World War II: Germany and Italy

In the years between 1918 and 1933, German armed forces assumed a political posture fundamentally hostile to the young Weimar Republic created at the end of World War I, blaming that state for Germany’s humiliating defeat in the war, for its enduring political turmoil and economic problems, and for the perceived fraying of its social fabric.

Political Considerations

In the years between 1918 and 1933, German armed forces assumed a political posture fundamentally hostile to the young Weimar Republic created at the end of World War I, blaming that state for Germany’s humiliating defeat in the war, for its enduring political turmoil and economic problems, and for the perceived fraying of its social fabric. For more than a decade after the end of World War World War I (1914-1918)[World War 01];German defeatI, the German military tried to circumvent the constraints imposed upon it by the Treaty of Versailles Versailles Treaty of 1919(1919). With that treaty, the victorious Allies had abolished German conscription, limited the size of the German army to 100,000 men (including 5,000 officers) obligated to 12-year terms of service, reduced the German navy to 15,000 men without capital ships or submarines, and forbidden Germany to create and maintain a separate air force. Furthermore, Germany was not allowed to maintain any armor, heavy artillery, or chemical weapons. The Allies, especially France, clearly intended to limit the role of the German army largely to constabulary duties, thereby preventing the reemergence of any substantial military threat.World War II (1939-1945)[World War 02];GermanyWorld War II (1939-1945)[World War 02];GermanyGermany;World War II[World War 02]

The Versailles treaty elicited virtually universal disapproval across the political spectrum in Germany; the armed forces themselves took steps to rearm covertly both within and outside the Reich. The General German General StaffStaff, forbidden by the Allies, emerged in embryonic form in one of the administrative offices of the army. Men who were trained in the numerous flying clubs that emerged in Germany entered the army to form the core of a future air force. During the 1920’s officers tested armored warfare doctrine and practiced chemical warfare in the Soviet Union, another nation that regarded itself as a pariah in the Versailles settlement. “Police units” began to arm and train secretly, forming what was called the “black Black ReichswehrReichswehr,” or “black defense force.”

Any examination of the German military between 1933 and 1945 must address the central role of Adolf Hitler, AdolfHitler, AdolfHitler (1889-1945), who combined the function of chief executive of the Nazi state with that of supreme commander of the armed forces. Consequently, the rise to power of the National Socialist German Workers’ (Nazi) Nazi PartyParty had profound implications for the armed forces. Hitler, appointed chancellor in January, 1933, had repeatedly and explicitly called for the abolition of the Treaty of Versailles and for the rearmament of Germany. The Nazis espoused a worldview predicated on a virulently racist andAnti-Semitism[AntiSemitism]anti-Semitic social Social DarwinismWhite supremacismDarwinist conception of struggle among nations and individuals for resources and power. A perceived racial hierarchy of peoples placed the “Aryan” Germans at the top, the Germanic and Latin peoples of Europe in the middle, non-Europeans and Slavs near the bottom, and Jews in the lowest category. Hitler fervently believed the Jewish Jews;World War II[World War 02]people to be the source of capitalism, Socialism, and Marxism, and he felt that the sole intention of the Jews was to corrupt and ultimately destroy the so-called Aryan “Aryan” race[Aryan]race. Consequently, he believed, the Aryans had to eliminate the Jews and expand Aryan territory into the Soviet Union in order to survive and flourish. Germany would acquire this “living space” in Eastern Europe only through military conquest, which, in turn, hinged on rapid rearmament and expansion.

Following the death of President Paul von Hindenburg, Paul vonHindenburg, Paul von (president of Germany)Hindenburg (1847-1934) on August 2, 1934, Hitler combined the offices of chancellor and president and required civil servants and members of the armed forces to swear a personal oath of loyalty to him. Between 1935 and 1939, Germany openly rearmed and expanded its territorial boundaries. In March of 1935, Hitler announced the reintroduction of Drafts;Germanyconscription and the existence of a German air force, or Luftwaffe (German air force)Luftwaffe, thereby abandoning any pretense of honoring the Treaty of Versailles. Initial British and French indifference to growing German assertiveness can be explained by fear of a military conflict potentially costlier than World War I, preoccupation with domestic political and economic issues, latent guilt about the perceived severity of the Versailles treaty, and Hitler’s adroit invocation of the right to national self-determination.

