Disobedience and Conspiracy in the German Army, 1918–1945


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SKU: 9780786437443 Categories: , , , ,

About the Book

This work examines, among other topics, the personal oath of loyalty that the officers of the German army swore to Adolf Hitler on August 2, 1934. It discusses how the majority of officers—those who did not become conspirators against him—complied with Hitler’s orders until May 1945 despite his cruel treatment of soldiers, militarily unsound strategy and tactics, and the widespread destruction and crimes he and his forces committed.
The oath taken by the officers had a strong psychological effect among a proud corps with a long history of obedience and honor. They followed Hitler to the end even though they knew they were fighting a losing battle. The author also examines why and how only a few officers, the conspirators, began to break away, lose trust in Hitler, oppose him and finally stage an assassination attempt.
This history traces the development within the German army from 1918 of the philosophies of loyalty and disloyalty—and obedience and disobedience—as challenged by the Hitlerian oath of loyalty.

About the Author(s)

Robert B. Kane lives in Montgomery, Alabama.

Bibliographic Details

Robert B. Kane
Foreword by Peter Loewenberg
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 279
Bibliographic Info: tables, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2008 [2002]
pISBN: 978-0-7864-3744-3
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments       vii
Figures and Tables      ii
German Terms and English Equivalents       xiii
Abbreviations      xvi
German Army Officer Ranks and American Army Officer Equivalents      xvii
Foreword      xix
Introduction      1

1. The Military Oath of Loyalty: Theoretical and Historical Background      13
The Military Oath of Loyalty, Obedience, and Disobedience      13
Historical Background: Prehistory to the 1660s      19
Historical Development: Prussia-Germany, 1660s–1918      26
Summary      32

2. The Army and the Weimar Republic, 1918–1930      40
Defeat and Revolution      40
The Kapp Putsch      46
Organization and Development of the Reichswehr      49
The Hitler Putsch      54
The Reichswehr After Seeckt      59
Summary      61

3. The Army and National Socialism, 1930–1934      69
The Leipzig Trial      70
The Army and Hitler, 1930–1933      76
The Army and Hitler: The First 18 Months      80
The Röhm Purge and Its Aftermath      84
Summary      89

4. The Army and the Nazi Regime, 1934–1939      97
Continuation of the Nazification Process      98
Rearmament and Its Effects      102
The Impact of Nazi Education, the Hitler Jugend, and the Reich Labor Service      106
The Development of the Oberkommando Wehrmacht (OKW)      108
The Creation of the Waffen SS      111
Summary      113

5. The Beginnings of the Military Opposition, 1936–1939      120
The First Signs of Opposition      121
The Blomberg-Fritsch Crisis      124
The Military Opposition and the Road to War      131
The Military Opposition and Hitler’s Domestic Policies      138
Summary      140

6. The Army at War, 1939–1945      147
The Senior Officers and Hitler      148
The Lower-Ranking Officers and Enlisted Personnel, and Hitler      158
The Army and War Crimes      160
Summary      167

7. The Military Opposition During the War, 1939–1945      178
The Evolution of the Military Opposition, 1939–1943      179
Stauffenberg and the Military Opposition, January 1943–June 1944      183
The July 20, 1944, Assassination Plot and Aftermath      186
Aftermath of the July 20, 1944, Coup      189
Summary      191

8. Conspirators, Nonconspirators, and Followers      197
Comparison of Conspirators, Nonconspirators, and Followers      198
Influence of Education and Family Background      199
Effects of Familial and Collegial Relationships      207
Summary      211

Summary      215
Origins      218
Consequences      219
Significance      223

Appendix A. Prussian-German Military Oaths      227
Appendix B. Political Justice in Weimar Germany      229
Appendix C. German Treatment of Soviet POWs in World War II      233
The Treatment of Soviet POWs      233
The Treatment of Western POWs      237
The Treatment of Russian POWs during World War I      239
Summary      241

Bibliography      245
Index      251

Book Reviews & Awards

“detailed analysis…Kane’s informative, interesting, and useful study is a valuable addition”—Military Review; “detailed…worth a look”—Stone & Stone Second World War Books; “provides a valuable service…his introductory discussion of obedience and disobedience is most commendable…study adds a fair discussion to the English-language literature on the topic and will appeal to readers seeking a detailed if controversial examination of the origins, significance, and impact of the Hitler oath”—Air & Space Power Journal.