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All Posts, Military History

Author guest post: Paul Ballard-Whyte

Lucky Hitler’s Big Mistakes

Was the Führer the greatest commander of all time?

On the 19 July 1940, soon after the capitulation of France, the Wehrmacht Chief of Staff, Field Marshal Willem Keitel, declared that Adolf Hitler, the recently elected, charismatic Dictator of the newly named German Third Reich, was now ‘the Greatest Commander of all time’.

It is not surprising so many agreed with him at that moment as Hitler, who all Germans had to refer to as ‘Mein Führer’ or ‘my leader’, had led the German nation from the pit of a world economic depression in 1933 to being, without question, the dominant and most powerful country in Europe by 1940. Hitler had personally ordered his army, air force and navy to attack and quickly conquer Poland, Czechoslovakia, Holland, Denmark, Norway, Belgium and France. All other countries in Europe such as Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania had quickly complied with his demands and became allies within what was to be known as the Axis forces, along with the other acquiescent military powers of Benito Mussolini’s Fascist Italy and General Franco’s Spain.

By any historical standards or comparisons to the accepted great commanders of the past like Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, Richard the Lionheart, Frederick the Great or Napoleon Bonaparte, Hitler’s achievements by the middle of 1940 were unquestionably remarkable and perhaps on a grander scale than had ever been achieved in history, up to that moment.

Keitel’s declaration that his Führer was indeed the greatest commander of all time may well have been the ultimate in sycophancy, but he was not alone in believing Germany had found the genius leader it had been longing for and that they had, at long last been delivered their Messiah.

But was Hitler just lucky being in the right place at the right time? Was his seemingly unstoppable rise to power not simply due entirely to circumstances caused by events outside his control and by other people – his dedicated disciples – doing it all on his behalf?

Part One of this book asks these questions in every chapter and answers the biggest question of all – did Hitler deserve the title of ‘the Greatest Commander of all time’?

Paul Ballard-Whyte


September 2022


Order your copy of Lucky Hitler’s Big Mistakes here.