Erich von Manstein was one of the most capable German generals of the Second World War. He played a major part in the planning for the invasions of Poland and France, and then played a major part in the fighting on the Eastern Front, restoring the German front after Stalingrad and possibly preventing a German collapse in 1943.
Most of the text focuses on Manstein's service during the Second World War. There is a brief look at his background and First World War service, and a longer section on the inter-war years. This section also examines the German Army's role in both German rearmament and the build-up to the Second World War.
One of the most interesting feature of the early chapters is the ease with which the author dismantles Manstein's post-war claims not to have been involved in the planning for aggressive war, or to have know of the crimes committed in Poland. His denial of any knowledge or involvement in the war crimes in Russia is also demolished with ease.
The author has successfully maintained a balance between admiration for the military skills of Manstein and condemnation of his involvements in war crimes and total failure to understand the nature of Hitler's rule during the war. The result is a portrait of a great commander but a flawed person.
1 - From the Imperial Army to the Reichswehr
2 - The Wehrmacht: Army of the Third Reich
3 - Manstein and the March to War
4 - The Polish 'Laboratory'
5 - The Manstein Plan
6 - Disgrace and a Dramatic Turn of Events
7 - The Incomplete Victory of the Sickle Cut
8 - Between Two Campaigns
9 - The Conquest of the Crimea
10 - The Wehrmacht and the Genocidal War in Russia
11 - Manstein, the Eleventh Army in the Crimea, and the Final Solution
12 - The Winds of Berezina: The Stalingrad Tragedy
13 - From Retreat to Backlash
14 - Clash of Titans: The Battle of Kursk
15 - Manstein and the Military Resistance to Hitler
16 - The Legend of an 'Honorable and Upright Wehrmacht'
Author: Benoit Lemay