German Army - Wehrmacht & Waffen SS

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The German army adopted a quietly approving wait and see attitude to the Nazi regime, especially after Hitler purged his own army of SA street thugs in 1934. Hitler’s re-armament program was clearly welcomed by the Wehrmacht, and only when he showed that he was prepared to risk a war over Czechoslovakia in 1938 did serious doubts surface. But success bred success, and his early victories over Poland and in the west in 1939-40 were a triumph for the army’s new armoured warfare, ‘Blitzkrieg’. At first ‘Barbarossa’ the attack on Soviet Russia in June 1941 carried all before it, but when Russian resistance solidified before Moscow in December 1941, Wehrmacht arrogance was highlighted in the absence of winter uniforms. Meanwhile, the Wehrmacht had demonstrated its prowess in the sideshows of the capture of Crete and the war in North Africa, but as the Russian war bogged down, with the disaster at Stalingrad the turning point, and Wehrmacht disgust with Nazi racial atrocities grew. Opposition festered. The army continued to fight heroically on several fronts in 1943-44, the east, Italy and Normandy, but after the failure of the Stauffenberg Bomb plot, and the army’s failure to win Hitler’s wars, the mutual distrust and disgust between the Nazi leaders and the army became toxic, and terminal.

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