The second World war is understood as having been started and ended in various fashions. We know this to be true as there is copious amounts of literature analyzing, explaining, investigating, and theorizing “the Rise and Fall of the Third Reich”, or as some may prefer, “The Fall and Rise of the 3rd Reich”. From these books and works produced on the subject matter, an underlying fundamental truth has been scribed for all to accept at the true story of WWII–or more accurately the allied version of WWII. The general public around the world has some knowledge of the story of Hitler and the Nazi’s campaign ending with an Allied victory.
With this undeniable knowledge granted to us by hindsight understanding the allied victory is often seen as inevitable. The supporting justification for the Allied victory is the notion that “good always triumphs over evil. ” This is a message we see in every day films, television, literature, etc, and this is problematic as this form of understanding simplifies an utterly complex explanation. If we were told to give an explanation of why the allies won, you would have a book the size of Richard Overy’s 330 page book titled, “Why the Allies Won. Overy work is masterful and convincing.
As a historian he challenges the generally accepted stock answers to the question, “why did the Allies win? ” For Overy, to ask such a question is to presuppose that there was nothing pre-ordained about Allied success (Overy pg 1). To understand the Allied victory, Overy asserts that we must realize that explanations of resources, technology, of fighting men, are not enough on their own to explain victory. The moral dimension to warfare, he asserts, is inseparable from any understanding of the outcome. The role of human agency is extensive.
With this understanding he produces a thorough examination of the events of the war by delving deeper into the subject matter than other works have. Although informative as his work is in debunking the misconceptions and generally accepted notions to “Why the Allies Won, Overy can be condemned for doing the same thing he set out to correct–creating misconceptions. When speaking on the subject of Technology and military, specifically about the Luftwaffe, Overy asserts that under the wayward Stewardship of Ernst Udet, the Luftwaffe lost its direction. 219)
Although Overy’s statement does hold a cup of truth, that Udet was disorganized. He is wrong to suggest that Udet’s faults and actions alone saw the permanent decline of the Luftwaffe. (220). With that said, the purpose of this paper is to explore the internal workings of the Luftwaffe High commands from creation to Udet’s death. In doing so, I will go beyond Overy’s research and investigate the conflicts within the Luftwaffe’s high command between the Hitler, Goering, Milch, Udet, and subsequent generals promoted and removed during the years to reveal Overy’s fallacy of Udet failure.
The technological stagnation leading o Germany’s ‘progressive demise’ was the fault of a collection of high ranking officers, even those present before Ernst Udet. (To do this) The Luftwaffe as an institution was favoured at its inception. The limitations imposed by the treaty of Versailles forced German aviation into a limited operation(DVLP,4). Nevertheless, extensive subsidies to civil aviation contributed to the survival of Germany’s industry as well as preparation for rearmament of the air industry during the weimar republic played an influential role in the establishment of the Luftwaffe during the Nazi years (ibid).
Still, Germany in the 1930s faced enormous challenges in the creation of this aviation Industry. One of which had to do with leadership. Only a tiny cadre of experienced officers still existed within the army and navy (ibid) moreover, the Germans current aviation institution, the Lufthansa, could not provide the experience which was needed for a military force (ibid). Additionally, the German air industry was weakened by a symptom of mishaps. The industry was not only weakened by the Depression in the 30s, but also by interncine quarrels amongst its almost bankrupt firms (ibid).
However, any trace of instability was swept under the carpet by Hitler’s right-hand man Hermann Goring, whose political pull ensured that the Luftwaffe gained position “as an independent service and that it enjoyed a privileged status (4dllvp). Goring had a need for independence. As the Minister of Aviation, Goring refused to subordinate himself to the Minister of War, Werner Blomberg(dvlp5). As a result, Blomberg had a difficult task coordir dinating and controlling the three services of the military– ground forces, air, and navy.
Blomberg’s griefs were further extended by the fact that Goring sought to go around his back at every opportunity (ibid5). Ultimately, as we will come to see, Goring had a negative influence on the Luftwaffe’s history. It was his position as Hitler’s number 2 in the political hierarchy which prevented Hitler from removing him from staff, even after many of Goring’s failures demanded that such actions be taken(ibid). Hitler refused, he must keep face if he wants unity. Goring’s problem was, as attested to by Milch, that “Goring’s mental framework was that of a squadron-level fighter pilot which he had been on the First World war (ibid).
Throughout the duration of his time as the Luftwaffe commander, Goring (remained) largely unaware of supply, logistics, strategy, aircraft capabilities, technology and engineering (dvlpt 5). Goring even admitted that whilst Ernst Udet was in charge of all the Luftwaffe’s technical departments, he would only check in on him once a week (ibid). Goring’s saving grace from banishment from the reich was his position to Hitler, but he was a detriment to the Fuhrer’s ambitions.