Book Review: Blueprints for Battle: Planning for War in Central Europe, 1948-1968


by Jan Hoffenaar & Dieter Krüger, editors

Lexington, Ky.: University Press of Kentucky, 2012. Pp. xxviii, 262. Maps, tables, notes, index. $40.00. ISBN: 978-0-8131-3651-6

Preparing for World War III in Europe

In 2007, the Netherlands Institute of Military History and the German Military History Research Institute convened a conference to examine NATO and Warsaw Pact plans for war in Central Europe during the first two decades of the Cold War.  In this work, Dutch scholar Hoffenaar and his German colleague Krüger have collected fourteen papers that were presented at the conference.  Blueprints for Battle opens with a foreword by foreword, by David T. Zabecki, a preface, by Prof. Krüger, and an introduction by both editors, all of which help set the stage for the essays that follow, givng the reader an overview of the Cold War, with a look at trends in strategic thought, changes in military institutions, and political developments during the period, plus a short overview on war planning by the two alliances.     

The first essay examines strategic constants and constraints on the Central Front that affected both alliances, and is followed by two that look respecticley at the evolution of NATO and of Soviet Block planning in the period.  Two essays examine intelligence operations on the Central Front, one on NATO and one on East Germany, and two look at logistics, one for each alliance.  Essays then follow on Soviet military planning, American wargaming for war on the Central Front, West German and NATO plans for operations on the North German Plain, the role of the [East] German Democratic Republic, the British Army of the Rhine, and the Dutch role in the defense of Germany.  The book concludes with an overview of the respective preparations their possible consequences in the event of actual war.

A volume in the University Press of Kentucky series “Foreign Military Studies,” Blueprints for Battle is essentially a series of looks at preparations for and “what ifs” of an East-West war in Central Europe, and will prove valuable reading for students of the Cold War.


Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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