cover image Erich von Manstein: Hitler's Master Strategist

Erich von Manstein: Hitler's Master Strategist

Benoît Lemay, trans. from the French by Pierce Heyward, Casemate (casematepublishing. com), $32.95 (528p) ISBN 978-1-935149-26-2

Lemay, well regarded in France as a military historian, offers a well-researched, convincingly reasoned analysis of a general widely considered one of WWII's great commanders, whose memoir is regarded as a classic. Lemay depicts Manstein, who served Hitler to the end, as a master strategist and an inspired general, "the most accomplished product of the Prussian military caste of his time." His talent and achievements gained the respect of his enemies. Hitler himself feared Manstein's independent spirit and strong character. Yet Manstein never addressed the wider aspects of the war he fought and the regime he served; he insisted on restricting himself to military matters, and attributed Germany's defeat to Hitler's incompetent meddling. He insisted the army remained "honorable and upright." So Lemay does a service in carefully compiling, from documents and testimony at Nuremberg, evidence of Manstein's participation in the extermination of the Jews in Ukraine and Crimea. Manstein considered the battlefield "a sort of autonomous territory," separate from politics. In this way, Lemay concludes, he made himself "an obedient instrument in a criminal enterprise." 16 pages of illus. (July)