The Wehrmacht's Last Stand

The German Campaigns of 1944-1945

Robert M. Citino

By 1943, the war was lost, and most German officers knew it. Three quarters of a century later, the question persists: What kept the German army going in an increasingly hopeless situation? Where some historians have found explanations in the power of Hitler or the role of ideology, Robert M. Citino, the world’s leading scholar on the subject, posits a more straightforward solution: Bewegungskrieg, the way of war cultivated by the Germans over the course of history. In this gripping account of German military campaigns during the final phase of World War II, Citino charts the inevitable path by which Bewegungskrieg, or a “war of movement,” inexorably led to Nazi Germany’s defeat.

The Wehrmacht’s Last Stand analyzes the German Totenritt, or “death ride,” from January 1944—with simultaneous Allied offensives at Anzio and Ukraine—until May 1945, the collapse of the Wehrmacht in the field, and the Soviet storming of Berlin. In clear and compelling prose, and bringing extensive reading of the German-language literature to bear, Citino focuses on the German view of these campaigns. Often very different from the Allied perspective, this approach allows for a more nuanced and far-reaching understanding of the last battles of the Wehrmacht than any now available. With Citino’s previous volumes, Death of the Wehrmacht and The Wehrmacht Retreats, The Wehrmacht’s Last Stand completes a uniquely comprehensive picture of the German army’s strategy, operations, and performance against the Allies in World War II.

“An account and analysis of German military operations in the last year of World War II that is sure to enlighten anyone who wants some insight into the way that war ended and how the German military tried to cope with a multi-front conflict. Balanced and thoughtful reviews of plans and events on both sides of the fronts, careful utilization of an enormous literature, and shrewd judgments characterize a book that will receive and merit attention for many years.”

—Gerhard L. Weinberg, author of A World at Arms: A Global History of World War II

“Written with his customary verve and lively prose, Citino also displays his typically penetrating insight, formidable research, and depth of knowledge in describing German operations in the often overlooked last year and a half of the war. He shows a keen understanding of the German dilemma, a propensity for sharp observations, and, as always, a knack for challenging conventional wisdom. This is a compelling and thought-provoking book brimming with insight that forces the reader to reflect on the personalities and operations—both a product of a distinctive military culture—that continued to fuel the Nazi war machine until the bitter end of this most destructive war. A worthy successor to his earlier works on the Wehrmacht.”

—Stephen G. Fritz, author of Ostkrieg: Hitlers War of Extermination in the East

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About the Author

Robert M. Citino is the Samuel Zemurray Stone Senior Historian at the National World War II Museum. His many books include the multi-award-winning The Wehrmacht Retreats: Fighting a Lost War, 1943; Death of the Wehrmacht: The German Campaigns of 1942; and The German Way of War: From the Thirty Years’ War to the Third Reich, all published by Kansas.

Additional Titles in the Modern War Studies Series