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History Unplugged Podcast

with Scott Rank

Witnessing The Final Destruction of Hitler’s War Machine

00:00 39:03
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By mid-February 1945, the Wehrmacht had finally reached strategic bankruptcy. In January and February alone, it had lost 660,000 men. The Home Army lacked the weapons (including small arms) and ammunition to equip new divisions. In January, against a monthly demand for 1,500,000 tank and anti-tanks rounds, production fell to 367,000.

Despite this hopeless position, with Russia within seventy miles of Berlin, Hitler planned another offensive in Hungary, using the 6th SS Panzer Army, which had been pulled out of the Ardennes in January. Hitler planned to envelop a large part of the 3rd Ukrainian Front between the Danube and the Drava, sweep across the Danube, recapture Budapest, and overrun eastern Hungary. Of course it failed. Hitler committed suicide in April and the army surrendered shortly after.
How were Hitler’s forces finally defeated? What happened after the well-known Battle of the Bulge? That famed clash was not the end for Nazi Germany, yet the critical and horrific battles that followed and forced it into submission have rarely been adequately covered. Today’s guest is Samuel Mitcham, author of the new book The Death of Hitler’s War Machine: The Final Destruction of the Wehrmacht. We discuss how the once-dreaded Nazi military came to its cataclysmic end.
Hitler’s army had risked all to win all on the Western Front with its surprise winter campaign in the Ardennes, the “Battle of the Bulge.” But when American and Allied forces recovered from their initial shock, the German Army, the Wehrmacht, was left fighting for its very survival—especially on the Eastern Front, where the Soviet Army was intent on matching, or even surpassing, Nazi atrocities.
The Death of Hitler’s War Machine gives the detailed and little-known account of how the Wehrmacht—at the mercy of its own leader, the Führer—was brought to its bitter end. We discuss:
•Hitler’s disastrous foreign policy that pitted the Wehrmacht against most of the world
•How Hitler refused to acknowledge reality and forbade German retreats—essentially condemning the troops to death
•Why the Wehrmacht was slowly annihilated in horrific battles, the most brutal of which was the Soviet siege of Budapest, which became known as “the Stalingrad of the Waffen-SS”
•The loss of the air war, 1943–1944, which led to the devastation of German cities and the complete disruption of her industry and infrastructure
March 25, 2021
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Meet Your Host
Scott Rank is the host of the History Unplugged Podcast and a PhD in history who specialized in the Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey. Before going down the academic route he worked as a journalist in Istanbul. He has written 12 history books on topics ranging from lost Bronze Age civilizations to the Age of Discovery. Some of his books include The Age of Illumination: Science, Technology, and Reason in the Middle Ages and History’s 9 Most Insane Rulers.. Learn more about him by going to scottrankphd.com.
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