German officer education in the interwar years.
MPhil(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.
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This dissertation is trying to discover some of the reasons why the Germans were so successful on the tactical level during World War II. Several factors contributed to this. The dissertation however, will limit itself to focussing on the human side of it. To be more specific it will look into which personal qualities the Germans looked for in their officers, and how these were developed, and claim that: In German officer development in the interwar years, the framework and environment in which the education and training took place were even more important than the content.
To prove this the dissertation will go through several steps. Based on doctrines and the professional debate which took place in the military journal Das Militär Wochenblatt, the dissertation will point out which demands the Germans saw that the battlefield made on officers. These will be called ‘Battlefield Demands’. The dissertation will argue that the most important ‘Battlefield Demands’ are; being able to make decisions, being able to lead others, and the ability to endure the situation on the battlefield. Based on these demands there will be a discussion of which personal qualities are needed to meet them. Having shown which personal qualities the Germans saw as imperative for coping with a battlefield situation, the argument will be enhanced by giving examples of how they trained their officers to develop those personal qualities. The discussion will argue that if the officer cannot endure the battlefield situation he will neither be capable of making decisions nor leading others. Therefore, the most important personal qualities for an officer on the tactical level are the ones that make him capable of enduring the situation he is in. These are qualities which are extremely difficult to teach and to learn through ordinary teaching and training. They are more a product of the environment than of the content. It is therefore fair to say that in German officer development in the interwar years, the framework and environment in which the education and training took place were even more important than the contents.
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