Blitzkrieg, or “lightning war,” was the all-important German tactic that allowed them to take over their enemies swiftly and avoid casualties. Although it wasn’t the only tactic used by the Germans it was definitely a major and important one. Even though ultimately the German army was defeated it displayed its ability in military tactics, especially through Blitzkrieg. This can be seen in the invasion of France where although even in numbers and supplies the Germans were able to defeat the French.
Blitzkrieg was born in England and raised in Germany; it was a spectacular tactic for Germany to use under its peacetime economy; it was possible through new technology, and it was deadly on the battlefield because of its use of airplanes, infantry and armor.As I said before Blitzkrieg was born in England and raised in Germany. It was the chief of staff of the British Tank Corps, John Fuller, that came up with the idea of Blitzkrieg initially. Fuller was frustrated with tank use in the First World War and developed his ideas because of it. Fuller’s plan called for mass amounts of tank attacks with strong air support and backed up further by mechanized infantry. He laid out his plans in two books, Reformation of War and Foundation of the Science of War. The British ignored his ideas but German military leaders took notice. When Hitler took power in 1933 German tank manufacturing became more open.
German Panzer tanks started to be produced which had the necessary speed, mobility, and firepower to effectively utilize Blitzkrieg.Throughout WWII Germany maintained a peacetime economy. Hitler was weary of ever switching over to a wartime economy. What he hoped to do through Blitzkrieg was to eliminate the need for the economical switch.
The idea was that the war or invasion would be over before the extra production would make a difference. This plan of using Blitzkrieg also was suppose to bring about fewer casualties.The First World War showed new technologies such as flight and armor. By the time the next world war broke out these new technologies matured and were able to be used better on the battlefield. The German Panzers were an example of how far armor technology came. The Panzer IV was what made Blitzkrieg work. The Panzer IV was reliable. It was quick, agile and powerful – all the traits needed for Blitzkrieg.
It became evident after the invasion of Poland in 1939 (first use of Blitzkrieg) that the Panzer I, II and III were insufficient and only the Panzer IV would lead the German armies across Europe. Advancements in airplanes also contributed the success of Blitzkrieg. The Luftwaffe with its new dive-bomber the Stuka was another key aspect of the arsenal.
The Stuka was carried powerful bombs and its accuracy made it absolutely deadly.Other advancements included better motorization and communications. With motorcycles and automobiles Germans could move infantry around the battlefield very quickly.
This speed allowed infantry to better participate in Blitzkrieg. German support vehicles proved to be very reliable. Communications also improved. Radios also made great technological strives. Orders could be sent out on the battlefield quickly allowing for instant adjustments to compensate for discrepancies.Now that we have gone over where Blitzkrieg came from and what it takes we can go over how it is done. The idea was to hit fast and hard.
An appropriate term would be hit and run. Instead of just hitting with tanks, guns or airplanes the Germans hit with all three. The Luftwaffe would strike first. It hit Poland so hard and fast during the 1939 invasion that it caught planes still on the ground. They took out bridges and roads, civilians and railways. The goal of the Luftwaffe was not only to inflict damage but also confusion and chaos.
They were responsible for taking out enemy planes and hindering their ability to mobilize against the on coming onslaught of tanks. The Stuka with its accuracy and power was able to continuously bomb tanks and was able to take out an entire column one by one. This helped tip the already unbalanced scale of battlefield power to the Germans.Blitzkrieg’s backbone was the Panzer IV. With its speed, mobility, and power it proved the perfect tank for Blitzkrieg.
Instead of spreading out three or four tanks in infantry divisions, armored divisions comprised of hundreds of tanks were used. Tanks struck with quick and deadly shots. German tank columns would strike weak points in and enemies line. They were able to move behind and eventually surround infantry. Mobilized infantry also complimented the tanks allowing for infantry to keep up with and help the Panzer divisions. With the combined use of armor, infantry and planes the German Blitzkrieg was able to strike from every side and was hard at best and impossible for most to resist.
The idea was to strike fear into the opposition and it is my prediction it did just that.The first ever use of this deadly tactic was seen against Poland in 1939 after Hitler invaded. The Polish army had and out of date military. Only horses challenged German tanks and it was easy for Panzers to eventually surround and neutralize Polish forces.
Blitzkrieg was used further in Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Yugoslavia, USSR and France. France was perhaps the first real test of the lightning war. It was in France that Germans were met with a force approximately equal to them. The French didn’t slow blitzkrieg either. The power and speed of the German army catalyzed through Blitzkrieg rolled over the French Maginot Line and eventually to Paris. It was the Soviets who slowed Blitzkrieg. The German front extended over 1,800 miles made it impossible for a swift advance, which was needed for success in Blitzkrieg,. This tactic seemed otherwise invincible.
Blitzkrieg was a powerful tactic. It proved hard to resist. German tactical masterminds perfected its technique and unleashed its ferocity across Europe. The irony of it is that it was one of Germany’s best weapons against the Allies and it was born in England.