Friday, May 06, 2005

Churchill vs. Hitler as supreme military commander


Winston Churchill had military training and experience. I often forget that he had command experience in France during the Great War. Before that, he had been looking for opportunities to command in the field. He had many abilities besides being a naval administrator. When the situation had collapsed in May 1940, Winston was the obvious choice to lead the country.



Hitler lacked Churchill's experience and flare for the Supreme Commander role. That Germany did as well as they did was due to a number of factors. First was the dynamic and forward thinking army. There was some uneven quality, even in the German Army, but you saw giants like Field Marshall van Manstein, Has Guderian, and Rommel, to name a few. The second factor was their ability to produce technologically superior weapons. They often continued to use inferior hardware, but they could go from an army still equipped with Pzkw I's to the Panther in a short period. A feature of the early 1940's was that new weapons and technology could be developed quickly.



What Churchill particularly had was a high-level strategic vision. Hitler was more driven by politics and opportunism. You could argue that eventually, Germany would need to take out Russia, and June 1941 caught Russia in chaos. The German stroke came close to succeeding. Only the vast spaces and the work of some key generals saved them from defeat in the first few months. As it was, they lost large numbers of soldiers, mostly as prisoners of war, and immense quantities of equipment captured or destroyed.



Germany, though, under Hitler's leadership, was playing a gigantic Risk game. In 1942, they pushed as far as they could, until lack of resources and poor leadership at the highest level (Hitler's interference) dashed any hopes of success. Field Marshall von Manstein tried to rescue the situation, it was lost in the decision to tie up an army in Stalingrad. Improving Russian leadership, equipment, and manpower had grown strong enough to stop the German tide, and cause it to recede.

6 comments:

Bud said...

could you elaborate more on what you feel were the principal strengths and weakness of Churchill and Hitler as wartime leaders and in what ways , do you feel their personalities and the worldviews of them determined the shape and outcome of WWII

Bud said...

could you elaborate more on what you feel were the principal strengths and weakness of Churchill and Hitler as wartime leaders and in what ways , do you feel their personalities and the worldviews of them determined the shape and outcome of WWII

vente said...

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Merci pour est un bon blogger.

Vishnu Sharma said...

Churchill was just lucky to win WWII
In terms of ability Hitler was a better leader.
If only he had concentrated on the North African theater in 1941 before opening the Russian theater, the war would have turned decisively against the English.
With one-or-two additional Panzer divisions supplied to Rommel he could have clearly driven British from the middle east.
Iran would have also joined the German camp.
I personally think Hitler was a bit hasty. 1941 should have been a year of refitting and consolidation.
The Luftwaffe and the Kriegsmarine's U-boat arm both needed augmentation.
Also was needed increased U-boat presence in the Mediterranean Sea

mohan said...

The image Churchill created among the people enabled him to convert the losing clouds to passing clouds. Doubtlessly, he is the charismatic leader with the strategic vision.

Dhiraj said...

@Vishnu
Rommel had jeapordized his supply situation by overriding Kesselring on the issue of setting up proper supply bases in the Greek islands and besides he was already running out of the very thing he sought, fuel.
Extra divisions would have made no difference if not proved to be burdensome.
Hitler didn't develop the Kriegsmarine and Luftwaffe as well as he did the army. It was as if they had no other role than aiding Wehrmacht operations. He could've easily won Britain. Modern Warfare is very much about combined-arms. And he shouldn't have given command of the Luftwaffe to that oaf Goering, but then again he wouldn't have been Hitler if he didn't. Egoism and leadership make for strange bedfellows.

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