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The Myth of Hitler's Military Incompetence: "The First Soldier"

A senior air warrior, graduate from the Staff College and a PG in military studies. He is qualified to write on war and allied matters.

Stephen G. Fritz's "The First Soldier" reexamines Hitler's legacy as a military leader, offering some startling conclusions

Stephen G. Fritz's "The First Soldier" reexamines Hitler's legacy as a military leader, offering some startling conclusions

Stephen G. Fritz's The First Soldier

Recently I came across a book by Stephen G. Fritz titled The First Soldier, which is a realistic account of Adolf Hitler and his competency as a military commander. The book runs 439 pages and is priced at £10.39. Fritz is a Professor of History at East Tennessee State University. His book was published on 20 April 2020 and is available in paperback edition. Fritz's specialty is nineteenth and twentieth-century European History, with a focus on twentieth-century Germany.

After extensive research, Fritz wrote this book to demolish the myth spread by other Western writers that Hitler had little military sense and made arbitrary decisions without any foundation. Many history books still paint Hitler as a caricature and some even make fun of the German leader.

Professor Stephen G. Fritz, author of "The First Soldier"

Professor Stephen G. Fritz, author of "The First Soldier"

The Truth of Hitler's Leadership

Fritz shows that Hitler rose from humble beginnings to become the supreme leader of Germany. He tried to conquer the world but failed, as the entire world—apart from 2 nations—united against him. He tried and failed to conquer the world, and killed millions. Yet even today some refuse to take Adolf Hitler seriously. Can anybody deny that in a short time he literally shook the world to its roots?

Generally, historians mostly from the West and Russia gleefully exclaim that Hitler was only a corporal who issued inane and senseless orders to his polished, professional commanders. He is often painted as a bumbling idiot who lost a war that would ordinarily have been won by the Germans.

Fritz will have none of this scenario. The theme of Fritz's book covers a revolutionary thesis. He demolishes the “Hitler was an idiot” school of World War II history.

It is to the credit of Fritz that he brings out the many strengths of Hitler as a military commander. What were his strengths? The first is openness to new ideas. As a man who had read the writings of authors like Helmuth von Moltke and Clausewitz who are considered the masters of military thought, he adapted the concept of mechanized warfare and blitzkrieg tactics. These tactics paid off in almost all theaters of the war from Poland to France, Norway to Russia, and North Africa.

Fritz also argues that Hitler had the strength of will and a concept of strategy that will put his commanders in the shade.

Fritz brings to light a very important fact: the writings of the German generals after the war squarely put the blame for defeat entirely on Hitler for the simple reason that they wanted to escape the charge that as professional soldiers they were incompetent. Unfortunately, most historians in the west lapped up the writings of the German generals as gospel truth. Hitler has no defenders and Western historians began to collect whatever shred of evidence they could get, to prove that Hitler was an incompetent and blubbering idiot.

Fritz compares Hitler with Napoleon favorably. He points out that like most military commanders, including Napoleon, Hitler believed in going on the offensive whenever possible and in mounting a tenacious defense when necessary. He brings out his points forcefully with examples. In 1943-44, the steeling of the German defense in Russia was due to the iron will of Hitler.

Fritz discusses a very interesting insight of Hitler's: the real German problem was not Hitler as a military leader, but Hitler as a political head. As a political leader, he allowed his racial and other policies of domination and colonization to impinge on his military strategy. This is where Hitler faltered. As a military leader, he was definitely far above the average.

I am truly grateful to Stephen G. Fritz for his book, and for giving an excellent picture of Hitler and not the usual caricature.


Hitler in Posterity

Reading the book, one reaches the conclusion that Adolf Hitler was certainly a cut above most of the generals who took part in the Second World War. He failed on the political front with this political philosophy of having a great empire, leading to the enslavement of subject races, and racial purification. This was his Achilles heel.

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In some ways, Hitler was ahead of Napoleon. Modern historians consider Napoleon to be a great general and yet he lost 600,000 men in Russia in 1812 and was decisively defeated at Waterloo, as well as at the Naval engagement at Trafalgar that decimated the French fleet. Will history be charitable to Adolf Hitler as well, 100 years from now? One cannot give an answer straight away, but perhaps it will.

A Sample of "The First Soldier" Audiobook


MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on August 07, 2021:

Thanks ~Manatitaji, I have always believed that everything happens as willed by Lord Krishna.

manatita44 from london on August 07, 2021:

Sweet of you to mention Lord Krishna. In fact, the Mahabharat is a classic example. The warriors on the Kings side were formidable! Yet with Sri Krishna's Grace, Arjuna and company won the day.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on August 06, 2021:

Manatitaji, I really appreciate the excellent twist which you have given and your observation. There can be no disagreement about what you have stated because after all Lord Krishna said that 'not a leaf moves without my will'. Hitler was gods creation and his downfall also was because the Almighty willed it

manatita44 from london on August 06, 2021:

Lovely read, Emge.

We do not just shoot to power without influence. That influence is largely in part to our own innate persona and abilities.

There is a major reason that Hitler lost. The Divine Forces did not want it. There is always a Greater Intelligence at work, irrespective of man's ego and Hitler lived in a time when there were men of great spiritual ability who walked with God.

They did what was necessary to affect Hitler mentally and otherwise, as well as creating a basis for his downfall. These things are done in harmony with the Will of Allah (Brahman) Ultimately, God is the only Doer. Loved your work!

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on August 06, 2021:

Thanks, Bill, I think you may like to read more of his books. I am giving below a resume of this writer.

He joined the faculty of the Department of History at East Tennessee State University in the Fall of 1984. His specialty is nineteenth and twentieth-century European History, with a focus on twentieth-century Germany. He is the author of a trilogy of well-received books, published by the University Press of Kentucky, on various aspects of World War II.

Areas of Academic Specialty

19th and 20th Century Europe

Modern Germany

World War I

World War II

The Holocaust

The 'Coercive Utopias'

The Cold War in Europe,

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on August 06, 2021:

I like history so for sure I would like this, provided it is written well and not some dry, historical diatribe. Thanks for the review.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on August 06, 2021:

Thank you, Pamela, so nice you commented.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on August 06, 2021:

Thank you, Tom, for your comment. The point made by Fritz is that Napoleon who is considered a great general probably achieved much less than Hitler did. Out of all the Captains of warfare, only Genghis Khan was never defeated.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on August 06, 2021:

This is a very interesting and good book review, MG. Hitler certainly wanted a political empire, but thank goodness he was defeated.

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