The German armed forces generally distinguished themselves during both this time period and the war years through their willingness to support Hitler’s long-term goals of territorial conquest. Hitler drew on old German traditions of loyalty, duty, and honor, citing the personal oath that each member of the military took upon induction and general agreement with the political goals of the regime, to turn the German military into a willing and able instrument of his will. He also ensured the cooperation of senior commanders with enormous bribes. The government created a separate, fourth armed service, the armed Schutzstaffel, or Schutzstaffel (German armed police)SS, parallel to but separate from the regular army, navy, and air force. This force provided the regime with its own Praetorian Guard, which literally served as Hitler’s bodyguard and army. In this way, Hitler developed a counterweight to the regular military, which he did not completely trust.

It is important to note that the armed forces generally agreed with the regime’s policies. When disagreement arose, it usually centered on details and not on the general intent of policy. For example, Hitler believed that time would only serve the interests of Germany’s enemies. Consequently, he informed the armed forces at a secret conference in November, 1937, of his intention to wage war and defeat Austria, Czechoslovakia, France, and Great Britain by 1943 at the latest. After that time, he believed, the major European powers would have enhanced their military capabilities sufficiently to defeat Germany. Many generals questioned the timetable but not the substance of Hitler’s intentions. Most senior commanders, then, did not oppose wars of aggression as long as Germany could wage them when and where it wanted. Although some officers contemplated staging a coup in 1938, and others would mount unsuccessful assassination attempts against Hitler, the majority of Hitler’s soldiers, sailors, and airmen readily did his bidding. Indoctrination with Nazi ideals, fear, corruption, and careerism all played a role in the acquiescence of Germany’s military to Hitler’s will.

Although Italy;World War II[World War 02]Italy had been on the victorious side at the end of World War I, many Italians were angered by the Treaty of Versailles, which barely rewarded Italy for its efforts. What particularly angered Italy was the refusal to hand the city of Fiume to the Italians, who took it and briefly held it. With the country having the potential of degenerating into chaos, in 1922 Mussolini, BenitoMussolini, BenitoBenito Mussolini came to power and started to rebuild Italian pride, albeit at the cost of democracy–his Blackshirts (Italy)Blackshirts attacked communists and democrats alike.

German chancellor Adolf Hitler and Italian dictator Benito Mussolini in Munich, Germany, in 1940.

(National Archives)

The new Italian army that emerged under the Fascist rule of Mussolini was essentially–with the royal army, navy, and air force–continuing the traditions prior to 1922. These remained nominally under the command of the king of Italy. However, there was also the Milizi Volontaria per Sicurezza NazionaleMilizi Volontaria per Sicurezza Nazionale (MSVN), which was the military arm of the Fascist Party and under Mussolini’s direct control. These forces were involved in fighting in foreign wars, as well as when Italy itself was invaded by the Allies in 1943.

Military Achievement

The German military registered some of the most impressive accomplishments in the annals of warfare before sustaining one of the costliest defeats in recorded history. The conquest of Poland in September 1939 was their first victory, but achieved at a cost. However it was followed by lightning campaigns in Denmark and Norway in April, 1940, before its greatest victory in May and June of 1940, when the Germans, skillfully combining armor, infantry, and aircraft, conquered territory in the Benelux countries and France, over which they and the Allies had fought for months and years during World War I. The conquest of Belgium;World War II[World War 02]Belgium witnessed the first large-scale use of air-dropped Paratroopers;World War II[World War 02]paratroopers in history. In April of 1941 the Germans rapidly conquered Greece;German invasion of (1941)Greece and Yugoslavia;German invasion of (1941)Yugoslavia. Concurrently they waged a protracted war in North Africa;German invasion of (1941-1943)Africa, where they had initially intervened to assist Italy in its failed attempt to conquer Egypt;German invasion (1941-1943)Egypt. There, German forces would continue to engage the Allies until May of 1943. In 1941 and 1942 Germans advanced in the Caucasus to the border of Asia and in Egypt toward the Nile Valley and sank numerous American ships within sight of the eastern seaboard of the United States.

