I recently shot through Manstein's Verlorene Siege in its English translation and am curious as to what is the precise or intended meaning of its title. With my rather limited knowledge of German, I can't exclude any of the following two possibilities:
Victories that could have been won, but were let to slip away as a result of mistakes.
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: From the standpoint of the German language, what can be said about the matter? Is there anything in the flavor of the word verlorene that makes one or the other interpretation more natural, at least in the context?