From this coming Sunday's NYT Book Review:
How did the Wehrmacht, the best fighting force, lose World War II?
The title of the book, “The Storm of War,” conceals an answer to Roberts’s central question about the reasons for the German defeat. The notion of war as a storm summons up the Nazi idea of a blitzkrieg, a lightning victory that would somehow resolve all of the political and economic problems of the German state.
Roberts, the author of several books of English history, maintains the tension in his narrative by suggesting that if the war had been a purely military rather than a political contest, fought without errors on the German side, then the Germans might have won. If one considers the categories of martial endeavor from bottom to top, from the bunker to Berlin, one can see what he means. The Germans enjoyed advantages in weaponry, engagement, tactics and sometimes strategy. But at the moments when strategy was linked to politics, the German advantage was lost. Hitler’s war aims were vast, unrealistic and inextricably enmeshed in an ideology that celebrated destruction, above all of Jews and other racial enemies, but also of Germans when they failed to win. The quick successes in Poland in 1939 and France in 1940 convinced many of the generals that Hitler was indeed a genius.
Throughout the book, Roberts notes errors that, if avoided, might have helped the Germans to win battles and perhaps even the war itself. Hitler, he says, should have begun the war three years later than he did, in 1942 rather than 1939. He should not have allowed the British to escape at Dunkirk as France fell.