In the East, Germany mounted the largest invasion in world history on June 22, 1941, with its attack on the Soviet Soviet Union;German invasion of (1941)Union. That summer and fall, German forces captured more than 3 million Soviet prisoners and killed and wounded countless numbers of Red Army troops. German units advanced to the outskirts of Moscow before a Soviet counteroffensive, attenuated supply lines, and the harsh Russian winter blunted and then repulsed the German offensive. Despite this setback, the Germans would continue to mount offensives in the Soviet Union, until they suffered a major defeat at the hands of the Red Army during the massive armored offensive at Kursk, Battle of (1943)Kursk in July, 1943. In the context of the savage ideological conflict against their dual enemies, Judaism and Bolshevism, what the Nazi regime called “Judeo-Bolshevism,” the Germans inflicted casualties amounting to some twenty-five or twenty-six million dead Soviet civilians and military personnel.

At roughly the same time, in the summer of 1943, losses in German submarines began to exceed replacements in the bitter and protracted Battle of the Atlantic, Battle of the (1943)Atlantic, and the Combined Bomber Combined Bomber Offensive (1943)Offensive mounted by the strategic bomber forces of Great Britain and the United States against strategic targets in Germany began to wear down the German air force over the Reich itself. Historians, therefore, generally consider 1943 the year in which World War II began to turn irrevocably against Germany. Nevertheless, despite the growing material strength, proficiency, and determination of the Allies, German troops conducted skillful fighting withdrawals from Italy, northwestern Europe, and the Soviet Union, exacting heavy casualties even as they retreated. German troops distinguished themselves through tactical virtuosity, resilience, and determination. German scientists developed and the Reich launched the V-1 and V-2 V-2 rocket[V 2 rocket]V-1 rocket[V 1 rocket]rockets, the first cruise Cruise missiles;V-1missiles and ballistic Ballistic missilesmissiles, respectively, at targets in Great Britain, Belgium, and the Netherlands. Germany had thereby in some respects advanced to the frontier of aerospace research and technology.

Parisians flee the city as German troops approach in 1940.

(Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

The Italy;World War II[World War 02]Italian army fought over a longer period than the Germans, but with far less success. Although the Italians were involved in the attack of Corfu in 1923, their first major military action was with the invasion of Abyssinia, Italian invasion of (1935-1936)Abyssinia in 1935-1936. Although well organized, the Italians were more prepared for a European war, and that invasion had not allowed for the poor conditions of roads and the bitterness of the guerrilla warfare waged by the Abyssinians, which hindered the Italian advance considerably. Although the Italians achieved a victory, it was not an easy one. Italian soldiers also fought in the Spanish Civil War, though technically as volunteers. Subsequently, in April of 1939, the Italians invaded Albania;Italian invasion (1939)Albania in what proved to be their easiest military action. That against France in June of 1940 was badly managed and again did not allow for the ground conditions. In October, 1940, the Italian invasion of Greece;Italian invasion of 1940Greece and its subsequent actions in Yugoslavia also went badly. Italians fought the Allies in North Africa and from 1941 in the Soviet Union. However, it was during the Allied invasion of Italy in 1943 when the Italian army fought most tenaciously, although by that time some were supporting the Allies and others, with German support, were holding back the Allied advances in southern Italy.

