At the Treaty of Versailles, Germany and the German peoples were humiliated. Exceedingly so. They suffered in silence but, they desperately needed to restore their pride in themselves. Adolf Hitler, a corporal and a decorated veteran of WW 1, understood this fact. Hitler was also a gifted orator and capitalized on this as well. He preached the superiority of the German [Aryan] people; the Germans needed this and bought his sale, wholeheartedly.
Hitler created the Nazi Party in 1921 as its first leader and, in 1923, was jailed, after a failed coup to seize political power but, he had infused a revived self-belief in the German people, especially in the youth. During his jail term, Hitler wrote the first volume of his autobiography, Mein Kampf, literally, My Struggle.
Hitler may not have risen beyond the rank of Corporal and might not have been highly educated but, he exhibits an amazing understanding of human nature, economics and the art of warfare. Apparently, he realized that while, self-belief is powerful; self-belief coupled with hate is immensely more so and, in Mein Kampf, he gave the Germans who to hate: Jews. Hitler was a rabid anti-Semite and did his best to pass on this hate to the German peoples, not as successfully as he would have liked.
In 1933, Hitler became Chancellor of Germany and sought to reap the fruits of what he had sown. He infused the belief in Germans that they were they were giants among pygmies and now he raised the bars of what he demanded off them. Repeatedly seeking more and more from them and, they responded. Repeatedly.
A relative, who is also a very close friend and staunch critic of mine, correctly pointed out an omission in my last essay. Keynes’ theory might be responsible for the thought but, its implementation would have been impossible, without the incrementally increasing knowledge among those known as “Service Providers”. The scientists and technologists ones who realize dreams, return dead cities and agricultural wastelands to life, faster and better than ever before.
Germany needed better and superior weapons but, the Treaty of Versailles forbade it. So Hitler initiated a secret program. Innocent industries producing steel tube for bicycles, were also producing rifled tubes for weapons, toy-makers were producing real triggers, and train engine makers were producing parts of tanks etc. All these parts could be assembled to make lethal and superior weaponry.
Once again, Keynes and [this time, superior] service providers combined to revive economic activity and Germany soon began to boom. Europe was mystified, since the secrecy in which the German armament production was working apace, was absolute. The only possibility of the secret being exposed was; if the discovery of the quantity of purchases of iron/steel by Germany, was discovered. But, the principal supplier, USA, wasn’t asking or being asked.
All this while, the German military was not idling. A captain in the British army, Basil H. Liddelhart, was also a veteran of WW 1. Now considered among the best military theorists, Liddelhart theorized that future wars would be a combination of maneuver and battle. His views were not considered seriously by the British. Liddelhart later complained that, “The only thing more difficult than bringing a new idea into the military mind is; to take an old one out”.
But maybe Liddelhart had not gone unheard elsewhere.
Peacetime militaries rarely produce wartime captains of war. The reason is that peacetime militaries function on the emphasis of discipline; thereby discouraging initiative. Wartime leadership cannot do without risk; it must take risks and win. Germany was at peace and was going to war. It had to find a way of producing wartime leaders during peace; otherwise, even the best weapons would be useless under inept leadership.
So, Hitler created the “German General Staff”. Relatively young but enterprising and intrepid officers of all three services and [preferably, though not exclusively] veterans of WW 1 got together to theorize weapons, tactics, strategic options and to produce and wargame plans to perfect them. Among these was Heinz Guderian. Guderian is the best known for his espousing the concept of Panzer Divisions; which bore an uncanny resemblance to Liddelhart’s concept.
Guderian might be best known but, he was certainly not the only one. This cream of officers theorized on everything and thus conceived the concept of Blitz Krieg [Lightning Warfare], the first hybrid concept of war, in which the air force was used in support of both; the army and the navy, apart from their independent functions.
They planned and wargamed their plans. A wargame simulates battlefield situations that would follow, if a particular plan is executed and; it goes on to further moves thereafter on both sides, until a logical conclusion is reached. For the game to be successful in eliminating all possible flaws in the plan and/or safeguard against possible options for the enemy, it is imperative that the best minds play the enemy. Germans never forgot that. The mighty juggernaut of the German military was ready to be unleashed. The German economy was booming again. By 1939, all those wide awake, knew that war was coming, and were hoping it was less devastating than the last. Hitler had his whistle in hand.