After being wrong twice, Brauchitsch decided to keep quiet in future. In the build up to the attack on Russia, Brauchitsch loyally drew up the details needed by Hitler's general strategy. In the height of summer , when the panzers were being repaired, he urged Hitler to launch a single drive on Moscow to end the war quickly.
Hitler ignored him and thereafter treated his advice with some contempt. In December , Brauchitsch took advantage of heart trouble to resign.
With Brauchitsch gone as head of OKH, Hitler decided to take the position himself rather than entrust it to anyone else. Given his responsibilities elsewhere, Hitler was not on hand full time to act as head of OKH, so much responsibility fell to his deputy, Franz Halder. Unlike the others, however, Halder was not handpicked by Hitler. Indeed, Hitler had been dubious about making Halder Brauchitsch's deputy in due to Halder's strict Catholicism and support for the old German royal family. Hitler would certainly not have appointed Halder had he known the general routinely referred to him in the mids as "the Austrian lunatic.
This did not stop him from voicing his disquiet to Hitler at private meetings about the attack on Russia. In September Halder and Hitler disagreed openly about the strategy to be employed at Stalingrad, and Halder resigned. Hitler never really forgave him for being right on this occasion. Zeitzler came from the section in OKH which dealt with logistical planning and supply lines. His skills were great, but were largely limited to calculating the payloads of truck convoys or rail networks. He was a straightforward, efficient staff officer who, in the opinion of his contemporaries, lacked any gifts at handling armies or at planning campaigns.
There can be little doubt that this was one of the main reasons Hitler chose him. Wisely he managed to be conveniently ill during most of the crisis meetings of early , staying in his quarters to recover rather than attending.
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It was through these senior men in the high command of the armed forces that Hitler sought to control the Wehrmacht. After the resignation of Brauchitsch it was only Hitler, Keitel and, to an extent, Jodl, who had access to reports and analysis from every front. Only they knew what was really going on.
Even the most senior of Field Marshals knew only what was happening in the area where they were operating, and were kept totally in the dark about what was happening elsewhere. Hitler hoped that he would therefore be in a position to control absolutely the Wehrmacht and its commanders. Despite this degree of control, Hitler still had to deal with the various Field Marshals and Generals who held operational control on the ground.
At the outbreak of the war the two most senior army commanders were Gerd von Rundstedt and Fedor von Bock. Both men were superbly trained Prussian officers of the old school who had served with distinction in the Great War. Between them, these two men commanded the main attacking forces which crushed Poland in and France in In the same two men, now promoted to be Field Marshals, led the central and southern army groups in Operation Barbarossa. See All Customer Reviews.
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Hitler takes command of the German army - HISTORY
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Hitler Takes Command!
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Hitler: Military Commander rupert-matthews. Yet these men had very limited experience of military operations above the company level, let alone the realm of grand strategy and operations of massive armies controlled by the General Staff. Yet neither Ludendorff nor Hindenburg was by that time actively involved in the German army, which until had little interest in Hitler and his Nazis.
The Nazis were outsiders when it came to their dealings with the army and the General Staff; each side viewed the other with suspicion and caution. As a result, he managed to extract from the army a loyalty oath sworn to him by all military personnel. This was a hugely significant step forward in his gradual domination of the General Staff. Yet a later coup in was perhaps even more significant. Hitler began planning for his new European war in earnest in But within months all three men would be purged.
In early , what became known as the Blomberg-Fritsch Affair erupted.
Hitler cynically used the Blomberg-Fritsch scandals to manipulate the resignations of both officers. In effect, Hitler accomplished a coup that removed from the military the two most prominent stumbling blocks to his aggressive plans. Battlefield initiative, within the parameters of overall objectives, had been the key to German successes since Here was an example of the military thinking in which Hitler had a real interest: bold tactical maneuvers that were a far cry from the static trench warfare he had endured in World War I.
He approved the fateful halt order on May When Hitler returned to Berlin following the defeat of France, the ecstatic response from the German people and his near universal popularity was a clear signal to his generals that his position was unassailable. With Hitler already supremely assured of his own military vision, his risk-taking command style took its most decisive leap forward after the fall of France.