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Thread: Who was the best Nazi/German general during WWII?

  1. #31
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    Default Re: Who was the best Nazi/German general during WWII?

    Probably shouldn't but ... referring back to the MacArthur/Rommel question, there were differences as well as similarities. MacArthur was a sort of military Donald Trump (corn cob pipe instead of toupee). His unabashed personal self-promotion, set in the context of the US political system, certainly promoted his reputation on the homefront and indeed in the US Forces (below command level at least), but did not substitute for real achievement and lost him the trust of his political masters (for obvious reasons). Rommel's case was a bit different. He certainly had a talent for promoting himself - but this was largely exercised in a relatively "modest" way, not least through the exploitation of his political contacts. It should never be forgotten that, at the time of the war's outbreak, Rommel was commander of Hitler's Heer bodyguard and, in this capacity, accompanied Hitler on his visit to the Polish front. Rommel appears to have been comfortable in the Nazi inner circle, and made important contacts. Apart from Hitler himself (who liked this smart young WW1 hero), he seems to have become genuinely friendly with Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels, who became, in effect, his political patron. There were some drawbacks to being Goebbels' "client"; Hitler certainly regarded his Propaganda Minister's talents for his immediate task as vital, but there are several instances to indicated that he did not always respect his judgment regarding the abilities of individuals in the subordinate shark pool of Nazi politics. Not in the case of Rommel, however.

    Arguably, the crucial event in Rommel's career was his appointment to command 7th Panzer Division in the Western Campaign. Accounts from Rommel's family make it crystal clear that this was obtained through the influence of Hitler and Goebbels. There was no obvious reason why Rommel should have been entrusted with one of the Heer's strongest panzer divisions. Rommel's son, Manfred, remarked in postwar interviews that, without political intervention, his superiors would have given him a Mountain Division - totally logical, since Rommel was a WW1 infantry hero, and had established himself between the wars as an expert on infantry tactics. The rest was "history", however one wants to view it. One thing is certain - Hitler's personal liking for Rommel, and the friendship of Goebbels, ensured that from then on, Rommel's reputation would be promoted strongly by Goebbels' propaganda machine, which craved "poster boys" at all levels. Thus, Rommel did not need a personal propaganda machine in the MacArthur sense (indeed, this would have been counterproductive, in the Third Reich context). He could "surf" on the official propaganda machine, which ensured that his reputation was promoted both in the Wehrmacht and on the homefront. The fact that most of his senior colleagues had little regard (perhaps too little) for his abilities (some regarded his activities as "insane") meant nothing in the face of his political backing, and his favorite status for the propaganda machine. It is easy to see why, at the end, Rommel's army peers were little inclined to help him avoid destruction, even where some (for example, Runstedt), might have helped.

    Rommel was better, I think, than many of his colleagues thought. However, the fog of propaganda and self-serving memoir makes it difficult to appraise his talents fully. He certainly made his mistakes ... JR.

  2. #32
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    Default Re: Who was the best Nazi/German general during WWII?

    Quote Originally Posted by JR* View Post
    Probably shouldn't but ... referring back to the MacArthur/Rommel question, there were differences as well as similarities. MacArthur was a sort of military Donald Trump (corn cob pipe instead of toupee).
    I think that's unfair to MacArthur.

    Unlike Trump, he actually served his country in three wars (three more than Trump did while managing to do very little with the fortune left him apart from building his unjustified conceit and burdening bankruptcy administrators with denying his workers and contractors their just pay).

    Trump's comment that he preferred his war heroes not to be captured reflects the arrogance and insensitivity of, so far as military experience goes, a privileged and stupid nobody with no understanding of the miseries inflicted upon McCain or the lesser demands put upon ordinary troops in war. Or even peace. Like LBJ, Reagan and sundry others with no war or even serious military service, he is naturally among the most belligerent when it comes to sending other people to die in his cause, and worse as a draft dodger who carefully avoided the war McCain served in.

    The man is beneath contempt.

    Then again, Bush II carefully avoided service in Vietnam, so maybe that qualifies Trump to become President to start more stupid wars with no defined end and, years later, failing to achieve it after bleeding the patriotism of the lower classes in pursuit of the indefinite end.


    Quote Originally Posted by JR* View Post
    His unabashed personal self-promotion, set in the context of the US political system, certainly promoted his reputation on the homefront and indeed in the US Forces (below command level at least), but did not substitute for real achievement and lost him the trust of his political masters (for obvious reasons).
    That was much more from the end of 1943 when, in retrospect, he had some not terribly brilliant successes than at the start of the Pacific War, when he had none which were all due to major failures by him as commander.

    MacArthur certainly had some real achievements from late 1943 onwards, but these were as much due to the resources given to him in response to his endless beseeching for more resources as to any brilliance in his not very distinguished or clever climb through Papua New Guinea, often on the backs of the Australian troops he used for the hard work and never acknowledged in pursuit of his self-aggrandising MacArthurian (as distinct from American, as he was much more concerned with MacArthur than America) ambitions.

    In the same campaign, whether Papua New Guinea or North Africa or anywhere else, if opposed to each other, I'd back Rommel every time against MacArthur. MacArthur consistently lost, indeed squandered, every advantage he had in the Philippines against the Japanese. Rommel was much better at doing more with less, despite some major failures.

    MacArthur certainly presided over some important and successful campaigns in the later stages of the war when the tide had already turned against Japan, but the commanders who turned that tide were Nimitz and King much more than MacArthur who at the critical times was engaged in typically grandiose plans to conquer Rabaul when he couldn't even manage a competent campaign on Kokoda much closer to his Brisbane base from which he consistently failed to send adequate resources to Kokoda.
    Last edited by Rising Sun*; 09-22-2015 at 09:21 AM.
    ..
    A rational army would run away.
    Montesquieu

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