Hitler's Warriors: Manstein the Strategist

Ratings: 8.30/10 from 53 users.


Hitler's Warriors: Manstein the Strategist

They used to call it the art of warfare. War as a game of strategy. Certain moves can be considered brilliant, like the French campaign, his greatest triumph. Some moves required brute force, such as the conquest of Crimea and Sevastopol, the world's strongest fortress.

"My most able general", said Hitler, "is the most dangerous opponent" said the allies. A Prussian field marshal obsessed with duty, discernment, and obedience.

Why wage war for a criminal? Why obedience to the very end? There is virtually no other commander-in-chief who fought as many battles with Hitler and contributed as much to solutions at the front as Manstein did.

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42 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Geoffrey Grekin

    I have a problem with this documentary from the get go...
    Its a-historical and it lacks context.

    First of all, German had a military elite that ruled in conjunction with the emperor prior to the world wars, one which Manstein was a part of. They were a right-wing organization that favored authoritarianism rather than democracy.

    After the first world war the ruling royal elite along with the military elite fell into disrepute as socialist (quasi-communist) and democratic powers grew in dominance creating the weak "'Wiemar republic" (the right-wing choose to relinquish governmental powers, but held on to powerful institutions like judicial, military, bureaucratic etc..)
    Slowly the right wing crept back into power in what is a complex period following great turmoil of the depression and hyper-inflation.

    The right-wing forces which the military elite were a part, actively created the conditions for the rise of right-wing dominance in which Hitler's party was a part. After the 1932 elections, the right-wing elite choose to endorse the NSDAP to stave off a unified left-wing coalition believing they could control Hitler by giving him position in government...

    They were wrong.
    What's more the generals and military elite were eager to right the wrong of the disastrous peace of WW1.
    Although they didn't like Hitler's ideals (they certainly weren't Nazi's) they had no problem following him to war to restore Germany and its people to their former greatness, believing that the end justified the means.

    It's only after the Nuremberg trials and the revelation of the holocaust that many former Germany military elite attempt to distance themselves from Hitler. They do this by creating the myth of Hitler as the sole perpetrator of all evils using him as a scape-goat shifting any blame away from themselves The realities however are much more complicated, Hitler didn't always see eye to eye with his generals, especially on social policy, but they nevertheless had many goals in alignment that enabled Hitler to wage war and instigate his final solution.

  2. Brett Witthun

    Do you just copy and paste this comment on anything that concerns the actions of Germany during WW2? The elite of many Western powers praised Stalin for his efforts in starving millions of Poles and Ukrainians in order to create a workers paradise, yet nothing is made of this in modern history, Russia has never apoligized, and where are all the memorials built to honor these dead? Germany has bent over to make amends, while Japan, Turkey, Belgium and the UK, have never attempted to make any such moves.

  3. DigiWongaDude

    "The elite of many Western powers praised Stalin for his efforts in starving millions of Poles and Ukrainians in order to create a workers paradise, yet nothing is made of this in modern history."

    Uhm...that's pretty bad Brett. Stalin was praised for his heroic efforts against the Nazi German war machine, and condemned for his methods.

    What Stalin complicity allowed to happen to Poland was atrocious - no one praised him for this, as you incorrectly state with disinformation.

    Stalin, claiming his troops were too exhausted from unarguable battle fatigue which [again] unarguably turned the war firmly against Germany, stood down and did nothing while the Pols starved to death en masse, motivated by his tyrannical, selfish ideas. No, the elites of the west did not praise him for this.

    Have a look at Oliver Stone's new documentary series, this saga is covered in some detail there (parts 1 & 2). Whatever bad Russia did, only undermined the huge amount of good they achieved: that's a given.

    But in your assessment of German reprisals, what good at all did Germany achieve? Liberating the Vaderland? That's why they had to 'bend over'...once again, like the bear joke "you're not really here for the hunting are you?"

  4. Brett Witthun


    I was refering to the Western elites and/or pro-communist writers and diplomats that witnessed the mass starvation of Polish and Ukrainian farmers when their farms were collectivized by the the Soviet state. Millions were killed by this action, even while living on some of the most fertile ground in Eastern Europe. This was during the 1920s and 1930s, many pro-Soviet westerners looked past these deaths as a needed sacrifice to achieve the classless or workers paradise.
    What's the bear joke? The punch line had me laughing, but i have never heard the joke.

