Armored Forces of Barbarossa II

Before the officially sanctioned date of July 3, Hoth and Guderian sent their tanks toward the next geographic objective: the Dvina-Dnieper line—more than 300 miles distant. By this time it was clear to everyone involved that the gaps between panzer groups and infantry armies could only grow wider. The Soviet forces still active behind the panzers’ axes of advance could only grow larger. In a sense Panzer Groups 2 and 3 were replicating Rommel’s behavior in the desert. Just as logistics was a rear-echelon problem, so was cleaning up whatever the armor left behind.

From the beginning of this phase the panzers encountered resistance stronger than expected. Stalin had assigned Marshal Semyon Timoshenko to organize the defense, concentrate reserves, and, above all, counterattack at every opportunity. Timoshenko was no master of mobility but he was a hard man even by Soviet standards. His tanks and riflemen made the Germans pay for their tactical victories. A battalion of the 35th Panzer Regiment occupied the town of Staryi Bychoff on the Dnieper, only to be pinned down by a defense that cost 33 men and nine tanks—the regiment’s heaviest losses in a single day since the start of the war. Its report describes the Russians as “hard-fighting, very brave soldiers.” The Red Air Force reappeared in strength, and with new material. Nine Il-2 Sturmoviks, a formidably armored ground attack plane, gave Rommel’s old division a taste of its French medicine on July 5, delaying the advance most of a day. One Il-2 took more than 200 ground-fire hits and made it home. Rain and terrain slowed the Germans as well. On one 50-mile stretch of road in Hoth’s sector, 100 bridges in succession failed to take the strain of tanks and trucks. The often-overlooked pioneers were correspondingly vital for both panzer groups: bridging flooded rivers, repeating the job when the bridges collapsed, and all the time keeping watch for die-hard Soviet stragglers.

The Germans were winning on an increasingly frayed shoestring. Third Panzer Division was down to a third of its authorized tank strength. Fourth Panzer Division sent a staff officer all the way back to Germany in search of spare parts. A single tank battalion of 7th Panzer Division reported no fewer than five lieutenants killed in a few days—shot through the head by snipers who had a free hand because the riflemen’s trucks could not keep up with the tanks. The motorized artillery as well was having increasing difficulty keeping pace, especially the heavy corps and army battalions so valuable for taking out Soviet prepared defenses. The result was increasing reliance on the Luftwaffe, and the air crews gave their best. Richthofen’s VIII Air Corps, its Stukas using an early version of the cluster bomb, climaxed three weeks of constant effort by taking two of Hoth’s divisions across the Dvina on July 8. The medium bombers of Air Fleet 2 hammered roads and rail junctions and interdicted troop movements—but against increasing fighter opposition that drew more and more German fighters into the air battle.

The tank and the airplane might be the Wehrmacht’s concept of an ideal couple. But like most couples, stress brought out the worst sides of both partners. The ground units’ war diaries contain an increasing litany of complaints about Russian aircraft being “masters of the skies,” about the damage to tankers’ morale from repeated attacks by low-flying Soviet aircraft, about Stuka strikes promised but never delivered. The Luftwaffe responded by describing the soldiers as “outrageously spoiled” by direct air support, and too quick to halt or even retreat in the face of opposition if German planes were not overhead. Richthofen himself upbraided his ground-pounding opposite numbers for refusing to recognize that in order to be effective, air power must be concentrated and could not be distributed piecemeal.

These arguments have been common in the air-ground relations of all armed forces, from North Africa through Korea and Vietnam, down to Desert Storm. Nevertheless they highlight the growing erosion of the German mobile forces, to the point where maneuver would become their only viable option.

And yet the panzers kept advancing—as far as 100 miles a day for some units. When movement stalled, group, corps, and division commanders probed for weak spots. When none existed, the colonels, captains, and sergeants created them. As Hoth smashed the Russian right, Guderian crossed the Dnieper south of Mogilev, and the panzers sought once more to create a giant pocket by meeting at Smolensk. With Soviet defenses in shreds and Soviet mobile formations scattered, the first German troops entered Smolensk late on July 15.

Eleven days later the German High Command declared the Smolensk pocket closed. The call was premature, but German skills showed to particular advantage against the major counterattacks mounted beginning in late July. German tank companies took advantage of Soviet inexperience to knock out two or three dozen T-34s at a time. On August 5, Bock announced the end of the fighting, the capture of another 300,000 prisoners, and the destruction of more than 3,000 tanks and almost as many guns.

