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European History THE BLITZKRIEG Blitzkrieg meaning Lightning War was a term coined by an American Journalist when they were describing the method of war that The Germans under Adolf Hitler used during their conquest of Europe So quick and startling was the German advance into Poland that the Polish army of one Million soldiers was routed and over seven hundred thousand were captured and another eighty thousand along with their government retreated from the country Historian Ward Rutherford described the Blitzkrieg method as the way to achieve this lay not in bigger less mobile and of necessity fewer weapons but in large numbers of small faster moving ones always used in close combination The method that Hitler employed used sudden massive bombing by his Luftwaffe or air force destroying much of Polands air force on the ground Then another wave of bombers took out the nations roads and railways assembly points and munitions dumps and factories German planes also attacked civilian centers causing extraordinary panic After that the German dive-bombers attacked troops without mercy Civilian refugees were strafed with machine gunfire which drove them into the already crowded roads preventing Polish troop movements While the Luftwaffe bombed Polish soldiers and civilians wave after wave of motorized infantry light tanks and motor drawn artillery poured into the country followed by heavy tanks doing as much destruction as possible Once a region had been softened up with air and artillery attacks it was occupied by German foot soldiers supported by artillery which mopped up any resistance that remained Hitlers Blitzkrieg succeeded beyond his wildest imagination with only 45000 dead wounded or missing Heinz Wilhelm Guderian 1888-1954 was the brilliant German Panzer General who devised the ingenious method of lightning attack using the combination of air and armor formations producing a new type of warfare In 1938 Guderian published a book Auchtung Panzer which described the idea in detail He studied British military
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