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German Center of Gravity - Battle of France
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72 – Panzergruppe Kleist – German Centre of Gravity – Battle of France Part VIII

The German Centre of Gravity, Part II is part of our Battle of France series of podcasts.

We discuss the task before Panzergruppe Kleist as it becomes the German Schwerpunkt – indeed the Strategic German Centre of Gravity.  It follows on from Part VII series, where we discussed the way that Hitler, the gambler had temporally and functionally dislocated the Wehrmacht from their tasks.

To properly conduct the German Centre of Gravity analysis it is important to understand the economic state.  We use the Ends, Ways and Means methodology to determine the German Centre of Gravity.  With no options at the Strategic level, Hitler was forced to use an Operational level Centre of Gravity to attempt to snatch a Victory from France, how had the largest armed force on the continent and intimidating defences along their border.  

“Even if the operation only had a 10% chance of success, I would stick to it.  It alone will lead to the enemy’s annihilation.”
General der Artillerie Franz Halder,

The principles of Operational Planning is not the employment of miracles, and yet General der Infantrie Blumentritt described the triple miracle of the Blitzkrieg –

  1. The longest traffic jam in the history of Europe with Panzer Group Kleiste’s 41,440 vehicles backed up through Ardennes forest on 11 May, unmolested by Allied aircraft.
  2. The breakthrough at Sedan occured in just a few hours.
  3. As the Panzer divions rushed to the Channel Coast, their flanks were completely exposed.  The feared Allied counteroffensive, apart from the Arras counterattack, failed to materialise.

The sweet fruit of the Blitzkrieg victory would have a bitter aftertaste when the Wehrmacht attempted to repeat the miracle in the Soviet Union.  With far more space to trade for time and no coast to pin the Soviet Armies against, numbers would tell for a lot more than they did in France.

Have a listen to the podcast and let us know your thoughts about this Centre of Gravity analysis.

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Hoyt Burrass October 2, 2021 at 10:08 pm

I just finished this series on the Battle of France and truly enjoyed it. I had a two day 1300 mile drive and listened to it all on the first day. I am a plant ecologist and teach ecological and evolutionary theory. As I listened I had the epiphany that considering the desired end state and center of gravity of individual organisms and species as they struggle for resources needed for survival and reproduction is an excellent way to make those complex ecological ideas approachable for my students….Thank you for a job well done

admin November 10, 2021 at 9:25 pm

Hi Hoyt, that is a very interesting insight. I’m glad you liked it!


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