Skip to comments.US Mag Prints List of 'top 10 German Generals'
Posted on 11/21/2012 3:39:46 PM PST by nickcarraway
A US military history magazine has published a controversial list of the "top ten German generals," including three who fought under Adolf Hitler, causing some consternation in Germany.)
"Only an American could ask a question like this," German newspaper Die Welt wrote on Tuesday, in response to a list published in US magazine The Quarterly Journal of Military History. The list was sparked by a reader's question about the greatest German military minds.
It was answered by historian Robert M. Citino, professor for European history at the University of North Texas, and author of the book The German Way of War. Though the list leaves out major Nazi military figures like Erwin Rommel, it does include Heinz Guderian, who is said to have developed modern German tank strategies during World War II, as well as two other Nazi generals.
Such lists are considered highly suspect in Germany. "The actions of a general in the German-Soviet war is today exclusively judged on how many civilians and prisoners of war were killed or starved to death within his remit," military historian Johannes Hürter said in Die Welt. "Against that, hardly anyone asks about their military performance."
Two of Hitler's generals who made it onto Citino's list - Erich von Lewinski, known as Manstein, and Eberhard von Mackensen - were later convicted of war crimes. Manstein was sentenced to 18 years in prison and Mackensen was sentenced to death, though both were eventually pardoned.
The list largely concentrates on Prussian-German military history, and includes two actual Prussian rulers - Frederick the Great himself and Frederick William I, King of Prussia from 1713 to his death in 1740.
The pre-Nazi-era generals on the list include Count Hellmuth von Moltke, Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher, Prinz Friedrich Karl of Prussia, Friedrich Wilhelm von Seydlitz, and Georg Freiherr von Derfflinger. Except for Guderian, the entire list is made up of members of aristocratic Prussian families.
But the newspaper could not resist a swipe at the academic value of such exercises. "Such debates are limited to hobby historians in Germany," Die Welt wrote. "If you want to reduce war history to lists, you have to go to America."
Only after the war began going badly for Germany. .
Rommel was basically a corps commander.
I didn’t see v. Nitwitz or v. Efwitz on the list either.
Rommel was a Nazi...? That is COMPLETELY ridiculous.
He was profoundly apolitical and showed great respect to POW’s, etc.
In fact you can argue that he was executed BECAUSE he was not a Nazi.
“The Eastern Front Generals did most of the Reich’s heavy lifting”
While true, it doesn’t speak against Rommel. He couldn’t give the British and Americans more weapons and bodies or make Africa more strategically important by his generalship.
“despite Hitler’s interference”
Das Fuhrer’s incompetence has been exaggerated, partly by the old favorite ploy of generals blaming civilian leadership. But where Hitler made hus biggest mistakes, Stalingrad for instance, Rommel was affected too. You don’t think men and supplies got to Africa by magic. Hitler rightly prioritized the east over Africa, but bungling the east left Afrikacorp high and dry.
Yeah, but he did lose his life for it. I’d hate to trivialize treason because it “only” was done to save your country from ruin, instead of being against tyranny from the beginning and getting chucked in a camp before all but uniquely prescient people knew the stakes. Von Stauffenberg “only” joined after seeing the horrors of the Eastern Front, by the way, which wasn’t Rommel’s post.
Napoleon III and Marshall Bazaine sure thought so.
Napoleon III and Marshall Bazaine sure thought so. Add Franz Joseph and General Benedek to that list, they found out four years earlier.
Gamal Abdul Nasser found out the hard way about the objective analysis of military history. Not once, but twice the principles of Heinz Guderian was unleashed on him to destroy his army. The opponent who studied the armoured blitzkrieg, the IDF.
A couple years from now, the German magazine will probably publish a list of “Top 10 Gay-American Generals” and be proud of their article.
There is probably not much new in military strategy.
I always felt that Patton learned much from Confederate Guerrilla leader John Mosby who was often a house guest of the Pattons. Patton would ride with Mosby around their ranch and learn lessons of war. George JR. was only a boy at the time but already determined to be a general.
One of Patton’s Grandfathers was a Confederate General and the other a Confederate Colonel.
I agree that the High Command liked to blame stuff on Hitler to cover their own mistakes (after all everybody hated him AND he was conveniently dead), but there was still a awful lot of legitimate blame for him.
Hitler might have won in the East if threw the Italians in Greece and Balkans to the wolves and went straight in; he might have STILL pulled it out if he had condemned the attack by the Japanese upon the American Fleet in Pearl Harbor instead of declaring war in support of the Japs.
And there is no telling how much damage Hitler did mucking around in war production (imagine the Germans fielding a T-34 clone instead of the overly-complicated Panther or ME-262s fighters deployed in 1943...). His like of giant weapons wasted a lot of material.
There were better Field Marshals, Manstein comes to mind, on the Eastern Front. Rommel just got good press in the West because we were fighting him!
Listing of military generals should be solely based on their abilities as force multipliers, not whether they fought on good or evil. Every General fights to further his Nations cause. Who was that German who led the Romans into an ambush that wiped out an entire legion?
Soon the only commanders Germans can praise will be the likes of Mohammed, Suleman, Mehmet, etc.
The Germans used to be so army-centric that they named all their naval battlecruisers after Prussian generals, many on this list.
Seems that PC has killed that strain in the current Germany. Good thing we aren’t staring at a horde across the Fulda Gap anymore.
Well, the issue of oil dwarfs all else. Without that, the best generals in the world didn’t have a chance.
War crimes trials are mostly political rather than just.
I remember that Japanese General Tomoyuki Yamashita was ordered executed despite the fact that he had ordered his troops to not commit the acts of brutality which they did.
I think McArthur said his crime was not keeping control of his men. The odd thing about Japanese soldiers and officers is they often disobeyed their commanders orders, doing things which would never have been allowed in American or German armies.
I have read that they would often choose to commit suicide rather than retreat when ordered to do so.
Rommel commanded Hitler's military bodyguard during the occupations of Austria, the Sudetenland and the balance of Czechoslovakia, and during the Polish Campaign, as well as serving as the Army liaison officer with the Hitler Youth. You didn't get put in charge of keeping Shicklegruber alive if they had any doubt about you loyalty to National Socialism. That was one reason Rommel joining the conspiracy was such a shock -- he had been the guy in charge Hitler's Army Bodyguard. It is also probably a big reason he was allowed to commit suicide. Goebbels had built him up as a National Socialist General, and Rommel turning on Hitler could not be dismissed as the action of some reactionary monarchist, as Goebbels tried to do with the guys with "von" in front of their names.