The German Retreat from France, 1944
Publication Year: 2012
The Allied invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944, marked a critical turning point in the European theater of World War II. The massive landing on France's coast had been meticulously planned for three years, and the Allies anticipated a quick and decisive defeat of the German forces. Many of the planners were surprised, however, by the length of time it ultimately took to defeat the Germans.
While much has been written about D-day, very little has been written about the crucial period from August to September, immediately after the invasion. In R?ckzug, Joachim Ludewig draws on military records from both sides to show that a quick defeat of the Germans was hindered by excessive caution and a lack of strategic boldness on the part of the Allies, as well as by the Germans' tactical skill and energy. This intriguing study, translated from German, not only examines a significant and often overlooked phase of the war, but also offers a valuable account of the conflict from the perspective of the German forces.
Published by: The University Press of Kentucky
Series: Foreign Military Studies
Title Page, Copyright
World War II German Military Ranks
he Allied invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944, marked a dramatic turning point in the history of World War II. There was a fundamental change in the political and military situation, similar to the “Turn before Moscow” in the winter of 1941. The landing on France’s Atlantic coast had been carefully prepared for more than ...
This book is the revised version of a dissertation that was accepted by the Department of Philosophy of the University of Cologne during the 1989–1990 winter semester. ...
A Note on the English Edition
The German federal government’s translation service, Bundessprachenamt, initially translated this book into English. I edited the entire work, ensuring that the English translations flowed smoothly and that specialized military terms and concepts were properly translated. ...
Traditionally, German military history research has concentrated on two groups of topics in analyzing the ground warfare operations in the west in 1944. The Allied invasion in June and the defensive fighting in Normandy,1 followed by the preparations for and execution of the Ardennes Offensive in the autumn and winter of 1944,2 ...
Part 1. The Initial Situation Facing OB West in the Middle of August 1944
1. The German Reich's Military-Political Situation: Development of the General Conditions up to the Summer of 1944
Operation BARBAROSSA had failed. Its operational timing was thrown off when the German offensive ground to a halt in front of Moscow at the end of 1941. But it also was a failure in terms of Hitler’s vision of worldwide Blitzkrie. When it still looked like the Soviet Union would be defeated, it was hard to foresee that the war could not be continued on Hitler’s terms, ...
2. The Initial Situation on the Allied Side
1. The global Strategic context
The strategic blueprint drafted by the Allies to defeat the German Reich had solidified for the most part following the EUREKA meeting of the Big Three—Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin—in Teheran from November 28 to December 1, 1943, followed immediately by the Second Cairo Conference,
3. Development of the Situation through the Middle of August 1944
1. The Situation through the End of July
At the time of the Allied landings there were forty-eight infantry and ten Panzer divisions based in France in the area of responsibility of OB West. ...
4. The Initial Situation in Southern France
1. Plans and Assessments
(a) The German command and the Problem of a Landing in the South
As early as June 1943 an intelligence assessment prepared by the Wehrmacht operations staff had identified the organization of a French expeditionary corps as an indicator of an enemy offensive directed at southern France.1 ...
5. The Initial Situation in Northern France
1. Change of Command: Model in the West—August 17
Model initially resisted his reassignment to France. On the evening of August 16 he received briefings at Rastenburg on the situation and the possible future developments in the West.1 ...
Part 2. From the Retreat of the German Army in the West to the Climax of the Crisis: Combat Operations from August 20 to September 4, 1944
6. The Start of the Retreat in the West
1. Model’s Initial Measures and the August 20 Führer Directive
Early in the morning of August 18 Model started out from La Roche-Guyon for the command post of the Fifth Panzer Army to get a firsthand picture of the situation along the front. His impressions developed during this first trip to the front, the threat of the ever-present Allied air forces, ...
7. The Situation around Paris
Within the total scope of the military operations in the west in 1944, the fall of Paris might appear to have been of secondary significance. The French metropolis did not become the scene of decisive combat operations, nor was Hitler’s threat of utter destruction carried out. Paris happily was spared the fate of so many major European and non-European cities. ...
8. Command Decisions and the Course of Operations Leading to the Climax of the Crisis
1. The Initial Major Situation Estimate of OB West
The recent events and orders clearly showed that Hitler and the Wehrmacht High Command were not able or willing to control combat operations in any meaningful manner. ...
9. The Basis for Continued Combat Operations
1. The Allied Estimate of the Situation and Decision
The objectives that Eisenhower had established for his armies on August 24 had mostly been achieved during the first few days of September. The ease of the Allied advance and the signs of breakup on the German side boosted the Allied camp’s confidence in victory. ...
Part 3. Developments from the Climax of the Crisis until the Transition to Positional Warfare in the West
10. From the Climax of the Crisis to the First Indications of a Stabilization of the Western Front
1. Developments on the Northern Wing
(a) commitment of the First Parachute Army between Antwerp and Maastricht
At first, there were no indications of any major offensive by the 21st Army Group across the Albert Canal, contrary to the fears of the German command in the west.1 For two and a half days, until late in ...
11. The Situation Estimate Prepared by the Operations Staffs and the Failure of the Concept of a German "Counteroffensive from the Move"
1. Situation Estimates and Decisions toward the End of the First Ten-Day Period in September
(a) The Allies and the “Terminal Phase” of the Fight against the German Reich
In his September 9 situation report to the Combined Chiefs of Staff, Eisenhower emphasized among other things that although German resistance had been believed close to collapse in recent weeks, it had “become somewhat stiffer” following the shift of combat operations ...
12. The End of the Retreat Operations in the West and the Transition to Positional Warfare
1. The German Army of the West’s Defensive Fight between Aachen and Nancy
Hitler and the Wehrmacht High Command entertained plans for an offensive through the end of 1944. But the various operations staffs in the west were fully occupied with preventing the defense line between Antwerp and Belfort from collapsing again in the face of the pressure from the Allied offensives. ...
Toward the end of August 1944, the Americans had punched through the wobbly front line of Army Group B in the area east of Paris. Early in September, the Allies had managed to form the Mons Pocket. It seemed that the breakup of the German defense lines, which had barely been averted following the losses at Falaise and ...