The blitzkrieg strategy was developed in the years between the world wars in order to avoid the stalemate caused by trench warfare in World War I. The term "blitzkrieg" was coined by an English magazine in 1939 in a piece about the German army's tactics during their invasion of Poland. The blitzkrieg stratagem is often credited to Heinz Guderian, Germany's Chief of Mobile Troops at the outset of World War II. In reality, the blitzkrieg strategy was developed from a variety of sources ranging from the 1870s to the early years of World War II.

Blitzkrieg Doctrine

The basic concept of the blitzkrieg is to use overwhelming attacks at the enemy's weak points to drive deep behind their lines, disrupting communications and forcing them in unexpected directions. This concept was not new in World War II, but it became frighteningly effective with the greater mobility allowed by motorized vehicles such as trucks, mobile artillery, tanks and airplanes. To employ blitzkrieg tactics, the German army developed a system stressing speed, maneuverability and empowering field commanders to react to battlefield opportunities without waiting for orders from superiors.

Alfred von Schlieffen

Beginning in the 1870s, German Field Marshall Alfred von Schlieffen developed the military theory that would later form the basis of the blitzkrieg strategy. The theory was based on the idea that Germany would be outnumbered and out-resourced in any war. Because of this, Schlieffen proposed that in order to win a war, Germany would have to strike hard and fast, penetrating deep behind enemy front lines to secure a decisive victory without actually needing to destroy – or even engage – the opponent's major forces.

Fuller, Hart and other Allies

It was an English armor commander who first pointed out the potential for using the tank to conduct decisive thrusts into enemy territory. J.F.C. Fuller, Chief of Staff of the British Tank Corps, spelled out his ideas for using coordinated armor, air power and mobile infantry and artillery forces in his books Reformation of War, published in 1923 and Foundation of the Science of War, published in 1928. Fuller's work was largely ignored in Britain, but was studied by German commanders such as Erwin Rommel.

Hans von Seeckt

In the aftermath of World War I, Germany was faced with limits on the size of its army owing to the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. Hans von Seeckt developed strategies in the years between the wars that augmented von Schlieffen's doctrines with technological advances. His ideas, combined with concepts taken from Fuller's works, would be put to use by Heinz Guderian, who became the German Chief of Mobile Troops in 1938.