  5. DigiWongaDude

    @ Brett, now THAT'S interesting! Sorry dude, my bad...I'll look in to that. The bear joke? It's a classic. If I summarised here it wouldn't be so funny, and telling the long version...well it'll only get deleted anyway, so no point. Basically a guy keeps failing to kill a bear. The bear, after each attempt bends him over and 'has his way' with the hunter....who then goes and gets more and more weapons to get revenge and kill the bear. Eventually, after numerous failed attempts, the bear says to the hunter "You're not really here for the hunting are you?"

  6. Brett Witthun

    LMBO, that is classic

  7. Geoffrey Grekin

    @ Brett,

    First of all I think your clearly missing the point of what I'm saying. Sure, many nations like Russia never made amends or apologized for the the atrocities committed. However the German people, especially the elite didn't simply grow a heart or moral conscious after the WW2 like the Grinch who stole Christmas. Instead the German amends came with a very nice incentive carrot attached.

    Germany become a key battleground for the upcoming cold war, one in which the western elites attempted to promote both militarily (NATO) and financially to stave off the emerging communist threat
    This would have been exceedingly difficult if the normal process of strained relations and reparations accompanied Germany after the second world war.
    Instead, the allies decided to created the Nuremberg trials, placing the blame strictly on Nazism and its infamous leader Hitler.
    However, the Nuremberg trail failed to address other motivations and sins committed by German people and its former elite.

    As a result, the remaining German elite, un-associated with Nazism, choose to adopt a romanticized myth of the German people as passive 'Victims' to Hitler's extreme Nazism, washing away their own sins and responsibility away.
    Furthermore, when they make amends, they do so for Hitler, and not for themselves, the apologize for his actions, and not for theirs.

    Finally, This new found German remorse enabled the german people to re-enter western civilized culture to the dismay of Stalin, and rebuild their country with substantial aid from the victors.

    Had it not been for this, and the easy scape goat Hitler provided, Germans' would not have apologized so easily.

  8. rufusclyde

    Why would German elites make ammends or feel remorse? The German economy, which rose in the second half of the nineteenth century at a rate second only to the US, was destroyed as a result of the First World War. The Nazis rose as a result of economic devestation and the ensuing collapse of society. The victors reaped what they sowed and created a fresh German threat. , After the Soviets elimiinated the German military threat, the new German economy was fully integrated in a subordinate fashion into the Anglo/American-dominated empire. There never was an emerging communist threat. The Soviet system attempted to maintain communism while emulating a consumer economy. The German state committed the fatal error of trying to colonize European powers instead of brown people.

  9. Ivo Veveris

    Also millions of Russians starved and Stalin was from Georgia...

  10. Geoffrey Grekin

    @ Rufusclyde,

    Simple really, and i've explain this point before in an early post. The Royal elite and economy boom Germany received was due in large part to the unification of Germany under Bismark. Those that succeeded Bismark were right-wring authoritarianism with strong Prussian military tradition.
    In fact their growing power threatened the dominance of the British empire, even thought they were slow in the participating in the second wave of colonialism.

    This all came to a head by the first world war, based of arrogance and
    settling old scores and the alliance system, franz ferdinand was just the spark, the preparations for war were brewing long before his death.

    Ultimately, the war didn't go well for Germany, although they never suffered a true military defeat at the hands of the allies, the blockade and internal social upheavals had taken their toll.
    By the end of the war there was a general strike, and mass protest in Germany calling for a social reform to the authoritarian rule.

    Germany, knowing that they were defeated, offered the allies peace terms, and they agreed. however after disarmament, Germany's negotiation of the peace turned for the worse and they were given sever reparations.
    The German elite knew that the terms would cause sever strife, and that the social upheavals would unseat them in a violent struggle. So what they did was they relinquished their power to let the left create Wiemar republic before the negotiations had conlcuded, while also holding on to key positions of judicial, bureaucratic and authoritarian (police, military) control so that the right-wing elite can maintain unofficial power.
    The intended goal was to discredit the new Wiemar republic and let them take all of the negative flak associated with the reparations and the negotiations, and eventually emerge as once again as Germany's savoir.
    So they are responsible in creating the the kettle, and helped raise the temperature in Germany, actively sabotaging the Wiemar republic governance at every step.