Weapons, Uniforms, and Armor

Most Uniforms;GermanArmor;German in World War IIof the German army during the war carried a version of the Mauser Gewehr Mauser rifles98, a 7.92-millimeter, bolt-action Rifles;Mauserrifle with a five-shot magazine. The weapon weighed approximately 4 kilograms and had a range of 800 meters. Submachine Submachine guns;Germanguns issued to German troops included the MP38 and MP40, which differed only in external appearance. The MP38 had a smooth case, whereas the MP40 had a ridged one. This weapon carried thirty-two rounds of 9-millimeter ammunition in its magazine and weighed slightly more than 4 kilograms. It had a rate of fire of 500 rounds per minute and a range of approximately 100 meters. The standard machine Machine guns;Germangun was the MG34, which remained in service until it was phased out by the MG42. That weapon, in turn, was superseded by the MG45. All three machine guns could be fired as either a light, with a bipod, or a heavy machine gun, with a tripod. The MG34 and MG42 used 7.92-millimeter ammunition, whereas the MG45 fired 7.62-millimeter rounds. The rate of fire was 900 rounds per minute in the light machine gun configuration and 300 rounds per minute in the heavy machine gun configuration.

In July, 1943, a U.S. soldier looks out over the city of Gela, Sicily, at explosions off the coast.

(Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images)

Field Artillery;Germanartillery consisted of guns and howitzers ranging from 7.5 to 10.5 centimeters in caliber. Heavy field artillery guns ranged in caliber from 15 centimeters upward. The Germans also used a 28-centimeter rail gun that weighed 218 tons and fired a 255.5-kilogram shell. Another very famous artillery piece was the 8.8-centimeter antiaircraft gun, which fired a hypervelocity round and proved especially effective as an antitank weapon.

The best-known piece of German apparel was perhaps the Jackbootsjackboot, made of black leather and worn by all units except mounted troops. The “marching boot” extended up the leg to just below the knee; the sole was heavily studded, and the tip steel-tipped. The infantryman’s trousers were gray, straight-legged, and unpiped except for those that formed part of parade dress. The single-breasted tunic was fastened down the front by five dull metal buttons. The turned-down collar consisted of a dark green cloth, and a patch indicating the arm of service adorned each side of the collar join. Eyelet holes in the tunic waist could hold support hooks for the leather waist belt and the equipment that fitted onto it.

The standard greatcoat was double-breasted, field gray in color, with a green collar. It was worn by all ranks, up to that of general, and by all arms of service. Helmets;GermanHelmets appeared in five basic sizes and weighed between .82 and 1.2 kilograms. Two holes provided ventilation, and a lining of thin leather cushioned the crown of the wearer’s head. Soldiers of all ranks wore a peaked cap with a field gray top, a dark-green cap band, and a shiny ridged peak.

The Germans designed some formidable Tanks;Germantanks during the war. Especially notable were the Mark Mark tanksV, or Panther tanksPanther, sometimes described as the best tank of the war. It weighed approximately 53 tons and was powered by a 700-horsepower engine with a capacity of 23 liters. Its 7.5-centimeter gun offered good penetration of enemy armor, and its steeply sloped superstructure made it more difficult for enemy gunners to score direct hits on the turret. With a weight of nearly 70 tons, the Mark VI, or Tiger tanksTiger, was the heaviest operational tank of any combatant nation during the war. It carried an 8.8-centimeter gun and was heavily armored, with its turret front 10 centimeters thick. This bulk and heavy armor might well have reflected the defensive nature of warfare conducted by Germany during the last two years of the war. Germany also developed and deployed a tank-destroyer version of the Panther tank. This vehicle used the same basic chassis as the Panther and carried an 8.8-centimeter antitank gun in an enclosed, turretless superstructure.

Mussolini, the Italy;World War II[World War 02]Italian dictator, boasted that he could raise some 8 million bayonets. However, at full strength there were only slightly more than 2.5 million under arms. The Italians’ equipment varied considerably with the location of the fighting, with the elite AlpiniAlpini, who defended Italy’s northern frontier, being well armed, but with many others in the Italian forces being armed with the single bolt-action Mannlicher-Carcano Model 1891. As with weapons, the Italian army had a range of uniforms. These varied because of the climate in the areas where they were fighting. In Abyssinia and later in North Africa, the Italians wore khakis, either large, baggy trousers or shorts. In Europe, their armies wore gray woolen clothes.

