From the Ground Up

Niklas Zetterling

An examination of the German Blitzkrieg operations from Poland to Operation Barbarossa, as experienced by junior commanders and enlisted men, exploring why they were so successful.
Date Published :
October 2021
Publisher :
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Paperback
ISBN : 9781636240558
Pages : 288
Dimensions : 9.5 X 6.25 inches
Stock Status : In stock
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"A comprehensively detailed work of definitive scholarship…” — Midwest Book Review

An examination of the German Blitzkrieg operations from Poland to Operation Barbarossa, as experienced by junior commanders and enlisted men, exploring why they were so successful.

The successes of the German Blitzkrieg in 1939–41 were as surprising as they were swift. Allied decision-makers wanted to discover the secret to German success quickly, even though only partial, incomplete information was available to them. The false conclusions drawn became myths about the Blitzkrieg that have lingered for decades.

It has been argued that German victories in the early part of the war rested less upon newly developed tanks and aircraft and more on German military traditions: rather than creating a new way of war based on new technology, the Germans fitted the new weapons into their existing ideas on warfare. These doctrines focused on independent action, initiative, flexibility, decentralized decision-making and mobility. The conduct of German soldiers, particularly the lower-ranking men, on the battlefield was at the core of the concept and German victories rested upon the quality of the small combat units.

This book focuses on the experience of the enlisted men and junior officers in the Blitzkrieg operations in Poland, Norway, Western Europe and Russia. Using accounts previously unpublished in English, military historian Niklas Zetterling explores how they operated, for example how a company commander led his tanks, how a crew worked together inside a tank, and the role of the repair services. The author fits these narratives into a broader perspective to give the reader a better understanding of why the Germans were so successful in 1939–41.

About The Author

Niklas Zetterling is a military historian and researcher at the Swedish Defense College. His previous books include Bismarck; The Korsun Pocket; and The Drive on Moscow, 1941.



1 The Turbulent Interwar Years
2 The Unfinished Concept
3 Surprising the Enemy
4 To Surprise Oneself
5 Interlude with Crucial Decisions
6 The Ultimate Ordeal
7 Success or Failure?



“’Blitzkrieg’ not only shows you the big picture, economically, strategically, but also takes you right into the Panzers. This book looks at the nuts and bolts of the German army during the blitzkrieg years. It gives you a background on the theory of blitzkrieg war-making as well… As usual, this Casemate Publishers book is a well written and absorbing read. For those of us who are interested in the tactics and strategy of the early war years, it is a book you won't want to miss.”

- A Wargamers Needful Things

“In support of his convincing argument the author uses several accounts of German actions seen through the eyes of the soldiers and junior officers who had to put theory into practice on the battlefield. 4.5 stars.”

- Army Rumour Service

“A comprehensively detailed work of definitive scholarship… "Blitzkrieg: From the Ground Up" is an extraordinary and highly recommended addition to community and academic library World War II Military History collections.”

- Midwest Book Review

“The author argues that the concept was not new, but merely a refinement of fighting techniques that were developed over decades… To demonstrate this idea the book uses not only the experiences of generals and their broad perspective, but also those of enlisted soldiers and junior officers as they fought the war on the ground.”

- WWII History, December 2017

“For those who wargame these periods there are some good scenarios which would translate very nicely onto the wargames table.”

- Miniature Wargames

"This book's greatest value lies in how it takes real life facts and circumstances and uses them to educate the reader on core concepts driving the German approach to tactics and operations."

- Globe at War

"Niklas Zetterling, a former historian at the Swedish Defense College, provides a very different perspective by examining blitzkrieg not as a revolutionary means of waging war, but as a logical extension of exiting German operational art brought to its fullest capability."

- New York Journal of Books

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