    For example, because of right wing judicial control, left learning revolutionaries, like Rosa luxenburg and Karl liebknect to name a few, revolted and were dealt severely by the authorities, torture death and life in prison.
    However, right-wing revolutionaries like Hitler were given a minor slap on the wrist and small prison term.
    If Hitler was treated the same way as the left revolutionaries after his beer hall push, he would of certainly been killed or imprisoned for a much longer term. He would not have been released, not given paper to write his infamous book, and certainly wouldn't have been published.

    So the elite should feel responsible, not only did they created the conditions for Hitler's rise, they also gave him his support thinking they could control him if given a position. They should defiantly feel some guilt or responsibility of the fact that they were the ones pulling the strings that lead to the bloodiest conflict in the 20th century.

  11. rufusclyde

    To coin a phrase, it takes two to tango. At the start of the First World War, Germany was an emerging rival to existing European powers, and every effort was undertaken by the British and French to prevent the emergence of a German hegemon. An example of the esteem in which military threats were held by the British is the incident in Manila Bay in 1898. As the US worked on establishing their nascent empire, Germany eyed some of the same Pacific prizes. During the showdown in Manila Bay, a Royal Navy ship sailed past the Germans playing "The Star Spangled Banner". Again, the big boys played war and took colonies. The terms dictated at Paris in 1919 and the economic and social upheaval in Germany post-WW I were hardly the choice of German elites. The Europeans continued to play empire all through the twenties and thirties, as did the US. The British and French decisions to go to war over Poland, despite the heaviest and most pervasive seventy-year propaganda campaign in history, were hardly made out of altruism.

  12. tomregit

    "So the elite should feel responsible, not only did they created the conditions for Hitler's rise, they also gave him his support thinking they could control him if given a position."

    OK, the 'elite" of whom you speak have been dead for 20-40 years. All of them. Now just who is it that should bear the guilt you want to apportion.

  13. Geoffrey Grekin


    It's for history sake actually,
    Hitler bears the most un-shared responsibility in the conflict, even thought hes been dead for over 60 years.
    Culture and tradition lives on past the expiration date of individual people, Even after Hitlers death Neo-Nazi's organization still co-exist, but the eugenic agenda has been exposed and revealed for what it is. It will never reach the same prominence.
    Therefore, Its by exposing these organizations and ideologues that people are able to engaged with them understanding their consequences and reactions and choose to improve or reject ideals in an evolving social paradigm.
    However, If a false myth of Hitler as the sole bearer of the responsibility (and his Nazi minions) continues in mainstream portrayals like this documentary. Then people will never learn from these experiences and will fall into the similar future traps, that could have been revealed.
    This is the fundamental principal of 'Liberal' history (there are many other historical theories but I won't get into these.)

    As per my comment in which you referenced, i meant this in a general way.
    The elite never felt responsible, (yes many are dead), but they should have taken responsibility, they didn't.. they couldn't stand looking in the mirror.

  14. rufusclyde

    The Nazi German economy was fundamentally linked to global finance and industry. This is indisputable. IG Farben was tied directly to institutions like Prescott Bush's Union Bank. Ford, Coca-cola, General Motors, General Electric, International Business Machines, all integrated the Nazi society into their structures. Despite the propaganda that Nazi Germany was somehow uniquely evil, the fact remains that Germany simply undertook to colonize Europeans instead of brown people, and the opposition faced by Germany was the apparatus of the advanced powers of the world rather than fragmented or primitive societies such as those colonized by Russia, the US, France, Britain, Belgium, etc. At the time the Wehrmacht rolled into Poland, there were still people living in the US who had been born as slaves, Britain still ruled India, and the French owned Indo-china. Good guys and bad guys exists only in the fictional realms of entertainment and propaganda.

  15. Geoffrey Grekin

    @ rufusclyde,

    You seem to imply that I don't agree with you in regards to the culpability of the allies and their role in the in the 19th century conflict.
    Your correct, it does take two to tango and the allies had plenty of skeletons in their closet. But this is not the question i was addressing, rather i was focusing merely on the German culpability.

