Germany and the Axis Powers: From Coalition to Collapse.
Germany and the Axis Powers: From Coalition to Collapse. By Richard L. DiNardo. (Lawrence, Karts.: Kansas University Press, 2005. Pp. xi, 282. $34.95.)
Coalition warfare has always been difficult throughout history. Given the leaders of the Axis coalition in World War II, it would have been very easy to predict what happened. The coalition was hardly an alliance at all compared to the Western Allies. Richard DiNardo focuses on the military relations between Germany and Italy without covering Japan and the minor German European allies. Right from the beginning there was mistrust and a lack of common war aims. Basically, Italy and later Finland fought parallel wars on their own. The few successes, Rommel's victories in North Africa and some of the battles on the Eastern Front, were exceptions. Mostly the lack of common war aims, a unified command, and a degree of compromise doomed their efforts. Minor problems like the lack of interpreters and communication became major issues. Even the various military services worked differently with the Luftwaffe and the German navy having better coordination with Italian forces than the army.
In many ways it was Hitler and Mussolini who determined the fate of the Axis powers. Neither was able to develop the partnership that the war demanded. DiNardo faults Mussolini in particular for entering the war in the east, although he should have known that the Mediterranean war was still to be decided. His own advisors were badly split over that decision. Overall, the Italian military performance in Russia was riddled with disappointments; although they fought bravely at times, their defeat finished off the army and Mussolini. Hitler, an early admirer of Mussolini, remained loyal to him until the very end.
DiNardo has written a tightly organized and insightful account of the Axis coalition that is essential for the general reader as well as the specialist. Once again his work reminds us of the challenges of writing a history of coalition warfare.
Edward L. Homze
University of Nebraska-Lincoln