Order in Chaos
The Memoirs of General of Panzer Troops Hermann Balck
Foreign Military Studies
Published by: The University Press of Kentucky
German general Hermann Balck (1897--1982) was considered to be one of World War II's greatest battlefield commanders. His brilliantly fought battles were masterpieces of tactical agility, mobile counterattack, and the technique of Auftragstaktik, or "mission command." However, because he declined to participate in the U.S. Army's military history debriefing program, today he is known only to serious students of the war.
Drawing heavily on his meticulously kept wartime journals, Balck discusses his childhood and his career through the First and Second World Wars. His memoir details the command decision-making process as well as operations on the ground during crucial battles, including the Battle of the Marne in World War I and his incredible victories against a larger and better-equipped Soviet army at the Chir River in World War II. Balck also offers observations on Germany's greatest generals, such as Erich Ludendorff and Heinz Guderian, and shares his thoughts on international relations, domestic politics, and Germany's place in history. Available in English for the first time in an expertly edited and annotated edition, this important book provides essential information about the German military during a critical era in modern history.
"A model translation of one of the leading memoirs from the German Army's mid-level command. Balck takes advantage of being the 'last man standing' to present his version of events and experiences. He makes a solid case between the lines of his narrative for the emphasis on offensive action that consistently informed his approach to tactics and operations." -- Dennis Showalter, author of Armor and Blood: The Battle of Kursk: The Turning Point of World War II
"German general Hermann Balck's perspective on war had largely been lost to American scholars. His memoirs, edited by David T. Zabecki and Dieter J. Biedekarken and translated into English for the first time, provide deep insight into his experiences and decision-making during World Wars I and II." -- Military History
"Hats off to Zabecki and Biedekarken for their excellent translation, intelligent editing, and insightful notes clarifying German idioms, Latin phrases, technical military terms, and obscure references, where necessary. Professional soldiers should read this book, reflect, and be grateful that they are not asked to violate conscience. Students of war, students of German history, and World War II buffs will read it with profit." -- Journal of Military History
"General Zabecki and Colonel Biedekarken deserve our highest praise for producing the first English language edition of the memoirs of Germany's best panzer division commander in World War II. Balck's fascinating account of his life and his combat experiences in both world wars comes to vivid live in this expertly translated and wonderfully edited book." -- Armchair General
"Balck's Order in Chaos is an incredible surprise for those seeking fresh discussion on World War I, the interwar years, and World War II.... [It] provides vivid accounts of the battles and campaigns in which he led armored forces. His recounting of events is aided tremendously by the twenty superb maps included in this book. He discusses strategy, his decision-making process, the challenges of command, and the human dimension of war. As with his World War I discussion, he shares his opinions on various topics. I found these pages absorbing." -- Military Review
"This excellent wartime memoir of General of Panzer Troops Hermann Balck (1897-1982), probably 'the greatest German general no one has ever heard of,'... brings to life Balck's wartime adventures." -- Military Officer
"Hermann Balck is considered one of World War II's finest battlefield commanders. For years he resisted sharing his experiences, but finally in 1981, only a year before his death, he published his memoir, using his detailed journals. This work is a thorough and clear translation of that memoir, rendered into readable English. It is a fascinating look at a major German officer's wartime experiences." -- WWII History