June 20, 2014

Franz Halder and the Military History Program

1. S.L.A. Marshall
2. Franz Halder
Samuel Lyman Atwood “Slam” Marshall was a journalist and a military historian. He enlisted in the army in 1917 and served in France. He joined the army again in 1942, as a major, and in 1943 he was transferred to the Historical Division of the General Staff. In June 1944 he was sent to Europe, where he was attached to the Historical Section of the U.S. Army European Theater of Operations (ETOUSA). He remained there until the end of the war. Marshall came up with the groundbreaking idea of recording the German views of what had happened in the European battlefields. For the first time the winner had access to the senior commanders and the archives of the defeated. Marshall had to use “unofficial” methods to get his project running, as it was met with skepticism from his superiors. The project began with four participants: Fritz Bayerlein; Heinrich von Lüttwitz; Heinz Kokott and Meinhard von Lauchert.

Due to Marshall’s efforts the project was officially adopted and went on even after his departure from Europe. The former Chief of Oberkommando des Heeres, Franz Halder joined in and headed the program for fifteen years. Well known are the clashes between Halder and Guderian, during the program, and the cliques that were formed around the two former Chiefs of OKH. Guderian was released from captivity in 1948, and departed from the program, leaving Halder’s position unchallenged. Halder, after his own release, continued to work as a U.S. Army civilian employee until 1961. He was awarded the Meritorious Civilian Service Award. 

Tsouras, Peter G. Panzers on the Eastern Front – General Erhard Raus and his Panzer Divisions in Russia 1941 - 1945. London: Greenhill, 2002.

Photo attribution
1. Signal Corps (Archive of the U.S. War Department), via Wikimedia Commons
2. Bundesarchiv, Bild 146-2000-003-06A/CC BY-SA 3.0 de, via Wikimedia Commons