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The German Way of War Essay

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Updated: May 20th, 2019

Germany is a small country with limited resources but well geographically positioned in Europe. It took part in conquering many countries in North Africa in the First World War. Although Germany appeared small in terms of size, population, and financial status, it won in many wars.

The Prussian-German way of winning wars amazed many people. Majority of them doubted whether Prussia, a small country compared to its enemies could succeed in a war. They had notable tactics that kept them at the best positions in terms of wars. America and many countries in Europe have tried to use German ways of fighting in outfitting their opponents.

Citino, an American historian, demonstrated various methods used by the Germans in wars that led to their consideration as one of the fiercest forces in the world. According to him, Germany ensured their wars were small and sharp. They hit their enemies with considerable impact as quick as possible to avoid wastage of time. This enabled them to win decisive victories instantaneously.

Their financial status and low population size could not endure long attritional wars against their populated and richer enemies. This format of attacking was one of the earliest methods used by German planners, who concentrated much of their effort in designing sophisticated operational formats of winning the wars.

Citino also claimed that the level of efficiency and tactical flexibility of the army played a crucial role in battlefields. According to Citino, their strategy was ambushing their enemies without warning. This boosted their chances of success in war. With this format, the Germans were able to defeat their outnumbering and financially fit enemies with ease.

According to Citino, the aggressiveness of German commanders killed Auftragstaktik myths enhancing war success. The German commanders’ support for attack of any person they considered an enemy intensified fear among their opponents. Active involvement of the commanders in searching for their enemies culminated the quench for success among German soldiers.

It signified a sense of responsibility in leaders. Citino also shows how the commanders’ autonomy in their actions contributed to war success. They sometimes ignored commands from the headquarters.

Waiting of orders from above would have contributed to the escape of prisoners of war or invasion from the encountered enemies. The Germans used this method due to lack of enough arms and other resources essential for success. Through this, they prevented the coalition of their enemies as this would have led to straining of their resources.

To prove his argument concerning the success of German in World War I, Citino digs into the history of Germans with the aim of finding out how they managed their wars. Most of the styles according to his research support his opinions.

However, in observing the tactics used by Frederick in his seven years of war, Citino finds out that the war was not small as per his argument. Frederick, as portrayed by Citino, also employed flexibility of strategic positions in enclosing his enemies.

Citino explains the causes of German failure in the Napoleonic war and World War II. According to him, the Germans must have lacked aggressiveness or they may have used it at the wrong times and places leading to loss of mobility while at war. The Germans had adopted the long attritional war formats in place of the small and sharp methods used in the past leading to their demise.

The commanders had as well neglected the strategic concerns and emphasized on operational victory. This created a weakness that led to the failing of German war movement (Citino, 2008, P. 33). The poor methods led to the death of many German soldiers in the year 1941 leading to their defeat (Citino, 2008, P. 42).

Citino blames their defeat, in December 1941 while at the gates of Moscow, to the immobility and lack of functional levels. The neglect of the traditional ways of war and adoption of new methods dealt them a heavy blow. Their enemies outnumbered and attacked them before they could get reinforcement from the headquarters.

According to Citino, the Germans would have succeeded in the war if they had maintained their traditional operational tactics (Citino, 2008, P. 157). German commanders had as well lost the power of decision making in the fields constituting to the loss of 1942. Excessive interference from the headquarters killed their morale. This contributed to their neglect of their responsibilities.

Citino also focuses his book to North Africa desert war. He reminds the Germans of the loss they encountered even after having enough strength to succeed in the theatres. For instance, Citino shows how Hitler had led his armies to battle fronts to meet their already prepared enemies. It enlightened them on the importance of conducting simultaneous operations in vast areas.

In North Africa, the German commanders had lost control of the army. They relied on orders from above. This gave their enemies enough time to formulate an attack against them. North Africa was too vast compared to the few soldiers deployed there. The reinforcement sent to North Africa was not adequate due to the long distance from the headquarters and high population of Africans.

However, the book lacks maps showing the land terrains of the enemies attacked. With the presence of maps, it would have been easier to understand how the Germans managed to defeat their opponents with such ease. In addition, inclination of the collapse of German war in the North of Africa to lack of either war mobility or inactive commanders is wrong.

The defeat of Germans in the war may have been due to large land terrains in the north that made management difficult. Lack of enough knowledge of land terrains among Germans and high population of their enemies may also have contributed to German loss in the war.

In conclusion, Citino in his book plays a significant role in unraveling the contributions of German ways of fighting too many war styles used currently. The war plan adapted by the Germans in the earlier times and First World War was extremely challenging to their enemies. It contributed to the loss of confidence among their enemies even before meeting the Germans at the battlefields.


Citino, M. R. (2008). The German Way of War. Kansas, K: University Press of Kansas

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