At the beginning of World War II in Europe, Germany tried to avoid a prolonged war. Germany uses a strategy that is to uses tactics to destroy his enemies in a series of short battles. With tactics like this, Germany conquered almost all of Europe in just over two years. This military tactic is called “Blitzkrieg”, or Lightning War.
How is Blitzkrieg’s Tactics applied?
Blitzkrieg’s tactics require a concentration of tools and weapons of war focused on a narrow area at the forefront. The gathered forces must continue to penetrate the enemy’s defenses then circle and attack the enemy from behind the enemy’s defensive line. The German air force is in charge of preventing the distribution of enemy supplies to the enemy’s defensive line. This tactic makes the opposing army isolated and easy to conquer.
Germany’s Trial of European Conquest
Sequentially based on the date of the attack, during World War II Germany successfully used Blitzkreig’s tactics against:
- Poland (September 1939)
- Denmark (April 1940)
- Norway (April 1940)
- Belgium (May 1940)
- Netherlands (May 1940)
- Luxembourg (May 1940)
- France (May 1940)
- Yugoslavia (April 1941)
- Greece (April 1941)
In World War II, Germany failed to conquer England because it was separated by the English Channel which made Germany forced to weaken Britain’s defense by air. However, the strong air and sea defenses of the British kept Germany unable to bring down its land troops on the British mainland to carry out the same tactics. Failure was also experienced by Germany when it launched Operation Barbarossa which was an invasion of the Soviet Union. The application of Blitzkrieg’s tactics was very effective at first. But time after time defeat was increasingly felt.
Why Does Blitzkrieg Fail During Operation Barbarossa?
Germany’s defeat in the battle against the Soviet Union was influenced by a series of ‘missteps‘ taken by Germany. Among them are:
1. Germany is not ready to face winter
The Germans predicted they could win the battle within a few months. The Blitzkrieg tactics they applied did have a significant impact in the early years of the war but ended in disarray when faced with the vast Russian lands. The Germans were overwhelmed with logistics. Many of his troops were then exhausted and had to take a break to make the invasion plan, so much worse than previously thought that they also had to face winter. Severe mud and extremely cold temperatures made it difficult for German troops to move.
2. The Soviet Union has a more capable military after passing through the first year of war
Overall, in World War II, Germany was superior, especially when compared to one country against one country. But the Soviet Union had vast land and industrial areas, many times that of Germany, and far more productive. Besides, weapons production assistance from the United States and other allies made Soviet weapons production very fast. The Soviet Union also overthrew incompetent leaders and generals.
3. The leader’s selfishness
Hitler’s belief in the victory of the eastern front made him underestimate the power of the country as The Motherland. Hitler does not reflect on the history of Europe, that trying to conquer lands that have an area many times that of Germany, even Europe is a nightmare experienced by previous European leaders, especially when facing winter. Besides, Hitler decided to take over the city of Stalingrad (Volgograd) before Moscow, even though the Moscow gate itself was in front of the German troops. This decision was opposed by several of his Generals and it was proven that this was indeed the wrong step taken by the German leader.
Weaknesses of Blitzkrieg Tactics
The Blitzkrieg tactic is indeed very effective, but this effect does not mean it is not dependent on external factors. In other words, this tactic is effective in certain conditions. Factors such as weather, troop numbers, supplies, distances, etc. have a direct effect on the efficiency of the use of this tactic.
The weakness of the tactical side is that to be able to implement it requires troops and war vehicles with high mobility, such as Panther tanks used by Germany. Besides, the delivery of supply must also be fast. If you remember the events on Russian soil, the supply movement and German forces were greatly slowed by the winter making this tactic not as effective as before.
This tactic is a very efficient tactic when used for wars with ‘neighbors’ for a short period. Its application must also be quick to make the enemy had a mess so that it can easily cut off the opponent’s supply line. However, the need to move quickly made him very dependent on current conditions and the supply of weapons of war.