This week’s podcast is an interview with David Stahel. I will be talking to him about his 2009 work, Operation Barbarossa and Germany’s Defeat in the East (Cambridge University Press, 2009). One of our previous guests, Matthias Strohn, recommended the book, and I am glad he did. Stahel’s book is an important contribution to our understanding of German planning for and execution of Operation Barbarossa. Stahel highlights the many flaws and paradoxes intrinsic to German thinking about war in the East, not least of which was the deception perpetrated by Halder, who masked the centrality of the drive on Moscow to his own plans in order to avoid confrontation with Hitler. By late August 1941, Stahel argues, the German failure decisively to defeat the Soviet regime (even while winning significant victories at places like Minsk and Smolensk) spelled doom for the Wehrmacht.
Nor is Stahel resting on his laurels. By the time I conducted the interview, his second work had just hit the shelves. In Kiev 1941: Hitler’s Battle for Supremacy in the East (Cambridge University Press, 2011), Stahel analyzes in detail the critical battle on the southern front. After talking with Stahel late last year, that one is on my reading list as well. And Typhoon is on its way after that.