Hitler's Underestimation of the Allies

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Toni Smith
“The Boys’ Crusade” concerning Hitler’s Underestimation of the Allied Powers In his book “The Boys’ Crusade” Paul Fussell develops the theme of Adolf Hitler’s underestimation of the Allied forces. Hitler’s failure to accurately evaluate the power of the Allied enemies led to the destruction of the Axis powers and precipitated the end of WWII. He underestimated not only the strength of the Allies, but also their determination to win, their combined cooperation, their militarial organizational skills, and their combined technological advances. This underestimation was a product of Hitler’s personal theory of German Aryan racial supremacy over other races and was commonly accepted to some degree as the social Darwinist ideas of the time. In Hitler’s eyes, Germans were a dominant species, set apart from other races by their motivation, their loyal dedication to the Führer, and the strength of their willpower. Hitler believed Germans would prove themselves to be superior on the battlefield if only because of their pure racial background. The lack of discipline and the dismissive attitudes of Allied troops were factors that Hitler believed maintained the theory of racial supremacy. The Germany military, called the Wehrmacht, the SS, and the Gestapo were all strictly trained and highly disciplined units. German parades during WWII consisted of controlled marches in uniform through the streets of German cities. Nazi officials aimed to show the Aryan population the strength and pride of the German military. In contrast to the strict discipline of the Wehrmacht were the Allied forces, in specific, the American troops. They gained a reputation of general laziness including “slouching postures, gum chewing, leaning against walls when tired, keeping hands in trouser pockets, and … profanity…”1 Hitler saw the slovenly attitudes of the American troops as a solid example of the supremacy of the Aryan Germans. Fussell states that because conditions at the front line were so deplorable many psychological problems and morale issues arose. Also, a general unpreparedness of new recruits was a critical concern, which could have been avoided by training infantrymen for the psychological aspects of warfare. Too late, military planners found that unless replacement troops were “trained rigorously and prepared psychologically for the carnage of the front lines, they would not survive long and tended to revert to cowardice when faced with violent action.”2 In trench warfare the abysmal living environment, illness, fatigue, loneliness, and constant fear of death created a hopeless feeling of fighting in a meaningless “never-ending” war. The psychological health of Allied troops was a crucial factor in relation to the positive morale and overall troop resilience, especially of those confronted daily with violent action. The infantry suffered the highest percentage of total casualties throughout the war, and was forced to fight in the worst conditions. The idea of a “never-ending” war was created in part by the demoralization of troops during the middle stages of the war, before an end was clearly in sight, and also because American troops knew there were only three ways “to escape from the front line with its discipline, anxiety, and horror: the unlikely sudden end of the war; a wound; and death itself.”3 Before the winter of 1941, Hitler had not considered, the threat of U.S. involvement in the war. However, when the U.S. declared war on Germany and Japan on the 11th of December, 1941, Hitler wholeheartedly believed Germany was ready to challenge Britain and America in a war of global magnitude. Hitler had previously assumed the U.S. would stay out of a European conflict to continue their chosen policy of isolation across the Atlantic. But Germany was not materially prepared for a global war drawn out for more than a few years. Though the U.S. lacked the discipline and fanatical loyalty the German troops showed towards...
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