Blitzkrieg: Weapons & Methods
The word Blitzkrieg was coined by Hitler in 1936 (Macksey 68) and gained its use of the word when it first appeared in Time Magazine’s issue dated 25th of September 1939. Blitzkrieg or lightning-fast war was fashioned long before the Second World War. It was already an idea based on the fear that if Prussia engaged one enemy into a lengthy war, other enemies would have joined in and failure would ensue. Thus, Blitzkrieg, as it is now used, is Heinz Guderian’s development of the Prussian military thought of sudden military offensive. It was first used by his forces in May of 1940. I.
Guderian & his Blitzkrieg – Heinz Guderian was born in 1881 at Kulm, a Prussian town that is now Poland. He attended military schools in Germany before being sent to the battalion his father commanded at Bitche in Lorraine. He then elected to serve with the telegraph battalion and took charge of the heavy wireless station working in connection with cavalry. It was the time of wireless communication; new ways of improving radio communication were discovered at an unbelievable pace. Radio communication allowed a commander to be virtually present on any field, plane or tank. This Guderian, with a right vision, saw as the future. Since then, he never lost sight of the thought that military radio would one day play an important role in the army’s military operation.
During the First World War Guderian served as a staff officer and after the war he served as a senior staff officer in the infamous Iron Division. Then he was selected for staff job with the Inspectorate of Transport Troops, the office responsible for selecting tactical uses of motorized infantry in combat and the use of motor transport. He became an asset in the motorized infantry studies but much to his disappointment, he was later assigned to the mundane jobs of construction, fuel supply and other technical jobs.
Unbeknownst to him then these three experiences would later be the components of blitzkrieg. However, during that time, Guderian was so disappointed that he requested for a return to his old company. When his request was not granted, he sought solace in a self-imposed study of armored warfare, particularly that of J.F.C. Fuller’s.
The peace treaty of 1919 prohibited Germany from constructing military tanks. This resulted in an overly theoretical study of the tank by the German army and made them experts, above other nation, in the military tank design. By 1928 Germany made a secret agreement with Soviet Russia that enabled them to experiment on actual tanks. Germany and the Soviet share the facilities of the testing ground in Kazan with a deal that the Germans imparted their expertise while the Soviets provided the tanks. By this time Guderian, now a Troop Officer, was already well known in the army for his military lectures on the future role of the tanks, aircraft and the motorized infantry. In 1933 Hitler became Chancellor. In 1934 PzKw1 begun its full-scale production and one year later when Hitler came to inspect the testing grounds of Kummersdorf and saw some of Guderian’s tanks in action. It was then that Hitler’s said his famous ‘That’s what I need. That’s what I want.’ This historians and war scholars cite to prove Hitler’s intention to wage war as early as the early 30s (Deighton, 172).
Guderian’s rose to greater height of respect and popularity. His theories on storm troop tactics were generally accepted and were almost never challenged even by those officials in higher ranks than him. By October of 1935 Guderian was already colonel and chief of staff of the Armoured Force. In 1937 he wrote a book, Achtung! Panzer! this clearly conveyed his support on Hitler more than it demonstrated his tank and mechanized troop theories. So when Hitler staged his massive shake out of senior officer unsympathetic to Nazi which included Guderian’s superior General der Panzertuppen Oswald Lutz, Guderian was appointed Generalleutnant and...
Cited: “Blitzkrieg.” Achtung Panzer. Oct. 21, 2006
“Blitzkrieg.” History Learning Site. Oct. 21, 2006
“Blitzkrieg, 1940”. EyeWitness to History. 2002. Oct. 27, 2006
Deighton,Len. Blitzkrieg. London: Triad Grafton Books, 1981.
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