Stephen Karlson (shkarlson) wrote in 50bookchallenge,
Stephen Karlson

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Adolf Hitler himself countermanded one of Heinz Guderian's principles of armored warfare, with the intention of more quickly dividing the Allied forces in Belgium from those in France in order to prepare an encirclement of the remaining French armies south of the Somme, in order to avoid a replay of 1914-1918.  It worked.  Whether that countermand made Hitler sure enough of his instincts as to make him contemptuous of his generals when the military situation got worse historian Ronald Powaski doesn't say.  His Lightning War: Blitzkrieg in the West, 1940, tonight's Book Review No. 12, is a readable, relatively short account of the proper implementation of the Schlieffen Plan.  (First, you make a temporary alliance with the Russians.)  The accounts from the Belgian, British, French, German, and Netherlands point of view appear in their turn.  There are several useful maps.  Professor Powaski is careful about drawing inferences about missed opportunities, the most significant event being the British evacuation of Dunkirk.  Yes, another Hitler countermand arises.  All the same, Dunkirk was close enough to Britain for the Royal Air Force to contest the skies, for the Royal Navy to operate under cover of British shore defences, and perhaps the British were losing the war faster than the Germans could win it, dashing panzer columns notwithstanding.

(Cross-posted to Cold Spring Shops.)

Tags: history, military, war

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