It was the climax of a series of virtuoso performances that combine to make a case that the relative tactical and operational superiority of the panzers over their opponents was never greater than in the first half of July 1941, on the high road to Moscow. Guderian spoke of attacks going in like training exercises. Guderian’s senior subordinates in turn praised his common sense and goodwill, the Fingerspitzengefühl, and not least the unflagging energy that marked him a master of mechanized war at the operational level. If Hoth lacked his stablemate’s flair (and his gift for securing headlines), his handling of Panzer Group 3 produced results at the same level.

These successes were, however, the point of the spear—or better said, the tip of an iceberg. Army Group Center’s mobile forces had by now outrun their logistics to a degree impossible for even the most operationally minded generals to overlook. Losses in tanks continued to mount. Rifle companies were shrinking to the strength of platoons. As a result, for the first time in the campaign, the panzers lacked the strength to force the pace of engagements. Instead they were increasingly constrained to wear down Soviet attacks and throw them off balance before counterattacking themselves. That pattern would become characteristic of German tactics and operations in the second half of the Russo-German War. Its systematic appearance at this early stage was another of Barbarossa’s many warning signs.

Like the giant Antaeus of classical mythology or the Green Knight of medieval English lore, the Red Army seemed to derive strength from being knocked down. Initial estimates had allowed for around 200 Soviet divisions. By the end of the Smolensk operation, more than 300 had appeared on German charts. The USSR outproduced Germany in tanks during 1941. But in six weeks, the best Soviet commanders had been discredited, the best Soviet formations had been eviscerated, thousands of tanks, guns, and aircraft had been destroyed, and tens of thousands of square miles overrun. Was it entirely wishful thinking that sustained the German belief that one more strike would finish the job? And was that viewpoint underpinned by an unacknowledged but growing sense of the panzers as an ultimately wasting asset, best employed to their limits while they could still shape the campaign?

As early as July 8, Hitler had informed the Chief of Staff of his intention to divert mobile forces north and south with open options: to reinforce the attack on Leningrad, to cooperate with Army Group South in capturing Kiev, and to regroup for a drive on Moscow. Depending on the operational situation, this represented a flat denial of the concept of the decisive point. It also represented the downplaying of the moral importance of Moscow. The city’s loss would be a prestige victory and an ideological triumph for National Socialism—a double body blow to the Soviet Union.

A fable with many versions in many languages describes a donkey starving to death because he is unable to choose among a half dozen full mangers. Franz Halder was no folklorist, but on July 23 he informed Hitler that the Russians had been decisively weakened—not decisively defeated. Every new operation had to begin by breaking enemy resistance, but overall infantry strength was down by 20 percent, and the panzer divisions averaged 50 percent short of establishment.

On the other hand, Kiev was the transportation and communications hub for the great industrial centers of southwest Russia. Leningrad, Lenin’s city, was arguably more the USSR’s moral center than was the official capital. Its capture would give Germany control of the Baltic Sea, create a united political and military front with Finland, and free Panzer Group 4 for employment against Moscow.

And if the enemy’s army was considered the primary objective, as opposed to resources and territory, the pickings were likely to be easier on the wings than by continuing headlong into a sector the Soviets must defend at all costs, and where their counterattacks indicated they were doing just that. The pace of Army Group Center’s advance was slowing perceptively enough to cause concern. At the same time, that advance was creating an increasingly exposed salient. Securing its flanks, especially the southern one, was a defensible response, especially in the context of those suddenly emerging reserves Wehrmacht intelligence had asserted the Red Army did not possess.

Rundstedt, whose army group could expect to benefit massively from a southern option, argued in public for the importance of continuing the drive on Moscow. He and Leeb, however, also had a particular sense of what they were on the verge of accomplishing with just a few of the right kinds of resources. Reduced to its essentials, the revised plan projected sending elements of Panzer Group 2 south with the mission of enveloping and destroying the Soviet forces engaging Rundstedt’s left. Hoth’s Group would turn north to assist in capturing Leningrad, then swing toward the Volga in cooperation with Panzer Group 4. Army Group Center would continue advancing on Moscow with infantry and sort out its rear areas and logistics until the mobile divisions returned.

