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Gerhard Weinberg, The Ardennes Decision: Why Hitler Went West vs. East

Gerhard Weinberg sits down with Jay Williams to discuss Hitler’s defining decision to launch a major offensive against the Americans and British in the west instead of focusing on the Soviet Union in the east. 

The German decision to launch an offensive in the Ardennes was Hitler's. Hitler, the Chief of State, acting as Commander in Chief of the Wehrmacht, overrode the judgement of his military advisers, going against military logic and previously strategic decisions. He sent some of his best troops, the men who stood between the Red Army and their march to Berlin, to fight the Americans and British in Belgium. The reasons behind this decision – whether psychological as Hilter tied the fate of the Third Reich to that of victory, strategic as he believed a surprise offense had worked before and could work again, or something else entirely, was a crucial error. Gerhard Weinberg will try to discover the reason behind the madness today. 

Gerhard L. Weinberg received the 2009 Pritzker Military Library Literature Award for Lifetime Achievement in Military Writing. He was born in Hanover, Germany in 1928 before being forced to emigrate to England in 1938, and subsequently to the United States in 1940. Weinberg graduated from Albany High School and enrolled in the New York State College for Teachers. He later served in the US Army in occupied Japan, teaching American GIs history and government as well as literacy classes. He took an MA in History at the University of Chicago in 1949 and a PhD in 1951. His focus is on diplomatic and military history and is noted for his studies in the history of World War II. Weinberg is the William Rand Kenan, Jr. Professor Emeritus of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he has been a member of the history faculty since 1974. Previously he served on the faculties of the University of Michigan and the University of Kentucky.

A frequent Pritzker Military Presents guest and host, John Allen Williams, USNR (Ret.) is a former Professor of Political Science at Loyola University Chicago and holds degrees from Grinnell College (B.A.) and the University of Pennsylvania (M.A. and Ph.D.). His writings include works on military strategy, military forces and missions, catastrophic terrorism, defense organization, civil-military relations, military culture, military professionalism and leadership, personnel issues, professional military education, as well as strategic policy.