By Harry De Quetteville in Berlin
18 July 2008
Germany would have accepted surrender in the Second World
War as early as 1943 if it were not for Adolf Hitler's fanaticism,
the country's new definitive history of the conflict has suggested
The work, which comprises 12,000 pages in 13 tomes, has taken
academics from the military history centre of the German armed
forces 30 years to finish. It says that the conflict was lost
as early as 1942. However, the Führer's
"suicidal urge" to enforce a final confrontation
helped prolong the war.
"It will be impossible to write a history of the Second
World War without reference to this work," said Col Winfried
Heinemann, the head of research at the centre. "It is
a history of the whole of German society, not just a military
account of the battles."
He said that Hitler
was advised three years before the defeat in Berlin that the
war was lost.
"Official papers were presented to Hitler
in 1942 that Germany could not win the war," he said.
Nonetheless, the dictator continued to exhort nothing less
than total victory.
The new history attempts to explain "why the Wehrmacht
[German army] kept fighting".
An epilogue to the final volume suggests that the determination
stemmed from Hitler's
absolutism, but then spread into German society.
waged his personal war for six years, supported by sentiment
in Germany that remained broadly favourable even after a series
of defeats," it notes.
So ingrained was the war effort and its aims that the history,
called The German Reich and the Second World War, concludes:
"To the Germans, no alternative appeared feasible, other
than the unconditional surrender demanded by the enemy."
The history has already broken taboos in previous volumes.
For example, it discloses that ordinary army units, and not
just the SS, committed atrocities on the eastern front.
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Copyright © Harry De Quetteville.
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