"intimidate - - To domineer or drive into compliance by the use of as threats or force, bludgeon, browbeat, bulldoze, bully, bullyrag, hector, menace, threaten"
During World War Two [WW2], as portrayed in various media, Hitler and his general staff did NOT enjoy a warm and cordial relationship? Rather, the opposite. Hitler, NOT a man versed in the operational art or the finer points of military strategy as taught in war colleges of the period, repeatedly was in the habit of overruling his military commanders, contrary to all reasonableness and logic, seemingly taking a perverse pleasure in doing so?
Army officers of very senior rank, field marshals commanding troops in the field and such, "during councils of war" WERE OFTEN INTIMIDATED TO THE EXTREME? Especially when the war began to go to the disfavor of Germany [in the aftermath of Stalingrad]! To voice an opinion contrary to the decisions or perceived will of Hitler might actually result in banishment or exile to uncomfortable postings or perhaps even worse!
German general staff officers and field commanders, ordinarily persons of strong will and personality, for whatever combination of reasons, found themselves dominated and compliant to the will of Adolph, obsequiously and shamefully so too!!
Here is one man, however, Zeitzler, who did dare on several occasions respond to Hitler and emerged unscathed. Zeitzler - - NOT bullied or intimidated by Hitler, taking exception to remarks of Adolph, responding in a rational and reasonable manner to insult, catching Hitler off-guard and making the man [Hitler] back down!!
A man chosen to be German Army Chief of Staff in part reason because Hitler felt the man [Zeitzler] would be pliant and more submissive that his predecessor, Halder!!
In all cases here, excerpts taken from "HITLER'S WAR and The War Path" by David Irving.
1. "On one occasion Zeitzler warned that unless a certain salient was withdrawn, the troops would lose confidence in their leadership. Hitler thundered at him"
"‘You’re just a staff officer. What do you know about the troops!’"
"Zeitzler sharply reminded the Führer that in August 1914 he had
gone to war as an infantry ensign – his knapsack on his back and his rifle on
his shoulder – to fight in Belgium."
[Ensign, in German Fähnrich, is a German and Austrian officer cadet rank. A German ensign serves in the ranks, first as a junior non-commissioned officer then in subsequent grades . . . Ultimately the ensign becomes an officer]
"‘For bravery in the face of the enemy I was promoted to lieutenant. I was wounded twice. I think my combat experience is as good as yours.’"
"Hitler instructed the general to proceed, and avoided attacking him personally after that."
2. "Hitler took to making ‘good-humoured’ fun of his absent commanders. ‘The horizon of my field marshals,’ he would mock, ‘is the size of a lavatory lid!’ . . . The next day however an adjutant informed Hitler that Zeitzler wanted a brief private word with him. . ."
"‘Mein Führer,’ said Zeitzler. ‘As an army general I take exception to the language you used about our field marshals. May I ask you not to use expressions like that in my presence again?’"
"Hitler gave him his hand. 'I thank you.'"
Zeitzler, the man PERSONALLY CHOSEN BY HITLER TO BE THE GERMAN CHIEF OF STAFF WHEN THE WAR WAS OBVIOUSLY NOT GOING IN FAVOR OF GERMANY - - WAS HIMSELF A MAN OF STRONG WILL AND CHARACTER. Had a personal devotion to the front-line troop!?
Here, again, according to David Irving, is an instance of where Zeitzler showed demonstrable leadership ability and admirable comportment:
"Zeitzler, in a gesture of solidarity with the starved troops in Stalingrad, reduced his own rations to their level. Having lost 26 pounds in two weeks, Hitler (after being told by Martin Bormann of the diet) ordered Zeitzler to stop the diet and return to normal rations."
Among the German commanders, Zeitzler was an exception? A few more men able to express themselves in the manner of Zeitzler and the entire course of WW2 might have been different?