Pen & Sword Books

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Lucky Hitler’s Big Mistakes

Lucky Hitler’s Big Mistakes written by Paul Ballard-Whyte and published by

Pen & Sword Books - £25 - Hardback - Pages 336

Adolf Hitler’s Great War military experiences in no way qualified him for supreme command. Yet by July 1940, under his personal leadership the Third Reich’s armed forces had defeated Poland, Czechoslovakia, Holland, Denmark, Norway, Belgium and France. The invasion of Great Britain was a distinct reality following Dunkirk. Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania had become allies along with the acquiescent military powers of Mussolini’s Italy and Franco’s Spain. These achievements prompted Field Marshal Willem Keitel, the Wehrmacht’s Chief of Staff, to pronounce Hitler to be ‘the Greatest Commander of all time’.

Storm clouds were gathering, most notably the disastrous decision to tear up the treaty with the Soviet Union and launch Operation Barbarossa in 1941. As described in this meticulously researched and highly readable book, Hitler’s blind ideology, racist hatred and single-mindedness led him and his allies inexorably to devastating defeat. How far was it good luck that gave Hitler his sensational early political and military successes? Certainly fortune played a major role in his survival from many assassination attempts and sex scandals. The author concludes, from 1941 onwards, the Fuhrer’s downfall was entirely attributable to military misjudgements that he alone made.

Lucky Hitler’s Big Mistakes exposes the enigmatic Dictator for what he really was – incredibly lucky and militarily incompetent.

The subject of this book is a question that often dominates military history message boards, in how Hitler rose to power from such a lowly position. The author of this book Paul Ballard-Whyte spends the first half of this book looking at how Hitler got to his position through a number of events that would help him get to the top of his ladder, such as the Munich Beer Hall Putsch, The Reichstag Fire and the Night of the Long Knives to name a few. Then in the second half of the book, he then looks at when Hitler was in his ultimate position he then failed a good number of times that would see his quest fail, such as Failure to Invade Britain, North Africa and Declaring War on the US. All the points in the book are nicely argued leaving the reader to decide their thoughts. I really enjoyed this book mainly because it was very well written and researched and it’s a subject I have often looked at over the years. An excellent book, especially if you like WW2 history and how it occurred.

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