When the Army High Command asked whether the campaign now sought economic objectives or destruction of Soviet military forces, the answer was “both.” It would be oversimplified hindsight to describe Hitler as playing his senior generals against each other. It would be an equal oversimplification to describe the generals as blindly obsessed with their respective places in the history of war. Both factors were undeniably present—and it must be particularly emphasized that generals without high levels of alpha ambition are likely to be liabilities in senior command. What is significant about the decisions made as the Smolensk pocket closed is the underlying consensus that affirmed them: a conviction that the panzers could still move fast enough and strike hard enough to make ultimate choices unnecessary. Barbarossa’s second stage would be predicated on what might be called a postmod ern construction: a “flexible Schwerpunkt.”

Depending on perspective, that placed the panzers in the role of either a chameleon placed on a plaid shirt, or a cartoon character running through a china shop shattering one glass after another by flicking his finger. In a month, XLI Panzer Corps had fought its way across 650 miles of forest and swamp to within 100 miles of Leningrad. Air supply sustained the final stage of an advance that by July 14 had thrown two bridges across the Luga River, the last major natural barrier before a city that was only two days’ march away—on the maps. But Leeb was a cautious general; the Soviet defense was desperate; and Reinhardt’s depleted divisions lacked the fighting power to overrun a city with two and a half million inhabitants. For armored forces, getting into a city was far less a problem than getting out of it—especially given the constrained time frame in which the attack on Leningrad was conceptualized.

Had Manstein’s corps been directly involved, the story might have played out differently. Instead Leeb and Hoepner had turned Manstein southeast toward Novgorod and the Moscow-Leningrad railroad. It was the kind of maneuver operation basic to panzer doctrine, in which Manstein possessed unusual skill—and which the Soviets were determined to frustrate. A well-executed counterattack cut off 8th Panzer Division and took out half of its 150 tanks in the four days Manstein required to break the 8th free. Pushing slowly forward, the corps eventually also bogged down along the Luga River.

As for the projected reinforcement by Panzer Group 3, not until August 16 was Army Group Center formally ordered to transfer four of its mobile divisions to Army Group North—a consequence of increasingly forceful debates between and among Hitler and the relevant generals. The new arrivals proved just enough to encourage Leeb and Hoepner and not enough to turn the tide in their sector. With both of Hoepner’s corps immobilized on the Luga, when Hoth’s divisions finally arrived, Leeb committed them to strengthen his thinly manned front as opposed to reinforcing one of Hoepner’s corps as a striking force. On September 8, Hoepner nevertheless renewed his group’s attack.

Schlisselburg, widely regarded as a keystone of the defense, fell after heavy and expensive fighting. The Russians threw in everything they had. First Panzer Division engaged tanks literally fresh from factory assembly lines. But the city held—and the Army High Command grew increasingly insistent on transferring Panzer Group 4 south for the drive against Moscow. Sixth Panzer Division was ordered south on August 18. By the twenty-fifth the front had “stabilized” in a blockade that plunged Leningrad into three years of horror as Hitler ordered the starving of the city his tanks failed to conquer.

Army Group North’s series of tactical victories between June and September neither camouflage nor compensate for unhandiness at the operational level. Leeb has come under especially heavy criticism for repeatedly halting or slowing the armored spearheads to allow the infantry to close up: a fits-and-starts process that gave the Soviets time to improvise Leningrad’s defense. The dispersion of Hoepner’s panzers in the first half of July further diminished blitzkrieg’s prospects in the northern sector. Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb, in short, will never go down as a master, or even an apprentice, of mobile war.

In Leeb’s defense, arguably even more than in Barbarossa’s other sectors, logistics and rear security controlled the pace and nature of operations in the north. The first phase of the German advance had been through the relatively developed territory of the Baltic states: Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania, which had been occupied by the Red Army in 1940 and were as yet relatively spared the blessings of Marxism-Leninism. The Germans benefited from overrunning large amounts of stockpiled Red Army supplies, and from capturing a number of major bridges and rail connections undamaged. Crossing into the USSR proper meant entering a literal wilderness, historically left undeveloped to provide a glacis for Russia’s northern capital. The near-literal absence of infrastructure made exploiting local resources nearly impossible: there were no surpluses, however meager, to requisition, confiscate, or steal.

