I recently shot through Manstein's Lost victories in its English translation and am curious as to what is the precise or intended meaning of its title. The original German title is Verlorene Siege, and I can't exclude any of the following two interpretations:

  1. Victories that could have been won, but were let to slip away as a result of mistakes.

  2. Victories that were won in vain, with their spoils being later lost as a result of subsequent defeats.

Both interpretations seem to make sense in the historical context and in view of what the narrative is about. For example, Manstein wrote that Hitler had halted the attack at Kursk prematurely, a decision Manstein called "tantamount to throwing away a victory." And, on the other hand, we all know that Nazi Germany won remarkable victories in the initial stages of WWII, but those victories were later lost.

I looked on the Internet as to what is the mainstream interpretation of the title, but got conflicting results. On the one hand, in his book about Manstein, Marcel Stein has a chapter entitled The break-off of 'Citadel' - another 'lost victory'? We all know that the Operation Citadel wasn't a victory for the Germans. On the other hand, an article in Spiegel seems to interpret verlorene Siege in the second way:

"Verlorene Siege" heißen die Nachkriegserinnerungen des deutschen Generalfeldmarschalls Erich von Manstein, ein Buch voller Rechthaberei, ohne tiefere Einsichten in den verbrecherischen Charakter der Hitlerschen Ostexpansion. "Verlorene Siege" - unter dieser Überschrift ließe sich aber auch die Geschichte der sowjetischen Sieger nach 1945 beschreiben: die Ukraine, das Baltikum, Polen, die Tschechoslowakei, Ostdeutschland - alle diese 1944/45 mit gewaltigen Opfern eroberten Länder hat Russland aus seinem Machtbereich verloren.

In this excerpt, the article's author refers to Ukraine, Baltic states, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and East Germany as verlorene Siege of the USSR, pointing out that those states have slipped out of the Russian sphere.

My question: Is there any evidence as to what is the intended meaning of the title? Did Manstein say or write anything about that?

  • 4
    It's a pun - so both at once. Jul 18, 2020 at 14:07
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    @PieterGeerkens Plus: hierarchy. First the Führer, then the general; Hitler loses what Manstein won. Or could have, would have. That is the gist of his own 'apology', 'I good – he & them not as much…, trust me'. But to answer this on this site we need his explanation, if there is one such giveaway. Jul 18, 2020 at 14:17
  • 6
    @LаngLаngС: Yes, all the German generals in their memoirs and recollections were very good at blaming Hitler for everything bad or unsuccessful, while themselves taking credit for everything good or successful. Jul 18, 2020 at 14:20
  • 1
    In the German language (as well as in English I think) you can only lose what you already have. There is a lot of ways to say that there was a chance at victory, but it was either given away, gambled away or something else. A chance can be lost, because the chance itself is there and real. But saying the outcome was lost implies the outcome was actually reached and then lost. Going by the language and content of his book, Manstein knew that.
    – nvoigt
    Jul 20, 2020 at 6:20


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