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THE WAR AND OPINION I. HITLER'S BASIC STRATEGY' OTTo STRASSER HITLER'S gr~at offensive in South Russia, in its prowess up to date, recalls most emphatically his operations in Northern France in May and June, 1940. As it was then, so it is today. The identical military plan : to separate a large part of the opposing army from its main forces, and then to destroy this isolated army. On the political fron t, Berlin counted on France being forced out of the war as a result, and hopes now that this same strategy will produce a similar effect on Russia. The mili tary operations now being carried out coincide in almost every detail with those in the spring of 1940 in France. Just as in 1940 the German army avoided the strong French positions in the centre and on the left wing, which were based on the Maginot line, and concentrated its ~ntjre forces on the right wing, so the German attack on the Russian army in the summer of 1942 has avoided the strongly fortified position around Moscow, and also the position on the left wing, which is well protected by natural obstructions, and has concentrated all its forces on the right wing, on a narrow attacking front of about 250 miles. The further execution of these operations follows the pattern of the attack on France so closely, that one feels justified in 'surmising that both plans have the same origin. After the break_ ,through on the Maas, most military critics expected the Germans to continue their march to the south. But the Panzer divisions suddenly swung around to the west, almost at a right angle, and drove a huge wedge between the Belgian-British-French army in the north and the main French army in the south, and crowned this success by reaching the Channel. The man ceuvre in itsel f was exceedingly dangerous, because the German Panzer divisions that formed the wedge were greatly inferior in numbers to the enemy armies north and south of them. The daring venture succeeded in spite of the risks, because the two Allied armies that had been torn asunder were not able to throw a united force against the German wedge, nor was the southern French army able to undertake a strong counter-offensive to relieve the encircled northern army. "Readers are reminded that the article was wri tten several weeks before pub_ lication. (Editors' Note.) 59 60 THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO QUARTERLY In July, 1942, the identical manceuvre was repeated. After the break-through had succeeded in the Kursk-Charkow area, and the German Panzer divisions, fighting desperately, had reached the Don, everyone (including evidently the Russian High Command ) expected that the thrust would carry them at once toward the south, to lift Rostov off its hinges and bring the long-awaited attack on the Caucasus. But the German armies at this crisis by-passed Rostov and the Caucasus on their right, just as they had by-passed Chalons and Paris on their left in 1940, and stormed on towards the Volga and, presumably, the Caspian Sea, j ust as they had stormed on towards the Channel. In 1942, this manoeuvre is fraught with even greater danger, because Russia has a unified High Command and can move her armies north and south of the German wedge uniformly-an advantage that the Allied armies in France lacked, though vain attempt was made at the last moment to achieve it by giving Weygand supreme powers. It is all the less comprehensible that there are no signs as yet of any joint operations of the beaten Southern Russian army and the strong Central army, at this point engaged in creating minor diversions around Kalinin and Rhzev. The Germans pay no attention whatever to the Central and Northern Russian armies, but are without doubt preparing a strong defence line between Orel and Voronesch, in anticipation of the expected counter-offensive of the Russian Central army, exactly as they restricted their activities in 1940 to building a defence position on the Aisne against the main French armies numbering over three million men. They then hurled themselves with ferocious energy against the beaten Allied...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 59-64
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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