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wrought by their bombers contributed greatly to the pervasive optimism which would make it difficult, if not impossible, for Allied commanders and intelligence agencies to believe or perceive that Germany still retained the material muscle for a mighty blow.


Assuming that the Third Reich possessed the material means for a quick transition from the defensive to the offensive, could Hitler and his entourage rely on the morale of the German nation and its fighting forces in this sixth year of the war? The five years which had elapsed since the invasion of Poland had taken heavy toll of the best physical specimens of the Reich. The irreplaceable loss in military manpower (the dead, missing, those demobilized because of disability or because of extreme family hardship) amounted to 3,266,686 men and 92,811 officers as of 1 September 1944. [3] Even without an accurate measure of the cumulative losses suffered by the civilian population, or of the dwellings destroyed, it is evident that the German home front was suffering directly and heavily from enemy action, despite the fact that the Americans and British were unable to get together on an air campaign designed to destroy the will of the German nation. Treason (as the Nazis saw it) had reared its ugly head in the abortive Putsch of July 1944, and the skeins of this plot against the person of the Fuehrer still were unraveling in the torture chambers of the Gestapo.


Had the Nazi Reich reached a point in its career like that which German history recorded in the collapse of the German Empire during the last months of the 1914-1918 struggle? Hitler, always prompt to parade his personal experiences as a Frontsoldat in the Great War and to quote this period of his life as testimony refuting opinions offered by his generals, was keenly aware of the moral disintegration of the German people and the armies in 1918. Nazi propaganda had made the "stab in the back" (the theory that Germany had not been defeated in 1918 on the battlefield but had collapsed as a result of treason and weakness on the home front) an article of German faith, with the Fuehrer its leading proponent. Whatever soul-searching Hitler may have experienced privately as a result of the attempt on his life and the precipitate retreats of his armies, there is no outward evidence that he saw in these events any kinship to those of 1918.


He had great faith in the German people and in their devotion to himself as Leader, a faith both mystic and cynical. The noise of street demonstrations directed against himself or his regime had not once, during the years of war, assailed his ears. German troops had won great victories in the past, why should they not triumph again? The great defeats had been, so Hitler's intuition told him, the fruit of treason among high officers or, at the least, the result of insufficient devotion to National Socialism in the hearts and minds of the defeated commanders and the once powerful General Staff. The assassination attempt, as seen through Hitler's own eyes, was proof positive that the suspicions which he had long entertained vis-a-vis the


[3] German ground force losses are discussed in more detail in H. M. Cole, The Lorraine Campaign, UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II (Washington, 1950), pp. 232. See also OKH, Gen. St. d . H/Organizations Abteilung (hereafter cited as OKH/Org. Abt.) KTB, 2 December 1944, which gives the revised personnel situation as of 1 November 1944.