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In 1939, the Germans stormed into Poland, shocking the world with the speed, the destructiveness, the seeming invincibility of their blitzkrieg. By 1943, the tide had started to turn. Successes still came, but these were increasingly eclipsed by defeats and retreats, setbacks and surrenders. In Blitzkrieg No Longer, Samuel W. Mitcham, Jr., offers a riveting glimpse inside the Third Reich's war machine during the pivotal year of 1943.
The year began well enough for Hitler and his armed forces, with the brilliant Erich von Manstein orchestrating an almost miraculous regrouping after the disaster at Stalingrad. The Wehrmacht lived to fight another day--indeed, another two years--but growing Allied strength and experience combined with German shortages in men and materiel to stymie Germany's advances on all fronts.
In the Mediterranean, Erwin Rommel's earlier gains in North Africa were erased by the surrender of Tunisia in May. Two months later, the Allies landed in Sicily, initiating a five-week battle that ousted the Germans from the island, although some 60,000 men escaped to Italy, which the Allies invaded in September. German troops there were entrenched and fought tenaciously in a campaign that would last until 1945.
On the Eastern Front, the barbarous warfare of 1941 and 1942 continued unabated--only now the Soviets often had the upper hand, both in numbers and, more and more, in operational ingenuity. Even Manstein could not produce a victory at Kursk, where Soviet T-34s beat German Tigers and Panthers in the largest armour battle in history. Kursk would mark the beginning of Nazi Germany's long and bloody retreat in the East.
The Third Reich's defeats were not limited to the ground. At sea, the Allies neutralized the U-boat threat, and in the air, they dominated the ‘Luftwaffe’ and took the war to the German home front.
The war would drag on for two more brutal years, but the end was now in sight. No longer could the Germans mount their feared blitzkrieg; no longer could they win the war. Mitcham chronicles this turning-point year with insight and drama.
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