B.A., 1971, University of Illinois M.A., 1973, University of Illinois Ph.D., 1980, University of Illinois
About Dr. Fritz:
Stephen G. Fritz joined the faculty of the Department of History at East Tennessee
State University in the Fall of 1984. His specialty is nineteenth and twentieth century
European History, with a focus on twentieth century Germany. His scholarship has ranged
from liberal politics in the late 1920's Weimar Republic to the rise of Nazism, from
the influenza epidemic of 1918-19 in Germany to the origins of the Holocaust. He is
the author of a trilogy of well-received books, published by the University Press
of Kentucky, on various aspects of World War II.
A leading expert offers a new assessment of Hitler as military commander and strategist.
It is often said that Hitler lost Germany the war. His uncompromisingly radical goals,
impulsiveness, tendency to pursue several objectives simultaneously and his inherent
mistrust of subordinates propelled the country towards humiliating defeat. Indeed Hitler’s
own generals published memoirs after the war claiming that their military leadership
had been catastrophically undermined by the Führer’s erratic decision making.
But how far is all this true?
In this eye-opening account, Stephen Fritz argues that the question of Hitler’s military
leadership is complex and nuanced. Dispelling the notion that Hitler’s strategy was
inadequate and ill-informed, Fritz shows how it could be considered rational, coherent
and competent. While Hitler’s generals did sometimes object to their leader’s tactics
and operational direction, Fritz shows that they were often in agreement regarding
their leader's larger strategic and political goals.
Weaving together primary documents, records of military conferences, diaries, memoirs,
and Hitler’s own words, Fritz provides a provocative reassessment of Hitler’s role
as military commander.
“Perhaps the best account we have to date of Hitler’s military leadership. It shows
a scrupulous and imaginative historian at work and will cement Fritz’s reputation
as one of the leading historians of the military conflicts generated by Hitler’s Germany.”—Richard
Overy, author of The Bombing War
“Magnificent. Hitler emerges as a complex and nuanced military leader who cannot simply
be dismissed as the dogmatic ideologue or the corporal in command. Original, insightful
and authoritative Fritz’s latest work is something I will return to again and again.”—David
Stahel, author of The Battle for Moscow
“Cuts a swathe through the reconstituted arguments of countless other books about
Hitler. Meticulously researched and adopting a thoroughly readable style, Fritz offers
profound new insights about Hitler as commander. This is a volume which should serve
as a warning to strategic leaders who become blinkered by ideology, self-absorbed
and neglect the requirements of successful leadership.”—Lloyd Clark, Blitzkrieg
Frontsoldaten: The German Soldier in World War II (Lexington: The University Press
of Kentucky, 1995).
Hitlers Frontsoldaten: Der erzählte Krieg, trans. Klaus Kochmann (Berlin: Henschel
Frontsoldaten: den Tyske Soldaten under Andra Världskriget, trans. Inge R. L. Larsson
& Kjell Waltman (Stockholm: Fischer & Co, 2011).
Żołnierze Hitlera. Wehrmacht na frontach drugiej wojny światowej. (Warsaw: Wydawnictwo
Alois Dwenger, writing from the front in May of 1942, complained that people forgot
"the actions of simple soldiers....I believe that true heroism lies in bearing this
dreadful everyday life." In exploring the reality of the Landser, the average German
soldier in World War II, through letters, diaries, memoirs, and oral histories, Stephen
G. Fritz provides the definitive account of the everyday war of the German front soldier.
The personal documents of these soldiers, most from the Russian front, where the majority
of German infantrymen saw service, paint a richly textured portrait of the Landser
that illustrates the complexity and paradox of his daily life. Although clinging to
a self-image as a decent fellow, the German soldier nonetheless committed terrible
crimes in the name of National Socialism. When the war was finally over, and his country
lay in ruins, the Landser faced a bitter truth: all his exertions and sacrifices had
been in the name of a deplorable regime that had committed unprecedented crimes.
