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- Conflict: World War II
- Records: 132,448
WWII Foreign Military Studies, 1945-54
Pictures & Records
- Publication Title:
- WWII Foreign Military Studies, 1945-54
- Content Source:
- The National Archives
- Publication Number:
- Record Group:
- Published on Fold3:
- December 22, 2008
- Last Update:
- December 31, 2008
- NARA M1035. Manuscripts assembled under the Foreign Military Studies program of the Historical Division, U.S. Army Europe, 1945-54.
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Guide to Foreign Military Studies, 1945-54
The following description is the preface in NARA’s descriptive pamphlet for this title. It is written by W.S. Nye, Colonel, Artillery, Karlsruhe Chief Historian, June 1954.
This catalog and index is a guide to the manuscripts produced under the Foreign Military Studies Program of the Historical Division, United States Army, Europe, and of predecessor commands since 1945. Most of these manuscripts were prepared by former high-ranking officers of the German Armed Forces, writing under the sponsorship of their former adversaries. The program therefore represents an unusual degree of collaboration between officers of nations recently at war.
The Foreign Military Studies Program actually began shortly after V-E Day, when Allied interrogators first questioned certain prominent German prisoners of war. Results were so encouraging that the program was expanded; written questions replaced oral interrogation, and later certain highly-placed German officers were asked to prepare a series of monographs.
Originally the mission of the program was only to obtain information on enemy operations in the European Theater for use in the preparation of an official history of the U.S. Army in World War II. In 1946 the program was broadened to include the Mediterranean and Russian war theaters. Beginning in 1947 emphasis was placed on the preparation of operational studies for use by U.S. Army planning and training agencies and service schools. The result has been the collection of a large amount of useful information about the German Armed Forces, prepared by German military experts. While the primary aim of the program has remained unchanged, many of the more recent studies have analyzed the German experience with a view toward deriving useful lessons.
The authors were usually key participants in the events which they described and were able to supply information not otherwise available. In many cases they have supplemented or refreshed their memories by consulting with their military associates. It must be remembered, however, that some contributors are professional military leaders, not historians or writers. While for the most part they have tried to be thorough and objective, they view events primarily in terms of their own experience.
In the initial phases of the program all of the contributors were prisoners of war or internees; participation, however, was always voluntary. While participants were reimbursed for their work, they have been motivated mainly by professional interest and by the desire to promote western solidarity and mutual defense.
In 1945, after most of the contributors had returned to civilian life, the administrative structure and tempo of the program was changed. Contributors now prepare studies in their own homes under the supervision of a small control group, composed of selected high-ranking German officers.
Many of the early manuscripts were inadequately translated and were assigned inappropriate titles. Some of these manuscripts have been reissued in revised versions but in most cases the original titles have been retained to facilitate identification.
During the early years of the program, contributors had to rely largely on their memories, since the basic documents had been destroyed or were otherwise unavailable to them. Within the past few months basic documents have been increasingly provided to contributors, who now place more emphasis on careful documentation. Current studies are now checked against known sources and in some cases are considerably revised in the English version. Although individual studies will continue to vary in quality, the collection as a whole constitutes a noteworthy contribution to the history of World War II.
As the number of manuscripts increased, it became essential to index the collection in order to make its contents more readily available. This project was begun in September 1951 by General der Artillerie Friedrich von Boetticher, German military attaché to the United States from 1933 to 1941. Initially the index was planned to include only those manuscripts which had been translated and were considered to contain useful military lessons. This phase of the project was virtually completed by spring 1952, when General von Boetticher was compelled for personal reasons to give up the work. At that time it was decided to index and evaluate all of the manuscripts in the collection, regardless of their nature. This task was undertaken by General der Artillerie Anton Freiherr von Bechtolsheim, who completed the indexing and evaluated each study with regard to its historical, operational, and technical interest.
The present guide contains a catalog of manuscripts and three indexes--by topic, by military unit, and by author. Most entries in the catalog include a short statement describing the contents and usefulness of the study.
Certain translation difficulties are reflected in this guide. Germany military terms do not always have exact American equivalents and cannot be expressed briefly in precise military language. Untranslated terms appearing in this guide are explained in the glossary, page 252. This difficulty in arriving at standardized and generally accepted translations of German military terms has been a persistent problem in preparing the manuscripts; the researcher may even feel the need for an expansion and revision of U.S. military terminology.
Studies now in preparation and those projected will also be indexed and catalogued. Errata and addenda sheets will be issued from time to time, but a complete revision of the catalog does not seem practicable in the near future. A limited number of copies of this guide are available to official agencies, particularly to those which possess a substantial number of the studies.