Military Organization

Hitler, in his capacity as führer (leader), retained overall direction of the German armed forces, collectively called the Defense Force, or Wehrmacht (Nazi German forces)Wehrmacht. A war minister had exercised high command until the dissolution of the war ministry in 1938. Hitler then established a high command of armed forces (OKW) as the body through which he would direct the war. He appointed Wilhelm Keitel, WilhelmKeitel, WilhelmKeitel (1882-1946), who distinguished himself through particular obsequiousness, as chief of staff and Alfred Jodl, AlfredJodl, AlfredJodl (1890-1946) as head of operations.

Hitler exercised tight control over Germany’s conduct during World War II for several reasons. First, each member of the armed forces was bound to him by the oath of loyalty. Second, the Prussian army officer code had fostered introspection and emphasis on the purely technical aspects of the conduct of war. Consequently the German officers excelled at the tactical level, performed well at the operational level, and proved deficient at the strategic level. Hitler, however, believed that he possessed an infallible grasp of strategy and in the course of the war began to involve himself increasingly in the details of military operations. He did so both because of his growing confidence in himself, especially after Germany’s stunning victories in 1940, and because of his growing distrust of his senior commanders. Hitler had, after all, advocated the attack on Poland and the Benelux countries against the advice of most of his senior commanders, who feared that Germany was insufficiently prepared for full-scale war at the time. The rapid victories had vindicated Hitler in his own eyes and, it should be noted, in the perception of many others as well.

The armed forces lacked a single voice, and this allowed Hitler to exercise his tight control over them. The service chiefs all had direct access to him, but usually they acted as partisans of their own branches and not in tandem with the other armed forces. Hitler also actively encouraged his subordinates in the military as well as the civilian branches of government to compete among themselves. He thereby preserved for himself the role as final arbiter in any dispute and prevented any power block from forming against him. Unfortunately for Germany, this approach also largely prevented effective coordination of the armed forces into an instrument of coherent strategy.

Mussolini directly controlled the Milizi Volontaria per Sicurezza NazionaleMSVN, the militia, which remained loyal to him. The royal army, navy, and air force were technically under the command of the King of Italy, and thus when Mussolini was deposed in 1943, some supported the new pro-Allied Fascist government, while others remained loyal to Mussolini.

Doctrine, Strategy, and Tactics

Any discussion of tactics and strategy should begin with definitions. One working definition of Tactics;definedtactics is the application of doctrine, or techniques involving the deployment of personnel and weapons, to the winning of individual military engagements. The lieutenant commanding a platoon of perhaps thirty to fifty infantrymen would apply doctrine learned in training and through battlefield experience to defeat an enemy platoon by deploying his machine guns in one location, his mortar team in another, and so forth. On the next level, scholars point to Operations (defined)operations as a subset of military affairs. Operational warfare involves the application of doctrine to win campaigns, such as the German conquest of France in 1940. In the spring of 1940, then, German commanders used resources at their disposal to defeat an enemy in a series of military engagements of regional geographic expanse and relatively brief duration. StrategyStrategy occupies the highest level of military affairs and consists of the harnessing of economic, military, and political resources to secure a political victory in a military conflict. One could sum up Germany’s performance during World War II by noting that the Germans excelled tactically, performed well operationally, and ultimately proved woefully deficient strategically. Good tactics will allow a combatant nation to win battles, whereas good strategy will allow it to win wars.

Several factors explain this phenomenon. The Germans emphasized rigorous and realistic training and initiative. Convalescing veterans would train new units of soldiers and thereby impart, at least theoretically, valuable experience to recruits. The army also exercised great care in selecting soldiers from the same geographic areas to serve in the same units, thereby strengthening unit cohesion. As casualties mounted, however, this practice became ever more difficult to implement. Soldiers were encouraged to think two levels above their rank. Consequently, if their immediate superiors were killed or disabled in combat, subordinates could assume control. The German military distinguished itself through its use of mission-oriented orders. A commander would order his subordinate to complete a certain task at a specific location during a specified time period, such as the holding of a ridge against advancing American tanks. The way in which a subordinate subsequently executed the order, however, was usually his own responsibility. Such an approach lent itself to a flexible response to combat, which by its very nature is fluid. Good tactics, in turn, allowed the armed forces to execute successful campaigns between 1939 and 1941.

