From Defeat to Victory
The Eastern Front, Summer 1944
Decisive and Indecisive Military Operations, Volume 2
Charles J. Dick
Stone & Stone Editor’s Choice
By the summer of 1944, the war in Europe had reached a critical point. Both the western Allies and the Soviets possessed the initiative and forces capable of mounting strategic offensives against the German enemy. Writing a study of operations on first the Western then the Eastern Front, respected military analyst C. J. Dick provides a uniquely informative comparison of the different war-fighting doctrines brought to bear by the Allies and the Red Army in contemporaneous campaigns. His book offers rare insights into the strengths and weaknesses of generalship on both fronts.
“In illustrating the degree to which the Soviets sought to refine and improve their operations, Dick makes a welcome contribution to the central debate over the nature of the Soviet victory: namely, whether the Soviets outfought the Germans or simply outlasted them.”
“Dick has produced a work full of insights, and one that is particularly illuminating about the operational level of war.”
—RUSI JournalSee all reviews...
“From Defeat to Victory analyzes how the Red Army transformed itself from a beaten army to a conquering army while battle raged, not merely through its willingness to expend human life without regard, but by developing fundamentally sound doctrine, which enabled it to plan and conduct successful large-scale operations in 1943–45 in ways that it could not in 1941–42. He shows that besides learning from German successes, the Red Army also brought its own ideas to the battlefield and was able to combine the two to beat the Germans at their own game by superior strategy, by taking advantage of German mistakes, and by utilizing superior material resources.”
—Roger R. Reese, author of Why Stalin’s Soldiers Fought: The Red Army’s Military Effectiveness in World War II
“C. J. Dick’s perceptive analysis of the operational art as waged by Allied forces during the summer and fall of 1944 is a significant contribution to our understanding of some of the decisive campaigns of World War II. He details the doctrine, organization, training, and leadership of the major Allied armies, as well as evaluating their strengths and weaknesses before and during battle. In the unending debate over operational concepts, Dick is an unapologetic champion of maneuver warfare. As importantly, his evaluation of generalship, the challenges of coalition warfare, and the impact of intelligence and logistics on the operational level of war make this book a valuable addition to professional military reading lists.”
—Peter Mansoor, author of The GI Offensive in Europe: The Triumph of American Infantry Divisions, 1941–1945
“This clear, detailed, and highly illuminating study should be required reading for serious military historians, analysts of modern warfare, and general readers interested in Soviet World War II military operations. Dick’s compelling analysis of Soviet operational art in the Second World War debunks long-held assumptions about the ‘crudeness’ of Soviet military operations and the overall superiority of German generalship. Dick takes his readers through the Red Army’s summer 1944 campaigns step-by-step, demonstrating that the Red Army’s dramatic successes were based on a sophisticated understanding of modern warfare, originating in 1930s, and developed during the course of the war. His favorable treatment of the Soviet mastery of operational art in comparison with 1944 American and British campaigns will no doubt stimulate much thinking and debate. This highly readable volume is a critical addition to the military history of the Second World War.”
—Kenneth Slepyan, author of Stalin’s Guerillas: Soviet Partisans in World War II
“Since the days of Moltke the German armies have considered themselves the masters of the operational art and the operational level of war. For the Germans, however, operations tended to be tactics on a vastly larger scale. Staring in the 1920s it was the Soviets who developed a clear body of operational doctrine that was distinct from the tactical level. Charles J. Dick examines how even after suffering near catastrophic setbacks at the start of the war, the Soviets still managed to defeat the Wehrmacht, even though the Germans were tactically superior by a wide margin from start to finish. There is no clearer example in military history of the distinction between the tactical and the operational. Ironically, for many years following World War II the British and American armies continued to dismiss Soviet writings about the operational level as mere communist ideological propaganda. They only started to develop their own operational doctrine in the 1980s, drawing heavily on the Soviet World War II experience, as elucidated by Dick and his fellow pioneering analysts, British and American.”
—David T. Zabecki Major General U.S. Army (Ret.), author of The German 1918 Offensives: A Case Study in the Operational Level of War
“Charles Dick provides a unique set of insightful, comparative analyses of Allied, German and Soviet operations and associated operational art during the Second World War. This detailed and rewarding work should become a standard text of any serious student of war.”
—Major General (Retd) Mungo Melvin CB OBE, President of the British Commission for Military HistorySee fewer reviews...
In volume 2, From Defeat to Victory, Dick turns to the Eastern Front, where battle lines stretched from the Baltic to the Black Sea—nearly 1,500 miles to the Allies’ 600—and the Soviet armies and engagements dwarfed in scale those in the West. More importantly, they reflected a war-fighting philosophy significantly different than the Allies’, which in turn produced different military operations. The Soviets were masters of deception-and-surprise, a concept called maskirovka that was an essential part of every military operation. The Soviets were committed to highly mobile and high-tempo offensives. They massed troops in heavy concentrations to achieve a breakthrough that would quickly set conditions for decisive operational maneuvers; they were relentless in their will to destroy the enemy’s forces and, unlike their counterparts in the West, were willing to contend with an enormous amount of casualties. Dick’s analysis shows us how the Red Army, largely free of the political problems that constrained the Allies, was able to develop more radical operational ideas and implement them with a daring and ruthlessness impossible for the armies of democratic states.
From Defeat to Victory also offers a critical lesson in the enduring importance of finding, inculcating, and implementing operational and tactical doctrine that fits the conditions of contemporary war, as well as in the technology, politics, and psychology of the times.