    In regards to the economy,
    I don't understand the point your trying to make? German's economy was tied with the global economy?
    A western civilized nation in the 20th century? This isn't exactly a revelation, any economy looking to strive looks for foreign capital and goods. We all know the capitalist morality ends at the almighty dollar sign.
    For example, Just because the Nazi SS drank Fanta Orange supplied by Coke, doesn't mean Coke was a Nazi supporter, It simply means they were good capitalists avoiding a public relations disaster.

    Finally, in regards to your comment concerning "Colonizing" Europeans; I think this is a gross simplification on colonization. There are no settlements, there is no setting up of long term exploitation of raw minerals, there is no cross-cultural assimilation, and no global vindication mission associated with Hitlers invasion.
    Only the typical actions one expects during a military conflict, looting, raping, pillaging (whether village or nation).
    The only area, Hitler might have conceivably be interested in colonizing was some parts of Russia as fertile farm lands.

    I would recommend you take a deep look at colonization, and all of its implications.

  16. rufusclyde

    I would suggest that you take a deep look at what took place in Europe over the last five hundred years. There are, to this day, two million Germans in Poland, and there are Germans as far away as Kazakhstan. Prior to the commencement of overt war in 1939, German industry had more or less assimilated the areas of Silesia from whence came vast amounts of minerals. As for Russia, you may have heard of a minor Second World War campaign in the region of the city formerly known as Stalingrad. The armoured units of Hermann Hoth had been diverted from Army Group South to drive on the Caucasus oil-fields. Nazi Germany was nothing if not a colonial exploiter of conquered lands, however brief their imperial heyday. You chose to use terms like "responsiblity" with regard to the Second World War. British leaders such as Churchill were very much enthused about getting into a war with Germany long before the fall of 1939. As with most military adventurists, the British underestimated their opponents early on, and the British empire was lost sooner rather than later as a result.

  17. Geoffrey Grekin

    "Nazi Germany was nothing if not a colonial exploiter of conquered lands, however brief their imperial heyday."

    You might as well say this for any war in which one nation conquers another.
    Colonization is something with a longer scope, and usually peace-time related, i'd advise mashing the concept of 'Colonization' and "occupation' under the same rubric.
    One refers to subtle exploitation, the other direct control, very different.

    Again, i'm not pointing blame on who's responsible for starting the war, its a complex affair, with many different players. but here is the fact, after Germany's defeat, the German elite did not take responsibility for THEIR actions, I feel this needs to be amended.

  18. Geoffrey Grekin

    I'm going to reiterate my point, As i feel the topic has gone very much off course.

    In this documentary film, featuring Manstein's Strategic brilliance, they promote a false myth of the German elite as passive players to Hitler's rise, and merely loyal obedient soldiers, and generals saluting the fuhrer with grudging dismay.
    This enables these old elites, featured within this documentary to promote this idea that they, the military elite were just victims in this tragedy and cannot be held responsible for any of it.

    This is false of course, many were active players in an organization that actively promoted Hitler's rise and eagerly planned and carried out the the second war.

    Yes, there were other players involved in the second world war, These German military elite weren't the only ones at fault, and they probably shouldn't hold all, or even most of the blame.
    Nevertheless their part in the WW2 was significant enough that they should hold some responsibility as an active proponent and not victims.
    Those label's belong to the true innocent victims of this war.

    I hope that clears everything up..!

  19. Deborah Moderate

    I have always felt this way towards those whom you mention. No man rises alone. I enjoyed reading your comments.

  20. tomregit

    I don't strongly disagree with you. Your well reasoned response is appreciated. I just think that it's a complex question from a tumultuous period beginning before the turn of the century and that there is more than enough blame to go around.
    BTW my own father fought in Europe during WWII and was not demobilized until late 1946 due to wounds he carried the rest of his life. He never felt hatred toward the German people (I'm not implying you do) or ascribed blame. But then he was simple corporal like Hitler

    No, not at all like Herr Schicklgruber. :0)

  21. Tony Loscalzo

    Way too heavy and close to the passions of the 1945 Ministry of Information. It belongs in the catalogue as Advertising 405.

