The Battle of Crete: Hitler's Airborne Gamble
ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLL FORT LEAVENWORTH KS
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As Adolf Hitler conquered most of the European continent in 1939-1941, the small island of Crete in the Mediterranean Sea became vital to future operations in the Mediterranean region for both the Axis and Allied powers. If the Allies controlled Crete, their air and sea superiority would not allow the Germans a strategic military foothold in the region. For the Germans, Crete would secure the Aegean Sea for Axis shipping, loosen Great Britain s grasp in the eastern Mediterranean Sea and provide air bases to launch offensives against British forces in Egypt. Therefore, the central research question is Did the results of the German campaign in Crete justify its execution The operational results of the German campaign in Crete and the strategic advantages gained from its success did not justify the execution of the battle. Although Germany s conquest of Crete achieved all of the strategic advantages, Hitler did not accomplish the strategic objectives set forth at the beginning of the campaign. Crete was not used as a staging base from which to engage the British in offensive operations against the Suez Canal or North Africa. German losses to the highly trained air corps were staggering and Hitler never again employed parachutists on a large-scale airborne operation. Future war efforts were deprived of this elite, highly mobile striking force. Hitler did not capitalize on the hard fought victory in Crete by using the island as a stepping-stone, ultimately controlling the eastern Mediterranean region because he was hypnotized by the invasion of Russia.
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics