Heinz Guderian quotes

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Heinz Guderian

Birthdate: 17. June 1888
Date of death: 14. May 1954

Heinz Wilhelm Guderian was a German general during World War II, noted for his success as a leader of Panzer units in Poland and France and for partial success in the Soviet Union.

Guderian had pioneered motorized tactics in the pre-war army, while keeping himself well informed about tank development in other armies. In particular, he promoted the use of radio communication between tank-crews, and devised shock-tactics that proved highly effective. In 1940, he led the Panzers that broke the French defences at Sedan, France, leading to the surrender of France. In 1941, his attack on Moscow was delayed by orders from Hitler with whom he disagreed sharply. Soon, the Germans found themselves suffering from severely cold weather. This perhaps led to the German defeat at Moscow. After the German defeat at the Battle of Moscow he was transferred to the reserve. This marked the end of his ascendancy.

After the defeat at Stalingrad, Hitler appointed him to a new post, rebuilding the shattered Panzer forces, but he feuded with many other generals, who managed to get his responsibilities re-allocated. He was then appointed Chief of the General Staff of the Army, but this was largely a symbolic post, since Hitler had effectively become his own Chief of Staff. As Chief of Staff, he authorized the use of the new Tiger Manual to train panzer troops. From 1945-48, Guderian was held in U.S. custody, but released without charge. He later served as an advisor helping in the establishment of military forces in West Germany.

„Ticket to the last station.“

—  Heinz Guderian

Fahrkarte bis zur Endstation.
Shouted to his Panzertroops as they were passing him, indicating that they should go as far as they could; as quoted in Panzerkrieg : The Rise and Fall of Hitler's Tank Divisions (2002) by Peter McCarthy and Mike Syron, p. 83

„Logistics is the ball and chain of armored warfare.“

—  Heinz Guderian

As quoted in Sword Point (1988) by Harold Coyle, p. 141

„When the situation is obscure, attack.“

—  Heinz Guderian

As quoted in Waging Business Warfare (1988) David J. Rogers, p. 236

„There are no desperate situations, there are only desperate people.“

—  Heinz Guderian

Es gibt keine verzweifelten Lagen, es gibt nur verzweifelte Menschen.
As quoted in Die Deutschen gepanzerten Truppen bis 1945 (1965) by Oskar Munzel

„It's simply our duty to save these people, and we still have time to remove them! But it's useless to sacrifice men in this senseless way. It's high time! We must evacuate those soldiers at once!“

—  Heinz Guderian

Arguing with Adolf Hitler about the German army being cut off in the Courland Pocket; as quoted in Inside the Third Reich : Memoirs (1971) by Albert Speer, p. 534

„You hit somebody with your fist and not with your fingers spread.“

—  Heinz Guderian

Man schlägt jemanden mit der Faust und nicht mit gespreizten Fingern.
As quoted in Die Deutschen gepanzerten Truppen bis 1945 (1965) by Oskar Munzel, p. 209; this indicated the need to concentrate tank forces for one strong push in one direction and not distribute them over a large area.

„To imitate the ostrich in political matters has never been a satisfactory method of avoiding danger; yet this is what Hitler, as well as his more important political, economic and even military advisers, chose to do over and over again.“

—  Heinz Guderian

On the failure of Hitler and his advisors to face realities of various situations, especially those of the military on the Eastern Front, in Panzer Leader (1952), Ch. 6 : The Campaign in Russia, p. 190
Context: To imitate the ostrich in political matters has never been a satisfactory method of avoiding danger; yet this is what Hitler, as well as his more important political, economic and even military advisers, chose to do over and over again. The consequences of this deliberate blindness in the face of hard facts were devastating; and it was we who now had to bear them.

„New weapons require new tactics. Never put new wine into old bottles.“

—  Heinz Guderian

As quoted in Cavalry from Hoof to Track (2009) by Roman Jarymowycz, Ch. 16 : Cold Warhorse: Pegasus ex Machina

„Boot 'em, don't spatter 'em!“

—  Heinz Guderian

Nicht Kleckern sondern Klotzen!
As quoted in How Great Generals Win (1993) by Bevin Alexander, p. 227; this statement became a stock phrase which Hitler often repeated. It is comparable to the adage "Don't do things by half."

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„The engine of the Panzer is a weapon just as the main-gun.“

—  Heinz Guderian

Der Motor des Panzers ist ebenso seine Waffe wie die Kanone.
As quoted in Die Deutschen gepanzerten Truppen bis 1945 (1965) by Oskar Munzel, p. 159

„We have severely underestimated the Russians, the extent of the country and the treachery of the climate. This is the revenge of reality.“

—  Heinz Guderian

Letter to his wife (9 November 1941) on the German failures in Operation Barbarossa and the battles of the Eastern Front, quoted in Images of Kursk : History's Greatest Tank Battle, July 1943 (2002) by Nikolas Cornish, p. 6; also in The Storm of War: A New History of the Second World War (2009) by Andrew Roberts, p. 409

„If the tanks succeed, then victory follows.“

—  Heinz Guderian

As quoted in Panzerkrieg : The Rise and Fall of Hitler's Tank Divisions (2002) by Peter McCarthy and Mike Syron, p. 33

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