Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Penny Packets and Blitzkriegs
In 1940, the world was given a shock. France, before thought to be the greatest power in Europe, lay broken before the German army. Her armies cut off or evacuated, she had no choice but to surrender. How was France, powerful France, brought down in only a few short months? Our answer lies in the dark days of the previous decade. Back in the early thirties, things were changing. Armor and airplanes had changed everything, and many armies, including that of the French, misinterpreted them. But ironically, it was a French strategist who finally got the equation right. He advocated mass use of armor and airplanes, working together with infantry to form spearheads for the complete destruction of the enemy. In France, the ideas were labeled as being unethical and a breach of chivalry, but in Germany, the ideas were hailed as the new form of war. Blitzkrieg, as it was called, was capitalized by General Guderian's book "Achtung Panzer!", and the rest of the Nazis picked it up from there. In contrast to Blitzkriegs, the French used a soon to be outdated concept called "Penny Packets", which advocated the use of small pockets of tanks to support infantry. Penny packets, as it turned out, were the death of the French armies, as was the use of a "swinging door" strategy that relied on one hinge: The "impenetrable Ardennes". Soon, the world would by shown just how penetrable they really were.