Germany’s deficiencies manifested themselves most vividly at the strategic level and explain the Reich’s ultimate defeat at the hands of the Allies. Hitler’s control of the armed forces meant that his background and views affected the conduct of the German military significantly. He was determined to avoid the stalemate that had characterized the western front during World War I. He also believed that the collapse of the home front had caused Germany’s defeat during that war. Consequently, the Germans could avoid defeat by mounting swift attacks using combined arms. German infantry, armor, and aircraft would mount coordinated strikes against the enemy’s weak points and then punch through the front line. The regular infantry, marching on foot as it had from 1914 to 1918, would subsequently encircle and either destroy or capture enemy troops. Hitler believed that this “mailed fist” would ensure swift victory, which in turn would mean that the Reich could eschew full-scale mobilization and the ensuing sacrifices that would be required of the civilian population, such as rationing and the mobilization of male and female civilians in war-related industries.

The rubble of bombed-out buildings in Hamburg, Germany, in July, 1945.

(Popperfoto/Getty Images)

The Germans proved singularly unable to organize their economy efficiently, due to competing loci of power within the Nazi Party and government and to the sheer ineptitude of those tasked to run the country during wartime. The Germans, unlike the Allies, also had never waged real coalition warfare. There was, for example, no Combined Chiefs of Staff linking the highest-ranking German, Italian, and Japanese commanders. Germany’s fate was sealed by Hitler’s fervent belief in both his own infallibility and the ascendancy of willpower over material preponderance, by his overestimation of German capabilities and concurrent underestimation of Allied capabilities, and by the subservience of the German armed forces. Germany’s enemies, in contrast, all learned from their mistakes, improved their own initially inadequate tactics, and mobilized their economies for full-scale war much earlier and more efficiently.

Unlike the Italy;World War II[World War 02]German army, the Italians were not nearly so well mechanized, and they continued to make heavy use of Horses;World War II[World War 02]horses, which in Abyssinia and Albania proved effective given the poor roads. However, this reliance proved to be a weakness elsewhere, especially during the Allied invasion of Italy. The Italians’ tactics prior to that invasion had been to try to extend Italy;colonial powerItaly’s colonial power, whether over Abyssinia, Albania, North Africa, Yugoslavia, or the Ionian Islands. Italy was also providing troops for the

German war effort in the Soviet Union. Later Italy’s objective was to prevent an invasion on its own soil. After the 1943 invasion, the Italians fragmented, with some supporting the Allies and others remaining loyal to Mussolini.

Contemporary Sources

Two very important contemporaneous sources are German Army, The (Rosinski, Herbert) The German Army (1939), by Rosinski, HerbertRosinski, Herbert Herbert Rosinski (1903-1962), and Handbook of German Military Forces, The (U.S. War Department) The Handbook of German Military Forces (1945), by the U.S. War Department. Rosinski assessed the performance and thinking of the Germans and discussed at length the changes that had transpired in the mindset of German commanders. The breadth of vision that had characterized the nineteenth century reformers Scharnhorst, Gerhard Johann David vonScharnhorst, Gerhard Johann David von Gerhard Johann David von Scharnhorst (1755-1813) and Gneisenau, August vonGneisenau, August von August von Gneisenau (1760-1831), Rosinski argued, had yielded to a narrowly technocratic approach to war that emphasized tactical and operational proficiency at the expense of the vital, and ultimately decisive, element in military affairs: strategy. The handbook provides the reader with a plethora of valuable technical information about the organization, weapons, and equipment of the German armed forces and likely provided the U.S. Army with a most useful tool as it fought Germany in the waning days of World War II. An invaluable translation entitled Hitler’s War Directives, 1939-1945, edited by H. R. Trevor-Roper, appeared in several editions (London: Pan, 1966). Hitler’s own Mein Kampf (Hitler) Mein Kampf (1925-1927; my struggle) is available in English translation by Ralph Manheim (1939; reprint, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1999), and the 1935 diary of his lover Braun, EvaBraun, Eva Eva Braun can be read in a 2000 edition from Spectrum International, The Diary of Eva Braun.

