Best German WW2 General? Definitive Answer.
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Best German WW2 General? Definitive Answer.

Time to finally settle the question, who was
the best German general in the Second World War. So, bring the popcorn and if you are up for
challenge, post your pick in the comment section before watching the video, but be aware, you
will be surprised and this time I don’t take prisoners. So, let us start with a bit orientation, in
the German Army Regulation 300 “Truppenführung” – “Unit Command”, which is considered
as “[…] one of the most important expressions
of doctrine in military history.” It is noted in the Command Chapter: “27. Great success requires boldness and daring,
but good judgement must take precedence.” As such, it is time for a proper reality check
and you know what that means in my book, some hard data. If we combine the numbers of all Wehrmacht
generals and admirals from 1933 to 1945, we have a total number of 3191, although, this
includes also unconfirmed cases, because in some cases we don’t know exactly. Of course, you might argue we are only interested
in the German Army, this leave us with a “mere” 2344. One might argue this number still includes
too many, like reserve officers, special cases and those that were promoted after death,
so let’s just look at active officers, which brings down the number down to 1858. This numbers still includes includes “Generalmajore”
– “Brigadier Generals” the lowest general rank, which was usually not be sufficient
to command a division as such, let’s remove them from the list and only account for generals
with the rank of “Generalleutnant”.- “Major Generals” or above. Note this does not mean that the commanded
a division or above, but at least they would have been able to. This finally brings down the number to a “mere”
(19 + 36 + 291 + 639) 985 German Army Generals. Now, if anyone tells you that the German General
X is the best general, the proper question to this is person is not: why he considers
X the best general. But to ask that person, if he or she is able
to name at least the names of just 10 % of the other 984 contenders and let’s be generous
here and say 90 names are sufficient. But let’s get a bit more serious here. Assuming we want to determine the best German
WW2 Army General, we would at least require a 20-page biography of each those generals. So, 20 times 985 that is 19 700 pages. If you can read each page in just 2 minutes,
which is way faster than I can read btw., this means 39 400 minutes, which divided by
60 gives us the number of hours, about 657 hours. To put this in perspective, according to Wikipedia
for OECD countries in 2016 the average annual hours per worker was at around 1763 hours,
whereas the United States had 1781 hours. So, about a third of working year. Now if we assume, you would read 8 hours each
day, it would take you 82 days to finish all those 985 biographies. Needless to say, we don’t even those 985
biographies, I have a book with 68 German Generals and Admirals biographies, but those
are usually just around 10 pages and from those, which I read there was basically nothing
about a command or leadership assessment of any kind, it was mostly just the basic resume
about the general. So, in other words, somebody probably would
have to create 985 assessments based on a defined set of criteria, that this would take
a little longer is without question. Of course, this would also assume that there
would be enough data available in the first place, which I seriously doubt. Now, even if one had all the data, the next
challenge would be: is there be enough overlap in the data to make a proper comparison? You see, some of these generals commanded
a division at one point, yet, even division varied a lot, e.g., let us just look at early
war divisions, an infantry division had around 18 000 men, whereas the more elite divisions
like a motorized infantry division had 16000 men and a Panzer Division around 12000 men. Yet, if you consider that
“In summer 1941 a tank division had two to three tank battalions with a total of 147
– 299 tanks.” You can see that there was a lot of variation
going on even among one division type. Additionally, in early war, generals would
most likely conduct offensive operations, yet later on mainly defensive operations. So, if you have a younger general, you might
have limited information on how he would have performed in the attack. Furthermore, the Wehrmacht was badly mauled
during Operation Barbarossa. To give you a basic idea on how badly mauled,
here is comparison of the combat effectiveness of division on the Eastern Front from 1941
vs. 1942 taken based on German’s own war time assessments. For Summer 1941, 136 division were considered
fully suited for all operations out of a total of 209 divisions. Yet, in March 1942, only 8 divisions out of
