How Hitler Screwed up Preparing Nazi Germany for D-Day

Warfare History Network

Key point: No plan is perfect and Germany could have been more prepared for D-Day, but it wasn't.

A Convoluted Command Structure

Although he was responsible for the defense of Normandy, Rommel, head of Army Group B, was not the “Supreme Commander” on the German side, as Eisenhower was on the Allied side. Over Rommel was Commander-in-Chief, West (OB West) Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt and, of course, Adolf Hitler. And the German navy, air force, and SS were also beyond Rommel’s control. Rommel could not make an independent move.

Seeing to Mistresses Instead of the War

A number of key German commanders were absent from their posts during the critical first hours of June 6, 1944. Believing that the Allies would not invade during a violent Channel storm on June 5, Admiral Theodor Krancke, the naval commander in the west, was on his way to Bordeaux. Maj. Gen. Edgar Feuchtinger, commander of the 21st Panzer Division, was heading to Paris to see his mistress; the commander of the Merville Battery on the far eastern flank of the invasion area was in bed with his.

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Field Marshal Erwin Rommel had left Normandy for a trip back to Germany for his wife’s 50th birthday; General Friedrich Dollmann, commanding the Seventh Army in Normandy, had left his headquarters to attend a war-games exercise at Rennes––over 100 miles south of the Normandy coast. Lt.. Gen. Heinz Hellmich, commander of the 243rd Division, was heading there, too, as was Maj. Gen. Wilhelm Falley, CG of the 91st Air-Landing Division.

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