Kreta als Beispiel: German Airlift During the Battle of Crete
ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLLEGE FORT LEAVENWORTH KS
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The Battle of Crete began with the first, and last, division-sized German airdrop of parachute and glider infantry into a contested environment during World War II. It culminated in a massive airlift relief operation with far-reaching strategic aftereffects for the Germans and Allies alike. As such, the campaign set the tone for airborne operations during the war and canonized several tenants of forced entry operations still used today. Luftwaffe commanders conceived Operation Merkur in a resource-limited, time-restricted environment though victorious, the plan as originally conceived, failed. German airlift shaped this pyrrhic Axis victory by first endangering, and then subsequently saving the German operation. The Germans capitalized on an opportunity and rapidly reinforced a single lodgment via airlift, abandoning previously proven concepts of employment to attempt new tactics which ultimately saved their forces from defeat. Had the Luftwaffe employed its airlift forces at the Battle of Crete to exploit mass and synergy at a single lodgment, the resulting overwhelming force might have drastically changed the conduct of this battle.
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics