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Lost Victories Hardcover – 1 Jan 1982
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Manstein;s Lost Victories is definatly one of the more interesting and informative German autobigraphies to emerge from World War II. New publishers Zenith press is to be commended for republishing it --WWII History --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Highlights for me were his gripping description of the Crimea campaign, account of Stalingrad/6th Army, also the intricacies/timing of the retreat from Donetz to Dnieper (plus interesting "what-if's" on the proposed construction of an Ostwall etc). The book is overall so good I might change these selections after re-reading... I also was disappointed by his brief coverage of Zitadelle/Citadel but found a satisfactory substitute in "Blood, Steel and Myth" by George M. Nipe.
The first and major theme is the strategic and grand tactical approach to the defeat of Poland, the defeat of France and the invasion of Russia up to 1944. This top-down description of the battles gives a fascinating insight into the problems of fighting a war and the way a senior professional soldier deals with them.
The second theme running through the book is the good and the bad influence of Hitler on the rise and fall of Germany in this period. His political genius for successfully manouvering other States finally deserts him when he invades Poland. He then embarks increasingly on a disastrous path of directing the armed forces, for which he has neither the training nor the experience. Manstein points out the opportunities missed, the defeats suffered and the battles thrown away by Hitler's mistakes. Finally Manstein's repeated demands for Hitler to appoint a professional soldier to manage the war objectives leads Hitler to sack him in 1944.
The third theme is the rigorous German approach of the times to military duty and loyalty. Manstein is proud of this tradition, which runs from top to bottom in the armed forces. It is breathtaking to read how this duty is performed in complete disregard of the usual norms: breaking of treaties, disregard for neutrality, slaughter on the battlefield, mass assassination and the clear trend after 1942 that Hitler is leading the nation to disaster. Manstein explains that he tolerated Hitler because a military coup would have left Germany a prey to the Allies and Russia. A rather sad viewpoint because in the event, after millions more deaths, that was precisely the outcome.
This is a clear and well-written book that gives an informed and unique view from a very senior German professional soldier.
Manstein provides his perspectives of the major wars in WWII, from the early German successes to their turning point in Russia. He provides his rationales for his proposals which are generally sound and probably would have changed the course of the war. His analysis of the various battles and overall strategy made me wonder how differently the war and the world would have turned out if Hitler had listened to his generals in the latter part of the war, in the East. The frustrations with Hitler is clear, and the book also details his disagreements with Hitler and the OKH about the handling of the war. This ultimately led to his being relieved of command in the East. The book is very easy to read and is valuable to anyone who wishes to understand 'the other side of the hill'. His accounts of the various actions he was involved in during the War are excellent and his views on Hitler and German strategy make this an insightful book.
What would his legacy be, if he could have spent all his efforts on his job instead of fighting for the resources he needed to do his job?
This is a most informative bio of Manstein on active service at the Eastern Front.
It's a pity that the maps were so small.I had to supplement these with my Times Atlas and a magnifying glass to get to where these battles took place.
You have to admire the German military - not the silly Nazis but the German Military were without doubt top notch.
A good read and very informative.
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