“Lost Victories” by Erich von Manstein

I used Grammarly to grammar check this post, because I want to become a complete writer.

If you are a Second World War buff, like me, I am sure you would have read many biographies and autobiographies from the Generals, Admirals, and Air Chief Marshals who led the Allied troops to victory over the Axis forces.

Hitler’s Nazi regime was crushed in 1945 bringing to an end the Second World War which had lasted more than six years and enveloped the whole world . General Eisenhower’s “Crusade in Europe,”; “The Memoirs of Field Marshal Montgomery” and “Patton: Ordeal and Triumph” by Ladislas Farago come readily to mind, to name few of very many such books.

You don’t however get to read too many books written by military leaders on the other side of the fence. I was delighted to come across ” Lost Victories” by Field Marshal Erich von Manstein, considered one of the finest military strategists in the German Wehrmacht. This was originally published in Germany in 1955. You will remember that much of the credit for the German victories in the initial campaigns of  the War such as the attack on Poland and the blitzkrieg which crushed Belgium, the skirting of the supposedly redoubtable Maginot Line, was attributed to von Manstein.

He once again came into the limelight later on the Eastern Front as the commander-in-chief of Army Group Don, a part of which was General Paulus’s ill-fated Sixth Army.  This book covers all the bitterly fought campaigns against the Russians, who were numerically far stronger than the Germans, from 1941 until Hitler relieved von Manstein of his command in 1944.

The book is a frank assessment of German strengths and weaknesses in the campaigns fought by von Manstein. He has told the story as he saw it, with no effort to overplay his achievements or shift the blame for his failures. You also get to read what is becoming increasingly rare, a forthright assessment of Hitler by one of the few top German Generals who stood up to him on several occasions, disagreeing with his strategy. That was the main reason why Hitler replaced him as he did.

The book catalogs some of the biggest mistakes made by Hitler which otherwise may have changed the fortunes of Germany in the Second World war. You will find here the author’s views on why Hitler did not go for the jugular when he allowed the British to escape from Dunkirk, or why Hitler’s military decisions were often compromised by political considerations. The book is replete with maps and details of the various military units that fought on both sides in these campaigns.

I would commend this book to all who are interested in military history. It comes across as the true story of the quintessential Prussian General who owed allegiance to his country and military ethics.

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