Apr 052010

Fascinating review of Ernest May’s “Strange Victory – Hitler’s Conquest of France”, by Alex Harrowell over at A Fistfull of Euros.

It turns out that that Hitler’s Germany was able to defeat France and Britain because Germany acted more like an egalitarian democracy, while France went in for authoritarian central planning. And then Germany lost the war because, after the first victories, Hitler insisted on tight control and central planning.

This story has a sort of tragic duality. The Germans won because they had been able to plan more like a democracy than democratic France or Britain – they constantly questioned their assumptions, criticised superiors, and threw out bad ideas – but they would never do so again, precisely because of their triumph over France. Hitler rapidly convinced himself it was all his own work, and the independent authority of the army was permanently destroyed.