That put a rapid, unexpected burden on a supply system stretched to move its own bases forward into the northern wasteland. It was not mere reflex caution that led Leeb to insist repeatedly on the necessity for bringing the infantry forward as the price of the next advance. Guerilla activity in Army Group North’s rear grew so serious that beginning on August 5, the entire 8th Panzer Division was withdrawn from the front and assigned to anti-partisan duties on the line of communications.

Developments in Army Group South followed a different pattern. Kleist shook off the initial Russian counterattacks, broke through an improvised “Stalin Line” on July 5, and started his tanks toward Kiev. In their wake marched the infantry of 6th Army, who were intended to do the heavy work of actually capturing the city. Fighting through strong resistance, especially by units officially overrun and reported as scattered, Panzer Group 1 had its first sight of Kiev’s skyline on July 10.

With the infantry and heavy artillery a hundred miles to the rear, III Panzer Corps commander Eberhard von Mackensen nevertheless considered storming the city with the two panzer divisions and one motorized division coming on line. Sixth Army CO Walther von Reichenau, anything but battle-shy, compared the prospect of fighting house-to-house in Kiev to Verdun—not least because of the constant losses his infantry were already taking from persistent air and ground attack. It was Hitler, however, who pulled the plug, forbidding a direct attack on Kiev for the present and freeing Mackensen’s corps for what seemed a far more promising mission.

The other two mobile corps of Panzer Group 1 had turned south of Kiev toward Uman. Red Army counterattacks, heavy air strikes, and poor weather slowed and disrupted the operation. Mutual envelopment operations at times left troops uncertain who was encircling whom. Nevertheless between July 16 and August 3, Kleist’s group created and sustained a pocket that, when cleared, yielded more than 100,000 prisoners—no mean bag even by the standards of Minsk and Smolensk. Large numbers of Russians managed to escape a trap that, like the others in Barbarossa, never fully closed. They did so at the expense of their organization and much of their equipment as the Red Army began a full-scale retreat from Bessarabia and the western Ukraine, abandoning the Dnieper River line. An enraged Stalin ordered the dismissal of some generals, and the execution of others.

Uman was no more than second prize in the blitzkrieg lottery. Halder and Rundstedt originally projected an even bigger encirclement in the area of Kirovograd, one cutting off the entire Soviet force west of the Dnieper. That had exceeded the panzers’ capacity. But with most of the Soviet front in apparent disintegration, with the Romanians advancing on Odessa and the Black Sea coast, the military prospects of a “southern strategy” began to match Hitler’s original economic visions—particularly when the major alternative involved a direct assault on Moscow in the best traditions of the Great War. Blitzkrieg was about creating opportunities and seizing them. Panzer Group 1 had begun Barbarossa with the lowest force-to-space ratio of the four. The increasing development of the southern front had increased the distances among possible objectives. But Rundstedt, Kleist, and the mobile corps commanders had done well—better than well—playing cape-and-sword with the Red Army. Suitably reinforced, they could finish the job.

Orders might be given, but mobile war German style depended on informed consent. The pivotal figure in the developing shift of operational focus was Heinz Guderian. He was considered firmly in the Moscow camp—so firmly that on August 23 he flew to Hitler’s Rastenburg headquarters with the intention of protesting in person against the projected reassignment of his group. By his own account at least he made a compelling presentation. Hitler then responded with his reasons for the Kiev option. Guderian’s self-described reluctance to make a scene in the face of a firm decision need not be taken at face value. But nor should his critics’ descriptions of careerism overriding principle be accepted without modification.

Guderian was at best a medium-sized fish in what had suddenly become a very big pond. His focus since June 21 had been to his front: operational and tactical. During the discussion Hitler had asked him a question: Did Guderian’s men have one more great effort in them? Guderian answered yes—if given an objective whose importance was self-evident. Kiev was not Moscow. But keep Panzer Group 2 together, give its commander a free hand, and there was a solid chance of completing the operation before the autumn rains shut down southern Russia entirely. Hitler conceded the point, and Halder flew into an enduring rage at what he called Guderian’s capitulation.

