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Hitler's Fatal Miscalculation
Why Germany Declared War on the United States


Part of Cambridge Military Histories

  • Date Published: January 2021
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108834919

£ 31.99

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About the Authors
  • Hitler's decision to declare war on the United States has baffled generations of historians. In this revisionist new history of those fateful months, Klaus H. Schmider seeks to uncover the chain of events which would incite the German leader to declare war on the United States in December 1941. He provides new insights not just on the problems afflicting German strategy, foreign policy and war production but, crucially, how they were perceived at the time at the top levels of the Third Reich. Schmider sees the declaration of war on the United States not as an admission of defeat or a gesture of solidarity with Japan, but as an opportunistic gamble by the German leader. This move may have appeared an excellent bet at the time, but would ultimately doom the Third Reich.

    • Provides the first in-depth study of the German-American road to war in 1941
    • Uncovers the frames of reference Hitler would have been working with in the months before the declaration of war on the US
    • Based on in-depth archival research, including a wide-range of German and Japanese primary sources
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Historians have argued for decades over the question of why Hitler chose to declare war on the United States. Klaus Schmider has now written the first full authoritative history of the decision, setting it firmly in the context of German domestic and military policy. This will become the definitive account.' Richard Overy, author of The Bombing War: Europe 1939-1945

    'Hitler's suicidal declaration of war on the United States in December 1941 has long seemed a quixotic even nihilistic move. In his brilliant new book, which is based on a broad range of records, Klaus Schmider restores a sense of strategy and rationality to the 'Fuehrer's' decision.' Brendan Simms, author of Hitler: Only the World Was Enough

    'In a must-read, ground-breaking book, Schmider analyzes the factors that influenced a shift in Hitler's policy from one of restraint to a declaration of war on the United States. Woven into this complicated narrative are Germany's uncertain relationship with Japan, the war with the Soviet Union, synthetic rubber, and the impact of Lend-Lease and the United States' modification of its neutrality on Hitler's decision.' Mary Kathryn Barbier, author of Spies, Lies, and Citizenship: The Hunt for Nazi Criminals

    'A masterly reassessment that harnesses the latest scholarship to situate Hitler's fateful choice in a complex of ideological obsessions, economics, strategic ambition, flawed technology and operational overstretch, challenging long-held assumptions of nihilistic or deranged decision-making at the heart of the Third Reich.' Andrew Lambert, author of Seapower States: Maritime Culture, Continental Empires, and the Conflict That Made the Modern World

    'Schmider's Hitler's Fatal Miscalculation is … groundbreaking, and a must read for anyone interested in the Second World War, Nazi Germany, strategic decision-making, and the ideology and strategic thinking of the 'Mad Corporal' Adolf Hitler.' Russell A. Hart, Journal of Military History

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    Product details

    • Date Published: January 2021
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108834919
    • length: 610 pages
    • dimensions: 236 x 158 x 32 mm
    • weight: 1.1kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    List of Figures
    List of Maps
    List of Abbreviations and German Terms
    1. Hitler's Pre-war Assessment of the United States and Japan
    2. Hitler's Physical Health in Autumn 1941
    3. 'All measures short of war': the German Assessment of American Strategy, 1940/41
    4. Forging an Unlikely Alliance: Germany and Japan, 1933–1941
    5. Facing the Same Dilemma: The US and German Quest for Rubber
    6. The Crisis of the German War Economy, 1940/41
    7. The End of Blitzkrieg? Barbarossa and the Impact of Lend-Lease
    8. The Battle of the Atlantic
    9. The Luftwaffe on the Eve of Global War
    10. The Holocaust

  • Author

    Klaus H. Schmider, Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst
    Klaus H. Schmider has been with the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst since May 1999. He is the co-author of Volume 8 of the official German history of World War II, Das Deutsche Reich und der Zweite Weltkrieg (2007).

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