The Wehrmacht Retreats
Fighting a Lost War, 1943
Robert M. Citino
Arthur Goodzeit Award
Throughout 1943, the German army, heirs to a military tradition that demanded and perfected relentless offensive operations, succumbed to the realities of its own overreach and the demands of twentieth-century industrialized warfare. In his new study, prizewinning author Robert Citino chronicles this weakening Wehrmacht, now fighting desperately on the defensive but still remarkably dangerous and lethal.
“Like all of Citino’s work, this book brims with perceptive insights and clever observations.”
—German Studies Review
“A fine book, well written and relevant to professional military officers and academics alike. Furthermore, it is good history. Citino demonstrates the power of objective analysis to illuminate present challenges through a rigorous study of the past. . . . Even those who consider themselves well read on the topic will find new and interesting nuggets and will have their preconceived notions challenged. Perhaps the greatest merit of this book is the idea that ‘ways of war’ have a shelf-life.”
—Army HistorySee all reviews...
“Skilfully performs the dual act of combining impeccable research with a cracking good read. Indeed far from the Wehrmacht’s lost war being the harbinger of a dry history, Citino’s study brings out the great importance of this period by highlighting the drama within the German command as well as the grueling events at the front. . . . In all aspects of his discussion of 1943 Citino’s trademark mastery of the vast literature is evident. . . . Like his many past works, The Wehrmacht Retreats deserves to be widely read.”
—War in History
“Essential reading for anyone interested in the military campaigns of the war. . . . Whether the reader is a serious military historian, a serving soldier, or the casual military history buff, the prose is perfect. Added benefits are excellent photos and maps. . . . Citino’s contribution stands as the definitive operational analysis of the Wehrmacht in 1943.”
“Like all of Citino’s work, this book is fairly brimming with perceptive insights and shrewd observations. . . . The writing is always lively and a good read. The Wehrmacht Retreats is a must for both the serious scholar to even the most casual student of World War II.”
—New York Military Affairs Symposium
“This splendidly detailed operational history recasts 1943 as a year of stalemates, and examines how the Wehrmacht managed savage defensive moves despite hemorrhaging in an unwinnable two-front war.”
—World War II Magazine
“An expert on the ‘German way of war,’ Citino cites the German military tradition of emphasizing the offensive over defense as being a prime reason for the sapping of the Wehrmacht’s power in the pivotal year 1943. This is a well-written and very readable work that will interest those looking for more depth in their understanding of the military history of World War II. Recommended for readers with knowledge of World War II or an interest in military history.”
“An outstanding book. Citino’s impeccably researched and superbly written study challenges standard notions and forces readers to think and reflect.”
—Stephen G. Fritz, author of Frontsoldaten: The German Soldier in World War II
“Citino has something interesting and original to say about every campaign. . . . A major contribution of great value for specialists but also highly attractive to the general reader.”
—Evan Mawdsley, author of World War II: A New History and Thunder in the East: The Nazi-Soviet War, 1941–1945
“An excellent sequel to Citino’s Death of the Wehrmacht. Together, they provide an essential and compelling reassessment of Hitler’s fighting machine in World War II.”
—David M. Glantz, author of The Stalingrad TrilogySee fewer reviews...
Drawing on his impeccable command of German-language sources, Citino offers fresh, vivid, and detailed treatments of key campaigns during this fateful year: the Allied landings in North Africa, General von Manstein's great counterstroke in front of Kharkov, the German attack at Kasserine Pass, the titanic engagement of tanks and men at Kursk, the Soviet counteroffensives at Orel and Belgorod, and the Allied landings in Sicily and Italy. Through these events, he reveals how a military establishment historically configured for violent aggression reacted when the tables were turned; how German commanders viewed their newest enemy, the U.S. Army, after brutal fighting against the British and Soviets; and why, despite their superiority in materiel and manpower, the Allies were unable to turn 1943 into a much more decisive year.
Applying the keen operational analysis for which he is so highly regarded, Citino contends that virtually every flawed German decision—to defend Tunis, to attack at Kursk and then call off the offensive, to abandon Sicily, to defend Italy high up the boot and then down much closer to the toe—had strong supporters among the army's officer corps. He looks at all of these engagements from the perspective of each combatant nation and also establishes beyond a shadow of a doubt the synergistic interplay between the fronts.
Ultimately, Citino produces a grim portrait of the German officer corps, dispelling the longstanding tendency to blame every bad decision on Hitler. Filled with telling vignettes and sharp portraits and copiously documented, The Wehrmacht Retreats is a dramatic and fast-paced narrative that will engage military historians and general readers alike.