Section 1: Desert complications

Main purpose:

This section examines the question of whether a German advance into the Middle East would have allowed the Germans to win WW2 (by forcing the British to surrender), and rephrases the question into whether a German advance into the Middle East was even logistically possible.

Questions you may need to answer before reading:

  1. Where is Libya?
  2. Where is Palestine?
  3. Where is Syria?
  4. Where is Gibraltar?
  5. What was French North-West Africa?
  6. Words you may need defined:
    • word


Van Creveld begins by saying that many historians and commanders have discussed whether a German advance into the Middle East could have changed the course of WW2, and notes that regardless of whether all these writers think Hitler should have done it, they all agree that he could have if he had wanted to. Van Creveld isnt so sure.

Van Creveld tries to limit the possible operation hes discussing. He limits it to the Eastern Mediterranean (he assumes that the British could only be beaten in the east), specifically to the southeast (assuming that an advance through Turkey would have turned into a struggle with the Soviets). This lets Van Creveld ignore a lot of the slippery political factors involved in the question, and focus on the concrete logistical and strategic factors of what was physically possible.

Questions you should be able to answer after reading:

  1. How could a German advance into the Middle East have helped the Germans win WW2?

Lt Palmer's favorite quote:

"While Rommel in his memoirs has cast the blame for failing to solve his supply problems very widely, the man responsible for coordinating those supplies the German military attache in Rome has written an article claiming that the problem was insoluble in the first place."