The prosecution of multi-theatre warfare : an analysis of the German military leadership's attempt to direct war in simultaneous theatres : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in History at Massey University
On 1 September 1939 Adolf Hitler convened a session of the Reichstag to announce war with Poland. Dressed in a grey field tunic, he declared that Polish aggression would be suppressed, and that he would wear the tunic until "victory is ours, or, I shall not live to see the day!"1 Germany did not win the war, and Hitler did not live to see the day of its defeat. The established record
of the Second World War adequately portrays what happened, and the chronology is ingrained. Nevertheless, aspects of the war have been neglected, especially in relation to command issues within the German armed forces. Because of the prominence of Hitler in all accounts, the actions of those below him have traditionally been marginalised. The purpose of this thesis is to address this 'gap' in history by evaluating the overall German military leadership's attempt to direct war in simultaneous theatres. Using primary sources such as war diaries, memoirs, and various accounts of Führer conferences, this study will analyse how the unique German command structure eventually contributed heavily to Germany's defeat. While many authors hold Hitler solely responsible for defeat, and thus overlook the role of others, my work is primarily concerned with analysing the German High Command structure and its attempt to direct war on multiple fronts at the same time. Responsibility for eventual German defeat cannot be laid at Hitler's feet alone because while he maintained sole executive powers, he remained open to the suggestions of those in his inner circle. In the end, those figures, who will be discussed in this study, failed Germany because they were unable to present a united front against Hitler when the situation became critical for the armed forces after 1941.