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Let's Blame Guderian

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Walter posted this on the WOT forum:

 

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It occurred to me that a very probable origin for these ideas is Guderian's autobiography, Erinnerungen eines Soldaten, or Panzer Leader in the 1952 English-language edition.
 
Guderian mentions the failure to cut off the British at Dunkirk in some detail.  According to him, the order to stop came from up high; he was all for going in guns blazing.  He also mentions several generals, himself included, being shocked and concerned when Hitler initially unveiled plans to invade the USSR.  Finally, he criticizes the decision to turn south instead of attacking Moscow in no uncertain terms and characterizes it as, in the end, a capricious whim the Fuhrer seized upon.
 
I know that there has been a fair amount of critical scholarship looking into just how honest Guderian's description of his own conduct was.  Alas, I am not well versed in it.  What did strike me though, was the early date of publication of Guderian's memoirs in English.  I suspect that they were very influential in shaping Allied ideas about World War Two.  Possibly, in some cases, more influential than Allied sources.
 
Take the supposed failure to encircle the evacuating British forces at Dunkirk.  Given the information available to him at the time of his recollections, an attack might have seemed like a good idea.  There are substantial reasons for thinking that an attack at the time would have been costly for the Germans, however.  But perhaps budding historians simply found Guderian's account of the event so compelling that they repeated it without consulting other sources?

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Counterpoint: Guderian was not particularly impressed with Rommel's ideas for the defense of the beaches against the Allied landings in France.

 

Actually, Guderian's autobiography is unintentionally hilarious at times:

 

 

Rommel's sad experiences in Africa had so convinced him of the overwhelming nature of Allied air supremacy that he believed there could be no question of ever moving large formations of troops again.  He did not even think that it would be possible to transfer panzer or panzergrenadier division by night.  His views on this subject had been further strengthened by his experiences in Italy in 1943.

 

So Rommel's plan to fight the Allies on the beaches was conceived because he didn't think that a mobile reserve could survive Allied fighter-bombers!

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Take the supposed failure to encircle the evacuating British forces at Dunkirk.  Given the information available to him at the time of his recollections, an attack might have seemed like a good idea.  There are substantial reasons for thinking that an attack at the time would have been costly for the Germans, however.  But perhaps budding historians simply found Guderian's account of the event so compelling that they repeated it without consulting other sources?

 

 

I wouldn't be surprised. However, if you ask me the mistake that lost Germany the war, one of the last things I would think of is not pushing the mobile reserves needed to finish France and form the training cadre for the forces to invade Russia into a plurality of the BEF's heavy support including AA and AT guns across marshy terrain.

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