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Historical research on the German army of the interwar period has concentrated on the development of the so-called 'Blitzkrieg'. However, Matthias Strohn shows that for most of the time the German army, restricted by the terms of the Versailles Treaty, was too weak to launch an offensive war or even effectively repel an invader. Accordingly, the army focused instead primarily on planning a defensive war against superior enemies, especially France and Poland. Making extensive use of German archival sources, Strohn explores the development of military thought and doctrine for the defence of Germany and shows how these ideas were tested in war games and staff rides. His findings comprehensively revise our understanding of the German army in this period, shedding new light on the ideas of leading figures in the German military and how events, such as the occupation of the Ruhr in 1923, influenced military planning.Read more
- Extensive use of German sources opens up areas of German war planning previously inaccessible to English-speaking readership
- Takes a chronological approach to the study of the period showing how German defence theories developed over time
- Most studies of the subject examine the development of German defence theory through the lens of the concept of 'blitzkreig', but this book challenges such a narrow view of the period
Reviews & endorsements
"... a serious attempt at understanding German interwar military thought."
MacGregor Knox, The Journal of Modern HistorySee more reviews
"Strohn’s book, based on extensive archival research and the effective use of professional military journals, adds a new twist to the debate about German military doctrine during the interwar period."
William Mulligan, European History Quarterly
"... will appeal not only to military historians interested in the nuts and bolts of the tactical defensive but also to scholars more generally interested in military decision making and diplomacy during the interwar period."
Jeff Rutherford, Journal of Contemporary History
"Matthias Strohn's work is complex, detailed, and well situated. Moreover, the author deserves a great deal of credit for managing a huge cast of officers and politicians."
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- Date Published: December 2010
- format: Hardback
- isbn: 9780521191999
- length: 292 pages
- dimensions: 235 x 161 x 17 mm
- weight: 0.61kg
- contains: 13 b/w illus. 3 maps
- availability: In stock
Table of Contents
Introduction and definitions
Part I. The Foundations of Defensive Warfare in the Inter-War Period:
1. Defence doctrine before the First World War
2. The lessons of the First World War
3. Military planning in the aftermath of the First World War
Part II. The Seeckt Era: Years of Ignorance:
4. Hans von Seeckt and the rebirth of the offensive
5. The manual Führung und Gefecht der verbundenen Waffen and the conduct of the defensive battle
Part III. Adapting to Reality 1923–1933:
6. Military thought after the occupation of the Ruhr
7. Civil-military co-operation
8. The manual Truppenführung and the increased importance of defence
Part IV. Defensive Warfare in the Third Reich 1933–1939:
9. Political ideology versus military reality: defensive warfare 1933–1936
10. The rebirth of offensive warfare 1936–1939
Conclusion: the defensive battle in the Second World War and beyond.
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