162 divisions were considered that. As you can see the German army went from an
army that had the majority of its division suited for all operations to an Army that
was mainly suited for defensive operations according to their own assessments. If you want to learn more, be sure to check
out this video btw. Hence, it might be a bit off, even if we compare
two generals from the Eastern front, if one got command of his division in 1942 and the
other in 1941. Yet, this example would be still rather appropriate
in contrast to comparing the performance of a general that commanded a division in 1940
France against a general that commanded a division in 1944 or even 1945 on the Eastern
front? So, if we oversimplify the problems, it comes
down to at least three major factors, namely when, where and what. So, the first aspect is when. The quality of German division was all over
the place, in some cases even for one particular campaign or time-frame, e.g., consider the
invasion in Normandy, here you had static division that were intended for coastal defense,
but also Panzer Divisions. On the Eastern Front, you had similar situations
with security divisions for the rear areas, yet, they could also see combat. If we look at the outbreak of the war, in
1939 the German divisions had no manpower issues, yet, they had limited combat experience,
since only a few Germans had seen combat in the Spanish Civil War. As pointed out in one of my videos on my second
channel, the German High Command was not happy with the Army’s performance against Poland:
“In every sense this campaign was an outstanding operational success. Yet, the OKH (Ob[e]rkommando des Heeres, the
German army high command) judged the operational success as insufficient and inadequate.” This led to a major training program based
on war-time experience, as such the German division in 1940 that attacked France, Norway,
Denmark the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg were in a better shape. In Summer 1941 before Operation Barbarossa
the German divisions were in overall probably at their peak. The morale was high after the victories against
Poland and France. Many divisions or some of their personnel
had seen combat. Although, there was a high variation of equipment
quality, in general the equipment was of good quality. Yes, Soviet Tanks like the T-34, KV-1 and
KV-2 created some serious troubles, yet this was mostly on the tactical level. Now, if one looks at 1943, the situation was
different, many German division were badly depleted, at the same time, their newer tanks
namely the Panther and Tiger were now usually superior to the Soviet tanks, although the
majority of the tanks were still Panzer III & IVs, additionally, the Panzerwaffe was a
small part of the German Army. Yet, the anti-tank guns of infantry division
were able to deal with T-34 and KVs, whereas in 1941 they were usually not. So, the question is, are these comparable
scenarios at all? Especially if you consider that the situation
changed in other aspects as well, e.g., if you take the Battle of Kursk (1943), here
the Germans attacked against a heavily fortified Soviet positions. This is very different to 1941 were the Soviets
were initially surprised and often could only mount a hasty defense. At the same time, Soviet capabilities had
changed over the course of the war as well, so one must take into account the enemy’s
capabilities in the assessment of a general as well. Similarly, if we look at the Western front,
the situation was extremely different as well, 1940 in France the Germans had air superiority
and was attacking, whereas in 1944 the Allies basically had gained air supremacy and the
Germans were defending. As you can see, the when question alone is
quite complicated. Yet, there is of course the where question. Most of you know that the Eastern Front was
the main front-line for the Germans, yet at least one very famous commander, namely Erwin
Rommel never saw combat there. But the Germans noted how different it was,
e.g., in a war diary of a Panzer formation and similarly by a general in a letter home:
“[…] General of Infantry Gotthard Heinrici, wrote home to his family on 24 June that the
Soviet soldier fought ‘very hard’. Heinrici concluded: ‘He is much better soldier
than the Frenchman. Extremely tough, devious and deceitful.’” Note, this was just 2 days after Operation
Barbarossa started. The Eastern Front had partisans, which were
also present in other theaters like the Balkans or France in the late war, but in quite different
numbers and situations. The bad infrastructure of the Eastern front
was also a major challenge, although the infrastructure in North Africa was not the best neither,
it was a completely different kind of beast: “[…] Rommel’s supply difficulties were
