy only an Alliance of many different states under one Emperor always fighting each other. Sometimes even fighting the Emporor himself. E.g. Frederick II of Prussia against Empress Maria Theresia. For the last 500 odd years of its existence it was ruled nearly continously by the Habsburgs until Franz II abdicated in 1806 as a consequence of Napoleons creation of the Reinbund. From than onwards there still was some kind of a German Alliance and Archduke John was made Reichsverwaeser. This basically meant he was formally the head of the German states, but didn't have any real power.

                  Comment

                  Latest Topics

                  Collapse

                  • Karri
                    Prawn heads
                    by Karri
                    How do you cook them? How do you eat them?

                    So far I've always just twisted them off, and discarded it along with the shells and such, only...
                    Today, 11:40
                  • Jose50
                    Thoughts on the US abandoning NATO
                    by Jose50
                    Now may be a good time for the NATO countries to start beefing up their materiel, personnel and alliances. There is a decided wave here in the US that...
                    Today, 08:41
                  • Von Richter
                    Sagittarius Rising...
                    by Von Richter
                    Just having a re-read of this book after it's stood for donkey's years on the bookshelf. Once again, within the first couple of pages, I'm transported...
                    Today, 01:19
                  Working...
                  X