With chapters on training, images of combat, living conditions, combat stress, the
personal sensations of war, the bonds of comradeship, and ideology and motivation,
Fritz offers a sense of immediacy and intimacy, revealing war through the eyes of
these self-styled "little men." A fascinating look at the day-to-day life of German
soldiers, this is a book not about war but about men. It will be vitally important
for anyone interested in World War II, German history, or the experiences of common
soldiers throughout the world.
Endkampf: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Death of the Third Reich (Lexington: The University
Press of Kentucky, 2004)
At the end of World War II, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, fearing that retreating Germans
would consolidate large numbers of troops in an Alpine stronghold and from there conduct
a protracted guerilla war, turned U.S. forces toward the heart of Franconia, ordering
them to cut off and destroy German units before they could reach the Alps. Opposing
this advance was a conglomeration of German forces headed by SS-Gruppenführer Max
Simon, a committed National Socialist who advocated merciless resistance. Under the
direction of officers schooled in harsh combat in Russia, the Germans succeeded in
bringing the American advance to a grinding halt.
Caught in the middle were the people of Franconia. Historians have accorded little
mention to this period of violence and terror, but it provides insight into the chaotic
nature of life while the Nazi regime was crumbling. Neither German civilians nor foreign
refugees acted simply as passive victims caught between two fronts. Throughout the
region people pressured local authorities to end the senseless resistance and sought
revenge for their tribulations in the "liberation" that followed.
Stephen G. Fritz examines the predicament and outlook of American GI's, German soldiers
and officials, and the civilian population caught in the arduous fighting during the
waning days of World War II. Endkampf is a gripping portrait of the collapse of a
society and how it affected those involved, whether they were soldiers or civilians,
victors or vanquished, perpetrators or victims.
Ostkrieg: Hitler's War of Extermination in the East (Lexington: The University Press
of Kentucky, 2011).
On June 22, 1941, Germany launched the greatest land assault in history on the Soviet
Union, an attack that Adolf Hitler deemed crucial to ensure German economic and political
survival. As the key theater of the war for the Germans, the eastern front consumed
enormous levels of resources and accounted for 75 percent of all German casualties.
Despite the significance of this campaign to Germany and to the war as a whole, few
English-language publications of the last thirty-five years have addressed these pivotal
In Ostkrieg: Hitler's War of Extermination in the East, Stephen G. Fritz bridges the
gap in scholarship by incorporating historical research from the last several decades
into an accessible, comprehensive, and coherent narrative. His analysis of the Russo-German
War from a German perspective covers all aspects of the eastern front, demonstrating
the interrelation of military events, economic policy, resource exploitation, and
racial policy that first motivated the invasion. This in-depth account challenges
accepted notions about World War II and promotes greater understanding of a topic
that has been neglected by historians.
"The Search for Volksgemeinschaft: Gustav Stresemann and the Baden DVP," German Studies
Review, 7, #2 (May 1984), pp. 249-280.
"'The Center Cannot Hold.' Educational Politics and the Collapse of the Democratic
Middle in Germany: The School Bill Crisis in Baden, 1927-1928," History of Education
Quarterly, 25, #4 (Winter 1985), pp. 413-437.
"In the World of Auschwitz: Aspects of the Final Solution," Social Science Perspectives
Journal, 1, #2 (1986), pp. 1-23.
"The NSDAP as Volkspartei: A Look at the Social Basis of the Nazi Voter," The History
Teacher, 20, #3 (May 1987), pp. 379-399.
"When History Wasn't History: The 1918-1919 Influenza Epidemic in Germany," Social
Science Perspectives Journal, 2, #2 (1987), pp. 93-104.
"Reflections on Antecedents of the Holocaust," The History Teacher, 23, #2 (February
1990), pp. 161-179.
"Frankfurt," in Fred R. van Hartesveldt, ed., The 1918-1919 Pandemic of Influenza.
The Urban Impact in the Western World (Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 1992), pp.
"'We are trying to change the face of the world.' Ideology and Motivation in the Wehrmacht
on the Eastern Front: The View From Below," The Journal of Military History, 60, (October
"'This is the Way Wars End, With a Bang not a Whimper:' Middle Franconia in April
1945," War and Society, 18, #2 (October 2000), 121-153.