at all times due to the limited capacity of the North African ports, which not only determined
the largest possible number of troops that could be maintained, but also restricted the
size of convoys […].” After all, Western Allies sinking Italian
supply ships is quite different to securing the lines of communications with Armored trains
and security units in the Soviet Union. The latter one could be done to a certain
degree with a regular division, the former clearly not. Of course, this is also highly dependent on
the size of the formation a commander was in charge, which brings us to the next part
namely what. And by what in this case I mean what formation
or unit was under the command of the general. Although, some commanders commanded a variety
of units, e.g., Rommel commanded the 7th Panzer Division often called Ghost Division in France
in 1940. Later, he commanded the Afrika Corps. This can’t be said about all generals. One extreme example would be General Paulus,
he became the commander of the 6th Army in January 1942 , which had around 300 000 men. Before that in 1939 to 1941 Paulus served
in various a general staff officer position that involved planning and logistics, but
not commanding troops. As such:
“[…] the man who had never commanded anything larger than a battalion [about 500 to 750
men] was promoted to full general of panzer troops and appointed to head the German Sixth
Army […].” Of course, Paulus is an outlier, but still
there were many generals like Guderian that started out with a Corps in 1939, whereas
other generals never made it beyond a divisional command or being staff officers. Another famous general was Erich von Manstein,
he started the war as a General staff officer during Poland, then became commander of a
corps in 1940 and another corps command in 1941, which was followed with a few months
later with the command of the 11th Army. How do you compare him to a general that gained
command of a division in 1943 or 1944? As you can see there are lot of pitfalls here. I personally, was always felt very reluctant
about the best general contests and discussions. It always felt off, even before doing the
calculations. Yet, there might be something else here at
work as well. I am a fan of multiple factors and the “best
general” trope just goes completely counter to that, this became even more apparent, when
I watched a video of the YouTube Channel Terrible Writing Advice which mentioned the following:
“Is it preordained that you write a chosen one story? Well, the sale figures say yes. As it turns out Dark Lords and Ancient Evil
cannot be defeated by military force, international cooperation or any other traditional method. Regardless of the time and resources brought
to bear by the best and the brightest the world can offer.” So, yeah, if you are out for the chosen one
or the one to rule them all weapon, well, wrong channel. Of course, I am fully aware of the importance
of generals. Yet, I think the over-fixation on single leaders
is very similar to the chosen one trope. A general is a multiplier of the ability of
his men, yet, he can’t create them out of nothing. Furthermore, a great general might not be
product of the military organization itself, but in order to create a consistent amount
of good to very good generals a proper organization must be in place. To conclude, now some of you might be a bit
disappointed in this video that I did not deliver on the “best German General” promise
from the title. Yet, from my understanding we simply don’t
have the data and even if we had it, we clearly don’t have the research. And I wanted to address this topic, since
I get regularly asked, who I consider the best general or something similar. When I started this channel, I was not aware
at how little we actually know about the German Army. In the last few years; I became shocked that
the research about the German Army and the other branches of the Wehrmacht is very limited. This is in stark contrast to the number of
books, documentaries and other media is and was published about it, yet, most is just
rehashing the same, often old and outdated information. I am seriously considering a phd in that field,
since I want to close a tiny gap in that huge hole of unknown that currently exists. One can only imagine, how much we could know,
if we just spent 1 % of all the money that went into hundreds of bad documentaries that
spread all those myths and put that money into funding phds. Anyway, enough ranting from my side. Big thank you here to Andrew for reviewing
and suggestions on the script. Thank you to Sönke for Creveld’s book on
logistics. And of course, a big thank you to everyone
who supports or supported me on patreon, subscribestar or paypal for making this channel possible. As always, sources are listed in the description. Thank you for watching and see you next time!


