Who first thought of "Blitzkrieg" and when was the word first used ?

Discussion in '1940' started by Tommygunner1309, Mar 26, 2011.

  1. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    I wouldn't rely on Wiki

    There are indeed a number of early blitzkrieg references between the wars but in different contexts. Some refer to a Dohet like concept - the knockout blow - even approaching a pre emptive strike, sometimes based on air power alone. Others referenced another Italian idea - the fast lightweight war with the emphasis on lightweight - something like commando strikes on a large scale - Market Gardens that worked!

    The first German references to Blitzkrieg that allude to fast mechanised warfare occur post fall of France
  2. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    As regards the Time reference.... think again.

    Wait a minute, it wasn’t ‘Time’ magazine that invented the term ‘blitzkrieg’?

    Hitler did not like the term Blitzkrieg and declared the following on 8 November 1941
    "I have never used the word Blitzkreig because it is a very stupid word"

    I think that the best information is probably sourced from The Blitzkrieg Legend by Karl Heinz Frieser a late serving officer in the Bundeswehr and official historian for both World Wars.It reflects the post #140 by Dave.This publication would appear to be an excellent source for studying the origin of the word Blitzkrieg and gives an in depth account of the war as it evolved on 10 May 1040 in the west.

    The OUD gives a variation of sources for Blitzkrieg references which do not include The Time Magazine or that of Karl Heinz Frieser's Blitzkrieg original sources.
  3. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    So where does this farago disprove the Time reference?
  4. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Now you must get up to speed and see what Frieser has published....no farrago about that.

    The question now asked of you is. Was it Forman or the Time Magazine that first referenced Blitzkrieg as you refer to or after reading the relevant section of Frieser's publication...was Frieser referring to the origin of Blitzkrieg within the content recording the assault on the west in May 1940.
  5. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    No it isn't. I originally made the point that the first use of Blitzkrieg to refer to the German attacks on the West was made by American sources, and, as so often, you immediately tried to discredit my reference. I get somewhat tired by this. Life is too short to pander to what ever it is that's bugging you about my posts.
    Harry Ree likes this.
  6. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    First of all you claimed the word Blitzkrieg was first used by the American press, Forman you mentioned,then you add a reference to the Times magazine.Having said that the word was first used by the American press,you post that the detail regarding Forman is available online but appear to be reluctant to post it.

    In the meantime further insight into the use of the word has revealed that a reliable source is within a publication of Karl Heinz Frieser entitled The Blitzkrieg Legend informs the reader that the word was in use well before the war in German military circles but was not adopted in the Wehrmacht nomenclature to describe the strategy.You have ignored this.

    ( I thought that there may have been some information regarding the word from Clare Hollingsworth who was in Poland reporting for the DT. She was the first western reporter to report the massing of German forces on the Polish frontier and then the invasion ,informing her paper and the British Foreign Office..However I cannot ascertain that there was a reference to the word Blitzkrieg in her reporting)

    Regarding my response to your posts.Surely any post or submission put up by a member can draw a response from other members as long as the responses adhere to the rules which are overlooked by admin/moderators.The membership has a wide range of expertise and knowledge of military history and this can only be enhanced for the benefit of all if free discussion flows.There is also no room here for an internet red pen,it does not ride easily with newcomers who then might be reluctant to get involved further with a thread they have raised.

    I have not discredited your posts but responded to them in a rational way, supported by facts if necessary.But as the B 32 discussion, despite what was posted from known reliable sources and contrary to your posts,you did not accept that the aircraft had serious misgivings in design and due to technical problems and planned delivery delays was discarded by the USAAF.
    4jonboy likes this.
  7. ltdan

    ltdan Nietenzähler

    Gentlemen, just a small addition from the German side:
    It is hardly possible to prove where and when the term "Blitzkrieg" was first coined. What is certain, however, is that it appeared in German military journals in the mid-thirties:
    According to the military journal Deutsche Wehr on May 2, 1935, Germany's "nutritional weakness" had to be "consciously involved in the decision to risk a Blitzkrieg in order to win the victory before the entire enemy was unfolded and our magazines and storerooms were empty.
    (A more detailed analysis can be found in an article published in 1938 in the Militär-Wochenblatt.)
    The term Blitzkreg most likely found its way into the foreign media via German exile literature and the exile press, like S. Erckner: Die große Lüge. Hitlers Verschwörung gegen den Frieden/The big lie. Hitler's conspiracy against peace, 1938:
    "If one follows the relevant military publications of the Hitler Empire, one arrives at the conclusion that probably France was chosen as the target of the German Blitzkrieg, that all preparations point in this direction, that for the success of a blitz attack here most of the preconditions of a military technical nature are present, that the Blitzkrieg in one word is the special German form of war against France.

    The term Blitzkrieg became really well known after the successful western campaign, when it was used almost inflationarily by German propaganda...

    For further background information see also the aforementioned Frieser/Greenwood: The Blitzkrieg Legend, Annapolis, MD, Naval Institute Press 2005, 496 pp.

