Portal:Military history of Germany

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Introduction

While German-speaking people have a long history, Germany as a nation state dates only from 1871. Earlier periods are subject to definition debates. The Franks, for instance, comprised a union of Germanic tribes; nevertheless, some descendants of the Franks later identified themselves as Dutch, Flemish, French and again others as Germans. The capital of the medieval ruler Charlemagne's empire, the city of Aachen, lies in present-day Germany, yet he was a Frank. Though France takes its name from the Franks, the Dutch and Flemish people are the only ones to speak a language that descends directly from Frankish (the language of the Franks). Hence nearly all continental Western European historians can claim Charlemagne's victories as their heritage. The Holy Roman Empire he founded c.  800 was largely - but far from entirely - German-speaking. The Kingdom of Prussia, which unified Germany in the 19th century, had significant territory in what is now Poland. In the early 19th century, the philosopher Schlegel referred to Germany as a Kulturnation - a nation of shared culture and political disunity, analogous to ancient Greece. Until the unification of 1871, Austria was considered a part of Germany - even though much of its empire never formed part of the Holy Roman Empire and was non-German in language and in ethnicity.

Selected article

Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-218-0504-36, Russland-Süd, Panzer III, Schützenpanzer, 23.Pz.Div..jpg

Blitzkrieg (German, "lightning war"About this soundlisten ) is a method of warfare whereby an attacking force spearheaded by a dense concentration of armoured and motorised or mechanised infantry formations with close air support, breaks through the opponent's line of defence by short, fast, powerful attacks and then dislocates the defenders, using speed and surprise to encircle them, assisted by Pervitin, a form of Amphetamine, given to drivers to keep them awake. Through the employment of combined arms in manoeuvre warfare, blitzkrieg attempts to unbalance the enemy by making it difficult for it to respond to the continuously changing front and defeating it in a decisive [Vernichtungsschlacht] error: {{lang}}: text has italic markup (help) ("battle of annihilation").

During the interwar period, aircraft and tank technologies matured and were combined with systematic application of the traditional German tactic of [Bewegungskrieg] error: {{lang}}: text has italic markup (help) ("maneuver warfare"), deep penetrations and the bypassing of enemy strong points to encircle and destroy enemy forces in a [Kesselschlacht] error: {{lang}}: text has italic markup (help) ("cauldron battle"). During the Invasion of Poland, Western journalists adopted the term blitzkrieg to describe this form of armoured warfare. The term had appeared in 1935, in a German military periodical [Deutsche Wehr] error: {{lang}}: text has italic markup (help) ("German Defense"), in connection to quick or lightning warfare. German manoeuvre operations were successful in the campaigns of 1939–1941 and by 1940 the term blitzkrieg was extensively used in Western media. Blitzkrieg operations capitalized on surprise penetrations (e.g., the penetration of the Ardennes forest region), general enemy unreadiness and their inability to match the pace of the German attack. During the Battle of France, the French made attempts to re-form defensive lines along rivers but were frustrated when German forces arrived first and pressed on.

(Read more...)

Selected biography

Manstein in 1938

Erich von Manstein (24 November 1887 – 9 June 1973) was a German commander of the Wehrmacht, Nazi Germany's armed forces during the Second World War. He attained the rank of field marshal.

Born into an aristocratic Prussian family, Manstein joined the army at a young age and served in the First World War (1914–18). He rose to the rank of captain by the end of the war and was active in the inter-war period. In September 1939, during the invasion of Poland at the beginning of the Second World War, he was serving as Chief of Staff to Gerd von Rundstedt's Army Group South. Adolf Hitler chose Manstein's strategy for the invasion of France of May 1940, a plan later refined by Franz Halder and other members of the OKH, the Sichelschnitt ("sickle cut"). Attaining the rank of general at the end of the campaign, he was a senior commander in the invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941. He led the Axis forces in the Siege of Sevastopol (1941–1942) and the Battle of the Kerch Peninsula, and was promoted to field marshal on 1 July 1942, after which he participated in the Siege of Leningrad.

Germany's fortunes in the war had taken an unfavourable turn in December 1941, and in the following year during the catastrophic Battle of Stalingrad, Manstein commanded a failed relief effort, Operation Winter Storm, in December. Later known as the "backhand blow", Manstein's counteroffensive in the Third Battle of Kharkov (February–March 1943) resulted in the defeat of the overstretched Soviet offensive. He was one of the primary commanders at the Battle of Kursk (July–August 1943). Following Germany's defeat in the Battle of the Dnieper, he was dismissal in March 1944. Following the end of the war, he was interned by the British.

Manstein gave testimony at the main Nuremberg trials of the "major war criminals" in August 1946, and prepared a memorandum that, along with his later memoirs, helped cultivate the myth of the clean Wehrmacht—the myth that the German armed forces were not culpable for the atrocities of the Holocaust. In 1949, he was tried for war crimes and was convicted on nine of seventeen counts, including the maltreatment of prisoners of war and failing to protect civilian lives in his sphere of operations. His sentence of eighteen years in prison was later reduced to twelve, and he served only four years before being released in 1953. As a military advisor to the West German government in the mid-1950s, he helped re-establish the armed forces. His exculpatory memoir, Verlorene Siege (1955), translated into English as Lost Victories, was highly critical of Hitler's leadership and dealt with only the military aspects of the war, ignoring its political and ethical contexts. Manstein died near Munich in 1973. (Read more)

Selected picture

Bundeswehr in Afghanistan, August 2011.jpg
Bundeswehr in Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan (August 2011)

Did you know?

German army belt buckle
  • ...that Bundeswehr belt buckles are inscribed with Einigkeit – Recht – Freiheit, which translates to Unity – Justice – Freedom?
  • ...that the Bundeswehr Military History Museum building is 14,000 square meters and has an inside and outside exhibition area of about 20,000 square meters, making it Germany's largest museum.

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Military history of Germany(56 C, 67 P)
Wars involving Germany(26 C, 27 P)
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Battles in Hesse(16 P)
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Battles in Saxony(20 P)
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Battles involving Germany(8 C, 17 P, 1 F)
Military of Bavaria(4 C, 13 P)
Military history of Berlin(1 C, 7 P)
Military of East Germany(8 C, 31 P)
Forts in Germany(2 C, 22 P)
Freikorps(3 C, 6 P)
German War Graves Commission(6 C, 28 P)
Military of Hamburg(2 P)
Invasions by Germany(3 C, 16 P)
King's German Legion(39 P)
Military of Württemberg(2 C, 5 P)
Naval history of Germany(8 C, 46 P)
Military of Nazi Germany(5 C, 20 P)
German military occupations(12 C, 29 P)
Peace treaties of Germany(1 C, 10 P)
Military history of Prussia(3 C, 19 P)
Military of Prussia(9 C, 13 P)
Military of Saxony(2 C, 5 P)
German war crimes(3 C, 3 P, 1 F)
German Empire in World War I(11 C, 67 P, 28 F)

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