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The author delivers a good but subjective account of the Field Marshall's career along with commentary on Hitler and his Wehrmacht. The coverage of von Manstein begins with his days at the cadet academy and moves to his battlefield achievements, to his dismissal, to postwar trials, to his death in 1973. There is really not much discussion about his personal life but its clearly shown through his career that there were equal parts of intelligence and vanity to the Field Marshall as well as a misguided sense of loyalty to Hitler.
The opening chapter explains his experiences in WWI and the interwar years. Special mention is given to von Manstein's visits to Russia where his anti-Communist leanings were nurtured. The author also claims his anti-Semitic tendencies were also generated at this time. Mr Lemay begins WWII coverage with Manstein's involvement with the planning and execution of the Polish invasion. Von Manstein had started getting recognition before the war and this operation enhanced his standing though his personality ruffled Halder and others and would present problems for von Manstein later on.
After Poland, the invasion of France and Belgium is discussed. This coverage is comprehensive, taking in all aspects of planning and his involvement on and off the battlefield. This was done quite well but this discussion is greater than any other single campaign covered. It covers more pages than planning stage of Operations Sea Lion, Otto, Barbarossa, the battles of the Crimea, Operation Northern Lights, the relief attempt at Stalingrad, the subsequent fall back to the Donets, Kharkov and Kursk. The chapter on Manstein vs Hitler was very interesting; I particularly liked von Manstein's appraisal of Hitler as a military commander.Read more ›
German Field Marshal Erich Von Manstein is not so well known in the West (except to those close students of World War II), due to the fact that the bulk of his active service took place on the Eastern Front, where he performed brilliantly. In fact, Von Manstein gathered laurels wherever he served from 1939 to 1945. He was instrumental in devising plans for the invasion of Poland; he devised the plan that captured France in 1940; in the East, he led a panzer corps to the gates of Leningrad in 1941; conquered the Crimea at the head of 11th Army; destroyed another Soviet Army in the north before being assigned the task of correcting the disaster at Stalingrad and nearly crushed the Soviets at the Battle of Kursk. Von Manstein survived the war an was involved in establishing the post-war German Army and published his memoirs in the late 1950's. He was also influential in reestablishing the "honor" of the Wehrmacht during the early years of the Cold War. An outstanding record; still, he was convicted of war crimes at the trials at Nuremburg and sentenced to eighteen years in prison; but his early release or "liberation" from prison was negotiated at the highest levels, including Winston Churchill himself. In this book, we get an objective analysis not only of Von Manstein's campaigns but also of his participation in the criminal aspects of Nazi Germany's war effort. Much to the author's credit, he does nor flinch when he exposes Von Manstein's participation in the "Final Solution" and an intense examination of the Field Marshal's politics, attitudes and behavior towards his enemies. A typical representation of the Prussian military caste of the time, Von Manstein was a master of modern warfare with no political sense at all. An excellent biography of a flawed yet brilliant soldier.
This is the third biography I read on Erich von Manstein in a four month period. I read none during the previous 46 years of my life. Benoit Lemay's biography on Erich von Manstein is a military biography. The book doesn't veer too far away from von Manstein's military career. There are very little written here about his personal life. The book is well written, well researched from the military point of view and it is divided into two parts. First part of the book deal with von Manstein's military abilities. On this part, the author is high on praise and admiration of von Manstein's military abilities. So much that he basically ignored von Manstein's obvious flaws that was pointed out in other books. Robert Forczyk's short introductory biography showcased von Manstein's failure at Solty in July of 1941. In Mungo Melvin's book, it clearly shows that von Manstein failure to adjust and adapt to improving Soviet capabilities after Kursk that kept him off balance until he was relieved from command in March 1944. This book ignored all that. Lemay basically highlighted and explained in great detail of the military successes von Manstein had during his career. He grossed over many parts like the entire campaign after Kursk was basically skipped. He even defended von Manstein strongly in the von Sponeck Affair while Forczyk threw von Manstein under the bus. However, when the book dealt with war crimes, Lemay unleashed hell on von Manstein. More then Mungo Melvin's book, Lemay held von Manstein's feet to the fire on war crimes and pour gasoline. As far as Lemay was concern, von Manstein was responsible for everything that went on within his command area. And his war crimes were merely a reflection of anti-Semites of the German officer corps.Read more ›
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