The Roots of Blitzkrieg
Hans von Seeckt and German Military Reform
James S. Corum
Following Germany's defeat in World War I, the Germans signed the Versailles Treaty, superficially agreeing to limit their war powers. The Allies envisioned the future German army as a lightly armed border guard and international security force. The Germans had other plans.
As early as 1919, James Corum contends, the tactical foundations were being laid for the Nazi Blitzkrieg. Between 1919 and 1933, German military leaders created and nurtured the Reichswehr, a new military organization built on the wreckage of the old Imperial Army. It was not being groomed for policing purposes.
“Even students well-read on the German Army of the interwar era can still gain new insights into von Seeckt and the germinating Reichswehr. Corum’s exhaustive research in German source materials brings into question many of the assumptions earlier works dealing with this period have evidenced.”
—Marine Crops Gazette
“This is an important book which illuminated the hard, cold world of military power that diplomatic historians all too often ignore. This is a book that reveals important issues about the coin of diplomatic exchange: military power.”
—International History ReviewSee all reviews...
“Exploiting archival sources, Corum has written a well-researched book on the German Army during the era of General Hans von Seeckt’s leadership.”
“A welcome addition to the literature on the interwar German Army. This is a superb book, both scholarly and highly interesting, and a major contribution to the field.”
—American Historical Review
“A thought-provoking analysis of the successful struggles of a between-the-wars army trying to attain and retain a vision for future victory.”
“A well researched and interesting study. A publication which ought to be of interest to both the specialist and the Second World War enthusiast.”
—Canadian Military History
“This well-written, well-organized, and comprehensively researched work fills a significant gap in the literature on Germany’s way of war in the 20th century. Corum integrates principles and hardware in a way inspiring emulation.”
—Dennis E. Showalter, author of Tannenberg: Clash of Empires and Railroads and Rifles: Soldiers, Technology and the Unification of Germany
“A splendid work. Corum moves away from the conventional political concentration on military-state relations. He looks below the level of the high command to discuss the intellectual and technical debates by the largely unknown colonels, majors, and even captains. This well-written and exhaustively documented work not only provides a clearer understanding of military thinking, reform, and reorganization in post–World War I Germany but raises valuable questions regarding fundamental processes in the study and development of military doctrine, issues that remain pertinent.”
—Gunther E. Rothenberg, author of The Art of Warfare in the Age of Napoleon
“Corum’s extremely thorough labor in the German sources of the period gives English-speaking readers their first look at the internal studies and analyses that emerged from the Reichswehr’s systematic examination of that experience. This very important work provides an interesting case study for comparative historical analysis of the way various national armies attempted to assess their World War I experiences.”
—Harold R. Winton, author of To Change an Army: General John Burnett Stuart and British Armored Doctrine, 1927–1938See fewer reviews...
Focusing on Hans von Seeckt, General Staff Chief and Army Commander, Corum traces the crucial transformations in German military tactical doctrine, organization, and training that laid the foundations for fighting Germany's future wars. In doing so, he restores balance to prior assessment of von Seeckt's influence and demonstrates how the general, along with a few other "visionary" officers—including armor tactician Ernst Volckheim and air tactician Helmut Wilberg—collaborated to develop the core doctrine for what became the Blitzkrieg.
The concepts of mobile war so essential to Germany's strength in World War II, Corum shows, were in place well before the tools became available. As an unforeseen consequence of the Versailles Treaty, the Germans were not saddled with a stockpile of outdated equipment as the Allies were. This, ironically, resulted in an advantage for the Germans, who were able to create doctrine first and design equipment to match it.