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Manstein, The Battle Of Kharkov, And The Limits Of Command

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Chapter Summary

This chapter begins with a discussion of the role that personality plays, not only in modern military operations, but in our historical analysis of them. The Donets-Kharkov campaign of early 1943 would seem to be a testament to Manstein's genius. The Field Marshal had shown a deft touch, first in remaining calm when it looked like the entire front was about to collapse, then in keeping ends and means clearly aligned, and finally in remembering that the campaign had to end with a maneuver-based counterattack and that it was senseless to slug it out toe-to-toe with an enemy who could out produce him. As for the Soviets, they, too, had remained in character throughout this campaign, doggedly adhering to their new doctrine. The winter campaign of 1943, far from serving as a display of individual genius, offers us instead the unedifying spectacle of two armies trapped in their own doctrine.

Keywords: Battle of Kharkov; command; counterattack; Donets; Erich von Manstein; historical analysis; military operations; personality; Soviets



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