Hitler's Panzers: The Lightning Attacks That Revolutionized Warfare
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A fascinating account of Nazi Germany's armored forces by the author of Patton and Rommel.
Determined to secure a quick, decisive victory on the World War II battlefields, Adolf Hitler adopted an attack plan that combined tools with technique- the formidable Panzer divisions. Self-contained armored units able to operate independently, the Panzers became the German army's fighting core as well as its moral focus, establishing an entirely new military doctrine.
In Hitler's Panzers, renowned World War II scholar Dennis Showalter presents a comprehensive and unbiased study of Nazi Germany's armored forces. By delving deeply into a detailed history of the theory, strategy, myths, and realities of Germany's technologically innovative approach to warfare, Showalter provides a look at the military lessons of the past, and a speculation on how the Panzer ethos may be implemented in the future of international conflict.
Michael Wittmann’s single-panzer destruction of two dozen armored vehicles in 15 minutes at Villers-Bocage has earned him his own website, the designation “badass of the week” on another, and a commemorative T-shirt available through the Internet. Less well known but no less worthy of recognition is the ramming of a King Tiger by Lieutenant John Gorman’s Sherman. Though Gorman belonged to the Irish Guards, his action reflected less Emerald Isle panache than desperation caused by a jammed gun.
dug-in antitank guns as well. Responsibility for creating the conditions for armor to operate belonged to the infantry divisions. They were not expected to operate alone. American know-how and productive capacity would deliver any number of armored fighting vehicles a fully mobilized army might require. Mobilization plans provided for independent tank battalions to support and cooperate with them on a more or less one-to-one basis, similar to the original German concept of the assault gun. The
Balck, an operational optimist, had been too engaged by Spring Awakening’s chimerical prospects to retain deployable German armored reserves. By the time he, Dietrich, and Hitler could agree on the timing and direction of a counterattack, its prospects were long gone and the situation had deteriorated to sauve qui peut. Viking was almost surrounded. Its CO pulled back in defiance of Hitler’s order to stand fast, but it was Hohenstaufen’s intervention that enabled Viking’s remnants to withdraw.
Panzer Army managed at the last minute to surrender to the Americans. A regiment of Das Reich brought a thousand-vehicle convoy of German wounded and civilians out of Prague and into the US 3rd Army’s lines. Hitler Jugend, defiant to the last, refused to display white flags on their vehicles as ordered when they stampeded past a Russian tank column. Hohenstaufen surrendered en bloc. Frundsberg and Viking broke up and scattered. Totenkopf ’s CO negotiated with the Americans: surrender in return
drive to the Volga River began. The panzer and motorized divisions were in the first assault wave, taking increasing levels of responsibility as infantry divisions, already weakened, shrank even further. The nature of the fighting has been described too often to require summarizing here. Also familiar is Hitler’s order on October 6 that made Stalingrad’s complete occupation the primary mission of Army Group A. That meant using the panzers to destruction. Fourteenth Panzer Division had five tanks