In Guderian’s terms, that was just another sign that the Chief of Staff might talk the talk of mobile war, but could never walk the walk. When matters grew dark, it was time to step on the gas. It is always ill-advised to throw spitballs at an adversary armed with rocks. Guderian began his move south minus one of his corps, transferred at Halder’s orders. But with massive Luftwaffe support, Panzer Group 2 broke the Soviet front within days. Third Panzer Division’s commander Walther Model was one of a rising new breed of hard-charging risk-takers willing to make bricks without straw and mobile war with only a few tanks. In a tactical tour de force, a battle group of the 3rd Panzer Divsion captured a key bridge over the Desna River on August 26, motorcyclists and half-tracks shooting their way across as German and Soviet pioneers dueled under the roadbed for control of the demolition apparatus.

The panzers drove south, shrugging off poorly coordinated flank attacks. As he had done in France, Guderian chivied subordinates mercilessly. Soviet commanders at all levels were bewildered by the speed of the German advance and the ability of the Germans to be where they were not expected. By September 7, Panzer Group 2 had opened a twenty-mile operational gap between the Southwestern Front and its right-flank neighbor the Bryansk Front.

Meanwhile, Panzer Group 1 struck for the Dnieper. The first permanent bridgehead came at Kremenchug. Then, on August 25, the 13th Panzer Division captured an intact bridge at Dnepropetrovsk, opening a way into the Soviet rear. Semyon Budenny, commanding the Southwestern Front, was an old-line horse cavalryman, an anachronism in the internal- combustion era. But he knew well enough what mobile troops could achieve in empty space. He requested permission to retreat—and was promptly replaced. Stalin’s determination to hold the line in part reflected the ongoing battle for Kiev, which fully justified Reichenau’s grim prediction. It was street by street and house by house, with the Germans making little progress. Stalin ordered Kiev held and threw in reinforcements, as the Germans began turning two breakthroughs into one envelopment.

Facing massive counterattacks around Dnepropetrovsk, Kleist feinted north and drove through Kremenchug. The starring role went to one of the new formations: 16th Panzer Division, under another newcomer, Hans Hube. Crossing the Dnieper on September 11, by the thirteenth the division was 20 miles into the Soviet rear with two more divisions in close support. Again Stalin ordered Kiev held: no retreat without his authorization. Panzer Group 1 was down to half strength and less in tanks, but on the cusp of the kind of objective Guderian had described to Hitler. Hube led from the front as his tanks overran an army headquarters whose commander was constrained to escape through a window. The Luftwaffe, with V Air Corps supporting Kleist and II Air Corps supporting Guderian, pounced on every Soviet effort to establish blocking points and scoured the sky clean of Soviet aircraft. On the evening of September 16—at 1820, to be exact—3rd and 16th Panzer Divisions met to close the Kiev pocket at Lokhvitsa, more than 120 miles behind the city itself.

Kiev was the third of Barbarossa’s major pocket battles, and the greatest. Serious resistance ended around September 24; mopping up took ten days longer. German official figures give more than 800 tanks and almost 3,500 guns captured, along with more than 650,000 prisoners. Salvaging the equipment and transferring the men took weeks. Kiev was also the smoothest of the envelopments. Leakage was minimal—only around 15,000 Soviet soldiers managed to escape across the steppe. Panzer Group 1 was worn thin, like a long-used knife blade. Winter was close enough for Rundstedt to recommend suspending operations. On October 1, Kleist’s men, renamed the 1st Panzer Army, instead turned south first to the Sea of Azov, then toward Rostov and the oil fields of the Caucasus, 180 degrees away from the revitalized attack on Moscow the High Command was calling Operation Typhoon.

The upgrading of Panzer Group 1, and eventually all the rest, to army status was more than cosmetic retitling. On one hand it was positive: a recognition that the mobile forces’ effectiveness depended heavily on the kind of autonomy denied when they were subordinated to army commanders rather than reporting directly to the army groups. In particular the tension between Guderian and Hoth and their nominal superior von Kluge had contributed significantly to a level of friction and delay clearly unaffordable in the circumstances of the Russo-German War. On the other side of the coin, establishing the higher panzer headquarters as armies downgraded their specialist function. Increasingly they would be used in the same way as other armies, commanding mixed bags of mobile and marching divisions, occupying sectors as often as conducting mobile operations—in short, following the patterns developing in Army Group North but on a larger scale.

