| Blitzkrieg -
or "lightning war" - is the term characterizing a set of war features,
whose theoretical paradigms are elaborated to assure prompt victory.
The victory in a "lightning war" is achieved through overwhelming the
enemy by massive and surprising strikes from the air and on the land.
In the course of the "lightning war" within a short period of time the
enemy forces are destroyed, the social and economical life of
the country is disorganized, and its territory occupied.
The theory of the "lightning war", as an aggressive war, aiming at
surprising and overwhelming of a stronger opponent before it has a
chance to mobilize its strategic resources, had been worked out since
the beginning of the 20th century, especially by the German military
strategists. It was based on the works of the German Field-Marshal
Helmuth Moltke (1800-1891) and Field-Marshal Alfred Schlieffen
(1883-1914), proclaiming the thesis of achieving the final victory in
one, decisive general battle.
Despite of the failure of that theory in 1914, which transformed the
First World War (1914-1918) into a static, materiel war of attrition,
the theory of the "lightning war" got it further development during the
inter-war period, chiefly due to the emergence of the air and armoured
forces, which re-invigorated old theories and added the concepts of
"air war" and "tank war" to the military thought.
Among the continuers of the theory of the "lightning war" in Germany
was General Erich Ludendorff, who summarized his views in the book Der
Totale Krieg (The Total War). Emergence of the air and
armoured forces made his theories extremely popular; in Nazi Germany
they had got further development and were adopted as the official
Quick military victories over weak opponents at the outset of the
Second World War seemed to prove the German theories of the "lightning
war", and influenced further development of the German armed forces,
especially the air force and armoured troops, and their organization,
training, tactics and operational deployment. For short, they may be
summarized in the following set of basic concepts:
Nevertheless, the theory of the "lightning war" proved faulty in the
clash with equal or superior enemy, in which material and human
resources of the opponents, the strength of their economy, industrial
output, and the ideological unity of the fighting nation played the
- Air forces deal massive air strikes against the enemy
standing army, its rears, major roads, airfields and communications
centres. At the same time ground troops attack along the entire length
of the front (or the state border) and engage the enemy in minor
skirmishes, to prevent the enemy from discovering the main axes of
- Assault of the bulk of motorized forces breaks
through the enemy defence lines, disrupting its supplies,
communications and the routes of retreat. Infantry continues advance to
consolidate the success of the motorized troops, capture POW's and
stocks of mar materials.
- Infantry and other units outflank the enemy in order
to encircle pockets of enemy defence.
- Mechanized units wedge and penetrate deep into enemy
territory to disrupt enemy efforts to restore defences on new positions.
- Joint forces surround and destroy the core of the
enemy forces, force them to surrender, and force the enemy state to