The Roots of Blitzkrieg: Hans von Seeckt and German Military Reform


All-Blacks Supporter
I have just got through reading this book and I think it is a must for anyone interested in the success of the German military especially during the early stages of WW2 and why they remained a cohesive fighting force right until the very end of the war.

In many respects it gives credit to those who were actually responsible for the operational development of "Blitzkrieg" and that alone makes it worth reading.


The Roots of Blitzkrieg: Hans von Seeckt and German Military Reform by James Sterling Corum

Following Germany's defeat in World War I, the Germans signed the Versailles Treaty, superficially agreeing to limit their war powers. The Allies envisioned the future German army as a lightly armed border guard and international security force. The Germans had other plans. As early as 1919, James Corum contends, the tactical foundations were being laid for the Nazi Blitzkrieg. Between 1919 and 1933, German military leaders created and nurtured the Reichswehr, a new military organization built on the wreckage of the old Imperial Army. It was not being groomed for policing purposes.
Focusing on Hans von Seeckt, General Staff Chief and Army Commander, Corum traces the crucial transformations in German military tactical doctrine, organization, and training that laid the foundations for fighting Germany's future wars. In doing so, he restores balance to prior assessment of von Seeckt's influence and demonstrates how the general, along with a few other "visionary" officers--including armor tactician Ernst Volckheim and air tactician Helmut Wilberg--collaborated to develop the core doctrine for what became the Blitzkrieg.
The concepts of mobile war so essential to Germany's strength in World War II, Corum shows, were in place well before the tools became available. As an unforeseen consequence of the Versailles Treaty, the Germans were not saddled with a stockpile of outdated equipment as the Allies were. This, ironically, resulted in an advantage for the Germans, who were able to create doctrine first and design equipment to match it.
All the Tactics used in the Blitzkrieg had already been used by the British in WW1. Which included a creeping artillery barrage, followed by a mass tank attack with infantry support while the Aircraft where shooting up the approach roads to stop enemy reinforcements arriving at the front. The problems with the British after the war they wanted to go back to Cavalry in which all the Senior officers had grown up with
Look at an Australian general. I think he was the first to combine all those elements or so I have been taught. But that might be due to national mythology rather than the truth of it.

Monash is an interesting character but I am sure he has his own books, as for von Seeckt he has remained largely unknown but it was his term in command that led to the German army's successes of 1939-42 and to a large degree kept them as a solid fighting force right to the end.

The book is a solid read and certainly not an all action one but it is well worth reading if you want to know the roots of German WW2 doctrine.
The genesis of "Blitzkrieg" could go back to the armored elephants charging into the enemy line or the armored/heavy horse cavalry doing the same - all integrated into the commanders plan of battle. We have seen this again and again in South Asia and Persia. However, smart commanders like the Mogul Emperor Babur or the Afghan General Ahmed Shah Abdali ( a forefather of the last Afghan King Zahir Shah) could innovate tactics and weapons to throw the elephants into a rampage over own troops.
I am sure we could sit here arguing who invented and what constitutes "Blitzkrieg" until hell freezes over but that ignores the point that this book is about the German development of blitzkrieg and it is a good read.