Germany and the Axis Powers
From Coalition to Collapse
Richard L. DiNardo
It seemed that whenever Mussolini acted on his own, it was bad news for Hitler. Indeed, the Fuhrer's relations with his Axis partners were fraught with an almost total lack of coordination. Compared to the Allies, the coalition was hardly an alliance at all. Focusing on Germany's military relations with Italy, Romania, Hungary, and Finland, Richard DiNardo unearths a wealth of information that reveals how the Axis coalition largely undermined Hitler's objectives from the Eastern Front to the Balkans, Mediterranean, and North Africa.
DiNardo argues that the Axis military alliance was doomed from the beginning by a lack of common war aims, the absence of a unified command structure, and each nation's fundamental mistrust of the others. Germany was disinclined to make the kinds of compromises that successful wartime partnerships demanded and, because Hitler insisted on separate pacts with each nation, Italy and Finland often found themselves conducting counterproductive parallel wars on their own.
“What DiNardo demonstrates is the importance of taking seriously the notion of the Axis as a military coalition, albeit a dysfunctional one. By examining not only the traditional area of strategic and battlefield dispensations but also some aspects of the educative and administrative culture of the military, DiNardo engagingly illuminates an often overlooked element in the military history of World War II. In the process, he offers an opportunity to contemplate the timeless problem of how to assess the factors that influence a great power's effectiveness when it conducts coalitional warfare.”
—Central European History
“DiNardo has written a tightly organized and insightful account of the Axis coalition that is essential for the general reader as well as the specialist.”
—The HistorianSee all reviews...
“Of great interest to military and other historians, as well as the general public. . . . A detailed analysis of Germany’s flawed relationship with its European military allies.”
“An exceptionally informative and valuable exploration of one of the major reasons for German defeat—and one of the most striking contrasts between the Allied and Axis war efforts.”
—World War II
“A wholly new contribution to the literature on Germany’s military can be found in [this book]. With this book, DiNardo provides a solid addition to the literature of the period. He gives readers a scholarly and insightful look at Germany’s abilities to work with its allies. . . . Within this study there are some extremely interesting findings.”
“As DiNardo effectively demonstrates, the Axis bore little relationship to the ‘Grand Alliance’ that existed among the USSR, Britain, and the US. . . . Well written, clear, and comprehensive, with the occasional subtle joke that seems to help carry the tale forward. Worth reading for anyone interested in World War II or coalition warfare.”
“Too much of the literature on the Second World War has treated Germany’s allies the way the Germans themselves often treated them: as an afterthought. DiNardo provides an insightful, nuanced, and thorough alternative. . . . Essential for anyone who wants to understand the Axis coalition.”
—Geoffrey P. Megargee, author of Inside Hitler’s High Command
“Clearly, any coalition headed by Hitler was bound to be dysfunctional. Why this was the case and how it affected the Nazi war effort on the operational level is the subject of DiNardo’s important and extremely well-documented study.”
—Alexander De Grand, author of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany
“A timely look at the way allied armies cooperate—or fail to.”
—Robert Citino, author of The German Way of WarSee fewer reviews...
DiNardo's detailed assessments of ground, naval, and air operations reveal precisely why the Axis allies were so dysfunctional as a collective force, sometimes for seemingly mundane but vital reasons-a shortage of interpreters, for example. His analysis covers coalition warfare at every level, demonstrating that some military services were better at working with their allies than others, while also pointing to rare successes, such as Rommel's effective coordination with Italian forces in North Africa. In the end, while some individual Axis units fought with distinction—if not on a par with the vaunted Wehrmacht—and helped Germany achieve some of its military aims, the coalition's overall military performance was riddled with disappointments.
Breaking new ground, DiNardo's work enlarges our understanding of Germany's defeat while at the same time offering a timely reminder of the challenges presented by coalition warfare.