The Last Prussian

Charles Messenger

1991

A Biography of Field Marshal Gerd Von Rundstedt 1875-1953

Prussian army based on Officers’ Code of Honour.

Von Rundstedt excellent learner, respectful and cheerful.

The 1914 invasion of France failed mostly because it was based on the Schlieffen Plan built and modified by several people (von Schlieffen and von Moltke the Younger) who did not communicate together, controlled very remotely, and with little edge/innovation/boldness.

Von Rundstedt always respected the separation between the Army (whether the Reichswehr, the Wehrmacht) as an executant and the Government as a decision maker.

Von Rundstedt always left maximum decision latitude to his subordinates.

Hitler was actually quite good at gathering different opinions, changing his mind when needed, and keeping the right people around himself.

The Night of the Long Knives: be very careful of power-loving cunning people.

XXX indebted himself personally with Hitler: not good.

Guderian was brilliant (mastermind of the A XXX plan

On the opposite, Von Manstein XXX

Von Rundstedt could have been more open to knew technologies (e.g. Guderian’s Panzers): his personal attraction to the deprecated cavalry probably participated in him blinding himself.

Hitler was directly intervening and overriding way too much in the operations. He should have stayed more into a goal-defining position.

'The task of Commander-in-Chief in any German theatre has degenerated into that of local Chief-of-Staff to Hitler and liable to dismissal as much for carrying out quaint orders as for protesting against them.'

It is more important to share the underlying reason and thinking-process behind knowledge and decisions, than the knowledge and decisions themselves.