This special issue comes in the usual soft cover and offers 100 pages. It is illustrated by more than 180 period pictures, 8 color profiles and a number of charts. The text is in French.
In the 6 chapters, the author explains how much the Wehrmacht was a politically-driven organization not that far from the Waffen-SS. This had direct effects not only on the commitment of war crimes but also on the conduct of the military operations.
Chapter 1 is a short introduction in which the author asks a number of questions. Often considered as a pure military organization, the Wehrmacht was not politically neutral? How much effects on the operations had the proximity between the generals and Hitler? How close were the Wehrmacht and the Waffen-SS at the end of the war? What could have been the Wehrmacht if war had continued? The author gives some answers in the following chapters.
Chapter 2, “From the Reichswehr to the Wehrmacht”, shows the way the Reichswehr was utilized by Hitler to access the power. Hitler knew the Reichswehr were the only force capable of standing across his way. So he accepted to concede to the demands of the “old” generals. He also used their sense of honour and their anger against the treaty of Versailles to get their support. Then he could start his military program.
Chapter 3, “Hitler and the Wehrmacht”, covers the relationship between Hitler and the higher command. Most of the generals are completely loyal to Hitler even after the first defeats on the eastern front. Moreover, the young generation of officers is overtly pro-regime and fully trusts the Führer. The author also shows how Hitler intervened in the conduct of the war by giving direct orders to the commanders in the field or deciding to develop any particular equipment.
Chapter 4, “Nazism and the Wehrmacht”, presents through many examples the close links between the officers and the Nazi party. The Luftwaffe was a politicized organization from its beginning; the Heer progressively came closer to the party with a large number of the commanding officers being members of it. In the field, this translated in the numerous war crimes in Poland and France as well as the Wehrmacht participation to the crime against humanity. If some acts of resistance to Hitler did occur, they must be credited to a minority of officers.
Chapter 5, “Specific aspects of the Wehrmacht in war time”, explains the lack of homogeneity of the Wehrmacht with a wide variety of types of units. Unlike the usual picture of a mechanized force, the Wehrmacht was not enough motorized. The higher command suffered from an incoherent distribution of responsibilities between the OKH and the OKW. The last main feature was the crisis in the number of troops due to the heavy losses which led the Wehrmacht to use more and more foreign contingents. In turn this led to a lack of cohesion of the German forces.
Chapter 6, “On the verge of a revolution?”, shows the increasing weight of the Waffen-SS at the expense of the Wehrmacht. After the 20 July attempt, the high ranking officers of the Wehrmacht are aware they “must” prove their loyalty to their Führer who mistrusts them. From then on, he more and more relied on the Waffen-SS. Had the war continued, the Wehrmacht could possibly have turned as a branch of the Waffen-SS.
This special issue clearly explains that the Wehrmacht was a politicized organization, like its enemy the Red Army, but in a different way. But after WWII and with the Cold War starting, this was not the message that the Bundeswehr and the western powers needed to deliver for the sake of their cohesion against the Warsaw Pact.
Highs: A interesting point of view based on thorough research works and numerous testimony.Lows: None that I can see.Verdict: This issue is really worth its price and offers a different view from the usual one about the non politcized Wehrmacht.
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About Olivier Carneau (bison126) FROM: AUBE, FRANCE
I have been in the hobby for years and I'm still learning.
As a modeler, I only build 1/35 modern military vehicles, mainly armored ones.
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