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Letters from the Front

( Editor’s note: Welcome to a brand new series that will debut every several months as Battlefield V’s live service continues to push out content and will depend on how well the Live Service does. If the Live Service fails, this series will be canceled since the expansions for Battlefield V will also be canceled. DICE  intends to release the expansions in chronological order and attempt to follow World War II in order. This series will delve into every aspect of the Second World War that EA DICE chooses to highlight in their expansions. I hope you enjoy this little mini-series and stay tuned for my BFV: Trial by Fire First Impressions coming soon.)

By the beginning of The Great War, German tactics derived from German military doctrine written by military generals which advocated maneuver,
mass, and envelopment to create the conditions for victory on the battlefield. During the course of the Great War, the German military gave birth to Stormtroopers which would bring these military doctrines to life by breaking through Allied lines using massed artillery. These attacks relied on speed and surprise. This brand new doctrine would see success during the German spring offensive in 1918, these tactics would carry the German armies towards Amiens and then Paris before halting due to a lack of supplies. The Stormtroopers and the tactics that they pioneered would finally break the stalemate that had occurred on the Western Front and restore movement on both sides.

On the Eastern Front, the war didn’t bog down unlike the war being waged in Western Europe. The German and Russian armies fought a war of movement across thousands of miles, which gave German commanders experience in learning new tactics which weren’t being taught in France and Belgium. Studies of what occurred in the East during the Great War led to the conclusion that small and coordinated forces possessed more power and were easily handled than large and uncoordinated forces. The Allies, especially Britain, would learn lessons throughout the later half of 1918 and would take those lessons and improved upon them in the interwar years.

As the war came to an end and the world would enter the interwar period, Germany and the Soviet Union began a secret collaboration inside the Soviet Union to evade the inter-Allied commission. In 1926, both nations would begin war games and multiple tests outside Moscow to learn and improve upon the tactics of the Great War. These war games and tests would include state of the art technology like aircraft and armored vehicles and would often housed aerial and armored vehicle schools in which officers of both the Reichswehr and the Red Army would rotate in and out of.

After Adolf Hitler’s rise to power, he ignored the Treaty of Versailles and renamed the Reichswehr to the Wehrmacht. Inside the Wehrmacht, the Panzerwaffe was created and the Luftwaffe was established in 1935, Hitler strongly supported this brand new idea that was formed in the Great War and development began on ground attacks. General Heinz Guderian, a veteran of the Great War and publisher of the book Achtung! Panzer, believed that the technology that was present in this era, especially radios and wireless communications, was needed to carry out a successful tank attack. When World War II broke out, all German Panzer divisions were outfitted with wireless communications and radios to breakthrough Polish lines at the start of the invasion of Poland.

When the Spanish Civil War broke out across Spain, it was the first chance to test this new concept using armored units. Germany’s armed forces deployed to Spain in order to aid Francisco Franco’s fight against the Loyalists. It was a small success as the Condor Legion, the Luftwaffe’s deployed unit, undertook the bombing of Guernica which shook the foundation of Europe but failed to hit any of their assigned objectives so a carpet bombing order was issued which caused the Loyalists to surrender but at a high cost of many civilians losing their lives. The bombing of Guernica would only not shake the foundation of Europe but caused fear across the world, the fear of bombing raids and air attacks. A fear that would very much come true in the 1940s.

By 1939, World War II broke out with the German invasion of Poland that began with a lightning strike. German tactics were traditional at first, the Wehrmact strategy was in line with the Vernichtungsgedanke concept which basically meant annihilate the enemy while Panzer divisions were dispersed amongst the ranks and being used to destroy the Polish line of resistance and seize terrain.

By 1940, the situation on the Western Front looked dire as the German war machine reared its head towards Western Europe. On May 10th, 1940 the German armored and infantry units broke out from the Ardennes and initiated Blitzkrieg as they raced towards the English Channel.

The Germans raced towards the English Channel and their respective ports along the Channel coastline, reaching Abbeville and cutting off the British and their allies until they halted outside Dunkirk where British High Command undertook a daring operation to rescue the encircled troops at Dunkirk, this operation was called Operation Dynamo and 330,000 troops were rescued and returned to Britain defeated as Europe was now under German occupation.

The operation surprised the Allies and Hitler himself, the group that raced towards the Channel overcame the Allied armored vehicles and equipment, many of which were vastly superior to the Germans. The French army was reduced in strength and the British were nearly obliterated with much of their supplies and equipment being left behind in France, they lacked the means to fight and possibly win the war. Fall Gleb was now succeeded by Fall Rot and the German armored units pushed towards the Normandy coast, the Maginot Line, and Paris. Paris was secured unopposed and the French surrendered at Compiègne.

As the war entered 1941, Adolf Hitler had plans to invade the Soviet Union. This operation came to be known as “Operation Barbarossa.” , an operation designed to destroy the Red Army and prevent their escape. This operation would result in a tie as the German offensive in Moscow was defeated and it seemed to be the turning point that the Allies had hoped for as the Soviet Red Army was now on the counter-offensive as winter now settled.

By Summer 1942, revisions for the invasion of the Soviet Union was made and now the Germans reached Stalingrad and were on their way towards the Caucasus oilfields which were desperately needed. Once again, the Soviets lost a great amount of territory but counter-attacked yet again in the winter and the gains attributed to the Germans were lost. The Wehrmacht were overstretched and could not win against the Soviet Union’s unlimited resources now that the Western Allies started to send supplies.

A year later, the German Army launched Operation Zitadelle in the Kursk salient. Soviet tactics were largely improved upon and the Red Army constructed deep defensive positions along the paths that the German operation would begin from. The Germans did not achieve surprise and were not able to achieve the tactic that garnered them success in the early phases of the war in the West. For the first time, the German tactic of Blitzkrieg was countered and the tides had turned with the Red Army now able to mount successful operations.

Today, in the present, it is argued that Blitzkrieg is nothing new in the history of warfare and that the German armed forces had no radical new way to reinvent war. It has been argued that the thinking behind key operations had not changed enough from the end of the First World War, it was pointed out that the Germans always pushed for short campaigns that won the day but were unable to succeed in the First World War since the conditions were not suitable for such a task. The large transformation between the First World War and the Second was achieved by the tactics undertaken by armored units and a large and powerful air force that struck in the hearts of the enemy.

( This concludes the second issue of “History Behind BFV.” , come back tomorrow for the third issue of “History Behind BFV.” which chronicles the history of Greece in the Second World War.)

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