    I wish you a nice evening :)
    stolpi, 51highland, canuck and 8 others like this.
  8. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Want to know when a German word was first used ?
    Get a German to tell you.
    High Wood, JDKR, Harry Ree and 4 others like this.
  9. ltdan

    ltdan Nietenzähler

    :lol: Jawoll! :lol:
    Earliest known mention in English language
    Dorothy Thompson: On the record, Defenselessness of democracy. New York Herald Tribune, 5. Oktober 1938:
    Since the experience of Spain, which may possible live in history as actually the test war to end war, we know that the ‚blitzkrieg‘ theory of Gen. Goering – that a swift and fearful air attack can be made which will totally demoralize populations – is no longer tenable.
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2020
  10. JDKR

    JDKR Member Patron

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  11. MarkN

    MarkN Well-Known Member


    Blitzkrieg is just a word. A word whose meaning should be blatantly obvious to anybody who understands the words blitz and krieg.

    Problems arise in discussions when some participants decide they know better than others about what it means and, somewhat perversly, decide it is only in reference to the mechanized tactics used by a small part of the Heer starting in WW2.
    ltdan likes this.
  12. ltdan

    ltdan Nietenzähler

    The entire discussion revolved around the question WHO used the word at first and in fact, the term Blitzkrieg in itself is as German as bratwurst with sauerkraut or white socks in sandals - the concept behind it is however much older
    (Personally, I don't care who "invented" it, I just wanted to do my humble part to clarify the matter)

    And it was the "mechanized tactics used by a small part of the Heer" that essentially shaped the perception of the Blitzkrieg until 1941
    In reality, however, this was mainly a matter for the press and propaganda: The Wehrmacht has never used this term in its official terminology, in operative warfare they thought in terms like Schwerpunkt, Durchbruch, Umfassung, and the like

    And that's all I can constructively contribute to the topic...
  13. MarkN

    MarkN Well-Known Member


    Blitzkrieg is how everybody plans their wars to be. Always has been. Always will be . Who in their right chooses to wage war for 5 years when they have a belief they can do it in months?

    Of course, if anybody wishes to counter that assertion by showing me when a beligerent entered a war deliberately opting for a long war over a short one, l'll happily retract my assertion.

    Unfortunately, far too many have been fooled into believing panzerwaffe doctrine and/or panzerwaffe theory and the word blitzkrieg are synonymous.

    Germany defeated Poland, Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands, France and so on very quickly. Was it Blitzkrieg? Lightning war? Yes.

    Did the Heer have a military concept or a military doctrine called Blitzkrieg? No.

    Did the Heer practice military tactics that could be clearly identified as Blitzkrieg (as many claim existed) but under a different name? No. The majority of the Heer was still leg powered and the speed of advance was determined by daily results on the battlefield. If the enemy ran away in front of them, they advanced as quick as they could march. If the enemy stood their ground, they may not advance at all. Is that really a Krieg by Blitz?

    A small part of the Heer was mechanized and thus had far greater mobility. The doctrine for their employment is best described in my opinion with the words Panzerwaffe doctrine. A doctrine which was not particularly revolutionary but rather a refinement of a long process of evolution of using mobile formations to exploit deep into enemy territory to effect battlefield success more by surprise and confusion than direct kinetic effort.
  14. canuck

    canuck Closed Account

  15. ltdan

    ltdan Nietenzähler

    Interestingly enough, in the beginning there was much more talk of the "Blitzsieg" in the III.Reich propaganda - the term Blitzkrieg only came up later
    This certainly had to do with the fact that the word "war" since 14-18 still had a very negative connotation in broad parts of the population. That changed only after the French campaign...
    JimHerriot likes this.
  16. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA

  17. MarkN

    MarkN Well-Known Member


    Panzerwaffe doctrine's focus was on trying to win the war with less kinetic effort not on winning it quicker. The attempt to get the enemy to surrender before it becomes a bloody stalemate. Where bloody was tge imperative not stalemate. All plans, all arms, all concepts and doctrines were written to avoid stalemate. Who, in history, wrote a plan to effect stalemate?

    In 1914, Moltke's way of avoiding stalemate and effecting Blitzkrieg was: a) use diplomacy to create a time advantage; b) to fight on one front whilst holding the second; c) to use the railways to exploit the time advantage diplomacy had gained; and, d) ignore Belgium's neutrality.

    In 1940, Hitler and the Heer's way of a avoiding stalemate and effecting Blitzkrieg was: a) use diplomacy to remove 1 front completely; b) to put the maximum effort into the first strike (even more so for Barbarossa 12 months later) at the expense of follow on forces; and c) ignore Belgium's neutrality.

    In neither case was the pursuit of Blitzkrieg - winning the war as quickly as possible - defined at the level of military doctrine or tactics.
  18. ltdan

    ltdan Nietenzähler

    The OKH with its original Schlieffenplan 2.0 for the French campaign :lol:
    As the saying goes: "The definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again and expect different results."
    To put it bluntly, the much vaunted Blitzkrieg (and thus the nimbus of a superior Wehrmacht) owes its existence to the navigational error of a courier pilot...
  19. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    Just out of curiosity I checked newspapers.com, the best website for digitized American newspapers. I did a word search for "blitzkrieg" and the earliest record I could find occurred in a 1937 article about a Golden Gloves boxing tournament. The term was there used to describe a rapid, violent, and overwhelming victory, in other words something very like what the German armed forces did or tried to do in 1939-1942. By 1938 the word was in fairly general use in discussions of European military affairs and potential future German strategy in American newspapers. The papers seemed to understand it as a method by which the Germans would seek to win quick victories and so avoid a long war (which, some stated, they knew they could not win). Many newspaper commentators expected that a massive strategic bombing campaign would be the main element in a German blitzkrieg, though there would be other components as well.
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2020
    ltdan likes this.
  20. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    Original comment excised as based on a misunderstanding of your post.
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2020

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