Field Marshal Walther Model (1891-1945) was an extremely capable and aggressive German commander who rose through the ranks of the Wehrmacht's high command during World War II. His expertise in rebuilding broken fronts earned him the nickname of the Fuhrer's Fireman,” and throughout the war, Hitler relied on the rapidly promoted general to save his army in several desperate situations, despite the fact that Model was often quite blunt with his erratic Fuhrer.Model's greatest achievement was the restoration of stability along the eastern front in June 1944. In August he was sent to restore the deteriorating western front, where he re-established a strong defensive line along the West Wall in September. He was second-in-command at the Battle of the Bulge and was leading the German army when it collapsed at the end of the war. Rather than surrender, he shot himself in April 1945.Although Model destroyed most of his personal papers just before he died, Stephen H. Newton draws on a wide variety of original German sources, including extensive Wehrmacht archival material, to tell the first and only authoritative story of the commander who was Hitler's favorite.
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Steven H. Newton is Professor of History at Delaware State University. His previous books on World War II include Kursk: The German View and Retreat from Leningrad.From Publishers Weekly:
Unlike many of his contemporaries—Rommel, Guderian, von Rundstedt—who have been rescued from the anonymity of defeat, Model (1891–1945) has "languished in relative obscurity." Historian Newton (Panzer Operations), a professor at Delaware State University, hopes to remedy that in this first English-language biography of the general dubbed the "Führer's Fireman" and "the Lion of the Defense." Newton follows Model's career from his heroic service as a young lieutenant on the Western Front in WWI through his meteoric rise to the command of an army group during WWII. Newton aims not only to rescue Model from obscurity but to rehabilitate his frayed reputation as a "Hitler sycophant" and war criminal. (It didn't help that Model's "abrasive personality" made him few friends or admirers.) Drawing on his extensive research in German and American archives, German war diaries and memoirs, Newton presents a picture of a "tactical genius" who was "pro-Hitler" but not blindly so. Facing certain defeat in April 1945, Model destroyed his papers and committed suicide, making the task of any future biographer difficult. In the absence of personal papers, Newton manages to reconstruct Model the commander but not Model the man. (Jan.)
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