  22. rufusclyde

    Which group of elites did take responsiblity for their actions in fomenting the war? The people who drafted the Versaille treaty? As for subtle exploitation, Indonesia, Indochina and India were hardly "subtly" exploited. Again, the Nazis faced a much more formidable array of enemies in their wars of conquest than did the US in taking the Phillipines, Clive in India or the French in Algeria. The British dominance of the varous aspects of India's resources was about as direct as it could get.

  23. Brett Sloan

    I agree that he was tactically skilled, though the idea that he was a "moral failure" is rude and untrue. From the picture painted in this documentary of Manstein I believe we see that he is of the utmost moral being, yet simply in a traditionalist perspective. If you define morality as doing what you feel is right, then I believe you would agree that he was not a "moral failure".

  24. Geoffrey Grekin

    In a similar vein,
    Hitler also believed what he was doing was justifiable moral deed.
    Even in regards to the holocaust (one of the most deplorable acts), Hitler simply believed that he was helping rid the world of a dangerous contagion to the global gene pool, based on contemporary theories of eugenics and social Darwinism.
    Hitler too under the traditional perspective wasn't a 'moral failure'. This merely demonstrates that morality is relative.

    Nevertheless, just because someone thinks their actions are moral or justifiable does not make them so.

  25. denis lakos

    Morality is not relative it is given by 10 commandments and guiltiness every person fells when he dose wrong.

  26. N

    Hell can happen if introduced Incrementally......Remind you of anything ?

  27. dewflirt

    Yeah, my gas bills! ;)

  28. Michaell Svendsen

    not available in Denmark

  29. Russ Apechin

    well said N

  30. Russ Apechin

    Just as the jewish believe that they are the "chosen ones" Manstein was of any moral charatcter

  31. Darren

    he was a scum bag just like all that fought for Hitler.

  32. morrisseyowesmemoney .

    The Wermacht fought for germany, not for Hitler. The alleged "war crimes" were being performed by the SS, not the Wermacht. Why don't you pull your head out of your ass and do some learning before you spout off.

  33. Darren

    you fight for the Nazi´s , you are a Nazi.

  34. PM

    The German Army engaged in almost as many acts of terror and genocide as did the S.S. and none of these crimes were "alleged" , they are factual and well documented . Manstein was a Nazi Scumbag who was caught lying at his trial in Nuremberg concerning the infamous Commissar Order that Hitler issued. He was all too aware that the Russian populations under his control were being systematically starved to death to feed the German Army and he damn well knew that Jews and Russians were being murdered by the Einsatzgruppen operating under his military jurisdiction. That he was a genius there's absolutely no question but he was an amoral bastard and he should have been shot along with all the others who waged Hitler's wars, these men weren't soldiers, they were butchers in Feldgrau.

  35. zombies

    gentleman,dont all this look like the same mentaillyty,you see today! wake-up....you do want to win in the future.

  36. the silenced masses

    What about soldiers who fight for America? Think how many countries they've destroyed, how many millions of people they murdered. They're all just as guilty as the German soldiers

  37. Darren

    I am not american

  38. flash321

    Your sense of morality is broken.
    I doubt any sensible discussion is possible with such damage.

  39. flash321

    There are some truths which can not be changed by inaccurate moral relativism. He knew what he was doing, and there is no doubt that he and his cause were completely immoral. What a criminal thinks, does not define morality.

  40. the silenced masses

    My sense of morality is broken, because I believe in peace, equality and justice? The fact remains that America is the most oppressive, militarily aggressive country on the planet and they have started more wars, destroyed more countries and killed, injured and displace more people than any other country.

    It is you is both morally and intellectually stunted. Your mind has obviously been warped by bigoted, nationalistic propaganda

  41. flash321

    That is just a lie and guess what? I'm not going to waste my time going over the history of each military excursion. You should have learned about these things in high school.
    Unless you are not living in a free country. In that case, you have good reason for you head being full of ----.

  42. flash321

    See, people who don't live in a free country, or are ignorant of how media in a free society works, might think nonsense like that. When history is given as news by several major news outlets, it is likely to be true, because all the news sources have to sell is reliability.

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