Although Mussolini tried to encourage the martial spirit in Italy, compared to the information on the German army there are far fewer works on the Italians available in English. Some of these include Levi, PrimoLevi, PrimoPrimo Levi’s Se questo è un uomo (1947; If This Is a Man, 1956; revised as Survival in Auschwitz: The Nazi Assault on Humanity, 1961); Eugenio Corti’s Few Returned: Twenty-eight Days on the Russian Front, Winter 1942-1943 (1997); and Donna M. Budani’s Italian Women’s Narratives of Their Experiences During World War II (2003).World War II (1939-1945)[World War 02];GermanyGermany;World War II[World War 02]

Books and Articles

  • Bartov, Omer. Hitler’s Army: Soldiers, Nazis, and War in the Third Reich. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991.
  • Beevor, Antony. Stalingrad. New York: W. W. Norton, 1998.
  • Bennett, Ralph. Intelligence Investigations: Collected Papers of Ralph Bennett. London: F. Cass, 1996.
  • Corum, James. The Roots of Blitzkrieg. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1992.
  • Doughty, Robert. The Breaking Point: Sedan and the Fall of France, 1940. Hamden, Conn.: Archon, 1990.
  • Halder, Franz. The Halder War Diary, 1939-1942. Novato, Calif.: Presidio Press, 1988.
  • Hayward, Joel. Stopped at Stalingrad: The Luftwaffe and Hitler’s Defeat in the East, 1942-1943. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1998.
  • Jowett, Philip S. The Italian Army, 1940-45: Africa, 1940-43. New York: Osprey, 2001.
  • _______. The Italian Army, 1940-45: Europe, 1940-43. New York: Osprey, 2000.
  • _______. The Italian Army, 1940-45: Italy, 1943-45. New York: Osprey, 2001.
  • Millett, Allan, and Murray Williamson. A War to Be Won: Fighting the Second World War. Cambridge, England: Belknap Press, 2000.
  • Nicoll, David. The Italian Invasion of Abyssinia, 1935-36. New York: Osprey, 1997.
  • Thomas, Nigel. German Army in World War II. New York: Osprey, 2002.
  • _______. The German Army, 1939-45. 5 vols. New York: Osprey, 1997-2000.
  • Weinberg, Gerhard. Hitler, Germany, and World War II. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995.
  • _______. A World at Arms. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994.

Films and Other Media

  • Das Boot. Feature film. Columbia Pictures/Bavaria Film, 1981.
  • Massacre in Rome. Feature film. Carlo Ponti, 1973.
  • Mussolini and I. Television miniseries. HBO, 1985.
  • The Pianist. Feature film. Focus Features, 2002.
  • Schindler’s List. Feature film. Amblin Entertainment, 1993.
  • The Sorrow and the Pity: Chronicle of a French City Under the Occupation. Documentary. Milestone Film & Video, 2001.
  • Tea with Mussolini. Feature film. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1999.
  • Triumph of the Will. Propaganda film. Reichsparteitag-film, 1935.
  • The World at War. Documentary. Thames Television, 1973.

World War II: United States, Britain, and France

World War II: The Soviet Union

World War II: Japan

Small Arms and Machine Guns


Tanks and Armored Vehicles

Aircraft, Bombs, and Guidance Systems

Rockets, Missiles, and Nuclear Weapons

Chemical and Biological Weapons

Modern Fortifications

Sieges and Siege Techniques: Modern

Armies and Infantry: Modern

Cavalry: Modern

Naval Development: The Age of Propulsion

The Age of Bismarck

The “Great” War: World War I

The Spanish Civil War