  • Military History Visualized

    Btw. I didn’t even discuss what elements make a “good general”, which usually a bit different for different armies and times as well, e.g., the leader vs. manager discussion.

    >> Corrections << (timestamps to linked videos below)
    In 1939 the Germans had around 1,2 Million veterans in the Armed Forces although many of those were around 40 years or older.

    Video Links with Timestamps:
    5:13 – Operation Barbarossa –
    5:56 – Combat Effectiveness 1941 vs. 1942 –
    6:42 – D-Day the German Perspective –
    7:10 – Poland 1939: A German Failure? –
    7:32 – Why France fell in 6 weeks? –
    8:43 – Kursk: Soviet Defensive Tactics –
    9:39 – Why Rommel was so complicated? –
    11:07 – NATO Counter Unit Guide –
    12:00 – Guderian – Myth & Reality –
    12:41 – Reichskangaroo 42 –
    13:02 – Chosen Ones – Terrible Writing Advice –

    If you like in-depth military history videos, consider supporting the channel: —

  • Brett Landry

    Fieldmarshall Albert Kessellring; smiling Al , as the allies called him. Rommel's boss in the Mediterranean theatre. German high command should have given him sole command over all German forces in France,1944. The Normandy invasion would've failed.

  • Brian O'Hara

    Von Runstedt, Guderian and Kesselring were brilliant, but von Runstedt kept getting fired and Hitler was forced to bring him back. Guderian and Kesselring were tactical geniuses, but Runstedt was a strategic genius. One could win you a battle, the other could win a war. Runstedt wanted to bypass Leningrad and Stalingrad and pursue the Russian Army, while Hitler wanted to lay siege them. Both sieges tied down German Armies and led to defeat. Field Marshal Paulus and Russia lost 1,000,000 men apiece, but Russia could "afford" it and Germany could not.

  • Frank Bishop

    You lost me immediately at the start. I thought brigades in the German Heer were commanded by colonels. The first German general officer rank was Generalmajor, which is exactly what it sounds like, "major general." In the U. S. Army a two star general, and division commander. Generalleutnant, lieutenant general, equals a U. S. three star general. If I am correct, this information changes your analysis.

  • Maciej Niedzielski

    If I remember well from one book several hundreds of Wehrmacht generals (700) died in action (artillery shells, bombardement or direct hits) which is very high ratio 700 / 3500 for a generals in modern army. That means they were "pushed" to take more risks by High Commandement or these famous "no retreat" orders.

  • AndyCmus

    I didn’t understand the Kangaroo reference at all – can anyone enlighten me please as an Australian viewer? Tia
    @ 12:42 time stamp

  • Heart of Iron RGF

    Whenever this question gets thrown up I always wonder what it would've been like if Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck had actually decided to re-enter military service.

  • syromatik banilas

    Lieber Kanalbetreiber, ich sehe mir deine Beiträge sehr gerne an. Viel lieber weil dann gänzlich verständlich würde ich sie in deutscher Sprache verfolgen. Gibt es diese auch in deutsch?

  • Ericmyrs

    All these people unquestioningly praising Manstein and Rommel need to go watch some TIK.
    Rommel was a corps commander that fought like a divisional commander. This led directly to defeats that could have been avoided.
    Who was the best? Hard to say. It is however clear that Halder was the worst.

  • pexxa johannes

    German generals who svore loyalty to Austrian corpral, who attempted a coup against legal government, deserved to be shoot. And many did. For crime of not sacrifincing their own life for Germany but great many others.

    To be good general, you must serve good, not evil! Military acchievements when compared to this duty, are all trivia.

  • Griffin Anderson

    Writers of "Best General" pieces are typified by two things: 1) a conviction that they themselves are (unconventional) geniuses: and 2) a burning need to demonstrate this to lesser intellects, i.e. everybody else. Congratulations: you avoided the trap.

  • cresta2000ESP

    Ok, ill say Bock, Kuchler, or Skorzeny maybe

    edit: You got me on this one.
    ps: now, the germans would have won the war if they had the Reichs-kangaroo 42 xd

  • Alexander Gaukin

    You haven't mentioned luck. One might have been lucky enough to have extremely compentent regiment and batallion commanders, the other one may be an exceptionally gifted general but have the dumbest colonels of the whole army.

  • Martin Hoffmann

    Although I'm afraid you won't share my opion, in my eyes it simply has to be the inventor of the StuG, planner of the "Sichelschnitt", famous Panzer-Raider of the Duna-Bridges, Conquerer of Sewastopol, saviour of HG A and the eastern front after the faliure of Fall Blau and the 1st Pz. Army in 1944, the greatest master of maneuver warfare this worldwar has seen: Feldmarschall Erich von Manstein.

  • Joshua Neally

    Of course I understand the idea that it is extremely difficult to say who is the best, but this cast reminded me of how I felt about the movie The Final Countdown. We all understand the reality but sometimes we want to see what can be anyways

  • Mists & Shadows

    Utter Twaddle.

