The greatest General of all time

well_chuffed, Going Postal

This is yet more from the story of Herr Wilhelm Flicke of the German Intercept Service. It has been mentioned before that Herr Flicke’s opinion is that Signals Intelligence is of the highest importance. Few would argue with him but as well as intercepting and deciphering wireless messages, they have to be evaluated and distributed to the relevant people. Having received them, these people should then act on them.

The “greatest General of all time” is our old friend the little Austrian Corporal Adolf. The sarcastic title has been awarded by Herr Flicke based on his knowledge of Adolf’s attitude to signals intelligence as well as a few other things. The two striper had his own view of the world and all in it, anything that clashed with that view was incorrect and could be ignored plus its supplier could well get an earful of abuse, or worse. He even insisted on seeing raw intelligence, no analysis of it was allowed.

This article will attempt to provide a few examples where this happened and the consequences where possible.

To my poor little mind, the two biggest mistakes Adolf made were declaring war on the USA and attacking the USSR. You could argue the holocaust but disgusting as it was, it did not finish him off and I think those two decisions ensured Germany lost the war. Strangely enough, there is a connection.

First obvious misinterpretation was his belief that neither the UK nor France would fight to support Poland. He was very wrong, we declared war on him but as it was a phoney war he thought we would eventually get bored and come to an agreement with him.

When Operation Sea Lion was going on, it was not done under cover or camouflage but out in the open. It was like the Germans were sending a message. Adolf still wanted peace with the UK and its help against the USSR (based on pre war anti Bolshevik comments made by Churchill). The implication is that the threatened invasion was a bluff and designed to force the UK’s hand. When this didn’t do the trick, the next step was to threaten the UK’s colonies in the Far East, using the Japanese, so as to split the disposition of Britain’s military. The Germans had forgotten one thing and that was if the Japanese tried to disturb the balance of power in the Far East, the USA would not stand by and watch; relations were already tense over the Japanese invasion of China.

The Japanese raised an objection to this, they did not want the USA involved. Von Ribbentrop assured them that the USA would be in no position to cause trouble because Germany would declare war on the USA and both the USA and the UK would have to split their forces to deal with two fronts and the USA would then be too weak to threaten the Japanese.

In September 1940 the Germans had intercepted traffic that gave a fair picture of the USA’s production capabilities and estimates for the the next two years. Compared with German production these figures were enormous. Hitler and Ribbentrop said these figures were pipe dreams, they knew best. It was typical Hitler, facts that do not agree with his ideas must be wrong.

Next came the “if I attack the USSR, based on anti-Bolshevik utterances of Churchill, the British are bound to join in with us and also attack the commies”. That worked out well for him too, He eventually ended up with the perennial German nightmare, war on two fronts, three if you include Italy.

Hitler had decided in about September 1940 to attack Russia. He wanted the oilfields of Mosul in Iraq and wanted to attack them via Russia and North Africa. The British landed troops in Iraq to counter this and about this time Hess flew to Scotland with his attempt to negotiate, it was unofficial but with Hitler’s blessing.

Originally one of the routes chosen to Mosul was via Turkey, with or without its approval. the Ambassador in Ankara von Papen convinced Adolf to go another way. Hence the attack on Crete but it was so costly, the result was the Germans abandoned that route. Treachery was again suspected when the defence of Crete seemed so resolute and the British seemed to know the German plan.

Hitler expected the USSR to collapse under the weight of the German onslaught as it blitzkrieged its way through Russia. It didn’t and instead of demoralising the Russians, each German victory spurred them on. Talk of a holy war in the East was replace by the Lebensraum theory, how I hate that word. Even the White Russians left in Germany were advocating fighting for the Motherland, this was stamped on by the Gestapo.

Intelligence provided reports that the Russian Air Force had over 10,000 aircraft as well as significant production capability. The Nazi bigwigs, including Adolf, ridiculed this idea and decided there was no way they had more than 3,000. After the Germans had announced that they had destroyed more than 6,000 Russian planes, the bigwigs decided that the method of reporting of Russian losses was to blame, not their estimate of the initial strength.

The German timetable was wrecked, but even if they had occupied Moscow, what would have happened. Napoleon had done just that and the Russians had withdrawn enticing him to advance further still. He did not, he retreated, and the Germans would have gone no further.

From August to October 1941, the Russians built up 40 divisions to the rear of the fighting. The Germans intercepted the signals and could identify what was going on. Colonel Kettler, Chief of these Intercepts composed an exhaustive report detailing what the Russians were up to and sent it via General Fellgiebel, Chief of Armed Forces Signals, to the General Staff who passed it on. It was rejected and returned to Fellgiebel with these comments

They ought to put this Hosenscheisser (trouser shitter) Kettler out of business, from Jodl (a bit of a brown noser from all accounts).

This is also the opinion of the Führer, from Fegelein (later husband of Eva Braun’s sister).

The report was returned to Kettler who was then given a command at the front. Late in October the traffic ceased and at his Wolf’s Lair, Hitler was convinced it had been a Russian hoax, the little Austrian convinced himself he had been right once again. But the defence around Moscow was strengthened with the reserves and the Germans, against their expectations , were held.

Among German Army commanders, an awakening began to dawn. They started to remember what their Signals Intelligence had been telling them about the timetable of Russian mobilisation and the capacity of the munitions industry beyond the Volga. Hitler had a theory that a population of one million could muster x divisions, the Russian population was about 180 million so from that he had a theoretical maximum number of Russian divisions. Needless to say, the Soviets actually produced more than this theoretical maximum.

In the middle of this the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour, the USA declared war on Japan and Germany declared war on the USA. Just as the Russian campaign was slowing down, the fool goes and declares war on the USA which was already supplying equipment to the USSR. Since August 1941 Hitler had wanted Japan to join the war against the USSR but Japan’s gaze was in another direction and in fact the Japanese eventually came to an agreement with the USSR that they would not attack it, thereby freeing up more Red Army divisions to be used against the Germans.

Who can forget the Downfall videos mocking Adolf. One of his first sentences is “Das war ein Befehl, der Angriff Steiners war ein Befehl” or “That was an order, Steiner’s attack was an order”. Well, Steiner had a semi-mythical force that didn’t really exist except on paper but the Führer convinced himself it was real and lost the plot when it did not follow orders. Even to the end, having been so wrong on so many things, he was still at it. The man obviously had some kind of talent, if only he could have used it for good rather than evil.

© well_chuffed 2018

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