A fascinating study of the devastating new form of warfare that redrew the map of Europe in the opening year of World War II, bringing about the military collapse of three modern industrialized armies.
On 1 September 1939, Nazi Germany launched the invasion of Poland, employing a new type of offensive warfare: Blitzkrieg. So named by Allied observers because of the shock and rapidity of its effects, this new approach was based on speed, manoeuvrability and concentration of firepower. The strategy saw startling success as the panzer divisions, supported by Stuka dive-bombers, spread terror and mayhem, reaching Warsaw in just one week. Aided by the intervention of the Soviet Union in the east, the campaign was over in a mere 36 days.
This astonishing feat was followed by Operation Weserübung, the invasion of Denmark and then Norway in 1940, the first joint air-sea-land campaign in the history of warfare. Even more striking an achievement was the swift and conclusive defeat of France during May-June 1940. Refusing to let its forces dash themselves against the fortifications of the Maginot Line, Germany instead sent its divisions through neutral Belgium and northern France in Fall Gelb (‘Case Yellow’), destroying Allied resistance and pursuing the remnant of the British and French forces to Dunkirk in an audacious and devastatingly effective assault. During the course of Fall Rot (‘Case Red’) over the following 20 days, German forces pressed the attack and by 25 June had forced France’s leaders into a humiliating capitulation.
Illustrated throughout with detailed maps, artwork and contemporary photographs, “Blitzkrieg: The Invasion of Poland to the Fall of France” tells the story of these first breakneck attacks, examining the armed forces, leaders, technology, planning and execution in each campaign as well as the challenges faced by the Germans in the pursuit of this new and deadly form of warfare.
Dr Russell Hart is Professor of History and Director of the Diplomacy and Military Studies Program at Hawai’i Pacific University, Honolulu, Hawaii. He is the author of “Clash of Arms” and “Guderian: Panzer Pioneer or Mythmaker?”and he has co-authored nine additional books.
Dr Stephen Hart is senior lecturer in the War Studies department, the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. He is the author of “Montgomery and the ‘Colossal Cracks’: The 21st Army Group in Northwest Europe 1944-45”, and has co-authored several popular histories of aspects of the German Army in World War II.