    The best general is the man who is available, in a timely fashion, to meet the operational necessities at hand.  There may be two or three men in the immediate operational theater who can do it but only he is THERE.

    There is very much a 'Chosen One' effect operating here in that a man who wins a battle (or at least loses gracefully enough to not forfeit the retreat) is automatically a better warrior than one whose on-paper qualifications speak only to a lack of battlefield experience.  Because the latter man is not there.  Men lead based on a proven record in combat, not their CV.

    And since there are actually very few men who have Kharkov or Chir River or or or behind them, you can clearly state that the number of men who HAVE DONE GREAT THINGS are the ones who should be shortlisted to your list of Great Generals, as opposed to those whose bio is so little known that you would need 82 days to review their background.  It is the oil quench to the sword, which changes everything.

    Let me make this very clear to you.  There is the administrative side and the operational side to command rank ascension.  One man goes to Staff College, the other goes to War College.  Flag Rank staffers are all well and good, wars are won on logistics and they tend to know their jobs very well, through repetition. 

    But they are ultimately just a rarer breed of pencil pusher.

    The operational art is practiced in the field because that is where you are within one OODA loop of having or losing the lead initiative with which to generate dominant maneuver.  It is fluid. It is frictional.  It is often blind.  And it is very random in the interval in which making a choice must happen NOW.  It cannot be won based on practiced experience, it must be intuitive, through repetition.  You are defeated or you are victorious and the difference between the two is one of incisive leadership confidence to take the best move, in the moment.  Rather than wait for the optimum choice, further down the road.

    Another way to look at this is which level of HQ you're in.  The Heer quickly learned to have two redundant field HQs, right down to radio codes and operations orders for every major formation.  For the simple reason that one could be shelled or even overrun, based on radio comms usage from primary and alternate sites leading to a good map read guess and a photo run on the Russian's part.

    The German view as that there should be complete redundancy of staff and planning systems so that operational command could shift, smoothly, instantly, if the OIC was killed or out of his HQ, 'briefing forward', when something happened that required immediate response within the operational order or even the cutting of a new one.

    These roles can flip, but in general, if you are top flight staff officer for one guy, you are not The Guy.  And you both know it.

    Herman Balck and Friedrich Von Mellenthin come to mind as a superb team where the former actually operated under the latter for a while as part of the 48th Panzer Corps.  But it was not Von Mellenthin who destroyed an entire Soviet Tank Corps and took a good bite out of another with only a division's worth of troops.  In thirty days.

    Some people have the gift, to pull threads of hope, order and victory from the fury of chaos in battle.  Those men usually end up dead or highly decorated because they take a lot of initial risks, learning and become literally one in million, not 3,191.  Find those men.  Try them hard to test their mettle in peace time.  And then feed them like shark's teeth into the heart of battle where they can be forged into an awesome weapon with direct experience.

    There are key indicators for what makes this kind of great warleader.

    1.  He is a man whose family has a tradition of military service and does well in whatever academy he joins and thus has a serious edge on all competition because he trains early to serve and bears that honor with humility and a mastery of skills, gifting him ability to go with a confidence, handed down from his father and his father's father, as earned wisdom.  He is neat and trim and while he never loses sight of where he wants to go, he also never fails to be IN THE MISSION, where he's at.2.  He avoids promotion from the line into higher ranks like the plague, choosing to remain with the operational side, even to the detriment of his further advancement.  Because his is a calling not a career.  As such, he is always improving himself.  He is the one reading the latest manuals, papers and exercise reports, after supper, attending the right schools, and training his men to field problems whose principles he discussed with his junior officers, the night before.  People come to him to organize things because of his broad base of knowledge.  At the same time, realizing he cannot be everywhere and attend every course, he mentors his junior officer's career paths with the same knowledge he gained and expands upon it wherever he sees a fit to the unit mission.  So that they can be his eyes and ears.  Keeping his theory young.3.  He will serve with light/cavalry forces rather than serve with units 'steeped in tradition' because once a division becomes heavy and/or named, arounda single combat arm, it can no longer afford to be risked to experimentalism.  And thus becomes doctrinally dogmatic.4.  In peacetime, he will advance steadily but often slowly, based on preferred assignments with combat units.  In war, he will progress rapidly from a rank of no more than brigadier general and preferably lieutenant colonel because only then is he young enough to withstand the prolonged, torturous, rigors of battle and to have operationally relevant experience or at least memories of valid training.  No one over 50 should ever lead a maneuver force.5.  He will stack combat medals like pennies that are EARNED by the conditions (place names and times as associated units) they are won in.  He is not shy about telling you how he earned a medal but he doesn't wear them to impress.6.  His men will follow him through hell because they know he doesn't spend lives for nothing.  He walks the talk, beside them.  Briefs them when they go into battle, directly.  And knows all his commander's names.  His situational awareness is superb and he always has next-move preparatory elements in place and four or five alternatives if his combat leaders get stuck in planning a mission.7.  In peace, he has a balanced outlook as good humor and a humility of insight into the greater issues in any problem or person.  In war, he is insufferably driven and will tolerate no fools around him but is also never 'brave' in the way of having the throat itch.

