Deutschen und Der Sezessionskrieg (Germans and the Civil War)

For Germans, Prussians in particular, the American Civil War presented a great teaching school in the art of mid-nineteenth century warfare. Heros von Borcke comes quickly to mind, but years afterward Der Sezessionskrieg continued to fascinate German miliary theorists. In 1937 five officers of the German high command traveled to America to visit Civil War battlefields. This inspired Mississipian Lawrence Wells to write a novel, Rommel and the Rebel (1986), in which the future field marshal comes to learn blitzkrieg tactics from the famed exploits of Bedford Forrest. In the novel, Rommel bumps into William Faulkner, leading the novelist to remark, “I hate the goddamned Huns but I like Rommel.”

But the Krauts weren’t interested in Rebels alone, as shown by the German propaganda magazine Signal. Here, on the front cover of a 1944 issue, printed in English (Signal was printed in thirty languages), stands…

…General Grant! The well-known photograph shows the Union general after Cold Harbor. Why Signal chose this image for its cover is a question, I suppose, that only Josef Goebbels could have answered.

3 Responses to Deutschen und Der Sezessionskrieg (Germans and the Civil War)

  1. Perhaps the Signal editors were empahizing his reputation as “butcher,” or his use of overwhelming manpower and material to crush his enemies. What’s in the issue? What month?

  2. Can you imagine Grant and the German High Command figuring out together what to do about where and when the impending D-Day invasion was going to be and how they would deploy troops? And what troops would be deployed? Would Der Fuehrer be present with Grant? Would Jodl and Keitel have a say? How about the other subordinate Union officers? “Blitzkrieg” Sherman?
    Others? Only fantasy can provide these scenarios to us! Amazing to think about.

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