1944 D-Day Operation Overlord - Assessment of The Battle - German Leadership

German Leadership

German commanders at all levels failed to react to the assault phase in a timely manner. Communications problems exacerbated the difficulties caused by Allied air and naval firepower. Local commanders also seemed incapable of the task of fighting an aggressive defense on the beach, as Rommel envisioned.

The German High Command remained fixated on the Calais area, and von Rundstedt was not permitted to commit the armoured reserve. When it was finally released late in the day, any chance of success was much more difficult. Overall, despite considerable Allied material superiority, the Germans kept the Allies bottled up in a small beachhead for nearly two months, aided immeasurably by terrain factors.

Although there were several known disputes among the Allied commanders, their tactics and strategy were essentially determined by agreement between the main commanders. By contrast, the German leaders were bullied and their decisions interfered with by Hitler, controlling the battle from a distance with little knowledge of local conditions. Field Marshals von Rundstedt and Rommel repeatedly asked Hitler for more discretion but were refused. Von Rundstedt was removed from his command on 29 June after he bluntly told the Chief of Staff at Hitler's Armed Forces HQ (Field Marshal Keitel) to "Make peace, you idiots!" Rommel was severely injured by Allied aircraft on 16 July.

The German commanders also suffered in the quality of the available troops. Sixty thousand of the 850,000 in Rundstedt's command were raised from the many prisoners of war captured on the Eastern Front. These "Ost" units had volunteered to fight against Stalin, but when instead unwisely used to defend France against the Western Allies, ended up being unreliable. Many surrendered or deserted at the first available opportunity.

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Operation Overlord - Campaign Close - Allied Logistics, Intelligence, Morale and Air Power - German Leadership
... German commanders at all levels failed to react to the assault phase in a timely manner ... The German High Command remained fixated on the Calais area, and von Rundstedt was not permitted to commit the armored reserve ... Overall, despite considerable Allied material superiority, the Germans kept the Allies bottled up in a small bridgehead for nearly two months, aided immeasurably by ...

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