    During the Battle of France in summer 1940, Herman Balck was leading a unit across the Meuse river when a combination of enemy artillery and a fratricidal air strike killed the command team of an associated regiment in the 1st Panzer Division.  After days in battle and the sudden attack, the men were shaky and tired and wanted to curl up and 'await reinforcements.'  This was not practical because they had just punched the French lines and needed to get away from the traffic choke to maintain operational momentum.Balck, a staff officer, picked up a rifle, pointed to the enemy held ridgeline and said: "I am going there."

    And the unit, which was not even his own, picked up their weapons, dusted themselves off, and took the hill.

    In an institution still ruled by merit and the need to constantly prove oneself, that gets around.  So when the word goes out that a new division is standing up and they need to advance a rank of men into command positions, it's not 3,191 people who say "Him.  Go with Him."  It's more like 30.  As every NCO, junior and superior officer who served with him puts a word in the right places.  And their very small numbers actually has an inverse weighting effect that breaks through the paperwork bureaucracy.

    Because warriors always know, amongst themselves, who is meant to lead.

  • Marc De Cock

    John Lennon had all the right qualifications… sadly he was born in the wrong country and that give peace a chance nonsense was also not really cool… but imagine if he would have been born earlier and not in liverpool but in Leipzig…

  • Fred Midtgaard

    An important question is also what is "best" or even "good"! Some, like Rommel, was excellent at the tactical level. Others were also good at the strategic level, such as von Manstein, Guderian, and several others. Some excelled in defense, others in the offense. This to some extent depended on the personality type. Remember also that the high officer positions were incredibly competitive, and likely several really good officers were not chosen for operations they would have been good at because others were more liked by the very top of the army. I don't really understand why you only want army officers here. Why not the navy and airforce? Some very good Waffen ss could also be evaluated like Felix Steiner.
    As you said, the crucial thing is to have a good organization, and that all levels are of high quality. I think the biggest difference between e. g. Brittish and German forces were the way desitions were made. In the German academies, cadets were told to assess a situation in a sandbox scenario and give the solution within one minute. The Brittish cadets got one week to suggest a solution. Also, the reliance on attack was important. Montgomery would not attack unless he had 10 fold superiority. The Germans would often attack when they were 10 fold under. This eagerness to attack and get the enemy off balance goes a long way back in time. Just think of von Lettow-Vobeck in East Africa in WW1 or Rommel in the Alps in WW1. Another super important element is the manual developed in the years after WW1, where a focus on attacking weak points and the freedom for lower levels to solve tactical problems on their own without detailed instruction were very important.
    As you say, I think, it is not really worthwhile to pick one or a few generals as the top of the top, because so many factors added to good results.

  • Knut Boehnert

    Thank you sincerely making a good statement of all the complications that make a good general and all the aspects that go into making that decision. To me the best general is the one that preserved the most troops for the next fight. Kudos in that regard to Gen Paulus who avoided a war of attrition despite being commanded otherwise. Still remember the movie and its successors ( from the point of a common soldier.

  • Erwin

    My top 3 is : Manstein, Guderian and Rommel.