Kiev remains a subject of controversy among scholars and soldiers. One school argues that the operation was a digression. It did not end the war; the USSR did not collapse. Instead, Kiev (and Leningrad) further strained an already overextended panzer force. Kiev arguably delayed the attack on Moscow by a month, giving the Red Army and General Winter time that could not have been bought in battle. But Kiev also destroyed or neutralized massive Soviet forces that would have been available against the right flank of the Moscow offensive. Nor could Stalin and his generals overlook the near-free strategic hand Kiev gave Rundstedt in southern Ukraine: diversion of strength and attention is usually a two-way process. And as Robert M. Citino dryly puts it, “Can any battle that nets 665,000 prisoners be considered a mistake?” Even the USSR’s deployable resources, human and material, were not infinitely renewable.

Kiev was a crucial benchmark in another, no less decisive way. On September 24, a series of explosions shook the city. Preset, remote-controlled demolitions started fires that destroyed much of what remained intact after the fighting. Hitler ordered retribution. The army enthusiastically cooperated not for the first time in such exercises, but in a visible, spectacular way that made its position on the Jewish question unmistakable. Its culmination was the shooting of more than 30,000 Jews at Babi Yar—an operation that would have been impossible without army-supplied transport, administration, and area security.

Events in Kiev reinforced the growing awareness among Russians who had worked and sacrificed to build a Soviet future that the Germans were no less committed to destroying that future. The Soviet people did not become overnight the united and determined force of Communist myth. Panic, looting, wildcat strikes—a general breakdown of law and order prevailed in Moscow during the fighting. Well before then, however, it was increasingly obvious that whatever might be wrong with the USSR, it was nothing the Germans could fix—or wanted to.

Stalin’s obscene treatment of his own people had created a significant opportunity the Germans failed to utilize. Stalin himself acknowledged the possibility in a speech of May 1945. Prospects for extending individual and local cooperation with occupation into a call for a joint war against Soviet tyranny nevertheless foundered from the beginning on Nazi-structured racism. Hitler forbade any consideration of Slavs as allies. Independently of Hitler, atrocities became a rear-area norm. Soldiers took snapshots of mass hangings and mass shootings, often sending them home to their families. Such messages as “1,153 Jewish looters shot,” or “2,200 Jews shot,” grew into boasts of 20,000, 30,000 shootings and more.

These body counts had little to do with actually fighting partisans. The vast, consistent discrepancy between the numbers of weapons seized and people executed make that point eloquently. The perpetrators submitted detailed reports to Berlin in codes so simple that British intelligence had been reading them since 1939. The information went unpublicized because the British government believed its release would jeopardize other code-breaking operations deemed vital to the war effort—especially the decryption of German raidio messages by the ULTRA operation.

Nor was the work confined to Nazi organizations. Einsatzgruppen, Waffen SS, and army “ field-grays” came together in a common cause across occupied Russia. While generals like Leeb and Bock offered token protests, Reichenau called for “severe and just retribution against subhuman Jewry” and for a campaign of terror against all Russians. Hoth issued a more extreme version. Guderian declared he “made the order his own.” Manstein, promoted to army command in the Crimea, took up his new post by demanding the eradication of partisans and “Jewish Bolsheviks.”

Arguably more crucial to the war’s metastasizing brutalization were the junior officers. In 1939 about half still came from more or less traditional sources: the educated middle classes broadly defined. With the outbreak of war, combat experience became the dominant criterion. There was less and less time to provide more than basic instruction to officer candidates who saw their survival to date as prima facie proof of skill and luck, and who tended to regard training courses in the Fatherland as an opportunity for unauthorized rest and recreation. After the fall of 1942, any German over sixteen could become an army officer if he served acceptably at the front, demonstrated the proper character, believed in the Nazi cause, and was racially pure. The Waffen SS was more overtly egalitarian, but its basic criteria were essentially the same.

This relative democratization in good part reflected the growing synergy between National Socialist ideology and the demands of the front. Hitler wanted young men “as tough as leather, as fleet as grey-hounds, and as hard as Krupp steel,” correspondingly unburdened by reflection or imagination. The Red Army at its best did not offer sophisticated tactical opposition. What division and regimental commanders wanted in subordinates was tough men physically and morally, those willing to lead from the front and publicly confident in even the most desperate situations. One might speculate, indeed, that a steady supply of twentysomething lieutenants with wound badges and attitudes helped older, wiser, and more tired majors and colonels to suppress their own doubts about Hitler and his war. And men with such conditioning were more likely to encourage than restrain aggressive behavior against “others” and “outsiders.”