Classic Texts

Wehrmacht on the Offensive 1939-1942

Wehrmacht on the Offensive: 1939-1942

The Wehrmacht of Nazi Germany was one of the most remarkable and effective armies in the history of warfare. Established in 1935 from the professional core of the inter-war Reichswehr, the Wehrmacht developed rapidly, massively expanding its numbers while developing a revolutionary set of strategic and tactical ideas, known to us as Blitzkrieg. When it was unleashed on an unprepared Europe in 1939, the Wehrmacht swept all before it, conquering most of the continent before it was finally halted in late 1942. Despite being outnumbered and outgunned, it fought on for the next two years, conducting a fighting retreat of unprecedented skill on three separate fronts.

Featuring full-color maps, contemporary photographs, and profiles of leading figures, this two volume set examines what it was that made the Wehrmacht so effective, and what weaknesses led to its eventual downfall and destruction. It also includes lengthy appendices detailing the organization, manpower strength, and equipment of different types of Wehrmacht division as well as a glossary of terms.

This book – the first volume of a two-volume series – covers the development, tactical doctrine, and early combat history of the Wehrmacht. It begins with an examination of the German Republic’s post-Versailles armed forces – the Reichswehr – before moving on to look at how this force was transformed under the Nazis into the Wehrmacht of World War II. This includes a detailed examination of the technological and tactical developments that made the Wehrmacht's early successes possible. The later chapters cover the triumphant campaigns of the Wehrmacht between 1939 and 1942, including the German campaigns in Poland, Norway, France, North Africa, and the Soviet Union.