    Manstein almost stopped Russian Southern Front completely had Hitler let him. He was causing them enormous casulties then he got sacked because he decided to save Korsun Pocket forces.

  • Drayn 99

    I think Heinz Guderian , Erich von Manstein and Erwin Rommel. While Guderian And Manstein İs Obvious Erwin Rommel Actually did Fİne in WW1 But İn WW2 He And Guderian Was the Reason Dunkirk Evacuation Happened

  • Stripedbottom

    Impossible to say for a layman, even one with a deep interest in military history in general and German WW2 history in particular, if simply for the reason that the only generals we really even know of are those that for some reason or another became popular public figures during the war. A difficult challenge even for the dedicated war historian, they're pretty much only able to make a somewhat more informed guess. It may very well be that the German general who actually did the most to advance the German cause during the war – ie. the best – was someone in the supply and logistics organisation or some 'grey eminence' in the general staff – people that we seldom or never even heard of.

  • To End Diabetes2

    I expected you to get the number down to something like six Generals….one of them. I bet if you just asked your viewer to suggest who they thought was best and then considered that list, you might actually get an answer.

  • Citadel

    This really is a tough subject to speak of, but from my limited knowledge my basic picks would be as followed;
    1. Top strategic (in theater) general: Erich von Manstein
    2. Top tactical (many to choose from) general: Heinz Wilhelm Guderian
    3. Top combined arms ( and one of the toughest) generals: Otto Moritz Walter Model

    Whatever one may thing of the time these soldier served in, the German military has always been an example of what a top military is.

  • Jacob Millican

    You have a career in politics. Just pick and make your case. Don't hide behind there isn't enough data to truly decide. By its nature, the question is subjective. Trying to pretend there is potentially an objective way to arrive at an answer is disingenuous.

  • Chris Warburton-Brown

    'Time to finally settle the question'. But I watched the whole video and still don't know the answer. You could have made a guess, or pulled a name out of a hat, or asked your mum, or used a random criterion. Anything really. I'm going with Zeitzler, cos he comes last in the alphabet.

  • Jason Pratt

    Your baguette. I saw it. (But the thumbs up was for the achievement! — also general content.)

    (Pun not originally intended.)

  • H. Paul Honsinger

    I agree with every word. I am a Military Science Fiction novelist and have lots of military history references in my writing. So, many of my readers assume me to be some kind of military history expert, which I am not; rather, I'm just a dabbler. But, based on their assumption of my expertise, fans often ask me who was the best general/admiral/commander in this or that war, or this or that period of ancient/medieval/modern history. I always reply with a question: "best at what?" For just one example of the problems of comparison, even when one is talking about only two generals at a time, people constantly ask me to compare George S. Patton, Jr. with Douglas MacArthur and are generally disappointed when I tell them that these two generals are simply not comparable. Patton is best known for his commands at the Corps and Army levels, while MacArthur commanded entire theaters of operations and also was the ruler of Japan in all but name for several years. Patton acted primarily at the tactical level (although very high at that level such that some of what he did may have shaded into the lower range of strategic operations, or maybe not–gray area here) while MacArthur was clearly operating at the strategic level for most of World War II. Patton commanded in North Africa and Europe while MacArthur was in the Pacific (and anyone who served in both theaters will tell you that they were not just two different theaters, but two different worlds). There is a limited range of things they did that were comparable during that war. For example, MacArthur's handling of the defense of the Philippines could possibly be compared with Patton's Army level commands in Sicily and later in Post D-Day Europe, but even there we would be comparing defense with offense. The only really valid comparisons would be between generals who went head to head, and even then there is usually someone who enjoyed significant advantages in manpower, logistics, quality of equipment, morale, infrastructure, training, or other factors. It's easy to give the nod to people at opposite ends of the spectrum (for example, anyone who doesn't think that Patton or Bradley were better commanders than Lloyd Fredendall needs his head examined), but the comparisons among the rest–even just one general against another–can't be done with any kind of quantifiable evidentiary basis.

  • Justin Morgan

    Good points, it might be an even more difficult job finding a (best admiral) for the surface fleet! Or at least a successful one.

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